“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, September 30, 2017

We did enough damage in the Middle East, just as we did in SE Asia. Time to go now.

Russian op saved Syria from being overrun by ISIS – analysts to RT

Russian op saved Syria from being overrun by ISIS – analysts to RT
It is two years since Russia launched its military operation to fight terrorists in Syria at the request of Damascus. Analysts say that this move was crucial in saving the Middle Eastern country from falling into the hands of jihadists.

Russia launched its aerial campaign in Syria at the official request of the Syrian government in September 2015, after Damascus asked Moscow for help in the fight against terrorist groups and Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) in particular.

Two years on, experts told RT that this decision turned the tide of battle in Syria and came as nothing less than “salvation” for the Middle Eastern country facing a jihadist takeover. Back in 2015, Islamic State was almost “at the gate of Damascus”while the Syrian governmental forces were on the verge of defeat, former UK ambassador to Syria Peter Ford told RT, adding that “Russia saved the day for the Syrian government.”

His words were echoed by Alessandro Bruno, a senior analyst at Lombardi Letter, a Toronto based Advisory firm, who previously worked for the UN in North Africa. Bruno said that Islamic State might well even be in Damascus right now if not for Moscow’s timely interference.

He drew attention to the fact that Islamic State was by far the most powerful Syrian rebel force as its fighters apparently received good training and “really good military strategists” were involved in the terrorist group operation planning.

“Because of its excessive power, Islamic State could have gotten control over [all Syrian territories] if not for Russia,” he said.

Ford also said that Russia’s military operation also weakened Islamic State in another way as “before that point, the US and other western states as well as the Gulf countries were sending [substantial aid] to the Islamist forces” despite the fact that this aid often ended up in the hands of Islamic State.

Russian airstrikes on the terrorists’ ammunition depots and equipment storage bases deprived Islamic State of its material and technological resources.

Russia also helped Syrian government forces to achieve “important strategic and symbolic” victories in Aleppo, Palmyra and other regions, Abdo Haddad, a Syria-based journalist and author told RT, adding that “proper planning, cooperation and air cover” provided by the Russian Air Force played a key role in those efforts.

The experts concur that, due to the successful joint efforts of the Russian Air Force and the Syrian Army, Islamic State in Syria has effectively now been defeated in most areas. Ford in particular stressed that the terrorist group is likely to be eradicated in Syria as a regular fighting force by early next year and “the end of the conflict is in sight.”

De-escalation zones ‘a remedy’ for war-torn country

However, Russia’s role in Syria over the last two years was not confined solely to military assistance, the experts say.

It was the Russian diplomatic efforts that prevented the situation in Syria from “getting completely out of hand” following the alleged chemical attack in the town of Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib province in April 2017, Ford told RT.

The former diplomat also said that, even though the US did carry out an airstrike against a Syrian military base following the incident, the Russian position on the matter apparently prevented it from “going any further.”

The experts also praised Moscow’s efforts in the Astana peace process and particularly its initiative involving the establishment of the de-escalation zones. These zones facilitated the separation of the moderate opposition from the hard-line jihadists and terrorists, as well as contributing to the reconciliation between the parties to the Syrian civil war.

The proposal to establish four de-escalation zones was signed by Russia, Iran and Turkey as well as approved by the Syrian government in May 2017 in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana. Four de-escalation zones were envisaged, located in eastern Ghouta, parts of Homs, Hama, Latakia, Aleppo and Idlib provinces as well as territories in southern Syria. Also included was the creation of a mechanism to monitor the ceasefire in these regions.

The de-escalation roadmap “was a true remedy for the [civil] war,” Haddad said, adding that Russia’s political efforts were just as important for “preserving Syria’s sovereignty and unity” as the military assistance.

Ford also praised Russia’s efforts aimed at cooperation with Turkey in the field of de-escalation, adding that Ankara’s involvement could help defuse tensions in Idlib province, which has long been an anti-government stronghold.

US to impede Syrian peace process?

Analysts warned that the crisis in the region is far from over as the US possibly does not want to see Syria re-united. The end of the civil war would effectively mean the collapse of US plans to topple the Syrian government, and Washington shifting its focus to the Kurds.

The Kurdish question could become another reason for a war in the region and put the Russians, who are seeking to preserve the Syrian territorial integrity, “directly against the US” which supports the Kurds, Bruno told RT.

