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Right Now

A fresh perspective on the latest news

The ol’ switcheroo

July 23rd, 2013

We’re changing the name of our blog but still sending the same interesting, quirky and maddening Web reports your way.

Want to know why the Mideast is reminding a retired admiral of  the Balkans in the run-up to World War I? Visit us at This Just In.


The DHS: Who needs it?

July 19th, 2013

Closing the Department of Homeland Security “is a small government solution that works,” writes Charles Kenney in Bloomberg Businessweek. The agency, which got $20 billion in the 2002 budget, is costing a cool $60 billion this year, Kenney notes, warning of “institutional inertia.”

Dangerous when wet

July 19th, 2013

Brandon Webb, a former Navy SEAL, tells NBC News if women join Special Ops teams, it could be dangerous: “How do you practically expect men and women not to have sex together under extreme stress, a half a world away from America — and how does that affect unit effectiveness?”
If President Obama was a no-show at 9/11 ceremonies for two years in a row, no doubt people would take notice. So when Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner fails to attend a ceremony on Thursday marking the 19th anniversary of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, foreign policy experts accuse the leftist of avoiding it on purpose.
Argentine and U.S. authorities concluded long ago that a Hezbollah cell directed by Iran was to blame for the terrorist attack that left 85 dead and more than 300 injured.
She’s “motivated by a desire to strengthen Argentine-Iranian relations,” Robert Zarate, policy director at the Foreign Policy Initiative, tells the Washington Free Beacon. Iran, besieged by Western sanctions for its nuclear ambitions,  is desperate for trading partners. Fernandez may be cozying up to leftist allies Venezuela and Cuba, suggests The Economist.  
“That she’s skipping it for the second time shows it’s no accident or coincidence. Jews are traditionally the canary in the coal mine, and in this case, the warning signs about Argentina couldn’t be clearer,” American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Michael Rubin tells the Beacon. 
Fernandez is known as the Hillary Clinton of South America. An attorney, she was a senator while her husband was president. While running for the top office in 2007, Fernandez enjoyed the comparisons.
Clinton, however, questioned the mental stability of Fernandez in a 2009 cable made public by WikiLeaks. “Is she taking any medications” for stress? Clinton asked after encounters with the thin-skinned leader.
The next gubernatorial election could be a horse race.
Gov. Tom Corbett “looks like the country’s most vulnerable governor heading into the 2014 election,” reports the National Journal.
Citing a Quinnipiac poll last month that put the Republican’s approval rating at 35 percent, Alex Roarty writes that Corbett is in trouble with members of his own party who are chomping at the primary bit.
Rob Gleason, the state’s GOP party chairman, insists that Corbett will not step aside.
But, a Pennsylvania-based Republican strategist tells Roarty, “having people talk about if he should run or not isn’t where you want to be a year out.”

House is leaning right

The Brookings Institution calls the last session of the House of Representatives the most conservative in more than 60 years. House Republicans are getting more conservative than House Democrats are getting liberal, according to the annual report.

Not a place for politics, or ratings

Preliminary ratings for the Zimmerman verdict give Fox News 3,682,000 total viewers; CNN 3,407,000; and MSNBC 1,298,000. MSNBC abandoned its wall-to-wall political coverage because of its ratings slide during the Zimmerman trial.

Call him mister

It’s not exactly scientific, but an Australian says he has proof gender matters in the workplace.

Kim O’Grady, a management consultant in Perth, says he couldn’t get a job until he added one word to his resume: Mr.

O’Grady’s Tumblr blog post on his job hunt in the 1990s has gone viral.

“The sad reality is this shows we all know how real and invasive sexism is. We all know that sexism unnecessarily impacts negatively on women’s lives and men benefit from that,” O’Grady says in a follow-up post.

Whither Al Jazeera?

July 16th, 2013


Sultan al-Qassemi was named one of Time magazine’s top 140 tweeters in 2011. Sultan is his first name, not his title.

“Many of the editors and anchors in Al Jazeera Arabic are de facto Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers,” a Dubai-based researcher specializing in Arab media tells Sultan al-Qassemi in an essay for Foreign Policy. “This has been reflected in the channel’s pro-Islamist coverage over the past two years, relying heavily on a combination of incitement, bloody scenes, and Islamic preachers and media commentators,” Fadi Salem says.

Al-Qassemi, the Dubai columnist whom Time magazine praised for his tweets of the first Egyptian revolution, ridicules the pan-Arab satellite channel for its “biased coverage,” saying “Qatar, Al Jazeera’s home country and financial patron, gave billions of dollars in aid to Morsy’s government in the past year and has been accused of supporting regional Islamist movements, much to the chagrin of neighboring Arab states.”

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera America is in dress rehearsals in New York City for its debut on August 20, when it will beam into 49 million homes in place of Current, the channel started and sold by Al Gore. Media watchers are questioning how American Al Jazeera America will be, New York magazine reports.

Glenn Greenwald, in his latest  Guardian column, cites an internal Al Jazeera email to show that the channel is experiencing growing pains. In the missive, a prominent Al Jazeera host chides executives for efforts veer away from traditional Al Jazeera content to “appease” the American audience. For his part, Greenwald, confessor and confidant to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, says he’d hate to see Al Jazeera America drained “of its vibrancy and edginess” and turned into an “imitation of CNN.”

