ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, April 21

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

 ISIS terror in Paris’ Champs-Élysées

Comment: Why would Islamic terrorists strike so close to the election, in such prominent spot? What’s the logic?

They surely know it will increase support for the most hardline anti-Islam candidates. They must calculate that such candidates will strengthen their own radical basic in poor, bitter, poorly-integrated areas in France and across Europe. That is, they want to drive a wedge between French Muslims and the rest of the country, hoping the Muslims will then side with ISIS.

The high-profile attack also signals strength to their supporters around the world. They are saying, in effect, that we may be losing their territorial Caliphate in Iraq/Syria, but we can still cause death and destruction to the Infidels. Of course, all non-Muslims and perhaps even Muslims who are not in ISIS are infidels.

Meanwhile, Europe itself is in the midst of a cultural, political, and organizational crisis, besieged on several fronts with no clear leaders and confusion over what to do about Islamic immigrants, Russia, the EU, and Turkey.

 US intel agencies reexaming leaks, could indict Julian Assange and WikiLeaks (CBS)

They are also engaged in a major hunt for the sources of multiple devastating releases of information, some to WikiLeaks, some to news outlets.

 VERY prominent financial exec says there are “some warning signs [in the economy] that are getting darker” (Bloomberg)

The comments came from Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager (over $5 trillion). Fink stressed how much depends on corporate earning and political action in Washington.

The stock market needs validation that U.S. corporate earnings will stay strong and that the policies of President Donald Trump regarding taxes, regulation and infrastructure will advance in Congress in order to move higher, Fink said.

“If we don’t have earnings validated in these higher P/Es [price/earnings ratios] we could adjust downward 5 or 10 percent from here,” Fink said. “If the administration does succeed on some of these items then the market will then reassert itself going higher.” –Larry Fink, interviewed by Bloomberg News

 Fine piece on the Mississippi Delta blues, local food, and other attractions in Clarksdale and points south  (Jackson, MS, Clarion-Ledger)

It comments on the Alluvian Hotel in Greenwood, Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, and a lifelong favorite of mine, Chamoun’s Rest Haven (Lebanese food) in Clarksdale.

Comment: The omission of Abe’s Bar-B-Q is a serious error of omission that should be corrected immediately by the Clarion-Ledger.

People don’t go to Abe’s for the view or white table cloths. They go for some serious pulled-pork sandwiches.

In other Mississippi news: Gov. Phil Bryant vetoes a budget line-item spending $50,000 on a PR campaign telling people wild hogs are dangerous. His point: they are dangerous, but you should already know that unless you are an idiot. He was more polite.



ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, April 16

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

 North Korea: no nuclear test (yet), failed missile test on day of big celebration  No comment from Trump or top aides. (Washington Post)

Comment: We don’t know if North Korea simply wasn’t ready for its next nuclear test or was pressured by China. Either way, expect Kim Jong Un to continue pushing the envelope in dangerous ways. 

 Sec. of State Rex Tillerson’s stock is high and rising inside the White House. Outsiders have simply missed it  (Politico)

Tillerson has far more White House visits than other Cabinet members, as well as weekly private dinners with Trump.

Politico says Trump admires Tillerson’s skills in managing large organizations (he was superb at Exxon), and that Trump thinks, as executives do, in terms of quarterly results. And Tillerson is finishing the quarter strong, with his guidance on Syria, Iraq, and Russia.

The American Interest has a related article on Tillerson’s rise in what they call “Donald Trump’s Transactional Diplomacy.”

 Him no talk. Elizabeth Warren whines that Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to speak to her  (Washington Examiner)

Comment: Warren, you might remember, refused to shake hands with Judge Gorsuch and led the opposition to fellow Senator Jeff Sessions’ successful nomination to become Attorney General.

 Julian Assange grumpy with CIA after its head calls WikiLeaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service” (Fox News)

Assange says CIA Director Mike Pompeo is trying to “subvert” his “First Amendment Rights.”

Quick Tip to Assange: Non-US citizens living in London do not have First Amendment Rights. Try a different gambit.





ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, March 13

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

Brexit bill nears final Parliamentary passage  (BBC) The Lords made changes to the Commons’ bill, but those are expected to be reversed when Commons reconsiders. When the EU Withdrawal Bill finally passes with an agreed text, expected this week, Britain is expected to quickly trigger “Article 50,” starting the formal Brexit process.

 Democrats’ answer to replacing Obamacare. No, No, and Hell No.

⇒ They have opted for the Groucho Marx Strategy: “Whatever It Is, I’m Against It”

Sen. Democratic leader Chuck Schumer “slammed the GOP’s replacement plan for ObamaCare, saying Democrats will work to defeat the legislation” (The Hill)

This bill is a giveaway to the wealthy and insurance companies at the expense of American families, and Senate Democrats will work hard to see that it is defeated. –Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)

 What if the WikiLeaks WikiLeaked and nobody WikiCared? That’s what Quartz says happened with the latest dump.