"Such an eventuality would greatly escalate tensions between Russian and US forces on the ground, leading to an increased risk of a direct clash between the two,” he added.

He also said that the US is likely to “obstruct the Syrian Army’s efforts to regain the last bits of the Syrian land” that are still in the hands of terrorists and Islamist armed groups. The US wants to prevent Syria from recovering, and eventually to redesign the Middle East, Bruno added.

He believes that redrawing the map of the Middle East is directly linked to the issue of redistribution of the oil and gas resources, so that is just “a formula for a continuous war in the region.”

His words were echoed by Haddad, who said that the US could impede the peace process in a number of ways that include “pushing Kurds towards a clash with Arabs” as well as “targeting Syrian and Russian troops in Tanaf and Deir ez-Zor.”

Ford also warned that the US could use Kurds as its “proxies” and “encourage them to grab some land.” He said that while most Syrian Kurds do not want to secede from the unified Syria, the US could use its leverage to force them in the opposite direction.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Greenland has constantly changed, but for humans too slow to notice.

Footprints of Large, Triassic Plant-Eating Dinosaurs Found in Greenland

This guest post was contributed by PLOS Paleo Community member Luigi Gaskell. The post reflects the views solely of its author, which are not necessarily shared by PLOS. Thanks, Luigi, for contributing to the PLOS Paleo Community!

Dinosaurs are known for their incredible fossilized skeletons, which help us to understand how life was during the Mesozoic over 66 million years ago. But fossil footprints and trackways can often play just as large a role in understanding extinct animals as their bones do. Studying fossil trackways and footprints allow us to determine how certain animals walked and stood, how fast they could run, and whether they moved in groups or not. These can often reveal huge implications for anatomy and behavior that simple examination of the bones would otherwise miss.

Recently, Jens Lallensack and colleagues have published a paper describing in detail an important set of trackways from the Late Triassic (220–205 Ma) located in the Fleming Fjord Formation in Greenland. These trackways seem to have been made by large, quadrupedal and semi-quadrupedal animals with short digits. This is strange since most fossil trackways from the Triassic are typically made by small, three-toed bipedal dinosaurs. 

The most common fossil footprints from the Late Triassic, for example, are those of primitive meat-eating dinosaurs like the double-crested Liliensternus and the sleek and agile Coelophysis.

The fossil footprints seem to have been made by a relatively large animal with four clawed digits.This strongly suggests that they were made by sauropodomorphs, the only animals known from the time to fit this identity, as Lallensack and colleagues think. What could these footprints mean?
Location of the “Track Mountain” locality (star) on a ridge on the northeastern slope of Wood Bjerg in the Late Triassic sediments at the west side of Carsberg Fjord. B. Location of Jameson Land (A) in central East Greenland. C. Photograph of the “Track Mountain” locality showing the approx- imate location of trackways S1, S2, and S3 (view towards the east). From Lallensack et al. (2017), CC-BY.
Sauropodomorphs in the Late Triassic are actually nothing unusual. Early forms like Plateosaurus and Saturnalia were already known to have lived during the Late Triassic for quite some time now. What makes these trackways special is that they seem to be much rounder and more adapted for weight-bearing than the feet and hands of these early sauropodomorphs like Plateosaurus. Indeed, these trackways were clearly made by a much larger animal that had strong, graviportal (adapted for bearing great body weight) feet to support greater body mass. 
This led the research team to suggest that the trackways were not made by an early sauropodomorph like Plateosaurus. Instead, they suggest a derived species that already had the four-legged, graviportal bodies that are seen in Late  Jurassic forms. This includes the famous, multi-ton animals from the Morrison Formation of North America, such as Diplodocus and Apatosaurus

