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Top Marine Corps general slams Obama’s handling of Iraq

** FILE ** Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, right, accompanied by Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 3, 2010. (Associated Press)

Top Marine Corps general slams Obama’s handling of Iraq

By Douglas Ernst

Four-star Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, used a speaking engagement at the Brookings Institute on Tuesday to deliver a stinging rebuke of the Obama administration’s handling of Iraq.

“I have a hard time believing that had we been there, and worked with the government, and worked with parliament, and worked with the minister of defense, the minister of interior, I don’t think we’d be in the same shape we’re in today,” Gen. Amos said, the Fiscal Times reported Wednesday.

t is rare for an active-duty serviceman to give such blunt public criticism of a sitting president. While Gen. Amos was careful not to mention the president by name, The Fiscal Times reported that the top general’s upcoming retirement this fall may have played a role in his decision.

“We may think we’re done with all of these nasty, thorny, tacky little things that are going on around the world — and I’d argue that if you’re in that nation, it’s not a tacky, little thing for you. We may think we’re done with them, but they’re not done with us,” the commandant of the Marine Corps added, the paper reported. “We’re probably the only country in the world that has the resources and the capability to be able to do some of this that others can’t.”

 
Political Duel for California Governor Spans Nation

Political Duel for California Governor Spans Nation

Gov. Jerry Brown has a little-known Republican challenger campaigning against him across California, taunting him on issues from taxes to transit. But his most formidable Republican adversary is turning out to be a fellow Californian who wields his power from an office 2,700 miles away: Representative Kevin McCarthy, the incoming House majority leader.

In the weeks since Mr. McCarthy, who represents Bakersfield, was elected to the No. 2 position in the House of Representatives, the powerful California governor has found himself facing a no-less-powerful legislator with clout and a platform unlike any he has confronted since he took office. Mr. McCarthy may someday be remembered as a last gasp of Republicanism in this increasingly Democratic state — at least in the view of some Democrats — but for now, he is emerging as an ideological and politically wily opponent, a former State Assembly minority leader with strong opinions on how things should be done back home.

 

Within days of being elected majority leader, to replace Eric Cantor after his surprise loss in a Republican primary, Mr. McCarthy escalated his long-held opposition to Mr. Brown’s signature project, a 520-mile, $68 billion high-speed train that would run from San Francisco to Los Angeles, vowing to do what he could to kill it. “If Sacramento looks to Washington to pay for the train, that will never happen,” he said in an interview last week.

Further, Mr. McCarthy said he would push Republican legislation responding to the severe drought here — which he called the “crisis of the century in California” — by, among other things, rolling back federal environmental protections for endangered smelt and salmon populations, which farmers complained cost them water for irrigation. Mr. Brown denounced the bill as “an unwelcome and divisive intrusion into California’s efforts to manage this severe crisis.”

And Mr. McCarthy declared on Fox News his opposition to funding the Export-Import Bank — and this week, Mr. Brown joined 31 governors in signing a letter to congressional leaders asserting that such a move would “place U.S. companies at a serious disadvantage, which would inevitably lead to fewer exports and the loss of thousands of jobs in our states.”

In the course of an interview, conducted by telephone during his weekly visit to his district, Mr. McCarthy offered strong criticism of Democratic policies and Mr. Brown’s leadership style.

“There are some tough challenges in California, and the governor’s answer is always to raise more taxes,” Mr. McCarthy said. “That’s going to harm the economy.”

 
New App Lets You Track And SELL Your Personal Data

Josh Evans

NSA Taps Tech.JPEG

'We need market driven change to help get the trust and realize all the benefits'

Although it is currently in its early stages, the CitizenMe app will eventually inform users of what data is being gathered on them, and give them the option to sell this data directly to the advertisers, cutting out data brokers, Forbes reports.

Users will be able to choose what data they want shared and will be compensated through Paypal, bank transfers or Bitcoin. Though Forbes notes that the payments will be relatively small.

 
Democrat: Obama Has Promised To Bypass Congress, Grant Amnesty

He's 'Going To Act Shortly'

Democrat: Obama Has Promised To Bypass Congress, Grant Amnesty

Brendan Bordelon

 Tony Cardenas

Democratic lawmaker Tony Cardenas revealed that President Barack Obama promised the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Wednesday he will “act shortly” to bypass Congress and grant some form of amnesty to many illegal immigrants.

Cardenas spoke with MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart on Thursday about a meeting the Hispanic Caucus had with the president on Wednesday concerning the growing border crisis and comprehensive immigration reform.

The California congressman claimed that Obama committed to broad executive action on immigration reform — including granting legal status to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants without congressional approval — and that such action will come “shortly.”

“It’s important to understand that the president made it very clear to the Hispanic Caucus yesterday that Congress is not acting,” Cardenas explained. “He let Speaker Boehner know many, many months ago to please go ahead and do something. He has not done it. And now’s the time for the president to act, and the president’s going to act shortly.”

“Do you know what actions the president will be taking?” a surprised Diaz-Balart asked. “I mean, the president has said to me in the past, he has said — and I’m quoting the president in the three last interviews we had — he said, ‘I’m not a king, I’m a president. There are only a few things I can do unilaterally.’”

Cardenas said the president agreed to use his “legal authority and latitude” to “give people some kind of status to the 11 million who are waiting to get some relief.”

“Not all of them,” the Democratic lawmaker explained. “The power of the president cannot relieve all 11 million. But there are categories of 500,000 or a million that he can give some kind of temporary status to.”
 
Why Was an Airliner Flying Over Ukraine?

Why Was an Airliner Flying Over Ukraine?

The U.S. government recommended against it—and now, a Malaysia flight has crashed there.

By James Fallows

Many crucial questions about the tragic/disastrous apparent shootdown of the Malaysia Airlines flight in Ukraine are still unanswerable. Who did it? Why? With what warning? Or repercussions?

But at this point one question can be answered: Did aviation authorities know that this was a dangerous area?

Yes, they most certainly did. Nearly three months ago, on the "Special Rules" section of its site, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration put out an order prohibiting American pilots, airlines, charter carriers, and everyone else over whom the FAA has direct jurisdiction, from flying over parts of Ukraine.

 
Marvel's New Captain America Is Black

Marvel's New Captain America Is Black

Marvel Entertainment reveals that the new Captain America is black after announcing the new Thor is a woman. WSJ’s Michael Calia joins Tanya Rivero on Lunch Break to discuss the big changes in the superhero universe and how comics publishers continuing to make similar changes for their marquee characters is good business.

 
Fat Because You Can’t, Won’t, Or Shouldn’t Lose Weight?

Fat Because You Can’t, Won’t, Or Shouldn’t Lose Weight?

By Jeremy E. Sherman, Ph.D.

With weight gain or any situation that gives us trouble, there are three basic interpretations. Familiarize yourself with them and you'll do a better job of figuring out which fits the situation.

 
U.S. fears of shoulder-fired missile strikes on airliners becomes nightmare reality

A Russian Buk-M2 air defense system.

U.S. fears of shoulder-fired missile strikes on airliners becomes nightmare reality

By Guy Taylor - The Washington Times

Long-held fears in Washington about threats posed to commercial aircraft by basic shoulder-fired missiles became a haunting reality as Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was blasted from the sky over Ukraine.

“The threat to civilian aircraft from should-fired missiles is well known and its a concern for many governments, particularly because of the breakdown in government during recent years in Syria, Iraq and Libya, which has resulted in these weapons proliferating on those battlefields and beyond,” said Bill Roggio, a scholar focused on terrorism issues at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington.

 
A Potential Combination of Two of Hollywood’s Most Successful Studios

A Potential Combination of Two of Hollywood’s Most Successful Studios

 What for years has been a whisper in Hollywood — the possible consolidation of major studios in the face of tough industry economics — has become a starkly real option with the disclosure on Wednesday that Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox made an $80 billion bid to acquire Time Warner Inc.

In the bid, which Time Warner rejected, Mr. Murdoch is said to have made clear that his 20th Century Fox and Time Warner’s Warner Bros., two of Hollywood’s six major studios, would be managed jointly, but kept essentially separate.

But business history and market pressures in both the movie and television industries make it almost inevitable that studio overhead would be cut, back-office operations would be combined, and jobs would be eliminated if a merger happens.

“In size and structure, the studio of the 21st century still looks very similar, if not identical, to the studio of the 20th century,” said Marc Shmuger, a producer who was formerly co-chairman of Universal Pictures. “That has to change,” he added.

 
California drought hits home: reckless lawn-watering could cost $500

California drought hits home: reckless lawn-watering could cost $500 

The California water board has passed new restrictions to rein in water use amid the worst drought in state history. Until now, residents in big cities and suburbs have been largely shielded from the drought's effects.

On Tuesday, State Water Resources Control Board passed strict new statewide watering restrictions that cover hose-washing a car without a shutoff nozzle, overwatering lawns so that runoff floods sidewalks and gutters, using water to clean driveways and sidewalks, and operating fountains without recirculation. The board authorized fines of up to $500 per day. The rules take effect Aug. 1.

