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Archive for February 2018


Iran on Edge

History Lessons from Years Under Islamism

February 18th 2018

Women's Rights Activists

My father's generation in Iran lived in an environment in which the Islamist party of the country's clergy cunningly depicted themselves as intending no harm, supportive of the people, and not interested in power. So, before the revolution, many Iranians did not think that Khomeini's party would be committing the atrocities that they are committing now or that they would have such an unrelenting hunger for power. Instead, during this time, the country thought it was on a smooth path towards democracy, with no expectation of ever returning to a barbaric era. Even the then-US President Jimmy Carter viewed Khomeini as a good religious holy man.

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Borken Borders

ICE Raid Yields over 100 Illegal Aliens with Felonies

February 17th 2018

US Border guard

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation officers and special agents arrested 212 individuals for violating federal immigration laws and served 122 notices of inspection (NOIs) to businesses in the Los Angeles area of responsibility (AOR) during a five-day targeted operation that ended on Thursday. Eighty-eight percent of those arrested were convicted criminals.

“Because sanctuary jurisdictions like Los Angeles prevent ICE from arresting criminal aliens in the secure confines of a jail, our officers are forced to conduct at-large arrests in the community, putting officers, the general public and the aliens at greater risk and increasing the incidents of collateral arrests,” said ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan, according to a release. “Fewer jail arrests mean more arrests on the street, and that also requires more resources, which is why we are forced to send additional resources to those areas to meet operational needs and officer safety. Consistent with our public safety mission, 88 percent of those arrested during this operation were convicted criminals.”

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Financing the Flames

Senate Version of Taylor Force Act Leaves PA No Room to Maneuver on Terrorist Payments

February 16th 2018

Hamas head

The US Senate is preparing to vote on the Taylor Force Act that links US financial assistance to the Palestinians with a verifiable end to the Palestinian Authority’s policy of “martyr payments” to convicted terrorists and their families – and the final version of the bill leaves the PA with little room to maneuver if it wants to continue receiving US aid.

Named in memory of the former American army officer stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv in March 2016, the Taylor Force Act passed the House of Representatives by unanimous consent in December 2017. At the time, some supporters of the legislation expressed concern about exemptions that were introduced for certain infrastructure projects in the PA, as well as a “sunset clause” that would require the Act to be renewed six years from now. Read more ..


Significant Lives

Sam Bloch, Champion of Holocaust Survivors, Is Dead at 93

February 16th 2018

Holocaust cattle cars

Sam Bloch, who fled the Nazi occupation of his Polish hometown with his mother and brother, joined the Jewish resistance that fought Germans in Belarus, and later helped organize large public assemblages of Jewish Holocaust survivors, died on Feb. 4 at his home in the Rego Park section of Queens. He was 93.

His son-in-law Menachem Rosensaft said the cause was heart failure.

To Mr. Bloch, an executive at the World Zionist Organization in Manhattan for 50 years, the gatherings offered mass witness to the horrors of Nazism and evidence that survivors had reclaimed their lives out of what he called “the kingdom of death.” When nearly 6,000 survivors from two dozen countries met in Jerusalem in 1981 — the first major gathering Mr. Bloch was involved in — he told the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, that those who died in crematories, were buried in mass graves and fought in ghettos would not be forgotten.

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Mideast on Edge

Analyzing The Latest Round Of Big Military Moves In The Middle East

February 16th 2018

Israeli tank Operation Protective Edge

There are lessons to be learned from Iran firing a drone into Israeli air space and Israel’s destruction of about half of Syria’s air defense capabilities in response:

  • Iran is testing not only its capabilities abroad, but the reactions of its enemies and its security on the home front
  • Israel is testing as well
  • Russia’s appears unwilling to take on any more military activity than absolutely necessary and is unwilling to confront Iran.
  • The US will stand by Israel, but may not be willing to push Iran out of Syria.

Iran

Iran’s goal is to operate militarily across Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon – north of its adversaries Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel. To this end, Iran “helped” move not only ISIS fighters, but tens of thousands of Sunni Arabs, from its westward path. Iran controls militias of more than 80,000 fighters in Syria. Israeli sources say there are 3,000 members of Iran’s IRGC commanding 9,000 Hizb’allah, and 10,000 “violent Shia militias recruited from across the Mideast, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.” The rest are Syrian.

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Destination America

Brand USA's New Doc Uses Music To Attract Inbound Travel

February 15th 2018

Stature of Liberty Sunset

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America on Edge

The Origins of Mass Murder

February 15th 2018

Ammo

Author and clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, who has frequently locked horns with government authorities and leftists in his native Canada over issues related to free speech and crime, has frequently offered analyses of criminal acts. In a lecture at the University of Toronto, Peterson sought to analyze the minds of several notable mass murderers. 

Describing one of the two killers held responsible for the mass murder at the high school in Columbine, Colorado, in 1999, Peterson said that killer Dylan Klebold had brooded on his “isolation, his segregation from mankind. He’s out there in a chaotic domain, and because he is tortured by that, his thoughts take an unbelievably dark turn.” Peterson also described Carl Panzram, a child of German immigrants who had his beginnings as a juvenile delinquent and went on to become one of the worst serial killers in U.S. history. Panzram claimed to have raped more than 1,000 men and committed at least 21 murders, one of which was of a child.

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America on Edge

Inside the Florida Mass Murder

February 15th 2018

Police Running

Near the close of the school day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, north of Miami, Florida, at least 14 people were wounded in a mass shooting on Wednesday. Authorities did not confirm immediately how many persons were killed by the lone gunman who opened fire at approximately 3:00 p.m. local time. However, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed during an evening press conference that 17 people perished in the attack. Twelve died within the school, two just outside the building, one victim was killed on a street near the school, while two more died in hospital. An AR-15 style rifle was recovered at the scene, as well as several magazines.

At least one school official suggested that mental issues may be at the root of such mass murders.

The gunman, who managed to evade capture at first, was eventually arrested without incident and is now in custody.  Read more ..


The Race for EVs

Is EU planning to Promote Batteries for EVs?

February 15th 2018

EU flag

The EU is pushing the pace of developing powerful batteries for electric cars. The EU Commission intends to present a concrete strategy shortly.

We in Europe want to be competitive not only on our own market, but also worldwide, "said EU Energy Commissioner Maros Sefcovic earlier this week after a "Battery Summit" in Brussels, attended by representatives of other EU countries, including Germany's Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Matthias Machnig. At the end of next week, the Commission intends to present a strategy, Sefcovic said according to media reports.

Machnig said in Brussels that the automotive industry has undergone the deepest changes since its beginnings. In the past, the economy of the EU has been competitive because it leads the way in combustion engines. However, battery cells and modules are central to e-mobility. Those who think they can just buy these batteries are blind or even naïve, Sefcovic said. For this reason, European companies must work together across national borders.

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The Edge of Space

Something Violent Happened to Our Solar System's First Interstellar Visitor

February 14th 2018

Solar System Birth

An interstellar object called 'Oumuamua has confounded astronomers ever since it passed through our solar system in October of last year.

Scientists initially thought that the object — the first-ever visitor from another solar system spotted by Earth-based telescopes — was a comet. Later, they considered it an asteroid and even later described it as a possibly comet-like icy body with a rocky crust.

Now, scientists have found that in addition to its confusing appearance, 'Oumuamua — an up to 1,300-foot-long (400 meters), cucumber-shaped object — likely has a rather dramatic history.

When astronomers from Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland observed the changes in the object's brightness, they found that it is not spinning regularly, like the majority of known asteroids and small bodies in the solar system do. Rather, it is chaotically tumbling. Read more ..


Israel on Edge

Netanyahu Says Recommendation 'Full of Holes,'

February 14th 2018

Bibi Netanyahu with Glasses

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at the police recommendations to indict him in an address to the Union of Local Authorities at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds on Wednesday.
Netanyahu called the recommendation ugly, extremist and full of holes, like Swiss cheese. He said the recommendations failed to take into account his 20 years of friendship with Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan which included gifts going both ways over the years, and exaggerated the value of the gifts from Milchan.

“The police ignored the facts I gave them on how I actually acted against the interests of Milchan,” Netanyahu said. “I broke his monopoly on importing auto parts, which was worth a huge amount. I worked to close Channel 10, which would make his stock in the channel worth nothing. I work for the Israeli economy and society. I am working against Milchan, not for him.” Read more ..