The possible implication of this is that ‘true’ sauropods had already appeared as early as the Late Triassic, much earlier than we previously thought. The other possibility is that some of the earlier Triassic sauropodomorphs had already begun to adapt heavy, quadrupedal postures with graviportal hands and feet.
Another set of tracks from the same rock formation were found in proximity to the previous set of tracks, and these also appear to have been made by a sauropodomorph. These tracks, however, showed that this second animal was not a large, graviportal quadruped like the others, and instead were more similar to the  semi-quadrupedal forms like Plateosaurus, judging from the shape of the feet and the way the toes are positioned.
Trackway S2 (Eosauropus sp.), which probably represents the same trackmaker species, or even the same individual, as trackway S1; trackmaker is moving towards the southwest. A. Photogrammetric orthophoto. B. Depth-color image. C. Interpretative drawing. From Lallensack et al. (2017), CC-BY.
The multiple sets of fossil trackways that Lallensack and colleagues examined typically showed four consecutive sets of footprints made by the hindlimbs and forelimbs, with the feet pointing slightly outwards as the animal walked along the substrate. A third set of tracks shows only the hindlimbs with four clawed digits and no sign of the forelimbs touching the ground, strongly suggesting that these tracks were made by a bipedal animal. These tracks closely match the footprints of a known ichnotaxon (an animal known only on the basis of its fossilised behavioural remains) by the name of Evazoum

It’s difficult to pinpoint which known dinosaur species a certain ichnotaxon belongs to since it’s quite hard to match fossil skeletons to footprints. In fact, Lallensack even mentions that they could have also been made by a two-legged crocodile relative, known as crurotarsans. The large, four-legged graviportal tracks, for example, probably came from an ichnotaxon known as Eosauropus according to their findings, and if so represent the first time the footprints of this ichnotaxon have been found in Greenland. All the major continents were still connected during the Late Triassic as one huge supercontinent at the time – Pangaea – so finding the same animal’s remains or footprints on different modern continents would make sense.
A, B. Trackway S3 (Evazoum sp.). This bipedal trackway can possibly be attributed to a non-sauropod sauropodomorph trackmaker. Two smaller tridactyl trackways can be identified in close association with trackway S3. C, D. Detail of the best preserved pes impression RP1 (total depth represented by the color scale is 58 mm). Photogrammetric orthophoto (A), depth-color images (B, C), interpretative drawing (D). From Lallensack et al. (2017), CC-BY.
Matching one set of footprints to another is no easy task. Previously, it was thought that the first set of footprints was made by a different animal than the one that left the second set of footprints, but Lallensack and colleagues suggest that the conditions in which the two fossil trackways were made might suggest that the first set of tracks could actually be a continuation of the second set made by the same animal, and that the animal had simply walked on two different kinds of sediment at the time. It seems like fossil footprints can be deceptive at times too! 
The team also raised the possibility that the Eosauropus tracks were made by something closely related to Jurassic sauropods like Vulcanodon. However, they also suggested that the footprints could have just been made by something that had similar-shaped feet to Vulcanodon and its close relatives.

For now, it looks like we can’t find an exact answer as to which species made the tracks just yet without more evidence to work with. But at least since new fossils are always being found, it might not be long before that happens!  
Reference :

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What is missing from this "News" Report?

Black America blames white America

 - - Tuesday, September 26, 2017 Washington Times
I know of no white person alive today in the United States who has ever legally owned a black slave, or any slave for that matter. Almost 700,000 mostly white men died 160 years ago to end slavery. Jim Crow ended generations ago. Yet black America, for the most part, is still locked in inner-city gang violence and economic hardship. Why?

Is it because America is racist?  Is it because of some overhanging white supremacy?  Is it because of the Illuminati?

No, unfortunately, it is because of black culture and the adoption of Democratic Party government dependency.  

We have just had eight years of the first black president.  Black athletes, and entertainers, routinely earn multi-million dollar incomes.  I can easily name several black billionaires without even trying too hard. A large percentage of black America is very successful. But, it is not enough. Too many black youth are being left behind.

And it is no one but black America’s fault.  

No one can solve this problem but black America.  No one can throw enough money at it.  We’ve tried that.  Black America needs to look in the mirror and stop blaming others, especially white people.

I am obviously white and conservative, and I served in the military, which, during my time, was as color blind as you could be. I can also honestly say I don’t give a damn what color your skin is, neither do any of my friends.  I do care about your actions.  

Blacks are around 15 percent of the population. Depending on what study you look at, they commit around 40 percent to 50 percent of violent crime in America. Of course, there is going to be a problem with police.  And, of course, there are some bad policemen. However, those bad apples do not kill black people statistically anymore than they kill white people.  Even Harvard said that recently. If you were a cop, and you had to work in a neighborhood infested with crime and murder, wouldn’t you act differently than in a neighborhood where there was little crime? The most effective thing black America could do to improve its relationship with police is to significantly reduce violent crime where they live.  Yes, that means change the culture of where you live and your community.  
I for one am tired of being blamed.  I am tired of dealing with people who only want something from others.  I don’t oppress anyone.  I don’t hold anyone down.  I’m tired of getting on the D.C. metro and seeing white people being harassed by roaming gangs of black youth with their pants around their knees.  Yes, you want a white person uncomfortable?  That makes me uncomfortable.  It’s our nation’s capital and it’s embarrassing.  