 
Jill Abramson says Obama is most secretive president

Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times, receives an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the commencement ceremony Monday, May 19, 2014 at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. It was Abramson's first public appearance since her dismissal from The New York Times. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Ex-New York Times editor Jill Abramson says Obama is most secretive president

By Cheryl K. Chumley - The Washington Times

Jill Abramson, the fired executive editor for the New York Times, told Fox News fame that the current administration is one of the most secretive in White House history.

“I’ve never dealt with an administration where more officials — some of whom are actually paid to be the spokesmen for various federal agencies — demand everything be off the record,” she said, on “On the Record” late Wednesday night.

 
When famous — but broke — athletes need cash fast, they call this man

Don Budd owns Central Pawn in Kansas City, Kan. (Jim Barcus for The Post)

When famous — but broke — athletes need cash fast, they call this man

Kent Babb

Don Budd’s pawnshop contains the former glory — championship rings and trophies — belonging to star athletes who have hit hard times and lost their fortunes.

Since opening his Kansas City pawn shop in 1988, owner Don Budd says he has had 3,000 championship rings of former athletes. He also owns the trophy from Super Bowl XXIX. Part of his business is never to reveal who has sold him their wares, nor what price was reached. 

For more than two decades, Budd has built an unlikely network. Stories about broke athletes are common, former millionaires somehow growing desperate to make ends meet. When all else is lost, often a championship ring — from a bowl game, a Final Four or even a Super Bowl — is the last, precious thing to go. When that time comes, when fast cash is more valuable than a reminder of the day an athlete reached the sports mountaintop, it’s frequently Budd’s phone that rings. 

In recent years, famous athletes such as Warren Sapp, Antoine Walker and Mike Tyson depleted vast fortunes, tens of millions of dollars gone through poor money management, bad investments and failed marriages. Whatever the reasons they walk through the door, Budd usually is offered the stories with the rings. He has come to believe it’s the shock of the transition to normal life that leads them here. After the spotlight fades and the contracts expire, some keep spending like the millions are still flowing. “They don’t quite grasp what the real world is,” Budd said, “until it hits them in the face.”

A few years after he bought the old bank building, the vault door already in place, former Oakland Raiders cornerback Skip Thomas walked in with his hands full. Thomas, who lived nearby, had fallen on hard times, and he was ready to unload a few prized possessions. They included a trophy the city of Oakland presented to each starter in Super Bowl XI, along with Thomas’s ring from that game: small diamonds forming the shape of a football with a larger diamond in the center, the sides adorned with Thomas’s name and position, along with the words “Pride” and “Poise.”

Budd says an Oscar, a Grammy and two Heisman Trophies have found their way to his store, along with that Lombardi Trophy. He claims it is the same one Steve Young hoisted after San Francisco defeated the San Diego Chargers in January 1995, and it looks and feels real enough. Budd says he acquired it years ago, after former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. was involved in a series of legal battles; naturally, Budd will share no more details.

A 49ers spokesman says a Lombardi Trophy sits in the lobby of the team’s headquarters, adding he’s uncertain whether it’s the original or a reissued version. Budd says he doesn’t expect to sell his version — though he would take $100,000 for it, he says — and, besides, he likes tossing it in a gym bag every February and bringing it out at friends’ Super Bowl parties.

 
Illegal immigration crisis poses quandary for Democrats

Two sides: Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has called publicly for President Obama not to send immigrant children back to their home countries but privately urged a White House official not to house them at a site in Maryland. (Associated Press)

Illegal immigration crisis poses quandary for Democrats

By Ben Wolfgang and Dave Boyer - The Washington Times

Potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidates are showing divisions over how to handle the surge of illegal immigrant children, underscoring how quickly the immigration issue has gone from what they thought was a guaranteed political winner to an electoral headache.

Some Democratic governors considering presidential bids also are having to grapple personally with the surge as they decide whether to fight or accept the Obama administration’s requests to house the children in facilities within their borders.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley sparked a feud with the Obama administration in recent days when he publicly called on President Obama not to send children back to their countries of origin but privately urged a White House official not to house them at a site in Maryland, either.

“What I said was that would not be the most inviting site in Maryland,” Mr. O’Malley told CNN on Wednesday. “There are already hundreds of kids already located throughout Maryland.”

 
Towns Fight to Avoid Taking In Migrant Minors

Towns Fight to Avoid Taking In Migrant Minors

By MANNY FERNANDEZ

Federal officials trying to house the influx of minors from Central America have been forced to scrap several proposed sites because of local opposition, as the issue grows more toxic.

“That’s my tax money taking care of a foreign national or however you want to classify them,” said Mr. Griffith, 51, a volunteer fireman and researcher at a chemical plant. “I don’t want to take care of a foreign national. It’s not my problem. We did house kids in Brazoria County there at the youth home. I sort of feel like we should be taking care of our own first.”

Overwhelmed by an influx of unaccompanied minors who are fleeing violence in their home countries in Central America, federal officials are searching the country for places to house them and have been forced to scrap some proposed shelter sites in California, Connecticut, Iowa, New York and other states because of widespread opposition from residents and local officials.

The politics of handling the wave of immigrants has grown toxic and holds perils for President Obama.

Some of the opposition has also bordered on the extreme. A few of the protesters who marched against a proposed shelter in Vassar, Mich., on Monday were armed with semiautomatic rifles and handguns. In Virginia, an effort to house the children at the shuttered campus of Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville caused such an uproar that federal officials pulled out, even though a five-month lease had been signed. Someone spray-painted anti-immigrant graffiti on a brick wall at a former Army Reserve facility in Westminster, Md., that was being considered as a shelter site.

 
Obama’s Unwritten History

obama-frank.jpg

Obama’s Unwritten History

by Jeffrey Frank

Will the President receive credit for wars unfought and cruise missiles unlaunched?

The American electorate is often upset, but a recent poll by Quinnipiac University was still a surprise. It had Barack Obama coming in last among all postwar Presidents, twelfth out of twelve. That’s got to be deflating for Obama, although he may find solace in an approval rating that still hovers around forty per cent, better than the one George W. Bush had when he took up painting in Texas (thirty-five per cent), a lot better than Richard Nixon’s during Watergate (twenty-seven per cent), and nearly twice as high as Harry Truman’s at the end of his Presidency (a record low twenty-three per cent). The three of them ranked eleventh, tenth, and first in the poll, respectively. Even if poll-takers’ questions often drive the answers, the numbers in Obama’s case do seem to reflect a feeling that he’s not quite up to the job.

But then, apart from moments of national unity—usually in the wake of war or some other terrible event—Presidents rarely get high approval ratings; there are too many agendas occupying the nation’s psychic and social space. It is normal for us not to become fond of our Presidents until they’re long gone (as with Truman) or murdered (J.F.K.). In the meantime, the agitation of the job wears down whoever holds it, and, to some extent, the office itself gets whittled away. That’s about where Barack Obama seems to be these days—looking both depleted and annoyed; alert for what his opponents, domestic and foreign, will throw at him next; and stuck for the next thirty months in the house that Truman called “the great white sepulcher of ambitions and reputations.”

But not getting it right is very different from getting it catastrophically wrong—the way that, say, Lyndon Johnson, our fourth postwar President chronologically, and also the fourth best in the Quinnipiac poll, did in Vietnam, when he steadily raised the number of American troops to more than half a million a decade after French Union forces realized that the colonial war against the Viet Minh was unwinnable. Or the way that George W. Bush got it wrong when, almost casually, he led the nation into two wars, the one in Afghanistan so badly planned and executed that Osama bin Laden and his few thousand followers got away, and the unfathomable one in Iraq, in a region (does this need to be repeated?) that neither Bush nor Dick Cheney nor anyone in the Administration understood very well, if at all.

Obama’s critics blame him for a diminution of American prestige—of the country’s influence, respect, and power. Given that premise, their remedy is usually the same: the planet’s only true superpower (which, by the way, suggests that American power is not all that diluted) needs to assert itself in places where things are going to hell, which usually means arm the “moderates” or the “rebels,” or launch airstrikes, or lend support to “democratic” forces.
 
The Courts Could Still Doom Obamacare

The Courts Could Still Doom Obamacare

News about the law has been largely positive—but a few conservative courts could change that.

By Norm Ornstein

On most fronts, it is working quite well. The ranks of uninsured Americans have declined dramatically. People receiving insurance under the act—with numbers that at least match the rosy expectations and projections raised when it was enacted—are quite satisfied. The Commonwealth Fund's extensive survey found 78 percent of those newly insured are satisfied, including 74 percent of Republicans. A majority said their plans included the doctors they wanted; only 5 percent said they had none of their former doctors in their plans.

At the same time, more insurance companies have indicated they will participate in exchanges in 2015, offering affordable plans; that suggests they will do just fine in this marketplace. This is in contrast to the confident and dire predictions of opponents of both huge hikes in premiums in the second year and a drop in insurers that would devastate the market element of the exchanges.

 Plenty of glitches and bumps in the road remain, including the controversy over whether and when to roll out the employer mandate and the fate of the uninsured (not to mention community hospitals and other providers) in states that have refused to extend Medicaid coverage. But proponents of reform have many reasons to be relieved and even satisfied now. When the Medicare prescription-drug law was enacted, it faced a comparably rocky rollout, forcing President George W. Bush to go way beyond the letter of the law to postpone some portions and to require providers to step in where the law did not require it. It was as unpopular as Obamacare when it started—but eight years later, it is widely popular and entrenched. Five years from now, the same might well be true of the Affordable Care Act.

But, of course, the ACA is different in key respects from Medicare Part D. While partisan in its enactment, Part D was bipartisan in its implementation. As Hillary Clinton said when its implementation was at its rocky low, "I voted against it, but once it passed, I certainly determined that I would try to do everything I could to make sure that New Yorkers understood it, could access it, and make the best of it." Democrats in Congress didn't vote once, much less 50 times, to repeal it or gut it, and neither they nor their liberal acolytes filed lawsuits to overturn or upend it.

 
Obama executive actions seen as threat to Constitution

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the economy at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va., Tuesday, July 15, 2014.  The first major donations to President Barack Obama's presidential library are rolling in from New York and Chicago, two cities that are competing vigorously to host the future library. Since launching in February, the Barack Obama Foundation has raised at least $850,000 from four major donors, the group said Tuesday. The foundation is voluntarily disclosing donations of more than $200, but only in broad dollar ranges. The nonprofit declined to say how much it has raised in total.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Obama executive actions seen as threat to Constitution

By Stephen Dinan - The Washington Times

A prominent law professor and avowed supporter of the Obama White House will tell the House on Wednesday that the president has created one of the biggest constitutional crises in the country’s history and will endorse House Republicans’ effort to sue to rein him in.

Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University, will say President Obama is trampling the founders’ vision for the country in his push to circumvent Congress, and he will demand Republicans and Democrats alike forget their party labels to unify against this White House’s power grab.

“What we are witnessing today is one of the greatest challenges to our constitutional system in the history of this country,” Mr. Turley said in a prepared testimony, saying it began with previous presidents but under Mr. Obama has “reached a constitutional tipping point that threatens a fundamental change in how our country is governed.”

 
Hillary's Speeches: Not Just Pricey -- Picky Too!

Hillary's Speeches: Not Just Pricey -- Picky Too!

Contract Reveals The Demands Hillary Clinton Makes Before Giving A Speech

 Chuck Ross

Joe Scarborough Attacks Hillary Clinton Over Inconsistent Child Rapist Story [VIDEO]

On top of the $225,000 she is charging the UNLV Foundation to speak at an event in October, former first lady Hillary Clinton is requiring an additional $1,250 to pay for a stenographer to transcribe her speech and may request a teleprompter if she so chooses.

Those stipulations and others, including restrictions on the press, are included in a contract obtained by The Daily Caller between the university and the Harry Walker Agency, which is handling Clinton’s speaking tour.

And the contract for the Oct. 13 speech for the UNLV Foundation — which will be held at the Bellagio in Las Vegas — shows that on top of that, she is picky.

“The Sponsor agrees to pay a fee of $1,250 for the services of a stenographer, who will be onsite at the event,” reads the contract, signed on May 13. “The stenographer will transcribe Speaker’s remarks as they are being delivered, which shall be solely for the Speaker’s records.”

Clinton’s speech and a moderated question-and-answer session will last 60 minutes total.

 
Women with ‘sexy’ Facebook photos seen as less competent: study
 
Border Crisis Casts Shadow Over Obama’s Immigration Plan

Border Crisis Casts Shadow Over Obama’s Immigration Plan

The crisis on the border with Mexico has overtaken President Obama’s plans to use executive action to reshape the nation’s immigration system, forcing him to confront a new set of legal, administrative and political complications.

The influx of 57,000 migrant children from Central America is leading Mr. Obama to crack down on deportations at the moment he was preparing to allow more undocumented people to stay in the country. Although White House officials insist that Mr. Obama has no intention of backing down on his public pledge to use executive orders to “fix as much of our immigration system as I can,” they acknowledge that the crisis has made it much harder.

Inside the West Wing and at the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, administration lawyers are working to find consistent legal justifications for speeding up the deportations of Central American children at the border while preparing to ease up on deportations of long-settled immigrants in the country’s interior.

The challenge, according to lawyers inside and outside the government, is to somehow avoid being arbitrary in deciding who must go and who can stay.

