July 24, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 12:15 PM


See CNN Host's Reaction When Pro-Life Guest Says This About Tim Kaine and Planned Parenthood (Carly Hoilman, 7/24/16, The Blaze)

Conservative Christian radio talkshow host and author Eric Metaxas appeared on "CNN Tonight" with Don Lemon Friday to discuss Hillary Clinton's newly appointed running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

Metaxas explained to Lemon that Clinton has some obstacles to overcome if she hopes to gain the votes of religious pro-life voters. He noted that her decision to choose Kaine, a practicing Catholic who personally opposes abortion, as her vice president is a smart one, but the challenges facing her party remain.

"I mean, [Clinton] has to deal with the fact that ... the Democrats are considered the party of Planned Parenthood and selling baby parts," he said. "Now, that's gruesome. She has to deal with that. So I think she probably reached to a religious candidate because she realizes that she's gonna be attacked on that."

When Lemon noted that Kaine is well liked by Planned Parenthood, the pro-life talkshow host interjected.

"Right!" Metaxas fired back. "Now that he's out of the womb."

Lemon nodded at first, until he realized what had been said.

"OK," Lemon said, seeming a little agitated by the comment.

"Enough?" Metaxas asked.

Lemon smiled and rolled his eyes before saying, "yeah," and moving on.

Posted by orrinj at 12:02 PM


Donald Trump loses battle with Teleprompter in GOP acceptance speech (Brian Lowry, July 22, 2016, CNN Money)

Those consuming this through the lens of TV couldn't see the speech's other major player, but Trump's TelePrompTer occupied a central role in the drama. Clearly committed not to extensively riff or drift off script -- as was his habit on the campaign trail -- the candidate frequently sounded awkward, raising his voice and emphasizing words and phrases ("regime change," "ever") for what felt like no reason.

Setting aside the content of the speech, the structure created problems for Trump that became more apparent as the delivery wore on. He started by rattling off an almost dizzying litany of facts and figures, then turned into sections filled with such a depressing, woe-is-America vision as to create few spaces for obvious applause lines, which seemed to stifle the appreciative crowd. [...]

Ivanka Trump concluded the parade of Trump-branded children who spoke this week, and introduced her father in warm, measured tones. The stylistic mismatch between Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump felt even more striking once her father began to shout whole sentences.

"We can't ignore the presentation," said Fox News' Chris Wallace. "For some reason, he shouted the speech. ... He said each word so slowly that it kind of became an endurance test."

During the pre-coverage, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly said that the text -- which was available in advance -- was "designed for television." Yet if it gave that impression on the page, it actually yielded the opposite effect.

Donald Trump doesn't read much. (Marc Fisher July 17, 2016, Washington Post)

 As he has prepared to be named the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump has not read any biographies of presidents. He said he would like to someday.

He has no time to read, he said: "I never have. I'm always busy doing a lot. Now I'm more busy, I guess, than ever before."

Trump's desk is piled high with magazines, nearly all of them with himself on their covers, and each morning, he reviews a pile of printouts of news articles about himself that his secretary delivers to his desk. But there are no shelves of books in his office, no computer on his desk.

Presidents have different ways of preparing to make decisions. Some read deeply, some prefer to review short memos that condense difficult issues into bite-size summaries, ideally with check-boxes at the bottom of the page. But Trump, poised to become the first ­major-party presidential nominee since Dwight Eisenhower who had not previously held elected office, appears to have an unusually light appetite for reading.

He said in a series of interviews that he does not need to read extensively because he reaches the right decisions "with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had, plus the words 'common sense,' because I have a lot of common sense and I have a lot of business ability."

Posted by orrinj at 10:05 AM


Buying the Deepest Stock Dips in 2016 Returned Three Times S&P 500 (Oliver Renick, July 24, 2016, Bloomberg)

The buy-the-dip strategy that's been a hallmark of the U.S. stock rally is outdoing itself in 2016, where buying stocks in the most extreme state of free fall is paying like rarely before. An index tracking shares in the Russell 3000 Index that register as "oversold" on a momentum metric is up 28 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The durability of strategies focusing on momentum reversals is a gift to traders who've been otherwise hamstrung in a market that just spent 13 months going nowhere before breaking to a new high earlier in July. From the 11 percent decline in first two months of the year to the 5.3 percent drop after Brexit, U.S. companies have been quick to shake off losses tied to the economy, earnings and global turmoil.

Every over-arching economic trend is positive for the U.S.. Perhaps the most hilarious example of "bad news" that markets have sold on the pasty few years being declining energy costs.

Posted by orrinj at 9:33 AM


A Pope Like None Before. Somewhat Protestant : The idyll between Francis and the followers of Luther. The alarm of cardinals and bishops against the "Protestantization" of the Catholic Church. But also the distrust of authoritative Lutheran theologians  (Sandro Magister, July 22, 2016, Chiesa)

In the alarmed letter that thirteen cardinals from five continents were preparing to deliver to Pope Francis at the beginning of the last synod, they were warning him against leading the Catholic Church as well to "the collapse of liberal Protestant churches in the modern era, accelerated by their abandonment of key elements of Christian belief and practice in the name of pastoral adaptation:"

Then at the last moment the thirteen deleted these two lines from the letter that was actually put into the hands of the pope. But today they would put them back in word for word, seeing the ever more pronounced idyll that is developing between Francis and the followers of Luther.

