Interesting Bits

11/19/2017 2:48

Persecution Of Middle East Christians Hasn't Ended

In 2016 alone, 90,000 Christians around the world were murdered for their faith, according to a report from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. Between 2005 and 2015, 900,000 Christians were martyred. According to Open Doors, another Christian advocacy group, one out of every 12 Christians today experiences extreme persecution for their faith; the total comes to 215 million around the world.

"The persecution of Christians is real. It is global in scope, brutal in its nature, daily in its occurrence, and growing worse than ever", said University of Notre Dame Professor Dan Philpott. A recent report by the World Council of Churchesput the number of Christians left in Iraq at fewer than 250,000. "Christianity is finished", said Canon Andrew White, the great vicar of Baghdad.

Christians have also been fleeing Sinai: the Egyptian branch of ISIS has been slaughtering them in a campaign of "religious cleansing". ISIS released a video calling on its supporters to target Christians across Egypt, describing them as its "favourite prey". The Islamists then targeted two packed Egyptian churches, where they slaughtered 47 Christians. From Cairo to Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray in northern France, churches now appear Islamists' preferred targets.

There is, in all this bad news, a beam of hope; the valiant Kurdish Peshmerga fighters liberated Sinjar and rescued tens of thousands of Yazidis and Christians. On Easter Sunday, an unidentified soldier planted a cross on the soil where a Mount Sinjar church had once stood. It was a declaration of the resurrection of life after the onslaught of the Islamic State. This cross was like the flag raised in Iwo Jima.

Read more …

11/19/2017 12:49

2018 may be a Great Economic Year

This has been a good year for the global economy, and 2018 will follow that trend, analysts at Goldman Sachs said.

Economic growth around the world has picked up steam this year. Germany — Europe's largest economy — grew an unexpectedly strong 0.8 percent in the third quarter. In Japan, the economy has grown for seven straight quarters. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the economy grew 3 percent in the third quarter.

"2017 is shaping up to be the first year of the expansion in which growth surprises to the upside," Goldman analyst Charles Himmelberg said in a note to clients Thursday. "We expect 2018 to deliver more of the same."

Read more …

11/19/2017 12:35

Why no one is talking about Trump’s game-changing deal

 Bad news travels fast. Good news, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to travel at all.

Last weekend in Beijing, as part of his 12-day trip to Asia, President Trump announced that the US and China had signed an $83.7 billion memorandum of understanding to create a number of petrochemical projects in West Virginia over the next 20 years.

If the agreement holds tight, it is an economic game changer for the state.

And yet, speaking to the locals here, you wouldn’t even know it had happened.

“I am surprised I heard nothing about it on the national news, nor in my local paper and newscasts,” said Jerald Stephens, 67, a West Virginia native and union rep, who has been a keen observer of local politics for as long as he can remember.

The BBC and CNN covered the news in their business sections, while The New York Times picked up a short story by The Associated Press on the deal. The stories’ headlines were muted; their placement low-key.

“One would have suspected that the prospect of an investment this large — nearly three times the total annual budget for the department of energy — would have been front-page news,” said Paul Sracic, political-science professor at nearby Youngstown State University.

Read more …

11/18/2017 8:23

Democrats: It's No Fair When Republicans Sink as Low as Us!

As Roy Moore's troubles were just getting underway, leftist CNN commentator Van Jones made what has to be one of the least self-aware and yet most revealing comments of the Trumpian Age. Targeting Breitbart firebrand Steve Bannon, who had promoted Moore, Van Jones said, "Bannon is trying to create this sense of an aggrieved identity, frankly, of a white aggrieved identity group that’s under siege by everybody. And this is that in its worse form. So, you’re not supposed to vote as a father, you’re not supposed to vote as a woman. You’re supposed to vote as a member of this identity group against the world. And if that works, that is very, very bad for the Republican Party and it’s very, very bad for our country."

This comes from the man — from the political party — from the philosophy — that has sold absolutely nothing but aggrieved identities for the last sixty years, ever since it became clear that actual leftist policies don't work. Blacks, women, people who think they're women, people who pretend to be black — whatever category you find yourself in, the left has preached that you should ignore the disaster of leftism and focus only on your sweet victimhood, voting your grievances even when it's against your best interests.

