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Michael Brown's hands were raised, witness says.

Michael Brown's hands were raised, witness says.

David Batty

Benjamin Crump, Michael Brown family lawyer

Footage of two construction workers moments after black teenager's fatal shooting appears to support other accounts

The video shows one of the men raising his hands immediately after the fatal shooting and shouting, "He had his fuckin' hands up."

The man told CNN he heard a gunshot, then another about 30 seconds later. "The cop didn't say get on the ground. He just kept shooting," said the unnamed contractor. He added that he saw Brown's fatal head wound and repeated that the teenager's "hands were up".

The men told CNN they were 50ft (15m) away when Wilson opened fire. The second man said he saw Brown running away from a police car. The teenager "put his hands up", and "the officer was chasing him". Wilson then fired a shot at Brown while his back was turned.

 
The Moral Downfall of an NFL Commissioner

The Moral Downfall of an NFL Commissioner

 Patrick Hruby

The questionable choices made by Roger Goodell in running America's favorite league.

The NFL commissioner portrays himself as a guy who takes after his father, a principled senator who opposed Nixon. His actions reveal just the opposite.

Like many sports stories, this one is about fathers and sons. Before Roger Goodell was National Football League commissioner—before fans and pundits alike began calling for his ouster in the wake of the ongoing Ray Rice domestic-violence scandal; before members of Congress began sending angry letters and demanding answers—Goodell was an 11-year-old boy, watching the Nixon White House crush his dad’s political career.

The year was 1970. Charles E. Goodell, then a moderate Republican senator from New York, was running for reelection. The previous summer, he had sponsored a high-profile bill that would have ended funding for the Vietnam War. He subsequently led a Washington march against the war—right down Pennsylvania Avenue, alongside Jane Fonda, arm-in-arm with Coretta Scott King. Before going to the New York Times, Daniel Ellsberg even asked Goodell to leak the Pentagon Papers.

Unsurprisingly, President Nixon was furious. He ordered his staff to give the senator a “going over,” turning the Republican Party against the incumbent candidate in favor of a conservative challenger. Meanwhile, Vice President Spiro Agnew savaged Goodell’s GOP bona fides in a series of speeches.

In response, Goodell’s campaign deployed the candidate’s five sons, including Roger, on busy Manhattan street corners, where they would stump for their dad. I’m Senator Goodell’s son. Please vote for my father. No luck: The elder Goodell split the liberal vote with his Democratic opponent, allowing third candidate and Nixon loyalist James Buckley to win the election.

 
Buffett's No. 2 on Berkshire's Success

Buffett's No. 2 on Berkshire's Success

The Intelligent Investor: Fifty years ago next year, Warren Buffett took control at Berkshire Hathaway. For that anniversary, Mr. Buffett is asking Vice Chairman Charles T. Munger to answer two questions: "Why did it work? And will it continue?"

Why did nearly 250 investors converge on Los Angeles this past week to listen to a 90-year-old man address the annual meeting of a tiny legal-publishing and software company? To hear Charles T. Munger—better known as Warren Buffett’s right-hand man—expound on one of his least-known holdings and just about everything else.

Since 1977, Mr. Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, has also been the chairman of Daily Journal, a peculiar combination of a venture-capital firm and a mutual fund. His public appearances are so rare and his remarks so entertaining and illuminating that investors came from as far away as Alabama, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Ontario to hear him speak.

They weren’t disappointed. Mr. Munger talked almost nonstop for two hours, lambasting the banking and money-management industries, hailing the economic potential of China and, above all, dispensing common-sense advice that anyone can benefit from. His central message: Investors can reach their fullest potential only by thinking for themselves. “If you stay rational yourself,” he told the crowd, “the stupidity of the world helps you.”

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

Fifty years ago next year, Mr. Buffett took control at Berkshire. For that anniversary, Mr. Buffett is asking Mr. Munger to answer two questions: “Why did it work? And will it continue?”

The questions are “very interesting,” said Mr. Munger, “because the actual result at Berkshire is really preposterous.” Even he is a bit puzzled by how two men could take a jumble of dying textile mills, stagnant department stores and a trading-stamp company and turn it into the fifth-biggest firm in America, with a stock-market value of $337 billion.

“How the hell does this thing end up blowing past GE?” asked Mr. Munger, a sense of wonder in his voice. (General Electric’s stock is valued at $260 billion.)

