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Showing posts from 2014

De Blasio attacks police while setting up meeting with union

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Daily Mail:
Bill de Blasio aides plotted to publicly slam NYPD officers for turning their backs to the mayor at funeral - by asking political allies to criticize cops
The request to blast the unions came at the same time de Blasio was trying to set up a meeting with the five NYPD union heads to broker a truce. That is going o make it even harder to repair the lack of trust the police have in the Mayor.  He appears to see their protest more as a political problem than a statement of a lack of trust.

Palestinians face a greater risk in International Criminal Court

NY Times:
Palestine Joins Hague Criminal Court, Risking U.S. Sanctions
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority signed papers to join the International Criminal Court and 16 other organizations, a move that could bring harsh sanctions from the U.S. and Israel. Hamas can now be tried for its obvious war crimes.  That should be no small thing.

How the Russians are dealing with tough times?

Money/CNN:
Russia slashing vodka prices as economy reels I don't think this will make tough times go away, but they might not notice for a few hours a day.

Rick Perry as an underrated politician?

Jim Geraghty:
...
Most underrated politician of 2014: I think Rick Perry is considered an also-ran in most people’s minds discussing 2016, and I think he may end up being a much bigger player in the discussion than everyone thinks.

Hiring Steve Schmidt is a little ominous, but Perry clearly has a solid record, he’s going to learn from his mistakes from last time, the issue of economic anxiety hasn’t gone away, and so he’s a figure who can appeal to the conservative base who has some substance to him. I’m not saying he’s going to win the nomination, but it’s easy to picture him lasting a lot longer than last cycle.
... Rick Perry is good enough to win a lot of elections in Texas, but the liberals outside the state tend to see most conservatives as not smart enough to be President or in the case of Ted Cruz someone who is too scary to be President.

One of Perry's strengths  is that he finds solutions for problems that are easily understood.  He is not into the comprehensive Death Star …

How the media botched the House intel committee report on Benghazi

Sharyl Attkisson:
It neither “exonerates” nor “debunks.”

It specifically states that it is not the final word on Benghazi.

Yet national press outlets claimed all of the above about the House Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi released on Nov. 21.

The Washington Post stated that “the panel’s findings were broadly consistent with the Obama administration’s version of events,” though many of the administration’s versions of events have been discredited or proven incorrect.

USA Today portrayed the report as a sweeping effort that “cleared the Obama administration of any wrongdoing” and the Associated Press claimed the report concluded “there was no wrongdoing by Obama administration officials,” though it didn’t examine most aspects of the administration’s actions regarding Benghazi. For example, the committee did not attempt to dissect White House actions or decision-making. And it did not generally “assess State Department or Defense Department activities” (page 4).

What the House Int…

The search for a conspiracy on oil prices

Global Research:
Did the U.S. and the Saudis Conspire to Push Down Oil Prices? This is a long piece that tries to discredit the laws of supply and demand as the main factor behind the drop in the price of oil.

To believe that the US is conspiring to hurt the Russian economy through manipulating the price of oil you have to give Obama more credit for strategic thinking than he deserves.  The fact is that he had almost nothing to do with the increased US production and to the extent that he controls drilling he is using that control to restrict it on federally controlled sites.  He is the guy who for most of his administration was saying that the US could not drill its way to lower oil prices.

The other factor is that because of the uncontrolled growth in the US supply of oil, the cartel has lost the ability to manipulate prices it had in the past.  It would only be enriching the US drillers it it restricted its own production while the companies in the US continued to increase productio…

The disgusting liberal double standard

Jonah Goldberg:
Many conservatives finished the year angry about the same thing they were angry about at the year’s start: liberal double standards.

As I write this, GOP House Whip Steve Scalise is in hot water over reports that he spoke to a group of racist poltroons in Louisiana 12 years ago. Whether it was an honest mistake, as Scalise plausibly claims, or a sign of something more nefarious, as his detractors hope, remains to be seen.

But one common response on social media is instructive. Countless conservatives want to know: Why the double standard?

Barack Obama was friends with a domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers. His spiritual mentor was a vitriolic racist, Jeremiah Wright.

One of his administration’s closest advisers and allies is Al Sharpton, a man who has inspired enough racial violence to make a grand dragon’s white sheets turn green with envy.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party venerated the late Sen. Robert Byrd, a former Klansmen himself. He was one of 19 senators (all Democrats) t…

Why New Yorkers are abandoning the state

Betsy McCaughey:
The US Census Bureau announced last week that New York slipped to fourth place in population among the 50 states.

