April 9, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 6:21 PM


Trump administration gives mixed messages about its goals in Syria (Laura King, 4/09/17, LA Times)

The Trump administration gave mixed messages about its goals in Syria on Sunday, with top officials stressing different priorities in the wake of a U.S. airstrike that marked a deepening involvement in the country's bitter conflict.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the departure of Syrian President Bashar Assad is a U.S. priority, just as it was under the Obama administration, and that peace in Syria was probably impossible while he remained in power.

Providing Republican continuity.
Posted by orrinj at 6:04 PM


North Korea Freaks Out After The Wall Street Journal Calls For 'Regime Change' (RYAN PICKRELL, 04/04/2017, Daily Caller)

"It is time to make regime change in North Korea the explicit aim of U.S. policy, both on strategic and humanitarian grounds," Bret Stephens wrote in a March 27 op-ed for WSJ. Stephens suggested that Kim Jong-un could be brought down in a coup, ending his reign of terror with either exile or execution. Regime change could involve the selection of new North Korean leadership or the end of North Korea. Neither option is particularly desirable for Kim Jong-un.

"The March 27 issue of the paper let out such flurry of nonsense that the U.S. should set a regime change in the DPRK as a clear-cut policy target," KCNA wrote in response, "For the DPRK this sounds as nothing but a scream made by those frightened by the invincible might of the DPRK."

"The Wall Street Journal would be well advised to halt its foolish propaganda to hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK and think about when or how the U.S. may disappear from the surface of the earth," KCNA warned.

North Korea got upset at Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain recently for calling Kim Jong-un a "crazy fat kid."

KCNA responded by stating that McCain's comment was "a grave provocation little short of a declaration of war against" North Korea.

...is that there is no possibility of collateral damage in Pyongyang--it's all loyalists.

Posted by orrinj at 5:57 PM


Le Pen says France not responsible for WWII round up of Jews (AFP, April 9, 2017)

Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen denied Sunday that the French state was responsible for the wartime round-up of Jews at a Paris cycling track who were then sent to Nazi death camps.

Former President Jacques Chirac and current leader Francois Hollande have both apologised for the role French police played in the round-up of more than 13,000 Jews at the Vel d'Hiv cycling track which was ordered by Nazi officers in 1942.

But Le Pen told the LCI television channel on Sunday: "I don't think France is responsible for the Vel d'Hiv."

Steve Bannon loves France : White House strategist has borrowed heavily from Le Pen and other touchstones of the French far right. (EMMA-KATE SYMONS, 3/22/17, Politico)

Bannon admires the anti-immigrant policies and economic nationalism of National Front leader Marine Le Pen and his far-right Francophilia goes even deeper. Donald Trump's chief strategist has said he is also a fan of a violently anti-Jewish propagandist and Nazi collaborator as well as other cultural touchstones for the French far right -- offering clues to where the Trump administration may take America.

Trump's inauguration in January was widely seen as emboldening Europe's far right movements. His "America First" vision, outlined in a speech written with close help from Bannon, seemed to give a lead to nationalist movements across the Continent.

But the flow of inspiration may actually be in the other direction.

For political scientist Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, French presidential contender Le Pen can plausibly lay claim to the roots of Bannon-Trumpism: "The politics put in place by Donald Trump and his collaborator Steve Bannon are profoundly inspired by the extreme right in Europe, but most notably by the program of Marine Le Pen."

Posted by orrinj at 5:32 PM


Camille Paglia and the Battle of the Sexes (Suzanne Venker, 4/06/17, Quillette)

This movement, she writes, began its descent the moment it turned on men. The feminists of the 1920s and 30s "showed with class and style what it was to be a modern woman, free of the shackles of the past." But, she adds, they "accepted the achievements of the men of the past . . . There was not the kind of wholesale male-bashing or derisive denigration of men that would later become so entrenched a feature of the second wave of feminism that continues at present."

Paglia herself was raised in the 1950s, an environment she personally found "unbearable" but which she would later concede made sense for the times, as parents were reeling from the Depression and World War II and merely wanted "something better for their children."

