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Israeli troops, with dogs and robots, track Gaza tunnels

Yahoo

Israeli Colonel Tomer was literally tipped off to the tunnel snaking under a Palestinian village when the tank-churned earth gave way to the weight of one of his behemoth bulldozers’ treads.

Twenty-four hours later, on Wednesday, his forces had cleared a greenhouse that had provided cover and dug a three-metre-deep (10 foot) crater exposing the concrete-reinforced passage wide enough for a man in battle gear to squeeze through.

It would take several days, the officer told Reuters at the scene – the exact location could not be reported under military rules – to map out the half-dozen suspected access shafts to the tunnel, one of which, he said, was concealed by a nearby home.

Then explosives would be dropped in and the network destroyed as part of a tunnel-hunt throughout the Gaza Strip’s eastern frontier that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says will be completed, whether or not Israel reaches a ceasefire with Gaza’s Hamas Islamists.

House clears way for lawsuit against Obama

WashPo

House Republicans voted to proceed with a lawsuit against President Obama on Wednesday, saying that his executive actions are so extreme that they violate the Constitution.

The nearly party-line vote — all Democrats voted against it, and all but five Republicans voted for it — further agitated an already polarized climate on Capitol Hill as both parties used the pending suit to try to rally support ahead of the November elections.

Halfway across the continent, Obama almost gloated at the prospect of being sued.

“They’re going to sue me for taking executive actions to help people. So they’re mad I’m doing my job,” Obama said in an economics speech in Kansas City, Mo. “And by the way, I’ve told them I’d be happy to do it with you. The only reason I’m doing it on my own is because you’re not doing anything,” he said of Congress.

The clash came a day before Congress is scheduled to begin a 51 / 2-week summer break and as must-pass bills on reshaping veterans’ health care and highway construction appeared headed for passage — while most everything else was not.

On the 209th Birthday of Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville — Beware the Vacuum of “Individualism”

Ricochet

Tocqueville detested “individualism.” He believed the atomization natural to democracy — which makes every man “free” but alone — would cause the end of freedom. Consider Tocqueville’s description of life under the “mild despot,” something like socialism:

“I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each of them, withdrawn and apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of all the others: his children and his particular friends form the whole human species for him; as for dwelling with his fellow citizens, he is beside them, but he does not see them; he touches them and does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone. . . .”

This is not “collectivism” as described by Ayn Rand; it does not resemble our instinctive contempt for Marxism. Instead, Tocqueville fears an individualism where people replace a focus on God, neighbors, community life, charity, and the pursuit of a collective political greatness — messy, challenging endeavors — with the glamorization of work and petty material comforts. He warns those of us who would make self-interest the only good: individualism is a vacuum, and that vacuum will be filled with government.

Today’s conservatives want less “government.” Fine. But if we really want less government bureaucracy and tampering, then healthy political activity is important, communities are important, privatizing everything is dangerous, and denigrating public life is dangerous. In honor of Tocqueville’s vision, we should reflect more on that. And his words:

“One must therefore not reassure oneself by thinking that the barbarians are still far from us; for if there are peoples who allow the light to be torn from their hands, there are others who stifle it themselves under their feet.

Federal review stalled after finding forensic errors by FBI lab unit spanned two decades

The country’s in the best of hands…

Nearly every criminal case reviewed by the FBI and the Justice Department as part of a massive investigation started in 2012 of problems at the FBI lab has included flawed forensic testimony from the agency, government officials said.

The findings troubled the bureau, and it stopped the review of convictions last August. Case reviews resumed this month at the order of the Justice Department, the officials said.

U.S. officials began the inquiry after The Washington Post reported two years ago that flawed forensic evidence involving microscopic hair matches might have led to the convictions of hundreds of potentially innocent people. Most of those defendants never were told of the problems in their cases.

The inquiry includes 2,600 convictions and 45 death-row cases from the 1980s and 1990s in which the FBI’s hair and fiber unit reported a match to a crime-scene sample before DNA testing of hair became common. The FBI had reviewed about 160 cases before it stopped, officials said.

Pushing the PM back harder…

The women having a laugh in Turkey

Women across Turkey are posting photos of themselves laughing and smiling on social media. Why?

