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Kevin Spacey, Star of ‘House of Cards’ and a Bromance With Bill Clinton

Kevin Spacey, Star of ‘House of Cards’ and a Bromance With Bill Clinton

Before Kevin Spacey got into character as Francis Underwood, the fictional congressman who by the third season of “House of Cards” has murdered and manipulated his way into the Oval Office, he liked to portray a real-life president: Bill Clinton.

“We, in fact, have spent so much time together that sometimes I even become him,” Mr. Spacey said last fall at an event in Little Rock, Ark., to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center.

“I’m from a place called Hope,” Mr. Spacey said as he feigned Mr. Clinton’s Arkansas accent, which sounded vaguely like Underwood, who is from South Carolina.

“Let me tell you one thing, I love that ‘House of Cards’ — it’s so good,” Mr. Spacey continued in his Clinton voice. “Ninety-nine percent of what they do on that show is real, and the 1 percent they got wrong is that you could never get an education bill passed that fast.”

Mr. Clinton joined Mr. Spacey onstage, and a bromance between the two men ensued. Mr. Clinton grinned widely, relishing the impersonation. He put his arm around Mr. Spacey.

It was only the latest public display of affection between an actor, who is currently best known for portraying one of the most morally bankrupt presidents ever to come out of Hollywood, and a former president, who ever since he played the saxophone on “The Arsenio Hall Show” in 1992, has had a special bond with the small screen.

Mr. Spacey, a Democratic donor, first met Mr. Clinton in the White House during his first term. In two industries — politics and entertainment — known for fleeting friendships of convenience, the men seemed to genuinely bond. They stayed in touch and grew closer in Mr. Clinton’s post-presidency, talking a couple times a month and collaborating often on philanthropic work. It’s a relationship that is well known to those close to Mr. Clinton and that has become evident since I began covering him and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton. If you look closely at the décor in Underwood’s office on “House of Cards,” you’ll see a photo of Mr. Spacey and Mr. Clinton at dinner together plugging away on their BlackBerrys. The photo is likely to move to the White House with President Underwood in Season 3, which will begin streaming on Netflix on Feb. 27.

Of all the TV shows for Mr. Clinton to be associated with as Mrs. Clinton prepares for a 2016 presidential campaign, the coldly cynical depiction of Washington in “House of Cards” might not be the best for political optics.

Better to remind voters of the “The West Wing,” Aaron Sorkin’s optimistic ode to the Clinton years with President Josiah Bartlet as an unwavering liberal champion with none of the foibles of the real-life Mr. Clinton. Or, perhaps the current “Madam Secretary,” the glossy CBS drama with Téa Leoni as a glamorous and effective C.I.A. agent-turned secretary of state.

Still, the Clintons have not been shy about their ties to “House of Cards.” Last summer, Mrs. Clinton told People magazine she and Mr. Clinton “totally binge-watched” the first season. After a crushing travel schedule as secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton said part of the appeal was “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe we can just sit here and do this.”

The connection extends beyond Mr. Spacey and Mr. Clinton’s friendship. Before he became a TV writer and playwright, the “House of Cards” creator Beau Willimon worked as an intern on Mrs. Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign.

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Battle to Retake Iraqi City Looms as Test of Obama’s ISIS Strategy

Battle to Retake Iraqi City Looms as Test of Obama’s ISIS Strategy

American intelligence agencies and the Pentagon are struggling to determine how difficult it will be to retake Mosul, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Iraq, as planning intensifies for a battle that is becoming a major test of the Obama administration’s strategy to stop the spread of the terrorist group in the Middle East.

The assessment will be pivotal in driving important policy and military decisions that President Obama will need to make in the coming weeks, including whether the Pentagon will need to deploy teams of American ground forces to call in allied airstrikes and advise Iraqi troops on the battlefield on the challenges of urban warfare.

Reclaiming Mosul, which has a population of more than one million people and is Iraq’s second-largest city, will require 20,000 to 25,000 Iraqi and Kurdish forces to clear it block by block, with many of the streets and buildings likely rigged with explosives, American officials said. The battle is planned for as early as April.

The city is being held by 1,000 to 2,000 Islamic State militants, according to United States military estimates. It sits astride one of the major infiltration routes that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has used to ferry troops and supplies into northern Iraq from Syria.

American intelligence agencies say they do not yet know whether Islamic State fighters will dig in and defend Mosul to the death or whether, fearing encirclement, most ISIS fighters will slip out of the city for other Iraqi towns or cross the border into Syria, leaving behind a smaller force and booby-trapping buildings with bombs to tie down and bloody thousands of Iraqi troops.

“We are looking at all the things that are out there, i.e., what is the final enemy disposition in Mosul?” said an official at United States Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East and is helping Iraqis in the war planning.

The official, who briefed reporters on Thursday on the condition of anonymity to discuss future operations, continued, “All those things will have to be considered in the final analysis, and then ultimately they will go to the president with those things, and he will make that decision.”

The plan to retake Mosul, which the Islamic State has controlled since June, faces an array of challenges. The strategy is to draw on five of the most experienced Iraqi Army brigades, about 10,000 troops in all, put them through several weeks of special training and then use them in conjunction with Kurdish pesh merga units and other forces to mount the main assault. But both American and Iraqi commanders have raised doubts about the readiness of Iraq‘s ground forces, which have struggled to recapture smaller towns that pose far less of a challenge than Mosul.

Since American air power will be critical to helping the Iraqi and Kurdish forces advance, the main question Mr. Obama will have to answer is whether the challenges posed in retaking Mosul mean that teams of American joint terminal attack controllers, or JTACs, need to be on the ground so that the airstrikes can be delivered precisely.

These teams, if deployed, would likely need to be protected by Special Operations forces. There would also need to be additional quick-reaction forces held in reserve for emergencies, as well as medical personnel and helicopters in case the Americans came under heavy fire, former commanders said.

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Focus Legal marijuana experiment in two states: Has it worked?

Focus Legal marijuana experiment in two states: Has it worked?

Polls suggest a majority of Americans support legal pot, and as many as five states could legalize recreational marijuana in 2016. What might the trend mean for America? Washington State and Colorado are beginning to offer clues.

By Amanda Paulson

Just over a year after the first recreational pot shops opened in Colorado, “the sky is not falling,” says Options owner Greg Goldston, echoing a popular sentiment among legalization proponents in the state.

That premise may be correct – and most Coloradans will tell you they don’t notice much difference between the commercialized medical system that’s been in place in the state since 2009 and the new legalized recreational system. But there’s also a wide range of opinions about how successful America’s first foray into full marijuana legalization has been.

Some 23 states now have legal medical marijuana in place in some form, and last November, residents of Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia voted to fully legalize pot. Legalization advocates say that 2016 is likely to be the next big year, when Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada (at a minimum) could all vote on legalization.

Moreover, a majority of Americans now support legalization, although the 51 percent who told Gallup they supported it last fall is down from the 58 percent who supported it a year ago.

The United States, overall, is experiencing a sea change in how it sees marijuana, and many observers see federal legalization as likely 10 or 15 years down the road. Colorado and Washington are the tip of the trend, and their experiences – both their successes and missteps – are likely to shape how legalization plays out as other states learn from their example.


“From a policy perspective, we won’t be able to say it’s a huge success or whether it’s a failure for quite some time because the data is so new,” says John Hudak, a governance studies fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and author of a report on Colorado’s experience with legalization. “We do know it’s not an end-of-days disaster, and that allows us from a policy perspective to be a little more patient, to get more data so we can make an empirical assessment rather than a flippant assessment.”

