Day: September 26, 2017

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TONIGHT: O'REILLY BACK ON FOXNEWS… DEVELOPING…




TONIGHT: O'REILLY BACK ON FOXNEWS... DEVELOPING...

(Second column, 1st story, link)






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Nerve implant 'restores consciousness' to man in vegetative state…


A 35-year-old man who had been in a persistant vegetative state (PVS) for 15 years has shown signs of consciousness after receiving a pioneering therapy involving nerve stimulation.

The treatment challenges a widely-accepted view that there is no prospect of a patient recovering consciousness if they have been in PVS for longer than 12 months.

Since sustaining severe brain injuries in a car accident, the man had been completely unaware of the world around him. But when fitted with an implant to stimulate the vagus nerve, which travels into the brain stem, the man appeared to flicker back into a state of consciousness.

He started to track objects with his eyes, began to stay awake while being read a story and his eyes opened wide in surprise when the examiner suddenly moved her face close to the patient’s. He could even respond to some simple requests, such as turning his head when asked – although this took about a minute.

Angela Sirigu, who led the work at the Institut des Sciences Cognitives Marc Jeannerod in Lyon, France, said: “He is still paralysed, he cannot talk, but he can respond. Now he is more aware.”

Niels Birbaumer, of the University of Tübingen and a pioneer of brain-computer interfaces to help patients with neurological disorders communicate, said the findings, published in the journal Current Biology, raised pressing ethical issues. “Many of these patients may and will have been neglected, and passive euthanasia may happen often in a vegetative state,” he said. “This paper is a warning to all those believing that this state is hopeless after a year.”

The vagus nerve, which the treatment targeted, connects the brain to almost all the vital organs in the body, running from the brain stem down both sides of the neck, across the chest and into the abdomen. In the brain, it is linked directly to two regions known to play roles in alertness and consciousness.

Vagus nerve stimulation therapy

In surgery lasting about 20 minutes, a small implant was placed around the vagus nerve in the man’s neck. After one month of vagal nerve stimulation, the patient’s attention, movements and brain activity significantly improved and he had shifted into a state of minimal consciousness.

Recordings of brain activity also revealed major changes, with signs of increased electrical communication between brain regions and significantly more activity in areas linked to movement, sensation and awareness.

Similar stimulation has already been shown to help some patients with epilepsy and depression.

Sirigu and her team now hope to apply the same technique to patients with less serious brain injuries, where even more substantial improvements might be possible. There may even be patients, she said, whose cortex (the part of the brain used for cognitive tasks) is intact, but who have brain stem injuries that have led to limited awareness or consciousness.

The findings offer hope to the families of patients in PVS that it may one day be possible to re-establish some basic form of communication. However, some might also question whether such patients would wish to be made more acutely aware of being in a severely injured state.

“I cannot answer to this question,” said Sirigu. “Personally I think it’s better to be aware, even if it’s a bad state, to be conscious of what’s happening. Then you can have a decision if you want to go on or if you want [euthanasia].”

Damian Cruse, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Birmingham, described the findings as “pretty exciting”, adding that in future it might be possible to combine vagal nerve stimulation with other forms of rehabilitation.

“If you can just push the patient over the threshold so they can start responding to external stimulation you can maybe help them follow speech therapy and get them to a level where they can start to communicate,” he said.

During the past decade, scientists have made major advances in communicating with “locked in” patients using various forms of brain-computer interface.

These have allowed paralysed patients, some of whom had been assumed to be in PVS, to answer “yes” or “no” to questions to let their family and friends know their wishes and their state of wellbeing.



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Palestinian gunman kills three Israeli guards at West Bank settlement…


HAR ADAR, West Bank (Reuters) – A Palestinian man with security clearance to work at a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank opened fire at a checkpoint on Tuesday, killing two Israeli security guards and a paramilitary policeman.

The assailant, who was armed with a pistol and also seriously wounded a fourth Israeli, was shot dead, police said.

The incident was unusual in that the 37-year-old man had been issued an Israeli work permit – a process that entails security vetting – unlike most of the Palestinians involved in a wave of street attacks that began two years ago.

A police spokeswoman said the gunman approached Har Adar among a group of Palestinians who work at the settlement, and aroused the suspicion of guards at the entrance checkpoint.

Challenged to halt, the Palestinian “opened his shirt, drew a pistol and fired at the security staff and troopers at close range,” the spokeswoman said.

Israeli emergency and security personnel work at the scene where a police spokeswoman said a Palestinian gunman killed three Israelis guards and wounded a fourth in an attack on a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank before himself being shot dead, September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Residents of the settlement told Israeli media the man worked as a cleaner. One of them, Moish Berdichev, said he had domestic problems – his wife had left him – and speculated he may have carried out the attack knowing he would not survive.

“He was a guy with a good head on his shoulders. It’s a shame. Very sad,” Berdichev told Army Radio.

The Shin Bet internal security service identified the man as Nimr Jamal and said he had “severe personal and family issues, including domestic violence”.

The man lived in the nearby Palestinian village of Beit Suriq, the police said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in public remarks to his cabinet that the man’s house would be demolished and any work permits issued to his relatives would be revoked.

Writing by Dan Williams and Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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Costumes are not Cultural Appropriation


“Costumes aren’t meant to be hurtful, they’re just about having fun,” Says Erik Mandel CEO of the Halloween costume website, Costume SuperCenter, “Yes, some Halloween outfits push the boundaries of social appropriateness but crossing a line is up to the person wearing the costume, not the costume itself.”

As many an essay has started, we can look at this argument by first looking at the definition of the word “costume.” Webster’s defines a costume as “an outfit worn to create the appearance characteristic of a particular period, person, place, or thing.” In Cultural Appropriation and the Arts, author James Young describes it as “the adoption or use of the elements of one culture by members of another culture.” Webster’s definition sounds a whole lot like the definition of cultural appropriation.

So really, if we’re to look at the issue of costumes from a solely definition-based perspective, the only people who should be allowed to dress in costumes that reflect certain cultures are the people of those cultures, and in that case, the dress would not be, by definition, a costume.  It would merely be clothing.

There certainly are distasteful examples of costumes.  The oft quoted “blackface” is, for example, a poor choice for costume and is obviously offensive.  But the reason it is offensive is because it implies that a person of a certain culture is attempting to appear as though they are an offensively stereotypical black person, when he or she is not.  It’s not funny, and it’s hurtful to a large group of people.  However, is parading around in blackface the same as dressing in garb of another culture or time period?

Short answer: no.

It is widely accepted that blackface is not ok, but what about the case of Sean King, a second-grader from Colorado Springs who came to school for a presentation doing a Martin Luther King impersonation, wearing a black suit, tie, mustache and black face paint. 

“They thought it was inappropriate and it will be disrespectful to black people and I say it’s not,” young Sean said to KRDO.  “I like black people.  It’s just a costume and I don’t want to insult anybody.”

This young man emulated a civil rights leader he admired, and wanted to portray Dr.  Martin Luther King Jr. as accurately as possible.  To Sean that included wearing face makeup so his skin would match that of the great man he idolized.  His intention wasn’t to offend but rather to educate.

Had Sean better understood the history of blackface and the discrimination it represents, perhaps he would have chosen to forgo the makeup for his costume.  Ignorance: yes.  Cultural appropriation and racism: no.

This brings up another issue for some people; can white children or adults dress as a person or character of another race that they admire or does it automatically become racist? Is it cultural appropriation or racist to have a white person (without blackface) dress up as Marvel’s Luke Cage or Finn from Star Wars? What about a Barack Obama Halloween mask? The answer is no.  It’s not racist.  The race of the character whether fictional or real isn’t what the costume is about.  Kids don’t wear a Finn costume because he’s black.  Kids wear a Finn costume because he’s awesome! Halloween costumes allow individuals to dress as someone else for the night, freeing them of any preconceived notions and judgment.

Celebrities are often criticized for their choice of Halloween costume.  It seems like an annual tradition to accuse celebs of being offensive.  In 2016, celebrity Hillary Duff and then-boyfriend Jason Walsh were lambasted on the internet for attending the Casamigos Halloween Party dressed as a Native American chief and a sexy Pilgrim.  The costume choice was met with backlash on social media, as Duff and Walsh are white, not Native American.  This is the point where the costume world and ideas around cultural appropriation clash.

Now, were Walsh and Duff adopting or using elements of another culture? Yes.  Were they also attempting to create an appearance of a particular person or thing? Also yes.  So where do we draw the line?

The thing that most arguments revolving around cultural appropriation and costumes lack is context.  As with most things, context is a highly important part of creating an argument.  Taking things out of context is how celebrities and athletes and politicians get placed into situations that were unintended.  So often, selective quote-grabbing will take a sentence that, in context, is harmless, and will turn it into a malicious and hateful statement.

The second thing is intent.  When intent is sent to the wayside, people who meant no harm to others can be seen as monsters.  Those who are not racist and are not hateful can come off as such when intent is ignored.  Now, can you do something racist without intending to be? Certainly.  But in the same sense, you can be mean to a friend or family member without intending to be.  Surely, everyone has offended a loved one without meaning to.  Should we really meet unintended offensive behavior that way? One could argue that putting complex issues like racism and cultural appropriation on such a black-and-white, yes-no scale is unfair.  These issues are leveled and complex, so shouldn’t our interpretation of them be leveled and complex as well?

In the sense of costumes, context and intent are just as important.  For example, if someone were to dress the way Jason Walsh did, and walk onto a Native American reservation and start whooping and hollering and calling themselves “Chief,” then we’d have a problem.   It could (and should) be interpreted that what they were doing is racist and cultural appropriation.  They are, without a doubt, trying to appropriate someone else’s culture as their own.  They’re being intentionally offensive, and the context of their location is very relevant.