 
USC To Face Alabama In 2016 Cowboy Classic

USC To Face Alabama In 2016 Cowboy Classic

By Evan Budrovich

The long-awaited collision of national powerhouses will finally take place, as the University of Southern California and the University of Alabama will face off in one of the most promising meetings in college football history.

Where to begin. The battle between Lane Kiffin and USC, the recruiting implications between Steve Sarkisian and Nick Saban, the looming quarterback match up of five-star California-native quarterbacks Ricky Town and Blake Barnett or even the claim for most passionate fan bases in the nation. Either way, this game will certainly be one for the ages.

Alabama and USC have met seven times (Alabama 5-2), and Bama won the last meeting 24-3 in the 1985 Aloha Bowl. The Trojans did win two monumental games against the Crimson Tide however, first in the racially integrating 1970 Sam Bam Cunningham game and then a monumental victory in 1978, when the school's split the national championship.

If that doesn't fuel the fire enough, the Trojans could get the opportunity to face former head coach Lane Kiffin, who now serves as the Alabama offensive coordinator under head coach Nick Saban. We know USC's on high alert for "bubble screens and large play sheets" but all jokes aside, the reunion could sure be something special to watch.

 
Eleanor Clift: The Looming Political Game Changers

The Looming Political Game Changers

Iran! Oil prices! Rick Perry! Even if you think you know who’ll control Congress next year, the road to the November midterms will be full of big surprises.

From a deal with Iran to an uptick in the employment rolls, a lot can happen to shift the political conversation between now and November.

Immigration reform, for example, was supposed to help Democrats in the midterm elections. Clashes on the border between angry Texans and buses carrying immigrant children fleeing gang violence and sex trafficking highlighted the GOP’s opposition, and Democrats thought maybe this was the game changer they needed.

But the consensus among Republicans and Democrats interviewed for this article is that President Obama squandered his party’s advantage on immigration when he was blindsided by the sudden influx of children from Central America, and then didn’t do much to deal with the crisis until it became a big national story.

Frank Luntz, who helped steer the GOP to its House majority in 1994, says what’s happening in Texas has captivated public attention and could negatively impact the Democrats more than anything else this year, including health care. “No one expected us to lose control of the border,” he says, and when something unexpected happens, that’s the definition of a game changer.

“You want another game changer,” he added, “Rick Perry went from no contender to serious contender in 24 hours. He has been completely rehabilitated.”

Democrats counting on an energized Hispanic vote in November are looking to Obama to retrieve the situation with whatever executive orders he can come up with. But Brookings senior fellow William Galston says almost any response is going to involve some steps pro-immigration advocates are not going to like.

“While Hispanics are angry and disaffected with the Republicans, they’re bitterly disappointed with the Democrats.”

 
Jeb Bush's reading rule loses ground

Jeb Bush's reading rule loses ground

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is pictured. | AP Photo

It was one of Jeb Bush’s signature initiatives as Florida governor: Require third-graders to repeat the year if they flunked a reading test.

Bush promoted the policy aggressively, and, within a decade, 15 states and Washington had adopted it. Ever since, tens of thousands of 8- and 9-year-olds across the country have been treading water at third grade, some for as many as three years.

But now, political pressure to dilute the policies is building — in part, because new, more-challenging Common Core exams will be rolled out in many states next spring. In states that have already tried Common Core exams, as many as 70 percent of students failed, raising fears of mass retentions among teachers, parents and children.

Lawmakers are scrambling to respond. In Oklahoma, the Legislature just tweaked the state’s law to let students who have failed the reading test advance to fourth grade if a team of parents and educators approves. In North Carolina, lawmakers softened the retention law to give districts more flexibility. In New Mexico, Democratic legislators have repeatedly thwarted the governor’s attempt to enact a Florida-style policy.

And in Ohio, the law has even become a campaign issue being used against Republican Gov. John Kasich.

 
Humans Already Use Way, Way More Than 10 Percent of Their Brains

Chris Helgren/Reuters

 Humans Already Use Way, Way More Than 10 Percent of Their Brains

 Sam McDougle

The 10 percent claim is demonstrably false on a number of levels. First, the entire brain is active all the time. The brain is an organ. Its living neurons, and the cells that support them, are always doing something. (Wheres the you only use 10 percent of your spleenmyth?) Joe LeDoux, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at NYU, thinks that people today may be thrown off by the blobs”—the dispersed markers of high brain activityseen in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the human brain. These blobs are often what people are talking about when they refer to the brain lighting up.

