Links for 9-1-2017

  • Matt Labash wrote a tremendous profile of Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson. Labash followed Gibson around before, during, and after Antifa assaulted him in Berkeley. 

  • Mark Steyn writes on “The Coming Terror”:

    Meanwhile, the police stand around and watch. Administrators of publicly funded colleges dislike having to pay lip service to free speech, and are happy to have antifa’s shock troops on hand to send the message loud and clear. Municipal governments cannot, yet, be as openly hostile to dissent as college campuses are, but in Charlottesville the authorities were plainly resentful at a judge’s order commanding them to re-instate the neo-Nazis’ rally permit, and they determined to circumvent it. So they surrendered the streets to the “anti-fascists”, and then drove the “fascists” into their path: The good cops in effect decided to leave it to some informally deputized bad cops. The selective rule of law is one of the most unsettling features of contemporary America, and there will be a lot more of it in the years ahead.

    Charlottesville did, however, provoke CNN to one of its more inventive flights of fancy. A few days later, normality had sufficiently reasserted itself that Muslims were once again going full Allahua Akbar on the Continentals. Covering the Barcelona bombings, Wolf Blitzer suggested that it was a “copycat” attack modeled on Charlottesville. In Barcelona, the van drove into the pedestrianized area (as Muslim motorists have done in Nice, Berlin, Stockholm, London, etc); in Charlottesville, the police had abandoned the streets and so the pedestrians were swarming all over the roadway. In Barcelona, the driver was part of a twelve-man cell that had spent the previous days stockpiling their house with TATP; in Charlottesville, the driver was a diagnosed schizophrenic, but apparently such a murderous mastermind that within days he’d inspired that twelve-man cell all the way over in Spain to get their motor running and head out on the sidewalk. I’d be very surprised if a schizophrenic panicking at finding his vehicle surrounded by a mob of protesters could be convicted of anything more than involuntary manslaughter, but, as I said, the rule of law is increasingly capricious. And, as Professor Bray would explain, schizophrenic fascists cannot be defeated through speech.

  • Robert Tracinski wrote another good article on Google and free speech:

    It is entirely natural for a company to not want to give money to people calling for its destruction, and I totally support that. Yet Google and many other big tech firms have also tried to present themselves as beacons of “progressive ideals.” That’s why they funded the New America Foundation, which this article refers to as a center of “market-friendly Silicon Valley progressivism.” What’s progressive about it if it’s “market-friendly”? Well, the big tech companies and the people who work for them tend to back Democratic Party candidates. They pay lip service to “progressive” policies like the basic income. And they do things like firing employees for opinions the Left deems offensive, or targeting right-leaning YouTube channels for “demonetization.”

    That’s what “Silicon Valley progressivism” means: be the Left’s enforcers against heretics and infidels in the culture wars, in exchange for (temporary) dispensation for your sins against the Left in the realm of economics.

    By targeting Google for prosecution under the antitrust laws—the brainchild of the original Progressives, by the way—the Open Markets team breached this unspoken bargain, and that’s why they had to go. Even if Google or Schmidt didn’t directly order the firing, the big tech companies are the new centers of overflowing corporate abundance, without which think tanks like the New America Foundation can’t thrive, so they didn’t need anyone to give anyone instructions.

    It’s not just this case, or the Damore affair. Another reporter has come forward to describe how Google pressured Forbes to deep-six her exposé of Google’s aggressive negotiating tactics, for fear of having Google cut off their flow of Web traffic.

  • Hans von Spakovsky argues that the federal district court judge who enjoined parts of Texas’ “sanctuary cities” law grossly misapplied the law and the Constitution:

    The judge also found that requiring local law enforcement to honor detainer warrants violates the Fourth Amendment.

    Detainer warrants are issued by the Department of Homeland Security for illegal aliens who are legally removable from the country and filed with local law enforcement officials, asking them to hold the illegal aliens for 48 hours so they can be picked up by federal authorities.

    But as Texas says in its stay motion, “if the Constitution allows Congress to authorize federal immigration officials to take aliens into custody based on civil removability grounds, then it makes no difference for Fourth Amendment purposes whether state officials carry out the first 48 hours of that detention at the behest of the federal government.”

    Attorney General Ken Paxton has already appealed the decision to the Fifth Circuit.

  • The Department of Defense wants to spend $30 million to upgrade facilities in Turkey.

