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Would You Rather Be Right or Would You Rather Be Happy?

Would You Rather Be Right or Would You Rather Be Happy?

By Dan Mager, MSW

The need to be right separates those afflicted with it from others, and from all that which is beyond the cramped confines of self. Separation closes the heart. Recognizing and shifting out of the attachment to having to be right opens and softens the heart, creating the space that makes it possible to experience greater happiness, contentment, and peace of mind.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” ~Lao Tzu

Hey NFL Fans: Ray Rice Isn’t the Problem. You Are.

Hey NFL Fans: Ray Rice Isn’t the Problem. You Are.

Before football fans get too sanctimonious about the Ray Rice wrist slap, they should worry about their complicity in footballs' culture of violence.

By now, most every football fan in America (and lots of non-fans) will have read about the arrest of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for an altercation with Janay Palmer, his former fiancé and current wife. The fight took place in February at a resort casino in Atlantic City called Revel.

According to the police report summary of the incident, “After reviewing surveillance footage it appeared both parties were involved in a physical altercation. The complaint summons indicates that both Rich [sic] and Palmer struck each other with their hands.” The report goes on to note that, “Ms. Palmer and Mr. Rice refused any medical attention as no injuries were reported by either party.”

What the report fails to note is that Rice knocked Ms. Palmer unconscious, as a subsequently released video attests. (You might want to skip the video, unless you enjoy watching a man who has just knocked out his fiancé attempt to drag her out of an elevator.)

Rice managed to avoid jail time by entering a pre-trail diversionary program. He also met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to explain the incident.

Goodell, a man who recently suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon 16 games for the high crime of smoking pot, has now rendered his verdict. Ray Rice is suspended for … two games.

Meal-Delivery Startups Look for Winning Recipe

Meal-Delivery Startups Look for Winning Recipe

Plated, Blue Apron Use Data to Focus on the Details; Measuring Demand for Crunchy Tofu

 By Ruth Simon and Lora Kolodny

At the Bronx fulfillment center for meal delivery startup Plated, hourly workers in lab coats and hair nets pluck those items, plus basil, oil and other ingredients, from white plastic shelves. The ingredients then are packed, with a recipe, into brown cardboard boxes emblazoned with the tagline "Redefining weeknight dinner."

Software engineers in an office 9 miles away developed algorithms to model and measure prospective demand for Crunchy Tofu with Walnut Romesco and Zucchini Boats with Jeweled Rice and Cherry Tomato Sauce.

At the two-year-old startup, and fast-growing rivals such as Blue Apron Inc., the challenge is to marry software applications and Web- and mobile- technology to a just-in-time supply of ingredients for generally healthy meals.

Crunching data is a crucial chore because Plated says it aims to lose less than 1% of its perishable inventory to spoilage even as it offers a different batch of seven new menu options weekly. It receives orders in as little as the day of delivery in some locations, and ships more than 100,000 meals a month from three different cities to customers in 46 states.

"There is a lot of complexity going on behind the scenes that the customer should never see or know about in order to enable a perfect meal arriving at their door," says Nick Taranto, a 29-year-old Harvard Business School graduate and former Goldman Sachs investment banker, who co-founded Plated in 2012.

By staying focused and keeping a close eye on details and customer experience, the meal-kit companies and their investors are hoping to avoid the fate of era food industry failures such as Webvan and and more recent fizzles, like gourmet food delivery startup Pop-Up Pantry.

What President Obama gets wrong about ‘acting white’

What President Obama gets wrong about ‘acting white’

Nia-Malika Henderson

President Obama often brings up the idea that black students face an “acting white” stigma. But, it’s much more complicated than he allows.

When President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama speak to an audience of African Americans, particularly students, they invariably mention the trope of  “acting white.”  That is the notion that one impediment to black students’ success is the belief in some black communities that academic achievement is synonymous with whiteness, and therefore devalued.

In a commencement speech at Bowie State in 2013, Michelle Obama said to an audience of new graduates and their families and friends:  “And as my husband has said often, please stand up and reject the slander that says a black child with a book is trying to act white.”

The first lady is right, the president has mentioned the idea of “acting white” quite often. (And, yes, the Obamas also express pride in and offer praise for black students, especially when they speak at commencement ceremonies.)

As recently as Monday, while speaking to a room full of students at the Walker Jones Education Campus, where he announced a new round of investments for the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, Obama mentioned it again.

In response to a question posed by a young Native American man about what the U.S. government is doing to help American Indians revitalize their language and culture, Obama talked about the importance of “knowing your culture — the traditional cultures out of which your families come, but also being part of the larger culture.”

He then went into a riff on “acting white”:

Sometimes African Americans, in communities where I’ve worked, there’s been the notion of “acting white” — which sometimes is overstated, but there’s an element of truth to it, where, okay, if boys are reading too much, then, well, why are you doing that? Or why are you speaking so properly? And the notion that there’s some authentic way of being black, that if you’re going to be black you have to act a certain way and wear a certain kind of clothes, that has to go. Because there are a whole bunch of different ways for African American men to be authentic.