On October 31, Jorge Mario Bergoglio will fly to Lund, Sweden, where he will be met by the local female bishop, to celebrate together with the Lutheran World Federation the five hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. And the closer that date gets, the more sympathy the pope manifests for the great heretic.

At the last of his in-flight press conferences, on the way back from Armenia, he sang the praises of Luther. He said that he was moved by the best of intentions, and that his reform was "medicine for the Church," skimming over the essential dogmatic divergences that for five centuries have pitted Protestants and Catholics against each other, because - these are again his words, this time spoken in the Lutheran temple of Rome - "life is greater than explanations and interpretations":

The ecumenism of Francis is made like this. The primacy goes to the gestures, the embraces, some charitable act done together. He leaves doctrinal disagreements, even the most profound, to the discussions of theologians, whom he would gladly confine "to a desert island," as he loves to say only half-jokingly.

Benedict was the first protestant Pope, completing the Church's acceptance of the End of History -- democracy, capitalism  and protestantism -- and finishing the Reformation:

A Tocquevillian in the Vatican (Samuel Gregg, 2/08/06, Acton)

Upon Joseph Ratzinger's election to the Papacy in April 2005, many commentators correctly noted that Benedict XVI's self-described theological "master" was St. Augustine. The fifth-century African bishop is widely acknowledged as a giant of the early church whose life and writings are counted, even by his detractors, among the most decisive in shaping Western civilization. Pope Benedict's first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est , is full of citations and themes drawn from Augustine's texts.

The encyclical's publication appears, however, to confirm that another, more contemporary thinker has influenced the way that Benedict XVI views religion in free societies and the nature of the state. That person is the nineteenth-century French social philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville.

The author of classic texts such as Democracy in America , Tocqueville's own relationship with Christianity is best described as "complex." Raised in a devout French aristocratic family, Tocqueville was appalled at the French Revolution's assault on the Catholic Church -- an attack involving looting of church property and violence against clergy and laypeople alike. But Tocqueville also disapproved of the post-Revolutionary clergy's tendency to attach itself to political absolutism. On a personal level, Tocqueville oscillated between doubt and faith for most of his life.

What Tocqueville did not doubt, however, was religion's importance in sustaining free societies. This theme is addressed at length in Democracy in America . More importantly, it has attracted Joseph Ratzinger's attention. Upon being inducted into the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques of the Institut de France in 1992, then-Cardinal Ratzinger remarked that Tocqueville's " Democracy in America has always made a strong impression on me."

Describing Tocqueville as " le grand penseur politique ," the context of these remarks was Ratzinger's insistence that free societies cannot sustain themselves, as Tocqueville observed, without widespread adherence to " des convictions éthiques communes. " Ratzinger then underlined Tocqueville's appreciation of Protestant Christianity's role in providing these underpinnings in the United States. In more recent years, Ratzinger expressed admiration for the manner in which church-state relations were arranged in America, using words suggesting he had absorbed Tocqueville's insights into this matter.

Posted by orrinj at 9:17 AM


Shooter received inpatient psychiatric care (AP, Jul. 24, 2016)

The spokesman for Munich prosecutors' office says the teenage gunman who killed nine people in the city on Friday had received psychiatric treatment last year.

The 18-year-old, identified only as David S., "received inpatient treatment in 2015 for two months and after that received outpatient care," said Thomas Steinkraus-Koch.

"The suspect had fears of contact with others" and also depression.

The shooter took his own life following the attack. [...]

[Bavarian investigator Robert Heimberger] said the shooter [...] likely got his illegal weapon through the internet's "dark net" market...

Obama Takes His Last Shot at Gun Control : Congress won't act on the problem that now kills more Americans than cars kill so the president is going it alone by shrinking major loopholes for sellers.  (Eleanor Clift, 1/04/16, Newsweek)

On Tuesday in the East Room of the White House, Obama will unveil a series of actions to strengthen gun laws and gun safety--and infuriate his critics.

Why didn't he do it sooner? That question was posed to administration officials in a call with reporters, and the answer could be summed up in a phrase Obama often uses: Enough is enough--and time is running out on his watch.

The central element of his executive actions is shrinking what is commonly called the "gun show loophole." Gun dealers who sell over the Internet or have a booth at a gun show or flea market where they sell firearms for profit will no longer be exempt from conducting background checks on buyers. The exemption for hobbyists and collectors will still remain, though.

"Just because you shop for guns with a mouse and not with your feet, you can't escape background checks," Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser, told reporters.

