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Archive for January 2017

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Covenant of Democratic Nations

Replacing the UN with The Covenant of Democratic Nations—An Inside Story

January 30th 2017

Edwin Black

For years, foreign policy critics, politicians, and outraged members of the general public have been militating to defund and quit the United Nations. Some have advocated that a rival or successor organization be established. Now, the empty sheet of bitter discontent with the UN has been filled in with a new name, and a new movement calling to “defund and replace” troubled organization with a new world body: The Covenant of Democratic Nations. This writer has been a participating witness to the birth of this movement.

 

Just days after controversial UN Resolution 2334 declared, among other things, that Israel’s Jewish connection to the Western Wall was effectively illegal, to ambassadorial applause in the room, concrete replacement action began. It has started with a conversation of ideas proposing an official international conference which would carefully propound a multilaterally-signed diplomatic convention that would be ratified by countries as a binding treaty that would juridically forge the Covenant into operational reality. The entire process— fraught with hazy puzzlements over a terrain of “what ifs”—would be limited to nations governed by democratic principles. Each member would or could defund the United Nations while it labored to construct a successor entity dedicated to world peace along democratic principles with equal respect for all people regardless of religion, gender, race, identity, or national origin, as well as formulating a mechanism to resolve disputes.

 

A prime mission of the new world body would be to re-ratify, amend, or nullify all acts and resolutions of the United Nations and its agencies such as UNESCO. Thus, the Covenant would create a new body of long-overdue, reformed, clarified, and updated international law. Just as unjust American laws perpetrating slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and institutional inequality were overturned, updated, and reformed during the civil rights era and right through our present decade, so too, the damage, inequity, and misuse of international law and process would be overturned by the CDN. Sensibly, most CDN nations would remain as vestigial members of the UN overseeing its collapse from economic and bureaucratic processes just as was done when the League of Nations was dissolved after World War Two and replaced with the present UN. Read more ..


Obama and Israel

Obama's Mideast Legacy Is One of Tragic Failure

January 29th 2017

Obama downcast

The Middle East is a more dangerous place after eight years of the Obama presidency than it was before. The eight disastrous Obama years follow eight disastrous George W. Bush years, during which that part of the world became more dangerous as well. So have many other international hot spots.

In sum, the past 16 years have seen major foreign policy blunders all over the world, and most especially in the area between Libya and Iran — that includes Israel, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and the Gulf.

Read more ..

The War Against Christianity

Five Coptic Christians Brutally Murdered in Egypt, Bodies Found With Throats Slashed

January 29th 2017

Coptic Girl

Five Coptic Christians have been brutally murdered and had their throats slashed in four different incidents in Egypt over a two-week timespan, a persecution watchdog group reports. As it has been reported that four Coptic Christians have been murdered during the first two weeks of 2017, the body of a fifth slain Copt was found last Monday.

According to World Watch Monitor, the body of 37-year-old married father of two, Ishak Ibrahim Fayez Younan, was discovered in his Cairo residence by his brother on Jan. 16. Reports indicate that Ishak, who worked at a soda factory in Cairo for the last 13 years, had his throat slashed while he was in an apartment he rented. His wife and other family members live in their permanent residence in a village in Upper Egypt.

Read more ..

The Trump Era

Protecting America from Ill-intended Refugees

January 29th 2017

Syrian Refugees

President Donald Trump’s draft executive order on “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals,” which was leaked on Wednesday, has been met, as anticipated, with alarm by opponents at home and abroad who resent the new American president and his actions to protect the country, as he promised to do.

His executive order proclaims (emphasis added): “The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism. In order to protect Americans, we must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes towards our country and its founding principles.

Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Outrage as Taxpayer Dollars Helping American Ex-Cons Meet with Palestinian Radicals

January 29th 2017

Hamas head

Should taxpayer dollars be used to fund meetings between American terrorists and Palestinian radicals? San Francisco State University, a public university notorious for sympathy to violent radicals, apparently thinks so. Last year, it sent Americans who served time in prison for crimes ranging from bombing the United States Senate to conspiracy to murder to meet with fellow former "political prisoners" at An-Najah University in the West Bank.

