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After Golf Snub, President Canceled Plans, Went Home

After Golf Snub, President Canceled Plans, Went Home

At what cost?


A new report from NBC claims that President Obama couldn't get a tee time during a recent visit to New York. So he packed up and went home (before returning to New York the next night for a private wedding).

"President Obama was turned down at several top golf courses in Westchester while he was visiting the area over Labor Day weekend, sources tell NBC 4 New York," the report states.

"Club managers apparently did not want to inconvenience their high-powered and high-paying members over Labor Day weekend by shutting down their courses to accommodate the president. The president was in town Aug. 29, a Friday, for fundraising events in New York and Rhode Island. He had been scheduled to stay overnight in Westchester County in order to attend the Saturday evening wedding of MSNBC host Alex Wagner and White House chef Sam Kass at Blue Hill Farm."

So Obama went home.

On Aug. 28, White House officials announced the president was changing his plans and that he would return to Washington Friday night instead of staying over in New York.White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained the change that Friday as a last-minute decision by Obama to "make the late evening flight back here home to the White House."

"He can sleep in his own bed, do a little work tomorrow, spend some time with his family and then travel back to New York tomorrow evening to attend a private event," he said,

The American fear-mongering machine is about to scare us back into war again

obama i heart war

The American fear-mongering machine is about to scare us back into war again

trevor timm 2014 updated

Trevor Timm

Thanks to a say-anything media, hawkish politicians and an Orwellian administration, a war-weary public is terrified.

Did you know that the US government’s counterterrorism chief Matthew Olson said last week that there’s no “there’s no credible information” that the Islamic State (Isis) is planning an attack on America and that there’s “no indication at this point of a cell of foreign fighters operating in the United States”? Or that, as the Associated Press reported, “The FBI and Homeland Security Department say there are no specific or credible terror threats to the US homeland from the Islamic State militant group”?

Probably not, because as the nation barrels towards yet another war in the Middle East and President Obama prepares to address that nation on the “offensive phase” of his military plan Wednesday night, mainstream media pundits and the usual uber-hawk politicians are busy trying to out-hyperbole each other over the threat Isis poses to Americans. In the process, they’re all but ignoring any evidence to the contrary and the potential hole of blood and treasure into which they’re ready to drive this country all over again.

Facts or consequences have never gotten in the way of Congress’ lust for war before – this political body was, after all, George W Bush’s chief enabler in Iraq the last time around – and this time it’s no different. Sen James Inhofe (R-OK) recently said Isis militants are “rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major US city and people just can’t believe that’s happening.” (Maybe because there’s no proof that they are?) Sen Bill Nelson (D-FL) said, “It ought to be pretty clear when they … say they’re going to fly the black flag of ISIS over the White House that Isis is a clear and present danger.” (Again, who cares if they’re not?)

The White House declared on Tuesday night that it needn’t bother to ask Congress for war powers, and Congress is more than happy to relieve itself of the responsibility of asking for them – or, you know, voting. Members of both parties have actually been telling the president to ignore the legislative branch entirely – as well as his constitutional and legal requirements. It seems so long ago now that presidential candidate Obama said, “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Obama Wants a Blank Check to Fight ISIS


Obama Wants a Blank Check to Fight ISIS—and Congress Is Ready to Give It to Him.

The Obama administration asked Congress for $5 billion to fight terrorism but offered no details about how the money would be spent. Democrats want to give Obama the money anyway.

When the president calls for Congress to approve his new counterterrorism fund in his speech Wednesday, it's unlikely he'll mention that for the last four months his administration has stifled calls from inside and outside the government for the White House to specify exactly what the money is for. The White House’s lack of urgency led to some to believe they weren’t actually invested in seeing the fund become a reality, but just wanted to create the appearance of doing something to fight Islamic extremists.

Now, looking for a quick way to pay for what the White House is promising will be a long struggle against ISIS, the fund is back in vogue both inside the administration and on Capitol Hill. Similar to the overall plan to defeat ISIS, details of the fund remain scarce, yet the process is moving forward due of a mix of fear and confusion.

“We don’t know what the details are, so we can’t say what is in it and what isn’t,” said Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, who said the fund could be used to fight ISIS in Iraq or even Syria if that’s what the president decides to do. “I think that kind of flexibility is useful.”

iPhone 'Sparks' Cheaper Sprint Rate Plan

iPhone 'Sparks' Cheaper Sprint Rate Plan

iPhone 'Sparks' Cheaper Sprint Rate Plan After Apple unveiled the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus on Tuesday, WSJ's Wilson Rothman spoke with Sprint's new CEO Marcelo Claure, who announced a highly competitive monthly plan for the high-profile handsets.

Rivals Look to Team Up to Confront ISIS

Kurdish pesh merga fighters on Tuesday battled ISIS at a point east of Mosul secured with the help of United States airstrikes.

Credit Jm Lopez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Rivals Look to Team Up to Confront ISIS


As the United States and its allies look to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, longtime adversaries are scrambling to see if they can cooperate to defeat the rising threat.

As the United States and its allies look to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, longtime adversaries with a common fear of the radical movement are scrambling to see if they can cooperate to defeat the rising threat.

The jihadist group known as ISIS has so far thrived in part because its enemies are also enemies of one another, a reality that has complicated efforts to muster a strong response to its rampage. That factor has been a crucial consideration in war planning in capitals as diverse as Tehran and Washington, London and Damascus. But the potential threat has also forced a re-examination of centuries old tensions between Sunnis and Shiites, Kurds and Turks.

“Everyone sees ISIS as a short-term nemesis,” said Vali Nasr, a former senior adviser at the State Department who is dean of the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University, adding that ISIS had thrust the region’s traditional set of rivalries into a “momentary pause.”

When the United States military was preparing to leave Iraq in 2011, its primary enemies were, for example, three Shiite militias, managed by Iran’s spymaster, Qassim Suleimani, and armed with bombs traced to factories in Iran. But recently, as United States warplanes bombed ISIS fighters closing in on an Iraqi town, Amerli, Mr. Suleimani directed three militias fighting the same enemy on the ground.


ISIS and its bloody march — mass killings, videotaped beheadings, ethnic cleansing — is forcing nearly every nation with a stake to reconsider relationships often shaped by competing agendas. Analysts say that following on the upheaval of the Arab Spring, the rise of ISIS has led to perhaps the most turbulent moment for the Middle East since the split centuries ago between Sunnis and Shiites.

“I don’t think there’s been anything like this since the seventh century,” said Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former American ambassador to Egypt and Israel who is now a professor at Princeton.

Beware GOP: Millennials don't like what we're hearing

Beware GOP: Millennials don't like what we're hearing


 Depending on which Republicans you listen to, the rise of libertarian views among millennial Americans is either nonexistent, a great threat to the country or both. Few recognize the truth: that it is a trend of the Republican Party’s own making. And it represents an opportunity for the GOP to decide, after almost a decade in the wilderness, what kind of party it wants to be – a party still clinging to the compassionate conservative lie, or one that believes in the primacy of liberty.

Most of today’s leading Republicans are even now making the wrong choice, it seems. Potential presidential candidates like Republican governors Chris Christie, John Kasich and Mike Pence have already given up the fight against President Obama’s health-care law and are creeping toward more compromise with the Democrats. More and more, when it comes to entitlement expansion, we are hearing religious-toned “my brother’s keeper” rhetoric from them. As Kasich put it bluntly: “When you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.”

Justice Department Stonewalling Internal Investigators

 Tristyn Bloom

Attorney General Eric Holder Announces Civil Rights Investigation Into Michael Brown Death

The head investigator charged with overseeing the Department of Justice testified Tuesday that various government agencies have repeatedly stymied his investigation efforts, and have done so in direct violation of federal law.

Michael E. Horowitz, Inspector General of the Department of Justice, was testifying before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on investigative access to government information.

“Since 2010 and 2011,” he said. “The FBI and some other Department components have not read Section 6(a) of the IG Act as giving my Office access to all records in their possession and therefore have refused our requests for various types of Department records. As a result, a number of our reviews have been significantly impeded.”
GOP seizes on Mideast mayhem

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, faces reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 9, 2014. From left are, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., the Republican Policy Committee chairman, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., Senate Republican Conference chairman, McConnell, and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas. | AP Photo

GOP seizes on Mideast mayhem

Mayhem in the Middle East is suddenly taking center stage in the midterm elections.

In campaigns across the country, Republicans are seizing on what they call the Obama administration’s feckless response to Islamic State militants as part of a broader case to voters to turn against Democrats in November. Their argument: Barack Obama is a disengaged figure whose power needs to be checked.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has a new TV commercial that opens with a brief clip of an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militant firing a weapon, with the narrator intoning that “these are serious times.” In New Hampshire, Senate candidate Scott Brown is out with a Web ad that plays President Barack Obama’s ill-spoken “We don’t have a strategy yet” line and brands the president a foreign policy “failure.” And last weekend, Iowa Senate hopeful Joni Ernst, in a speech to fellow veterans, bemoaned “the president’s inability or unwillingness to present a strategy aimed at eradicating the growing threat” of ISIL.

While foreign affairs has taken a back seat this midterm election to economic issues and lingering dissatisfaction with Obamacare, ISIL — and the ongoing questions about the president’s strategy for dealing with it — plays neatly into what is the central GOP 2014 thrust: to exploit widespread public dissatisfaction with a president who, six years into his tenure, is facing mounting questions about his leadership.

“I think it’s something you’ll see quite a bit of this fall,” said Greg Strimple, a Republican pollster who is working on a number of races this year. “I think the reason it’s a potent issue is because it speaks to a lack of presidential leadership, and the lack of leadership is becoming a character issue for the president.”

McConnell’s ad may provide the clearest blueprint of how Republicans will use the issue moving forward, casting the Republican senator as a steady leader at a time of unrest domestically and overseas. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the minority leader said the debate over ISIL “is the first time anything outside the borders of the United States has come up in my campaign.”

Will World Chaos Sink the Dems?

Will World Chaos Sink the Dems?

By Kristen Soltis Anderson

Voters’ unhappiness with President Obama’s response to global threats could drag down state and congressional Democrats this November—and give the GOP some big wins.

Obama’s second term has been largely characterized by gridlock and disappointment on the domestic policy front. Still, voters don’t hold him entirely responsible for this fact—Congress averages a job approval rating that’s barely above 10 percent, and Republicans shoulder more blame for last year’s government shutdown than do Obama and the Democrats. And while voters have long been unimpressed with the president’s handling of issues like the economy and health care, they seem no more upset with him over these things than they were in his first term. His health care law is roughly as unpopular today as it was in September 2010, and his 40 percent approval rating on the health care issue is essentially unchanged from where it was four years ago (PDF).

The key difference between 2010 and today is that, back then, about half of Americans still approved of the job Obama was doing overall (PDF). That’s because, despite whatever qualms they had about Obamacare and a lackluster recovery, four years ago many voters still thought Obama was dealing with the rest of the world in the right way and keeping us safe, and gave him credit for that.

Now Obama’s overall job approval sags in the low 40s. Disapproval is regularly 10 or more points higher than approval, and a likely reason for this is plunge in popularity among voters is the president’s foreign policy. What was once the bright spot in the president’s otherwise lackluster polling numbers is now the anchor pulling him down. In fact, a recent poll shows only 31 percent of American voters saying they approve of the job the president is doing on foreign policy, a number that lags behind his overall approval rating—and his approval rating on the economy and health care, his two primary weak spots throughout his presidency.

Former exotic dancer files suit accusing Jerry Jones of sexual assault

Former exotic dancer files suit accusing Jerry Jones of sexual assault

  By Scott Farwell

Jana Weckerly, the woman who allegedly took this photo of Jerry Jones, is now suing the Dallas Cowboys owner for sexual assault.

 A former exotic dancer sued Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Monday, accusing him of sexual assault during a June 2009 incident in a local hotel.

Jana Weckerly, 27, from Ardmore, Okla., said Jones fondled her genitals, forced her to touch or rub his penis, and required her to watch as the then 66-year-old received oral sex from another woman. Weckerly is seeking more than $1 million in punitive damages.

Levi McCathern II, an attorney for Jones, said the court sealed the case late Tuesday. He released this statement:
“These allegations are completely false. The legal complaint is unsupported by facts or evidence of any kind. This is nothing more than an attempt to embarrass and extort Jerry Jones.   This is a money grab by a lawyer who is a solo practitioner just trying to make a name for himself.  The alleged incidents would have been more than five years old.

“We intend to vigorously contest this complaint and expect it will be shown for what it is — a shakedown. Due to the seriousness of these baseless allegations, we have also involved law enforcement.”
Jones has said the photos “misrepresented” what happened that night, but would not answer questions about the incident.
Weckerly was not available for comment Tuesday. Her Dallas attorney Thomas Bowers said his client has been in counseling and is taking medicine to help her cope with trauma from the incident.

The encounter between Jones and three women was first detailed in a rambling manifesto by a Wichita, Kan., man, Frank Hoover, last month. He included three photos of the Cowboys owner and two women in sexually seductive poses. Weckerly did not appear in any of the photos. She took them with her cellphone.

Bowers said Tuesday that the sexual assault occurred in a hotel room of a local five-star hotel. Afterward, Jones and the women went to a dance floor, where the Cowboys owner allegedly continued his advances.
“After apparently too much resistance from Weckerly, Jones did what perhaps billionaires do,” Bowers wrote in a news release. “He had his large personal security men lift Weckerly and the two other women from the ground and pack them out of the club.”

Bowers said Jones started out as a friendly guy with a desire to party, at one point offering to put his Super Bowl ring on Weckerly’s finger. The attorney also said Jones posed with a kneeling woman after she spent “special time” with him. His shirt was out and his pants were unzipped.

The NFL Is Full of Ray Rices


The NFL Is Full of Ray Rices

The Baltimore Raven was indefinitely suspended but even one of his teammates suited up after punching a girlfriend in the neck. So much for zero tolerance.

Ray Rice’s teammate and All-Pro linebacker Terrell Suggs has twice gotten into altercations with his then-girlfriend and current wife. In 2009, he allegedly, “threw a soap dispenser at her head, hit her in the chest with his hand, and held a bottle of bleach over her and their 1-year-old son.” In 2012, he “punched her in the neck and dragged her alongside a speeding car with their two children in the vehicle.” Unlike Rice, Suggs was on the field with the rest of the Ravens on Sunday.

Carolina Panther Greg Hardy was convicted this summer of assaulting his girlfriend and threatening her life.

“He looked me in my eyes and he told me he was going to kill me,” Nicole Holder told the court. “I was so scared I wanted to die. When he loosened his grip slightly, I said, ‘Just do it. Kill me,’”

Hardy was given a 60-day suspended sentence and put on probation for 18 months. Last Sunday, he suited up for the Panthers, registering one sack and four tackles.

Brandon Marshall, wide receiver for the Chicago Bears, has a rap sheet including two domestic violence charges. He caught eight passes for 71 yards and a touchdown in an overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills last weekend.

Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys hit his mom and then said, “I’m done with domestic abuse” at a 2013 “Men Against Abuse” rally. The NFL is not done with him.

Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers was part of a defense that shut down Bryant’s Cowboys, even though he was busted for felony domestic violence a mere 72 hours after Goodell’s revised policy was announced. 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said last week, “If someone physically abuses a woman and/or physically or mentally abuses or hurts a child, then there’s no understanding. There’s no tolerance for that.” Unless you play for Jim Harbaugh.

Randy Starks was forced to miss a single exhibition game despite striking his fiancée. He still plays for the Miami Dolphins.

Frostee Rucker had a one-game suspension overturned by Goodell in 2007 despite two counts of spousal battery. Rucker now plays with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The only reason charges against Chicago Bears wide received Santonio Holmes were dropped in 2006 is because his accuser—the mother of his children—refused to testify against him. Holmes often lines up next to fellow abuser Brandon Marshall.

The Psychology of Terrorism

The Psychology of Terrorism

By Steve Taylor, Ph.D.

What Makes Young Men Prepared To Kill for a Cause?

It’s a mistake to simply label terrorists as “evil” or psychologically deranged – in fact, psychologists who have studied terrorist groups have found that terrorists tend to be stable individuals, not paranoid or delusional. What seems to make terrorists essentially different from others is their ability to “switch off” their sense of empathy in service to their beliefs and goals.

House condemns Obama for Taliban swap

House condemns Obama for Taliban swap


Bowe Bergdahl is shown. | Getty

The House condemned President Barack Obama on Tuesday for swapping five Taliban commanders at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl without notifying Congress.

The House approved a resolution, 249-163, that condemned the president for breaking the law, since he did not give Congress 30 days notice of the transfer.

The resolution said that Obama violated the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that required congressional notification and expressed “grave concern” about national security risks created by releasing the Taliban members, as well as “the repercussions of negotiating with terrorists.”

The largely symbolic, non-binding resolution was approved by the House largely on partisan lines, with 22 Democrats joining all Republicans to support the resolution.

Among the Democrats voting to condemn Obama were 10 House members facing competitive reelection fights, as well as Senate candidates Reps. Bruce Braley of Iowa and Gary Peters of Michigan.

How Vladimir Putin is revolutionizing information warfare

Russia and the Menace of Unreality

How Vladimir Putin is revolutionizing information warfare

By Peter Pomerantsev

The new Russia doesn’t just deal in the petty disinformation, forgeries, lies, leaks, and cyber-sabotage usually associated with information warfare. It reinvents reality, creating mass hallucinations that then translate into political action. Take Novorossiya, the name Vladimir Putin has given to the huge wedge of southeastern Ukraine he might, or might not, consider annexing. The term is plucked from tsarist history, when it represented a different geographical space. Nobody who lives in that part of the world today ever thought of themselves as living in Novorossiya and bearing allegiance to it—at least until several months ago. Now, Novorossiya is being imagined into being: Russian media are showing maps of its ‘geography,’ while Kremlin-backed politicians are writing its ‘history’ into school textbooks. 

Cheney Tells Republicans That Obama Supported Muslim Brotherhood


Behind Closed Doors, Cheney Tells Republicans That Obama Supported Muslim Brotherhood

Ben Jacobs 

The former vice president tries to sell reluctant House Republicans on “comprehensive” action against ISIS by blaming the president, of course.

The question, though, is whether Cheney’s remarks will have any impact on Republicans as Obama’s speech looms. While Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois expressed his hope that Cheney’s message will “stick” with fellow Republicans whom he described as “having a creep towards” isolationism, there’s still a question of how enthusiastic the GOP will be for a new war in Iraq. King, who doesn’t believe a vote on military action against ISIS is even necessary, noted that many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle—particualrly those who called for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq—would be put in an awkward place politically on if a vote took place.

The Saudis and a 9/11 Mystery
Isis jihadi's aren't medieval – they are shaped by modern western philosophy

Painting of French revolutionary Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794) during the French revolution.

Isis jihadi's aren't medieval – they are shaped by modern western philosophy

 Kevin McDonald for The Conversation

We should look to revolutionary France if we want to understand the source of Islamic State's ideology and violence

Over recent weeks there has been a constant background noise suggesting that Islamic State (Isis) and its ideology are some sort of throwback to a distant past. It is often framed in language such as that used last week by the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, who said Isis was “medieval”. In fact, the terrorist group’s thinking is very much in a more modern, western tradition.

Clegg’s intervention is not surprising. Given the extreme violence of Isis fighters and the frequent images of decapitated bodies, it is understandable that we attempt to make sense of these acts as somehow radically “other”.

But this does not necessarily help us understand what is at stake. In particular, it tends to accept one of the core assertions of contemporary jihadism, namely that it reaches back to the origins of Islam. As one Isis supporter I follow on Twitter is fond of saying: “The world changes; Islam doesn’t”.

This is not just a question for academic debate. It has real impact. One of the attractions of jihadist ideology to many young people is that it shifts generational power in their communities. Jihadists, and more broadly Islamists, present themselves as true to their religion, while their parents, so they argue, are mired in tradition or “culture”.

It needs to be said very clearly: contemporary jihadism is not a return to the past. It is a modern, anti-traditional ideology with a very significant debt to western political history and culture.

When he made his speech in July at Mosul’s Great Mosque declaring the creation of an Islamic state with himself as its caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi quoted at length from the Indian/Pakistani thinker Abul A’la Maududi, the founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami party in 1941 and originator of the contemporary term Islamic state.

Maududi’s Islamic state is profoundly shaped by western ideas and concepts. He takes a belief shared between Islam and other religious traditions, namely that God alone is the ultimate judge of a person, and transforms this – reframing God’s possession of judgment into possession of, and ultimately monopoly of, “sovereignty”. Maududi also draws upon understandings of the natural world governed by laws that are expressions of the power of God – ideas at the heart of the 17th-century scientific revolution. He combines these in a vision of the sovereignty of God, then goes on to define this sovereignty in political terms, affirming that “God alone is the sovereign” (The Islamic Way of Life). The state and the divine thus fuse together, so that as God becomes political, and politics becomes sacred.

Such sovereignty is completely absent in medieval culture, with its fragmented world and multiple sources of power. Its origins lie instead in the Westphalian system of states and the modern scientific revolution.

But Maududi’s debt to European political history extends beyond his understanding of sovereignty. Central to his thought is his understanding of the French revolution, which he believed offered the promise of a “state founded on a set of principles” as opposed to one based upon a nation or a people. For Maududi this potential withered in France; its achievement would have to await an Islamic state.

In revolutionary France, it is the state that creates its citizens and nothing should be allowed to stand between the citizen and the state. That is why today French government agencies are still prevented by law from collecting data about ethnicity, considered a potential intermediary community between state and citizen.

This universal citizen, separated from community, nation or history, lies at the heart of Maududi’s vision of “citizenship in Islam”. Just as the revolutionary French state created its citizens, with the citizen unthinkable outside the state, so too the Islamic state creates its citizens. This is at the basis of Maududi’s otherwise unintelligible argument that one can only be a Muslim in an Islamic state.

Don’t look to the Qur’an to understand this – look to the French revolution and ultimately to the secularisation of an idea that finds its origins in European Christianity: extra ecclesiam nulla salus (outside the church there is no salvation), an idea that became transformed with the birth of modern European states into extra stato nulla persona (outside the state there is no legal personhood). This idea still demonstrates extraordinary power today: it is the source of what it means to be a refugee.

If Isis’s state is profoundly modern, so too is its violence. Isis fighters do not simply kill; they seek to humiliate, as we saw last week as they herded Syrian reservists wearing only their underpants to their death. And they seek to dishonour the bodies of their victims, in particular through postmortem manipulations.

Such manipulations aim at destroying the body as a singularity. The body becomes a manifestation of a collectivity to be obliterated, its manipulation rendering what was once a human person into an “abominable stranger”. Such practices are increasingly evident in war today.

Central to Isis’s programme is its claim to Muslim heritage – witness al-Baghdadi’s dress. Part of countering this requires understanding the contemporary sources of its ideology and its violence. In no way can it be understood as a return to the origins of Islam. This is a core thesis of its supporters, one that should not be given any credence at all.

Before Pearl Harbor, Japan’s Emperor Cautioned Against War With U.S.

Before Pearl Harbor, Japan’s Emperor Cautioned Against War With U.S., Documents Show

Before Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Emperor Hirohito criticized plans to go to war with the United States as “self-destructive,” and opposed an alliance with Nazi Germany, though he did little to stop the war that Japan waged in his name, according to the long-awaited official history of his reign, released on Tuesday.

The 12,000-page history of Japan’s emperor during World War II, which also shows him exalting at the victories of his armies in China, contains little that will surprise historians, according to the Japanese news media. The most controversial aspect appears to be the fact that it took the Imperial Household Agency almost a quarter of a century to release its official history of Hirohito, who died in 1989 at age 87.

The agency, which manages the affairs of the imperial family, including those of Emperor Akihito today, explained the delay by saying it took time to put together the 61-volume history from 3,152 documents and records, some of them never previously made public.

However, the delay is also widely attributed to the sensitivity of the subject in Japan, which has not fully come to terms with its actions during the war or with Hirohito’s responsibility for it. Most histories portray Hirohito as a figurehead who was revered as a living god by Japan’s soldiers and citizens, but who had little real power to decide the fate of his nation.

At the same time, the emperor has been criticized for letting himself be used as a spiritual symbol for Japanese militarism, presiding over the meetings of political and military leaders at which decisions to go to war were made, and reviewing military parades atop his white horse.

While the agency’s official history was long awaited by scholars, it failed to contain some hoped-for material, such as records of several meetings between the emperor and Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the commander of the American occupation forces after the war, who decided against putting Hirohito on trial as a war criminal. Instead, it contained only information about the two leaders’ first meeting, on Sept. 27, 1945, that had already been made public in the past, according to the news agency Kyodo News.

The history also shows that Hirohito opposed going to war with the United States in the buildup to the Japanese Navy’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, saying that Japan had no chance of winning such a war, Kyodo reported. “It is nothing less than a self-destructive war,” the agency quoted the emperor as saying on July 31, 1941.

Obama's Long Immigration Betrayal

Obama's Long Immigration Betrayal

To understand why activists are so angry at the president, you have to understand how close they've come—and how long they've waited.

Molly Ball

Why does it matter that President Obama has decided to delay action on immigration until after the November elections? What difference does a couple of extra months make?

Obama insists he still plans to unilaterally suspend deportations of many undocumented immigrants once campaign season is done. “I’m going to act because it’s the right thing for the country,” he said on Meet the Press on Sunday. “But it’s going to be more sustainable and more effective if the public understands what the facts are on immigration, what we’ve done on unaccompanied children, and why it’s necessary.”

Nonetheless, the White House’s announcement of the delay on Saturday was greeted by an outpouring of bitter recriminations from the activists who have devoted their lives to this issue. “Justice delayed is justice denied,” said the United Farm Workers. United We Dream called it "another slap to the face of the Latino and immigrant community." Activists in Colorado plan to protest Tuesday at the office of Democratic Senator Michael Bennet, saying, “Our coalition is outraged by President Obama’s continued lies and betrayal.” (Bennet is the brother of The Atlantic's editor in chief and co-president, James Bennet.) A front-page Sunday headline in La Opinión, the country’s largest Spanish-language newspaper, declared, “Obama no se atreve”—"Obama doesn’t dare.”

To understand why these advocates are so hurt and angry, you have to understand the meandering road immigration reform has taken over the course of the last decade—a road littered with false starts, broken promises, and a community repeatedly left in the lurch. Latinos feel that they have been jerked around by politicians who alternately pander for their votes and shunt them aside when their priorities become inconvenient—like now. Obama in particular has made a series of pledges on immigration, only to abandon them all. Now, when the president says he still plans to act—just give him a couple of months—reformers don’t know whether to trust him.

Inside the secret war on abortion clinics that could shutter them across America

uncle sam obamacare ad

Inside the secret war on abortion clinics that could shutter them across America

robin marty

Robin Marty

Anti-abortion activists in Ohio are plotting to pick off clinics one by one. By the time a judge catches up, it may be too late

Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (Trap) bills in Alabama, Texas, Louisiana and more US states are designed by over-eager abortion opponents to deceive and conquer. In many of the states where they’ve been enacted, judges have ruled that such medically unnecessary laws, which would shutter most of the abortion clinics in a given state, are an undue burden to a woman’s right to access a legal, safe pregnancy termination.

So, in their ambitions to shutter most – if not all – of the abortion providers in a state in a single blow, anti-abortion activists find their bills blocked or left unenforced because they were too far-reaching.

Meanwhile, Ohio’s anti-abortion activists and legislators have engaged in a stealth war on abortion clinics with a far more effective ploy: they are picking off clinics one by one, with almost no interference from the local courts. In the wake of recent victories in Texas, Alabama and elsewhere, Ohio’s clinic closure blueprint could become a frightening model for shutting down clinics – and one that could get exported across the country.

When Ohio governor John Kasich, a Republican, was given a massive budget bill to sign in the summer of 2013, it included a number of abortion restrictions that legislators amended into the state budget during legislative debate. He could have line-item vetoed them – but he chose to approve them all, including one restriction that gave the Ohio department of health the expansive power to decide whether to license the state’s abortion providers at all.

Since that provision went into effect, six of the state’s 14 clinics have closed – in multiple cases, because they lacked transfer agreements (formal agreements that a particular hospital will take a patient in the rare case that there is a complication during or after an abortion procedure). Those mandated agreements formed the backbone of the bills recently blocked by the courts in Alabama and Louisiana.

GOP Offers War Power Obama Doesn't Want

By Josh Rogin

Senators are tripping over themselves to grant Obama the authority to go to war—but he’s not really interested in getting Congress’s permission.

The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee is set Tuesday to offer President Obama a nearly blank check for waging war against ISIS everywhere in the world. The irony is that Obama isn’t asking Congress for formal authorization.

Sen. James Inhofe will introduce a formal congressional authorization Tuesday for the use of American military force against ISIS using any means, including using boots on the ground, and in any country, including Syria. A copy of the legislation obtained by The Daily Beast follows the requirements of the War Powers Resolution, a law the White House is attempting to skirt and Congress is struggling to enforce.

Inhofe’s ‘‘Authorization for Use of Force Against the Organization Called the Islamic State’’ would grant Obama authority “to use all necessary and appropriate force in order to defend the national security of the United States against the threat posed by the organization called the Islamic State (or ‘IS’), formally known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as well as any successor organization.”

Inhofe wants to get the resolution filed before Obama’s Wednesday speech in which he has pledged to clarify the U.S. strategy to defeat ISIS, a strategy administration officials told reporters this week would involve three stages and take years to accomplish, probably more time than Obama has left in office.

The president and his staff have made clear that they don’t feel they need congressional authorization to go after ISIS, but leaders in both parties disagree, and a long list of congressional figures believe the president must come to Congress for explicit authorization within 60 days of when he began striking ISIS in Iraq, on August 8.

The White House is using legal maneuvers, such as filing a new report under the War Powers Act for each individual set of strikes, to undermine the 60-day deadline and avoid any congressional vote of approval for Obama’s ISIS war. There has been consultation with the Hill about the strikes but no cross-branch discussion about a legal authorization to underpin them.

For Apple CEO, Launch Is Biggest Test

For Apple CEO, Launch Is Biggest Test

After closely guarding his strategy for Apple, CEO Tim Cook will show his hand, with an ambitious blitz of new products and services.

By Daisuke Wakabayashi 

New Products and Services Aim to Resolve Questions About Tech Company's Ability to Innovate

 Apple is trying to prove that it can still deliver the type of groundbreaking products that vaulted it from the brink of bankruptcy to become the world's most valuable company by market capitalization. It established itself as a leading innovator by redefining the mobile phone in 2007 with the iPhone, and the tablet computer in 2010 with the iPad.

By revealing new hardware products together with service offerings, Apple is trying to show how it can create experiences that can't easily be replicated by competitors, to keep users loyal at a time when Google's Android mobile-operating system runs about 85% of smartphones.

Google, Facebook and Amazon all are essentially software companies that are trying to find their stride in hardware. Amazon Monday cut the price of its two-month-old Fire phone to 99 cents, a signal it hasn't been selling well. Apple's most prominent hardware rival in terms of sales and market share, Samsung Electronics Co., is weaker on software and services.

Google Is Target of European Backlash on U.S. Tech Dominance

Google Is Target of European Backlash on U.S. Tech Dominance

A top German official called for Google to be broken up. A French minister pronounced the company a threat to his country’s sovereignty. A European publishing executive likened it to a Wagnerian dragon.

Across Europe, Google has been under fire, reflecting the broader challenges facing American technology companies. Google, fairly or not, has become a glaring proxy for criticism of an intrusive American government and concern over America’s unmatched technology dominance.

On Monday, things grew worse. Regulators pushed the company to give up more in an antitrust settlement — demanding that Google make additional changes to its secret sauce, the search algorithm.

When Google initially settled with regulators in February, it emerged largely unscathed, agreeing to make modest adjustments to its search formula and avoiding a fine. Now, the deal is in jeopardy. If Google does not acquiesce, regulators could toss out the settlement and bring formal charges, which could prompt billions of dollars in penalties and major changes to its operations.

The backlash in Europe extends beyond Google. Taxi drivers from London to Madrid have demonstrated against Uber, the American ride-sharing company that was recently banned in Germany. Apple and Amazon are being investigated over their tax policies, and regulators are scrutinizing Facebook’s proposed acquisition of WhatsApp, a messaging app.


A landmark European court ruling this year forced search providers to give the public greater sway in purging links to personal information. Its Street View cars, dispatched to scoop up data, have brought fines in France, Germany and Italy.

“We are afraid of Google,” wrote Mathias Döpfner, chief executive of Axel Springer, a German publishing giant, in an open letter to Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman. “I must state this very clearly and frankly, because few of my colleagues dare do so publicly.”

French Jihadi Mehdi Nemmouche Is the Shape of Terror to Come


French Jihadi Mehdi Nemmouche Is the Shape of Terror to Come

The French holy-warrior wannabe who tortured Western prisoners in Syria and attacked a Jewish museum in Brussels is a poster boy for the threat now facing the West.

He is the very model of a modern ISIS terrorist: not very smart, not very religious, certainly sadistic, hugely egotistical, a minor criminal most of his life who’s looking to kill whoever he can whenever he can to make a name for himself.  The territories now held by the so-called Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL) were his training ground but not his battleground: He was a jailor alternately torturing Western hostages and singing to them. But his sights were set on bigger Western targets. And he became such a loose Kalashnikov that, in the view of some European counterterrorism experts, even ISIS wanted to be rid of him.

Such a man, according to his victims and his prosecutors, is 29-year-old Mehdi Nemmouche. On May 24, the young Frenchman allegedly walked into a Jewish museum in Brussels and killed four people.

At the time, before ISIS had conquered Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, the attack evoked outrage but not hysteria. Today, amid the furor created by the realization that ISIS is redrawing the map of the Middle East, and after the horror evoked by the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, such an attack would have much more dramatic repercussions.


There are many reasons to worry that ISIS will, at some point, try to carry out a major terrorist attack in Europe or the United States. (It will claim it was forced to do so by the American bombing campaigns, just as it says it was forced to behead American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.) But the immediate risk is from disorganized, undisciplined, and nonetheless very deadly characters who want to see their names go down in their own half-assed version of history.


Veteran terrorism expert Brian Jenkins notes the alarmism in Washington has reached such proportions, there’s a kind of “shock and awe in reverse.” Thus, as Jenkins writes, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proclaims ISIS is an “imminent threat to every interest we have.”  A congressional staffer argues that it is “highly probable ISIS will…obtain nuclear, chemical, biological or other weapons of mass death…to use in attacks against New York [or] Washington.” Texas Governor Rick Perry claims there is a “very real possibility” that ISIS forces may have crossed the U.S.-Mexican border. Senator James Inhofe asserted, “We are in the most dangerous position we’ve ever been in as a nation,” and retired Marine four-star Gen. John Allen goes so far as to say, “World War III is at hand.”

All this plays to the advantage of the self-proclaimed Caliph Ibrahim, formerly known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose ragtag army conquered a huge swathe of Iraq mainly by filling the vacuum left by incompetent Iraqi government military commanders. The conquest—and the reaction to it—have given him an aura of invincibility that holy-warrior wannabes find quite thrilling.

The propaganda war Obama is losing

President Barack Obama is pictured. | AP Photo

The propaganda war Obama is losing


As President Barack Obama prepares to unveil his strategy for turning back ISIL’s gains in Syria and Iraq, the headlines will most likely focus on expanding U.S. airstrikes and challenges of defeating the group without involving American troops.

But one potentially critical part of the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant also seems poised for a big new push: working to keep foreign fighters — including Americans — from joining the group in the first place.

Officials and outside experts say an essential part of fighting ISIL, Al Qaeda and similar groups is undercutting their propaganda on social media and elsewhere, while identifying and dissuading Americans and foreigners who might be considering travel to join up with such groups or — even worse — trying to emulate them at home.
Ray Rice Video: what it looks like when a man beats up a woman.
The Problem Beyond Ray Rice

The Problem Beyond Ray Rice

Jason Gay

The NFL's initial handling of the Ray Rice domestic-violence case was a failure, but when the league kicked off its season this past weekend, an eager nation fell in line.

The NFL kicked off its season this past weekend, and as the ritual goes, an eager nation fell in line. There are reasons to feel uncomfortable about the modern American pastime—football at every level continues to have alarming worries with regard to long-term player health; the college system is a colossus of hypocrisy; the NFL's meek handling of the Ray Rice domestic-violence case was already a failure, by its own admission. But each year, as if on cue, a loyal audience considers, compartmentalizes and submits—myself included. By late Sunday afternoon, the country was amid a merry fever of football mania. Who wins? Who loses? How's the fantasy team doing? Any trace of moral queasiness had evaporated. The NFL was back. Fantastic.

Cold reality came rushing back early Monday morning. The website TMZ published what it said was a surveillance video of Rice, a running back for the Baltimore Ravens, striking his now-wife Janay Palmer inside an elevator at an Atlantic City casino. The violence captured in the video was brutal, and it immediately reignited an outrage over the NFL and its commissioner Roger Goodell's decision this summer to suspend Rice for a meager two games. And it was outrageous—not only the attack caught on videotape, but the initial reaction of the NFL and the Ravens and of course the criminal-justice system in the first place. Institutional failure was abundant, and the message to victims of domestic violence was appalling.

A few hours later, the NFL came forward to announce that no one in its office had seen this videotape before Monday. Never mind that the NFL and its teams, burned before, now pride themselves—to the point of crowing—about the phalanx of former law-enforcement officials capable of digging up unsavory information on any potential prospect or signee. It makes its business to know.

Now we know. Now everybody knows. But honestly, what was there to know? It's ghastly to think there was already another videotape in existence, one reported to depict Rice dragging Palmer out of an elevator, and that alone wasn't enough to merit a more severe punishment. Rice's punishment was mild compared with the hammer the league has dropped for repeated recreational drug use, a contradiction it defended behind the shield of its collectively bargained protocol. Meanwhile, the Ravens seemed to reposition the public's anger as an "Us vs. the World" rally, vigorously defending Rice as a good man misunderstood, and trumpeting the ovation he received before a preseason training-camp practice.

Russia threatens to shut its skies to the West

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, right, at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow . Russia threatens to shut its skies to the West

Russia threatens to shut its skies to the West

By Tom Parfitt in Moscow, Roland Oliphant in Mariupol and David Millward 

Prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said his country would have to respond "asymmetrically" to news that European leaders are planning a wave of fresh sanctions.

Hundreds of flights to Asia every week from Britain and other European countries face disruption following a threat by Russia to close its airspace to Western carriers in response to new European Union sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.

The move, which would increase costs for passengers by forcing airlines to revert to more circuitous routes used during the Cold War, was signalled by Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's prime minister, as the EU prepared to publish a detailed list of companies and individuals to face restrictions on their dealings with Europe.

Mr Medvedev told the Vedomosti newspaper: "I hoped that our partners would be smarter. If there are sanctions related to energy, or further limits for our financial sector, we will have to respond asymmetrically.

"We proceed from the fact that we have friendly relations with our partners and that is why the sky over Russia is open for flights. But if they put limits on us we will have to respond."

Maybe Latinos should sit out 2014

Barack Obama is shown. | AP Photo

Maybe Latinos should sit out 2014


Obama Broke His Promise to Latinos. Why are we still supporting him?

When Barack Obama and I last sat down in 2006, I refused to shake his hand. Today, I still won’t. His announcement last weekend that he would delay executive action on immigration is his fifth broken promise to Latinos on this all-important issue for our community. He has been blind to the pain of the 1,100 deportations our communities face every day and the anguish our families feel as they are swung back and forth as political pawns.

The question for us Latinos — especially the nearly 24 million of us eligible to vote — is, what to do about this? How can we ensure that the fastest-growing demographic in the country isn’t taken for granted by Democrats who purport to be our allies but often dash our hopes in the face of the least bit of political pressure? There are no obvious or even satisfactory answers, but one thing is clear: We’ve been slapped in the face one too many times by this president. And it probably won’t be the last: Obama has a long record of betraying Latinos — and it predates his days in the White House. I’ve seen it up close.

The U.S. is right to set out to destroy the Islamic State

The U.S. is right to set out to destroy the Islamic State

PRESIDENT OBAMA and top aides are now employing the “D” word — “destroy” — to describe U.S. objectives regarding the fanatical Middle Eastern force known as the Islamic State. Already, the group has seized far more of Iraq and Syria than is compatible with the safety and human rights of the people living there, and its sights are set on further destabilization in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kurdistan, as well as terror attacks in Europe and, if it’s capable of them, the United States. The two Americans butchered by the Islamic State will not be the last if the group’s leaders have their way. This murderous terrorist army, whose scarily effective global recruitment matches its global ambitions, can be neither contained nor “managed,” as the president implied in some of his more hesitant previous comments.

We are glad that the president has come around to a more sober view. But if he is truly committed to the group’s defeat, certain things must follow from that determination. First, the objective — victory — must determine the strategy, tactics and schedule. Heretofore, Mr. Obama has had an unfortunate tendency to do things the other way round: to view military conflict as something to be carried out according to a schedule, whereby U.S. forces must be withdrawn on a particular date, whether their goals were lastingly achieved or not. He has described his country as tired of war, and, in multiple instances, ruled out certain means — ground forces especially — before anyone has even asked for them. He wishfully mused that the tide of war had “receded.” Now, if Mr. Obama believes that the destruction of the Islamic State is essential to U.S. security, he must commit to that goal and fashion whatever strategy is necessary to achieve it.

Bill Clinton and George Bush pal up

Bill Clinton and George Bush pal up

Now it can be told: Bill Clinton was a secret advisor to George W. Bush.

“He used to call me twice a year in his second term, just to talk,” the 42nd president disclosed Monday, with the 43rd president at his side. The two would talk “somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes, for several years,” Clinton continued. “Never talked about it in public. We talked about everything in the wide world. He asked my opinion.”

The prevailing opinion expressed by the two men at their joint appearance at the Newseum was that they really, really like each other. These representatives of America’s rival political dynasties spent years blaming each other’s leadership for the nation’s ills, but now they have come together to profess mutual, and longstanding, admiration.

Josh Bolten, the former Bush White House chief of staff who moderated the event, instructed each to say what he liked about the other’s leadership.

Clinton, up first, went on at characteristic length about Bush’s partnership with Ted Kennedy, his knack for being underestimated and his courageous determination to do “what he thought was right” regardless of the politics. Clinton said he “learned a lot” from Bush and watched his “clarity and decisiveness with great admiration.” He even defended Bush for his famous assertion that he doesn’t “do nuance.”

After 3 ½ minutes, it was Bush’s turn. “There’s a lot to admire about Bill Clinton,” he began. “I think first of all, he’s an awesome communicator.” Bush tried to stretch his answer out (“you, too, have got great empathy…you, too, made tough decisions”) but ran out of steam after about 90 seconds. “And so, um, yeah – Is that enough?” he asked. “That was a lot shorter than your answer.”

“You don’t do nuance,” Clinton reminded him.

The two men were true to type: Clinton was meandering, while Bush’s answers were simple (asked to comment on Lyndon Johnson, Bush remarked that “he was a big guy.”) But the old foes seemed to be enjoying their banter. If they don’t genuinely like each other, they fake it well. “George” and “Bill,” as they called each other, wore matching blue ties and crossed their legs in identical fashion, shared manly handshakes and occasionally put a hand on each other’s arm as they performed their routine.

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