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Obama Extends Bulk Phone Data Collection Program To September



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President Obama extended the National Security Agency program until September by convincing a judge to reauthorize the existing program as his administration promises to work with Congress to pass legislation that would circumscribe the bulk collection of American phone records.

The request that the program be reauthorized was approved Thursday. “Given the importance of maintaining the capabilities of the Section 215 telephony metadata program, the government has sought a 90-day reauthorization of the existing program, as modified by the changes the president announced earlier this year,” a statement released by the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence revealed late Friday. ”Consistent with prior declassification decisions, in light of the significant and continuing public interest in the telephony metadata collection program, the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, has declassified the fact that the government’s application to renew the program was approved yesterday by the FISC [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court].  The order issued yesterday expires on Sept. 12, 2014. The Administration is undertaking a declassification review of this most recent court order and an accompanying memorandum opinion for publication.”

Obama promised to change the program after the Edward Snowden leaks revealed that the govenment could order a phone company to hand over phone records in bulk.

“The program does not involve the NSA examining the phone records of ordinary Americans,” the president said in January. “Having said that, I believe critics are right to point out that without proper safeguards, this type of program could be used to yield more information about our private lives, and open the door to more intrusive bulk collection programs in the future.”

Obama supports the House-passed USA Freedom Act, an NSA-reform bill written by Republican Patriot Act author Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, but the Senate hasn’t heard the bill yet.

“We’re doing something unnecessary and unpredictable here, which might make the public feel better, but would not be good for national security, which is what our job is,” Senator Jay Rockefeller (D., W.Va.), a former Intelligence Committee chairman, said of the bill.

“We urge the Senate to swiftly consider it, and remain ready to work with Congress to clarify that the bill prohibits bulk collection as noted above, as necessary,” the statement from DOJ and DNI said of the USA Freedom Act.

From the Greenroom, Ralph Reed Surveys the 2016 Field



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The two elderly gentlemen manning a booth at the back of the Regency ballroom in Washington, D.C.’s Omni hotel on Friday stood for a photographer and unfurled a banner: “Run, Ben, Run!” At the booth, one of many at this year’s Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, they were distributing petitions to draft Ben Carson, the surgeon who ignited conservatives when he criticized President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast last year, as well as Carson ’16 bumper stickers and a pamphlet urging supporters to clamor and pray on his behalf.

“We’re trying to convince him to run for president,” one of the men told me. “He’s a hard sell.”

On stage at the front of the ballroom, more plausible 2016 presidential candidates delivered remarks to the crowd — Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz on Thursday, Rand Paul and Chris Christie on Friday.

Surveying it all from the green room backstage was Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition who founded the nonprofit Faith and Freedom Coalition in 2009. The annual conference puts the potential presidential contenders through their paces before a socially conservative audience, particularly important in early primary states such as Iowa and South Carolina. This is a scrimmage for both the candidates and the activists in attendance. Entrance and exit polls in the 2012 presidential election showed that 50 percent of Republican primary voters are either white Evangelical or born-again Christians.

Reed puts it bluntly: “There is no path to the nomination without getting your fair share of that vote.”

“I think it’s of value to them and I think that’s why they’re here,” Reed says. He points out that it’s perhaps the first time that Chris Christie has addressed a socially conservative audience on a national level. “I thought Christie surprised a lot of people with some of the things he said,” Reed says. “He didn’t surprise me because I know him and I’ve followed his record.”

The New Jersey governor argued on Friday, as he did in the Garden State earlier this week, that the pro-life platform should extend beyond the abortion issue to things like rehabilitating non-violent drug offenders. “I believe if you’re pro-life, as I am, you need to be pro-life for the whole life,” he said. On Wednesday, Christie made an emergency medication that can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose available to emergency medical technicians across the state of New Jersey and has for years now pushed to expand a program that would mandate rehab rather than jail time for non-violent drug offenders.

It is the freshman senator from Kentucky, however, who seems to appeal to Reed the most. Reed himself is a former southern politician who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor of Georgia in 2006. Reed calls Paul an “intriguing figure” because of his ability to speak compellingly to social conservatives but also to reach people who don’t traditionally support Republicans. “Rand kind of has a one-two punch,” he says.

