Recently in News Category


This year I didn't "forget" about 9/11, but I did lose track of the current date over the weekend. I knew 9/11 was coming, but yesterday I forgot that it was 9/10. I'm grateful to the men and women who work hard to keep my family's life so normal.

It's been 16 years since the 9/11 attacks... kids who were born that year have almost graduated high school. I remember watching the TV news coverage that morning and calling my pastor to tell him what had happened. I had just returned from Europe less than a week ago, and I was grateful to be home instead of stranded abroad.

Over the weekend I tried to explain the attacks to my oldest daughter without being too graphic, but it was hard to convey the enormity of the event. I considered showing her pictures or video of the Twin Towers, but decided not to. I think that was wise, considering her age and the fact that we fly pretty frequently.

The attacks were intended to change the world, and they did. Or did they merely reflect a change that was already in progress? Probably both. It's hard to imagine a counterfactual world in which the 9/11 attacks were unsuccessful, and therefore didn't motivate American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, with all the consequences therefrom. I'm pretty sure that would have been a better world... but maybe some other inciting incident would have happened anyway, and we'd be right where we are now with only minor differences.


I pray that God gives our leaders wisdom and courage, and that the men and women who protect our peaceful existence have strength, encouragement, and goodness.


I can only imagine how horrible it would be to be imprisoned on an airplane for 15 hours, especially for anyone traveling with children. The passengers on Air Transat 157 called 911, but to no avail.

"There's a citizen that called it in saying that there's approximately 100 people in the plane, generally unwell. [There are] complaints of severe pain, cold sweats, coughing."

The call came in roughly 4½ hours after Air Transat Flight 157 from Brussels to Montreal landed in Ottawa at 5 p.m. ET. It had been scheduled to arrive in Montreal at 3:15 p.m., but was diverted due to bad weather.

The Canadian Transportation Agency has now given Air Transat until 5 p.m. ET Friday to provide an explanation as to why passengers on flight 157 and a second plane were stranded inside those aircraft for hours, without being allowed off the plane. ...

According to that tariff, in the case of an on-board delay more than 90 minutes, Air Transat promises to offer passengers the option of getting off the plane.

"Stranded" is a distracting euphamism -- these people were imprisoned and endangered because the airline didn't want to spend the money to properly take care of them.

The airport authority said there was both a gate and air stairs available, and they were prepared to bring supplies beyond just bottled water to the stranded passengers -- but never received clearance from Air Transat.


Charlie Gard has died just a few days short of his first birthday. The parents believed that some experimental treatment could have helped Charlie months ago, but the UK government forbade it. "Choice" advocates would have been rioting in the streets if the government had stopped the parents from killing Charlie instead of stopping them from treating him. Sad story all around.


For the past seven years we've been hearing promises from Republicans that if we'd just elect them they'd roll back the leftist takeover of America. First we put them in the House, then the Senate, and finally the Presidency (not to mention 33 governors and numerous state legislatures), but even with total control of the government Republicans are apparently powerless.

A Republican Senate could not muster even 50 votes for the full repeal of Obamacare's taxes and spending. Six Republican senators who had voted for repeal in 2015, when the party was merely pretending it was possible, flipped on Wednesday rather than deliver.

Five of the six represent states President Trump won in November. The sixth hails from a state Trump lost by less than 3 points.

An argument can be made that repealing these parts of Obamacare while leaving its regulatory structure largely in place is a bad idea. But we are discussing a law that Republicans spent seven years campaigning against. Every GOP senator except one either voted for repeal in the past or campaigned on it in a recent election cycle. Their leader was said to have a "secret plan" to repeal Obamacare "root and branch."

There was ample time for a contingency plan or even a better approach to replacing the healthcare law.

No amount of time ever seems to be enough.

They reason they were voting on such a poor repeal plan is because it was the best they could almost agree on. They were too incompetent to write a good plan, and too bumbling to even pass an incremental half-measure.

Humiliating.


I love that the TSA is communicating with United Airlines via Twitter.

Backstory: United blames TSA for banning comic books in checked luggage for travelers returning from Comic Con.


