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Superyachts to the Rescue

Superyachts to the Rescue

After scuba divers checked the supporting mounts, a massive submerged boat elevator slowly raised the 661-ton, 51-meter-long yacht M/Y Sky clear of the Mediterranean, gradually revealing its black matte hull.

When the entire ship, replete with helicopter pad and five staterooms, reached the height of the quay, it rode a motorized dolly sideways onto a grid of metal rails. Then it rolled toward the giant work shed where until March it will be cleaned, repaired and painted in a makeover costing 2 million euros, or $2.3 million.

Though yachting’s high season is still months away, winter is a busy time in this picturesque town in southeast France that is Europe’s largest yacht-maintenance and refitting seaport, as measured by revenue.

Many of the world’s biggest, most expensive private yachts may be built elsewhere: Germany and the Netherlands are the leaders in that business. Other ports — including Barcelona, Spain, and Genoa, Italy — do a brisk business in yacht servicing. And some of the greatest yachts never make their way to Monaco or the Côte d’Azur, or other playgrounds for the rich and seaworthy.

But by dint of geography and history, La Ciotat is special.

“Being close to the center of the yachting hub in the Mediterranean is very important,” said Philip Joyner, the captain of the M/Y Sky, explaining why he and other skippers preferred to have yachts refurbished at La Ciotat. (He would not disclose the owner of the boat, which is registered in the Cayman Islands.)

The M/Y Sky belongs to a category known as superyachts — usually defined as boats whose hulls at the water line measure longer than 24 meters, or 79 feet, or more broadly, private yachts that require a professional crew to operate. The biggest might cost $100 million or more, and measure nearly 460 feet from stem to stern. Experts estimate that 5,000 superyachts are in operation worldwide, and that more than one-fifth of those were purchased in the last five years.

To emerge as a global leader in superyacht repair represents a remarkable economic comeback for La Ciotat, a town of 34,000 people.

For more than a century, dating to the early 1800s, commercial shipbuilding provided the seaport’s economic lifeblood. During the glory days, well into the second half of the 20th century, most of the population would turn out to watch the launch of massive seabound vessels. When a ship slid down the wooden ramps and entered the water, it would create waves so big they often breached the protective sandbags and flooded the surrounding cafe terraces, sometimes even upending parked cars.

“It was always a great spectacle,” said Alain Champeau, a retired school principal who jokingly claimed to be the only person his age in La Ciotat who was never employed by the yards.

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Are Germany's anti-Islam marches really about Islam?

Are Germany's anti-Islam marches really about Islam?

By Sara Miller Llana

Dresden has seen tens of thousands of Germans join weekly marches in protest of the 'Islamification' of Europe. But underlying that complaint is a host of concerns about immigration, security, and Europe that has long gone unspoken in Germany.

This stunning, baroque city, bombed to bits in World War II and lovingly rebuilt in the decades since, has always been one of paradox.

As the “Florence of the Elbe,” it has long drawn cultural exchanges at the highest level. But it’s also a meeting point for neo-Nazis and soccer hooligans. And now, it is ground zero for Germany’s anti-Islamization movement, a movement that is blossoming into one of the most worrisome developments across Europe.

Interest has surged in Pegida, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, especially in the wake of the terrorist attack in Paris. Merely a Facebook group that drew just 300 citizens at its first gathering this past fall, its weekly Monday night protests have attracted growing numbers of marchers. It drew a record 25,000 last week, and on the eve of its next march, no one knows where it will end.

But at its core, Pegida is it not about radical Islam. Rather, that is a repository for a larger disaffection – with immigration, economics, and even Europe. And though much of the Continent has been grappling with such concerns in the form of rising populist parties, Dresden is forcing Germany to confront its domestic malaise for the first time, leading to rhetoric that has long been unexpressed in Germany and fears that, with a backlash against Muslims post-Paris, a more virulent strain of anti-immigration sentiment could strengthen.

“The fear of Islam does not play a main role, it’s just a label,” says Frank Richter, the director of Saxony’s state office for political education. “It’s like an imaginary enemy. Pegida is more of a feeling.”

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Elizabeth Warren keeps pressure on Hillary Clinton and Democrats ahead of 2016

Elizabeth Warren keeps pressure on Hillary Clinton and Democrats ahead of 2016

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has an explanation for the singular nature of her power.

“I’ll always be an outsider. That’s how I understand the world,” the Massachusetts Democrat said in an interview. “There’s a real benefit to being clear about this. I know why I’m here. I think about this every morning before I open my eyes, and I’m still thinking about it every night when I go to sleep.”

Being the target of that kind of focus can be an excruciating experience — the freshest case in point being investment banker Antonio Weiss, whom President Obama put forward last year as his nominee for Treasury undersecretary for domestic finance.

Initially seen as a highly credentialed and noncontroversial pick for a low-profile post, Weiss found himself up against a storm of opposition, led by Warren, who said he was yet another example of Wall Street cronyism within the Obama administration.

On Monday, Weiss wrote a letter to the president asking that his name be taken out of consideration.

The tussle sent yet another signal, maybe the clearest yet, of how Warren intends to wield her growing clout. It showed that she and her brand of populism are forces to be reckoned with — not only by Obama and his team, but also by the Democrats’ likely 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“It’s not about Antonio Weiss personally,” said Simon Johnson, an outspoken Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and former International Monetary Fund chief economist who admires Warren and shares her views. “What it’s really about is the presidential election.”

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As Distinct and Alike as Brothers Can Be

George W. Bush, the first President Bush and Jeb Bush following the election returns on Nov. 7, 2000. Now, Jeb Bush is pondering his own presidential bid.

Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

As Distinct and Alike as Brothers Can Be


While loving and supportive of each other, George W. and Jeb Bush do not talk that often, according to family intimates, and they travel in different circles.

One day last fall, former President George W. Bush called Mel Sembler, a Republican donor from Florida who had served as his ambassador to Italy. Mr. Sembler had just had a pacemaker implanted into his chest, and his wife had also recently had surgery. Mr. Bush wanted to check on how they were faring.

But after the health inquiries, Mr. Bush abruptly interjected. “O.K., Mel,” he said, “is Jeb going to run?”

“Wait a minute,” Mr. Sembler recalled answering. “You’re asking me is Jeb going to run? He’s your brother.”

