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Oklahoma Man Beheads Coworker, FBI Investigating Links to Islam



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The Oklahoma man suspected of beheading a woman and stabbing another at a food-distribution center he was fired from had attempted to convert employees to Islam, according to the suspect’s former coworkers.

Alton Nolen reportedly attacked a woman on Thursday afternoon at the Vaughn Foods in Moore, Okla., stabbing her and eventually cutting off her head. He also stabbed another woman, who is currently in stable condition.

Employees told police that Nolen, who had just been let go by the company, had recently converted to Islam and had tried to convince his coworkers to convert as well. FBI officials are currently investigating whether his conversion was part of his motive.

Nolen’s rampage ended after he was shot by an employee on the scene, who is also an off-duty reserve county deputy. “It could have gotten a lot worse,” Moore police sergeant Jeremy Lewis told a local station.

British Parliament Overwhelmingly Approves Airstrikes Against ISIS in Iraq



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The British parliament overwhelmingly approved air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq on Friday, with 524 lawmakers voting in favor and just 43 opposing military action. 

Conservative prime minister David Cameron swayed members of parliament from all major parties to support air operations against the jihadists who beheaded a captured British aid worker earlier this month. Britain had initially balked about intervening in Iraq, while France had quite quickly joined the U.S.-led coalition.

“Left unchecked, we will face a terrorist caliphate on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member, with a declared and proven intention to attack our country and our people,” the prime minister said. “This is going to be a mission that will take not just months but years but I believe we have to be prepared for that commitment.”

One of the few opponents was far-left-wing lawmaker George Galloway, who said, “Extremism will spread further and deeper around the world just like happened as a result of the last Iraq war. The people outside can see it but the fools in here, who draw a big salary and big expenses, cannot and will not see it.”

Cameron also warned lawmakers that circumstances may eventually force the United Kingdom to expand its intervention into Syria. The United States and a small coalition of Arab partners have already begun bombing raids against Islamic State targets in the country.

Denmark also announced on Friday that it will send seven F-16 fighters to Iraq; the Netherlands promised six jets on Thursday. 

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Is There Such a Thing as Too Much War on Women? In Colorado, Maybe . . .



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The Hill has a story on Udall possibly wearing out the war-on-women theme:

Colorado Democrats are fretting that Sen. Mark Udall’s (D-Colo.) “War on Women” battle cry against Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is starting to sound like a broken record.

After a series of polls this past month have shown the race statistically tied or even with Gardner up, some Democrats are urging Udall to find a new refrain against Gardner lest Republicans claim the seat in November.

“Gardner gave him a lot to work with on that subject, but a lot people think he may have overdone it,” said one well-connected Democratic operative in the state.

Starting essentially from Gardner’s entry into the race, Udall’s main line of attack on the GOP congressman has been his support for a federal “personhood” measure, which would effectively ban abortion and restrict many forms of birth control.

More:

Colorado pollster Floyd Ciruli, who’s done work for both parties, said that “for a while, the national environment turned very negative against the Democrats” — and agreed that Udall’s “War on Women” attacks may be growing stale.

“I do think there is a case to be made that it has run out of impact, that it’s gotten to its marginal utility,” said Ciruli. “And now there may be a feedback loop making fun of it.”

He added it seemed as though Udall has been running a single-issue campaign for some time, and while “it is a litmus test for some people, it is not a major issue for everyone.”

Udall spokesman Chris Harris said while the campaign has indeed run about half of its ads on birth control and personhood, “it’s not too much.”

“Not only do most voters agree with Mark on this issue, they are flabbergasted that it’s an issue at all,” he said.

Web Briefing: October 1, 2014

Cruz: Hillary Should Debate the Little Sisters of the Poor



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Ted Cruz challenged Hillary Clinton to a debate over Obamacare, but the former Supreme Court litigator won’t be involved — instead, she should take the stage with the nuns from the Little Sister of the Poor, he says.

“We ought to invite Hillary Clinton to spend a day debating the Little Sisters of the Poor,” the Texas Republican said from the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. “She can embrace, ‘Yes, the federal government should be suing and fining Catholic nuns to force them to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.’”

The group of nuns is currently locked in a legal battle over its objection to complying with the law’s requirement that it provide coverage of contraception and potentially abortion-inducing drugs.

These sorts of requirements, Cruz said, prove that “the modern Democratic party has become an extreme, radical party.”

“A pretty good rule of thumb, by the way: If you’re suing nuns, you’ve done something really wrong,” he quipped.

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NRO Seeks News Aggregator



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National Review Online is looking for a freelance news aggregator. Applicants must be available to work early in the morning, and should send a résumé and a cover letter to editorial.applications (at) nationalreview.com. Please write “news aggregator” in the subject line.

CNN Airs Live Battle Between ISIS, Kurds as Refugees Cheer



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CNN aired spectacular live footage of a small group of Islamic State jihadists cornered on a hilltop at the Turkey–Syria border Friday, with Kurdish refugees roaring encouragement as their fighters poured small arms and mortar fire onto the Islamist forces.

CNN reporter Phil Black said he’d been viewing the battle for the better part of the afternoon from his vantage point on the Turkish border with Syria. Reeling from coalition air strikes in Iraq and other parts of Syria, in recent days the Islamic State has aggressively attacked Kurdish regions in northeastern Syria, driving tens of thousands across the border.

Behind a wall of Turkish military vehicles, those refugees clapped and cheered as tracer fire and mortar shells sliced through the dusk to hit the jihadist position. Black said his cameraman had seen some Islamic State fighters hit by the onslaught, with their comrades struggling to carry the wounded and dead off the hilltop.

Re: Bill Clinton Is Running for President



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One thing that L.A. Times story tells me: One of the savviest Democrats in the country can’t come up with a compelling agenda for 2016–17.

Slate Attacks NR for ‘Crying Rape’ Column, Then Uses Exact Same Headline Months Later



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Months after publishing an article attacking an NRO writer for a column entitled “Crying Rape,” last week Slate published a column with literally the exact same headline — and nobody at that august publication batted an eye.

On May 19, A.J. Delgado published an article discussing the phenomenon of false rape allegations on college campuses, blaming it partly on changing definitions of “consent” and over-sensitive college administrators.

The headline — “Crying Rape” — drew the ire of Slate writer Katy Waldman, who penned a vitriolic response calling Delgado’s column merely the latest from “the Web’s new shower nozzle for rape denial and victim-blaming” and the piece itself “wildly offensive.” She accuses Delgado of “reflexive skepticism” and “judgment” (apparently serious character flaws).

Cut to September 18, when Slate published a column by Cathy Young entitled — no joke — “Crying Rape.” 

“False rape accusations exist,” the sub-headline reads, “and they are a serious problem.” Couched in careful language, the article nevertheless makes many of the same points Delgado laid down months earlier — including the idea that a minor level of intoxication ”is far from the legal standard for incapacitation required in a criminal finding of sexual assault.”

TownHall’s Kevin Glass succinctly illustrated the absurdity of Slate’s attack on Delgado’s piece:

Delgado reached out over Twitter to Waldman and others who criticized her piece back in May. Unsurprisingly, the Slate columnist and her co-conspirators stayed silent.

But Huffington Post editor Tyler Kingkade — whose publication devoted an entire HuffPost Live segment to criticizing Delgado’s “Crying Rape” piece — unwisely took the bait:

Which makes one wonder if he even read the sub-headline — much less the entire piece. 

It’s never about the message, and always about the messenger. 

Uncle Sam Wants Illegal Aliens for the U.S. Army



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The Pentagon announced yesterday that certain illegal aliens would be permitted to join the military. Specifically, people with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) “temporary” amnesty can apply for the MAVNI program (Military Accessions in the National Interest). The program is for legal foreigners who don’t have green cards (mainly foreign students or workers) who speak certain rare languages or have specialized medical training.

The number of DACAs who could qualify is likely to be pretty small. The program is capped at 1,500 and Spanish is not one of the languages listed; this matters because more than 90 percent of DACA beneficiaries are from Spanish-speaking countries (77 percent from Mexico alone). What’s more, you can’t join the Army without having graduated high school, and only 35 percent of those potentially eligible for DACA are high school grads. (DHS won’t report the educational attainment of DACAs, though the high-school-completion rate of those who actually receive the amnesty is probably higher.)

But when you look at the list of languages the Army is looking for (see here and scroll down), it’s almost certain that there are going to be some DACAs who speak Arabic, Pashto, Punjabi, Somali, Urdu, or one of the three dozen other languages sought. Pakistan, after all, is in the top 20 of DACA source countries (with more than 1,400 approvals though June), and while DHS doesn’t report countries below the top 20, there are certainly thousands of DACAs who might be eligible.

