ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, October 10

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

◆ Massive Wildfires across Northern California. Blazes in Sonoma’s wine country have not been contained(New York Times)

At least 10 dead so far, 1500 buildings destroyed.

Comment: There are other fires in Southern California. Together, they challenge the state’s ability to respond.

 Tennessee’s centrist Republican Senator, Bob Corker, doubles down on his accusations against Trump

The New York Times broke the news and did an in-depth interview with Corker, whose attacks on Trump are as personal as DJT’s angry tweets at Corker. The Times’ latest article is here.

Comment: Corker’s attacks are important for three reasons

  • First, according to NYT reporters, Corker’s criticisms are merely the public voice of what most Senate Republicans say. Steve Bannon has said the same thing: establishment Republicans hate Trump and want to sink his agenda.
  • Second, since the Democrats oppose every Trump legislative initiative, he only chance to pass legislation is to hold together a narrow Republican majority. Now, Corker and McCain seem determined to oppose Trump. Add Rand Paul, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski to that grouping and you fall well short of 50 votes. (And most legislation will require 60.)
  • Third, Corker, as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is privy to the highest-levels of US intel and diplomacy. He has recently said that Trump could be leading the US into World War III.

The husband-and-wife team indicted in the Democratic Congressional IT scandal have now turned on each other (Daily Caller)

The indicted husband-and-wife team of former IT aides to Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz sat directly across from each other at the defendants’ table in federal court Friday in Washington, D.C., but refused to look at each other.

Even as they are co-defendants in a U.S. case, Imran Awan’s own wife, Hina Alvi, has become the latest person to accuse him of fraud, filing papers against him in Pakistani court, according to Pakistani news channel ARY.

Awan, his wife and two brothers — all previously on the payroll of House Democrats — became subjects of a Capitol Police investigation last year after investigators concluded they were submitting falsified invoices for equipment and had transferred “massive” data off a House server. After he was banned from the House network, Awan left a laptop with the username RepDWS in a Capitol Hill phone booth.

Although The Washington Post has reported that investigators found that Awan and his relatives made unauthorized access to a congressional server 5,400 times, Wasserman Schultz has said concern about the matter was the stuff of the “right-wing media circus fringe.” –Daily Caller

Comment: Whenever the defendants turn on each other, the prosecution benefits.

What do we need to know?

  • Were the Democrats’ confidential information shared with outsiders, including foreign actors?
  • Why did Debbie Wasserman Schultz stick by her accused aide for so long? Did he have anything on her?
  • How deep and wide does this scandal go?

Comment #2: Mainstream media has shown zero interest in this massive scandal.

Today’s “WTF” story

Comment: No matter how fearsome your school’s mascot, I’m betting that “Radioactive Wild Boars” is scarier.

The University of Arkansas should really consider upgrading their Razorback symbol.

 

 

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Surprisingly, it detracts from your job application

The Daily Caller picked up the story from a Swedish newspaper, Expressen, which interviewed the returning ISIS fighters. (Daily Caller story here)

Swedish daily Expressen interviewed some of the 150 terrorists who have moved back to Sweden after fighting for ISIS. Many of them have changed their legal names to be able to rejoin society, but few are able to get jobs.

“I just want to forget everything,” a 27-year-old man formerly known as Walad Yousef told Expressen. “I apply for a lot of jobs, but I can’t get any because my pictures are out there.” –Daily Caller

I think we can all agree the Expressen report is more eloquent:

Hundratals svenskar åkte till kriget för att slåss för IS – så lever återvändarna i dag. –Expressen

