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Showing posts from July, 2017

Scaramucci is making Trump sound like the calm voice of reason in the White House

NY Times:
Scaramucci Stirs Up White House With Uncensored Rant
Using vulgar language in a call with a New Yorker reporter, Anthony Scaramucci, the White House communications director, disparaged Reince Priebus and Stephen K. Bannon. The Times reporters present an accurate picture of a potty mouth juvenile attack on co-workers.  Did Scaramucci attend the Duarte school of communications?  Insults are the weakest form of argument and this guy is supposed to be smart.  This was not a smart thing to do.

Hand full of Republican Senators save Obama's healthcare fiasco

NY Times:
Defeat Derails 7-Year Campaign by the Republicans
Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski also broke Republican ranks. The vote may spell the end of the party’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act anytime soon. These people are disgusting.  They are willing to keep a failing system that has done great harm to millions.

Perry gives a more intelligent answer to question about climate change than 'scientist'

Ross McKitrick:
In the fight between Rick Perry and climate scientists — He’s winning

...
But the meteorological society leapt to condemn Perry for a cautious response to an awkward question. Perry could not reasonably have agreed with the interviewer since the concept of a “control knob” for the Earth’s temperature wasn’t defined. Doubling CO2 might, according to models, cause a few degrees of warming. Doubling the size of the sun would burn up the planet. Doubling cloud cover might trigger an ice age. So which is the “primary control knob”? The meteorological society letter ignored the odd wording of the question, misrepresented Perry’s response and then summarily declared their position on climate “indisputable.” Perry’s cautious answer, by contrast, was perfectly reasonable in the context of a confusing question in a fast-moving TV interview.

Furthermore, Seitter’s letter invites skepticism. It pronounces confidently on causes of global warming “in recent decades” even though this …

Congress becoming more focused on the Democrat leak machine against the Trump administration

Washington Free Beacon:
Congress Could Halt Spy Authorization Over Obama Aides’ Anti-Trump Leaks

Pressure mounts to investigate top Obama aides Rhodes, Rice, Power, and othersThe Hill is also reporting that top Obama aides made hundreds of requests for intel on the Trump campaign.  This is a scandal that is Nixonian in its scope and actually far worse than what brought Nixon down.

Mattis wants to reorient defense education efforts to winning wars

Fox News:
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wants to overhaul military education and training to “regain” the art of warfighting following complaints by thousands of service members that their time is being wasted by hours of mandatory training, according to a new memo obtained by Fox News.

The training that is the subject of complaints covers everything from alcohol use to active shooters to sexual harassment to stress management.

Addressing the service secretaries and chiefs of the Armed Forces, Mattis has ordered the formation of a new working group to “determine changes to military personnel policies” to “equip more ready and lethal forces.” The working group will include the second in command of each branch of the U.S. military and report to the deputy secretary of defense and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The secretary wants each service to examine its military education to “regain a concentration on the art and science of warfighting” and look into the hours of “manda…

US using electronic warfare weapons against ISIS?

The Drive:
It sounds like something straight out of Call of Duty video game sequel, James Bond movie, or Batman comic. Troops call in an air strike, but instead of high explosives, the pilots employ a weapon that screws with the enemy’s electronics, disabling them or making them catch fire or even explode, becoming little bombs in of themselves. But it’s not a plot device from a Hollywood blockbuster or video game. It’s a detail passed along from a journalist in Syria – and what’s more, some part of the report might be true. We've seen at least one similar rumor emanating from a modern battlefield in the past.

The new report emerged on July 7, 2017, when Jenan Moussa, a “roving reporter Arabic Al Aan TV,” an Arabic-language satellite television network with its headquarters in the United Arab Emirates, wrote on Twitter that members of the U.S.-supported Syrian Democratic Forces told her American warplanes sometimes dropped an “electricity bomb.” The SDF fighters added that when t…

Remnants of ISIS attack Iran

Daily Beast:
ISIS Turns its Guns—and Propaganda Machine—on Iran

With terror attacks, recruiting efforts, and slick, gruesome propaganda the so-called Islamic State is trying to take its fight to the ayatollahs. This is a fight where there are no good guys.  It is one group of terrorists against another.

Iran thumbs its nose at UN resolution baring certain missile launches

Reuters:
Iran successfully tested a rocket that can deliver satellites into orbit, state television reported on Thursday, an action the United States said breaches a U.N. Security Council resolution because of its potential use in ballistic missile development.

