Links for 2-24-2017

  • CNN reported that the Trump administration asked the FBI to “knock down” media reports about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. The Trump administration denied the report.

  • Donald Trump signed an executive order that creates a “regulatory reform” task force within each federal agency:

    The sweeping order directs every federal agency to establish a task force to ensure each has a team to research all regulations and take aim at those deemed burdensome to the U.S. economy and designate regulatory reform officers within 60 days and must report on the progress within 90 days.

  • Matthew Continetti writes on “The New Nationalism in America”:

    Above all, nationalism means distinguishing between members of a political community and outsiders, and privileging the former over the latter. Such distinctions make many people profoundly uncomfortable. Look at the headlines surrounding the Trump administration’s policies on refugees, travel from failed or terrorist-sponsoring states, and illegal immigration. Witness the recent debate in the pages of National Review over Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich Lowry’s qualified defense of nationalism. There are some conservatives who seem to believe that there is no such thing as the American people, only an American idea. But this gets it backward. Without the people, there would be no idea. Americans may come from all over the world, we may profess every religion, but we are bound together not just by our founding documents but by those mystic chords of memory of which Lincoln spoke, by our love of the land, its natural beauty, its inhabitants, its history, by what our people have achieved, what they have lost, what they have endured.

    What’s uncomfortable is often necessary. That is the case today. Reducing illegal immigration, reforming legal immigration to prioritize skilled workers and would-be citizens, asserting national prerogatives in trade negotiations, spending on the military and defense research, “betting on ideas” rather than on social insurance, bureaucracy, and rent-seeking, saving the idea of national community through the promulgation of our shared language, literature, art, film, television, music—this is the beginning of a nationalist agenda. But only the beginning.

  • A Washington Post reporter, Jon Finer, recalls his time covering Colonel H.R. McMaster (now Lieutenant General and National Security Adviser) during the battle for Tal Afar, Iraq in 2005:

    The morning the operation began, he [McMaster] recounted how insurgents had recently murdered a child, placed an explosive in his body and then detonated it when his father came to retrieve him. “The greatest privilege of a professional soldier,” he said, “is to have the opportunity to kill these people.”

  • A new scientific paper suggests large swings in Earth’s climate may be tied to variations in the Earth’s orbit, specifically interactions between Earth and Mars.

  • Syrian rebels backed by Turkey cleared ISIS out of al-Bab. After that, two suicide car bombs near al-Bab killed 65 people.

  • Christian families are fleeing the Sinai Peninsula after ISIS murdered seven Christians in three weeks.

  • Charles Schmitz offers an interesting explanation of why Yemen is important to Saudi Arabia:

    For Saudi Arabia, Yemen is a vital security interest. The Saudis have long claimed a dominant role in shaping Yemen’s domestic politics. Yemen’s desert border with Saudi Arabia is a source of anxiety for the Kingdom’s leaders. Yemenis are poor, Yemen’s large population is still growing, and the Yemeni state has not been able to manage its economy successfully. Saudis fear that Yemen will implode, and Yemen’s problems will spill across the border into the Kingdom.

  • A Philippine senator who has been a leading critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, Leila de Lima, was arrested on charges that she accepted bribes from drug traffickers.

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife, Akie, is entangled in a controversy over a new elementary school that purchased land from the government at a steep discount.

  • Malaysia says Kim Jong Nam was killed by VX nerve agent. VX is created by combining two compounds, and two women rubbed their hands on Kim’s face at Kuala Lumpur’s airport.

Links for 2-22-2017

Links for 2-20-2017

Links for 1-30-2017

Links for 1-18-2017

Links for 1-4-2017

  • Daniel Horowitz writes at Conservative Review that Congressional Republicans are planning to repeal only part of ObamaCare:

    The problem is that they plan to repeal only the taxes, subsidies, and Medicaid expansion, but will retain every page of the insurance coverage regulations that are responsible for making insurance actuarially insolvent and depressing the job market. Thus, we are confronted with the worst of both worlds in which the public perception is that Obamacare will be repealed, but the worst aspects — the aspects of the leviathan that are solely responsible for unaffordable premiums and the lack of choice in the market place — will be preserved.

    Kevin Williamson writes at National Review that the bits of ObamaCare that Republicans want to keep aren’t financially sustainable:

    Together, the individual mandate and the preexisting-coverage rule make up the basic policy architecture of Obamacare. There isn’t a feasible way to have the popular preexisting-conditions coverage without the unpopular mandate. In fact, in order to make the system work, we would need to put some more teeth into that mandate: Because the penalties associated with it are very mild, many people, disproportionately young and healthy, prefer to pay the fine than pay a great deal more for insurance. Hence, the pool of newly insured people under Obamacare has been much sicker than insurance companies had expected, which has them squealing. And more than that: It has them pulling out of ACA exchanges and markets around the country, leaving consumers with fewer choices and much higher premiums than they had expected.