It was a lighthearted exchange, yet also revealing. As former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida gears up for a possible campaign for the presidency, he is seen as the brother of the last Republican to live in the White House and therefore, in some ways, the second coming of George W. Bush. But the reality is the Bush brothers are not especially close.

While loving and supportive of each other, the two brothers do not talk that often, according to family intimates. Seven years apart in age, they travel in different circles and have distinct political networks. The older brother has been a vocal advocate of a Jeb Bush campaign but, like everyone else, reads tea leaves about whether he will run. Indeed, before Jeb Bush announced that he would explore a campaign, the former president confided to associates privately, “I may be the last one to know.”


On issues, the two certainly share a similar outlook and philosophy. While other Republicans repudiated aspects of the last Bush presidency, Jeb never did. “It’s just until death do us part,” he told an interviewer who tried to get him to disagree with his brother. In other ways, though, the 43rd president and the potential 45th president are a curious study in fraternal contrasts — in temperament, in style, in the paths they have chosen in life, in the ways they think and communicate and lead.

“You come away amazed that these two guys could be so different and be brothers,” said Jim Towey, a former Florida official who became so close to Jeb Bush that their families spent Thanksgivings together and who went on to work in George W. Bush’s White House directing faith-based initiatives. “I love them both. But they’re just very different people.”

The oldest two sons of George Bush, the 41st president, George W. and Jeb share many traits. Both are deeply religious, schooled in politics, enamored of sports. They are punctual and impatient, rushing through activities, like golf, where others prefer to linger. Both worship their father. Both are conservative on issues like abortion and gun rights while pushing their party away from orthodoxy in areas like education and immigration.

Yet watching them together might confuse the uninitiated. George, 68, likes to work a room. He teases and needles aides, lawmakers or reporters until he gets a rise. He talks about issues in broad strokes, believes in delegating and sometimes mangles his English.

Several inches taller, Jeb, 61, reads footnotes, emails frenetically and talks in full, wonky paragraphs. But in political settings, he sometimes seems to eye the exit, calculating how to get from here to there with the least fuss. “Former President Bush is much more instantly gregarious, a bigger personality,” said Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush’s first White House press secretary. “When he walks into a room, he just takes it over, by style and by charm. Jeb is more intellectual, more pensive and more articulate.”

Jeb Bush has a quick wit, Mr. Fleischer added, but it is softer than his brother’s.

“Jeb is very much a policy wonk and comes across that way,” he said. “Former President Bush was much more big picture, strong leader, defined things in immediately clear moral terms.”

They come at politics from different angles. “Public service seems to be a calling for George Senior and George Junior, whereas for Jeb it is about a mission,” said Clint Bolick, who wrote a book on immigration with Jeb Bush. “It’s about policy and ideas. I never really got the impression that either his dad or his brother were really motivated by ideas and policies. For Jeb, politics is a means to an end rather than an end in itself.”

Read Kiss-ass Article

Publisher's Note: Enough of these morons..........

Without Drugs, What's the Point of Bitcoin?

Without Drugs, What's the Point of Bitcoin?

The trial of the Silk Road founder reveals enormous flaws in the decentralized currency.

By Matt Schiavenza

The trial of Ross Ulbricht, which began last week in Manhattan, doesn't lack for entertainment value. The 30-year-old is accused of founding and administering Silk Road, an online market that allowed users to buy and sell illegal drugs using bitcoin as currency currency. Founded in 2011, prosecutors allege that Silk Road generated $1.2 billion in revenue—including an estimated $80 million paid in commissions—until the FBI shut it down in 2013. Ulbricht has pled not guilty. But whatever the verdict, the legacy of Ulbricht's high-profile case may strike a blow against Bitcoin's future viability.

The idea behind Bitcoin is simple. Unlike modern fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar, Bitcoin has no supervising authority, no regulation, and no central bank. Users can use bitcoin to buy and sell goods anonymously without any outside interference. The idea has caught on. Created in 2009 by an unknown entity called "Satoshi Nakamoto," bitcoin has begun to enter the mainstream. Companies like Amazon, CVS, and Victoria's Secret now accept them as legal tender.

"Bitcoin is insanely traceable," Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at UC Berkeley's International Computer Science Institute told the Verge.

As an unregulated currency, Bitcoin appeared to be a natural fit for the illicit drug market. But while Bitcoin is anonymous, it isn't untraceable. When users convert bitcoins to hard currency, their name becomes linked to a "public blockchain" that comprises the entire transactional history of the bitcoin. This would be equivalent to a $20 bill containing a comprehensive history of every person who has touched it since emerging from the printing press. These public blockchains make it very easy for law enforcement officials, once users' identities are compromised, to understand the full extent of their illicit activity.

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How Cherif Kouachi Went On and Off the Police's Radar

How Cherif Kouachi Went On and Off the Police's Radar

Why didn't French terror investigators follow alleged Paris attack gunman Chérif Kouachi more closely? WSJ's Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.

Obama loves trolling the GOP, even if it hurts the Democrats

Obama loves trolling the GOP, even if it hurts the Democrats

Obama loves trolling the GOP, even if it hurts the Democrats

You know, you just know, that after the president goes out there and announces he wants to make community college free for all Americans — as though anything government does is “free” — or is unilaterally and unconstitutionally legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants, he comes back to the offices, pulls out the presidential BlackBerry, and gleefully follows along as the Right goes completely ape over these wild policy decisions.

Imagine his delight after it “leaked” that he will propose raising taxes on the wealthy by $320 billion over the next 10 years, including increases to the capital gains and inheritance taxes.

This, of course, has no chance of passing. But then Tuesday night’s State of the Union address could be the first one in history deliberately designed solely to generate a Pavlovian rage response in members of the opposing party.

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Leelah Alcorn, and the Hardest Part of Being a Parent

Leelah Alcorn, and the Hardest Part of Being a Parent

I grieve with and for Leelah Alcorn’s parents even as their story reminds me that at some point, parents have to let go.

On my desk at work, I keep a photograph of me with my arm around a teenaged young man.  I had apparently met him after a speaking engagement, and he was eager to have his picture taken with me.  The photo was sent to me by his parents, soon after his committing suicide last year.  It is a constant reminder of why I do my work, why I never tire of preaching a message of God’s love and acceptance for God’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children.  If only he could have believed me and absorbed God’s love for him into his very soul.


