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Best Way To Punish Putin? No World Cup

By Tunku Varadarajan

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
Silicon Valley's Libertarian revolution

Silicon Valley's Libertarian revolution

By DARREN SAMUELSOHN

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

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

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

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

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

 
The rise of data and death of politics

US president Barack Obama with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

The rise of data and death of politics

 Evgeny Morozov

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Brendan Bordelon

John Kerry copy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vladimir Putin

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

Jonathan Eyal

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
Russian media is covering up Putin's complicity in the MH17 tragedy

monkey ukraine

Russian media is covering up Putin's complicity in the MH17 tragedy

Masha Alekhina

Masha Alekhina

In Russia, errors like shooting down a Malaysia Airlines jet could not have happened, so they simply won't have happened

In their reporting on the tragedy, the Russian media defined the accident scene as "east of Ukraine", forgetting the terms such as "New Russia", "DPR", "LPR" – the Lugansk People's Republic, another separatist territory in Ukraine – for the evening. In the new Russia, such errors could not have happened, so they simply won't have happened. Our government, and its collaborators in the media, will see to that.

The people do not need to see tragedies, they seem to believe – only victories of the Russian soldiers, the heroes of their homeland, and the brave patriots in eastern Ukraine that we should support.

The alleged Vkontakte page of Igor Strelkov, "patriot" and leader of the pro-Russian army in Donetsk, bragged that the DPR’s army shot down a Ukrainian AN-26 aircraft about a half hour after the tragedy. "We warned them not fly 'in our skies'", it said, without any photographs to prove it was a military plane. A few hours after going viral, the statement was removed. Friday, the author claimed that the dead bodies – reportedly seen falling through the air as the plane disintegrated – were already dead, another claim parroted by the media

Alexander Boroday, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed DPR (who was added to the US sanctions list a day before MH-17 was taken down) simply declared: "If it really was a passenger airliner, we did not do it". This statement is a concise version of the position often adopted by Russian authorities: do not admit to anything, whatever happens, however obviously untrue.

 
Sam Brownback’s Kansas Catastrophe

Sam Brownback’s Kansas Catastrophe

By Patricia Murphy

The Kansas Governor should be cruising to re-election and fending off 2016 rumors. Instead, he’s behind in the polls as “Brownbackistan” falls apart.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback should be coasting to re-election this fall.  The soft-spoken son of a Kansas pig farmer is the conservative governor of a deep red state, and he’s running in a year when Republicans will likely have a national advantage over Democrats. Instead, Brownback is now fighting for political survival in what his detractors call the theocratic dictatorship of “Brownbackistan.”

If Brownbackistan were running surpluses with essential services humming along, the governor would probably be fending off rumors of a 2016 presidential run. Instead, he is locked in a tight race with the House Minority Leader Paul Davis, who led Brownback by 6 points in a recent SurveyUSA poll and has been endorsed by more than 100 current and former Republican officials. Last week, the Cook Political Report moved the November contest from a likely Republican win to a pure toss-up.

Wint Winter, a former state senator who has known Brownback since he was 14, is one of the Republicans backing Davis.

“I had hoped that it wouldn’t be as extreme as it’s been,” Winter told The Daily Beast of Brownback’s tenure. “I knew from Sam’s time in the Senate that he had a passionate affection for social issues, but what we didn't know was that Sam would use this state as crash test dummies for his own fiscal experiments.  We have people in our group who are moved by different issues, but all of them come back to the fact that Sam did not have the right to use Kansas as an experiment.”

 
Black Southern Voters, Poised to Play a Historic Role

Black Southern Voters, Poised to Play a Historic Role

Southern black voters don’t usually play a decisive role in national elections. They were systematically disenfranchised for 100 years after the end of the Civil War. Since the days of Jim Crow, a fairly unified white Southern vote has often determined the outcome of elections.

This November could be different. Nearly five decades after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, black voters in the South are poised to play a pivotal role in this year’s midterm elections. If Democrats win the South and hold the Senate, they will do so because of Southern black voters.