ZipDialog Roundup for Saturday, April 8

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

 The big news, plus comments

  • US cruise missile strike on Syria: successful, circumscribed, and widely approved, both in America and worldwide
    • The limitation: it is a signal, not a strategy. Good strategic options simply aren’t available. The next moves are up to Russia and Iran, which are firmly committed to the Assad regime.
  • Gorsuch approved for Supreme Court. WaPo says he could have an immediate impactthough he simply returns to the Court to its alignment before Justice Scalia died. 
    • The Post’s prominent editorial writer, Dana Milbank, calls Mitch McConnell “the man who broke America”; American voters said something different, according to multiple polls, indicating that Trump won significant votes for his promised appointments to the Court.
    • Chuck Schumer and the Democrats’ decision to immolate themselves on this one was dumb, dumb, dumb; it shows that catering to your base and your donors is not always a good way to appeal to the wider public, something the Republicans have learned the hard way over many year
  • Another terror attack in Europe, this one in Stockholm
    • Europe’s experiment with large-scale Muslim integration and a laissez-faire attitude toward social integration, masquerading as “multiculturalism,” has failed in deadly ways . . . on the roads of Nice, the nightclubs of Paris, the bridges of London, and now the sidewalks of Stockholm. If mainstream politicians don’t address these legitimate public concerns, more extremist, racist parties will gain still more traction
  • House Republicans leave town with healthcare still in the ICU
  • There was so much news that Republicans did not have time to point at Susan Rice or Democrats to accuse Trump of colluding with the Russians. In fact, Trump and Putin seem to have unfriended each other, but, then, this was never about being Facebook buddies.

 Trump-Xi summit ends without public comment, but the US strike on Syria, conducted while Xi was visiting, was bound to resonate as Chinese leaders think about North Korea

The Washington Post reports a “100-day plan to boost trade and cooperation” between the US and China

Comment: For the Trump administration, the key goal is lowering the trade imbalance with China.

 Stockholm terror attack kills at least four, injures many more, some seriously. Another deadly, easy-to-execute attack using a truck or car

Reports from Stockholm say the whole city was immediately shut down to prevent possible follow-on attacks on roads, bridges, subways, airports. Some arrests have been made. (NYT story here.)

Comment: These deadly, improvised attacks against “soft targets” are ease to launch and, unfortunately, scores of radical Islamists are already in place, ready to launch them.

What must rattle the Swedes is that they have done nothing to provoke these attacks. Quite the contrary: they have appeased their deadly foes at every opportunity. Sweden contributes almost nothing to the global war against Islamic terror. Their foreign policy is consistently pro-Palestinian and virulently anti-Israeli. The country has taken in lots of Muslim immigrants, showered them with welfare benefits, and done nothing to shift them toward tolerant, Western attitudes.

If that is “Plan A,” then lots of Swedes must be wondering what “Plan B” looks like.

 Alabama’s Governor, Robert Bentley, a socially-conservative Republican, is ensnared in a nasty sex scandal, with allegations he used campaign funds and intimidation to hide it. Next up: possible impeachment. 

The best analysis is at Alabama’s multi-paper site, Al.com.

Comment: Investigators quickly ruled out good looks or debonaire charm.

 Good News: California’s long “drought emergency” is over, thanks to heavy winter rain and snow  NBC says groundwater levels are still below normal and that Gov. Jerry Brown is urging water conservation as a “way of life.”

 Today in Irony: Kentucky’s Coal Museum switches to solar energy to save on costs  (Newser)

 

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ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, March 2

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

 Comment on allegations against AG Jeff Sessions: If there is anything substantive in the allegations about Jeff Sessions, that would be a big deal. Brief discussions are not, but knowingly misleading a Senate Committee would be. Obviously, the attacks are part of a broader Democratic effort to deligitimate the Trump Administration, which is on the edge of a Witch Hunt, but the underlying facts and the truthfulness of Sessions’ testimony will determine.

In any case, it would be wise for Sessions to accede to Democratic demands to remove himself (though perhaps not recuse himself) from any investigation of Russian ties to the Trump campaign.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are edging up to asking, “Are you now or have you ever been . . .?” They will ask it now of every Trump nominee.

 Stay Classy: Valerie Jarrett has moved into Pres. Obama’s house in DC which “is now the nerve center for their plan to mastermind the insurgency against President Trump,” according to the Daily Mail.

Comment: As with so much of Jarrett’s activities, this is the opposite of wisdom. Why. First, because it leave fingerprints. Second, because it keeps Obama and his team prominently in the party’s leadership at a time when the Democrats desperately need new leadership . . . after their party was decimated at all levels during the Obama years. Third, because it highlights the Democratic Party’s role as full-frontal obstructionists. Other than that, smart move.