Quartz adds that the leaks show how powerful new encryption methods are.

While Snowden revealed that telcos handed over data about their customers to the NSA in bulk, there is no sign in the Vault 7 documents that the CIA can hack into encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp or Signal and use that to carry out mass surveillance. To see what’s on your phone, the agency must get access to the phone itself. –Quartz

Comment from Michael Lipson: Maybe the most revolutionary thing was that the CIA needed to have physical contact with a lot of the target devices. I would have suspected that they’d master alternative delivery methods.  (Michael Lipson is Director of Technology for the web-based company, Swappa.)

 George Will column on “The Intellectual Diversity We Need” (Washington Post)

Fortunately, state legislatures, alumni and philanthropists are planting little academic platoons that will make campuses less intellectually monochromatic. One such, just launched, is Arizona State University’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. . . .

Some academics who relish progressivism’s hegemony on campuses, and who equate critical thinking with disparagement, will regret and resist things like ASU’s new school. . . .

Here and around the country this purpose is being advanced by entities such as ASU’s new school, teaching the history of ideas and statesmanship. This growing archipelago of excellence will leaven academia with the diversity that matters most. –George Will

Related article: Wendy Kaminer, “The Progressive Ideas Behind the Lack of Free Speech on Campus” (Washington Post, 2015) According to Kaminer,

You can credit — or blame — progressives for this enthusiastic embrace of censorship. It reflects, in part, the influence of three popular movements dating back decades:

  • the feminist anti-porn crusades,
  • the pop-psychology recovery movement and
  • the emergence of multiculturalism on college campuses. –Wendy Kaminer

Comment: All correct. I would add one more: Embracing the Creed of Victimization, which comes with the pernicious idea that designated victims groups can declare their injuries based on whatever they subjectively feel and these issues are beyond serious debate. To debate them is to “blame the victim.”

 Drug Overdoses in Appalachia So Bad that state Burial Funds have run out  (The Intelligencer; Wheeling News-Register, via Tyler Cowen’s Marginal Revolution)

Since unattended deaths of people under age 50 generally require autopsies, those, too, are backed up for weeks, adding to the survivors’ emotional toll.

Related article: Interview with Angus Deaton, Nobel laureate in economics for his studies of the poor and income inequality.

Question: If you were to design policies to help with deaths of despair, what would you do?

Deaton: I’d tackle opioids for a start. I mean, that’s the easy bit. I don’t think think a lot of those deaths would have taken place anyway. People who die of opioid overdoses are not trying to kill themselves. It really is this business where if you relapse, you die. And that’s not true for alcohol or other things. –Angus Deaton

Comment: These painful articles arrived as I was reading J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, about these towns and their people.



♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
◆ Tom Elia
 for the George Will column
◆ Tyler Cowen for Drug Overdose article
◆ Michael Lipson for his comments on WikiLeaks


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)




ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, March 8

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

 Murderer released from jail because he was not given a speedy trial in Chicago

  • The good news (for him) is that he was released
  • The bad news (for him) is that he left this mortal coil on his ride home.

Chicago man accused of murder who beat his case when prosecutors couldn’t give him a speedy trial was killed after leaving Cook County Jail on Monday night, according to authorities.

Kamari Belmont, 23, was being held on separate murder and robbery cases stemming from a single night in 2015 in which he was accused of shooting one man during a robbery who later died and robbing another man a couple of hours later. Chicago Tribune story here

Belmont’s attorney, who advised him to get out of his neighborhood immediately, said “Unfortunately this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this.”

 Roger L. Simon: WikiLeaks’ CIA Download Confirms Everybody’s Tapped, Including Trump (PJ Media)

The WikiLeaks documents (everyone believes their downloads now) show how the CIA, via their eerily named “Weeping Angel” program, has devised a method of listening to us through our smart TVs.  Even when we think they’re off, they are able to keep them on — and recording — through a “fake-off” program. –Roger Simon at PJ Media

Related Article: How CIA allegedly turns everyday devices into high-tech spy weapons (New York Post)

 “US and North Korea set for ‘head-on collision’, China warns  (CNN)

In a week of heightened tensions in the region, Foreign Minister Wang Li cautioned the US in unusually frank language against the deployment of a controversial missile defense system in South Korea, which is vehemently opposed by China.
But he also had strong words for North Korea, saying Pyongyang should suspend its nuclear weapons program. –CNN

Comment: China has misplayed this badly. Beijing has done nothing to corral its reckless client.

