Links for 3-31-2015

  • Hans Fiene describes his generation's manufactured outrage at Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act:

    But we still misrepresented the bill, lied about it, shared articles on social media that labeled the legislation as intentionally, undeniably anti-gay, and dismissingly enclosed the phrase “religious liberty” in scare quotes. Just as we did with such success in Arizona, we screamed that this bill would unlock the gates of hell and allow a horde of bigoted devils to deny Hoosier homosexuals a chicken salad sandwich, all while knowing that, because sexual orientation isn’t a protected class in Indiana, these beasts have already been free to do so this entire time and yet, annoyingly, chose not to. But we had already laced up our boots for the march on New Selma and we’re weren’t going to take them off just because the modern-day segregationists wouldn’t do us the courtesy of existing.

    Just as our desire to believe that we really were as holy as the civil-rights saints was so strong that we willingly slandered the opposition and lied about the legislation, so we made ourselves impervious to shame and irony in defense of our newfound righteousness. We looked to the icon of racial equality, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man whose greatest accomplishments included spearheading nationwide non-violent protests, preaching peace, giving speeches, and writing letters that will live forever in the annals of American history, and we felt not an ounce of humiliation when the best prophet we could place beside him was George Takei, a man whose greatest accomplishments include pretending to fly a spaceship on TV and sharing funny pictures of cats on the Internet.

    And what form of protest did Takei threaten as Pence prepared to sign the accursed bill into law? Sit-ins? Bus boycotts? No, he threatened that a gaming convention would move out of Indianapolis. Our leader didn’t say, “I have a dream,” he said, “If you sign this bill that we’re all pretending says something it doesn’t, a bunch of grown men who pretend to be fictional characters will pretend to be fictional characters in another state that we’re pretending won’t almost certainly have an identical law already on the books.” How can any self-respecting person not explode in a ball of humiliation when comparing Selma with Gen Con, you ask? We don’t need self-respect anymore. We sacrificed it to keep the cause and our moral superiority.

  • Andrew McCarthy can't understand why Congressman Trey Gowdy wants to privately interview Hillary Clinton instead of subpoenaing her to testify in public and under oath: “A good investigator is not indulgent of a recalcitrant witness who is making a mockery of the investigative process. He uses the tools the law gives him to make it crystal clear that that he is not running a kangaroo court. He makes certain that witnesses and the public understand that the law requires compliance with congressional-committee demands for information. This shouldn’t be a case of Gowdy asking Clinton to please do him a favor.”

  • A Travis County, Texas grand jury failed to indict University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall, but it did write a poison pen letter suggesting he be removed from his position and that the University of Texas make it more difficult for regents to file requests for public records (in the name of transparency, of course). Hall responded with his own letter attacking the instigators of this entire controversy: “The campaign by Speaker Straus, Representative Flynn and Senator Seliger to criminalize my service as a Regent constitutes abuse of office. Their use of the levers of political power to cover up wrongdoing by legislators should now be investigated, and those exposed for their abuses should be driven from office.”

  • The web site GitHub is normally used for collaborative software development, but it has also been used to circumvent the Great Firewall of China by hosting content that would otherwise be blocked. The Chinese government doesn't take kindly to this, so they staged a distributed denial of service attack that worked in a nefarious way. Requests sent by people's web browsers to innocuous Chinese web sites would be intercepted by the Great Firewall, and malicious JavaScript software would be returned and would execute in the browser. That malicious software hammered on GitHub – people were unknowingly complicit in the Chinese government's effort to take the site down.

  • A study commissioned by the Belgian government showed that Facebook is violating European Union privacy laws. Facebook tracks people who visit the site even if they don't have a Facebook account, and does so without asking the visitor's consent. They also track people who have a Facebook account but explicitly opt out of tracking.

  • HP sued the former CEO and CFO of Autonomy, a British software company that HP acquired in 2011 for $11.7 billion. HP claims Mike Lynch and Sushovan Hussain engaged in fraudulent activity at Autonomy, and they're seeking $5.1 billion in compensation.

  • Russia conducted another test of its nuclear-capable RS-26 missile at a range that puts it in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Russia claims the RS-26 is an intercontinental ballistic missile, but they've been testing it at intermediate ranges.

  • A group called Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) took an Istanbul prosecutor, Mehmet Selim Kiraz, hostage. Turkish special forces attacked the courthouse where Kiraz was being held. Kiraz was killed in the resulting melee, as were two DHKP-C members.

Links for 5-30-2015

Links for 3-29-2015

Links for 3-28-2015

  • On Thursday the head of U.S. Central Command told Congress that the U.S. agreed to bomb ISIS targets in Tikrit on the condition that Shiite militias would not be participating in the final assault on the city. A Pentagon spokesman later clarified that most of the Shiite militias had withdrawn from Tikrit. One of the Shiite militias that remained – and therefore benefitted from the American airstrikes – was the Popular Mobilization Committee, which is not a nice bunch:

    The leadership of the Popular Mobilization Committee is closely tied to Iran and its commander is a designated terrorist. The unit, which was established in June 2014 after the Iraqi Army and police collapsed as the Islamic State advanced in multiple provinces the overarching command for all of the Shiite militias.