Two sets of data sometimes cited in relation to Colorado’s experience were collected after legalization was voted on but before it took effect. A Colorado survey shows that teen marijuana use dropped from 22 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2013, although critics of legalization take issue with some of the methodology used.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, meanwhile, found that the share of Coloradans who use marijuana monthly jumped – from 10.4 percent to 12.7 percent – between 2012 and 2013, putting the state just behind Rhode Island as having the highest portions of regular pot users in the country.

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Why are older men looking at women half their age?

Man with two women in bikinis

Why are older men looking at women half their age?

It’s disheartening that men in their 50s seem so focused on looks

Stella Grey

All the women I know are tolerant of middle age showing itself in a chap. We quite like a late flowering, in fact: the silvering, the smile lines, the coming of bodily sturdiness. We read these as signs that life has been lived and enjoyed. We read them as indicators of substance, of being substantial. In general, men don’t seem to grant us the same courtesy, at least not the men I meet online. They are highly focused on the packaging. It’s disheartening.

“I bet you were gorgeous when you were young,” I was told recently, via message, like that was supposed to be a compliment. Yes, I was gorgeous, ish, for a while, and self-absorbed, and shallow, and inexperienced, and over-sensitive and dull. You’re right, mate, you’d have much preferred me then.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this. What does it mean to us, as women, to be told that we’re worth less than we used to be? No man I know has ever been told that his powers, his allure, his charm have faded, and that he has to face up to that redundancy. Many women I know in their 50s talk about their invisibility in public places. I’m sure a case could be made for invisibility as a liberating force in a woman’s life, but I am not the woman to make it, not this week at least, when I’ve been dissed or else flatly ignored by all the men I’ve said hello to.

It’s making me a bit rebellious, I admit. It’s making me want to look 50, and talk about 50, and stand firm with a whole movement of women, rejecting the pressure to try to look 35 for ever, throwing away our foundation garments and hair dye. I get these impulses and then I buy another stupid snake-oil anti-ageing cream.

It’s true that men don’t see me any more. It’s sobering to walk down the street observing how the 50-year-old men behave, paying attention to what they’re looking at as they stroll along. They are not looking in shop windows. They are not looking at me. They are looking at women half their age.

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Apple’s Newest Store Boasts 50-Foot Glass Walls and a Free-Floating Second Floor

Apple’s Newest Store Boasts 50-Foot Glass Walls and a Free-Floating Second Floor

By Margaret Rhodes

At first blush, Foster + Partners’ new Apple store in Hangzhou, China, looks a lot like its others. The British architecture firm headed by Norman Foster started designing for Apple in 2009, when Steve Jobs tapped them to design the new Cupertino headquarters. That massive, circular building aside, in the year or so since, Foster’s buildings have all been some sort of spin on the enormous glass box. The style makes perfect sense for Apple: It’s suggestive of the products sold within, and is sleek and consistent with Apple’s product packaging—which is just as key to the company’s design ethos as anything else it does.

If the new Hangzhou store is any indication, Foster + Partners are looking for ways to make its already pared down Apple stores even more minimalist. But in doing so, they’re pushing the limits of what can be done with modern structural engineering. Take a closer look: The Hangzhou store’s ceilings are almost 50 feet high, with no columns to be found. The façade of glass panels reaches from floor to ceiling without interruption, meaning Foster + Partners had to push well beyond their previous feats in glass manufacturing to get 11 seamless panes. (By contrast, the glass cube that leads to Apple’s heavily trafficked subterranean Fifth Avenue store in New York is 32 feet tall, and the curved glass entrance to the store’s Shanghai store is 40 feet in height. The Cupertino campus itself will use enormous glass panels that are curved.

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An Engineer Creates for Fun After a Lifetime of Workaday Rules

An Engineer Creates for Fun After a Lifetime of Workaday Rules


Seth Goldstein, 75, holds degrees in engineering and patents for biomedical innovations. But in retirement, he uses his engineering skills for whimsy and art.

Matt Roth for The New York Times

Seth R. Goldstein, formerly a biomedical engineer with the National Institutes of Health, with "Why Knot," a device driven by 10 electric motors that ties a necktie.


LINING the steep flagstone steps to a glass-walled house in a rocky, tree-shrouded neighborhood near Washington are two- and three-inch-thick twisted branches of an invasive vine that strangles the area’s hardiest oaks and sycamores. Seth R. Goldstein and his wife Paula Stone tear it from local woodlands and shape it into railings for the steps and into sculptures they show at community art exhibits.

At the top of the steps to the right of the door they have attached a replica of a red-crested pileated woodpecker. A retractable cord from an expired vacuum cleaner hangs from the woodpecker’s tail. Pull the cord, and the beak moves back and forth, striking the wall louder than any doorbell.

A 75-year-old, 5-foot-5, 120-pound sparrow of a man comes to the door. With four degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Goldstein calls himself an engineer. Most of what he makes moves. The American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, which is exhibiting one of his works, calls him a kinetic sculptor.

Thirteen years ago Mr. Goldstein retired from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, where he was a biomedical engineer. He owns or shares in 12 patents. One innovation is a supple spaghetti-thin catheter that a surgeon guides into an inoperable brain tumor to deliver chemotherapy, while minimizing side effects and damage to other tissues.

These days in his basement workshop, Mr. Goldstein makes machines that lack any commercial or — with the exception of the woodpecker — functional utility. But his work has purpose. He is pushing the envelope of engineering and hoping to stir the imaginations of young engineers to push their own envelopes.

“Why Knot?” for example, uses 10 electric motors to drive 10 mechanisms to construct a four-in-hand knot on a necktie that it wraps around its own neck. Grasping, pulling, aligning and winding the lengths of the tie, Mr. Knot can detect the occasional misstep or tear, untie the knot and get it right. Unlike Rube Goldberg’s whimsical contraptions, Mr. Goldstein’s is no mere cartoon. It works, if only for Mr. Knot. He cannot tie your tie.

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For Immigrants, Fear Returns After a Federal Judge’s Ruling

For Immigrants, Fear Returns After a Federal Judge’s Ruling

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — For Tomás Péndola, an immigrant from Argentina, it was a normal week teaching chemistry in a public high school here, filling a whiteboard with dense equations and coaxing his students to decipher them.

For Yeni Benítez, a Mexican immigrant in Wisconsin, this week was when “everything just fell apart.”

Mr. Péndola, who came here with his family when he was 10 and grew up in Florida without immigration papers, has protection from deportation and a work permit under President Obama’s program for unauthorized immigrants, known as Dreamers, who came to the United States as children. Ms. Benítez had been ready on Wednesday to join an expanded version of the program, which was announced by the president in November.

But officials indefinitely postponed the expansion this week after a federal judge in Texas, ruling in a lawsuit by 26 states, said it would impose major burdens on state budgets. On Friday, the administration said it would seek a stay of the Texas judge’s order.

“I’m back to this sense of insecurity, of being afraid every day, every hour, every minute,” said Ms. Benítez, who has a college degree in engineering but is working in a factory. “It really is taking a toll on me.”

Mr. Péndola and Ms. Benítez now stand on two sides of a sharp divide created by disagreements over how far a president can change immigration policy by executive action.

Those like Ms. Benítez, whose hopes were raised by the prospect of the expanded program, must continue to live with fears of being fired or detained. At the same time, they are watching others make progress they hoped to achieve.