But were Hillary Duff and Jason Walsh attempting the same? Did either of them intend to offend anyone? Did either of them attempt to be something they’re not? Whether we like it or not, there is a huge difference between pretending and being.  We pretend as children, and it’s always seen as harmless, but when we pretend as adults, it becomes more than it was once.

There is often criticism when a white person wears the historical outfit of a Native American or a Japanese geisha.  It is claimed by some who call these disguises cultural appropriation, that when you dress up as an Indian, you’re dressing up as a stereotype of an entire continent of people. 

But what about when it’s the other way around? What about when a Native American kid dresses up as a pilgrim, is that ok? Should an Asian child not wear a Viking costume because it implies that those of Norse descent are all blood thirsty rapists and pillagers? Of course not, because these costumes do not imply that all Scandinavians act this way any more than an Indian costume says that all Native Americans are stereotyped by these outfits.  These are just costumes, not statements.

Cultural appropriation is a complex issue, and it should be treated as such.  Costumes though, are not complex.  They’re supposed to be simple and fun, so why are we always so inclined to treat them as complex?

America is a melting pot of cultures and traditions.  This rich mixing of people and ideas is what makes America such a great and unique place.  What is great about Halloween costumes is they take elements of those cultures and brings them into the fold of the mainstream.  This gives us a chance to have a discussion about what is appropriate and what is not.

Yes, we should be guarded about the costumes we choose so as not to be insensitive or offensive, and we should learn about the history of the outfits we wear on Halloween.  That said we should feel free to wear the Halloween costume we choose to wear as long as we wear it appropriately and behave with respect.

Maybe it’s an inability to laugh at ourselves.  Maybe it’s a feeling of insecurity.  No matter what is causing us to believe that costumes are something more than they once were, it has gotten out of hand.  We need to reexamine the context and intent.  The costumes themselves are just clothing.  Those who wear them are the ones who decide whether or not they’re racist.  We should use this Halloween as an opportunity to discuss what is appropriate and what crosses the line.

Many Halloween outfits that were once thought to be safe to wear are now offending large groups and opening up an avenue for criticism of the wearer. In the past few years, society’s views on costumes have shifted in a more sensitive and culturally aware direction.  There are more and more people who are quick to call out cultural appropriation in Halloween costumes than ever before. 

But are the costumes themselves really an example of cultural appropriation?

“Costumes aren’t meant to be hurtful, they’re just about having fun,” Says Erik Mandel CEO of the Halloween costume website, Costume SuperCenter, “Yes, some Halloween outfits push the boundaries of social appropriateness but crossing a line is up to the person wearing the costume, not the costume itself.”

As many an essay has started, we can look at this argument by first looking at the definition of the word “costume.” Webster’s defines a costume as “an outfit worn to create the appearance characteristic of a particular period, person, place, or thing.” In Cultural Appropriation and the Arts, author James Young describes it as “the adoption or use of the elements of one culture by members of another culture.” Webster’s definition sounds a whole lot like the definition of cultural appropriation.

So really, if we’re to look at the issue of costumes from a solely definition-based perspective, the only people who should be allowed to dress in costumes that reflect certain cultures are the people of those cultures, and in that case, the dress would not be, by definition, a costume.  It would merely be clothing.

There certainly are distasteful examples of costumes.  The oft quoted “blackface” is, for example, a poor choice for costume and is obviously offensive.  But the reason it is offensive is because it implies that a person of a certain culture is attempting to appear as though they are an offensively stereotypical black person, when he or she is not.  It’s not funny, and it’s hurtful to a large group of people.  However, is parading around in blackface the same as dressing in garb of another culture or time period?

Short answer: no.

It is widely accepted that blackface is not ok, but what about the case of Sean King, a second-grader from Colorado Springs who came to school for a presentation doing a Martin Luther King impersonation, wearing a black suit, tie, mustache and black face paint. 

“They thought it was inappropriate and it will be disrespectful to black people and I say it’s not,” young Sean said to KRDO.  “I like black people.  It’s just a costume and I don’t want to insult anybody.”

This young man emulated a civil rights leader he admired, and wanted to portray Dr.  Martin Luther King Jr. as accurately as possible.  To Sean that included wearing face makeup so his skin would match that of the great man he idolized.  His intention wasn’t to offend but rather to educate.

Had Sean better understood the history of blackface and the discrimination it represents, perhaps he would have chosen to forgo the makeup for his costume.  Ignorance: yes.  Cultural appropriation and racism: no.

This brings up another issue for some people; can white children or adults dress as a person or character of another race that they admire or does it automatically become racist? Is it cultural appropriation or racist to have a white person (without blackface) dress up as Marvel’s Luke Cage or Finn from Star Wars? What about a Barack Obama Halloween mask? The answer is no.  It’s not racist.  The race of the character whether fictional or real isn’t what the costume is about.  Kids don’t wear a Finn costume because he’s black.  Kids wear a Finn costume because he’s awesome! Halloween costumes allow individuals to dress as someone else for the night, freeing them of any preconceived notions and judgment.

Celebrities are often criticized for their choice of Halloween costume.  It seems like an annual tradition to accuse celebs of being offensive.  In 2016, celebrity Hillary Duff and then-boyfriend Jason Walsh were lambasted on the internet for attending the Casamigos Halloween Party dressed as a Native American chief and a sexy Pilgrim.  The costume choice was met with backlash on social media, as Duff and Walsh are white, not Native American.  This is the point where the costume world and ideas around cultural appropriation clash.

Now, were Walsh and Duff adopting or using elements of another culture? Yes.  Were they also attempting to create an appearance of a particular person or thing? Also yes.  So where do we draw the line?

The thing that most arguments revolving around cultural appropriation and costumes lack is context.  As with most things, context is a highly important part of creating an argument.  Taking things out of context is how celebrities and athletes and politicians get placed into situations that were unintended.  So often, selective quote-grabbing will take a sentence that, in context, is harmless, and will turn it into a malicious and hateful statement.

The second thing is intent.  When intent is sent to the wayside, people who meant no harm to others can be seen as monsters.  Those who are not racist and are not hateful can come off as such when intent is ignored.  Now, can you do something racist without intending to be? Certainly.  But in the same sense, you can be mean to a friend or family member without intending to be.  Surely, everyone has offended a loved one without meaning to.  Should we really meet unintended offensive behavior that way? One could argue that putting complex issues like racism and cultural appropriation on such a black-and-white, yes-no scale is unfair.  These issues are leveled and complex, so shouldn’t our interpretation of them be leveled and complex as well?

In the sense of costumes, context and intent are just as important.  For example, if someone were to dress the way Jason Walsh did, and walk onto a Native American reservation and start whooping and hollering and calling themselves “Chief,” then we’d have a problem.   It could (and should) be interpreted that what they were doing is racist and cultural appropriation.  They are, without a doubt, trying to appropriate someone else’s culture as their own.  They’re being intentionally offensive, and the context of their location is very relevant.

But were Hillary Duff and Jason Walsh attempting the same? Did either of them intend to offend anyone? Did either of them attempt to be something they’re not? Whether we like it or not, there is a huge difference between pretending and being.  We pretend as children, and it’s always seen as harmless, but when we pretend as adults, it becomes more than it was once.

There is often criticism when a white person wears the historical outfit of a Native American or a Japanese geisha.  It is claimed by some who call these disguises cultural appropriation, that when you dress up as an Indian, you’re dressing up as a stereotype of an entire continent of people. 

But what about when it’s the other way around? What about when a Native American kid dresses up as a pilgrim, is that ok? Should an Asian child not wear a Viking costume because it implies that those of Norse descent are all blood thirsty rapists and pillagers? Of course not, because these costumes do not imply that all Scandinavians act this way any more than an Indian costume says that all Native Americans are stereotyped by these outfits.  These are just costumes, not statements.

Cultural appropriation is a complex issue, and it should be treated as such.  Costumes though, are not complex.  They’re supposed to be simple and fun, so why are we always so inclined to treat them as complex?

America is a melting pot of cultures and traditions.  This rich mixing of people and ideas is what makes America such a great and unique place.  What is great about Halloween costumes is they take elements of those cultures and brings them into the fold of the mainstream.  This gives us a chance to have a discussion about what is appropriate and what is not.

Yes, we should be guarded about the costumes we choose so as not to be insensitive or offensive, and we should learn about the history of the outfits we wear on Halloween.  That said we should feel free to wear the Halloween costume we choose to wear as long as we wear it appropriately and behave with respect.

Maybe it’s an inability to laugh at ourselves.  Maybe it’s a feeling of insecurity.  No matter what is causing us to believe that costumes are something more than they once were, it has gotten out of hand.  We need to reexamine the context and intent.  The costumes themselves are just clothing.  Those who wear them are the ones who decide whether or not they’re racist.  We should use this Halloween as an opportunity to discuss what is appropriate and what crosses the line.



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How to Stop Iran in Its Post-Deal Destabilization Game


Every three months, there’s a deadline for a U.S. “recertification” of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As that deadline approaches, discussions in the Beltway heat up as to what is the right approach toward a government which complies with the letter of the deal but not the “sprit,” despite signing off on the contract with six world powers in 2015, which limits its bomb-making capabilities for at least 10 years. 

If nothing has been learned from the behavior of mullahs in Tehran over the past 40 years, one thing is obvious; they succumb only when their back is against the wall. Case in point is the eight-year-old Iran-Iraq war, which left hundreds of thousands dead, and billions of dollars in losses just on Iran’s side. It ended when Supreme Leader Khomeini was convinced that the regime was only steps away from a crashing defeat and subsequent collapse.

Many Iran watchers in the West regrettably fail to notice the nature and structure of mullahs’ hierarchy, which is built on the foundation of Velayat-e faghih (Guardianship of Jurisprudence), and the absolute rule of the Supreme Leader – Ruhollah Khomeini in the 1970s and 1980s, and now Ali Khamenei. These two pillars of power simply mean ruling with an absolute iron fist at home and exporting its brand of Islamic ideology (terrorism and fundamentalism) abroad. There are no “moderates” or “hardliners” in Iran. 

There are talks in the media even among the staunch supporters of the Obama administration on one hand and the White House’s inner circles on the other as how to continue putting a tight leash on Iran beyond 2026 or 2031 when the JCPOA expires.

Politico reported on Sept. 15:

“One-time aides to Barack Obama are holding meetings, contacting lawmakers and working the media in an urgent bid to prevent the dismantling of one of the former president’s signature foreign policy achievements.” 

The Iranian regime’s unprecedented rage toward U.S. has not gone unnoticed. President Donald Trump reciprocated Khamenei’s tough takes on Iran which has tested a new bomb calleding “Father of all Bombs” –copycatting the U.S.’s Mother of all Bombs, which was tested last spring in Afghanistan – by calling  for rigorous inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency. He said: “Washington will walk away from a nuclear deal it agreed to with Iran and five other nations if it deems that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is not tough enough in monitoring it.”

The U.S. president made it crystal clear in his speech before the current session of UN General Assembly that he distinguishes between Iranian people and their desire for a peaceful free Iran, and ruling mullahs in Tehran who are busy making intermediate- and long-range ballistic missiles.

He called Iranian regime a “murderous regime,” which “masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy.” He called the Iran nuclear deal made by the Obama administration, “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into” and while not vowing to immediately cancel it, he added, “don’t think you’ve heard the last of it.”

A chief concern for the U.S. administration, despite Iran’s signing off on the nuclear deal is that it has a destabilizing role in the region. Obama was wishfully hoping that the mullahs would behave after the deal was struck, but it was just an illusion since he failed to realize that there is no good mullah in Tehran.  

Iran undermines the U.S.’s goal of kicking ISIS out of the Middle East and at the same time reassuring its jittery allies in the Arab world that they will not be harassed by their unpredictable neighbor Iran.     

The top American admiral in the Middle East,Vice Adm. Kevin M. Donegan, said that in Yemen, Iran is sustaining the Houthi rebels with an increasingly potent arsenal of anti-ship and ballistic missiles, deadly sea mines and even explosive boats that have attacked allied ships in the Red Sea or Saudi territory across Yemen’s northern border. The United States, the Yemeni government, and their allies in the region have retaliated with strikes of their own and recaptured some Houthi-held coastal areas to help blunt threats to international shipping, but the peril persists.

Stakes are as high as they can ever be in the Middle East and a minor miscalculation by big players such as the U.S. can leave devastating effects. We are at crossroads once again in a region that is strategic in many respects. With the departure of ISIS (when it finally happens) there should not be a big vacuum left behind for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to fill in Syria and a repeat of what happened when the U.S. forces packed up and left Iraq in 2010. According to the Syrian opposition, by the end of 2016, IRGC and its Quds Force had over 90,000 trained militias fighting in the country, not taking into account tens of thousands of Hezbollah fighters already established in Syria with an expanded operation from Lebanese border all the way to Damascus. It has significantly grown in numbers over the past few years in Syria and no one doubts that they are there to serve the mullahs’ Supreme Leader Khamenei, while no opportunity is missed by Hassan Nasrollah, the groups’ leader, to renew his allegiance to Tehran. He said last year: “We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, come from the Islamic Republic of Iran.” According to sources, Iran has quadrupled Hezbollah’s annual allowance for 2017.

IRGC spares no one from the tooth-and-nail fight in Syria. “Thousands of Shiite Muslims from Afghanistan and Pakistan are being recruited by Iran to fight with President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria, lured by promises of housing, a monthly salary of up to $600 and the possibility of employment in Iran when they return, say counterterrorism officials and analysts,” according to a Washington Post report on Sept. 16.

The U.S. and the West in general should learn from their flaws when it comes to dealing with the Iranian regime. Since the early days of the 1979 revolution, Tehran’s rulers are dreaming for a Khilafat or Shiite Crescent, which expands from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea via Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The bloody eight-year war with Iraq, according to Khomeini’s failed doctrine, was the first step in realizing his dream of an Islamic State, Shiite-style. Khomeini used to say that Iran would conquer the Shiite holy shrine of Imam Hossein (the third Imam of Shia Islam) in Karbala and then would march to Quds (Jerusalem). Despite Khomeini’s failure to deliver, his heirs never gave up the idea and with the emergence of ISIS and a strong foothold in Iraq, courtesy of Obama administration with its hasty exit from Iraq which left the vacuum for Iran to fill, now IRGC is establishing itself in Syria.

Once again, as in 2010 and Iraq, the window is closing in Syria, and soon, if the U.S. and its allies do not act swiftly in stopping and expelling the IRGC and its proxies from expanding in the lands ISIS is leaving behind, the Iraq scenario might repeat itself. The difference this time however, is that it would have a far greater impact on the geopolitics of the region.

Reza Shafiee (@shafiee_shafiee) is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Every three months, there’s a deadline for a U.S. “recertification” of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As that deadline approaches, discussions in the Beltway heat up as to what is the right approach toward a government which complies with the letter of the deal but not the “sprit,” despite signing off on the contract with six world powers in 2015, which limits its bomb-making capabilities for at least 10 years. 

If nothing has been learned from the behavior of mullahs in Tehran over the past 40 years, one thing is obvious; they succumb only when their back is against the wall. Case in point is the eight-year-old Iran-Iraq war, which left hundreds of thousands dead, and billions of dollars in losses just on Iran’s side. It ended when Supreme Leader Khomeini was convinced that the regime was only steps away from a crashing defeat and subsequent collapse.

Many Iran watchers in the West regrettably fail to notice the nature and structure of mullahs’ hierarchy, which is built on the foundation of Velayat-e faghih (Guardianship of Jurisprudence), and the absolute rule of the Supreme Leader – Ruhollah Khomeini in the 1970s and 1980s, and now Ali Khamenei. These two pillars of power simply mean ruling with an absolute iron fist at home and exporting its brand of Islamic ideology (terrorism and fundamentalism) abroad. There are no “moderates” or “hardliners” in Iran. 

There are talks in the media even among the staunch supporters of the Obama administration on one hand and the White House’s inner circles on the other as how to continue putting a tight leash on Iran beyond 2026 or 2031 when the JCPOA expires.

Politico reported on Sept. 15:

“One-time aides to Barack Obama are holding meetings, contacting lawmakers and working the media in an urgent bid to prevent the dismantling of one of the former president’s signature foreign policy achievements.” 

The Iranian regime’s unprecedented rage toward U.S. has not gone unnoticed. President Donald Trump reciprocated Khamenei’s tough takes on Iran which has tested a new bomb calleding “Father of all Bombs” –copycatting the U.S.’s Mother of all Bombs, which was tested last spring in Afghanistan – by calling  for rigorous inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency. He said: “Washington will walk away from a nuclear deal it agreed to with Iran and five other nations if it deems that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is not tough enough in monitoring it.”

The U.S. president made it crystal clear in his speech before the current session of UN General Assembly that he distinguishes between Iranian people and their desire for a peaceful free Iran, and ruling mullahs in Tehran who are busy making intermediate- and long-range ballistic missiles.

He called Iranian regime a “murderous regime,” which “masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy.” He called the Iran nuclear deal made by the Obama administration, “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into” and while not vowing to immediately cancel it, he added, “don’t think you’ve heard the last of it.”

A chief concern for the U.S. administration, despite Iran’s signing off on the nuclear deal is that it has a destabilizing role in the region. Obama was wishfully hoping that the mullahs would behave after the deal was struck, but it was just an illusion since he failed to realize that there is no good mullah in Tehran.  

Iran undermines the U.S.’s goal of kicking ISIS out of the Middle East and at the same time reassuring its jittery allies in the Arab world that they will not be harassed by their unpredictable neighbor Iran.     

The top American admiral in the Middle East,Vice Adm. Kevin M. Donegan, said that in Yemen, Iran is sustaining the Houthi rebels with an increasingly potent arsenal of anti-ship and ballistic missiles, deadly sea mines and even explosive boats that have attacked allied ships in the Red Sea or Saudi territory across Yemen’s northern border. The United States, the Yemeni government, and their allies in the region have retaliated with strikes of their own and recaptured some Houthi-held coastal areas to help blunt threats to international shipping, but the peril persists.

Stakes are as high as they can ever be in the Middle East and a minor miscalculation by big players such as the U.S. can leave devastating effects. We are at crossroads once again in a region that is strategic in many respects. With the departure of ISIS (when it finally happens) there should not be a big vacuum left behind for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to fill in Syria and a repeat of what happened when the U.S. forces packed up and left Iraq in 2010. According to the Syrian opposition, by the end of 2016, IRGC and its Quds Force had over 90,000 trained militias fighting in the country, not taking into account tens of thousands of Hezbollah fighters already established in Syria with an expanded operation from Lebanese border all the way to Damascus. It has significantly grown in numbers over the past few years in Syria and no one doubts that they are there to serve the mullahs’ Supreme Leader Khamenei, while no opportunity is missed by Hassan Nasrollah, the groups’ leader, to renew his allegiance to Tehran. He said last year: “We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, come from the Islamic Republic of Iran.” According to sources, Iran has quadrupled Hezbollah’s annual allowance for 2017.

IRGC spares no one from the tooth-and-nail fight in Syria. “Thousands of Shiite Muslims from Afghanistan and Pakistan are being recruited by Iran to fight with President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria, lured by promises of housing, a monthly salary of up to $600 and the possibility of employment in Iran when they return, say counterterrorism officials and analysts,” according to a Washington Post report on Sept. 16.

The U.S. and the West in general should learn from their flaws when it comes to dealing with the Iranian regime. Since the early days of the 1979 revolution, Tehran’s rulers are dreaming for a Khilafat or Shiite Crescent, which expands from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea via Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The bloody eight-year war with Iraq, according to Khomeini’s failed doctrine, was the first step in realizing his dream of an Islamic State, Shiite-style. Khomeini used to say that Iran would conquer the Shiite holy shrine of Imam Hossein (the third Imam of Shia Islam) in Karbala and then would march to Quds (Jerusalem). Despite Khomeini’s failure to deliver, his heirs never gave up the idea and with the emergence of ISIS and a strong foothold in Iraq, courtesy of Obama administration with its hasty exit from Iraq which left the vacuum for Iran to fill, now IRGC is establishing itself in Syria.

Once again, as in 2010 and Iraq, the window is closing in Syria, and soon, if the U.S. and its allies do not act swiftly in stopping and expelling the IRGC and its proxies from expanding in the lands ISIS is leaving behind, the Iraq scenario might repeat itself. The difference this time however, is that it would have a far greater impact on the geopolitics of the region.

Reza Shafiee (@shafiee_shafiee) is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).



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What Happened to Our Music?


But then this musician – mind you again, this was the 90’s – asked me, “What new music has our culture invented since Rock?”

The question was rhetorical. By the 1990s, disco, rap, and hip hop had come about. So theoretically, our culture was roughly maintaining the every-ten-year schedule. However, that was not the point. It was obvious to me that my musician friend considered disco, rap, and hip hop to be degenerate forms of music; not true innovation, but rather deconstructive. I pointed out to him that disco had a little merit – one could whistle  The Hustle – though I pointed out to him that I was not usually a fan of the style. He begrudgingly conceded the point, though it was clear that his general opinion of disco was poor. So was mine, and I let him know it.

Like many suburban whites of the era, I had despised most of disco; and I cheered when Steven Dahl organized Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in 1979. Steve Dahl would later be credited with destroying the genre which, though an exaggeration, was a proud achievement.  Much of disco was total garbage, The Hustle and Stayin’ Alive might be a bit catchy. However, the musical genre carried with it depraved homosexual overtones; and I could not stomach much of it. This particular disco tune: Disco Tex and the Sexolettes-Get Dancing earned my vote for the most insultingly insipid worthless mind-benumbing song of the decade. I was convinced that listening to it would erode neurons.

After Disco Demolition Night, I thought my then beloved rock would re-emerge. I was wrong. When Run DMC took a simple, barely passable, Aerosmith metal jam like Walk This Way, and turned it into rap, I then realized that rock had degraded and birthed rap, as a natural process of ongoing degeneracy. I knew the game was over and stopped listening to pop music for the most part. Rap/hip-hop had broken through to the mainstream. I had given up.

I was not an old fuddy-duddy. I was still in my twenties at the time; but I could not stomach much of popular music. I slowly started gravitating to listening to lighter classical music, and earlier broadway show tunes – pre-1970 for the most part, and often tunes before my day. I eventually began to realize that much of the problem with music had started earlier with the rock I had once loved. While some rock still attracts me, most of what I had loved as a teen, I can no longer stomach.

But at that restaurant that night, talking with that musician, there was no way I could defend rap or hip hop. They could not be considered new and innovative musical genres. Frankly rap and hip-hop sounded – and still sounds – mostly like noise to me. The observation held true. Western civilization had stopped producing new musical forms.  He seemed to concur. By the time of this conversation, I was in my mid-30s, when new music should have been exciting to me; I was not some doddering elder.

The musician I was with was not a fuddy duddy, either. He loved the Beatles. He was not opposed to rock. He just thought that music had degenerated. Not being a musician, I took a stab at what I perceived was the root of the problem. Rightly or wrongly, I told him:

It can be argued that jazz is a competing form of classical music. American Blacks designed a complex musicology with improvisation. Then I added, rock ‘n roll is dumbed-down jazz, with emphasis on the beat, with the melody often being sacrificed.  And hip hop is everything thrown out, but the beat.  Music had been deconstructed. Melody was lost.

Again, I am not a musician; but this musician, whom I was with, was; and he did not disagree. He concurred. He feared for our civilization, for he felt that our music reflected an inner cultural rot. More astoundingly, this was not the view of a conservative. He was rather liberal in his worldview, he just knew rot when he saw it.

I am not the only one to notice this.

Science Proves: Pop Music Has Actually Gotten Worse



So, what happened since 1955? Well, timbral variety went down. That means that songs are becoming more and more homogeneous. In other words, all pop music sounds the same now. …


 


The study also found that pitch content has decreased – which means that the number of chords and different melodies has gone down. “Musicians today seem to be less adventurous in moving from one chord or note to another, instead following the paths well-trod by their predecessors and contemporaries,” Scientific American explains. – Smithsonian


           

I keep asking myself, how is it that we have the best audio technology in history; and yet, we produce such garbage. Can you imagine what Beethoven could have done with Garage Band or Apple’s Logic Pro X?

To be sure, I am not saying that no good popular music is being written. Of course, some bright lights make it through in popular music. There is John Williams, and some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s work. However, I am asking what is the root of the general problem, and when did it start?!

The musical historian might trace it back to classical music’s embrace of atonality. And some critics claim the degeneration started with Wagner’s Liebestod, with its jarring unresolved chord, and a name that meant “Love Death,” a title that was purposefully contradictory, which was Wagner’s point.

Richard Wagner’s music elevated a dark pre-Christian Nordic paganism in his Ring Cycle. Is it any wonder than the Nazis embraced Wagner’s music? One has only to look at this 1941 Nazi newsreel concerning the invasion of Crete, with its use of Wagner – almost four decades before Francis Ford Coppola copied the idea –  to see how thoroughly Wagner had infected the German soul. Of course, one might ask, if there was something in the German soul which infected Wagner, and that is the rub.

Western society has embraced some dark, destructive habits; habits which are destructive to prosperity, health, and happiness. These have filtered through to our culture and our music. If this sounds too radical a claim, one has to remember than I am not confining the problem to modern music.

When one thinks of Broadway hits, America’s version of lite-opera, how many of those hits pre-date 1970? Yes, Broadway still produces musicals; but compare Hamilton’s My Shot to Richard Kiley’s Impossible Dream, and ask yourself: Which will be remembered a century from now? Why is it that almost every list of great broadway show tunes is often top-heavy with music written before 1970?

Music at its highest should be a reflection of a great truth, whether that is in the form of a religious choral, a stirring national anthem, a magnificent reflection, or even a simple love song. It should inspire us. Somewhere in the middle of the twentieth century, the idea of “truth” became devalued in Western society. Soon, as Wagner did earlier with his Liebestod [Love Death], popular music started to embrace contradictions. The music conveyed one message and the words, another.  A classic example was John Lennon’s Revolution, which had jarring music, but a contradictory conservative message.

When the single version [of Revolution] was released in August, the political left viewed it as betraying their cause. – Wikipedia

A more frightening example was Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones. If anyone would take the time to listen to the words, it was about the enslavement, brutalization by whipping, and sexual degradation of a captured black woman. But the tune was catchy, and who listened to the words, anyway. When I first heard it in my teens, I was horrified at the words; but too stupid to stand against the opinions of my friends who considered it a classic, and say, “This song is truly vile.” Rumor was that Mick Jagger was going to use even more offensive lyrics.

Yet, it got playtime on the radio. How long would that song have lasted were it about Jews, or the female of any white or Asian ethnic group? Though not black myself, I have a pet peeve that Brown Sugar is tolerated on the public broadcast band. I am not a prude, but songs about the rape of slaves should not be an up thing.

And that is the problem. The media pushed music that conflicted with Truth. Vile songs have always been around since the beginning of time; but the popular media started embracing these songs as standards, rather than relegating them to idiocies only played at stag parties – and not given air time. Society was encouraged to embrace schizophrenic dissonance. Good music, horrible lyrics. Melody, which is the very essence of consonance, cannot thrive with such contradictions. Soon, melody was removed from music. Music continued to degenerate.

The problem runs deeper. This dissonance would not have prospered unless our society had been acculturated to accept that there was no such thing as truth. Once truth has been erased from societal consciousness, then internal contradictions – which will eventually rip any nation apart – will emerge. In the early 1960s, homosexuality was seen as a perversion. By the mid-70s it was glorified in popular song (catchy tune, horrible implied message). You had kids singing it before they knew what it meant. Today, marriage has been redefined, and kids are being coerced to have gender dysphoria.

Music is a reflection of the society-at-large. One can argue if music degenerates the culture, or if the culture degenerates music. Actually it is a bit symbiotic, and they feed on each other. What that musician told me over two decades ago was true. Music had degenerated.  But what we had not dealt with was that the real disaster was that society had degenerated, because no one valued truth.

 

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, lo those many decades ago.  He writes on the Arabs of South America at http://latinarabia.com.  He also just started a website about small computers at http://thetinydesktop.com.

I am not a musician; but about a quarter century ago in the 1990s, I was in a restaurant with a musician who gave me a dire observation. He told me that a professor had mentioned to him that a vital, vibrant culture should produce a new form of music every ten to twenty years or so, roughly speaking.

I thought about what he said. It sort of made sense. Around 1900, America had ragtime. Tango came from South America around 1910. Jazz took over by the 1920s. Swing came in during the 1930s. Bebop came in during the late 40s, early fifties. Rock ‘n Roll took over the culture in the late 1950s and 1960s.

But then this musician – mind you again, this was the 90’s – asked me, “What new music has our culture invented since Rock?”

