House Speaker Paul Ryan is heading to the White House Friday afternoon to meet with President Donald Trump about the planned vote on the American Health Care Act, reports say. Ryan and Trump have been furiously trying to round up support for the bill. A number of House conservatives have come out against it however and the vote is expected to be extremely close. Ryan's briefing Trump could be a sign that they don't yet have the required amount of votes.
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The coalition estimates that there are between 3,000 and 4,000 militants in Raqqa
“The First 48” is an excellent reality TV show that follows homicide detectives in various cities as they try to solve murders, most of which seem to be committed primarily by blacks and secondarily by Latins, typically over drug dealing.
The show is not sanitized by political correctness. It shows the moral depravity of a frightening element of society, one in which young men and teens, mostly raised in households devoid of fathers, have no qualms or remorse about killing someone over a drug deal gone awry or because they were disrespected. Oftentimes innocent people get caught in the crossfire, including young children.
The show indirectly calls into question the nation’s housing and welfare policies. Some of the coldblooded killers live in what appears to be middle-class neighborhoods, despite no one apparently having a job. This suggests that they are using government housing vouchers, in a reflection of the cockamamie notion currently in vogue among progressive intellectuals that placing the “disadvantaged” in nice neighborhoods will change their behavior for the better instead of changing the neighborhood for the worse.
The bad guys are heavily armed. Who can blame law enforcement, then, for also being heavily armed? And who can blame local police for calling in the Fugitive Task Force to apprehend suspects?
What is the Fugitive Task Force? It is one more federal police force in a long list of federal police forces, including not only such well-known agencies as the FBI, Border Patrol, and Park Rangers but also the law enforcement arms of the Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, and heaven knows what else.
Actually, there are multiple fugitive task forces. They are part of the U.S. Marshalls Service. According to the official website of the Service, regional task forces were established under the Presidential Threat Protection Act of 2000. To quote, “The purpose of regional fugitive task forces is to combine the efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to locate and apprehend the most dangerous fugitives and assist in high profile investigation.”
Of the 88,432 fugitives arrested last year by the task forces, 63,811 were state and local fugitives. And of the 107,933 warrants cleared by the task forces, 79,930 were state and local warrants. Clearly, the task forces spend most of their time on state crimes, not federal crimes.
The website doesn’t explain how it passes constitutional muster for a federal police force, dressed and armed like paramilitaries, to be running around on city streets to handle local criminal matters. However, it does explain that a lot of money is involved. Much of the cost of the task forces, as well as the Marshals Service in general, is funded through asset forfeitures; that is, the confiscation of assets of suspected criminals, oftentimes prior to the accused having their day in court. As of Sept. 30, 2016, the Marshals Service had $1.5 billion in forfeited assets, and it shared $305 million in proceeds from the forfeitures with local police forces.
The agents have good job security. According to the Bureau of Justice, 2.1 million Americans were in prison at the end of 2015, and another 6.7 million were under correctional supervision (parole). Three out of four former prisoners are re-arrested within five years of their release.
This is not the sign of a healthy society.
Nor is it a sign of a healthy society for “resource officers,” which is a euphemism for “cops,” to have a full-time presence in public high schools, including suburban schools. Evidently, parents have become desensitized to their presence, for there is not an outcry over this visible sign that something is woefully wrong inside the schools; nor is there an outcry over the fact that the resource officers are arresting children for minor infractions that used to be handled by school staff. As someone who attended Catholic schools, has a son who attended Catholic schools, and has done pro bono work for Catholic schools, I find it bizarre and very troubling that cops are required to maintain order and discipline in public schools.
Order and discipline were maintained in my Catholic high school, in a bygone era, in a way that worked with testosterone-crazed boys—and in a way that today’s estrogen-crazed parents of both genders are incapable of understanding. Miscreants would be sent to the principal’s office, where the door would be slammed behind them and the office wall would soon begin vibrating as they were knocked against it by the principal.
My ability to concentrate stems from such discipline. I still vividly remember the day I was daydreaming in English class, when the burly teacher and football coach called on me and I couldn’t answer his question. When it happened the second time, he picked up my desk with me in it and threw me into the hallway. I’ve never lost my place since. Granted, as critics say, I may have other mental problems, but these aren’t due to high school discipline.