  • Caroline Glick argues that the creation of an independent Kurdistan is in the strategic interest of the U.S.:

    In the interest of keeping Mattis’s “laser focus” on fighting ISIS, the US surrendered its far greater strategic interest of preventing Iran and its proxies from taking over the areas that ISIS controlled – such as the Syrian-Lebanese border and the tri-border area between Iraq, Syria and Jordan. As Netanyahu warns at every opportunity, Iran and its proxies are moving into all the areas being liberated from ISIS.

    And Iran isn’t the only concern from either an Israeli or an American perspective. Turkey is also a looming threat, which will only grow if it isn’t contained.

    Turkey’s rapidly accelerating anti-American trajectory is now unmistakable.

    Later:

    The Kurds, with their powerful and experienced military forces in Iraq and Syria alike, constitute a significant check on both Iranian and Turkish power.

  • A federal district court judge fined David Daleiden and his lawyers $200,000 for releasing video recordings of Planned Parenthood representatives.

  • Kenya’s Supreme Court invalidated the election that re-elected President Uhuru Kenyatta, citing irregularities:

    International observers, including former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, had said they saw no manipulation of voting and tallying at polling stations. But the election board was slow posting forms showing polling station results online.

    Thousands were missing when official results were declared, so opponents could not check totals. Court experts said some documents lacked official stamps or had figures that did not match official tallies.

    The court ordered that a new election be held within 60 days.

  • An al Shabaab bomb killed 12 people in Somalia’s Puntland region. Five of the 12 were soldiers.

Links for 8-13-2017

  • Two American soldiers were killed and five were injured in northern Iraq. The Department of Defense isn’t saying much about how it happened.

  • An American airstrike in Afghanistan killed several ISIS leaders, including one of their provincial emirs, Abdul Rahman.

  • The battle of Charlottesville started Friday night, when police failed to separate white nationalists and antifa groups near the statue of Robert E. Lee that Charlottesville is removing from a park (formerly “Lee Park,” now “Emancipation Park”). The resulting brawl carried over into Saturday, when an antifa-type punched a female reporter for The Hill in the face as she was covering the car attack that killed Heather Heyer. Ben Shapiro wrote an excellent list of things to know about the Charlottesville violence, including: “The Alt-Right Has Been Tut-Tutted By President Trump And His Advisors For Over A Year. Yesterday Was Nothing New.” The other side of the political aisle isn’t covering itself in glory, either, as Virginia Governor Terry McAullife refused to condemn violence by antifa as well as the white nationalists. Rod Dreher makes a good argument that as long as the political left continues to pursue identity politics, they’re going to draw a white nationalist response, and the two will reinforce one another to everyone’s detriment:

    When the Left indulges in rhetoric that demonizes whites — especially white males — it summons the demons of white nationalism.

    When the Left punishes white males who violate its own delicate speech taboos, while tolerating the same kind of rhetoric on its own side, it summons the demons of white nationalism.

    When the Left obsesses over ethnic, sexual, and religious minorities, but ignores the plight of poor and working-class whites, it summons the demons of white nationalism.

    When the Left institutionalizes demonization of white males in college classes, in political movements, in the media and elsewhere, it summons the demons of white nationalism.

    When the Left attributes moral status, and moral goodness, to persons based on their race, their sex, their sexual orientation, or any such thing, it summons up the demons of white nationalism.

    When the Left refuses to condemn the violent antifa protesters, and treats their behavior as no big deal, it summons the demons of white nationalism.

    When the Left refuses to stand firm against aggressive manifestations of illiberalism — like we have seen over the past several years on certain college campuses — it summons the demons of white nationalism.

    When the Left encourages within its ranks identification as a victim, and stirs up political passions based on perception that one is a victim of other groups in society, it summons the demons of white nationalism.

  • A suicide bomber killed at least 15 people in a market in Quetta, Pakistan. ISIS claimed responsibility, saying a bomber on a motorcycle attacked a military vehicle.

  • A former al Shabaab leader, Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur, defected to Somalia’s government. Al Shabbab has been trying to kill or capture him since he left the group in 2013.

  • Chinese companies are increasingly using North Korean labor to manufacture clothes labeled, “Made in China.” As you’d expect, labor in North Korea is cheaper than in China.

    Its flourishing textiles industry shows how impoverished North Korea has adapted, with a limited embrace of market reforms, to sanctions since 2006 when it first tested a nuclear device. The industry also shows the extent to which North Korea relies on China as an economic lifeline, even as U.S. President Donald Trump piles pressure on Beijing to do more to rein in its neighbor’s weapons programmes.