Women should not laugh in public. So said Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc in a speech on Monday about “moral corruption” in Turkey. “Chastity is so important,” he said. “She will not laugh in public.”

His comments have prompted a big backlash from women on social media in Turkey, with thousands posting photos of themselves laughing and smiling on Twitter and Instagram. There have been more than 300,000 tweets using the term “kahkaha” – the Turkish word for “laughter” – and on the hashtags “Resist Laughter” (#direnkahkaha) and “Resist Woman” (#direnkadin).

Many suggested the government should focus on issues like rape, domestic violence and the marriage of girls at a young age – rather than women laughing in public.

On Instagram it was a similar story. “I’m free and whether I laugh or not is my decision,” says 23-year-old Hazal Naz Besleyici who posted a photo of herself with a broad grin in response to the comments. “They should not interfere in our life,” she told BBC Trending.

Many men in Turkey have joined in the criticism of the deputy prime minister. “Oh God, let this be just a joke,” tweeted Fatih Portakal, a famous Turkish TV presenter. “If women can’t laugh in public, then men should not cry in public,” he added – a reference to the deputy prime minister’s reputed propensity to shed a tear when listening to speeches by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Octopus Broods Its Eggs For 4.5 Years, Longest For Any Animal

This is commitment…

The octopus went about brooding her eggs for a total of 53 months (aka 4.5 years), which is by far the longest on record for any animal and more than twice the lifespan of many shallow-dwelling species. The longest any octopus had previously been known to brood was 14 months. But deep-sea creatures live in much colder waters, and it was previously unknown how long they might take to “raise” their offspring. The authors of the study, published today (July 30) in PLOS ONE, compare it to other known brooding records:

The longest guarded incubation known for fish eggs is 4–5 months, by the Magellan Plunder Fish in Antarctic waters. For birds, the longest uninterrupted egg brooding is 2 months, by the Emperor Penguin. Among live-bearing species, elephants gestate for 20 to 21 months, frilled sharks carry their embryos internally for about 42 months, and the internal gestation period of alpine salamanders can reach 48 months before birth.

One of the craziest things about this: Octopus mothers aren’t thought to eat when they are raising their young. So how did it survive? The scientists don’t know, but the cold temperatures and slow metabolic rate of deep-sea animals may have helped. But it seemed to take a toll on the octopus, a member of the species Graneledone boreopacifica; over the course of brooding, the scientists observed her turn from a pallid purple to a much paler white, and they noticed the “diminishing size and tumescence [or swollenness] of the mantle, loss of skin texture, cloudy eyes, slack skin, and a loss of pigmentation.”

Milky Way Has The Mass Of 800 Billion Suns, Study Finds

PopSci

To the Students for Justice in Palestine, a Letter From an Angry Black Woman

‘You do not have the right to invoke my people’s struggle for your shoddy purposes’

The student organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is prominent on many college campuses, preaching a mantra of “Freeing Palestine.” It masquerades as though it were a civil rights group when it is not. Indeed, as an African-American, I am highly insulted that my people’s legacy is being pilfered for such a repugnant agenda. It is thus high time to expose its agenda and lay bare some of the fallacies they peddle.

Continue reading

Shut up and act…

Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown

WashingtonTimes

The federal government’s new facility to house illegal immigrant families surging across the border has been put on lockdown because of chicken pox, with no immigrants allowed to be transferred in or out, a congressman said this week.

Hundreds of illegal immigrants being kept at the campus of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, New Mexico, are being treated for and vaccinated against chicken pox after an outbreak, said Rep. Steve Pearce, the Republican congressman whose district includes Artesia.

“As the FLETC facility reaches maximum capacity, I am increasingly concerned for the health and safety of the women and children at FLETC and for the local community. The virus, that has caused two residents to be put in isolation, has halted all departures,” Mr. Pearce said.

He said he’s asked the Homeland Security Department, which runs the facility, to be available to handle calls from the community.

The chicken pox outbreak is the latest hiccup for federal officials struggling to gain a handle on the surge of illegal immigrants from Central America this year.

While most of the attention has been on the children traveling without their parents, the border has been flooded by an almost equal number of families from Central America — usually women bringing their children with them. While unaccompanied children were being turned over to social workers, the families were eligible for quick deportations — except the government had fewer than 100 beds to hold the thousands of people being apprehended.

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