Jan 19

Today’s News 19th January 2018

  • Army Major: "We're Killing These Kids, We're Breaking The Army!"

    Authored by Major Danny Sjursen via TheAmericanConservative.com,

    Our soldiers are still redeploying at a frenetic pace that cannot keep up with reality – and the cracks are showing…

     

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    I’ll admit I was taken aback. This senior officer and mentor – with nearly 28 years of military service – wasn’t one for hyperbole. No, he believed what he was saying to me just then.

    “We’re killing these kids, we’re breaking the army!” he exclaimed.

    He went on to explain the competing requirements for standard, conventional army units – to say nothing of the overstretched Special Forces – in 2018: balancing Russia in Eastern Europe, deterrence rotations in South Korea, advise and assist missions in Africa. Add to that deployments to the usual hotspots in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

    He was genuinely concerned about the physical and emotional toll on the active-duty force, pushed to its limits by 17 years of perpetual combat. After all, with high military suicide rates now labeled the “new normal,” and a recent succession of accidental training deaths, it seems reasonable to wonder whether we are, indeed, “killing [our] kids.”

    The overall effects of this rapid operations tempo on morale and readiness are difficult to measure in a disciplined, professional, all-volunteer military such as the one the United States possesses. What we do know is that despite former president Obama’s ongoing promises that “the tide of war is receding” and that America could finally “start nation-building at home,” nothing of the sort occurred then, or is now, under President Trump. Though the U.S. military (thankfully) no longer maintains six-figure troop counts in either Iraq or Afghanistan, American soldiers are still there, as well as serving in 70 percent of the world’s countries in one capacity or another in what has become a “generational war.” America’s troops are still being killed, though in admittedly fewer numbers. Nevertheless, U.S. servicemen continued to die in combat in several countries in 2017, including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Niger.

    After major drawdowns in Iraq (2011) and Afghanistan (2014), many soldiers, myself included, looked forward to longer “dwell time” at home stations and, just maybe, something resembling peace and even normalcy.

    It was not to be. Aside from deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, conventional U.S. Army brigades currently support regular overseas rotations to Kuwait, South Korea, and Eastern Europe. To use just one example, the 1st Armored Division webpage currently boasts that the division has soldiers supporting 20 missions on five continents. Of my three former classmates and colleagues in the West Point History Department (2014-2016), two are currently deployed: one in Romania, another to the ubiquitous Mid-East region. That’s just about as busy as we all were back in the bad old days of 2006-2007.

    The military – and the Army in particular – brought some of this upon itself. As conventional ground combat elements (of which the Army owns the preponderance) withdrew from Iraq and Afghanistan, and President Obama signaled a strategic pivot to Asia, U.S. Army leaders became understandably concerned. The Asia pivot would, logically, lean more heavily on the Air Force and Navy—especially when new military doctrine took the (exclusive) name “Air-Sea Battle.” As the economy struggled and budgets tightened, the various service chiefs fought to convince Congress and administration kingmakers of their continued “relevance.” If the Army didn’t appear busy—engaged in a countless number of vital missions—well, it’d be hard to justify its current budget.

    It should come as no surprise that around this time the Army touted the versatility of its Regionally Aligned Forces (RAF) brigades—units trained and tailored to support an array of missions for specific geographic combatant commanders. Army leaders also emphasized threats from Russia and North Korea and the need for deterrent brigades on the ground in those theaters. And, with Special Operations Command under strain, the Army also provided six new Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs) to carry some of the advise-and-assist workload around the globe. This is not to say that Army leaders fabricated threats or invented missions. It’s all far more complex. Rather, brutal budget squabbles on Capitol Hill combined with increasingly politicized foreign policy threat assessments created an atmosphere where demonstrating “relevance” and “busyness” presented the only sure path to funding at the rates to which the various services had become accustomed.

    Relevance is a double-edged sword—well-justified budgets require a frenzied operational pace and an overwrought Army.