Immigrants like Mr. Péndola who participated in the program have seen many doors open. Still, they worry about how the fiercely contested politics of immigration could affect their fate.

Mr. Péndola was finishing a college degree in chemistry, but before the program the best job he could get was selling magic tricks in a Miami tourist shop. With his work permit and Social Security number from the initiative, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, Mr. Péndola, now 23, was able to get a driver’s license and buy his own car, freeing him to commute to college and work without fear of being pulled over by the police.

After his college graduation, the high school where he had been a standout science student asked him to come back as a teacher. At the MAST Academy in Key Biscayne, a magnet school that draws science students from across the Miami area, he is earning a steady official paycheck, with his tax withholding in order. And he is loving his work.

“This is a very nerdy school where the kids are encouraged to be curious,” Mr. Péndola said in his laboratory after an advanced chemistry class. “I like being able to excite them about chemistry, which is not normally everyone’s favorite subject.”

Nearly 640,000 young immigrants have received protection since 2012. As many as 270,000 others could be eligible under the new rules. The immigrants, most of whom came with parents and either crossed the border illegally or overstayed legal visas, receive temporary work authorization but no lasting legal immigration status.

Ms. Benítez, who has lived in the United States since she was 13, is now 36. She was too old in 2012 for the age limit of 30 in the program. Under the expansion, Mr. Obama eliminated that age cap. He also reset the date by which applicants must have been in the United States from June 2007 to January 2010 and extended the term of the deportation deferrals from two years to three.

Ms. Benítez’s mother is a legal resident, and several siblings are American citizens. In 2004 she applied through the legal system for a resident green card, but because of vast backlogs she still has many years to wait.

With a 10-year-old daughter who is a citizen, Ms. Benítez would also be eligible for the other program the court order suspended, for as many as four million undocumented parents of citizens or legal residents. It had been scheduled to begin in May.

Ms. Benítez graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, with an engineering degree. But she has been clinging to a job as a quality control manager on a castings production line, relying on car pools to get to work and keeping quiet about her legal status.

“You can’t show your face because you are holding on to the one job that will feed your family,” she said.

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Bruce Jenner's Woes Continue

Time for a change: Bruce Jenner was pictured moving out of his Malibu home on Friday with the help of his son, Brandon

Bruce Jenner moves out of Malibu home

... as it's revealed he has 'stopped filming TV show about his transition into a woman following fatal car crash'

By Nola Ojomu for MailOnline

Bruce Jenner was pictured moving out of his Malibu home on Friday with the help of his son, Brandon.

The former Olympian – who was recently involved in a car crash that left a woman dead – seemed to be ready for a change of scene as he moved his household items in a trusty Ford truck. Bruce was seen wearing a black cap and a red shirt while he covered his eyes with a pair of sunglasses. The 65-year-old seems to have moved into a new home after deciding to leave the mansion he has been living in following the decision to separate from his wife, Kris Jenner, in 2013.

Changes: According to new reports, Bruce has stopped filming the TV show documenting his transition into a woman following his involvement in the fatal car crash

Bruce has reportedly put shooting the reality series on hold and has no plans to continue anytime soon after the four car pile-up in Los Angeles which resulted in the death of his neighbour Kim Howe, earlier this month.

A source told Radar Online: "There is no timetable for when Bruce will resume filming the docuseries.

"Obviously, it's not the priority right now, given the severity of the situation that Bruce is facing. From a public relations standpoint, it would also be in very poor taste to be filming a reality show after Bruce was involved in the crash."

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The One Best Thing You Can Do For the One You Love

The One Best Thing You Can Do For the One You Love

The One Best Thing You Can Do For the One You Love

By Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.

Everyone knows how important exercise is for our physical and mental health. What you might not realize is that the steps you take to benefit your own health can also benefit your partner. Get your partner in a healthy frame of mind, and both of you will enjoy the rewards.

Living with Gusto

Living with Gusto

Living with Gusto

  • By Morton H Shaevitz Ph.D., ABPP

We all struggle between living cautiously and living fully, and are bombarded with contradictory information about what to eat, how to relax, how to exercise, and if a glass or two of red is ok. What bearing should health rules have on older adults

SparklyMorons stay warm in Hollywood

Record cold in NYC but SparklyMorons are in Hollywood...

'The Greatest Enemy of Press Freedom in a Generation'

'The Greatest Enemy of Press Freedom in a Generation'

A New York Times reporter's accusation that the Obama administration engages in censorship raises questions about when journalism slides into advocacy.

By David A. Graham

Many reporters have contentious relationships with sources and with the government, but James Risen is in a class of his own. The veteran New York Times national-security reporter has scored some notable scoops the authorities didn't want him to—most notably about a failed CIA sabotage operation on Iran's nuclear program. When Risen got the story the first time, the government convinced The Times to quash it for national-security reasons. (He eventually published it in a book).

The CIA thought it knew who leaked the info, and it subpoenaed Risen to reveal his source. Demanding this of a journalist is technically legal, but is highly unusual and often frowned-upon. Risen refused to divulge the source and said he'd go to jail instead, setting up a long showdown with the Justice Department. Ultimately, Risen won. Under pressure, Attorney General Eric Holder vowed, ambiguously, "As long as I’m attorney general, no reporter who is doing his job is going to go to jail." Risen testified, refusing to name his source, and the Justice Department still managed to convict Jeffrey Sterling for leaking. Everyone else lived happily ever after.

Or not. Risen has launched a one-man crusade against Holder and the Obama administration. Risen escalated that this week with a series of angry tweets replying to a speech Holder gave the National Press Club, in which the reporter blasted the current White House as the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation and accused the attorney general of shredding the First Amendment.

Critics called it a rant; Risen said it was merely a fact-check. That divided response shows the dangers for reporters debating press freedom. It's the one area that can turn otherwise impartial journalists into fierce advocates. While many in the media see that as an essential risk, it is no doubt a risk. It's also unclear whether the public is on the press' side, and how it might react to that advocacy.

In any case, Risen has a point. In addition to his own persecution, the Justice Department has pursued Fox reporter James Rosen. Ann Compton, who covered every president from Ford to Obama, also said this is the least transparent. While Holder has promised not to jail reporters, it seems to be a statement of personal preference, not Justice Department policy. He hasn't pulled back from trying to get reporters to divulge their sources—only from certain tactics—and he has presided over a massive crackdown on leaks inside the administration. There are of course good reasons why the government would wish to reduce leaking, but it's also an essential outlet for whistleblowers. Leaks lubricate the machinery of free press.

Meanwhile, the White House has been working on a whole slate of methods for bypassing reporters—or at least national political reporters. That means disseminating information directly to the public through videos, White House blogs, and Medium, and granting interviews to late-night shows, local journalists, and YouTube celebrities rather than to folks like, well, The New York Times' James Risen. President Obama has given notably few press conferences. Administrations since at least Nixon have been moving in this direction, but Obama has pressed beyond them, aided by technological advances that allow him to bypass traditional gatekeepers. The danger of the government speaking directly to people is that there's little place for checking facts, stress-testing claims, and pushing the conversation elsewhere. There's a reason that Voice of America, the external broadcast arm of the U.S. federal government, was long banned from distributing to American citizens.

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Pentagon Doubts Its Own ISIS War Plan

Pentagon Doubts Its Own ISIS War Plan

Less than a day after the U.S. military announced its Spring offensive against ISIS, seasoned military officers said the plan was unworkable.