First, he said, other companies like GE “long had a history of moving [division leaders] around internally, and that’s like asking an oboe player in the symphony to perform on the piano and expecting the quality of the music not to suffer.” At Berkshire, Messrs. Buffett and Munger let great managers stay put.

Second, he added, “I think we have had a temperamental advantage: Warren and I know better than most people what we know and what we don’t know. That’s even better than having a lot of extra IQ points.”

Mr. Munger continued: “People chronically misappraise the limits of their own knowledge; that’s one of the most basic parts of human nature. Knowing the edge of your circle of competence is one of the most difficult things for a human being to do. Knowing what you don’t know is much more useful in life and business than being brilliant.”

Mr. Munger had mentioned during the annual meeting that some $120,000, apparently from a retirement-account distribution, had “floated” into his account earlier in the week. He sees nothing worth investing it in right now and hasn’t bought an investment in his personal accounts in at least two years, because he is waiting for an irresistible bargain.

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

Successful investing, Mr. Munger told me, requires “this crazy combination of gumption and patience, and then being ready to pounce when the opportunity presents itself, because in this world opportunities just don’t last very long.” Mr. Munger showed that in March 2009, when he bought 1.6 million shares of Wells Fargo for Daily Journal at an average cost he estimates at $8.58 per share. The stock was trading at around $51.50 this week.

“It’s waiting that helps you as an investor, and a lot of people just can’t stand to wait,” he said. “If you didn’t get the deferred-gratification gene, you’ve got to work very hard to overcome that.”

 
Clinton’s New Workouts Speak Volumes

Clinton’s New Workouts Speak Volumes

By AMY CHOZICK

Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has said she will decide next year whether to run for president, is getting in shape, a necessity for any candidate who faces the rigors of the campaign trail.

She is building stamina through tough new workouts with a personal trainer and yoga. She is talking about how to address income inequality without alienating corporate America. And she is reviewing who’s who in the Democratic Party in Iowa, a crucial early voting state in the presidential cycle.

Hillary Rodham Clinton has said publicly that she will decide early next year whether she will undertake a second campaign for the presidency. But inside the Clinton operation, the groundwork is already quietly being laid for a candidacy.

On Sunday, Mrs. Clinton will appear at the 37th annual Iowa steak fry hosted by Senator Tom Harkin; it will be her most overtly political appearance since resigning as secretary of state in February of last year.

Meanwhile, the largest Democratic fund-raising group, Priorities USA, which helped get President Obama elected, recently rebranded itself as a vehicle to help Mrs. Clinton. Publicly, the group says it is focused on raising money for Democrats for this fall’s congressional elections, but privately, Priorities has already started reaching out to donors to secure 2016 commitments for Mrs. Clinton.

 
George Will: Scotland’s epic vote on independence from the United Kingdom

Scotland’s epic vote on independence from the United Kingdom

In “The Long Shadow: The Legacies of the Great War in the Twentieth Century,” Cambridge University historian David Reynolds notes that World War I, a breaker of empires and maker of nations, quickened interest in nationalism and the nature of nationhood, especially the distinction between a civic nation and an ethnic nation: The former is “a community of laws, institutions, and citizenship,” whereas an ethnic nation is “a community of shared descent, rooted in language, ethnicity, and culture.” France embodied civic nationalism, forged by its revolution; Germany, “steeped in Romantic conceptions of the Volk ,” exemplified ethnic nationalism.

The United States is a civic nation because it is a creedal nation — founded, as Jefferson said, on “truths” deemed “self-evident,” and dedicated, as Lincoln said, to a “proposition” (that all are created equal). Scotland is largely an ethnic nation, and whether Scots opt for or against independence, the continued vitality of their national sentiments testifies to the ability of differences to resist homogenization by the commercial and cultural forces of modernity.

 
Gillibrand rips Rush's 'chickifying'

Gillibrand rips Rush's 'chickifying'

By LUCY MCCALMONT

Kirsten Gillibrand (left) and Rush Limbaugh are pictured in this composite image. | AP Photos

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand ripped Rush Limbaugh on Friday, after the conservative radio host said the uproar over Ray Rice and domestic abuse is just liberals “feminizing” and ‘chickifying’ the NFL.

“Well if he believes criminals should be playing in the National Football League, he’s got a serious issue. These are criminal cases of assault and battery and sexual violence. Our players are role models, we don’t young kids looking up to these folks who are beating their wives. It’s not right. And so we should have a zero tolerance policy. And he’s wrong,” Gillibrand said Friday on CNN in response to Limbaugh’s comments.

On his show earlier Friday, Limbaugh slammed a letter sent by 16 female senators—including Gillibrand—to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calling for a zero tolerance policy toward domestic abuse.

“We’re feminizing this game. It’s a man’s game and if we keep feminizing this game we’re gonna ruin it. If we keep chickifying this game we’re gonna ruin it,” Limbaugh said, according to a transcript.

Echoing comments he made earlier this week, Limbaugh added that politics have gotten too embroiled with sports—specifically with the NFL, which he said has “become nothing more than the latest extension of the Democrat Party leftist agenda.”

“Of course I’m against wife beating. I’m also against mixing social issues with broadcast of sporting events, too. But that line has been blurred now,” the radio host said.

“Sorry, this is not why I watch football. This is going to be the death of this sport. It is no longer an escape. It’s no longer about great athletes. It’s no longer about amazing athletic achievement and drama,” Limbaugh said. “The never-ending refrain on the Washington Redskins name, and now this? Guns, gays, domestic violence, these are topics that I frankly don’t be need to be preached to about. I don’t need to be lectured, and I certainly don’t want to turn on a football game and end up being accused of all kinds of social misbehavior.”

 
Scottish Independence Polls Suggest Vote Is Too Close to Call

Scottish Independence Polls Suggest Vote Is Too Close to Call

The big guns of British politics have been wheeled out over the past few days to campaign for votes in Scotland’s referendum on independence. Recent polls suggest the vote on whether Scotland will leave the United Kingdom is too close to call.

 
Sotomayor: Americans Should be Alarmed by Spread of Drones

Sotomayor: Americans Should be Alarmed by Spread of Drones

By Jacob Gershman

Americans should be more concerned about their privacy being invaded by the spread of drones, Justice Sonia Sotomayor told an Oklahoma City audience on Thursday.

Speaking before a group of faculty members and students at Oklahoma City University’s law school on Sept. 11, Justice Sotomayor said “frightening” changes in surveillance technology should encourage citizens to take a more active role in the privacy debate. She said she’s particularly troubled by the potential for commercial and government drones to compromise personal privacy.

Said Justice Sotomayor:

There are drones flying over the air randomly that are recording everything that’s happening on what we consider our private property. That type of technology has to stimulate us to think about what is it that we cherish in privacy and how far we want to protect it and from whom. Because people think that it should be protected just against government intrusion, but I don’t like the fact that someone I don’t know…can pick up, if they’re a private citizen, one of these drones and fly it over my property.

Technological advances make it possible for devices to “listen to your conversations from miles away and through your walls,” Justice Sotomayor said. “We are in that brave new world, and we are capable of being in that Orwellian world, too.”

 
Exercising your franchise shouldn’t be so tough

captain america voter

America is a democracy. So why do we make it hard for certain people to vote?

Steven Thrasher

Steven W Thrasher

Voter ID. Re-registration requirements. Requiring a fixed address. Exercising your franchise shouldn't be so tough

 
The deal that upended Washington's September

The deal that upended Washington's September

By MANU RAJU, JAKE SHERMAN and JOHN BRESNAHAN

Barack Obama is shown. | Getty

Last weekend, one of President Barack Obama’s top national security advisers scored a major coup during a visit to the Middle East: Saudi Arabia finally agreed to serve as a host country for training Syrian rebels in the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants.

So the adviser, Lisa Monaco, flew on the red eye back to Washington to deliver the news personally to Obama in the Oval Office on Tuesday morning, administration officials said.

The surprising news Monaco presented to the president would upend Washington’s plans for a smooth September. The successful accord with Saudi Arabia presented immediate problems back in Washington.

The White House would need a divided and reluctant Congress to provide new authority to the Pentagon to support the Syrian rebels. And Congress would need to provide that authority during a quick two-week session that leaders from both parties hoped would avoid big issues so lawmakers could return to the campaign trail unscathed.

The White House would also need to assemble an unusual coalition of wary liberals and the same hardline-conservative Republicans who have bashed the president’s uneven handling of the Mideast crisis that has prompted a sharp decline in public confidence over his leadership.

Tuesday afternoon, Obama told the four top congressional leaders — House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — that he would need their backing to move on the measure quickly.

The bottom line, Obama said, was that Congress needed to grant the new Pentagon authority before lawmakers left Washington, sources familiar with the session said. The additional $500 million the administration had previously requested for the Syrian training effort would be ideal, the president said, but the White House could live without it if Congress couldn’t pass it.