At some point, a good parent will understand that while my child is figuring out how to make her way in the world on her own, I have my own work to do:  letting go.  Letting go of the illusion of control.  Letting go of the self-image as my child’s protector.  Making peace with the notion that my child is more than an extension of myself.  It’s hard work, and it’s painful, because we have gained so much from the experience of parenting, the honor of mentoring one of God’s children into adulthood, and we want it to continue forever.

Maybe the hardest transition for parents is the movement from understanding that our appropriately protective and controlling behaviors toward our children, which once served us and them so well, are precisely what will stunt and damage their development into young adulthood if we don’t let go of them.  What was once appropriate and loving becomes debilitating and harmful.

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Je Suis Charlie: Courage, Commitment and the Cost of Freedom

Je Suis Charlie: Courage, Commitment and the Cost of Freedom

By Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D.

It is easy for Americans and French citizens to take our freedom for granted. But these violent attacks remind all of us that freedom is something precious and precarious, and that it takes great courage and commitment to affirm and maintain it. This is an existential truism not only for nations or cultures, but for patients in psychotherapy too.

Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard called anxiety or Angst "the dizziness of freedom." To be free is to be fully responsible for our actions, to accept the existential guilt and anxiety that always accompany freedom. When we habitually refuse responsibility for problematic thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and their adverse effects on others, we perceive ourselves as passive victims of fate, and the power to creatively transform one's self, life, and relationships is diminished. 

Why the modern world is bad for your brain

Daniel J Levitan

Why the modern world is bad for your brain

Daniel J Levitin

In an era of email, text messages, Facebook and Twitter, we’re all required to do several things at once. But this constant multitasking is taking its toll. Here neuroscientist Daniel J Levitin explains how our addiction to technology is making us less efficient

Our brains are busier than ever before. We’re assaulted with facts, pseudo facts, jibber-jabber, and rumour, all posing as information. Trying to figure out what you need to know and what you can ignore is exhausting. At the same time, we are all doing more. Thirty years ago, travel agents made our airline and rail reservations, salespeople helped us find what we were looking for in shops, and professional typists or secretaries helped busy people with their correspondence. Now we do most of those things ourselves. We are doing the jobs of 10 different people while still trying to keep up with our lives, our children and parents, our friends, our careers, our hobbies, and our favourite TV shows.

Our smartphones have become Swiss army knife–like appliances that include a dictionary, calculator, web browser, email, Game Boy, appointment calendar, voice recorder, guitar tuner, weather forecaster, GPS, texter, tweeter, Facebook updater, and flashlight. They’re more powerful and do more things than the most advanced computer at IBM corporate headquarters 30 years ago. And we use them all the time, part of a 21st-century mania for cramming everything we do into every single spare moment of downtime. We text while we’re walking across the street, catch up on email while standing in a queue – and while having lunch with friends, we surreptitiously check to see what our other friends are doing. At the kitchen counter, cosy and secure in our domicile, we write our shopping lists on smartphones while we are listening to that wonderfully informative podcast on urban beekeeping.


Multitasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can overstimulate your brain and cause mental fog or scrambled thinking. Multitasking creates a dopamine-addiction feedback loop, effectively rewarding the brain for losing focus and for constantly searching for external stimulation. To make matters worse, the prefrontal cortex has a novelty bias, meaning that its attention can be easily hijacked by something new – the proverbial shiny objects we use to entice infants, puppies, and kittens. The irony here for those of us who are trying to focus amid competing activities is clear: the very brain region we need to rely on for staying on task is easily distracted. We answer the phone, look up something on the internet, check our email, send an SMS, and each of these things tweaks the novelty- seeking, reward-seeking centres of the brain, causing a burst of endogenous opioids (no wonder it feels so good!), all to the detriment of our staying on task. It is the ultimate empty-caloried brain candy. Instead of reaping the big rewards that come from sustained, focused effort, we instead reap empty rewards from completing a thousand little sugar-coated tasks.

In the old days, if the phone rang and we were busy, we either didn’t answer or we turned the ringer off. When all phones were wired to a wall, there was no expectation of being able to reach us at all times – one might have gone out for a walk or been between places – and so if someone couldn’t reach you (or you didn’t feel like being reached), it was considered normal. Now more people have mobile phones than have toilets. This has created an implicit expectation that you should be able to reach someone when it is convenient for you, regardless of whether it is convenient for them. This expectation is so ingrained that people in meetings routinely answer their mobile phones to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t talk now, I’m in a meeting.” Just a decade or two ago, those same people would have let a landline on their desk go unanswered during a meeting, so different were the expectations for reachability.

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Gary Devore - Screenwriter mysteriously killed in 1997

Screenwriter mysteriously killed in 1997 after finishing script that revealed the 'real reason' for US invasion of Panama

By Mia De Graaf For and Sean O'hare For

When the skeletal remains of Hollywood screenwriter Gary Devore were found strapped into his Ford Explorer submerged beneath the California Aqueduct in 1998 it brought an end to one of America's most high profile missing person cases.

The fact that Devore was on his way to deliver a film script that promised to explain the 'real reason' why the US invaded Panama, has long given rise to a slew of conspiracies surrounding the nature of his 'accidental' death.  

It didn't help that Devore's hands were missing from the crash scene, along with the script, and that investigators could offer no plausible explanation as to how a car could leave the highway and end up in the position it was found a year after he disappeared. 

Now the Daily Mail can exclusively reveal that Devore was working with the CIA in Panama and even a White House source concedes his mysterious death bears all the hallmarks of a cover-up.

The findings, published in a new documentary The Writer With No Hands, are the first testimonies ever aired that give credence to the theories that surrounded the case in the late 90s.

Accident? Devore, a former truck driver, was found dead in the California Aqueduct a year later but his Toshiba laptop contained the finished script was missing from his Ford Explorer, as were his hands

Chillingly, the British research team - which was warned to drop the investigation by a Department of Defense contractor - has also secured testimony from the coroner which reveals the human hands said to be recovered from Devore's car were in fact around 200 years old.

'Someone in authority lied. Or made a shocking error,' producer Dr Matthew Alford tells

'There could be an innocent explanation for the hands but it is as extraordinary as the conspiracy theory and very suspicious.'