In other words, Van Jones' only real complaint against Bannon is that Bannon has sunk to the level of Van Jones!

It is the same with those leftists who are attacking the conservatives defending Roy Moore in the face of mounting allegations that he was a sex pest and maybe worse back in the seventies. The left is essentially accusing the right of sinking to the left's level. Are the Moore defenders any different than the Democrats, Toxic Feminists and journalists (but I repeat and repeat myself) who lined up to back Bill Clinton twenty years ago in the face of mounting allegations that he was a sex pest and maybe worse? And never mind twenty years ago. What about the lefties who rushed to silence Bill's accusers just last year when their stories of rape and molestation became inconvenient truths ruining Hillary's hagiography? What about the networks relentlessly suppressing the corruption trial of Senator Bob Menendez?

(How true)

Read more …

11/17/2017 7:46

Obama Administration Misled on al Qaeda

A top foreign correspondent at the New York Times said Friday that the Obama administration deliberately downplayed al Qaeda’s strength in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.

“The overall narrative that I think was being pushed to the press, and if you look back at the editorials that were done when that trove came out, was an image of bin Laden isolated, he had lost control of this group,” Rukmini Callimachi said during an event at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, referring to the 17 hand-picked documents released by the Obama administration in May of 2012.

Her remarks triggered the following question from Kim Dozier, a former top correspondent for the Associated Press and CBS, and current executive editor of the Cipher Brief: “Do you think that was something that was kept from the public’s view because it revealed that there had to be reams of communication going back and forth, which means U.S. intelligence, Western intelligence, was missing this?”

Read more …

11/17/2017 11:34

This is Interesting

Forget Mars, scientists have discovered a new Earth-sized, possibly habitable, planet just 11 light years away.

Known as Ross 128b, the newly discovered planet orbits a life-friendly red dwarf star that is an estimated seven billion years old.

Red dwarfs are the most common stars in the galaxy, making up about 70 percent of all known stars, and tend to hold water-friendly planets in their orbit. What this means is these planets are likely to have an atmosphere and possibly support life.

There’s been an explosion in the discovery of potentially habitable worlds in the last few years orbiting these red dwarf stars — in fact, a recent study suggests there may be as many as 60 billion planets in the habitable zone of these red dwarf solar systems out there. The exciting thing about Ross 128b is just how close it is to our own world.

 Some readers may recall there’s an even closer Earth-sized planet to us that is a mere 4.25 light years away, called Proxima Centauri. However, it’s not likely to be a place for humans to live as it orbits a much younger, more powerful red dwarf star that is likely roasting the planet into an inferno.

Ross 128b has a few things going for it that make it a much better candidate to support human life. For one, it  has a consistent wobble in its rotation. It also orbits an older star that has probably settled down somewhat. A computer simulation also suggests it might have built up clouds to keep water from evaporating on its surface, giving it a better chance at hosting an atmosphere that could support life.

Read more …

11/17/2017 8:35

German: A Spike in Stabbings

A recent surge in stabbings and knife-related violence across Germany is drawing renewed attention to the deteriorating security situation there since Chancellor Angela Merkel's 2015 decision to allow in more than a million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

In recent months, people armed with knives, axes and machetes have brought devastation to all of Germany's 16 federal states. Knives have been used not only not only to carry out jihadist attacks, but also to commit homicides, robberies, home invasions, sexual assaults, honor killings and many other types of violent crime.

Knife-related crimes have occurred in amusement parks, bicycle trails, hotels, parks, public squares, public transportation, restaurants, schools, supermarkets and train stations. Many Germans have the sense that danger lurks everywhere; public safety, nowhere.

(Gosh, I wonder what could account for that)

Read more …

11/17/2017 7:04

And For Some Good News

Without fanfare or much publicity ISIS has been devastated. The huge problem that  Obama left to the next president due to his incompetent administration, President Trump is solving.

Read more …

11/17/2017 6:52

NFL TV Partners Set To Lose Up To $500 Million On Ratings Decline

As Roger Goodell, Jerry Jones, and the NFL engage in an ugly internal fight over the future leadership of the NFL, TV partners at CBS, ESPN, Fox and NBC are staring at their own internal conflicts — namely a substantial decline in NFL ratings that is on pace to cost the four networks up to $500 million in lost revenue.