There was little resistance among the four leaders, sources said. The stopgap spending bill that Reid and Boehner had quietly agreed to over the August break would need to be revised to include the new measure, and skeptical rank-and-file lawmakers would need to be wooed and whipped, adding new drama to what many in Washington expected would be a sleepy September session.

 
Gaza and the threat of world war

Gaza and the threat of world war

By John Pilger / AsiaTimes

The siege of Gaza is a siege of all of us. The denial of justice to Palestinians is a symptom of much of humanity under siege and a warning that the threat of a new world war is growing by the day as immunity for mass murder is sponsored by a godfather in Washington that has answered the cries of children in Gaza with more ammunition to kill them.

"There is a taboo," said the visionary Edward Said, "on telling the truth about Palestine and the great destructive force behind Israel. Only when this truth is out can any of us be free."

For many people, the truth is out now. At last, they know. Those once intimidated into silence can't look away now. Staring at them from their TV, laptop, phone, is proof of the barbarism of the Israeli state and the great destructive force of its mentor and provider, the United States, the cowardice of European governments, and the collusion of others, such as Canada and Australian, in this epic crime.

The denial of justice to Palestinians is a symptom of much of humanity under siege and a warning that the threat of a new world war is growing by the day.

When Nelson Mandela called the struggle of Palestine "the greatest moral issue of our time", he spoke on behalf of true civilisation, not that which empires invent. In Latin America, the governments of Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia, El Salvador, Peru and Ecuador have made their stand on Gaza. Each of these countries has known its own dark silence when immunity for mass murder was sponsored by the same godfather in Washington that answered the cries of children in Gaza with more ammunition to kill them.

Unlike Netanyahu and his killers, Washington's pet fascists in Latin America didn't concern themselves with moral window dressing. They simply murdered, and left the bodies on rubbish dumps. For Zionism, the goal is the same: to dispossess and ultimately destroy an entire human society: a truth that 225 Holocaust survivors and their descendants have compared with te genesis of genocide. 

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

Understanding the sophistry and power of liberal propaganda is key to understanding why Israel's outrages endure; why the world looks on; why sanctions are never applied to Israel; and why nothing less than a total boycott of everything Israeli is now a measure of basic human decency.

The most incessant propaganda says Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel. Khaled Hroub, the Cambridge University scholar considered a world leading authority on Hamas, says this phrase is "never used or adopted by Hamas, even in its most radical statements". The oft-quoted "anti-Jewish" 1988 Charter was the work of "one individual and made public without appropriate Hamas consensus ... The author was one of the 'old guard'"; the document is regarded as an embarrassment and never cited.

Hamas has repeatedly offered a 10-year truce with Israel and has long settled for a two-state solution. When Medea Benjamin, the fearless Jewish American activist, was in Gaza, she carried a letter from Hamas leaders to President Obama that made clear the government of Gaza wanted peace with Israel. It was ignored. I personally know of many such letters carried in good faith, ignored or dismissed.

The unforgivable crime of Hamas is a distinction almost never reported: it is the only Arab government to have been freely and democratically elected by its people. Worse, it has now formed a government of unity with the Palestinian Authority. A single, resolute Palestinian voice - in the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court - is the most feared threat. 

 
Obama strategy in Iraq, Syria hinges on long shots

Islamic State

Obama strategy in Iraq, Syria hinges on long shots

As the United States pivots back onto a war footing in the Middle East, President Obama's strategy is rooted in at least three basic assumptions, all of them highly questionable.

In his prime-time speech Wednesday, Obama envisioned the emergence of a newly unified Iraqi government, an effective Iraqi fighting force and a reenergized, U.S.-backed "moderate" rebel front in Syria. Along with U.S. training and airstrikes, and help from international allies, those three factors would spell defeat for Islamic State militants who have made deep inroads in both Syria and Iraq.

All three goals seem long shots in a region where U.S. aims have often foundered amid harsh and intractable realities.

Key to the plan is the belief that a new Iraqi government can bring reconciliation to a deeply divided land and draw alienated Sunni Muslim Arabs back into the national fold. This notion seems dubious. The administration of the new prime minister, Haider Abadi, is not significantly different from that of his predecessor and longtime colleague Nouri Maliki, who was the poster boy for U.S.-backed governance in Iraq until he was labeled a sectarian spoiler.

There is no guarantee that the government's essentially sectarian nature will be transformed. It could even get worse, as majority Shiite Muslims demand revenge for Sunni complicity in militant mass executions and other atrocities.

Still, many analysts agree that swapping out administrations in Baghdad was a necessary move. There were few other options to revive a dysfunctional government threatened by a militant front.

 
Did the CIA Support the Overthrow of Chile's Government 40 Years Ago?

Reuters

Did the CIA Support the Overthrow of Chile's Government 40 Years Ago?

Uri Friedman

An interview with a retired agent reveals details about the death of Salvador Allende in September of 1973.

Forty-one years ago—on September 11, 1973—Chile's socialist president, Salvador Allende, was overthrown in a coup. He committed suicide under mysterious circumstances as troops surrounded his palace, ushering in more than 15 years of military dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet. Since that time, the CIA has acknowledged knowledge of—but not involvement in—the plot. The agency "was aware of coup-plotting by the military, had ongoing intelligence collection relationships with some plotters, and—because CIA did not discourage the takeover and had sought to instigate a coup in 1970—probably appeared to condone it," the CIA writes in a history of its operations in the South American country. (Declassified documents reveal how the Nixon administration instructed the agency to undermine Allende's government and "make the economy scream.")

Jack Devine was a CIA agent in Chile at the time of the coup. In an interview with Atlantic contributing editor and Efecto Naim host Moisés Naím, he discusses the CIA's role in the insurrection and in supporting the opposition to Allende. Of the decision not to stop the coup, Devine claims the agency's instructions came from the White House, which was occupied at the time by Richard Nixon. "That is a Washington policy decision, that is not a CIA decision," he says.

 
Prosecutors Are Pushing Prison Time for D’Souza

Prosecutors Are Pushing Prison Time for D’Souza

By BENJAMIN WEISER

The conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza could face 10 to 16 months in prison for illegally making $20,000 in donations to Wendy E. Long’s 2012 Senate campaign.

Saying that Dinesh D’Souza had not yet accepted responsibility for his crime, prosecutors asked a federal judge in Manhattan on Wednesday to sentence the best-selling conservative author and filmmaker to 10 to 16 months in prison for violating campaign finance laws.

The request by the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, comes before Mr. D’Souza’s scheduled Sept. 23 sentencing for illegally making donations through straw donors to the 2012 United States Senate campaign of Wendy E. Long, a Republican candidate who was challenging Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, a Democrat.

In seeking a prison term for Mr. D’Souza, 53, the government disputed his lawyer’s contention in recent court papers that his client had “unequivocally accepted responsibility” for his crime.

“The defendant pled guilty at the last possible moment before trial began,” prosecutors wrote, “not because he actually accepted responsibility for his conduct, but because he was in fact guilty and he had no defense or excuse for his criminal conduct.”

 
Mitt Romney: Third time's the charm?

Third time's the charm

By ROBERT C. O'BRIEN and HUGH HEWITT

In early June 1964, a group of Republican governors sought to wrestle control of their party from Barry Goldwater, the Arizona conservative who was about to lead the GOP to one of the most crushing defeats in its history. The governors saw a disaster in the making, and sought a moderate candidate who could capture the imaginations of grassroots Republicans—but also beat President Lyndon Johnson in the general election. Led by Ohio’s James Rhodes—the Republican Governors Association was meeting in Cleveland, and Rhodes was a legendary vote counter—the group included Pennsylvania’s William Scranton and later New York’s Nelson Rockefeller.

When Richard Nixon spurned their advances—after losing to John F. Kennedy in 1960, he had gone on to lose the California governor’s race in 1962 and was licking his wounds and perhaps already setting his sights on 1968—the group turned to Michigan’s George Romney, who considered the overture and then rejected it. Former President Dwight Eisenhower was on the fringes of the group—pushing but not dictating, afraid that Goldwater’s nomination would lead to the electoral doom, which it did.

Fast forward 50 years, and the two of us—both Romney supporters in 2012, with Hewitt openly supporting his election on the air and O’Brien as part of the campaign team—repeatedly, indeed inevitably, receive the same question when sitting down with politically active center-right conservatives, especially contributors who drive a lot of the early positioning of the GOP field: “Is Mitt running?”

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

As with all things Romney, he meant what he said—that he thinks there are stronger candidates out there right now, but that circumstances can change. Pundits are left to speculate: What constitutes changed circumstances, and what would Romney do if confronted with the same choice his father faced in 1964? George Romney was a man whose word was his bond. He had committed to Michigan voters that he would finish his term, and that pledge held him back in 1964. No such chain binds Mitt Romney, and a close reading of his remarks on Aug. 26 suggest the 2012 nominee knows his father’s history and the consequences of a refusal by a strong nominee to step up when called upon for the good of the party and the country.

 
Campaign finance reform blocked

Campaign finance reform blocked

By BURGESS EVERETT

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (left) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are pictured. | AP Photo

Senate Republicans unanimously rejected a constitutional amendment sought by Democrats that would allow Congress to regulate campaign finance reform.

The measure failed to clear a 60-vote threshold on Thursday afternoon, 54-42.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) quickly moved to hammer Republicans and tie them to Charles and David Koch, billionaire brothers who back national conservative political operations.

“Senate Democrats want a government that works for all Americans — not just the richest few. Today, Senate Republicans clearly showed that they would rather sideline hardworking families in order to protect the Koch brothers and other radical interests that are working to fix our elections and buy our democracy,” Reid said after the vote.

The constitutional amendment would allow Congress and state lawmakers to override recent Supreme Court decisions that have struck down campaign finance laws previously passed by Capitol Hill — language that Republicans argued amounts to an attack on the Bill of Rights.

“The proposed amendment would restrict the most important speech the First Amendment protects, core political speech,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Wednesday. “It’s hard to imagine what would be more radical than the Congress passing a constitutional amendment to overturn a dozen Supreme Court decisions that have protected individual rights. Free speech would be dramatically curtailed.”

 
U.S. threatened massive fine to force Yahoo to release data

U.S. threatened massive fine to force Yahoo to release data

The U.S. government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day in 2008 if it failed to comply with a broad demand to hand over user communications — a request the company believed was unconstitutional — according to court documents unsealed Thursday that illuminate how federal officials forced American tech companies to participate in the National Security Agency’s controversial PRISM program.

The documents, roughly 1,500 pages worth, outline a secret and ultimately unsuccessful legal battle by Yahoo to resist the government’s demands. The company’s loss required Yahoo to become one of the first to begin providing information to PRISM, a program that gave the NSA extensive access to records of online com­munications by users of Yahoo and other U.S.-based technology firms.

The ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review became a key moment in the development of PRISM, helping government officials to convince other Silicon Valley companies that unprecedented data demands had been tested in the courts and found constitutionally sound. Eventually, most major U.S. tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Apple and AOL, complied. Microsoft had joined earlier, before the ruling, NSA documents have shown.

 
How Obama Became the Oil President

By Michael Klare

He once talked of plans to reduce oil consumption—now the US drills more than ever. What happened?

Considering all the talk about global warming, peak oil, carbon divestment, and renewable energy, you'd think that oil consumption in the United States would be on a downward path. By now, we should certainly be witnessing real progress toward a post-petroleum economy. As it happens, the opposite is occurring. US oil consumption is on an upward trajectory, climbing by 400,000 barrels per day in 2013 alone—and, if current trends persist, it should rise again both this year and next.

In other words, oil is back. Big time. Signs of its resurgence abound. Despite what you may think, Americans, on average, are driving more miles every day, not fewer, filling ever more fuel tanks with ever more gasoline, and evidently feeling ever less bad about it. The stigma of buying new gas-guzzling SUVs, for instance, seems to have vanished; according to CNN Money, nearly one out of three vehicles sold today is an SUV. As a result of all this, America's demand for oil grew more than China's in 2013, the first time that's happened since 1999.

Accompanying all this is a little noticed but crucial shift in White House rhetoric. While President Obama once spoke of the necessity of eliminating our reliance on petroleum as a major source of energy, he now brags about rising US oil output and touts his efforts to further boost production.

Just five years ago, few would have foreseen such a dramatic oil rebound. Many energy experts were then predicting an imminent "peak" in global oil production, followed by an irreversible decline in output. With supplies constantly shrinking, it was said, oil prices would skyrocket and consumers would turn to hybrid vehicles, electric cars, biofuels, and various transportation alternatives. New government policies would be devised to facilitate this shift, providing tax breaks and other incentives for making the switch to renewables.

 
Three reasons Republicans may not want to capture the Senate

Three reasons Republicans may not want to capture the Senate

 

Control of the Senate is the big prize in the November midterms. Increasingly, the Republicans’ prospects are looking good.If Republicans do capture the Senate, isn’t that great for them? In many ways, yes. They’d get to set the Senate agenda, for starters. But winning also brings risks.

All the GOP incumbents running for reelection survived their primaries, shutting out tea party-backed challengers who might have scared away moderate voters; Republicans have far more opportunities for pickups (11 seats) than do Democrats (three); and they're already strong favorites to win three of the six seats needed to net a majority: South Dakota, Montana, and West Virginia.

Election forecaster Nate Silver gives the GOP a 62.2 percent chance of retaking the Senate. Another nonpartisan handicapper, Stuart Rothenberg, says he expects “a substantial Republican Senate wave in November, with a net gain of at least seven seats,” and wouldn’t be shocked by more.

1. Republicans might learn the wrong lesson

If the GOP retakes the Senate, it will be sorely tempting for some party members – particularly anti-establishment conservatives – to conclude that the party is in good shape for 2016 and doesn’t need to change its approach.

There are two dangers associated with that. One, the Senate “map” in 2016 favors the Democrats; there will be 23 Republican seats up compared with just 10 Democratic seats – the reverse of this cycle (21 Democrats and 15 Republicans). So what works this year doesn’t necessarily translate to 2016.

Two, the electorate will be different in two years. 2016 is a presidential election year, and many more people vote in presidential years than in midterms. Demographically, marginal voters tend to be Democrats – young adults, minorities, single women. This year, the Republicans have little incentive to woo Hispanic voters, but every incentive to woo them in 2016. They probably can’t win the presidency without doing better with Hispanic voters than GOP nominee Mitt Romney did in 2012: 27 percent.

 
Is It Peacetime or Wartime in America?

Is It Peacetime or Wartime in America?

Obama is losing his battle with perpetual conflict.

By Uri Friedman

Barack Obama delivered a bewildering speech on Wednesday. The pledge to "destroy" the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria; the deployment of U.S. troops to do just that; the flag-flanked, sober-sounding president addressing the American people behind a podium in prime-time—all appeared to amount to a declaration of war.

But Obama never used the word "war" to describe his decision to launch airstrikes against ISIS and provide military assistance to regional forces fighting the extremist group. When he employed the w-word, it was to clarify what this is not. It's not "another ground war in Iraq." It's not Afghanistan. It's a "counterterrorism campaign" to "take out ISIL wherever they exist." Obama didn't say how long the campaign would take, or how we'll know when its mission is accomplished.

The effect was to thoroughly blur the boundary between peacetime and wartime. And maybe that was on purpose. After all, it was less than a year and a half ago that Obama promised, in an address at National Defense University, to remove America from the "perpetual war footing" it had assumed since the September 11 attacks. On Wednesday night, he seemingly tried to honor that pledge while simultaneously preparing the country for military operations against ISIS. Did the president announce a war? A military action? Targeted strikes? Are there meaningful differences between these terms? It's not all that clear.

In the 13 years since 9/11, Americans have grown accustomed to the ambiguity of U.S. efforts to deter, disrupt, and preempt the threats posed by a shape-shifting cast of terrorist groups. The ebbs and flows of America's inexorable counterterrorism campaigns have produced a tangled web of terminology.
 
Skills Gap Bumps Up Against Vocational Taboo

Skills Gap Bumps Up Against Vocational Taboo

The Obama administration and governors from Michigan to South Carolina have a solution for some of the U.S. manufacturing sector's woes: German-style apprenticeship programs. But American firms are reluctant to buy in.

The Obama administration and governors from Michigan to South Carolina have a solution for some of the U.S. manufacturing sector's woes: German-style apprenticeship programs.

But their success is proving to be unusually one-sided, mostly drawing firms based in Germany and other non-U.S. countries. In South Carolina, "Apprenticeship 2000," a program combining classroom work and on-the-job training, has drawn numerous German companies but so far only two U.S. firms, Ameritech Die & Mold Inc. and Timken Co.

In Michigan, where Republican Gov. Rick Snyder promised last year to "Americanize" the German model in his state, almost three-fourths of the participants are firms based overseas, mostly in Germany.

Both the White House and governors are trying to fight a so-called skills gap among U.S. workers that many businesses blame for the slow labor-market recovery. Although plenty of Americans are looking for work, employers often lament a lack of qualified workers—particularly young people.

Germany, in contrast, has a long record of finding a stronger fit between employees' skills and employers' demands. The success is reflected in a youth unemployment below 8%, the lowest of any advanced country and about half of the U.S. level. The apprenticeship system is credited as a leading driver of what many European economists call the German labor-market "miracle."

