Archive for the ‘“Intelligence”’ Category
The federal government recently began its seventh year of considering whether to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Nearly all that time has passed under the administration of President Obama, who seems content never to decide the pipeline’s fate. That way, it wouldn’t be built, which would please the president’s supporters on the liberal environmental fringe, but would never be explicitly rejected, which could offend everybody else.
It’s striking to see an administration stonewalling an issue with so much popular support on the other side. A Washington Post-ABC News poll in March found that 65 percent favor building the pipeline, versus 22 who oppose. On how many other issues is the White House standing up against a three-to-one majority of opinion?
Nearly all types of people support building the pipeline. A few months ago, a Pew Research Center study divided the public into seven political categories — not just the usual liberal-conservative binary division. Pew found strong support for the pipeline in six of its seven categories, ranging from mostly conservative to mostly liberal.
For example, among a group labeled “next generation left,” that is, young people who are liberal in outlook but skeptical about whether government can accomplish much, there was 62 percent to 28 percent support of the pipeline.
Only the group labeled “solid liberals,” the most doctrinaire of those on the Left, opposed the pipeline, 57 percent 30 percent. Although they are passionate about their views, they are in a distinct minority; according to Pew, “solid liberals” make up just 17 percent of all registered voters.
So the Obama administration has solidly aligned itself with the 17 percent against the other 83 percent. Perhaps that’s a sustainable position for a president who won’t face voters again. It’s a tougher job for Democrats running for office in an already-tough year.
With the news that the National Gallery in the UK has rescinded its long-standing “no photographs” rule, it appears that another opportunity for incidental and accidental infringement has been unleashed upon people in the UK. The National Gallery apparently realized that with everyone carrying a smartphone these days (and the fact that it offers free WiFi that it encourages patrons to use), it became kind of ridiculous to try to block photographs while encouraging people to use their phones to research the artwork they were looking at.
However, the original notice noted that “temporary” exhibits will still have restrictions on photography “for reasons of copyright.” But, as IPKat notes above, it’s not clear why that should only apply to the temporary exhibits, since many of the permanent exhibit works are still under copyright as well (though the museum itself might also hold the copyright on many of those works). Either way, IPKat wonders if merely including a piece of copyright-covered artwork in the background of a photo — such as a selfie — might lead to claims of infringement. While some countries have freedom of panorama laws** that say it’s okay to represent artistic works on public display, that apparently does not apply to paintings (though it does apply to sculptures).
In the end, it appears that while it may be unlikely to get sued over taking a selfie in the National Gallery, if you’re the extra cautious type, you might want to avoid it for fear of yet another ridiculous copyright claim. As IPKat notes, the caselaw is at least ambiguous enough that if someone wanted to go after you for your selfie with fine art, you might be in trouble. That this end result is ridiculous and kind of stupid isn’t really discussed in the piece, but seems rather obvious. Yes, it may be unlikely that a lawsuit will come out of it, but we’ve seen sillier lawsuits in the past, and I doubt it would surprise many if this new policy also results in a lawsuit down the road. Because that’s just the way copyright works.
Obama Administration Learns: If You Redefine Every Word In The Dictionary, You Can Get Away With Just About Anything
We’ve written before about how the NSA uses its own definitions of some fairly basic English words, in order to pretend to have the authority to do things it probably… doesn’t really have authority to do. It’s become clear that this powergrab-by-redefinition is not unique to the NSA when it comes to the executive branch of the government. Earlier this year, we also wrote about the stunning steady redefinition of words within the infamous “Authorization to Use Military Force” (AUMF) that was passed by Congress immediately after September 11, 2001. It officially let the President use “all necessary and appropriate force” against those who “planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” But, over time, the AUMF was being used to justify efforts against folks who had nothing to do with September 11th, leading to this neat sleight of hand in which the military started pretending that the AUMF also applied to “associated forces.” That phrase appears nowhere in the AUMF, but it’s a phrase that is regularly repeated and claimed by the administration and the military.