Iranian state television showed footage of the firing of the rocket, mounted on a launchpad carrying pictures of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, and Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The rocket launch violated United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Thursday.

That resolution, which endorsed a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, calls upon Iran not to undertake activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such technology. It stops short of explicitly barring such activity.
... It is no surprise that Iran cannot be trusted.  This only confirms how bad the deal Oba…

The Democrats' collusion with Russia in the 2016 campaign

Kimberley Strassel:
...
What if, all this time, Washington and the media have had the Russia collusion story backward? What if it wasn’t the Trump campaign playing footsie with the Vladimir Putin regime, but Democrats? The more we learn about Fusion, the more this seems a possibility.

We know Fusion is a for-hire political outfit, paid to dig up dirt on targets. This column first outed Fusion in 2012, detailing its efforts to tar a Mitt Romney donor. At the time Fusion insisted that the donor was “a legitimate subject of public records research.”

Mr. Grassley’s call for testimony has uncovered more such stories. Thor Halvorssen, a prominent human-rights activist, has submitted sworn testimony outlining a Fusion attempt to undercut his investigation of Venezuelan corruption. Mr. Halvorssen claims Fusion “devised smear campaigns, prepared dossiers containing false information,” and “carefully placed slanderous news items” to malign him and his activity.

William Browder, a banker who has…

Coastal wind energy to be added to Texas mix

Houston Chronicle:
Nearly a decade ago, Duke Energy placed several weather towers along the Gulf Coast to measure winds coming off the Gulf of Mexico. Duke's engineers were soon struck by one particular characteristic of the sea breezes: They blow like clockwork.

This realization helped spur the development of a rapidly growing energy source that is beginning to challenge, or at least cut into, the dominance of West Texas wind farms, which account for more than 70 percent of the state's wind energy. While the generating capacity along the coast is still a fraction of that in West Texas, and wind speeds are far lower, Gulf wind is becoming more important to the state's energy mix because it blows more reliably and when the power grid needs it most, during high demand periods in the morning and afternoon.

The well-timed supplies can help ease price spikes in wholesale markets on hot summer days and lower customer bills.

"The nice part about the Gulf Coast wind generatio…

The Democrats' case for collusion is crumbling and backfiring on them

Ed Rogers:
The quest to prove collusion is crumbling Every time the media has thought they found a smoking gun it has fallen apart in their hands.  Now with Sen. Grassley focusing on Fusion GPS which was hired to do the dirty dossier and it appears they were working on behalf of the Russians too.

Venezuela production could easily be replaced by the US

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NY Times:
Gas Prices Could Rise if U.S. Adds to Venezuela Sanctions
President Trump has promised tougher measures against the oil-exporting country if it goes through with elections on Sunday. But that could raise gas prices in America. Venezuelan exports to the US make up about eight percent of the total and could be easily replaced by a world awash in oil.   There are plenty of alternative sources for oil in today's market, including US oil.  One thing the US does need to do is convert its refining capacity to work with the light crude being produced by the shale wells.  If that took place the US would need even less imported oil.

The Democrats and the Russian connection?

James Freeman:
Have You Heard about Fusion GPS?

A Thursday Senate hearing promises to complicate the Trump-Russia media narrative.

...
So the same firm that generated rumors about the Russians having damaging information on President Trump—a project funded by Mr. Trump’s American political opponents, according to the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin—was also working for the Russians?
... I think Sen. Grassley has kicked over the Russian conspiracy theories and the Democrats are not going to like the facts that are coming out.  It is well worth reading the whole thing.

New Orleans accused of billing feds for repairs not associated with Katrina damage

Washington Times:
New Orleans bilks federal taxpayers of $2 billion in Hurricane Katrina repairs: Audit New Orleans had been failing to repair is sewer and roads well before the storm yet billed FEMA for the work after the storm.

The rationale of the liberal fascists on campus

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Ben Shapiro nails the nuttiness and circular logic of the left in suppressing free speech.

FBI General counsel investigated for allegedly leaking secret material

Circa:
EXCLUSIVE: FBI General Counsel James A. Baker is purportedly under a Department of Justice criminal investigation for allegedly leaking classified national security information to the media, according to multiple government officials close to the probe who spoke with Circa on the condition of anonymity.

FBI spokeswoman Carol Cratty said the bureau would not comment on Baker and would not confirm or deny any investigation. Baker did not return comment when Circa attempted to reach him through the FBI.

