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CNN Asks Senator: Will You Warn Dems Not to be ‘Obsessed’ With Trump?

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 17:03
<p>In an interview with Maryland Senator and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Chris Van Hollen during the 9:00 a.m. ET hour of Friday’s <em>CNN Newsroom</em>, anchor John Berman actually pressed the liberal lawmaker on whether Pennsylvania congressional candidate Conor Lamb’s decision to run against Nancy Pelosi and not attack President Trump would be a model for other Democrats in the 2018 midterm election.</p>

But Why Was Hillary in India, CBS? Net Notices Fall, But Not Her Bashing of Americans

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 16:58
<p>This week, Hillary Clinton went on a bitter rant about why she lost the 2016 election, blaming “backward”- looking Americans who don’t like “black people getting rights.” It was another cringe-inducing example of the Democrat finding fault in everyone else. But, as Tim Graham noted on Thursday, most journalistic outlets have covered up the story. (Perhaps to save Clinton from the embarrassment.) </p>

Networks Ignore Another Higher Economic Growth Forecast

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 16:25
<p>The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently increased its estimates for U.S economic growth.Too bad it didn’t heighten network interest in the U.S. economy.</p> <p>ABC <em>World News Tonight with David Muir</em>, NBC <em>Nightly News with Lester Holt </em>and CBS <em>Evening News </em>said nothing about the revised forecast on March 13 or March 14.</p>

Pro-Lifers Shut Down ‘Trigger Warning’ Mandate at an Ohio University

The Stream - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 16:16

Pro-life displays at Ohio's Miami University won't have to sport "trigger warning" signs after a pro-life student group won a free speech battle with the school Friday.

"This is a victory for the free speech rights of students, who should not be told that their support of mothers and their preborn children is some kind of shameful act that should be apologized for or vilified as harmful," Students for Life (SFL) President Kristan Hawkins said in a March 16 press release, celebrating the university's decision to rescind its "trigger warning" mandate.

The decision comes after the university's SFL group filed a suit -- Students for Life at Miami University of Ohio at Hamilton v. Trustees of Miami University of Ohio -- in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in response to a university mandate that SFL post "trigger warning" signs in front of their displays on campus in October. 

The displays were simple crosses planted in the ground to represent the number of unborn babies Planned Parenthood has aborted. The abortion organization has murdered 7,132,130 babies since its 1916 founding. Planned Parenthood doctors aborted more than 328,348 unborn babies in 2016 alone. The organization killed 6,803,782 unborn babies between 1978 and 2016, according to CNS News

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School officials at the time of the suit indicated they would allow a peaceful display of crosses only if warning signs were placed around the campus. The university did not impose the same requirement on any other student group.

Miami University of Ohio agreed to a settlement following a legal battle and disavowed its warning sign requirement. The school also revised a second policy to guarantee other groups will not face similar mistreatment. The college crafted a third policy stating officials cannot stifle speech simply because it could "cause alarm, annoyance, or nuisance."

The university will pay the cost of SFL's damages and attorney fees.

"Our courageous student leaders show every day that they care more about pre-born infants and women than with an easy college experience by continuing to speak up for life, no matter what," SFL President Hawkins told The Daily Caller News Foundation Friday. "A tragic national trend in violations of student free speech rights is developing nationwide," Hawkins also noted. SFL and other groups dedicated to protecting life and free speech must continue to fight the powers that seek to destroy those rights, Hawkins said.

The university did not respond to TheDCNF's request for comment.


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Copyright 2018 The Daily Caller News Foundation

Morning Joe: Anyone Who Criticizes 'Hero' McCabe Is Not 'A Good American'

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 15:48
<p>As the deadline approaches for the Attorney General to decide whether to fire former Acting Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, the media have ramped up the hysterics. On Friday, the hosts of MSNBC's<em> Morning Joe</em> lost their tempers and bashed White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for "not being a good American" when she described McCabe as a "bad actor."</p>

To Answer LGBTQ Ideology, Nancy Pearcey Seeks Truths Grounded in Science

The Stream - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 15:33

Every parent has faced the questions in recent years. "Love is love," right? Isn't being transgender just another lifestyle? Or even: Why was there a boy in the girls bathroom today at school?

One scholar has grappled with current trends in sexuality for decades. Formerly an agnostic, Nancy Pearcey ended up working closely with Christian thought leaders Francis Schaeffer and Charles Colson. Today, as a professor at Houston Baptist University, she guides students to root out contradictions in popular movements.

With insights from biology, psychology, philosophy and the like, her new book Love Thy Body reveals how the hookup culture and LGBTQ ideology have devalued human identity. Pearcey offers a caring approach that has given her a platform beyond Fox News where she often appears. Even voices on the left seek her out.

After addressing a packed audience at The Heritage Foundation on her latest work, Pearcey spoke with The Stream in an interview.

Dividing Body, Mind and Soul

The Stream: Your book presents many big ideas on sexuality and science. How have your students responded to it?

Nancy Pearcey: These ideas are new even to my graduate-level students. They have not heard this paradigm elsewhere. Mostly coming from a Christian background, all they've had are some Bible studies and moral teaching of "This is right, this is wrong." They come into the classroom without a strong sense of why this is right or wrong.

Your view of the body depends on your view of nature. Start with a view that nature is a product of blind material forces, and you end up with a low view of the body. If Charles Darwin was right -- that our bodies are the products of purposeless, undirected forces -- then the logical conclusion is that the body is just matter.

Your view of the body depends on your view of nature. Start with a view that nature is a product of blind material forces, and you end up with a low view of the body.

The body becomes just a collection of cells, organs and tissues -- no different from any other chance configuration of matter. You end up with an ethical view that there is no status or dignity to the human being.

As our culture becomes more secular, it's not enough to know: This is what the Bible says. Moral assertions are not enough to talk with secular friends or even other Christians. Today, students go off to college and everyone they know is sleeping with their boyfriend or girlfriend.

Nancy Pearcey

Now we have to show the moral truths we live by. We have to understand the ideas behind transgenderism, homosexuality, abortion and sexual ethics. Love Thy Body brings secular humanism back to its scientific roots.

Fallout in the Next Generation

The Stream: With this new iteration of the sexual revolution, what impact have you seen on young adults today?

Pearcey: When writing Love Thy Body, I knew people who were struggling with same-sex attraction and transgenderism. The chapter I thought would be straightforward was on abortion. After all, millennials are more pro-life than their Baby Boomer parents.

To gain perspective on these sensitive issues, I engaged with many different people in reading groups. They included undergrads, graduates, previously homeschooled and our College of Biblical Studies, which has 80 percent minority students. My grad students were going through the chapter on life issues. Gradually, three of them shared they had abortions in the past.

One had been raped in her dorm room at a Christian college. It was her former boyfriend who was angry with her at breaking up with him. That was his revenge. Now this girl was pro-life, yet she was so distraught about what her church would say. Her first thought was: My church will shun my parents. She was worried enough about protecting her parents, she took the first available appointment to get an abortion.

Whenever we deal with these topics, we need to keep in mind the personal stories.

Isn't the church where young men and women should be able to work through these issues? Yet our reading group was one of the first places she ever admitted it to anyone. I realized anew that you cannot deal with these issues as abstract moral topics. In your church group, your classroom and among your friends, there are people struggling.

These talks actually changed the tone of this book. This happened again when I taught this manuscript to a college class. I recall there was a young man who didn't say much the entire class. As students finished the final exam at different times, I walked out to the hallway to say goodbye to them.

On that last day of class, he told me he struggled with same-sex attraction. It turned out he hadn't even told his mother yet. Whenever we deal with these topics, we need to keep in mind the personal stories.

The Stream: How does your work speak to those struggling with these difficult issues?

Pearcey: I asked my student that in the hallway. He said the book gave him hope. It's the positive message on sexuality that makes a difference. Instead of one more time hearing it's wrong, they need the reasons why to live more in tune with the body.

A former lesbian was part of the book launch team. She said, Even though I had become a Christian, decided that lifestyle was wrong and left it behind, you've given me a whole different way to think about it. It's giving people a high view of the body, positive reasons to affirm their biological identity as male or female.

By seeking to overcome same-sex identity, you're respecting your body. Certain truths help bring personal empowerment and wholeness. Intrinsically, God has created me to relate sexually to the opposite sex. I accept that as a good gift from God. I know I will be healthier and happier when I live in alignment with my biological sex.

It's that inner unity and coherence that gives hope. It's not just about doing what is morally right, rather a holistic notion of gender, sexual desire and biology being aligned.

