Links for 11-2-2017

  • The Department of Justice is contemplating whether to charge at least six Russian government officials in the Democratic National Committee computer hacking case.

  • Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) won’t run for re-election.

  • The Senate approved 27 Trump nominees today, including 16 ambassadors.

  • The Trump administration imposed punitive duties on Canadian softwood lumber imports.

  • Four Democratic election workers in Philadelphia were charged with crimes, including “intimidating voters, casting bogus ballots, and falsely certifying the results in their polling place.”

    Perhaps the most flagrant incident (at least among the ones we know of) involved a pair of husband and wife Republican voters who both cast their ballots for the GOP candidate. One of the votes was registered properly while the other was replaced with a write-in ballot with the name of the Democrat filled in, effectively nullifying the vote for their household.

  • Michael Brendan Dougherty writes that we’re on the slippery slope to shunning the Founders:

    Previously, civil-rights activists such as King reconciled white America’s devotion to the nation’s founding and their own ambition to living as equals under the law by casting the Declaration and other artifacts of the Founding as a “promissory note” whose liberties need to be justly extended to all human beings in America. And many today say that we can honor the Founders because, unlike the the Confederates, the principles they enshrined in our Founding documents could be used against the injustice of slavery and white supremacy.

    It is my contention that this way of honoring the Founders will soon begin to seem dishonest to liberals. It will be seen as a concession to a recalcitrant prejudice and a political reality that is rapidly disappearing, the same way civil unions for same-sex couples are now seen.

    It is easy to imagine a writer who grew up reading Ta-Nehisi Coates on “the First White President” looking back at Bouie’s assertion that we have statues to Jefferson on account of his authorship of the Declaration of Independence with a jaundiced eye. That future man of letters will observe that the Declaration’s invocations of liberty and its pretensions of universalism were merely Whig propaganda against a King. He will assert that Jefferson did not actually believe that all men were so endowed by their creator. He will hasten to add that as America achieved the political sovereignty, Jefferson became more convinced of white supremacy, more secure in the view that white liberty could be guaranteed only through black bondage. Many reading this argument will conclude that by raising statues to Jefferson we are crediting him only for his hypocrisy, a privilege only white racists and slavers get in America. They will conclude, in other words, that America has spent centuries sanctifying its foundational hypocrisy. Land of the Free, home of the enslaved.

  • Gavin Williamson is the U.K.’s new Defense Secretary.

  • More than 180,000 people, most of them Kurds, have been displaced as a result of the fighting between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army and its Shiite militia allies.

  • Iraq’s central government wants control of Kurdistan’s oil exports.

  • A Spanish judge ordered that nine leaders of Catalonia’s secessionist government be held in custody pending a trial.

Links for 10-6-2017

Links for 10-2-2017

Links for 10-1-2017

Links for 9-26-2017

  • The U.S. plans to restrict Russian military overflights under the Treaty on Open Skies because Russia is not allowing the U.S. to conduct flights over Kaliningrad, Russia’s enclave on the Baltic Sea.

  • The White House does not believe the Cuban government is behind the “sonic weapon” attacks against American diplomats. They aren’t saying who is behind the attacks, but it’s hard to believe that in a society like Cuba’s, the government wouldn’t know about this sort of thing. Nonetheless, the State Department plans to withdraw most of its personnel from Cuba, leaving behind a skeleton staff.

  • Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) won’t run for re-election in 2018.

  • The Senate won’t vote on the Graham-Cassidy health insurance bill after several Republican Senators declared their opposition.

  • The Department of Commerce placed a 220% duty on Bombardier commercial jets after finding that the Canadian government is subsidizing Bombardier’s planes.

  • The Boston Globe published a two part series on problems at the Federal Aviation Administration. The first details how the FAA does a poor job vetting airplane registrations, making it easy for criminal organizations like drug cartels to register planes:

    More than 16 years after aircraft were used as weapons in the worst terrorist attack in US history, the FAA still operates more like a file clerk than a reliable tool for law enforcement, enabling secrecy in the skies here and abroad. The price to register a plane is still just $5 — the same as in 1964, even though the agency has the power to raise it — generating little revenue that could be used to expand oversight. And the FAA does so little vetting of the ownership and use of planes listed in its aircraft registry that two of the airliners hijacked and destroyed on 9/11 were still listed as “active” four years after. And that’s prompt compared to this: The FAA didn’t cancel the registration for one TWA cargo plane until 2016, 57 years after it crashed in Chicago, killing the crew and eight people on the ground.

    They do a similiarly bad job licensing pilots:

    Almost a decade after Haghighi’s brazen identify theft, the FAA still does not include pilot photos on its licenses, and the agency does not fully vet pilot information before issuing them credentials. Last year, a leading congressional overseer of the FAA, then-Representative John Mica, called US pilot licenses “a joke” and said that a day pass to Disney World in his native Florida contains more sophisticated security measures.

    Later:

    FAA procedures also make it easy for pilots to hide damaging information, by simply not reporting it. That’s because the agency relies on them to self-report felony convictions and other crimes that could lead to license revocation. Among the licensed pilots currently listed in the airman registry are Carlos Licona and Paul Grebenc, United Airlines pilots who were sentenced to jail in Scotland earlier this year for attempting to fly a commercial airliner with alcohol in their blood. Under FAA rules, an alcohol-related offense, especially related to flying, can be grounds for license revocation or suspension, though the FAA decides on a case by case basis.

  • Fred and Cindy Warmbier disclosed that when their son Otto was released by North Korea, he was deaf, blind, and howling incoherently:

    “Otto had a shaved head, he had a feeding tube coming out of his nose, he was staring blankly into space, jerking violently,” said Mr Warmbier.

    “He was blind. He was deaf. As we looked at him and tried to comfort him it looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth.”

    In short, North Korea tortured Otto Warmbier.

  • A group of abortion clinics, including Planned Parenthood, sued Texas in federal district court over a new law banning live dismemberment abortions. The abortion clinics refused to comply with Texas’ discovery requests, so the judge ordered them to provide records about the second-trimester abortions they’ve performed:

    Of significance, the abortion providers must identify each individual who performs or has performed abortions on fetuses 14 weeks old or older, from 2001 to the present, detailing the procedure performed, whether digoxin or another fetal demise technique was used, and whether fetal demise occurred prior to dismemberment, as well as whether any complications occurred.

    Additionally, the federal court ordered the plaintiffs to provide all records of digoxin purchases, any informational material or consent forms related to digoxin, and communications between Planned Parenthood Federated of America and the Planned Parenthood plaintiffs regarding digoxin.

    This ties into the Center for Medical Progress undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood — they captured abortionists saying they don’t like to use digoxin because they can’t sell the baby body parts afterward. There’s also this:

    In its earlier court filings, Texas stressed that it would be illegal to kill an animal in the way the abortion providers kill a fetus in dismemberment abortions—pulling the unborn baby apart limb from limb until he bleeds to death.

  • Iraq’s central government gave Iraqi Kurdistan until Friday afternoon to relinquish control of its airports to avoid an embargo on international flights. This is part of the Baghdad government’s attempts to punish Kurdistan for holding an independence referendum yesterday. They’re still counting votes, but so far “yes” to independence is winning by over 90%.

  • One of the co-founders of Alternative for Germany, Frauke Petry, left the party the day after it won nearly 13% of the vote in parliamentary elections. Petry, who is one of the party’s moderates, won a seat in the Bundestag but will be an independent member. Her husband, Marcus Pretzell, is also leaving the party — he’s an AfD leader and a member of the European Parliament.

Links for 8-10-2017

  • Donald Trump thanked Vladimir Putin for ordering a reduction in the number of American diplomats in Russia because it reduced the State Department’s payroll (in reality, the diplomats are being sent back to the U.S., and are not necessarily being laid off). This is one of those things that you can think to yourself, but you shouldn’t say out loud. Trump has trouble with this concept.

  • The chattering classes have been discussing the possibility of negotiating an Iran-style nuclear deal with North Korea to discourage a war. John Daniel Davidson points out that Bill Clinton negotiated a deal with North Korea back in 1994 that’s strikingly similar to Barack Obama’s Iran deal. Jim Geraghty adds this:

    As with the Iran deal many years later, the deal with North Korea was not a formal treaty and thus never ratified by Congress.

    Of course, the North Koreans cheated; the U.S. provided oil, two light water reactors, and a new electric grid, altogether worth roughly $5 billion, in exchange for promises.

    Clinton’s deal resulted in North Korea possessing nuclear weapons, and Obama’s deal with Iran will end the same way.

  • A U.S. Navy destroyer conducted another “freedom of navigation” operation in the South China Sea, sailing to within 12 miles of Mischief Reef, one of China’s artificial islands.

  • Two of U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s top aides quit: chief of staff Steven Groves and communications director Jonathan Wachtel.

  • In the context of Google’s firing of James Damore for “perpetuating gender stereotypes,” Joy Pullmann argues that it’s time to end all discrimination policies and restore equal protection:

    Since Google is a private company I have no problem with them making unequal hiring and promotion rules. I am all in favor of discrimination — the freedom to set one’s own criteria for making decisions — and free association, for any reason, as individuals’ constitutional and natural rights. If they wanted to be an all-man or all-woman or all-black or all-Asian company, or give preferences to whatever people they feel sorry for at the moment, that’s Google’s business. At the level they’re operating they could be an all-woman company and still have the world’s best engineers, as Harvard or Stanford could since many more qualified people apply than can be admitted.

    The problem is when they promise “equality” then deliver discrimination. It’s this hypocrisy Damore had the temerity to point out, and for which he was fired. It’s the same hypocrisy inside the famous “Animal Farm” slogan for totalitarianism: “All are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

  • For the Democratic Party, abortion is a positive good:

    Lindy West of the New York Times recently, and similarly, insisted that unfettered access to abortion is essential to women’s economic and other liberties. Hers is one of many denunciations, by party activists and progressive journalists, of the Democratic Party’s decision to support pro-life Democrats running in more conservative districts. Pro-choice activists in the past decade made the leap from regarding abortion as a tragic necessity to seeing it a positive social good; West now sees it as the central guarantor of American liberty.

    Later:

    On some level, [John C.] Calhoun and other pro-slavery ideologues recognized that any “right” to slavery would be destroyed the moment the United States recognized that nature’s law affirmed the liberty of enslaved African Americans. Lindy West similarly holds that the human and civil rights of women would be undermined if the rights of the unborn were recognized. Even to question the right to abortion is “to be, at best, indifferent to the disenfranchisement, suffering and possibly even the death of women. At worst it is to revel in those things, to believe them fundamental to the natural order.” For West, abortion is the key to women’s economic, political, and social rights in the United States. If abortion were to be shown to be inconsistent with the natural order, then Lindy believes every freedom gained for women would evaporate.

  • A grand jury indicted Benjamin Roden for bombing an Air Force recruiting office in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Roden is a former member of the Air Force. No one was hurt in the bombing.

  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro affirmed that the new constituent assembly is the most powerful institution in the country, saying, “I come to recognize its plenipotentiary powers, sovereign, original and magnificent.”

  • Cuba reportedly used a “sonic weapon” against American and Canadian diplomats, damaging their hearing. The Trump administration responded by expelling two Cuban diplomats, which seems wimpy.

  • British police broke up a huge child sex, prostitution, and drug ring:

    As a result of a massive ongoing investigation the police have named “Operation Sanctuary,” one British woman and a total of 17 men have been convicted of rape, conspiracy to incite prostitution, and illegally supplying drugs. The men, BBC notes, were from the “Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish communities and mainly British-born, with most living in the West End of Newcastle.”

  • Israel is building an underground wall around the Gaza Strip to prevent Hamas from tunneling into Israel. The wall will extend into the Mediterranean Sea to discourage commando attacks.

  • Tim Tebow shakes a kid’s hand, hits a three run homer:

  • PragerU: College Made Me a Conservative:

Links for 8-9-2017