tipsheet
Matt Vespa - Oh My: RFK, Jr. Reportedly Compares Vaccinations To The Holocaust
Posted: 4/9/2015 1:30:00 PM EST

Is getting vaccinated a crime like the Holocaust? That’s what Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. reportedly told a crowd before a screening of the film Trace Amounts earlier this week. This comes after the California legislature is considering passing SB 277, which eliminates the “personal belief” clause that allowed parents to not vaccinate their kids. The Golden State saw itself become the epicenter in the renewed war over vaccinations. Whatever (inane) reasons you may have for not vaccinating you kids, can we at least keep the Holocaust out of it (via Sacramento Bee) [emphasis mine]:

Wednesday afternoon will see the first hearing for a bill eliminating the personal belief exemption parents can cite in order to avoid vaccinating their kids. Senate Bill 277 was prompted by soaring exemption rates in some schools districts and outbreaks of long-dormant diseases like measles and whooping cough.

Kennedy has credited the film Trace Amounts with helping to persuade lawmakers to halt a vaccination measure in Oregon. Advocates offered free Trace Amounts tickets to every California lawmaker, visiting offices in the State Capitol on Monday to drop them off. Three rows cordoned off for lawmakers sat empty on Wednesday evening, though some staff members attended.

The overwhelming scientific consensus supports vaccine use and dismisses any serious side effects. Multiple studies have rejected any link between the mercury-containing chemical thimerosal and autism. Nevertheless, vaccine manufacturers have removed thimerosal from nearly all childhood vaccines (some influenza vaccines are the exception) and a California bill further barred thimerosal content.

In light of those facts, SB 277’s author called Kennedy’s continued activism disingenuous.

“I think it is dangerous that he is spreading misinformation about something that’s very important for public health,” Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, a pediatrician, said in an interview. “Autism rates have continued to rise even though we are not using thimerosal in vaccines for children,” he added. “We still haven’t figured out exactly what causes autism. We do know it’s not vaccines.”

But some parents fear information about the hazards of vaccines has been suppressed, largely because of what they call the pharmaceutical industry’s influence over health officials. Many parents believe their children have been damaged by vaccines. When Kennedy asked the crowd of a few hundred viewers how many parents had a child injured by vaccines, numerous hands went up.

“They get the shot, that night they have a fever of a hundred and three, they go to sleep, and three months later their brain is gone,” Kennedy said. “This is a holocaust, what this is doing to our country.”

Christine covered the recent widespread measles outbreak that was traced back to Disneyland in January. It sparked a renewed national dialogue about vaccines, where some still cling to the findings of former Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who first published the link between vaccinations, specifically the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella,) vaccine, and autism. As The New York Times  reported, Wakefield’s work has been thoroughly debunked; the British Medical Journal called the study “fraudulent.” The medical journal that published Wakefield’s findings, Lancet, retracted the piece, and Mr. Wakefield was stripped of his medical license in the UK.

Yet, how can we have a conversation about vaccines if we invoke Holocaust comparisons? It’s just not serious. As you already know, the Holocaust was genocide against the Jewish people perpetuated by the Nazis.

This is the UN definition of the heinous act:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

In other words, vaccinating your kids isn’t the Holocaust–so can we retire this rather obnoxious comparisons?  And that goes for both sides when it comes to pretty much anything.

Vivian Hughbanks  - University of Michigan Will Show American Sniper As Originally Planned
Posted: 4/9/2015 1:00:00 PM EST

The University of Michigan announced late Wednesday that the blockbuster hit American Sniper will be shown as originally planned on Friday, despite a petition by Muslim and Arabic students and student organizations that called it “anti-Muslim propaganda” that celebrated the actions of a “mass killer.”

“It was a mistake to cancel the showing of the movie “American Sniper” on campus as part of a social event for students,” said E. Royster Harper, the university’s vice president for student life, in statement. “The initial decision to cancel the movie was not consistent with the high value the University of Michigan places on freedom of expression and our respect for the right of students to make their own choices in such matters.”

He added that “Paddington” -- the children’s movie that was to replace American Sniper -- would still be shown in an alternate location “to provide our students with additional options that evening.”