Oops, I’ve lost my place. Where was I? Oh, I was talking about police forces.
Pop quiz: What is the largest federal law enforcement agency in the USA? Answer: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which has a staff of 21,000.
But that’s not big enough. President Trump has said that he will increase the agency’s staffing by 20,000—which raises the question of why the additional staffing is needed if building a border wall will be effective in keeping out illegal immigrants and drugs.
The current issue of Reason Magazine has an in-depth cover story on the reasons why the wall won’t work. But its construction will probably proceed anyway, for it is a political placebo instead of a real cure for the real (and imagined) problems of illegal immigration and drug smuggling.
The article mentions something that my family and I have encountered as residents of Arizona—namely, being stopped by border agents at a checkpoint in a border zone miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. It seems that the CBP has the authority to make warrantless stops within 100 miles of a border. As a result, almost the entire geographical area of many states is a border zone; and for the State of Michigan, the entire state is a border zone, due to the state being almost totally surrounded by the border with Canada.
The article also includes statistics showing what happens with increased border security: one, illegal border crossings and drug smuggling move to remote areas where there is less security; two, the price charged by coyotes increases, which keeps illegal immigrants from returning home and then going back and forth as seasonal workers; four, drug smugglers come up with creative and expensive ways to bypass the security, considering the efforts to be just a small cost of doing business; and four, the number of foreigners overstaying their visas increases as they disappear into the nation’s woodwork instead of returning home and then not being able to get back into the states.
On the last point, it has been suggested by noted conservatives that a concerted effort be made to track and find visa violators. But they don’t give an estimate of how many law enforcement agents it will take to do this or how effective the effort would be. Judging by the difficulty in tracking parolees, it won’t be very effective. I can’t find statistics on the percent of parolees who stop checking in with their parole officers and disappear into society, but I suspect that the number is high. For sure, there are tragic consequences of parolees violating their paroles.
For example, a recent episode of “The First 48” was about homicide detectives in Kansas City, Missouri, tracking down a serial killer of six women. It turned out that the killer was a parole violator who, previous to being released on parole, had been incarcerated for 20 years for killing his wife. And in a chilling twist, his mother had murdered someone in front of him when he was a kid, his brother had been executed by the state for murder, and his sister had also murdered someone.
If law enforcement can’t keep tabs on a dangerous ex-con like this, even with the resources of the fugitive task force and other agencies, then it is doubtful that they will be able to keep tabs on an East Indian who overstays his visa and finds work in the business of a relative who is a U.S. citizen.
Without debating it here, one would think that there would be better immigration policies than turning the country into a police state. Perhaps a guest-worker program could be one of them, although no program would be without a downside.
And there has to be a better way of stopping or at least slowing the smuggling of hardcore drugs without creating a police state. At the risk of sounding naïve, part of the answer might lie with the so-called progressives who rail against social injustice, who bemoan the fact that minorities are imprisoned at higher rates than whites, who repeat the mantra of “Black Lives Matter,” who demonstrate against white privilege on college campuses, and who are otherwise pious and sanctimonious about being enlightened and caring people—but who, at the same time, buy illicit drugs and thus trigger an avalanche of misery and crime on the very same segments of society they say they care about.
Instead of the super-rich on the Upper East Side snorting coke while donating to progressive causes, instead of movie stars doing the same while they star in Stella Artois beer commercials about water for Africans, and instead of college students consuming crack, heroin, and amphetamines while demanding speech codes and trigger warnings—instead of such hypocrisy, maybe they can just give up their drug use and begin railing against their peers for the harm they are inflicting on society through their use of drugs.
The alternative, I fear, is a police state.Not a Police State Yet but Getting There was first posted on March 24, 2017 at 10:09 am.