Norway shooter: Ammo from U.S. (REID J. EPSTEIN, 07/28/11, Politico)

The Norwegian man who allegedly killed dozens at a kids summer camp claims he legally bought high-capacity ammunition clips by mail from the United States, prompting Capitol Hill's leading gun-control advocate to say on Thursday that America should be ashamed such purchases aren't against the law.

Anders Behring Breivik wrote in a 1,500-page manifesto that he bought 10 30-round ammunition clips for his .223 caliber rifle from an undisclosed, small U.S. supplier, which had acquired the clips from other suppliers. Norway forbids the sale of clips for hunting rifles that hold more than three bullets, according to Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

Breivik wrote in his manifesto that while he could have purchased the high-capacity magazines in Sweden, they would have been significantly more expensive than ordering them from a U.S. supplier. He wrote that he spent $550 for the 10 clips. [...]

[D]ennis Henigan, the acting president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said the world is endangered by American gun laws.

"It now appears that not even Norwegian children at a youth camp are safe from the battlefield firepower so easily available in America," he said. "Large-capacity assault clips are instruments of mass killing, yet federal law leaves them completely unregulated."

Posted by orrinj at 9:10 AM


Posted by orrinj at 9:04 AM


Turkey ruling, opposition parties to rally together after coup (GARETH JONES, 7/24/16, Reuters)

Supporters of Turkey's ruling and main opposition parties, usually bitter foes, were set to rally together on Sunday in support of democracy following a failed military coup as President Tayyip Erdogan tightens his grip on the country.

In another demonstration of unity after the coup, which was staged by a faction within the armed forces, the head of Turkey's air force issued a rare statement stressing "absolute obedience" to the chief of the military General Staff. Some members of the air force were involved in the coup.

The chief of the military General Staff, Hulusi Akar, who was held hostage by the plotters on the night of July 15, condemned the plotters on Sunday as "cowards in uniform" who had greatly harmed the nation and the army.

Egypt's Regime Faces an Authoritarian Catch-22 (AMR ADLY, July 21, 2016, Carnegie Endowment)

The regime of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is stuck between a rock and a hard place. The country's current economic crisis deprives the regime of the financial and economic resources needed to sustain a solid social base among public sector employees, and hence hinders the consolidation of authoritarian rule. But at the same time, the regime's reliance on this group gives it little latitude to pursue economic reform. The regime may survive, but at the high price of continued repression and an inability to alleviate worsening socioeconomic conditions.

A Self-Defeating Alliance for the Sisi Regime

Past Egyptian authoritarian regimes consolidated power through rules governing interaction in state bodies and between the state and the society. They sustained themselves by depending less on repression and more on efforts to establish institutions of control through which the interests of key constituencies could be represented.

Despite relative stabilization of the country following the military takeover in 2013, Egypt's macroeconomic situation has improved little.

To secure its power, the Sisi regime has relied on an alliance between the military, the security forces, and public sector employees that formed in opposition to the January 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak, as well as repressive tactics.

Egypt's economic and fiscal challenges deny the regime the resources needed to maintain support among public sector employees. To avoid alienating the public sector, the Sisi regime will not pursue reform that would make resources available. This catch-22 will continue to hinder its consolidation efforts.

...Egypt too would be a democracy today.

Posted by orrinj at 8:57 AM


'In choice between territories and peace, I prefer peace,' Ben-Gurion said in 1968 (TIMES OF ISRAEL, July 24, 2016)

The former prime minister, celebrated even in life, told kibbutz members he had no wish to receive any special treatment.

"I told them my name is David, not Ben-Gurion. Every morning I came to see what David has to do and I went to do the work," he said.

Ben-Gurion wanted to serve as an example of what Israel could be, and how Israeli leaders should live.

In the interview, conducted a year after the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel conquered the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Old City, the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights and Gaza Strip, Ben-Gurion spoke at length of his belief that Israel was still far from achieving its purpose of serving as "a light unto the nations."

Israel's moral compass, he maintained, was inexorably tied to its treatment of the non-Jews living under its rule.

Ben-Gurion criticized those who believed that the biblical commandment to "Love thy friend as thyself" pertained only to Jews, saying that "In the same chapter they said a little later, 'If a stranger will live among you, he should be to you like a citizen and you should love him like yourself because you were strangers in Egypt.' So it doesn't mean only Jews."

He also took the unpopular position in those days of post-war euphoria that Israel should immediately relinquish the territories it had taken if this could secure peace.

"If I could choose between peace and all the territories which we conquered last year, I would prefer peace," he said. He did have two exceptions though: Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

He also voiced opposition to the then-nascent settlement project in the West Bank and Gaza, wondering out loud why it was necessary to settle an area with large Arab populations when the nearly unpopulated Negev desert was available. He said pre-war Israel had enough room for all the Jews who would come to live here in the next 20 or 40 years.

The film also shows a post-war Knesset speech by the former prime minister in which he warns that "our standing in the world will be determined not by our so-called material riches, and not by our military's bravery, but by the moral virtue of our undertaking.