Paul, who has spoken at several Faith and Freedom Coalition events previously, sounded more preacher than politician on Friday. The moral foundation of the United States is “cracking,” he said, calling for a revival of faith among Americans. Cries of “Amen! Amen!” came from the crowd, which included a man dressed in colonial garb, complete with a tricorne, waving the yellow Gadsden flag that has come to symbolize the tea-party movement. The Kentucky senator also called for an end to foreign aid to any country that persecutes Christians. “There’s a war on Christianity going on and sometimes you’re being asked to pay for it,” Paul said. “I say not one penny to any country that persecutes Christians.” The audience responded: “Yes! Yes!”

One issue not much discussed in the remarks of any of the speakers who graced the stage was gay marriage. Asked whether he would have liked to hear more about it, Reed is agnostic. He says he defers to the judgment of the politicians with regard to “what issues they want to stress.” He knows, he says, that virtually all of the guests this weekend “believe marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman.” “That’s what the Republican platform says, and I don’t expect that to change,” he said.

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The Scott Walker Non-Scandal



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Read Gabriel Malor, Phil Klein, Guy Benson, and Christian Schneider on why this “scandal” isn’t one, and isn’t going anywhere either.

Web Briefing: July 13, 2014

Does Everyone Want Less Abortion?



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“Preventing the incidence of abortion in America is something that everyone on all sides wants to do.” Or so Professor Marty Lederman of Georgetown University Law Center asserted at a recent debate over Obamacare’s HHS mandate that was hosted by the Federalist Society. A feel-good statement like “everyone wants less abortion” may resonate with the average person who considers themselves “pro-choice.” But the claim proves false when it comes to the policymakers responsible for the mandate. 

Planned Parenthood itself has bragged that it helped “shape” Obamacare. The nation’s largest abortion chain was front and center in the HHS mandate’s creation.

Not only was Planned Parenthood invited as one of the select few organizations to influence the Institute of Medicine (IOM) panel tasked with deciding what “preventive services” would be mandated under Obamacare, its connections to members of the decision-making IOM panel run deep. In addition to affiliations with other pro-abortion advocacy groups, several IOM panelists were members, and even chairmen, of Planned Parenthood boards.

Planned Parenthood has an obvious financial interest in abortions. It profits, literally, from nearly 900 abortions each and every day.

Already performing roughly one-third of the abortions in the U.S. annually, Planned Parenthood actively works to increase its abortion side of business. A nation-wide mandate that every Planned Parenthood affiliate perform abortions took effect in 2013. To bring its abortion business to new areas without also bringing a doctor for in-person examinations and appropriate after-care, its clinics use “telemed,” dispensing abortion drugs to patients after a Skype session with an off-location doctor.

Planned Parenthood’s latest annual report boasts about its efforts to eschew physician involvement altogether. Describing its agenda as “on offense in the states,” Planned Parenthood celebrated a new California law allowing non-physicians to perform abortions. A lowered standard of care to further expand its abortion business draws cheers from the abortion giant. The report also announced Planned Parenthood will “press forward” with such “proactive legislative agenda around the country.”

Keep reading this post . . .

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To Those Pundits Taking Their Iraq ‘Victory Laps’



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So, it’s become a trend for lefty pundits to express their disgust when supporters of Operation Iraqi Freedom offer their opinions about the reasons for the present crisis in Iraq. Here’s Jonathan Chait summarizing the theme:

What do liberals believe about the current disaster in Iraq? One thing most of us believe is that the United States should stay the hell out. But another thing liberals believe with even greater conviction is that advocates of the last Iraq war should not participate in the current debate. The Atlantic’s James Fallows argues that Iraq war hawks “might have the decency to shut the hell up on this particular topic for a while.” Slate’s Jamelle Bouie, writing in the second person, instructs Iraq hawks, “Given your role in building this catastrophe, you should be barred from public comment, since anything you could say is outweighed by the damage you’ve done.” Washington Post columnist Katrina Vanden Heuvel, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, and many others have reiterated the point. This meta belief about who should be allowed to argue about Iraq, more than any actual argument about Iraq itself, has become the left’s main way of thinking about the issue.

Rarely have so many people felt so cocky about leaving a genocidal dictator in place. Rarely have so many people felt so sure about the completely unprovable and speculative claim that this hostile genocidal dictator’s next eleven years in power would have been better for America than the decision to depose him. And rarely have these same people been so cocky about working so hard to ensure the failure of the course of action they opposed, then crowed about their success even as they blamed their ideological opponents for the resulting human toll. 

This I believe: America made some profound mistakes at the beginning of the war, bad choices that if made differently could have had a material, beneficial effect on the course and conduct of the war. In hindsight, I believe we shouldn’t have disbanded Iraq’s military and its civil service. In hindsight, we shouldn’t have limited our footprint on the ground. In hindsight, we shouldn’t have waited so long to adopt the counterinsurgency tactics of the Surge. The list of mistakes could go on, but war is hard, the enemy always has a vote, and sometimes only cruel experience can teach us the right lessons.