Blacks have nothing but opportunity in America.  Try finding the same opportunity anywhere else in the world.  If you are born in America you’ve won life’s economic lottery.  Take advantage of it.  

The problem is this generation has been taught an agenda of cultural Marxism by our education system.  They’ve been taught to be a victim, and it’s still going on.  All you have to do is watch the young black, female student at Yale screaming at the college president to understand that.  Blacks in America don’t even know how good they got it.  

Don’t kneel when my anthem is played.  Too many people died for that flag.  You are free to protest but not then.  I am free to not watch, or pay to watch you play if you do that.  The NFL should make it a rule that you stand for the national anthem.  There is no free speech to disobey a private employer on private property.  This would solve the problem immediately.

The NFL has deeply offended most of America.  They will pay an economic and reputational price, as they should.

We have a real cultural problem in this country, the result of the Leftist multicultural agenda.  Multi-ethnicity is perfect and should be encouraged.  Having more than one American culture is destroying the country.  But then again, that is what the Left wants.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Lawsuits aim to change winner-take-all Electoral College system by 2020 presidential race

Top Stories

The votes have been counted and President Trump has moved into the White House, but the campaign to upend the Electoral College is far from over.

Lawsuits aimed at striking down the winner-take-all system and giving electors more freedom to change their votes have been in the works since Mr. Trump won the Electoral College vote but not the popular vote on Nov. 8.

The idea is not to eliminate the Electoral College, which would require a constitutional amendment, but to require states to implement a system in which electors cast ballots based on the percentage of the popular vote.

“It’s crazy that our nation’s least-democratic election is the one for president,” said Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School professor and founder of Equal Citizens.

The group kicked off a project Sept. 14 aimed at filing lawsuits on behalf of a Republican voter in a blue state and a Democratic voter in a red state, with the goal of overturning the winner-take-all system in time for the 2020 presidential race.

The winner-take-all system is not mandated under the Constitution — Maine and Nebraska split their electoral votes — but Mr. Lessig said it has reduced the presidential race to a fight over a “handful of battleground states instead of a national referendum.”

“Proportional allocation of electors at the state level won’t eliminate the inequality produced by the Electoral College,” Mr. Lessig said, “but it would reduce it substantially. We believe the courts should step in to reduce the inequality of the current system as much as possible.”

Would such a change have thrown the presidential race to Democrat Hillary Clinton? Not necessarily. First, there are a number of ways to divvy up votes proportionally, including by congressional district, popular vote and proportional popular vote.

Maps devised by the website 270 to Win show that Mr. Trump still would have won under two congressional district systems, as well as the “proportional popular” method, in which two electoral votes are awarded to the popular vote winner and the rest are allocated based on the percentage of the vote.

Under the “popular vote by state” plan, Mr. Trump would have had the edge in electoral votes but would have fallen short of the 270 Electoral College votes required to capture the White House. That would have thrown the decision to the Republican-dominated House.

Virginia and Minnesota introduced bills this year that would have awarded electoral votes by congressional district. Although the measures failed, both were introduced by Republicans.

Support for dividing electoral votes on a percentage basis has shifted politically over the past 20 years, depending on whose ox is being gored.

After his party’s 2012 presidential election loss, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus endorsed the idea of changing the system, which presumably would have helped nominee Mitt Romney. Some Democrats accused Mr. Priebus of election-rigging.

Since Mrs. Clinton’s defeat last year, the idea has gained steam among Democrats. Mrs. Clinton last week called for eliminating the Electoral College and told CNN that “I think it needs to be eliminated. I’d like to see us move beyond it.”

Two of the past three presidents — George W. Bush and Mr. Trump — have won the presidency even though they lost the popular vote. Both were Republicans.
Equal Citizens spokesman Ken Scudder insisted that the Equal Votes project, which has raised $65,000 in the past week, “isn’t about relitigating 2016.” He said one benefit is that a proportional allocation system could improve voter turnout in solidly red or blue states.