Posted by orrinj at 8:26 AM


Don't Overstate the Terrorist Threat : The mass murder in Nice was horrific, but it doesn't mean that ISIS is on the rise. (MICHAEL FUMENTO • July 22, 2016, American Conservative)

As the investigation of the massacre in Nice continues, authorities continue to find no evidence that killer Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel had any ties to terrorist networks. So why have so many so quick to invoke ISIS? And more importantly, why do so many continue to conflate "ordered or planned by ISIS" with "ISIS-inspired"?

For all the speculation of real connections--and ISIS' own attempt to claim "credit"--the evidence has pointed the other way from the start. Compare the awful expertise and professionalism shown by the ISIS killers in Paris the night of November 17 with Bouhlel's awful wild ride. The Paris attack involved three coordinated attacks, suicide belts, shooting prowess, and slipping past security guards. In Nice, the perpetrator simply rented the biggest truck he could a couple of days beforehand and cased the location. Bouhlel didn't even wear easily obtainable body armor that might have allowed him to kill far more people before being shot himself. The reports of the truck being packed with weapons including grenades proved false, although he did have one working gun. [...]

[T]here's no shortage of evidence that Bouhlel was the proverbial ticking time bomb. He had previously been convicted of assault, having hurled a wooden pallet at another driver after a traffic accident. His wife had recently thrown him out of his home, taking his kids away in the process, for allegedly physically abusing her and other family members. This is not only evidence that he was already unbalanced, but also the sort of thing that could have pushed him even further in that direction. His father said that his mental health indeed deteriorated after the separation.

It appears Bouhlel has long had serious mental-health problems. His father said he suffered from nervous breakdowns in which he "broke everything," and that, while still living with his family, he "defecated all over the place" and shredded his daughter's teddy bear.

Religiously motivated? Though nominally Muslim, "Bouhlel was not religious," his wife's cousin, Walid Hamou, told the British Daily Mail. "He did not go to the mosque. He did not pray. He did not observe Ramadan. He drank alcohol, ate pork and took drugs. This is all forbidden under Islam." Not to mention his womanizing and bisexuality.

July 23, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 9:26 PM


Energized white supremacists cheer Trump message (STEVE PEOPLES July 24, 2016, Times of Israel)

The well-dressed men who gathered in Cleveland's Ritz-Carlton bar after Donald Trump's speech accepting the Republican nomination for president prefer the term "Europeanists," "alt-right," or even "white nationalists." They are also die-hard Trump supporters.

And far from hiding in chat rooms or under white sheets, they cheered the GOP presidential nominee from inside the Republican National Convention over the last week. While not official delegates, they nevertheless obtained credentials to attend the party's highest-profile quadrennial gathering.

Several gathered in the luxury hotel well after midnight following Trump's Thursday address, a fiery appeal they said helped push the Republican Party closer to their principles.

Posted by orrinj at 8:54 PM


Posted by orrinj at 7:20 PM


If California's a 'bad state for business,' why is it leading the nation in job and GDP growth? (Michael Hiltzik, 7/22/16, LA Times)

State and federal statistics released as recently as Friday make it clear: California is smoking hot, economy-wise.

The state gained 40,300 jobs in June and 461,000 over the year. With a gain of 2.9%, that was the best 12-month record of any large state except Florida, which won by a nostril with a gain of 3%, and much better than the nation as a whole (1.7%). According to the congressional Joint Economic Committee, California leads the nation in growth in its gross domestic product, which grew by 4.2% in 2015 -- more than twice the national rate.

Posted by orrinj at 6:00 PM


Munich gunman was treated for depression; 'no evidence' of IS link (TIMES OF ISRAEL, July 23, 2016)

Munich prosecutors said Saturday that the shooter in the attack -- named in the media as 18-year-old Iranian-German national Ali Sonboly, the son of a taxi driver -- had been in psychiatric care and treated for depression. The attack appears to be a "classic shooting rampage" and not terrorism, the prosecutor said. Police said investigators suspect the gunman was "deranged."

Mass Killings Inspire Copycats, Study Finds (MAGGIE FOX, 10/05/15, NBC)

Police have said so for years and now scientists have measured the effect: Mass shootings and school attacks do inspire copycats.

As many as 20 to 30 percent of attacks are set off by other attacks, according to researchers at Arizona State University and Northeastern Illinois University. The effect lasts about 13 days, they write in the report published Thursday in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE.

And mass killings -- such as the 2012 attack on small children at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut, the 1999 Columbine massacre, and last month's shooting of nine people at a prayer meeting in Charleston -- are becoming alarmingly common in the United States.

Posted by orrinj at 5:52 PM


AP Poll: Support grows among Americans for stricter gun laws (LISA MARIE PANE and RYAN J. FOLEY, July 23, 2016, AP)

Americans increasingly favor tougher gun laws by margins that have grown wider after a steady drumbeat of shootings in recent months, but they also are pessimistic that change will happen anytime soon, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents expressed support for stricter laws, with majorities favoring nationwide bans on the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons such as the AR-15 and on the sale of high-capacity magazines holding 10 or more bullets.

