ISIS strives to create a new Caliphate. It is the fundamental reason for its existence. But the vision does not stop there. As USA Today reports:
An apparent Islamic State recruitment document found in Pakistan’s lawless tribal lands reveals that the extremist group has grand ambitions of building a new terrorist army in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and triggering a war in India to provoke an Armageddon-like “end of the world.”
The document goes into specifics, to include:
… a never-before-seen history of the Islamic State, details chilling future battle plans, urges al-Qaeda to join the group and says the Islamic State's leader should be recognized as the sole ruler of the world’s 1 billion Muslims under a religious empire called a “caliphate.
And it certainly does not sugar coat things. Proclaiming that the world must:
"Accept the fact that this caliphate will survive and prosper until it takes over the entire world and beheads every last person that rebels against Allah. This is the bitter truth, swallow it.”
And warning that:
… “preparations” for an attack in India are underway and predicts that an attack will provoke an apocalyptic confrontation with America: “Even if the U.S tries to attack with all its allies, which undoubtedly it will, the ummah will be united, resulting in the final battle.”
According to the USA Today article: “Retired Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn ... reviewed the document” and:
… said it “represents the Islamic State’s campaign plan and is something, as an intelligence officer, I would not only want to capture, but fully exploit. It lays out their intent, their goals and objectives, a red flag to which we must pay attention.”
Bill Clinton is fighting to rid the world of AIDS. The former president, and husband to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, outlines his hard work in a blog post for Medium.
"Today, we are well on our way to ending AIDS, but much more work remains," Clinton writes.
"Ending the AIDS epidemic is primarily a logistical challenge now, and until scientists discover a cure, the most effective tool we have is to provide treatment for all who need it — and to provide it as early as possible. The evidence is strong that early treatment goes a long way towards preventing new infections and helping people live long, productive lives. This means starting by ending mother-to-child transmission, an initiative that has shown great promise and early success. Treatment for both adults and children is far cheaper than it was even a few years ago — in fact, we are already spending more money on HIV every year than it would cost to treat every single individual who carries the virus — so over the next five years we should strive to achieve universal treatment. We can afford to be ambitious. Not to be will actually cost more, in lives and money.
"To achieve this goal, we need to help countries reach the millions of people within their borders who may not know they are infected by providing higher-quality, lower-cost diagnostics and helping to build efficient health systems that can deliver them where they are most needed. This will be particularly important — and particularly challenging — in big countries like Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It will also be important in countries with lower burdens, where HIV is ignored or where the epidemic persists among members of marginalized groups. It can be done. For example, in Mozambique, with the support of the national government and CHAI, laboratory technicians now set out across lakes in canoes visiting rural communities with point-of-care devices that can help increase rates of antiretroviral therapy initiation and better monitor patients’ viral loads across a lifetime of care."Most important, we need to support developing countries in their efforts to manage and finance their own responses. AIDS is a global challenge, but it is also an inherently local one. Donors must give a high priority to helping ministries of health around the world put in place the qualified community health workers and effective health systems necessary to develop and sustain national treatment programmes. Good systems will also empower them to limit the impact of other problems, including a reappearance of Ebola, diarrhoea and, in Haiti, the persistence of cholera.
"As we work to meet the new UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets, it’s worth remembering where we started and how far we’ve come. Going forward, we must use the lessons of the past to inform the efforts of the future. If we remember what is possible when we all work together, we will be able to overcome the challenge much sooner than many people think and enjoy a future where AIDS is a thing of the past."
You know what Hillary Clinton is? I’ll tell you what she is. She’s a fighter. And Scott Walker? The same. How about Bernie Sanders? And Chris Christie—and Martin O’Malley? Fighter, fighter, fighter, every one of them. They’re all candidates for president too, of course, but they’re running for the office, to hear them tell it, because they have a particular gift for beating the living daylights out of…whom? That part isn’t always clear.
Presidential politics has become alarmingly pugilistic. The best evidence we have that our candidates are built for combat is their own testimony. “Right now,” Mr. O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, told CNN, “our country’s in a fight for the very future of the American dream, and I am drawn to that fight.” So dukes up, whoever you are! Mr. Christie—another fightin’ governor—is ready too. Uneasily courting a conservative convention earlier this year, he tripled down: “I care about fighting the fight worth fighting.”