“Right now, there is no reason for a Republican in California to vote in the presidential election,” Mr. Scudder said, “just like there’s no reason for a Democrat in Montana to vote for president.”

Meanwhile, Equal Citizens is representing three Colorado electors in a lawsuit against Secretary of State Wayne Williams for insisting that they cast their ballots for Mrs. Clinton at the Dec. 19 ceremony at the Statehouse in Denver.

“Our objective is to affirm a constitutional principle,” Michael Baca, a 2016 Democratic elector, said in a statement. “That principle is critical to our Framers’ design for electing the president. It is critically important that the courts clarify the rights of electors so that the uncertainty that surrounded the 2016 vote does not repeat itself.”

Mr. Baca was removed as an elector during the ceremony for casting his ballot for Ohio Gov. John Kasich as part of a coordinated national campaign to deny Mr. Trump the presidency.

The Colorado complaint seeks $1 in damages from Mr. Williams for enforcing a state law requiring “faithless electors” to cast their ballots for the presidential candidate who won the state.

The lawsuit said Mr. Williams “threatened and intimidated” the electors — Polly Baca, Michael Baca and Robert Nemanich — by saying he would replace them and refer them to prosecutors for perjury charges if they violated their oath to vote for the winner, Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Baca was replaced and referred to the Colorado attorney general after he voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The other two Colorado electors ultimately voted for Mrs. Clinton.

Lynn Bartels, communications director for Mr. Williams, said the Republican secretary of state had no choice based on court rulings in the weeks prior to the ceremony.

“Secretary Williams has repeatedly pointed out that everything he did in respect to electors was ordered by a judge, either at the district or federal court level,” Ms. Bartels said. “The secretary’s goal was protecting the rights of the 2.9 million Coloradans who voted in the 2016 election. Their decision: Colorado’s nine electoral college votes were to go to Democrat Hillary Clinton.”

Four Washington state electors voted for candidates other than Mrs. Clinton as part of the “Hamilton electors” strategy, which ultimately flopped. Only two Republican electors, both in Texas, cast their ballots against Mr. Trump.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Black Thugs Matter - 13% of the Population is Doing 55% of the Murders

Obnoxious NFL players protesting the flag and national anthem need to take Protesting 101

Imagine a new, smallish, terrorist attack perpetrated by a Muslim. And imagine if, around the country, people began pouring pigs' blood on sidewalks in front of mosques.

Or imagine if someone who happened to be homosexual murdered a widely-admired actor, and then in San Francisco and New York people began publicly shredding rainbow flags in protest.

In both instances, the political Left and its media enablers justly would be apoplectic at the protesters, and would probably call for the Justice Department to charge them with hate crimes.

Not that the pigs' blood or the burned gay-pride flag actually hurt anybody physically. But the feelings of the Muslims or homosexuals would be so wounded, according to the Left, that the blood-spatterers and flag-shredders should be not just criticized but punished.

The Left would be half-right. Those forms of protest would be both mis-aimed and utterly insulting, and thus justifiably subject to bitter criticism – but notpunishment. Noxious expressions in this country, unless they deliberately incite violence, are protected.

But legal protections do not insulate the protesters from criticism, nor do they make the criticism illegitimate.

Yet let the noxious expressions be aimed at the American flag or national anthem, and suddenly the Left is utterly unconcerned that the expressions enrage most Americans. Instead, the Left is full of sympathy for the protesters and disdain for those who criticize the form of their protest. Suddenly it is the "right" to protest that the Left cares about, but not whether the means or target of the protests is rightful, respectful, or appropriate.

The truth, of course, is that our wise system ensures that the expression is legally protected, and also that the equally protected blowback must come through non-governmental response, via public criticism and perhaps economic pressure. It is illegitimate to accuse the counter-protester critics as somehow trying to "deny" the protesters' "rights" when the critics aim not at their rights but at their substance or form.

NFL players can protest during the national anthem all they want – and we, most Americans, are justified in calling their protests divisive and despicable, just as we would call the pig-blood-spatterers and gay-flag-shredders odious.

The NFL players kneeling are wrong both on substance and especially on their form of protest. They are wrong on substance because this nation, as a nation, has enshrined in law every possible protection against anti-black discrimination, even discriminating in favor of blacks to make up for past injustices (e.g. affirmative action). They are wrong on substance also because the data shows their impressions about police maltreatment of blacks-because-they're-black are mistaken.

