ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, November 20

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

Merkel’s Troubles–and Germany’s After her narrow election win, she cannot form a coalition government. Prefers new election (Deutsche Welle, in English)

The coalition problem was that she needed support from the leftist Greens and pro-market Free Democrats.

She couldn’t find common ground between them.

Comment: Her larger problem is that she’s past her “sell-by” date and has a tin-ear for ordinary Germans’ disgust with open borders, which have led to millions of immigrants and serious problems with unassimilated Muslim populations.

 Charles Manson dead at 83. Remembering his victims: Rich, famous, fringe, and random (Los Angeles Times)

Comment: Unspeakable evil–with the power to persuade others to join his malign fantasy.

US designates North Korea as state sponsor of terrorism (Politico)

Iran, Sudan, and Syria are already on the list. It had been placed on the list in 1988 and removed by George W. Bush in 2008 as a carrot during failed nuclear negotiations.

“This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime.

Should have happened years ago. –Pres. Trump (quote at Reuters, link here)

Comment: The big question remains: Will China adhere to US-imposed sanctions or call our bluff by cheating on them?

 Sen. Franken: Second woman accuses of “inappropriate touching” (New York Times)

He won’t resign, says his hometown paper, the Star-Tribune.

 Roy Moore: Obstinate denials despite mounting evidence, stays in the race

Comment: His refusal to withdraw leaves Senate Republicans in a world of hurt.

Meanwhile, Moore received support at a press conference, featuring women who have worked with him.

Unfortunately, all these women have the same drawback. They are adults.

 

 

ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, September 25

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

◆ Germany’s Merkel wins, but she is significantly weaker. Far-right party (AfD) will have third most seats in parliament.

The BBC calls it a “hollow victory.”

The chancellor knew she would most likely win this election. But it is not the victory she or her party had hoped for. It is the conservatives’ worst election result under her leadership. A verdict, perhaps, on her decision to open Germany’s doors to one million refugees.

Addressing her party, Mrs Merkel acknowledged the past four years had been hard. Nevertheless the party had still achieved its aim – to finish first.

The cheers rang a little hollow. Because the real success story of this election belongs to AfD.–BBC

Comment: Germany has been the most stably governed country in Europe for several decades, so this is a blow to the whole European project.

The AfD includes real neo-Nazis, but it won votes from a lot of Germans who opposed the mainstream parties on gut issues such as immigration. Merkel’s open-immigration policy has saddled her country with real problems, and she is paying the price.

Travel ban 3.0: This is a longer-term policy and will be phased in over several weeks.

President Trump issued the order on Sunday. (Story here in the New York Times)

The new order adds Venezuela, North Korea, and Chad to the list, which now covers eight countries. Most citizens these countries will be banned from entering the US, though the specifics differ for each country.

Comment: Attorneys General from Democratic states will inevitably sue. They may win in some liberal courts but will lose at SCOTUS, if it makes it that far.

 Lots of NFL players kneel, supported (at least publicly) by coaches and owners. Trump keeps tweeting, driving the issue

The Washington Post headline is typical: In showings of protest and solidarity, NFL teams respond to Trump’s criticisms

The Chicago Tribune, which has a midwestern-conservative editorial page, ran an editorial ripping the President for adding to the nation’s divisions, adding that he did the same thing after Charlottesville.

Going forward, how about he leaves discussions of free speech, race relations and religious protection to leaders who still have credibility?” –Chicago Tribune editorial

Although national polls have no appeared on the issue, I see three positions emerging.

  • The players are right, or at least they have every right to do it. People on this side emphasize racial inequities, income inequalities, police brutality, and other progressive agenda items.
  • Trump is right. These players ought to show some respect for the country that made their success possible. People on this side emphasize patriotism and other conservative agenda items (some traditional conservative, some more nationalist).
  • Each side has a point, and each has a problem. The players have a right to protest, if they wish, but they have imposed a political agenda on an escapist entertainment for most fans. Do it somewhere else. They add that Trump may be right to defend patriotism but it is un-Presidential to call the players SOB’s and to urge consumer boycotts.