The university’s decision came after national uproar about their veto of the movie -- as well as outrage from alumni:

After the showing was cancelled, third-year Law student Rachel Jankowski launched a petition of her own among conservative students on campus, calling for American Sniper to be shown as originally planned. The petition garnered 550 signatures by Wednesday evening. The Michigan Daily reports:

“If the University prevents a movie like this from being shown, it promotes intolerance and stifles dialogue and debate on the subject and goes directly against the atmosphere UMix purports to provide,” the CSG petition states. “As adults at a public university, we should have the option to view this movie if we so choose and have the opportunity to engage on the topics it presents to come to our own conclusions on the subjects.”

The petition calls for the CCI to show the movie as planned but allow students to present their own opinions on the film after its showing. The petition currently has 486 signatures as of Wednesday night.

In an e-mail interview, Jankowski wrote that she was proud of the University's decision to show the movie.

“This is a widely acclaimed, non-controversial movie celebrating an American hero, and it should not be stifled because of an exaggerated worry that it may offend someone,” she wrote. “To see hundreds of students, faculty, and even Coach Harbaugh, rally behind this movie, shows the broad consensus of support that American Sniper enjoys across the entire University of Michigan community.”

Michigan’s football coach Jim Harbaugh had taken to twitter Wednesday in support of the film:

The student who started the protest to cancel the film isn’t happy with the university’s reversal. The College Fix reports:

University of Michigan student Lamees Mekkaoui, who originally spread the letter asking the university to cancel the film, called the rival petition “completely and utterly moot” to The College Fixin an e-mail.

She went on to say that, “No one’s freedom of speech was infringed upon. It was just completely inappropriate for a fun and inclusive UMix event. There is a stark contrast between Paddington and American Sniper.”

A stark contrast indeed.

Christine Rousselle - Oklahoma Senate Passes Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act
Posted: 4/9/2015 12:00:00 PM EST

Oklahoma is about to join Kansas and become the second state to pass a bill banning the dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion technique. The Oklahoma Senate voted yesterday on the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act as well as a bill that required a 72-hour waiting period for an abortion.

D&E abortions are performed in the second trimester of pregnancy, when the fetus is between the age of 12 and 24 weeks. It consists of removing pieces of the fetus with forceps.

It is expected that Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) will sign the bills. Oklahoma previously had a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion could be performed.

South Carolina and Missouri are also considering bills to ban D&E abortions in their states.

Guy Benson - Has the Obama Administration Given Up on Preventing a Nuclear-Armed Iran?
Posted: 4/9/2015 11:00:00 AM EST

President Obama has routinely and strongly affirmed his policy on the comprehensive unacceptability of Iran's regime obtaining nuclear weapons. He's articulated his unambiguous stance on the matter over and over again, including in the 2012 State of the Union Address. Let him be clear:

"Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal."

This week, following the announcement of a controversial nuclear framework forged with Iranian negotiators (and embraced across Iran's ruling class), Obama seems to be conceding the eventuality of a nuclear-armed Iran.  This deal, he told NPR, would merely forestall that outcome by 13 years or so -- at which point, Iran as a threshold nuclear state would be somebody else's problem:

Iran could have the capabilities to build a nuclear bomb almost immediately after the first 13 years of the emerging nuclear deal, President Barack Obama acknowledged on Tuesday...Pushing back on criticism that the deal allows Iran to keep enriching uranium, Obama told NPR News that enrichment isn't the prime concern because Iran will be capped for a decade at 300 kilograms — not enough to convert to a stockpile of weapons-grade material. "What is a more relevant fear would be that in Year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point, the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero," Obama said.

This confirms the exact argument Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been urgently advancing.  State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf tried to clean up after the president's mess.  It did not go well:

That quote I think that people are referring to — I think his words were a little mixed up there — but what he was referring to was a scenario in which there was no deal. And if you go back and look at the transcript I know it’s a little confusing — I spoke to the folks at the White House and read it a few times — it’s my understanding that he was referring to — even though it was a little muddled in the words — to a scenario in which there was no deal ...it was more of a hypothetical, ‘well look, without a deal, this is what could possibly happen.’ He was not indicating what would happen under an agreement in those years.

