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BrothersJudd Blog

Blog of the Brothers Judd

Last Build Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2017 08:35:28 -0500

Copyright: Copyright 2017


Fri, 20 Jan 2017 08:35:28 -0500

At least 40 fighters from Jabhat Fateh al-Sham - one of the largest rebel groups fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - have been killed in air strikes in Aleppo province.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was unclear who carried out Thursday's raids in western Aleppo province since a US-led coalition, the Syrian regime, and Russia have all carried out strikes against Fateh al-Sham positions in recent weeks.

All against the Salafi...


Fri, 20 Jan 2017 07:19:33 -0500

It's time to relax about Trump (Hugh Hewitt, Jan. 19th, 2017, Washington Post)

People of moderate dispositions are unsettled by Trump's approach, and the single word they use is "temperament." This is a cultural clash as much as an ideological one. The president-elect is Jacksonian in his thunders, not Lincoln-like in his appeals regarding "malice toward none, with charity for all." Trump is loud and proud and big and bold and full of scorn for his opponents. That very nature carried him to his win. It isn't going to change.

Trump is the temperamental opposite of President Obama. Imagine changing the temperaments of your next-door neighbors as radically as we are about to change those of our president. Even if you grew to like the new folks, it would take some getting used to.

Those alarmed by Trump should recognize that those personality characteristics do not define the entire man or his agenda for the next four years -- and that, in fact, there are good reasons to welcome the brashness. The vast, suffocating bureaucratic state has grown so powerful and utterly muffling of genuine ideological diversity that we need to break the ice forming over the national conversation. Trump is Thor's hammer in that regard. It could get loud, but we could also end up hashing some hard things out.

Finally, there is this: The Constitution is very, very strong. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), not to mention the independent judiciary, represent significant checks on Trump, who, as Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn likes to point out, has never raised a word against the Constitution's design or institutions. Governors such as Arizona's Doug Ducey didn't like being pushed about by Obama, and they won't like it any more if Trump is doing the pushing. The media -- asleep and smiling through much of the past eight years -- woke up with a hangover and a backache, and are in a collective mood to go full Sam Donaldson. Terrific. Checks and balances.


Fri, 20 Jan 2017 07:06:44 -0500

Will Trumpcare just be rebranded Obamacare? (David Nather, 1/20/17, Axios)

I'm struck by how many people in D.C. health care circles are predicting the same outcome for the Obamacare repeal battles: Trump and congressional Republicans will end up with a program that's built on the framework of Obamacare, but modified to reflect Republican principles...

Even more Republican principles.  


Fri, 20 Jan 2017 05:09:18 -0500

Questions Over Truth Of Labour's Pro-Corbyn Membership Surge (Paul T. Horgan, Jan. 20th, 2017, Heat Street)

Based on Labour's boasts about its membership levels, Jeremy Corbyn should have had a Christmas no.1 single about him; the Corbyn-supporting Momentum's membership should be into six figures; and the CND, of which Corbyn is a vice-president, should be enjoying a membership revival to compare with its heyday during the Cold War.

None of this has happened.

Instead, Corbyn has suffered disastrous personal and party polling; election setbacks; a catastrophic relaunch; an MPs' 4-to-1 no confidence vote against him; the retirement of some of Labour's most experienced MPs to the back benches; and now two Labour MPs quitting Parliament within less than a month of each other rather than serve under him, with the promise of more to come.

Remarkably, despite all this, Corbyn's position as leader of the Labour Party appears secure. His supporters argue his leadership is validated by the massive mandate given to him by the party members.  Large numbers are reported to have joined Labour just to support him.

Labour politicians maintain that their party is now the largest in Western Europe due to this membership surge.  But when Heat Street submitted twenty-one detailed questions about Labour's membership recently, it refused to answer a single one, not even wanting to admit exactly how many members the party actually has. that given a leader mouthing their ideology, they don't care how weak the party is.  Democrats run a significant danger right now of following this path to oblivion. 

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 18:59:35 -0500

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Thu, 19 Jan 2017 18:55:01 -0500

Jobless claims fall to lowest levels in more than 40 years (Patrick Reilly, JANUARY 19, 2017, CS Monitor)

On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that 234,000 Americans sought jobless aid in the week ending January 14th. The average claims for the four-week period ending on the 14th - which economists view as a less volatile measure - was 246,750.

Jobless claims serve as an index for layoffs in the economy, and these numbers are the lowest of their kind in over 40 years. Better yet, economists expect hiring to stay strong in 2017.

"The economy is doing great, whichever way you look at it," Harm Bandholz, the chief U.S. economist at UniCredit Research, told Reuters. "The labor market is close to full employment and the housing market continues to heal. Trump is inheriting a strong economy."

Now if only he'd do what he should have done with the fortune his dad handed him : nothing.


Thu, 19 Jan 2017 18:51:14 -0500

Trump Sought Military Equipment For Inauguration, Granted 20-Plane Flyover (Jessica Schulberg, 1/19/17, The Huffington Post)

Part of being a great president is showing off America's military strength, according to President-elect Donald Trump.

The military "may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue," Trump told the Washington Post in an interview published Wednesday. "That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we're going to be showing our military."

Trump spoke about his vision of military parades in vague terms, suggesting it was something he might oversee in the future. But according to several sources involved in his inaugural preparations, Trump has endeavored to ensure that his first day as commander-in-chief is marked by an unusual display of heavy military equipment.

During the preparation for Friday's transfer-of-power, a member of Trump's transition team floated the idea of including tanks and missile launchers in the inaugural parade, a source involved in inaugural planning told The Huffington Post. "They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade," the source said, referring to massive military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang, typically seen as an aggressive display of muscle-flexing. 


Thu, 19 Jan 2017 18:16:33 -0500

A MAN NAMED JOE : Before the 'road rage' killing, before the racially charged trial, Joe McKnight ran. He ran to the NFL and back. And then, when the world felt like it was collapsing around him, he ran some more. (FLINDER BOYD, JANUARY 19, 2017, Bleacher Report)Joe wakes up for the last time, on December 1, 2016. He puts on a blue polo shirt emblazoned with his company's logo and heads to work. Three weeks earlier, he had returned to New Orleans from a second stint in the Canadian Football League and taken a job as an assistant at a mental health care facility. On this day, work is light, so around noon, he fires up the grill and lays out burgers and pork links in meticulous rows. "I like my food pretty," he tells his colleagues.When lunch is over, his boss and mentor Michael Tucker asks him to pick up an employee at a branch office five miles away on the West Bank. Normally, Joe would drive a company Kia, but this day Tucker is feeling generous. He tosses the keys of his Audi Q5 in a soft arc from one side of the hall to the other. Joe sticks out his hand to snatch them--but a moment too late."You gotta work on those fumbles," Tucker jokes. "You been fumbling your whole life.""Don't do that to me," Joe says. As he walks out the front door, he turns and smiles. "I'll see you in a minute."Joe starts the ignition and turns onto Canal Street. It's 62 degrees. He drives past the Superdome and the trolley cars. He drives toward the Mississippi River.He plugs in his iPhone and plays Common's "The Light." There are times when you need someone/I will be by your side. He texts his girlfriend.Just after 2:30 p.m., he merges onto the Crescent City Connection bridge.From here, only two people know exactly what happened.The only thing most people in Louisiana knew about Joe McKnight was that he could run. He ran so well, he was named the Times-Picayune's high school athlete of the last decade.  After the New York Jets drafted him in 2010, he ran his way to an All-Pro selection the next season as a return specialist, and then, when the world felt like it was collapsing around him, he ran some more.There's poetic irony in his last days; for the first time in his life, he had stopped running. He was back home in New Orleans to make peace with a complicated past. To forgive and to repent.McKnight's trip to the West Bank that day was supposed to take less than an hour. He was scheduled to help Tucker shop for a boat in the afternoon. Instead, at some point on the Crescent City Connection, he encounters a two-door blue Infiniti.Ronald Gasser, a 54-year-old telecommunications contractor, is returning home to Gretna, a New Orleans suburb, from a work site in Mississippi. By Gasser's own admission, McKnight cuts him off, and Gasser becomes "angry and chased McKnight," he later tells detectives.When they cross over the Mississippi River into Algiers, they exit General De Gaulle Drive. The details of the next 2.5 miles are cloudy, until they come to a stop at the intersection of Behrman Highway and Holmes Boulevard, in the unincorporated area of Terrytown. McKnight is in the right-hand turn lane but still facing south; Gasser is alongside him in the middle lane, just a few feet away, with his passenger window down.Gasser told police he was "boxed in," but two witnesses contradict this and tell B/R Mag that, at least when the fatal bullets were fired, no one was in front of Gasser's car at the stoplight.McKnight exits his vehicle, unarmed, and as ballistics indicate, it appears he's bent over, looking down into Gasser's car from the passenger side. What's said, if anything, is unclear, but according to the Jefferson Parish coroner, Gasser fires a .40-caliber pistol, striking McKnight three times--below the right nipple, in the right shoulder and in the left hand. Three shell casings, according to police, are found in Gasser's car.McKnight is now splay[...]


Thu, 19 Jan 2017 17:22:24 -0500

Rick Perry Regrets Call to Close Energy Department (CORAL DAVENPORT, JAN. 19, 2017, NY Times)

He addressed his awkward history on the issue up front, telling the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that after "being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy," he no longer believed, as he said while running for president in 2011, that it should be eliminated.


Thu, 19 Jan 2017 17:21:52 -0500

Far fewer men being treated for prostate cancer (Ronnie Cohen, 1/19/17, Reuters Health)

The number of older Americans treated for prostate cancer plummeted 42 percent since health officials began questioning the benefits of screening tests, a new study shows.

The finding points to the success of efforts to curtail the use of controversial prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, screening tests, said lead author Dr. Tudor Borza.

At the same time, his team found, doctors still face challenges trying to convince men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer to watch and wait before undergoing surgery or other invasive treatment, Borza said. [...]

"Diagnosis has a way of begetting treatment, whether or not it warrants treatment," said Dr. Gilbert Welch, professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Lebanon, New Hampshire. He was not involved with the new study.

"Patients think once cancer is there, you've got to act," Welch said in a phone interview. "The question is whether you want to be looking for early forms of cancer."


Thu, 19 Jan 2017 17:10:08 -0500

President-elect Donald Trump's massive infrastructure package should have $40 of private-sector spending for every $1 of public spending, according to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)

"A great agency ... has public-private partnerships. For every one dollar of federal dollars, there's $40 of private sector spending," Ryan said on the Charlie Rose Show. "We want to leverage as much private-sector dollars as possible to maximize the fixing of our infrastructure." [...]

Ryan emphasized that although the price tag of Trump's proposal is "eye popping," that figure is only the overall investment level, not the cost of the legislation.

"That's not a trillion dollars coming from federal taxpayers into the transportation system," Ryan said. "That is the total amount we're shooting for."

But tax credits would still need to be fully paid for, Ryan said. Trump claims his plan would be revenue neutral thanks to taxes from new jobs and contractor profits, but economists have cast doubt on those assertions. 

And any direct spending in the plan, which would be around $3.5 billion under Ryan's vision, would definitely need an offset to pass the Republican-led Congress. 


Thu, 19 Jan 2017 16:53:09 -0500

Trump keeping 50 Obama administration officials (JORDAN FABIAN AND BEN KAMISAR - 01/19/17, The Hill) Another top Obama administration official staying on is Adam Szubin, who oversees international sanctions at the Treasury Department.  President Obama nominated Szubin as undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence in 2015, but he was never confirmed by the GOP-controlled Senate.  Szubin, who has served under Obama and Bush, has been serving in his role in an acting capacity.  A Treasury Department spokesperson said Szubin would "serve as acting secretary of the Treasury until a new secretary is confirmed and in place." "At that point, Mr. Szubin will leave government service to pursue other endeavors," the spokesperson said.The Chosen One : Meet Adam Szubin, Obama's point man to sell the Iran deal to Israel. (DAVID FRANCIS, AUGUST 28, 2015, Foreign Policy)Three days after the United States struck a long-fought nuclear deal with Iran, Treasury staffers who worked to help clinch the historic accord gathered to celebrate. They met in the Cash Room, an ornate space inside the Treasury Department that once served as an internal bank, to regale a key tenet of the Obama administration's assumed foreign-policy legacy. The euphoria soon faded, however, and would be followed by weeks of skepticism from U.S. lawmakers and outright hostility from Israel, America's top ally in the Mideast.The July 17 celebration was organized by Adam Szubin, acting Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes, according to two officials who attended the event. Szubin helped set up the Obama administration's crushing Iran sanctions. Now he's trying to sell the White House's case for lifting them.[...]


Thu, 19 Jan 2017 16:41:55 -0500

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just released its report on the May 2016 fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S. Within the document, the government reports that the number of crashes dropped dramatically after Tesla introduced Autopilot in 2015, a fact that would seem to bolster the company's claims about the safety of semi-autonomous features in its vehicles.


Thu, 19 Jan 2017 16:33:26 -0500

Mohammad Habib Boussadoun al-Tunisi, a Tunisian who was involved in "external operations and has been connected to terrorist plots to attack Western targets," was killed in the strike near Idlib in Syria, the statement said.

U.S. Military Bombs ISIS Camps in Libya (Morgan Chalfant, January 19, 2017, Washington Free Beacon)

The Pentagon announced the precision airstrikes in a statement Thursday morning, which destroyed the two desert camps 45 kilometers, or 28 miles, southwest of Sirte. The U.S. military is still evaluating the results of the strike, but CNN reported that early estimates put the death toll above 80. The airstrikes were carried out by U.S. B-2 bombers.

"In conjunction with the Libyan Government of National Accord, the U.S. military conducted precision airstrikes Wednesday night destroying two ISIL camps 45 kilometers southwest of Sirte," Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement Thursday.


Thu, 19 Jan 2017 16:26:42 -0500

Thank YouJANUARY 19, 2017 AT 10:05 AM ET BY PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMAMy fellow Americans,It's a long-standing tradition for the sitting president of the United States to leave a parting letter in the Oval Office for the American elected to take his or her place. It's a letter meant to share what we know, what we've learned, and what small wisdom may help our successor bear the great responsibility that comes with the highest office in our land, and the leadership of the free world.But before I leave my note for our 45th president, I wanted to say one final thank you for the honor of serving as your 44th. Because all that I've learned in my time in office, I've learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.Throughout these eight years, you have been the source of goodness, resilience, and hope from which I've pulled strength. I've seen neighbors and communities take care of each other during the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. I have mourned with grieving families searching for answers -- and found grace in a Charleston church.I've taken heart from the hope of young graduates and our newest military officers. I've seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and wounded warriors once given up for dead walk again. I've seen Americans whose lives have been saved because they finally have access to medical care, and families whose lives have been changed because their marriages are recognized as equal to our own. I've seen the youngest of children remind us through their actions and through their generosity of our obligations to care for refugees, or work for peace, and, above all, to look out for each other.I've seen you, the American people, in all your decency, determination, good humor, and kindness. And in your daily acts of citizenship, I've seen our future unfolding.All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into that work -- the joyous work of citizenship. Not just when there's an election, not just when our own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.I'll be right there with you every step of the way.And when the arc of progress seems slow, remember: America is not the project of any one person. The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word 'We.' 'We the People.' 'We shall overcome.'Yes, we can.[...]