This comes as Department of Justice Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he would soon be making an announcement regarding the progress of leak investigations. A DOJ official declined to comment on Circa’s inquiry into Baker but did say, the planned announcement by Sessions is part of the overall "stepped up efforts on leak investigations."

Three sources, with knowledge of the apparent investigation, told Circa that Baker is the top suspect in an ongoing leak investigation…

The Will Hurd 'virtual border wall'

CNN:
A coalition of border state lawmakers and moderates are looking to take charge of the wall debate -- offering their own plan to build a "smart" wall that draws from the insight of Silicon Valley and virtual reality entrepreneur Palmer Luckey.

The move seeks to balance between President Donald Trump's aggressive push for border security and reticence by moderates in Washington to commit to an expensive show of force that experts at the border question will actually be productive.

The "Secure Miles with All Resources and Technology Act," or SMART Act, will be introduced Thursday morning by Republican Rep. Will Hurd, whose Texas district has more than 800 miles of the Southern border, one-third of the total border with Mexico and more than any other single lawmaker.

To back up the bill, Hurd has been using the estimates and insights of Anduril Industries, a Silicon Valley-based defense technology company founded by Luckey, who also founded Oculus VR. His prop…

Texas economy leads nation in growth while California is stagnant

CNS News:
Texas, the nation’s second most populous state, had the fastest growing economy in the nation in the first quarter of this year with its state GDP growing at a real annual rate of 3.9 percent, according to data released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

By contrast, California, the nation’s most populous state, ranked 42nd out of 50 states for first quarter economic growth, with its GDP growing at a real annual rate of just 0.1 percent.
...
The Texas economy, according to BEA, was driven up by a boom in the mining sector and by a large increase in manufacturing. California’s economy was dragged down by the arts, entertainment and recreation sector; finance and insurance; retail trade; and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting.
... There is much more.

 California still has a very large economy, but it is not growing.  It is a state where regulation and taxes act as a disincentive to expansion.

Lack of dope makes college students less dopey

Washington Post:
These college students lost access to legal pot — and started getting better grades

The Netherlands unintentionally created a perfect laboratory for studying marijuana effects, and it produced troubling results for legalization advocates. I suspect that pot tends to make some people lackadaisical.  Like many drugs, it tends to be an escape from reality.

The problem with the Texas redistricting case

NY Times:

How a Ruling on Texas Districts Could Help Reshape Congress
Republican lawyers raised the possibility of “Armageddon” — a map that endangered a half-dozen G.O.P. districts. Democrats are not winning seats in Congressional races because there are fewer Democrats now in Texas.  Just look at the results of statewide elections.  They have not won a race in over 20 years.  It is their bad policies that are keeping them from winning and not how district lines are drawn.  There are plenty of examples of Hispanics and black Republicans winning races in statewide races as well as in congressional districts.

Democrats are losing because they support policies that hurt the economy and pander to special interest groups rather than the population as a whole.

Murkowski's support for Obamacare could backfire on Alaska

Washington Times:
Long-awaited projects in Alaska — including the potentially life-saving King Cove road and oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — are now in jeopardy as President Trump reportedly looks for revenge on the state and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in particular after her vote against the GOP health care bill earlier this week.

The Alaska Dispatch News reported late Wednesday night that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke phoned Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, a Republican, and delivered a “troubling message” on Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m not going to go into the details, but I fear that the strong economic growth, pro-energy, pro-mining, pro-jobs and personnel from Alaska who are part of those policies are going to stop,” Mr. Sullivan told the outlet. “I tried to push back on behalf of all Alaskans. … We’re facing some difficult times and there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the policies that Secretary Zinke and the president have been talking about with regard to our econo…

The return of history with the Trump administration

Mark Moyer:
Not since Teddy Roosevelt occupied the Oval Office have students of history featured so prominently in the U.S. government as they do today. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster holds a Ph.D. in history and is the author of the highly acclaimed Vietnam War history, Dereliction of Duty. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has relentlessly studied and applied history during four decades as a Marine Corps officer and since, amassing an enormous library. Both have long championed the use of history in tackling contemporary national security challenges. “It’s better to learn from somebody else’s mistakes than from your own,” Mattis routinely tells the troops when exhorting them to study the past.

This interest in history would have been less noteworthy 50 years ago, when the nation still required all of its citizens to know the history most pertinent to national security: military and diplomatic history.