Pictures of zip ties holding together a new R186 car are drawing outrage online, but to me the real scandal is the reliance on "specially designed brackets".

"The ties are a back-up way of securing a cable on the subway car. It's used in conjunction with other fasteners," said MTA spokeswoman Beth DeFalco. "It's 100 percent safe and only used on some cars on the #7 line. We have a specially designed bracket that is being engineered and is set to be installed in the next few weeks."

The need for a "specially designed bracket" to secure a cable undoubtedly contributes to the disastrous condition of the New York subway. It's extremely expensive to design unique parts for such simple applications, and the MTA would save some money if their suppliers could standardize more efficiently. Zip ties probably aren't the right answer (haha), but just think of the advantages they brings: they're cheap, and they can secure anything. Why "specially design" a custom bracket instead of creating a strong, permanent fastener with the versatility of a zip tie?

An MTA engineer will no doubt respond: "silly blogger, it's not that easy!" Sure, I'm simplifying, but there's no way that something as simple as securing a cable should require a custom fastener.


Fifty to a hundred shots fired at Congressional Republicans during baseball practice:

Five people including the House Majority Whip Steve Scalise were shot at a GOP baseball practice on Wednesday morning.

The gunman opened fire from the third base dugout at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia, as the group practiced batting at 6.30am.

He fired between 50 and 100 rounds before being shot by Capitol Police who were accompanying Scalise. The shooter is now in custody and being treated at a local hospital.

A congressional staffer and two Capitol Police officers were shot. Senator Rand Paul, who was at the scene but was not injured, said it was a 'killing field'.

The shooter asked the group if they were Republicans or Democrats before opening fire from the third base dugout as the men practiced batting.

We pray for the health and recovery of Rep. Scalise and the police who were shot, and for the safety of all our leaders.

1 Timothy 2:1-4, "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

We'll have to see who this shooter is and why he committed this atrocity. Prominent people have been fomenting anger and violence for months now, and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that this attack is a result of that incitement.


Huge news! Trump earned a lot of money and paid a lot of taxes in 2005! Thanks, Rachel Maddow.

Anyway, when she finally revealed what was in the taxes, it was not a huge deal. Trump earned about $150 million in income in 2005, and paid $38 million in taxes, thanks to the alternative minimum tax, which he wants to kill.

This gives Trump an effective tax rate of about 24 percent, which Johnston pointed out was roughly equal to what he and his wife, who are an upper middle class couple, pay.

And, sure, for a billionaire, you can argue that he should pay more in taxes. But, $38 million is a big number. As is $150 million in income.

Yawn.


Chris Farrell tweeted this image of the NYT from January 20th, 2017.

nyt wiretapped.jpg

You'll notice the headline: "Wiretapped data used in inquiry of Trump aides". However, according to the Wayback Machine, the online version of the story has had a different headline since it was first posted: "Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Associates".

nyt wiretapped 2.jpg

Did someone realize even then that the word "wiretapped" would prove troublesome? The text of the article still uses it.

The F.B.I. is leading the investigations, aided by the National Security Agency, the C.I.A. and the Treasury Department's financial crimes unit. The investigators have accelerated their efforts in recent weeks but have found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, the officials said. One official said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House.


An "atmospheric river" is headed for the beleaguered Oroville Dam.

atmos-river-oroville-dam.gif

Above: Computer forecast models indicate a powerful jet stream will continuously pound California over the next ten days and bring copious amounts of moisture from off of the Pacific Ocean into the state. This 10-day loop of predicted upper-level winds at 250 mb are in 6-hour increments from today until Thursday, February 23rd; maps courtesy tropicaltidbits.com, NOAA/EMC (GFS)


The riots at Berkeley were already humiliating enough for the school and the state of California, but I didn't even see until just now this video of a woman being ambushed with pepper spray while talking to a reporter. It's hard to even find words to describe the viciousness and cowardice of the attack. Reprehensible.


It likely that no one really knows what "the Russians" did or intended to do. (Note: "the Russians" are not a monolith... there are many contentious subgroups within the Russian government.) It seems certain that they -- and many others -- were working to disrupt the American election, but it seems impossible to determine how much these actions contributed to the eventual result, and to what degree any specific thing was intended.

