Links for 9-19-2017

  • John Sexton collected several videos showing buildings in Mexico City shaking and collapsing after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake. This earthquake struck 32 years to the day after a magnitude 8.1 earthquake killed thousands of people.

  • Fred Lucas summarized Donald Trump’s U.N. speech for The Daily Signal. An hour or so after Trump’s speech, former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka delivered a speech along the same lines to Hillsdale College supporters: 

  • CNN reported that investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort before and after the election. The warrants for the wiretapping were issued by the FISA court.

  • Sig Sauer asked the Trump administration to withdraw an export license for $1.2 million in American-manufactured weapons that were to be sold to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bodyguards — the same bodyguards who beat up protesters outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C., earning many of them an indictment.

  • Former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson accused the Trump-era EPA of being non-transparent. Jackson used the email alias “Richard Windsor” to shield her EPA emails from Freedom of Information Act requests, so she has practical experience in this area. Jackson is now a vice president at Apple.

  • Israel used a Patriot missile to shoot down a drone over the Golan Heights. The drone was probably manufactured by Iran and flown for the benefit of Hezbollah.

  • The U.S. opened a small military base in Israel to support a missile defense system. The base is located within an Israeli Air Force base.

  • Alex Gorka makes offers insightful observations on Turkey’s purchase of a S–400 missile defense system from Russia:

    The system is not operationally compatible with the systems used by NATO countries, which gives Turkey a military capacity independent of the alliance. NATO commanders will not have control over it. The identification friend or foe (IFF) equipment won’t prevent Turkey from using it against NATO aircraft and missiles. Reaching full operational capability will require Russian personnel to be stationed in Turkey on advice, assistance and training missions.

    The technology transfer component of the S–400 deal is especially important as it would allow Turkey to rapidly expand domestic defense industry with Russia’s help. Russia would supply two batteries and help Ankara build two more such systems. A few years ago, the US refused to let Turkey produce Patriot air defense systems on its soil and the deal was off.

    Ankara does not have industrial infrastructure to produce air defense systems. Russian specialists will have to come and build it from scratch. As a result, Russia will get access to the defense infrastructure of a NATO member state. The agreement to build the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Turkey, which is to be launched by 2023, is another example of fruitful economic cooperation.

  • Turkey deployed tanks and rocket launchers along its border with Iraqi Kurdistan and said they’d remain deployed there until the day after the September 25 independence referendum.

  • Jonah Cohen argues the Kurds deserve a homeland:

    Western leaders and policymakers who bemoan the referendum can, if they choose, flatter themselves as “realists.” And, true, they are not speaking from the philosophical tradition of Locke and Lincoln and Mill. But the irony here is that violence will be more likely, not less, if the Kurdish people aren’t allowed to express their visceral desires through a democratic process. History teaches that we ought to tread carefully around liberty-longing people with pent-up political rage. Up till now, Iraqi Kurds have been more than restrained, loyal to the West, sacrificing much for the American-led coalition. Without a political path toward their dream of statehood – without “a street empty of bloodstains,” to borrow words of Kurdish poet Kajal Ahmad – at least some of them will likely conclude that democracy has failed, leaving them no other choice but guerrilla warfare and chaos.

  • British police arrested a third suspect in the London tube bombing.

  • The Telegraph reports that climate change represents less of a threat than predicted because the models are wrong. I know, you’re shocked.

    Climate change poses less of an immediate threat to the planet than previously thought because scientists got their modelling wrong, a new study has found. New research by British scientists reveals the world is being polluted and warming up less quickly than 10-year-old forecasts predicted, giving countries more time to get a grip on their carbon output.

    An unexpected “revolution” in affordable renewable energy has also contributed to the more positive outlook.

  • Russian helicopter pilots participating in the “Zaphod 2017” war games should probably work on their aim and stop endangering bystanders:

Links for 9-18-2017

Links for 9-15-2017

Links for 9-13-2017

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 8-25-2017

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: