tipsheet
Leah Barkoukis - New Al Qaeda Magazine Hints an Attack on US Is Imminent
Posted: 8/28/2014 7:27:00 PM EST

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s media branch is out with a new English language magazine, Palestine-Betrayal of the Guilty Conscience Al-Malahem. The new publication, a spin-off of Inspire, is calling on fellow Muslims to wage acts of terror in the United States and Britain.

Fox News reports:

A new English-language Al Qaeda magazine features a how-to article on making car bombs and suggests terror targets in the United States, including casinos in Las Vegas, oil tankers and military colleges, and implies that an attack is imminent. […]

“The timeline concludes with the date 201?’ and blank spaces and question marks for the photo and information of the next attack -- implying that it is coming soon,” said MEMRI Executive Director Steve Stalinsky.

There is a suggested list of targets for lone-wolf, or individually executed, terror attacks, including New York's Times Square, casinos and night clubs in Las Vegas, oil tankers and trains, the Georgia Military College, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and General Atomics defense contractor in San Diego.

“This recipe gives you the ability to make a car bomb even in countries with tight security and surveillance,” one article reads, before providing a “shopping list” of supplies needed to make such a bomb, including cooking gas, oxygen gas, a barometer, decoration lamps and matches.

There is also a list of targets in Britain including a military academy and the Marks and Spencers chain of department stores. The magazine calls for the stores to be hit on Friday during prayers so that Muslims won’t be affected. […]

In a nine-page spread entitled, “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom,” the magazine details a do-it-yourself, illustrated guide on assembling a pressure-cooker bomb similar to the ones used in the Boston Marathon bombings.

“My Muslim brother, before you start reading the instructions, remember that this type of operation if prepared well and an appropriate target is chosen and Allah decrees success for you, history will never forget it. It will be recorded as a crushing defeat on the enemies of Islam,” the article says.

So what are the chances of an attack on the homeland? U.S. intelligence officials are currently investigating the increased likelihood, Fox reports, but ISIS has already issued several threats against America, including taunting tweets that show they’re already here.

An attack on the U.S. and other Western countries “will come probably sooner rather than later,” retired Gen. Michael Hayden said on CNN Sunday morning.

Daniel Doherty - Obama: We Have No Strategy to Fight ISIS; Ukraine Wasn’t Invaded
Posted: 8/28/2014 5:15:00 PM EST

Speaking from the White House Briefing room on Thursday, President Obama touched on a whole host of foreign challenges facing the nation.

Most significantly, perhaps, he noted that Secretary of State John Kerry will soon be heading to the Middle East to “build a coalition” to help meet the growing threat of ISIL.

“I am confident that we can and we will,” he intoned.

He also noted that he had asked Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel -- and his joint chiefs of staff -- to furnish him with “a range of options” to finally deal with these violent and bloodthirsty terrorists.

“Clearly ISIL had come to represent the very worst elements in the region that we have to deal with collectively,” he said.

He also mentioned that he had been in communication with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the unrest in eastern Ukraine.

“We are, if there was any doubt, convinced that Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine,” he said. “Russia has deliberately and repeatedly [threatened] the territorial integrity" of that country.

“Russia is already more isolated than at any time since the end of the Cold War,” he continued. “This ongoing Russian incursion into Ukraine will only bring more consequences for Russia.”

Turning to Syria, he proclaimed that “Assad’s lost [all] legitimacy” -- and that the US will strive, with our allies, to give the moderate Sunni population a political choice other than ISIL or the regime.

Other highlights: He refused to call Russia’s most recent incursion into Ukraine an invasion, defended his right to unilaterally order airstrikes into Iraq -- and Syria -- if necessary, and claimed the White House doesn’t have "a strategy” yet to effectively combat ISIL.

President Obama will meet with his national security team later today.

Christine Rousselle - Part of Utah's Anti-Polygamy Law Struck Down
Posted: 8/28/2014 4:30:00 PM EST

In Utah, it is no longer illegal for someone to cohabitate with someone with whom they are not married, following a decision in the lawsuit Brown v. Buhman. The case was filed by Kody Brown, who is the patriarch of the polygamous Brown family featured on the TLC show "Sister Wives." While this technically means living a polygamous lifestyle is now effectively decriminalized in Utah, a person is still prohibited from having multiple marriage licenses.

Federal Judge Clark Waddoups in December struck the section of Utah’s bigamy statute that can be applied when someone "cohabits with another person" to whom they are not legally married. Utah law made such a union a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Waddoups said the ban violated the First and 14th amendments to the Constitution.

Waddoups let stand the portion of the statute that prevents someone from having more than one active marriage license.

In the final portion of his ruling Wednesday, Waddoups found the Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman violated the Browns’ constitutional rights when he oversaw a 2010 investigation into whether the Brown family was committing bigamy. At the time the Browns lived in Lehi. They have since moved to Nevada. Buhman eventually decided not to file criminal charges, but Waddoups said the investigation stifled the Browns’ rights to free speech, religion and equal protection.

While there certainly are legitimate concerns regarding the safety of children in polygamist marriages, particularly those who live in isolated compounds, laws against child abuse already exist. If other crimes are happening (child abuse, neglect, etc.) in these unions, then the perpetrators should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The U.S. has generally leaned toward a "benevolent neutrality" on freedom of religion-based court cases—that is, the government would seek to avoid imposing restrictions on a church that would result in its closure. This decision seems to be in line with that train of thought, as well as with previous Supreme Court rulings concerning privacy rights.

While I personally find the concept of plural marriage to be undesirable, I agree with the judge's ruling that the law prohibiting cohabitation likely overstepped the boundaries of religious freedom. I also find it fair that the portion of the law prohibiting someone from being legally married to more than one person was allowed to stand.

Both sides are planning appeals of the decision.

Guy Benson - Journalism Association Demands Apology for...Anti-ISIS Comments
Posted: 8/28/2014 3:30:00 PM EST

Fox News host Andrea Tantaros is drawing fire for these comments, made on Outnumbered:


[This has been happening] "for hundreds and hundreds of years. If you study the history of Islam…this isn't a surprise. You can't solve it with a dialogue. You can't solve it with a summit. You solve it with a bullet to the head. It's the only thing these people understand."


Two important stipulations: (1) Terrible violence has been inflicted in the name of religion -- and certainly not just Islam -- throughout human history. In the 20th century alone, an explicitly atheist ideology murdered tens of millions, too. (2) An overwhelming majority of the planet's Muslims today are peaceful non-extremists.  I doubt Tantaros would dispute either of those points.  Her remarks were in the context of a conversation about ISIS, the ultra-radical, stupefyingly brutal Islamist supremacist death cult.  She was reacting to the decapitation of an American journalist.  Her point about the history of Islam, including her discussion of the Barbary pirates, was that radicalized Muslims have been slaughtering and visiting violence and oppression upon 'infidels' for centuries.  Her invocation of "these people," as I understood her, was clearly a reference to violent extremists, not all Muslims.  But that's not what the Asian American Journalists Association heard, and they're insisting upon a mea culpa:


What we at the Asian American Journalists Association don’t understand is how the barbaric act of a terrorist group could be used to condemn and to smear an entire faith. Yet that’s precisely what Fox News host Andrea Tantaros did when she suggested in an 'Outnumbered' segment that aired Aug. 20 that all Muslims are like ISIS, the group purportedly behind the execution of Foley. “They’ve been doing this for hundreds and hundreds of years if you study the history of Islam,” she said. More alarmingly, Tantaros goes so far as to advocate violence. 'You can’t solve it with a dialogue. You can’t solve it with a summit,' she said. 'You solve it with a bullet to the head. It’s the only thing these people understand.' AAJA calls for Tantaros and Fox News to apologize for the irresponsible, inflammatory statements. We also call on Fox News to discourage its journalists from making blanket comments that serve to perpetuate hate and Islamophobia.

Perhaps the AAJA should work on its listening skills and review the importance of context when evaluating and repudiating comments.  They've decided that Tantaros' "history of Islam" sentence fragment is the key to understanding her true intent, rather than the subject matter of the entire segment.  Furthermore, it's not "Islamophobia" to draw attention to the terrifying realities of radical Islam.  One could even argue it's more Islamophobic to hear stark denunciations of Islamist violence as an attack on the broader religion.  It's also simply a fact that the large preponderance of faith-hijacking terrorism today is the province of Islam -- from ISIS to Al Qaeda to Boko Haram to Hamas.  It's not bigotry for Westerners to recognize that empirical reality, nor is it beyond the pale to comment on the fact that more Muslims in the West have marched against Israel's military campaign responding to aggression from Hamas terrorists than have taken to the streets to protest ISIS' savagery -- which is being conducted in the name of their religion.  (Which is not to say that no Muslims have done so; some have).  Indeed, pro-ISIS rallies have been held in European cities, and an anti-ISIS march in the Netherlands was disrupted by rock-throwing Muslims.  One need not impute radicalism to most Muslim people to accurately point out that Islam has, and has had for some time, a violence problem that has the tacit or active support of a frighteningly sizable minority of Muslims worldwide.  I'll leave you with these comments from Bill Maher, who got in trouble for making this exact point in a tweet:

Matt Vespa - Redskins Fans: Screw Political Correctness, We Love Our Team
Posted: 8/28/2014 2:45:00 PM EST

Earlier this week, MRCTV’s Dan Joseph wanted to know what Redskins fans think about the name. Should it be changed? In the parking lot of the FedEx Field, Joseph found one person, who wore a Redskins shirt featuring a Native American giving the middle finger, thought the name should be changed; she blamed the Europeans. Another woman said the name should be changed, but she doesn’t want the organization to do it.

Another die-hard fan said that a Native American designed the logo, while another man said his family is almost full-blooded Native American and they’re not offended by the name at all.

Overall, most fans don’t want the name changed, they love their team, and won’t adhere to a small segment of the population that tries to make everything in America awful by spreading political correctness. 

Sarah Jean Seman - Cameron to Scotland: Independence Would Be Your Economic Ruin
Posted: 8/28/2014 1:30:00 PM EST

As the people of Scotland prepare to vote on their independence Sept. 18, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that the divide would result in a devastating blow to Scotland's economic viability. 

During a speech Thursday to the Confederation of British Industry's (UK's premier business lobbying organization) Cameron urged them to recognize the symbiotic relationship between Scotland and the United Kingdom:

"This is one of the oldest and most successful single markets in the world. Scotland does twice as much trade with the rest of the UK than with the rest of the world put together – trade that helps to support one million Scottish jobs.

For some industries, the proportion of trade with the rest of the UK is even higher – 90% of Scottish financial services' customers are in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Then there's the world-famous gaming industry, cutting-edge subsea technology and life-saving biomedicine – all selling far more outside Scotland than inside.

This success doesn't happen by accident. It happens because of the skill of people in Scotland and the opportunities that come from being part of something bigger, a large domestic market, underpinned by a common currency, common taxes, common rules and regulations, with no borders, no transaction costs, no restrictions on the flow of goods, investment or people. Ours really is an economy of opportunity."

When the Scottish National Party came into power in 2011, it pushed an agenda which included recognizing Scotland as a sovereign nation, according to Daniel Gallagher, Economic Counsellor at the British Embassy in Washington D.C. As the Scottish National Party gained a voice in Parliament it pushed through a referendum which would allow the people of Scotland to vote on their country's independence. 

"The debate has largely been around Scotland's economic future and what position and independent Scotland would have in the world," Gallagher said during a speech at the British Embassy July 17. 

"The government has out a series of fourteen analysis papers which cover aspects such as international security, cultural ties, currency arrangements, government spending, and the fiscal position Scotland would find itself in." 

Britain's final assessment of the situation: 

"Scotland is better off as part of the UK, now and in the future."

While Britain may analyze, inform and plead as much as it likes, only the Scots hold the ultimate power to alter the future of their country. 

Daniel Doherty - UN: ISIS Prefers Maiming, Killing on Fridays
Posted: 8/28/2014 12:15:00 PM EST

So far, when the media even bothers to cover the rise of ISIS, they’ve generally chosen to focus on the atrocities in northern Iraq, where the Yazidi population and other minority sects have been explicitly hunted. But across the border, in Syria, the bloodletting has been going on for years -- and the carnage there is equally as bad, if not worse.

And yet to their credit, UN investigators have done yeomen’s work exposing ISIS’s atrocities in Syria, especially during the first half of this past year. Their 45-page expose is gruesome yet a must-read.

Ironically, too, the commissioners discovered that the holiest day of the week, Friday, is when ISIS radicals prefer torturing, maiming, and executing their victims. How sick is that?

Public executions, amputations, lashings and mock crucifixion are a regular fixture in jihadist-controlled areas of Syria, a UN probe charged Wednesday, also accusing Damascus of repeatedly using chemical weapons against civilians. "Executions in public spaces have become a common spectacle on Fridays" -- the Muslim holy day -- in parts of Syria under control of the Islamic State (IS), the independent Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Syria said.

In a 45-page report covering the period from January 20 to July 15, the commission also detailed a wide range of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the Syrian government and other armed opposition groups. And it accused Damascus of dropping chlorine bombs on civilian areas in April -- the first time the UN has directly blamed the government for the chemical attacks.

The four-member commission detailed a litany of horrors committed by IS, including beheading boys as young as 15 and amputations and lashings in public squares as residents, including children, are forced to watch.

This blood spectacle is appalling. And yet human rights violations are not merely unique to ISIS. The Syrian government, under President Bashar al-Assad, has committed all sorts of atrocities, the commissioners found:

Government forces, which were blamed for the lion's share of abuses and deaths in the early years after the conflict broke out in 2011, had carried out more massacres and committed murder, torture and rape against civilians, the report said. Since January, the government's "indiscriminate firing of missiles and barrel bombs into civilian areas" had killed hundreds of men women and children every week, it said. At the same time, the already staggering number of deaths in Syrian prisons also appeared to be on the rise and many more civilians had disappeared without a trace, said the report.

The administration’s objective in Syria is arming and supporting the “moderate” wing of the opposition. But with so much death and destruction going on, it’s difficult to credibly decipher between friend and foe.

It’s true too that ISIS and Assad’s government forces are killing each other; but if the US intervenes, and alters the balance of power, insulating Assad even more is hardly an ideal outcome.

Guy Benson - Stagnation: CBO Revises 2014 GDP Growth Projection Down to 1.5 Percent
Posted: 8/28/2014 11:30:00 AM EST

When the economy shrinks substantially over the course of an economic quarter, tepid recoveries tend to look, well, tepid. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has slashed its predictions for US economic growth in 2014:

The Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday forecast that the U.S. economy will grow by just 1.5 percent in 2014, undermined by a poor performance during the first three months of the year. The new assessment was considerably more pessimistic than the Obama administration's, which predicted last month that the economy would expand by 2.6 percent this year even though it contracted by an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the first quarter...Even with the [Q2] rebound, economists have lowered their outlook for the entire year, given the weak start. Economists at JPMorgan Chase are forecasting that the economy will grow by 1.9 percent this year, when measured from the fourth quarter, down from 3.1 percent in 2013.

US Gross Domestic Product grew at a sluggish 1.9 percent rate in FY 2013.  The new 2014 forecasts reflect the ongoing reality of America's historically weak economic recovery under President Obama.  Policies matter.  The CBO also updated its projections on annual deficits and the national debt.  The latter measure has ballooned by $7 trillion and counting since Obama took office, far eclipsing the debt accrual of all other presidents.  The bookkeepers determined that this year's deficit will exceed half-a-trillion, an improvement over Obama's abysmal baseline, but that trouble lies ahead.  Reason's Peter Suderman summarizes the latest findings:


The Congressional Budget Office released another report on the nation’s debt and deficit picture today, and the short version goes something like this: We’ve made some short-term progress in reducing annual deficits, but the long-term debt picture is still quite bleak. It’s the calm before the storm more than a sign that all is well...even as annual deficits have declined, total federal debt levels have remained high. And they are expected to rise to unprecedented levels in the years to come. By the end of this fiscal year, the CBO says, federal debt held by the public will equal 74 percent of GDP, double its 2007 level...The higher the debt levels, the bigger the problems for the nation, especially when debt levels are this high. As the CBO notes (and has said repeatedly in previous reports), higher debt means higher federal spending on interest to maintain the debt, lower economic growth rates, less flexibility for policymakers in all matters, and an increased risk of a fiscal crisis. Basically, debt costs money to carry, and robs the nation of other options: the more a nation owes, and the more it spends on debt, the fewer choices it has to do other things, which creates a kind of precarious state in which really big problems—like a fiscal crisis—are more likely, and harder to deal with when they do occur. It’s a fiscal feedback loop, and it’s threatening to drag us down.

The biggest driver of our long-term debt is unfunded liabilities, or unpaid-for federal promises, with Medicare being the most significant.  Obamacare fans have tried to tout the new law as having slowed Medicare spending increases, but economists have attributed that slowdown to the lackluster economy.  The program remains totally unsustainable, even in the medium-term.  In addition, some of the on-paper reductions stem from scheduled cuts to the program that its own actuaries have cautioned are politically implausible.  Nervous Democrats, who voted to cut Medicare to pay for Obamacare, have confirmed this suspicion by running away from the very cuts they championed (and double-counted) on behalf of the unpopular new law.