The question was rhetorical. By the 1990s, disco, rap, and hip hop had come about. So theoretically, our culture was roughly maintaining the every-ten-year schedule. However, that was not the point. It was obvious to me that my musician friend considered disco, rap, and hip hop to be degenerate forms of music; not true innovation, but rather deconstructive. I pointed out to him that disco had a little merit – one could whistle  The Hustle – though I pointed out to him that I was not usually a fan of the style. He begrudgingly conceded the point, though it was clear that his general opinion of disco was poor. So was mine, and I let him know it.

Like many suburban whites of the era, I had despised most of disco; and I cheered when Steven Dahl organized Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in 1979. Steve Dahl would later be credited with destroying the genre which, though an exaggeration, was a proud achievement.  Much of disco was total garbage, The Hustle and Stayin’ Alive might be a bit catchy. However, the musical genre carried with it depraved homosexual overtones; and I could not stomach much of it. This particular disco tune: Disco Tex and the Sexolettes-Get Dancing earned my vote for the most insultingly insipid worthless mind-benumbing song of the decade. I was convinced that listening to it would erode neurons.

After Disco Demolition Night, I thought my then beloved rock would re-emerge. I was wrong. When Run DMC took a simple, barely passable, Aerosmith metal jam like Walk This Way, and turned it into rap, I then realized that rock had degraded and birthed rap, as a natural process of ongoing degeneracy. I knew the game was over and stopped listening to pop music for the most part. Rap/hip-hop had broken through to the mainstream. I had given up.

I was not an old fuddy-duddy. I was still in my twenties at the time; but I could not stomach much of popular music. I slowly started gravitating to listening to lighter classical music, and earlier broadway show tunes – pre-1970 for the most part, and often tunes before my day. I eventually began to realize that much of the problem with music had started earlier with the rock I had once loved. While some rock still attracts me, most of what I had loved as a teen, I can no longer stomach.

But at that restaurant that night, talking with that musician, there was no way I could defend rap or hip hop. They could not be considered new and innovative musical genres. Frankly rap and hip-hop sounded – and still sounds – mostly like noise to me. The observation held true. Western civilization had stopped producing new musical forms.  He seemed to concur. By the time of this conversation, I was in my mid-30s, when new music should have been exciting to me; I was not some doddering elder.

The musician I was with was not a fuddy duddy, either. He loved the Beatles. He was not opposed to rock. He just thought that music had degenerated. Not being a musician, I took a stab at what I perceived was the root of the problem. Rightly or wrongly, I told him:

It can be argued that jazz is a competing form of classical music. American Blacks designed a complex musicology with improvisation. Then I added, rock ‘n roll is dumbed-down jazz, with emphasis on the beat, with the melody often being sacrificed.  And hip hop is everything thrown out, but the beat.  Music had been deconstructed. Melody was lost.

Again, I am not a musician; but this musician, whom I was with, was; and he did not disagree. He concurred. He feared for our civilization, for he felt that our music reflected an inner cultural rot. More astoundingly, this was not the view of a conservative. He was rather liberal in his worldview, he just knew rot when he saw it.

I am not the only one to notice this.

Science Proves: Pop Music Has Actually Gotten Worse



So, what happened since 1955? Well, timbral variety went down. That means that songs are becoming more and more homogeneous. In other words, all pop music sounds the same now. …


 


The study also found that pitch content has decreased – which means that the number of chords and different melodies has gone down. “Musicians today seem to be less adventurous in moving from one chord or note to another, instead following the paths well-trod by their predecessors and contemporaries,” Scientific American explains. – Smithsonian


           

I keep asking myself, how is it that we have the best audio technology in history; and yet, we produce such garbage. Can you imagine what Beethoven could have done with Garage Band or Apple’s Logic Pro X?

To be sure, I am not saying that no good popular music is being written. Of course, some bright lights make it through in popular music. There is John Williams, and some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s work. However, I am asking what is the root of the general problem, and when did it start?!

The musical historian might trace it back to classical music’s embrace of atonality. And some critics claim the degeneration started with Wagner’s Liebestod, with its jarring unresolved chord, and a name that meant “Love Death,” a title that was purposefully contradictory, which was Wagner’s point.

Richard Wagner’s music elevated a dark pre-Christian Nordic paganism in his Ring Cycle. Is it any wonder than the Nazis embraced Wagner’s music? One has only to look at this 1941 Nazi newsreel concerning the invasion of Crete, with its use of Wagner – almost four decades before Francis Ford Coppola copied the idea –  to see how thoroughly Wagner had infected the German soul. Of course, one might ask, if there was something in the German soul which infected Wagner, and that is the rub.

Western society has embraced some dark, destructive habits; habits which are destructive to prosperity, health, and happiness. These have filtered through to our culture and our music. If this sounds too radical a claim, one has to remember than I am not confining the problem to modern music.

When one thinks of Broadway hits, America’s version of lite-opera, how many of those hits pre-date 1970? Yes, Broadway still produces musicals; but compare Hamilton’s My Shot to Richard Kiley’s Impossible Dream, and ask yourself: Which will be remembered a century from now? Why is it that almost every list of great broadway show tunes is often top-heavy with music written before 1970?

Music at its highest should be a reflection of a great truth, whether that is in the form of a religious choral, a stirring national anthem, a magnificent reflection, or even a simple love song. It should inspire us. Somewhere in the middle of the twentieth century, the idea of “truth” became devalued in Western society. Soon, as Wagner did earlier with his Liebestod [Love Death], popular music started to embrace contradictions. The music conveyed one message and the words, another.  A classic example was John Lennon’s Revolution, which had jarring music, but a contradictory conservative message.

When the single version [of Revolution] was released in August, the political left viewed it as betraying their cause. – Wikipedia

A more frightening example was Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones. If anyone would take the time to listen to the words, it was about the enslavement, brutalization by whipping, and sexual degradation of a captured black woman. But the tune was catchy, and who listened to the words, anyway. When I first heard it in my teens, I was horrified at the words; but too stupid to stand against the opinions of my friends who considered it a classic, and say, “This song is truly vile.” Rumor was that Mick Jagger was going to use even more offensive lyrics.

Yet, it got playtime on the radio. How long would that song have lasted were it about Jews, or the female of any white or Asian ethnic group? Though not black myself, I have a pet peeve that Brown Sugar is tolerated on the public broadcast band. I am not a prude, but songs about the rape of slaves should not be an up thing.

And that is the problem. The media pushed music that conflicted with Truth. Vile songs have always been around since the beginning of time; but the popular media started embracing these songs as standards, rather than relegating them to idiocies only played at stag parties – and not given air time. Society was encouraged to embrace schizophrenic dissonance. Good music, horrible lyrics. Melody, which is the very essence of consonance, cannot thrive with such contradictions. Soon, melody was removed from music. Music continued to degenerate.

The problem runs deeper. This dissonance would not have prospered unless our society had been acculturated to accept that there was no such thing as truth. Once truth has been erased from societal consciousness, then internal contradictions – which will eventually rip any nation apart – will emerge. In the early 1960s, homosexuality was seen as a perversion. By the mid-70s it was glorified in popular song (catchy tune, horrible implied message). You had kids singing it before they knew what it meant. Today, marriage has been redefined, and kids are being coerced to have gender dysphoria.

Music is a reflection of the society-at-large. One can argue if music degenerates the culture, or if the culture degenerates music. Actually it is a bit symbiotic, and they feed on each other. What that musician told me over two decades ago was true. Music had degenerated.  But what we had not dealt with was that the real disaster was that society had degenerated, because no one valued truth.

 

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, lo those many decades ago.  He writes on the Arabs of South America at http://latinarabia.com.  He also just started a website about small computers at http://thetinydesktop.com.



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His Name Was Scout


Saturday night before last, a 21-year-old known as “Scout” Schultz was shot dead at Georgia Tech. The shooter was a campus cop. Scout, a Tech undergrad, advanced on cops with a knife. He was taunting them to shoot as he advanced. He ignored warnings to stop. A cop fired once. The bullet struck Scout’s heart. He was pronounced dead at Grady Memorial Hospital 30 minutes later. It was discovered that the pocket knife’s blade was closed. 

By all accounts, Scout was mentally ill. He was smart as a whip, per reports, and quite active in the “GT Progressive Student Alliance.” That’s code for left-wing. More to the point, Scout was an activist for campus “LGBTQIA” causes. Wonder what that is? Ready for this? Here goes: “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, and Allies.”

Scout claimed to be “intersex,” which is said to be a result of genital abnormalities. Atlanta news reports are suggesting Scout’s mental illness grew out of stresses associated with his supposed abnormality. This without documentation or sourcing about Scout’s condition other than the say-so of his mother and his own assertion.

Scout’s mother, Lynne Schultz, did claim that her son suffered on-again, off-again depression. He had a history of such dating back to his boyhood, she said. Scout, per Schultz, had used a belt to try to hang himself a couple of years before. From the Atlanta Journal Constitution report (see link below): “Diagnosed with depression at a young age, Scout’s mental health often wavered.”   

From ajc.com:

Scout Schultz, according to the mother, chose to identify as nonbinary, neither male nor female, and was classified as intersex, meaning a person has biological or physiological characteristics that aren’t necessarily fully male or female. That’s different from “transgender,” where people feel they know what their gender is and that it’s not the gender they were assigned.      

In lockstep with political correctness, ajc.com borrowed from the Associated Press guidelines when dealing with someone who’s intersex, referring to the person as “they.”  

LGBTQIA activists — with a helping hand from the Atlanta Journal Constitution — were quick to assign a reason for Scout’s mental illness, one that’s relevant to their cause and serves their political agenda. Of course, as the left and its allied grievance groups do, Georgia Tech was blamed, in part, for Scout’s death. Why?

“Scout committed suicide, and students have received inadequate help from campus mental health services,” the [GT Progressive Student Alliance] demands letter reads.    

Isn’t it Georgia Tech’s primary mission to educate? Per the demands letter, cops whose lives are at risk need training to “deescalate” confrontations. That’s a lot to ask from cops with a would-be assailant making for them, weapon in hand, at night… cops who often have to make split-second life or death decisions. Scout’s knife blade may have been shut, but cops didn’t know that in the moment. Tasers and pepper-spray may not stop an adrenalin-pumped attacker. The mentally ill can kill, too.     

It’s quite possible that Scout was troubled for reasons that didn’t originate with his supposed “intersexuality.” That, in other words, his sexual tumult might have been an outgrowth of other troubles. But that doesn’t suit the progressive narrative. A tragedy must never go to waste.

The ajc.com doesn’t explore what the many causes could be for a young boy’s depression. Was the cause(s) pedestrian, as in biochemical imbalances? Social environment (unrelated to sexuality), at home, school, or elsewhere? Or some combination? Might Scout, then a mere boy, not have been tormented in the least by sexuality?

For the ajc.com, Scout appears to be the victim of a lifetime of sexual identity stresses. Then, again, the newspaper may be unsure. A so-called expert seems so. 

One more slice from the ajc.com report:

A recent national study found that 40 percent of transgender and non-gender-conforming people attempt suicide. But Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, cautioned against jumping to conclusions.


An intersex person might or might not have greater mental health issues, because growing up intersex or transgender can carry a stigma and be highly stressful, he said. However, Graham stressed, “What‘s important for folks to recognize is there may have been some health issues involved, but mental health issues are not necessarily related to our gender identity.”

If Scout was confused by “they” sexuality, an assumed expert, Jeff Graham, sheds no light.

Note the article’s claim of a “recent national study” has no attribution. But the suicide attempt rates may well be high among intersexuals. At least, they’re reported as high among transgenders. Deeply troubled people may be more prone to try suicide, in any event — or at least contemplate it. Deeply troubled, as in minds so disturbed and emotions so jumbled that a man fancies himself a woman trapped in a man’s body — or visa versa.

What Scout’s death should be about isn’t efforts to score points for leftist politics and promote LGBTQIA causes – or whatever the cool marginalia du jour. It shouldn’t be about marching with fluttering rainbow banners – tromping down streets and sidewalks in fist-pumping righteousness. It shouldn’t be about blame-games to extract concessions from an organization and gain leverage. (Georgia Tech president, G.P. “Bud” Peterson has just created a fund for “student mental health and wellness initiatives.”) Nor should it be about faddish Associated Press guidelines referring to a man or woman as “they.”

It wasn’t, as Rolling Stone headlined, “Georgia Tech Shooting Shows Schism Between LGBTQ Community and Police.”

What happened to Scout was really about Scout, a young man with an apparent long history of mental woes, who though having reached his majority, had no business alone on Georgia Tech’s campus on a Saturday night. Who attempted suicide previously, and who evidently nursed a death wish to fruition… who, in the process, threatened cops’ lives. A young man who needed ongoing, routine mental health treatment and monitoring — which weren’t the responsibilities of an engineering school.

Yet, this troubled young man’s death becomes a prop to push political and social causes… to demand concessions and entitlements… to impose upon society an agenda at odds with time-honored norms – norms consistent with nature — the imposition of which damages the health and well-being of society.

His name was Scout. And his death wasn’t about a cause.     

Saturday night before last, a 21-year-old known as “Scout” Schultz was shot dead at Georgia Tech. The shooter was a campus cop. Scout, a Tech undergrad, advanced on cops with a knife. He was taunting them to shoot as he advanced. He ignored warnings to stop. A cop fired once. The bullet struck Scout’s heart. He was pronounced dead at Grady Memorial Hospital 30 minutes later. It was discovered that the pocket knife’s blade was closed. 

By all accounts, Scout was mentally ill. He was smart as a whip, per reports, and quite active in the “GT Progressive Student Alliance.” That’s code for left-wing. More to the point, Scout was an activist for campus “LGBTQIA” causes. Wonder what that is? Ready for this? Here goes: “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, and Allies.”

Scout claimed to be “intersex,” which is said to be a result of genital abnormalities. Atlanta news reports are suggesting Scout’s mental illness grew out of stresses associated with his supposed abnormality. This without documentation or sourcing about Scout’s condition other than the say-so of his mother and his own assertion.

Scout’s mother, Lynne Schultz, did claim that her son suffered on-again, off-again depression. He had a history of such dating back to his boyhood, she said. Scout, per Schultz, had used a belt to try to hang himself a couple of years before. From the Atlanta Journal Constitution report (see link below): “Diagnosed with depression at a young age, Scout’s mental health often wavered.”   

From ajc.com:

Scout Schultz, according to the mother, chose to identify as nonbinary, neither male nor female, and was classified as intersex, meaning a person has biological or physiological characteristics that aren’t necessarily fully male or female. That’s different from “transgender,” where people feel they know what their gender is and that it’s not the gender they were assigned.      

In lockstep with political correctness, ajc.com borrowed from the Associated Press guidelines when dealing with someone who’s intersex, referring to the person as “they.”  

LGBTQIA activists — with a helping hand from the Atlanta Journal Constitution — were quick to assign a reason for Scout’s mental illness, one that’s relevant to their cause and serves their political agenda. Of course, as the left and its allied grievance groups do, Georgia Tech was blamed, in part, for Scout’s death. Why?

“Scout committed suicide, and students have received inadequate help from campus mental health services,” the [GT Progressive Student Alliance] demands letter reads.    

Isn’t it Georgia Tech’s primary mission to educate? Per the demands letter, cops whose lives are at risk need training to “deescalate” confrontations. That’s a lot to ask from cops with a would-be assailant making for them, weapon in hand, at night… cops who often have to make split-second life or death decisions. Scout’s knife blade may have been shut, but cops didn’t know that in the moment. Tasers and pepper-spray may not stop an adrenalin-pumped attacker. The mentally ill can kill, too.     

It’s quite possible that Scout was troubled for reasons that didn’t originate with his supposed “intersexuality.” That, in other words, his sexual tumult might have been an outgrowth of other troubles. But that doesn’t suit the progressive narrative. A tragedy must never go to waste.

The ajc.com doesn’t explore what the many causes could be for a young boy’s depression. Was the cause(s) pedestrian, as in biochemical imbalances? Social environment (unrelated to sexuality), at home, school, or elsewhere? Or some combination? Might Scout, then a mere boy, not have been tormented in the least by sexuality?

For the ajc.com, Scout appears to be the victim of a lifetime of sexual identity stresses. Then, again, the newspaper may be unsure. A so-called expert seems so. 

One more slice from the ajc.com report:

A recent national study found that 40 percent of transgender and non-gender-conforming people attempt suicide. But Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, cautioned against jumping to conclusions.


An intersex person might or might not have greater mental health issues, because growing up intersex or transgender can carry a stigma and be highly stressful, he said. However, Graham stressed, “What‘s important for folks to recognize is there may have been some health issues involved, but mental health issues are not necessarily related to our gender identity.”

If Scout was confused by “they” sexuality, an assumed expert, Jeff Graham, sheds no light.

Note the article’s claim of a “recent national study” has no attribution. But the suicide attempt rates may well be high among intersexuals. At least, they’re reported as high among transgenders. Deeply troubled people may be more prone to try suicide, in any event — or at least contemplate it. Deeply troubled, as in minds so disturbed and emotions so jumbled that a man fancies himself a woman trapped in a man’s body — or visa versa.

What Scout’s death should be about isn’t efforts to score points for leftist politics and promote LGBTQIA causes – or whatever the cool marginalia du jour. It shouldn’t be about marching with fluttering rainbow banners – tromping down streets and sidewalks in fist-pumping righteousness. It shouldn’t be about blame-games to extract concessions from an organization and gain leverage. (Georgia Tech president, G.P. “Bud” Peterson has just created a fund for “student mental health and wellness initiatives.”) Nor should it be about faddish Associated Press guidelines referring to a man or woman as “they.”

It wasn’t, as Rolling Stone headlined, “Georgia Tech Shooting Shows Schism Between LGBTQ Community and Police.”

What happened to Scout was really about Scout, a young man with an apparent long history of mental woes, who though having reached his majority, had no business alone on Georgia Tech’s campus on a Saturday night. Who attempted suicide previously, and who evidently nursed a death wish to fruition… who, in the process, threatened cops’ lives. A young man who needed ongoing, routine mental health treatment and monitoring — which weren’t the responsibilities of an engineering school.

Yet, this troubled young man’s death becomes a prop to push political and social causes… to demand concessions and entitlements… to impose upon society an agenda at odds with time-honored norms – norms consistent with nature — the imposition of which damages the health and well-being of society.

His name was Scout. And his death wasn’t about a cause.     



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Imposing Sanctions on Venezuela Will Only Make Things Worse


The Trump administration is considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela by blocking their oil from U.S. ports. Likewise, UN ambassador Nikki Haley criticized the regime of Nicolas Maduro, and confirmed that oil sanctions “are not off the table.” This is tactical escalation: last month President Trump advocated for a more finely-targeted approach by limiting Venezuela’s access to American financial institutions, now oil is in the crosshairs. This is regrettable: sanctions on Venezuelan oil will likely do more harm than good, and will punish the wrong people.

To be clear: Venezuela is a horrible place to live, and the government is solely to blame. Their corruption, incompetence, and ideological fervor has transformed South America’s richest economy into a poverty-stricken backwater. Against all the odds, the socialist government has managed to create starvation in a land of rich soils and year-round growing seasons- -people are literally breaking into zoos to eating zebras to survive. Likewise, they have impoverished a nation that sits on the world’s largest oil reserves: not even Saudi Arabia’s brutal despots are this foolish.

Nevertheless, imposing sanctions on Venezuelan oil is a bad idea. The main reason for this is that sanctions are generally ineffective if imposed on fungible goods, meaning that said goods are completely interchangeable on international markets. Oil is a fungible good. Therefore, apart from the initial logistical disruption, boycotting Venezuelan oil will likely have little impact on their exports — Venezuela will simply sell more to Europe, China, and South America, while we buy more from Saudi Arabia. Remember, Europeans do not condemn Venezuela’s socialist dictatorship, and China is actively courting South Americans as allies and trading partners. Without Europe and China on-board, an oil embargo will have little chance at succeeding.

For the sake of argument, assume the sanctions are effective, and Venezuela’s economy is completely ruined by America’s import ban. Would it matter? Venezuela’s ruling class is insulated from the general population, and cares little about their wellbeing. The fact is that most autocrats would rather let millions starve to death than relinquish their power — we have seen this before in North Korea, Cuba, and the USSR. Venezuela is no different: brutal street battles have been fought, people are starving, and still the government continues trying to manifest its socialist utopia. Sanctioning Venezuelan oil will not impact the government aristocracy, it will simply impoverish ordinary people.

Many historical examples prove this point. Recall how our sanctions on Syria caused starvation, and contributed to the rise of ISIS, but had literally zero impact on the welfare of Bashar al-Assad, or the rest of the ruling elite. Sanctions made Syria poorer, not its ruling class. The same was true in Cuba and Iran. Worth reading is this report from the Foundation for Economic Education: it looks at the impact of sanctions in the Balkans, and finds that sanctions do not work, they just further concentrate power in the hands of the ruling class.

There are also broader political ramifications worth considering. Economics and politics are intertwined:  attacking an authoritarian regime economically plays into said regime’s political narrative, and can strengthen said regime. Simply put: sanctions will empower President Maduro. Consider the case in the former USSR. Every time America engaged in economic warfare against the USSR, no matter how much damage it did, it gave credence to the Soviet government’s narrative: the U.S. is an evil empire trying to destroy the USSR and harm its people. America played right into their hands. And of course, the same thing happened in North Korea and Cuba — the political strength of their regimes was intimately tied to their economic hardship. The same will be true in Venezuela: sanctions will unite Venezuelans against a foreign “enemy”, and this will do more harm than good.

Finally, sanctions can be counterproductive because they limit the organic spread of Western values. Western values terrify dictatorships. Why? Because freedom is natural. Desirable. It spreads all by itself. This is why authoritarian regimes expend great time and energy to scrub the internet of Western influences — they do not want their people “getting any ideas”. These values do not just spread through popular culture, they spread through commercial connections. When we do business with foreigners, we give them a glimpse of what it is like in America. They experience a little bit of freedom, and wealth. The spread of free markets, and the riches they generate, is what ultimately opened up China, and it is what continues to reduce the power of the Communist Party. By imposing sanctions, America will end up helping Maduro, doing his dirty work for him. The best way to liberalize Venezuela is to increase economic ties with them.

Sanctions have a mixed record, to put it lightly. Sometimes they are effective, but often they are entirely counterproductive, and end up strengthening the foreign regime. The Trump administration must be careful not to make things worse — especially since Venezuela will collapse on its own. Instead, he should focus on growing the economy and avoiding foreign excursions, as he promised.

The Trump administration is considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela by blocking their oil from U.S. ports. Likewise, UN ambassador Nikki Haley criticized the regime of Nicolas Maduro, and confirmed that oil sanctions “are not off the table.” This is tactical escalation: last month President Trump advocated for a more finely-targeted approach by limiting Venezuela’s access to American financial institutions, now oil is in the crosshairs. This is regrettable: sanctions on Venezuelan oil will likely do more harm than good, and will punish the wrong people.

To be clear: Venezuela is a horrible place to live, and the government is solely to blame. Their corruption, incompetence, and ideological fervor has transformed South America’s richest economy into a poverty-stricken backwater. Against all the odds, the socialist government has managed to create starvation in a land of rich soils and year-round growing seasons- -people are literally breaking into zoos to eating zebras to survive. Likewise, they have impoverished a nation that sits on the world’s largest oil reserves: not even Saudi Arabia’s brutal despots are this foolish.

Nevertheless, imposing sanctions on Venezuelan oil is a bad idea. The main reason for this is that sanctions are generally ineffective if imposed on fungible goods, meaning that said goods are completely interchangeable on international markets. Oil is a fungible good. Therefore, apart from the initial logistical disruption, boycotting Venezuelan oil will likely have little impact on their exports — Venezuela will simply sell more to Europe, China, and South America, while we buy more from Saudi Arabia. Remember, Europeans do not condemn Venezuela’s socialist dictatorship, and China is actively courting South Americans as allies and trading partners. Without Europe and China on-board, an oil embargo will have little chance at succeeding.

For the sake of argument, assume the sanctions are effective, and Venezuela’s economy is completely ruined by America’s import ban. Would it matter? Venezuela’s ruling class is insulated from the general population, and cares little about their wellbeing. The fact is that most autocrats would rather let millions starve to death than relinquish their power — we have seen this before in North Korea, Cuba, and the USSR. Venezuela is no different: brutal street battles have been fought, people are starving, and still the government continues trying to manifest its socialist utopia. Sanctioning Venezuelan oil will not impact the government aristocracy, it will simply impoverish ordinary people.

Many historical examples prove this point. Recall how our sanctions on Syria caused starvation, and contributed to the rise of ISIS, but had literally zero impact on the welfare of Bashar al-Assad, or the rest of the ruling elite. Sanctions made Syria poorer, not its ruling class. The same was true in Cuba and Iran. Worth reading is this report from the Foundation for Economic Education: it looks at the impact of sanctions in the Balkans, and finds that sanctions do not work, they just further concentrate power in the hands of the ruling class.

There are also broader political ramifications worth considering. Economics and politics are intertwined:  attacking an authoritarian regime economically plays into said regime’s political narrative, and can strengthen said regime. Simply put: sanctions will empower President Maduro. Consider the case in the former USSR. Every time America engaged in economic warfare against the USSR, no matter how much damage it did, it gave credence to the Soviet government’s narrative: the U.S. is an evil empire trying to destroy the USSR and harm its people. America played right into their hands. And of course, the same thing happened in North Korea and Cuba — the political strength of their regimes was intimately tied to their economic hardship. The same will be true in Venezuela: sanctions will unite Venezuelans against a foreign “enemy”, and this will do more harm than good.

Finally, sanctions can be counterproductive because they limit the organic spread of Western values. Western values terrify dictatorships. Why? Because freedom is natural. Desirable. It spreads all by itself. This is why authoritarian regimes expend great time and energy to scrub the internet of Western influences — they do not want their people “getting any ideas”. These values do not just spread through popular culture, they spread through commercial connections. When we do business with foreigners, we give them a glimpse of what it is like in America. They experience a little bit of freedom, and wealth. The spread of free markets, and the riches they generate, is what ultimately opened up China, and it is what continues to reduce the power of the Communist Party. By imposing sanctions, America will end up helping Maduro, doing his dirty work for him. The best way to liberalize Venezuela is to increase economic ties with them.

Sanctions have a mixed record, to put it lightly. Sometimes they are effective, but often they are entirely counterproductive, and end up strengthening the foreign regime. The Trump administration must be careful not to make things worse — especially since Venezuela will collapse on its own. Instead, he should focus on growing the economy and avoiding foreign excursions, as he promised.



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'Fake Protest' is When Regime Supporters Do It


Instead, I had an epiphany. This protest, I realized, with a Good Little Girl leading a well-rehearsed chant exactly as she was presumably taught by her government-paid professor at her government university, was “Fake Protest.”

What it was not was the genuine cry of the wretched of the Earth. How do I know that? First, because Good Little Girls do not do revolution. Second, because the Good Little Girl was advocating in a cause supported by the ruling class as Good Little Girls do. Third, because the Great and the Good did not immediately dump on the protesters as evil pond scum.

This latest epiphany comes after an earlier epiphany I had about the Left right after the 2016 election. The left is always advocating for people outside of the system. Why? Because that is the warrant for Revolution, baby.

In 1850 in Britain, about the time the left was invented, the people outside the system were the working class, straggling out of the starving countryside to lifesaving jobs in the factories. But the workers were outside the system, so they marched in the streets to get the attention of the ruling class. It was the genius of Marx to realize that rich kids like him could make their lives meaningful by protesting on behalf of these workers-outside-the-system, or even better, leading them in bloody revolution. So this was Genuine Protest.

But the bourgeoisie, after suppressing the Chartist movement in Britain, gave the workers the vote and started enacting the workers’ political agenda. Why? Because the bourgeoisie is not that interested in power. So no need for revolution, no need, really, for Protest, not any more.

This was proved in the 1950s during the civil-rights revolution. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. understood, from Gandhi and the Indian National Movement, that he didn’t need to riot in the streets to get the attention of the bourgeoisie. “Non-violent protest” was sufficient. Also, the ruling class of the time was all in favor of Dr. King’s movement. But blacks were outside the system in the Jim Crow South, so Selma’s Bloody Sunday was a good way to get the attention of the nation. Call it Semi-Fake Protest.

Now we have Good Little Girls advocating for a new group outside the system. But there is a problem. Everyone from blacks to gays is already inside the system fully franchised and efficiently represented by the Democratic Party, Democratic elected officials, the mainstream media, government education, and Hollywood jesters acting like kings. So who can genuine activists represent? Of course, illegal immigrants! They don’t have a vote, and they are forced to work in the shadows, at least they do when they live in nonsanctuary cities without a proper sprinkling of “We’re Glad You’re Our Neighbor” yard signs. They are the truly wretched of the earth, outside the system! Yay!

But these Dreamers are not really outside the system; their cause is the cause of the ruling class, which is working night and day, using fair means or foul, to advance their agenda. This is Fake Protest, ginned up by regime supporters, with the tacit approval of the ruling class.