The timing — 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act and 49 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act — is not entirely coincidental. The trends increasing the clout of black voters reflect a complete cycle of generational replacement in the post-Jim Crow era. White voters who came of age as loyal Democrats have largely died off, while the vast majority of black voters have been able to vote for their entire adult lives — and many have developed the habit of doing so.

This year’s closest contests include North Carolina, Louisiana and Georgia. Black voters will most likely represent more than half of all Democratic voters in Louisiana and Georgia, and nearly half in North Carolina. Arkansas, another state with a large black population, is also among the competitive states.

Southern black voters have already made their mark on this year’s midterm elections. Last month, Senator Thad Cochran defeated a Tea Party challenger with the help of a surge in black turnout in a Republican run-off in Mississippi.

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

If Democrats win this November, black voters will probably represent a larger share of the winning party’s supporters in important states than at any time since Reconstruction. Their influence is not just a product of the Senate map. It also reflects the collapse in Southern white support for Democrats, an increase in black turnout and the reversal of a century-long trend of black outmigration from the South.

State-level Democrats performed fairly well among Southern white voters in the decades after the passage of the Voting Rights Act. A majority of white voters were still self-identified Democrats who formed their partisan allegiances when white supremacist Democrats ruled Dixie. As a result, Southern Democrats did not usually depend on black voters, who generally turned out at lower rates than white voters.

That era has come to an end. Today, the overwhelming majority of voters, white and black alike, reached voting age after the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Southern politics are now defined by the post-Civil Rights era: The old generation of Southern white Democrats has almost entirely departed the electorate, leaving white voters overwhelmingly Republican. Mr. Obama won about 15 percent of white voters in the Deep South in 2012.

 
In Detroit, the Second Amendment works!

The Second Amendment works!

By Judson Phillips

Chicago and Detroit are textbook examples of the failure of liberalism. Detroit went after every government spending project that could be conceived. Today, it is a modern Pompeii, minus the volcano.

But there is one huge difference between Detroit and Chicago. There is one area in which Detroit is showing sanity and perhaps hope for the future.

Chicago has some of the most draconian gun control laws in the nation. Recently in Chicago, 22 people were shot in a 12-hour period, including a 12-year-old girl who was attending a sleepover.

Stories of gun violence in Chicago are so common no one even notices anymore. Gun violence in Chicago now is the punch line of late-night TV host jokes.

But a funny thing has happened in Detroit.

Faced with the absolute, stark, cold reality that the police department could not answer anywhere near the number of calls about violent crime they were receiving, Detroit Police Chief James Craig in January made news and shocked liberals when he said Detroit residents should use guns to protect themselves.

Chief Craig’s call was stunning. Most police chiefs are simply appointed by city mayors, which means they simply parrot the line on gun control the left-wing mayors offer.

Chief Craig showed courage when he called for the citizens of his city to defend themselves.

What has been the result?

So far in 2014, robberies are down by 37 percent, burglaries by 22 percent and carjackings by 30 percent.

 
This Way Up: Mobility in America

This Way Up: Mobility in America

WSJ Essay: Economic mobility is alive and well for Americans who pursue technical or practical training. The U.S. economy's future could lie along the career paths of welders, nurses and franchise owners.

Dakota Blazier had made a big decision. Friendly and fresh-faced, from a small town north of Indianapolis, he'd made up his mind: He wasn't going to college.

"I discovered a long time ago," he explained, "I'm not book smart. I don't like sitting still, and I learn better when the problem is practical." But he didn't feel this limited his options—to the contrary. And he was executing a plan as purposeful as that of any of his high-school peers.

It started in his junior year with release time from high school to take a course in basic construction skills at a craft training center run by the Associated Builders and Contractors. The next step was an internship with a local contractor, Gaylor Electric.

This summer, he's at Gaylor full time, earning $10 an hour plus credits he can apply at the ABC training center, where he intends to return this fall for a four-year apprenticeship. Mr. Blazier, 18, beamed as he explained his plan. This was no fallback, no desperate Hail Mary pass. It was a thoughtful choice—and he was as proud and excited as if he were heading off to the Ivy League.

