Monday, March 2, 2015

Militant Longshoreman's Union Boasts Clout in Era of Globalization

From yesterday's front page, at the Los Angeles Times, "On docks, workers still have power."

And I guess this is a theme at the cheerleading L.A. Times, because the newspaper ran a virtually identical piece a couple of weeks ago, "Small but powerful union is at center of port dispute":
The dispute that has snarled West Coast shipping revolves around a rarity in American business — a small but mighty union.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union represents 20,000 dockworkers, a fraction of the organized ranks of teachers, truck drivers or healthcare workers. But the port workers — who still queue up at hiring halls daily for work and spend years earning full membership — stand guard over a crucial chokepoint in the global economy.

For decades these "lords of the docks" have been paid like blue-collar royalty. Their current contract pays $26 to $41 an hour, with free healthcare for members. Some earn six figures with overtime. Even as a growing chorus of business groups clamor for a resolution to their months-long contract talks with the Pacific Maritime Assn., which represents shipping companies, the union sees little need to back down.

"They have unique skills that aren't easily replaced," said Goetz Wolff, who teaches about labor and economics at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. "They're not going to roll over and play dead."
Leftists love militant unions, as they represent the spearhead of the revolutionary struggle against capital. And that's why the Times is pumping up these goons as if they were going out of business tomorrow.

President Obama's Leftist Media Enablers Push Back Against U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

This is totally predictable.

It's like I said earlier, it's only a matter of time before Rep. Gabbard switches parties.

At BizPac Review, "Combat veteran Democrat crossed Obama in Hawaii; now she’s paying a price."

Erin Heatherton Body Paint

Following-up from the other day, "Uncovered Erin Heatherton."

The Murder of Boris Nemtsov

At WSJ, "Another Putin opponent is killed by unknown assailants":
In the gangster state that is Vladimir Putin ’s Russia, we may never learn who shot dead Boris Nemtsov in Moscow late Friday night, much less why. The longtime opposition leader had once been Russia’s deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, and he might have steered Russia toward a decent future had he been given a chance. Instead, he was fated to become a courageous voice for democracy and human rights who risked his life to alert an indifferent West to the dangers of doing business with the man in the Kremlin.

Some of those warnings appeared in these pages. In March 2012, he and fellow opposition leader Garry Kasparov warned against President Obama’s “reset” with Russia, urging that the Administration replace the Cold War-era Jackson-Vanik amendment with the Magnitsky Act, which imposes sanctions on Russian officials guilty of human-rights violations.

Nemtsov was also not afraid of criticizing Mr. Putin by name, noting in that same op-ed that he “is not the legitimate leader of Russia” given the ballot stuffing that went into his 2012 election. For his honesty he was repeatedly arrested and jailed by the Russian government. He was also the rare Russian willing to speak up for Ukraine’s democracy movement. “By supporting Ukraine,” he said in December 2013, “we also support ourselves.”

With his murder, Nemtsov’s name now joins that of other opponents of Mr. Putin who have met violent deaths or otherwise been brutalized by his regime: journalist Anna Politkovskaya, human-rights researcher Natalya Estemirova, opposition leader Alexei Navalny. One day their names will be celebrated in Russia, long after Mr. Putin is gone.

Quartering Spyware Troops in a Digital Age: Why Your Home Should Be Your Castle

From Glenn Reynolds, at USA Today, "Quartering spyware troops in the digital age":
In 1893, historian Frederick Jackson Turner published a famous paper on the closing of the American frontier. The last unsettled areas, he said, were being populated, and that meant the end of an era.

I think that something a bit like that is happening in my field of constitutional law. The last part of the Bill of Rights left almost untouched — the Third Amendment — is now becoming the subject of substantial academic commentary, with a symposium on the amendment, which I attended, this past weekend held by the Tennessee Law Review.

The Tennessee Law Review published the very first law review article on the Third Amendment back in 1949. But there weren't very many to follow: a handful, over many decades. Maybe that's because the Third Amendment just plain works. It provides: "No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law."

That doesn't happen much — The Onion ran a parody piece some years ago entitled "Third Amendment Rights Group Celebrates Another Successful Year" — and so it may just be that the Third Amendment is the only part of the Bill of Rights that really works. Except that it may not be working the way that we think.

The only Supreme Court case in which the Third Amendment did any heavy lifting is Griswold v. Connecticut, a case that's not about troop-quartering, but about birth control. The Supreme Court held that the Third Amendment's "penumbra" (a legal term that predates the Griswold case) extended to protecting the privacy of the home from government intrusions. "Would we," asked the court, "allow the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives?" The very idea, said the court, was "repulsive."