Still, the social repression of that era didn't cater to Paglia's needs. So it isn't surprising she became enamored with women such as Amelia Earhart, Katharine Hepburn and Germaine Greer--all of whom represented "the new 20th century woman." Like Paglia, these women were nonconformists who symbolized for Paglia what it meant to be a modern, free-thinking woman.

But in the next sentence Paglia separates herself from the "smug and entitled" feminists of our day who have zero understanding of human nature. All three of these 20th century non-conformist women, writes Paglia, were childless. Translation: they were different from most women. Most women, says Paglia, are biologically wired to procreate--and, foolishly, feminists pretend otherwise. "Feminist ideology has never dealt honestly with the role of the mother in human life."

In many ways, motherhood is the constant in women's lives that brings them together in a primal way. Yet women are routinely pulled away from this natural state, this human desire, as though wanting a child or, God forbid, taking care of one, makes a woman a lesser being. I remember my mother telling me, on more than one occasion, that when she attended her graduate school reunion at Radcliffe (in the 1970s), one of the female professors gave a lecture about work and family and said women would need to deal with children as an "intrusion" into their lives.

But the motherhood dilemma isn't new to feminism. What is new is its glaring animosity toward men. "[Feminist ideology's] portrayal of history as male oppression and female victimage is a gross distortion of the facts," writes Paglia. "There was a rational division of labor from the hunter and gatherer period that had its roots not in the male desire to subjugate and imprison but in the procreative burden which has fallen on woman from nature."

She adds, "Feminism cannot continue with this poisonous rhetoric--it is disastrous for young women to be indoctrinated to think in that negative way about men."

The animosities of revolutions seldom make any sense, nor are they sustainable, precisely because those revolting just want those they revolt against to live up to their own rhetoric.  .

Posted by orrinj at 5:18 PM


McFarland to Exit White House as McMaster Consolidates Power (Jennifer Jacobs, April 9, 2017, Bloomberg)

K. T. McFarland has been asked to step down as deputy National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump after less than three months and is expected to be nominated as ambassador to Singapore, according to a person familiar with White House personnel moves.

If presidential administrations are defined by their first 100 days, this one has been notable for the fencing in of the president with investigations, the Judiciary and Legislative branches over-ruling his policy prescriptions and the removal of his loyalists from the Executive Branch, replaced by professionals.

Posted by orrinj at 5:14 PM



It's a curious fact of Buchanan's political history that his crusades are remembered as other men's defeats--George H. W. Bush's in 1992 and Bob Dole's in 1996. Both secured the Republican nomination, but only after Buchanan beat them up and exposed them as out-of-touch frontmen for the GOP elite. In '92, amid a slumping economy, Buchanan railed against Japan's "predatory trade policies" and an agreement with Mexico later called NAFTA. The United States, he suggested, should think about quitting the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. These heresies got him 37.5 percent of the vote in New Hampshire against the glass-jawed incumbent Bush. Four years later, declaring himself the tribune of "a conservativism that gives voice to the voiceless," Buchanan won the state outright, beating Dole by a percentage point. Dole recovered in later primaries, but, like Bush, he staggered on rubbery legs to the finish line, where Bill Clinton was waiting.

Trump also belongs to the company of the Buchanan-scarred. The confrontation happened in 2000, when Buchanan, having become a pariah within the GOP, made a quixotic last stand on the Reform party ticket. Trump, even more quixotically, sought the Reform nomination, too, swaggering in with a book to promote and hot-air talk of the $100 million he would spend to get on the ticket and then to win "the whole megillah." Before Buchanan smacked him down, Trump got in some preemptive sore-loser licks. "Look, he's a Hitler lover," he said. "I guess he's an anti-Semite. He doesn't like the blacks, he doesn't like the gays." For once affecting a statesman's high detachment, Buchanan said only that the Reform party and the presidency weren't for sale.

He remembers it all today, as he remembers much else in his half-century of national politics, as a quasi-joke. "Somebody said, 'Pat, he called you a Nazi, a Hitlerite.' I said, 'With Trump, you have to realize, these are terms of endearment.' "

Posted by orrinj at 1:38 PM


Insurance is Driving Physicians Mad; Nearly Half Now Say They'd Prefer Single-Payer (Beth Kutscher, 3/30/17, LinkedIn)

The reasons that patients delay care until they can't wait any longer are complex. But a barrier doctors said they consistently see is a fragmented system: People either don't have health insurance or can't find a doctor who accepts their coverage.

The physician sentiment comes as Congress is locked in a debate about what to do about the Affordable Care Act. Republicans in the House last week pulled a bill that would have significantly altered the insurance landscape.

But for many physicians, the issue comes down to efficiency. In their responses, they cited the administrative hassle of working with multiple insurance companies, each with its own rules and billing procedures. And they pointed to some of the less visible costs, like patients who bounce from one healthcare provider to another as their health plans change.

A total of 48% of physicians said they would be in favor of single-payer healthcare, while 32% were opposed and 21% said they didn't know.

Posted by orrinj at 11:50 AM


UN's Haley: After chemical attack, Assad has to go (AFP, 4/09/17)

In the interview with CNN, Haley said peace in Syria was impossible with Assad in power.

"There's not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime," she told the "State of the Union" program.

Pretty amusing how easily she seized the reins and reversed the Administration position.

Posted by orrinj at 11:31 AM


Automated Trucking Startup Peloton Drafts $60 Million in Funding (Kirsten Korosec, Apr 06, 2017, Fortune)

Peloton Technology has developed a driver assistance system for commercial trucks using a combination of sensors, radar, and technology that allows the vehicles to communication with each other and surrounding infrastructure. The system is designed to let trucks safely platoon, an industry term that mean the vehicles can closely follow a lead truck to reduce wind resistance, which boosts fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. Despite the benefits of platooning, the practice is considered dangerous because human drivers can't react quickly enough to sudden braking.

An automated system should remove that risk. Peloton Technology says independent testing shows the trucks following the leader see a 10% bump in fuel savings.

Posted by orrinj at 7:51 AM


How Playing Tetris Tames The Trauma Of A Car Crash (Nicole Xu, 4/09/17, NPR)

Last week a group of researchers from the U.K. and Sweden published a study reporting that playing just 20 minutes of Tetris -- in research parlance, a "Tetris-based intervention" -- following an automobile accident can help prevent the formation of the painful, intrusive memories that can follow trauma.

The new research looked at 71 patients who had presented to the John Radcliffe Hospital emergency room in Oxford, England, within six hours of being in a car accident. While waiting to be seen, patients were first asked to recall their trauma and recount the worst moments that sprang to mind. (If it helps, they were paid.) They were then randomized to either play Tetris for 20 minutes on a handheld Nintendo DS XL system or to instead fill out an activity log of what they had experienced since arriving at the hospital. The latter group served as the control.

The gamers were found to have 62 percent fewer intrusive memories in the first week after their accident than the control group. What's more, their bad memories diminished more quickly than in controls.

You mean if you don't dwell on bad stuff it doesn't bother you as much?  Who's going to apologize to General Patton?

Posted by orrinj at 7:49 AM


Small investors' move to 'passive' stock funds becomes a stampede (Tom Petruno, 4/09/17, LA Times)

Whenever small investors have been pitched a financial product that promised to enrich them with little effort or expense, historically the smart response has been to turn and run.

There has been one shining exception over the last four decades: low-cost mutual funds that aim to do nothing more, or less, than generate the average return of the entire stock market, or a specific market sector.

These "passively managed" or "index" funds have delivered as they said they would -- and have shamed many "actively managed" U.S. stock funds, the majority of which over the long run have failed to exceed or match the average market return after deducting their fees.

Passive funds were relatively slow to catch on with individual investors in the 1980s and '90s. But over the last few years, Americans have poured record sums into the funds, including those that replicate the Standard & Poor's index of 500 big-name U.S. stocks. In that same period, investors have yanked record amounts from actively managed funds.