PICKS are stories from many sources, selected by our editors or recommended by our readers because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. Please send suggested articles, videos, podcasts, etc. to email@example.com.Erdogan: Europeans Soon May Not be Safe to Walk Anywhere (Dan)
Tensions have been rising between Western Europe and their tenuous ally Turkey. Many countries have banned pro-Turkish demonstrations, despite having large Turkish populations, due to the Turkish president Erdogan’s crackdown on civil liberties in Turkey. In retaliation, Erdogan warned that Europeans may soon not be able to walk the street if tensions continue to rise. This comes at an odd time, as Wednesday a terrorist attack occurred outside the British Parliament building in Westminster.Woman Who Voted for Trump Now Sees Her Husband Deported (Dan)
Trump pledged to deport anyone in the US illegally who had committed a violent crime. Roberto Beristain crossed into Canada 15 years ago without a passport and was detained by officials who saw that he was in the US illegally. ICE officials and Beristain came to an agreement: meet every month to renew a work visa. Now Beristain is due for deportation under Trump’s immigration policy. To make the situation worse, his wife was an ardent supporter of the President’s immigration policies during the campaign.California Bill Attempts to Halt Data-Collecting Devices (Reader Steve)
Last month German authorities told buyers of the ‘Cayla’ doll to destroy the item. Why? It could be secretly spying on households by collecting data. Wikileaks recently released “Vault 7”, which exposed CIA surveillance on more of our everyday devices. This California bill will try and reverse the trend.Silicon Valley Would Rather Cure Death Than Make Life Worth Living (Jimmy)
Emily Dreyfuss writes, “A video game-style quest to end death may appeal to the techie imagination, but it doesn’t engage with real problems in the real world. Instead of chasing down death, Silicon Valley could try to help people whose lives are already in free fall.”Trump Policy Moves Benefit Specific Industries: His Own (Dan)
While it comes as no surprise, the blant conflict-of-interest policy moves do little to refute the ‘drain the swamp’ rhetoric that got him to the White House.First Dinosaurs May Have Been Omnivores in the North Hemisphere (Trevin)
In 1888, H. G. Seeley divided the dinosaur family tree into two branches: “Bird-hipped” animals and “reptile-hipped” ones. Scientists now see 21 other anatomical features to characterize them in a completely different way.
One of the planned cornerstones of the 15+ year Afghan Reconstruction Effort was to be an extensive, nationwide network of roads.
The United States’ concept was roads would allow the Afghan economy to flourish as trade could reach throughout the country, security would be enhanced by the ability to move security forces quickly to where they were needed, and that the presence of the roads would serve as a literal symbol of the central government’s ability to extend its presence into the countryside.
The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released its audit of the Department of Defense’s and USAID’s $2.8 billion investment in Afghanistan’s road infrastructure.
The project has been a near-total failure. The audit notes:
- An Afghan Ministry of Public Works’ (MOPW) official stated 20 percent of the roads have been destroyed and the remaining 80 percent continue to deteriorate.
- USAID estimated that unless maintained, it would cost about $8.3 billion to replace Afghanistan’s road infrastructure, and estimated that 54 percent of Afghanistan’s road infrastructure suffered from poor maintenance and required rehabilitation beyond simple repairs.
- SIGAR inspections of 20 road segments found that 19 had road damage ranging from deep surface cracks to roads and bridges destroyed by weather or insurgents. Some 17 segments were either poorly maintained or not maintained at all.
- MOPW officials noted that Afghanistan’s road infrastructure plays an important role in the country’s development and governance, and if the Kabul to Kandahar highway were to become impassable, the central government would collapse.
- MOPW officials stated it will cost $100 million annually to carry out the necessary maintenance on Afghanistan’s road infrastructure. However, between 2011 and 2016, MOPW received only an average of $21.3 million annually from its American patrons.
- According to a former U.S. official, the Afghan government would always sign the required memorandum acknowledging it had the capability to sustain a project, despite not having the capability to do so. American advisors would always accept the memorandum despite knowing the Afghans did not have the capability to do so.
BONUS: Who in America would not want to see $2.8 billion of American taxpayer money spent on roads here in the Homeland?
Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent. Reprinted from the his blog with permission.