Embarrassing. Obama was clearly discussing the possible, if not likely, aftermath of the deal that's on the table. His words were not "mixed up" or "muddled." And he was not referring to the consequences of failing to reach an accord.  Jim Geragthy sees a paradigm shift in which the Obama administration and liberal foreign policy establishment is abandoning the muscular pledge to do whatever it takes to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran's grasp, and pre-emptively accepting a nuclear Iran as a fact of life:

This is the nightmare scenario, the culmination of more than a decade of progressives and foreign-policy wonks convincing themselves that Iran isn’t really what it appears to be, and that a long, lasting peace can be reached with apocalyptic mullahs with a long history of using terrorism to achieve their goals. The foreign-policy “smart set” averts their eyes from Iranian leaders’ rambling about magical green auras and world leaders not blinking in their presence, chanting “Death to America!” and Israel every Friday, pledging to wipe other countries off the map, and the Iranian regime using children to clear minefields.

They're moving from the rhetoric of hardline prevention to a posture of 'delay and contain'.  And that new policy of containment would have to take into account the harrowing prospect of a likely arms race in the Middle East, precipitated by Iran's inexorable nuclear march.  Obama has moved the goalposts even farther than previously believed.  I'll leave you with the Wall Street Journal's  Bret Stephens chatting with Hugh Hewitt about the deal, and swatting down the Obama line that his solution is the only responsible alternative:

HH: Now critics of the critics of the so-called deal say that we are without alternatives, to which you respond what, Bret Stephens?

BS: Well, of course we’re with alternatives. I mean, this is one of the most staggering comments I’ve ever heard. We’re without alternatives only if you accept that there’s no such thing as coercive diplomacy, only if you accept that John Kerry is the most brilliant negotiator the world has ever seen since Mark Cuban or Bismarck. I don’t accept those propositions. Only if you accept that Iran is the strong, is a superpower and America is a weakling that must accept, basically, whatever is handed to it, that’s just completely false. We actually were in a very strong position before the interim agreement in late 2013, because the Iranian economy was moving into freefall, as the President himself says. It was precisely on account of these sanctions that we were able to move Iran to the table. So what the extension, and in fact the strengthening of the sanctions have made the Iranians more pliable, not less, in terms of these negotiations. You know, people say we had sort of maxed out on sanctions, but that’s actually the furthest thing from the truth. We were only getting started in terms of the sanctions, in terms of the ways we could have damaged the Iranian economy, and basically said to them you can have an economy or you can have a bomb. But you can’t have both. We abandoned that leverage back in November, 2013, which is why I denounced the joint, the interim agreement. And now we find ourselves with this terrible deal. If you had, again, the kind of sanctions backed by a realistic threat of military force, then we could have had a much, much stronger deal that would not have allowed them to keep the Fordow facility open, that would not have allowed them to maintain such a robust enrichment capability, that would have insisted on snap, anytime, anywhere, no notice inspections. These are the sorts, that’s the sort of leverage we could have exerted if Obama hadn’t just given it up as the first order of business.

HH: Now I want to talk specifically, because I think you’re right. You have to confront the best argument of the other side in order to be persuasive. Their best argument is that we are suggesting military force, to which I respond yes. The tanker war by Reagan, President Clinton’s Desert Fox campaign against Saddam, are examples of military force of a limited duration that would be applicable in this situation. Am I wrong, Bret Stephens, that those are far short of the sort of war that people say we are suggesting?

BS: Yeah, I mean, this is the classic Obama method, which is there is my reasonable, sound, decent alternative that perhaps has a few small flaws on the edges, and there’s your way, which is essentially nuclear Armageddon, and that’s just, it’s just a, it’s a cheap way of arguing that should be beneath any president of the United States, especially presumably one who is sort of trying to win over some members of his loyal opposition. But it’s also, strictly speaking, absolutely false. There are all kinds of military actions that are well, well, well short of another Iraq war.

In 2012, Obama said he was "determined" to prevent Iran from achieving its dangerous nuclear objectives, and promised to use every tool at his disposal to do so.  Now he's talking about Iran becoming a threshold nuclear state just as soon as his weak deal begins to expire. Given this extraordinary "evolution," how can he be trusted to make the tough, necessary decisions to protect America and her allies?

Vivian Hughbanks  - NSA Spy Cam Blockers and Hipster "Ready for Hillary" Mason Jars -- Crazy Swag Available for 2016
Posted: 4/9/2015 10:00:00 AM EST

Worried the NSA might be spying on you through your webcam? Are you ready to slip into festive flip flops and stand with Rand? Does your cat needs a collar pledging support for Hillary Clinton? Or are you looking for new apparel for your newborn?