As Philippe Lemoine showed at National Review Online, "black men are less likely than white men to have contact with the police in any given year," and as the Washington Post and other databases have shown, blacks (who represent 13 percent of the population) happen to commit nearly half of all murders but amount to just 24 percent of those killed by police. (Let us rush to say this statistic says nothing about any innate black propensity to crime, as it, of course, does not take socioeconomic status or any other such variable into account.)

Yes, every time anyone, black or white, is wrongly killed by police, it's a tragedy – but there is no truth to the idea that black citizens are particularly targeted or particularly at risk by police, much less that the nation institutionally or "American society" as a whole encourages or condones such police mistreatment.
The reality is the opposite -- the substantive underpinnings for the protests are non-existent.

With those points made, let's move (partially) away from the NFL. There's a broader point, about their chosen form of protest, to be made. In college terms, let's call it Protest 101. The first rule of Protest 101 is that the right to protest contains no right to commit acts that are inherently criminal. There is no right to commit violence to make your point, no right to loot or commit property crimes, nor to deny the free-expression rights of others.

The second rule isn't legal, but a matter of manners and, frankly, of common-sense: If your protest is deliberately designed to insult the most deeply-cherished beliefs or symbols of others, you won't win others to your side – and you're also a rude lout. It is hideously rude to sprinkle pigs' blood outside of mosques or to shred a gay-pride flag, and it is hideously rude to protest during a national anthem that is a cherished expression of unity, of admirable patriotism, and of the very freedom that allows your protest in the first place.

The third rule is one of the natural human tendency towards equal-and-opposite reactions. I've written numerous times about the need for respectful dialogue and listening to the other side; yet, it must be understood that anyone who begins the conversation by deliberate insult and provocation has forfeited the right for respect. If you insult the flag and anthem that represent the cause of freedom for which millions have been wounded or killed, then you merit not sympathy but censure. An intentional, pre-planned provocation will cause a visceral reaction – and if the others' response is to verbally shred your own viscera, well, you asked for it.

The final rule of Protest 101 is this: Conduct the protest against the entity that caused the grievance. If a lunch counter won't serve you, by all means, sit at the counter. When buses discriminated against Rosa Parks, she refused to give up her bus seat. But the United States of America as an entity doesn't kill, indeed it condemns a trigger-happy cop's killing of an innocent man. Protest the killing, then, in an appropriate way, but don't denigrate the symbols of a nation of good people who would otherwise empathize with your grievance.

The same freedom that allows you to protest allows your protest to be condemned as the execrable effluvium of pampered, privileged, priapic punks, white and black alike. The condemnation would be correct.

Quin Hillyer (@QuinHillyer) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is a former associate editorial page editor for the Washington Examiner.
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Monday, September 25, 2017

'Bikinis, not burkas': A growing number are far from feeling dismayed that Political Correctness is headed for history's scrapheap

Dismay as Germany's hard-right AfD marches into parliament

Alternative for Germany, which on Sunday became the first hard-right, openly anti-immigration party to enter Germany's national parliament since World War II, ran a provocative campaign with posters saying: "Stop Islamisation" (AFP Photo/Odd ANDERSEN)

Berlin (AFP) - The Alternative for Germany (AfD) on Sunday became the first hard-right, openly anti-immigration party to win dozens of seats in parliament since World War II, breaking a taboo despite mainstream politicians' calls to halt "the Nazis" in their tracks.

Exit polls credited the AfD with around 13 percent of the vote, making it the third biggest political force in Germany -- a stunning result for a party that was founded just four years ago.

"We will change this country," vowed Alexander Gauland, one of the party's top two candidates, pledging to "go after" Chancellor Angela Merkel's government.
It promised that it would make it a priority to launch a parliamentary probe against Merkel over her decision to let in more than one million asylum seekers since 2015.

After already winning seats in 13 of 16 state parliaments, the AfD will now send dozens of lawmakers to the Bundestag opposition benches, giving them a platform to spread their views, including challenging Germany's culture of atonement over World War II and the massacre of six million Jews and others in the Holocaust.
The AfD's feat sparked protests in several German cities, including hundreds of people in Berlin who shouted "Nazis out" in front of a club where the party was celebrating.