As a colleague tweeted acerbically:

Fund: ‘Talk to Any Journalist in Washington’ and They’ll Tell You Obama Admin Far From Transparent



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Bill Clinton is Running for President



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What business does the spouse of an as-yet-undeclared candidate have announcing a governing agenda for his wife’s first hundred days as president? Shouldn’t Hillary be doing that? And shouldn’t she wait until after she’s declared, instead of outsourcing the job to her husband while she’s still playing coy?

Hillary’s willingness to allow Bill to set forth a governing agenda at the recent conference of their joint foundation tells us what we should already know. Bill and Hillary are running together and will govern together as co-presidents. Unfortunately, co-presidencies aren’t in the Constitution and they don’t work in practice, as the first Clinton administration proved.

Enough memoirs and studies of the Clintons’ White House years have now been published for us to reconstruct what actually happened behind-the-scenes as husband and wife simultaneously took the reins of power in the 1990s. Itwasn’t pretty. And all the problems are set to return, as I explain in “Déjà Two,” my recent piece on the Clinton co-presidency.

Imagine the media and public reaction if the spouse of any other presidential candidate laid out a governing agenda for the first 100 days — even after the candidate had thrown a hat in the ring, much less before. This shows how thoroughly we now take for granted the notion of a Clinton co-presidency. That is a mistake, not only because it means a return of governing chaos, but because fears of a second Clinton co-presidency helped to kill Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign and could easily be a factor in 2016.

This is what the media forgets or suppresses. Todd Purdum’s Politico piece on Hillary’s Bill problem (really the cross between a fan letter and an advice column) doesn’t even mention the most important challenge posed by Bill: public fears of an out-of-control co-presidency, with Hillary not truly in charge.

In 2008, Democratic primary voters initially saw the prospect of a second Clinton co-presidency as a positive. The chaos of the dual campaign quickly turned that perception around, however, raising damaging questions about how having two presidents in the White House would actually work.

Bill Clinton’s announcement of a governing agenda for his wife is news, and not good news, whether the media wants to admit that or not.

— Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He can be contacted at [email protected].

Does the Queen Have Real Power?



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Earlier this week David Cameron, in what he intended to be a private conversation with Michael Bloomberg on Scotland’s vote to stay in the U.K., was caught saying the following:

“The definition of relief, if you are prime minister of the United Kingdom, is ringing up Her Majesty the Queen and saying ‘Your Majesty, it is all right, it’s O.K.’”

The prime minister is clearly very embarrassed about this, as he should be. And this is what the media seems to be focusing on. But his comments sparked a different thought with me: If you are the PM, why is “the definition of relief” reporting to the queen that things are okay?

Mr. Cameron’s comment reminded me of some news that hit the British press in January 2013. From the Daily Mail:

The Queen and Prince Charles have been given at least 39 chances to veto legislation before it became law, it was revealed today.

Secret papers show the most senior Royals have had numerous opportunities to torpedo bills that could change their powers, including a law that would have given parliament sole authority to sanction strikes on Iraq during the 1999 war.

The extent of the influence the Queen and Prince Charles have over legislation has been laid bare because Downing Street lost a legal battle to keep details secret.

And:

Academic John Kirkhope, who fought the Government to release the documents, said: “There has been an implication that these prerogative powers are quaint and sweet but actually there is real influence and real power, albeit unaccountable.”

Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, part of which includes Duchy of Cornwall land, said: “This is opening the eyes of those who believe the Queen only has a ceremonial role.”

And from the Telegraph:

At least 39 bills have been subject to Royal approval, with the senior royals using their power to consent or block new laws in areas such as higher education, paternity pay and child maintenance.

Internal Whitehall papers prepared by Cabinet Office lawyers show that on one occasion the Queen vetoed the Military Actions Against Iraq Bill in 1999, which aimed to transfer the power to authorise military strikes against Iraq from the monarch to parliament.

She was also asked to consent to the Civil Partnership Act in 2004.

In the Whitehall document, which was released following a court order, the Parliamentary Counsel warns that if consent is not given by the royals “a major plank of the bill must be removed”.

And don’t forget what happened in Australia in 1975.

Please forgive me for not answering the question I posed in the title — clearly, I don’t know how the relationship between the royal family and the government works behind the scenes. But I would like to.

— Michael R. Strain is a resident scholar and economist at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him on Twitter at twitter.com/MichaelRStrain.