Though babies are still born here every day, and immigrants still flock in, overall population growth lags because New Yorkers are abandoning the state.

Don’t blame the weather. Blustery Montana and North Dakota aren’t having this problem. New Yorkers are escaping high taxes and dismal job growth.

Other high-tax states like Illinois and New Jersey, which has the country’s second-highest tax burden, are also hemorrhaging residents. Families are uprooting and moving to places with lower taxes, more growth and fossil-fuel-friendly policies.

In the November elections, voters in Illinois expelled their high-tax incumbent Democratic governor, Pat Quinn, while voters in Massachusetts and Maryland rebuked tax-and-spend Democrats by putting the governor’s seat in GOP hands.

Not so in New York, where incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo easily won a second term against his Re…

The illiterate barbarians return to Afghan capital

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Washington Post:
Kabul was eerie and dangerous under the Taliban. It feels that way again.
DISPATCH | A Post reporter says the mood in the Afghan capital feels more desolate than in years. This is more evidence that Obama's retreat from Afghanistan is not in victory.  He is abandoning Afghanistan and leaving a fledgling government to fight a brutal enemy alone.

Putin plan to control Europe energy with southern pipeline goes awry

NY Times:
How Putin Forged a Pipeline Deal That Derailed
Russia’s energy minister and its energy giant, Gazprom, helped shape a Bulgarian bill for a pipeline that President Vladimir V. Putin sought to keep Europe dependent on Russian gas. This is a strategic defeat of sorts for Putin, but the West can do much more to thwart his attempts to control Europe's flow of energy.  The Obama administration should approve all of the more than 20 LNG export projects in the US.  Europe should also look to Israel to take advantage of its newly discovered gas fields.

Real life examples of grace under pressure by US troops

Noemie Emery:
What is courage? In Valor, his book of the tales of grace under pressure that have been ignored, suppressed and largely omitted from the recognized history of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by a press that prefers to focus on traitors and victims, Washington lawyer Mark Lee Greenblatt hits on a number of things: an innate or learned ability to be calm under fire; the impact of training, which builds in some responses until some reactions become automatic; and a sense of attachment to cause and to comrades that crowds out all concerns for the self.

"If you reflect on the anecdotes of anyone who has faced death and lived to tell you about it, there is almost a universal response," a psychiatrist told Greenblatt. "They did what they had to do. They never felt it was heroic, and never even felt it was a choice." When Marine Corps infantryman James Hassell volunteered to carry a wounded man in full battle gear — a 260-pound burden — to a medevac 100 yards…

A problem with education in the US

Reason:
Here Are 10 Outrageous 'Zero Tolerance' Follies of 2014 They are examples of the harm done when educators leave their common sense at the schoolhouse door.

Rigs used in shale play are most active in slowdown

Fuel Fix:
Producers have begun dropping drilling rigs, and it’s vertical rigs they’re laying down first.

Of the total 85 rigs laid down since Nov. 7, oil service company’s Baker Hughes’ figures indicate that 51 — about 60 percent — were vertical rigs.

On Nov. 7, Baker Hughes reported a directional rig count of 203, a horizontal rig count of 1,362 and a vertical rig count of 360. Since then, Baker Hughes data shows the rig count falling across the board, but with the sharpest falloff in vertical rigs.

The count on Dec. 26, the most recent reporting period, puts directional rigs at 181, horizontal rigs at 1,350 and vertical rigs at 309. The numbers have declined by 22 directional rigs, 12 horizontal rigs and 51 vertical rigs. Directional rigs are capable of drilling at an angle and horizontal rigs are rigs that are capable of drilling at near 90 degree angles.

R.T. Dukes, of energy consulting group Wood Mackenzie, said that the fall off in vertical rigs was to be expected to come first for …

Distribution plan for 'The Interview' in North Korea

AP/Houston Chronicle:
A South Korean activist said Wednesday that he will launch balloons carrying DVDs of Sony's "The Interview" toward North Korea to try to break down a personality cult built around dictatorKim Jong Un.

The comedy depicting an assassination attempt on Kim is at the center of tension between North Korea and the U.S., with Washington blaming Pyongyang for crippling hacking attacks on Sony Entertainment. Pyongyang denies that and has vowed to retaliate.

Activist Park Sang-hak said he will start dropping 100,000 DVDs and USBs with the movie by balloon in North Korea as early as late January. Park, a North Korean defector, said he's partnering with the U.S.-based non-profit Human Rights Foundation, which is financing the making of the DVDs and USB memory sticks of the movie with Korean subtitles.