This I know: America has made profound — and far more costly — mistakes at the beginning of virtually every war. The opening months of World War II were a national nightmare, rendered more palatable to the public only through large-scale censorship that sometimes blocked the American people’s knowledge of defeats that cost more lives in one night than America would lose in entire years in Iraq or Afghanistan. In the Korean War, profound diplomatic and intelligence failures led to headlong retreats and mass-scale slaughters of unprepared soldiers. In the Civil War, poor tactics and dreadful leadership almost destroyed the nation less than one century after its founding, as a Union with immense manpower and industrial benefits arguably came within a few improper orders and missed battlefield opportunities from crumbling in the face of the Army of Northern Virginia. The list of horrifying mistakes could go on, but — as I just said — war is hard, the enemy always has a vote, and sometimes only cruel experience can teach us the right lessons.

This I also know, because I was there: In Iraq, we learned from our mistakes, and the Iraq we left — even as early as late September 2008, when I flew home — was a far, far better place than it is today, a far better place than it was under Saddam, and an actual ally of the United States. Commentary’s Peter Wehner states it well:

By the time the surge ended in 2008, violence in Iraq had dropped to the lowest level since the first year of the war. Sectarian killings had dropped by 95 percent. By 2009, U.S. combat deaths were extremely rare. (In December of that year there were no American combat deaths in Iraq.) Iraq was on the mend. Even Barack Obama, who opposed the surge every step of the way, conceded in September 2008 that it had succeeded in reducing violence “beyond our wildest dreams.”

It’s one thing to know statistics. It’s another thing entirely to live the reality. The transformation was simply stunning. In 2007, when we went outside the wire, the tension was palpable and the fear (certainly for me) was very real. We knew the odds, and we knew our vulnerability. By late 2008, the difference was profound. I shopped in streets that months before were war-torn and infested with roadside bombs.

And we threw it away, with a huge assist from the Maliki government.  

We are all responsible for our words and actions. Even though my influence is minimal (especially compared to my colleagues posting here on NRO and syndicated nationally) I sometimes agonize over individual words in blog posts. And I still think every day about the choices I made in Iraq. But if I’m responsible — as a supporter of the war from the beginning and a veteran of that same conflict — for what I say and do, so are the victory lappers. And I would not trade places with a group that helped manufacture the “war weariness” that gripped an American public that has, apart from a tiny minority, sacrificed nothing for this conflict and would continue to sacrifice nothing even if we maintained the small force in Iraq necessary to secure our gains. 

You helped America leave, and in so doing, you helped waste the sacrifice of those few who served.

Your moral superiority is misplaced.

Your victory lap is grotesque. 

A New House Leader Meets with the Conservative Base



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Kevin McCarthy, the newly elected House Majority Leader, wasted no time tending to the conservative activist base of the Republican party. This afternoon, he appeared before Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom coalition convention, which seeks to serve as a bridge between the Tea Party and evangelical conservatives, recognizing there is already a great deal of overlap.

McCarthy’s talk was light on both issues and specifics, but accomplished its purpose of letting conservatives know where he was coming from and presenting himself as approachable. He began by assuring people he “wasn’t ashamed to be a Christian,” and proceeded to discuss his faith. He then segued into recounting his struggle to rise from humble beginnings as the son of a firefighter, and said American exceptionalism had real meaning for him because “in no other country could I have become Majority Leader.”

He insisted he hadn’t forgotten his roots: “I still sleep on the couch inside my office, where I often ponder what I should do under portraits of both Lincoln and Reagan.” He said the lessons he’s learned from studying their lives included a firm belief in being optimistic while at the same time not leaving tough decisions to future generations.

He did make one promise to the crowd: “I pledge to try and unite our movement while having the courage to lead and the wisdom to listen.”

The reaction from the crowd was generally favorable, with one participant telling me: “It’s early to see if he means what he says, but there was none of the uneasiness and hesitancy that Eric Cantor used to show in outlining his agenda.”

Student Vet Not Allowed to Recite Pledge of Allegiance at Meetings



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An Army veteran says he was not allowed to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of a student-government meeting at the University of Wyoming. Fellow students leaders apparently informed him that the pledge could offend international students attending the meeting, he told Campus Reform

Cory Schroeder, who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, was recently elected as a senator in the Associated Students of the University of Wyoming. When he expressed his desire to start of the meeting with the pledge, he explained that “multiple senators sat me down and said it was a ‘very touchy subject’ and ‘we don’t want to offend anybody.’” 