Since the 1960s, those fields have been squeezed out of the academic worl…

Palestinians in fantasy land

David Goldman:
In 2015, the last time Palestinians rioted over the Haram-al-Sharif – the Temple Mount to Christians and Jews – a handful of pious Jews had committed the offense of attempted prayer. This week’s protest over the presence of metal detectors takes the dispute to a new level of unreality. After Israeli-Arab gunmen killed two Israeli policemen with weapons hidden on the site, Israel installed metal detectors, a common sight at mosques in many Muslim countries. After Israel removed the metal detectors under apparent pressure from Washington, the Muslim religious authorities announced that they would not accept any Israeli security measures of any kind, including cameras and remote sensing devices. Cairo’s Al-Azhar University denounced any and all Israeli security measures as “irresponsible and provocative,” adding, “All measures taken by the occupation authorities at Al Haram Al Sharif in occupied Jerusalem are null and void and are not based on any humanitarian or civilized…

Mainstream media collusion to cover up Democrat scandal?

Washington Free Beacon:
Major cable news networks have given no coverage to the burgeoning scandal involving IT staffers to former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis.

Reporting by the Daily Caller News Foundation has revealed that Wasserman Schultz's top information technology staffer Iman Awan was arrested Monday after trying to flee the country amidst investigations into Awan concerning banking fraud and a criminal cybersecurity probe. Awan wired over $280,000 to Pakistan after the FBI recently recovered multiple smashed hard drives from Awan's home.

Despite being blocked from the House computer network since February amid allegations of "committing serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network," Awan remained employed by Wasserman Schultz's office. He and four of his relatives have received $4 million by working for Democratic members of Congress since 2009.

Wasserman Schultz finally fired Awan…

Migrants trying to wade across Rio Grande drown near El Paso

Guardian:
Four migrants die trying to cross Rio Grande, days after Texas truck deaths

Three Guatemalans, including two children, and woman of unconfirmed nationality die in effort to reach Texas after torrential rain swelled river It is not clear why they chose to try to cross the river at El Paso which is hundreds of miles further than the mouth of the river from Central America.  I suspect they were misled by the Mexican cartel.

The US needs to publicize the deaths in Central America to discourage the dangerous journey.

US sanctions Venezuelan officials

BBC:
The US government has imposed sanctions on 13 senior Venezuelan officials as pressure mounts on President Nicolás Maduro ahead of a controversial vote for a new constituent assembly.

The sanctions freeze the US assets of those affected, and US entities are barred from doing business with them.

Those targeted include the interior minister and the head of the army.

Last week, President Donald Trump vowed "strong and swift economic actions" if Mr Maduro held the poll, due on Sunday.

The vote, which Mr Maduro says will proceed as planned, is to choose the 545 members of a new constituent assembly that would rival the opposition-held National Assembly.

Critics say the president is trying to cement a dictatorship. He argues it is the only way to bring peace back to the divided nation.

The US sanctions also target the head of Venezuela's National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, and former vice president Elias Jaua, who is leading the presidential commissions organising Sunday&…

Dirty dossier firm tied to alleged cover up of South American corruption

Washington Times:
Anti-Trump dossier firm did work for corrupt regimes, rights group claims

Corrupt Russian and Venezuelan officials benefited from the work of the Washington-based firm that also commissioned the largely unsubstantiated anti-Trump campaign research dossier, according to testimony from a leading South American human rights campaigner submitted to a congressional panel probing the 2016 Russian election-meddling scandal.

Thor Halvorssen, head of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, said in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Fusion GPS operated a smear campaign against journalists who threatened to expose a multibillion dollar fraud involving faulty South American electric power plants, the laundering of its proceeds in U.S. banks, and a kickback scheme to pay off Venezuelan officials.
... It appears that Fusion may become the central focus of the hearings.  This could jeopardize the Democrats' Russian collusion conspiracy theory.

Molly Hemingway ha…

Rust belt rejection of the media narrative about Trump

Salena Zito:
Why the Rust Belt just gave Donald Trump a hero’s welcome Zito was one of the few reporters who caught the trend toward Trump in the Rust Belt and she finds that trend has solidified despite the caterwauling coming out of the Washington and New York media.

Liberal hostility toward the Boy Scouts takes a new twist after Trump speech

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Washington Post:
A Boy Scout jamboree. A controversial Trump speech. And the backlash that followed.