Nancy A. Youssef

Less than 24 hours after U.S. military officials publicly detailed their plans for a spring offensive on ISIS-held Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, many within the Pentagon privately questioned whether that timetable was plausible. They said that they were dubious that their partners in the Iraqi military—the troops supposed to lead the offensive—would be capable of conducting such a campaign by then.

“I really doubt it is going to happen that soon,” said one military officer who, like several others, served in Iraq between 2003-2011 and spoke on condition of anonymity. “And if it does, it will take months.”

The largely Shiite troops of the Iraqi army are unlikely to risk their lives to win back a Sunni dominated city, several U.S. military officers told The Daily Beast on Friday. Indeed, when ISIS stormed the city last June, Iraqi forces walked away, leading the U.S. and 60 other nations to form a coalition against the terror group.

Even if the Iraqi troops do stand up and fight the self-proclaimed Islamic State, having a Shiite force move in and potentially ravage a major Sunni city in a bid to save it could have adverse affects on the Sunnis in Iraq and broader Sunni Arab world. Sectarian tensions, particularly in Iraq, run that deep.

“I cannot believe that Shiites would fight for Mosul,” one officer who served in the restive Sunni province of Anbar during the Iraq War told The Daily Beast.

So far, there is no evidence of a strong Sunni-majority Iraqi Army brigade, and U.S. Central Command has said it will take at least eight brigades to win back the city.

In the absence of such a force, it is not clear that the Sunni-dominated city would welcome those troops. Many Sunnis feel betrayed by Iraq’s Shiite-dominated central government, and all indications are that Shiite militias are becoming increasingly powerful in Iraq as the war against ISIS drags on, only confirming Sunni residents fears.

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In Remarks on Obama, Rudy Giuliani to the Core

In Remarks on Obama, Rudy Giuliani to the Core

He showed up unannounced and was initially not even invited, but he was prepared all the same.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and one-time Republican presidential hopeful, stepped to the microphone at the “21” Club in Manhattan on Wednesday, for an event ostensibly spotlighting Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. But by suggesting that President Obama did not love his country, Mr. Giuliani became the story.

His remarks, seemingly out of the blue, were not an isolated outburst.

No more than an hour or two before Mr. Giuliani appeared at Mr. Walker’s event, he vented his frustration at Mr. Obama at another fund-raising event in Manhattan. There, Mr. Giuliani took particular issue with the president’s recent comments likening Islamic extremist terrorism to the religious warfare of the medieval Crusades.

Only the previous week, Mr. Giuliani veered off topic at a realtors’ conference in Las Vegas to assail the president’s irresolute stance toward President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, attendees said. And on Feb. 13, he told an Iranian-American group in Arizona that Mr. Obama was not “a man who loves his people.”

(In an online video of the event, Mr. Giuliani is shown shouting: “Mr. President, wake up. Come off the golf course.”)

Mr. Giuliani’s friends and political associates say he has become a man obsessed — horrified at what he views as a listless White House approach to terrorism and instability in the Middle East, and eager to say so.

His remarks this week mostly drew derision and outrage, and seemed to further distance Mr. Giuliani from the heroic, above-the-fray image he carefully burnished after the Sept. 11 attacks, aligning him more squarely with the hard right of the Republican Party than at any other time in his career.

After his initial comments caused an uproar, Mr. Giuliani did little to tamp down the controversy in an interview with The New York Times on Thursday, and again on Friday night.

“I said exactly what I wanted to say,” he said. “I conveyed exactly the message I wanted to convey.”

But if the ideological positioning is new, Mr. Giuliani’s combative demeanor is not. Long prone to flamboyant confrontation and rhetorical excess, he is less inclined toward self-restraint than ever, political associates said, and Mr. Giuliani agreed.


Mr. Giuliani has plainly not mellowed in his prosperity. Representative Peter T. King, a Long Island Republican who has known him for decades, said the former mayor was “very personally angry” in his remarks, on and off the stage at the fund-raising event on Wednesday evening.

“This is as emotional as I’ve seen him. He was in some ways more emotional than he was after 9/11,” said Mr. King, who spoke alongside Mr. Giuliani at a private “super PAC” fund-raising event at the Women’s National Republican Club in Manhattan.

John A. Catsimatidis, the billionaire grocery store magnate, attended the same fund-raiser and, on a whim, invited Mr. Giuliani to join him at a meet-and-greet for Mr. Walker with members of the New York financial elite. Mr. Catsimatidis, a frequent Republican donor, lamented that Mr. Giuliani’s unplanned speech became an enveloping spectacle.

“The focus of the event should not have been that,” Mr. Catsimatidis said, adding: “Look, Rudy is Rudy. He’s not going to run for anything himself. Maybe he wanted to get it off his chest.”

To some in Republican politics, Mr. Giuliani’s public eruption looks like the product of slack political instincts, the shoot-from-the-lip behavior of a former champion who has lost self-awareness with each year removed from office. The former mayor’s political career has sloped precipitously downward since his ill-fated 2008 campaign; while he remains an occasional fund-raising attraction, his time as a national Republican leader is past.

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Obama: No accident the economy is improving on my watch.

Obama: No accident the economy is improving on my watch

Obama: No accident the economy is improving on my watch.

By Associated Press

Taunting Republicans, President Barack Obama on Friday said it’s “not an accident” that the economy is improving under his watch and chided GOP critics for “doom and gloom” predictions that haven’t come true.

Obama said he welcomed the attention Republicans have been giving to the middle class, “but so far at least the rhetoric has not matched the reality.”

In a speech to the Democratic National Committee’s winter meeting, Obama gave a rousing defense of his economic policies and promoted his agenda as the right policy and political prescriptions for Democrats heading into the 2016 elections. He said the party’s belief in “middle class economics,” including his health care law, has spurred economic growth and job creation.

“I just want everybody to remember that at every step as we made these policies, made this progress, we were told by our good friends the Republicans that our actions would crush jobs, explode deficits and destroy the country,” he told the partisan crowd. “If we were actually to look at the evidence, it’s pretty clear whose theory of how to grow the economy and make sure American people are prospering, which theory works. We know their ideas don’t work.”

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Pressure builds on GOP as deadline to fund DHS nears

Pressure builds on GOP as deadline to fund DHS nears

Pressure builds on GOP as deadline to fund DHS nears

By Mike Lillis

Pressure is building on Republicans to avoid a partial shutdown of the Homeland Security Department amid an escalating battle over President Obama's immigration policies. 

The GOP leaders are being squeezed from one side by conservatives insisting that legislation funding the agency must include provisions to undo Obama's executive actions shielding millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. And they're being pressed from the other by Obama and the Democrats who are demanding a “clean” proposal absent the immigration add-ons.

With the Senate at an impasse – and the clock ticking quickly toward a Feb. 28 shutdown of the agency – some centrist Republicans on and off Capitol Hill are starting to lean more to the Democrats' side, wary of both the practical effects of a DHS shutdown on national security, and the political harm such an event would do to their party.

“They should go ahead and pass a clean DHS bill,” Alfonso Aguilar, who headed the Office of Citizenship under President George W. Bush, said Friday. “Congress is controlled by Republicans [and] the reality is that if they don't pass the budget, people will blame the Republicans.

“They've had enough time to vent,” added Aguilar. “It's now time to lead.”