Comment: Whether this dispute is good for Trump or for the players (I think it is smart politics for Trump), it is not good for the country. It highlights and deepens serious divisions among Americans.

I’m sure Roger Goodell would love to get back to his main job: explaining why 300 lb people smashing into each other repeatedly has no effect on the brain “that we have really proven, etc.” It’s the Marlboro Man redux.

London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan compares Trump to ISIS (Fox News)

He has also said Britain should not host Trump on a visit and certainly not consider it a “state visit.”

Comment: Khan has time on his hands until the next terrorist attack on his city.

He has taunted Trump and flaunted the safe, multicultural environment of London before. After that tweet in May 2016, he watched as his city was lethally attacked by terrorists several times.

GOP will roll out its tax plan later this week with cuts and maybe reform.

The Washington Post is already stirred up, saying it will help the rich

Comment: Here’s the problem: the top 1% pay about 40% of the country’s income taxes. If you cut taxes, even if you tilt the cuts toward the middle class, you are bound to help a lot of rich people.

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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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ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, May 8

Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

 The biggest story is Macron’s landslide election as President of France, less because of him than because Marine Le Pen would have blown up the current structure of Europe.

Macron’s challenge is to pull France out of its economic stagnation (a hard task because of deeply entrenched interests) and stopping the assault on French culture and traditions from unassimilated Muslim migrants from North Africa.

As CNN accurately puts it: “Paris breathes a sigh of relief as Macron takes center stage”

Macron, France’s youngest incoming president, was once a political wild card. The 39-year-old centrist independent — a former investment banker turned government minister who entered the presidential race without the backing of any established party — garnered a solid footing through his pro-EU stance and promises to reform France’s welfare and pension systems. –CNN

 The other big story: Hillary is coming out of the woods.

She will make speeches (for money, of course) and start a new PAC. And she will continue blaming everyone else for losing the 2016 election. She is taking a bow, for some reason, for Macron’s victory, too.

Her new political group could launch as early as this week, says Politico.

Comment: Her return is bad news for the Democrats, who need to look forward, not back, and to develop new leaders, not rely on retreads who are proven losers.

Along the same lines, former President Obama is working hard to defeat Trump’s changes to the health-care bill. (New York Times) Again, the old leaders, the ones who decimated the party, want to stay in front, leading it forward.

 In other news that portends stability for Europe, Merkel’s party does very well in German local elections.  (Bloomberg)

Comment: She also gained from supporting Macron. Le Pen directly attacked her and would have undercut the EU.

 Another day in Chicago’s roughest neighborhoods: 2 dead, 8 hurt in shooting at Brighton Park memorial for earlier rifle slaying  (Chicago Tribune)

Comment: This is a recurrent issue: gangs shoot up the funerals of rival gang members. What’s new is that they are now bringing high-powered rifles to these slaughters.

 FDA approves first new drug for ALS (Lew Gehrig’s Disease) in two decades (Medscape)

Edaravone is a pyrazolone free-radical scavenger thought to lessen the effects of oxidative stress, which is a probable factor in ALS onset and progression.

The drug was first approved to treat ALS in Japan and Korea in 2015. After learning about edaravone’s use in Japan, the FDA “rapidly engaged” the manufacturer to apply for approval in the United States. –Medscape

 Texas passes tough law against sanctuary cities (Texas Tribune)

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ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, March 27

Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

Blame game for health care continues. WaPo reports Trump blames Freedom Caucus and far right.  One member of the caucus, Ted Poe of Texas, resigns over health care failure.

Comment: No news here, IMO. Everybody blames everybody. But the main things to notice are (a) how little of the blame is attaching to Trump and (b) how unprepared the R’s were to govern after 7 years of making this issue their top priority.