Likewise, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held in Engblom v. Carey that the Third Amendment protects a "fundamental right to privacy" in the home. Since then, courts haven't done much to flesh these holdings out, but I wonder if they should. In the 18th century, when the Third Amendment was drafted, "troop quartering" meant literally having troops move into your house to live at your expense and sleep in your beds. It destroyed any semblance of domestic privacy, opening up conversations, affection, even spats to the observation and participation of outsiders. It converted a home into an arena.

Today we don't have that, but we have numerous intrusions that didn't exist in James Madison's day: Government spying on phones, computers, and video — is spyware on your computer like having a tiny soldier quartered on your hard drive? — intrusive regulations on child-rearing and education, the threat of dangerous "no-knock" raids by soldierly SWAT teams that break down doors first and ask questions later.

The Third Amendment hasn't been invoked in these cases — well, actually, it has, in the case of a SWAT team in Henderson, Nev., that took over a family home so that it could position itself against a neighbor's house — but maybe it should be. At least, maybe we should go farther in recognizing a fundamental right of privacy in people's homes...

Sunday, March 1, 2015

LAPD Shoots and Kills Homeless Man in Downtown Los Angeles (VIDEO)

At LAT, "Police fatally shoot man in struggle over officer's gun, authorities say":

Authorities said Sunday night that Los Angeles police fatally shot a man on skid row during a struggle over an officer's weapons.

Police officials offered a detailed account of what they say prompted the Sunday morning shooting, which was captured on video by a bystander.

Cmdr. Andrew Smith said officers assigned to the LAPD's Central Division and Safer Cities Initiative — a task force focused on skid row — responded to the location about noon Sunday after receiving a 911 call reporting a possible robbery.

Smith said the officers approached the man and made contact with him, at which point he "began fighting and physically resisting the officers." The officers attempted to take him into custody and at one point, attempted to use a Taser that Smith said was "ineffective."

The man continued to resist police, Smith said, and the man and some of the officers fell to the ground.

"At some point in there, a struggle over one of the officer's weapons occurred," Smith said. "At that point an officer-involved shooting happened."

Two officers and a sergeant fired at the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene, Smith said. It was unclear how many times the officers fired, although at least five shots can be heard on the video recording that captured the shooting.

No other gun was recovered at the scene, Smith said. It was unclear if the man had any other weapons among his possessions — investigators were still combing the scene late Sunday night.

The man has been tentatively identified, but Smith said it was unclear if he was homeless.

Two officers were treated and released for injuries sustained in the struggle, Smith said. The extent of those injuries was unclear...

Sunday Cartoons

At Flopping Aces, "Sunday Funnies."

Branco Cartoon photo ISIS-Jobs-600-LI-594x425_zpsx0umhpez.jpg

Also at Lonely Con, "Saturday Funnies," and Theo Spark's, "Cartoon Roundup."

And at Reaganite Republican, "Reaganite's SUNDAY FUNNIES."

Cartoon Credit: Legal Insurrection, "Branco Cartoon – It Takes A Village."

Anti-Israel Protesters Dragged Out of AIPAC Conference (VIDEO)

These people are disgusting, murderous bastards.

One sign at the protest compared Israel to Islamic State, where "both have hijacked peaceful religions" for violence and murder.

More, "USA: Five arrested in pro-Israel conference protest."

PREVIOUSLY: "Barack Obama: Mainstreaming Jew-Hatred in America."

Hillary Clinton Seen Launching White House Bid in April

Well, the only surprise here is the timing. I mean, does anyone think Hillary wasn't mounting a run for the 2016 Democrat Party nomination?

At WSJ, "Hillary Clinton Seen Launching Presidential Bid in April":
Hillary Clinton and her close advisers are telling Democratic donors she will enter the presidential race sooner than expected, likely in April, a move that would allay uncertainties within her party and allow her to rev up fundraising.

Clinton aides have spoken of the earlier timetable in private meetings, according to people engaged in recent discussions about the presumed Democratic front-runner’s emerging 2016 campaign. Many within her camp have advocated her staying out of the fray until the summer.

Jumping in sooner would help the Democratic field take shape, reassuring party leaders and donors that the former first lady, senator and secretary of state is running. A super PAC loyal to Mrs. Clinton has faced hesitation from donors who don’t want to make big pledges until she is a candidate. Such concerns would evaporate after she announces.

But Mrs. Clinton would become an even larger target for Republicans when she enters the race. She also would be pressed to opine on a raft of thorny issues in the news, including how to combat the military advances of Islamic State militants in the Middle East.

One influential proponent of an earlier announcement is John Podesta, who is expected to play an important role in Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign, one person familiar with the matter said. Mr. Podesta, who in January resigned as senior adviser in the Obama White House, declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton.

Many Democratic activists say they would like to see the race begin in earnest—something that won’t happen until Mrs. Clinton jumps in.

Mrs. Clinton “should get in right now. If she’s going to run, get a campaign going,” said Jason Frerichs, a county Democratic chairman in Iowa, the state that holds the first contest of the 2016 campaign.

Mrs. Clinton, according to some close associates, doesn’t relish the campaign trail and is in no particular hurry to announce, especially given the scant competition for her party’s nomination. Most polls show Mrs. Clinton running far ahead of her nearest potential challenger, Vice President Joe Biden .

“She’s obviously biding her time before she gets out there,” said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat.

Mrs. Clinton, 67 years old, made known her feelings about grueling campaigns in a private meeting last month with London Mayor Boris Johnson. Mr. Johnson later said she had bemoaned the lengthy U.S. presidential campaigns.

During her 2008 bid, she teared up at a campaign event in New Hampshire when describing the rigors of campaign life: lack of sleep, an overreliance on pizza and limited ability to exercise.

“If I were taking this on, seeing what candidates went through last time around, I’d sure want to put it off as long as I could,” said Doug Goldman, a major fundraiser for President Barack Obama who lives in San Francisco. At this point in the 2008 cycle, Mrs. Clinton already was a candidate.

Mrs. Clinton’s team has considered first forming an exploratory committee, a common in-between step candidates use to signal they are running while avoiding the formal launch of a campaign. But her camp now appears likely to scrap that idea.

A later entrance into the race comes with certain perils. She hopes to raise more than $1 billion for the campaign, people familiar with her plans said, and some Democratic donors are concerned that if she waits until the summer, she would be hard-pressed to meet that goal...

PREVIOUSLY: "Can a Democratic Win the Presidency After Two Terms of Obama?", and "Hillary Clinton Faces Uphill Fight for White, Rural Vote."

Ransom Paid as ISIS Releases at Least 19 Christian Captives

Yeah, I was wondering about the reports of Islamic State releasing Christians. Seems to me that they'd rather behead them.

But ransom was paid, according to the Times of Israel, "Islamic State frees 19 Christians as ransom paid: activists."

Thousands Attend March in Memory of Boris Nemtsov (VIDEO)

Via Telegraph UK:

Republicans Have 13-Point Edge Over Dems on Foreign Policy

Surprisingly, the treasonous Democrats have a more favorable view overall in public opinion, but on the issues that count --- and foreign policy's going to count hella lot in 2016 --- the GOP has the edge.

At Pew, "The GOP has a 13-point edge over Dems on making wise decisions about foreign policy'."

Obama's Legacy on Trial

At Time, "The fate of the president’s key initiatives rests with the Supreme Court":
When U.S. district Judge Andrew Hanen ruled against President Barack Obama’s sweeping immigration overhaul on Feb. 16, he did more than throw the future of 5 million immigrants facing deportation into doubt. In siding with Texas and 25 other states that had challenged Obama’s Executive Order, Hanen ensured that the fate of one of the President’s signature initiatives will be tied up in litigation that could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It would be in good company there. In the past six years, nearly all the building blocks of Obama’s domestic legacy–from health care and financial reforms to environmental regulations–have been challenged in court. Dodd-Frank, the massive banking-reform law enacted after the financial crisis, has been picked at in dozens of federal cases. Last June, the Supreme Court confirmed a lower court’s decision to overturn a handful of the Administration’s recess appointments. And by the end of the court’s current term this summer, the Justices will have ruled three separate times on Obamacare and twice on the Administration’s new EPA mandates that are meant to curb climate change.

These lawsuits are both a symptom and a cause of the partisan gridlock in Washington. On one hand, they are part of a continuing Republican effort to undo the Obama Administration’s early legislative victories. On the other, they represent a pushback against a White House that has used regulatory and executive action to end-run a divided Congress–a tactic that has exposed it to legal challenges. But if the battles are ending up at the Supreme Court, they are starting at the state level with increasingly large partisan groups of state attorneys general.

Since Obama took office, state attorneys general have joined to participate in hundreds of suits against the federal government. Sometimes they have directly sued federal agencies; other times they’ve filed influential friend-of-the-court briefs or collaborated with private entities on legal strategies. In 2010 alone, coalitions of attorneys general sued the Obama Administration a record 52 times, according to Paul Nolette, a political scientist at Marquette University and an expert on modern-day attorneys general.

It wasn’t always that way. In the 1980s and ’90s, state attorneys general acted largely independently of one another. If a states’-rights issue arose, state challenges were often nonpartisan and involved smaller groups of AGs. But that bipartisan collaboration withered as the nation become more polarized, and partisan AG associations, formed in the past 15 years, helped facilitate collaboration between members.