    Some troopers, at least, appear fed up with the scope and pace of deployments in year 18 of the conflict formerly known as the “war on terror.” No one is publicly sounding the alarm, but there are signals—if you know where to look. When Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise holiday season visit to Kabul and publicly praised U.S. forces in Afghanistan, one observer described the crowd as “subdued,” and notedseveral troops stood with their arms crossed or their hands folded behind their backs and listened, but did not applaud.” Polls also demonstrate that although the current president is slightly more popular among the military than the general public, among officers Trump counts only a 30 percent approval rate. More concerning are the February 2017 polls indicating that military service member satisfaction has dropped 50 percent since 2009, due in part, one assumes, to never-ending deployments and time spent away from families. And, among the ever-strained Special Operations forces, reports indicate that mental distress and suicide are again on the rise.

    As it stands, the system just about holds together – no doubt due to the determination of leaders and dutiful sacrifice of soldiers – but one wonders whether the active component force could truly weather even one major regional crisis. Something, it seems, would have to give – a drawdown in other missions, compressed training schedules, or—heaven forbid!—calling up the reserves, something American politicians certainly wish to avoid.

    The all-volunteer force was always a devil’s bargain: by cutting out the citizenry in the form of a draft out of the equation, presidents, pols, and military leadership could move soldiers around the chessboard with fewer checks on their authority and the decision-making process.

    That’s all well and good, until the system cracks. The president’s modest troop escalations in Afghanistan and Iraq, if combined with a (ever more likely) shooting war in Korea, could be just the thing to “break” the professional, volunteer military.

    At that point Americans would have some tough decisions to make: ante up some cash and bodies to keep the U.S. military on top, or, just maybe, do less. Let’s hope it never comes to that. In the meantime, count on Congress and the American people to cover their eyes and let the “war on terror’s” third straight president run its cherished heroes into the ground.

    What a way to say “thanks for your service!”

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    Major Danny Sjursen is a U.S. Army officer and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge

  • The State Of 'Freedom' Worldwide (According To Democratic Think-Tanks)

    Democratic watchdog organization Freedom House has released its annual ranking of the world’s most free and the world’s most suppressed nations. For the twelfth year in a row, global freedom has been found to have declined.

    As Staista’s Martin Armstrong notes, 71 countries experienced a decline in freedom with only 35 making a move in the right direction. Of the 195 countries assessed in 2017, 45 percent were rated as ‘free’, 30 percent as ‘partly free’, and 25 percent as ‘not free’.

    Infographic: The State of Freedom Worldwide | Statista

    You will find more statistics at Statista

    The United States, while still classed as ‘free’, saw a year-on.year decrease in its score, from 89/100 in 2016 to 86/100.

    According to Freedom House, this is mainly due to a fall in its political rights, citing “growing evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election”, “violations of basic ethical standards by the new administration” and “a reduction in government transparency” as key factors.

    One wonders what a Republican Think Tank would ‘think’?

  • Is San Francisco Too Expensive For "San Francisco"-Based Startups?

    By Elissa Maercklein of Priceonomics

    Silicon Valley – the promised land of innovation, venture capital, and exorbitant costs of living. And many of the most valuable companies from the region, such as Square, Stripe, Airbnb, Uber are all based in the city of San Francisco.

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    Increasingly, however, it’s hard for startups to compete in the market for talent in the infamously expensive city of San Francisco.

    In March 2017, a blog post by Zapier CEO, Wade Foster, announced they would offer a $10,000 “De-Location Package” to employees that would move out of San Francisco. Fintech startup Varo Money announced in July that they plan to move their headquarters from San Francisco to Salt Lake City, citing high home prices among other reasons.

    We decided to analyze whether startups based in San Francisco actually had offices elsewhere as well. Are companies located in the city for fundraising and marketing purposes, but also creating offices in other cities and countries? Is this phenomenon limited later stage companies only or are early stage companies saving costs this way too?

    We took a look at the startups headquartered in San Francisco to determine if and when they expand to locations in other regions and where those regions are. Specifically, we pulled data on the 903 companies headquartered in San Francisco that have more than $5 million in funding from our Craft dataset of companies and their locations. 