College-educated Americans tend to know mostly other college-educated Americans and to think that is the norm, if not universal. In fact, just three in 10 Americans age 25 or older have bachelor's degrees. Another 8% are high-school dropouts, leaving the overwhelming majority—more than 60%—in circumstances something like Mr. Blazier's.

The questions that keep him up at night aren't about inequality: How rich am I, or, how rich is my neighbor ? What he worries about is the kinds of opportunities open to him. Can he get an education that equips him for a job he wants? Can he find that job and build on it to make a career? His concern is economic mobility.

 
On Southern Border, Mexico Faces Crisis of Its Own

On Southern Border, Mexico Faces Crisis of Its Own

By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD

Mexico has announced plans for tightened deportation and border control policies as its migrant numbers surge in response to worsening gang violence in Central America.

For years, Mexico’s most closely watched border was its northern one, which generations of Mexican migrants have crossed seeking employment and refuge in the United States.

But the sudden surge of child migrants from Central America, many of them traveling alone, has cast scrutiny south, to the 600-mile border separating Mexico and Guatemala.

Now Mexico finds itself whipsawing between compassion and crackdown as it struggles with a migration crisis of its own. While the public is largely sympathetic to migrants and deeply critical of the United States’ hard-line immigration policies, officials are under pressure from their neighbors to the north and south as they try to cope with the influx. As a result, they are taking measures that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

 Mexico has quietly stepped up the pace of deportation of migrants, some of them unaccompanied children. It announced plans to stop people from boarding freight trains north and will open five new border control stations along routes favored by migrants.

 
Beck takes softer tone down to border

Wreckage is shown. | AP Photo

Beck takes softer tone down to border

By HADAS GOLD

Last summer conservative radio and TV host Glenn Beck described congressional efforts for immigration reform as a “way the president will have amnesty for illegals” in order to fast-track “permanent progressivism.”

Last fall, he used the government shutdown to joke about declaring the border with Mexico a national park so that the government could properly guard it.

On Saturday, Beck was in McAllen, Texas, bringing with him $2 million worth of food, supplies and toys to churches in the area that are providing relief for undocumented immigrant families being held at detention centers there.

Beck’s trip is a culmination of weeks of talking about the border crisis in much softer terms than his usual fiery rhetoric on immigration.

 
Dan Balz: Will national Democrats help Davis turn Texas blue?

Will national Democrats help Davis turn Texas blue?

Dan Balz

The gubernatorial hopeful needs help from her party if she is to capi­tal­ize on the state’s changing demographics.

Texas is conservative and deeply red in its voting patterns. Democrats haven’t won a statewide race in two decades. President Obama wasn’t competitive there in either of his elections, and he is deeply unpopular among Texans. He acts as a weight on anyone who runs under the party banner.

Yet Democrats believe it is only a matter of time before the state’s changing demographics, highlighted by the rising Hispanic population, move the state back in their direction. Battleground Texas, a political action committee started by veterans of Obama’s campaign with the express purpose of building a foundation for future success, offers these statistics.

More than 50 percent of the population in Texas is minority — Hispanic, African American, Asian American and others. This nonwhite vote, particularly the Hispanic vote, is growing, and the gap between those eligible to vote and those who actually vote is large. Overall, there are more than 5 million unregistered eligible voters in the state. About 63 percent of eligible African Americans, 42 percent of eligible Asian Americans and 39 percent of eligible Hispanics voted in 2012.

Without doing anything, Democrats say, they expect to see their vote totals grow slowly over time (though if Republicans do a better job of competing for those voters, the calculus is different). But demographic changes sometimes move at a glacial pace, despite the giddy predictions of partisans. Democrats need more than natural forces to become competitive anytime soon.

 
Palin urges grassroots to support impeachment of Obama

** FILE ** Former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin speaks to the crowd in Sevierville, Tenn., on Thursday, June 26, 2014. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Saul Young)

Palin urges grassroots at conservative summit to support impeachment of Obama

By Valerie Richardson - The Washington Times

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin urged the grassroots Saturday to support her call for the impeachment of President Obama, imploring conservatives to push the idea with Congress.

