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In-N-Out Burger

Sexual Exploitation of Minors or Adolescents

Sexual Exploitation of Minors or Adolescents

By Ana Nogales

One in three young people who live on the streets are subjected to sex slavery upon only their first day of being homeless alone.

 
Saul From ‘Breaking Bad’ Is Back

Bob Odenkirk

Saul From ‘Breaking Bad’ Is Back on AMC

Bob Odenkirk returns as the lawyer from AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’ in a new series, ‘Better Call Saul’

By John Jurgensen

When Bob Odenkirk was first hired on “Breaking Bad,” the actor was only supposed to appear in a few episodes of season 2. But his character, a motor-mouthed strip-mall lawyer named Saul Goodman, endured for three more seasons. In one of the show’s final episodes, Saul parts ways with the megalomaniac lead character, Walter White, with the words, “It’s over.”

The show’s creators weren’t done with Saul, however. They enlisted Mr. Odenkirk to star in a spinoff series, “Better Call Saul,” premiering Feb. 8 on AMC . Not only must Mr. Odenkirk shoulder the continuing legacy of “Breaking Bad,” one of the most celebrated dramas in TV history, he also has to carry the new show with a serious amount of screen time.

“Saul has more dialogue in one episode than Walt probably had in any four episodes of ‘Breaking Bad,’” says Peter Gould, who created “Better Call Saul” with executive producer Vince Gilligan.

The story is set in Albuquerque, N.M., years before the protagonists of “Breaking Bad” come on the scene, and before the lawyer has changed his name to Saul Goodman or starred in any cheesy TV ads. The character’s real name is Jimmy McGill. His office (and living quarters) is in the rear of a nail salon. He’s suffocating as a public defender while attempting to resist his own con-man urges. As he deals with a reclusive brother ( Michael McKean ), spars with a high-caliber law firm and entangles himself with scary criminals, Jimmy’s situation grows increasingly desperate and dangerous—just as Mr. Odenkirk requested of the writers.

................................

More surprising than the 52-year-old actor’s graduation from guest star to leading man is his path to dramatic roles--he did virtually none before “Breaking Bad.” But in the world of sketch comedy, Mr. Odenkirk has godfather status.

He grew up in Naperville, Ill., writing Monty Python-inspired skits for classmates and college radio, and then started his career on Chicago’s live circuit, including at Second City, where he created one of his late friend Chris Farley ’s most famous characters, a motivational speaker who lives in a van by the river. He went on to write for “Saturday Night Live” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien, ” and popped up in such comic roles as a repugnant talent agent on “The Larry Sanders Show.” But he earned the enduring goodwill of comedy geeks and fellow comedians with a TV series that he wrote, produced and starred in with David Cross called “Mr. Show with Bob and David.” Starting in 1995, it ran for four seasons on HBO and broke ground with bits that swerved unpredictably through pop culture and the human psyche, such as a sketch about a lie detector that reveals the bizarre secret lives of shoe salesmen.

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McCain to anti-Kissinger rabble: ‘Get out of here you low-life scum’

McCain to anti-Kissinger rabble: ‘Get out of here you low-life scum’

The niceties of Washington went out the window Thursday when protesters disrupted a hearing with Henry Kissinger — and Sen. John McCain went ballistic.

“Get out of here you low-life scum,” proclaimed the Arizona Republican.

The demonstrators were at the Senate Armed Services Committee to go after Kissinger.

“Arrest Henry Kissinger for war crimes!” they screamed, some carrying signs spelling out their hatred of the former secretary of state.

McCain quickly called over Capitol police officers to “instill order.”

“You’re going to have to shut up or I’m going to have you arrested,” McCain told the demonstrators after they disrupted his press conference.

When McCain uttered the “scum” line, people in the room clapped.

Another man in the audience tried to shoo the group out of the room, saying, “We don’t want to hear from you anymore.”

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In Response to Student Misconduct, Dartmouth to Ban Hard Liquor

In Response to Student Misconduct, Dartmouth to Ban Hard Liquor

After a spate of student misbehavior that has tarnished the reputation of Dartmouth College, its president on Thursday announced a ban on hard liquor on campus, and threatened to do away with fraternities or other groups that fail “to elevate and not denigrate the Dartmouth experience.”

In a speech on the Dartmouth campus in Hanover, N.H., to students, staff and alumni, Philip J. Hanlon, the president, said the college would create new spaces for social activity as alternatives to Greek houses, give faculty members more of a role in residential life and provide students more extensive training on preventing sexual assault. But much of his address was devoted to alcohol and the Greek system.

“In the majority of alcohol-induced medical transports, it is hard alcohol — rather than just beer or wine — that lands students on a hospital gurney,” Dr. Hanlon said, and so “hard alcohol will not be served at events open to the public, whether the event is sponsored by the college or by student organizations.”

Officials said the ban will apply to any liquor that is 15 percent alcohol — barely more than most wine — or more, and will take effect when the spring term begins March 30. Dr. Hanlon said the college will also increase penalties for people who provide alcohol to minors and to any student in possession of hard liquor, but did not offer any details.

Dr. Hanlon arrived at Dartmouth in mid-2013, after the campus was shaken by numerous reports of alcohol-fueled misconduct, including sexual assault, fraternity hazing and racial slurs. The year before, a Dartmouth student drew national attention with an article in the student newspaper about his fraternity’s practices, including requiring pledges to “swim in a kiddie pool full of vomit, urine, fecal matter, semen and rotten food products.”

After looking into the problems, Dartmouth administrators cited the prevalence of “pre-gaming,” getting intoxicated before a party, often with shots of high-alcohol liquor. They conceded that cracking down on such drinking in private gatherings will be much harder than policing parties.

Dartmouth will draft codes of conduct, not only for individual students, but also for fraternities and other groups.

“Organizations that choose not to fulfill these higher standards will not be a part of our community,” Dr. Hanlon said. And while he is not inclined to ban fraternities and sororities, he said, “if the Greek system as a whole does not engage in meaningful, lasting reform, we will revisit its continuation on our campus.”

The Greek houses tend to dominate Dartmouth social life; more than half of the students join a fraternity or sorority, and other spaces for social events are severely limited — a condition the college says it will remedy.

In an interview, Dr. Hanlon said, “It will ultimately require construction of additional facilities.”

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Super Bowl Week - 3 days to go

 
Hillary Clinton may delay campaign

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a speech during a conference at the National Auditorium in Mexico city, on September 5, 2014 in the framework of Telmex foundation's

Hillary Clinton may delay campaign

Top Democrats give a new date for the campaign’s likely start.

By Mike Allen

Hillary Clinton, expecting no major challenge for the Democratic nomination, is strongly considering delaying the formal launch of her presidential campaign until July, three months later than originally planned, top Democrats tell POLITICO.

The delay from the original April target would give her more time to develop her message, policy and organization, without the chaos and spotlight of a public campaign.

A Democrat familiar with Clinton’s thinking said: “She doesn’t feel under any pressure, and they see no primary challenge on the horizon. If you have the luxury of time, you take it.”

Advisers said the biggest reason for the delay is simple: She feels no rush.

“She doesn’t want to feel pressured by the press to do something before she’s ready,” one adviser said. “She’s better off as a noncandidate. Why not wait?”

A huge advantage to waiting would be that Clinton postpones the time when she goes before the public as a politician rather than as a former secretary of state. Polling by both Democrats and Republicans shows that one of her biggest vulnerabilities is looking political.

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Q&A With Photographer Steven Meisel

A <i>paparazzi</i>-inspired shoot from <i>Vogue Italia,</i> 2005.

Q&A With Photographer Steven Meisel

The prolific fashion lensman discusses his iconic images of supermodels Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Amber Valetta, timed to the opening of his exhibition ‘Role Play’ at Phillips in New York City

....and like many great auteurs, Meisel has made stars of the women who’ve performed for his lens. The supermodels who in the late ’80s began to dislodge Hollywood celebrities from their pop-cultural dominance were directed by Meisel: Linda, Christy, Naomi and all those who came after, among them the woman who has played perhaps the most perfect Trilby to his Svengali, Amber Valletta. “Working with him is like working with a director,” Valletta says. “He’s so clear about what he wants. Each time he describes a character, you know exactly what he’s looking for. There’s no guessing. And I think that kind of communication is a part of his genius.”

TB: Do you ever feel you missed out on anything, and you’re re-creating an earlier time out of that urge?

SM: No, I don’t think so. You mean, were there better periods? I think that things certainly had more taste. But then we get into the world we’re living in now, and I’m a realist. So, no.

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Mikhail Gorbachev: the West was 'dragging' Russia into confrontation.

Gorbachev: Ukraine could explode into 'hot war' between Russia and the West

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader, said the West was 'dragging' Russia into confrontation.

By Robert Marquand

Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union’s last leader and widely credited for helping end the cold war, today blamed the West and the US in particular for “dragging” Russia into what he says could be a larger, “hot war” over Ukraine.

"Unfortunately I cannot say for sure that a cold war won't lead to a 'hot' one,” Mr. Gorbachev was quoted.  “I fear they could take the risk.”

In comments to Interfax news service, Mr. Gorbachev weighed in on the Ukraine crisis, which has taken more than 5,000 lives since the spring, saying an American thirst for “dominance” is behind the crisis.

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Megyn Kelly to Huckabee: Women Curse, Have Premarital Sex, and Boss Around Men

Megyn Kelly to Huckabee: Women Curse, Have Premarital Sex, and Boss Around Men

By

Megyn Kelly was not particularly happy with her former colleague Mike Huckabee for reportedly calling female Fox News reporters "trashy" for cursing, so she decided to let him know what ladies are really up to in 2015.

“Well, I do have some news for you before I let you go," Kelly told Huckabee on The Kelly File Wednesday night. "We're not only swearing. We’re drinking, we’re smoking, we’re having premarital sex with birth control before we go to work, and sometimes boss around a bunch of men."

"Oh, I just don't want to hear that," Huckabee lamented.

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Browns say Manziel lived up to all the red flags

Johnny Manziel

Inside Manziel's rocky rookie season

Browns sources reveal that celebrity quarterback was a turbulent presence in '14

By Jeremy Fowler and Pat McManamon

he name on the card that night in May seemed to draw as much anxiety as it did excitement.

Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Texas A&M.

The former Heisman Trophy winner had been passed over 21 times, prompting a text from Manziel to then-Browns quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains that he wanted to "wreck this league" in Cleveland. The words were actually more R-rated, but the implication was clear.

Twitter erupted at the selection. A Cleveland radio host cheered and screamed openly on air. Manziel gave his "money" sign as he walked onstage to greet Roger Goodell.

By season's end, cheering had turned to frustration and anger as Manziel struggled mightily in almost six quarters as a starter, then was fined for being AWOL the final Saturday of the season. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan resigned with two years left on his contract. Loggains was fired. The Browns openly discussed Manziel's viability as the franchise's quarterback at a wide-ranging postseason staff meeting about the roster. And at least a couple of Manziel's teammates were joking his text should have read "wreck this team."

Now the Browns point to 2015 with a talented but misguided quarterback who must repair the wreckage done in his own locker room.

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BigTimeFootball.com

 
Kam Chancellor - Beware the Visor

Super Bowl XLVIII - Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos

Beware the Visor

No one hits harder — or leaves a bigger impression — than the Seahawks’ thunderous strong safety, Kam Chancellor. Just ask a few of the men left in his wake.

by Robert Mays

Demaryius Thomas saw him coming. They usually do. No one goes very long without looking for Kam Chancellor. And as Thomas sprinted across the field, there he was — the bad man in the dark visor who lurks in the depths of football’s best defense. Thomas had one thought as Peyton Manning let go and Chancellor let loose: Hold on to the ball.

He did, somehow, even as Chancellor lowered a shoulder and sent him sprawling.

Not that it mattered. It was the Broncos’ first completion, down just 5-0 with nearly 55 minutes left, but for Seattle, Super Bowl XLVIII was already over.

“To me,” says Chris Clemons, “that hit solidified the game for us. They didn’t run routes the same.”

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BigTimeFootball.com

 
What ‘American Sniper’ Tells You About Its Critics

What ‘American Sniper’ Tells You About Its Critics

What ‘American Sniper’ Tells You About Its Critics

A veteran reviews ‘American Sniper.’

By Matthew Braun

I am not at all surprised that Michael Moore and Seth Rogen don’t like American Sniper. For them, the idea of military sacrifice is absurd. We get an idea of how badly they understand the motivation of the modern American fighting man and woman when they can’t tell the difference between someone like me, with 15 years of experience in law enforcement, military intelligence, and counterterrorism, and a Nazi. No. Seriously.

..............................

The Left continues to think of the American military and foreign illegal fighters as basically being two sides of the same coin. Worse, they can’t seem to tell the difference between American service members and al Qaeda. Unlike the war films of generations past, “American Sniper” actually has to explain onscreen that al Qaeda insurgents were (and still are) bad. In explaining, and in depicting, Kyle’s firm and unflinching lack of remorse or understanding for the plight of the torturing, ambushing, child-murdering insurgent, we see a fun word on Twitter: Jingoistic.

The American Left has never been able to find the line between patriotism and jingoism. They were so proud of the campaign to humiliate and vilify U.S. soldiers and Marines during the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were proud it scared American politicians out of significant military action until the Gulf War. They wanted Iraq and Afghanistan to be just like Vietnam. They are unwilling to consider anything that might portray the American military in a positive light. The Left did their long march through all of America’s beloved institutions, and Hollywood was no exception. Where John Ford and Frank Capra once did propaganda films during World War II, Hollywood today is irredeemably corrupted by a worldview that blames America for all the ills of the world.

‘American Sniper’ Is About a Man the Left Cannot Understand

Why is this? Because the military is a cartoon to the elite Left. They believe veterans are people who had few options and were forced by circumstance to hide in a uniform. They assume that because we stopped worshiping at the altar of individualism for a while that we have no ability for original thought. Since we gave up complete slavery to whims and fads, we must have no ambition or personality. We are chattel to them, and they feel no loyalty to us since we volunteered.

They are further separated from us because they don’t know anyone like us, and we don’t know anyone like them. When we interact, we speak past each other because we don’t share a common language or understanding of the world. They believe everything is a construct of our own personal experience, and that ideas like “morality” and “nation” and “loyalty” are just abstract silly vestiges of a bygone era… and all bygone eras are probably racist and misogynist. They’re pretty sure they’ve outsmarted thousands of years of Western thinking.

“American Sniper” is about a plain man, raised to be physically and mentally tough. He tested himself with rigorous training, to find the edges of what he could accomplish. He fought and killed. He saw the enemy as evil, and he killed them with little compunction. I’ll warn you now: He’s white… that is, his ancestors came from the northern half of Europe. He’s a man, both in his gender identity and his biology, which are never at odds. He’s heterosexual, as evidenced by his super gender-normative marriage to a woman, and their subsequent children created by what we are led to believe is normal sexual congress. I’m sorry if this is very different from what you see on the Internet, but it’s actually fairly common.

I suspect that critics of “American Sniper,” of Chris Kyle, and of the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, have a much in common with each other, but little in common with most straight white men.

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French prisons, long hotbeds of radical Islam, get new scrutiny

French prisons, long hotbeds of radical Islam, get new scrutiny after Paris attacks

The man was sent to France’s largest prison for armed robbery. He emerged a toughened radical who would go on to take part in the bloodiest terrorist attacks on French soil in decades.

France’s prisons have a reputation as factories for radical Islamists, taking in ordinary criminals and turning them out as far more dangerous people. Here at the Fleury-Merogis prison — where Amedy Coulibaly did time alongside another of the attackers in the deadly assaults this month in and around Paris — authorities are struggling to quell a problem that they say was long threatening to explode.

Former inmates, imams and guards all describe a chaotic scene inside these concrete walls, 15 miles from the elegant boulevards surrounding the Eiffel Tower. Militancy lurks in the shadows, and the best-behaved men are sometimes the most dangerous. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls promised last week to flood his nation’s prisons with 60 more Muslim chaplains, doubling their budget to try to combat radicalization. Authorities this week raided 80 prison cells of suspected radicals, saying they found cellphones, USB drives and other contraband. Hundreds of inmates in French prisons are a potential threat, authorities say.

But critics say that these efforts are minuscule compared with the scope of the problem, with prisons so poorly controlled that a leaked French government report once described Osama bin Laden posters hanging on inmates’ walls. The challenge may be compounded by the dozens of people sent to jail after the recent attacks, some for more than a year, under fast-track proceedings in which they were charged with verbal support for terrorism.

“Prison destroys men,” said Mohamed Boina M’Koubou, an imam who works in the Fleury-Merogis prison. “There are people who are easy targets to spot and make into killers.”

The poorly staffed prisons were an ideal place to spread violent ideology — in many ways, even better than outside the prison gates. Most prisoners spend up to nine hours a day mingling relatively unsupervised, guards say, first at work and then in the prison yard. French intelligence services pride themselves for their penetration of militant networks in their country — but prisons fall under a different umbrella, experts say, in which many radicals go unchecked, and even unnoticed, by guards.

Other nations, including the United States and Britain, have also struggled with radicalization in prisons. But the issue has proved especially volatile in France, where experts estimate that Muslims make up more than half of the country’s 68,000 inmates even though they are only 5 to 10 percent of the general population. But there are only about 170 imams currently ministering inside prisons.

“The number of people who work on intelligence within prisons is peanuts,” said Farhad Khosrokhavar, a sociologist at Paris’s School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences who has studied prison radicalization. And the most dangerous inmates are the ones who know how to blend in, he said.

“Most of the people who get radicalized in prison know very well they should not let their beards grow, should not go to collective Friday prayer when it exists,” Khosrokhavar said. The ones who do, potentially drawing guards’ attention, are usually the ones who are harmless, he said.

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Super Bowl "Bout" will be decided by tactics instead of brawn

 

Bout will be decided by tactics instead of brawn

The defense which prevails in Super Bowl XLIX likely will be the one that wears down the opposing offense with a variety of tactics, setting up a crushing blow late in the game. 

By: Ron Borges

When the two best football teams in the world square off Sunday night at University of Phoenix Stadium, the arena will have the feel of a heavyweight championship fight back when that meant something in America.

It will not be Wladimir Klitschko against Kubrat Pulev or Alex Leapai. It will be more like Tyson-Holyfield or Louis-Schmeling.

Clash of the Titans! Battle of the Behemoths! War of the Worlds! That is the way most people in pro football are looking at Super Bowl XLIX.

Yet is that truly what’s going to happen when the Patriots stand in front of the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, the opponents wearing the champion’s belt and the contenders trying to wrest it from their waist? Not really.

This surely will be a physical confrontation, but it will be decided more by tactics and counter-moves than by the raw power of the classic heavyweight match. In the end, the outcome might indeed be settled by a knockout punch like the one Rocky Marciano used to dethrone Jersey Joe Walcott (which, by the way, still is considered the most perfect right hook every thrown even though it landed nearly 62 years ago), but from a fistic point of view, this is not simply a clash of heavy-handed bomb-throwers like, say, George Foreman vs. Ron Lyle.

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US plan to track drivers went much wider, new documents reveal

Los Angeles traffic

US plan to track drivers went much wider, new documents reveal

‘This could be a really amazing level of surveillance we’ve not seen before’

Oliver Laughland in New York and Rory Carroll in Los Angeles

Federal agencies tried to use vehicle license-plate readers to track the travel patterns of Americans on a much wider scale than previously thought, with new documents showing the technology was proposed for use to monitor public meetings.

The American Civil Liberties Union released more documents this week revealing for the first time the potential scale of a massive database containing the data of millions of drivers, logged from automatic license plate readers around the US.

As President Obama’s nominee for attorney general prepared for a second day of confirmation hearings in Washington, senior lawmakers also called on the US Justice Department to show “greater transparency and oversight”.

Further documents released by the ACLU on Wednesday show that Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials in Phoenix planned on “working closely” with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to monitor public gun shows with the automatic technology in 2009.

Although the DEA has said the proposal was not acted upon, the revelations raise questions about how much further the secret vehicle surveillance extends, which other federal bodies are involved and which other groups may have been targeted.

“The broad thrust of the DEA is to spread its program broadly and catch data and travel patterns on a massive scale,” Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with ACLU, told the Guardian. “This could be a really amazing level of surveillance that we’ve not seen before in this country.”

The ACLU warned that the build-up of a vehicle surveillance database, the existence of which first surfaced on Monday, stemmed from the DEA’s appetite for asset forfeiture, a controversial practice of seizing possessions at traffic stops and vehicle pullovers if agents suspect they are criminal proceeds.

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The NFL's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

The NFL's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

From domestic violence and concussions to racist team names and angry cheerleaders, 2014 was a rotten year for pro football.

By Ian Gordon

With the Super Bowl days away, the sports world's hot-take artists have spent the past week toggling between the intrigue and idiocy of Deflategate to the press conference reticence of Seattle Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch. In some ways, it has been the perfect ending to a dreadful year for the NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell.

Famous for his "protect the shield" mantra and disciplinarian ways, Goodell has seen his reputation get battered throughout the controversy-filled 12 months since Super Bowl XLVIII.

 Goodell's salary: As of 2012, according to tax forms, the Commish was making $44.2 million a year. (Yes, the NFL is still a nonprofit.)

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Big GOP field unfazed by Hillary Clinton

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is pictured. | AP Photo

Big GOP field unfazed by Hillary Clinton

She’s strong, they say, but hardly invincible.

By Todd S. Purdum

The bumper crop of 2016 GOP hopefuls, bustling and seemingly growing by the day, reflects several realities: No prohibitive front-runner in the party; an eagerness to reclaim the White House after eight years of Democratic control (and a last chance to block the prospect of 16); the availability of hundreds of millions of dollars from big donors; and the presence of a group of fresh faces thrust into prominence by Republican successes in the last three congressional elections.

But the burgeoning GOP field also reflects this conviction, growing among both potential candidates and professional operatives: Hillary Clinton is far from invincible. Or, to put it another way, pollsters and consultants in both parties say, she is eminently beatable despite her current double-digit advantage over prospective Republican foes in public polls.

The clumsy rollout of Clinton’s State Department memoir last summer, Barack Obama’s steadily lagging job approval numbers and her own sizable unfavorable rating among voters – which has stayed stuck in the mid 40 percent range for years – have combined to embolden potential Republican opponents. Bill Clinton himself is said to have warned of the threat that a Jeb Bush candidacy could pose, for instance.

“I test this in focus groups and with candidates and I say ‘Our Republican nominee has to be unapologetically and unflinchingly unafraid of all that a Clinton candidacy would mean,’’’ said the longtime GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway, who has met with five possible presidential contenders but not yet signed on with any. “And I’d pause to say, ‘I wonder if I just cut the list in half.’ I don’t think I cut the list in half any more. I think people think they’ve met the emperor and she’s not as daunting as she seems.”

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Calling the Super Bowl Like Cris Collinsworth

NBC sports analyst Cris Collinsworth at a Sept. 21 game between the Carolina Panthers and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Charlotte, N.C.

Calling the Super Bowl Like Cris Collinsworth

NBC Analyst Breaks Down Endless Hours of Tape; Watching ‘Inside-Out’

By Kevin Clark

In the two weeks before the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks are combing through endless amounts of tape. They are memorizing until they have instant recall to make split-second decisions and they are highlighting the mismatches between the two teams.

Cris Collinsworth is doing the same thing.

The NBC analyst will be calling his third Super Bowl Sunday, along with Al Michaels, who will be calling his ninth. But it isn’t getting any easier. It’s Collinsworth’s job to explain football to the 110 million or so watching Sunday. That presents problems.

At his Cincinnati home, Collinsworth is breaking down Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman ’s impressive first-quarter interception in his team’s NFC Championship Game win over the Green Bay Packers.

He identifies the key components. Sherman is covering Packers wide receiver Davante Adams one-on-one. Defensive tackle Landon Cohen moves from the middle of the defensive line out into the open field to cover wide receiver Randall Cobb out of the backfield. Safety Earl Thomas is lined up deep, while the other safety, Kam Chancellor, is “underneath” in the coverage, he notes. Sherman’s coverage allows them to play zone defense on one side of the field “with some help,” he says. Then he notes, once the ball is snapped, Thomas runs to the side opposite Sherman to disrupt the Packers’ timing.

Collinsworth said there is brilliance in what is going on: Every player on the field has “help” behind him except Sherman, who wants the ball thrown in his direction. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers takes the bait and throws the interception.

Cris Collinsworth, left, takes part in a panel discussion with commentator Al Michaels at an NBC Universal summer press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., in 2011.

This is life for Collinsworth, who, before a given game, spends about six hours watching film of each team’s offense and defense, then countless more studying anything else he can find. That doesn’t include the hours talking to each team’s head coach and coordinators. “How I do this is how I did law school,” said Collinsworth, who studied law at the University of Cincinnati. “You start with 50 pages of notes that turn into 25 pages of notes that turn into 10 pages of notes that turn into five pages, then you try to memorize them for the game.”

But tape study is the backbone of the preparation. In his office in Cincinnati, Collinsworth has four laptops firing at any given time. He has a hand-held clicker that allows him to quickly rewind a play—sometimes he’ll watch the same one double-digit times.

Once he notices something worth covering in the play, he speaks into a recorder which will eventually send voice notes to Michaels, NBC reporter Michele Tafoya, coordinating producer Fred Gaudelli and director Drew Esocoff.

The notes can be identifying potential problems for the next opponent, or a notable thing about a player he noticed on film. He has a voice-recognition system that helps him transcribe his thoughts, but it’s a work in progress. Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski, in the voice-recognition system, became both “Run Cows” and “Gatuski.”

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How Obama Has Left Red States Deeper in the Red

How Obama Has Left Red States Deeper in the Red

Budgets in conservative states have been cut much more than in liberal or swing states.

David A. Graham

"There's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America," Barack Obama said at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. That may or may not have been true at the time, but since entering the White House, he's helped to make the division a little more real.

In a fascinating story Wednesday, Reuters asked John Hudak, an expert at the Brookings Institution, to look at how discretionary federal spending had been directed to states since 2009—that is, since the recession, but also since Obama came into office. As one would expect, spending is down, but the effects haven't been uniform. In red states, spending is down 40 percent on average, while blue states and essential swing states (hi, Ohio!) have seen much milder declines, closer to 25 percent.

To be specific, the numbers involve programs where the executive branch decides how to allocate funding, rather than where levels are set by Congress. So, for example, Head Start is included, but Medicaid is not. "I would suggest these numbers would tell us there is politicization going on," Hudak told Reuters. (The Office of Management and Budget replied: "The administration supports allocating federal grants based on objecting criteria that will help protect taxpayer dollars and ensure that lawmakers are responsible and accountable to the American people.")

The disparity didn't start with Obama; Hudak has found that there's a similar pattern for previous administrations. But piled onto several other political shifts, the result is yet another factor helping to create a divided America, two increasingly disparate nations separated by philosophy of government, social services, education, and race.

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The GOP’s Long Love Affair With Schmucks

The GOP’s Long Love Affair With Schmucks

Nick Gillespie

Why Republicans fall in love with inexperienced, no-hope candidates every four years.

Conservative Republicans have finally called it quits with short-term former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (she lasted just two-and-a-half years in that position before quitting). The final straw, it seems, is the 2008 vice-presidential candidate’s recent speech at the “Iowa Freedom Summit” that has charitably been called “an interminable ramble,” “an extended stream-of-consciousness complaint,” and simply “bizarro.”

So America’s most-famous snowbilly is out of the running for the 2016 Republican nomination. But what about all the other manifestly unqualified novices, jackasses, and publicity hounds that surface every four years when the GOP starts fishing for someone/anyone that can beat whatever sad sack of chum the Democrats toss in the water?

Unlike the Democrats, who never stray far from career politicians when selecting a presidential candidate, Republicans always seem to be looking for some sort of otherworldly savior to waltz in and take the country by storm. Someone unsullied by, you know, much (if any) actual experience in holding office, winning elections, and governing on a daily basis. Though GOP voters typically end up selecting major-state governors (Reagan, Bush II) or long-serving, partly mummified senators (Dole, McCain), they spend a hell of a lot time in primary season dancing with some pretty strange suitors.

Perhaps it’s the analogue to the longstanding and still-potent jibe that Republicans don’t really want to govern. They disdain the political process to such a degree that it takes them forever to pull the switch for a politician.

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Conservatives to Palin: We’re over you

Palin speaks at the Iowa Freedom Summit. (Getty)

Conservatives to Palin: We’re over you

Karen Tumulty

Sarah Palin’s recent rambling speech has many influential voices on the right realizing that the romance has gone cold.

They’re over her.

Sarah Palin’s odd, rambling speech last weekend before an audience of committed conservative activists in Des Moines has many influential voices on the right saying that the time has come to acknowledge that the romance has gone cold and the marriage is dead.

This is despite the fact that the 2008 GOP vice-presidential nominee told reporters upon her arrival at the event that she is “seriously interested” in running for president in 2016.

Her address was a 34 1/2 -minute roller coaster ride of cliches, non sequiturs and warmed-over grievances. One line that stood out: “GOP leaders, by the way, you know, ‘The Man,’ can only ride ya when your back is bent. So strengthen it. Then The Man can’t ride ya.”

The critiques have been devastating — and those are the ones from her friends.

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‘American Sniper’ Fuels a War on the Home Front

‘American Sniper’ Fuels a War on the Home Front

As “American Sniper” continues to spawn think pieces, internecine celebrity squabbles and diatribes from hand-wringing lefties and chest-thumping righties, it’s interesting to remember the naysaying about the film’s prospects that swirled just last month.

The film’s director, Clint Eastwood, and its stars Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller were on hand for a swanky lunch for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members at the Four Seasons in Manhattan, yet a sense prevailed that people were jollying the filmmaker and cast along.

While attendees generally agreed, among themselves, that the movie was well done, and even enjoyable for those rarely keen on dudes-in-war flicks, the feeling was that with its Christmas Day release, “Sniper” was arriving too late in an already crowded race.

Then came the film’s performance at the box office — topping $250 million worldwide and going strong — followed by the Oscar nominations: It picked up six, including two in the most important categories, best picture and actor.

A few more surprises lay in store, in the form of a firestorm started a few days later by three Twitter posts from two famous people.

On Jan. 18, the liberal documentarian Michael Moore posted on Twitter twice about the film, first to say that snipers were once considered cowards and that one had killed his uncle and then to say that defending one’s home from foreign invaders was heroic. And the actor Seth Rogen, fresh off “The Interview” fracas, said in a tweet that “Sniper” reminded him of a movie-within-a movie scene in “Inglourious Basterds” in which an outnumbered German World War II marksman picked off his enemies.

Twitter waited a few seconds before going kaboom.

Fueled by a Breitbart News headline claiming that Mr. Rogen had likened “American Sniper” to Nazi propaganda, conservatives started a pile-on that proved impossible for Mr. Rogen to explain his way out of. (Mr. Moore would later note that in his first two Twitter posts, he never mentioned the film; he then said on Facebook that while he opposed the war, he fully supported the troops.) Kid Rock wrote on this website that he hoped Mr. Moore and Mr. Rogen would “catch a fist to the face,” while voicing support for Mr. Kyle, who was shot dead in Texas by a fellow veteran he was trying to help in 2013. Blake Shelton said on Twitter that he was sickened “to see celebrities or anybody slam the very people who protect their right” to, roughly paraphrasing, free speech. Sarah Palin, long a fan of Mr. Kyle, took to Facebook to lash out at “Hollywood leftists” for “spitting on the graves of freedom fighters who allow you to do what you do.”

Meanwhile, the left started its own pile-on. Bill Maher said the film was about a “psychopathic patriot.” Chris Hedges, a columnist for TruthDig and a former reporter for The New York Times, argued in an essay with an incendiary title that Mr. Kyle “was able to cling to childish myth rather than examine the darkness of his own soul and his contribution to the war crimes we carried out in Iraq.” In a TV interview, Noam Chomsky noted that Mr. Kyle wrote in his memoir that he was fighting “savage despicable evil.” Mr. Chomsky added that “we’re all tarred with the same brush” for largely keeping silent about official policy and the country’s global drone assassination campaign.

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Evangelicalism’s Worldwide Explosion May Strengthen Progressivism

Evangelicalism’s Worldwide Explosion May Strengthen Progressivism

Evangelicalism’s Worldwide Explosion May Strengthen Progressivism

It is not at all clear that the global evangelicalism surge will be good for humanity or orthodox Christianity.

By Peter Burfeind

As the West braces itself for the challenge of a muscular, jihadist Islamism woven into the fabric of our very culture and its treasured institutions, one of the hopes flitting about is that Christianity has its own force worldwide, even in the midst of traditionally Muslim areas. It’s a story often avoided in the West—as with all things Christian—but it’s very real. Latin America, Africa, and Asia have exploded with evangelical Christianity.

Is this a good thing? Certainly, for evangelical christianity it’s a good thing. What about for the cause of conservative governance, liberty, capitalism, or the more historic Christian confessions?

If history is a precedent, maybe not so much. The evangelicalism explosion may be nothing more than evidence of a mass underlying movement, a prop holding humanity in place while a greater, progressive movement takes place beneath the surface. We could call it Hegel’s apotheosis, a way of giving form to wispy religious feeling before the final stage of History, when humanity sees government (as opposed to the church) as the true embodiment of its do-gooder religiosity—”spiritual but not religious,” “deeds, not creeds,” right?—and governments everywhere become tolerant, nice, liberal, generous, and Progressive, but also godless, nihilistic, “beyond good and evil” bastions of deconstructed reality.

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Koch cash triggers Dem angst about 2016

Koch cash triggers Dem angst about 2016

By Alexander Bolton

Democratic lawmakers say they are deeply worried about how much money Charles and David Koch plan to spend on the 2016 elections.

The billionaire brothers have played a massive role in GOP politics in recent years and were seen by Democrats as a major reason why Republicans recaptured the Senate in 2014. Now, the Kochs are focused on the big prize: the White House.

Polls show former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the early favorite to win the White House next year. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll showed her beating each of the five top Republican candidates by double digits.

But her Democratic allies on Capitol Hill are openly wondering if she can withstand the $889 million onslaught from the Koch brothers and their partners.  

“We need to be very smart with the limited resources we have on the Democratic side, because we’re not going to have that kind of firepower in the next election,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.).

Udall said the longer the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is allowed to stand, opening the floodgates for political spending by outside groups, the more the playing field is “tilted towards the wealthy and the monied interests.”

Some Democrats bemoan that they didn’t pass legislation in 2010 to counter the high court’s decision. At the time, they controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress.

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Obama seizes leverage from Republicans on immigration

Obama seizes leverage from Republicans on immigration

By Justin Sink

President Obama on Thursday will call on congressional Republicans to approve a “clean” funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security that preserves his executive actions on limiting deportations.

During a visit to the House Democratic retreat, the president is expected to seize on a suggestion from some Republicans that they allow funding for the department to lapse if they are unable to secure concessions.

“The president will join the Democrats in Congress in vehemently opposing that dangerous view and calling for a clean funding bill to ensure we are funding our national security priorities in the face of cybersecurity and security threats abroad,” a White House official said.

Obama is looking to press his political advantage over Republican leaders, who have struggled to come up with a deal that could satisfy conservative lawmakers determined to reverse the president’s immigration orders.

Earlier Wednesday, the White House blasted Republicans for looking to “re-fight an old political battle” and said they are now trapped in a problem of their own making.

“This is a mess they created back in December when they decided to opt for that fight over the immigration reform actions the president took,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. “We believe that was unwise and misguided — that they now have a mess on their hands that they ought to be cleaning up.”

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Obama Is Setting Up Hillary Clinton to Fail

Obama Is Setting Up Hillary Clinton to Fail

The president's approval rating is inching up, but there's little public enthusiasm for his liberal agenda. That puts Clinton in an uncomfortable position.

By Josh Kraushaar

President Obama delivered his penultimate State of the Union with renewed confidence, eager to take credit for the economy's recent growth spurt. He offered few olive branches to Republicans for their landslide victory two months earlier; articulated a panoply of liberal proposals that stand little chance of passing through Congress; and took the rosiest possible view of the economy and international landscape—even in the face of contrary evidence. In the moment, it's a savvy political play: Claim credit for an improving public mood and force Republicans on the defensive.

But despite the hoopla, recent polling shows that the public is much more in sync with the GOP's agenda than the White House's. This month's NBC/WSJ survey illustrated a striking disconnect between the president's improving approval rating (at 46 percent, up 2 points since November) and the top priorities of the American electorate. In the survey, 85 percent of voters rank "creating jobs" as a top priority, followed by defeating and dismantling ISIS (74 percent), reducing the federal deficit (71 percent), securing the border with Mexico (58 percent), and addressing Iran's nuclear program (56 percent). The last four are core GOP strengths; polls consistently show Republicans with an edge on those issues.

The items at the bottom of the priority list are all top administration priorities: closing the Guantanamo prison camp (24 percent rate as top priority), addressing the issue of climate change (34 percent), creating a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants (39 percent), and increasing the minimum wage (44 percent). It wasn't just Obama's assessment of the international stage that was disconnected from reality. It was also his assessment that the American people are with him on his agenda.

That disconnect will be driving the upcoming presidential election, which will provide a decisive verdict on the sustainability of Obama's accomplishments. Obama, as he ad-libbed in the State of the Union, couldn't help but brag that he won two elections as proof of his mandate. The GOP also won a historic number of seats in Congress, capitalizing on public anger over his policies. Rather than move to the middle and compromise with Republicans, Obama appears intent on playing to his party's progressive base in the run-up to the 2016 elections – and pass along that legacy to Hillary Clinton's nascent campaign. It's a gamble that will determine whether his landmark legislation will remain law, or be rolled back by a new Republican president.

Obama should recognize how much of his post-election bump is being driven by forces outside of his control.....

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Chinese Money Is Backing Putin’s War

Chinese Money Is Backing Putin’s War

The growing Chinese-Russian alliance is one of the most important geopolitical developments of the century.

After capturing the long-contested Donetsk airport last week, separatist forces in eastern Ukraine are now surrounding government troops near a rail hub in Debaltseve. The militants are advancing in Ukraine, as President Obama said on Sunday, “with Russian backing, Russian equipment, Russian financing, Russian training, and Russian troops.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin is moving his boundaries to the west, deeper into Europe. In the south, in the Caucasus, the Russian Federation this month effectively absorbed South Ossetia, once a part of Georgia. Last November, Putin swallowed Georgia’s Abkhazia. Less than a year ago, it annexed Crimea.

Yet as the willful Russian leader dismantles his neighbors, his economy is tumbling. The price of oil has collapsed beneath him and international sanctions have been heaped on top of him. Where does he find the wherewithal to go on with his quasi-imperial plans?

There’s a one-word answer: China.

In recent months China has thrown his economy a lifeline—several of them in fact.

To get an idea just how vital Beijing’s assistance has been, let’s take a look at just how deep the morass is that Putin’s been in.

In November, Russia’s gross domestic product fell 0.5 percent, the first decline since October 2009. December, when the numbers are announced, is bound to be worse. The price of oil is now at six-year lows—the Brent spot price has dropped by nearly 60 percent in six months—and oil and gas account for roughly two-thirds of the country’s exports. This year, the Russian economy may contract by 10 percent, and possibly by more. Inflation could reach 17 percent this year according to Alexi Vedev, Russia’s deputy economy minister.

The ruble has fallen 49 percent against the dollar since the end of 2013. A plunging currency will make it extremely difficult for the country to make required annual payments of $100 billion a year on its foreign debt which amounts to some $600 billion. To defend the currency, the government has raised interest rates. The benchmark hit 17 percent in the middle of last month. That, by itself, will eventually choke off economic activity unless it is reduced. But if it is reduced, the ruble will tumble.

...........................

Because of capital flight, Russia’s foreign currency reserves fell to $380 billion at year’s end, from $510 billion at the beginning of 2014.

To make matters worse, Obama on Sunday all but promised more sanctions on Russia and Europe will almost certainly go along with the push. Putin, however, is defiant, blaming both Kiev and NATO for the renewed fighting in Ukraine.

And China is backing his play.

First there are a series of oil and gas contracts signed since 2013, signs of the “energy alliance” between the Dragon and the Bear.

These deals are starting to pay off for Putin. China’s imports of Russian oil hit an all-time high in November. November’s record, however, did not last long. In December, China topped that by importing 876,000 barrels per day of Russia’s crude. That was up 86 percent from December 2013.

Thanks in part to oil and gas sales, total trade volume between China and Russia increased 6.8 percent to $95.3 billion last year, a record. Putin says trade with China will hit $200 billion in 2020.

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How 'Empire' Could Change TV

Empire Is a Massive Hit. Here’s What Its Success Could Mean for the TV Business.

By

The rise of Fox’s Empire has been swift and stunning: Following an unexpectedly high-rated debut three weeks ago, the music-driven soap opera from Lee Daniels has managed the exceedingly rare feat of adding audience in each of its subsequent airings. It’s passed ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder as TV’s No. 1 new show this season among viewers under 50. And while the series is reaching millions of viewers of both genders and all ethnic groups, Empire is a bona-fide phenomenon in African-American households: Nielsen reports that last week’s episode was seen in a jaw-dropping 33 percent of all black homes — or five times as many as the No. 2 scripted broadcast show last week, NCIS: Los Angeles. History and gravity suggest Empire will cool down a little, perhaps as soon as tonight’s installment. But even it does, it will still rank as one of the most successful series launches in the past couple years, and serve as a much-needed ego boost to a broadcast-TV industry continually being written off as extinct. The question now: Will Empire have an impact beyond its 9 p.m. Wednesday time slot — both for Fox and for the TV business in general?

What sets the show apart from successes such as MurderGotham, Blacklist, and Scorpion is that it began big (a 3.8 rating among adults under 50), went up in week two (to a 4.0), and then ticked up again with its third broadcast (4.4). A few lower-rated shows that started in weak time slots or didn’t get much buzz early on have likely improved in the ratings early in their runs. But Fox’s research department says it’s been at least 20 years since any top-rated drama grew among adults under 50 in its first three weeks on the air; among all viewers, it’s been ten years since Grey’s Anatomy ticked up each of its first four broadcasts back in 2005.

Because so many viewers are now used to time-shifting shows once they check them out the first time, TV-industry insiders were fairly confident Empire would decline in week two. The fact that it didn’t, and then grew yet again, has even rival network execs giddy. “Whatever competition this is for us, it’s still good for broadcast TV,” one competitor told Vulture. Fox TV Group’s chief operating officer Joe Earley says he “didn’t believe the early [overnight] ratings” for the show at first. “We really are focused on the L3 [DVR] numbers now,” he says. So when the same-day ratings came in on Thursday, and other execs at the network were emailing him about the strong early ratings, “I kept replying, ‘Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,’” Earley explains. “When the lift was there in the L3, it was incredible.” Bottom line: Fox’s ability not only to bring viewers to a new show (as other nets have done, too), but then to keep building that audience (the way cable networks do on a regular basis), bolsters broadcasters’ argument that they’ve not become totally irrelevant in the ever-expanding TV universe.

............................

Women are certainly helping to drive tune-in for Empire, with ratings among female audiences about two times the size of the male viewership. But that’s actually not a huge gap, at least relative to many other hits. NBC’s Wednesday dramas (and its hit reality show The Voice) also perform about twice as well with women versus men, while ABC’s The Bachelor attracts three female viewers for every one dude. As for the ethnic makeup of Empire, the show’s majority-minority cast has paid off in a big way. Last week’s episode was by far the No. 1 English-language show on broadcast TV in homes with African-American and Hispanic heads of household — and by a huge margin. Among Hispanics, Empire outrated its nearest scripted broadcast rival (Fox’s Backstrom) by a 2-1 margin. And in addition to making it into one out of every three black homes, as noted above, among African-American women between 35 and 49, the show is literally the equivalent of a Super Bowl. Last Wednesday’s episode scored a 40.6 rating and 76 share in that group (including three days of DVR replays) — a number exceeding the rating of some NFL championship games this century. 

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France's False Choice: Can liberal societies come to terms with religious illiberalism?

France's False Choice

Can liberal societies come to terms with religious illiberalism?

 Shadi Hamid

The impressive and inspiring show of solidarity at France’s unity march on January 11—which brought together millions of people and more than 40 world leaders—was not necessarily a sign of good things to come. “We are all one” was indeed a powerful message, but what did it really mean, underneath the noble sentiment and the liberal faith that all people are essentially good and want the same things, regardless of religion or culture? Even if the scope is limited to Western liberals, the aftermath of the assaults in Paris on Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket has revealed a striking lack of consensus on a whole host of issues, including the limits of free speech, the treatment of religions versus racial groups, and the centrality of secularism to the liberal idea. Turns out, we are not all one.

French schoolteachers were reportedly dumbfounded that (some) Muslim students refused to stand up for a moment of silence after the attacks. But this is where confusion seeps into the debate. Within France, there is not a cultural divide on the attack that left 12 dead at the offices of a satirical magazine. To even suspect that a significant number of French Muslims might support the slaughter of innocents is troubling. But beyond the killings themselves, there is, in fact, a cultural divide—one that shines light on some of the most problematic aspects of how we in the West talk about Islam, values, and violence.

For instance, French Muslims are more likely than non-Muslims to view blasphemy as unacceptable. They are more likely to think that attacks on the Prophet Muhammad and the Quran should be criminalized as hate speech and incitement, much like denial of the Holocaust is. It is problematic, then, to view condemning the Paris killings and affirming the right to blaspheme as two sides of the same coin. For many Muslims, they aren’t. To treat them as a package deal is not only odd—after all, opposing murder and opposing blasphemy are quite different things—but also dangerous.

Polling data offers additional insight into what European Muslims think about the role of religion in private and public life (I’ll be focusing here on French and British Muslims, two of the largest Muslim populations in Europe). For starters, the baseline of religious observance varies considerably. According to the 2009 Gallup Coexist Index, 58 percent of French Muslims either “very strongly” or “extremely strongly” identify with their religion, compared with only 23 percent of the French public. The numbers for Britain are even starker: 75 percent versus 23 percent. Talk of a “clash of civilizations” is as unwise as it is imprecise, but there does appear to be a clash of values. Somewhat remarkably, 0 percent—yes, 0 percent—of British Muslims apparently believe homosexuality is morally acceptable. Among French Muslims, the proportion is much higher, at 35 percent, but that is still more than 40 percentage points lower than the 78 percent of French who say homosexuality is morally acceptable.

What about blasphemy? According to a 2006 Pew poll, 79 percent of French Muslims blamed the 2005 cartoon controversy–in which a Danish newspaper published various images of the Prophet Muhammad—on Western nations’ “disrespect for the Islamic religion,” while 67 percent of the general population blamed “Muslims’ intolerance.” Needless to say, this is a massive gap in perception.

Unlike France, Britain has had a spirited debate about the role of communal sharia courts in adjudicating family law. In a controversial 2008 address, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams argued that civil and religious law need not be mutually exclusive. In this sense, the question of sharia is not a theoretical one in the U.K., which has led to some intriguing polling results. According to a 2007 Policy Exchange survey, 28 percent of British Muslims said they would “prefer to live under sharia law.” The number shoots up to 37 percent among 16- to-24-year-olds. The question’s phrasing isn’t wholly satisfying since many Muslims might prefer a third alternative—a dualistic mix of secular and religious law—but, in any case, 28 percent is still a rather large minority. On a number of other issues, including female veiling, polygamy, apostasy, and whether Muslim women can marry non-Muslim men, the 16-to-24 category consistently emerges as the most enamored by strict interpretations of Islamic law. Apparently, youth and tolerant, liberal attitudes do not go hand-in-hand. The implication is that people who spent their formative years in Britain are more religiously conservative than their elders, despite being immersed in the British educational system rather than, say, Pakistani or Egyptian ones.

This clash of values is on even greater display if you compare Western nations with Muslim-majority ones. The citizens of countries such as Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan are deeply conservative, with large majorities supporting the application of Islamic law to varying degrees. And, while it may help, one doesn’t need to be an Islamist to favor Islamist policies. In Egypt, a brutally anti-Islamist regime has employed “vice squads” in a national campaign against moral “perversions,” including atheism and homosexuality. In Malaysia, an ostensibly secular government has repeatedly upheld bans on non-Muslims using the word “Allah.” It is, in short, quite difficult to privatize religion in the broader Muslim world. Countries like Turkey and Tunisia that have tried could only muster fleeting success—at the high cost of subverting democracy for decades.

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The Dueling Legacies of Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick has brought value investing to football.

The Dueling Legacies of Bill Belichick

‘Deflategate’ Aside, the Rest of the NFL Has Always Tried (And Failed) to Emulate the Patriots Coach

By Kevin Clark

Devotees of football strategy—the ones who only read the writings of Bill Walsh and have a shrine to Paul Brown in their cellars—are bummed about what has happened to Bill Belichick in the past week.

The New England Patriots are under investigation for using underinflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game. If proven guilty, Belichick’s legacy will be that of a football outlaw—one that has already been cemented in the minds of Patriot-hating fans who haven’t forgotten the “Spygate” scandal of 2007.

But the reason wonks are mourning is because the “Beli-cheat” label will obscure his real legacy: bringing value investing to football.

To understand the essence of what Belichick has done in his 15 years with the Patriots, you must first look at his defense. Belichick was a pioneer, along with his former boss Bill Parcells, of the 3-4 defense. That’s three defensive linemen and four linebackers. It is designed to create havoc on pass plays because with four standing linebackers it is less clear to the offense which players will blitz the quarterback and which will drop back into coverage. Belichick brought that defense to New England and for some reason, the copycat NFL had yet to discover its effectiveness. Belichick said when they installed the 3-4 in New England, there were three total teams running it. This was, he admits, awesome.

“So, if you wanted a nose tackle, there were plenty of them out there. If you wanted a 3-4 outside linebacker, there were plenty of them out there,” he said last month. Nose tackles are the mammoth clogs in the middle of the defensive line that control multiple “gaps” on the field, which is key for the 3-4 to work. He was able to pull players like linebacker Mike Vrabel off the NFL scarp heap because Vrabel wasn’t big enough for the 4-3, but he was perfect for the 3-4.

The good news was it worked. The bad news was that it worked so well that everyone stole it.

The Patriots won three Super Bowls in a four-year span. The draft became a nightmare for Belichick. Five years after he started in New England, he estimated, up to 18 teams were using the system. So, then: “You go to the draft board and think, ‘Here’s a nose tackle. Who needs a nose tackle?’ Well eight teams in front of you need a nose tackle and there’s two nose tackles,” he said.

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When NFL teams started investing in “shutdown” cornerbacks, he countered with a two-tight end system that created matchup nightmares in the middle of the field and made Rob Gronkowski a star. When dominant wide receivers became too expensive, he created an assembly line of slot wide receivers available in the bargain bin—first Wes Welker, now current slot specialist Julian Edelman.

Belichick’s savvy with the salary cap has created an endless parade of failed imitations. He blends scouting with financial savvy. Instead of finding the best players and fitting them on the 53-man roster with little regard for salary implications, Belichick instead favors the best 53-man roster. He would rather have the best backup linebacker and sacrifice a little talent at the top end of the roster. He doesn’t want holes anywhere on the field, so instead of plugging in a no-name on special teams who makes the league minimum, he’d rather keep special teams ace Matthew Slater and pay him more than anyone else would.

Then there is the draft. Belichick always takes the best player available to a fault. He doesn’t care for league trends—he took a linebacker in the 2013 and 2012 drafts despite the fact it is considered a dying position. Most amazingly, during quarterback Tom Brady’s elite tenure as starting quarterback, he’s taken four quarterbacks in the first four rounds of the draft. This makes no sense, but if Belichick sees value, he acts. Current backup Jimmy Garoppolo was a second-round selection last year, impossibly high when the starter is one of the best to ever play the position and has no intention to retire. Belichick’s wheeling and dealing on draft day is legendary. In the last decade, the Patriots have drafted 89 players, the most in the AFC and fifth-most in the NFL.

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Mitt Romney Is So Frugal He Might Sell His Oceanside Mansion with a Car Elevator

 
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