So does that make Mr. Christie the fightin-est governor in the land? He will have to fight Wisconsin Gov. Walker for the title. Mr. Walker does not look like a fighter. But stand him up in front of a crowd, and he sounds like Sonny Liston.
By my count, he used the word “fight” or “fighter” 14 times during his announcement speech, delivered in his hometown of Waukesha.
Human trafficking is a crime that not only breaks the law but basic human rights. The United States recently released its annual Trafficking in Persons report. Countries are ranked on a scale from Tier 1 to Tier 3. These rankings asses the country’s ability to 1) enact laws and practices that prohibit and prevent human trafficking, 2) enforce and implement these laws, 3) punish the criminals, 4) identify the victims, and 5) provide government assistance to the victims.
The annual release of this report occurred in the wake of giant human trafficking scandal in Thailand. Only days before the report was released, 72 Thais were indicted on charges of international human trafficking. The accused included local government officials, senior police officers, and military officials including Thai Lieutenant General Manas Kongpan. Kongpan’s arrest raises questions if he acted alone. Human rights groups say no, putting the Thai government in a difficult position. This is especially true for Prayut Chan-O-Cha, the Thai prime minister who handed Manas his promotion. Not surprisingly, the country’s ranking has plummeted over the past few years, going from a Tier 2 in 2008 to the Tier 2 Watch List in 2010 and finally to Tier 3 in 2014.
Other countries remaining at Tier 3 include North Korea, Iran, and Zimbabwe. Joining them this year are Belarus, Belize, Burundi, Comoros, and South Sudan. However, two countries have risen from Tier 3 to the Tier 2 Watch List. The moves have sparked major controversy.
Cuba received its promotion after twelve years on the Tier 3 blacklist. What caused the change? The shift occurred just after the U.S. embassy re-opened in Havana and relations between Cuba and the United States were re-established after nearly fifty years of tension. Though some, such as Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat of Cuban extraction, claim that there are political motives behind this decision, the State Department vehemently denies the claim. Instead, State cites the increased collaboration between Washington and Havana in combatting trafficking. According to the report:
The Government of Cuba does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. For the second consecutive year, the government reported efforts to address sex trafficking.
The Army and the Navy cannot do what they once could and might soon be required to do again. They don’t have enough soldiers and enough ships. Even reduced to the lowest force levels in years, the Army, as USA Today reports:
... is nearly 14% short of the recruits it will need to fill its ranks, marking the first time in six years — and only the third in the last 20 — that it may fall short of its recruiting goal for the year.
And the Navy does not have enough aircraft carriers to keep one on station in the Persian Gulf. As Navy Times reports:
When the carrier Theodore Roosevelt leaves the Persian Gulf this fall, U.S. Central Command will be without a flattop for as long as two months even as airstrikes continue against the so-called Islamic State militants.
And those militants of the “so-called Islamic State” are not the only threat out there. Russia and China must be accounted for. Plus the unanticipated humanitarian mission. The U.S. military is famous for its “can do” culture. But there is a limit to what you can do if you don’t have the weapons and the personnel.
Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, as well as Martin O'Malley and Ben Carson, will speak today at the National Urban League Conference in Florida.
"The candidates will share their visions for saving our cities on Friday, July 31, during a session entitled 'Off To The Races: The 2016 Presidential Candidates’ Plenary,'" a press release reads.
“As we convene in Florida to deliberate solutions to the economic and social challenges our cities are facing, it’s vital that those contending for the highest office in the land be part of that conversation,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said.
The candidates’ plenary will take place on the second full day of the Conference themed “Save Our Cities: Education, Jobs + Justice.”
“Our focus was inspired was by a year that saw little accountability for law enforcement responsible for killing unarmed Black men, teenagers and children; a continual assault on voting rights; widening economic inequality gaps; and an increasingly partisan education debate far more rooted in political agendas than in putting our children first,” Morial said.
Maggie Haberman of the New York Times reports, "For Mrs. Clinton, the event is an opportunity to highlight a passionate speechabout race that she gave last month in the wake of the shooting that killed nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C. ... Mr. Bush, who seemed to roll his eyes at the Black Lives Matter movement recently, has often talked about the need for the party to expand its tent. This speech is another opportunity."
The Jeb Bush campaign announced today that the candidate's son, George P. Bush, will file his father's S.C. presidential paperwork.
"George P. Bush, Governor Jeb Bush’s son, will visit South Carolina TODAY on behalf of his Dad’s campaign for President of the United States. George P. will attend a Young Professionals reception in Columbia this morning. He will then visit the South Carolina Republican Party’s headquarters to file Governor Bush’s South Carolina primary paperwork, accompanied by members of the Jeb! 2016 South Carolina campaign leadership team. George P. will end the day with a meet and greet at Lizard’s Thicket in Lexington," reads the email from Bush spokeswoman Allie Brandenburger.
George P. Bush has 3 public campaign stops set for South Carolina. Two in Columbia and one in Lexington.
The young Bush has gone into the family business himself. George P. Bush is the Texas land commissioner.
A top Democratic believes President Obama may break the law to implement the Iran deal. The Democrat is Brad Sherman, a congressman from California, who made the comments after meeting with Obama personally about the Iran deal.
“The main meat of what he said is, ‘If Congress overrides my veto, you do not get a U.S. foreign policy that reflects that vote. What you get is you pass this law and I, as president, will do everything possible to go in the other direction,’” Sherman told reporters after meeting with Obama.
“He’s with the deal — he’s not with Congress ... At least to the fullest extent allowed by law, and possibly beyond what’s allowed by law.”
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who has been one of the more skeptical Democrats on the agreement, said that Obama appeared ready to ignore Congress, even if lawmakers vote to kill the deal and then marshal the two-thirds majorities to override a White House veto.
“The main meat of what he said is, ‘If Congress overrides my veto, you do not get a U.S. foreign policy that reflects that vote. What you get is you pass this law and I, as president, will do everything possible to go in the other direction,’” Sherman told reporters off the House floor after the meeting.
“He’s with the deal — he’s not with Congress,” Sherman added. “At least to the fullest extent allowed by law, and possibly beyond what’s allowed by law.”
Sherman suggested that Obama could refuse to enforce the law and could actively seek to undermine congressional action in other countries, if Capitol Hill insists on stymieing the plan.
Over the decades, Donald Trump has been involved in a handful of businesses ventures -- some lucrative (game shows). Others, like steak sold at the Sharper Image, have been more of a flop.
Now that The Donald is running for the highest office in the land, it seemed appropriate to review his 1989 Milton Bradley board game -- appropriately titled "Trump: The Game" -- to see what insights could be gleaned about the man.
The game cost $11 on eBay, the author being a very good negotiator... Very successful.
I grabbed a few interns and asked them to join me for a very special project: playing a round of Trump: The Game.
The Donald has two taglines for the game. The first is, "It's like no other game you've ever played." That is a bit of an exaggeration, as it's pretty much an accelerated version of Monopoly and for half of its eight maximum players.
The second appears on the front of the box above the title: "It's not whether you win or lose, but whether you win!" Suffice it to say, this also might be a slogan adopted by Mr. Trump should he not win the GOP presidential nomination and run as a third party candidate.
Opening the rule book, you're greeted with a letter from Trump himself:
Now that you are about to play my game, I invite you to live the fantasy! Feel the power! And make the deals!
The object of the game is to make the most money. I'm talking about hundres of millions of dollars. If you are clever, aggressive and lucky, you could end up with a billion or more!
Start by bidding against opponents for eight different properties on the board. Play it smart and stack up huge profits! Pay too much and you could lose your shirt!
When all of the properties have been purchased, the deal-making starts!
Here's where shrewdness really pays off! Just about anything in the game can be bought, sold or traded! Millions of dollars can be won or lost in seconds.
When the dealing's done, count up your cash! The player with the most money wins!
Now, read the rules. Have fun -- and remember, it's not whether you win or lose, but whether you win!
Donald J. Trump
The game is certainly about making deals. Players are dealt "Trump Cards" and pick them up throughout phase one: the buying phase. The cards all play a central role, though only a few can be used during phase one.