"Vocational training is a well-recognized career in Germany that offers good income opportunities, whereas in the U.S. it is often associated with people who did poor at high school," said Robert Lerman, an American University economics professor who studies apprenticeships.

Unlike in the U.S., where workers are largely hired and then trained for a company's particular needs, German vocational training normally takes three years and is supposed to give apprentices a broader qualification beyond a single employer's needs.

 
Arabs Give Tepid Support to U.S. Fight Against ISIS

Arabs Give Tepid Support to U.S. Fight Against ISIS

Many Arab governments grumbled quietly in 2011 as the United States left Iraq, fearful it might fall deeper into chaos or Iranian influence. Now, the United States is back and getting a less than enthusiastic welcome, with leading allies like Egypt, Jordan and Turkey all finding ways on Thursday to avoid specific commitments to President Obama’s expanded military campaign against Sunni extremists.

As the prospect of the first American strikes inside Syria crackled through the region, the mixed reactions underscored the challenges of a new military intervention in the Middle East, where 13 years of chaos, from Sept. 11 through the Arab Spring revolts, have deepened political and sectarian divisions and increased mistrust of the United States on all sides.

“As a student of terrorism for the last 30 years, I am afraid of that formula of ‘supporting the American effort,’ ” said Diaa Rashwan, a scholar at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, a government-funded policy organization in Cairo. “It is very dangerous.”

The tepid support could further complicate the already complex task Mr. Obama has laid out for himself in fighting the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: He must try to confront the group without aiding Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, or appearing to side with Mr. Assad’s Shiite allies, Iran and the militant group Hezbollah, against discontented Sunnis across the Arab world.

While Arab nations allied with the United States vowed on Thursday to “do their share” to fight ISIS and issued a joint communiqué supporting a broad strategy, the underlying tone was one of reluctance. The government perhaps most eager to join a coalition against ISIS was that of Syria, which Mr. Obama had already ruled out as a partner for what he described as terrorizing its citizens.

 
He’s smug and outspoken — and he just might get a congressman voted out

Maher will host an episode of "Real Time" live in D.C. (Janet Van Ham/HBO)

He’s smug and outspoken — and he just might get a congressman voted out

Jeff Weiss

Arrogance is part of the schtick for comedian Bill Maher. In his latest bit, he’s asked fans to help him identify the most inept and corrupt lawmaker on Capitol Hill. He’ll name the “winner” Friday.

Maher uses arrogance as a form of renewable energy, occasionally windmilling it toward his audience or politically hostile guests. It’s part of the schtick, a reflection of intellectual bona fides, ruthless confidence and intense preparation. At times, it can resemble Andy Kaufman in the wrestling ring, taunting Memphis hayseeds that “he’s from Hollywood, where people use their brains.”

 
James Foley's mother was threatened with PROSECUTION if family paid ransom.

FOLEY-MUM.jpg

'As an American I'm embarrassed and appalled'

James Foley's mother hits out at Obama's efforts to rescue her son and claims she was threatened with PROSECUTION if family paid ransom.

The mother of James Foley, the American journalist beheaded by ISIS, spoke tonight of her deep disappointment felt towards the Obama administration for their handling of her time as a prisoner of the terror group, saying, 'I really feel our country let Jim down.'

On the 13th anniversary of 9/11 and the day after President Obama addressed the nation and finally offered a strategy to defeat ISIS, Diane Foley told CNN that 'as an American, she was 'embarrassed and appalled' at the efforts to rescue her son from captivity.

Articulate and thoughtful throughout her interview, Mrs. Foley made the startling claim that US officials threatened her family with prosecution and imprisonment if they tried to raise a ransom for Foley, 40, and said 'Jim was sacrificed because of a lack of communication and prioritization.'

And in a thinly veiled attack on Obama's new strategy to 'degrade and destroy' ISIS she said that meeting violence with more violence may not be the answer and said, 'bombing caused Jim's death.' 

At times withering in her assessment of the Obama administration's co-ordination with her family, Mrs. Foley poured scorn on the Pentagon's claim they tried to rescue Foley on July 4, only to raid the wrong base.

Speaking to CNN's Anderson Cooper, Mrs. Foley said her family knew where James Foley was being held on two separate occasions in Syria, and that each time he was there for months following his capture on Thanksgiving, 2012.

 
Trump To Obama: Resign And I'll Give You Free Golf For The Rest Of Your Life

Derek Hunter

Obama-Golf

It's a sweetheart deal for all involved, really

 
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