Described by Hamas as a "greenhouse for martyrs," and by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy as a hub for the "terrorist recruitment, indoctrination and radicalization of students," An-Najah entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with SFSU in December 2014. The "Freedom Behind Bars Workshop," organized by Memorandum of Understanding architect and SFSU professor Rabab Abdulhadi, is the first known event facilitated by the memorandum. Read more ..


The Trump Era

Ambassador Haley delivers blunt warning to UN

January 28th 2017

UNESCO

The new US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said today at the headquarters of the international body that her country will show strength in international affairs. She also delivered blunt warnings from the Trump administration. The former governor of South Carolina told UN the media before meeting Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, "For those who don't have our backs: we're taking names." Haley said, "We will make points to respond to that accordingly."
 
"Our goal with the administration is to show value at the UN, and the way that we will show value is to show our strength, show our voice, have the backs of our allies and make sure that our allies have our back as well," she said. Haley presented her diplomatic credential today to Guterres, who is also new to his position.
Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

My Journey Out of Radical Islam

January 28th 2017

ISIS Group with Flags

I grew up in Rawalpindi, a city in the Punjab province of Pakistan, in a family who had links with the Deoband school of thought (A sub-sect of Sunni Islam in the sub-continent) and Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamist Party in the sub-continent. I was inspired by the influential Islamist scholar of the 20th century, the founder of Jamaat -e-Islami, Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maududi.

Maududi thought that a state could either be religious or irreligious. Therefore, he did not agree with the view that secularism is just the separation of religion from a state's affairs. In fact, he strongly argued that secularism would give rise to atheism, or a lack of belief, in society. He saw religion as the ultimate source of morality, therefore, when people become un-Islamic, society would also become unethical. Read more ..


The Trump Era

Immigration Priorities: Translators, and Victims of Genocide

January 28th 2017

Syrians by VOA photog Elizabeth Arrot

If you want security clearances in the United States, the government “vets” you quite thoroughly. They begin by asking you questions and then ask for a list of people to interview — family, friends, employers, etc. They take your list and ask those people for more people who will talk about you, then take that list and ask those people for more people who will talk about you — and so on until the lists have the right number and combination of names that overlap. If you have a vindictive ex-wife, watch out. They do a credit check, a criminal background check, a motor vehicle records check, and a medical records check. Psychiatrist? That too. Read more ..


The Race for EVs

E-trucks with Overhead Power Lines on Autobahn

January 26th 2017

Volvo truck

The idea of overhead power lines for electric vehicles is not new – after all, in the railway industry it is rather common. For electric trucks, it also has been considered for a while. Now the German government plans to test the technology on public highways.

The project, to be managed by innovation agency VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik, aims to test the technology in a real-world environment with real traffic. Starting point of the considerations around this technology is the question how the growing roadbound freight transport can be coped with without unreasonable impact to the environment. The German federal government estimates that by 2030 the railway system can transport only about 20% of the additional goods that need to be carted. Which in turn allows the conclusion that the lions’s share of these goods will be transported on roads. Electrified trucks could be a solution that meets both the requirement for mass transport capability and environmental friendliness, at least as the electric energy used is generated by renewable sources.

Read more ..

The Covenant of Democratic Nations

Has the Time Come for Amexit From the UN?

January 25th 2017

UN Human Rights Council

As British Prime Minister Theresa May plans a Brexit from the EU, Americans may soon ask what kind of exit we want from another international institution.

In our case, the organization is not the European Union, but the United Nations. Earlier this month, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced a bill to block taxpayer dollars from going to the UN. These senators, like many Americans, are incensed by a recent anti-Israel resolution adopted by the world body. But the US’ problems with the UN run deeper than one bad resolution. They are endemic to the institution. At some point, our elected leaders will ask whether the time has come not just to defund, but also to depart — and then replace the UN with something better.

That point may come sooner rather than later. Read more ..