Players move their pawns -- yes, we are all but pawns in Trump's game -- around the board, having to pay money to a property, become the broker for a sale of a property, or have the opportunity to win money on a dice throw.
The sun is a stubborn on-again-off-again partner in our solar energy relationship. With no way to store excess solar energy, solar homes are forced to return shamefacedly to the electrical grid each evening, not to mention in moments of cloud cover and/or rain.
Tesla Motors offers a solution to this dilemma, or claims to. Powerwall is billed as a home battery system that reserves extra solar energy during the day for use when the sun goes down. Powerwall is purported to revolutionize solar energy. The first systems will be installed in a matter of weeks. The Powerwall technology is impressive and even beautifully packaged. But Tesla’s global ambitions are perhaps far-fetched and over-hyped.
Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, and a bona fide rock star in the green energy movement, has said that his goal “is to fundamentally change the way the world uses energy.” He believes that solar power “can and will become the world’s predominant source of energy within our lifetimes.” Powerwall, and the revolution it will bring, has been eagerly anticipated since Musk’s announcement. The technology is critical to Hillary Clinton’s recent promise to install, within her first term, a half billion solar panels across the country.
Initial interest has surpassed Tesla’s most optimistic estimates. Thirty-eight thousand Powerwall units have already been pre-ordered. Based on the sale of these introductory units, Musk intends to expand globally in the hopes of selling some two billion batteries.
There are several snags in Tesla’s plans for world domination, however. The most interesting and fundamental objections come from Daniel Nocera, Harvard professor and inventor of artificial photosynthesis. He predicts that no matter how solar energy develops, the United States made its choice between fuel and batteries a hundred years ago. Simply put: the U.S. has invested too much to leave the grid now.
“In the United States, the economics don’t make sense. If we could calculate all that you’ve invested in your energy infrastructure - all the wires, all the power plants, we’re talking 70 hundred trillion dollars which you’ve already paid off," Nocera said, exaggerating for effect, "You’re not going to walk away from that,” Nocera explained in an interview with the Washington Post.
Nocera is also unsure of Tesla’s chemistry. The larger 10killowatt-hour version of the lithium Powerwall battery uses a mixture of nickel and manganese, while the smaller 7killowatt-hour version relies on a mixture of nickel and cobalt. “Lithium has to be paired with other metals, so it’s paired with cobalt, and nickel. But on the global scale you run into materials issues, there is not enough of these metals,” said Nocera.
As a Swede living in the U.S., one of the most common reactions when I tell people where I am from is the question of why I would ever leave Sweden in the first place.
Many Americans seem to truly believe that life in the Scandinavian countries is superior to that in virtually all other places on earth, and that the Nordic welfare state model is the magical formula that explains it all. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont recently echoed these beliefs when he said that he wants America to be more like Scandinavia, where both incomes and equality are higher, the middle class stronger, both education and health care are publically funded, and even graduate school is free.
Sanders is not alone. The Scandinavian countries are regularly praised for their income equality, quality of life, gender equality, maternal care and many other traits, not just by leftist politicians and activists, but also by left-leaning economists like Paul Krugman. The Scandinavian model, they believe, is the ultimate proof that you can combine a high-growth economy with a generous welfare state.
The problem is that much of the praise is wrong.
True, the Scandinavian nations are very successful in many ways. Quality of life is considerably higher there than in most other parts of the world, and equality is a strong social norm. But despite what many in the American left who idealizes Scandinavia might wish, the success was not achieved thanks to the welfare state model, but perhaps despite its existence.
In the new book Scandinavian Unexceptionalism, Swedish author Nima Sanandaji dispels many of the popular conceptions about the Nordic countries. Scandinavia’s success came before the welfare state, not after it. Between 1936 and 2008, when much of the welfare expansion occurred, Sweden’s growth rate dropped to being the 13th highest out of 28 industrialized countries.
Just two weeks after Western nations and Tehran struck a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program, the Pentagon says Saudi Arabia wants to buy 600 new Patriot missile interceptors.
This “$5 billion-plus purchase is likely just the first of many more as America’s Middle Eastern allies arm themselves in response to the nuclear deal, which would lift Iran’s conventional-arms embargo sanctions in five years and sanctions on long-range missile projects in eight.”