2016 Campaigns and PAC stores are already here with ridiculous swag to meet your every need.

Need to celebrate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’s candidacy announcement? Get yourself “Rand on a Stick.”

“Sure, there are a lot of things you can get on a stick, but can you get the next leader of the free world on a stick? Huh?” the store website quips.

If your eyes need a check, Paul, an ophthalmologist, has a personalized eye chart for your wall.

“We need a president who can see clearly, so why not start with one that knows vision and sight better than any other candidate?” the product description asks.

Along with the usual sweatshirts, bumper stickers and signs, Paul’s store offers giant birthday cards, customized cornhole game boxes, flip flops -- and even “Stand with Rand” car mats.

“Now you can Stand with Rand even when you're sitting in your car,” the site says.

And with a nod to Paul’s 2013 filibuster that brought him to fame, the store sells “Don’t Drone Me, Bro” t-shirts.

Also, MacBook skins featuring a photo of Paul and even “conservative” Beats headphone skins are available. And you never know if the NSA might be spying on you -- which is why Paul’s store offers “NSA spy cam blockers.”

“That little front facing camera on your laptop or tablet can be a window for the world to see you - whether you know it or not!” the site says. “Stop hackers and the NSA with this simple camera blocker.”

For $1,000, customers can get a bound copy of the U.S. constitution, signed by Paul.

“It's size is perfect for comfortable carrying in the pocket of a sport coat, a purse, laptop bag or in the back pocket of some worn out jeans,” the site says of the Constitution book.

Strapped for cash? No worries. Paul's store takes Bitcoin.

Not to be outdone by Paul, the “Ready for Hillary” PAC already has a store up and running, offering essential items like “Lucky Dog” hoodies and leashes and "I'm Ready" ornaments.

The PAC also sells “Born Ready For Hillary” onesies and “First Laddie Bill” buttons.

If you’re throwing a party, Hillary’s got your back, with “Hillary Rocks!” old fashioned glasses, “Raise a Toast!” Ready for Hillary champagne flutes, and hipster “Quench Your Thirst Ready For Hillary Mason Jars.”

For just $15, you can purchase “‘H’ostest With The Mostest” cocktail napkins, with sayings from the former Secretary of State such as: “I really do hope that we have a woman president in my lifetime,” “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights,” and “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who became first to announce his candidacy for president in 2016 last month, has yet to set up a campaign store.

The New York Times’ Nick Corasaniti writes that Cruz has a "Swag Problem":

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has addressed standing-room-only, town hall-style meetings throughout his recent campaign sweep through Iowa. But, despite the crowds and enthusiasm, none of the events have completely felt like a campaign event. Something was missing.

Campaign signs. Flags. Bunting. Anything.

A casualty of an early announcement that he’s running for president, the Cruz campaign is severely lacking in swag.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush already has a store -- just selling the usual t-shirts, bumper stickers, coffee mugs and iPhone cases.

As of yet, Clinton has not officially announced her candidacy.

On Wednesday, Paul’s campaign announced it had raised a first $1 million from online campaign contributions.

The 2016 games have begun. May the best swag win.

Katie Pavlich - The Surgeon General Wants to Talk to You About...Climate Change
Posted: 4/9/2015 10:00:00 AM EST

President Obama's newly minted Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, wants to have a talk with the country about climate change. From a White House email sent out last night: 

Hi, everyone --

I'm the Surgeon General of the United States -- which means it's my job to keep America healthy by providing you with the best scientific information available about your health.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with President Obama, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and health care professionals to discuss climate change. We talked about the impact of climate change on public health and the importance of prevention.

Clearly, we all have a stake in our national and global health. Every single one of us stands to benefit from a public health system that is focused on wellness and prevention -- not one that simply focuses on treating sickness and disease.

So as part of National Public Health Week, I'm taking your questions. If you're on Twitter, and you've got a question about the impact of climate change on health -- or any other public health topic -- shoot it my way using the hashtag #AskTheSurgeonGeneral.

I'll be answering your questions via video throughout the afternoon tomorrow from my Twitter account, @Surgeon_General.

Every one of us wants to do what we can to protect the health of our families, including the health of our grandchildren and future generations. That starts with being informed about how we can keep ourselves, and one another, healthy -- particularly in the face of a changing climate.

I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say.

Stay healthy, America.

VM

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy
@Surgeon_General
During an interview with CNN yesterday, President Obama made the connection between public health and climate change (what he should have said was pollution, there's a big difference).

"There are a whole host of public health impacts that are going to hit home, so we've got to do better in protecting vulnerable Americans," Obama said "Ultimately, though, all of our families are going to be vulnerable. You can't cordon yourself off from air or climate." 

Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was pressed by a reporter during the daily briefing about whether the administration believes vegetarian and vegan diets are helpful to combating climate change. Earnest said he knew little about those types of diets, but said climate change is a top concern of the president.

Cortney O'Brien - Rand: The Press Should Ask Dems if it’s OK to Kill Babies in the Womb
Posted: 4/9/2015 9:30:00 AM EST

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is fed up with being cornered on questions about abortion. So now, he’s now trying to turn the tables.

A press conference in New Hampshire Wednesday managed to bristle the newly tinted 2016 candidate. When a reporter asked Paul about a recent Associated Press report that suggested he had avoided answering questions about abortion, he responded in frustration, suggesting the media ask Democrats this question instead:

"Why don't you ask the DNC, 'Is it OK to kill a seven-pound baby in the uterus?'" 

"You go back and you ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz if she's okay with killing a seven-pound baby that is just not yet born yet. Ask her when life begins, and you ask Debbie when she's willing to protect life," he said. "When you get an answer from Debbie, come back to me."

He didn't have to wait long. 

"Here's an answer," she said in an emailed statement. "I support letting women and their doctors make this decision without government getting involved. Period. End of story. Now your turn, Senator Paul."

CNN's Wolf Blitzer read Wasserman Schultz's statement to Paul later that afternoon, to which Paul offered a translation:

"Sounds like her answer is yes, that she's okay with killing a seven-pound baby."

The RNC spoke on behalf of Americans who cherish unborn life when they responded to the DNC's extremist views:

"Today, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz made clear her extreme position on the issue of life,” said RNC Press Secretary Allison Moore. “It’s disturbing to know that the Chairwoman of the DNC supports zero protections for the life of an unborn child, not even in the final days before birth. We should be willing to protect the innocent. Do her fellow Democrats share their party chair's position, which is out-of-step with the majority of American women?"

In her hasty statement, Wasserman Schultz also alluded to Paul's testy on air encounter with CNBC's Kelly Evans, saying, "I'd appreciate it if you could respond without 'shushing' me."

Paul could only laugh at her immaturity. I'm sure he's not the only one.

Lest we forget, Wasserman Schultz also once claimed Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) was giving women the 'back of his hand,' essentially comparing his record with physical abuse. Maybe the DNC chair should stop going through life with such a misogynistic lens before she really embarrasses herself. (Too late.)

While he could have just dismissed the DNC's chair's full statement, Paul went on to explain why she was wrong. The doctor explained to Blitzer that even his pro-choice friends would have an issue with seven, eight, and nine pound babies being killed in the womb.

"Debbie's position, which I guess is the Democrat Party's position, that all the way up until birth would be fine. I think most pro-choice people would be a little uncomfortable with. I really think that she's got some explaining to do.

Yet, the media has failed to make Democrats explain themselves when it comes to their views on abortion. Remember that time Diane Sawyer asked Hillary Clinton if an unborn baby was a human being that deserved natural born rights? Yeah, me neither. The Big Three are too busy trying to convince viewers Republicans are waging a 'war on women.' They are always asking about the 'rape or incest' exceptions and just waiting for conservatives to slip up. Or, they try to trap them with questions about birth control. In the 2012 presidential primary debate season, ABC's George Stephanopoulous asked this bizarre question to the Republican candidates: "Do states have a right to ban contraception?" Romney was dumbfounded by the random inquiry. Save some of that grilling for the Democratic primaries, George.

It's time for pro-abortion Democrats to try and defend their defenseless opinions about the rights of unborn babies. Here are just a couple common sense inquiries journalists should raise this election season:

Once we get these answers, Americans will truly know which political party owns the radical views on abortion.


Matt Vespa - Al-Shabab Is Not A 'Dying' Branch Of Al-Qaeda
Posted: 4/8/2015 9:30:00 PM EST

They once held one of the largest swaths of territory for al-Qaeda, roughly the size of Denmark, in Somalia. Now, in recent years, Al-Shabab finds itself hammered by the Obama administration and the African Union. Yet, it’s a franchise that isn’t dying. According to The New York Times, while Shabab has lost thousands of men, their ports, cities, and most of their territory, they learned to adapt; we saw their latest manifestation in the horrific shooting at the Garissa University College last week. Over 140 students, mostly Christians, were killed. Right now, experts believe Shabab’s mass killings are aimed to show their terrorist colleagues that they’re still relevant. Reportedly, ISIS and Shabab are fighting over new recruits. What is certain is that the strategy to defeat them isn’t working against an expert guerilla force that often lives off the land while traveling from village to village (via NYT):

“I call it the dumbing down of terrorism,” said Matt Bryden, a researcher in Nairobi who has been working on Somalia for more than 20 years. “They keep it simple. They’re lightly armed, highly disciplined and relatively well trained.”

“They’ve definitely lost some of their major revenue flows,” he added. “But they’ve managed to survive a lean season.”

Despite a major international military effort in recent years to retake Somalia and push the Shabab out of their strongholds, especially ports on the Somali coast, Shabab fighters are proving to be frighteningly resilient. As the Shabab have shown with their latest attacks, it is not all about territory. Analysts say they lead a grueling existence, moving constantly from threadbare village to threadbare village, living off the land in one of the poorest lands on earth. All the theories about how to stop them do not seem to be working.

In conventional military terms, the Shabab are losing. They have been routed from many areas, and are no longer able to rake in millions of dollars by shipping out mountains of charcoal or importing cars, as they did just a few years ago. Even in the small towns in Somalia they still control, Shabab fighters are not safe. They are relentlessly hunted — from above.

Their revered leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was killed last year in an American airstrike, and other Shabab agents have been killed by drones.

The American government has helped pay for an African Union stabilization force in Somalia, investing nearly $1 billion in this overall strategy. But Shabab attacks, as shown by the university massacre in Kenya, continue to grow in scope and ambition, raising the question: How exactly can they be stopped?

“It’s not an easy game,” said Stig Jarle Hansen, a Norwegian professor who has written a book about the Shabab. “You have to have a people-centric strategy. You have to bring security to the villages in Somalia and stop corruption within the Kenyan security services. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard over the past five or six years, ‘The Shabab is dying, the Shabab is dying.’

“The Shabab is not dying,” he said. “Case closed.”

From 2007-10, the Shabab steadily tightened their grip on Somalia, at one point controlling more territory than any other Al Qaeda franchise — a chunk the size of Denmark.

But Shabab commanders made the mistake of hubris, thinking they could defeat a much larger, better-armed African Union force in conventional warfare.

The Shabab lost hundreds of fighters in street battles in Mogadishu, the capital, in 2010. Many more defected. Analysts estimate that their army has dwindled to 3,000 fighters, at most, from about 7,000.

A lof of their campaigns killed scores of Muslims, which drew the ire from al-Qaeda’s central command. So, they changed tactics, hitting the symbols of economic prosperity in Kenya, while letting Muslims go in order to kill only non-Muslims. Lastly, the appalling shooting at Garissa proves another thing: poverty generally doesn’t create terrorists. One of the gunmen at Garissa was the son of a local chieftain:

The countless civilians killed in Somalia were almost all Muslim (the country is almost exclusively Muslim), and the central leadership of Al Qaeda scolded the Shabab for slaughtering so many Muslims.

So the Shabab did something they have always been good at: They changed. Now Shabab fighters sort their victims at gunpoint. They let Muslims go and tell Christians to lie down, eyes closed.

At the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya, they asked shoppers questions about Islam to separate Muslims from non-Muslims. They did it again in the attacks at the Mandera quarry, shooting many Christian workers in the back of the head, at close range. And last week the Shabab spared Muslim students — most of the students at Garissa University College, where they struck, were from other parts of Kenya, the majority Christian.

Bronwyn Bruton, deputy director of the Africa Center of the Atlantic Council, a research institute in Washington, said she suspected the Shabab were “beginning to play with class distinctions.”

“Westgate and, to a lesser extent, Garissa University College are both enclaves of privilege in a country where youths, especially Muslim youths, are frustrated by the lack of economic opportunity,” she said. “Eventually, Shabab is going to have to find a way to connect with non-Somali Muslims.”

Mr. Bryden, the Nairobi researcher, said that the Shabab had made enormous strides in recruiting youths in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Djibouti, and that many hardly fit the stereotype of marginalized or poor recruits.