If we really want to stop attacks like the one in London this week, we need a counter-terrorism strategy that doesn't rely on Islamophobia
The one-off trades that briefly sent Microsoft Corp.'s stock tumbling 12% in premarket trade Friday, and International Business Machine Corp.'s stock plunging 11%, were "correct" trades and will not be erased, a FINRA spokesperson told MarketWatch. The trades were made via the FINRA/Nasdaq Trade Reporting Facility (TRF). "They were both premarket, and both odd lots, and therefore don't need to be within the National Best Bid and Offer [requirement]," a FINRA spokesperson told MarketWatch. The NBBO is the Securities and Exchange Commission rule that requires brokers to guarantee the best available ask or bid price when the execute trades for customers, according to Nasdaq. In other words, someone is just out of luck, and someone else is feeling very lucky.
Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.
I must confess that liberals and the liberal press are amusing me to no end over their heated and exuberant reaction to the Trump-Russia meddling “scandal.” I find the whole controversy to be absolutely hilarious.
A question that stands out in all this: What’s wrong with an American politician “colluding” with a Russian politician to win an American election?
“Treason!” the liberals and the liberal press cry. But doesn’t treason entail giving aid and comfort to the enemy? How can Russia be considered an enemy when the United States isn’t at war with Russia? And puhleeze don’t hit me with “It’s another Cold War, Jacob!” because the first Cold War wasn’t a real war either (just as the war on terrorism or the war on drugs aren’t real wars either). A real war entails armies, invasions, attacks, bombings, troops, deaths, and destruction (like what the U.S. government did to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam). There is nothing like that going on between Russia and the United States.
Liberals and the liberal press respond, “But everyone knows that Russia is a ‘rival,’ an ‘opponent,’ an ‘adversary.’”
Really? What do those terms mean? That’s just classic empire talk. Whenever an empire encounters a foreign regime that is not sufficiently subservient and compliant, those are the types of terms that are applied to it. The imperial adjectives “assertive” and “independent” oftentimes come into play here too.
If American politicians “colluded” with British officials to win an election, would anyone say anything? Of course not! That’s because ever since England lost her imperial possessions after World War II, she has been America’s poodle, loyally serving the U.S. Empire in the hopes of having some of its imperial glory rub off on England. So, if an American politician and a British politician got together to strategize to help the America politician win an election, no one would bat an eyelash.
But, oh, put Russia into the equation and suddenly everyone goes ballistic. I’ll even bet that Netflix is suffering a massive over-rental problem with The Manchurian Candidate.
Searching desperately for some law against “colluding” or strategizing with Russian politicians to win an American election, one mainstream reporter suggested that the Justice Department should investigate whether Trump is guilty of failing to register as a foreign agent. That law dates back to the Franklin Roosevelt administration, which, ironically, ushered in America’s era of socialism with the advent of the welfare state and regulated economy. In any event, I fail to see how strategizing with a foreign politician on how to defeat the U.S. national-security establishment’s candidate, Hillary Clinton, would convert Trump into an agent for a foreign power.
Speaking of FDR, he himself did plenty of colluding with Joseph Stalin, the communist dictator of the Soviet Union who murdered even more people than Hitler did and who FDR called “Uncle Joe.” In fact, it was a result of FDR’s collusion with Stalin that Eastern Europe was delivered into the clutches of the Soviet Union (which later formed the basis for the Cold War). That’s in fact why Eastern Europeans never celebrate “victory” in World War II, as Americans do. Unlike Americans, the Eastern Europeans believed that being liberated from Hitler only to be delivered to Stalin was no victory for them.
How come no one talked about prosecuting FDR for colluding with the Soviet communists?
In fact, speaking further about FDR and commies, wasn’t there a time when liberals and the liberal press were openly singing the praises of the Soviet Union and the communist “experiment” in Russia?
In fact, I find it extremely funny that liberals and the liberal press are now playing the role that conservatives and the Birchers played during the Cold War, when the latter were exclaiming against the commies and even suggesting that President Eisenhower was an (unregistered) agent of the Reds.
Let’s not forget what cost Salvador Allende his job as the democratically elected president of Chile. He reached to the Soviet Union in friendship, clearly ignoring the fact that the Soviet regime was a “rival,” an “opponent,” or a “adversary” of the U.S. Empire. It took 3 years for the CIA to oust him from power, but oust him it did in 1973.