 Jared Kushner selected to lead a White House team to overhaul the federal bureaucracy  (Washington Post)

The White House Office of American Innovation, to be led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will operate as its own nimble power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements. –Washington Post

Comment: Kushner, age 36 and Trump’s son-in-law, is a rising power in the White House. Taking on an arteriosclerotic bureaucracy, where almost everyone has civil-service protections, will be an enormous challenge.

 After months of political difficulty, Germany’s Angela Merkel gets very good news from a state election, which her party won easily  (New York Times)

Ms. Merkel is seeking a fourth term in national elections on Sept. 24, a race that has grown more challenging in recent weeks after her center-left rivals, the Social Democrats, unanimously selected a new candidate, Martin Schulz, to lead them into the fight. –New York Times

Comment: Merkel’s long tenure as German leader has lent stability to Europe and the EU. 

 Uber suspends its self-driving car program until it figures out why one crashed in Arizona  (CNBC)

The accident occurred when the driver of a second vehicle “failed to yield” to the Uber vehicle while making a turn, said Josie Montenegro, a spokeswoman for the Tempe Police Department.

“The vehicles collided, causing the autonomous vehicle to roll onto its side,” she said in an email. “There were no serious injuries.” –CNBC

Comment: Sounds like the Uber vehicles did not initiate the crashes, and it is unclear to me whether better tech and programming could have avoided them. That, I assume, is what Uber wants to figure out.

 Cities and monuments switch off electricity for “Earth Hour”  (Phys.org)

Comment: And they all get to pin “I’m Virtuous” Merit Badges on themselves.

 Scientists Turn Spinach Leaves into Beating-Heart Tissue  (Science Alert)

Current bioengineering techniques, like 3-D printing, can’t build the intricate, branching network of blood vessels that makes up the heart tissue. However, a team of researchers from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), University of Wisconsin-Madison and Arkansas Sate University-Jonesboro have successfully turned to plants. –Science Alert

Comment: Popeye smiles.

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ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . .Saturday, Dec. 24

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

◆Pres. Obama reversed decades of US policy and allowed a Palestinian-initiated, Arab-backed initiative attacking Israel to pass the UN Security Council without a US veto. Obama’s parting stab at Israel is facing backlash from all Republicans and some Democrats, says The Hill.

A characteristic comment on the Republican side is that of Paul Ryan, who calls Obama’s move “absolutely shameful.”

CommentMy initial judgment is that Pres. Obama’s move will have a major impact on the political alignment of Jews. It will reinforcement the movement, which began under Obama, of the Democratic Party siding with the anti-Israeli left in the US and Europe, and that, in turn, will accelerate the movement of non-secular US Jews away from the Democrats and toward the Republicans.

The fact that Democrats are even considering Rep. Keith Ellison, a former follower of Louis Farrakhan and still a speaker at events aimed at delegitimating Israel, is another blow to the decades-long connection between Jews and the Democratic Party.

Obama’s move will also deepen the division among Jews, pitting the secular, social-justice left, which has little interest in Israel and is deeply critical of its security and settlement policies, and the more traditional, observant community, which sees a rising global threat to Jews and believes Israel is a Jewish homeland under threat from radical Islam and a hostile global left, centered in Europe and US universities.

Bottom Line: Obama’s move harms Israel and harms the Democratic Party. Like so many of Obama’s policies over the past eight years, it is a political mistake that will cost his party for years to come.

◆ The latest Jihadi attack in Berlin will change German policies in two major ways, writes Joseph Joffe in The Guardian

  1. Angela Merkel’s “open door” policy has failed dramatically and will end; and
  2. Germany’s long-standing reluctance to permit more intensive surveillance will change.

Joffe notes that the surveillance policies were already under pressure from Putin’s spying, but the need for change is more compelling now.

◆ Another politically-connected religious leader scamming the public; this time it is a Hasidic rabbi. (NY Daily News)

◆ How can the Inuit survive cold temperatures so well? The answer, according to a new study, may lie in some genetic inheritance from a now-extinct variant of humans, gone for 500,000 years. (NYT; link corrected)

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