Afghans fed up with Taliban

July 14th, 2013

U.S. officials are encouraged by grassroots uprisings against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Washington Free Beacon reports. “First and foremost, the anti-Taliban movements reflect the local populace’s growing intolerance of Taliban influence and abuse,” Air Force Lt. Col. David Simons, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Forces, the U.S.-led military coalition, tells the Beacon.

But other problems persist. Human rights activists fear for the safety and rights of women after judges and prosecutors allowed the early release of three people convicted for the brutal torture of a child bride, according to the Guardian.

New underground nuke lair?

Iran denies an exiled opposition group’s allegation that the Islamic state is secretly building a new underground nuclear facility, the Jersusalem Post reports. The dissidents, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, say tunnels are being dug in a mountainous area near Damavand, east of Tehran.

Perry’s gives a sign

The soon-to-be-retired governor of Texas is making a trip abroad, in what some politicos say is the clearest signal that he will run for the White House. “We will be going to Israel to bring together Arabs, Christian and Jews in an educational forum,” Rick Perry tells The Washington Times in an interview.

Obama cut funding

Four Republicans say “President Obama’s decision to drastically cut funding” for the ground-based midcourse defense system is to blame for failed missile interceptor test last week, The Hill reports. The lawmakers — House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), Strategic Forces subcommittee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the Senate Armed Services’ James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Strategic Forces subcommittee’s Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) — tell the Defense secretary in a letter that the administration has left the system on “life support.”

War is not hell

One tweet about the best opening paragraph in Wikipedia has revived interest in  British Lt. Gen. Adrian Carton de Wiart: “He fought in the Boer War, World War I and World War II, was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip and ear, survived a plane crash, tunneled out of a POW camp and bit off his own fingers when a doctor wouldn’t amputate them. He later said, ‘Frankly, I enjoyed the war.’ He died 50 years ago in Ireland at 83. The Daily Mail took a look at his accomplishments last year.

‘She’s not there’

A friend of Gina DeJesus, one of the Cleveland girls held in a house of horrors for a decade tells the Daily Mail, “She has never grown up mentally, she’s still a 14-year-old little girl. … She never got a chance to go to the dances or the games or prom or the things that kids do. …  She has a look of — of a blank, a blankness to her eyes. … Emotionally she’s not there.”


CBS News: China’s slow economy forces college grads to live in “ant colonies.” The cheap subdivided apartments are illegal.

Daily Telegraph: Polish archaeologists unearth “vampire grave.” Skeletons were found with heads removed, a ritual designed to ensure the dead stayed dead.

Chicago Tribune: In midst of Ramadan, Chicago-area Muslims urged to boycott dates linked to Israel. That would be the fruit, not what you do on a Saturday night.

Hackers: It’s my party

July 12th, 2013

“Feds, we need some time apart,”  say hackers getting ready for their annual Defcon convention, according to PC World.

Edward Snowden’s leaks have made them feel uneasy.

“When it comes to sharing and socializing with feds, recent revelations have made many in the community uncomfortable about this relationship,” Jeff Moss, Defcon founder  and the chief security officer of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers wrote in a blog post.

It’s the first time in two decades that the feds have been disinvited. They’ve been recruiting hackers and playing Spot the Fed for years.

Meanwhile, Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the NSA and head of Cyber Command who delivered Defcon’s keynote last year, is slated to give a presentation at Black Hat, another Vegas cybersecurity convention at the end of the month.

Get thee to Venezuela, a Russian lawmaker tweeted on Sunday about Edward Snowden. But easier said than done, ABC News pointed out last week.

The U.S. and its allies are likely to deny airspace to a plane carrying the NSA leaker, just as a plane leaving Moscow — full of Latin American officials and suspected of carrying Snowden — was refused permission to fly over France, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

A former CIA analyst, Allen Thomson, has kindly mapped out an escape route to Caracas, which avoids “los Yanquis and their running dogs,” he kidded to Foreign Policy.

“Leave Moscow,” he told FP. “Fly north to the Barents Sea, thence over to and through the Denmark Strait. Continue south, steering clear of Newfoundland until getting to the east of the Windward Islands. Fly through some convenient gap between islands and continue on to Caracas.”

Doesn’t sound like a regularly scheduled flight on Delta. ABC said Snowden could take a private plane. Cost? $200,000. That’s $198,735.67 more than the cheapest one-way ticket on Travelocity from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo-2 airport to Caracas.

Meanwhile, Venezuela, the land of “21st Century Socialism,” has not received a formal response to its offer of asylum, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua told Reuters on Thursday.

Maybe Snowden is a fan of the Washington Post’s Wonkblog. Stranded in the transit zone of the Moscow airport, he should have plenty of time to read the Post’s Dylan Matthews, who has crunched the numbers and compares the standard of living Snowden had grown accustomed to in Hawaii with Venezuela. It doesn’t look good:

Per capita GDP

Hawaii: $52,246; Venezuela: $12,767

Life expectancy

Hawaii: 78; Venezuela: 72

Homicide rate

Hawaii: 1.2 per 100,000 residents; Venezuela: 45.1 (that’s not a typo)