Do you want to know what Genuine Protest today would look like? It would be a protest condemned by all right-thinking people, condemned in a resolution by a unanimous vote of Congress and signed by the President. Because those people would be the genuine wretched of the earth, born of sorrows and rejected of men.

To point up the total fake-arama of left-wing politics today, I give you the lefties’ ABC book for little lefty kiddies: A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara. Yes,

F is for Feminist

But actually, feminists are mostly well-born women. No people outside the system here.

J is for Justice

Yeah. No Justice, No Peace. That’s why I say there is no such thing as justice, only injustice. And you won’t believe what “T” is for.

It’s a funny thing, but there is no entry in A is for Activist for

M is for Mao; millions of dead

S is for Stalin; he died in his bed.

And I think that is really a shame.

This Fake Protest thing is really not that hard. When liberal parents are buying cute little board books to teach ABCs to future activists, and when tenured government-paid professors are teaching Activism 101, and when Good Little Girls are reprising the “hey, hey, ho ho, (fill in the blank) has got to go” chants of the Sixties, then you are staring right into the face of Fake Protest.

Genuine Protest? That’s when all the right people are getting their knickers in a twist about some low-rent losers that just want a little respect.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.

I suppose a part of me died a week ago when Nancy Pelosi’s speech was interrupted by activist Dreamers.

Oh wait! Wrong Narrative!

Instead, I had an epiphany. This protest, I realized, with a Good Little Girl leading a well-rehearsed chant exactly as she was presumably taught by her government-paid professor at her government university, was “Fake Protest.”

What it was not was the genuine cry of the wretched of the Earth. How do I know that? First, because Good Little Girls do not do revolution. Second, because the Good Little Girl was advocating in a cause supported by the ruling class as Good Little Girls do. Third, because the Great and the Good did not immediately dump on the protesters as evil pond scum.

This latest epiphany comes after an earlier epiphany I had about the Left right after the 2016 election. The left is always advocating for people outside of the system. Why? Because that is the warrant for Revolution, baby.

In 1850 in Britain, about the time the left was invented, the people outside the system were the working class, straggling out of the starving countryside to lifesaving jobs in the factories. But the workers were outside the system, so they marched in the streets to get the attention of the ruling class. It was the genius of Marx to realize that rich kids like him could make their lives meaningful by protesting on behalf of these workers-outside-the-system, or even better, leading them in bloody revolution. So this was Genuine Protest.

But the bourgeoisie, after suppressing the Chartist movement in Britain, gave the workers the vote and started enacting the workers’ political agenda. Why? Because the bourgeoisie is not that interested in power. So no need for revolution, no need, really, for Protest, not any more.

This was proved in the 1950s during the civil-rights revolution. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. understood, from Gandhi and the Indian National Movement, that he didn’t need to riot in the streets to get the attention of the bourgeoisie. “Non-violent protest” was sufficient. Also, the ruling class of the time was all in favor of Dr. King’s movement. But blacks were outside the system in the Jim Crow South, so Selma’s Bloody Sunday was a good way to get the attention of the nation. Call it Semi-Fake Protest.

Now we have Good Little Girls advocating for a new group outside the system. But there is a problem. Everyone from blacks to gays is already inside the system fully franchised and efficiently represented by the Democratic Party, Democratic elected officials, the mainstream media, government education, and Hollywood jesters acting like kings. So who can genuine activists represent? Of course, illegal immigrants! They don’t have a vote, and they are forced to work in the shadows, at least they do when they live in nonsanctuary cities without a proper sprinkling of “We’re Glad You’re Our Neighbor” yard signs. They are the truly wretched of the earth, outside the system! Yay!

But these Dreamers are not really outside the system; their cause is the cause of the ruling class, which is working night and day, using fair means or foul, to advance their agenda. This is Fake Protest, ginned up by regime supporters, with the tacit approval of the ruling class.

Do you want to know what Genuine Protest today would look like? It would be a protest condemned by all right-thinking people, condemned in a resolution by a unanimous vote of Congress and signed by the President. Because those people would be the genuine wretched of the earth, born of sorrows and rejected of men.

To point up the total fake-arama of left-wing politics today, I give you the lefties’ ABC book for little lefty kiddies: A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara. Yes,

F is for Feminist

But actually, feminists are mostly well-born women. No people outside the system here.

J is for Justice

Yeah. No Justice, No Peace. That’s why I say there is no such thing as justice, only injustice. And you won’t believe what “T” is for.

It’s a funny thing, but there is no entry in A is for Activist for

M is for Mao; millions of dead

S is for Stalin; he died in his bed.

And I think that is really a shame.

This Fake Protest thing is really not that hard. When liberal parents are buying cute little board books to teach ABCs to future activists, and when tenured government-paid professors are teaching Activism 101, and when Good Little Girls are reprising the “hey, hey, ho ho, (fill in the blank) has got to go” chants of the Sixties, then you are staring right into the face of Fake Protest.

Genuine Protest? That’s when all the right people are getting their knickers in a twist about some low-rent losers that just want a little respect.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.



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weiner3.jpg

HARD TIME: Weiner slapped with 21 months in prison…


Anthony Weiner got a stiff dose of reality Monday as a judge slapped him with a nearly two-year sentence for sexting with a 15-year-old girl — a heinous crime that cost him both his marriage and his freedom.

Manhattan federal Judge Denise Cote rejected defense pleas to spare Weiner any time behind bars and instead ordered him to spend 21 months in a federal penitentiary, saying she needed to make an example of the high-profile pervert.

Weiner, who had faced up to ten years in prison, hung his head in shame, covered his face and cried silently into his hands.

He broke down a second time at the end of the hearing, as his lawyers tried to comfort him by patting his back. His mom, Frances, wept in the gallery, where she sat with Weiner’s dad, Morton, and his brother, Jason.

Weiner didn’t stop crying until after court officers had cleared the room.

Weiner, 53, had begged the judge for probation so he could continue recovering from his longtime sex addiction and “be a good father to my son.”

The serial sexter struggled with his emotions as soon as he started reading a prepared statement in which he described reaching a new low by getting involved online with the underage North Carolina teen.

According to the feds, Weiner sent her “adult pornography” and repeatedly convinced her to strip naked and fondle herself while he watched via Skype and Snapchat in February and March 2016.

“Your Honor, the crime I committed was my rock bottom, but I am truly grateful that it finally began me on my recovery,” Weiner said.

“I was a very sick man for a very long time, but I’m also responsible for the damage I have done. Your Honor, I have a disease, but I have no excuse.”

Weiner said he was “profoundly sorry to the victim” and obliquely referenced the previous sexting scandals that forced him from Congress in 2011 and torpedoed his 2013 comeback bid for New York City mayor.

Weiner — who wore his wedding band — also said he had “betrayed” his long-suffering wife, Huma Abedin. She filed for divorce immediately after Weiner’s arrest, and called her an “amazing mother” to their 5-year-old son.

“I have trouble talking about him without tears,” Weiner said.

“Jordan has been my salvation, the one perfect thing in my life. I always told myself, if I get that one thing right, all else would be forgiven.”

In a bizarre bid for leniency, defense lawyer Arlo Devlin-Brown revealed that Weiner “was in contact with as many as 19 other adult women” at the time he was communicating with the underage girl.

But Cote, while acknowledging that Weiner was “finally receiving treatment,” said he was struggling with a compulsion strong enough that “despite two very public disclosures and the destruction of his career on two occasions, he continued with the activity.”

Cote also said it was “very important” that Weiner’s punishment for transfer of obscene materials to a minor should serve as a warning to anyone else considering similar, illicit online activities.

“Because of the defendant’s notoriety, gained well before he engaged in this criminal activity, there is intense interest in this prosecution, in his plea, and his sentence, and so there is the opportunity to make a statement that could protect other minors,” she said.

“General deterrence is a very significant factor in this sentence.”

In addition to his prison term — which could be cut to 18 months with time off for good behavior — Weiner was ordered to spend three years on supervised release afterward, pay a $10,000 fine and register as a sex offender.

Cote gave Weiner until Nov. 6 to report to prison and ordered that he forfeit an iPhone he used to communicate with the girl, who sent a letter to the judge that she ordered sealed, along with other letters from the girl’s father and grandmother.

Weiner’s sexting with the teen didn’t only finally destroy his marriage and get him locked up, but it also helped rock the closing days of last year’s presidential election, when feds searching his laptop found emails between Abedin and longtime boss Hillary Clinton.

The discovery led then-FBI Director James Comey to re-open a probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, only to announce two days before Election Day that nothing new had been found.

Clinton has called Comey’s actions “the determining factor” in her unexpected defeat by President Trump.

Devlin-Brown also repeatedly described Weiner as having suffered from a sickness he called “indisputable” in light of Weiner’s repeated acts of self-destruction and “years of denial.”

The lawyer called it “stunning” that Weiner never realized he had a serious problem despite having “thrown away his congressional career” and a lead in the Democratic mayoral primary when “the voters found out that…he had continued with the same conduct.”

“In America they say there are second acts, but there are no third acts, and after that Anthony was finished,” his lawyer said.

“And yet even though his career had been ruined, he continued doing the same thing again and again.”

Left unmentioned was another scandal in which The Post last year revealed how Weiner sent a woman a lewd selfie that showed his son lying on the bed next to him, with Weiner clearly displaying a bulge in his underpants.

Prosecutor Amanda Kramer argued that Weiner had a history “that simply cannot be ignored” and needed between 21 and 27 months in custody “to fully pierce his denial” and “specifically deter the defendant from re-offending.”

“Something more and different is required, beyond personal and professional consequences, beyond the collateral consequences that he has faced before, beyond the scrutiny of the public, all of which have failed to sufficiently deter him in the past,” Kramer said.



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