• ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, June 13

    Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

     Reports that Trump is considering firing Mueller as Special Counsel  (New York Times)

    The comments came from a Trump friend, Christopher Ruddy, but the White House would not confirm them.

    His comments appeared to take the White House by surprise.

    “Mr. Ruddy never spoke to the president regarding this issue,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said in a statement hours later. “With respect to this subject, only the president or his attorneys are authorized to comment.”

    Allies of the president cast doubt on the idea that Mr. Trump would take such a drastic step, and White House officials said Mr. Ruddy had not met directly with the president while he was there.

    Comment: Firing Mueller is within the President’s authority, but it would set off fireworks since they would appear that Trump could not withstand an investigation.

    Mueller, however, has done himself no favors by hiring major Democratic donors for his staff. His friendship with Comey is also a problem and should be reason enough for him to recuse himself from that portion of the investigation.

    Comey got a “steely silence” from Loretta Lynch when he confronted her over political interference in Hillary investigation (Circa)

    Ex-FBI Director James Comey has privately told members of Congress that he had a frosty exchange with Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch last year when he confronted her about possible political interference in the Hillary Clinton email investigation after showing Lynch a sensitive document she was unaware the FBI possessed, according to sources who were directly briefed on the matter. –Circa

    Comment: Sure looks like Lynch was in the tank for Clinton.

    AG Jeff Sessions will testify publicly before the Senate Intel Committee Tuesday  (Washington Post)

    The Democrats are in attack mode.

    Democrats plan to ask about his contacts during the 2016 campaign with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, which the attorney general failed to disclose fully during his confirmation hearing.

    They also want him to explain his role in the firing of Comey, despite the attorney general’s recusal in March from the Russia investigation after revelations about his meetings with Kislyak. –Washington Post

    Comment: The Democrats have made incendiary assertions about Sessions having improper meetings with the Russians and lying about them.

    But so far, there is simply no evidence of anything wrong. That’s what the hearings will be about.

     North Korea sent drones to spy on US anti-missile system in South Korea  (Reuters)

    The drone crashed on its way home.

    Comment: All this effort to spy, so little effort to feed and clothe the tyrannized population.

     France’s Macron: in a year and a half, he came out of nowhere to win the Presidency and now dominate the National Assembly (New York Times)

    Comment: Parties of the right and left have collapsed. Now, Macron is in a position to move a major reform agenda.

     The Palestinian Authority wants to pressure Hamas, so they have asked Israel to cut back on electricity supplies to Gaza. Israel has agreed.  (Los Angeles Times)

    Israel has approved a request by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to cut by roughly a third the electricity it provides to the Gaza Strip.

    The move is aimed at undermining the Islamic militant group Hamas, which has controlled Gaza for the last decade.

    But the decision reached Sunday by Israel’s security Cabinet is stoking concern that it could trigger a humanitarian crisis among Gaza’s 2 million Palestinians and a new round of fighting between Hamas and Israel.

    In a statement on Monday afternoon responding to news of the Israeli decision, Hamas said that power cuts are “dangerous” and would lead to an “explosion.” –Los Angles Times

    Comment: Hamas is under considerable pressure, given the Muslim Brotherhood loss of power in Egypt, the sanctions on Qatar, and increasing resistance from international donors, who are themselves under pressure for funding terrorism indirectly.

    Although Israel is no friend of the Palestinian Authority, they know Hamas is much worse.

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, May 30

    Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

     No more Mr. Nice Guy: America changes tactics on ISIS, don’t make them flee, make them die (Fox News)

    Defense Secretary James Mattis said Sunday the U.S. has switched to “annihilation tactics” against the Islamic State and is focused on completely surrounding the militants instead of moving them from place to place.

    “Our strategy right now is to accelerate the campaign against ISIS. It is a threat to all civilized nations. And the bottom line is we are going to move in an accelerated and reinforced manner, throw them on their back foot,” Mattis said. –Fox News

     Iran to renew funding for Hamas terrorists  (Times of Israel)

    This was actually not an easy negotiation since they two differed over Syria, with Iran backing Assad, Hamas opposing him.

    They also come from different Islamic sects, Shiite for Iran, Sunni for Hamas.

    The deal to restore Hamas’s financial support came after marathon meetings in Lebanon between officials from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hamas, and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group, the report said.

    Relations between Iran and Hamas have been rocky since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war in 2011, when the Palestinian terror organization came out against Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is backed by Tehran. –Times of Israel

    Comment: Despite their differences, these Hamas and Iran do have one thing in common. They love killing Jews.

     Pentagon will test new anti-missile system as North Korean offensive capabilities continue to advance  (CNN)

    Comment: The issue is rapidly coming to a head as Pyongyang speeds up its testing. Intel experts are forecasting North Korea will be able to miniaturize its nuclear missiles and reach the US in as little as 3 years. South Korea and Japan will be in the crosshairs sooner.

