April 18, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 7:12 PM


Accused Fresno Mass Shooter Railed Against 'White Devils' (M.L. NESTEL & KATIE ZAVADSKI, 04.18.17, Daily Beast)

The man Fresno, California police say killed three people in a shooting spree Tuesday railed against "white devils" online and talked about "destroying the white man's world."

Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, was arrested by police outside Catholic Charities in central Fresno. Muhammad's alleged victims were white men, including a fourth person who shot but is expected to survive. Last week, police say Muhammad was responsible for killing a security guard at a local motel. [...]

Muhammad does not appear to be Muslim, according to his Facebook page, but rather an adherent of a fringe religious movement called the Moorish Science Temple. (Baton Rogue cop-killer Gavin Long was also an adherent.)

'SOVEREIGNS' IN BLACK : Members of 'Moorish' groups and other black Americans are taking up the ideas of the radical 'sovereign citizens' movement   (SPLC, August 24, 2011)

["Sheik" Jabbar] Gaines-El, who politely declined the Report's request for comment, is a 38-year-old Indiana native whose real name is Jabbar C. Gaines. He's one of a growing number of black Americans who, as members of outlandishly named "nations" or as individuals, subscribe to an antigovernment philosophy so extreme that some of its techniques, though nonviolent, have earned the moniker "paper terrorism." Communicating through social media and learning from an ever-expanding network of websites and online forums, they perplex and often harass law enforcement officials, courts, and local governments across the country.

What may be even stranger about Gaines and his black Fort Wayne cohorts is that the "sovereign citizens" ideology to which they adhere -- a conspiratorial belief system that argues that most Americans are not subject to most tax and criminal laws promulgated by the government -- was originally thoroughly anti-black. But its racist roots have been virtually forgotten by increasing numbers of black Americans who have melded it with selective interpretations of the teachings of pioneer black nationalist Noble Drew Ali, who founded the exclusively black Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA) almost 100 years ago.

The core ideas of the sovereign citizens movement originated in the racist and anti-Semitic Posse Comitatus group, which roiled the Midwest in the 1970s and 1980s and believed that the county sheriff is the highest legitimate law enforcement authority. Posse ideologues argued, in effect, that God gave America to the white man and therefore the government cannot abridge most rights of whites unless they submit to a "contract" with that government. But black people were only made citizens by the 14th Amendment, they argued, meaning that they have permanently contracted with the government and therefore must obey all its dictates.

The movement of sovereign citizens -- most of whom are clearly unaware of the ideology's racist roots -- has grown extremely rapidly in the last two or three years. And, while black Americans remain a relatively small fraction of the estimated 300,000 sovereign citizens nationwide, it seems clear that their numbers are growing. In the last year, more and more black sovereigns, including several arrested in Georgia and elsewhere for using bogus documents to try to steal houses, have been implementing the movement's basic ideas and techniques, which have spread into a number of radical black nationalist groups.

Posted by orrinj at 6:52 PM


FBI used dossier allegations to bolster Trump-Russia investigation (Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Manu Raju, April 18, 2017, CNN)

This includes approval from the secret court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to monitor the communications of Carter Page, two of the officials said. Last year, Page was identified by the Trump campaign as an adviser on national security.

Officials familiar with the process say even if the application to monitor Page included information from the dossier, it would only be after the FBI had corroborated the information through its own investigation. 

Posted by orrinj at 6:27 PM


Is Tehran's mayor lobbying to be only conservative candidate? (Rohollah Faghihi, April 18, 2017, Al Monitor)

The two main conservative candidates seeking to unseat incumbent Hassan Rouhani in the May 19 presidential vote are Ebrahim Raisi and Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf. Despite their claims of unity ahead of the elections, a closer look indicates that the conservatives are deeply divided.

Ghalibaf, the Tehran mayor who has now registered to run in three presidential elections, looks determined to stay in the race to the very end, mindful that a third-time defeat or withdrawal would lead to a further decline in his reputation. On the other hand, now that Raisi, the custodian of the holy shrine of the eighth Shiite imam, has risked his future political career and reputation by stepping into the fray, he is also not likely to pull out in favor of a starkly different figure such as Ghalibaf. [...]

Abbas Abdi, a prominent Reformist analyst, said April 18 that neither Ghalibaf nor Raisi will leave the competition in favor of one another, adding that supporters of the two candidates will rather clash during the presidential race.

Posted by orrinj at 6:22 PM


Weirdly Sexual Bernie Sanders Coloring Books Are Now for Sale (Joe Simonson, April 18, 2017, Heat Street)
If you're a sad, perverted socialist, Los Angeles-based illustrator and writer Nicole Daddonna has just the fix for you: Bernie Sanders coloring books.

Buff Bernie: A Coloring Book for Berniacs features the Soviet-loving Vermont senator with a "buff bod" in various suggestive poses for your coloring pleasure. Finally, someone combined two of the worst things about millennials: A love of coloring books and socialism.