After this disappointment, Schroeder approached the group’s vice president, Ricardo Lind-Gonzales, about his concern. Lind-Gonzales apparently told him that he would put the issue on the group’s agenda to be discussed, but it was left off the agenda for the remainder of the year. 

Schroeder was told that he could write a bill to allow the recitation of the pledge at the start of meetings, but he expressed his doubts about this solution to Campus Reform. He predicts that the bill’s passing would involve a “long process” and would have to be approved by the “liberal standing committee,” who he thinks will find small errors with it in order to delay the process.

Schroeder doesn’t think a bill should be necessary in order for him to recite the pledge, saying, “If you look at any constitution that governs a student body, there’s no law, there’s no bill that states you must give 20 seconds to say the Pledge of Allegiance, [and there] shouldn’t be.”

Lind-Gonzales wrote an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times denying Schroeder’s claim that students are prohibited from saying the pledge. He explained, however, that the working papers on how the group’s meetings are conducted, which he says are held “in high regard” and must be adhered to, do not include the pledge. “We always encourage senators to revise and update our working documents as they and their constituents see fit,” he added.

The university’s president Dick McGinity, who served in Vietnam, said in a statement, ”As a fellow veteran, I would like for all meetings of student government to begin with the Pledge of Allegiance.” He added, though, that as Schroeder’s group is an independent student organization, the choice is not up to him.

Viva Juan Carlos



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Among the items in Impromptus today is one on Juan Carlos, the late king of Spain — or rather, the recently abdicated king. Yes, he helped his country establish democracy, and keep it. But remember the time he told Hugo Chávez to shut up? That was thrilling.

“Por qué no te callas?” he told the tiresome, mouthy strongman. “Why don’t you shut up?” To see the great and historic moment, go here.

Judging by my mail, there are many Juan Carlos fans in our readership. Certainly many fans of his instruction to Chávez. One reader writes,

Howdy, Jay. It’s hard to argue with the success of Juan Carlos’s statement. It resulted in a ringtone, T-shirts, etc. But I must confess mild disappointment that the king did not use the more colorful phrase “Cierra el pico.” While this translates roughly to “Shut up,” the literal-ish translation adds a special gravy: “Shut the/your beak/bill.”

In this sense, it is more akin, spiritually, to “Zip your grocery hole” or, à la Mel from Alice, “Stow it, Dingy.”

“Zip your grocery hole”? I wish I had someone to use that on, right now. Might have to wander the streets, looking for an occasion.

Rand Paul Defends President Obama From Dick Cheney



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Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) defended President Obama from former vice president Dick Cheney’s critiques of his policy in Iraq, saying that he faults Cheney and the rest of President George W. Bush’s team for launching an invasion of Iraq that ultimately strengthened Iran.

“What’s going on now, I don’t blame on President Obama,” Paul told NBC’s David Gregory. “But I do blame the Iraq War on the chaos that is in the Middle East. I also blame those who were for the Iraq war for emboldening Iran.”

Paul explained that “Iran is much more of a threat because of the Iraq war than they were before. Before, there was a standoff between Sunnis and Shiites; now, there is Iranian hegemony throughout the region.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) made a similar point while dismissing Secretary of State John Kerry’s suggestion that the United States could collaborate with Iran on a response to the militants now storming Iraq. Pelosi, noting that Saddam Hussein’s regime was a counterweight to Iran in the region, said that Iran is now ”free and clear because we took out their main check.”

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly raked Cheney over the coals for the mistakes made in the lead-up and during the Iraq War.

“But time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir,” Kelly told him.  “You said there were no doubts Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.  You said we would greeted as liberators.  You said the Iraq insurgency was in the last throes back in 2005.  And you said that after our intervention, extremists would have to, quote, ‘rethink their strategy of Jihad.’  Now with almost a trillion dollars spent there with 4,500 American lives lost there, what do you say to those who say, you were so wrong about so much at the expense of so many?” 

Cheney responded that no one, in the lead-up to the invasion, doubted that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. “We had a situation where if we — after 9/11, we were concerned about a follow-up  attack, it would involve not just airline tickets and box cutters as the weapons, but rather something far deadlier, perhaps even a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Paul has hit Cheney over his support for the Iraq War before.  ”I think there’s at least the appearance and the chance of a conflict of interest,” Paul said of Cheney’s work with Halliburton. ”And in his case, there was a policy of thinking it was a bad idea to invade Baghdad — then going to work in private for a contractor, coming back and now saying it was good. I don’t know what his thought process is, and I’m not trying to say. I’m just saying there’s an appearance that there could be a conflict of interest.”

The comment was made in 2009, but didn’t receive much attention until Mother Jones published the video in April, at which point Paul emphasized that he didn’t believe Cheney supported the war in order to benefit his old company.

“The point I was trying to make is one similar to one Eisenhower made,” Paul told Business Insider. ”He said that the military-industrial complex — beware, because then they could be influencing policy by people who make money off government contracts. I wasn’t intending really to impugn his personal motives. I think he is a patriot as much as anyone else, and wants what’s best for the country. I don’t always agree with him, but I don’t question his motives.”

Charles Krauthammer explains how Obama bears responsibility for failing to secure a status of forces agreement that would have helped prevent the current instability by leaving United States forces in Iraq.

“David Petraeus had won the war. Obama’s one task was to conclude a status-of-forces agreement (SOFA) to solidify the gains. By Obama’s own admission — in the case he’s now making for a status-of-forces agreement with Afghanistan — such agreements are necessary ‘because after all the sacrifices we’ve made, we want to preserve the gains’ achieved by war,” Krauthammer wrote. “Which is what made his failure to do so in Iraq so disastrous. His excuse was his inability to get immunity for U.S. soldiers. Nonsense. Bush had worked out a compromise in his 2008 SOFA, as we have done with allies everywhere. The real problem was Obama’s reluctance to maintain any significant presence in Iraq.”

 

Tags: Iraq , Rand Paul , Barack Obama , Dick Cheney

While Daughters Go Hollywood, Michelle Obama Wants Them to Work Minimum Wage



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Malia and Sasha Obama have spent the last couple weeks hanging out on the set of some hit Hollywood shows, but their mother doesn’t want them to get used to the luxurious lifestyle. In an interview with Parade magazine, the first lady said she wanted her daughters to work a minimum-wage job.

“I think every kid needs to get a taste of what it’s like to do that real hard work,” she said. “We are looking for opportunities for them to feel as if going to work and getting a paycheck is not always fun, not always stimulating, not always fair, but that’s what most folks go through every single day.”

Michelle Obama’s expressed hopes come after Malia reportedly spent some time last week as a production assistant on Extant, a CBS series starring Halle Berry and produced by Steve Spielberg. Not to be one-upped by her older sister, Sasha spent Thursday on the set of ABC Family’s popular Pretty Little Liars, TMZ reported.

I wrote about First Daughters and television earlier this week.

A Sense of Scale



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Imagine a pretty good-sized city, somewhere between New Orleans and Cleveland. There are no children or elderly people in this city — everybody is of working age and looking for a job. Over the past year, enough new jobs have been created in Texas to employ all of them

Chairman Camp and IRS Commissioner in Slug Fest Over E-Mails



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Congressional hearings are normally somnolent affairs. This morning’s House Ways and Means hearing on the IRS scandal over “lost” e-mails was an exception.

McCarthy: Attempt to Make Iraq a Western Democracy Was a ‘Fool’s Errand’



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Ryan Shuts Down IRS Commissioner: ‘I Don’t Believe You’



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Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) isn’t buying the IRS’s story about its employees’ missing e-mails.

“This is a pattern of abuse, a pattern of behavior that is not giving any confidence that this agency is being impartial,” he said during the IRS investigation hearing on Friday.

“You are the IRS,” Ryan told IRS commissioner John Koskinen. “You can reach into the lives of hardworking taxpayers, and with a phone call or an e-mail or a letter you can turn their lives upside down. You ask the taxpayers to hand us seven years of their personal tax information in case they’re audited, and you can’t keep sixe months’ worth of employee e-mails?”

He noted that Koskinen learned of the supposedly crashed hard drives months ago, but just disclosed the information on Monday after being asked. “This is not being forthcoming. This is being misleading again,” Ryan told Koskinen. “I don’t believe you.”

Miss USA Was Right About Self Defense and Rape



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Miss USA winner Nia Sanchez recently emblazoned social media, with feminist writers widely criticizing her for suggesting that, given the frequency of rape on campus, we should urge women to learn to defend themselves.

In today’s New York Post, I look at what the empirical evidence says about sexual assault and self-defense. Turns out, Miss USA was on to something important:

Criminologists Gary Klek of Florida State University and Jongyeon Tark of Hannam recently published one of the most comprehensive studies ever of women resisting sexual assault.