Most of the American media are "reporting" that President Obama ordered an investigation of "Russian hacking of our election," and that the intelligence community "confirms" that it happened. Yet there is not yet any evidence that Russia hacked the election or was responsible for the DNC email hacks. None.

When self-interested people and their media allies proclaim something is true, and form a chorus that drowns out any other views, I always suspect a con. It is so easy for the Left, since it controls education and the media, to sell any tale it wishes, from global warming to Michelle Obama as a glamorous fashion icon. Most people will simply fall in line because it is too much trouble and risky to dispute what is regarded as a received truth by the power elite.

But the CIA's evidence and report are being kept secret, so we are expected to trust the word of anonymous sources.

The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton's chances.

"It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia's goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected," said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. "That's the consensus view."

And yet... farther down in the same barely-sourced article:

The CIA presentation to senators about Russia's intentions fell short of a formal U.S. assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies. A senior U.S. official said there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency's assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered.

For example, intelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin "directing" the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, a second senior U.S. official said. Those actors, according to the official, were "one step" removed from the Russian government, rather than government employees. ...

The White House and CIA officials declined to comment.

So... anonymous insiders leak a story to damage the incoming president. The tail end of the story makes clear that the entire matter was viewed in a partisan manner by every public official involved.

The Democratic leaders in the room unanimously agreed on the need to take the threat seriously. Republicans, however, were divided, with at least two GOP lawmakers reluctant to accede to the White House requests.

According to several officials, McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.

Some of the Republicans in the briefing also seemed opposed to the idea of going public with such explosive allegations in the final stages of an election, a move that they argued would only rattle public confidence and play into Moscow's hands. ...

Some Clinton supporters saw the White House's reluctance to act without bipartisan support as further evidence of an excessive caution in facing adversaries.

Democrats unanimously wanted the government to assist Hillary (i.e., "take the treat seriously"), and Republicans pointed out that such actions would be "an act of partisan politics". You can parse the language however you like and agree with your preferred side, but there was clearly a divide across party lines.

It's worth pointing out that none of this "hacking" would have been possible if Hillary and her team had followed basic cyber-security protocols.


I'll update this with more thoughts as I process today's news.


I don't have a strong opinion on whether or not felons who have served their sentences should having their voting rights restored. I can see reasonable arguments in both directions. However, Terry McAuliffe's naked politicizing of what should be a solemn responsibility is appalling.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has granted voting rights to as many as 60,000 convicted felons just in time for them to register to vote, nearly five times more than previously reported and enough to win the state for his long-time friend, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The Virginia chief executive claimed to have "no idea" how felons would vote and said he had never thought about it. Clinton's staff emailed him after the 200,000-voters move to call it a "great announcement" and set up a call about it.

McAuliffe also did a major favor for the wife of a senior FBI executive who was running for a Virginia legislative seat at the same time the bureau was investigating Clinton's use of private email addresses and a home-brew server to conduct the official diplomatic business of the U.S.


Well this video is fun:

Is this real or paranoia? Considering how the year as gone so far, maybe it's both!


Well this video is fun:

Is this real or paranoia? Considering how the year as gone so far, maybe it's both!

There's also a lot of chatter from right-wing conspiracy sites about the contents of Weiner's laptop -- including claims by unnamed NYPD officials that they're prepared to push the investigation into Hillary themselves.

NYPD detectives and a NYPD Chief, the department's highest rank under Commissioner, said openly that if the FBI and Justice Department fail to garner timely indictments against Clinton and co- conspirators, NYPD will go public with the damaging emails now in the hands of FBI Director James Comey and many FBI field offices.

"What's in the emails is staggering and as a father, it turned my stomach," the NYPD Chief said. "There is not going to be any Houdini-like escape from what we found. We have copies of everything. We will ship them to Wikileaks or I will personally hold my own press conference if it comes to that."

The NYPD Chief said once Comey saw the alarming contents of the emails he was forced to reopen a criminal probe against Clinton.