The president’s speech prompted an outcry from many current and former Scouts and their families, who said Trump’s remarks were inappropriate and undermined efforts to diversify and modernize the century-old organization. Liberals have been at war with the Boy Scouts ever since they rejected gay scout leaders.  Some even compared Trump's speech and its reception to Hitler.  What is it about liberals who keep comparing the President to Hitler?  Hitler was a socialist who killed millions of Jews.  Trump is a capitalist whose family includes Jews whom he has placed in his administration.

This looks like the typical overreaction of some to the President and those who support him.  Obama largely ignored the Scouts when he was President and did not personally appear at any of their jamborees.  Trump shows up and gets a warm reception from thousands of future voters and all of a sudden its…

The 'millions without healthcare lie'

NY Times:
The Health Care Travesty
Ignoring public disgust, the Senate will now debate proposals that would leave millions more without insurance. It is interesting that liberals who ignored the public disgust with Obamacare for years are concerned about Congress ignoring their big lies about the changes to the program.  The fact is that the changes would allow people to make a decision about what health care insurance they want and whether they would rather take their chances without it.  The removal of the mandate to buy is not the same as "leaving millions without insurance."  What liberals seem to oppose is giving people a choice.

Sailor makes $100 million screw up?

Times:
A sailor on board a US Navy destroyer pressed the wrong button during an exercise last month, ruining a $100 million missile test.

It was the fourth test of a new super-interceptor, designed as part of a joint US and Japanese military programme to combat an intermediate-range ballistic missile attack by North Korea. Three earlier tests had been successful.

The crew of the USS John Paul Jones, a guided-missile destroyer, fired an SM-3 block IIA interceptor targeting an unarmed ballistic missile that had been launched from Hawaii.

It was the first test of this interceptor from a warship equipped with the US Aegis combat system that is supposed to manage the whole “hit-to-kill” operation. The interceptor should have hit the target with the force of a ten-ton lorry travelling at 600mph, destroying it.

When the interceptor exploded before reaching the incoming missile, the Pentagon feared that the flight test had failed because of some disastrous technical fault.

After an inquiry, i…

Memo details Obama administration violations in the handling of classified materials

The Hill:
The National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation violated specific civil liberty protections during the Obama years by improperly searching and disseminating raw intelligence on Americans or failing to promptly delete unauthorized intercepts, according to newly declassified memos that provide some of the richest detail to date on the spy agencies’ ability to obey their own rules.

The memos reviewed by The Hill were publicly released on July 11 through Freedom of Information Act litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union.

They detail specific violations that the NSA or FBI disclosed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or the Justice Department's national security division during President Obama’s tenure between 2009 and 2016. The intelligence community isn't due to report on compliance issues for 2017, the first year under the Trump administration, until next spring.
The NSA says that the missteps amount to a small number — less than 1…

The State Department has become a rogue institution

Washington Free Beacon:
The State Department under Secretary Rex Tillerson has been locked in a growing power struggle with the White House that has angered officials in the West Wing and sparked claims that the Trump administration's top diplomatic organ is now in "open war" with the White House on a range of critical issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian impasse, Iran, the crisis with Qatar, and other matters, according to multiple sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the situation.

The State Department is said to be in a state of "massive dysfunction," with top officials working under Tillerson ignoring White House directives on critical staffing issues and key policy matters, according to multiple sources, including administration allies who are said to be increasingly frustrated with what is perceived as the White House's inability to control its own federal agencies.

The tensions have fueled an outstanding power battle between the…

The multiple formations at different depths makes the Permian Basin a rich resource for oil

Seeking Alpha:

“Array fracking” has arrived: operators increasingly use a full-volume approach to stimulating thick or stacked shale formations.With dozens of wells typically drilled and completed off the same pad simultaneously, operational efficiencies are powerful.The elimination of “over-capitalization” – drilling less wells to recover the same amount of oil – is the next big saving the industry is likely to realize in full development.
... This is the summary of arguments made in the piece.  If you consider the various layers under the Permian Basin, the efficiency of using one well to access them all is one reason why the costs of production have come down.

'Fact checkers' become accessories to Democrat politics of fraud

David Harsanyi:
So-Called Fact Checkers Keep Butchering The Facts About Obamacare This genre has become a scam to hide Democrat political fraud. If these guys were lawyers for Obama they would be laughed out of court for the arguments they make defending the lies he used to sell Obamacare.

Democrat IT aide arrested trying to leave country after hard drives were seized

Daily Caller:
Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s top information technology (IT) aide was arrested attempting to leave the country just a few hours after The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group revealed that he is the target of an FBI investigation.