    If you want to keep the preexisting-coverage rule — and Republicans say they do — then you are going to end up with Obamacare, or at least a version of it. It might be a slightly better or slightly worse version, but that is what you will have.

    In the meantime M.G. Oprea writes at The Federalist that she’s paying thousands for ObamaCare, then paying for what it won’t cover out of her pocket:

    Rather than go through insurance, which wouldn’t pay for the CT-scan anyway (at least not until I reached my $6,000 deductible), I called around and found the cheapest imaging center. You see, they don’t want to deal with insurance companies either, so they offer an enormous discount if you pay at the time of service. I was able to get a CT-scan for $247.

    At the end of the day, I’m paying hundreds of dollars a month for an insurance plan that doesn’t cover the doctors I need to see and has such a high deductible that I end up paying for most costs out of pocket anyway. And it doesn’t even allow the use of a Health Savings Account.

  • James Simpson argues that the U.S. needs to shut down its refugee programs before we find ourselves in the same position as Germany:

    The most important risk the current refugee program creates is terrorism. Since 9/11 there have been 580 convictions for terrorism in the United States. At least 40 of these were refugees. Just this year, in addition to the knife attacks by Abdul Artan and Ali Mohamound, four other refugees have committed or attempted to commit acts of terrorism.

    Since March 2014 there have been 111 ISIS-related arrests and 60 convictions. There have been nine indictments and six convictions of ISIS supporters in the metropolitan DC area alone. ISIS openly encourages “lone jihadi” attacks, and the State Department now admits ISIS is trying to penetrate the U.S. refugee flow. Some 250 U.S. Muslims from 19 states have either joined or attempted to join ISIS overseas. Many have since returned with little or no oversight.

    Let’s be clear: these are not Mennonite terrorists. They are not Episcopalian suicide bombers. Virtually all 580 convictions since 9/11 were Muslim immigrants or American Muslim converts, and the Somali community consistently supplies such malefactors. Yet the Department of Homeland Security has provided tours of airport facilities to groups of Somalis, including explanations of airport inner workings, security protocols, and databases. DHS redacted some of this information as too sensitive to share with the public.

  • Four Club Gitmo residents are scheduled to be transferred to Saudi Arabia within the next day.

  • President Obama claims his administration has been free of scandal:

  • Turkey is threatening to deny the U.S. access to Incirlik air base unless the U.S. military and its allies start flying ground support missions for Turkish troops in Syria. There’s a good chance the Turkish government is leaning on Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to push the PKK out of Sinjar province — the KRG is imposing restrictions on the movement of goods into and out of Sinjar, which is hurting the Yazidis who moved back into the area after ISIS was expelled. The KRG also shut down the charity Yazda, which has been helping transport Yazidis out of ISIS-held territory and providing survivors with mental health treatment.

  • Kidnapped Iraqi journalist Afrah al-Qaisi was freed unharmed and the property her kidnappers stole was returned.

  • An Israeli soldier, Sergeant Elor Azaria, was convicted of manslaughter by a military court for shooting and killing a Palestinian who was wounded and lying on the ground. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports pardoning Azaria.

  • Mario Loyola wrote a long article for National Review describing a plan for achieving peace in Palestine:

    That includes the U.S. position on Israeli settlements. Settlements are not the reason that the two-state solution is “now in jeopardy,” as Secretary of State John Kerry put it in his mea non culpa speech last week. There is only one reason the two-state solution is in jeopardy, or more accurately dead, and that is Muslim terrorism against innocent Jews. There is only one reason for the harsh security measures imposed in the occupied territories, and that is Muslim terrorism against innocent Jews. There is only one reason for the continuing conflict between Israel and its neighbors, and that is Muslim terrorism against innocent Jews.

  • Russia have decided the Taliban are an ally (at least for now), and they’re working to ease sanctions on the group’s leaders:

    The jihadist group [the Taliban] wants to win the Afghan war and it is using negotiations with regional and international powers to improve its standing. The Taliban has long manipulated “peace” negotiations with the U.S. and Western powers as a pretext for undoing international sanctions that limit the ability of its senior figures to travel abroad for lucrative fundraising and other purposes, even while offering no serious gestures toward peace.

Links for 12-28-2016