Posted by orrinj at 5:43 PM


By Picking Anti-Abortion Tim Kaine, Hillary Is Testing Feminists' Loyalty (Nora Caplan-Bricker, 7/22/16, Slate)

It's not just that Kaine, like all 47 veeps in our nation's history, is a white dude, not a "first" who could have driven home just how historic Hillary's candidacy is. He's also, at least in his personal views, opposed to abortion due to his Catholic faith--a symbolic kick in the teeth for the feminist organizations that faithfully championed Hillary over Bernie throughout the long primary season. "Is Clinton a progressive? Not if she chooses Tim Kaine," Jodi Jacobson of the reproductive rights site Rewire wrote Thursday.

Hillary Clinton: You Can 'Absolutely' Be A Feminist And Pro-Life (Sam Levine , 4/05/16, HuffPo)

"I respect the opinions and beliefs of every woman," Clinton said. "The reason why being pro-choice is the right way to go is because it is a choice, and hopefully a choice that is rooted in the thoughtfulness and the care that women bring to this decision. So of course you can be a feminist and be pro-life."

She is not who the Left and Right want her to be, any more than the UR and W were.  That's why they win presidential elections.
Posted by orrinj at 5:22 PM


Is Donald Trump a Racist? (Nicholas Kristof JULY 23, 2016, NY Times)

One early red flag arose in 1973, when President Richard Nixon's Justice Department -- not exactly the radicals of the day -- sued Trump and his father, Fred Trump, for systematically discriminating against blacks in housing rentals.

I've waded through 1,021 pages of documents from that legal battle, and they are devastating. Donald Trump was then president of the family real estate firm, and the government amassed overwhelming evidence that the company had a policy of discriminating against blacks, including those serving in the military.

To prove the discrimination, blacks were repeatedly dispatched as testers to Trump apartment buildings to inquire about vacancies, and white testers were sent soon after. Repeatedly, the black person was told that nothing was available, while the white tester was shown apartments for immediate rental.

A former building superintendent working for the Trumps explained that he was told to code any application by a black person with the letter C, for colored, apparently so the office would know to reject it. A Trump rental agent said the Trumps wanted to rent only to "Jews and executives," and discouraged renting to blacks.

Donald Trump furiously fought the civil rights suit in the courts and the media, but the Trumps eventually settled on terms that were widely regarded as a victory for the government. Three years later, the government sued the Trumps again, for continuing to discriminate. [...]

Another revealing moment came in 1989, when New York City was convulsed by the "Central Park jogger" case, a rape and beating of a young white woman. Five black and Latino teenagers were arrested.

Trump stepped in, denounced Mayor Ed Koch's call for peace and bought full-page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty. The five teenagers spent years in prison before being exonerated. In retrospect, they suffered a modern version of a lynching, and Trump played a part in whipping up the crowds.

As Trump moved into c[****]s, discrimination followed. In the 1980s, according to a former Trump c[*****]o worker, Kip Brown, who was quoted by The New Yorker: "When Donald and Ivana came to the c[****]o, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor. ... They put us all in the back."

In 1991, a book by John O'Donnell, who had been president of the Trump Plaza Hotel and C[*****]o in Atlantic City, quoted Trump as criticizing a black accountant and saying: "Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day."

No one hates just Mexicans.
Posted by orrinj at 5:16 PM


Pokemon GO blamed for illegal border crossing from Canada to U.S. (Reuters, 7/23/16)

Two youths unaware of their surroundings when they were playing Pokemon GO on their cell phones made an illegal border crossing this week from Canada into the United States in a remote part of Montana, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said.

Posted by orrinj at 12:57 PM


Joy Reid: Progressives Disappointed at Kaine Pick, Democrats Should Be Concerned (David Rutz, July 23, 2016, Free Beacon)

Liberal MSNBC commentator Joy Reid said Democrats should be concerned at the disappointment among progressives with Hillary Clinton's selection of Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.) as her running mate. [...]

Reid said it felt like a continuation of Clinton running effectively as a third term of Barack Obama, who Kaine supported for president. [...]

The Washington Post reported that groups with ties to far-left Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), whose presidential run was far stronger than expected, were critical of the choice because of Kaine's prior votes on Wall Street and trade agreements.

Democratic Party Chair Kaine Upsets Abortion Advocates With Choose Life Bill OK (Steven Ertelt, March 31, 2009, LifeNews.com) 

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine may support legal abortions but he has signed two bills that are causing some to question why he is the national Democratic Party chairman. Kaine signed a Choose Life license plate bill but also signed a measure blocking taxpayer funding for embryonic stem cell research.

The decision puts Kaine at odds with President Barack Obama, who overturned an executive order earlier this month and made taxpayers fund the controversial research that involves the destruction of human life.

Obama made Kaine the head of the Democratic Party after he was elected last November.

The bill Kaine signed prohibits money from a state fund form going to organizations or businesses that engage in "research in Virginia on human cells or tissue derived from induced abortions or from stem cells obtained from human embryos."