The employee, Imran Awan, had wired $283,000 from the Congressional Federal Credit Union in a House office building to two individuals in Pakistan. Credit union officials permitted the wire to go through, and his wife has already fled the country to Pakistan, after police confronted her at the airport and found $12,000 in cash hidden in her suitcase but did not stop her from boarding.

“On January 18, 2017 at 12:09 pm, an international wire transfer request form was submitted [at the Congressional Federal Credit Union] at the Longworth House Office Building in the District of Columbia, in the amount of $283,000.00, to two individuals in Faisalabad, Pakistan,” according to an affidavit obtained by TheDCNF.

Imra…

Venezuela desperate to keep US purchases of oil

Miami Herald:
As chaos envelops Venezuela, Caracas spends millions on lobbyists in Washington

...
U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil market could have major financial implications for the Maduro regime and for average Venezuelans. Although Venezuelan crude makes up a small fraction — about 8 percent in 2016 — of all U.S. oil imports, the U.S. buys nearly half of Venezuela’s oil, and oil revenues account for 95 percent of Venezuela’s export earnings, according to OPEC.
... This is why President Trump's sanction threat is being taken seriously in Venezuela where the regime has run the economy into the ground.

I suspect Manafort's meeting notes with Russian will not support collusion

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Washington Post:
Manafort testifies before Senate Intelligence Committee, submits Trump Tower meeting notes

Before his testimony, Paul Manafort submitted to the committee notes that he took at a meeting with a Russian lawyer he and other campaign aides attended during the presidential campaign, a person familiar with the investigation said. I would be surprised if any smart person would ever take notes suggesting collusion with a foreign power.   I suspect the notes probably are consistent with the memories of others in attendance who have already given their recollection of the meeting as a "waste of time."    But Democrats are fond of wasting time on the collusion theory of why they lost an election.  The media will be so disappointed.

US fires warning shots toward threatening Iranian boats

CNN:
A US Navy ship fired warning shots at an armed Iranian patrol boat Tuesday in the northern end of the Persian Gulf, according to two US defense officials.

The Iranian boat is believed to have been operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to a defense official familiar with details of the incident. The officials said the Iranian boat approached and came within 150 yards of the USS Thunderbolt, a US Navy patrol ship.

The USS Thunderbolt was accompanied by the USS Vella Gulf, which is a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, and two other US Coast guard vessels at the time.

The Iranians did not respond to any warnings from the US ship, including radio calls, firing of flares and five short blasts from the US Navy ship's whistle, which is the internationally recognized communications signal for danger, the officials said.

The Navy ship then fired warning shots into the water over concerns about the possibility of a collision, one of the officials said.

The …

Taliban using Russian made heavy weapons

Washington Times:
Evidence of Russian-built assault weapons, sniper rifles and heavy machine guns reportedly being used by the Taliban against U.S.-backed Afghan forces in the northern and western parts of the country emerged Tuesday, fueling concerns in Washington that Russia is covertly backing the Afghan insurgents.

Video obtained by CNN shows fighters from a Taliban splinter faction based near the western city of Herat, along the Iranian border, brandishing the Russian-made weapons. In the video, the group’s second-in-command Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi says the weapons were taken from Taliban fighters in the area.

Clashes between the Taliban and Niazi’s faction have roiled Herat and surrounding areas in recent weeks. Niazi said the weapons had been supplied to Taliban fighters from Russia via Iran. The Russian weapons were then taken by members of Nizai’s group after a recent gun battle. “The Russians are giving them these weapons to fight ISIS in Afghanistan, but they are using them …

The high cost of wind and solar inefficiency

Gail Tverberg:
Researchers Have Been Underestimating the Cost of Wind and Solar

...
There are two reasons why these percentages are lower than a person might expect. One reason is that the figures usually quoted are the amounts of “generating capacity” added by wind and solar, and these are nearly always higher than the amount of actual electricity supply added, because wind and solar “capacity” tend to be lightly used.

The other reason that the percentages on Figure 1 are lower than we might expect is because the places that have unusually high concentrations of wind and solar generation (examples: Germany, Denmark, and California) tend to depend on a combination of (a) generous subsidy programs, (b) the availability of inexpensive balancing power from elsewhere and (c) the generosity of neighbors in taking unwanted electricity and adding it to their electric grids at low prices.