Posted by orrinj at 10:11 AM


The Mystery of the Missing Lawsuits (Edward Whelan, 4/18/17, National Review)

Something remarkable has happened over the past year: nothing.

Exactly one year ago today, the Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Carhart rejected a facial challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003. Confronting "documented medical disagreement whether the Act's prohibition [on partial-birth abortion] would ever impose significant health risks on women," the five-justice majority ruled that such disagreement about health risks in particular circumstances did not warrant invalidating the act in its entirety. Instead, the Court virtually invited practitioners of partial-birth abortion and their allies to bring so-called as-applied challenges that would carve out from the Act's scope any circumstances in which partial-birth abortion might be shown to be necessary to preserve the mother's health. (See my essay "The Face-Off Over Partial-Birth Abortion" for a fuller discussion of the distinction between facial and as-applied challenges.)

In dissent, Justice Ginsburg predicted that these as-applied challenges would "be mounted swiftly, to ward off serious, sometimes irremediable harm, to women whose health would be endangered by the [Act's] prohibition." According to Ginsburg, "the record already includes hundreds and hundreds of pages of testimony identifying 'discrete and well-defined instances' in which recourse to an intact D&E [i.e., partial-birth abortion] would better protect the health of women with particular conditions."

So how many as-applied challenges have been filed over the past year? Zero. [...]

Let me offer my own best guess why the abortion industry has brought no as-applied challenges over the past year: It realizes that it has no prospect of winning because its vaunted medical evidence is, and always has been, very feeble.

That was clearly the assessment of the judge who most carefully examined the evidence, federal district judge (and Clinton appointee) Richard Conway Casey. In his lengthy 2004 ruling in National Abortion Federation v. Ashcroft, Judge Casey concluded that the government's expert witnesses "reasonably and effectively refuted Plaintiffs' proffered bases for the opinion that [partial-birth abortion] has safety advantages over other second-trimester abortion procedures." Casey stated that the government's experts had demonstrated that some of the proffered reasons were "incoherent" and not "credible" and that others were "merely theoretical." Providing examples of several meritless claims, Casey categorically stated: "In no case involving these or other maternal health conditions could Plaintiffs point to a specific patient or actual circumstance in which [partial-birth abortion] w
as necessary to protect a woman's health."

Posted by orrinj at 10:06 AM


Jenna Bush Hager Says Her 'Feminist' Father Inspired Her to Raise Strong Daughters (CATHERINE KAST,  APRIL 18, 2017, People)

"I think the thing that my parents did so well and might surprise people, although I don't know why, is that they really wanted us to be curious, independent thinkers," the Today correspondent tells PEOPLE. "They wanted to raise us to have our own views and to be able to articulate them."

She says that as kids, she and her twin sister Barbara Pierce Bush "always felt sorry for the boys in her class because our dad led us to believe that we were the smartest, most capable kids out there," she says.

"People laugh at this, but I think my dad was a feminist. He showed us that we could be whatever we wanted to be. I want my girls to feel that way. I want them to feel strong and capable and feel like they can conquer the world."

Posted by orrinj at 9:40 AM


IMF upgrades UK growth again as Theresa May hails economic strength (Szu Ping Chan, 18 APRIL 2017, The Telegraph)

In a further backtrack on its pre-referendum warnings of a possible recession and stock market collapse, the IMF raised its forecast for UK growth this year to 2pc, from a prediction of 1.5pc in January.

This represents the biggest upgrade of any major economy and means the UK is expected to grow faster than France, Germany and all other G7 economies this year apart from the US.

Posted by orrinj at 9:35 AM


Benghazi-obsessed Trump MIA on key security post : After criticizing Hillary Clinton relentlessly, the president has yet to nominate a State Department official charged with keeping diplomats safe. (AUSTIN WRIGHT, 04/18/17, Politico)

"The State Department has security professionals who are up to the job, but we do need all hands on deck given the many evolving threats we face," said Rep. Ed Royce of California, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "I hope a nominee for assistant secretary will be put forward soon."

Royce's Democratic counterpart on the Foreign Affairs panel, Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, said Trump's failure to nominate an assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security shows the Republican focus on Benghazi was "a bunch of political cheap talk" designed to tarnish Clinton's reputation.

Posted by orrinj at 8:47 AM


Why Mass Migration Is Good for Long-Term Economic Growth (Vincenzo Bove and Leandro Elia, APRIL 18, 2017, Harvard Business Review)

 In a recent study we asked the following question: Is the diversity created by mass migration a good thing for economic growth? To find out, we mobilized a large-scale data set on international migration from 1960 to 2010, using information on the nationality of the immigrants to construct indexes of birthplace diversity.