 

The Case for An Agenda, Revisited



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Paul Waldman, writing in the Washington Post, takes issue with people, including me, who say that Republicans should be running on some policy proposals: “The idea rests on the assumption that to actually win the election, voters must have a clear idea of what you’re for, because only then will they vote for you.” This assumption, he adds, is incorrect: The last four midterms “were primarily negative campaigns won for negative reasons.” Nor is a campaign agenda necessary for the winners to govern effectively: “The fact is that once a party has control of one or both houses of Congress, it will do whatever it is going to do, regardless of whether it has whatever it is we call a ‘mandate.’ Every election winner acts as though they have one, whether they campaigned on a ‘positive agenda’ or not.”

None of this is especially responsive to my actual arguments, which only dimly resembles Waldman’s caricature. I don’t believe that parties always need agendas to win elections; I don’t even think that Republicans need an agenda this year to pick up seats in the House and Senate. And I think their message should be primarily negative. I also think, though, that Republicans will win more seats if voters think Republicans are solution-oriented, even if the voters are hazy about what the solutions are. In part that’s because I think being able to suggest that Republicans have solutions strengthens their negative message about the Democrats. Finally, the usefulness of an agenda post-election is not that it provides a mandate. It’s that it makes co-ordination among the politicians in a new majority easier, gives them a sense of what they should do, and lessens the chance of a backlash against the new majority for springing controversial ideas on voters.

Waldman offers a cynical take on elections, but that’s not the same as a realistic one.

China: The Small-Government Country



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The United States is not a small-government country. Tyler Cowen points this morning to Nicholas Lardy’s new book, Markets Over Mao: The Rise of Private Business in China, which contains this very interesting fact: “China has only 31 government and party employees per thousand residents. The number of civil servants per thousand residents in France is 95, in the United States, 75, and in Germany 53.” As Professor Cowen points out, that figure needs to be qualified in that it excludes China’s extensive network of state-owned companies. It is very interesting nonetheless.

But even if we set aside China, a country against which it is difficult to make meaningful comparisons, consider the French and German figures, which suggests that in practical terms the United States does not really have a small public sector compared to western European countries. This is consistent with the fact that combined federal, state, and local public-sector spending in the United States is about the same as it is in Canada, just under 40 percent of GDP. Those who worry about the United States turning into a “big-government” country like Canada are behind the curve; we should be more worried about turning into a big-government country like France. Put another way, we should cut our public-sector headcount until we’ve reached the comparatively sensible lower level of a western European welfare state such as Germany. 

If reducing the number of bureaucratic per capita is a metric that you find compelling — and I certainly do — then you might consider facing south and sending some applause in the direction of Governor Rick Scott.

Friday Links



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September 14, 1861: the Night of the Flaming Ballerinas.

Beat the carnies: The secrets to winning five popular state-fair games.

Check out Munch’s “The Scream” without the screaming person. Subtracting art: subjects photo-edited from famous paintings.

Reading recently about Common Core, let’s not forget how much schools had already been dumbed down: From the archives, check out this test for eighth graders in Kentucky dated 1912.

In 1799, Humphry Davy, future president of the Royal Society, really got into laughing gas. “O, Excellent Air Bag”: Humphry Davy and Nitrous Oxide.

Now that cars have black boxes, am I being tracked? Who gets access to the info in your vehicle’s event data recorder?

ICYMIThursday’s links are here, and include photos of nature winning the battle against civilization, a 1940s booklet published to “assist male bosses in supervising their new female employees,” and goldfish brain surgery.

Krauthammer’s Take: Left Will Regret Holder’s Politicization of AG’s Office



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While it is “perfectly honorable” for Eric Holder to want to dedicate his life to combating perceived racial injustices, he should have done so in some other capacity and not while serving as attorney general, Charles Krauthammer said on Thursday’s Special Report.

“When you are the attorney general of the United States, you have to subordinate that to what the law is, and he hasn’t done that,” he said. “He’s been after an agenda, and if the Constitution was in the way, he trampled on the Constitution.”

Democrats may have benefited from Holder’s politicization of the attorney general’s office during the Obama administration, but they will come to regret it in the future, Krauthammer warned.

Goldberg: Holder ‘Basically Been a Political Fixer, a Firewall’ for Obama



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70 Percent of Illegals Released by ICE Don’t Appear for Follow-up Appointments



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Immigration and Customs Enforcement released thousands of illegal-alien families from this summer’s border surge – the large majority of those who were apprehended – with instructions to report to the particular ICE office at their final destination. DHS has repeatedly refused to say how many of them actually show up as directed.

Well, the AP secured a recording of “a confidential meeting at its [ICE's] Washington headquarters with immigration advocates” where ICE acknowledged that 70 percent of those released “never showed up weeks later for follow-up appointments.”

This should come as no surprise to anyone with a pulse. Yet it appears that Obama-administration officials think the released illegals are like the cowboys in Blazing Saddles, lining up to put a dime in the lone toll booth in the middle of the desert instead of just going around it. (If the Central American illegal aliens were so punctilious about obeying rules, they wouldn’t have snuck into someone else’s country in the first place.)

It’s true that ICE needs more family detention capacity, which is the reason for the planned new detention center south of San Antonio. But DHS has plans for a migration emergency such as we saw this summer, and it never activated it. They won’t say what’s in the plan, but from how Haitian and Cuban outflows were handled at Gitmo, I’d assume tent cities to enable detention of 100 percent of illegals are part of it. Once the politically appointed suits decided not to activate the emergency plan, it was inevitable that most of the illegals would simply be let go, never to be seen again.

No wonder morale among DHS employees is “abysmal.”

And the circumstances of this revelation are also outrageous. We only know this information because of a leaked audio recording (kudos to the whistleblower, whoever it is) from a meeting with anti-enforcement activists undoubtedly whining about how cruel ICE is. Here’s how the article describes the administration’s stonewalling on this question:

The AP reported in June that the administration would not say publicly how many immigrant families from Central America caught crossing into the U.S. it had released in recent months or how many of those subsequently reported back to the government after 15 days as directed. The AP noted that senior U.S. officials directly familiar with the issue, including at the Homeland Security Department and White House, had dodged the answer on at least seven occasions over two weeks, alternately saying that they did not know the figure or didn’t have it immediately at hand.

The Homeland Security Department’s public affairs office during the same period did not answer roughly a dozen requests for the figures.

“Most transparent administration in history,” indeed.

Congressional Black Caucus Meeting Mourns Holder’s Resignation



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A shaken Nancy Pelosi broke the news of Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation to a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday, which expressed shock, sadness, and “devastation” over the news.

The CBC was in the middle of a panel Q&A on “African American Voters and Midterm Elections” when the moderator paused to give the minority leader the floor. 

After hemming and hawing for a few minutes, the California Democratic congresswoman broke the sad news.

“What!?” one congressional panelist shouted. “Wow. Wow,” another repeated in shock. “That is so bad. Why?”

“That’s devastating,” another agreed, repeating the phrase dejectedly.

“It’s almost like we need to have another panel about Attorney General Holder,” the moderator concluded sadly, before moving back to audience questions.

Holder was the first African-American to hold the office of United States Attorney General.

Via Digitas.

Dem Candidate’s Film Studio Failed to Pay Taxes While Taking Subsidies to Make a Movie Criticizing Farm Subsidies



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The Democratic House candidate for New York’s 21st congressional district received three separate tax warrants on his documentary-film company for failing to pay state taxes — the second time one of the candidate’s much-touted business enterprises has earned the attention of New York law enforcement for tax delinquency.

The delinquency occurred as Woolf was directing and producing a documentary entitled “King Corn,” a critique of federal subsidies for American corn farmers. The sweetest part: Woolf’s company was itself receiving subsidies from the congressionally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting, while failing to pay the required state taxes.

Between 2006 and 2008, Woolf’s Mosaic Films received multiple tax liens from New York State – one for $380, another for $250 and a final warrant for $550. According to the documents, each missed payment took months for the film company to satisfy.

About half our film production budget was funded by Independent Television Service, a San Francisco-based organization that receives about $12 million a year from Congress through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting,” Ellis told environmental website the Edge in 2007. It’s a very generous government subsidy.”

“In the spirit of full disclosure, we made a film that was critical of the way that we subsidize corn while gladly accepting . . . ” Woolf began. “A government subsidy to finish our film!” his business partner continued. ”I think filmmaking is the only business that’s lousier than farming, so I don’t feel too bad about it,” Woolf’s partner said.

Mosaic Film’s minor tax lapse occurred at the same time that another of Woolf’s business, Brooklyn-based “craft foods” store Urban Rustic, racked up over $130,000 in back taxes, penalties, and interest. According to the Washington Free Beacon, they took over a year to pay off that balance.

Woolf has touted his private-sector experience at Urban Rustic as proof that he understands the challenges facing small businesses. His candidacy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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