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Obama has no backup plan on immigration

Obama has no backup plan on immigration

Obama has no backup plan on immigration

By Brian Hughes

President Obama, who has hammered Republicans repeatedly for lacking an alternative to his most controversial policies, now finds himself in a similar predicament: He has no plan B if the courts invalidate his executive action on immigration.

The White House is now putting all its efforts into getting an emergency stay on a Texas federal judge’s order temporarily blocking Obama’s unilateral push to shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Obama wants his immigration plan to proceed while judges weigh a broader appeal by his administration to the ruling by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, which upended a centerpiece of his second-term agenda.

Beyond those legal maneuverings, however, the White House has no fallback plan for how to move past a possible legal defeat that may be coming, according to court observers.

Multiple White House officials were unable to provide the Washington Examiner with a contingency strategy for how they would grant the type of deportation relief long demanded by immigration activists if the courts block Obama's current blueprint.

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What ‘The Imitation Game’ didn’t tell you about Turing’s greatest triumph

The Pilot ACE computer, fundamentally designed by Alan Turing. (PA Wire)

Joel Achenbach

Alan Turing’s biggest breakthrough wasn’t mechanical but theoretical — and is arguably the founding document of the digital age.

Freeman Dyson, 91, the famed physicist, author and oracle of human destiny, is holding forth after tea-time one February afternoon in the common room of the Institute for Advanced Study.

“Let me tell you the story of how I discovered Turing, which was in 1941,” he says. “I was just browsing in the library in Cambridge. I hit that 1936 paper. I never heard of this guy Turing, but I saw that paper and immediately I said this is something absolutely great. Computable numbers, that was something that was obviously great.”

Pause. Then, with a laugh: “But it never occurred to me that it would have any practical importance.”

The film focuses on Turing’s heroics in World War II, when he worked for the British intelligence service and played the key role in breaking the German “Enigma” code.

We see Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch, also nominated for an Oscar) laboring obsessively over the building of a code-breaking machine. After the war, he’s still tinkering with an elaborate piece of hardware. The movie closes with a valediction:

“His machine was never perfected, though it generated a whole field of research into what became known as ‘Turing Machines.’ Today we call them ‘computers.’ ”

In reality, Turing’s greatest breakthrough wasn’t mechanical, but theoretical — that 1936 paper that Dyson was talking about. “On Computable Numbers,” written in England, was published in the proceedings of the London Mathematical Society after Turing arrived at Princeton, where he would spend two academic years earning a Ph.D.

Amid the paper’s thicket of equations and mathematical theories lay a powerful idea: that it would be possible to build a machine that could compute anything that a human could compute. Turing was addressing a question of logic, but in the process he clearly described a real machine that someone could build, one that would use 0s and 1s for computation.


Turing did not have the chance to see the computer age flourish. Turing was homosexual in an era when that was a crime; charged with gross indecency, he avoided prison only by agreeing to hormone treatments, a kind of chemical castration — “as if he is like the universal computing machine where if you change the program you can change the outcome,” Isaacson says.

Turing, whose efforts to win the war remained classified for decades, lost his security clearance and then, apparently, his will to live. In 1954, he died of cyanide poisoning with a half-eaten apple by his side. The man who did much to invent the modern technological world may have left it after dipping the apple in the poison.

“Is that something a machine would have done?” Isaacson asks. “The Imitation Game was over at that point. Turing was a human.”

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Obama Is Wrong. Democracy Is The Last Thing The Middle East Needs

Obama Is Wrong. Democracy Is The Last Thing The Middle East Needs Right Now

Obama Is Wrong. Democracy Is The Last Thing The Middle East Needs Right Now

By David Harsanyi

President Barack Obama gave a speech at White House’s “Countering Violent Extremism” summit yesterday crammed with predictable feel-good ideas for combating the imaginary root causes of Islamic extremism. And in the midst of arguing that radicalism was principally driven by anger over colonialism, illiteracy, and unemployment, Obama proposed an idea that we should have been abandoned trillions of dollars and many years ago: more democracy.

First of all, does Obama really believe that extremists have “legitimate grievances?” Are the disaffected youth recruited from the slums of Paris (but, curiously, not from the slums of Rio or Beijing) concerned that France doesn’t offer a strong enough civil society? Are the radicals beheading Christians in North Africa ticked off over a lack of women’s rights in Yemen? Are extremists who target Jews and free-speech enthusiasts in Copenhagen worried about the health of democratic institutions in Europe?

No, it’s the grievances themselves that are the root of the problem. In most Arab countries, the authoritarian leadership is in some ways more liberal than the majority of the citizenry. As bad as these regimes are – and we coddle and enable many of them – almost every time the democratic process has been tried in the Islamic world, it’s produced more extremism and factional violence. So which nation does the president propose would benefit most from more democracy? Pakistan? Iraq? Saudi Arabia? Jordan? How would Christians and Alawites fare in a democratic Syria, do you think?

Perhaps as well as minorities do in a democratic Libya, a place Obama argued Americans had to intervene militarily or the “democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship.” Turns out that democratic impulses can also lead to darkness. There is no Gadhafi regime, but there is anarchy, a fertile recruiting ground for terrorists and a country where Copts can be executed without too many hassles and American consulates can be sacked without any repercussion. All of it enabled, in part, by the president’s unauthorized war (and Congress’ implicit approval of that war) that was meant to help facilitate democracy.

At the same time, the administration punishes the Egyptian government for putting an end to the extremism empowered by democratic impulses. It is Egypt’s al-Sisi – no great friend of liberty, granted – who’s spoken out most forcefully about the future of Islam. Yet the administration has withheld aid from that government until it can “certify that Egypt is taking steps toward democracy.” As if insuring a larger role for the Muslim Brotherhood was in the U.S.’s – or the world’s – best interests.

To put our confused priorities in perspective, the United States condemned the Egyptians for bombing ISIS targets in Libya over the summer, complaining that “outside interference in Libya exacerbates current divisions and undermines Libya’s democratic transition.” (Incredulous italics mine)

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White House to Seek Emergency Order to Let Immigration Plan Proceed

White House to Seek Emergency Order to Let Immigration Plan Proceed

The White House on Friday said that lawyers at the Justice Department would seek an emergency order from an appeals court to allow the federal government to issue work permits and provide legal protections to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants while it appeals a judge's ruling halting the programs.

The move came in response to a ruling issued by a federal judge on Monday night indefinitely postponing President Obama’s sweeping executive actions on immigration.

Officials said the Justice Department would make an official request by the end of the day on Monday.

“We believe that when you evaluate the legal merits of the argument, that there is a solid legal foundation for the president to take the steps that he announced late last year to reform our broken immigration system,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said on Friday.

Mr. Earnest added: “That’s consistent with the way that previous presidents over the course of several decades have used their executive authority. And that is why, you know, we are going to continue to pursue this case in the legal system.”

The president in November announced executive actions that would shield up to five million undocumented immigrants from deportation and would establish programs that provide work permits to many of those people. The Department of Homeland Security had been scheduled to begin carrying out part of that program on Tuesday.

The decision to seek an emergency reversal of the judge’s injunction indicates the urgency felt by the White House and its lawyers.

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Cocaine-snorting Oscar statue removed

Los Angeles street artist Plastic Jesus has caused controversy by placing a life-sized gold Oscars statue snorting cocaine on Hollywood Boulevard, just yards from the red carpet.