    The Popular Mobilization Committee is led by Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, a former commander in the Badr Organization who was listed by the US government as Specially Designated Global Terrorist in July 2009. The US government described Muhandis, whose real name is Jamal Jaafar Mohammed, as “an advisor to Qassem Soleimani,” the commander of the Qods Force, the external operations wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

  • It’s difficult to know exactly when Hillary Clinton deleted all of the email from her personal server, but it appears she did it after her email had been subpoenaed. That sort of action would get a prole into big trouble, but a Clinton…

  • ProPublica and Gawker went back through Sidney Blumenthal’s email (his account was hacked in 2013 and his emails were released) and it appears that Blumenthal was running an intelligence acquisition and analysis operation for Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State. The reports issued by the operation were written by Tyler Drumheller, a former high-level CIA employee. Among the reports were accounts of the deteriorating situation in Libya, reports that were delivered to Clinton before the Benghazi attack.

  • The Arcus Foundation and the Ford Foundation have spent more than $3 million since 2013 on campaigns opposing religious freedom exemptions.

  • A coalition of jihadist groups claims they’ve gained control of Idlib, Syria. It was formerly controlled by Bashar al Assad’s government.

  • Al Shabaab attacked a hotel in Mogadishu that’s popular with government officials and foreigners. Somali special forces eventually killed the six attackers, but 18 people were killed and at least 28 were wounded.

  • Andrew Klavan’s “50 Shades of Barack Obama”:

Links for 3-27-2015

  • Hillary Clinton wiped her personal email server clean and won't turn it over to a third party for forensic analysis.

  • The U.S. only had an hour's notice that Saudi Arabia was going to attack the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Houthis are still gaining territory despite Saudi airstrikes, which have been joined by the United Arab Emirates. The U.S. rescued two Saudi pilots who ejected from their F-15 over the Gulf of Aden.

  • The ex-girlfriend of Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz recently told her, “One day I will do something that will change the system and everyone will then know my name and remember me.” A doctor had given Lubitz a note excusing him from work the day of the Germanwings crash, but Lubitz concealed it from the airline.

  • Bowe Bergdahl's defense is that he walked to another base to report misconduct in his unit and was captured by the Taliban on the way. He left the base without his weapon. Hmmm.

  • The deal with Iran has degenerated to the point where the parties may declare the output of the negotiations a “narrative” and not bother writing it down:

    You can be an eeyore and mope over the fact that Syria’s a pile of rubble, Yemen and Libya are headed for Mad-Max-style anarchy, Iraq is now divided between Shiite death squads and a Wahhabist Fourth Reich, and the region as a whole is on the brink of all-out sectarian war backed by Saudi Arabia and Iran. Or you can put on a happy face and pretend that this piece-of-sh*t Iran deal, which is going to end up making all of the conflicts I just mentioned worse, is some sort of new Treaty of Westphalia. One minor difference between this deal and that deal, though: Westphalia was actually written down.

  • Jim Geraghty summarized Ted Cruz's brief career in George W. Bush's Federal Trade Commission:

    While Cruz’s time in the Senate is best known for fiery speeches and high-profile gestures like his 21-hour filibuster, in his earlier time in Washington he demonstrated a wonkish eye for detail and an eagerness to take on powerful industry groups that he saw as stifling competition. Though his efforts ultimately succeeded on a much smaller scale than he’d initially envisioned, they demonstrated a relentless focus on repealing or preventing the passage of laws that he felt needlessly regulated the marketplace. If this early period of Cruz’s career is any guide, a Cruz presidency would feature a sustained push to roll back federal regulations, one where outcomes are measured carefully but where success may be less black-and-white than Cruz’s public comments since his election to the Senate might suggest.

  • Jeb Bush hired James Baker as a foreign policy advisor. Matthew Continetti writes that Bush is now busy disassociating himself from Baker:

    Republicans don’t have any need or desire for James Baker’s foreign policy because they’ve spent the last six years seeing it enacted by Barack Obama.

    Later:

    And if Bush can’t stand up to an 84-year-old Texas lawyer who became secretary of State the year Taylor Swift was born, how on earth is he going to stand up to Putin, Baghdadi, Khamenei, Kim, Maduro, Xi, and all the other monsters in the world?

  • Senator Harry Reid won't run for re-election in 2016. National Review re-published Kevin Williamson's profile of Reid, which is excellent.

  • The U.S. Department of Education places funding restrictions on colleges that are in financial trouble, something they call “heightened cash monitoring.” Unfortunately they refuse to disclose which schools are in this state.

Links for 3-26-2015

Links for 3-25-2015