 Washington Post highlights Freedom Caucus opposition to Trump/Price/Ryan Bill to Repeal and Replace Obamacare

Comment: Since the WaPo is itself such an active player opposing the Trump agenda, it’s hard to know how much weight to give their assessment.

 Comment: China keeps lowering its economic growth targets (now 6.5%). But

  • Nobody believes their numbers
  • Achieving even these lower numbers requires lots of exports to the US. Bad time for that strategy.

 Standard operating procedure: Palestine Liberation Organization names children’s camp for terrorist bomber who killed 37, including a dozen children  (Palestinian Media Watch)


zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
◆ Fred Lawson
 for Chicago murder story
◆ Martin Kramer for PLO children’s camp


ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Saturday, October 15

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

◆ The FBI is in open revolt against Director James Comey, once highly respected, now seen by career professionals as a political hack and a “dirty cop.” (Daniel Flynn in The American Spectator) The article quotes extensively from former US Attorney Joseph diGenova, who is well connected for agents and attorneys at the FBI and DOJ. DiGenova is very much a partisan. Still, his comments are devastating.

james-comey-labeled-with-seal-purple-background-200px-no-marginsThere is a consensus among the employees that the director has lost all credibility and that he cannot lead the bureau. They are comparing him to L. Patrick Gray, the disgraced former FBI director who threw Watergate papers into the Potomac River. The resistance to the director has made the agency incapable of action. … When the director said that it was a unanimous decision not to recommend prosecution, that was a lie. In fact, the people involved in the case were outraged at his decision, which he made by himself. When people realized that he was lying publicly about their role and when they knew he had approved of the destruction of laptops that were subject to congressional subpoena, that flipped the switch. –Jos. diGenova, quoted in the American Spectator

As Flynn puts it succinctly, “Agents trained to sniff out malfeasance smell something rotten here.” Look for whistleblowers who want to talk to Congress.

◆ Serious deterioration in US-Russian relations:

wikileaks-300px-no-margins◆ From WikiLeaks, where a trove of information is being overlooked by mainstream media. This is a particularly chilling one:

John Anzalone to John Podesta (quoting Sen. Kirk of IL): “This agreement condemns the next generation to cleaning up a nuclear war in the Persian Gulf… This is the greatest appeasement since Chamberlain gave Czechoslovakia to Hitler.”
John Podesta’s reply: “Yup.”

◆ Finally, an academic study of Marx worth reading: A new box set of Blue-ray discs offers a fresh look at some of the Marx Brothers comedy classics (Los Angeles Times) There is also a new book about the brothers from Robert Bader.marx-brothers-book

◆ John Podhoretz writes consistently interesting movie reviews for the Weekly Standard. This one, about Mel Gibson’s latest, Blood Father, goes beyond a movie review to ask an important ethical question: Can We Enjoy the Films of a Disgusting Human Being? Podhoretz calls it a “tough, smart, violent little movie” and praises it, if you like violent movies and can bear watching Gibson:

I’d recommend it unreservedly for those who like this kind of Breaking Bad fare but for one thing: Its star is Mel Gibson. People who’ve been watching movies for the past 30 years will not be surprised that Gibson is the best thing in the movie, since he’s usually the best thing in every movie he’s ever been in. What’s more, when he’s behind the camera, his direction is the best thing in the movies he makes. Gibson is a remarkably talented man. But people who’ve been following the news for the past decade also know he’s a genuinely disgusting human being—a basket of deplorables in and of himself, and likely irredeemably so. –John Podhoretz in the Weekly Standard

Comment: The moral quandary posed by Gibson’s movies came up for Jews in the 1950s. The parking lot of a synagogue would show no German cars (too closely associated with the Nazi era) and no Fords (a company founded by a notorious anti-Semite). It came up recently when the founder and major stockholder in Chick-Fil-A expressed views about gay marriage that many of his customers found repellant. I’m sure there are many people today who won’t stay in a Trump Hotel. For some, these choices are visceral. After all, Henry Ford was dead by the 1950s, and his son had openly disavowed those views. But customers also know that a small portion of their ticket price for a Gibson movie goes to a man they revile. Some of the profits from Chick-Fil-A sandwiches and Trump Hotels go to people they disapprove of. These can be vexing issues if you like the product and there are no ready substitutes. Kudos to Podhoretz for raising the issues here.

◆ Students at Colorado State tear down a free-speech wall because it contained pro-Trump statements. (Campus Reform) zd-higher-ed-wormer-green-201px-margin-on-right




zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
◆ Clarice Feldman
 for the WikiLeaks document
◆ David Benson for the Marx Brothers book
◆ Gen. Buck Turgidson and Capt. Lionel Mandrake for the update on Russia