Cocaine-snorting Oscar statue removed after popping up on Hollywood Boulevard


A life-sized Oscar statuette snorting cocaine on its hands and knees popped up for a few hours on Hollywood Boulevard on Thursday — just days before the glamorous Academy Awards and yards from the red carpet.

The stunning gold figure is meant to draw attention to Hollywood’s “hidden” problem of drug addiction, which goes unnoticed until the death of an A-list celebrity, Los Angeles street artist Plastic Jesus told the Daily News.

“We’re deluded if we’re saying that cocaine isn’t a major part of Hollywood and almost every other city in the world,” he said. “A lot of people will sit down and watch the Oscar show this Sunday and then go and indulge in cocaine.”

The controversial piece of art, titled “Hollywood’s Best Party,” shows an Oscar figure snorting drugs through a rolled up $100 bill, as a black “American Excess” card lies nearby.

It drew tons of attention after it was placed on the famous California street near La Brea Ave. Thursday at 9 a.m. But the artist removed it about 2 p.m. after a “grouchy, old man started ranting about it,” Plastic Jesus said.

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War, extremism, Islam, and America's language police

War, extremism, Islam, and America's language police

  • The right-wing complaint that Obama isn't emphasizing the 'Islamic' part of the 'Islamic State' enough isn't only misguided, it's dangerous.

New York's former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, made headlines yesterday for saying President Barack Obama doesn't love America or its citizens and that he "wasn't brought up the way you were brought up or I was brought up."

In the process of making his case, Mr. Giuliani joined a rising chorus of language police on the American right, spearheaded by Fox News, who are furious (they say) that the Obama White House tries to avoid smearing all Muslims with the same brush when talking about Islamist jihadis like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda.

This complaint was directed at Mr. Obama during an international summit in Washington on what his administration calls "countering violent extremism." In his remarks, Obama stressed a White House refrain – carried over from the Bush administration – that the US is "not at war with Islam." And this is what apparently infuriates his right-wing opponents.

“Why is this man incapable of saying that? You’ve got to be able to criticize Islam for the parts of Islam that are wrong. You criticize Christianity for the part of Christianity that is wrong. I’m not sure how wrong the Crusades are. The Crusades were kind of an equal battle between two groups of barbarians. The Muslims and the crusading barbarians. What the hell? What’s wrong with this man that he can’t stand up and say there’s a part of Islam that’s sick?” Giuliani said, according to Politico.

Fox went full-bore on this topic. "President Obama criticized for not calling terrorists 'Islamic,'" was a frequent chyron, usually as Republicans like Karl Rove attacked the administration's language choices, as if semantics hold the key to defeating the likes of Islamic State, known as IS or ISIS. And Fox host Bill O'Reilly took up the language of The Crusades, using the kind of hyperbole that IS relishes, since it fits its own millenarian worldview of a US-led conspiracy to destroy the world's over 1 billion Muslims. 

"There is only one leader with the cache to lead the fight – that reluctant warrior, Barack Obama. This is now a so-called Holy War between radical jihadists and everybody else including peaceful Muslims. The Holy War is here and unfortunately it seems the President will be the last one to acknowledge it,” Mr. O'Reilly said

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who may run for president next year, told Fox that Obama is an "apologist for radical Islamic terrorists" and accused him of "bizarre, politically correct double-speak." Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is also exercised by nomenclature. "Americans understand we are not at war with Islam. But, we will not defeat these fanatics if we refuse to define them for what they are – violent Islamist extremists."

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Ole Miss Will Play Cal in 2017 and 2019

Ole Miss Will Play Cal in 2017 and 2019

In what can only be described as a wonderfully awkward matchup of fanbases, Ole Miss will travel to UC-Berkeley in 2017 and host those lovable protesters in 2019. When I first heard the news, I went over to California Golden Blogs to read what they had to say. I was hoping for a long thread deriding Mississippi and the South in general. My hopes were dashed. It turns out that Cal fans, you know, like football and stuff. They're excited about the Grove and the matchup. Who knew?

While it's probably pointless this far out, let's get to better know the Golden Bears, specifically looking at what we know of their 2017 situation. The Golden Bears, led by Sonny Dykes (6-18 at Cal) are coming off a 5-7 2014 follow-up to a 1-11 2013. That's imporvement any way you slice it. Should they have only won one game in 2013? Probably not, but you can't argue with the upswing from year one to year two.

One of the biggest reasons for Cal's turnaround of sorts is the emergence of sophomore Jared Goff. Goff went from throwing 18 touchdowns and ten picks as a freshman to 35 and 7 as a sophomore. If you're counting at home, you'll notice that with Goff entering his junior season, he won't be on the team when the Rebels face the Golden Bears in 2017. In fact, assuming Goff doesn't go pro early, Cal will be breaking in a new quarterback when facing the Rebels. 6'3" sophomore phenom receiver Kenny Lawler will also be gone. In fact, shockingly, most of Cal's major contributors this season weren't freshmen. Any non-freshman will no longer be in Berkeley in 2017.

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Goodell needs to prevent chaos in L.A.


Goodell needs to prevent chaos in L.A.

Posted by Mike Florio / ProFootballTalk

Twenty years ago, Roger Goodell played a key role in resolving the Cleveland conundrum that arose when Browns owner Art Modell decided to move the team to Baltimore.  In the end, Modell left the name and the records behind, Cleveland was guaranteed an expansion franchise in 1999, and the future Commissioner scored plenty of points on Park Avenue for working it all out.

Today, Goodell ultimately presides over a far more complicated situation in L.A., a market that became vacant the same year Modell decided to leave Ohio.  For most of two decades, the place that the Raiders and Rams left after the 1994 season had provided the league with leverage in stadium negotiations, helping multiple teams get new buildings funded in part by taxpayer money with L.A. serving as the “or else.”  In recent months, L.A. has become a necessity for teams that had hit a brick wall in this new era of public reluctance to subsidize ballparks for billionaires.

And so with the Rams intent on relocating to Inglewood, the Chargers and Raiders have thrown a joint hat into the ring with the concept of sharing a stadium in Carson.  The mere fact that a pair of AFC West rivals would agree to an Oscar-and-Felix-style cohabitation shows just how desperate the situation has become.  In the Bay Area, the Raiders had no interest in sharing space with a team they play once every four years.  In Carson, two of the annual 16 regular-season games played there would pit the tenants against each other.

In their joint statement announcing plans to explore a stadium together in Carson, the Raiders and Chargers made clear their desire to respect the NFL’s relocation procedures.  Rams owner Stan Kroenke has yet to make any such commitment.  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.  As the Raiders proved more than 30 years ago, the antitrust laws prevent the NFL from telling any of its owners where to do business.

Which sets the stage for chaos.

The End of Public-Employee Unions?

The End of Public-Employee Unions?

The Supreme Court has been asked to take a case that could deal a crippling blow to the labor movement.

Garrett Epps

Constitutional scholars sometimes like to commend courts for what they call “the passive virtues”—a reluctance to become involved in constitutional dispute, a reticence to announce new rules, a preference for standing by earlier decisions (“stare decisis”).

Judges, too, like to cite what they call “the canon of constitutional avoidance,” a set of rules designed to avoid unnecessary constitutional decisions. In Federalist 78, Alexander Hamilton promised that the new union’s courts would have “have neither force nor will, but merely judgment.”

The truth is that since at least Marbury v. Madison, Courts and Justices have hinted, signaled, begged, and reached out to litigants to bring them issues where one or more justice thinks the law needs to change. On the current Court, few of the Justices have signaled quite as vigorously as Justice Samuel Alito. Alito, a man of firm likes and dislikes, has twice questioned the constitutionality of public-employee contracts. Neither case, however, presented the chance to invalidate them.

Now his moment may have come. In response to Alito’s hints, the issue has landed squarely in the Court’s inbox in the form of a petition for review in a suit against the California Teachers Association. If Alito gets his desired result, it will deal a long-lasting blow to union power—and, perhaps by coincidence, the Democratic Party.

Here’s the issue: Even in union states, public employees cannot be required to join a union. Such a requirement, the Court has said, would violate their First Amendment rights, because that would be the government requiring them to speak and associate against their will. However, state governments can sign agreements with unions designating the union as the official bargaining agent for all employees, members or not. The union then must represent both members and non-members—and representation costs money, in the form of lawyers, economists, researchers, and so forth. Non-members are thus potentially “free riders” who get a service paid for by their fellow workers.

In response, a compromise developed called the “agency-fee” or “fair-share” payment. Requiring objectors to pay for political activities or lobbying would be “compelled political speech,” and violate the First Amendment. However, under the “fair share” system, non-members are charged a fee that excludes these political activities and is designated to cover only the chargeable costs of actual representation—negotiating contracts, administering benefit programs, and helping employees with grievances.

The “fair share” fee is Alito’s current target.

Golden Tate: Russell Wilson should put end to wife rumors

Golden Tate: Russell Wilson should put end to wife rumors

Don’t expect Golden Tate and Russell Wilson to reminisce about Seattle’s glory days anytime soon.

The Lions star wideout, who is rumored to have had an affair with the Super Bowl-losing QB’s now-ex-wife Ashton Meem, isn’t thrilled that his former teammate has yet to jump to his defense.

“It’s a bunch of bulls–t,” Tate tells TMZ in the video above of the scandalous claims. “It’s sad that he’s letting this go on. ”

Wilson’s radio silence regarding the supposed tryst speaks volume to Tate.

“I don’t know what he believes,” said Tate, who signed with the Lions last offseason after winning a Super Bowl two seasons ago as one of Wilson’s top targets for the Seahawks.

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What Does Obama Really Mean by'Violent Extremism'?

What Does Obama Really Mean by'Violent Extremism'?

The wisdom in avoiding the phrase "radical Islam"

By Peter Beinart

By avoiding the phrase "radical Islam," the president may be making a statement about the nature of terrorism itself.

Sometimes we overlook the obvious. For weeks now, pundits and politicians have been raging over President Obama’s insistence that America is fighting “violent extremism” rather than “radical Islam.” Rudy Giuliani calls the president’s refusal to utter the ‘I’ word “cowardice.” The president’s backers defend it as a savvy refusal to give ISIS the religious war it desperately wants. But, for the most part, both sides agree that when Obama says “violent extremists” he actually means “violent Muslim extremists.” After all, my Atlantic colleague David Frum argues, “The Obama people, not being idiots, understand very well that international terrorism possesses an overwhelmingly Muslim character.”

But what if they don’t? What if Obama is using the term “violent extremism” rather than “radical Islam” not only because he doesn’t want to offend moderate Muslims, but because he’s also worried about violent extremists who aren’t Muslim? It sounds crazy, but it shouldn’t.

In his Wednesday speech to the Summit on Countering (you guessed it) Violent Extremism, Obama listed a series of terrorist attacks in the United States over the last two decades. Of the six he mentioned, only three (9/11, the 2009 murders at Fort Hood, and the Boston Marathon bombing) were committed by Muslims/ The other three (the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the 2012 attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and the 2014 shooting at a Kansas City-area Jewish Community Center) were not. (Obama also mentioned this month’s killing of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, which may or may not have been terrorism.)

For Obama’s critics, and even some of his defenders, this is the president being “politically correct,” straining to prove that terrorists, and their victims, hail from every group and creed in order to avoid stigmatizing Muslims. But the president’s survey is fairly representative. Peruse the FBI’s database of terrorist attacks in the United States between 1980 and 2005 and you’ll see that radical Muslims account for a small percentage of them. Many more were committed by radical environmentalists, right-wing extremists, and Puerto Rican nationalists. To be sure, Muslims account for some of the most deadly incidents: the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, Egyptian immigrant Hesham Mohamed Ali Hedayat’s shooting spree at the El Al counter at LAX in 2002, and of course 9/11. But non-Muslims account (or at least appear to account) for some biggies too: the Unabomber, the Oklahoma City bombing, the explosions at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and the 2001 anthrax attacks).

If you look more recently, the story is much the same. Between 2006 and 2013, the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD) logged 14 terrorist incidents in the United States in which at least one person died. Of these, Muslims committed four: a 2006 attack on the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, a 2009 assault on a Little Rock recruiting station, the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, and the 2013 Boston Marathon attack (which the GTD counts as four separate incidents but I count as only one). Non-Muslims committed 10, including an attack on a Unitarian church in Knoxville in 2008, the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller in Wichita in 2009, the flying of a private plane into an IRS building in Austin in 2010, and the attack on the Sikh temple that same year.

Not all European terrorists are Muslim either. According to the Center for American Progress’s analysis of data from Europol, the European Union’s equivalent of the FBI, less than 2 percent of terrorist attacks in the EU between 2009 and 2013 were religiously inspired. Separatist or ultra-nationalist groups committed the majority of the violent acts. Of course, jihadists have perpetrated some of the most horrific attacks in Europe in recent memory: the 2004 Madrid train bombings, the 2005 attacks in the London subway, and, of course, last month’s murders at Charlie Hebdo and Hypercacher. But there have been gruesome attacks by non-Muslims too. Right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik’s 2011 assault on a summer camp near Oslo, for instance, killed far more people than the recent, awful attacks in France.

It’s likely true that in Europe, which boasts a larger and less integrated Muslim population than does the United States, jihadists comprise a growing share of the terrorist threat. But even there, “violent extremism” and “radical Islamic terrorism” are not synonyms. And they certainly aren’t in the United States, where there are fewer radicalized Muslims and no clear evidence that their terrorism is eclipsing other varieties. It’s true that when Americans picture terrorism on American soil they tend to picture violence by Muslims rather than by neo-Nazis, luddites, anti-IRS fanatics, or people who hate Sikhs. But that says as much about the American media as it does about American terrorism itself.

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Tech Investors Create a Billion-Dollar-Baby Boom

Tech Investors Create a Billion-Dollar-Baby Boom

Less than 12 months after investors valued Snapchat, the red-hot messaging app, at about $10 billion, the start-up is again in the market for money — and poised to nearly double that valuation.

A range of other popular start-ups are also poised to propel their net worths to similar multibillion-dollar heights, including the virtual scrapbooking service Pinterest and the ride-hailing app Lyft. Uber, Lyft’s top competitor, has raised more than $3 billion in the last year and now has an eye-popping valuation of $40 billion.

Giant sums of money and sky-high valuations are nothing new in the technology industry. But the latest burst of activity has put on clear display the frenzied pace of investors, who are eager to catch the next blockbuster company like Facebook. The action is also again spurring talk that overeager investors are poised to relive the dot-com boom and bust at the turn of the century, when overinflated start-ups led to a quick and painful downturn.

For investors, the hunt is for the next so-called unicorn, a nascent business worth $1 billion or more — on paper, at least.


Just last year, 38 privately held companies backed by venture capital joined the billion-dollar club, putting the membership of that group at 54, according to the data firm CB Insights. Digi-Capital, a mobile Internet advisory firm, estimates that the total value of mobile Internet start-ups worth $1 billion or more increased $28 billion in just the last quarter of 2014.

“The grand experiment that we are running right now is, Can you cram hundreds of millions of dollars into 80 or 90 different private companies and have it end up well?” said Bill Gurley, a partner at the venture capital firm Benchmark who is also an investor in and one of the most vocal proponents of Uber.

He added: “For some, I think it will end badly.”

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Sure Obama Loves America. His America.

White House

Sure Obama Loves America. His America.

This is a president who openly ran to “fundamentally transform” the country. He seems to love the America he wishes existed.

By David Harsanyi

The perception that Obama dislikes America is nothing new in conservative circles. Radio talk hosts have asked me numerous times – often, in creative ways – if I agree that the president  “hates” America. Since none of us has the ability to bore into the souls of fellow humans and unlock all their hidden motivations, the question is distracting and irrelevant. And as political rhetoric goes it’s needlessly hyperbolic.

But really, is it that outrageous or surprising that so many Americans doubt whether the president “loves” the traditional role the United States has played on the world stage, or whether he “loves” the capitalism that’s defined us for the past 50 or 60 years, or whether he “loves” the Constitutional protections we have for religious freedoms, guns, or free speech?

Now, I’m sure Obama loves America. Mostly, though, he seems to love the America he wishes existed rather than the one that does.  There’s a lot of populist filler in his patriotism, but in the end it’s always the same: American excellence means a government that acts as the citizenry’s moral center, the engine of its prosperity, and the arbiter of all fairness. This is the president that gives Fourth of July speeches focusing on ”economic patriotism” – a progressive concoction that isn’t distinctly American in any context. In fact, the statist philosophy behind that bogus appeal is by definition pretty “un-American.”

The century is young, though, and Obama ran to “fundamentally transform” the country. And even if we chalk up that dramatic statement to the enthusiasm of an election season, what are we to make of the incessant need to denigrate the economic system that made the entire deal possible? Serious thinkers on the Left will constantly tell us that the president is simply a pragmatist. What radical things has the president done, after all? Rarely do they mention that most Obama’s supposed moderation is a consequence of the checks and balances our system of lawmaking provides: a system Obama has constantly attempted to circumvent, delegitimize, and deride when he fails to get his way. Obama loves his ideological ideals a lot more than the ideals of American governance.

But the most irritating part of all the pearl-clutching about Giuliani’s remark, though, is the hypocrisy. Just today in Time we read: “Obama Claims GOP Rhetoric Could Help ISIS.” The president now argues that those who fail to follow his bizarre aversion to dealing with the reality of Islamic terrorism are aiding and legitimatizing enemies who burn innocent people alive. If that’s not questioning our patriotism (and morality), I’m not sure what is. And it’s not new. Democrats have made a nasty habit of framing all political opposition to progressive ideas as unpatriotic assaults on the aspirations of average Americans. For Democrats, patriotism means paying lots of taxes. One liberal after the next stood up at the Democratic National Convention in 2012 and accused Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan of betting against America simply because they engaged in business abroad or made too much money or had different ideas about the welfare state.

To be fair, the DNC’s rhetoric is mild compared to Al Gore’s claim that George W. Bush betrayed his country, or Obama’s claim that Bush’s debt-spending was unpatriotic. (Obama’s debt is, no doubt, a moral imperative.) No, no one is innocent. And Giuliani’s comments are aimed at Obama’s foreign policy. Obviously, you can’t measure patriotism by how many bombs a president drops. But on top of his attempts to redefine patriotism, Obama’s insatiable need to apologize for our alleged wrongdoings (and to create ridiculous moral equivalencies between cultures that struggle with violence and authoritarianism and our own) is also disconcerting. For many Americans, it’s also suspicious.

NFL scouting combine: Three cautionary tales from workout warriors

2015 NFL scouting combine: Three cautionary tales from workout warriors

By Dave Choate

The combine can vault prospects to the top of the draft, but the results aren't always pretty.

These three men stand as the best examples of players whose top ten draft selections were driven by eye-popping workouts and drills at the combine, and whose subsequent failures have been making teams wary ever since, even if plenty of teams line up to make the same mistakes.

#1) Tony Mandarich

Consider, if you will, what makes a great offensive lineman. Nimble feet and technique, sure, but great strength and prodigious size also go a very long way. Mandarich parlayed his size and eye-popping athleticism into the #2 overall selection in the 1989 draft, and he's the ultimate warning for those scouts, evaluators and front office personnel who fall in love with a prospect's physical tools.

Mandarich managed 39 reps on the bench press (at 225 pounds each), ran a sub-4.7 40 yard dash, which was more than enough to turn him from a quality offensive line prospect into one of the best ever, and the Packers took him second overall. Attitude issues, lackluster play and a lengthy holdout in his rookie season conspired to mar his time in Green Bay, and the team ultimately cut their #2 overall pick in 1992. After a two-year stint with substance abuse and rehab, he came back to cap off a decently successful three year stint in Indianapolis, but given what happened to the Packers, it's fair to say Mandarich is the combine's ultimately draft bust.

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Shock Video as Weapon for and Against ISIS

An activist set up a scene with children meant to evoke an Islamic State video in which a captured Jordanian pilot in an orange jumpsuit was burned alive in a cage.

Credit Abd Doumany/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Shock Video as Weapon for and Against ISIS


Broadcast to frighten and manipulate, the Islamic State’s flamboyant violence consumes the world’s attention while more familiar threats kill far more people.


The killings have been both deliberately lurid and strangely intimate. Designed for broadcast, they have helped the Islamic State militant group build a brand of violence that shocks with its extreme brutality, yet feels as close to viewers as the family images on their smartphones.

Broadcast specifically to frighten and manipulate, the Islamic State's flamboyant violence consumes the world's attention while more familiar threats, like the Syrian government’s barrel bombs, kill far more people but rarely provoke widespread outrage.

A few human rights advocates and antigovernment activists in Syria are trying to reciprocate, creating shocking if nonviolent images and videos — even herding children in orange jumpsuits into a cage — to call attention to the wider scope of violence. So far, though, their voices have hardly been heard.

The Islamic State's campaign of high-profile killings is not war at a remove, with the mechanized distance of drone strikes or carpet bombing. It is one-on-one slaughter with Hollywood production values, seeking to maximize emotional impact and propaganda value.

Cameras zoom in as captors lay hands on their captives — Western reporters, a Jordanian pilot, Egyptian Christian laborers. In the group’s latest video, black-clad men lead the Egyptians almost gently, one by one, down a sunset-tinged beach, then saw off their heads until the waves turn red.

For many in the Middle East who obsessively share the latest images, the Islamic State’s exhibitionist brutality is the apotheosis of several years of carnage gone viral. The group’s bloody imagery, flooding social media already widely used to chronicle conflict, makes violence seem ubiquitous, even mesmerizing, and spurs a sensory overload that can both provoke feelings and numb them.

“It’s like action movies,” said Ahmad, 39, an employee of the Damascus Opera House in the Syrian capital, who asked to be identified by only his first name for his safety. Islamic State violence is stylized, as if in a Quentin Tarantino film, he said, in a macabre bid “to win the prestige of horror.”

The killings have been answered quickly with airstrikes — from the United States, Jordan and, on Monday, from Egypt, which said it struck in Libya, where the Egyptian Copts were killed.

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