Devore, who wrote Dogs Of War, Raw Deal and Time Cop, had been working on his directorial debut: The Big Steal.

Once a truck driver, he had made a successful career shift into Hollywood. He was a friend to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tommy Lee Jones's best man, and ex-boyfriend of Janet Jackson.

The Big Steal, he told friends, would be 'the hardest hitting film studios have ever seen', featuring 'disturbing details' about the US invasion of Panama.

The first draft of the script, shown exclusively to the Daily Mail, tells the story of American operatives robbing a Panamanian bank to cover up for 'something much more serious'. 


Devore's research for the end product included an article from London's now defunct Sunday Correspondent alleging dictator General Manuel Noriega had compiled a stash of sex tapes featuring top-ranking US officials.

Noriega, the article explains, ran a well-known 'honey trap': inviting diplomats to his home filled with alcohol, drugs, beautiful women, and beautiful men - and covertly filming their antics. 

After years of research, Dr Alford suggests the film may have implied the invasion was nothing more than a diversion that would allow the US into Panama to steal back incriminating photos of senior US officials that Noriega could have used as blackmail.

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Stopping all terrorist attacks is impossible, says Europol chief

Europol director Rob Wainwright

Stopping all terrorist attacks is impossible, says Europol chief

Rob Wainwright says extremist threat has changed in 10 years but adds police response is more advanced too.

“Stopping everything is very difficult, containing the threat fully is very difficult, but I’m sure we will prevail, as we have prevailed against other forms of terrorism in the past,” Wainwright told Sky News.

Asked whether there was no guarantee attacks such as those in Paris could be prevented, he said: “No, there can’t be, otherwise what happened in Paris wouldn’t have happened. I think there is a realisation across the police and security community in Europe.

“But at the same time we have a very strong determination to maximise our capability to keep our citizens safe.”

He said the scale of the problem had increased over the last 10 years, adding that terrorists no longer had a coherent, identifiable command and control structure such as in the past. “But over those 10 years, the sophistication of the police response has also increased.”

Wainwright has said that at least 2,500 and possibly up to 5,000 people have travelled from Europe to conflicts in Syria and Iraq and might have been radicalised.

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Former Bill Clinton adviser predicts 'tough road' for Hillary

Former Bill Clinton adviser predicts 'tough road' for Hillary

By Rachel Huggins

A former adviser to President Bill Clinton predicts “a tough road” for Hillary Clinton as she prepares to possibly announce a 2016 presidential campaign in coming months.

Top Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf said President Obama won't let the Clintons retake control of the Democratic Party because “no one likes to get off the stage,” in an interview on "The Cats Roundtable," host John Catsimatidis's Sunday radio show on New York AM 970.

"For the last eight years it's been the Obama Party, it hasn't been the Clinton Party for quite sometime and there's certainly a rivalry between the Clintons and the Obamas. The question is does Obama give it up and allow Hillary to be elected president? Likely not."

He added that Clinton will also face pushback to win the presidency because other major powers in the Democratic Party are not committed to her.

Obama has made “it a lot more difficult for Democrats to get into power again” because of his inability to confront the threat of radical Islam, he added.

Court to Look Into Possible Israeli War Crimes in Palestinian Territories

Court to Look Into Possible Israeli War Crimes in Palestinian Territories

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court opened a preliminary examination on Friday of possible war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories, the first formal step that could lead to charges against Israelis.

Palestinian officials welcomed the announcement of the inquiry by the court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, who described it as required procedure. Israeli officials reacted furiously, calling it an inflammatory action in the protracted dispute with the Palestinians over Israeli-occupied lands.

Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said he would recommend that his government not cooperate with the inquiry. He also said Israel would seek to disband the court, which he described as an anti-Israel institution that “embodies hypocrisy and grants a tailwind to terrorism.”

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, “Palestine considers this as an important positive step toward achieving justice and ensuring respect for international law.”

Accusing Israel of “systematic and blatant” breaches of international law, including during the Gaza war last summer, the statement added, “Ending this impunity is an important contribution to upholding universal values, ensuring accountability and achieving peace."


Still, the investigation, infused with internationally recognized legality and credibility, was one that the Israelis had sought to prevent. “It’s like she turned the key in the ignition of the judicial vehicle,” Richard Dicker, director of the international justice program at Human Rights Watch, said of Ms. Bensouda.

The immediate effect appeared to be raising the antipathy between Israelis and the Palestinians, whose relations already face increasing strains tied to the long-paralyzed diplomacy aimed at a two-state solution to their conflict.

In a statement released, unusually, on Friday evening, after the start of the Jewish Sabbath, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called the announcement “scandalous,” coming a week after four Jews were killed in a terrorist attack in France.

Framing Israel as a victim of terrorism, Mr. Netanyahu called the announcement “all the more absurd” because it had come at the behest of the Palestinian leadership, which he said was in alliance with Hamas, the Gaza-based militant group “whose war criminals fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians.”

The Palestinian Authority leadership and Hamas, longtime rivals, signed a reconciliation pact last spring and jointly backed a new government.

Mr. Lieberman accused the court of acting out of “anti-Israel, political considerations.”

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State of the Union: Obama to dare Republicans on tax populism

US President Barack Obama speaks about increasing access to high speed and affordable internet at Cedar Falls Utilities in Cedar Falls, Iowa, January 14, 2015. The town of Cedar Falls has built their own private high-speed internet network and runs it like a public utility. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

State of the Union: Obama to dare Republicans on tax populism

President Barack Obama will use his State of the Union address to stake out a populist vision of tax reform and new middle-class benefits — and practically dare Republicans to say no.

The message: Wage stagnation? Obama’s on it. And if Republicans say no — especially to catchy-sounding ideas like getting rid of the “trust fund loophole” — they can explain it to voters in 2016.

create new and expanded tax credits for the middle-class, including a new tax break for two-earner families and a tripling of the child tax credit, and pay for it through a big increase in capital gains taxes and a hefty fee to discourage risky borrowing by big banks.

Altogether, the new tax benefits for middle-class families would cost $175 billion over 10 years, according to senior administration officials — in addition to the $60 billion price tag for the proposal Obama has already announced to make community college tuition free for two years.

But not to worry, administration officials say — steeper capital gains taxes and new financial fees would more than pay for it. They’d raise $320 billion over 10 years, according to White House estimates — $210 billion from the new capital gains tax revenues and $110 billion from the bank fees. All of the proposals will be spelled out in more detail in the budget proposal Obama will submit to Congress on Feb. 2.

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Obama Will Seek to Raise Taxes on Wealthy to Finance Cuts for Middle Class

Obama Will Seek to Raise Taxes on Wealthy to Finance Cuts for Middle Class


WASHINGTON — President Obama will use his State of the Union address to call on Congress to raise taxes and fees on the wealthiest taxpayers and the largest financial firms to finance an array of tax cuts for the middle class, pressing to reshape the tax code to help working families, administration officials said on Saturday.

The proposal faces long odds in the Republican-controlled Congress, led by lawmakers who have long opposed raising taxes and who argue that doing so would hamper economic growth at a time the country cannot afford it. 

But the decision to present the plan during Tuesday’s speech marks the start of a debate over taxes and the economy that will shape both Mr. Obama’s legacy and the 2016 presidential campaign.

It is also the latest indication that the president, untethered from political constraints after the midterm losses, is moving aggressively to set the terms of that discussion, even as he pushes audacious moves in other areas, like immigration and relations with Cuba. 

The president’s plan would raise $320 billion over the next decade, while adding new provisions cutting taxes by $175 billion over the same period. The revenue generated would also cover an initiative Mr. Obama announced this month, offering some students two years of tuition-free community college, which the White House has said would cost $60 billion over 10 years.

The centerpiece of the plan, described by administration officials on the condition of anonymity in advance of the president’s speech, would eliminate what Mr. Obama’s advisers call the “trust-fund loophole,” a provision governing inherited assets that shields hundreds of billions of dollars from taxation each year. . The plan would also increase the top capital-gains tax rate, to 28 percent from 23.8 percent, for couples with incomes above $500,000 annually.


Those changes and a new fee on banks with assets over $50 billion would be used to finance a set of tax breaks for middle-income earners, including a $500 credit for families in which both spouses work; increased child care and education credits; and incentives to save for retirement.

The initiative signals a turnabout for Mr. Obama, who has spoken repeatedly about the potential for a deal with Republicans on business tax reform but little about individual taxation, an area fraught with partisan disagreements. 

The proposal includes some elements that have previously drawn support from both Republicans and Democrats, including education and retirement savings proposals and the secondary earner credit. A tax on large banks was part of a plan proposed last year by former Representative Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, who retired as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Mr. Obama’s advisers characterized the plan as the next phase in the president’s economic message, which he has been promoting over the past two weeks with trips highlighting the nation’s financial rebound. During the tour, Mr. Obama has pitched a range of initiatives to help the middle class, including free community college and paid leave. Both Democrats and Republicans see middle-class voters as an important bloc for winning the White House in 2016.

The bulk of the financing for the plan — $210 billion — would come from a capital-gains tax hike and a change in the way the tax code treats the appreciated value of inherited assets. Under the proposal, inherited assets would be taxed according to their value when they were purchased. That means the capital gains on those assets during a person’s lifetime, now shielded from taxation, would be subject to tax at the time of the bequest.

Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty

Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty

For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.

The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.

“We’ve all known this was the trend, that we would get to a majority, but it’s here sooner rather than later,” said Michael A. Rebell of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College at Columbia University, noting that the poverty rate has been increasing even as the economy has improved. “A lot of people at the top are doing much better, but the people at the bottom are not doing better at all. Those are the people who have the most children and send their children to public school.”

The shift to a majority-poor student population means that in public schools, a growing number of children start kindergarten already trailing their more privileged peers and rarely, if ever, catch up. They are less likely to have support at home, are less frequently exposed to enriching activities outside of school, and are more likely to drop out and never attend college.

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George Will: Romney’s third presidential run would be no charm

Romney’s third presidential run would be no charm

After his third loss, in 1908, as the Democratic presidential nominee, William Jennings Bryan enjoyed telling the story of the drunk who three times tried to enter a private club. After being tossed out into the street a third time, the drunk said: “They can’t fool me. Those fellows don’t want me in there!”

Mitt Romney might understandably think that a third try would have a happy ending in a successful presidency. First, however, he must be a candidate. In 1948, when Democrats considered offering their presidential nomination to Dwight Eisenhower, the former and future Democratic speaker of the House, taciturn Sam Rayburn, said of Eisenhower: “Good man but wrong business.” Two landslide elections and an admirable presidency proved that Rayburn was spectacularly mistaken, but he was right that not every good man is good at every business. Romney, less than nimble at the business of courting voters, lost a winnable race in 2012.

The nation was mired in a disappointing recovery, upward mobility had stalled and the incumbent president’s signature achievement was unpopular and becoming more so. Barack Obama, far from being a formidable politician, was between the seismic repudiations of 2010 and 2014. Running against Romney, Obama became the first president to win a second term with smaller percentages of both the popular and electoral votes. He got 3.6 million fewer votes and a lower percentage of the electoral vote. Yet Romney lost all but one (North Carolina) of the 10 battleground states. He narrowly lost Florida, Virginia and Ohio, but even if he had carried all three, Obama still would have won with 272 electoral votes.

If it seemed likely that the Republican field of candidates for 2016 would be unimpressive, this would provide a rationale for Romney redux. But markets work, and the U.S. electoral system is a reasonably well-functioning political market, with low barriers to entry for new products.

For all the flaws of a nominating process that begins with the Obnoxiously Entitled Four (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, with 4 percent of the nation’s population), those states do not require immediate substantial financial muscle, and they reward retail campaigning, so lesser-known and underfunded candidates can break through. Furthermore, campaign finance laws designed to limit competition are, fortunately, porous enough to allow a few wealthy contributors to enable marginal candidates to be heard. These are among the reasons the Republicans’ 2016 field will have more plausible aspirants than any nomination contest since the party’s first presidential campaign in 1856

America does not have one presidential election every four years, it has 51 — in the states and the District of Columbia. A Romney candidacy, drawing on his network of financial supporters and other activists, might make sense if the GOP were anemic in the states. But Republicans as of this week control 31 governorships, including those in seven of the 10 most populous states (Florida, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia and Ohio — all but California, Pennsylvania and New York). Republicans control 68 of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers. (Nebraska’s unicameral legislature is chosen in nonpartisan elections.) In 23 states, with 251 electoral votes, Republicans control the governor’s office and the legislature. (Democrats have such control in only seven states.) Republicans have their most state legislative seats since the 1920s.

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Jerry Jones opens door on how Cowboys operate

Jerry Jones

Jerry Jones opens door on how Cowboys operate

By Todd Archer |

Jones is, has been and will be the Cowboys general manager for as long as he wants to be. It’s his right as the owner of the team.

But he is not a general manager in the way Trent Baalke is a general manager with the San Francisco 49ers or Ryan Pace will be with the Chicago Bears. Jones is not getting his hands dirty, so to speak, on the road searching for players here, there and everywhere.

He is more a delegator-in-chief, letting the people he hires do the dirty work and he makes the bigger decisions. He was not part of the process to sign tackles R.J. Dill and Ryan Miller to reserve/future deals on Thursday. He won’t be dissecting hours and hours of tape leading into the draft.

He will be in all the draft meetings. He will listen to the cases made by the scouts and coaches. He will talk to his friends across the league and those outside the building. He will have his opinions, too. 

“I have a little rule,” Jones said. “There are a lot of times that I flare and don’t like what I am hearing and that shows. That does show. But then about the time I get on back there and settle down and think about it by myself or go home and sleep on it then it’s very common for me to come back and basically say, 'I think we'll go that way.' So the point is that we have a lot of people very qualified, very qualified people. Frankly, we spend a lot of the resources of the Cowboys to have these people. And we have a large number of them. I really do use them in decision-making and what I intend to do is certainly to take this encouragement and the encouragement by the year that we had and I am going to analyze every good thing we did and how it impacted having this good year and I am going to double-up there and then I am going to cut back, when I find a few things that we probably went the wrong way on and I am going to try to get those out of the mix. I am going to take the good things and really expand and push them with more intensity.”

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CBS basketball analyst Greg Anthony arrested in prostitution sting

CBS basketball analyst Greg Anthony arrested in prostitution sting

The 47-year-old former NBA player was arrested around 5:46 p.m. and released later that evening, Lt Kelvin Cusick said. He faces a misdemeanor charge of solicitation.

'Greg Anthony will not be working again for CBS this season,' said a spokeswoman for the network. Turner Sports also suspended Anthony, but said it 'will have no further comment.'

For Smarter, Happier, Healthier Kids, Keep Moving!

For Smarter, Happier, Healthier Kids, Keep Moving!

By Dona Matthews, Ph.D.

Children who are physically active do better than others on virtually all developmental measures. They’re not only healthier, stronger, and more resilient to illness, but they’re also happier, more confident, more academically successful, and more creative than others. They sleep better, feel better about themselves, and become healthier adults.

O.J. Simpson’s Heisman Trophy was found with homeless drug addict

O.J. Simpson’s Heisman Trophy was found with homeless drug addict

by Paul Jackiewicz

O.J. Simpson’s stolen Heisman Trophy had finally been recovered after years of searching for it.

TMZ Sports has the details on where it’s been all this time.

The man who became the custodian of O.J. Simpson’s 1968 Heisman Trophy was a homeless drug addict who lugged it around the streets for years … TMZ Sports has learned.

TMZ Sports he came into possession of the trophy in 1996, two years after it was stolen from Heritage Hall on the SC campus.

The man swears he’s not the guy who broke the case and made off with the statue (we confirmed he was in jail at the time of the heist) but he did say he traded for it with a burgundyHonda Accord and $500 cash. And get this … the guy he got it from had the Heisman buried in his backyard. Kind of a hint something was up.

Shortly after he got the Heisman, the man says he lost everything and became homeless — yet still held on to his precious cargo.

After moving from street corners to storage lockers for 17 years … the man says he had a radical change of heart in December and decided to return the Heisman — for a reward. He took a photo of the trophy to prove he’s legit.

White-Out: Where Democrats Lost the House

White-Out: Where Democrats Lost the House

In 2009, 76 Democrats represented primarily white working-class congressional districts. Just 15 of them are still in the House today.

By Ronald Brownstein

Republicans have surged to their largest majority in the House of Representatives since before the Great Depression by blunting the Democratic advantage in districts being reshaped by growing racial diversity and consolidating a decisive hold over the seats that are not.

Compared with 2009 and 2010, when Democrats last controlled the House, the Republican majority that takes office this week has essentially held its ground in districts where minorities exceed their share of the national population, a Next America analysis has found. Aided by their control of redistricting after the 2010 census, Republicans over the past three elections have simultaneously established an overwhelming 3-1 advantage in districts where whites exceed their national presence, the analysis shows. Those white-leaning districts split between the parties almost equally during the 111th Congress, in 2009-10.

A majority of the GOP gains since then have come from the Democrats' near-total collapse in one set of districts: the largely blue-collar places in which the white share of the population exceeds the national average, and the portion of whites with at least a four-year college degree is less that the national average. While Republicans held a 20-seat lead in the districts that fit that description in the 111th Congress, the party has swelled that advantage to a crushing 125 seats today. That 105-seat expansion of the GOP margin in these districts by itself accounts for about three-quarters of the 136-seat swing from the Democrats' 77-seat majority in 2009 to the 59-seat majority Republicans enjoy in the Congress convening now.

The GOP dominance in these predominantly white working-class districts underscores the structural challenge facing Democrats: While the party has repeatedly captured the White House despite big deficits among the working-class white voters who once anchored its electoral coalition, these results show how difficult it will be to recapture the House without improving on that performance. "The question is: Are we at rock bottom here?" says Tom Bonier, CEO of the Democratic voter targeting firm TargetSmart Communications.

These trends present Republicans with a mirror-image challenge. The vast majority of their House members can thrive without devising an agenda on issues—such as immigration reform—that attract the minority voters whose growing numbers nationally have helped Democrats win the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections. "When you can go out screaming 'amnesty' and not get any pushback in your districts, you are more prone to scream 'amnesty,' " says veteran GOP pollster Whit Ayres. "It leads to an attitude of: 'problem, what problem?' "

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Opponents warn Obama: Don't sit down with Castro

Opponents warn Obama on Castro

Opponents warn Obama: Don't sit down with Castro

By Susan Crabtree

The Obama administration will lay more groundwork for normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba next week when a high-level U.S. delegation visits Havana for talks, but it is not commenting on whether President Obama intends to meet with Cuban leader Raul Castro in April.

Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, the top U.S. diplomat for Latin America, will lead a U.S. delegation to the island nation Jan. 21.

The visit comes just days after the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments took steps to ease a series of sanctions and restrictions on travel to Cuba and commerce between the two countries.

Jacobson’s talks with her Cuban counterparts will focus on migration between the United States and Cuba just weeks after Obama announced his executive action to try to normalize relations. The president's move has so far failed to stem the flood of Cuban refugees arriving in the United States.

Opponents of the move reversing 50 years of U.S. policy toward the communist island nation also expect Secretary of State John Kerry to visit Havana in early February.

Fearing that Obama is rushing the new policies, advocates for greater reforms in Cuba are already vigorously lobbying against any type of meeting or formal handshake between President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro when the two leaders attend the Summit of the Americas in Panama in mid-April.

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Test Finds College Graduates Lack Skills for White-Collar Jobs

Test Finds College Graduates Lack Skills for White-Collar Jobs

Forty Percent of Students Seen Ill-Prepared to Enter Work Force; Critical Thinking Key

By Douglas Belkin

“Colleges are increasing their attention to the social aspects on campus to keep students happy; there is not enough rigorous academic instruction”

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Do People Who Ask for Raises Get Them?

Do People Who Ask for Raises Get Them?

Less than half of workers request higher salaries—and less than half of those requests are successful.

By Bourree Lam

For young professionals, when and how to ask for a raise is a source of constant conversation. And that makes sense—after all, salary growth should accelerate as resumes and careers grow. However, these conversations are often awkward, for a variety of reasons.

First, some people are uncomfortable talking about money among friends, and yet there's still a human temptation to benchmark earnings against those of one's peers. In particular, it's useful for friends (or possibly, colleagues) in the same industry to share information about pay at different companies. (Thankfully, there are websites like Glassdoor, which boasts over three million salary profiles from anonymous employees.) Secondly, the people who have advice on how to get that raise are usually people making more money than the person seeking help—good resources to have, if they'll share their secrets. And lastly, some are so shy about raises they won't even talk to their employers about them.

A recent study by Payscale surveyed over 30,000 workers about their experiences asking for a raise. They found that 43 percent had asked for one, but only 44 percent of those who asked got the amount they wanted, with 25 percent not getting a raise at all. Among the 57 percent who didn't ask for a raise, the top reasons were that they got a raise without asking (38 percent) or that they would be uncomfortable asking (28 percent). Only eight percent reported that they were satisfied with their salary. Those surveyed who didn't ask for a raise tended to be at the lower end of the income spectrum, working in the service or public sectors.

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US Spies Expected Airline Bombs–And Got The Paris Attacks Instead

US Spies Expected Airline Bombs–And Got The Paris Attacks Instead

Everyone worried that al Qaeda’s deadliest affiliate would try to take down a plane. Then came the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo.

For more than five years, U.S. intelligence agencies, counterterrorism operators, and the military have been intensely focused on trying to stop al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen branch of the global terrorist network, from sneaking hard-to-detect bombs onto airplanes and slaughtering hundreds of people.

What they got last week was Paris—a completely different kind of attack.

In claiming credit for last week’s decidedly lower-tech shooting spree at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, AQAP seems to have flipped its playbook, leading to inevitable questions about whether U.S. officials misjudged the terror group’s capabilities or were too focused on the wrong threat: bombs instead of bullets.

All this, despite a slick AQAP magazine that called specifically for shooters—and for Charlie Hebdo to be put in the crosshairs.

“In some quarters there’s skepticism that [the Paris attack] was AQAP because analysts expected that AQAP would launch an attack against aviation, rather than this kind of tactic,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, an experienced terrorism analyst and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “We get into trouble when we think we know a clandestine foe better than we actually do.”

In interviews with half a dozen current and former U.S. officials with frontline experience fighting al Qaeda, a clearer picture is emerging about the years leading up to the rampage in Paris. While intelligence and security agencies never ruled out the possibility that the terror group could employ mass shootings as a way to “create havoc in the West,” as one former top counterterrorism official put it, the U.S. security bureaucracy was more focused on AQAP’s repeated attempts to launch more spectacular attacks against civilian aviation, particularly after the group tried to blow up a commercial airliner over Detroit in 2009.

Now, as investigators scrutinize the more than three years that the Paris shooters spent between a visit to Yemen in 2011 and last week’s attack, they’re looking for clues that might have alerted Western security services to the plot but apparently went undetected. Current and former officials insisted that they had not taken their eyes off al Qaeda in Yemen in the time before the Charlie Hebdo attack. 

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As Europe Moves Aggressively Against Terrorism, New Challenges Emerge

As Europe Moves Aggressively Against Terrorism, New Challenges Emerge

BERLIN — After a series of police raids and a deadly gun battle, arrests of terror suspects in Belgium, Germany and France late Thursday and Friday highlighted the scope and complexity of the challenge facing European intelligence agencies and security services in confronting the expanding threat from radical jihadists, many of them battle-hardened in Syria and Iraq.

On Friday alone, the Belgian authorities announced that 13 people had been detained nationwide after two men suspected of planning an imminent attack were shot dead by the police in the eastern town of Verviers on Thursday evening. The authorities in France reported 12 detentions, and 250 police officers in Berlin swooped down on 12 locations to detain five Turks — three of whom were later released — on suspicion of recruiting, financing and helping Turkish and Chechen fighters get to Syria.

There was no public indication that the raids in Belgium and Germany were directly linked to the attacks last week in Paris, in which 17 people were killed and the three gunmen, all professing allegiance to militant groups, were shot dead by the police. The authorities in Paris said the 12 people detained there overnight might have belonged to a previously undetected cell that supported one of the gunmen in the Paris attacks.

The combination of the raids in three countries suggested a new willingness on the part of the authorities across Europe to act more aggressively and pre-emptively to head off potential threats.

Just before millions of people gathered to march in France last Sunday in defiance of the attacks, the interior ministers of 11 European countries huddled quietly in Paris to draw up measures to combat potential threats — in particular, officials said, more vigilance against radical material on the Internet and social media; more intense swapping of data among governments, especially no-fly lists; and a crackdown on illegal sales of weapons.

“The threat has increased,” said Rob de Wijk, director of The Hague Center for Strategic Studies in the Netherlands, pointing to the sharp increase in arrests for religion-inspired terrorism, which Europol statistics show rose to 216 arrests in 2013 from 110 in 2009. Even as governments are ramping up their counterterrorism efforts, though, they are igniting a growing debate about whether they are going too far, too fast, and are at risk of sacrificing civil liberties as they scramble to intensify security. The trade-offs are not always easy to discern at a time when there is clear evidence of a threat from a small but potentially dangerous group of residents of their own countries.

American intelligence agencies have estimated that 18,000 foreigners, including 3,000 Europeans and other Westerners, have traveled to Syria and Iraq since the fight in the region broke out in 2011. Of those, more than 500 veterans of the fighting are estimated to have returned to Europe, according to research by Richard Barrett, a former British intelligence officer.

The three gunmen in the Paris attacks, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly, had all been monitored at various points by French law enforcement and intelligence agencies but were nonetheless able to plan and execute attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

The handling of their cases has prompted widespread debate about whether Europe has adequate resources to track not just citizens traveling to and from Syria but a broader group of radicalized Muslims who could be potential threats to act alone or in loose affiliation with militant groups like the Islamic State and offshoots of Al Qaeda. Security agencies are clamoring for more money and powers to keep up.

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European countries seek sweeping new powers to curb terrorism

European countries seek sweeping new powers to curb terrorism

Belgian leaders on Friday sought sweeping new powers to monitor and punish their citizens for involvement with terrorism, joining France in an effort to rewrite laws just hours after dozens of arrests across Europe offered dramatic evidence of the threats security officials say are facing the continent.

The raids, carried out by France, Belgium and Germany on Friday to thwart unrelated terrorist plots, came after 17 people were killed in France last week in the worst terrorist attacks in that country in decades. The violence galvanized leaders and has swiftly led to grim discussions of crackdowns in nations that have long prided themselves on their willingness to live and let live.

Belgian leaders said Friday that they would seek to expand the list of offenses for which they could strip some people of their citizenship. France has fast-tracked the convictions of those accused of hate speech, handing down years-long prison sentences within hours of the initial offense. British Prime Minister David Cameron called for eagle-eyed surveillance of social networks.

Some of the counterterrorism proposals were already being discussed before two brothers claiming al-Qaeda ties stormed the offices of a Paris satirical newspaper Jan. 7, killing 12 people and initiating three days of deadly violence. But European leaders have since moved to expand those powers with a degree of political unanimity reminiscent of the ­bipartisan U.S. passage of the USA Patriot Act after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“At the present time, we do not have knowledge of a concrete and precise threat,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said Friday before unveiling 12 new measures intended to keep terrorism from Belgian soil. “We know that zero risk does not exist, neither in Belgium nor abroad,” he said.

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Patriot Act Idea Rises in France, and Is Ridiculed

Patriot Act Idea Rises in France, and Is Ridiculed

The arrests came quickly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. There was the Muslim man suspected of making anti-American statements. The Middle Eastern grocer, whose shop, a tipster said, had more clerks than it needed. Soon hundreds of men, mostly Muslims, were in American jails on immigration charges, suspected of being involved in the attacks.

They were not.

After shootings last week at a satirical newspaper and a kosher market in Paris, France finds itself grappling anew with a question the United States is still confronting: how to fight terrorism while protecting civil liberties. The answer is acute in a country that is sharply critical of American counterterrorism policies, which many see as a fearful overreaction to 9/11. Already in Europe, counterterrorism officials have arrested dozens of people, and France is mulling tough new antiterrorism laws. 

Many European countries, and France in particular, already have robust counterterrorism laws, some of which American authorities have studied as possible models. But the terrorist rampage at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices and the Hyper Cacher market prompted calls to go even further. Valérie Pécresse, a minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy, said France needed its own version of the USA Patriot Act, which gave the United States more authority to collect intelligence and pointed America’s surveillance apparatus at its citizens.

Politicians and civil rights advocates on both sides of the Atlantic bristled at that suggestion, and at a string of arrests in which French officials used a new antiterrorism law to crack down on what previously would have been considered free speech. One man was sentenced to six months in prison for shouting support for the Charlie Hebdo attackers. Up to 100 others are under investigation for remarks that support or tried to justify terrorism, authorities said.

Dominique de Villepin, the former French prime minister, warned against the urge for “exceptional” measures. “The spiral of suspicion created in the United States by the Patriot Act and the enduring legitimization of torture or illegal detention has today caused that country to lose its moral compass,” he wrote in Le Monde, the French newspaper.

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9 Reasons You Really Need to Go to Sleep

go to sleep

Sleep psychologist Matt Walker explains what happens when you stay awake too long.

By Indre Viskontas

You've heard all kinds of warnings—from your doctor, your mother, the media—about the downsides of getting too little sleep. But millions of Americans have work and school schedules, social lives, hobbies and/or kids that keep them awake. And sometimes it seems as though functioning on too few hours of sleep is even something to be proud of, a sacrifice that enables you to squeeze more living into your daily life. But science should make you rethink that particular humblebrag. As UC Berkeley sleep researcher Matt Walker explains on the Inquiring Minds podcast, not getting enough sleep has serious consequences.

"Sleep is a time of immense benefit for your body," Walker tells interviewer Kishore Hari. "Every one of the basic homeostatic systems within your body take a huge hit [even after] just one night of short sleep."

Lack of sleep hurts your ability to fight disease.

It's probably not a coincidence that many college students get colds after pulling all-nighters to study for finals. "If I give you just four hours of sleep for one night, your immune system function is impaired by about 70 percent," says Walker. "So there's a catastrophic implosion of your immune system health."

Not getting enough sleep likely increases your risk of cancer.

Sleep disruptions are so toxic that even partial sleep deprivation can decrease the numbers of cancer-killing cells circulating in your body. These cells naturally fend off tumors and help prevent you from developing cancer. The World Health Organization has even labeled night-shift work as a "probable carcinogen."

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