    We found that 38% of San Francisco tech companies companies had locations elsewhere – with New York as the top U.S. city for an additional location and the U.K. as the top country for an additional location. Even for early stage startups (defined as raising $5-10MM in this analysis), 21% of San Francisco companies also had offices elsewhere. 

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    For context, the table below shows the distribution of these startups in buckets based on total funding that we will use for this analysis.

    As one might expect, there are far more startups in SF with less than $50 million in funding than there are those with more than $500 million in funding. While many startups aspire to be the next Uber or Airbnb, the distribution is heavily skewed towards those with lower amounts of funding.

     

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    Data source: Craft

    To begin, we analyzed the distribution of companies that have solely their San Francisco location and those that have office locations outside of San Francisco. Of the 903 companies that fit our criteria, 339 startups (roughly 38%) have locations outside of San Francisco, which means that 564 of companies only have their primary SF office. See the companies with locations outside of San Francisco here.

    We then categorized companies by funding amount to see if there is a relationship between the amount of funding a startup has received and whether they have expanded to office locations outside of San Francisco. Our hypothesis was that companies with more funding have more capabilities to expand into new and potentially lower cost locations but we wanted to see if smaller, earlier-stage companies also had offices elsewhere. The graphical display of these two distributions clearly show that as the funding amount increases, the percentage of companies that have office locations outside of San Francisco increases, while the inverse (companies with only their San Francisco location) decreases.

     

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    Data source: Craft

    The graph below shows a clear trend that companies with higher amounts of funding have locations outside of their primary headquarters in San Francisco. As companies grow, they definitely have offices outside of San Francisco but it’s important to note here that even a significant portion of smaller companies have locations elsewhere.

     

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    Data source: Craft

     

    Taking the analysis one step deeper, we also took a look at the percentage of companies with locations outside the United States, in addition to those with locations just outside of San Francisco. Out of the 903 startups in our dataset, there are 219 (roughly 24%) of companies with locations outside of the US, compared to 38% that just have locations outside of San Francisco.

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    Data source: Craft

    Next, we analyzed what the top cities in the United States where these companies have additional locations. The table below shows the top 10 cities where startups headquartered in San Francisco have additional locations. New York tops the list with 128 companies that have New York locations.

     

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    Data source: Craft

    Finally, we did a similar analysis to see what countries are most popular for startups to have additional locations. The table below shows the top 10 countries where startups headquartered in San Francisco have expanded to for international office locations. The U.K. tops the list with 105 companies from our dataset that have international United Kingdom locations, which represents roughly 48% of our subset of companies that have international locations. Also of note is that three of the top four countries are English-speaking countries

     

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    Data source: Craft

    Key takeaways:

    • 38% of startups headquartered in San Francisco with more than $5 million in funding have an additional location outside of San Francisco
    • Companies with higher amounts of funding have, in general, office locations outside of their primary headquarters in San Francisco; however, a significant portion of smaller companies have locations elsewhere, as well.
    • The most popular US city for SF startups to have an additional location is in New York City. The most popular country for SF startups to have an additional international location is the United Kingdom.

  • Why Are Millennials Eating Toxic Tide-Pods?

    A new internet meme called ‘The Tide Pod Challenge‘ has circulated social media channels with the millennial generation taking some severe risks to their health. In a period of wage stagnation and a job environment that is deteriorating, the hopeless millennials have resorted to stupid social media challenges in the hopes of gaining fame, and perhaps the chance for a better life. As we know, that is never the case, unless a brilliant millennial monetize the content.

     

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    Nevertheless, in the first 15-days of the new year, as millennials are on break from overpriced universities, poison control centers across the country have received 39 calls of teens poisoning themselves after they ate the highly toxic laundry pod.

    On Tuesday, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) released a statement warning Americans about the “potential poison exposure to single-load laundry packets.”

    “The ‘laundry packet challenge’ is neither funny nor without serious health implications,” said Stephen Kaminski, JD, AAPCC’s CEO and Executive Director.

    “The intentional misuse of these products poses a real threat to the health of individuals. We have seen a large spike in single-load laundry packet exposures among teenagers since these videos have been uploaded,” Kaminski added.

    The challenge starts with a dumb millennial bitting into a brightly colored pod of death from tide and chewing the packet until they foam from the mouth. Yes, that is the challenge in its entirety…

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    Entertaining commentary from Jay Uchiha, “we three seconds into the new year and people already doing dumb shit.”

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    More stupid millennials poisoning themselves with ‘The Tide Pod Challenge’…

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    Poison control centers across the country have handled over 50,000 calls about liquid laundry packet exposures over the past five years. While a majority of the exposures are from unintentional misuse by children under the age of five, the recent trend of 13- to 19-year-olds have been responsible for more than 130 intentional exposures since 2016, according to the (AAPCC).

    “Everyone needs to be aware of the dangers of swallowing the contents of a single-load laundry packet. Only use the packets for their intended use and be sure to store them up and away,” said Kaminski.

    Consumer Reports warns about the ‘The Tide Pod Challenge.’ Their tweet outlines how the challenge may seem like a joke, but ingesting the dangerous chemicals could be deadly.

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    In a statement from Tide’s parent company, Procter & Gamble, representative Petra Renck wrote, “Nothing is more important to us than the safety of people who use our products. We are deeply concerned about conversations related to intentional and improper use of liquid laundry pacs and have been working with leading social media networks to remove harmful content that is not consistent with their policies.

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    Mention of eating Tide pods appeared as early as 2015, when satirical website The Onion published a column comparing them to candy. Then in March 2017, a video by College Humor titled Don’t Eat the Laundry Pods brought it back to the surface, featuring college students who were tempted to eat the pods. As of Jan 16, the video has more than three million views,” said Channel News Asia.

  • Thinking The Unthinkable: Nuclear War With North Korea

    Authored by Richard Bitzinger via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

    Is the Trump administration prepping the American people – indeed, the world – for a war against North Korea? It certainly seems so. US President Donald Trump is constantly needling North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, comparing the size of their respective “nuclear buttons,” while during a speech to the United Nations in September he promised to “totally destroy North Korea” if it was believed to be a threat to the United States.

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    Trump’s generals – the only other people he seems to trust, outside of his immediate family – appear to be playing along. The head of the US Marine Corps told his troops that “there’s a war coming.” H R McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, also seems pumped up for conflict. According to recent articles, McMaster feels that traditional deterrence will not work on Kim, and that it is “almost impossible to overstate the threat from a nuclear-armed North Korea.”

    In apparent response, the US military seems to be gradually yielding to the idea of war with North Korea. A recent New York Times article ominously suggested that the military is quietly preparing for “a last resort: war with North Korea.” US forces are practicing quick-reaction mobilizations and air-assault exercises, sending Special Operations forces to South Korea, and deploying additional bombers, including B-2s, to Guam.

    The US military insists that it just wants to be prepared for any contingency. However, every day it seems more and more conceivable that a US-North Korean war could break out.

    Suppose they gave a war…

    Admittedly, there is a wide gap between conceiving a war with North Korea and actually undertaking one – and thank goodness for that. However, conceptualizations are often the first step toward action, and this raises two big concerns.

    The first worry, of course, is that the Trump administration could simply talk itself into a war. Saber-rattling and mobilizations can have the effect of self-fulfilling prophecy. The more one talks about war, the more it seems inevitable. This sense of inevitability, of being destinedto fight, was one of the more powerful factors in the outbreak of World War I. This fore-ordainment also helped spark the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq war.

    More important, however, the Trump administration seems to have no idea how it should and could fight a war against North Korea. The United States has never engaged in an open and direct conflict with a nuclear-armed power. How does it fight such a war without setting off a nuclear response?

    The unlikely ground invasion

    In the first place, a ground invasion is probably out of the question. South Korea would never allow the US to use its territory as a launching pad for an attack on the North, and Seoul would certainly not join the US in such a foolhardy act.