    The danger here is profound, not only from a North Korean nuclear attack but from a conventional war. Seoul, South Korea, is a huge city and within easy reach of thousands of North Korean short-range missiles in hardened sites.

    As the US works hard on this system, with millions of lives in multiple countries at stake, the short-sighted politicians who have opposed anti-missile research for decades have a lot to answer for. 

     All Germany’s top politicians agree with Angela Merkel’s criticism of Donald Trump, say Europe “really must take our fate into our own hands” (Washington Post)

    As they campaign against each other ahead of national elections in September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her chief political rival, Martin Schulz, find themselves united in opposition to President Trump.

    Speaking at a beer hall rally in Munich on Sunday, Merkel suggested that the era when Europe could rely on the United States may be coming to an end and that the continent “really must take our fate into our own hands.” . . .

    Yet rather than criticize his rival or her Christian Democratic Union-led government for the strained relationship with Trump, Schulz has passionately offered support. –Washington Post

    Comment: It is unclear what “taking their fate into their own hands” actually means. If it means a Europe led by Germany, the world order will shake, but not before France and Russia do.

     Venezuela in chaos: opposition leaders injured (Reuters)

    Two Venezuelan opposition leaders were wounded on Monday by security forces dispersing protests in the capital Caracas against President Nicolas Maduro, according to one of the leaders and an opposition legislator.

    Maduro’s adversaries have for two months been blocking highways and setting up barricades in protests demanding he call early elections and address an increasingly severe economic crisis that has left millions struggling to get enough to eat.

    Fifty-nine people have died in the often violent street melees, which Maduro calls an effort to overthrow his government. –Reuters

     

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  • A Comment on the Terror Bombing in England

     

    ◆ A terrorist bombing aimed at killing innocent children–killing them deliberately–is so vile I cannot truly comprehend it.

    May the innocents rest in peace.

    May the wounded recover fully, in body and mind.

    May the police be safe as they root out the terror cells that prepared and executed this heinous act.

    May we, as citizens, name this evil plainly and call it out for what it is.

    The sources of funding must be cut off. Individuals across the Middle East who donate to these organizations are part of the conspiracy and should face the full force of the law. Nations that support it, either because of religious ideology or to divert the fury away from themselves, should be named, shamed, and sanctioned, not appeased.

    Israelis have faced these attacks for years–and been given the back of the hand by Europeans, morally supercilious in safe homes.

    Meanwhile, in southern Israel, bunkers have to be built beneath kindergarten playgrounds so the children can rush to safety within 15 seconds of hearing a warning siren that Hamas has fired a rocket.

    Now, these same forces of militant Islam have come to Europe, welcomed as refugees by clueless politicians. Most refugees are completely innocent. But some are not–and they work hard to recruit others as they do their dirty work in Germany, Belgium, France, Denmark, or England. Angela Merkel still doesn’t grasp the problem.

    Equally troubling, the refugees new life in Europe has failed to socialize many of them to Western values of religious tolerance, free speech, and democratic engagement. In these immigrant communities, the second and third generations are rife with the same views and problems they brought from North Africa or the Middle East.

    As the civil war deepened in Syria, some decided to join it and are now returning as, well-trained, battle-hardened veterans. They are ready to make war on the streets of Europe.

    Beyond the immediate problem of terror are the equally serious problems of controlling immigration and integrating those who are already in the west.

    Law enforcement is an essential part of the solution, but these problems go well beyond it. They require clear-eyed assessment and tough-minded action by citizens and leader who value the hard-won liberties of western, constitutional democracy and who can defend those liberties without eroding them.

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  • World Council of Churches attacks Israel . . . again

    The World Council of Churches versus the Jewish State, Once Again,” writes Gerald Steinberg (Religious News Service)

    The WCC attacked Israel for its March 6 vote in the Israeli parliament (Knesset) that would deny entry visas to activists who call for the boycott of the Jewish state. Olav Fykse Tveit, secretary-general of the WCC, told numerous media outlets that the new law would “make it impossible for him or senior people in his organization to visit member churches or sacred sites in what Christianity regards as the Holy Land.” …

    Ironically, the church body deserves much of the credit for inspiring the entry ban through its campaigns to isolate and demonize Israel internationally.

    For years, the WCC has played a leading role in this harsh political warfare. The organization’s top officials participated in the virulently anti-Semitic NGO Forum of the 2001 U.N. Durban Conference, at which Israel was labeled as an apartheid state. –Gerald Steinberg

    This latest attack is part of a pattern of anti-Israel advocacy, according to NGO Monitor.

    The WCC is a central promoter of the Kairos Palestine document, which characterizes terrorist acts of “armed resistance” as “Palestinian legal resistance” denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms, calls to mobilize churches worldwide in the call for BDS, and compares Israel with the South African apartheid regime. . . .