Park said foundation officials plan to visit South Korea around Jan. 20 to hand over the DVDs and USBs, and that he and the officials will then try to float the …

The streetcar boondoggle

Politico:
A streetcar not desired?

Efforts to resurrect a classic type of transit have derailed. The Obama administration is pushing them, but they are suffering from cost overruns and low ridership.  This attempt to return to 19th century transportation is as misguided as their other rail projects.

It is their 'reward' for voting for Obama

The Hill:
More millennials missing out on recovery, living with parents They were victims of the Obama economy.  They are burdened with education loans poor jobs and having to pay for healthcare they can't afford.  By 2014 they finally started figuring out how badliy they were screwed by Democrats.

Marine Corps must explain its treatment of officer who blew whistle on Afghan tied to killing of Marines

Washington Times:
A federal judge has ordered the Marine Corps to answer to allegations that it has quietly tried to discredit a Reserve civil affairs officer in order to cover up his warnings about an Afghan police chief later tied to the fatal shootings of three troops on a base in southern Afghanistan.

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph F. Bianco ordered the Marines Corps on Dec. 22 to respond to claims that military officials tried to “negatively manipulate” the service record of Marine CorpsReserve Maj. Jason Brezler, who tried to alert authorities to the “immediate danger” that Afghan Police Chief Sawar Jan posed to the base by sending to them a classified document via email.

About two weeks after Mr. Brezler issued the warning, in August 2012, a young civilian in a close relationship with Mr. Jan fatally shot three Marines who were working out in the base gymnasium.

Mr. Brezler alleges in a December lawsuit he filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York tha…

Will migration change Texas

Daily Beast:
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One state that has always tried to dissolve this conflict is Texas, as illustrated by Richard Parker’s beautiful new book Lone Star Nation: How Texas Will Transform America. Texas has always had a sense of place—that is why we are told not to mess with it. Texas has also started to become an engine of economic growth. The limitations of Texas’s attempt to combine being somewhere and being successful are apparent in Parker’s gripping story, and suggest that there is still space for new places to attempt new ways to combine place and possibility.
...
Texas offers not just place to its actual or potential new residents, but professional possibilities. It has added more than two and a half many times as many jobs since 2008 as has New York City. The energy economy has always been a fixture of Texas life, and that has not changed. A majority of the world’s major oil services companies are based on Houston. It is not just energy fueling the Texas explosion. Houston has the lar…

Be wary of solar lease deals for home owners

Daily Signal:
A different sort of green energy issue has sparked bipartisan action on Capitol Hill as lawmakers move to address allegations of deceptive practices in sales of rooftop solar panels.

Earlier this month, 12 Republican members of the House of Representatives wrote to the Federal Trade Commission, warning that leasing solar panels from a third party may be a harmful investment for homeowners.

Four House Democrats sent a letter in November to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, expressing similar concerns. In making sales pitches, they wrote, leasing companies “may be overstating the economic benefits of signing a long-term solar lease while failing to disclose important information.”

“To a lot of folks, these leases sound really good,” said Jeff Small, legislative director for Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., who spearheaded the letter to the FTC. “But when you dive into the details, it proves too good to be true.”
...

The House Democrats who wrote to the Consumer Financial…

Iraq kills 300 ISIL fighters in battle for town north of Baghdad

BBC:
Iraqi forces 'recapture Dhuluiya from Islamic State' This is a significant defeat for ISIL and suggest that its fighters are not as good in defending as they are in attacking.  This tiem it was the Iraqi army and Shia militia who carried the day.

Change comes to China

Breitbart:
CHRISTIANS NOW OUTNUMBER COMMUNISTS IN CHINA The numbers are startling.  There are 85 million members of the Communist Party as opposed to 100 million Christians in China.  That has to be a scary thought for the Chicoms.

Obamacare to hit small business hard in 2015

IBD:
With businesses' one-year reprieve from financial penalties under ObamaCare ending, the horror stories of complying with the costly health care law already are trickling in. The worst is yet to come.

ObamaCare Hits Small Business Hard in '15

Starting Jan. 1, employers with 100 or more full-time workers face hefty increases in their health insurance costs as they comply for the first time with the mandate.

They must now offer the government's comprehensive coverage — including "free" preventive care — for all employees working 30 or more hours a week, or risk being fined $2,000 per employee per year.

But many of these small businesses are retailers that don't have the kind of margins where they can cover workers and still stay in business.