HillaryGate

Comey's Court Declaration May Lead to Obama

February 11th 2018

Obama-Limo

The House Intelligence Committee’s “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses (FISA)” outlines explicit prima facie criminal behavior that starts with former FBI Director James Comey, and seems to end with President Obama.  It may be the greatest subversion of the US Constitution ever, one that will expose the United States to necessary additional independent prosecution to unravel and uncover a far-reaching Obama Administration criminal enterprise.

To be specific, for starters, FBI Director and AG Loretta Lynch, and President Obama may even have engaged in a conspiracy connected to “18 U.S.C. Section 1001 Statements or entries generally,” and “18 U.S.C. Section 1623 – False declarations before grand jury or court.”  Both of these federal criminal statutes are felonies.Let’s break down the factual components we know about as of today: Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

The Complicity of German Chemical Companies in Syria

February 10th 2018

Angela Merkel seeking inspiration

Chemical weapons have been outlawed since the Hague Declaration in 1899 because the world had generally agreed that they are uniquely hideous and terrifying. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles and the 1925 Geneva Protocol were reiterations of what had been one of the world’s few consensus points. German use of chemicals in the Nazi Holocaust was so profoundly loathsome that to this day Nazis are prosecuted and punished. In 2016, Reinhold Hanning, A 94-year-old former Auschwitz death camp guard was convicted as an accessory to the murder of 170,000 people. In 2017, 96-year-old Oskar Groening, a former Nazi guard and SS officer, was deemed fit to serve jail time for his crimes.

On January 22 and February 1, 2018, the Syrian government with at least the tacit support of its allies Russia and Iran, subjected the rebel controlled Syrian city of Douma to chemical attacks – it wasn’t the first time, but this time there are side stories from Germany and Iran.

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The Battle for Syria

Assad Is Still Using Chemical Weapons in Syria

February 10th 2018

Syria fighting injured baby

UN investigators are looking into reports the Syrian regime used chemical weapons on at least two rebel-held towns in recent days. The reports mark at least the sixth time the regime of President Bashar Assad has used such weapons against civilian population centers.

The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said Tuesday it had received multiple reports “that bombs allegedly containing weaponized chlorine have been used in the town of Saraqeb in Idlib and Douma in eastern Ghouta.” The allegation is likely to further increase tensions between the U.S. and Russia at the UN Security Council, where both countries are permanent, veto-wielding members. The U.S. complains that Russia, which backs the Assad regime, blocks any meaningful action against the Syrian leader’s use of internationally prohibited weapons.

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The Obama Era

Republican Report Suggests Obama Direct Involvement in Clinton Email Probe

February 10th 2018

Obama and bright lights

A new report released on Wednesday by Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin alleges that texts between FBI Agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page show that then-President Barack Obama was being informed about the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton email controversy. The senator’s report puts a focus on the scandal, and includes Strzok, who was one of the top FBI agents assigned to the special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of supposed ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, and Page. Johnson serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Sen. Johnson alleges that texts between Page and Strzok show that they were preparing talking points for then-FBI Director James Comey because Obama may have wanted to be apprised of the case. Page wrote on Sept. 2, 2016, that she was preparing the talking points because "potus wants to know everything we’re doing." POTUS is an abbreviation for President of the United States. Read more ..


The Trump Era

Newt Gingrich says 'Grizzly Bear' Trump Seriously Cleaning out the 'Swamp'

February 10th 2018

Washington K Street NW

On Thursday, Newt Gingrich claimed that establishment media outlets are concealing texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, while he argues that the anti-Trump messages in them are getting worse. In 2016 and into the first months of the Trump administration, Page and Strzok -- who were reportedly engaged in an extramarital affair -- exchanged in excess of 50,000 texts that revealed their abhorrence of Trump and his presidency. 

On Election Day 2016, for instance, Page wrote to Strzok, "OMG THIS IS F***ING TERRIFYING." In reply, Strzok wrote: "Omg, I am so depressed." A week later, Page wrote, "I bought All the President's Men. Figure I need to brush up on Watergate." On November 14, 2016, she wrote,  “God, being here makes me angry. Lots of high fallutin’ national security talk. Meanwhile we have OUR task ahead of us.”

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The Edge of Autism

Autism Shares Brain Signature with Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder

February 10th 2018

child glasses

Gene expression patterns in the brains of people with autism are similar to those of people who have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, according to a large study of postmortem brain tissue. The findings appear today in Science.

All three conditions show an activation of genes in star-shaped brain cells called astrocytes, and suppression of genes that function at synapses, the junctions between neurons. The autism brains also show a unique increase in the expression of genes specific to immune cells called microglia.

“This study demonstrates for the first time that [gene expression] can be used to robustly define cross-disorder phenotypes that are shared and distinct,” says lead investigator Daniel Geschwind, professor of neurology, psychiatry and human genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles. “And these phenotypes are related to the molecular and cellular pathways that likely have gone awry.” Read more ..


The Edge of Nature

Stronger Than Steel, Super Wood Can Cheaply Transform

February 10th 2018

Wildfire

Some varieties of wood, such as oak and maple, are renowned for their strength. But scientists say a simple and inexpensive new process can transform any type of wood into a material stronger than steel, and even some high-tech titanium alloys. Besides taking a star turn in buildings and vehicles, the substance could even be used to make bullet-resistant armor plates.

Wood is abundant and relatively low-cost—it literally grows on trees. And although it has been used for millennia to build everything from furniture to homes and larger structures, untreated wood is rarely as strong as metals used in construction. Researchers have long tried to enhance its strength, especially by compressing and “densifying” it, says Liangbing Hu, a materials scientist at the University of Maryland, College Park. But densified wood tends to weaken and spring back toward its original size and shape, especially in humid conditions. Read more ..


The Trump Era

A Friendship Strengthened Between America and Israel

February 10th 2018

Armstrong_Williams

The White House recently released a transcript of remarks made by Vice President Mike Pence. According to the release, he spoke in “The Knesset, Jerusalem, Israel.” This may not seem groundbreaking at first glance, but the simple act of defining Jerusalem as a part of Israel is evidence of a long-awaited and much-needed shift in how America deals with this key ally. If there is one main thing to take away from Vice President Pence’s visit to Israel, it is that the U.S.-Israel relationship is finally back on firm footing where it belongs. Since the Trump administration replaced the Obama administration, dedicated supporters of the Jewish state have been put at ease. President Trump is a clear friend upon whom Israel can rely, and the strong backing of our most important ally in the Middle East extends throughout the President’s cabinet and reaches across his entire administration. 
 
This is a welcome change from the days when Obama mistreated our ally and needlessly created personal animosity between himself and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Rather than working out any policy disagreements behind closed doors in private, members of Obama’s cabinet leaked insults about the Israeli Prime Minister to the press and attempted to use pressure to force Israel to make concessions to a Palestinian Authority which refused to recognize Israel’s legitimacy and repeatedly denied the Jewish people’s undeniable connection to the land.  
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The Obama Era

Department of Justice Settles Lawsuit with Pro-Israel Group Targeted by IRS

February 3rd 2018

IRS Bldg DC

The Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it has settled its final lawsuit with a pro-Israel group that was targeted by the Internal Revenue Service during the Obama administration.

The settlement on Thursday was with a pro-Israel nonprofit called Z Street, founded by Lori Lowenthal Marcus in 2009. In its lawsuit, Z Street contended that it had been unfairly targeted by the IRS due to its support for Israel, and in particular its alleged support for Jewish activity over the pre-1967 “Green Line.”

“Tax exemption eligibility should be based on whether an organization’s activities fulfill requirements of the law, not a group’s policy positions or the name chosen to reflect those views,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman said in a statement. Read more ..


The Edge of Cyber

Source Code Sharing is a Terrible Idea

February 3rd 2018

I-phone

Many heads of state use insecure iPhones​

Source codes are the instructions written by a computer programmer that powers its software. It contains all the secret instructions in a program that, if discovered, would enable the software source to be stolen. Any software, from your games to America’s military systems. For decades, therefore, the U.S. government export control system refused to allow software source code to be shared.

Those days are over. Some of America’s top tech companies – including McAfee, Symantec and Hewlett Packard – anxious to make money in foreign markets, have been sharing source code with rival powers including Russia and China. McAfee and Symantec shared anti-virus software, making our armed forces, our strategic systems, our critical infrastructure, and our government even more vulnerable to foreign hacking and penetration. The Pentagon said in a letter to Capitol Hill that source code reviews by Russia and China “may aid such countries in discovering vulnerabilities in those products.” Read more ..


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