“There’s only one remedy for a president who commits high crimes and misdemeanors, and it’s impeachment,” said Ms. Palin. “It’s the I word. You don’t need some fancy law degree hanging on your wall there to know laws are not being enforced today. Illegal immigrants all over the world also know that.

 
Concerns Grow Over Security of MH17 Crash Site

Concerns Grow Over Security of MH17 Crash Site

Two days after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed, killing 298 people, concerns are growing that rebel fighters are blocking access to the site and tampering with evidence.

 
States polarised over child migrants

States polarised over child migrants

Tom Dart in Houston 

anti-immigration protest phoenix

Amid protests and resolutions against migrant shelters, some rally to help young migrants from Central America

The Houston suburb of League City is adjacent to Nasa's Johnson Space Centre, but the city council did not have space exploration in mind last week when it passed a resolution about “aliens”.

Migrant children are officially unwelcome in League City, where the resolution directed local authorities to “refuse requests or directives by federal agencies to permit or establish any facility for the purposes of processing, housing, or detaining any illegal aliens, designated as ‘refugee’ or otherwise”.

There have not been any such requests. Still, with more than 57,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border with Mexico since last October and the government seeking to house many of them in new temporary shelters across the country, League City council members launched a pre-emptive strike, citing concerns that a torrent of undocumented immigrants will overwhelm local schools, healthcare facilities and law enforcement, prompt financial ruin, spread disease and even help terrorists.

However dubious, such fears are being mirrored elsewhere in the country, where the recent influx of migrants – many fleeing violence in Central America – has created flashpoints and underlined how a humanitarian and logistical challenge has become politicised locally as well as nationally.

Murrieta, southern California, has been a focal point for pro- and anti-immigration activism since 1 July, when protesters blocked buses of women and children from entering a Border Patrol processing centre, forcing them to go elsewhere.

Protesters from both sides gathered in Oracle, Arizona, on Tuesday, in anticipation that 40 to 60 children would arrive to be housed in a nearby ranch, with a local sheriff helping to fuel outrage: “We have enough problems with the drug cartels and illegals in Arizona and don't need additional illegals sent to us by President Obama,” Paul Babeu said on his Facebook page.

Iowa’s governor, Terry Branstad, said on Monday that he did not want any undocumented minors to be sent to his state. "I do want empathy for these kids, but I do not want to send the signal to send these children to America illegally,” he said in a news conference.

 
MH17 passengers would have been unconscious almost instantly.

What happened: The SA-11 missile which hit the MH17 flight is designed to shred aircraft on impact by letting off a ring of shrapnel that hits various points

'Almost nobody on board would have known what was happening'

The 298 passengers and crew aboard MH17 will have been oblivious to the horror as a shrapnel-based missile instantly shredded the doomed plane, experts claim. The SA-11 missile - known as a Grizzly - that hit the doomed Malaysian Airlines flight is designed to pulverise aircraft on impact. It will have perforated the plane at various points, ignited the fuel, and taken out the engines and the wings within a split second - meaning the people aboard will have been unconscious almost instantly.

 
IRS accounts for lost Lerner emails

IRS accounts for lost Lerner emails

By RACHAEL BADE

Lois Lerner is pictured. | AP Photo

The IRS declared under oath and penalty of perjury on Friday that Lois Lerner’s hard drive is irrecoverable after being wiped clean by tech staff and recycled with an outside contractor, according to a court filing.

Although an outside company was able to identify the serial number for the computer, the hard drive was wiped clean or “degaussed” and then recycled after several attempts to recover the data by IRS tech personnel, including a career forensic specialist with 25 years worth of experience.

The defense is the first full account from the IRS of what happened to Lerner’s crashed hard drive before a court rather than a panel of lawmakers in response to a tea party group suing the agency. Revelation of lost emails of the former IRS official at the center of the tea party controversy has re-energized critics who accuse the agency and Lerner of hindering their probes

 
A quarter of the world’s most educated people live in the 100 largest cities

A quarter of the world’s most educated people live in the 100 largest cities

Emily Badger

Those same cities are home to only 11 percent of the total global population.