As greater amounts of intermittent electricity are added, the availability of inexpensive balancing capaci…

Trump's disappointment with Sessions

Washington Post:
Trump team weighs options for replacing Sessions

Some of President Trump’s confidants are floating prospects who could take Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s place were he to resign or be fired, according to people familiar with the talks. It comes as Trump continued to vent his frustration with Sessions. Some of his disappointment is beyond Sessions control.  Perhaps Sessions should have advised the President before he accepted the appointment that he would have to recuse himself.  I suspect both men were surprised that the bogus Russian collusion narrative by the Democrats went as far as it did. While trump was willing to let Clinton off the hook for her mishandling of classified information and the appearance of corruption, the Democrats were not as magnanimous in defeat as he was in victory.

Trump would like to see some push back against the Democrats and he now thinks it was a mistake not to pursue an investigation of Clinton, but the way to handle that is to call…

The drug invaders and their methods

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NY Times:
How Smugglers Get Drugs Across the Border
As the United States increases the number of agents, drones, sensors and cameras on the border, smugglers resort to more inventive modes. While the drug cartels are engaged in a criminal insurgency in Mexico their main business is selling narcotics and dope to Americans.  They use various means to smuggle their product into the US and they are similar inventive in trafficking illegal aliens into the US.

Dope has been found in the spare tires of cars manufactured in Mexico for sale in the US They have also used catapults to launch some dope across the border.  They have hidden it in produce trucks.  The recent trafficking deaths in San Antonio show they are as careless with the lives of their human cargo as they are with the lives of their drug consumers.

The murder of US troops in Jordan

NY Times:
Video Shows U.S. Soldiers Surrendered Before Shooting
Newly released footage of a gunfight that left three Americans dead near a military base in Jordan in November shows a deliberate attack that was initially explained as a mistake. In this case, the video does not lie but the perps do.

There is some evidence that the killer was a radical Islamist.

Forensic evidence shows DNC emails were leaked, not hacked

Zero Hedge:
...
Forensic studies of “Russian hacking” into Democratic National Committee computers last year reveal that on July 5, 2016, data was leaked (not hacked) by a person with physical access to DNC computers, and then doctored to incriminate Russia.

After examining metadata from the “Guccifer 2.0” July 5, 2016 intrusion into the DNC server, independent cyber investigators have concluded that an insider copied DNC data onto an external storage device, and that “telltale signs” implicating Russia were then inserted.

Key among the findings of the independent forensic investigations is the conclusion that the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack. Of equal importance, the forensics show that the copying and doctoring were performed on the East coast of the U.S. Thus far, mainstream media have ignored the findings of these independent studies [see here and here].

Independent analyst Skip Folden, a retired IBM…

Permian Basin is helping US set record energy production

USA Today:
U.S. daily crude oil production in 2018 may shatter a record established nearly a half-century ago, the Energy Information Administration has suggested.

The average production will be 9.9 million barrels per day next year, the federal agency revealed this week, up from 9.3 million barrels this year and more than the 9.6 million barrels produced in 1970, the landmark year.

Leading the U.S. production charge will be Permian Basin operations in western Texas and southeastern New Mexico and operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

The EIA said production in the Permian will increase to about 2.9 million barrels per day in 2018 as average production ramps up 515,000 barrels per day from June 2017 to the end of 2018. That 2.9 million barrels represents almost 30 percent of expected U.S. production next year.

Baker Hughes' rig count says there are 366 onshore rigs in the Permian alone; there are 915 onshore rigs in all in the lower 48 U.S. states.

Eight projects came online in the Gulf in…

Trump receives enthusiastic reception from next generation of voters

Washington Times:
President Donald Trump received big-time cheers during delivery of remarks at the Boy Scouts of America’s National Jamboree.

Barack Obama, however? Not so much.

“By the way, just a question,” Trump said to the crowd, The Hill reported. “Did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?”

Let the boos begin — and they did.

“The answer is no,” Trump said. And he’s quite right.

Night and day, ying and yang. The Boy Scouts know their friends. Obama made a videotape that played at the National Jamboree in 2010. But after that, he largely ignored the group — except when he could politicize it.
...

But Obama, who spent part of his childhood with the Indonesian Scout Association, not BSA, could never quite make the jamborees.

Trump did. And he told the crowd “we’ll be back” for the next jamboree as well. What a difference in administrations. Obama sees gay rights; Trump, the faces of America’s future. Such a small thing. But such a loud and large message. I am sure that most of the media…

Navy rail gun in action

Daily Mail:
The US Navy has revealed the latest tests of a radical electromagnetic gun that can fire projectiles at six times the speed of sound.

Described as 'Star Wars technology' by researchers, these powerful missiles don't rely on chemical propellants and are fuelled by electricity alone.

Strong magnetic fields a 'pulse power system' is used to send propellants flying at 4,500mph, and the technology has previously been shown to penetrate concrete at 100 miles away.

Railguns are touted as one of the future technologies of warfare, using kinetic and laser energies instead of classic controlled explosives.

'The railgun is a true warfighter game changer,' the Navy says.

'Wide-area coverage, exceptionally quick response and very deep magazines will extend the reach and lethality of ships armed with this technology.
... If they can make the barrel hold up to the movement of the projectile it will be a much more economical weapon which extends the rang…

Zeta cartel tied to immigrants on fatal truck ride to San Antonio

San Antonio Express-News/Houston Chronicle:
People close to the Zetas Cartel helped some immigrants cross the Rio Grande, according to one man who survived the drive inside a sweltering tractor-trailer from Laredo to San Antonio late Saturday.

Ten people who were inside the trailer have died and dozens were taken to area hospitals.

Details in a criminal complaint against James Matthew Bradley Jr., the 60-year-old trailer driver, give an idea of what transpired in the days leading up to the deadly drive to San Antonio.

RELATED: New details emerge about immigrants' deadly trip to San Antonio in sweltering trailer

The man told authorities he waited with a group of 28 other people to be smuggled into the U.S.

"He was told by the smuggler that people linked to the Zetas would charge 11,000 Mexican pesos for protection and 1,500 Mexican pesos to cross by raft since the river ran deep in that area," reads the complaint. "The money was collected and his group crossed the river b…

What is the Democrat plan for repairing the damage caused by Obamacare?

CNN:
Schumer: Democrats' top priority is health care, not Russia Schumer did not present any ideas on how to repair the damaged caused by Obamacare.  I get the feeling that their top priority is to defend the status quo and to hell with those harmed by the current law.

Trump administration to repeal Obama fracking regulations on federal land

The Hill:
The Trump administration is proposing to repeal completely Obama-era standards governing hydraulic fracturing on federal land.

The proposal from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is due to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register.

The landmark 2015 regulation set standards in areas such as disclosure of fracking chemicals and integrity of well casing.

It was the Obama administration’s attempt to update decades-old regulations to account for the explosive growth in fracking for oil and natural gas in recent years.

The repeal is the latest in a long string of environmental regulations from Obama that Trump is working to undo.
...
Trump officials say in the proposal released Monday that the Obama regulation is largely duplicative of state and tribal standards, and would cost the oil and gas industry up to $45 million a year to comply.
... A federal court had already ruled that the Bureau of Land Management did not have the authority to regulate frack…

California keeps going down the wrong trail on 'climate change

Bjorn Lomborg:
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At the moment, California’s greenhouse gas emissions account for less than 1% of global emissions, and a little less than 7% of U.S. emissions. The state now plans to cut its emissions by the equivalent of 181.5 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2030 — to 40% below its 1990 levels.

Although this is a much bigger cut than California achieved with its 2006 climate change legislation, it’s still nowhere near enough to have a meaningful effect on global warming overall. Even if California succeeds in making the new cuts and sticks to them for the rest of the century, according to calculations using a standard model of the U.N. Climate Panel, they will amount to a difference of .008 degrees Fahrenheit (.0044 degrees Celsius) — a minuscule drop in the bucket of the cuts needed in order to limit total global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, the number climate activists have identified as a dangerous tipping point.
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A smarter approach to climate policy — and on…

Why big Green is losing

Joel Kotkin:
When President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accords, embraced coal, and stacked his administration from people from fossil-fuel producing states, the environmental movement reacted with near-apocalyptic fear and fury. They would have been better off beginning to understand precisely why the country has become so indifferent to their cause, as evidenced by the victory not only of Trump but of unsympathetic Republicans at every level of government.

Yet there’s been little soul-searching among green activists and donors, or in the generally pliant media since November about how decades of exaggerated concerns—about peak oil, the “population bomb,” and even, a few decades back, global cooling—and demands for economic, social, and political sacrifices from the masses have damaged their movement.

Not long ago, many greens still embraced pragmatic solutions—for example substituting abundant natural gas for coal—that have generated large reductions in greenhouse gas emissi…