    Chinese exports to North Korea rose almost 30 percent to $1.67 billion in the first half of the year, largely driven by textile materials and other traditional labour-intensive goods not included on the United Nations embargo list, Chinese customs spokesman Huang Songping told reporters.

    Chinese suppliers send fabrics and other raw materials required for manufacturing clothing to North Korean factories across the border where garments are assembled and exported.

Links for 8-6-2017

Links for 7-14-2017

  • The latest version of the Senate’s health insurance bill contains hand-outs for states intended to persuade the senators from those states to vote for the bill. Here’s an example intended to buy off Lisa Murkowski:

    Section 106 of the bill includes new language—page 13, lines 4 through 13, and page 18, line 12 through page 19, line 4—dedicating one percent of the new Stability Fund dollars to “each state where the cost of insurance premiums are at least 75 percent higher than the national average.” As a Bloomberg story noted, this provision currently applies only to Alaska, and could result in $1.32 billion in Stability Fund dollars automatically being directed to Alaska.

  • A federal district court judge in Hawaii again took it upon himself (again) to re-write parts of Donald Trump’s “travel ban” executive order.

  • American and Somali special forces troops killed several al Shabaab fighters during a raid in southern Somalia.

  • Three gunmen killed two Israeli police officers on Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The gunmen, who were Arab citizens of Israel, were killed by other police officers.

  • An Egyptian man stabbed two German tourists to death and wounded four others at Red Sea resorts. Three gunmen on a motorcycle killed five Egyptian policemen at a security checkpoint south of Cairo.

  • A high ranking member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Seyed Mohsen Dehnavi, was caught trying to enter the U.S. while posing as a cancer researcher. Dehnavi was deported back to Iran.

    “Here are the facts: Mr. Dehnavi is a high-ranking member of IRGC’s Basij, has been involved in the IRGC’s military research programs, has played a key role in oppressing dissidents, and Iran’s Supreme Leader has given him his own keffiyeh as a gift,” Saeed Ghasseminejad, a prominent Iranian dissident and regional expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told the Free Beacon.

    Other media outlets have independently identified Dehnavi as a top Basij member who was involved in efforts to suppress dissident and reformist voices in Iran.

  • New reporting from Raqqa indicates the Muslim Brotherhood’s affiliate in Tunisia actively recruited young men to fight for ISIS in Syria.

  • Young male Afghan refugees in Europe are in the habit of sexually assaulting women:

    But there was one development that had not been expected, and was not tolerable: the large and growing incidence of sexual assaults committed by refugees against local women. These were not of the cultural-misunderstanding-date-rape sort, but were vicious, no-preamble attacks on random girls and women, often committed by gangs or packs of young men. At first, the incidents were downplayed or hushed up—no one wanted to provide the right wing with fodder for nationalist agitation, and the hope was that these were isolated instances caused by a small problem group of outliers. As the incidents increased, and because many of them took place in public or because the public became involved either in stopping the attack or in aiding the victim afterwards, and because the courts began issuing sentences as the cases came to trial, the matter could no longer be swept under the carpet of political correctness. And with the official acknowledgment and public reporting, a weird and puzzling footnote emerged. Most of the assaults were being committed by refugees of one particular nationality: by Afghans.

  • 38 North, a think tank that monitors North Korea, believes that thermal images of North Korea’s main nuclear site suggest the country has reprocessed more plutonium than previously thought.

  • Hong Kong’s High Court stripped four opposition lawmakers of their seats in the legislature because they refused to (correctly) take an oath when they were sworn in.

  • Jeff M. Smith wrote a good summary of the border dispute between China and India at the point where China, India, and Bhutan meet:

    First, the de-facto border, the Line of Actual Control (LAC), is a magnet for standoffs between Chinese and Indian border patrols. Unlike the turbulent Line of Control with Pakistan in Kashmir, however, an elaborate series of bilateral mechanisms has kept the LAC free of any fatal exchanges for decades. Only once since 1962 has a standoff turned bloody. That’s the good news. But there is also bad news: That fatal exchange, the Nathu La incident of 1967, unfolded near the site of the current crisis.