"People are going to prison," he said.

Stay tuned... I think things are going to get weirder.


One of the reasons that cybersecurity and information security are so important is that a breach leads to never-ending complications. Hillary Clinton's decision to use a poorly-secured email server in her house, compounded with her "extremely careless" handling of classified information, will bedevil her for the rest of her life -- and cause harm to America for far longer.

There's no way for anyone to know if or when the last shoe has dropped. Hillary could be blackmailed at any time -- with real or fake email dumps. America's allies and enemies can be manipulated or threatened. Information that leads to "exceptionally grave damage" to national security can be exploited secretly by our enemies without our knowledge.

The fallout of Hillary's "extremely careless" decisions will continue to harm her and America for decades.

In all likelihood, there are many foreign governments and perhaps many private parties who were able to gain access to the Clinton homebrew server. Any one of them at any time could dump more information that will be impossible to ignore. No one knows what that information will be, but it is certain to embarrass both Clinton and the United States, and perhaps compromise our allies as well.


Even the New York Times has been forced to address the Democrat dirty tricks revealed by Project Veritas. The NYT goes to great lengths to downplay the seriousness of the revelations and impugn Project Veritas, but they do link to the videos.

Hillary Clinton's campaign and the party committee moved to distance themselves from the behavior described in the videos, and the committee said the two men were no longer assisting it. The party also cast doubt on the veracity of the released videos, which were produced by Project Veritas, a conservative group led by the activist James O'Keefe that has been heavily criticized as using deceptive editing.

No mention that Hillary herself "has been heavily criticized" for deception. I love the use of the passive voice there... the NYT gets to undermine the credibility of Project Veritas without naming or quoting any sources. "Has been heavily criticized" by whom? Let us know the source of the criticism so we can judge the source's motives and credibility for ourselves.

At least they don't bury the lede:

A Democratic operative, wearing a checkered blue shirt and a tie, spoke calmly, explaining exactly how agents could infiltrate the rallies of Donald J. Trump and cause mayhem among the Republican's nominee team, his security staff and supporters.

Creating an explosive reaction, said the operative, Scott Foval, was "the whole point of it."

Mr. Foval and Robert Creamer, another operative working for the Democratic National Committee, were the unwitting stars of undercover videos released this week in which they and others were captured discussing unseemly tactics like instigating violence at Mr. Trump's rallies and arranging for fraudulent voting.

The Democrats paid people to instigate violence at Trump's rallies, and then publically hammered Trump for the violence at his rallies.

Of course now no one in the Democrat National Committee knows anything about it. Is Brazile the source for the "heavy criticism"? She's devoted to electing Hillary.

"We do not believe, or have any evidence to suggest, that the activities articulated in the video actually occurred," said Donna Brazile, the interim Democratic chairwoman. The Clinton campaign similarly denounced the tactics, while chiding Project Veritas, saying it has "been known to offering misleading video out of context."

The evidence that the "activities" occurred is that there was violence at some of Trump's rallies! Trump's rally in Chicago was cancelled because of a riot! People were injured!

For hours, the Chicago police, along with university officers, the federal authorities and others, were out here in force. A Chicago police spokesman said that city law enforcement authorities were not consulted and had no role in canceling the event. The spokesman said there had been five arrests, two by the Chicago police, two by the university's police and one by the Illinois State Police. The fire department said three people, including a police officer, were injured. ...

Arguments and small skirmishes broke out along the streets. At one point, the police rushed in, separating people.

At least one man was hit on the head with a police baton, witnesses said, and blood could be seen coming from a gash on his face. A woman, also bloodied, was led away by police.


Chris Wallace did a good job -- the best of any of the moderators this year. He asked both candidates tough questions.

Hillary evaded many tough questions, which is par for the course.

Trump should learn how to evade better... instead he tends to topics that are damaging to him. There's a reason politicians evade.

I don't have the energy to write much more than that. I doubt this debate did much to convince anyone of anything. If there's a real October surprise bombshell it will probably come soon, now that the candidates don't have another opportunity to respond to the public broadly.

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