He wasn’t the only one. Jacobo Arbenz, the democratically elected president of Guatemala, also reached out to the Soviet Union in a spirt of friendship. The CIA ousted him from office in 1954.
Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, suffered the same fate for appearing a bit too communistic or socialistic. The CIA ousted him in 1953.
After the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy announced that the Cold War was bunk and that he had decided to reach out to the Soviet Union, Cuba, and the rest of the communist world in a spirit of friendship and peace. He was assassinated in 1963. (See FFF’s ebook JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne.)
I wonder if Trump realizes the thin ice he is walking on if he keeps talking about friendship with Russia. The U.S. national-security establishment has never looked kindly on that sort of thing, especially since it meddles with its plans for an ever-growing U.S. military-industrial-intelligence establishment.
While we are on the subject of U.S. regime-change operations, both foreign and domestic, a question naturally arises: If Russian “meddling” in U.S. elections is considered to be a bad thing, then why does the U.S. government meddle in elections and other domestic politics in other countries?
In fact, notice something important about the Trump-Russia controversy: Never do the liberals and the liberal press ever bring up U.S. interventionism in other countries when they lament the possibility that Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential election.
Why not? If it’s a bad thing for a government to meddle in foreign elections, then why are the Pentagon, CIA, USAID, State Department, and other elements of the U.S. national-security establishment doing it in other countries and why have they been doing it for decades?
And don’t forget: When we talk about U.S. meddling in the political affairs of other countries, we aren’t talking about just “colluding.” We are also talking about bribery, kidnapping, assassination, sanctions, embargoes, coups, invasions, and occupations and lots of death, destruction, suffering, and corruption. Just ask the people of Cuba, Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Grenada, Chile, Guatemala, Congo, Yemen, Libya, Syria, and, well, lots of other countries around the world that have been at the receiving end of U.S. meddling in other countries.
Indeed, let’s not forget the fairly recent U.S. regime change operation in Ukraine. You know, the one that just coincidentally led to a big crisis with Russia, which then led to increased budgets for the Pentagon.
Maybe — just maybe — the Trump-Russia controversy will cause more Americans to do some serious soul-searching over the meddling in which the U.S. government has engaged in Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and yes, even Russia. Maybe — just maybe — the Trump-Russia controversy will cause Americans to question why their government is now based on the principles of empire, a national-security state, and foreign interventionism.
In the meantime, let’s just enjoy the entire amusing and hypocritical spectacle.
IRmep and WRMEA’s annual #IsraelLobbyCon
The post Live Stream of the Israel Lobby and American Policy Conference appeared first on The Libertarian Institute.Live Stream of the Israel Lobby and American Policy Conference was first posted on March 24, 2017 at 8:47 am.
Netanyahu is beginning to worry that life under Trump may be much more difficult than under Obama. An election could be his way out
It is said that the Senate plays chess while the House of Representatives plays smash mouth hockey. The revelation by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes that, yes, members of Team Trump were in fact surveilled and the contents of their conversations and their names were recorded and disseminated set off ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff from the People’s Republic of California. As Fox News Politics reported:
North Korea is the world’s most secretive country — and the strangest. Starvation is rampant; torture and execution commonplace, inflicted by a single family that perpetuates a cult of personality. Its leader, Kim Jong Un, displays the lethal paranoia of dictators: he has murdered numerous top officials and family members, most recently his half-brother, dispatched at a Malaysian airport as a public warning. And his nuclear arsenal could decimate Japan, South Korea, and, within years, Seattle.
Want to rein in the bureaucratic bees at the United Nations? Forget honey; grab the vinegar. America is boycotting a weeklong session at the UN Human Rights Council that started Monday, and is presÃ¢?Â¦
It's like the campaign never ended. It's the same all-Trump, all-the-time madness, only exponentially worse. Morning, February 24th, National Harbor, Maryland, the Conservative Political Action Conference. Chin up, eyes asquint, Donald Trump floats to the lectern on a sea of applause and adulation. The building is shaking, and as fans howl his name – Trump! Trump! Trump! – he looks pleased and satisfied, like a Roman emperor who has just moved his bowels.