Sad-but-true footnote: CNN has actually hired Valerie’s daughter as their main reporter on the Department of Justice. Are these CNN executives so clueless or so partisan they don’t understand that you cannot do this and present yourself as a disinterested news organization?

 Excellent economic news: “U.S. jobless claims near 44-year-low as labor market tightens” (Reuters)

The stronger labor market combined with rising inflation could push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this month.

It was the 104th straight week that claims remained below 300,000, a threshold associated with a healthy labor market. That is the longest stretch since 1970, when the labor market was much smaller. It is now at or close to full employment, with an unemployment rate of 4.8 percent. –Reuters

The offsetting news this week is that economic growth in 2016 Q4 was still sluggish.

Comment: For all the criticism of Pres. Obama’s economic management–some deserved, some not–he deserves praise for nearly all of the 104 weeks of low jobless claims.

 North Korea sez: “Heart attack, not nerve agent, killed Kim Jong Nam”  (Washington Post)

Comment: And if you don’t agree, you, too, will die of a heart attack.

In other news, Pyongyang is offering going-out-of-business prices on the Brooklyn Bridge.

 Think Baltic tensions with Russia are high? Well, Sweden just brought back the draft  (BBC)

Non-aligned Sweden is worried about Russia’s Baltic military drills.

In September, a Swedish garrison was restored to Gotland, a big island lying between the Swedish mainland and the three ex-Soviet Baltic states.

Why is this happening?

Ms Nyh Radebo [speaking for the Defense Ministry] said the return to conscription was prompted by “the security change in our neighbourhood”.

“The Russian illegal annexation of Crimea [in 2014], the conflict in Ukraine and the increased military activity in our neighbourhood are some of the reasons,” she said. –BBC

Comment: They aren’t drafting very many (only 4,000), but it’s the thought that counts.

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zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
◆ Ed Vidal
 for Valerie Jarrett story

 

ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, February 22

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

 Two fascinating articles by Paul Roderick Gregory investigating Russian hacking (Forbes.com)

The media’s focus on Trump’s Russian connections ignores the much more extensive and lucrative business relationships of top Democrats with Kremlin-associated oligarchs and companies. Thanks to the Panama Papers, we know that the Podesta Group (founded by John Podesta’s brother, Tony) lobbied for Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank. “Sberbank is the Kremlin, they don’t do anything major without Putin’s go-ahead, and they don’t tell him ‘no’ either,” explained a retired senior U.S. intelligence official. According to a Reuters report, Tony Podesta was “among the high-profile lobbyists registered to represent organizations backing Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.”  …

That’s not all: The busy Podesta Group also represented Uranium One, a uranium company acquired by the Russian government which received approval from Hillary Clinton’s State Department to mine for uranium in the U.S. and gave Russia twenty percent control of US uranium. –Paul Roderick Gregory for Forbes

Gregory is a professor of economics at the University of Houston, specializing in Russia, and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution

 “Actually, Sweden is having big trouble with Mideast refugees,” writes Rich Lowry, who focuses on economic issues rather than crime  (New York Post)

By welcoming a historic number of asylum-seekers proportionate to its population, Sweden has indeed embarked on a vast social experiment that wasn’t well thought-out and isn’t going very well. The unrest in the Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby after police made an arrest the other night underscored the problems inherent in Sweden’s immigration surge.

Sweden’s admirable humanitarianism is outstripping its capacity to absorb newcomers. …

There’s a stark gap in the labor-force-participation rate between the native-born (82 percent) and the foreign-born (57 percent). As the Migration Policy Institute points out, Sweden is an advanced economy with relatively few low-skills jobs to begin with. …

The fiscal cost is high. According to Swedish economist Tino Sanandaji, the country spends 1.5 percent of its GDP on the asylum-seekers, more than on its defense budget. Sweden is spending twice the entire budget of the United Nations high commissioner responsible for refugees worldwide. Pressed for housing, Sweden spends as much on sheltering 3,000 people in tents as it would cost to care for 100,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan. –Rich Lowry for New York Post