Current Issues, Historic Roots

The Stream: Why does Love Thy Body focus more on how these trends affect individuals rather than society?

Pearcey: Frankly, knowing the social harms is not going to change lives. Maybe people should care more. But if you try to explain to someone how homosexuality is socially harmful, the individual will dismiss you. Sorry, this is what feels right to me. I'm not going to deny my own impulses and feelings because it harms "societal norms."

For someone who is really struggling with this, it feels like life and death. They're not going to give up what feels like life to them for some vague impact on civilization. They're just not. That's why I spent most of Love Thy Body on how it affects the individual, while the final chapter deals with social harms.

The Stream: Where did these trends and ideas originate?

Pearcey: What the transgender movement is saying -- that the body is not part of your authentic self -- has a long history. It goes all the way back to Plato, who said the body is the “prison house of the soul.” At the beginning of the modern age, Descartes located personal identity in the mind (“I think, therefore I am”) and reduced the body to a machine.

Then Darwin said nature is a product of blind forces, which means the body has no intrinsic purpose. With this history, you can see why today secular liberalism sees the body as only raw material, which the mind is free to use how it wants. Lesbian feminist Camille Paglia defends homosexuality in exactly those terms.

She writes that nature has made us male and female, but then asks, "Why not defy nature?” After all, “Fate, not God, has given us this flesh. We have absolute claim to our bodies and may do with them as we see fit." In other words, if our bodies are merely products of material forces, then they convey no moral message, give no clue to our identity and have no inherent purpose we are obligated to respect.

What the transgender movement is saying -- that the body is not part of your authentic self -- has a long history. It goes all the way back to Plato, who said the body is the “prison house of the soul.”

The thinker most responsible for postmodern sexual theory is Immanuel Kant. He believed the mind essentially creates the world as we know it -- that the world is a social construction. Judith Butler, founder of queer theory, took that to its logical conclusion: sex, too, is a social construction in her view. In this completely postmodern world, gender is totally disassociated from body and can be anything you want it to be.

I'm always reading social media to see what real people think about these things. Last night on my Facebook page, someone asked, What's wrong with people being whatever gender they want to be? In a casual chat, there were Judith Butler's postmodern views on sexuality. It's permeated the culture.

Concerns about Faith, Hope -- and Texas

The Stream: How has your own journey lately informed how you see these trends?

Pearcey: We lived for more than 20 years here in Washington, DC. There tends to be this sharp divide in the Northeast. If you're not a Christian, you don't pretend and go to church just for cultural reasons.

When I moved to Texas, it was culture shock. There is a lot of cultural Christianity, and I wasn't used to that. I'll give you an example. Talking to an undergrad class, I was trying to get them excited about the truths of Christianity. I was telling the students they needed to be fully committed in order to face the challenges of living in a secularized world.

One of my students said, "Professor Pearcey, Relax -- this is Texas." He felt that we were buffered from these trends because Texas is so much more conservative. But, wait a minute. Houston has a lesbian mayor. You're not insulated from these trends just because you live in Texas.

Living in the South, cultural Christianity means many people do not grasp the urgency of these issues. You'll find that in most churches. Christians are prone to live in a bubble: we go to church, to Bible study and have mostly Christian friends. We insulate ourselves from wider trends and never realize that the church has lost ground culturally.

The culture around us easily dismisses Christianity. "You can believe that if it makes you feel better, but don't bring it out into the public square where we talk about what's really true," they say. They do not feel at all compelled to engage with Christians, because they do not think you're making objective truth claims.

The Stream: You've spoken of many troubling trends. Do you have hope for the next generation?

Pearcey: I am pessimistic about where our culture is going but optimistic about what we can do. A culture lives out the logical implications of whatever worldview is accepted.

Francis Schaeffer introduced the evangelical world to the notion of worldview. He stated that we cannot deal with these secular liberal issues one by one. To be effective, you have to see the underlying worldview that connects them all. You have to go to first principles, because worldview spins out the logic of those principles.

We're entering a cultural shift where the buffer between Christians and the secular world is gone. Cultural Christians, those not that committed, are leaving. They are no longer willing to stand under the pressure.

The next generation of Christians will have to be much more intentional about what they believe and why they believe it. Are they equipped to answer the questions and objections of the secular world?

We are challenged today to be more rigorous in our thinking and our commitments. I think that's a good thing.

A friend of mine worked in a large national ministry. She worked in the women's division where they run conferences and publish Bible studies. She read some of my books and proposed, We need to get content like this in our women's ministry. She and the rest of the women’s committee talked to the men who were in leadership.

The male leadership said: Women don't want this. They replied, We're the women! We're saying we want it. These women want something that would have more intellectual depth to equip them to speak with secular people. They are seeking to understand and have answers for these trends.

We are challenged today to be more rigorous in our thinking and our commitments. I think that's a good thing. And that’s why I am optimistic about what Christians can become even as society grows more secularized.


The latest work by Nancy Pearcey, Love Thy Body is now available online and wherever books are sold. Watch her recent talk at The Heritage Foundation:

Veteran Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter Dies

The Stream - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 15:29

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Veteran U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, a Kentucky blacksmith’s daughter who went on to chair one Congress’s most important committees, died Friday at a Washington hospital where she was being treated after falling in her home, her top aide said. She was 88.

The New York Democrat died at George Washington University Hospital a week after a fall in which Slaughter had sustained a concussion, said Liam Fitzsimmons, her chief of staff.

Slaughter had been the first woman to chair the House Rules Committee and was her party’s top member on the panel when she died.

Slaughter was serving her 16th term in the House, and her 31 years in the chamber made her its third longest-serving woman, according to the official House website. She chaired the rules committee from 2007 through 2010.

A special election will be held to elect someone to serve out the rest of Slaughter’s term, which expires Dec. 31. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo will set the date for the special election in the 25th Congressional District, which includes the city of Rochester.

Slaughter had a degree in microbiology and was originally from Harlan County, Kentucky, and her soft, twangy accent always seemed out of place for someone representing a western New York district. But she was repeatedly re-elected -- including a narrow victory in 2014 -- and was the longest-serving member of Congress from New York when she died.

“Louise never forgot her roots as the daughter of a Kentucky blacksmith,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. “She brought the grace and grit of her Southern background to her leadership in the Congress, building bridges and breaking down barriers all with her beautiful accent. Louise could be fiercely debating on the floor in the morning, and singing in harmony with her colleagues across the aisle in the evening.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan called Slaughter “a giant in the people’s House” and said she was “unrelenting” in working for her ideals and constituents.

“Louise did not need a gavel to make a dent in history,” the Republican speaker said.

Slaughter was the chief force behind a 2012 law to ban insider stock trading based on congressional knowledge and require disclosure of market activities by lawmakers. She also helped write the Violence Against Women Act and a 2008 law designed to protect people with genetic predispositions to health conditions from facing discrimination from their employers or health insurance companies.

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Her death creates a vacancy at the top of the Democratic side of the Rules panel, which sets the terms of House floor debates. It’s likely to be filled by Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

When Slaughter was first elected in 1986, she ousted Republican Rep. Fred Eckert after running a campaign advertisement in which Peggy Say accused him of refusing to “speak up” for her brother, kidnapped Associated Press reporter Terry Anderson.

Say and Anderson were both from the Rochester, New York, area. Anderson, the AP’s Middle East bureau chief, had been captured the year before by Islamic militants in Beirut, Lebanon, and was not released until 1991.

Slaughter was born Dorothy Louise McIntosh on Aug. 14, 1929, in Appalachian coal country. According to the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, she was doing market research for a major chemicals manufacturer in Texas in the 1950s when she met Ohio native Robert “Bob” Slaughter. They married in 1957 and moved to the Rochester area for her husband’s job. He later joined Eastman Kodak as a legal administrator. Bob Slaughter died in 2014 at 82.

The couple became involved in local Democratic politics while living in suburban Rochester. Louise Slaughter served in the Monroe County Legislature between 1976 and 1979, then worked for Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo before serving in the state Assembly from 1982 to 1986. That year she defeated Eckert to become the first woman to represent western New York in Congress.

As Kodak and other Rochester-area manufacturers shed thousands of jobs over the years, Slaughter worked with New York’s congressional delegation to bring high-tech companies to the region and fought for federal dollars to improve the infrastructure, including a new Amtrak train station that opened last year.

“She was such a tireless advocate and great public servant for our community and region throughout her tenure in Congress,” said Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy, former Rochester mayor and lieutenant governor under current Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mario’s son.