In the past decade, the practice of suing the federal government has become “institutionalized,” Nolette says. Under Obama, Republican attorneys general have been particularly active. “We’ve never seen anywhere close to this level of intense Republican activism and collaboration before,” he says. Michael Greve, a conservative scholar and professor of law at George Mason University, expects the trend to continue. “If the next President is a Republican, you’ll see the same crusade on the part of Democrats,” he says...
Politics in the age of polarization. This is just the way it is nowadays.

More at the Hill, "GOP fears grow over ObamaCare challenge" (via Memeorandum).

Congress Should Hear Out Netanyahu

Hey, a rare righteous editorial at the Los Angeles Times. Deserves a post:
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses Congress on Tuesday about the dangers posed by Iran's nuclear program, he will have to overcome the deafening political static created by the circumstances of his invitation. Not only did House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) invite the prime minister without consulting with the White House — leading to charges that Netanyahu was “meddling” in the making of American foreign policy — but he has given Netanyahu an enviable international platform two weeks before Israel's election.

Clearly irked, President Obama is declining to meet Netanyahu during his visit, and Obama's national security advisor Susan Rice has gone so far as to say that the injection of partisanship into the U.S.-Israeli relationship was “destructive.” Meanwhile, some [America- and Israel-hating] Democratic members of Congress plan to boycott the speech.

We understand their irritation, but Netanyahu deserves a respectful hearing even if the auspices of his appearance are exasperating. Like other nations in the region, Israel has understandable concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran. It is not only worried about a doomsday scenario in which Iran — whose anti-Zionist rhetoric is legendary — launches an attack on Tel Aviv; it also worries that an Iranian nuclear weapon would encourage countries such as Saudi Arabia to follow suit. (Unsurprisingly, Israel prefers the status quo, in which it has a monopoly on nuclear weapons in the region.)

But hearing out Netanyahu doesn't mean taking everything he says at face value or abdicating to Israel this country's decision about whether it's possible to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran without making a fateful decision to use military force...

Also, from Yuli Edelstein, "Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress comes at right time, right place."

PREVIOUSLY: "Netanyahu to Target Obama in Speech to Joint Session of Congress."

Natasha Vargas-Cooper Protects Her Twitter Account

I'll give her credit, though.

She did post a series of apologetic tweets yesterday, which I saw and thought about blogging, considering the hail of vituperation she brought down on herself with her smug dissing of critics.

At Twitchy, "Jezebel writer who smeared Scott Walker has protected her Twitter account."

Natasha Vargas-Cooper photo natasha-vc_zpsgl2dtror.png

More at the Other McCain, "Hey, @natashavc, Sorry Your Dishonest Scott Walker Smear Got Breitbarted."

Hanging On: Debbie Harry on Punk and Sex at 69

At Telegraph UK, "Debbie Harry on punk, refusing to retire and sex at 69":
Forty years after Blondie found fame on the New York scene, Debbie Harry is still waving the flag for women in the music business – of every age.

In 1980, during a tour with Blondie, Debbie Harry hosted a tea party at a London hotel, gathering together many of the women prominent in music at the time. Chrissie Hynde was there; Siouxsie Sioux; the Slits guitarist Viv Albertine; Pauline Black from The Selecter; and Poly Styrene from X-Ray Spex. Chris Stein, Harry’s boyfriend at the time as well as the other half of Blondie’s creative core, published pictures of it in his recent book Negative, a collection of his photographs from the early years of their fame.

It looks as though there was a lot of laughter. This was a different time for women in music. Two years earlier Kate Bush, who was invited to tea but didn’t make it, had become the first female solo performer to reach number one in the British charts with her own song (Wuthering Heights).

There was a widespread assumption that there was room for just one main female performer in each genre. If another appeared, they were expected to battle it out for the title of queen of pop/soul/disco/punk.

Harry was keen to cut through that. “I really wanted to get together with all the punk females for an afternoon of celebration,” she explains. “It’s a great memory.” If you did that today, I say, you would need more than a hotel room. “I would need a hall!” she says, laughing. “It has changed a lot. It’s really grown, hasn’t it?”

In part, the large number of women making music now is down to the influence of those pioneers. Poly Styrene died in 2011, but remarkably the others are all still creating: both Hynde and Albertine have made fine solo albums in the past three years; Sioux never really went away; Black still plays with her band, and last summer Bush returned to the live arena for the first time since she was 20 with a triumphant run of London shows, which sold out in minutes.

As for Harry, I am talking to her in Paris, backstage at a theatre where she is preparing to play that night, at a party to launch a new perfume. To mark the 10th anniversary of its Black XS fragrance, Paco Rabanne has launched two limited-edition scents called Black XS Be a Legend – one for men, one for women – with a tuxedo-clad Harry and Iggy Pop fronting the ad campaign.

“It was great to work with Iggy again,” Harry says. They met when she was a waitress at the legendary New York music venue Max’s Kansas City, and Blondie’s first real tour was as his support act, at a time when his band included David Bowie on the keyboard. “They treated us in a way that was very generous and smart. They said, 'We want the show to be great – for all of us. We want to put on a unified piece.’ And bands were awful to each other at that time.”

Though Blondie grew out of the New York punk scene in the mid-1970s, they had an unashamedly pop slant, with their genre-bending music taking in elements of everything that was popular in clubs at the time, from rap to reggae to disco. But they also had a strong subversive streak.

“It was very much about irony at that time. It was about a sophisticated sort of put-down, antisocial but witty. We were always trying for that play on words, for the double entendre.”

Harry has always identified herself as a feminist, and there is a quiet strength in the way she presents herself, a sense that here is a woman very much in control. Before she was famous, she was on her way home from a club one rainy night in New York.
“It was two or three in the morning and I couldn’t find a cab. A car kept coming round and offering me a ride, so I accepted. Once in the car I noticed there were no door handles on the inside, which made me wary. I don’t know how, but I managed to put my hand through the window and open the door from the outside.”

The driver swerved to try to stop her escaping, but that gave her the momentum to throw herself out of the moving car. She thought no more of it until years later, when she saw the driver on the news. It was Ted Bundy, the serial killer who eventually confessed to murdering at least 30 women. “I always say my instincts saved me.”

As a performer there was something defiantly self-contained about Harry. Although she constantly played with images of sexy blond bombshells, there was a sense that she was doing this not to excite her audience but to please herself: you can look, but you can’t touch.

Her impact was huge. Andy Warhol featured her in silk-screen portraits (she still has one, though she confesses she has recently been tempted to sell it), and every few years her look emerges yet again on the catwalks. She is flattered, but points out that her look was itself cobbled together from comic books and Hollywood films, mixed in with English punk influences and later the strong lines of the New York-based designer Stephen Sprouse. “It’s very flattering and it’s nice to be loved like that. It’s amazing to me that it made such an impression, but also it seems like a natural process, if you go back to the things that influenced me and the elements that I took from.”

If, in the late 1970s, Harry threw the ball in the air, it was Madonna who caught it and ran with it. In the mid-1980s Harry took a lengthy break from music while Stein battled with illness, and the Material Girl took a similar blend of pop and New York-street attitude, and became a global superstar.

“There was a switch in music,” Harry says. “And I think it may have been primarily with her. She really went to showbiz. She was a solo artist; she wasn’t in a band; she wasn’t representing anyone but herself. And she did very well.”...

Netanyahu to Target Obama in Speech to Joint Session of Congress

At the Washington Post, "Netanyahu’s address to Congress will be most important speech of his life":
Netanyahu photo B-9VFOKWkAA-xeG_zpshktnahxi.jpg
JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming address to a joint meeting of Congress will probably be the most important speech of his career — and one that has already jeopardized relations between Israel and the United States.

On Tuesday morning, Netanyahu will confront an American president and insist that the future of the State of Israel, and the world, is imperiled by a pending “bad deal” with Iran on its nuclear program.

Also hanging in the balance is Netanyahu’s own political future. Just two weeks after the speech, Netanyahu will either be reelected to a historic fourth term as prime minister or be out of a job.

Netanyahu has spent three terms as Israeli prime minister focused on the dangers posed by Iran. In his first address to Congress in 1996, he warned that an atomic Iran would “presage catastrophic consequences, not only for my country, and not only for the Middle East, but for all mankind.”

His supporters call him prescient; his detractors say Netanyahu has been warning for 20 years that “time is running out” on the Iran threat. His critics say Netanyahu is a broken record, a Cassandra obsessed, willing to deeply damage U.S.-Israeli relations in a futile confrontation with the United States that wins Israel nothing.

His opponents in Israel and the United States say the speech is mostly a cynical ploy to get reelected in a tight March 17 vote, by fear-mongering on Iran and by opposing an American president who is not very popular in Israel.

On Tuesday morning, as Secretary of State John F. Kerry meets with his counterparts in Switzerland to try to complete a framework accord with Iran by the end of March, Netanyahu will stand at the lectern in Congress to tell Americans, essentially, that President Obama is either foolhardy or weak and about to sign a deal with the devil.

Netanyahu will warn, as he has in the past, that the Americans are gambling on a radical Iranian regime run by Muslim clerics who deny the Holocaust, sponsor terrorist groups, support a murderous regime in Syria and pledge to destroy Israel.

As his chartered plane wings toward Washington on Sunday afternoon, Netanyahu’s advisers say the final author of the speech will be Netanyahu himself.

The prime minister’s press office released photographs of Netanyahu penning his speech in longhand.

Netanyahu will write the speech because he considers himself not only an authority on the minutiae of the Iran nuclear program — the number, type and productivity of the centrifuges and the estimates of low-enriched uranium to the kilogram — but also an expert on U.S. politics and the American people.

Netanyahu studied at MIT and served as Israeli ambassador to the United Nations in New York. He has been called the “most American” of Israeli prime ministers.

This is his moment. Netanyahu’s English is fluid, conversational, persuasive and often blunt. He has a flair for stagecraft. His guiding light, says his inner circle, is Britain’s wartime premier and great orator, Winston Churchill, who is the only other foreign leader to have addressed a joint meeting of Congress three times.

During Netanyahu’s second speech to Congress in May 2009, he received 29 standing ovations.

Netanyahu’s critics in Israel and in the Obama administration warn that the Israeli leader is really no Churchill and that he has seriously miscalculated this time.

Israeli relations with Democrats and the Obama administration are at a historic low.

Also, at Arutz Sheva, "Report: Obama Threatened to Shoot Down IAF Iran Strike" (via Memeorandum).

Heh, and the idiot leftists are up in arms. So the vile William Saletan, at Slate, "Netanyahu's Speech in Congress is a Revolting and Dangerous Gamble." Lol. Tell us how you really feel about it!

Tori Kelly Might Just Be the Next Britney Spears/Katy Perry/Taylor Swift

At Elle:

Tori Kelly, a 22-year-old YouTube sensation that Simon Cowell called "almost annoying" on season nine of American Idol before kicking her out of the competition, has just one thing to say to the TV host: "Thank you for not putting me on your show. Everything happens for a reason and I probably wouldn't be who I am now if I had made it on that show."

Kelly's new single, "Nobody Love," debuting today, is primed to be the singer/songwriter's breakout hit that she's been waiting for, after releasing two "teaser" EPs that—thanks to their intimate and acoustic-driven style—garnered her a cult following on YouTube (she has one million subscribers), with 661,000 Facebook likes and 443,000 Twitter followers.

Kelly is backed by her music manager, Scooter Braun (who also looks after Justin Bieber), and Max Martin, the Swedish producer who has ruled the Billboard Hot 100 for over a decade with a string of hits for Britney Spears, Katy Perry, P!nk, and Taylor Swift. She has been praised for having a set of "emotionally expressive" and "powerful" vocal pipes that rival top pop stars before her, like Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey...

Saturday, February 28, 2015

So BuzzFeed Got 41 Million Pageviews on 'What Colors Are This Dress?'

See, "What It’s Like to Work on BuzzFeed’s Tech Team During Record Traffic."

And from Ben Smith, "The Dress: I sent this email to the BuzzFeed editorial staff this afternoon."

More, at USA Today, "What colors are this dress?"

Strange, I must say. But that's the nature of things these days, with our cyber-culture of superficiality.

After Boris Nemtsov's Assassination, 'There Are No Longer Any Limits'

From Julia Ioffe, at the New York Times Magazine:

On Friday evening, Boris Nemtsov, a Russian opposition leader and former first deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, went on a prominent Moscow radio station to exhort his fellow citizens to come out to protest President Vladimir Putin’s policies. There would be a rally on Sunday, a spring march, to demonstrate against the deepening economic crisis and Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. The most prominent Russian opposition leader, Aleksei Navalny, had been put in jail for 15 days, which just happened to be long enough to keep him from attending the rally. Nemtsov, who was older and, by now, less influential, had handed out leaflets in the metro and encouraged people to come anyway.

After the radio show, on which Nemtsov warned that too much power in the hands of one man would “end in catastrophe,” he met Anna Duritskaya, his girlfriend of three years — and, as the police would later pointedly note, a citizen of Ukraine. They had dinner and then headed home, strolling across Red Square and past the swirling domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral, adjacent to the Kremlin. Just before midnight, as they crossed the bridge toward the historic Moscow neighborhood where Nemtsov lived, a white car pulled up, and, according to investigators, someone inside fired seven or eight shots. Four of them hit Nemtsov in the head, heart, liver and stomach, killing him on the spot.

Duritskaya was unharmed and immediately taken in for questioning. Nemtsov, a big, broad man, was left on the pavement in the rain, his shirt yanked up to his chin.

On Russian social media, liberal Moscow has struggled to wrap its head around something that seemed like it simply couldn’t happen, until it did. It had been years since Nemtsov, a rising star in Yeltsin-era politics, had been the standard-bearer of Western liberalism, and he could be a silly bon vivant. But he was deeply intelligent, witty, kind and ubiquitous. He seemed to genuinely be everyone’s friend; when I lived in Moscow as a journalist, he was always willing to jaw over endless glasses of cognac. And he was a powerful, vigorous critic of Vladimir Putin, assailing him in every possible medium, constantly publishing reports on topics like the president’s lavish lifestyle and the corruption behind the Sochi Olympics.