Say you’re watching a movie in an fMRI scanner. Certain areas of your brain—the auditory and visual cortices, for instance—will be significantly more active than others; and that activity will show up as colored splotches when the fMRI images are later analyzed. These blobs of significant activity usually cover small portions of the brain image, often less than 10 percent, which could make it seem, to the casual observer, that the rest of the brain is idling. But, as LeDoux put it to me in an email, the brain could be one hundred percent active during a task with only a small percentage of brain activity unique to the task.This kind of imaging highlights big differences in regional brain activity, not everything the brain is doing.

In fact, the entire premise of only usinga certain proportion of your brain is misguided. When your brain works on a problemturning light that hits your retina into an image, or preparing to reach for a pint of beer, or solving an algebra problemits effectiveness is as much a question of whereand whenas it is of how much.Certain regions of the brain are more specialized than others to deal with certain tasks, and most behavior depends on tight temporal coordination between those regions. Your visual system helps you locate that pint of beer, and your motor system gets your hand around it. The idea that swaths of the brain are stagnant pudding while one section does all the work is silly. The brain is a complex, constantly multi-tasking network of tissue.

 
Assange arrest warrant upheld

Assange arrest warrant upheld

  • Claire Phipps and Ben Quinn

Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in June 2013, ahead of the first anniversary of his arrival there.

  • Swedish judge says WikiLeaks founder, who has spent two years in Ecuadorean embassy in London to avoid extradition, still suspected of sex crimes

Judge Lena Egelin gave a rapid and summary dismissal of the legal challenge to Assange's arrest warrant, but said decision could be appealed, David Crouch reports from the court. The arrest warrant for Julian Assange has been upheld by the court, which says that he is still suspected for rape and molestation.

 
Writers Can Do Anything

Writers Can Do Anything

Joe Fassler 

William T. Vollman explains his assassin's credo: "Nothing is true; all is permissible."

William T. Vollmann surely takes artistic freedom as seriously as any living writer. His books—sometimes to the dismay of his publishers—routinely compare length-wise with the King James Bible and Infinite Jest. His three most recent books include a series of trangender self-portraits, an investigative report on nuclear power in post-Fukushima Japan, and this month, a whopping collection of what he calls “ghost stories.” Through it all, he deploys writing styles that range as widely as the broad topics he covers—war, economic inequality, fetishists, prostitution.

Vollmann, in other words, always writes the book he wants to write.

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

If we apply “nothing is true; all is permissible” in its most immediate, literal meaning, it appears to be a horrible, dangerous idea—though perhaps perfect for an assassin. Saying “Nothing is true” is the same as saying “Everything is true,” as far as I’m concerned. Because if nothing is true, don’t all claims to truth have equal weight? If all is true, any form of human behavior becomes valid. Who can say it’s wrong to kill another person for money—or merely for hashish? All is permissible. You might read these lines as an insistence on the relativity of ethics, and they could even be applied to excuse a kind of moral nihilism.

At the same time, I see a kind of freedom in these words. In my book The Rainbow Stories, I spent time writing about communities in San Francisco where there’s a lot of BDSM stuff. The people in that world love to pretend all kinds of fantastic or preposterous or sometimes very frightening-sounding things—but none of it’s true, and so all of it’s permissible. Viewed one way, the Assassin’s maxim could be used to excuse terrible, harmful behavior—but it also could be instructive for role-players, gamers, and others who want to live out their fantasies on their own terms. It’s a reminder that the fictional aspect of the fantasy makes it permissible.

In fact, when we’re working in solely in the realm of the imagination, the assassin’s proverb becomes a very uplifting idea. For me, as an artist, it’s been a great help. While I’m working on a book, it’s a reminder that I don’t have to worry about making a mistake, about writing “poorly,” or about taking on a difficult or ambitious project. I try to remain open, reminding myself that all is permissible as I work. Of course, that doesn’t let me off the hook later—ultimately, I have to live with any work I publish and make public. But it’s a very freeing feeling during the composition process, when I try to keep in mind that nothing is off-limits.

 
First photos in years of O.J. Simpson’s son and daughter

O.J. Simpson's kids spotted at grandfather's funeral Sydney and Justin

First photos in years of O.J. Simpson’s son and daughter

Justin, 26, and Sydney, 28, attend funeral of their beloved grandfather, Louis Brown, Jr. He was buried Saturday next to slain daughter Nicole Brown Simpson.

BY Deborah Hastings

The reclusive children of O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson were photographed Saturday at the memorial service for their maternal grandfather.

Louis Brown, Jr. was buried in Orange County, Calif., next to daughter Nicole, who was murdered in 1994.He died at age 90 on July 5.

 
Does Sexual Orientation Matter When It Comes to Health?

