What Russian terrorists hope to accomplish ahead of Sochi Olympics

Volgograd has become a prime terrorist target in Russia. The bombings marked the sixth time Islamists have attacked the city.

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Via: Fox Opines

    

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MSNBC must apologize to Romney family, Harris-Perry Twitter apology not enough

MSNBC network executives need to personally apologize to Governor Romney and his family formocking of family’s adopted African-American grandchild.

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Via: Fox Opines

    

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Marriage died in 2013

Marriage is over. It was always at least a little funny that a huge percentage of people swore to stay together until death, then divorced and remarried. But, now, it is, officially, judicially, a joke.

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Via: Fox Opines

    

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IRS, federal government not giving us what we pay for

In real life when you find yourself paying more and getting less, you usually search for another product or service. With the federal government, it isn’t possible to take your business elsewhere unless you are prepared to give up your citizenship, as some have done.

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Via: Fox Opines

    

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New York Times' Benghazi article a shameless bid to send Hillary to White House in 2016

David Kirkpatrick’s December 28 New York Times article “A Deadly Mix in Benghazi” marks a new low for the Times and its shameless cheerleading for the Obama administration.

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Via: Fox Opines

    

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The Art of Reading, Fast and Slow

Many modern readers push themselves through speed-reading courses. If they haven’t time for a full course, there are Youtube videos and websites on the subject. Now, in the age of digital reading, there are additional speed-reading gadgets: tools like Feedly and Twitter enable users to absorb small bits of text in a speedy fashion. A bunch of speed-reading apps have come into vogue, enabling users to read on the clock with greater efficiency.

Efficiency. It’s the word of the age, according to Alasdair MacIntyre: in After Virtue, he said “efficiency” is our most prized virtue. While the Greeks of Homer’s time valued virtues like duty and honor, our age preferred more “managerial” virtues, efficiency being the most valued of all.

But have we lost something in our endeavors for efficiency? Curator contributor Brett Beasley says yes. In a Monday post, he mused on our changing reading patterns, as our culture passes from speed-reading to half-reading, to complete negligence:

“Sharing” is the buzzword of our age, in which nearly all of what we read can be linked to, tweeted, emailed, attached, and downloaded within seconds. Mass digitization projects like Google Books and the Digital Public Library of America place more words within our grasp each hour, yet meanwhile we continue to hear reports that nearly a third of Americans did not read as much as one book in the past year. It’s strange, isn’t it? Reading often feels as easy as breathing. When I go on a road trip, I don’t have to make myself read the words written on the road signs and billboards. It just happens. But when it comes to anything longer than a few hundred words, the text seems to thicken and we have to push back against a surprising amount of resistance.

Why is it that we can spend significant time browsing menus and reading Buzzfeed articles, but roll our eyes when we scroll to the bottom of a new story and see the words “Page 1 of 12”? What is it about length that intimidates and frustrates us so?

At least in part, this annoyance is rooted in that modern striving for “efficiency.” We want our laughs, lunches, and letters as quickly as possible. We are increasingly aware of time’s incessant ticking: from the days in centuries past when church bells heralded the hours, minutes now flick by on our phone and computer screens. We own it, in a way that our ancestors did not. Countdown apps show us every millisecond whizzing past, set to our own schedules and deadlines.

Thus we, along with Beasley, remember “many thinkers and artists throughout history who have written and worked with a momento mori, or reminder of death, nearby. While we might pride ourselves on the nearly instantaneous speed with which we can deploy and make use of information online, in the end our time and our attention are finite, and we have to make difficult decisions about what is valuable enough to spend our time on.”

This is our second …read more

Via: American Conservative

    

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Is Inequality a Problem—or a Power Play?

When President Richard Nixon arrived in Beijing in 1972, Chairman Mao Zedong—with his Marxist revolution, Great Leap Forward and Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution—had achieved an equality unrivaled anywhere. That is, until Pol Pot came along.

There seemed to be no private cars on Beijing’s streets. In the stores, there was next to nothing on the shelves. The Chinese all seemed dressed in the same blue Mao jackets.

Today there are billionaires and millionaires in China, booming cities, a huge growing middle class and, yes, hundreds of millions of peasants still living on a few dollars a day.

Hence, there is far greater inequality in China today than in 1972. Yet is not the unequal China of today a far better place for the Chinese people than the Communist ant colony of Mao?

Lest we forget, it is freedom that produces inequality. Even a partly free nation unleashes the natural and acquired abilities of peoples, and the more industrious and talented inevitably excel and rise and reap the greater rewards. “Inequality … is rooted in the biological nature of man,” said James Fenimore Cooper.

Yet for many people, from New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to President Barack Obama to Pope Francis, income inequality is a curse in need of a cure, as there is today said to be an intolerable measure of such inequality.

But let us first inspect the measuring rod. Though a family of four with $23,550 in cash income in 2013 qualified as living in poverty, this hardly tells the whole story.

Consider the leveling effect of the graduated income tax, about which Karl Marx wrote glowingly in his “Communist Manifesto.” The top 1 percent of U.S. earners pay nearly 40 percent of U.S. income taxes. The top 10 percent pay 70 percent. The top 50 percent pay more than 97 percent of income taxes. The poor pay nothing.

Surely, trillions of dollars siphoned annually off the incomes of the most productive Americans—in federal, state and local income and payroll taxes—closes the gap somewhat.

Secondly, though 15 percent of U.S. families qualify as poor, measured by cash income, this does not take into account the vast assortment of benefits they receive.

The poor have their children educated free in public schools, from Head Start to K-12 and then on to college with Pell Grants. Their medical needs are taken care of through Medicaid. They receive food stamps to feed the family. The kids can get two or three free meals a day at school.

Housing, too, is paid for or subsidized. The poor also receive welfare checks and Earned Income Tax Credits for added cash.

In the late 1940s, our family had no freezer, no dishwasher, no clothes washer or dryer, no microwave, no air conditioning. We watched the Notre Dame-Army game on a black-and-white 8-inch DuMont.

Among American families in poverty today, 1 in 4 have a freezer. Nearly half have automatic dishwashers. Almost 60 percent have a home computer. About 2 in 3 poor families have a clothes washer and dryer. Eighty percent have cellphones. Ninety-three percent …read more

Via: American Conservative

    

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Rand and Hillary, Profiles in Discretion

Steve Walt wonders when Hillary is going to let us in on her opinion on Iran diplomacy:

Amazing, isn’t it? The former chief diplomat of the United States is supposedly an expert on foreign policy and may still harbor a desire to be leader of the free world. Yet she’s been completely silent on the whole question of the negotiations with Iran, even though I’ll bet the Obama administration would love to get her to endorse its efforts. Does she support it? Damned if I know. Does she think it’s naïve, foolish, or not bold enough? Your guess is as good as mine. No doubt we will find out HRC’s true convictions just as soon as her focus groups report in or her major donors tell her what to think. –

Another leading prospective candidate whom we’ve yet to hear from is Rand Paul. I’m  slightly more sympathetic to Paul than Clinton, in part because he’s already gotten slammed by the neocons on Iran without having really said anything. For him to endorse the administration’s efforts at Iran diplomacy, when the grass roots of  his party would learn to hate ice cream if Obama were associated with it, might qualify him for a chapter in the next edition of Profiles in Courage. I don’t really expect it, but if it happened  it would be pretty impressive.

On second thought, doesn’t that set the bar kind of low? Is it too much to expect that a leading Republican senator would remind people of Reagan and his “trust but verify,” and that Richard Nixon started talking to China, while noting that we actually have serious national interests in ramping down the blind hostility with Teheran? You know, actually lead, instead of arguing that he is well qualified to do so.

Let’s have a contest: which would-be leader of the Free World will be the first to tell us what they actually think about Iran diplomacy, including of course the deal inked in Geneva in late November? Who will be the first to break silence,  Rand or Hillary?

(For those wondering, I am well aware that even this preliminary Geneva deal is running into difficulties with a new Iranian insistence on modernizing centrifuges, as well as the Iranian Parliament proposing legislation that would bar Rouhani from negotiating. This group should caucus with Schumer, Menendez, and Kirk. None of this will be easy.)

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Via: American Conservative

    

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Could 2014 bring a course correction for Team Obama? Don't bet on it

A few good speeches by President Obama can’t redirect the large, cumbersome, redundant ship of state to change course.Speeches don’t get websites built, or balance budgets, or rein in unaccountable bureaucracies.

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Via: Fox Opines

    

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The man Putin fears most — why the free world must seek justice for Litvinenko

Shortly before he died, Alexander Litvinenko transcribed a letter from his hospital bed that accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering his death.

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Via: Fox Opines

    

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