Already several hundred million in lost revenue has been booked in 2017 and it has the league’s top executives and television partners scrambling to figure out what went wrong. How did a league that was setting ratings records in 2015 suddenly see its audience fall by nearly 20% just two years later.

While much of the attention has focused on the protests, according to ongoing conversations with several people close to the league and its television partners over the past couple of months, the ratings decline that will cost the TV partners up to $500 million can actually be attributed to four primary factors.

Read more …

11/17/2017 6:42

Maybe All Of Congress (And Hollywood) Needs To Adopt The “Pence Rule”

It becomes more and more clear every day why the elitist liberal left were so perplexed by Pence’s declaration. They live and work in a world where sexual perversion and misconduct is normalized. It’s so normal, that hardly anyone familiar with any of the accused has expressed shock…just sadness and shame that they were complicit in the coverup for so long. No wonder they think a married man who has never been accused of adultery (that we know of) is a secret pervert. All of their guys are secret perverts. Republican men must be much, much worse!

It is hard for liberals to imagine that a man doesn’t have constant, sexually aggressive urges. It’s on full display every day in the offices of movie agents, producers and their favorite congressmen and Presidents (I’m looking at you, Bill Clinton). Former Democrat Donald Trump has seemed to follow the same playbook. Every man in their orbit displays the familiar characteristics of oversexed, overindulged hormonal playboys.

Of course, that isn’t at all what Pence did. Like many practicing Christians and people of other faiths, Pence understands that even the appearance of “wrong” can be used to spark rumors, spread false accusations and bring pain to one’s spouse.

1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil

The vice president understands that as a man in a position of power, he is vulnerable to rumor, misinterpreted intentions and flat out lies. One way to protect oneself from those things is to always make sure a third party is present in any meeting. In addition, as we have seen with the revelations from the last few weeks of the horrific (and even criminal) sexual misconduct of some of the most powerful men in America, power has a tendency to corrupt and leave one vulnerable to the temptation to wield that power. By choosing to not let the opportunity get a even a toe in the door, Pence is recognizing that no man is above making bad choices and he’s doing everything in his power to avoid the trappings of his station.

Only in 2017 America can that be seen as character flaw.

Read more …

11/16/2017 4:18

Al Franken's absolutely awful apology

Which is fine. And good. (Worth noting: Franken's second apology wasn't a mea culpa; he reiterated that he didn't remember the rehearsals for the skit in the same way that Tweeden did.)

But, it doesn't make up for Franken's first apology. Here's why.

Franken's first apology was his knee-jerk reaction -- his instinctual response. And that response was to, in essence, say this: I don't remember doing anything wrong but, hey, if I did, I'm a comedian. It might have have been a bad joke -- but it was a joke.

What that signals to me is that Franken -- at least initially -- didn't really get it. His initial dismissal -- particularly given the post-Harvey Weinstein world in which we now live -- feels deeply tone deaf.

Franken's second apology is a clear cleanup attempt. As is his embrace of an Senate Ethics Committee investigation into his conduct. What Franken is trying to do here is buy himself some time under the belief that time passing will take away from the heat around the issue right now


Read more …

11/16/2017 7:38

Rotten Tomatoes Protects Time Warner’s ‘Justice League’ from Awful Reviews

How convenient, though, that all of this has been timed to ensure the studio’s most important franchise is not damaged by the middling to withering reviews that are already piling up:

Vanity Fair:

The film is, plainly stated, terrible, and I’m sorry that everyone wasted their time and money making it—and that people are being asked to waste their time and money seeing it. I hate to be so blunt, but it simply must be said this time.

The Verge:

It’s just a pity they couldn’t have consciously worked together to create a cohesive, coherent vision that merged their sensibilities thoroughly, instead of this back-and-forth tug of war that seems to be perpetually checking in with the audience: “Is this what you want? How about this instead?”

The Guardian:

In the end, though, there is something ponderous and cumbersome about Justice League; the great revelation is very laborious and solemn and the tiresome post-credits sting is a microcosm of the film’s disappointment. Some rough justice is needed with the casting of this franchise.