Their findings were remarkable. When women fought back, tried to escape or otherwise defended themselves, the attacker completed the rape only 19.1 percent of the time, compared with 88.1 percent when the victims didn’t resist.

And women who fought back usually did not “provoke” the rapist into becoming more violent and inflicting further injury.

Finally, most of the victims who successfully fought off a rapist didn’t use a weapon, which suggests that the self-defense skills Miss USA endorsed are very effective.

Klek and Tark (and Sanchez) aren’t the only ones saying this, either.

A 2010 study in the journal Crime & Delinquency found that when victims fought back, it cut the odds of a completed rape by up to 92 percent.

A report in Pediatrics this spring found that Nairobi teens with even limited self-defense training later experienced fewer sexual assaults than their peers — and were more likely to report any that had occurred.

You can read the whole thing here.

— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

 

Friday Links



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Weird Al Yankovic as Isaac Newton in this historical rap battle vs. Bill Nye.

Physics, the World Cup, and bouncy balls.

Scientific invention du jour: Chinese hospitals introduce hands-free automatic sperm extractor.

Video supercut of the classic Star Wars line “I am your father” in 20 languages, bonus Star Wars: The Musical.

It’s hard to imagine why, but dating site uses facial recognition to find matches that look like your ex.

If you’re a math geek who doesn’t like sharing, you’ve been cutting cake wrong your whole life.

ICYMITuesday’s links are here, and include honest Disney posters, report cards of famous authors, and 18th- and 19th-century patent models.

Get a Whiff?



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Sheriff Joe Arpaio is the famous, or infamous, lawman in Arizona. He has now said that “the dumping of illegals is intentional” — intended by the Obama administration. (See the Washington Times, here.) I don’t know whether this is true, but I was reminded of an extraordinary moment in Britain.

A Labour aide, Andrew Neather, admitted that a policy of mass immigration was intended “to change the face of Britain forever.” He further said that this policy was meant “to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date.”

“To rub the Right’s nose in diversity” — that is one of the most pungent phrases of the modern political age, I think.

An Old, Apt Analogy



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I had already written my Impromptus for today when I came across an article I would have commented on — which I’d like to do now. The Daily Caller reports on a store clerk in Vermont who chased off a would-be robber with a gun. That is, the clerk had the gun; the robber had a knife. The clerk was fired (though did not fire). And he had no regrets.

“That store has been robbed eight or nine times,” he said, “and I always work nights. I’m a firm believer in having a gun and not needing it rather than the other way around. I can always find a new job.”

Let me emphasize that middle sentence: “I’m a firm believer in having a gun and not needing it rather than the other way around.” That is much the way I feel about a strong U.S. military.

Will’s Take: No Plan to Reduce ISIS ‘Footprint’



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On Thursday’s Special Report, George Will criticized the Obama administration’s acquiescence to ISIS presence in Iraq. The president’s hopes that Iraqis will “set aside their sectarian differences” are unrealistic, he added. Will also expressed  concern that U.S. pressure to remove longtime Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from power is reminiscent of the end of the Diem regime, which precipitated further U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Will said:

Well, I’m struck by two things that the president said. First he said we must have as our goal to prevent ISIS from having a broader footprint, which concedes that there’s no plan afoot — and no plan to have a plan afoot — to take away the footprint they’ve already got, which is substantial. Second he said — and this was mind boggling — that he hoped Iraqis would set aside their sectarian differences. It’s like expecting the French to set aside wine and cheese. It’s what defines Iraq, are the sectarian differences. 

 

Krauthammer’s Take: ‘So Many Errors, so Little Time’ in Iraq



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“I’ve got to say, so much error here, so little time,” said Charles Krauthammer on Thursday’s Special Report, commenting on the Obama administration’s response to the Iraq crisis.

Asked to comment on Obama’s announcement that U.S. troops won’t re-enter combat in Iraq, Krauthammer said: “That’s a way to appease Obama’s domestic left. It is always a mistake to say ‘x is off the table.’ You can believe it, you can stick to it, you can tell people in private, but you don’t announce it. I can assure you that if there is a Tet-offensive-like assault on the embassy in the Green Zone, there will be combat troops on the ground, otherwise we’re going to have a Benghazi squared.”

Later, responding to a fellow panel-member, Krauthammer said, “There’s no reason you have to say it. You leave it open, you leave it unsaid, you leave it ambiguous. Let the other guy stay up at night worrying about it.”

 

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