Many grocers and restaurants have opted to pay the fine rather than swallow the larger cost of buying coverage for all workers. Others are cutting back worker hours to duck the law altogether.

Universal health care is h…

De Blasio police policies lead to crime wave in New York

NY Post:
It’s not a slowdown — it’s a virtual work stoppage.

NYPD traffic tickets and summonses for minor offenses have dropped off by a staggering 94 percent following the execution of two cops — as officers feel betrayed by the mayor and fear for their safety, The Post has learned.

The dramatic drop comes as Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor de Blasio plan to hold an emergency summit on Tuesday with the heads of the five police unions to try to close the widening rift between cops and the administration.

The unprecedented meeting is being held at the new Police Academy in Queens at 2 p.m., sources said.

Angry union leaders have ordered drastic measures for their members since the Dec. 20 assassination of two NYPD cops in a patrol car, including that two units respond to every call.

It has helped contribute to a nose dive in low-level policing, with overall arrests down 66 percent for the week starting Dec. 22 compared with the same time period in 2013, stats show.

Citations for t…

The war on police

Washington Times:
Law enforcement fatalities in the United States rose 24 percent in 2014 to 126 and ambush-style attacks were the No. 1 cause of felonious officer deaths for the fifth straight year, according to preliminary data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

The NLEOMF report said 126 federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty this year, compared to 102 in 2013. The number of officers killed by firearms in 2014 — 50 — is up 56 percent from the 32 killed last year.

Fifteen officers nationwide were killed in ambush assaults in 2014, and the recent shooting deaths of New York City Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos have attracted national attention and contributed to tension between police and the city’s elected leaders.

The total of 15 ambush assaults matched 2012 for the highest total since 1995.

“With the increasing number of ambush-style attacks against our officers, I am deeply concerned that a growi…

Texas man with concealed carry saves woman being attacked

Washington Post:
Before Aaron Kreag pulled out his .45-caliber handgun, he was on his way to the movies with his wife.

The couple was driving down Southlake Boulevard in Southlake, Tex., on Friday when they stumbled upon a woman being physically assaulted in the passenger seat of a red car.

Kreag told CBS DFW he saw “this large gentleman just pounding on this lady … My first gut reaction was, ‘Oh my god, this guy’s going to kill this lady.’ ”

According to local news reports, Kreag stopped, pulled his weapon and pointed it at the assailant.
... He kept him covered until police arrived.  The video was apparently taken by witnesses witrh a smart phone.

Job cuts starting to hit oil related businesses

Fuel Fix:
Oil-field lodgings company Civeo Corp. said it has slashed its workforce in the United States by 45 percent and in Canada by 30 percent as it prepares for weaker occupancy rates at its oil-field camps next year.

The Houston-based company had more than 4,000 employees when it spun off from oil field services firm Oil States International in June.

The announcement is the latest oil-field services layoffs in reaction to falling oil prices and anticipated oil-company budget cuts. Houston-based Hercules Offshore said it would reduce its headcount by 324 and oil field giant Halliburton said it would cut 1,000 jobs across multiple regions in the Eastern Hemisphere.

Civeo also is cutting its spending plans for 2015 to $75 million to $85 million, down from its budget this year of $260 million to $280 million, as it anticipates lower demand for lodging services. It said it may be required to record impairment charges on its assets.
... The cuts show the flexibility that private compan…

Eye in the sky on constant watch for threats

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Daily Mail:
US Army's controversial 'all seeing' surveillance blimps lift off above Maryland - and can spot objects as small as a person 340 MILES awayThe US Army has launched the first of two controversial 'all seeing' blimps designed to help the military detect and destroy cruise missiles or rogue aircraft incursions targeting America's East Coast cities. The first radar-toting vehicle is airborne as part of a three-year test of the latest defense system at an Army facility near Baltimore, Maryland. Similar blimps were used around bases in Afghanistan to detect enemy movement to contact.   The blimp maybe a line of defense against potential Iranian attacks from the sea.

Understanding Islamic religious bigots

Daily Mail:
'We do not understand the movement': Top Special Forces general confessed the US is clueless about ISIS as FBI agent warns about terror army's youth recruiting
Maj. Gen. Michael Nagata was shocked to find 'there are I.S. t-shirts and mugs.' an FBI agent explained that ISIS's youth recruiting power mirrors that of animal-rights- and eco-terror groups in the West. These people are religious bigots who think they are on a mission from God.  They appeal to young people who have been taught the same bigotry toward other religions.  I don't find that so difficult to comprehend.  Because of their messianic mind set they have no inhibitions about killing raping or taking slaves.

Obama's false claim about ending the war in Afghanistan

Guardian:
Taliban declare victory in Afghanistan as Nato-led forces end combat mission

Violence increases as insurgents label shift in alliance’s tactics a defeat while international allies now focus on support of Afghan security forces. They feel like they won because the US is pulling out and they are still there.  Their slogan "The US has the watch and we have the time" is proving prophetic.

Strikes follows capture of al Shabab intelligence chief

BBC:
US air strike in Somalia targets al-Shabab leader The strike took place near the Somali border with Kenya.  Just a few months ago a US  strike killed the leader of the Islamist group.

The decline of the Democrats

Robert Tracinski:
2014: The Year the Democratic Party Death Watch Resumed He makes the case that conservative Republicans were responsible for the wave that tossed Democrats from several seats.

Invalid arguments against voter ID in North Carolina case

Wall Street Journal:
The Voter Suppression Myth Takes Another Hit

Memo to critics of North Carolina’s election-law reforms: Black midterm turnout has increased. This has been the case in almost every state where the laws have been put into effect.  I suspect the real reason the Democrats oppose the law is that it makes it harder for them to cheat.

Why the Norks are so upset?

John Fund:
North Koreans Demand to See The Interview Some are willing to pay up to $50 for a pirated copy of the movie.  I think someone should send several balloons with copies of the CD across the border.  If a few thousand balloons bearing copies of the movie were scattered across the country, it would through the security apparatus into a panic.

Hillary not popular with working class white voters

Wall Street Journal:
Hillary Clinton Faces Uphill Fight for White, Rural Vote
Hillary Clinton's allies say she can bring white, working-class voters back to the Democrats if she runs in 2016, but many voters in Arkansas ... are not persuaded.  Arkansas has abandoned the Democrats in droves.  The Democrats have lost the state and some former Democrats complain that Clinton is too close to Obama in policies.  She is left with only a liberal base of voters to go along with black support.

Media bias--Palin vs. Sharpton

Jonah Goldberg explains the difference between media reaction to Tuscon shooter and the New York cop killings.

Behind the hostility to 'Common Core'

Hugh Hewitt:
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Widespread (and very passionate) opposition to the new standards and tests will roil not only schools but most definitely politics, especially Republican politics. Republicans have long preached reform of public education and stressed charter schools, better teachers, more accountability — and higher standards. But the process that birthed Common Core is now widely believed to have careened off course and into the waiting arms of President Obama's educrats, most notably Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who has deployed what many believe is an unconstitutional process — a waiver of federal law in the form of No Child Left Behind accountability requirements — in exchange for state and school district commitments to the adoption of Common Core.

Suddenly education "reform" — for as long as the country has existed, a matter primarily of local control — has been federalized. Add in concerns over data collection and profiteering among the cadre of new curriculum …

Obama's retreat does not end Afghan war

NY Times:
Where Afghan War Was Transferred Long Ago
The official conclusion of the international combat mission in Afghanistan arrived Sunday, but for the Afghans fighting in this remote border district, the symbolic end to America’s 13-year war brought little change. Obama's lack of strategic patients to see the war to a real conclusion will make things much worse for the Afghans who will have to continue this struggle with the radical Islamist of the Taliban.  He has not been willing to push the enemy into a position where their cause is hopeless.  Instead his retreat gives the enemy hope and so the fight will go on.

The psychology of radical Islam evades US strategist

NY Times:
In Battle to Defang ISIS, U.S. Targets Its Psychology
Officials acknowledge they have barely made a dent in the larger campaign to kill the ideology that animates the terrorist movement. There is a reluctance to really go after the ideology  behind radical Islam.  Instead, this administration seems to be in denial about the association with Islam, but there is little about its most extreme elements that is not tied to the wording and history of Islam.  Actually the Saudi clerics have been much more honest in their appraisal of the tenants of the Islamic State.

Most of those caught at the border have absconded

This Click2Houston report says only 22 percent have actually been adjudicated and thousands have not shown up.

Libyan rebels do what OPEC can't reducing supply of oil

Bloomberg/Fuel Fix:
Oil strengthens as Libya conflict offers relief from glut The fighting around the oil terminals in Libya has cut into that country's export capacity.  I suspect they see some strategic benefit in reducing revenue to the government.  While the reduced worldwide supply has slowed the drop in prices, I suspect it will not be enough to change the current dynamic.

Canadian oil finding a way to Gulf refineries replacing oil from Venezuela

Bloomberg/Fuel Fix:
A price war is brewing between Canada and Latin America over who will satisfy U.S. Gulf Coast refiners’ hunger for heavy oil.

The new Seaway Twin pipeline will almost double the amount of heavy Canadian crude coming to Gulf terminals and plants to about 400,000 barrels a day starting in January, according to Calgary-based based ARC Financial Corp. The shipments are growing even without the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been delayed for six years because of environmental opposition.

The Canadian supply will square off against crudes from Mexico and Venezuela that have traditionally fed refineries along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. State-owned Petroleos Mexicanos widened its discount for U.S. buyers in December by the most since August 2013. Valero Energy Corp. and Marathon Petroleum Corp., which invested in special equipment to refine heavy crude, stand to gain the most from the Canadian supply.

“Something’s going to have to give,” said Ed Morse, Citibank’s head o…

Jeb Bush leads in early polling

CNN:
Jeb Bush is the clear Republican presidential frontrunner, surging to the front of the potential GOP pack following his announcement that he's "actively exploring" a bid, a new CNN/ORC poll found.

He takes nearly one-quarter — 23% — of Republicans surveyed in the new nationwide poll, putting him 10 points ahead of his closest competitor, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who tallied 13%.

RELATED: Read the entire CNN/ORC poll here

Physician Ben Carson comes in third, with 7% support, and Sen. Rand Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are both tied for fourth with 6%.

That marks a drop in support for all but Christie and Bush from thelast CNN/ORC survey of the field, conducted in November. That poll showed Bush in the lead, but only taking 14% of the vote, while Carson came in second with 11% and Christie tied Rep. Paul Ryan for fourth with 9% support.

Bush's 10-point lead is a milestone for the potential GOP field — it marks the first time any prospective can…

They are better off investing in Texas

NY Times:
In Reversal, Germany Cools to Russian Investment
After years of post-Cold War business and political alliances, mistrust over the conflict in Ukraine has created a slew of canceled deals and ventures. The Germans are already looking to build manufacturing facilities in Texas to take advantage of low priced natural gas that will not be cut off for political reasons.   Russia is a poor investment at this time because their economy is in the tank and their political situation has become toxic for Europe.

Texas company plans privately funded high speed rail between Dallas and Houston

Reuters:
With high-speed rail in the United States long on plans and short on construction, a Texas company is aiming to fast-track service between Dallas and Houston.

The Texas Central Railway Company plans to use private investment and Central Japan Railway bullet train technology to run a line between two of the largest U.S. cities. Company officials say service could begin in 2021.

"If we can’t do it in Texas, I don't know where in the United States you could do it," said Richard Lawless, chairman and chief executive officer of Texas Central Railway, a private company set up about four years ago to build high-speed rail.

Lawless said the project, which has been estimated to cost $10 billion, will be financed through a combination of debt and equity.

Backers of the service contend that if they can get their line built, it will show the benefits of high-speed service and could help jump-start other projects that have languished.

Dallas and Houston are separated by about 240…

Russians cut arms deal with Argentina that threatens Falklands

Express:
The aircraft, which Moscow will swap for beef and wheat, would be able to mount air patrols over Port Stanley.

Ministry of Defence officials fear Buenos Aires would take delivery of the planes well before the deployment in 2020 of the Navy’s 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and its F-35B fighters, leaving a “real window of vulnerability”.

Defence cuts have left the Falklands with just four RAF Typhoon fighters, Rapier surface-to-air missiles and fewer than 1,200 troops, supported by a naval warship that visits throughout the year.

President Putin’s visit to Argentina in July laid the groundwork for exchanging Russian military hardware for wheat, beef and other goods Moscow needs due to EU food embargoes.

The deal involves a lease/lend of 12 Sukhoi Su-24 supersonic, all-weather attack aircraft.

They are ageing but Nato still regards what it codenames “Fencers” as “super-fighters”, with their 2,000-mile range and laser-guided missiles.
... This is a deal b…

Holder, Obama have made race relations worse

John Fund and Hans Von Spakovsky:
Attorney General Eric Holderinsisted to MSNBC earlier this month that “we are in a better place than we were before” in race relations since Barack Obama was elected president.

The president doubled down in an interview with NPRlast week. Asked if race relations were worse since he took office, he said, “No, I actually think that it’s probably in its day-to-day interactions less racially divided.”

But that’s not what the American people see. A Pew Research Center poll found that only 40% of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling race relations. Black approval is down to 57%, while approval among whites is down to 33%.

More young people under age 30, the age group who were most enthusiastic about electing the nation’s first African-American president, now disapprove of his performance on racial issues than approve. And Eric Holder has one of the lowest approval ratings of any public official.

Law-enforcement officials are appalled at the way the Ob…

Democrat group bristles at complying with voter registration law

Breitbart:
BATTLEGROUND TEXAS WHINES ABOUT COMPLYING WITH TEXAS ELECTION LAWS The laws were on the books before the group set up shop in Texas.  I think they were in response to abuses by groups like ACORN.

Faces?--It is more like the backs of the Police

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NY Times:
De Blasio Gives Officer’s Eulogy Before Unfriendly Faces
As Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the funeral of Rafael Ramos, scores of mourning police officers turned their backs to him, a sign of the discontent he faces. De Blasio has lost the respect of a police department that profoundly disagrees with his stand on policing and deeply resents his failure to support them while they have been viciously attacked by race hustlers like Al Sharpton.  He is giving an all new meaning to "I got your back."

The point of the policy is to provide no incentive for taking hostages

NY Times:
U.S. Policy of No Ransom Closes Off Other Options
The United States has steadfastly refused to pay terrorists in order to free hostages, but family members and former officials suggest the policy results in systemic gaps in the government’s efforts to free captives. Paying for hostages puts more Americans at risk.  It is one of the reasons that many thought the swap for Bergdahl  was a mistake.  It was certainly an awful deal where we swapped five terrorist for an alleged deserter.  There are unconfirmed reports that the US also gave the Taliban substantial funds in trying to get the deal.  The recent Cuban deal was also another bad bargain where the US swapped spies and killers for an innocent man being held in Cuba.  I understand the concerns of family members, but the bigger picture makes such transactions a greater risk for vulnerable Americans.

Navy chopper drone successfully takes off and lands on ship

Live Science:
Navy Helicopter Drone Completes First Round of Testing It is mainly used for recon missions.  I suspect it has longer flight times than manned aircraft.

A cold shoulder for New York's mayor at police funeral

Fox News:
COLD SHOULDER: Hundreds of NYPD cops turn back on de Blasio at funeral HUNDREDS OF POLICE OFFICERS outside the Queens, NY church where the funeral of Rafael Ramos was being held turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio as he eulogized the fallen officer who was ambushed last week along with his partner. The photo accompanying the story  shows the mayor speaking on a large screen to the backs of the police officers in attendance.  He has certainly loss their respect.

Blacks, Democrats less supportive of police

Washington Post:
On racial issues, America is divided both black and white and red and blue The danger in this finding is that Democrats will push for less protection of law abiding citizens in the black community so as not to offend some of the very people they are trying to protect.   Since there has been a larger police presence in teh black community crime has been reduced, but the Micheal Brown case suggest that many blacks are willing to think ill of the police.

More evidence that Medicaid expansion was a mistake

NY Times:
Doctor Shortage Feared as Medicaid Fee Raises Expire
Just as millions are gaining insurance through Medicaid, the program is poised to cut payments to doctors, prompting concerns that it will be difficult for patients to obtain care. The situation is likely to be worse in states that expanded their Medicaid program adding more people to the rolls without adding doctors.  It is already leading to rationing of care and longer waits in many places.  With the lower fees, we can expect fewer doctors willing to take the cases leading to more rationing.

Perry talks about Jeb Bush and his own possible race

He has nice things to say about Jeb, but also touts his own record of job creation.

Company that got $146 million from Obamacare falters, taken over by state

Des Moines Register:
CoOportunity Health, a fledgling Iowa health insurance company set up under the Affordable Care Act, has been taken over by state regulators and could soon go under, officials said Wednesday.

CoOportunity Health is an insurance cooperative, which was set up to give consumers and small businesses an alternative in a market with few choices. The company has received about $146 million in federal money under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart said that CoOportunity Health has about 120,000 members in Iowa and Nebraska, and saw its available money drop from $47 million to $17 million from Oct. 31 to Dec. 12.

The company hasn't reached insolvency, he said, but it doesn't have enough money on hand. In layperson's terms, he said, it's as if a small business suddenly had its credit cut off by a bank, which in this case is the federal government.

"They ran into a liquidity crisis, and their lender shut…

Diplomacy Nork style

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AP/Washington Post:
North Korea rebukes Obama for release of ‘The Interview’
North Korea compared him to a monkey and blamed the U.S. for shutting down its Internet. The North Koreans have always had a tendency to confuse insults with logic.  It is a character flaw that partially explains their inability to deal with problems rationally.  But after making bombastic threats they are at this point left with whining and name calling.

The wisdom of the rainy day fund in Texas

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NY Times:
Some States See Budgets at Risk as Oil Price Falls Michael Stravato for The New York Times Gas prices have fallen below $2 a gallon in Houston. The Texas economy is more diversified than in the past, but a gloomy forecast includes a warning about a drop in the state’s home values. A study projected that job losses tied to the decline in energy costs would be largest in Wyoming, Oklahoma and North Dakota. Texas has a diversified economy and has also experienced the ups and downs of the oil market for decades.  While Democrats wanted to spend the surplus accumulating in Texas, Gov. Perry and the Republicans in the legislature refused to do so.  They will probably loosen the purse strings a little in 2015 to improve roads that have seen heavy use because of the oil boom.  The local governments near the boom have been much more conservative during this one too.

The education lobby in Texas is pushing for more spending by using the courts, but I think the lower court ruling will n…

Obama's betrayal of the dissidents in Cuba

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NY Times:
Sudden Thaw With U.S. Worries Cuban Dissidents
As the United States and Cuba enter a period of unprecedented dialogue, many dissidents who have stood shoulder to shoulder with American officials in condemning the Castros contend that President Obama conceded too much. The one sided deal with the Castros  did nothing for these people.  They will continue to suffer under the same control freak repressive regime with its idiotic clinging to a failed command economy.  And in this country you have liberals worried about modernity returning to the island as if what they have now is good. It is a misplaced worry because I think little will change as long as the Castro regime remains in place.  Cuba's government is made up of deadbeats who are not credit worthy and because of their failed economic system lack the means to buy imports.
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Perry looks like a man running on his record of achievement

Fox News:
PERRY 2016?
Gov. touts 'Texas model,' eyes White House run
If perry is given a chance to do for the rest of the country what he has done for Texas the US should be back on the road to prosperity and strength.

Holidays responsible for slow down in drilling

Platts:
A recent decline in US land drilling permits is most likely the result of holiday-related lulls, rather than sharply lower oil prices, analysts said this week.

As NYMEX oil prices have fallen to the mid-$50s/barrel level and held there for the past week or so, the number of issued land drilling permits appears to be largely in line with historical averages.

A look at permitting activity stretching back to mid-June, when oil began its descent from about $107/b, shows that while permitting is down from six months ago, the drop has not been severe.

And even the sizable late-November decline in permitting was in line with the typical seasonal pattern given that permitting activity usually falls during the US Thanksgiving Day holiday, analysts said.

A few weeks ago "some people were saying [the low number of permits] was a sign of the rig downturn, but in fact what they did was seize on the traditional seasonal downturn and try to extrapolate from there an early warning sign of…

Man responsible for school massacre in Pakistan killed

NBC News:

Taliban Commander Who Helped Plan Pakistan School Attack Killed

Pakistani security forces killed a commander who helped to plan last week's school attack in Peshawar that left 132 children dead, a government spokesman said Friday. The commander of the Pakistani Taliban's Tariq Gedar group was identified only as "Saddam." He was killed in a gunfight Wednesday in Jamrud, about five miles from where the horrific siege took place, Shahab Ali, a spokesman for Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told reporters.
... Good riddance.  Pakistan appears to be serious in dealing with those responsible for he mass murder of students.

Midterm losses for Democrats make trade deals more likely

Washington Post:
Obama to seek GOP help in push for trade pact
The president is already facing fierce blowback from fellow Democrats, who are accusing him of abandoning past promises on trade and potentially undermining his domestic priority. Democrat opposition to trade deals has always been irrational.  The deals actually benefit US manufacturing jobs which labor for some reason thinks will go elsewhere.  But with the decline in energy prices, the US manufacturing sector is growing again.  Their policy of artificial scarcity of energy helped to drive up prices and made US companies less competitive.  With the shale revolution foreign companies are now building manufacturing facilities in the us many of which are in Texas.

Clever ruse allows 14 year old to escape from ISIL

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NY Times:
ISIS Recruit, 14, Tells of Escape Plot: Volunteer as Bomber
Usaid Barho, one of thousands of children recruited by the militant group the Islamic State, said he had volunteered to wear a vest of explosives to a Shiite mosque so he could surrender to security forces. With the way ISIL is killing those who decide to leave, this looks like a clever out that will also make them think twice about human bomb attack.  It is also pretty good propaganda for discouraging people from joining the Islamic religious bigots.