May 9, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 4:11 AM


VIDEO: Iraq's Islamic seminaries revive since Saddam Hussein's death: During the rule of Saddam Hussein, the seminaries had their powers and number of students limited but now they are witnessing a revival. (Dorsa Jabbari, 5/09/19, Al Jazeera)

Such freedom for Muslims is what the Right means when it says the war was a mistake.

Posted by orrinj at 4:03 AM


Putin, battling ratings slump, reviews Red Square military parade (Christian Lowe, Andrew Osborn, 5/09/19, Reuters)

Battling a ratings slump as Russia grinds through a sixth consecutive year of falling real incomes, Putin looked on as thousands of troops marched past and columns of tanks rumbled across the famous square in a display reminiscent of the Cold War era. [...]

Russia's ties with the West soured following its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and Moscow has continued to challenge the United States through its staunch support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro.

World leaders have attended in the past, but were conspicuous by their absence on Thursday, something the Kremlin played down.

These tin pots do love them some parades...

Posted by orrinj at 4:01 AM


Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM

(self reference alert):

Posted by orrinj at 3:43 AM


Study: U.S. Fossil Fuel Subsidies Exceed Pentagon Spending (TIM DICKINSON, 5/09/19, Rolling Stone)

The United States has spent more subsidizing fossil fuels in recent years than it has on defense spending, according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF found that direct and indirect subsidies for coal, oil and gas in the U.S. reached $649 billion in 2015. Pentagon spending that same year was $599 billion.

Posted by orrinj at 12:03 AM


How Voter Access Laws Led to Higher Turnout at the Pollls (Tim Henderson, 5/08/19, Stateline)

Around the country, state efforts to widen ballot access and Trump-era political passion spurred more voters to the polls in November than the last midterm elections in 2014. Nationally, 53% of the citizen voting-age population voted in 2018, a 12-point bump from the previous midterms, according to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


Trump Jr. subpoenaed as Congress battles White House over Russia report (MICHAEL MATHES, 5/09/19, Times of Israel)

A day after the top Republican in Congress called the Russia probe "case closed," Trump's conflict with his Democratic opponents escalated to new heights as a House panel voted to hold the nation's Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt for refusing to turn over key documents.

Following a day of drama that included Trump asserting executive privilege for the first time in his presidency, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee took the surprise step of issuing a subpoena to Donald Trump Jr. to testify as part of its investigation into Russian election interference, US media reported.

Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


Why Ramadan is called Ramadan: 6 questions answered (Mohammad Hassan Khalil, 5/22/17, The Conversation)

What is the significance of Ramadan?

Ramadan is a period of fasting and spiritual growth, and is one of the five "pillars of Islam" (the others being the declaration of faith, daily prayer, alms-giving, and the pilgrimage to Mecca). Able-bodied Muslims are expected to abstain from eating, drinking and sexual relations from dawn to sunset each day of the month. Many practicing Muslims also perform additional prayers, especially at night, and attempt to recite the entire Qur'an (Koran). The prevailing belief among Muslims is that it was in the final 10 nights of Ramadan that the Qur'an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

What is the connection between soul and body that the observance of Ramadan seeks to explain?

The Qur'an states that fasting was prescribed for believers so that they may be conscious of God. By abstaining from things that people tend to take for granted (such as water), it is believed, one may be moved to reflect on the purpose of life and grow closer to the creator and sustainer of all existence. As such, engaging in wrongdoing effectively undermines the fast. Many Muslims also maintain that fasting allows them to get a feeling of poverty, and this may foster feelings of empathy.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM



According to sources, Trump campaign officials are sounding the alarm over the president's early fund-raising hauls. Trump's son Don Jr. has privately warned donors that Trump only raised around $30 million in the last quarter, and pointed out that the number fell far short of the roughly $45 million Barack Obama raised in the second quarter of 2011 for his 2012 re-election bid, according to a source briefed on the conversations (A source close to Don Jr. disputed this). "They need more money, and there's no enthusiasm. They need to amp it up," a Trump donor told me. "Wall Street never liked Trump from the beginning. Goldman is filled with people who were Obama fund-raisers," another Trump donor told me. In 2016, Trump raised only about $351 million. Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign took in $483 million.

Sources say the anemic fund-raising is being driven by several factors. The biggest is Trump himself. Trump's shambolic governing style and endless tweeting are exhausting donors. "There's Trump fatigue," the longtime Republican donor told me. "The 2020 bumper sticker should be: 'Same Policies, but We Promise Less Crazy.'" Then there's Trump's difficult re-election pathway. According to a source, some donors aren't stepping up because Trump's numbers in must-win states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin continue to disappoint.

They need to be spending now in TX, AZ, etc.. Those three are long lost. It's just down ticket damage control now.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


A frustrated Trump questions his administration's Venezuela strategy (Anne Gearan, Josh Dawsey, John Hudson and Seung Min Kim May 8, 2019, Washington Post)

President Trump is questioning his administration's aggressive strategy in Venezuela following the failure of a U.S.-backed effort to oust President Nicolás Maduro, complaining he was misled...

McMaster blasts former colleagues as 'danger to the Constitution' (WESLEY MORGAN,  05/08/2019, Politico)

"The second group of people, and I think this is true in any administration," he explained, are those "who are not there to give the president options -- they're there to try to manipulate the situation based on their own agenda, not the president's agenda."

The third group of Trump advisers are those who "cast themselves in the role of saving the country, even the world, from the president," McMaster told an event hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a hawkish think tank where he is now a scholar.

The first group does not exist.