◆ There is better news from Sweden: “Confused Randy Elk Mounts Wooden Elk in Swede’s Garden” (The Local, Sweden)

Actual quote from the article:

“I shouted at him ‘get lost’, but he didn’t give a toss,” [79-year-old Ove] Lindqvist said, explaining that the elk only left once it was content. –The Local

Apple iPhones working for real-time facial recognition to log in  (Fox Tech)

Amid rumors that the iPhone 8 will incorporate advanced facial recognition features, the Hebrew-language website Calcalist (via Times of Israel) is reporting that Apple recently acquired Realface, an up-and-coming Israeli startup with impressive real-time facial recognition software.

Lending credence to rumors that the iPhone 8 may forgo the use of Touch ID in favor of facial recognition, Realface’s software is said to be sophisticated enough such that it can reliably be used as a foundation for mobile-based biometric authentication. –Fox Tech 

The Times of Israel story on the buy-out is here.

Israel is a high-tech powerhouse, and Apple has moved to capitalize on those capabilities, purchasing four Israeli high-tech firms in recent years.

 Kenneth Arrow, a Nobel Prize economist and a true great, has died, aged 95  N (New York Times)

When Professor Arrow received the award in 1972, [Paul] Samuelson wrote, “The economics of insurance, medical care, prescription drug testing — to say nothing of bingo and the stock market — will never be the same after Arrow.”

Professor Arrow — a member of an extended family of distinguished economists, including Professor Samuelson and Lawrence H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary and adviser to President Barack Obama — generated work that was technically forbidding even to mathematically oriented colleagues.

But over the decades, economists have learned to apply his ideas to the modern design of insurance products, financial securities, employment contracts and much more. –New York Times

The extended obituary concludes with a wonderful story about his prodigious, wide-ranging learning:

Eric Maskin, a Harvard economist and fellow Nobel winner, told of a good-natured conspiracy waged by junior faculty to get the better of Professor Arrow, even if artificially. They all agreed to study the breeding habits of gray whales — a suitably abstruse topic — and gathered at an appointed date at a place where Professor Arrow would be sure to visit.

When, as expected, he showed up, they were talking out loud about the theory by a marine biologist — last name, Turner — which purported to explain how gray whales found the same breeding spot year after year. As Professor Maskin recounted the story, “Ken was silent,” and his junior colleagues amused themselves that they had for once bested their formidable professor.

Well, not so fast.

Before leaving, Professor Arrow muttered, “But I thought that Turner’s theory was entirely discredited by Spencer, who showed that the hypothesized homing mechanism couldn’t possibly work.” –New York Times

 

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Tweet of the Day: Crime in Sweden

At the Trump rally in Melbourne, Florida, the President indicated there had been a terrible event “last night” in Sweden.

Since nothing out of the ordinary had happened, the bien pensant began mocking him relentlessly.

My FB and Twitter feeds were filled with their cackling, “Pray for Sweden.”

ACTUALLY . . .

There is significant crime associated with Sweden’s immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East. There are areas where the local police fear going and, since saying so is a “thought crime,” they don’t talk about it publicly. Don’t want to be prosecuted by Big Brother, who does not accept truth as a defense.

Beside the increased crime, immigrants are also causing two major problems for Sweden’s welfare state. The first, and most obvious, is that they need (and demand) costly social services and income support. The second, and less obvious, is that the entire Swedish welfare state depends upon mutual trust that recipients are honest. Rampant fraud, stemming from the immigrant community, is undermining the system’s foundation of trust.

AS IF ON CUE

After the laughter at Trump had faded, the impossible happened: last night really did sink into rioting. A Swedish police officer stopped an immigrant for some violation and was attacked by rock-throwing miscreants, who then led their fellows into an all-out riot.

The rioters clearly have a rich sense of irony.

PRAY FOR SWEDEN

Nothing to see here, said all my friends who, only the day before, had posted the mocking phrase, “Pray for Sweden.”

They could use prayer now, but none of those folks are posting.

It could be worse. Just imagine what would happen to them if they actually prayed as Christians or Jews in that “immigrant community.” And you think stoning police was bad.