    Even if US forces could cross the heavily defended Demilitarized Zone, they would face a huge and obstinate opposing force; most of the North Korean military may consist of obsolete weaponry, but it has a tremendous advantage in numbers, and the North Koreans would be fighting on their territory for their country. And if they began to lose, what would stop them from resorting to nuclear weapons?

    Moreover, such military action would play directly into Pyongyang’s hands. The North Koreans are already obsessed with the idea that the US wants to destroy them. A unilateral attack would only prove their fears are justified, and that might be sufficient to provoke a nuclear response.

    In addition, unilateral US military action would almost certainly engender global opprobrium. China would be livid that the US was destabilizing regional security. The Western alliance would be perhaps irretrievably ruptured, both in Europe and in Northeast Asia.

    The myth of the limited air campaign

    If the United States were to limit itself to bombing North Korea – using aircraft and cruise missiles – what would that accomplish? Trying to punish North Korea by using air attacks would again simply add to already high levels of North Korean paranoia that the US is trying to obliterate the country and eliminate the Kim regime. That could also incite a nuclear response.

    Could a US air campaign simply try to target North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – that is, its nuclear-weapons sites, missile factories, and missile systems? In other words, engage in a round of muscular counter-proliferation?

    That might work, if the United States had a very good idea where all of Kim’s WMD were located, and if it had a more than likely chance of destroying them all in one fell swoop. However, it is very likely that North Korea’s WMD complex is widely dispersed and heavily protected. Much of it is probably underground, in bomb-proof facilities.

    Consequently, it is unlikely that US air strikes would succeed in radically denuclearizing North Korea. At the same time, it could just as easily provoke the North Koreans into retaliating against the United States, using whatever nuclear capacities it had left.

    Would you like to play a game?

    In the end, the whole Trumpian war scenario against North Korea starts to resemble a sad, real-life imitation of the classic 1983 movie WarGames.

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    In that film, a supercomputer used to simulate nuclear war-fighting almost launches a real nuclear war, until it learns that, in such a scenario, “the only winning move is not to play.”

    Let’s hope that there are some people in the Trump administration who have watched this movie.

  • "Explosive", "Shocking" And "Alarming" FISA Memo Set To Rock DC, "End Mueller Investigation"

    All hell is breaking loose in Washington D.C. tonight after a four-page memo detailing extensive FISA court abuse was made available to the entire House of Representatives Thursday. The contents of the memo are so explosive, says Journalist Sara Carter, that it could lead to the removal of senior officials in the FBI and the Department of Justice and the end of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation.

    These sources say the report is “explosive,” stating they would not be surprised if it leads to the end of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation into President Trump and his associates. –Sara Carter

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    A source close to the matter tells Fox News that “the memo details the Intelligence Committee’s oversight work for the FBI and Justice, including the controversy over unmasking and FISA surveillance.” An educated guess by anyone who’s been paying attention for the last year leads to the obvious conclusion that the report reveals extensive abuse of power and highly illegal collusion between the Obama administration, the FBI, the DOJ and the Clinton Campaign against Donald Trump and his team during and after the 2016 presidential election.

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    Lawmakers who have seen the memo are calling for its immediate release, while the phrases “explosive,” “shocking,” “troubling,” and “alarming” have all been used in all sincerity. One congressman even likened the report’s details to KGB activity in Russia. “It is so alarming the American people have to see this,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan told Fox News. “It’s troubling. It is shocking,” North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows said. “Part of me wishes that I didn’t read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much.

    Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., offered the motion on Thursday to make the Republican majority-authored report available to the members.

    The document shows a troubling course of conduct and we need to make the document available, so the public can see it,” said a senior government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the document. “Once the public sees it, we can hold the people involved accountable in a number of ways.”

    The government official said that after reading the document “some of these people should no longer be in the government.” –Sara Carter

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    Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) echoed Sara Carter’s sentiment that people might lose their job if the memo is released:

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    Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein

    I believe the consequence of its release will be major changes in people currently working at the FBI and the Department of Justice,” he said, referencing DOJ officials Rod Rosenstein and Bruce Ohr.

    Meanwhile, Rep. Matt Gatetz (R-FL) said not only will the release of this memo result in DOJ firing, but “people will go to jail.”

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    Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino says “Take it to the bank, the FBI/FISA docs are devastating for the Dems.” 

     

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    The dossier was used in part as evidence for a warrant to surveil members of the Trump campaign, according to a story published this month. Former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the dossier in 2016, was hired by embattled research firm Fusion GPS. The firm’s founder is Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who has already testified before Congress in relation to the dossier. In October, The Washington Post revealed for the first time that it was the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC that financed Fusion GPS.

    Congressional members are hopeful that the classified information will be declassified and released to the public.

    We probably will get this stuff released by the end of the month,” stated a congressional member, who asked not to be named. –Sara Carter

    Releasing the memo to the public would require a committee vote, a source told Fox, adding that if approved, it could be released as long as there are no objections from the White House within five days

    Reactions from the citizenry have been on point: 

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    Even WikiLeaks has joined the fray, offering a reward in Bitcoin to anyone who will share the memo:

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    Oddly, the Twitter account for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence – @HPSCI – has been mysteriously suspended.

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    Of all the recent developments in the ongoing investigation(s), this one is on the cusp of turning into a genuine happening.

  • Hungary Introduces "Stop Soros" Legislation To Fend Off Illegal Migrants By "Every Means Possible"

    Hungarian lawmakers previewed a proposed legislation package aimed at stemming the flood of mass illegal migrants through “every means possible,” including those who are aided by foreign funded NGOs such as the various organizations tied to billionaire George Soros.

    The legislative package presented during a Wednesday cabinet meeting has been referred to as the “Stop Soros Act” by government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs, in reference to the 87-year-old US-Hungarian financier who has been in a long-standing fallout with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

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    “If Soros is found to have engaged in such activity, meaning he organizes illegal immigration, then the rules will apply to him,” Kovacs said.

    While the exact details will be presented on Thursday, Hungarian media detailed three primary pillars of the new legislation outlined by Interior Minister Sándor Pintér (translated): 

    1. NGOs which participate in or support illegal immigration will be obligated to provide data to the government on their activities.
    2. Affected NGOs that receive money from abroad must pay a 25% tax, collected by the National Tax and Customs administration. 
    3. Foreign nationals and Hungarian activists who support mass illegal migration may be subject to a restraining order which requires they remain up to 5 miles from the border, with diplomats and UN representatives exempt.

    Observance of these rules, Pintér said, will be checked by the prosecutor’s office, and if it finds an infringement, it will inform the court and propose a sanction on which the court may decide. –origo.hu (translated)

    The legislation follows an October, 2017 probe into Soros’ “Open Society” network, in which Orbán instructed his intelligence services to map what he described as the networks run by the billionaire financier’s “empire” targeting his country, reported BloombergOrbán also mailed a Soros-related questionnaire to all 8 million Hungarian voters (see: Hungary Launches Anti-Soros Political Campaign).

    As an illustration of the types of assistance provided by Soros NGO’s during a Wednesday press conference, Interior Minister Pintér gave the example of someone giving a mobile phone to an illegal migrant “with the aim of showing how to get to, say Sweden.”

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    a​​​​nti-Soros billboard, Hungary

    As we noted in December, three decades ago, Soros paid for a young Viktor Orbán to study in Britain. And as recently as 2010, Soros donated $1 million to Orbán’s government to help the cleanup effort following the infamous “red sludge” disaster.

    But the once-warm relationship between the two men has deteriorated substantially over the past seven years, as Orbán has drifted further to the right. In 2014, the leader of Hungary’s Fidesz party declared he would seek to model Hungary’s government after “illiberal” democracies like the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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    anti-Soros p​​​​​osters in Hungarian train station

    Of late, Orbán has accused the “open border” tycoon and philanthropist of trying to undermine European values and cultural identities by actively promoting and assisting a flood of refugees and asylum seekers from largely Muslim countries

    In 2015, Soros stated that the European Union “has to accept at least a million asylum-seekers annually for the foreseeable future. And, to do that, it must share the burden fairly.”

    In December, Soros was accused by Orbán of planning to interfere with Hungary’s upcoming April, 2018 election by distributing pro-immigration propaganda via Soros-linked NGOs. 

    Hungary is far from alone in its desire to preserve its borders, language and culture: Poland has joined Hungary’s anti-immigration stance, drawing rebuke and threats from the European Union, of which it is a member. At an early January press conference in Budapest, Viktor Orbán and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters “The EU’s migration policy… has failed,” adding “It is clear that the European people don’t want immigration, while several European leaders are still forcing the failed immigration policy.” 

    “In terms of migration and quotas that were to be imposed on (EU) member countries we strongly reject such an approach as it infringes on sovereign decisions of member states,” Morawiecki said.

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    Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Viktor Orbán

    Meanwhile, last year in Austria, a 31-year-old anti-immigration candidate led his party to victory in Parliamentary elections. In the Czech Republic, a populist tycoon named Andrej Babis who’s been described as the “Czech Donald Trump.” Babis led his party to a landslide victory, making him the frontrunner to become the republic’s next prime minister. Italy’s two richest regions overwhelmingly voted for autonomy over the weekend, and so on.

    That said, with his unlimited financial resources, Soros is more than capable of striking back against Orbán. The billionaire financier donated $18 billion in assets from his family office to his “Open Society” foundation, which oversees a network of dozens of nonprofits that seek to promote Soros’s political values. Incidentally, the final showdown – financial or otherwise – may be not between Soros and Orban but Soros and Putin whose wealth, according to some estimates as much as $200 billion, is orders of magnitude higher than that of Soros.

    In November, Soros responded to Orbánposting a scathing rebuttal to his website for an “anti-Soros, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic propaganda effort.” 

    With Hungary’s health care and education systems in distress and corruption rife, the current government has sought to create an outside enemy to distract citizens. The government selected George Soros for this purpose, launching a massive anti-Soros media campaign costing tens of millions of euros in taxpayer money, stoking anti-Muslim sentiment, and employing anti-Semitic tropes reminiscent of the 1930s. The national consultation is part of an ongoing propaganda effort that has been underway since May 2015 that included the “Stop Brussels” consultation in the spring of 2017 and the referendum that vilified migrants and refugees in 2016.

    Soros went on to offer a “rebuttal”, which in several cases read more like a confirmation of Orban’s “propaganda.” You can read it here.

  • Course Uses "Pyramid Of White Supremacy" To Teach Diversity

    Authored by Kassy Dillon via Campus Reform,

    A course at Salisbury University in Maryland is using a “Pyramid of White Supremacy” to help teach students about diversity and “cultural competence.”

    The one-credit course, “Diversity and the Self,” is a required class for any student hoping to obtain an elementary education major.

    The pyramid ranks various concepts on different levels according to severity, with “Indifference” forming the base of the pyramid and “Genocide” residing at the top.

    “In a pyramid, every brick depends upon the one below it for support,” an accompanying caption explains. “If the bricks at the bottom are removed, the whole structure comes tumbling down.”

    Things like “avoiding confrontation with racist family members,” “remaining apolitical,” or saying “politics doesn’t affect me” make up the base of the Pyramid of White Supremacy, directly underneath forms of “minimization” such as “denial of white privilege” and “not believing experiences of POC [people of color].”

    The next level up is “veiled racism,” which the graphic defines to include “cultural appropriation” and a “Euro-centric curriculum.”

    Worse still, according to the pyramid, are “anti-immigration policies,” “stop and frisk” policing strategies, and “funding schools locally,” all of which fall under the category of “discrimination.”

    Above that the pyramid lists “calls for violence” such as “swastikas,” “Confederate flags,” and “the n-word,” followed by actual acts of violence like “unjust police shootings,” “lynching,” and all other hate crimes.

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    “We had to study the pyramid and also take a group quiz,” a student in the class who wishes to remain anonymous told Campus Reform, noting that the placement of certain elements on the pyramid raised eyebrows.

    “I find it ridiculous that ‘unjust police shootings’ is at the top of the list next to mass murder and genocide,” the student remarked. “The pyramid was not only biased, the way they ranked the events did not make much sense.”

    According to the syllabus, the course “reviews theories and aspects of cultural competence most relevant to teaching in diverse classrooms,” and “explores the ideals of freedom, democracy, justice, equality, equity, and human dignity from the perspective of the individual.”

    This class was extremely difficult to get through if you did not think like a liberal. Instead of teaching diversity, this class taught us that being white was a bad thing,” the student complained. “We were told that we were only privileged because we are white and basically we did not actually work for what we have.”

    Erin Stutelberg, the professor teaching the course, practices what she preaches outside of the classroom, as well. On her Facebook page, her display photo is a picture of her with a sign saying: “White Silence = Violence.”

    Campus Reform reached out to Stutelberg for comment, but has not received a response.

  • India Test Fires Nuclear-Capable ICBM, Poses Major Threat To China

    On Thursday, India successfully conducted the “first pre-induction trial” of its over 5,000-km range Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), reported The Times of India.

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    The nuclear-capable ICBM paves the way for India to join an “elite” group of countries who can strap a nuclear bomb to an ICBM and fling it across the globe. More importantly, the development has dramatically changed the calculus of war and nuclear deterrence balance of power between India and China, putting most of China’s critical assets, including the coastal cities in range.

    The ICBM, called Agni-V, was launched on Thursday from Abdul Kalam Island, off Odisha State in eastern India, flying for about 19-minutes with a range of 3,000 miles.

    The Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “We have successfully launched nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni-V today.”

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    According to The Times of India’s sources, “The country’s most formidable missile will undergo one more such pre-induction trial within this year before it is inducted into the Agni-V regiment already raised by the tri-Service Strategic Forces Command (SFC) with the requisite command and control structures.”

    With the Agni-V, India is now a member of the “nuclear club” of countries with ICBMs with a range of over  5,000km such as the U.S., Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom. The motive behind India’s development of the long-range ICBM is to deter the threat of an aggressive and expansionist China, which already has an arsenal of ICBMs.

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    The Times of India provides further insight on the nuclear capabilities of the Angi-V:

    The over 50-tonne Agni-V, designed to carry a 1.5-tonne nuclear warhead, has been tested four times in “developmental or experimental trials” earlier. The missile was tested in an “open configuration” in April 2012 and September 2013, while it was test-fired from hermetically sealed canisters mounted on transport-cum-tilting launcher trucks in January 2015 and December 2016.

    “The missile’s flight performance was tracked and monitored by radars, range stations and tracking systems all through the mission. All mission objectives were successfully met. This successful test of Agni-V reaffirms the country’s indigenous missile capabilities and further strengthens our credible deterrence,” said a defense ministry official.

    The Strategic Forces Command (SFC) called Strategic Nuclear Command of India already has regiments of the Prithvi-II (350-km), Agni-I (700-km), Agni-II (2,000-km) & Agni-III (3,000-km) missiles, which are meant to deter Pakistan. On the other hand, the Agni-IV (4,000-km) and Agni-V (over 5,000-km), have been developed to keep China in check.

    “Though the missile could theoretically hit Beijing, India’s missile technique is far below the standard,” Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday.

    While China has criticized India’s development of the Angi-V, India’s president, Ram Nath Kovind, celebrated on Twitter that the launch “makes every Indian very proud” and will “boost our strategic defense.”

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    The Indian National Congress party wrote on Twitter, “This is the culmination of a multi-decade effort under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme started in 1982 by the then Prime Minister, Smt Indira Gandhi.”

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    We expect that an angry verbal Chinese response, most likely in the Global Times, is imminent.

    Full press statement on the fifth flight test of the Agni-V ICBM.

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