As I mentioned last week, college graduates are increasingly sorting themselves into high-cost, high-amenity cities such as Washington, New York, Boston and San Francisco, a phenomenon that threatens to segregate us across the country by education. This clustering of the well-educated — who are drawn to cities with a high quality of life and good jobs, further pushing up the cost of rent there — isn't limited to the United States, though.

Ugne Saltenyte, an analyst at the market research firm Euromonitor, recently calculated that 24 percent of the world's population over 15 years of age and with the equivalent of a two-year degree or more is concentrated in the world's 100 largest cities. These same 100 cities — Saltenyte is counting full metropolitan areas here — are home to just 11 percent of the world's total population.

 
For the G.O.P., Fine Line Seen on Migration

For the G.O.P., Fine Line Seen on Migration

In 1996, when a surge in illegal immigration collided with the overheated politics of a presidential election, Republicans demanded a strict crackdown.

They passed a measure in the House that would have allowed states to bar children who were in the country illegally from public schools. Senator Bob Dole, Republican of Kansas, the party’s nominee for president, called for limiting social services to immigrants in the country illegally. Patrick J. Buchanan, one of Mr. Dole’s rivals, had promised to build an electric fence along the border with Mexico.

When Mr. Dole lost to Bill Clinton that year, he received just 21 percent of the Hispanic vote — a record low for a Republican nominee — and the party has never really recovered, even as the Hispanic vote has come to represent 10 percent of the presidential electorate, doubling from 1996.

Today, as a wave of unaccompanied minors fleeing Central America poses a new crisis for Congress and the White House, Republicans are struggling to calibrate a response that is both tough and humane, mindful of the need to reconcile their freighted history with Hispanic voters and the passions of a conservative base that sees any easing of immigration rules as heresy.

Some senior Republicans are warning that the party cannot rebuild its reputation with Hispanics if it is drawn into another emotional fight over cracking down on migrants — especially when so many are young children who are escaping extreme poverty and violence. But pleas for compassion and even modest proposals for change are dividing the party, and setting off intense resistance among conservative Republicans who have resisted a broader overhaul of immigration.

Gestures of sympathy, like a trip to the border by Glenn Beck, the conservative radio and television personality who has raised more than $2 million to buy teddy bears, shoes and food for migrant children, were met with scorn and derision. Some anti-immigrant activists responded to news that the government was buying new clothing for the detainees by organizing a campaign to mail them dirty underwear.

 
Docs Show Clinton Skeptical About Osama

Docs Show Clinton Skeptical About Osama

By Ben Jacobs

Among the revelations from the Clinton Library's document dump on Friday was that a 1999 New York Times article caused Bill Clinton to be concerned that the CIA had overstated the threat posted by Osama Bin Laden.

In a handwritten note to his National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, prompted by a New York Times article on Osama Bin Laden, Clinton wrote “If this article is right, the CIA sure overstated its case to me —what are the facts?” The note appears to be prompted by an April, 1999 article in the New York Times by Tim Weiner with the headline “U.S. Hard Put to Find Proof Bin Laden Directed Attacks.” The piece suggested that Bin Laden’s influence and power had been overstated in the aftermath of Al-Qaeda’s 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa. The article was published nine months after the embassy bombings which were promptly followed by U.S. cruise missile strikes on sites linked with Bin Laden in Afghanistan and Sudan. 

Clinton's note seems to have set off a correspondence between Berger and two critical staffers on the National Security Council, Richard Clarke and Daniel Benjamin, on the subject. However, those exchanges were not disclosed as they contained classified national security information. It turns out though that the article may have overstated its case. Al-Qaeda, under Bin Laden's leadership, launched the attacks of September 11, 2001 as well as a bombing on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000 that killed 17 American sailors .

 
Understanding What Hamas Wants

Understanding What Hamas Wants

Five observations about the Gaza conflict, including praise for the insights of an American ex-president

By Jeffrey Goldberg

1. We can thank former President Bill Clinton for perfect clarity in his comments about the chaos and horror of Gaza. In an interview on Indian television, Clinton—who told us in his memoir that Palestinian self-destructiveness (in the form of Yasir Arafat’s various delusions and prevarications) undid his effort to bring about a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict—blames the Muslim Brotherhood’s Gaza affiliate, Hamas, for adopting a policy of deliberate self-murder in order to present Israel with a set of impossible dilemmas. “Hamas was perfectly well aware of what would happen if they started raining rockets in Israel,” Clinton said. “They fired a thousand of them. And they have a strategy designed to force Israel to kill their own civilians so that the rest of the world will condemn them.”

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

The goal of Hamas—the actual, overarching goal—is to terrorize the Jews of Israel, through mass murder, into abandoning their country. If generations of Palestinians have to be sacrificed to that goal, well, Hamas believes such sacrifices are theologically justified.   

 
Obama's foes on border crisis: Democrats

From left: Patrick Leahy, Raul Grijalva, Barack Obama, Luis Gutierrez and Tom Harkin are pictured in this composite image. | AP Photos

Obama's foes on border crisis: Democrats

By SEUNG MIN KIM and MANU RAJU

President Barack Obama’s response to the southern border crisis is under fire from an unlikely source: fellow Democrats.

Republicans have seized on the ballooning number of unaccompanied children crossing into Texas as proof of Obama’s failed immigration policies. But Democrats are also frustrated and are increasingly blaming the White House for bungling the response to the situation on the border.

As Congress struggles to agree on emergency funding in response to the crisis, Democrats are taking the White House to task any chance they get.

They are giving floor speeches, arguing the administration doesn’t understand the root cause of the crisis. They are sparring with administration officials in closed-door discussions. And they say Obama should have better consulted lawmakers before backing a policy change deeply opposed by their party.

“They sure didn’t check with me,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “I don’t know who they checked with, but I just think it was kind of a quick reaction without really thinking about the humanitarian aspects of this.”

Tension between the administration and congressional Democrats is becoming more common. Many Democrats are still fuming about last year’s troubled rollout of Obamacare. The party has been on the defensive over the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner trade swap. The recent veterans health care scandal left many angry. And with Obama’s poll numbers tanking, many plainly fear that all the bad news will make it harder to maintain control of the Senate in the fall elections.

When it comes to the border, the intraparty dispute centers on a law signed in the final days of George W. Bush’s presidency that is meant to shield immigrant children from trafficking. But it’s led to an unintended effect: Because of backlogs in the immigration court system, unaccompanied children from countries other than Mexico or Canada – who are guaranteed their day in court under that law – can end up staying in the U.S. for years as they wait for a hearing.

 
Bergdahl’s Bitter Homecoming

Bergdahl’s Bitter Homecoming

By Jean Kim

According to reports, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has not yet contacted his family. That seems strange to most, but the reintegration process after war (and especially after capture) is anything but simple.

In Michael Hastings’ June 2012 Rolling Stone profile of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the author notes that perhaps the turning point in Bergdahl’s fateful disappearance was his witnessing a child being run over by an MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle). Bergdahl wrote about the incident in a bitter final email to his father, shortly before his capture by the Taliban.

 
Obama to host immigration meeting with Central American leaders

Barbie Miller, left, yells as she joins demonstrators outside the Mexican Consulate Friday, July 18, 2014, in Houston.   Prospects for action on the U.S.-Mexico border crisis faded Thursday as lawmakers traded accusations rather than solutions, raising chances that Congress will go into its summer recess without doing anything about the tens of thousands of migrant children streaming into South Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Obama to host immigration meeting with Central American leaders

By Dave Boyer - The Washington Times

President Obama will host the presidents of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador next week to discuss ways to “stem the flow” of illegal immigration, as the White House said Friday the U.S. began to return families from all three countries this week.

Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden will speak with the Central American leaders at the White House next Friday about ways “to promote safe, legal, and orderly migration between our countries in a spirit of shared responsibility, including with respect to the return of family units, which began this week for all three countries.”

 
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