“She was trailblazer, a partner and friend ever since we worked together for my father more than four decades ago,” the younger Cuomo said in a statement, calling her a “champion for New York.”

“The ferocity of her advocacy was matched only by the depth of her compassion and humanity,” added Senate Minority Leader and fellow New York Democrat Chuck Schumer.

The Slaughters are survived by their three daughters, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Funeral arrangements are pending.


Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor and Kevin Freking contributed to this report from Washington. Chris Carola contributed from Albany, New York.


This story has been corrected to show Slaughter was the third-longest serving female House member, not the third-longest serving member.


Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

NYT Hits ‘TV Commentator’ Kudlow for Faulty Predictions...But What About Krugman’s Awful Record?

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 15:10
<p>In Friday’s <em>New York Times</em>, Deborah Solomon and Kitty Bennett mocked President Trump’s new chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow, the conservative economist who will be the next director of the National Economic Council. There was yet another insulting NYT headline: “A TV Commentator Becomes a Presidential Adviser: Go to the Videotape.” The online headline was more blunt: “6 of Larry Kudlow’s Not-So-on-the-Money Predictions.” But what other economist (one who regularly writes for the NYT) has a flawed forecasting record?</p>

US Fighter Pilots on the Front Lines of Russia’s Spy Games

The Stream - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 14:40

TALLINN, Estonia -- The night of Friday, Feb. 10, was frigid and snowy in Estonia's capital city. The kind of winter weather one expects in this Baltic country, which lies at roughly the same geographic latitude as southern Alaska.

Inside the lobby bar of Tallinn's Swissotel, however, the temperature was warm and the atmosphere bustled with people enjoying drinks and conversation -- presumably the typical Friday night scene at this fashionable, modern hotel in the city center.

Yet, if you knew what to look for, subtle clues proliferated as to the ongoing shadow war between Russia and the West.

At the lobby bar on this night, a group of off-duty U.S. Air National Guard F-16 pilots sipped on draft beers at one end of the bar counter. Their demeanor was casual, yet guarded.

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The men spoke among each other in voices inaudible over the background din of other conversations. Their haircuts, of course, were all neat and short. However, there was nothing that overtly identified these men as American fighter pilots deployed to Estonia as part of an ongoing mission to deter Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.

Down the bar from the pilots, a group of four men in business suits spoke loudly in Russian. They told the woman working behind the bar they were "businessmen" from Moscow.

At a nearby table, four men -- also speaking Russian -- sat with glasses of beer and spirits spread before them. From time to time, they subtly yet curiously regarded the Americans at the bar.

"We are definitely cognizant of what we say and where we go and who may be around us," said a U.S. F-16 pilot deployed to Estonia in February named Garrick, explaining the threat of Russian espionage activity.

"Sometimes," Garrick added, "you even raise an eyebrow when you see some people sitting nearby, and you think, 'Did I see that guy before?'"

Due to security concerns, the pilot asked that his full name not be published.

The Russian Embassy in Tallinn.

As part of a "theater security package" mission, from Jan. 14 to March 7, the Ohio Air National Guard's 180th Fighter Wing deployed 12 F-16 fighter jets and nearly 300 personnel to the Amari Air Base in Estonia.

While deployed, the F-16 unit was known as the 112th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron; its mission in Estonia was part of an ongoing initiative meant to deter Russian aggression against NATO sovereign territory.

Estonia borders Russia. So there's nothing necessarily nefarious about the simultaneous presence of Russian-speaking visitors and American fighter pilots under the roof of one hotel in central Tallinn.

Still, security experts agree that there is an unseen world of espionage that permeates NATO's post-Soviet countries in the Baltics -- Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania -- all three of which share a land border with Russian territory.

"Russia still keeps all KGB practices and approaches, but at the same time, under the regime of [Russian President Vladimir Putin], the Russians have expanded," Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, former head of the Security Service of Ukraine, or SBU, Ukraine's main security agency, told The Daily Signal.

"Today [the Russians] are more dangerous and hostile to Western democracy," Nalyvaichenko said.

The SBU is Ukraine's successor agency to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic's branch of the KGB, the Soviet Union's main security agency. Nalyvaichenko, now a political reformer in Ukraine, studied at the then-named Andropov Institute of KGB in Russia in the early 1990s.

However, Nalyvaichenko refused a diploma from the Soviet-era spy academy -- Putin's alma mater -- which is now known as the Academy of Foreign Intelligence and educates the Russian Federation's modern spies.

Bridge of Spies

Underscoring the ubiquity of Russia's espionage activity in Estonia, on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 10, Estonian and Russian officials carried out a cross-border spy swap.

Artem Zinchenko, a convicted spy for Russia living in Estonia, and Estonian businessman Raivo Susi were each released on opposite sides of a bridge spanning the Estonia-Russia border in a scene worthy of a John le Carre novel.

Russian officials arrested Susi for espionage at a Moscow airport in December, later sentencing him to 12 years in prison.

Estonian internal security agents arrested Zinchenko for spying for Russia's foreign military intelligence agency, the Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU. In May, an Estonian court sentenced Zinchenko to five years in prison; he was the 10th Russian spy to be convicted in Estonia in nine years.

Russia has targeted Estonia, a country of just 1.3 million people, for decades using cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns, and espionage operations. In 2007, for example, Russia hit Estonia with crippling cyberattacks in retaliation for the removal of a Soviet-era monument.

"Russia has an extensive army of cyber-warriors deployed both domestically and internationally, so indeed pilots stationed in Estonia are likely monitored both physically and virtually by Russian agents," Lindsay Moran, a former Central Intelligence Agency operations officer and an expert on espionage and tradecraft, told The Daily Signal in an interview.

"Look," Moran continued, "Russia is capable of spying and interference within the U.S. itself, so naturally the threat is even larger in a former Soviet state."

Watch the author's video report on a convoy of U.S. Army Stryker armored fighting vehicles that passed through Estonia in 2015:


Amid this shadow conflict, the individual security threats facing deployed U.S. military personnel in Estonia differ from those of counterinsurgency deployments in the post-9/11 era.

"Under the Putin regime, the Russian secret services -- FSB, GRU, SVR -- have their own division to target military personnel, especially of the United States," Nalyvaichenko, the former Ukrainian spy chief, said.

While deployed in Estonia, the Ohio Air National Guard's F-16 pilots and their support personnel were not secluded in military bases behind barbed-wire fences. Instead, they lived in hotels, frequented local restaurants, and even performed volunteer activities with local nationals on the weekends.

"We're scattered around a few hotels, and no matter where you go, there's probably somebody that's paying attention to what you're saying, and they can start piecing stuff together," Lt. Col. Greg Barasch, commander of the 112th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, told The Daily Signal during an interview in Tallinn.

The deployment of U.S. F-16s to Estonia this winter was not a combat operation. Yet, those pilots and support personnel were on the front lines of an ongoing, non-shooting conflict between Russia and the West, in which battles are not fought by combat pilots and soldiers -- but by spies, hackers, and propaganda spin doctors.

"Just because we're in a post-Cold War era does not mean that the threat against U.S. servicemen and women deployed to Europe today has significantly lessened, let alone disappeared," Moran said. "To the contrary, I would say that approaches by foreign intelligence, especially Russia and its affiliates, has become easier, more sophisticated, and quite frankly, ubiquitous."

For their part, U.S. pilots deployed in Estonia told The Daily Signal that the Russian espionage threat was a concern, as was the potential for Russian attempts to accumulate "kompromat" -- compromising material that could be used for blackmail.

"Hyperaware is probably not the right term-, but as a unit, we have a lot of these discussions and we have some pretty good reporting channels of any things we see that are out of the ordinary or out of the norm," Barasch said.


Estonia is on the front lines of the current conflict between Russia and the West.

Underscoring the competing geopolitical interests interwoven over this small country, on a street called Pikk in Tallinn's historic center, you pass, in the span of a little more than 100 yards, from the old Soviet KGB prison cells (which are now a museum) to the Texas Honky Tonk & Cantina where an American and a Texas flag hang out front.

A bit further down that same street, a Russian flag hangs outside the Russian Embassy.

In the nearby skies, U.S. F-16 fighters fly from a former Soviet air base, conducting training missions meant to reassure Estonia that the U.S. and its NATO allies are willing to defend it against Russia.

Relations between Russia and the West are worse than they have ever been in the post-Cold War era, many security experts say.

For one, Russia's ongoing, four-year-old proxy war in eastern Ukraine -- Europe's only ongoing land war -- still comprises daily shelling and small arms gun battles. And people are still dying.