But, it goes beyond that. As Trevor Timm highlights over at The Guardian, pretty much the entire drone bombing (drones, by the way, are also apparently “authorized” by the AUMF) of Syria involves the administration conveniently redefining basic English to suit its purposes. Let’s start with the authorization for the bombing itself:
For instance, in his Tuesday statement that US airstrikes that have expanded into Syria, Obama studiously avoided any discussion about his domestic legal authority to conduct these strikes. That dirty work was apparently left up to anonymous White House officials, who told the New York Times’s Charlie Savage that both the Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) from 2001 (meant for al-Qaida) and the 2002 war resolution (meant for Saddam Hussein’s Iraq) gave the government the authority to strike Isis in Syria.
In other words: the legal authority provided to the White House to strike al-Qaida and invade Iraq more than a dozen years ago now means that the US can wage war against a terrorist organization that’s decidedly not al-Qaida, in a country that is definitely not Iraq.
The contempt of Congress case against Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. — the first sitting Cabinet member ever to face such a congressional rebuke — will continue even after his resignation takes effect, but it’s unlikely he will ever face personal punishment, legal analysts said Thursday.
Mr. Holder, is expected to announce his resignation later Thursday, and Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said the timing is not accidental: A federal judge earlier this week ruled that the Justice Department will have to begin submitting documents next month related to the botched Fast and Furious gun operation in a case brought by Judicial Watch.
“I don’t think it’s any coincidence he’s resigning as the courts are ruling the Fast and Furious information has to be released,” Mr. Fitton told The Washington Times.
It’s not enough that the food is free.
It’s got to be pork-free, too?
Muslim activists in Minnesota – that’s the heartland state that’s sent at least two men to fight on the side of Islamic fascists in Iraq – are demanding their own section in the local food bank so illiterate families can pick up free food that lives up to their expectations.
According to WCCO, the CBS affiliate in the Twin Cities, a group of first-generation Somali-Americans marched into Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin’s office last week to demand he do something about the pork and beans and other free foodstuffs that are contaminating the provender.
Because some people think free food is some kind of charity.
“It’s about human rights also, basic human rights to get the proper food and also healthy food,” said Hassan Mohamud, the protesters’ imam.
Sure it is. It’s also about $150,000 or so, the amount of money WCCO reports would be needed to establish a free food bank that catered – literally – to the recipients’ religious tastes. And that’s just to get started. How much it would cost to keep it going hasn’t been determined yet.
“Some food shelves are trying to meet the need, but some of them already got canned beans that have already been mixed with pork — and there is a literacy issue here,” said community activist Fartun Weli.
Actually, there are a couple more issues here.
One might be literacy — though the word “pork” should be fairly straightforward for the offspring of immigrants who grew up with access to American public schools. It’s only got four letters and appears to be something they’re pretty touchy about.
Another one is gratitude and common courtesy. If religious dietary restrictions are really that big of a deal, there should be a way to address the issue quietly — or maybe even just having volunteers or “community activists” on hand to make sure everyone knows what “p-o-r-k” means on a can of free food.
Frankly, the idea of a bunch of public aid recipients marching into a public office to demand changes in food they’re being given for free is a little unseemly. Making sure the local television cameras are there to make a public spectacle of the whole occasion is even worse.
How long before the gov’t roles over and gives it to them?
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who holds a coveted seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has skipped out on nearly half of the public hearings held by the committee over the last two years, including one where counterterrorism officials warned of the emerging ISIS danger, documents show.
Shaheen missed an April 11, 2013, hearing on U.S. policy toward Syria in which a top U.S. Treasury official in charge of terrorist financing told Senate committee members that a new terrorist group, ISIS, had sprung up, “underscoring the danger this group poses for Syria and the world.”
Shaheen was not listed as being present at the hearing in a Foreign Relations Committee report.