    WCC documents (May 2013) imply that Israel’s very existence is illegitimate, accusing it of “sixty-five years [] of continuing dispossession of Palestinian people—Christian and Muslim alike—from their land by Israeli occupation.”

    Refers to Christian Zionism “as a form of Christian fundamentalism” and claims that “Christians who promote “Christian Zionism” distort the interpretation of the Word of God and the historic connection of Palestinians—Christians and Muslims—to the Holy Land, enable the manipulation of public opinion by Zionist lobbies, and damage intra-Christian relations.”

    During the 2014 Gaza conflict, WCC released several statements placing sole blame for the conflict on Israel and ignoring Hamas terrorism against Israeli civilians. –NGO Monitor

    Comment: Israel and its supporters take the boycott movement very seriously, less because it directly affects their economy, more because it aims at delegitimizing the very existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East. That’s the point of using vitriolic and misleading terms like “apartheid” and “colonialism,” which imply Israel is not only acting badly, its existence is a colonial outcropping that should be removed. The World Council of Churches has repeatedly endorsed these anti-Israel views without directly saying Israel should not exist.

    The WCC’s position–demonizing Israel and often demonizing America–matches that of left-wing Christian denominations in the US. Those denominations are shrinking and are increasingly organized around a romantic, progressive political vision rather than worship. What’s growing? Evangelicals who are focused on their religious beliefs and, typically, are patriotic and pro-Israel. Their support for Zionism is at least as strong, and often stronger, than the liberal wing of American Judaism.

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, March 9

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

     “Economy is emerging as the untold story of Trump’s first 100 days” and much of it is about the prospect of cutting red tape (NY Sun)

    By every measure, the United States has been sinking into economic mediocrity over the last decade because of excessive regulation.

    When President Obama took office in 2009, the United States ranked third among all nations as a place to do business. Since then it has plummeted to eighth, according to the World Bank. Why? Eight years ago, it took 40 days to get a construction permit in the United States. Today, it’s double that.

    Regulatory overkill started long before Mr. Obama. But Mr. Donohue calls the last eight years a “regulatory onslaught that loaded unprecedented burdens on business and the economy.”

    The Heritage Foundation, which grades nations on economic freedom, now puts the United States 17th in the world, our lowest-ever ranking. That’s below Chile, and former Soviet states like Estonia, Lithuania and Georgia. –Betsy McCaughey in New York Sun

    Virtually the same story appears in Forbes, quoting top hedge-fund manager David Tepper on the growth impact of deregulation (Forbes)

     “FBI prepares for new hunt for WikiLeaks’ source” It is a very big deal (Washington Post)

    The FBI has begun preparing for a major mole hunt to determine how anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks got an alleged arsenal of hacking tools the CIA has used to spy on espionage targets, according to people familiar with the matter.

    The leak rattled government and technology industry officials, who spent Tuesday scrambling to determine the accuracy and scope of the thousands of documents released by the group. They were also trying to assess the damage the revelations may cause, and what damage may come from future releases promised by WikiLeaks, these people said. –Washington Post

    The Wall Street Journal says the focus will be on CIA contractors

     The depths of depravity: ISIS terrorists, dressed as doctors, attack a major hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing 30 or more (CNN)

     Cloud computing services: Can Google complete with Amazon and Microsoft? They’ve spent $30 billion trying and they are “making some undeniable progress,” according to Business Insider.

     Uber gets permit to test autonomous cars in California, one of 20 companies now testing there. Uber is also testing self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh. (PC World)

     

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  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Thursday, February 9

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

     Neil Gorsuch is virtually certain to win Senate confirmation to go on the Supreme Court.

    ⇒Dick Durbin, #2 on the Senate Democratic side, has announced that he will not filibuster Gorsuch. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has said the same thing (State Journal Register and Daily Caller)

    Comment: Those statements clinch an up-or-down vote for Gorsuch, which he will win and take a seat on the Supreme Court.

    If Democrats tried to fight this to the bitter end, they would still have lost and jeopardized their most vulnerable candidates, up for election in 2018. Given those calculations and Gorsuch’s very strong résumé, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, and other Democratic leaders decided to keep their ammunition dry for a more problematic nominee.

    Related Story: The Washington Post captures the Democratic leadership’s problem with this headline:

    “Schumer’s dilemma: Satisfying the base while protecting his minority” (Washington Post)

     Rep. Keith Ellison, running for Chair of the Democratic National Committee, gets hit from the left. The Nation magazine says he is lying about his ties to Louis Farrakhan and black-nationalism (The Nation via Legal Insurrection blog)

     At Powerline blog: “Keith Ellison’s Back Pages” continues Scott Johnson’s fine digging into the Minnesota representative’s squirrely background 

    Comment: Republicans are gleeful Ellison is a strong candidate to lead the DNC; if they had a vote, he would win in a landslide. And they laugh out loud that his opponent, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, is considered more “centrist.” That just tells you how far left the center of the party has moved. 

