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posted by martyb on Saturday March 25 2017, @05:36AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the dear-diary... dept.

The only diary known to be written by President John F. Kennedy is up for auction on April 26th:

A diary kept by President John F Kennedy as a young man travelling in Europe, revealing his fascination with Adolf Hitler, is up for auction. Kennedy, then 28, predicted "Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived". "He had in him the stuff of which legends are made," he continued.

Kennedy wrote the entry in the summer of 1945 after touring the German dictator's Bavarian mountain retreat. It is thought by historians to be the only diary [ever] kept by the 35th US president.

[...] He wrote that Hitler "had boundless ambition for his country which rendered him a menace to the peace of the world, but he had a mystery about him in the way he lived and in the manner of his death that will live and grow after him". The 61-page diary was kept by Kennedy around four months after Hitler committed suicide. [...] In a description of the auction, [Deirdre Henderson] wrote: "When JFK said that Hitler 'had in him the stuff of which legends are made', he was speaking to the mystery surrounding him, not the evil he demonstrated to the world."

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday March 24 2017, @11:26PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the which-swamps-are-we-draining? dept.

President Trump has proposed a $54 billion increase in defense spending, which he said would be "one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history."

Past administrations have increased military spending, but typically to fulfil a specific mission. Jimmy Carter expanded operations in the Persian Gulf. Ronald Reagan pursued an arms race with the Soviet Union, and George W. Bush waged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Trump has not articulated a new mission that would require a military spending increase. This has left analysts wondering what goals he has in mind. Erin M. Simpson, a national security consultant, called Mr. Trump's plans "a budget in search of a strategy."

Donald J. Trump - Military Readiness Remarks

[Related]: 2017 Outlook for Navy Shipbuilding

What do you think about the proposed increase in military spending ? Does USA really need more weapons ?

Original Submission

posted by on Wednesday March 22 2017, @10:41AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the supreme-court-positions-are-different dept.

Submitted via IRC for Runaway1956

More than a decade ago, many Democrats still in office now went along with Gorsuch as he was unanimously confirmed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in July 2006. Things are different today, ahead of his hearing for the highest court in the land.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., expressed deep doubts during a press conference last Wednesday about the nominee and asserted Gorsuch "may act like a neutral, calm judge," but "his record and his career clearly show he harbors a right wing, pro-corporate, special interest agenda."

[...] Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy said he would demand "real answers" to questions he has about Gorsuch's judicial philosophy.

"I hope next week, when the president's Supreme Court nominee will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he provides transparent, truthful answers to Senators' questions," Leahy said in a statement. "I will insist on real answers from Judge Neil Gorsuch, because there are real concerns about his record and his judicial philosophy."


Original Submission

posted by on Monday March 20 2017, @02:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the discuss dept.

When he was in office, former President Barack Obama earned the ire of anti-war activists for his expansion of Bush's drone wars. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning head of state ordered ten times more drone strikes than the previous president, and estimates late in Obama's presidency showed 49 out of 50 victims were civilians. In 2015, it was reported that up to 90% of drone casualties were not the intended targets.

Current President Donald Trump campaigned on a less interventionist foreign policy, claiming to be opposed to nation-building and misguided invasions. But less than two months into his presidency, Trump has expanded the drone strikes that plagued Obama's "peaceful" presidency.​

"During President Obama's two terms in office, he approved 542 such targeted strikes in 2,920 days—one every 5.4 days. From his inauguration through today, President Trump had approved at least 36 drone strikes or raids in 45 days—one every 1.25 days."

That's an increase of 432 [sic] percent.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 19 2017, @02:18PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the maybe-they're-on-kindle dept.

First, armed police seized some of its books. Next, its director was put on trial accused of stirring up ethnic hatred. And now, quietly, its shelves have been emptied and its volumes packed up, ready to be merged into another library's collection. A year and a half after Russia's only state-run Ukrainian language library, Moscow's Library of Ukrainian Literature, was dragged into a political dispute between the two countries, Reuters has learnt that authorities are quietly winding it down.

Officially, what is happening to the library -- its 52,000 books are being transferred to Russia's main foreign language library -- is "a change of address" not a closure. But the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, some of the library's employees, and members of Russia's large Ukrainian diaspora say it is a closure in all but name.

Tatyana Muntyan, a library employee, said that even before the transfer its director had reduced opening hours, stopped home lending, halted acquisitions, and made readers show passports to gain entry. The library's director declined to comment. The saga, along with other measures, suggests political differences between Moscow and Kiev are driving a wedge between two peoples whose cultures have been interwoven for centuries. It is likely to stoke Ukrainian fears that their culture, as well as their territorial integrity, is under siege.

Original Submission

posted by on Friday March 17 2017, @01:16PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the we-won't-hear-the-case,-but-if-we-could... dept.

The Washington Post has some analysis of a noteworthy Supreme Court non-decision.

In today's [March 6] Leonard v. Texas, Justice Clarence Thomas sharply criticizes civil forfeiture laws. The one-justice opinion discusses the Supreme Court's refusing to hear the case (a result Thomas agrees with, for procedural reasons mentioned in the last paragraph); but Thomas is sending a signal, I think, that at least one justice — and maybe more — will be sympathetic to such arguments in future cases.

From Justice Thomas' statement:

In rem proceedings often enable the government to seize the property without any predeprivation judicial process and to obtain forfeiture of the property even when the owner is personally innocent (though some statutes, including the one here, provide for an innocent-owner defense). Civil proceedings often lack certain procedural protections that accompany criminal proceedings, such as the right to a jury trial and a heightened standard of proof.

Partially as a result of this distinct legal regime, civil forfeiture has in recent decades become widespread and highly profitable.

[...] These forfeiture operations frequently target the poor and other groups least able to defend their interests in forfeiture proceedings.

Original Submission

posted by on Tuesday March 14 2017, @10:34AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the twice-in-a-generation dept.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is seeking another vote on Scottish independence, coming possibly as soon as late 2018:

In a bombshell announcement Monday, Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon told reporters in Edinburgh that she will seek the authority to hold a second independence referendum for Scotland. Citing a "brick wall of intransigence" from British Prime Minister Theresa May, Sturgeon asserted that the only way to preserve Scottish interests in the midst of the U.K. exit from the European Union is to put matters directly in the hands of Scottish voters.

"What Scotland deserves, in the light of the material change of circumstances brought about by the Brexit vote, is the chance to decide our future in a fair, free and democratic way — and at a time when we are equipped with the facts we need," the Scottish first minister and head of the Scottish National Party said in prepared remarks. "Whatever path we take, it should be one decided by us, not for us."

Next week, she will seek a section 30 order from the Scottish Parliament to begin the referendum process — which the U.K. Parliament in Westminster ultimately must approve. If all goes as planned, Sturgeon expects that a vote would be held in the fall of 2018 or spring of 2019, after terms of a Brexit deal worked out by the U.K. and the EU become clear.

Original Submission

posted by on Monday March 13 2017, @12:33PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the betteridge's-law-says... dept.

Illegal Southwest border crossings were down 40% last month, according to just released Customs and Border Protection numbers -- a sign that President Donald Trump's hardline rhetoric and policies on immigration may be having a deterrent effect.

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly himself announced the month-to-month numbers, statistics that CBP usually quietly posts on its website without fanfare.

According to CBP data, the 40% drop in illegal Southwest border crossings from January to February is far outside normal seasonal trends. Typically, the January to February change is actually an increase of 10% to 20%.

The drop breaks a nearly 20-year trend, as CBP data going back to 2000 shows an uptick in apprehensions every February.

The number of apprehensions and inadmissible individuals presenting at the border was 18,762 people in February, down from 31,578 in January.

It will still take months to figure out if the decrease in apprehensions is an indication of a lasting Trump effect on immigration patterns. Numbers tend to decrease seasonally in the winter and increase into the spring months.

But the sharp downtick after an uptick at the end of the Obama administration could fit the narrative that it takes tough rhetoric on immigration -- backed up by policy -- to get word-of-mouth warnings to undocumented immigrants making the harrowing journey to the border.


Submitted via IRC for Runaway1956

Original Submission

posted by on Sunday March 12 2017, @09:44AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the strange-timing dept.

A diplomatic spat between Turkey and the Netherlands is evolving.
Source of the controversy: Turkey's upcoming referendum on a constitutional change which would give more powers to the president. President Recep Erdoğan has been clamping down on opposition ever since the attempted coup, and securing his reign. Changing the constitution is another step in this process, which is seen by some as a large step towards eradicating democracy.

The Netherlands comes into play as the Turkish ruling party (AK) wishes to campaign for a "yes" vote in other countries, such as Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands. None of those countries is happy with an uninvited campaign visit by foreign politicians. The Turkish minister of foreign affairs was supposed to come to the Netherlands to campaign. The Dutch government strongly counselled against his visit, stating, amongst other reasons, that they do not want the Netherlands to host a rallying call for eradication of democracy. However, the rally could not be forbidden just because the contents was yuck to those in power - free speech and all that.

After this started hitting the news, the owners of the rooms that were booked for these rallies cancelled these bookings. Meanwhile, talks were ongoing between the two countries to resolve the situation. The Dutch government claims that the Turks started threatening with sanctions, and (my rephrasing) refused to be held hostage to how to govern their own country. In the midst of this evolving diplomatic spat, the Turkish minister of foreign affairs got onto a plane to the Netherlands.

As a side note: the Netherlands is having elections in 4 days (15th of March).

It gets better. The short short version:
- Saturday morning, the Dutch government cancelled the landing rights of the plane carrying the Turkish minister of foreign affairs.
- In response, Turkish president Erdogan called the Dutch nazis and fascists
- Turkish and Dutch communities were getting riled up.
This has created an atmosphere where any mayor can forbid a Turkish rally on the legitimate grounds that safety and security cannot be guaranteed. Yeah, that's not helping.

With the elections close, of course there's political posturing. Virtually all politicians think that this is a backwards step for Turkey, and that Turkish politicians should not be campaigning here.

But wait: it gets *even* better!
- Saturday evening, The Turkish minister of education snuck into the Netherlands by car.
- Her motorcade was stopped before arriving at the consulate, as the area around the Turkish consulate was now a no-go area thanks to the rising tensions
- There are calls on social media for Turks to travel to the consulate to protest.
- Turkey just announced that the Dutch ambassador to Turkey (who is not on his post currently) is not welcome back.
The ambassador not being welcome is literally breaking as I write this - I'm sure there will be more developments before this can be posted. See the live updates here.

My €0.02: Freedom of speech is important, even if you end up defending scoundrels (H.L. Mencken). However:
- every municipality has the right to forbid activities on its ground where it feels safety cannot be guaranteed.
- The Netherlands has elections in 4 days. Before today, the actions by the AK party were already decried as a gift to the anti-foreigners party. With current events evolving like this? I would expect quite a significant increase in seats for this party.

Turkey has just closed Dutch consulate and ambassy, and told the Dutch ambassador (out of country currently) he's not welcome back for now. The closing off is ostensibly for security purposes...

There is a massing of Turks near the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam. Police and various news media are there. Turkish media are getting good shots, others are broadcasting via periscope.

My updated two cents: foreign policy will become the hot topic for the Dutch elections; this is playing straight into the hands of the "Dutch Trump" Geert Wilders.
(and: why does the turkish government feel a need to force the issue now instead of after the Dutch elections? Are they so keen on playing the electoral role of the FBI?)

Read more at CNN and The Guardian.

Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

posted by CoolHand on Saturday March 11 2017, @07:31AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the trumping-the-liberals dept.

Leashes Come Off Wall Street, Gun Sellers, Polluters and More

WASHINGTON — Giants in telecommunications, like Verizon and AT&T, will not have to take "reasonable measures" to ensure that their customers' Social Security numbers, web browsing history and other personal information are not stolen or accidentally released.

Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase will not be punished, at least for now, for not collecting extra money from customers to cover potential losses from certain kinds of high-risk trades that helped unleash the 2008 financial crisis.

And Social Security Administration data will no longer be used to try to block individuals with disabling mental health issues from buying handguns, nor will hunters be banned from using lead-based bullets, which can accidentally poison wildlife, on 150 million acres of federal lands.

These are just a few of the more than 90 regulations that federal agencies and the Republican-controlled Congress have delayed, suspended or reversed in the month and a half since President Trump took office, according to a tally by The New York Times.

The emerging effort — dozens more rules could be eliminated in the coming weeks — is one of the most significant shifts in regulatory policy in recent decades. It is the leading edge of what Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump's chief strategist, described late last month as "the deconstruction of the administrative state."

In the submitter's opinion - some of these rollbacks are mistakes. Others, though, should never have been passed. For instance, the Social Security Administration being drafted into notifying law enforcement agencies of HIPAA protected information. The MPG requirements on American auto makers? The fuel efficient cars are available, but no one wants them. Left and right alike, buyers demand the gas guzzlers. Banking regulations, though, should stay in place. Trump should know that the bankers won't regulate themselves. FFS, he saw the same meltdown that we all saw in 2008!

Original Submission