Records also show Shaheen didn’t show up for full committee hearings on counterterrorism policies, U.S. policy toward Iran and a host of others involving security and foreign policy.
The threat of terrorism and ISIS has become a major flashpoint in Shaheen’s tough re-election battle in the Granite State against former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown. The ex-Massachusetts Republican has accused Shaheen of not making a statement about ISIS until last month and being too late to react to the jihadists’ bloody campaign.
Shaheen has defended her record, saying she has “been talking about this and the threat of a civil war in Syria” for years.
But apparently not much from her seat on the Foreign Relations committee.
So is this passage of his speech: ” … the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. Islam teaches peace. Muslims the world over aspire to live with dignity and a sense of justice. And when it comes to America and Islam, there is no us and them, there is only us.”
But Islam and the holy Koran on which Muslim militant groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State base their actions do call for the extermination of all who do not follow Islam, do demand that followers kill anyone who leaves the religion, do subjugate women. For the record, the Koran contains more than 100 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers.
Mr. Obama said in his speech that “all people of faith have a responsibility to lift up the value at the heart of all great religions: Do unto thy neighbor as you would do — you would have done unto yourself.” But that is not a cornerstone of Islam. Militant Muslims have a very different belief: “Fight in the name of your religion with those who disagree with you.” And that edict comes straight from their holiest book.
To the president, that ideology “will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed and confronted and refuted in the light of day.” Again, the callowness is astounding. While he urged the world, “especially Muslim communities,” to reject the ideology that underlies al Qaeda and the Islamic State, nothing will change the fact that cold-blooded killers are determined to destroy the West, wipe all infidels from the face of the earth and build a new caliphate based on strict adherence to Shariah law (which leans heavily toward beheadings, lashings, stonings).
In the process, he praised Islam as part of a family of religions that “accommodate devout faith with a modern, multicultural world,” and added that “All religions have been attacked by extremists from within at some point, and all people of faith have a responsibility to lift up the value at the heart of all religion: do unto thy neighbor as you would have done unto you.”
His solution: talking about how ISIL and al Qaeda and Boko Haram are bad. Obama’s faith in words is absolutely unshakeable, as he made clear: “The ideology of ISIL or al Qaeda or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed, confronted, and refuted in the light of day.” Hilariously, Obama explained that the UN Security Council would pass a resolution about combating “violent extremism,” but refused to explain what steps would actually be taken to do so, instead putting that discussion off for “next year.”
After spending fifteen minutes blabbering about the glories and wonders of Islam, even as he decried extremism and sectarianism, Obama proceeded to blame Israel for conflict in the Middle East:
Leadership will also be necessary to address the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. As bleak as the landscape appears, America will never give up the pursuit of peace. The situation in Iraq, Syria and Libya should cure anyone of the illusion that this conflict is the main source of problems in the region; for far too long, it has been used in part as a way to distract people from problems at home. And the violence engulfing the region today has made too many Israelis ready to abandon the hard work of peace. But let’s be clear: the status quo in the West Bank and Gaza is not sustainable. We cannot afford to turn away from this effort – not when rockets are fired at innocent Israelis, or the lives of so many Palestinian children are taken from us in Gaza. So long as I am President, we will stand up for the principle that Israelis, Palestinians, the region, and the world will be more just with two states living side by side, in peace and security.
The Israelis may not be the “main source of problems in the region,” but by pressuring Israel before the entire world just weeks after Hamas continuously fired rockets into Israel and shielded its own rockets with children, Obama demonstrates his distaste for the Jewish State, and his desire to cast them as a bleeding abscess leading to more violence. The moral equivalence here was stunning, unjustifiable, and purely disgusting.
America shares virtually nothing with the other member states at the UN. But President Obama shares a lot with them: a desire for America to take a secondary role in the world affairs, a desire for Israel to surrender in the face of its enemies, a desire for talk rather than action, a desire to demean the United States on the global stage.