Russia's brinkmanship against the West spans the gamut -- aggressive warplane flybys of NATO aircraft and ships, global cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns, as well as meddling in European and American elections.

Most recently, Russian relations with the West hit a new post-Cold War nadir following the attempted nerve gas murder of a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday that Russia was likely behind the attack, threatening retaliation for what she called an "indiscriminate and reckless act." May followed through on Wednesday, booting 23 Russian diplomats suspected of being undeclared intelligence operatives from the U.K. in the single biggest expulsion of that kind in more than 30 years.

May said the move will "fundamentally degrade Russian intelligence capability in the U.K. for years to come."

For its part, the Kremlin threatened retaliation.

"The reaction will be such that the U.K. will regret their actions," Sergey Kislyak, former Russian ambassador to the U.S., reportedly said, according to Russian agencies.

'Part of Something Bigger'

On Thursday, the Trump administration levied fresh sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 presidential election, as well as other cyberattacks, including a Russian attempt to penetrate the U.S. energy grid.

Against this background of world events, U.S. personnel deployed to Eastern Europe to deter Russian aggression recognize that their very presence is a shot across the bow to a militarily revanchist Russia.

Just down the street from the Russian Embassy in Tallinn is the Texas Honky Tonk & Cantina.

"Sometimes we take a step back to realize we're a part of something bigger than we even realize or even know," said Garrick, one of the U.S. F-16 pilots deployed to Estonia this winter.

In many ways, the U.S. military is returning to a Cold War mindset -- both in its combat training as well as the individual security posture of its deployed personnel.

Yet, in today's digital age, maintaining operational security, or OPSEC -- the military's catchphrase for safeguarding critical information -- is vastly more complicated and challenging than during the Cold War.

The ubiquitous use of social media and electronic communications by U.S. service members makes them more vulnerable to Russian espionage activity, experts say.

For his part, Nalyvaichenko "strongly recommends" that the U.S. military prohibit social media use among its deployed service members in Eastern Europe.

Nalyvaichenko took over at the SBU in the immediate aftermath of Ukraine's 2014 revolution.

He was in command during Russia's 2014 invasion and annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, as well as during the outbreak of Russia's proxy war in eastern Ukraine in April 2014 -- a war that remains ongoing.

During that time, Nalyvaichenko said he banned the use of Russian email accounts among his personnel. Also, while he was in charge of the SBU, Nalyvaichenko said the Ukrainian security agency paralleled Russian tactics, exploiting the social media profiles of Russian and pro-Russian separatist troops to Ukraine's military advantage.

Social media, smartphones, text messages -- none of those things were around when the Cold War ended. The World Wide Web, after all, only became publicly available in 1991 -- the same year the Soviet Union collapsed.

"Post-Cold War openness combined with the explosion of social media has made Russian intelligence targeting of U.S. military personnel -- particularly a generation of servicemen and women who did not grow up under the Cold War spectre -- easier," Moran said.

Spy Games

U.S. military personnel deployed to Eastern Europe assume their every move is likely under Russian intelligence scrutiny, including what they say in public spaces like taxis and restaurants, or hotel lobbies. Their hotel rooms and phone lines could be tapped, experts and military personnel said.

The digital footprints of deployed U.S. servicemen and women are also likely under constant scrutiny by Russian spy agencies. Everything from emails, text messages, and the websites they visit -- it's all likely to be in Russia's espionage crosshairs, U.S. security officials believe.

"I've had a couple of commander's calls (unit-wide briefings) to have these discussions with the entire unit," said Barasch, the F-16 squadron commander. "I'll say it's at least a serious discussion on OPSEC and your surroundings, what you're doing online, what you're doing in your car, and in your hotel -- all those things."

Russia maintains a prolific espionage presence in former Soviet countries like Estonia, security experts say.

Air Force security guidance documents reviewed by The Daily Signal include commonsense suggestions for deploying service members, such as limiting the amount of personal information they publish online, bolstering the security settings on their computers and online accounts, turning off geolocation functions for social media photos and posts, and avoiding online interactions with unknown people.

Also, the Air Force warns against using public Wi-Fi, visiting foreign websites, and downloading mobile applications that could be Trojan horses for viruses or other malware.

In the end, an Air Force counterintelligence document suggested, "Permanently deleting your profile is ultimately the best way to prevent information from being collected on you, your friends, and your family."

Yet, the U.S. armed forces' ranks comprise generations for whom social media is an integral part of daily life. Thus, an outright ban on the use of such online platforms by U.S. military personnel is not likely, no matter how big of a security threat it poses.

"The military is probably engaged in a bit of a internal culture war," Moran said. "The millennial generation and the one coming after it grew up texting non-stop, oversharing across a number of online platforms. It's a way of life for them."

According to Defense Department data, the average age of Air Force personnel is 30. That number is 29 for the Army and the Navy, and 25 for the Marine Corps.

According to a Pew Research Center poll, 88 percent of U.S. 18- to 29-year-olds indicated that they use some form of social media. That number is 78 percent for 30- to 49-year-olds.

Overall, 68 percent of U.S. adults are now Facebook users.

For her part, Moran called social media an "absolute game-changer for everyone in the spy trade."

"Highly personal information that used to take months or even years of source cultivation and agent development to collect is now out there for all and sundry to see, analyze, and eventually exploit," the former CIA operations officer said.

Always on Parade

Russia's 2014 invasion and seizure of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and subsequent, ongoing proxy war in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region has spurred the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania -- all former Soviet states and now members of NATO -- to take the threat of Russian military aggression with deadly earnestness.

"The aggressive Russian stance in Ukraine has certainly resulted in renewed attention to the defense of NATO territory," retired Lt. Gen. Ton van Loon of the Dutch army wrote in a report for the Joint Air Power Competence Center, a NATO-sponsored think tank.

To counter the Russian military threat, in 2016, NATO began rotating four battalion-size, combat-ready battlegroups throughout the Baltic region. Of those forces, the U.S. has about 800 troops stationed in Poland, including a squadron of Stryker armored fighting vehicles with towed artillery.

A Soviet-era monument to a killed Red Air Force pilot outside Amari Air Base, Estonia.

NATO has also sent military units to the Black Sea region, another hot spot of tensions with Russia.

On its website, NATO calls its rotations of military forces in Eastern and Southeastern Europe "the biggest reinforcement of Alliance collective defence in a generation."

The deployment of U.S. F-16 fighters to Estonia this winter was part of a separate U.S. program meant to deter Russian aggression.

For its part, Moscow paints the beefed-up U.S. and NATO presence in countries like Estonia as a security threat to Russia. Consequently, deployed U.S. service members are likely under constant surveillance by Russian intelligence agencies looking to cast a negative propaganda spin on the Americans' presence.

"We're here for what I think is a good mission and a good reason, but there's always somebody who's trying to twist it," Barasch said.

The F-16 squadron commander added, "And I think we can prevent that by having a good understanding of what's going on around us and having good situational awareness, and not being out there blabbing about, 'Hey, I did this today,' to people who could be overhearing those things."


Many of Russia's contemporary military and espionage tactics have been honed and tested on the battlefields of Ukraine.

Russian military forces in the eastern Ukrainian warzone have targeted their artillery by zeroing in on Ukrainian soldiers' cellphone signals. Also, Russian forces have sent out mass text messages to Ukrainian troops, threatening them to surrender.

Consequently, Ukrainian military commanders have restricted the use of cellphones by front-line troops.

Nalyvaichenko said Russian intelligence agencies had planted moles across practically ever lever of Ukrainian government, including parliament, the SBU, and the Ministry of Defense, prior to the outbreak of hostilities in 2014. Once the war began, Russian military forces exploited cellphone networks and other communications platforms for their military advantage.

"One of the first targets during the Russian invasion was cellphone companies, with offices in Luhansk, Donetsk, and Crimea, along with the seizure of TV stations," Nalyvaichenko recalled of Russia's 2014 invasions of Ukraine's Crimea and Donbas regions.

"They took all data from cellphone companies and replaced it with Russian companies -- so that the Russian special services can control the data and communications," Nalyvaichenko said.

Russia has already hacked the smartphones of some NATO military personnel deployed throughout the Baltics in a manner similar to what Russian forces have done in Ukraine.

Former KGB prison cells in central Tallinn.

The U.S. military has, therefore, provided guidance to its ranks, cautioning personnel to restrict their mobile device use while deployed.

"I think the military likely does a good job of scaring the bejesus out of its personnel with regard to the very real counterintelligence threat, as well it should," Moran said.

Modern dating habits are another vulnerability for deployed U.S. service members when it comes to Russian spy operations.

According to the Pew Research Center, the share of 18- to 24-year-olds who use online dating services roughly tripled from 10 percent to 27 percent in the period from 2013 to 2016. Moreover, 22 percent of that demographic reported using mobile dating apps in 2016; a fourfold increase in the span of three years.

Thus, as with social media and cellphone usage, the rising popularity of the internet and mobile apps for dating among younger Americans has given new life to one of the Soviet Union's trademark espionage collection techniques known as the "honeypot," in which intelligence operatives lure victims into illicit sexual encounters, which can be exploited for blackmail.

"The honeypot, and I use that word in a gender-neutral sense, is a tactic that worked and continues to work before, during, and after the Cold War," Moran said, referring to Russia's use of the Soviet-era tactic.

"Humans are humans, and hence the never-ending power of HUMINT collection," Moran added, using an acronym for intelligence gathered by means of interpersonal contact, known as human intelligence, or HUMINT.

The Air Force cautions its personnel against online sexual activities, although it's unclear whether an outright ban on popular mobile dating apps like Tinder has been seriously considered for deployed personnel.

"You can educate people on it, you can restrict certain things, but people just have to be smart about what they choose to say and do and when they do it," Barasch said of the use of mobile dating apps like Tinder among U.S. personnel deployed to Eastern Europe.

Social Engineering

Russia's hybrid warfare campaign against Ukraine has included cyberattacks using computer viruses that target particular individuals based on their social media profiles.

"Russia recruits psychiatrists, scientists, and neurologists, who construct these things to target particular individuals," said Dmytro Shymkiv, deputy head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine on administrative, social, and economic reforms.

According to Ukrainian security officials, Russian agents build a psychological profile of their mark through his or her social media footprint. Then, using that information, the Russians can make personalized computer viruses or run a social media influence operation specifically crafted with one person in mind.

This is known in the cybersecurity world as "social engineering" -- a form of cyberattack in which people are psychologically manipulated into performing actions or divulging confidential information.

A winter's day in Estonia's capital city of Tallinn.

The U.S. military is on guard for this type of precision-strike cyberattack against its personnel.

"Fictitious online profiles controlled by foreign adversaries have successfully targeted hundreds of [Department of Defense] members, including USAF personnel," said the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, a federal law enforcement agency that conducts counterintelligence for the Air Force, in a security document for deploying personnel.

Foreign adversaries have targeted more than 2,000 DOD personnel and defense contractors, using false personas on multiple social networking sites, the document said, citing a report by a U.S. information security company.

While the Air Force would not discuss the specific training it gives its deployed personnel in countering cyber or espionage collection threats, current and former military members say that such training has become more prevalent in recent years as the U.S. armed forces reorient toward countering conventional, "near-peer" state adversaries like Russia and China.

"It's definitely something that was highlighted before we left and more on our mind than previous deployments," said Garrick, a deployed F-16 pilot, referring to the threat of Russian espionage.


Nolan Peterson, a former special operations pilot and a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, is The Daily Signal's foreign correspondent based in Ukraine. Send an email to Nolan. @nolanwpeterson

Copyright 2018 The Daily Signal

ProPublica Retracts Key Claims in 2017 Gina Haspel 'Torture' Story

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 14:35
<p>A February 2017 ProPublica story claimed that Gina Haspel, nominated as CIA director this week, "was more deeply involved in the torture of Abu Zubaydah" at a secret Thailand prison "than has been publicly understood." Thursday evening, the group published a correction admitting that Haspel wasn't even present when one of the program's primary targets was, according to the <em>New York Times</em>, waterboarded 83 times.</p>

Alt-Left Insanity: Tupac ‘Worship’; TV Needs Black Female Swingers and More!

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 14:31
<p>Vice’s music site Noisey is reassuring readers, “You Don’t Have to Worship 2pac.” It seems that “Recent criticism of the rap icon from Lil Xan and 03 Greedo forces us to ask whether or not our heroes are beyond reproach.” Heroes assuredly are not beyond reproach. Neither is Noisey’s definition of “hero.”</p>

Two Million Americans Got Off Food Stamps in Trump’s First Year

The Stream - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 13:37

The number of food stamp dependent Americans hit a six-year low in President Donald Trump's first year in office, reflecting an improving economy and falling unemployment, according to a U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) report.

An average of 42.2 million Americans participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program in 2017, which is an 11 percent decrease from 2013, when a record number of people used food stamps, according to USDA.

"Federal spending for SNAP totaled $68.0 billion or 4 percent less than in the previous fiscal year," USDA reported. "This was also 15 percent less than the historical high of $79.9 billion set in FY 2013."

It's the fourth year in a row SNAP participation fell. Previously, the number of people on food stamps grew for 12 years. About 13 percent of Americans used food stamps in 2017. That's well above pre-recession levels.

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Better economic conditions reduce food stamp participation, but some states' welfare reforms have also played a role.

The Obama administration allowed states to waive work requirements for food stamps as part of the 2009 stimulus package. The number of childless adults on food stamps doubled after that rule change.

Thirteen Alabama counties saw food stamp use drop 85 percent between January and May 2017 once work requirements were put in place for childless adults. More than two dozen counties in Georgia saw food stamp participation drop precipitously after work requirements were restored.

The number of Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) participants hit a 17-year low. In 2017, 7.3 million people on average used the program, USDA reported.

The WIC program is for "low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women as well as infants and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk," USDA said.


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Copyright 2018 The Daily Caller News Foundation

Press Has Consistently and Falsely Labeled PA-18's Conor Lamb 'Pro-Life'

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 13:30
<p>Democrat Conor Lamb was declared the narrow special congressional election winner Tuesday in PA-18, where voters are predominantly pro-life. Lamb, with media help, came across as "pro-life." He's not — and his successful deception may portend an effort by abortion proponents and their lockstep establishment press supporters to spread disinformation about Democratic candidates' true abortion positions nationwide.</p>

I’m worried about my friend Larry Kudlow - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 13:27

The cosmic writer of the Donald Trump, President of the United States show keeps coming back to the same tragic theme over and over: Characters get their hearts’ desire, but in the worst, most humiliating way possible. Just ask Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Reince Priebus, Gary Cohn, Mike Pence, and Christian evangelical leaders how that feels.

Economic analyst Lawrence “Larry” Kudlow appears on CNBC at the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 7, 2018. Reuters

So I pray the same fate won’t befall Larry Kudlow, my dear friend and career mentor whom Trump is appointing the new director of the National Economic Council. For Kudlow, this unexpected turn of events must represent both a personal triumph and a vindication for his “supply-side economics” ideology. He will now theoretically have a direct role in shaping U.S. economic policy and turning his favorite maxims such as “Free market capitalism is the best path to prosperity!” and “King Dollar!” into action.

And Americans — humans everywhere for that matter — should be greatly relieved that he accepted. Though Kudlow is best known as a CNBC commentator, he was chief economist for both Bear Stearns and Ronald Reagan’s budget office; in the grand scheme of Trump hires, that makes him the safe choice. Meanwhile, the likely runner-up for the position, economist and White House adviser Peter Navarro, is an anti-globalization zealot who would have enabled Trump’s wrong-headed instincts on trade and international relations. More than just the North American Free Trade Agreement would have been in danger. You can also toss in the World Trade Organization, the global supply chains of American companies, and really the entire edifice of the prosperity-generating postwar economic order.

Kudlow, on the other hand, could be a moderating headwind against those impulses. Certainly, in his role as an economics commentator and outside adviser to Trump, Kudlow has to his great credit persistently criticized Trump’s views on trade, beliefs which really form the core of Trumponomics. In a recent National Review article, for instance, Kudlow and fellow supply-sider Stephen Moore sharply criticized the president’s decision to impose steep tariffs on aluminum and steel. They even wrote that tariffs are “really tax hikes.”

Yeah, Kudlow and Moore went there. For a supply-sider, tax hikes — whether in the form of higher marginal tax rates or trade barriers or growth-dampening regulations — are the original sin of economics. And there is no more stinging charge they can level at a policy.

Still, sort of amazingly, Kudlow got the job. But is it really a job worth having under these circumstances?

The part of Trump’s agenda that most excited Kudlow was the tax cuts, particularly the massive cuts in business taxes. But for all of Trump’s talk about a “phase two” to tax cuts, a second round is highly unlikely to happen this year or even in the rest of Trump’s first term given the precariousness of the GOP’s congressional majorities. Moreover, passing future tax cuts will be difficult, both politically and fiscally, as trillion-dollar budget deficits become the norm. Where Trump does have power is on trade, which means Kudlow may be spending the bulk of his time trying to prevent bad policy rather than promoting good ideas. Or, even worse, Kudlow will play the good soldier and twist himself into knots trying to justify Trump’s protectionism today as somehow leading to more and freer trade tomorrow.

And that’s really the problem. Kudlow’s ascent really doesn’t mark the apotheosis of supply-side economics or even a greater GOP commitment to broadly pro-market policies. More likely it signals the last gasp of 1980s-style Reaganomics as a force in the Republican Party. Which wouldn’t be a bad thing if it was replaced by a modern application of conservative, free-market principles in an increasingly digital economy that poses both new opportunities and unique challenges. (Indeed, Kudlow has expressed considerable interest in the impact of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, unlike his new boss.)​

Instead, however, the Trumpublican populist-nationalist turn is one that envisions a more closed economy — whether to goods, capital, or talent — where government shields workers and favored firms from dynamic change rather than preparing them to benefit from it. And in this GOP, culture war is what gets the juices flowing.

For a happy warrior like Kudlow, this late-career plot twist may lead to an unsatisfying finale.

Related reading:


Nationalism, domestic politics, and China’s global leadership role - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 13:26

The future U.S. role in the Asia-Pacific and the potential challenge of China’s rise is hotly debated in both the policy and academic communities. Whether China is willing and able to take on a global leadership role in the economic, political and security realms is of particular interest. China’s leadership role has become a proxy for evaluating Chinese intentions—is China a status quo power, willing to accept U.S. leadership or a revisionist power, trying to undermine, replace or compete with U.S. leadership? China’s approach to global leadership has also served as an indicator of Chinese grand strategy —whether China will maintain narrow national interests that only extend into its region or contribute to the global order as a ‘responsible stakeholder.’

How should we understand China’s current global role and its ambitions? On the one hand, China’s increased global activism—establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, or Chinese base in Djibouti to support counter-piracy operations to name a few examples—has caused some to worry China hopes to unseat the United States and supplant the current international order with one better suited to Beijing’s needs.

Guests watch and take pictures as China’s People’s Liberation Army soldiers march with their weapons at Tiananmen Square during the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing September 3, 2015. Reuters

On the other hand, prominent voices call for an even greater role for China on the global stage, implying that China is currently not taking on the mantle of global leadership.If anything, commentators criticize China for shirking its leadership responsibility, in particular on North Korea and fighting ISIS. For its part Beijing has at times viewed the call for China to shoulder more international responsibilities “as part of an international conspiracy to thwart China’s development.”

But neither argument gives adequate attention to how Chinese domestic public opinion may shape the degree and nature of China’s leadership role. There are empirical and theoretical reasons to believe this may be an important factor to consider. First, Xi Jinping uses nationalism to boost his legitimacy, and this has taken on a definitively global tone through his ‘two guidances.’ This refers to Xi’s call for Beijing to “guide the international community to jointly build a more just and reasonably new world order,” and “guide the international community to jointly maintain international security.” Second, the Chinese government increasingly surveys the Chinese public on a wide array of topics in order to respond to (or manipulate) public concerns. Even authoritarian regimes have incentives to make policy concessions in accordance with public opinion because they can more efficiently govern when the people engage in “quasivoluntary compliance.” Lastly, research shows that domestic political factors, including nationalism, increasingly impact Chinese foreign policy decisions.

Below, I briefly address some pathways through which the expectations and demands of China’s domestic public may impact China’s future approach to leadership in the economic and security realms. The bottom line is that nationalism supports a greater global role for the prestige and enhanced ability to protect Chinese interests, and also creates limitations on the nature and degree of China’s global involvement.

China’s Economic Role

China is arguably the most forward leaning in its global role in the economic realm. China has created its own institutions to lead, such as the AIIB. China has also invested $40 billion to finance its OBOR initiative to create “the world’s largest platform for economic cooperation,” by improving transportation infrastructure along China’s global land and maritime trade routes. Furthermore, while the U.S. has abandoned Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, China has also spearheaded the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement that would include countries accounting for 12% of global trade and 29% of global GDP. Foreign aid programs have been much slower to develop, however, because of domestic factors. With 85 million people living in poverty in China, the view that China should be prioritizing the welfare of its people, not making aid commitments, is prominent.Because of this, foreign aid is categorized as a “state secret,” and China was slow to launch its program.

Now, even though China’s foreign aid has surpassed that of the United Kingdom, domestic political factors continue to shape the nature of that aid. Specifically, while U.S. foreign aid and trade partnerships have arguably been strategically oriented—focused on combatting communism in the Cold War and counterterrorism today (Pakistan is a major beneficiary and foreign military financing was the third largest project in 2016)—China pursues projects that directly benefit China economically. For example, Africa receives about half of Chinese concessional aid, and the vast majority of it goes to infrastructure construction and for industrial development, specifically transport and storage; energy generation and supply; and industry, mining, and construction. In other words, the aid projects are focused on industries in which Chinese companies are deeply involved and stand to profit. Additionally, China is also known for bringing in its own labor for such projects in order to elevate unemployment pressures at home. While ‘global’ in nature, OBOR’s focus is also at home—the rationale is to create markets for Chinese goods and facilitate their transportation across land and maritime routes.Propaganda posters around Beijing are clear —China pursue a larger global economic role insofar as it brings economic benefit to the Chinese people. China has no intention to take on burdens of development in ways that primarily benefit the target state.

China’s Security Role

Domestic public opinion also creates incentives for the Chinese military to play a global, albeit limited role. As I have written elsewhere in greater length, domestic public support for the development of expeditionary capabilities is coalescing as more Chinese nationals find themselves in dangerous situations due to a combination of misfortune and political instability in the host nation. In 2016, Chinese nationals recorded 122 million overseas trips and spent a total $109.8 billion on travel/ tourism abroad. By 2020, approximately 150 million Chinese citizens will be traveling and living abroad. These overseas Chinese, referred to as haiwai gongmin, (海外公民) expect their government to provide certain guarantees for their protection, known as haiwai gongmin baohu (海外公民保护). Netizens often complain that the government relies too heavily on enhancing citizen awareness of dangers and diplomatic mechanisms for citizen protection, rather than using military force. One of the reasons Wolf Warrior 2 has been such a box office success is because it depicts a situation in which a former special forces soldier puts himself at risk to save Chinese medical personnel and factory workers trapped in an unspecified war-torn country.

China’s role in international interventions is likely to be limited, even once it has more capacity to do so, because of domestic sensitivities to ‘hegemonic’ behaviors. Because of its one hundred years of humiliation at the hands of hegemonic foreign powers, China needs to believe that it would be a different type of great power than those which came before it. A popular domestic narrative is that China in a unique position to understand the priorities and needs of developing countries and create a new international order that does not infringe on countries’ ability to govern domestically as they see fit. Western nations, on the other hand, are “fundamentally rapacious, greedy, and aggressive” that “pillage to expand their territories [and] plunder wealth [to] expand their sphere of influence.”

The CCP and the Chinese people have consequently been ideologically averse to alliances and overseas bases that tend to accompany a more global military strategy. However, in recent conversations in Beijing, it was conveyed to the author through authoritative sources that China may pursue overseas ‘access points,’ but that they would be distinct from U.S. bases in that they would house only logistical and defensive equipment and personnel, and therefore not be used for hegemonic purposes of coercion, attack, and interference in the domestic affairs of other countries. This is in line with domestic public opinion on the issue. In a March 2010 newspaper poll, 80% of Chinese respondents responded positively to the question “Do you think China should strive to be the world’s strongest country militarily?” However, less than half of respondents approved of a policy to publicly announce such an objective.

With the election of Donald Trump, whose America First policies often have an isolationist and anti-globalization tone, the issue of Chinese global leadership has been pushed center stage—as one Chinese official remarked in January, while China “doesn’t want” to become a world leader, it could be “forced” to assume that role if others step back from that position. How China plans to approach leadership—where it competes, undermines, follows or leaves unchallenged the U.S. leadership position—has serious implications for the future of U.S. global leadership. If U.S. policymakers understand how expectations of the Chinese public constrain or push the CCP, they can better forecast what kind of global power China will become. Specifically, China seems poised to choose a global role that still caters to narrow domestic interests and will likely be economic, not security, focused. In other words, China is unlikely to mimic U.S. strategy in this regard, and therefore Chinese ambitions cannot be accurate calibrated against the U.S. model. Moreover, China is unlikely to attempt to overthrow the U.S.-led order, but its failure to participate fully in parts of it coupled with establishing some alternative structures that better fit its domestic economic needs may erode U.S. power and influence over time.

Related reading:

This Week at War: ‘So That Others May Live’

The Stream - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 13:20

“The night is dark. The air is heavy, filled with the smoke and dust of Afghanistan.”

So begins this riveting story by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook, who also took the stunning photo displayed above. His March 9 piece profiles a deployed joint Air Force-Army rescue squadron known as the “Guardian Angels.”

"I've been flying CH-47 (Chinook helicopter) models for 22 years," Chief Warrant Officer 3 Shawn Miller, a pilot with the South Carolina Army National Guard, told Tech Sgt. Brook. "This is an unprecedented tasking.”

Without prior warning, the Guardian Angels must be ready to mobilize and save troops on the ground, whether they are pinned down by enemy gunfire or injured in an aircraft or vehicle crash.

"Critical to the warfighter is knowing that a highly trained and capable PR (personnel recovery) force is standing ready at a moment's notice, willingly placing themselves in harm's way ... so that others may live,” said Maj. Robert Wilson, the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron’s commander.

We are grateful to the Guardian Angels for their sacrifices and pray for their safe return from Afghanistan.

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Meanwhile, Defense Secretary James Mattis, who once led Americans into battle in Afghanistan, was back in the country this week to meet U.S. troops and attend high-level meetings. An Associated Press article about his second visit to the country since taking over at the Pentagon contains this key paragraph:

“As part of an effort to bolster Afghan fighting strength, the U.S. in recent weeks sent an Army group of about 800 soldiers, accompanied by several hundred support troops, to advise the Afghans closer to the front lines. The U.S. also shifted A-10 attack planes and other aircraft from striking Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan as part of Trump's new approach. These and other moves boosted the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by at least 3,500 to a total of more than 14,000.”

We are grateful to each of these more than 14,000 valiant men and women in uniform, as well as their families, for sacrificing so much in this 17th year of America’s longest war.

Iraq and Syria

U.S. forces are still fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. This image shows the commanding general of the Operation Inherent Resolve combined joint task force visiting with American logistics soldiers stationed at Camp Taji in Iraq. These warriors and their loved ones are also in our constant prayers as they serve in such a dangerous, faraway place.

Update: After This Week at War was published, U.S. military officials confirmed that seven American service members were killed in a tragic Thursday evening helicopter crash near the Iraqi-Syrian border. A Stars and Stripes article by Chad Garland contains a statement from the Operation Inherent Resolve combined joint task force’s director of operations:

"This tragedy reminds us of the risks our men and women face every day in service of our nations," Brig. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga said. "We are thinking of the loved ones of these service members today.”

As are we.

Coming Home

Thankfully, there are also Americans coming home from hotspots around the world.

A U.S. Army soldier reunites with his family on March 12, 2018, upon returning to New York’s Fort Drum from a six-month deployment to Africa.

On Monday, almost 100 soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division came back to Fort Drum after spending the last six months deployed to Africa. You can see the joy on the above soldier’s face as he looks into the eyes of his infant son for the first time in half a year.

As Maj. Robert Wilson said above, we owe America’s heroes a huge debt of gratitude for “willingly placing themselves in harm's way ... so that others may live.” Every single day, our nation is blessed to have these volunteer warriors serving as our guardian angels.


Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is co-author of three books about military heroes: 8 Seconds of Courage, Brothers Forever and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on Twitter @TSileo.

Hillary’s Hateful Harangue

The Stream - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 13:13

Hillary Clinton’s abhorrent remarks in Mumbai, India, last week warrant our attention because, like it or not, they represent the thinking of a large swath of the modern Democratic Party.

But my aim is not to highlight Clinton’s never-ending catalog of excuses for losing the presidential election, except to note that rather than blame everyone and everything but herself, she should apologize for stealing the nomination. If she hadn’t done that, she wouldn’t have to blame anyone.

She should also have to answer for FISA-gate, but I don’t want to waste space demonstrating Clinton’s unfitness for office -- because I have little fear she’ll run again, and Democrats surely aren’t crazy enough to indulge her if she tries.

Instead, let’s review her disgraceful tirade in Mumbai, in which she blamed Americans’ racism and misogyny for her election loss.

“We do not do well with white men, and we don’t do well with married white women,” said Clinton. “And part of that is an identification with the Republican Party and a sort of ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.”

Who’s the Misogynist?

Hold the phone. Do you see the rich irony here? “Hear me roar” Hillary is impugning the independence and courage of women -- the very people she is pretending to defend against our misogyny? Seeing as she is maligning men, wouldn’t it be prudent not to insult the other half of the human race at the same time? I know few men who don’t have a higher opinion of women than this female liberal icon is displaying here.

You know darn well that Bill Clinton has a devil of a time persuading Hillary to do what she doesn’t want to do -- unless it will advance her interests. So why would she assume that other women would be any less independent?

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Sure, you can say she isn’t talking about all women -- just white wives of Republican men -- but what difference, at this point, does it make? There are way too many white GOP wives to pretend they are an exception to the norm. If GOP men are so evil, why did so many women marry them? Are they evil themselves, Mrs. Clinton? Or are they just gullible, malleable, soulless or weak? Choosing any of those options would reveal egregious disrespect for millions upon millions of women, which shatters Clinton’s argument to smithereens.

The India Today interviewer asked Clinton why 52 percent of white women voted for Trump despite the Access Hollywood tape showing him using vulgar language about women. I guess that even though the host is balding and graying, he is too young to realize how awkward this question was for the spouse of our former commander in heat, Bill Clinton. Then again, Hillary didn’t flinch before launching into her next set of progressive talking points.

“I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product,” she said. “So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, ‘Make America Great Again,’ was looking backwards.”

Doubling Down on Deplorables Comment

Not only is Clinton doubling down on her “deplorables” slander of Trump supporters. She is confirming the Obama-Clinton progressive view of America: Its best days are in the past. Settle in for economic malaise, because that’s the best you’re going to get. For if you want a government that isn’t hostile to business and entrepreneurship and that will reduce the tax and regulatory burden on America and unleash its engine of free market growth, you are “backwards.”

But the real kicker was Clinton’s summary of Trump’s supposed message to voters: “You know, you didn’t like black people getting rights. You didn’t like women, you know, getting jobs. You don’t want (to), you know, see that Indian-Americans (are) succeeding more than you are.”

You know, you know, you know? No, we don’t know. You ought to be ashamed, Mrs. Clinton, especially for lying when you apologized for calling us deplorables and said we are driven by “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic” beliefs. You meant it then, and you mean it now.

But again, my beef isn’t with Clinton. It’s with the Democratic Party proper, which has long been cynically peddling this very message in direct and subtle ways to alienate minority voters from the Republican Party, whose policies are manifestly more conducive to their economic well-being. For starters, go back and look at the racially charged statements Obama sprinkled throughout his terms in office.

Running Out of Ideas

Sadly, this messaging works; I have seen too much evidence of it in my adult life to rationally deny it. The Democratic Party is running out of effective ideas, so it increasingly resorts to race baiting, gender shaming and other forms of intentionally divisive identity politics.

The racism smear is an evil cousin of racism itself because it falsely and negatively stereotypes groups of people and demeans their human decency and dignity. It does incalculable damage to the groups it vilifies and is corrosive to our society because it subverts racial harmony. And it certainly does minorities no favors to deceive them into suspecting that half the people in the country are somehow prejudiced against them.

But I have a feeling this shtick is losing its mojo. Under President Trump, the Republican Party is finally learning to fight back and defend itself against such slurs and showcase the superiority of its policies for all people, including minorities.


David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book is The True Jesus: Uncovering the Divinity of Christ in the Gospels. Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at 


40 top economists unanimously agree: Steel and aluminum tariffs will not make America great - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 13:04

A panel of 40 economists at some of America’s top universities (MIT, Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Princeton, Stanford and UC-Berkeley) were asked in a survey conducted by the Initiative on Global Markets (Chicago Booth School of Business) if they agree or disagree that the statement “imposing new US tariffs on steel and aluminum will improve Americans’ welfare.”

When their answers were weighted by each economist’s confidence in his or her answer, 76% of the experts strongly disagreed and 24% disagreed, and none agreed or were uncertain! As I’ve mentioned several times recently on CD recently (here and here) the math of protectionism is pretty simple, and pretty ugly, in terms of its predictable negative effects on the economy. 100% of some of the top economists in the country agree.

HT: Veronique de Rugy via Cafe Hayek.

Congress Demands Pentagon, DOJ Investigate Child Sex Assault

The Stream - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 12:25

Congress reacted Thursday to an Associated Press investigation into sexual assault among children on U.S. military bases by demanding the Defense and Justice departments explain how they will solve the problem.

The House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, meanwhile, said it had begun its own examination of the issue. And a top Democrat on the committee said she would call a hearing within six months.

Four senators, including the veteran head of the Senate Armed Services Committee and two others who’ve made sexual assault a keynote issue, sent letters to the Pentagon and Justice Department with questions about sex assault among the military’s children.

AP’s investigation revealed that reports of sexual violence among kids on U.S. military bases at home and abroad often die on the desks of prosecutors, even when an attacker confesses. Other cases are shelved by criminal investigators despite requirements they be pursued. Many cases get lost in a dead zone of justice, AP found, with neither victim nor offender receiving help.

“The report reveals an inscrutable system that fails these children at every level,” wrote Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat.

In a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked that the Pentagon’s inspector general begin a “comprehensive assessment” of department policies related to sexual assault among military children in schools and elsewhere on base.

“It disturbs us to learn that the department’s policies and procedures may prevent efforts to help child victims of misconduct … and to rehabilitate and hold child offenders accountable,” they wrote.

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Separately, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, wrote the Justice Department’s inspector general requesting a “comprehensive investigation” into how many child sex assault cases have been prosecuted and why the majority have been declined.

Inspector general offices are independent entities within federal departments charged with investigating potential problems within agencies. They do not have to accept requests for action from Capitol Hill.

A Pentagon spokesman would not comment on the day’s developments. “Alleged conversations between Secretary Mattis and other officials are private and will remain as such,” Maj. Dave Eastburn said in an email.

The Pentagon and Justice Department’s inspectors general also did not comment, nor did a spokesman for the Justice Department.

Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, called AP’s finding of nearly 600 reports of sexual assault among children on bases since 2007 “a national disgrace and a military scandal.”

The top Democrat on a House Armed Services subcommittee that deals with military personnel said she was demanding information from the Pentagon in anticipation of holding a public hearing within six months.

“You cannot have an environment in which children aren’t protected, regardless of whether they’re on a base or in a public school classroom. So we’ve got to change the law,” Speier said in an interview.

A spokesman for Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee said staff had already begun “an independent examination of cooperation between” the departments of Defense and Justice and how they handle military child-on-child sexual assault. Issues they would examine include support for victims and the Pentagon’s data.

Records the military initially released omitted a third of the cases AP later identified through interviews with prosecutors, military investigators, family members and whistleblowers as well as data that officials later provided.

“This is clearly a serious matter,” spokesman Claude Chafin said of AP’s findings.

The tens of thousands of kids who live on U.S. bases are not covered by military law. The Justice Department, which handles civilian crimes on many bases, isn’t equipped or inclined to take on juvenile cases, AP found.

This legal and bureaucratic netherworld also extends to the Pentagon’s worldwide network of schools, which afford students fewer protections than public schools if they are sexually attacked by a classmate on campus. The federal law that offers help to victims of student-on-student sexual assault, known as Title IX, does not apply to federal education programs, such as those run by the military.

In a separate letter to Mattis on Thursday, Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, demanded answers by early April to a long list of questions about how the Department of Defense Education Activity handles assaults on its campuses.

The military school system that educates some 71,000 children has no specific policy to respond to student-on-student sexual violence and doesn’t accurately track the incidents, AP found. More than 150 cases weren’t disclosed by schools in reports that are meant to alert headquarters to serious incidents.

“As a mother and grandmother, I cannot tolerate the thought that our military children are not receiving the protection and support they deserve,” Murray wrote. “I trust you share my outrage.”

Responding to AP’s findings prior to publication, the Pentagon said it “takes seriously any incident impacting the well-being of our service members and their families” and promised “appropriate actions” to help juveniles involved in sex assaults.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense also told AP it considered child-on-child sexual assault to be “an emerging issue” -- a characterization that prompted an angry response from Murray.

“What is ’emerging’ about 600 sexual assault cases in 10 years?” Murray said in her letter to Mattis, who was traveling back from the Middle East on Thursday. “We owe our military families -- the children of the personnel who are fighting our wars -- safety and support.”


Pritchard reported from Los Angeles and Dunklin from Dallas.


If you have a tip, comment or story to share about child-on-child sexual assault on U.S. military bases, please email: See AP’s entire package of stories here:


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Flake Eyes 2020 Primary Challenge to Stop Trump

The Stream - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 12:13

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- Jeff Flake has a direct message for the Republicans of New Hampshire: Someone needs to stop Donald Trump. And Flake, a Republican senator from Arizona, may stand up against the Republican president in 2020 -- either as a Republican or an independent -- if no one else does.

“It’s not in my plan to run for president, but I am not ruling it out. Somebody needs to stand up for traditional Republicanism,” Flake told The Associated Press in an interview. “Somebody needs to raise that, for nothing else than to give people hope that that decent party will be back. We’ll get through this.”

Flake’s comments came on the eve of his first solo political appearance in New Hampshire, the state expected to host the nation’s first presidential primary election in less than two years. The 55-year-old Republican will deliver a speech Friday morning entitled “Country Over Party,” as part of the esteemed “Politics and Eggs” speaker series at Saint Anselm College.

Flake is among a very small group of Republican elected officials speaking out against the Trump presidency with increasing alarm.

He has already written a book that slams Trump, condemned Trump on the Senate floor, and charged in a Thursday speech to the National Press Club that his party “might not deserve to lead” because of its blind loyalty to Trump. By visiting New Hampshire, Flake is now declaring the possibility of another tactic: a 2020 primary challenge.

On the ground in the Granite State, a full year before presidential candidates typically begin courting local voters, there is already an expectation among top Republicans that Trump will face a challenge from within his own party in the next presidential contest. Yet few think Trump could be defeated, even under the worst circumstances.

Steve Duprey, who represents New Hampshire at the Republican National Committee, said: “It’s virtually impossible to beat an incumbent for the nomination. But that doesn’t prevent people from trying with various degrees of seriousness.”

“I think there will be some primary,” he added. “Whether it’s a serious contender or a protest candidate that the president’s team would have to take seriously, it’s too early to tell.”

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Despite Flake’s fiery pronouncements, he would start out as an underwhelming presidential contender on paper.

He is not well-known, he has little money of his own and a disdain for fundraising, and because he is retiring from the Senate at year’s end, he has no political organization to help fuel his ambitions.

Flake has powerful friends who could help, however, including the outspoken anti-Trump billionaire Mark Cuban.

“I’m a Jeff Flake fan,” Cuban told The Associated Press.

The billionaire, who is considering a presidential bid of his own, acknowledged that he doesn’t know much about Flake’s political ambitions. “But as a citizen of this great country, the more candidates for the office of president the better,” Cuban said.

Former New Hampshire GOP chair Jennifer Horn, a frequent Trump critic, said the GOP’s struggles in recent special elections -- in addition to Trump’s near-daily struggles -- make a primary challenge in 2020 more realistic than ever before.

“There is a path, there is a possibility, but it’s such a narrow path that it’s hard to see who the right person would be,” she said, acknowledging she didn’t know Flake very well yet.

In the interview, Flake acknowledged Trump was probably too popular among the Republican base to lose a Republican primary in the current political climate.

“Not today, but two years from now, possibly. Things can unravel pretty fast,” Flake said, suggesting that a disastrous mid-term election season for the GOP could realign voter loyalty. “As soon as he’s viewed as one who loses majorities in the House and the Senate, and there’s no chance that someone in the 30s can win re-election, people might move on.”

And if Trump’s standing with the base doesn’t fade, Flake would consider a presidential bid as an independent.

“I’m not ruling that out either,” he said. “There are going to be a lot of other people in the party looking for something else.”

He continued, “If you end up with Trump on one side, (Bernie) Sanders or (Elizabeth) Warren on the other, there’s a huge swath of voters in the middle that make an independent run by somebody a lot more realistic.”

Trump has a special relationship with New Hampshire.

The state gave him his first victory of the 2016 Republican primary season. He earned 35 percent of the vote compared with second-place finisher John Kasich, the Ohio governor who is also weighing a 2020 run.

And on Monday, just three days after Flake’s visit, Trump is expected to make his first appearance in the state since winning the 2016 election.

Flake wants New Hampshire voters to know there’s another option.

“This has been my party my entire life. I’m not willing to concede that this is permanent,” he said.


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