Obama is right when he says that the notion of acting white is sometimes overstated. Perhaps, it’s overstated by Obama himself.

Russia, MH17 and the West: A web of lies

Russia, MH17 and the West: A web of lies

Vladimir Putin’s epic deceits have grave consequences for his people and the outside world

IN 1991, when Soviet Communism collapsed, it seemed as if the Russian people might at last have the chance to become citizens of a normal Western democracy. Vladimir Putin’s disastrous contribution to Russia’s history has been to set his country on a different path. And yet many around the world, through self-interest or self-deception, have been unwilling to see Mr Putin as he really is.

The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, the killing of 298 innocent people and the desecration of their bodies in the sunflower fields of eastern Ukraine, is above all a tragedy of lives cut short and of those left behind to mourn. But it is also a measure of the harm Mr Putin has done. Under him Russia has again become a place in which truth and falsehood are no longer distinct and facts are put into the service of the government. Mr Putin sets himself up as a patriot, but he is a threat—to international norms, to his neighbours and to the Russians themselves, who are intoxicated by his hysterical brand of anti-Western propaganda.

The world needs to face the danger Mr Putin poses. If it does not stand up to him today, worse will follow.

John Boehner calls on Obama to support legislation speeding up deportations

John Boehner calls on Obama to support legislation speeding up deportations

Susan Ferrechio

House Speaker John Boehner sent a letter to President Obama Wednesday warning that it could be impossible for Congress to green-light additional money to deal with the border crisis unless the president publicly supports a change in a law that is slowing deportations.

President Obama has backed away from his June 30 request to change in a 2008 law that prevents fast deportation of minors who come from countries other than Mexico or Canada.

Democrats in the House and Senate have also expressed growing opposition, but Republicans are insisting on a change in the law, because many of the nearly 60,000 people who have arrived here illegally in recent months are children from Central America. The law prevents them from being sent straight back to their home countries, and they are instead processed and provided court dates, which is costly and is more likely to result in fewer deportations.

Obama’s about-face on the matter has angered Republicans, who said they were already displeased with the notion of providing a “blank check” to the president to deal with the border crisis.

Where Child Migrant Surge Could Hit Home

Where Child Migrant Surge Could Hit Home

By Dante Chinni

Immigrant populations tend to cluster in the U.S., and some House districts are much more apt to feel a direct impact from the crisis.

The surge of unaccompanied minors coming over the U.S. borders looks to remain a hot topic for the 2014 midterms, as it adds another troubling dimension to Washington’s long-simmering, intractable fight over immigration.

On Friday, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are set to meet with the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to talk about the crisis.

But beyond the national headlines, the impacts may be highly localized. Immigrant populations tend to cluster in the U.S., and some House districts are much more apt to feel a direct impact from the crisis.

Districts with large populations from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are more likely to have residents who are following the story closely. And, perhaps more important, those communities are more likely to see an influx of young immigrants from any unaccompanied children granted even temporary residency to live with a close relative.

Hillary 'claimed Bill was addicted to sex because he was abused by his mother'

Hillary 'claimed Bill was addicted to sex because he was abused by his mother'

Family ties: Bill Clinton with his mother Virginia and her husband Dick Kelley. Hillary allegedly claimed her mother-in-law abused Bill as a child

In the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Hillary Clinton claimed that her husband was addicted to sex because he was abused by his mother, a journalist said.

The then First Lady allegedly made the claims during a 1999 interview with Lucinda Franks, but the Pulitzer prize-winner declined to use them for the article she was working on. The revelation is one of a series of sensational claims made in a series of new books being published in anticipation that Clinton will make a presidential run in 2016.

Clinton claimed that Kelley, who died in 1994, hurt her son 'in ways you wouldn't believe' and, while not giving details about the alleged abuse, claimed it had been responsible for her husband's affair.

'When a mother does what she does, it affects you forever,' Clinton allegedly told Franks, 68.

The claims were not included in the article Frank was writing for a magazine called Talk.

But the Daily News has seen a version of the memoir that discussed a fraught relationship between the President's mother and grandmother.

Franks has said she wanted to publish the interview in its entirety at the time but didn't because of the media storm over the Lewinsky affair.

In the 1999 interview, Clinton described her husband's affair as a 'sin of weakness', and said she remained devoted to him despite 'enormous pain, enormous anger' over his infidelities.

She added that the affair had come at a time of upheaval for the President, who was coming to terms with the loss of his mother.

Frank alluded to a difficult upbringing for the President, according to, and quoted Clinton as saying: 'He was so young when he was scarred by abuse. There was a terrible conflict between his mother and grandmother.'

Chris Cillizza: why President Obama’s dismal approval ratings matter this November

Here’s why President Obama’s dismal approval ratings matter this November

Here’s why President Obama’s dismal approval ratings matter this November

Chris Cillizza

More than half of people who plan to vote Republican say it is a vote against the president.

Any time I write about President Obama's lackluster poll numbers, any number of people take to Twitter to helpfully remind me that he isn't on the ballot this fall and is constitutionally barred from seeking a third time. Their argument comes down to this: Who cares what President Obama's approval ratings are?

A new national Pew Research Center poll shows why any Democrat on the ballot this November should care. Roughly three in ten people said that their vote this fall would be "against" Obama as compared to just 19 percent who said that their vote would be to show support for the president. Those numbers aren't as bad as what George W. Bush and Republicans faced before the 2006 midterms (38 percent voting against Bush, 15 percent voting for him) but are worse for Obama than at this time in the 2010 election cycle (28 percent vote against, 23 percent vote for) in which the president's party lost 63 house seats.

Isis orders all women and girls in Mosul to undergo FGM, says UN

Iraqi refugees

Isis orders all women and girls in Mosul to undergo FGM, says UN

UN says 'fatwa' issued by militant group in and around Iraqi city could affect 4 million

The militant group Islamic State (Isis) has ordered all girls and women in and around Iraq's northern city of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation, the United Nations says.

The "fatwa" issued by the Sunni Muslim fighters would potentially affect 4 million women and girls, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, Jacqueline Badcock, told reporters in Geneva by videolink from Irbil.

"This is something very new for Iraq, particularly in this area, and is of grave concern and does need to be addressed," she said.

"This is not the will of Iraqi people, or the women of Iraq in these vulnerable areas covered by the terrorists," she added.

John Kerry 'wanded' by security guards at Egypt's presidential palace

John Kerry 'wanded' by security guards at Egypt's presidential palace

Patrick Kingsley in Cairo 

John Kerry meets Egypt's president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi

Incident raises suspicion that US secretary of state was humiliated, weeks after 'snubbing' over al-Jazeera journalists

John Kerry has spent much of this week shuttling between Middle Eastern capitals, trying to get Hamas and Israel to put down their guns. For his efforts, Kerry probably did not expect to be suspected of being an armed threat himself.

Yet that was what briefly happened on Tuesday, when Kerry was stopped by security guards as he entered Cairo's presidential palace to meet Egypt's president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Footage shows America's top diplomat being "wanded" with a hand-held electronic scanner. It was a move that raised eyebrows among members of Kerry's travelling press corps, who said the US secretary of state was usually afforded every courtesy when on official business abroad.

The incident caused a small diplomatic kerfuffle, amid suspicion that Kerry had been purposefully humiliated in a show of Egyptian independence. But taken to task on Egyptian television, Sisi's spokesman, Ehab Badawy, shrugged it off as a "spontaneous" incident. "This security measure is very natural," said Badawy, "one that Egyptian officials abroad are subjected to – and Nabil Fahmy, a former foreign minister, experienced it during his visit to the United States."

Jeb Bush Jumps Back Into Changing Immigration Debate

 Neil Munro

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during the Faith and Freedom Coalition Road to Majority Conference at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washington, June 14, 2013. (REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert)

The Central American migration has scrambled GOP politics

Potential presidential candidate Gov. Jeb Bush jumped back into the GOP’s increasingly hot debate over immigration, with an op-ed article simultaneously calling for the deportation of Central American migrant children and for quick passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

“Except for those deserving few who may demonstrate true cause for asylum or protection from sex trafficking, these children must be returned to their homes in Central America,” said Bush, in a Wednesday op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

The fix for the nation’s immigration problem, Bush said, is a revamp that reduces the number of green cards for the family relatives of recent immigrants, but also increases green cards for people “whose skills and drive will make a difference” to the economy.

“The best antidote to illegal immigration is a functioning system of legal immigration,” Bush wrote. “Congress should not use the present crisis as an excuse to defer comprehensive immigration reform.”

Many GOP insiders and consultants want Congress to pass an immigration rewrite this year, partly to minimize the pro-Democratic turnout by Latino voters in 2016. But the GOP’s populist wing has blocked the Senate’s 2013 immigration rewrite.

Bush’s “must be returned” comment is a sharp change in tone from his comment in April, when he said that many illegal immigrants cross the border in an “act of love” for their dependent families.

Dear John, It Gets Better: A Letter to Travolta


Dear John, It Gets Better: A Letter to Travolta

As another legal battle unfolds around his alleged homosexuality, what the actor can do for the best—and why gay Hollywood needs to shake itself from its hypocritical slumber.

In 1991 you married Kelly Preston, yet still stories persisted that you hit on men in hotel and country club shower rooms. You have been photographed kissing a man. Are all these setups, coincidences, misunderstandings, a shabby mass tabloid conspiracy, people on the make? Are the stories false, but you yourself gay?

I feel for you, of course. It's been a strange few years for you in the public mind: your great film roles like Saturday Night Fever, Grease, and Pulp Fiction (and I loved you in Primary Colors) seem squarely in the past. Your hair-weaves or wigs or whatever's going on up there have become alarming. You are now best known for appearing in public in your pilot’s uniform, as when Oprah promised to fly her audience to Australia.

I don’t know if you are gay, John, or maybe something else, its definition known only to you. But one thing that is indubitably true is that, no matter the progress in society and law, Hollywood’s top tier remains a warped paradise of closetry. No major Hollywood movie star of your stature is out, male or female. The very fact of that tells us either that there are no lesbian or gay movie stars—unlikely—or that the industry is hostile to the idea; the same industry that prides itself on its liberalism, its alignment to liberal causes, and whose denizens can regularly be relied upon to talk about the importance of freedom, artistic or otherwise.

The fear that keeps the closet so active in Hollywood, one supposes, is that no one would buy a leading man who is gay, that the macho, gun-wielding swaggerer he has to play on screen, the charming skirt-chaser, would be heinously compromised by the offscreen knowledge that he sleeps with, and loves, men.

But as long as Hollywood doesn’t trust society to suspend disbelief in its actors’ ability to act, this ugly, progress-inhibiting standoff will persist. Sportsmen like Michael Sam faced similar granite walls of incomprehension and outright prejudice after they came out, but they still did it. And they’re still in the game. And people’s respect for them grows, not diminishes. The right people are on their side, the bigots are the dinosaurs.

If you are gay, John, what an absurd position you keep painting yourself in. But also, Hollywood, what’s up with you, elevating a culture of lies, secrets, and repression around lesbian and gay sexuality—this when so many gay people work in Hollywood?

Obama locks out the press — again

Obama locks out the press — again


President Barack Obama is pictured. | AP Photo

President Barack Obama went to the West Coast to meet donors from two top Democratic super PACs, but the press wasn’t invited.

Tuesday, the reporters and photographers traveling with the president on Air Force One and in his motorcade were left on the gravel path not even within sight of former Costco CEO Jim Sinegal’s house in the Seattle suburbs where Obama sat for a Senate Majority PAC fundraiser with a $25,000 entrance fee.

Wednesday morning, when he met with big donors for the House Majority PAC at the Four Seasons hotel in downtown San Francisco, they weren’t even told what room or floor he was on.

“We think these fundraisers ought to be open to at least some scrutiny, because the president’s participation in them is fundamentally public in nature,” said Christi Parsons, the new president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. “Denying access to him in that setting undermines the public’s ability to independently monitor and see what its government is doing. It’s of special concern as these events and the donors they attract become more influential in the political process.”

Despite constant complaints from the press corps and promises from White House officials, access to the president continues to be limited. The constantly repeated line that they’re running the “most transparent administration in history” tends to prompt snickers. Halfway through Obama’s West Coast swing, it’s tipping toward outrage.

Plane Tragedy Fails to Quiet Ukraine

Plane Tragedy Fails to Quiet Ukraine

By Anton Troianovski in Kiev, Ukraine, Lukas I. Alpert in Moscow and Carol E. Lee in Washington

The escalation in fighting in Ukraine suggests Vladimir Putin has no intention of dialing back his support for the pro-Russia separatists, denting hopes that attention from the Malaysia Airlines crash would force him to change course.

Two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down Wednesday over separatist-held territory not far from the site of the Malaysia Airlines crash as international outrage over the tragedy has done little to slow the fierce fighting in eastern Ukraine.

While Kiev made significant advances against rebels in the country's east in recent days, Ukrainian and U.S. officials say Russian weapons are continuing to pour over the border. The escalation in fighting suggests Russian President Vladimir Putin has no intention of dialing back his support for the separatists, denting Western hopes that international attention from the airliner crash would force him to change course.

"The fact that you have two additional planes shot down speaks to the pattern we've seen over the last several weeks—which is Russian-backed separatists, armed with Russian anti-aircraft [weapons], posing risks to aircraft in Ukraine," said Ben Rhodes, a deputy White House national security adviser.

Mr. Putin, who has denied supporting the rebels, remained defiant. His apparent unwillingness to pressure the separatists to lay down their arms—even after the global outcry over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that killed 298 civilians—poses a challenge for U.S. and European diplomats who have for months tried to offer him a diplomatic route to step back from Ukraine.

With Mr. Putin appearing undeterred from continuing to fuel a conflict in Ukraine's east in what diplomats and analysts say is an attempt to cripple Kiev's turn toward the West, senior European diplomats will meet Thursday to decide on new sanctions targets. They will also discuss a plan to impose sanctions on entire sectors of the Russian economy, including high-tech goods and oil and gas exploration equipment. 

Foreign ministers from the European Union this week said they would activate that plan if Russia didn't use its sway over the rebels to allow international investigators access to the Malaysia Airlines crash site and stop the flow of weapons and men across the border from Russia. With progress being made on the first condition, an EU diplomat said governments will be focusing on whether Mr. Putin has scaled back his alleged support for the rebels.

Sen. Jeff Sessions: Obama wants amnesty for 6 million illegals

Sen. Jeff Sessions: Obama wants amnesty for 6 million illegals

Paul Bedard

Sen. Jeff Sessions, taking a hard line on immigration, Wednesday blasted a House reform proposal as weak and warned that President Obama is on the verge of granting amnesty to some 6 million illegal immigrants — half the population of undocumented workers in the United States.

“The border crisis is the direct and predictable result of the president’s sustained policies undermining America’s immigration laws. The president’s continued determination to carry out this nullification remains the singular obstacle in the way of restoring lawfulness,” he said in a just-issued statement.

Turning to the House working group immigration reform plan also issued Wednesday, he added, “They made no mention of the president’s threat of sweeping new executive actions. Multiple reports indicate that these imminent actions are likely to take the form of administrative amnesty and work permits for 5-6 million illegal immigrants.”

Sessions has been urging the president to enforce already established border control laws and said that the House package lets him off the hook.

“Any attempt at improving the border situation would be rendered utterly void if the president follows through on his dramatic nullification acts. How can Congress ignore this brewing constitutional crisis? In fact, granting the president new funds without tackling these orders would be an institutional surrender to the planned illegality.”

Snoop Dogg smoked weed in the WHITE HOUSE

Snoop Dogg smoked weed in the WHITE HOUSE

Rapper admits he lit up while in the bathroom

By Dan Bloom

Confession: Taking a big puff on a joint, the rapper told his story to comedian Jimmy Kimmel (left)

The rapper - who was at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in December for the Kennedy Center Honors - confessed to smoking a joint and 'pretending it was a napkin'.

He's been to some high places in his time, but now Snoop Dogg has turned even the White House green - by lighting a cannabis joint in the bathroom. The rapper claimed he reassured Secret Service agents he would only be igniting a 'napkin' before having a luxurious solo smoke on a recent visit.

If his story is true he joins the likes of country singer Willie Nelson, who famously lit up a joint at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue during the presidency of Jimmy Carter.

And of course he ranks with the President himself - who has probably never lit up in the executive mansion, but was a heavy smoker as a young man. When asked about his habit in 2006, Barack Obama famously replied: 'I inhaled frequently. That was the point.'

Harsh Rule, but Order in Jihadist Capital

To those entering Raqqa Province, home to about a million people, ISIS makes clear, immediately, who is in charge. Credit Reuters

Harsh Rule, but Order in Jihadist Capital


Islamist extremists in control of the Syrian city of Raqqa have blended their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam with the practicalities of governance.

When his factory was bombed in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, the businessman considered two bleak options: remain at home and risk dying in the next airstrike, or flee like hundreds of thousands of others to a refugee camp in Turkey.

Instead, he took his remaining cash east and moved to a neighboring city, Raqqa, the de facto capital of the world’s fastest growing jihadist force. There he found a degree of order and security absent in other parts of Syria.

“The fighting in Syria will continue, so we have to live our lives,” said the businessman, who gave only a first name, Qadri, as he oversaw a dozen workers in his new children’s clothing factory in Raqqa.

Long before extremists rolled through Iraq and seized a large piece of territory, the group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, took over most of Raqqa Province, home to about a million people, and established a headquarters in its capital. Through strategic management and brute force, the group, which now calls itself simply the Islamic State, has begun imposing its vision of a state that blends its fundamentalist interpretation of Islam with the practicalities of governance.

In time, it has won the surprising respect of some war-weary citizens, like Qadri, who will accept any authority that can restore a semblance of normal life. Rebel-held areas of Aleppo, by comparison, remain racked with food shortages and crime. But there is a darker side to Islamic rule, with public executions and strict social codes that have left many in this once-tolerant community deeply worried about the future.

In the city of Raqqa, traffic police officers keep intersections clear, crime is rare, and tax collectors issue receipts. But statues like the landmark lions in Al Rasheed Park have been destroyed because they were considered blasphemous. Public spaces like Al Amasy Square, where young men and women once hung out and flirted in the evenings, have been walled off with heavy metal fences topped with the black flags of ISIS. People accused of stealing have lost their hands in public amputations.

“What I see in Raqqa proves that the Islamic State has a clear vision to establish a state in the real meaning of the word,” said a retired teacher in the city of Raqqa. “It is not a joke.”

Norm Ornstein: When Extremism Goes Mainstream

When Extremism Goes Mainstream

Just how far out is the Republican fringe?

By Norm Ornstein

 The most interesting, and important, dynamic in American politics today is the existential struggle going on in the Republican Party between the establishment and the insurgents—or to be more accurate, between the hard-line bedrock conservatives (there are only trace elements of the old-line center-right bloc, much less moderates) and the radicals.

Clinton's election in 1992 moved the Democrats firmly to the center on previously divisive issues like welfare and crime. But it also provided the impetus for the forces that have led to the current Republican problem. These forces were built in part around insurgent Newt Gingrich's plans to overturn the Democratic 38-year hegemony in Congress, and in part around a ruthlessly pragmatic decision by GOP leaders and political strategists to hamper the popular Clinton by delegitimizing him and using the post-Watergate flowering of independent counsels to push for multiple crippling investigations of wrongdoing (to be sure, he gave them a little help along the way). No one was more adroit at using ethics investigations to demonize opponents than Newt. In 1994, Gingrich recruited a passel of more radical candidates for Congress, who ran on a path to overturn most of the welfare state and who themselves demonized Congress and Washington. At a time of rising populist anger—and some disillusionment on the left with Clinton—the approach worked like a charm, giving the GOP its first majority in the House in 40 years, and changing the face of Congress for decades to come.

Newt's strategy and tactics were abetted and amplified by the new force of political talk radio, which had been activated by the disastrous federal pay raise in 1989-90, and of tribal cable television news. As Sean Theriault details in his book The Gingrich Senators, many of Newt's progeny moved on to the Senate and began to change it from an old club into a new forum for tribal warfare. Move on through right-wing frustration with George W. Bush's combination of compassionate conservatism and unfunded social policy (and wars) and then the election of Barack Obama, and the ingredients for a rise of radicalism and a more explosive intra-party struggle were set. They were expanded again with the eager efforts in 2010 of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Young Guns (Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, and Paul Ryan) to exploit the deep populist right-wing anger at the financial collapse and the bailouts of 2008 and 2009 by inciting the Tea Party movement. But their expectation that they could then co-opt these insurgents backfired badly.

Despite rhetoric, gun prosecutions plummet under Obama

"Guns are the problem and access to guns are the problem," said Robert Sanders, a former assistant director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He said a policy shift in the Justice Department under Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has downgraded the pursuit of criminals with guns as a priority. (Associated Press photographs)

Despite rhetoric, gun prosecutions plummet under Obama

By Kelly Riddell - The Washington Times

While President Obama decries gun violence and presses for more laws to restrict ownership, his Justice Department has prosecuted 25 percent fewer cases referred by the main law enforcement agency charged with reducing firearms violence across the country, a computer analysis of U.S. prosecution data shows.

Federal prosecutors brought a total of 5,082 gun violation cases in 2013 recommended by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, compared with 6,791 during the last year of George W. Bush’s presidency in 2008, according to data obtained from the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys.

Putin’s daughter is found living in Holland

Dutch furious after Putin’s daughter is found living in Holland

Putin’s daughter is found living in Holland

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughter is living with a Dutch boyfriend in the Netherlands as the country reels from last week’s jetliner missile attack by Ukrainian rebels with Russian-supplied weapons, according to reports Wednesday.

Outrage over Maria Putin’s presence in the grief-stricken country — which lost 193 citizens aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 — is fueling calls for her deportation, The Guardian reported.

Ukrainians living in the Netherlands are also planning a protest outside Maria’s apartment in the wealthy suburb of Voorschoten, outside The Hague, according to De Telegraaf newspaper.

Pieter Broertjes, mayor of the city of Hilversum, demanded the ouster of Maria, 29, during a radio interview Wednesday, as the country held a day of mourning and church bells tolled to announce the arival of the first bodies from Thursday’s plane crash.

How Well Do You Know Your Partner?

How Well Do You Know Your Partner?

By Heidi Reeder Ph.D.

Even after years together, there are many things about your partner you don’t know. Take advantage of your next date night to ask some stimulating questions, and grow a little closer.

Why Do Americans Stink at Math?

Why Do Americans Stink at Math?


The Common Core should finally improve math education. The problem is that no one has taught the teachers how to teach it.

When Akihiko Takahashi was a junior in college in 1978, he was like most of the other students at his university in suburban Tokyo. He had a vague sense of wanting to accomplish something but no clue what that something should be. But that spring he met a man who would become his mentor, and this relationship set the course of his entire career.

Takeshi Matsuyama was an elementary-school teacher, but like a small number of instructors in Japan, he taught not just young children but also college students who wanted to become teachers. At the university-affiliated elementary school where Matsuyama taught, he turned his classroom into a kind of laboratory, concocting and trying out new teaching ideas. When Takahashi met him, Matsuyama was in the middle of his boldest experiment yet — revolutionizing the way students learned math by radically changing the way teachers taught it.

Instead of having students memorize and then practice endless lists of equations — which Takahashi remembered from his own days in school — Matsuyama taught his college students to encourage passionate discussions among children so they would come to uncover math’s procedures, properties and proofs for themselves. One day, for example, the young students would derive the formula for finding the area of a rectangle; the next, they would use what they learned to do the same for parallelograms. Taught this new way, math itself seemed transformed. It was not dull misery but challenging, stimulating and even fun.

Takahashi quickly became a convert. He discovered that these ideas came from reformers in the United States, and he dedicated himself to learning to teach like an American. Over the next 12 years, as the Japanese educational system embraced this more vibrant approach to math, Takahashi taught first through sixth grade. Teaching, and thinking about teaching, was practically all he did. A quiet man with calm, smiling eyes, his passion for a new kind of math instruction could take his colleagues by surprise. “He looks very gentle and kind,” Kazuyuki Shirai, a fellow math teacher, told me through a translator. “But when he starts talking about math, everything changes.”

Takahashi was especially enthralled with an American group called the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, or N.C.T.M., which published manifestoes throughout the 1980s, prescribing radical changes in the teaching of math. Spending late nights at school, Takahashi read every one. Like many professionals in Japan, teachers often said they did their work in the name of their mentor. It was as if Takahashi bore two influences: Matsuyama and the American reformers.

Takahashi, who is 58, became one of his country’s leading math teachers, once attracting 1,000 observers to a public lesson. He participated in a classroom equivalent of “Iron Chef,” the popular Japanese television show. But in 1991, when he got the opportunity to take a new job in America, teaching at a school run by the Japanese Education Ministry for expats in Chicago, he did not hesitate. With his wife, a graphic designer, he left his friends, family, colleagues — everything he knew — and moved to the United States, eager to be at the center of the new math.

As soon as he arrived, he started spending his days off visiting American schools. One of the first math classes he observed gave him such a jolt that he assumed there must have been some kind of mistake. The class looked exactly like his own memories of school. “I thought, Well, that’s only this class,” Takahashi said. But the next class looked like the first, and so did the next and the one after that. The Americans might have invented the world’s best methods for teaching math to children, but it was difficult to find anyone actually using them.

Silicon Valley's gig economy is not the future of work – it's driving down wages

dry cleaning

Silicon Valley's gig economy is not the future of work – it's driving down wages

sarah jaffe

Sarah Jaffe

Sites like TaskRabbit are isolating workers and paying them less. But they might force the union of the future

Like many of the other tech companies – Lyft, Zaarly, Fiverr – that have gotten bucketloads of venture capital to match underemployed people with no-commitment gigs, TaskRabbit taps into an existing need – any kind of income in an economy increasingly built on low-wage jobs or no jobs at all – and fulfils a real desire for flexibility among 21st-century workers. The company's CEO has said that TaskRabbit's goal is to "revolutionize the world's labor force".

But TaskRabbit, like all the others, is just a site and an app that matches workers – "taskers", in the company's terminology – with one-off jobs that other people want done for them. In the old days – as in, a couple of weeks ago – workers would bid on jobs posted by potential clients on the TaskRabbit site, and clients would select the best bid for "outsourcing" chores like cleaning the oven, wrapping gifts or assembling Ikea furniture. The pay might have been low at that point, but workers determined it for themselves, just as they determined when and what kind of work they would do.

Now, TaskRabbit has changed its rules. Attempting to capitalize on the explosion in the so-called "gig economy" and set itself apart from the ever-growing competition, TaskRabbit this month has begun using a new algorithm to match workers with clients, who then contact a given worker to see if she is available, and the worker has 30 minutes to accept or reject the bid.

The taskers are not pleased.

DANIEL HALPER: My Battle With the Clintons

My Battle With the Clintons

I wrote a tough book on the Clinton family. Here's what happened next.

When I started to write Clinton, Inc: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine, I knew the reaction to expect. I was well aware that the former (and perhaps future) first family and its massive retinue of loyalty enforcers, professional defamers and assorted gadflies would rue my intent to examine the real Clintons—especially in my search for the real Chelsea Clinton, who until now has been a media-protected nonperson despite her aggressive public activities on her family’s behalf and despite raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars from her role as former first daughter.

MSNBC’s David Shuster learned this the hard way when he was suspended from the network for saying, “But doesn’t it seem like Chelsea’s sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?” in a live TV hit on how the former first daughter was being used by her mother’s 2008 campaign. The Clintons hit the roof over the single relatively banal comment, as I report in my book, and lobbied the head of parent company GE to get Shuster off the air.

I also had a feeling that some of the sources I spoke to, for and not-for attribution, including alleged Clinton mistresses who’ve stayed out of the press and remain loyal to Bill, would alert the Clintons to what I was doing and help them prepare a counterattack.

But even if I hadn’t known it, many, many people in Washington, on the left and right, popped up to warn me of what to expect from the Clinton PR team. Other authors—legitimate ones with serious pedigrees—who’d written about the Clintons said they were threatened and verbally attacked. Of course, nearly everyone in Washington has seen the much-vaunted Clinton PR machine in action. It’s very predictable.

How America Finances the Destruction in Gaza—and the Clean-Up

The US-subsidized Israeli military wreaks devastation, and a US-funded UN agency deals with the aftermath.

On Monday, Israeli warplanes fired 182 missiles into Gaza, Israeli ships launched 146 shells into the territory, and Israeli tanks shot 721 shells, with all these attacks striking 66 structures and killing 107 Palestinians (including 35 children), while Hamas launched 101 rockets toward Israel, and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed. That day, the State Department announced that the United States would be providing $47 million "to help address the humanitarian situation in Gaza." A third of these funds would go to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which is providing food, water, and shelter to tens of thousands of war-affected Palestinians in Gaza. So once again, US taxpayers are in an absurd place: They are partly paying for the Israeli military action in Gaza and funding the clean-up.

Each year, the United States gives Israel about $3.1 billion in military assistance, a commitment that stems from the 1978 Camp David accord that led to peace between Israel and Egypt. Those billions are roughly divided into two funding streams. About $800 million underwrites Israeli manufacturing of weaponry and military products. The rest finances what is essentially a gift card that the Israeli military uses to procure arms and military equipment from US military contractors. It can be safely assumed, says a US expert on aid to Israel, that all units of the Israel Defense Forces benefit from US assistance—and this obviously includes those units fighting in Gaza. So to a certain degree, the destruction in Gaza does have a made-in-the-USA stamp.

Warning of possible Gaza war crimes

Warning of possible Gaza war crimes

 Ian Black

Gaza buildings blazing after air strike, 23 July 2014

UN high commissioner for human rights says Israel may have committed war crimes in its offensive against Hamas

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, has warned that Israel may have committed war crimes in its offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, where hundreds of Palestinian civilians have been killed in the past two weeks.

Pillay told an emergency debate at the UN human rights council (UNHRC) in Geneva that Israel had not done enough to protect civilians.

"There seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes," Pillay said, citing air strikes and the shelling of homes and hospitals. The killing of civilians in Gaza, including dozens of children, raised concerns over Israel's precautions and its respect for proportionality, she said.

She also condemned Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules Gaza, and other armed Palestinian groups, for their "indiscriminate attacks" on Israel.

Pillay's comments, in a debate held at the request of Egypt, Pakistan and the state of Palestine (which has observer status at the UN), were in response to a resolution calling for an investigation into the Gaza campaign, launched on 8 July with the declared objective of halting rocket fire into Israel.

The 46-member UN human rights council body has a majority that is pro-Palestinian. Israel only recently rejoined it after a 20-month boycott.

The 9/11 Commission Is Back With a New Warning for America

The 9/11 Commission Is Back With a New Warning for America

Ten years after their groundbreaking report, the 9/11 Commission report authors are back to warn us that we’re still very vulnerable.

The co-authors of the bestselling 9/11 Commission report are once again sounding the alarm about the nation’s readiness, warning of “counter terrorism fatigue and a waning sense of urgency” in combating a growing terrorist threat. While the core of al Qaeda has been significantly degraded, its affiliates are now in 16 countries, and the Commission’s reflections a decade after its original report is titled, “Today’s Rising Terrorist Threat and the Danger to the United States.”

While the updated Commission report isn’t as direct as President Bush’s August 2001 classified briefing, “Bin Laden Determined to Attack in U.S.,” the cumulative effect of its findings, and the vulnerabilities it documents, should serve as much-needed wake-up calls for Congress and the White House.

“The world is an even more dangerous place these last few weeks and months,” said former Indiana congressman and Commission Co-Chair Lee Hamilton. He detailed how fighters traveling to Syria are re-directing battlefield skills they acquire “and returning to attack us,” with U.S. aviation the primary target of their bomb making. So-called lone wolves radicalized over the Internet and relentless cyber attacks rounded out the overview Hamilton presented Tuesday in an event sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

“There can be no more failure of imagination,” said former New Jersey Governor and Commission co-chair Tom Kean. “We’ve got to get ahead of these guys, not behind them.”

It's almost here..........

House moves to halt illegal immigration by deploying U.S. forces to Central America

U.S. Border Patrol Senior Agent B.T. Hick and his dog Mirza, left, inspect a car at a check point outside Organ Pipe Cactus National Park in Why, Ariz., Wednesday, May 24, 2006. The detention of a prominent immigration activist at a Texas airport served as a reminder of the latitude the Border Patrol has in conducting checkpoints for drugs and immigrants in the country illegally at locations not on the border. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

House moves to halt illegal immigration by deploying U.S. forces to Central America

By S.A. Miller - The Washington Times

A House Republican task force Wednesday unveiled a dozen policy recommendations to ease the border crisis, including launching law enforcement operations in Central America and Mexico to stop illegal immigrants before they reach the U.S.

Under the plan, the U.S. steps to accelerate immigration hearings for the unaccompanied alien children flooding across the Southern border, providing additional judges to hear requests for asylum. Tougher penalties on human traffickers, or coyotes, who smuggle the children to the United Sates would be imposed to discourage more mass illegal migration.

The Democrats’ Obama problem

The Democrats’ Obama problem

Aaron Blake

50 percent of voters in the 12 Senate battlegrounds strongly disapprove of the president, according to a new poll.

President Obama is unpopular. In the 12 states that will decide control of the Senate this November, though, he's even more unpopular.

A new poll from Democratic pollster Democracy Corps shows 60 percent of people in these states say they disapprove of Obama, compared to just 37 percent who approve. Perhaps more striking: 50 percent of voters in these states say they not only disapprove of Obama, but they "strongly" disapprove of him.

The fact that Obama's numbers are worse in these states, of course, is to be expected. After all, the 2014 race is mostly being decided in red states, and Mitt Romney won these 12 states by an average of 8.5 points. Obama was bound to be less popular here.

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