It was also condemned by Jewish groups and Germany's established political parties, but celebrated by Europe's far-right leaders like France's Marine Le Pen and the Netherlands' Geert Wilders.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said "it is abhorrent that the AfD party, a disgraceful reactionary movement which recalls the worst of Germany's past and should be outlawed, now has the ability within the German parliament to promote its vile platform".

Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said that "unfortunately, our worst fears have come true: a party that tolerates far-right views in its ranks and incites hate against minorities in our country is today not only in almost all state parliaments but also represented in the Bundestag."
"I expect all our democratic forces to unveil the real face of the AfD and to expose the party's empty, populist promises," Schuster added, calling on mainstream parties to close ranks and kick the upstarts out in the next election.

Merkel acknowledged that the party's entry into parliament posed a "big new challenge" and vowed to "win back AfD voters", while the Social Democratic Party's leader Martin Schulz vowed that his party, in opposition, would act as a "bulwark against these enemies of democracy".

- 'Bikinis, not burkas' -

The AfD began life in 2013 as an anti-euro protest party but then shifted focus to capitalise on misgivings over the record migrant influx in Germany.

Its tone turned increasingly extreme in the last stretch of campaigning, with one of its two leading candidates saying Germany should be proud of its war veterans and claiming that terror was grounded in Islam.

Provocative posters declared "Burkas? We prefer bikinis" and "New Germans? Let's make them ourselves", featuring a pregnant white woman.

Its supporters heckled Merkel's rallies across the country, jeering, whistling and chanting "get lost" in attempts to drown her out.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, has warned that "for the first time since the end of the second World War, real Nazis will sit in the German parliament".

The AfD will be a pariah in parliament as all mainstream parties have ruled out working with it, but the populists could still be vocally disruptive from the opposition benches.

- 'Le Pen pales in comparison' -

Critics say widening social inequality is also playing into the hands of AfD populists, especially in the deindustrialised heartlands of the former communist east.

The party captured close to one in four votes in the east, where it was the second strongest party.

Thorsten Benner, head of the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin, said the AfD's rise shows that "our population is no more virtuous than the French population," and that "even Le Pen pales in comparison".

The AfD "will challenge key themes" in parliament, he said, pointing to Germany's culture of wartime remembrance and debate on cultural identity.

Gauland recently called for Germans to stop atoning for the past.

He also said integration commissioner Aydan Ozoguz should be "disposed of in Anatolia", suggesting she will never be German because of her Turkish origin.
The presence of the AfD "will very much change the tone of debate in parliament," Benner warned.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Thug Nation Under Barack Hussein Obama


September 22, 2017, 12:05 am SPECTATOR

Obama’s Watergate

Vladimir Putin did not hack the election. Barack Obama did.

Donald Trump said earlier this year that the Obama Administration wiretapped his campaign. “Like I’d want to hear more from that fool?” President Obama scoffed.

But CNN reported on Monday, “US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election…. The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.”

The network labeled their story an exclusive. But, in fact, Breitbart, radio host Mark Levin, the real Donald Trump Twitter account, and numerous other sources reported the wiretapping more than six months ago.

In the wake of the belated bombshell, other voices at CNN hung on, precariously but unabashedly, to the dated narrative.

In a story updated subsequent to CNN confirming the Obama administration’s surveillance on Manafort and noting his residence in Trump Tower, CNN reporter Manu Raju continued to characterize the president’s accusation affirmed by his network as Trump’s “unsubstantiated claim that Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped during the election to spy on him.” In March, Raju’s reporting consistently cast doubt on the president’s wiretapping charge.

CNN editor at large Chris Cillizza wrote an article, appearing the day after his network conceded the truth of the wiretap charge, entitled: “Donald Trump still has no evidence that his wiretapping claim was right.” In March, Cillizza wrote a piece in the Washington Post on Trump’s wiretap claim under the headline: “Donald Trump was a conspiracy-theory candidate. Now he’s on the edge of being a conspiracy-theory president.”

The media went all-in this spring on the notion that the loose-tongued Trump once again spoke without reference to the facts. Newsweek’s Nina Burleigh labeled his charge “incendiary.” The Los Angeles Times called it “a phony conspiracy theory.” PolitiFact bluntly judged his accusation “false.”

Who will fact check the fact checkers?