The Telegraph’s one-star review:

Instead, it feels like a sheepish feature-length retraction of the franchise to date. It’s consistently embarrassing to watch, and features plot holes so yawningly vast they have a kind of Grand Canyon-like splendour: part of you wants to hang around to see what they look like at sunset.

Variety:

The film is the definition of an adequate high-spirited studio lark: no more, no less. If fans get excited about it, that may mostly be because they’re excited about getting excited. Yet the movie is no cheat. It’s a tasty franchise delivery system that kicks a certain series back into gear.

(I'm so old I remember when it was Justice League of America and I thought the comics were pretty good. Sorry to see that, yet again, Hollywood has destroyed a good franchise.)

Read more …

11/16/2017 6:19

Do Trump's liberal critics seem increasingly unhinged? Well...Yes

 Last week’s anniversary of Trump’s election sparked widespread teeth-gnashing by the nation’s pundits. Trump is supposedly the gravest threat to American democracy since the secession of the Confederacy. His presidency, probably, continues to be a boon for antidepressant sales across the land.

New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, in a column last week headlined “Anniversary of the Apocalypse,” lamented the “terror-struck and vertiginous days” after Trump’s win and the ongoing “metaphysical whiplash” and “hideous interregnum,” which leaves her “poleaxed by grief at the destruction of our civic inheritance.” Professor Henry Giroux of McMaster University frothed that Trump’s “ascendancy in American politics has made visible a culture of cruelty, a contempt for civic literacy, a corrupt mode of governance and a disdain for informed judgment that has been decades in the making.”

 

But while Trump poses plenty of constitutional perils, many of his opponents are even more authoritarian.

 

 Anti-Trump fervor is making liberals far more illiberal. Commentators in The Washington Post and The New York Times have called for selective censorship of ideas and doctrines they abhor. A recent Washington Post article touted 38 fixes for democracy including mandating three years of compulsory labor for young people in the military of AmeriCorps-like programs, outlawing private education, punitively punishing gun owners and vastly increasing redistribution to end racial inequities


 
   

Read more …

11/16/2017 6:06

Trump's Unsung Success in the Middle East

President Trump's Middle East policy is simple: Back our friends and scare the hell out of our enemies, and negotiate where possible with our competitors like Russia and China. By and large it's working, unlike the catastrophically failed polices of the previous two administrations. Trump did what he said he would do and succeeded. You wouldn't know that from the #fakenews media.

George W. Bush and Obama gave aid and comfort to the encircle-and-strangle strategy by tying Israel's hands. Then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wouldn't let Olmert attack Hezbollah with full force in 2006. Rice thinks the Palestinian movement is a branch of the U.S. civil rights movement (if you don't believe that characterization, read her book "Democracy," which I will review for Claremont Review of Books).

Obama sandbagged Israel during the 2014 Gaza rocket attacks, suspending delivery of Hellfire missiles to the Jewish State. Israel is the only country in the world that embeds human rights lawyers in every infantry company to make sure that its soldiers keep collateral damage to a minimum.

 

...

There are any number of things to criticize in the administration's handling of the Middle East. I would have preferred a tougher approach to Iran's presence in Syria in our negotiations with Russia over a cease-fire, and a more supportive stance towards the Iraqi Kurds' aspirations for independence (although as Daniel Pipes observes, the fact that the independence referendum backfired was the Kurds' own fault). And I would like the president to keep his campaign promise to move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

But overall, Trump's Middle East policy has been a success, in striking contrast to his predecessors. The supposed Middle East mavens among the preening NeverTrumpers (Max Boot, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Bill Kristol et. al) made a mess of things, and Trump has gone a long way to cleaning it up. That's not bad for one year in office.


Read more …

11/15/2017 6:31

Christ painting by Leonardo da Vinci sells for record $450M

A painting of Christ by the Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci sold for a record $450 million (380 million euros) at auction on Wednesday, obliterating previous records for artworks sold at auction or privately.

The painting, called "Salvator Mundi," Italian for "Savior of the World," is one of fewer than 20 paintings by Leonardo known to exist and the only one in private hands. It was sold by Christie's auction house, which didn't immediately identify the buyer.

The highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction had been $179.4 million (152 million euros), for Picasso's "Women of Algiers (Version O)" in May 2015, also at Christie's in New York. The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300 million (253 million euros), for Willem de Kooning's "Interchange," sold privately in September 2015 by the David Geffen Foundation to hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin.

Read more …

11/15/2017 11:19

A Rising Tide of Anti-White Bigotry

A new FBI report indicates that hate crimes committed against white Americans are the fastest growing racial hate crimes in the United States.

The FBI report on 2016 Hate Crime Statistics shows that in 2016, there were 876 reported anti-white hate crime offenses in the United States. In 2015, this number was 734, indicating a 19.34 percent increase.

There were more racial hate crime offenses altogether in 2016 compared to 2015.

There were 4,029 single-bias incidents that targeted “Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry” in 2015, compared to 4,229 in 2016.

 

 

Read more …

11/15/2017 7:38

13 Baltimore Public High Schools Have ZERO Students Proficient in Math

Big city public schools are notoriously bad. There's a reason why people move out of the cities and into the suburbs, and it's not just so they can cut the grass. Suburban schools tend to be better schools, as a general rule.

Of course, considering the performance of high schools in Baltimore, the bar isn't all that high.

A recent study by Project Baltimore found that in 13 public high schools in the city there were zero students proficient in math. Zero. None. Nada. Zilch. Goose egg. Nyet.

With a city the size of Baltimore and the number of schools examined, you'd expect a couple of bright kids in these schools to be proficient in math despite the crappy schools, but you don't even get that.

Further, according to Jack Pannel, who is the founder of the Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys, a charter school in the city, reading isn't exactly a strong suit in Baltimore either. "Nine out of ten black boys  are not reading at grade level."

Read more …

11/15/2017 6:58

Zimbabwe's army said it has Robert Mugabe and his wife in custody

I'm old enough to remember when Progressives were saying wonderful things about Mugabe, along the lines of the wonderful things they said about Castro.

Read more …

11/15/2017 6:53

Years of excusing Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct suddenly seems morally indefensible

Are liberals having a moral awakening? Watching the political contortions of Republicans to defend a candidate accused of sexually molesting teenage girls, Democrats and liberal pundits are reckoning publicly with their own history of fervid rationalizations on behalf of a recent president. But this should be just the beginning of a painful re-examination.

This new consciousness was glimpsed first in a tweet from MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, a commentator of stoutly progressive persuasion. “As gross and cynical and hypocritical as the right's ‘what about Bill Clinton’ stuff is,” he wrote, “it's also true that Democrats and the center left are overdue for a real reckoning with the allegations against him.”

David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, where coastal elitism is a badge of honor, acknowledged the elephant in the room this way: “That so many women have summoned the courage to make public their allegations against Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, and Bill O’Reilly—or that many have come to reconsider some of the claims made against Bill Clinton—represents a cultural passage.”

And in full-throated, unvarnished form, it appeared in a piece Monday in The Atlantic by the redoubtable Caitlin Flanagan, who is unbound to any specific ideology. In a piece titled, “Bill Clinton—The Reckoning,” Flanagan pointed not to the Monica Lewinsky story, nor to Gennifer Flowers, nor to any other story of consensual behavior, but to a darker series of stories from as far back as 1978.

“It was a pattern of behavior; it included an alleged violent assault; the women involved had far more credible evidence than many of the most notorious accusations that have come to light in the past five weeks. But Clinton was not left to the swift and pitiless justice that today’s accused men have experienced,” Flanagan wrote. “Rather, he was rescued by a surprising force: machine feminism. The movement had by then ossified into a partisan operation and it was willing—eager—to let this friend of the sisterhood enjoy a little droit de seigneur.”

Read more …

11/15/2017 6:49

You Stay Weird, Portland

Portland, Oregon, continues to suffer from some very public crises. Every day, residents are faced with homeless camps, folks suffering from mental health disorders, and rampant drug addiction. In fact, drug addiction has been a crisis in Portland for decades. Instead of facing these problems head-on, a prominent community leadership organization has rejected a report offering solutions to the addiction crisis — because the committee that created the report was all white.

Read more …