Cortney O'Brien - "We Need to Get Ungovernable": Emotions Run High at Ferguson Townhall in DC
Posted: 8/28/2014 10:45:00 AM EST

The controversy surrounding teenager Michael Brown's death came to Washington, DC, on Wednesday when the local restaurant Busboys and Poets held a town hall entitled, "Ferguson and Beyond – The Way Forward: A Town Hall Meeting on Police Killings of Black Men" at its K street location. The event was a part of the ACTOR (A Continuing Talk on Race) series. Based on the restaurant's Twitter feed, however, the event seemed to be less about an "honest conversation on race," and more about demonizing police.

Throughout the night, participants tweeted the hashtag #policebrutality (pretty objective, huh?) Among the event panelists were figures such as social activist Dick Gregory, Dr. Ron Daniels, Hillary Shelton of the NAACP and actor Danny Glover, who participated via Skype.

Here were just a few of their racially tinged comments:

While the tensions in Ferguson, Missouri have finally appeared to simmer, racial conversations like these have continued to escalate.

The autopsy report on Brown’s death, which showed he was shot six times, is certainly a cause for concern and should be questioned. Did police really need six bullets to restrain Brown? But, recent revelations that Brown had repeatedly assaulted Officer Darren Wilson before shots were fired suggest that the confrontation was more complicated than some may think. And, the incident does not justify the rioting and looting that occurred as a result. 

Perhaps a more objective town hall would have included a discussion of Dr. Ben Carson’s piece, “A Problem Bigger Than Ferguson,” in which he implores people to consider facts rather than emotions:

Perhaps it would be useful to examine the tragedy with the facts on the table rather than through the lenses of hypersensitized emotions stimulated by those attempting to exploit the situation.

Carson also had a thoughtful debate with Rev. Jesse Jackson on Ferguson on the most recent edition of “Fox News Sunday.”

Next time, I hope these town hall organizers will consider inviting someone with a different point of view - one that isn't accompanied with a biased hashtag.

Conn Carroll - How Will Obama Pay For His Executive Amnesty Program?
Posted: 8/28/2014 10:00:00 AM EST

President Obama, The Washington Post reports, is currently deliberating whether or not he should grant temporary executive amnesty to as many as 8 million illegal immigrants. And according to Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) he must do so in the next 30 days if he "is going to determine his legacy with the immigrant community."

Gutierrez never explains why Obama must act on executive amnesty with in the next 30 days, and the Post never explains either. Neither does the Post explain exactly where Obama plans to get the money to pay for his new executive amnesty program.

Obama and his media allies will try and claim that Obama's new amnesty program will save the federal government law enforcement resources by allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to focus their resources on new arrivals and violent criminals.

But the 2011 Morton Memo already accomplished that. ICE is already ignoring the vast majority of illegal immigrants who already live in the United States. Former-ICE acting director John Sandweg even told The Los Angeles Times, "If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero - it's just highly unlikely to happen."

So if Obama has already set immigratlaw enforcement priorities so that most illegal immigrants face no threat from deportation, then why he did he create the DACA program and why he is looking to grant temporary amnesty to another 8 million illegal immigrants?

Work permits. Amnesty advocates don't just want an end to deportations. They want all illegal immigrants to be given work permits too. 

But granting work permits takes time, effort, and money. As The Washington Examiner's Byron York notes, the Department of Homeland Security grants about 1 million green cards every year. So when Obama offered work permits to up 2 million illegal immigrants through DACA, it was completely unsurprising that the normal immigration process ground to a halt. The New York Times reports:

Many thousands of Americans seeking green cards for foreign spouses or other immediate relatives have been separated from them for a year or more because of swelling bureaucratic delays at a federal immigration agency in recent months.

The long waits came when the agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services, shifted attention and resources to a program President Obama started in 2012 to give deportation deferrals to young undocumented immigrants, according to administration officials and official data. …
Until recently, an American could obtain a green card for a spouse, child or parent — probably the easiest document in the immigration system — in five months or less. But over the past year, waits for approvals of those resident visas stretched to 15 months, and more than 500,000 applications became stuck in the pipeline, playing havoc with international moves and children’s schools and keeping families apart.

Since Obama's new executive amnesty program also completely bypasses Congress, just as DACA did, DHS will be given no extra resources to administer Obama's new executive amnesty program. 

So where will Obama get the money to give out work permits to 8 million new illegal immigrants?

The White House should be forced to answer this question. Millions of legal immigrants are waiting on an answer.