How could such a prominent politician — a founder of the opposition Solidarity Party, a sitting member of the Yaroslavl city parliament — be gunned down so brazenly, within steps of the Kremlin? “We didn’t kill members of government,” Gleb Pavlovsky, an independent political consultant who used to work for Putin, told me over the phone. “It’s an absolutely new situation.” Olga Romanova, a prominent opposition activist and a close friend of Nemtsov, said, “There are more cameras in that spot than there are grains in a packet of grain.” When I called her last night, she had just come from the scene of the crime, where her friend still lay on the ground, surrounded by laughing policemen. “It’s the first time I’ve seen a very close person murdered, lying on the pavement,” she said. “It’s terrifying.”

Putin promptly called Nemtsov’s mother to offer his condolences and threw what seemed like the entire Ministry of Internal Affairs on the case. Yet we can be sure that the investigation will lead precisely nowhere. At most, some sad sap, the supposed trigger-puller, will be hauled in front of a judge, the scapegoat for someone far more powerful. More likely, the case will founder for years amid promises that everyone is working hard, and no one will be brought to justice at all. This has been the pattern for other high-profile killings, like those of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya and the whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky.

Already, the Kremlin is muddying the waters...
Keep reading.

Uncovered Erin Heatherton

Via Theo Spark.

The Death of Boris Nemtsov

From Miriam Elder, at BuzzFeed.

Karen Alloy

She's so beautiful.

On Instagram.

The Return of the German Question

From Giovanna Maria Dora Dore, at the American Interest (via Instapundit):
The geopolitical dilemmas that Europe struggled with for centuries have returned in geo-economic form, centered on the conflict between creditor and debtor countries locked in a single currency.


The euro crisis has undermined the “Europe of Maastricht status quo” that was shaped to a significant extent by Germany, including the concept of the ECB, the culture of fiscal stability, and the politics of EU enlargement. Germany now faces the challenges of overcoming the status quo to which it adjusted more successfully than any other country in the EU (thanks to the economic power it gained over the past half a century), and the growing political and economic weakness of its EU partners. The UK’s obsession about sovereignty and its ambivalent attitude about the EU has made Britain irrelevant to Germany. The Franco-German axis at the heart of European integration has become lopsided, with power shifting sharply towards Berlin. This has paved the way for Chancellor Merkel to set in place intergovernmental mechanisms for crisis management, and thus move executive decision-making from the 27 countries of the EU and the European Commission to the 18 countries of the Eurozone. These new cooperation mechanisms outside EU treaties demonstrate the failure of the “Europe of Maastricht”, and especially the impossibility of a European Germany.

The institutions and policies that previously almost perfectly matched Germany’s expectations for the EU now need to be redesigned. Germany is being forced to take on a leading role in shaping a new system and new policies, while at the same time trying to convince the rest of the Eurozone that its insistence on a more competitive EU is neither an expression of economic dogma nor a quest for political dominance, but rather the result of a sober analysis of the challenges of globalization to the EU. With 7 percent of the world’s population, 25 percent of global economic output, and 50 percent of the world’s social expenditure, the EU needs to strengthen competitiveness if it is to ensure prosperity, address inequality, and maintain social cohesion.

There’s little doubt that the future of the EU hinges on Germany’s decision about its direction. Yet, it is not clear what Germany wants to do with Europe, and how other member states can use Germany’s economic and political weight to develop a global strategy for the EU. Germany remains reluctant to discard the Maastricht order completely, because it does not want to take on further responsibility for Europe. Nevertheless Germany faces a choice: it can either recommit to partnership with the rest of the EU and exercise benign economic hegemony within the Eurozone as the price for this commitment, or it can be a more normal EU member state that pursues its national interests in a narrower way, which will increasingly bring it into conflict with the EU’s other member states.

Germany has signaled that it will do whatever it takes to save the euro. Yet observers fear that Germany’s determination to save the euro could lead to a two-speed Europe. On the one hand, deepening the integration of economic policy among the 17 Eurozone countries could result in a split between them and the other ten member states, who could find access to the single currency much more difficult or even find themselves permanently excluded. On the other, German leadership could deepen the schism between the debtors and creditor countries, with a growing competitiveness gap between these two groups as a result of the “bail-in” and the continuing debt burden on the indebted countries.

Germany is too big to fail and the biggest country in Europe, but still not big enough to be the EU’s hegemon. At a time when Germans have lost their romantic attachment to the EU, the other 26 member states need to go through the same process of re-invention that Germany has embarked upon and design a new approach to Europe that can secure their national interests. Success in this task might give the EU the Germany it needs—and it might just give Germany the Europe it wants.
An interesting piece. RTWT.