    ◆ Two more Hamas terrorists die as their tunnel collapses. (Reuters) Hmmm. Seems to happen a lot. 

     “Shutting down Speech by Elizabeth Warren, G.O.P. Amplifies Her Message,” says NYT

    Comment: Exactly. The Times thinks that is awful. Nope, not for Republicans and not for the Senate.

    Why did Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell do it? There are several possible reasons.

    • One is that McConnell wanted to cool the increasingly vitriolic language on the Senate floor and restore normal Senate rules. That is his public explanation.
    • Or McConnell might have made a mistake and amplified the voice of an opponent. The NYT likes that one.
    • Here’s my favorite: McConnell thinks Elizabeth Warren represents everything that keeps Democrats in the minority. She has a national constituency that stretches from Cambridge to Amherst to Madison to Berkeley…and that’s it. She is toxic to any Democratic effort to win back the Senate. The New York Times would miss that because she is their kind of politician. But there are not many folks in Ohio or Michigan who agree. “Let her be the shrill, elite voice of her party,” sly ole Mitch could be thinking.

     A blast from the past

     

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    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Patrick Crane
    for posting the Ovaltine Picture in “Forgotten Chicago”

     

  • Who says there’s no good news? Another Hamas operative has a “work accident”

    3comments No tags Permalink

    Linked articles are in bold purple

     “Now, brothers, you are going to want to pay special attention to the red wi…….”

     William Jacobson shares the story (link here)

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    Special hat tip to Dean Stegenga and Stephanie Jones Key for alerting me to this story, and to William Jacobson for running it on his valuable blog.

     

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Monday, January 16, the day honoring Dr. Martin Luther King

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

     The Strategy of Delegitimating Trump  Rep. John Lewis, civil-rights leader from the MLK days, calls Trump’s presidency illegitimate because of Russian hacking. Republicans disagree, predictably. The New York Times, predictably, runs an article headlined: “In Trump’s Feud With John Lewis, Blacks Perceive a Callous Rival”

    The Congressional Black Caucus, whose motto is “The Conscience of the Congress,” is, predictably, lining up with Lewis, providing a strong invitation for more democrats to join in the claim that Donald Trump is not the legitimate president.

    Days before his inauguration, President-elect Donald J. Trump is engaged in a high-profile feud with some of the country’s most prominent African-American leaders, setting off anger in a constituency already wary of him after a contentious presidential campaign.

    Mr. Trump’s criticism of Representative John Lewis of Georgia, a widely admired leader of the civil rights movement, has prompted a number of Democratic lawmakers to say they will not attend his inauguration on Friday. –New York Times

     

     Trump blames “all those illegals” from the Middle East for troubles in the European Union.  Interviewed by the Times of London and Germany’s Bild, Trump says

    People, countries, want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity. But, I do believe this, if they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it … entails, I think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit. -Donald Trump interview

    The Los Angeles Times story about the interview and aides’ comments is here.

     Drumbeat of Teachers’ Unions against Trump’s nominee for Education  Expect plenty of headlines like this one in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pa. educators have ‘worries’ about Trump’s Cabinet nominee

    Comment: In this news article, the word “wallet” appears in the second sentence and “billionaire” in the third. The first quote is from the state teacher’s union. In my opinion, the article is closer to an opinion piece than straight news.

     

     How American Charities Fund Terrorism  Interesting investigative report in National Review, focusing on American charities connected to Hamas.

    Some of the conclusions are debatable, though.

    By providing social services, Islamist terror groups gain political and moral legitimacy among the people under their control as well as among their supporters abroad. –Sam Westrop in National Review

    Comment: That’s an understandable position, but there is another view about these “indirect” benefits. It argues that, because Hamas completely controls Gaza, the provision of almost any social services to ordinary people there would count as benefiting Hamas, according to Westrop’s logic. That may be true politically, but it may cast too broad a net if it includes independent charities that do not work closely with Hamas. 

     Why Women Are Colder than Men  The science behind that common difference. (Glamour Health)

     Political Correctness: so pervasive at American universities that German publications are running major series about it.  Spiegel has a thoughtful, two-part investigation in English (part 1 here), concluding that many campuses are utterly disconnected from ordinary citizens’ views and experiences. That disconnection and the excesses of the PC movement helped Trump win, they argue.

    Comment: I would add that what makes PC movements so troubling is their willingness to shut down others’ speech and their condescending sense that they are morally superior.

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    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Timothy Favero
     for the Der Spiegel article, which I would not have seen without his suggestion