Lynda Tran, the governor's communications director, told CNN that Kaine's decision to sign the bill is "in keeping with his faith and his personal beliefs."

"The governor is opposed to the use of state funds to fund embryonic stem cell research, but he generally agrees with the national platform broadly, that there are scientific values to stem cell research," Tran said. "In Virginia, where there has been strong opposition to embryonic research, he has made it a choice to focus on other forms of research like adult and placental stem cell research."

But Kaine's decision to sign the Choose Life license plate bill is not going over well with abortion advocates.

NARAL president Nancy Keen said, "It is unfortunate that, even after receiving thousands of messages from Virginians and pro-choice activists across the country, Gov. Kaine has opted to sign [the bill]."

And Paulette McElwain, the president of the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood told Politico, "It is surprising that Governor Kaine would do this, but it's all the more surprising that he would do it as chair of the DNC."

Posted by orrinj at 9:42 AM


Iran condemns Munich mall attack that killed 9 (AFP AND TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF July 23, 2016)

 Iran on Saturday condemned a shooting spree at a busy shopping center in Munich a day earlier, in which a teenage German-Iranian gunman killed nine people before committing suicide.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi denounced "the killing of innocent and defenseless people" and expressed Iran's solidarity with the German government and people, official IRNA news agency reported.

Ghasemi also called for a "relentless and comprehensive fight" to eradicate violence.

Posted by orrinj at 9:36 AM


Erdogan's mass appeal saved him on coup night (PASCALE TROUILLAUD, July 23, 2016, Times of Israel)

In the tense hours when rebel troops attacked with fighter jets and tanks, and commandos were closing in on him, Erdogan called directly on the Turkish people to resist the mutineers.

Using the social media he previously despised, and sometimes blocked, he mobilized the citizens who confronted and stopped the plotters.

"What makes Erdogan different is that he knew the people would move when he asked them to," said Can Acun, a researcher with Turkish think-tank SETA.

"He was aware of the strong linkage between him and the people that he had strengthened through long years."

Having risen from working-class roots, Erdogan served as Istanbul mayor and went on to lead the nation, as premier and then president, in a success story celebrated by his loyal Muslim conservative base. [...]

[I]n many working-class areas and the vast Anatolian heartland, Erdogan is beloved by millions who celebrate a bigger role for Islam in public life, have benefited from a revitalized economy, and share a new sense of national pride under a potent ruler.

Erdogan won the 2014 election with 52 percent of the vote, making him "the first directly elected president of the people, with an added legitimacy," said Pierini.

Unfortunately, the Brotherhood moved too slowly in Egypt, so it was ill-equipped to thwart a similarly anti-democratic coup.

Posted by orrinj at 9:17 AM


Tim Kaine, Pro-Israel Centrist From Virginia, Hillary Clinton's Vice President Pick (Nathan Guttman, Jul 22, 2016, Forward)

Virginia's Kaine is a centrist pro-Israel choice who should please moderate Jewish voters as Hillary's No. 2.

"He's not going to appeal to the Bernie Sanders voters. He's a centrist," Ron Halber, executive director of the Greater Washington JCRC, told the Forward. [...]

Kaine, who has also served as head of the Democratic National Committee, has visited Israel several times and has supported the funding of Iron Dome systems and the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act. Halber noted that he was a "very good friend" of the U.S.-Israel partnership, but he added that if chosen as vice president, he may want to see movement on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. "His social background and his sympathy to the oppressed will likely make him want to see a solution," he said, "but he will also support defending Israel in the U.N. and expanding the relationship."

Kaine is a member of a small group of senators who participate in a biweekly reflection group organized by the Faith and Politics Institute.

"I had many, many personal deep conversations with him, and he is genuinely a friend of Israel," said Rabbi Jack Moline, one of the group's moderators. Moline believes that much of Kaine's worldview was shaped during his work as a Jesuit missionary in Honduras. "It had an immense influence on his understanding of the need to make the world a better place."

In Virginia, Kaine hosted the first Passover Seder in the governor's mansion.

Before entering the U.S. Senate the well-liked Kaine had been the mayor of Richmond, governor of Virginia and chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Kaine, 58, is a fluent Spanish speaker after serving as a missionary in Honduras, and his presence on the ticket could help Clinton in Virginia, a heavily contested swing state.

Tim Kaine's abortion predicament : Once again, the Democratic VP prospect's record on abortion rights is under scrutiny. (DARREN SAMUELSOHN and DANIEL STRAUSS 07/04/16, Politico)

Tim Kaine has been here before: a leading vice-presidential contender with a complicated stance on abortion that doesn't neatly align with the one held by the top of the ticket.

His personal opposition to abortion generated significant scrutiny back in 2008 when Barack Obama, an abortion rights supporter, included the then-Virginia governor on his shortlist of running mates. Kaine's hometown newspaper in Richmond flagged the potentially awkward partnership right away, pointing out the philosophical and policy differences in a side-by-side graphic widely republished by media outlets across the country. [...]