Plus, on the original German question, see the outstanding William Keylor, The Twentieth-Century World and Beyond: An International History since 1900.

In Defense of the Notoriously Arrogant French Waiter

This will be a nice piece to enjoy with a cup of coffee, imagining you're in Paris.

At WSJ, "French Waiters: They’re infamous for being rude and condescending, but the garçon de café can be endlessly entertaining—and a great resource—if you know how to use them."

The Internet? Bah!


Get a kick out of this.

Flashback, from Clifford Stoll, at Newsweek, February 1995, "Why the Web Won't Be Nirvana":

After two decades online, I'm perplexed. It's not that I haven't had a gas of a good time on the Internet. I've met great people and even caught a hacker or two. But today, I'm uneasy about this most trendy and oversold community. Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic.

Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.

Consider today's online world. The Usenet, a worldwide bulletin board, allows anyone to post messages across the nation. Your word gets out, leapfrogging editors and publishers. Every voice can be heard cheaply and instantly. The result? Every voice is heard. The cacophany more closely resembles citizens band radio, complete with handles, harrasment, and anonymous threats. When most everyone shouts, few listen. How about electronic publishing? Try reading a book on disc. At best, it's an unpleasant chore: the myopic glow of a clunky computer replaces the friendly pages of a book. And you can't tote that laptop to the beach. Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we'll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.

What the Internet hucksters won't tell you is tht the Internet is one big ocean of unedited data, without any pretense of completeness. Lacking editors, reviewers or critics, the Internet has become a wasteland of unfiltered data. You don't know what to ignore and what's worth reading. Logged onto the World Wide Web, I hunt for the date of the Battle of Trafalgar. Hundreds of files show up, and it takes 15 minutes to unravel them—one's a biography written by an eighth grader, the second is a computer game that doesn't work and the third is an image of a London monument. None answers my question, and my search is periodically interrupted by messages like, "Too many connections, try again later."

Won't the Internet be useful in governing? Internet addicts clamor for government reports. But when Andy Spano ran for county executive in Westchester County, N.Y., he put every press release and position paper onto a bulletin board. In that affluent county, with plenty of computer companies, how many voters logged in? Fewer than 30. Not a good omen.

Point and click:

Then there are those pushing computers into schools...
Keep reading.

Brooklyn Terror Suspect Left Trail of Online Rants at Websites 'Sympathetic' to Islamic State

This story's actually kind of bizarre.

I mean, seriously, these guys are idiots and nutjobs. Just freakin' nutjobs.

At NYT, "In Brooklyn, Eager to Join ISIS, if Only His Mother Would Return His Passport."

Speculation Grows About Speaker John Boehner's Future



At Politico, "Congress passes one-week DHS fix: The last-minute move comes after House Republicans dealt a humiliating defeat to John Boehner":
The House voted late Friday to stave off a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security for another week, narrowly averting a funding lapse for the agency that has become the battleground over President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

The vote was 357-60. The Senate approved the stopgap measure earlier Friday evening and it was signed by President Barack Obama minutes before the midnight deadline when the department’s funding was to expire.

The 11th-hour move came after dozens of House Republicans dealt a humiliating defeat to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders. Conservatives teamed up with Democrats to shoot down a Boehner-backed measure that would have funded DHS for three weeks.

Boehner’s allies are concerned after Friday’s setback that his critics inside the Republican Conference may try to oust him as speaker if — as expected — he puts a long-term DHS funding bill on the House floor next week. While Boehner shrugs off such speculation, close friends believe such a move is a real possibility.

“There is a lot of speculation about this,” said a GOP lawmaker who is close with Boehner. “People are watching for this very, very closely.”

Twenty-five Republicans voted against Boehner for speaker on the floor in early January, signaling his continued problems with his conservative hardliners. And Boehner’s allies believe that the earlier DHS debacle on Friday, when 52 Republicans voted against the three-week plan, was in part aimed at toppling the speaker.

One issue for Boehner’s GOP opponents — beyond his continued popularity with the vast majority of House Republicans — is who would succeed him. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would seem like a natural choice, but he is close to Boehner and would never seek to replace him. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has strong ties to many members, yet that may not necessarily translate for support for speaker.

After those two men, there’s a large drop-off to the next tier of potential choices. That helps Boehner’s cause.

The drama over Boehner’s future came after a day of unexpected twists in the homeland security saga...

And lots more at Memeorandum.

Emily Miller Gets Her Concealed Carry Permit

She's a good lady.

At My FoxDC, "FOX 5's Emily Miller gets DC gun carry permit approved."

And buy Emily's book, Emily Gets Her Gun: …But Obama Wants to Take Yours.