On Sunday, Kenyan officials said that one of the gunmen from the attack on the university was a young, bright, privileged Kenyan who wore $200 suits and whose father was a local chief.

“The Shabab is becoming more decentralized,” Mr. Bryden said. “That makes it more resilient to decapitation strikes.”

Given the group’s evolution, the Obama administration fears al-Shabab may launch an attack on American soil.

Daniel Doherty - Reid Still Falsely Claiming Mitt Romney Never Released His Tax Returns
Posted: 4/8/2015 7:00:00 PM EST

This is an astonishing interview. Truly. The relevant bit is at the 1:10 mark:

"I've really happy to respond to this because it has been blown way out of proportion, but blown my way. Mitt Romney, during the time he was running for president, refused to give us his tax returns...of course he paid taxes, what he didn't do is let us see his tax returns."

This is utter baloney. Mitt Romney did release his tax returns during the 2012 campaign, which showed he was both (a) an upstanding citizen and (b) incredibly charitable and kind with his own money. In fact, he released over two decades worth of tax returns. As Guy summarized at the time: “The Romneys owed and paid state and federal income taxes every single year stretching back to at least 1990.” And yet, Reid baldly claimed this week that the former Republican presidential nominee “refused to show the American people his tax returns.” Huh?

This is a lie. How the interviewer, Jorge Ramos, didn’t know this and therefore missed an opportunity to call Reid out for his dishonest tactics is beyond me. He should have.

Given Sen. Reid’s persona and personality, however, I never expected him to apologize for smearing the one-time GOP presidential nominee. But his justification for why he peddled these statements, for which he offered zero evidence and expressed zero remorse, is not even remotely true. Amazing.

Vivian Hughbanks  - Ridiculous: University of Michigan Cancels "Dangerous" and "Offensive" American Sniper Showing
Posted: 4/8/2015 6:00:00 PM EST

The University of Michigan nixed a screening of American Sniper after some 300 students protested the film as “anti-Muslim” and celebratory of a “mass killer.”

letter of protest was circulated via GoogleDocs to collect signatures from “Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) and Muslim Students on Campus.”

“By showing this movie,” the letter reads, “we feel that our university is tolerating dangerous anti-Muslim and anti-MENA propaganda… Watching this movie is provocative and unsafe to MENA and Muslim students who are too often reminded of how little the media and world values their lives.”

Citing the Chapel Hill shooting as evidence of “increasingly common” hate crimes that “create an unsafe space” and “does not allow for positive dialogue,” the letter calls the American Sniper hero Chris Kyle a “mass killer,” and a “racist who took a disturbing stance on murdering Iraqi civilians.”

University of Michigan’s student newspaper The Michigan Daily reports:

[Lamees] Mekkaoui, who is a member of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality and the Middle Eastern and Arab Network on campus, said she found the choice of film disconcerting because of its depictions of the Iraq War and residents of the Middle Eastern and North African region.

“As a student who identifies as an Arab and Middle Eastern student, I feel that ‘American Sniper’ condones a lot of anti-Middle Eastern and North African propaganda,” Mekkaoui said.

She added that she felt the film was released at a time when negative attitudes toward Middle Eastern and Northern African groups were at a peak.

“It was released at a time when these anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-Middle Eastern (and) North African hate crimes were already skyrocketing and this movie only contributed to that,” he [sic] said.

The campus event where the film was to be shown, called “Best of UMix” will feature Build-A-Bear, massages, bingo, karaoke, an Asian food buffet, inflatable laser tag, and now, instead, a showing of 'Paddington' -- a movie chronicling the adventures of a stuffed bear.

The University’s Center for Campus Involvement tweeted earlier today:

The College Fix reports that not all students were pleased with Campus Involvement’s decision:

“It would be nice to see the university … take a stand against outrageous claims of ‘student exclusion,'” University of Michigan sophomore Jason Weaver told The College Fix. “The film American Sniper in no way creates student exclusion any more than Saving Private Ryan. Both show American soldiers at war, the atrocities of war, and the costs of war, yet I’m sure Saving Private Ryan would not illicit the same response. Just because the enemy in American Sniper shares ethnicity with students on campus does not mean they are conflated as the enemy any more than a German student should be conflated with Nazism.”

The school’s Young America’s Foundation chapter is partnering with Breitbart to show the film.

UPDATE: Looks like the university finally caved: