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In-N-Out Burger

Are the Obamas buying a home in Rancho Mirage?

Hot Property: Barack and Michelle Obama

Are the Obamas buying a home in Rancho Mirage?

 President Obama and his wife, Michelle, could be the owners of a home in Rancho Mirage listed at $4.25 million before the month is out.

The First Family is believed to be in escrow on a contemporary home in a gated community where entertainers Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby once maintained estates.

The White House said rumors regarding a home in Rancho Mirage are not true.

The 8,232-square-foot compound in question sits adjacent to a bighorn sheep preserve on a 3.29-acre hilltop with panoramic views. The custom-built main house, constructed in 1993 and designed for entertaining, includes a gym, four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. A 2,000-square-foot casita has three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Over-the-top exterior features include a pool with a 20-foot waterfall, a rock lagoon, two spas, a misting system and a putting green with a sand trap.

 
‘Telegenically Dead Palestinians’: Why Israel Is Losing the American Media War

‘Telegenically Dead Palestinians’: Why Israel Is Losing the American Media War

By Benjamin Wallace-Wells

In many ways, the story of this month's eruption of violence in Israel and Palestine has been depressingly familiar. But in one interesting way it has been a little bit different from the beginning: American audiences are seeing the story of the conflict, perhaps more than ever before, through Palestinian eyes.

That this is the case is probably something of an accident. But after Israeli extremists kidnapped and murdered a Palestinian kid named Mohammed Abu Khdeir, apparently in retribution for the earlier murder of three Israeli teenagers, police detained and beat up his cousin, Tariq Abu Khdeir, a 15-year old Palestinian-American from Tampa, vacationing with his family*. It is common for television news broadcasts to carry sympathetic stories of a local American kid tragically caught up in Middle Eastern violence. It is not so common for that kid to be Palestinian. Soon the networks were broadcasting sympathetic interviews with Tariq Abu Khdeir's angry mother. "The Palestinians live like this every day," Suha Abu Khdeir told ABC. "They kind of say, okay, we'll deal with it. But us, as Americans, it's just, it's not human."

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

Earlier this month, the IDF's Twitter feed had been full of images of besieged Israelis. But by this weekend Israel was so clearly losing the public-relations war that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu complained to reporters, tersely, that Hamas uses "telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause."

If Netanyahu is so bothered by how dead Palestinians look on television then he should stop killing so many of them. But his complaint is in itself a concession. The story of the conflict between Israel and Palestine looks a little bit different this time around. Social media have helped allow us to see more deeply inside war zones — in this case, inside Gaza — and allowed viewers much fuller access to the terror that grips a population under military attack. America's changing demographics (the country's Muslim population has skyrocketed in the past decade and is now as much as half the size of the U.S. Jewish population*) have meant both a more receptive audience for sympathetic stories about Palestinians and more Americans like Abu Khdeir, with connections back to Palestine. The sheer imbalance in the human toll, in the numbers of dead, has been impossible to elide or ignore.

 
Ron Paul: U.S. partly to blame for Malaysia Airlines disaster

** FILE ** Then-Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, speaks during a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H., on Dec. 19, 2011, during his bid for the party's presidential nomination. (Associated Press)

Ron Paul: U.S. partly to blame for Malaysia Airlines disaster

By Jessica Chasmar - The Washington Times

Former Republican Rep. Ron Paul said Sunday that the United States shares part of the blame in the attack on the Malaysian Airlines passenger jet in eastern Ukraine last week, and that the Obama administration may try and use the tragedy as an excuse to attack Russia.

“It had to be Russia; it had to be Putin, they said,” the Texas Republican wrote. “While western media outlets rush to repeat government propaganda on the event, there are a few things they will not report.

“They will not report that the crisis in Ukraine started late last year, when EU and U.S.-supported protesters plotted the overthrow of the elected Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych,” he said. “Without U.S.-sponsored ‘regime change,’ it is unlikely that hundreds would have been killed in the unrest that followed. Nor would the Malaysian Airlines crash have happened.”

Mr. Paul argued that neither Russia nor the separatists in eastern Ukraine have anything to gain by shooting down a plane full of civilians. He did say, however, that “the Ukrainian government has much to gain by pinning the attack on Russia.”

 
Life After Life

Life After Life

By Rosemary K.M. Sword

Rick had a boyish charm, but it was his big brain I fell in love with.

When my husband Rick was diagnosed with fatal gastric cancer 14 months ago, I suffered a massive heart break. But having a broken heart is a gift–because it gives you the opportunity to rebuild it, ideally better for having loved well, even if that physical reality is gone.

 
Tony Blair to Europe: Quit Begging the U.S.

Tony Blair to Europe: Quit Begging the U.S.

By Nico Hines

The former British prime minister and partner of George W. Bush says 70 years is enough time depending on Washington.

The former British prime minister said it was time the continent stood on its own two feet more than 70 years after America intervened decisively in the Second World War. Recent crises in the region and conflicts in countries along the border have exposed the total reliance on Washington to alter events within Europe’s neighborhood.

Blair said it was incongruous that such an economically powerful union was still “having to turn to the U.S. and ask for their help” whenever a foreign policy crisis erupted whether it be Libya, Syria or Ukraine. More than a decade after the birth of his partnership with President George W. Bush, he said Brussels (capital of the European Union) should develop a stronger foreign policy and more powerful defense strategy.

“Now I’m a great fan of the U.S.,” he said. “I think it’s important that we remain strong allies of the U.S. but we ought to develop in Europe the capability of being able to handle the problems on our own doorstep.”

 
Athletes paid $216.8 million in California income taxes in '12

 by Michael McCann & Robert Raiola

California’s long term debt is about $500 billion, but you wouldn’t know it from the taxes it collects from professional athletes. According to data obtained by SI.com from the California Franchise Tax Board, California collected a staggering $216.8 million in income taxes from professional athletes in 2012, the most recent year available. This included state income taxes paid by athletes who work, and in some cases reside, in California. They also included so-called “jock taxes” imposed on out-of-state professional athletes whose teams visit to play games in California.

 
Billionaire oligarchs 'scared of sanctions but more scared of Putin'

Billionaire oligarchs 'scared of sanctions but more scared of Putin'

Russia's billionaires 'horrified' at sanctions threat that could push economy into recession but too terrified of Putin to speak out

Hitting back: Wearing a dark suit and looking tired and drawn Russian president Vladimir Putin issued a defiant warning that the MH17 crash must not be used for 'selfish political' advantage

Financial experts believe Russia's $2 trillion economy could soon be pushed in to recession if tough sanctions against Russian involvement in Ukraine are introduced.

Russia's billionaire businessmen are 'horrified' at the prospect of crippling economic sanctions in response to Moscow's involvement in Ukraine, but are too terrified of president Vladimir Putin to say so openly, it has been claimed.

The U.S. has already imposed a raft of sanctions against Russian companies and individuals with Britain and the Netherlands pushing for the EU to impose even tougher measures following the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.

Additional U.S. measures may be imposed in the next few weeks and financial experts believe Russia's $2 trillion economy could be pushed into recession.

 
Is It Better To Love Or Be Loved?

Is It Better To Love Or Be Loved?

By Stephen Joseph, Ph.D.

Who holds the power in your relationship? An unequal balance of power in relationships fosters inauthenticity.

In an ideal world we would love and be loved in equal measure. Unfortunately, we often love someone who doesn’t love us as much and in the same way in return.  It can be heartbreaking experience.  They may reject us, or it may develop into an unequal relationship where one person holds the power.

 
Texas Governor to Send National Guard Troops to Border

Texas Governor to Send National Guard Troops to Border

By MANNY FERNANDEZ 

Gov. Rick Perry is expected to announce the deployment of 1,000 troops to bolster security amid an influx of Central American immigrants.

Governor Perry, state law enforcement officials and ranchers in the area have said that Mexican drug cartels and other criminal organizations were benefiting from the diversion of resources and so more security was needed.

Still, the precise role the National Guard troops will play on the border is unclear. Previously, Governor Perry has said he wanted any National Guard deployment to use helicopters and have “arrest powers to support Border Patrol operations.”

The deployment will likely be used by both Republicans and Democrats as a new rallying point in the debate over immigration. Republicans have accused the Obama administration of failing to secure the border and helping to create the crisis with policies that encourage, rather than discourage, illegal immigration. Other Republicans in Texas and Washington have called on Mr. Obama to deploy the National Guard to deal with the border crisis, but Governor Perry could benefit from being viewed as the first to take action. Democrats, including Texas lawmakers in the border region, immediately lined up in opposition to the deployment plan, calling it an attempt to score political points and to militarize the border.

 
Government agents 'directly involved' in most high-profile US terror plots

FBI

Government agents 'directly involved' in most high-profile US terror plots

Spencer Ackerman

Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the "direct involvement" of government agents or informants, a new report says.

Some of the controversial "sting" operations "were proposed or led by informants", bordering on entrapment by law enforcement. Yet the courtroom obstacles to proving entrapment are significant, one of the reasons the stings persist.

The lengthy report, released on Monday by Human Rights Watch, raises questions about the US criminal justice system's ability to respect civil rights and due process in post-9/11 terrorism cases. It portrays a system that features not just the sting operations but secret evidence, anonymous juries, extensive pretrial detentions and convictions significantly removed from actual plots.

"In some cases the FBI may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by suggesting the idea of taking terrorist action or encouraging the target to act," the report alleges.

Out of the 494 cases related to terrorism the US has tried since 9/11, the plurality of convictions – 18% overall – are not for thwarted plots but for "material support" charges, a broad category expanded further by the 2001 Patriot Act that permits prosecutors to pursue charges with tenuous connections to a terrorist act or group.

 
Did the United Nations Give Rockets to Hamas?

top-box

Did the United Nations Give Rockets to Hamas?

The U.N. agency that runs schools and hospitals in Gaza is supposed to be neutral. But it gave 20 rockets found in one of its buildings to cops who many believe report to Hamas.

When 20 rockets were discovered last week in a U.N.-funded school in Gaza, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees was quick to condemn the storage of weapons of war in a building meant to educate children.

But rather than turn them over to a third party, or arrange for their disposal, the agency, known as UNRWA, handed them over to the local police force, which was established by Hamas, and is believed to be under the militant group’s control. In other words, the supposedly neutral agency may have given weapons to one of the combatants in a conflict that has claimed more than 360 lives in the past two weeks.

“We are examining what happened with these rockets. If UNRWA did pass it to Hamas it strongly harms [UNRWA’s] credibility and impartiality,” an Israeli official told The Daily Beast.

 
Obama: MH17 burden is on Russia

Obama: MH17 burden is on Russia

MH17 site

US president says Russia must use its influence to make sure investigation into downing of jetliner is unimpeded

Black boxes will be handed over at 9pm local time, according to Razak.

Even though this agreement had been made with the rebels, Najib stressed that a "number of steps" still had to be taken in order for the required work to be completed. The rebels had agreed to ensure that "continued cooperation" between all relevant parties took place.

Even though it was clear that Malaysia was gravely upset over the way the investigation had so far been handled, Najib said it was up to the government to promote peace and calm in order to get things done and that he hoped these developments would a step in the right direction.

"In recent days, there were times I wanted to give greater voice to the anger and grief that the Malaysian people feel. And that I feel. But sometimes, we must work quietly in the service of a better outcome."

 
Why should we be shocked that Hillary Clinton curses?

hillary shocked

Why should we be shocked that Hillary Clinton curses? Swearing is so cool

jeb lund

Jeb Lund

But if you think that profanity is even better when women participate, you're part of the problem

A lot of people have trouble with Ed Klein's new book about the Clintons, Blood Feud. They focus on his verbatim recall of events he didn't witness, eclipsing even the legendary Bob Woodward's ability to didactically cite fictional minutiae with more instantaneous fidelity than a preteen correcting you about Harry Potter's owl's name. (It's Hangry, you little shit.)

But all the debate over Klein's veracity has overshadowed the importance of Hillary apparently calling Barack Obama a "motherfucker", which is problematic.

But because you could – and many have – nitpick Hillary's "quote" to make a point about Klein writing his books from within an Imaginarium, the American public has overlooked Klein's point, which is that Hillary is bad. She's bad because she said bad words, and we know they were bad words because we call them that. In Klein's world, that is just basic thuganomics – but I have to raise vociferous objections to his thesis, because girls swearing is cool.

Calling attention to women who swear is stupid. It's stupid when it's a mendacious and politically cynical attack designed to rob a woman of her identity by likening her to a supposedly offensive masculinity. And it's just as stupid when it's the gentle paternalism of a feminist ally who thinks it's just so adorable when the slight bookish brunette girl at the Model UN quotes Office Space and calls an opponent a no-talent ass-clown. Everything about the idea of "ladylike" is preposterous up and until certain criteria are met anyway – like owning a fancy horse house and specially-tailored horse pants and, ideally, a horse with a name like Aquitanica.

 
Michael Tomasky: American Statesmanship Is MIA

By Michael Tomasky

Kid refugees at the border, 300 souls shot down, Gaza aflame—we’re lurching from crisis to awful crisis, but gone are the days when our politicians could put aside partisanship to act.

It’s been the most depressing two weeks of the Obama presidency. The child border crisis, the new Gaza war, the Russian separatists shooting down that plane—these aren’t just infuriating political squabbles of the sort we follow every week but profound political crises with enormous human tolls. Any of the three on its own would have been dreadful enough. All three of them in succession, the incomprehensible suffering and death of innocent victims of calculation and avarice, are almost more tragic than the mind can bear.

The tragedy in each case is deepened by American impotence. It’s not that we couldn’t prevent these things that’s upsetting. The border crisis, despite what they say on the black-helicopter right, was not fomented by President Obama in an attempt to force Congress to act on immigration. It’s a function of nightmarish conditions in Central America from which destitute, desperate people are fleeing, and of a network of completely immoral hustlers at the border who exploit them. Israel makes an incursion into Gaza every few years, and we always have little choice but to let it play out. And Russian separatists, with a nudge from Vladimir Putin, are going to do what they’re going to do.

 
World dangers test US resolve, including Obama’s

World dangers test US resolve, including Obama’s 

President Obama has been criticized for "leading from behind" on foreign policy. Secretary of State John Kerry counters that the US is heavily engaged around the world and to great effect, an assertion critics scoff at.

Politically speaking, the low point in how President Obama’s approach to foreign policy is perceived may have been in 2011 when an advisor described his actions in Libya, where a coalition was trying to oust dictator Muammar Qaddafi, as “leading from behind.” 

Most Americans aren’t used to hearing that. Even though they’re weary of war, either they want a more assertive United States, it seems, or the kind of non-interventionist approach favored by Sen. Rand Paul. “Leading from behind” sounds so … unexceptional.

Also appearing on “Meet the Press,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina, along with Sen. John McCain one of the Senate’s leading hawks, called Kerry’s foreign policy views “ridiculous and delusional.”

“It scares me that he believes the world is in such good shape. America is the glue that holds the free world together. Leading from behind is not working. The world is adrift. And President Obama has become the king of indecision," Sen. Graham said. "His policies are failing across the globe, and they will come here soon."

 
The US needs immigration reform, not another opportunity to blame the GOP

immigration protest

The US needs immigration reform, not another opportunity to blame the GOP

allison kilkenny

Allison Kilkenny

The child refugee crisis is an chance for Obama to push for real change. Instead, it's just deportations as usual

The Obama administration has a problem on its hands: the moral implications and aesthetic disaster of cameras documenting defenseless young child refugees being returned by force to their often-dangerous motherlands. This could be an opportunity for the administration to push for immigration reform (or show some kind of leadership on the issue), but it seems as though the White House's strategy is to deflect uncomfortable questions about mass deportations, avoid the moral and political consequences of estranging the Latino community and hope the GOP does something even worse.

 
Obama and Latinos at the Breaking Point

The deportations have been bad enough, but Obama’s inaction on the border crisis might be the straw that breaks the donkey’s back.

For Latino Democrats, especially Mexican-Americans, supporting President Obama’s reelection in 2012 was about voting for the lesser of two evils. Now, given the Obama administration’s callous treatment of thousands of unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in Central America and its plans to send the kids back into harm’s way forthwith without the encumbrance of due process, never mind “lesser.” We’re left only with “evil.”

Latino Democrats have been biting their tongues over how Obama has racked up 2 million deportations—mostly of Latinos—in five and a half years. But given how much Latinos worship the institution of the family and how they fawn over children, the border kids could just be the straw that breaks the donkey’s back. 

The only question is: “What are Latino Democrats going to do about it?” Answering it requires confronting what we already know—that most of our elected officials, of all colors and backgrounds, are in it for themselves and don’t represent their constituents. It also brings us to the sensitive subject of how U.S.-born Latinos often don’t care what happens to Latino immigrants or refugees, especially if they show up at the back door without permission.

 
Immigration battle could dog the GOP

Immigration battle could dog the GOP

Immigration battle could dog the GOP

How the current border fight could be perilous for the party in 2016.

Right now Republicans are responding to the crisis by calling for an end to Obama’s deferred-deportation program for DREAMers, which is effectively a call to deport them all. But if Obama expands that program — and no one knows how ambitious he will be — Republicans will be calling for that expansion to be rolled back, which means their calls for deportation will only grow. This could put Republicans heading into 2016 with a position on immigration that’s further to the right than Mitt Romney’s self-deportation prescription.

The current crisis undoubtedly holds major political risk for Obama. The pressure on him to show it can be managed is intense. But the optics for Republicans are perilous, too. Here’s what we might see this fall: Republicans will have failed to respond to the current debacle because they wanted kids deported faster and didn’t want to spend money on a humanitarian response — and they will have failed to act on the broader immigration crisis because they can’t accept legalization of the 11 million — even as they are showing themselves quite capable of … forging ahead with their lawsuit against the president. That contrast would look pretty bad on its own. But it could also send Republicans even deeper into a posture of total resistance to unilateral Obama action. Even as he is acting to solve the broader immigration crisis they refuse to address, Republicans will be committing themselves to the demand for ever more deportations.

 
What If Social Mobility Is a Myth?

 

What If Social Mobility Is a Myth?

  By Benjamin M. Friedman

An economist examines cases of economic inequality from the 1200s to today.

With the gap between rich and poor widening to Gilded Age levels, if not beyond, lately the question has attracted even more attention than usual. (When was the last time a book on economics created a sensation like Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century?) Vast inequality may be acceptable to most citizens if anyone, or at least anyone’s grandchild, has a fair shot at the top. But if wealth and poverty simply perpetuate themselves within families, ever wider inequality becomes ever harder to justify. In America, the debate about inequality is, inevitably, also a debate about mobility.

Mobility is hard to measure, however, turning not just on who earns what today but on how what people earn—and what they have—relates to their parents’ income and wealth, and their grandparents’ and prior generations’ too. Economists, to their credit, are increasingly stepping up to this difficult empirical challenge. Some are tackling the politically touchy question of whether mobility is greater in America than in western-European countries. (Our traditional civic myth notwithstanding, the answer is no.) Others are investigating whether mobility in America has declined in recent years. (Contrary to President Obama’s recent statements, it apparently hasn’t.)

 
Obama looked other way on child border-crossing crisis for 2 years

President Barack Obama smiles at a group of people welcoming him as he arrives in New York where he will attend fundraisers Thursday, July 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Obama looked other way on child border-crossing crisis for 2 years

By Cheryl K. Chumley - The Washington Times

U.S. border patrol agents spent the last two years issuing warnings to the Obama administration about an uptick in the number of illegal minor-aged immigrants crossers, a new report from the University of Texas at El Paso found.

 
How Hamas uses its 'terror' tunnels

March photo of Hamas tunnel in Israel. (Reuters)

March photo of Hamas tunnel in Israel. (Reuters)

How Hamas uses its 'terror' tunnels

Terrence McCoy

The labyrinthine underground network is a primary target of the Israeli invasion.

Such “terror tunnels,” the Israeli military said in a statement on Friday, are “complex and advanced.” And their use, Israel said, is “to carry out attacks such as abductions of Israeli civilians and soldiers alike; infiltrations into Israeli communities, mass murders and hostage-taking scenarios.”

Describing this emerging “tunnel war,” a Palestinian militia document obtained by Al-Monitor said the objective of the underground network was “to surprise the enemy and strike it a deadly blow that doesn’t allow a chance for survival or escape or allow him a chance to confront and defend itself.”

On Saturday, in what The Washington Post called an “audacious attack,” Hamas fighters wearing Israeli army uniforms infiltrated central Gaza through a tunnel and attacked an Israeli army patrol, killing two Israeli soldiers. In a second attempt Saturday to enter Israel through their tunnels, the Post reported, the Israeli military discovered Hamas operatives carrying handcuffs and tranquilizers in an apparent attempt to kidnap soldiers — the militants were killed. Also on Saturday, a militant climbed out of a concealed tunnel in southern Gaza and started firing at soldiers.

 
Cruz: Obama, Reid Holding Border Children 'Ransom' For Immigration Reform

Brendan Bordelon

Ted Cruz

'The Gang of Eight bill is one of the causes of this problem'

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz accused President Obama and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of holding for “ransom” the tens of thousands of illegal immigrant children at the border, claiming they are using their plight to push amnesty and their plan for immigration reform.

Cruz spoke Sunday with Fox News’ Chris Wallace about his new bill banning President Obama’s ability to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants, which he believes will help stem the ongoing flood of illegal children fleeing poverty and violence in Central America.

Unsurprisingly, many Democrats do not share Cruz’s view on the issue.

Some Democrats say — you talk about helping the children — that this is a humanitarian crisis above all else and the key is to help the children,” Wallace told Cruz. “Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid blames you, attacked you this week, saying radical Republicans are trying to hold these kids ransom.”

Wallace played a clip of Reid claiming “we wouldn’t be having this issue” if Congress had passed comprehensive immigration reform — adding also that “the border is secure.”

“Well, you know, President Obama and Harry Reid both engage in debates divorced from the facts and divorced from the reality,” Cruz claimed. “Harry Reid lives in the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C. And I’m sure from his perspective, the border seems secure.”

 
Ukraine Knew of Separatists' Air-Defense Capabilities, Say Officials

Ukraine Knew of Separatists' Air-Defense Capabilities, Say Officials

Claims Raise Questions of Why Ukraine Failed to Close Airspace

By Margaret Coker And Robert Wall

 Ukraine intelligence officials said they knew three days before the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that rebels in the east of the country possessed sophisticated air-defense systems capable of felling a jetliner at altitudes in excess of where the Boeing 777 was flying.

The disclosure deepens the mystery of why Ukrainian aviation officials failed to entirely close off the airspace in the Donetsk region, where the jet was flying went it was shot down, killing all 298 people on board.

Three Buk-M1 medium-range antiaircraft systems, also known as the SA-11 Gadfly under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization designation, were known to be in rebel hands as early as July 14, said Vitaly Nayda, the head of the counterintelligence division of Ukraine's security service. (Follow the latest updates on the Malaysia Airlines crash in Ukraine.)

Ukraine imposed a partial flight ban in the region on flights below 26,000 feet on July 1, and raised the ceiling of the exclusion area to 32,000 feet on July 14. The Malaysia Airlines plane was flying at 33,000 feet.

The altitude restrictions on commercial flights were raised after rebel separatists backed by Moscow on July 14 shot down a Ukrainian military Antonov An-26 transport plane with eight people on board over the skies of the Luhansk region. The aircraft was flying at 21,000 feet.

 
Elizabeth Warren has already changed the Democratic conversation

Elizabeth Warren has already changed the Democratic conversation

Rebecca Berg

As Elizabeth Warren delivered the keynote address Friday at the progressive Netroots Nation conference here, her surroundings had all the trappings of a presidential campaign launch.

Outside of the ballroom where Warren spoke, supporters with the unaffiliated group Ready For Warren distributed “Elizabeth Warren For President” signs and hats to enthusiastic throngs of people; later, the convention center hosting Netroots would be littered with the swag. Supporters tweeted out a kitschy music video, “Run Liz Run.” And when people met in the halls, “Hello” was replaced with, “Did you see Elizabeth speak?”

Warren, the senator from Massachusetts who has become the standard-bearer for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, isn’t running for anything, at least not yet.

It doesn’t matter. Progressive Democrats are freshly encouraged that Warren’s gravitational pull will move other Democrats, such as Hillary Clinton, to fight for and campaign on the same issues.

“What I believe we’re going to see (in 2016) is the Wall Street Wing versus the Warren Wing, and the question’s going to be, where does Hillary ultimately land?” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive group Democracy For America. “She’s been in the Wall Street Wing for a long time, and it’s really exciting to see her giving winks and nods towards the Warren Wing now, but she’s got to deliver on it.”

 
Millennial women delay tying the knot

** FILE ** (Associated Press)

Millennial women delay tying the knot

By Alex Swoyer - The Washington Times

Millennial women are playing hard to get when it comes to marriage, and that might be paying off for them in the long run both personally and socially.

According to “Knot Yet: The Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America,” a report released by the National Marriage Project, the percentage of women in their 20s that are married has declined by more than 20 percent since the 1970s. The report also said only 33 percent of 25-year-old women are or have been married, and that the average marriage age is 29 for men and 27 for women, America’s oldest-ever average.

 
"This weak and timid President talks big... and does nothing"

This weak and timid President talks big... and does nothing

A devastating attack on Obama by a top Washington insider

By Clark S. Judge

Former adviser to President Reagan CLARK S. JUDGE believes Obama's reaction to the MH17 was 'disconnected'.

At a political event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Thursday, President Obama devoted only 40 seconds to the shooting down of the Malaysian airline, his first statement to the world following the news. His emotionless reference to the attack as ‘a terrible tragedy’ seemed disconnected from the horrific moment, particularly as he immediately reverted to script to praise his administration and criticise Republicans. It was a far cry from President Reagan’s 1983 fierce denunciation of the Soviet shooting down of a Korean airliner as a ‘crime against humanity’.

Like the scene in The Godfather – when, at his child’s baptism, Michael Corleone renounces the devil as the camera cuts back and forth to his men eliminating rival gangsters – Putin, before global television cameras, watched the opening ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics as Russian troops began movements preparatory to seizing Crimea.

This week, in the skies over Ukraine, we saw the consequences of the recklessness that the Russian godfather’s probing has unleashed.

Putin was not the only one to detect opportunity in American indecision. China stepped up its probes in the East and South China Seas. In the Middle East, with the US military presence drawn down nearly to zero in Iraq and soon Afghanistan, an army of ruthless fanatics gestating unnoticed in Syria’s east saw the chance to break out of national boundaries and within a few weeks occupied much of western and central Iraq.

Why has so much of the global order come apart so fast?

For the same reason that, as a friend reports, on the streets of San Salvador those who will smuggle your child to the Rio Grande have been securing an unprecedented volume of sign-ups. When asked about the chances of the child staying in America once the border is crossed, they tell parents: ‘It has never been easier.’

It is not just American interests that a flailing White House threatens. It is that of peoples everywhere.

 
Best Way To Punish Putin? No World Cup

By Tunku Varadarajan

In the wake of the MH17 disaster, the world needs to make Vladimir Putin’s pride—not the Russian people—pay. And a good first step would be to stop pretending sport is politically neutral.

Two days after Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all passengers and crew aboard, the world is contending with a fiendishly difficult question: what is the appropriate punitive response to this atrocity?

The civilian airliner was destroyed with a ground-to-air missile of Russian provenance, fired either by Russia-backed separatists or by the Russian military. Moral and political responsibility for the slaughter must lie, ultimately, with Moscow, even as we investigate the forensic sequence of a commander’s chilling order—“Fire!”—and an underling’s deadly compliance.

Three-hundred people, 189 of them Dutch, are dead at the hands of forces who owe their loyalty to Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, the man who has thrown his weight behind the armed rebellion in Ukraine. He is in every way the separatists’ godfather. The dismemberment of Ukraine is as much his cause as theirs. So any response has to make him hurt, personally; it has to puncture his ego, his pride. And one certain way to hurt him would be to strip from Russia the right to host the 2018 World Cup.

How does one punish the autocratic, omnipotent president of a quasi-superpower? It is much harder to do so than to spank the piddling ruler of a smallish rogue state, but options exist. Putin believes that a World Cup in Russia can be sold to his people as an endorsement of his rule. Why should the world become an accomplice in a dictator’s Ponzi scheme of pride? As he preened for the cameras at the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, it was clear that Putin regards Russia’s staging of the cup’s next edition as a propaganda godsend, a global vote for his achievements. Imagine his consternation if he were prevented from putting on such a show. 

Putin preys on the fact that the West thinks money and sport are neutral, or at least civilizing influences. So when Russian money comes to Wall Street or the City of London, it stops being political for the West; it is also a peculiarly Western conceit that the gathering together for sport has a civilizing effect on the nations participating. But for Putin, money and sport are tools, or weapons. Hosting the World Cup is the weapon he uses to prove to his people that he is all-powerful, that there is no point in opposing him. In letting him host that cup, we all become part of that weapon.

 
Silicon Valley's Libertarian revolution

Silicon Valley's Libertarian revolution

By DARREN SAMUELSOHN

Lincoln Labs Hackathon participants (from right) Shana Azria, Shikhar Mohan, Jason Levy and Richard Yang had 24 hours to create from scratch a new technology program. Their idea - a Buzzfeed-like quiz to help young people determine their political affiliation - was entered in the competition for a share of a $10,000 prize. | Darren Samuelsohn/POLITICO

Libertarian and conservative technology types huddled this weekend on Nancy Pelosi’s home turf making big promises about what they can do to help Republicans win more elections — but also lamenting how their ideas could still get lost in the shuffle.

Gathering in the swank W hotel, a confab of wealthy start-up founders, college engineering students, long-shot local GOP candidates and self-described political geeks professed their mutual disdain for heavy-handed government and declared allegiance to a Rand Paul-style of governing that they’d like to think is on the upswing in the American body politic.

Their calls for disrupting the status quo got a nice boost since Paul himself was in the house, delivering a 24-minute keynote that drew comparisons between Ayn Rand and irrational Washington behavior and also slammed President Barack Obama for advancing regulations and surveillance policies that Paul said are out of whack with what Silicon Valley is all about.

“I come out here and people say, ‘We loved President Obama. We’re all for President Obama. We’re from the tech community,’” Paul said to a standing room only crowd of several hundred attending the Lincoln Labs conference. “Why? Why would you be? He’s not for innovation. He’s not for freedom. He’s for the protectionism crowd. He’s for the crowd that would limit the activities of these companies.”

 
The rise of data and death of politics

US president Barack Obama with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

The rise of data and death of politics

 Evgeny Morozov

Tech pioneers in the US are advocating a new data-based approach to governance – 'algorithmic regulation'. But if technology provides the answers to society's problems, what happens to governments?

This new type of governance has a name: algorithmic regulation. In as much as Silicon Valley has a political programme, this is it. Tim O'Reilly, an influential technology publisher, venture capitalist and ideas man (he is to blame for popularising the term "web 2.0") has been its most enthusiastic promoter. In a recent essay that lays out his reasoning, O'Reilly makes an intriguing case for the virtues of algorithmic regulation – a case that deserves close scrutiny both for what it promises policymakers and the simplistic assumptions it makes about politics, democracy and power.

To see algorithmic regulation at work, look no further than the spam filter in your email. Instead of confining itself to a narrow definition of spam, the email filter has its users teach it. Even Google can't write rules to cover all the ingenious innovations of professional spammers. What it can do, though, is teach the system what makes a good rule and spot when it's time to find another rule for finding a good rule – and so on. An algorithm can do this, but it's the constant real-time feedback from its users that allows the system to counter threats never envisioned by its designers. And it's not just spam: your bank uses similar methods to spot credit-card fraud.

Algorithmic regulation could certainly make the administration of existing laws more efficient. If it can fight credit-card fraud, why not tax fraud? Italian bureaucrats have experimented with the redditometro, or income meter, a tool for comparing people's spending patterns – recorded thanks to an arcane Italian law – with their declared income, so that authorities know when you spend more than you earn. Spain has expressed interest in a similar tool.

Such systems, however, are toothless against the real culprits of tax evasion – the super-rich families who profit from various offshoring schemes or simply write outrageous tax exemptions into the law. Algorithmic regulation is perfect for enforcing the austerity agenda while leaving those responsible for the fiscal crisis off the hook. To understand whether such systems are working as expected, we need to modify O'Reilly's question: for whom are they working? If it's just the tax-evading plutocrats, the global financial institutions interested in balanced national budgets and the companies developing income-tracking software, then it's hardly a democratic success.

 
John Kerry and Chris Wallace: Sunday Morning Showdown
  • Kerry Angrily Spars With Fox's Chris Wallace: 'You Like To Ask Questions, But You Don't Like To Get Answers!'

  Brendan Bordelon

John Kerry copy

The outburst came on the heels of a testy exchange over President Obama’s so-far tepid reaction the the shootdown of a Malaysian passenger jet over eastern Ukraine by Russia or Russian-backed separatists fighting in the region.

Visibly annoyed over Wallace’s continued pressing, Kerry could no longer hold in his disdain for Fox News after Wallace asked about tougher sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program.

“I know you and others don’t ever want to give the Obama administration credit for almost anything,” he charged bitterly, “but the fact is this is the first administration to get a [nuclear] rollback in ten years.”

Kerry went on for some time, finally prompting Wallace to attempt a follow-up question on whether Iran continues work on its nuclar centrifuges. That didn’t sit well with the secretary.

“No no no, Chris, you like to ask questions, but you don’t like to get answers!” Kerry exclaimed. “Let me answer! Let me answer! Let me finish my answer!”

 
Putin's hard line on MH17 will only push Russia into an ever-tighter corner

Vladimir Putin

Putin's hard line on MH17 will only push Russia into an ever-tighter corner

Jonathan Eyal

The Russian president has several routes of retreat in the face of growing pressure. He is unlikely to take any of them

Although visibly embarrassed and increasingly cornered by mounting evidence that rebels using missiles supplied by Moscow were responsible for shooting down flight MH17, Vladimir Putin still has plenty of ways to extricate himself and his country from the disaster.

Yet all such options ultimately entail an admission that his policies in Ukraine are counterproductive: something the Russian president is loth to do. So the chances are high that Russia will simply brazen out the crisis, regardless of any sanctions threatened by the west. The long-term interests of the Russian nation are being held hostage by the vanity of its leader.

A clever Russian de-escalation tactic would be for Moscow to assist in the immediate creation of an international committee of inquiry into the carnage, and even grant the committee access to Russian soil.

That carries the risk that the investigation would unearth unsavoury connections between the Russian military and ethnic Russian separatists. But the risks are manageable, partly because pro-Russian rebels have already destroyed much of the incriminating evidence at the airliner's crash site, and partly because the Buk missile system involved in the Malaysian jet's destruction is manufactured in a single Russian factory and operated by both the Ukrainian and Russian military.

The "smoking gun" linking the particular missile that hit the airliner to Russian arsenals is, therefore, never likely to be found, which will mean Moscow has plenty of wriggle room. That is precisely why Barack Obama and other western leaders have pointedly avoided any explicit accusations that the missile that destroyed the Malaysian plane was guided by Russian radar systems. Putin can appear to be co-operating with the inquiry without risking all that much.

 
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