Links for 8-27-2017

  • The Black Hawk helicopter that crashed off Yemen’s coast belonged to a U.S. Army special forces unit that operates from a base near the port of Mukalla. One soldier from the crashed helicopter is still missing.

  • The U.K. plans to send more SAS troops to Afghanistan as part of Donald Trump’s plan to ramp-up operations there.

  • Joel Kotkin is concerned that Silicon Valley oligarchs will kill off democracy:

    Both Facebook and Google now offer news “curated” by algorithms. Bans are increasingly used by Facebook and Twitter to keep out unpopular or incendiary views, and especially in the echo chamber of the Bay Area. This is sometimes directed at conservatives, such as Prager University, whose content may be offensive to some, but hardly subversive or “fake.” The real crime now is simply to question dominant ideology of Silicon Valley gentry progressivism.

    Later:

    In a future Democratic administration, as is already evident in places like California, the tech titans will use their money, savvy, and new dominance over our communications channels to steer and even dictate America’s political and cultural agendas to wield power in ways that even the likes of J.P. Morgan or John D. Rockefeller would envy.

    What started as a brilliant, and profoundly non-political extension of the information revolution, notes early Google and Facebook investor Robert McNamee, now looms as “a menace,” part of a systematic “brain hacking” on a massive scale. We can choose to confront this reality—as the early 20th century progressives did—or stand aside and let the oligarchs chart our future without imposing any curbs on their seemingly inexorable hegemony.

  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro shut down two radio stations and two cable TV networks that were critical of his regime.

  • The Lebanese army announced a cease fire in its fight with ISIS on the Lebanon/Syria border. ISIS captured nine Lebanese soldiers in 2014 and the army wants to know what became of them. The Lebanese army believes it has recovered the bodies of six of the nine.

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 7-31-2017

  • Psycho troll Anthony Scaramucci was fired as White House communications director.

  • Over the weekend Donald Trump threatened to end Congress’ illegal exemption from ObamaCare; this is actually a good idea, if only for the rule of law aspect. He should also end the unconstitutional “cost-sharing reduction payments” that subsidize insurance companies.

  • Congressional IT contractor Imran Awan was “frantically liquidating multiple real estate properties” the day he tried to leave the U.S. for Pakistan and was arrested by the FBI.

  • Democrats on the House Ethics Committee are stretching out the investigation of Congressman Devin Nunes’ alleged disclosure of classified information to keep Nunes out of the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation.

  • Paul Vitz and Bruce Buff write that adolescents need to recover religion:

    In America, the transcendent dimension of life has historically been expressed primarily through the Judeo-Christian tradition, whose decline in recent years has created an enormous vacuum in meaning. This vacuum has been “filled” by postmodern nihilism combined with the “deconstruction” — aggressively taught in the academy — of belief in objective truth, goodness, and beauty. Moral relativism now eclipses transcendent meaning. The fragility of many young people — often termed “snowflakes” — shows their emotional vulnerability. They interpret ideas that challenge them as unbearable acts of aggression, and they use harsh and even violent measures to silence disagreeable opponents. In short, the prevalence of political correctness is a clear sign that belief in higher meaning and rational discussion has ceased to function in much of our higher-education system. Furthermore, political correctness is itself a symptom of the unstable mental condition of those who insist on it.

    Countless young people now live in a world without any real meaning; they feel there is nothing for them to believe in. Emotional numbness is one of the consequences. They no longer value themselves for their inherent worth and dignity as created by God; they no longer find self-worth in their efforts to lead lives based on truth and love. Instead, many of our young people look outside themselves for validation — to material goods and social feedback. But many find these superficial, transitory, and empty. In addition, the decline of religion has resulted in sexual relations becoming trivialized and deprived of any greater meaning. The “hook-up” culture leaves many wounded young people in its wake.

  • For some reason Los Angeles is happy about the prospect of losing billions by hosting the 2028 Summer Olympics.

  • Theresa May and her government are bungling Brexit:

    The rosy-eyed version of Brexit — in which Britain negotiates an amicable deal with its European counterparts and through the magic of bilateral free-trade deals weathers the exit with little economic damage, all while reclaiming control over immigration and parliamentary sovereignty — is no longer on the table, and perhaps it never truly was in the first place. There are thus two realistic scenarios for Britain’s eventual exit from the EU.

    The first is cataclysmic. This is the “no deal” option, in which Britain and the EU fail to arrive at an agreement by March 2019 and Britain simply crashes out of the union with no parachute in place. Britain’s trade with the EU would revert to World Trade Organization rules; a hard border would return to Ireland; goods would pile up at Dover and Calais and chaos would reign as confused agents apply customs checks and tariffs to which they are thoroughly unaccustomed; perhaps even flights between the U.K. and EU operated by British airlines would be unable to run. That scenario is bad enough that — surely — avoiding it would inspire sufficient action to negotiate some sort of deal, even a relatively punitive one.

  • There’s evidence that North Korean submarines may be preparing another missile launch.

  • ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on Iraq’s embassy in Kabul.

  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claimed victory in an election for a “constituent assembly” that will re-write the constitution; this outcome was preordained. In response the U.S. imposed new sanctions on Maduro.

Links for 4-19-2017