Campus Hate

Anti-Semitism Awareness Act Sparks Hysteria on Campus

January 25th 2017

boycott Israel t-shirt

The US Senate has unanimously passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, introduced by US Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Bob Casey (D-PA). If approved by the House, the bill will give the US Department of Education the statutory tools to examine anti-Semitic incidents in the broadest and effective way possible.

The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act will mirror the State Department's Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism's definition of anti-Semitism, including critical language to define where anti-Israel bias crosses the line into anti-Semitism. The new Act would enhance the Education Department's ability to identify, investigate, and punish all forms of anti-Semitism, including anti-Zionism and anti-Israel harassment.

When asked about the Act, Senator Casey channeled Natan Sharansky's "3D" definition of anti-Semitism and listed the following examples of where the bill's tools would be helpful:

1) Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews,

2) Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust,

3) Demonizing Israel by blaming it for all interreligious or political tensions,

4) Judging Israel by a double standard that one would not apply to any other democratic nation. Read more ..


Turkey on Edge

Turkey's 'Lifestyle Massacre'

January 25th 2017

Turkish military parade with flags

Last year was no doubt an annus horribilis for Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that 1,178 people were killed between July 2015 and December 2016 in Turkey's fight with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Bomb attacks by the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed another 330 lives. Those numbers exclude 248 people who died during the bloody coup attempt of July 15, as well as 9,500 apparent PKK members who were killed by Turkish security forces. Turkey also claims that it killed 1,800 ISIS members since July 2015. These numbers put the total death toll in Turkey at 13,056, in a span of fewer than 17 months.

Just when most people thought that would be the final death toll for 2016, on December 10, a twin bombing in Istanbul outside a soccer stadium killed at least 38 people, and injured another 136. A week later, a suicide car-bomb in central Turkey killed 13 off-duty soldiers aboard a bus and wounded 56 more. Read more ..


Israel on Edge

Leading Int’l Legal Scholar Kontorovich Emphasizes at ZOA Event: US Embassy Should Move to Jerusalem

January 24th 2017

West Bank Construction

One of the world’s leading international law and Constitutional law scholars, Northwestern University Law School Professor Eugene Kontorovich, emphasized that it is important to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem – and in particular, urged moving the U.S. embassy to the eastern portion of Jerusalem, during Professor Kontorovich’s well-attended speech at an event sponsored by ZOA – New York and Safra Synagogue on Thursday January 19, 2017.   Professor Kontorovich noted that the best way to combat UN Security Council Resolution 2334 is to combat the false idea that any Jewish presence beyond the 1949 Armistice lines is “illegal.” And the best way to do that is to put the U.S. Embassy in eastern Jerusalem.  European ambassadors will visit and do business there. Read more ..


The Edge of Space

New Era of Exoplanet Discoveries In Store

January 24th 2017

New Earth Sized Planets

For astronomers seeking Earth twins around other stars, the exoplanet GJ 1132 b probably isn’t an identical sibling—but it may be the closest cousin yet found. It weighs in at just over one Earth mass, but circles its star in a warm orbit that could make it more like Venus than our own world. Moreover, its diameter is nearly 50 percent larger than that of Earth, suggesting it possesses a thick atmosphere. Now, after taking the closest-ever look at GJ 1132 b, a European collaboration has confirmed the presence of its atmosphere and found hints it might contain water and methane. The results are currently under review for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

As mere discoveries of exoplanets become routine, efforts to learn more about them—their compositions, climates and histories—are moving to the fore, with studies of their atmospheres occupying center stage. Although astronomers detected the first exoplanet atmosphere more than 15 years ago, they have only managed to observe a handful ever since, mostly for very hot worlds as big as Jupiter or even larger. With their first glimpse of GJ 1132 b’s alien air, astronomers are now entering a new frontier as they examine the atmospheres of smaller, more Earth-like worlds.

Read more ..

Obama and Israel

In Obama’s last hours, US Sent $221 million to Palestinians

January 24th 2017

President Obama sunglasses and flying cravat

Officials say the Obama administration in its waning hours defied Republican opposition and quietly released $221 million to the Palestinian Authority that GOP members of Congress had been blocking.

