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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Bari Weiss, New York Times: Imagine this: The author of the most popular book in the country goes on Bill Maher's show and says the following about President Barack Obama: "There is something in the book that I was absolutely sure of but it was so incendiary that I just didn't have the ultimate proof," he says. "I didn't have the blue dress." The host pushes the coy writer for a hint. "You just have to read between the lines toward the end of the book," the writer answers. "When you hit that paragraph you're going to say, 'Bingo!'" Within moments, every person with a copy turns to the last bit. The woman's name jumps out as if it was printed in boldface: Samantha Power, the United Nations ambassador. "The president has been spending a notable amount of private time," the book says, with her on Air Force One. Do I have to tell you what the reaction to this rumor-mongering would be? read more


America's comfort level with the LGBTQ population is declining, according to GLADD, one of the oldest and largest LGBTQ organizations. GLAAD reports a drop of 3 to 4 percent drop in people's reported "comfort levels" with several scenarios, such as learning a family member is gay. "This year, the acceptance pendulum abruptly stopped and swung in the opposite direction," the report states. "More non-LGBTQ adults responded that they were ‘very' or ‘somewhat' uncomfortable around LGBTQ people in select scenarios." The decline is paired with a significant increase in LGBTQ people reporting discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity," the report continues. "This change can be seen as a dangerous repercussion in the tenor of discourse and experience over the last year. 2017 brought heightened rhetoric toward marginalized communities to the forefront of American culture." The survey incorporated 2,100 respondents...and has been in place for several years.


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions was confirmed to head the Department of Justice (DOJ) nearly one year ago, he has been making an impact in which the rule of law has more of a place than it ever did in the Obama DOJ under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch.


While the White House has confirmed that since the Jerusalem Declaration there has been a complete disconnect between the Palestinian Authority and the Trump administration, it turns out that the previous administration has maintained contact with PA officials. Maariv reported that former US secretary of state John Kerry met in London with a close associate of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Hussein Agha, for a long and open conversation about a variety of topics. Agha apparently reported details of the conversation to senior PA officials in Ramallah. A senior PA official confirmed to Maariv that the meeting took place. [snip] During the conversation, according to the report, Kerry asked Agha to convey a message to Abbas and ask him to "hold on and be strong." Tell him, he told Agha, "that he should stay strong in his spirit and play for time, that he will not break and will not yield to President [Donald] Trump's demands."


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Too many of our nation's citizens live in the depths of hopelessness and despair. The news came and went so fast that you might have missed it. American life expectancy has declined. Again. In 2015 and 2016, in fact, the average American life span declined for two years in a row for the first time in more than 50 years. The preliminary numbers for 2017 are looking grim as well. Multi-year declines are typically attributable to war or disease outbreaks. In America? Our decline is based largely on our capacity for self-harm...


Comments

Then there's this:

Recall that in 2014, then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released a document prepared by committee Democrats about the CIA's terrorist interrogation program that was rife with "material omissions of fact." Indeed, Feinstein and her staff did not interview a single CIA official involved in the interrogation program, because they did not want to hear inconvenient facts that might undermine their predetermined narrative. Former Democratic senator Bob Kerrey, who had sat on the intelligence committee, decried "the partisan nature of this report." Yet no one in the media decried its release, nor did the Obama administration suppress it. Instead, the Republican minority was allowed to publish a separate report and the CIA released a document of its own rebutting Feinstein's many falsehoods -- and then left it to the public to judge.

And more importantly (from the same source):

But there is nothing in the law that allows the government to suppress the release of a document simply because it has "material omissions of fact." The only justification for classifying information is to protect national security. Indeed, government officials are explicitly prohibited from preventing the release of a document under the guise of "classified information" because they believe it is politically biased or may embarrass the government. Executive Order 13526 , signed by President Barack Obama on Dec. 29, 2009, clearly states "In no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified, or fail to be declassified in order to: conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency . . . or prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of the national security."

www.washingtonpost.com

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