The Spectacle Blog

A Break in the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 Investigation?

By on 8.6.14 | 1:54PM

New evidence appears to confirm that pro-Russian separatists were involved in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. A man, known only as Vasilijus, stepped forward a little over a week ago to inform a Lithuanian news site that he is the owner of the Volvo truck identified as having transported the Buk missile system that is thought to have brought down the passenger jet. He claims that pro-Russian separatists took control of the truck and his base of business operations late last month. He has stated that the white Volvo truck cab shown in footage of the missile system’s movement is unique to his truck and thus ties the Buk launcher to the separatist band that stole it from him.

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Canada’s Green Party President Forced to Resign for Being Pro-Israel

By on 8.6.14 | 10:09AM

I have made no secret of the fact that I broke with the NDP and the Left in general over its reaction to the events of September 11, 2001. The anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments were simply too much to bear.

There is little room on the Left for supporting Israel. Yesterday, Paul Estrin was forced to resign as President of Canada's Green Party for writing a blog post on the party's website last week in support of Israel. In a blog post titled "Why Gaza Makes Me Sad" (which has since been removed from its website), Estrin writes, "Gazan officials tell their people to be killed while they hide in bomb shelters. This is worse than cowardice. It is vile and ugly and they should be put to shame. Instead, it is Israel who is put to shame."

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Two Primaries to Watch Tonight

By on 8.5.14 | 5:25PM

It’s primary day once again, as four states head to the polls to choose their party’s candidates for the upcoming 2014 midterm elections. Two of the races being decided today, one in Kansas and one in Michigan, have garnered national attention for their importance to the Tea Party and the antics of the involved candidates. Here’s what to keep your eye on tonight.

The Sunflower State’s senatorial primary pits long-time incumbent Senator Pat Roberts against Milton Wolf, a Tea Party challenger who is, incidentally, also the second cousin of President Obama.

Roberts has an 86 percent lifetime rating and an endorsement from the American Conservative Union. But he has also been in the senate for thirty-three years, which plays into the stereotype of out-of-touch career politicians. CNN reports:

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Rand Paul Isn’t Exactly a Profile in Courage

By on 8.5.14 | 4:51PM

Senator Rand Paul wasn't exactly a profile in courage earlier this week in Iowa. While having lunch with GOP Congressman Steve King, two amnesty activists (one of whom referred to herself as a DREAMer) confronted the pair. While King stuck around and chatted with the two, Paul, not having finished his hamburger, did an impression of Jesse Owens that would have impressed the late Cleavon Little. Or like Sir Robin in Monty Python and The Holy Grail he bravely turned tail and fled.

This does not make Paul look good at all. Politicians can ill afford to be seen running from people even if those people aren't likely to be your supporters. Of course, the amnesty activists had an agenda an axe to grind. But so does everyone. It comes with the territory. Unless people have violent intentions there's no reason to slip a politician seeking higher office out the back door, especially if one is seeking the White House.

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On Losing Jim Brady

By on 8.5.14 | 4:28PM

Jim Brady’s death brought to mind a wistful moment in The Prince of Darkness, the late Robert Novak’s priceless memoir. On March 23, 1981 — one week exactly before John Hinckley shot bullets into President Reagan and his press secretary — Novak and his partner Rowland Evans sat down with Reagan in the Oval Office for a 30 minute interview. Novak had called Brady to request it, and to his surprise Brady was the only aide present, and he left after five minutes. “We were alone with the president,” Novak writes, for another 30 minutes it turned out. At which point, Brady returned, “hand-signaled” to Novak that time was up but gave him and Evans five additional minutes to wrap things up.

Reports Novak:

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Simon & Schuster’s Director of Publicity Responds

By on 8.5.14 | 1:00PM

Earlier today we received this reply from Simon & Schuster’s director of publicity to my column today, “Reagan Authors in Plagiarism Fight”:

Dear Mr. Lord and Mr. Pleszczynski,

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Toledo Lives, But Every City Is Mortal

By on 8.5.14 | 10:15AM

The tap water is once again safe to drink for the residents of Toledo, Ohio, the state’s fourth largest city, the Associated Press reports. Toxin levels in the area’s water system caused by an algae bloom in Lake Erie were declared low enough for safe human ingestion on Monday. Whether the Eukaryotes were solely to blame for the incident is not completely clear, and investigators will be inspecting Toledo’s pipes to make certain that the aging system did not contribute to the problem.

The episode does highlight, however, the fragility of the modern city, which can be crippled not merely by hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. With many people packed into a relatively small area and dependent on bureaucracies for their very survival, it’s a miracle disruption is so infrequent.

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Pedants’ Corner: Jane Austen Wasn’t an ‘18th-Century Novelist’

By on 8.4.14 | 6:36PM

I've complained here before about seeing my second favorite novelist referred to as a "Victorian." This howler has been popping up less and less of late. (No credit due here, of course: people probably just started using Wikipedia….) But now I'm beginning to see a similar mistake. In a piece—not entirely without interest—in the Atlantic about Austenian political economy, one finds her referred to in the headline as an "18th-century novelist."

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Why Doesn’t The Obama Admin Consider Hamas Disgraceful?

By on 8.4.14 | 5:05PM

Yesterday the Obama Administration publicly rebuked Israel for an attack on a UN Relief Works Agency school yesterday which left 10 Palestinians dead and displaced 3,000 others.

The Obama Administration proclaimed it was "appalled" by the incident and characterized as "disgraceful". State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki lectured Israel when she said, The coordinates of the school, like all UN facilities in Gaza, have been repeatedly communicated to the Israel Defense Forces. We once again stress that Israel must do more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties."

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Obama Makes News by Taking Reporters’ Questions

By on 8.4.14 | 4:18PM

For most of his tenure, Barack Obama has seemed content to ignore the White House press corps—so much so that now the president has made news simply by taking questions. Politico reports:

President Barack Obama had just done the unthinkable.

He took questions last week from the White House press corps — not just once, but twice. He didn’t call only on the reporters who were selected ahead of time by his senior aides. He even stuck around longer than he wanted at a briefing Friday to appease the room of shouting correspondents.”

“Hold on, guys. Come on. You’re not that pent up,” Obama joked. “I’ve been giving you questions lately.”

This never used to happen in the Obama White House, a place so obsessed with message control that the president could go months without talking with the press corps. However, in the past seven weeks, Obama has taken questions an average of once a week.”

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