A State Department official and several congressional aides said the outgoing administration formally notified Congress it would spend the money Friday morning. The official said former Secretary of State John Kerry had informed some lawmakers of the move shortly before he left the State Department for the last time Thursday. The aides said written notification dated Jan. 20 was sent to Congress just hours before Donald Trump took the oath of office. Read more ..


Trump’s Iranian Challenge is an Opportunity for Israel

January 24th 2017

Iran Nuclear Equipment centrifuges

When Donald Trump entered the White House, he will have found a number of important missions on foreign affairs waiting on his desk. The Iranian issue is one of them. The discussion of a recommended strategy vis-à-vis Iran is just around the corner, and the decision must be made between alternatives that are more sophisticated than “supporting” or “opposing” the nuclear agreement. This is also an opportunity for Israel to fix the failures of its conduct in the summer of 2015.

During the election campaign, Trump blatantly opposed the nuclear agreement, threatening to “rip it to shreds,” but in the Senate hearings his nominees for the new administration expressed a more moderate ton. The secretary of defense-designate, Gen. James Mattis, for example, argued that although the agreement was not a good one, the United States had to fulfil its commitments. The designated secretary of state and CIA director emphasized the shortcomings of the agreement but vowed to tightly supervise its implementation and not to take any steps to annul it. Read more ..


The Trump Era

US Ambassador Friedman to Reside in Jerusalem

January 24th 2017

Jerusalem flags

The new American Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has decided not to live in the Ambassador's Residence in Herzliya, and rather declared his intention to "work and live in Jerusalem." Although his appointment has not yet been approved by the Senate, Friedman is expected to arrive in Israel at the end of February and assume his position as ambassador. In private talks, Friedman expressed his intention to live in Jerusalem regardless of the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

Friedman owns a spacious apartment in the Talbiyeh neighborhood of Jerusalem, which he visits several times per year.

Read more ..

Israeli and Palestinians

Ten ‘Humiliating’ Minutes at an Israeli Checkpoint

January 20th 2017

Palestinian Rock Attackers

Remember John Howard Griffin’s 1961 book “Black Like Me,” about a white journalist who posed as an African-American in order to experience what life was like for blacks in the South?  An American journalist recently undertook a Palestinian version of that experiment.

Hearing complaints about Israeli checkpoints that supposedly restrict the movement of Arabs in Judea and Samaria, filmmaker Ami Horowitz of Fox News decided to see for himself. He hired a Palestinian driver and, traveling in a car with Palestinian license plates, they drove “throughout the West Bank.” How often did Israeli troops interrupt their journey? “We were never stopped,” Horowitz reported.

Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

The Inside Story of How John Kerry Secretly Lobbied to Get CAIR Removed From UAE's Terrorist Organization List

John Kerry

On Nov. 16, 2014, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) took the unusual step of designating the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the Muslim American Society (MAS) – as terrorist organizations.

They were among 83 groups named for their connections to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

This outraged CAIR officials, who immediately began efforts to get their organization removed from the list. They found a powerful ally in Secretary of State John Kerry, who authorized State Department officials to meet regularly with UAE officials to lobbying on behalf of CAIR and MAS .

CAIR already had a sympathetic ear in the Obama administration, including the State Department, that had openly embraced and legitimized the entire spectrum of radical Islamist groups falsely posing as religious or civil rights groups, which both CAIR and MAS had done. Read more ..


The War Against Christianity

One Million Christians Reportedly Martyred in Ten Years

January 20th 2017

Coptic Girl

Nearly 1 million Christians have been murdered for their faith over the last decade, according to research conducted by a think tank affiliated with the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. Additionally, the annual report by Gordon-Conwell's Center for the Study of Global Christianity found that as many as 90,000 Christians were martyred in the last year, or approximately 900,000 or more.
 
The finding that one Christian every six minutes were killed in 2016 was leaked by Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne in a December 2016 interview. The report on the leak received considerable media attention before the actual release of the annual report. The center asserts that an average of 90,000 Christians have died each year on average from 2005 to 2015.
 
An email from the organization to supporters read, "In the last week, several news organizations reported on the persecution of Christians around the world and cited our figure of 90,000 Christian martyrs in 2016." 
Read more ..

The Weapon's Edge

Israeli Air Force Deploys Operational Arrow-3 Missile Defense

January 19th 2017

Iron dome

The Israeli Air Force declared initial operational capability on Wednesday of the Arrow-3 intercepting system, the nation’s newest, upper-tier layer of a multi-tiered defense network against ballistic missiles. The Arrow-3 interceptor, part of the joint US-Israel Arrow Weapon System (AWS), was delivered into Air Force hands in ceremonies today attended by MoD developers and defense industry representatives, including prime contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and its US partner Boeing Co.
 
Representing the Pentagon was US Air Force Brig. Gen. William Cooley, program executive for the Missile Defense Agency.
Read more ..

The Race for Flying Cars

Airbus Develops Flying Car, Prototype Is Coming Soon

January 19th 2017

Broken Road

As recently as past week, Volvo futurologist Aric Dromi predicted that before mankind will see completely autonomous vehicles driving around in cities, they will see flying cars. Now someone no less than the CEO of the Airbus Group banged on the same drum.

At the DLD digital technology conference in Munich, Airbus Chief Executive Office Tom Enders said the company is in the process of developing flying cars – and a prototype will be available before the end of the year. The self-piloted flying car could be seen as a way of avoiding gridlock on city roads, Enders said according to media releases.

Read more ..

The Islamic State

Islamic State Surrounds Military Airport in Deir ez-Zor, Eastern Syria

January 18th 2017

IS with Missile

Islamic State fighters have broken through government defensive lines in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, surrounding a military airport and cutting off food supplies for roughly a quarter of a million civilians in what could become a major humanitarian disaster.

Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria is divided between the militants and the government of Bashar al-Assad. The areas controlled by the government have long been under siege but were sustained by supplies flown in to the nearby military airport and by airdrops from the World Food Programme.

But on Monday, Isis fighters, which sources from the city said were primarily reinforcements coming over the border from Iraq’s Anbar province, broke through government lines, splitting its territory in half and taking control of the area where the WFP’s airdrops landed. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Israel’s War on Hezbollah’s Accurate Missiles

January 17th 2017

Jet Fighter

All signs indicate that the strike which took place early Friday morning near the Mezzeh Military Airport west of Damascus, according to Syrian reports, was aimed at destroying a shipment of accurate Iranian surface-to-surface missiles to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and senior commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards announced recently that the Lebanese organization was receiving missiles, and even accurate missiles, from Iran—likely satellite-guided missiles (GPS) that could reach central and even southern Israel and threaten most of the essential facilities and civilian and military airports in the State of Israel.

Read more ..

The Trump Era

Trump Meets Son of Martin Luther King Jr.

January 17th 2017

Donald Trump Laconia NM Michael Vadon Jul 16 2015 03

Besides posting on Twitter his call for Americans to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President-elect Donald Trump received the son of the civil rights icon today at Trump Tower. Martin Luther King III said in the lobby of the building that the meeting with Trump was “constructive.”

The son of the revered civil rights leader, when asked what his father’s message to Trump would be, answered: “I think my father would be concerned about the fact that there are 50 million people living in poverty in this country. We have to create a climate for all votes to be lifted. It’s insanity we have poor people in nation.”

“When we work together, we know we can roll up our sleeves,” he said. “There is nothing we as Americans can’t do.”

Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

U.S. Refusing to Intervene as Ex-CIA Agent Faces Extradition, Prison, in Italy

January 14th 2017

Prison bars

Time continues to tick away for former CIA agent Sabrina de Sousa, who faces extradition from Portugal to Italy Tuesday to face a four-year jail sentence for her involvement in the highly classified Bush era extraordinary rendition of a radical Muslim cleric known as Abu Omar.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) has been aggressively advocating on her behalf.

An Italian court convicted de Sousa in absentia in 2009 for allegedly planning the operation. None of the defendants were informed of the charges against them by their Italian court-appointed lawyers. She never was informed of the charges against her before the trial.

"The trial was a prosecutor's dream. You have a court where you have no American defendants," de Sousa said. Read more ..


The Edge of Medicine

Wearable Radar Sensor Assists Visually Impaired

January 12th 2017

Baby Boomer

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a wearable assistive device for the visually impaired, which enables them to sense their environment and move around more safely.

Based on a radar system developed by VTT, the device, which is worn like a heart rate monitor, has been clinically tested.

"The novel aspect lies in wearable sensor device which functions based on radio waves, so that the signal passes through clothing. This means that it can be worn discreetly under a coat, for example," says Tero Kiuru, a Senior Scientist at VTT.

The radar conveys information to the user in the form of vibrations or voice feedback. It senses most obstacles in the user's surroundings, although difficulties remain in sensing objects such as thin branches and bushes.

Read more ..

Campus Hate

How the Government Can Crack Down on Anti-Semitism on College Campuses

January 12th 2017

Boycott Divest Israel demo

When the Senate begins to consider President-elect Donald Trump's choice to run the Department of Education, Congress should focus on the surge of anti-Semitism that continues to plague our nation's campuses. Over the past few years, anti-Semitism has reached a tipping point around the country. The FBI reported that there were more Jewish hate crime victims last year than victims of all other religious groups combined.

Nowhere is this problem worse than on college campuses where anti-Semitic incidents are escalating at an alarming rate. More than half of Jewish students reported experiencing or witnessing anti-Semitism in 2014 and 2015, according to two recent studies. Another study showed a 45 percent increase in campus anti-Semitism in the first half of 2016, compared with the first half of 2015. This year, the numbers are likely to be even worse: In the 10 days following November's election, the Southern Poverty Law Center recorded no fewer than 100 incidents of anti-Semitic hate in the United States.

Read more ..

The Edge of Science

Scientific Breakthroughs in 2017 May "Blow Your Mind"

January 11th 2017

Research and Development Chemistry

The Pentagon’s research and development division, DARPA—the creative force behind the internet and GPS—retooled itself three years ago to create a new office dedicated to unraveling biology’s engineering secrets. The new Biological Technologies Office (BTO) has a mission to “harness the power of biological systems” and design new defense technology. Over the past year, with a budget of about $296 million, it has been exploring challenges including memory improvement, human–machine symbiosis and speeding up disease detection and response.

DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is hoping for some big returns. The director of its BTO, neuroprosthetic researcher Justin Sanchez, recently spoke with Scientific American about what to expect from his office in 2017, including work on neural implants to aid healthy people in their everyday lives and other advances that he says will “change the game” in medicine. Read more ..


The Trump Era

Disruptions Planned for Inauguration Day

January 11th 2017

Whitehouse

Opponents of President-elect Donald Trump are planning huge demonstrations in Washington DC during the month of January. At least one large-scale protest by leftists and progressives is planned for January 20: Inauguration Day. Police are expecting tens of thousands of protesters in what could well become like the large-scale Occupy Wall Street protests and raucous anti-war protests of the last decade. 
 
Here are some major protests related to Donald Trump’s inauguration day.
 
January 14, 2017: We Shall Not Be Moved March  
 
Al Sharpton will lead a major protest at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on January 14, six days before the inauguration. Sharpton, who is a contributor to CNN, has long been a gadfly to Republicans and has made plain his opposition to Trump. And make no mistake. This march is all about Trump. Sharpton has been quoted as saying that the rally will seek to protect civil rights and voting rights for “people that have been excluded,” and also push for healthcare and equal opportunity for Americans. 
Read more ..

The Race for AI

AI Ethics under Scrutiny

January 11th 2017

Terminator Robot

The newly launched Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund aims to foster global research that advances AI for the public interest, a focus that in itself will probably be subject to debate.

Initially funded with $27 million from the Knight Foundation; LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman; the Omidyar Network; the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; and Jim Pallotta, founder of the Raptor Group, the new fund will also seek to advance public understanding of AI.

The MIT Media Lab and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University will serve as the founding anchor institutions and are expected to reinforce cross-disciplinary work and encourage intersectional peer dialogue and collaboration.

“AI’s rapid development brings along a lot of tough challenges,” explains Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab. “For example, one of the most critical challenges is how do we make sure that the machines we ‘train’ don’t perpetuate and amplify the same human biases that plague society?

Read more ..

The Trump Era

CUFI Action Fund to Host Fly-In This Week

January 10th 2017

USA/Israel

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Action Fund is hosting a fly-in with more than 260 Christian leaders from across the country. During their visit, the leaders, representing 49 states, will lobby their Senators in support of pro-Israel legislation and President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of David Friedman to be US Ambassador to Israel. Two allied organizations, the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition and the Philos Project have joined this effort and are also sending representatives.
 
Tuesday evening, attendees will gather at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill to hear from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), CUFI founder and Chairman Pastor John Hagee, David Brog, CUFI’s founding executive director and a member of the group’s Board of Directors, and Gary Bauer, Washington Director of the CUFI Action Fund.
Read more ..

The Race for EVs

Tesla Gigafactory Starts Vattery Production

January 9th 2017

Better Place EV charging

Tesla (Palo Alto, CA) and Panasonic (Kadoma, Osaka Prefecture, Japan) have started production of lithium ion battery cells at Tesla's 'Gigafactory' in Nevada.

The factory started production of cylindrical 2170 cells that will be used for battery packs in Tesla's Powerpack and Powerwall home energy storage systems (above). Cells for the Model 3 electric vehicles will follow in Q2 of 2017.

The cells are jointly developed by the two companies and are 21mm in diameter and 70mm high, giving the 2170 designation, with a capacity of 5175mAh. This is wider and longer than the previous cells that have been used in Tesla systems from third party suppliers. 

Read more ..

The Trump Era

Trump Expected to Take on 482 Sanctuary Cities… In California Alone

January 8th 2017

Truncated border fence

During his presidential campaign against the Democrat’s heir apparent Hillary Clinton, President-elect Donald Trump used the murder case of San Franciscan woman Kate Steinle — an American citizen murdered by a notorious illegal alien — to illustrate the evils of so-called sanctuary cities. Now that he’s set to be sworn in as President, he may find his promise an arduous and complicated one since he will have to deal with more than 500 cities, counties and towns in the state of California alone.

There are exactly 482 sanctuary cities and towns in the Golden State plus another 58 sanctuary counties. That is because California is a sanctuary state. And under the Democratic Party, that state’s officials are more concerned with the health, safety and welfare of illegal immigrants than that of U.S. citizens. Read more ..


Obama and Israel

What is Obama’s End Game on Israel?

January 6th 2017

President Obama sunglasses and flying cravat

President Obama’s decision to engineer passage of U.N. Security Council 2334 in the final weeks of his presidency wasn’t a bid to revive the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” a “parting shot” at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or any of the other characterizations splashed across cable news chyrons over the weekend. Rather, it was intended to irrevocably destroy the viability of the very “two-state solution” the president claims to be protecting.

Obama was widely expected to take some kind of action against Israel, which he blames for both the failure of his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiatives and his difficulties convincing a skeptical Congress to back his Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. Most thought this would come through a public speech in the form of an Eisenhower-type farewell warning about Israeli perniciousness or proposed final settlement terms. The smart money had the president giving his assent to a U.N. Security Council resolution criticizing Israeli settlement policies or recognizing Palestinian statehood in some way. Read more ..


The Trump Era

Democratic Strategist Not Sure Chicago Torture Video Constitutes a Hate Crime

January 5th 2017

Campus crime

Tonight, CNN’s Don Lemon gathered a panel to discuss the story of a disturbing Facebook Live video out of Chicago in which a group of young black adults broadcast their torture of a young white mentally disabled man. While holding their victim hostage, they cut his scalp, burned him with cigarettes and kicked him, all while shouting “f*ck Donald Trump! F*ck white people!”

At the beginning of the conversation, Lemon turned to CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Symone Sanders. Stating that he can’t say it’s a hate crime because police are still investigating, he asked the former Bernie Sanders campaign spox her thoughts.

Read more ..

The Edge of Space

NASA Should Build a Superhighway in Space

January 5th 2017

Mars & Earth, Christopher Leather U Chicago

Donald Trump will take power any minute now, and we need to take advantage of the change in the White House to change NASA's focus.

Why? NASA needs to get out of the rocket business and shift its attention to a permanent space transport infrastructure, an Eisenhower-style highway in the sky. An infrastructure with:

  • Gas stations (propellant depots),
  • Rest stops and permanent housing—roomy human habitats with windows and vegetable gardens,
  • Truck stops and freight yards—logistics bases with cargo-handling equipment,
  • Trucks, SUVs, and dune buggies—Moon-and-Mars ground vehicles; plus tugs to haul loads around in space,
  • Fuel production equipment—units to turn the water of the Moon and Mars into rocket fuel, breathable oxygen, and drinkable water,
  • Units to turn the carbon dioxide in Mars' atmosphere into plastics, graphene, and carbon fiber with which 3-d printers can build more habitats, tools, and rovers—more trucks, SUVs and dune buggies.
  • Units to turn the rusty rocks lying around on the Martian surface into high strength steel for habitats. 

Why move NASA into space highway construction? Because no one else will do it. And our future in space depends on it. Our future share in a space economy that United Launch Alliance (a joint venture rocket company from Boeing and Lockheed Martin) estimates will be worth $2.7 trillion in thirty years.

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The Race for Smart Rail

Being Smart About Smart Rail

January 5th 2017

New-Train S. Korea

Between the drive towards smart cities, new high speed rail links and increased rail travel across the UK, the pressure is on to make sure our railways can keep up. Progress is not without its challenges, and as the world struggles to balance being more connected there is a real risk that power quality could be affected.

Did you know that Milton Keynes is well on its way to becoming a fully functional smart city? The MK:Smart initiative is partly funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and led by The Open University, and it aims to develop innovative solutions to support economic growth in Milton Keynes.

One such solution, targeted at supporting transport links within the city, is MotionMap. This tool uses information gathered by a sensor network around the city to feed updates about congestion and car park occupancy to a mobile app. Any smart city will inherently be reliant on smart systems like this, which in turn rely on data and energy transfer.

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The Trump Era

Sen. Charles Schumer Regrets Democrats Created "Nuclear Option"

January 5th 2017

Lobbyist

The new Senate minority leader, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) said this week that he regrets using the so-called “nuclear option” that changed the deliberative body’s parliamentary rules. The “nuclear option” allows the confirmation of Cabinet nominees with just 51 votes instead of 60 votes. Speaking in an interview with CNN, Schumer mused, “Wish it hadn’t happened.”
 
 
Democrats were in the majority in 2013 when the reform was passed and when they were anxious to confirm President Barack Obama’s nominees. Ironically, it now makes confirming President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees easier for Republicans.
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The Trump Era

From 1970, HHS Has Grown By A Factor Of 10, From $103 Billion To $1.1 Trillion

January 5th 2017

Star Parker right crop

In a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, more than half of respondents, 52 percent, said that Donald Trump will either not change the way business is done in Washington or will bring the "wrong kind of change."

This may sound negative, but the fact that 48 percent believe positive change will occur points toward a meaningful note of hope and optimism.

With the nomination of highly motivated reformers, like Rep. Tom Price to head up the largest department in the federal government, Health and Human Services, we should feel hopeful. But history and experience should also keep us sober. Change in Washington is very hard.

President Reagan pledged to close down the departments of energy and education. But both departments survived and spending today for both departments is higher today than when Reagan took office. Read more ..



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