Rather than correct the record, egged-face journalists embark upon a face-saving effort. But the media whitewash stands as neither the only nor the most relevant cover up.

The all-smoke-no-fire Russia investigation looks increasingly like a smoke screen aimed to put out a very different fire. 
Rather than an investigation into malfeasance by the Trump campaign, does the Robert Mueller inquiry serve as a clean-up operation to justify Obama administration malfeasance? 

The bugging of the opposition party’s presidential campaign, at least when done by Republicans, ranks not only as criminal but as the biggest political scandal in American history.

Richard Nixon’s henchmen wore surgical gloves to avoid leaving clues for law enforcement. Barack Obama’s henchmen were law enforcement. This makes Obama worse, not better, than Nixon. At least Nixon’s plumbers possessed the decency to leave their skullduggery to lock pickers and burglars. Obama used law enforcement for opposition research. In Banana Republics, the cops double as the criminals. The unprecedented use of the Justice Department to commit injustice marks a sad moment for the republic. It is Watergate on steroids.

Accusations that hit the mark, rather wild ones wide of the target, provoke fierce denunciations, outcry, and Joe Welch, have-you-no-sense-of-decency moralizing. The category-5 storm that engulfed the president after he tweeted about government surveillance on his campaign indicated that he uncovered an inconvenient truth, not that he told an ignoble lie. No one flips out when a critic makes a fool of himself with his own words. People do so when the words threaten to make a fool of them.

The Obama administration using the considerable powers of the federal government to spy on a hated critic’s campaign sets a dangerous precedent. It provides future administrations a means to infiltrate the innermost circle of the opposition party’s presidential campaign. This merely requires the pretext of wrongdoing to engage in wrongdoing.

It also confirms something some Republicans have long suspected: Barack Obama regards his fellow Americans as the enemy. A government conducts surveillance on foreign enemies. When one conducts surveillance on domestic critics, the government shows itself as unfit to govern.

Trump Taking on The Sons of Bitches

The NFL is getting hammered after another game was played in a half-empty stadium

Levis Stadium emptyAP Photo/Jeff Chiu

"Thursday Night Football" gave football fans something of a surprise as the San Francisco 49ers hosted the Los Angeles Rams at Levi's Stadium in a barn-burner of a football game, ending with an enthralling fourth quarter by the Niners before falling just short of completing the comeback.

The Rams' 41-39 victory was a shootout — and some of the most exciting "Thursday Night Football" fans had seen in recent memory, featuring a successful onside-kick attempt, late turnovers, and a backdoor cover that sent gamblers home either elated or furious.
There was even an uptick in TV viewership, but the game also served as a reminder of one of the NFL's recent woes: poor attendance.

Shots of the stadium, like the one above, made clear that attendance was dismal for the primetime game. Despite claims that attendance was over 70,000, anyone with eyes could see that the stadium was largely empty, with even some of the best seats in the lower bowl left untaken.

As SFGate noted, tickets were available on secondary markets for just $14 — about the price of a beer and hot dog inside the stadium. And still, few people found the time to support the Niners in person.

People on the internet took notice, inspiring headlines including "The 49ers and Rams Played a Great Game in Front of an Empty Stadium" at The Big Lead and "It Appears Not Many People are Physically at the Rams-49ers Thursday Night Game" from Sports Illustrated.

Additionally, Twitter was quick point out the empty seats, sharing images far and wide of the empty stadium:

The Niners aren't the only team struggling to get fans into their stadium on game day — their opponents on Thursday have also started the season in an empty home.

Playing at the storied Los Angeles Coliseum, the Rams opened their season in front of roughly 25,000 people in a stadium that can hold almost four times that. And Los Angeles' newest team in town, the Chargers, have seen visibly poor attendance despite playing their season in a converted soccer stadium that can hold only 27,000 people.

Last weekend, both Los Angeles teams hosted NFL games, and their ticket sales combined didn't reach the number that USC and Texas drew to the Coliseum on Saturday night.

After years of fighting to bring one team — and now two — to Los Angeles, the NFL, as well as the Chargers and Rams, is going to have to figure out a way to start generating interest in the teams.

The Niners don't have another home game until October 22, when the Dallas Cowboys come to town. It's not a nationally televised primetime game like Thursday's matchup, so if attendance is low once again, at least fewer people will see it.