Does Sexual Orientation Matter When It Comes to Health?

People who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual are more likely to smoke and drink than those who identify as straight, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics on Tuesday. But they are more likely to exercise, too.

 
N.J. reporter suspended for on-air statement about fatherless black men

News 12 reporter Sean Bergin was reportedly suspended Monday after he blamed anti-cop sentiments among inner-city residents on "young black men growing up without fathers." (Twitter/Sean Bergin)

N.J. reporter suspended for on-air statement about fatherless black men

By Jessica Chasmar - The Washington Times

A New Jersey news reporter was reportedly suspended Monday after he blamed anti-police sentiments among inner-city residents on “young black men growing up without fathers.”

News 12 reporter Sean Bergin was giving a live report about rookie Jersey City Police Officer Melvin Santiago, who was killed Sunday by suspect Lawrence Campbell, 27, in a shootout at a local Walgreens.

The station interviewed angry residents who had gathered at a makeshift memorial for Mr. Campbell, who was also killed in the shootout.

“He should’ve taken more [officers] with him,” his widow, Angelique Campbell, told the station. “Sorry for the officer’s family. That’s, you know, whatever. But, at the end of the day, [Lawrence] got a family, too. All they care about is the officer.”

Mr. Bergin closed the report with a short monologue, that ultimately got him suspended, The Blaze reported.

“We were besieged, flooded with calls from police officers furious that we would give media coverage to the life of a cop killer,” he said. “It’s understandable. We decided to air it because it’s important to shine a light on this anti-cop mentality that has so contaminated America’s inner cities.

“This same sick, perverse line of thinking is evident from Jersey City to Newark and Patterson to Trenton,” he continued. “It has made the police officer’s job impossible, and it has got to stop. The underlying cause for all of this, of course, young black men growing up without fathers. Unfortunately, no one in the news media has the courage to touch that subject.”

 
‘Lion of Fallujah’ had secret CIA role

Zembiec prepares his men for patrol in Fallujah in 2004. (AP)

‘Lion of Fallujah’ had secret CIA role

Thomas Gibbons-Neff

Marine Maj. Doug Zembiec, who had taken on a role with the agency’s paramilitary arm when he was killed in 2007, is one of the few Americans to be honored by both the military and the CIA.

In the foyer of the Central Intelligence Agency’s headquarters, there is a marble wall covered in stars. They are carved divots that represent those who have fallen in the service of the CIA. Below them, jutting out from the polished rock, is a black book entombed in a case of glass and steel. The book is a guide to the stars, giving the names of some of those who died and withholding the names of others.

On the pages of the CIA’s Book of Honor are 111 hand-drawn stars organized by the years those officers died. For 2007, there is a single, anonymous star.

It belongs to Marine Maj. Douglas Alexander Zembiec.

Long thought to be an active-duty Marine when he was killed in Baghdad, Zembiec was actually serving with the CIA’s paramilitary arm. While the CIA would not comment on whether Zembiec worked for the agency, former U.S. intelligence officials said in interviews that he died in an alley in Sadr City on May 11, 2007, as a member of the Special Activities Division’s Ground Branch.

It was the final chapter in the life of a Marine known to many as the Lion of Fallujah but whose story, until now, has never been fully told. He is one of the few Americans to be simultaneously honored by the military and the CIA for his actions. But because he was working covertly, his role was never acknowledged publicly.

 Family members and former intelligence officials say Zembiec was working with a small team of Iraqis on a “snatch and grab” operation targeting insurgents for capture. Just moments after warning his men that an ambush was imminent, he was shot in the head by an enemy insurgent; he died instantly.

In the ensuing gun battle, the Iraqis serving beside Zembiec radioed back, “Five wounded, one martyred,” according to battle reports.

Zembiec, who was 34, is credited with saving 25 men on the night of his death, and for his heroism, he was later awarded the Silver Star.

“He was something else,” his wife, Pam Zembiec, said in an interview at her home in Maryland. “Sometimes I thought he was born in the wrong time, like he should have been born with the Spartans.”

 
The Problem With Being Gifted

The Problem With Being Gifted

By Denise Cummins, Ph.D.

worried teenaged girl

Even the gifted need these three things to succeed.

Psychologists who study gifted children are familiar with the following scenario: A child is referred to their school psychologist because of "behavioral problems in the classroom", problems that often include descriptions such as "inattentiveness", "sass", and "outbursts". Following a battery of tests, the school psychologist reports the surprising results. No, the child does not suffer from attention deficit disorder or oppositional defiant disorder. The child "suffers" from…giftedness.

 
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