He pledged in his 2005 gubernatorial campaign to reduce the number of terminated pregnancies in the state by promoting adoption and abstinence-focused education. That cycle, the state NARAL chapter ripped Kaine's GOP opponent, Jerry Kilgore, as "an extremely anti-choice candidate" but still withheld its endorsement of Kaine because he "embraces many of the restrictions on a woman's right to choose."

In a 2007 NARAL scorecard, Kaine was described as a "mixed-choice" governor and his state got an F grade thanks in part to a number of laws and other policies restricting access to abortions. Two years later, Kaine upset both local and national reproductive rights groups by signing a law that authorized the sale of customized "Choose Life" license plates. Kaine argued he was supporting free speech, but his critics complained that the law would fund pro-life organizations and didn't square with another very important hat that he was wearing at the time: Obama's personally picked head of the Democratic National Committee.

Kaine brings many other attributes as a running mate, including a widely respected reputation for bipartisanship, after serving just under four years in the Senate, and his own proven political chops winning three straight statewide races in the critical battleground of Virginia. But the hot button issue of abortion, where he has a much more nuanced stance than many of his fellow Democrats, is the baggage he carries.

The next presidential race just got tougher for the GOP, because the sitting VP will already own the issues Republicans need to run on to win.

It's a very savvy appeal to constituencies she can poach : Catholics, neocons, Bushies, Evangelicals, goo-goos, etc.

The now-defunct Project Exile that Kaine backed was so unusual it was championed by Republicans and Democrats alike and by both the top U.S. gun lobby group and gun-control advocates. But the federal program launched in 1997 in Richmond, Virginia, was also criticized at the time as a racially biased initiative that condemned young black men to lengthy prison terms. [...]

As Richmond mayor from 1998 to 2001, Kaine, 58, was a vocal supporter of Project Exile, crediting it with reducing the city's murder rate.

Its goal was to literally live up to its name by making illegal gun possession a federal, not a state, crime, which allowed prosecutors to send convicted felons, most of them black, to a distant federal penitentiary for at least five years.

July 22, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 7:18 PM


Trump loves to talk about ratings, but his convention speech got beat by John McCain (Sarah Frostenson, July 22, 2016, Vox)

Donald Trump has spent much of his presidential campaign touting his ability to drive ratings -- but his speech at the Republican National Convention Thursday didn't quite deliver. [...]

Trump drew 32.2 million viewers to watch the final night of the RNC. That falls well behind the 40 million who watched John McCain accept the Republican nomination in 2008 -- and slightly ahead of the 30.3 million who tuned in for Mitt Romney's 2012 address.

Posted by orrinj at 4:38 PM


Many 2012 Republican campaign promises have come true under .... Obama? (Christine Romans, 7/22/16, CNNMoney)

Mitt Romney four years ago pledged to bring the unemployment rate down to 6% by the end of 2016. Back then the jobless rate was above 8%. But it has moved steadily lower, falling below 5% today. The economy has added some 9 million jobs. In 2014, the U.S. saw the fastest job growth since 1999, and the second best in 2015.

The "Obama economy" has also delivered on other Republican promises.

Four years ago, presidential hopefuls Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich promised gas prices below $2.50 a gallon and the GOP platform called for more domestic oil production. During the second Obama administration, domestic oil production has surged to a record (in part because of fracking) and America's abundant oil supplies have helped slam oil prices and bring gas prices down to $2.20 a gallon.

In the stock market, blue chips have never been higher. Since the week of the 2012 convention in Tampa, the Dow has shot up more than 40%, rising from 13,000 to over 18,500.

The bitter reality for the Right and the Left is that the UR is who we hoped McCain/Romney would be.
Posted by orrinj at 4:29 PM


Fact-checking Donald Trump's Republican National Convention speech: 6 things he got wrong  (ALFRED NG, 7/21/16, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Here are six parts of the reported draft that were about as real as Trump's "publicist," John Miller.

"Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration's rollback of criminal enforcement"

Nationwide, violent crime is actually at its lowest point since 1970, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics, and the number is steadily declining.

"In our nation's capital, killings have risen by 50%"

Assuming the billionaire is referring to Washington, D.C., 2016 murders have actually decreased by 9%, from the same date in July in 2015, according to the city's police department

Trump could be referring to a 54% increase in D.C. murders from 2014 to 2015, but he's ignoring the fact that overall crime actually dropped 4% that same year. Murders have actually been gradually decreasing since 2008, when President Obama took office, until the 2015 spike.

Posted by orrinj at 4:25 PM


Please clap: Kansas jobs are up but so is unemployment rate (YAEL T. ABOUHALKAH, 7/22/16, Kansas City Star)

[K]ansas had the seventh worst job growth rate in the country from June 2015 to June of this year at a puny 0.2 percent.

The state has been among the bottom 10 in the nation for adding jobs in much of the last year, along with North Dakota, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Alaska and Louisiana, among others. [...]

Summed up, the promises by Brownback that his 2012 tax cuts were going to stimulate a strong surge in employment haven't come true, even while dozens of other states are doing far, far better than Kansas. The Brownback claim that the national economy is dragging down the Kansas economy looks pretty weak, given the impressive job gains in states such as Utah, Oregon and California.

Posted by orrinj at 4:22 PM


S&P 500 CLOSES AT ALL-TIME HIGH: Here's what you need to know (Akin Oyedele , 7/22/16, Business Insider)

[T]he S&P 500 inched above its previous closing high once again. 

The Dow finished the week higher, after breaking a nine-day streak of gains to all-time highs on Thursday.

First, the scoreboard:

Dow: 18,570.79, +53.56, (0.29%)

S&P 500: 2,175.03, +9.86, (0.46%)

Nasdaq: 5,100.16, +26.26, (0.52%)

WTI crude oil: $44.19, -$0.56, (-1.3%)

Posted by orrinj at 4:05 PM


Posted by orrinj at 4:00 PM


Housing Market Moving At Fastest Pace In Nearly A Decade, Study Reveals (Troy McMullen, 7/22/16, FORBES)

June marked the fastest, most competitive housing market since 2009, according to a survey by national real estate brokerage Redfin.

The realtor says homes went under contract in just 41 days in June, the shortest time seen since Redfin began tracking the market in 2009, and four fewer days than last June. And 25.9 percent of homes went off the market in just two weeks, up from 22.6 percent last year.

Not surprisingly, a shortage of supply and soaring demand in many places is driving the trend, says David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. 

Posted by orrinj at 3:52 PM


$42 Billion of Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Thwarted by 'Big Data' Analytics (Eric Pianin, July 22, 2016, Fiscal Times0

Touting a breakthrough in combating rampant fraud in the Medicare and Medicaid health care systems, the Obama Administration on Wednesday told Congress that it had prevented $42 billion of improper payments to doctors and other medical providers in fiscal 2013 and 2014 by using more sophisticated detection methods. [...]

The results have marked a turnaround in the government success rate in preventing the loss of billions of dollars allotted to the healthcare of seniors, the poor, children and the disabled. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) says every dollar that was invested in the agency's Medicare "integrity efforts" saved $12.40 for the Medicare program.

Posted by orrinj at 2:52 PM


How Erdogan has managed to create a lasting appeal in Turkey (Thomas Seibert, July 3, 2016, The National)

One reason for Mr Erdogan's lasting appeal is the economy. Many Turks who still remember the days of hyperinflation and economic crashes cherish the stability and growing affluence under Mr Erdogan's rule. Turkey's GNP has almost tripled since his Justice and Development Party (AKP) took power in 2002. The number of cars on Turkish roads has more than doubled. Many people can afford an apartment to live in and a holiday for the first time in their lives. Although two-digit growth rates are a thing of the past, the economy is expanding enough to keep many people reasonably happy. Warning signs such as rising credit card debts have so far failed to make voters blame Mr Erdogan for their woes.

Another big factor is the president's undisputed political talent. Even though he lives in a 1,100-room palace in Ankara, he still succeeds in presenting himself as the simple man from Kasimpasa, the lower middle-class neighbourhood in Istanbul where he grew up, lacing his speeches with colloquialisms and tough talk to fire up his supporters.

Mr Erdogan, a practising Muslim, can pull this off because he rose to fame as the leader of a social sea-change in Turkey. Under the AKP's rule, the country's traditional secularist elites were pushed out by a new class of more observant Turks. The Islamic headscarf is a symbol of that change: 20 years ago, the only women in headscarves in posh Istanbul malls were the ones cleaning the rest rooms; today they drive their Porsches right up to the valets and toss them the car keys as they swan in to shop at designer boutiques.

Turkey coup: How mobiles beat tanks and saved Erdogan (Thom Poole, 7/18/16, BBC News)

Hours after the attempted coup began, Turkey's defiant president appealed to supporters to take to the streets and confront the rebels.

But when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed the nation as events unfolded on Friday, he did not do it from the back of a tank, but from a smartphone held up to the camera of broadcaster CNN Turk.

It was an extraordinary moment on an extraordinary night, but one that tells us much about why Mr Erdogan is still in power, and why thousands of soldiers are now in jail.

The coup failed for a number of reasons. Chiefly, the organisers lacked broader military backing and failed to gain public and political support.

But another explanation may lie in the very different ideas the two sides had about how to get their message across. [...]

Troops also stormed CNN Turk during the night, its Facebook live feed left showing an empty desk and chair.

"We are broadcasting until the last minute, as we think it is important for Turkish democracy and the future of the country," said CNN Turk anchor Basak Sengul, before being ushered out of the studio.

It was Mr Erdogan's message, however, that proved most important and which, combined with similar statements from other senior Turkish politicians, showed the country's democratic leadership was safe and well.

By the time he flew back to Istanbul from the Marmaris holiday resort in southern Turkey, thousands had defied the curfew, some lying down in front of tanks to halt their movement.

Even if those behind the coup had been able to control traditional media, they could not stop people accessing news on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and other platforms.

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