    Second, the peace that has prevailed at the border masks a disconcertingly ambiguous tactical situation along select portions of the LAC. Not only is the roughly 3,500-kilometer border unsettled and un-demarcated, there are roughly a dozen stretches along the frontier where the two countries cannot even agree on the location of the LAC. These are the source of hundreds of relatively innocent “transgressions” by Chinese border patrols annually. (China doesn’t publicly track Indian transgressions). On occasion, these devolve into more serious “intrusions,” as witnessed in 2013 and 2014 when the People’s Liberation Army spent several weeks camped across the LAC in the Western Sector.

Links for 6-11-2017

Links for 6-10-2017

Links for 5-5-2017

  • A U.S. Navy SEAL was killed fighting al Shabaab in Somalia. Two other SEALs were wounded.

  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee started an investigation of Barack Obama’s Iran deal, specifically looking into whether the Obama administration undermined counterproliferation efforts targeting Iranian weapons trafficking.

  • Donald Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of the Army, Mark Green, withdrew his name from consideration. Leftist groups attacked Green because he believes transgenderism is a mental illness.

  • The Department of the Interior is reviewing 21 national and five marine monuments that were created by previous administrations. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be stripped of their status as monuments.

  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said this to Donald Trump yesterday: “Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children and grandchildren, in a culture of peace.” This is a lie.

  • Kevin Williamson writes that TrumpCare and ObamaCare fail to recognize the economic concept of scarcity:

    We have perfectly functional markets in all sorts of life-and-death goods. They expect you to pay up at the grocery store, too, but poor people are not starving in the American streets, because we came up with this so-crazy-it-just-might-work idea of giving poor people money and money analogues (such as food stamps) to pay for food. It is not a perfect system, but it is preferable, as we know from unhappy experiences abroad, to having the government try to run the farms, as government did in the Soviet Union, or the grocery stores, as government does in hungry, miserable Venezuela. The Apple Store has its shortcomings, to be sure, but I’d rather have a health-care system that looks like the Apple Store than one that looks like a Venezuelan grocery store.

    There is a certain libertarian tendency to look at messes such as the Affordable Care Act and the American Health Care Act and throw up one’s hands, exclaiming: “Just let markets work!” We should certainly let markets work, but not “just.” We aren’t going to let children with congenital birth defects suffer just because they might have stupid and irresponsible parents, and we are not going to let old people who have outlived their retirement savings die of pneumonia because we don’t want to spend a couple of thousand bucks treating them. But we also do not have a society in which everybody is on Section 8 and food stamps, nor do we want one. Developing sensible, intelligently run, reasonably generous welfare programs for those who cannot or simply have not done it for themselves is a relatively small project, but trying to have government impose some kind of political discipline on the entirety of the health-care system — which is as explicit a part of the current daft Republican health-care program as it is of Obamacare — is a different kind of project entirely.

  • The French presidential election is Sunday, and today 9GB of emails from Emmanuel Macron’s campaign appeared online.

  • Russia deployed several units of Chechen and Ingush special forces troops from the North Caucasus region to Syria:

    “I think this represents Moscow’s grudging recognition that it’s stuck in a quagmire,” says Mark Galeotti, a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations in Prague. In their hybrid civil-military role, capable of a wide range of operations, these brigades have become a go-to deployment for the Kremlin as it seeks to assert itself in various theaters abroad. Chechen fighters have appeared alongside pro-separatist Russian “volunteers” in eastern Ukraine, and several battalions of Chechen servicemen also entered Georgia during its brief war with Russia in August 2008, occupying the town of Gori. At least some of the Chechen troops deployed in Syria have combat experience in eastern Ukraine, with the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reporting that one of the Chechen commanders is Apti Bolotkhanov, who spent substantial time fighting alongside pro-Russian forces in the Donbass.

    But beyond their skill on the battlefield, the brigades are valuable to Moscow for other reasons. Russian society and leadership have proved extremely sensitive to casualties in Syria; the Kremlin has gone to extreme lengths to hide its losses. Casualties are often only publicly confirmed after observers find the tombstones of deceased soldiers in their hometown cemeteries. Moscow’s official figures only account for 30 dead in Syria — with the true figure likely much higher. Using nonethnic Russian special personnel might protect the Kremlin from a public backlash sparked by rising battlefield casualties. Losses incurred by the new, North Caucasian contingent are unlikely to trigger such a response. Russian society carries a deep-seated resentment toward natives of the region, in particular Chechens, after two wars in the 1990s and multiple terrorist attacks since.

  • Russia, Turkey, and Iran defined “de-escalation” zones in Syria and declared that American aircraft cannot fly over them.

  • NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory published a video of what the Cassini probe saw when it dove between Saturn and its rings: