Links for 12-25-2017

  • Guatemala plans to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.

  • Russia’s election commission barred Alexei Navalny from running for president, which is very convenient for Vladimir Putin.

  • The New York Times published an account of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s October/November trip to Saudi Arabia, during which he announced his resignation. According to the Times, Hariri was forced to resign by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of an ill-conceived scheme to push Hezbollah out of Lebanon’s government:

    The Saudi moves that started on Nov. 4 came in rapid-fire succession. In the space of little more than a day, the Saudis extracted Mr. Hariri’s resignation; accused Iran and Lebanon of an act of war after Yemeni rebels fired a missile at Riyadh; and rounded up the princes and businessmen on opaque corruption charges. A week later, they ordered Saudi citizens to evacuate Lebanon.

    The burst of contentious actions sent war tremors across the region.

    With anxieties running high, Lebanese officials worked to head off what they feared was a long-range plan by Saudi Arabia to destabilize Lebanon’s volatile Palestinian refugee camps. There were even concerns in Beirut that Saudi Arabia or its Lebanese allies were seeking to form an anti-Hezbollah militia in the camps or elsewhere, two senior Lebanese officials and several Western diplomats said. No such plots came to fruition, and the Saudi official said none were even considered.

    Western and Arab officials say they are still puzzling over what the Saudis hoped to accomplish with all this intrigue. Several do not rule out the possibility that they aimed to foment internal unrest in Lebanon, or even war.

  • Reuters describes the state of Christians in Iraq this Christmas:

    Before the militant onslaught, Qaraqosh was the largest Christian settlement in Iraq, with a population of more than 50,000. But today, only a few hundred families have returned. Entire congregations have moved overseas, such as the Syriac Orthodox congregation of the Church of Mart Shmony.

    On Saturday afternoon, Father Butros Kappa, the head of Qaraqosh’s Church of the Immaculate was trying hard to summon any sense of hope to deliver his congregation during Christmas Mass.

    “We’ll have a Christmas Mass like in previous years, but this year, ours will be a joy soaked in tears, because all of our people have left Iraq,” said Father Kappa.

    Holding Mass in the singed and upturned ruins of his church was therefore important, he said, “to remind everyone that despite the tragedies that have befallen us, we’re still here.”

  • An ISIS suicide bomber attacked Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security in Kabul, killing five civilians and wounding two.

  • Scott Manley explains the SpaceX rocket trail over southern California that had people calling 911:

  • Hillsdale College’s Christmas message:

Links for 11-23-2017

Links for 11-11-2016

Links for 5-30-2016

Links for 5-15-2016

Links for 10-8-2015

  • As part of his nuclear deal with Iran, President Obama plans to drop sanctions against the country and permit American companies to do business there. After analyzing all of the statutes governing sanctions against Iran, administration officials believe this is impossible without violating the law. Since the nuclear deal isn’t a treaty it doesn’t override existing law, and Iran plainly hasn’t met the conditions spelled out in existing law that would permit sanctions to be dropped. Of course President Obama routinely ignores laws, so as a practical matter this really isn’t an obstacle.

  • Heather Wilhelm wrote a very funny column that starts with an account of Hillary Clinton version 5.0, as presented by NBC:

    On Monday, NBC’s “Today” show hosted everyone’s favorite person who might actually be an android, Hillary Clinton, for a folksy “Pancakes and Politics” town-hall gathering. The setting was autumnal Hollis, N.H., in a cozy red barn; Hillary wore a cozy blazer the color of a minor explosion. The event opened with the jovial flipping of pancakes, because we all know that the former secretary of state—a woman whose inside desperately screams “Don’t blackball me, I NEED THIS!” but whose outside cleverly imitates an animatronic wax statue from Madame Tussauds—likes nothing better than to stay home and cook.

  • Ben Domenech thinks Hillary Clinton’s flip-flop on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is another sign that she thinks we’re stupid:

    Do Republican operatives think it is news to the American people after the decades of knowledge we have about Clinton that she is shifty? No one cares. That she will obfuscate to the point of congressional inquiry? No one is surprised. That she will flip-flop according to poll numbers? No one thinks otherwise! What matters is whether people think she’ll fight for them, and in this economically backward way, that’s what she’s promising.

  • After Hillary Clinton left the State Department, her employees configured a threat monitoring service to watch her private email server – only to witness attacks against it originating in China, South Korea, and Germany. At this point there’s no telling who may have attacked it while she was in office.

  • Congressman Trey Gowdy wrote a lovely poison pen letter to Elijah Cummings (PDF), the ranking member of Gowdy’s Select Committee on Benghazi:

    Your public posture, however, has been quite the opposite. For months you have done nothing but write letters dripping with vitriol and baseless allegations, driven, one would reluctantly conclude, by the desire to create a false partisan narrative. Your Democrat colleagues and you have contributed nothing substantively to the Committee’s investigation over the past seventeen months – you have not requested a single new witness interview nor have you made one single document request to any Executive Branch agency. In fact, your Committee Members have appeared infrequently at witness interviews; sometimes staying only long enough to apologize to the witness, ask questions about Secretary Clinton, and then address the media. I cannot nor would I make any Member participate in an interview. I would simply ask that if you are not going to participate at least do not distort the motives and actions of those who do.

    Further, it is you, not Republicans, who has selectively leaked information to promote your own false narrative – that this Committee is political – or protect Democrat political figures, when it is a fact Democrats and you are the ones who have treated the Committee as political from the outset. This is glaringly obvious – no testimony has been disclosed from people interviewed who were on the ground or from national security professionals. Instead, the only leaks have been regarding Democrat political figures, and the initial stories have all selectively disclosed testimony to fit with Democrat political narratives. Your letter from Monday is completely disingenuous in attempting to criticize Republicans for leaks and mischaracterizing testimony while at the same time leaking part of the transcript because the politics of doing so are apparently too good for you to pass up.

  • The U.S. and Israel routinely cripple their soldiers with absurd rules of engagement, and yet they’re still accused of war crimes. Elan Journo thinks it’s past time for both countries to put their own interests first.

  • The Taliban overran two more districts in northern Afghanistan.

  • Russia fired cruise missiles from ships in the Caspian Sea, targeting Syria. Those missiles had to cross Iran and Iraq, and at least four missiles crashed in Iran. It’s not known if there were any casualties on the ground.

  • Robert Hardy delivered a speech about Winston Churchill at Hillsdale College. As an aside, Hardy noted that he studied under C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien while he attended Oxford.

Links for 5-28-2015