For each country at every census round, we measured its fractionalization level, the likelihood that two individuals randomly selected from the population were born in different countries. Higher degrees of fractionalization indicate more diversity. We also computed a "polarization index," or the extent to which a country's population was made up of two groups of equal size. To give some context, among the most fractionalized countries in 2010 were Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore, whereas the least fractionalized were China, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Somalia. In the same year, the most polarized economies were Luxembourg, Singapore, and most of the nations in the Arabian Peninsula, such as Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. The least polarized were China, Indonesia, Lesotho, and Somalia.

Because countries with higher economic growth attract higher numbers of immigrants, as well as immigrants from many different cultures, we faced a challenge in figuring out whether immigrants and diversity were causing economic growth, or were a consequence of it. Our model did not account for important issues that are difficult to observe or quantify, such as specific immigration policies; open-door policies toward immigrants are likely to correlate with both good economic performances and high levels of diversity. Excluding factors like these could lead to the wrong inference.

To circumvent some of these issues, we constructed predicted indexes of diversity using variables such as the geographic distance, colonial history, or existence of a common language between origin and destination countries. This method allowed us to create indexes of diversity based on exogenous characteristics that are uncorrelated with economic growth, as well as with other unobservable country-specific characteristics, such as the existence of particular immigration policies. In doing this, we isolated the portion of the correlation between diversity and economic growth that was due to the causal effect of diversity and removed the portion of the variability of diversity correlated with other relevant variables omitted from the model.

Our empirical findings suggest that cultural heterogeneity, measured by either fractionalization or polarization, has a discernible positive impact on the growth rate of GDP over long time periods. For, example, from 1960 to 2010, when the growth rate of fractionalization increased by 10 percentage points, the growth rate of per capita GDP increased by about 2.1 percentage points. (This is the average effect across all countries in the world.)

But we suspected that diversity might play a different role at different stages of development. Richer countries are closer to the technological frontier than poorer countries, so the adoption of new technologies should be faster in developing economies, and the labor force's skills and knowledge should increase at a faster rate. In other words, the more developed the destination country is, the less economic impact we are likely to see from migration.

To test this expectation, we split countries into subgroups of developing and developed economies, and then replicated our previous models. We found that developing economies are indeed more likely to experience a sharper increase in GDP growth rate after their populations become more diverse. Our estimates suggest that, from 1960 to 2010, a 10-percentage-point increase in the growth rate of fractionalization (or polarization) boosts per capita output by about 2.8 percentage points in developing countries. (That is 0.7 percentage points higher than the global average described above.) The same models suggest that the effect of diversity in the developed economies is much weaker. This all implies that developing economies benefit the most from diversity.

Posted by orrinj at 7:36 AM


Heavy lifting getting Mount Washington Auto Road ready for season (JOHN KOZIOL, 4/17/17, UNION LEADER)

On Monday, Ferreira drove a van full of reporters on an occasionally white-knuckle ride that was punctuated by some significant ruts and an occasional fish tail on the greasy-gravel portions of the road.

Ferreira stopped the van on the maintenance front lines, within the shadow of the notorious Cragway Drift, whose 20-foot tall snow bank on the southern side of the Auto Road has been laboriously cut, in multiple passes, by a snowcat.

The Bombardier snowcat was operated by Nate Reid and its road-clearing work was augmented by colleagues who used a road grader and a backhoe. Separately, but just as importantly, a two-person team "drilled" holes in frozen culverts with a pressurized hot-water sprayer.

The culverts need to be cleared, Ferreira explained, because if not directed down the side of the mountain, melting water could run across the Auto Road, creating tough going and erosion.

Clearing operations this year began on April 3 and they reached the Cragway Drift on April 14. The effort on Monday was helped by two days of warm weather that at lower elevations saw temperatures in the 80s.

In the days before snowcats and other heavy equipment, much of the Auto Road was cleared by teams with shovels and if the Auto Road opened by the Fourth of July, it was considered a success.

Posted by orrinj at 7:24 AM


Ivanka's biz prospers as politics mixes with business (ERIKA KINETZ and ANNE D'INNOCENZIO, 4/18/17, AP)

On April 6, Ivanka Trump's company won provisional approval from the Chinese government for three new trademarks, giving it monopoly rights to sell Ivanka brand jewelry, bags and spa services in the world's second-largest economy. That night, the first daughter and her husband, Jared Kushner, sat next to the president of China and his wife for a steak and Dover sole dinner at Mar-a-Lago.

The scenario underscores how difficult it is for Trump, who has tried to distance herself from the brand that bears her name, to separate business from politics in her new position at the White House.

Posted by orrinj at 6:21 AM


May to seek snap election for 8 June (BBC, 4/18/17)

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has announced plans to call a snap general election on 8 June.

She said Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership following the EU referendum.

Explaining the decision, Mrs May said: "The country is coming together but Westminster is not."