The Spectacle Blog

Another Tragedy on Malaysia Airlines - UPDATED

By on 7.17.14 | 1:10PM

For the second time in just over three months a tragedy has befallen a Malaysia Airlines flight. Today, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down by a surface to air missile in Ukraine near the Russian border. All 295 passengers and crew were killed.

No one has claimed responsibility for the act, but the Ukrainian and Russians blame each other for the incident. Last night, a Ukrainian war plane was shot down and Ukrainian officials say it was done by a Russian jet fighter.

While culpability has not been confirmed in either incident when I heard about the Malaysia Airlines flight being shot down I could not help but think about Korean Airlines Flight 007 which was shot down by a Soviet interceptor on September 1, 1983 killing all 269 passengers and crew including Congressman Larry McDonald, a conservative Democrat from Georgia.

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Clegg: Israel’s Response “Deliberately Disproportionate Form of Collective Punishment”

By on 7.17.14 | 11:08AM

In a radio interview, Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Israel's response to Hamas is a deliberately disproportionate form of collective punishment.

To be exact, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and junior partner in the David Cameron led coalition government stated, "I have to say though I really do think now the Israeli response appears to be deliberately disproportionate. It is amounting now to a disproportionate form of collective punishment. It is leading to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which is just unacceptable."

So I gather that Clegg does not believe that Hamas and Islamic Jihad firing rockets into Israel is a form of collective punishment?

Curiously Clegg does not mention that Israel sends warnings to civilians in Gaza that it will strike and to evacuate the area, but Hamas tells them to stay in their homes. So who exactly is creating the humanitarian crisis of which Clegg speaks?

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The Psychology of Climate Change

By on 7.17.14 | 10:54AM

"The Population Bomb: While You Are Reading These Words Four People Will Have Died of Starvation, Most of Them Children,” read the title of Paul R. Ehrlich’s 1968 book. In 1975, Newsweek’s Peter Gwynne wrote an article called “The Cooling World,” which argued that the earth was cooling and “the resulting famines could be catastrophic.” These days, you can’t drop your child off at pre-school or go to the grocery store without hearing about the latest Malthusian uproar, climate change.  

The doomsayers have run into no trouble reaching the otherwise tone-deaf executive branch. Yesterday, President Obama said, "climate change poses a direct threat to the infrastructure of America," before unleashing a number of new climate change initiatives.

To be clear, it does seem like the earth is warming and that human beings have an effect on it. That much is apparent. But the rate at which the earth is warming, the amount of influence that humans have on the climate, and the proper solutions are certainly up for debate.

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Morning Round-Up 7-17

By on 7.17.14 | 10:44AM

Feature of the Day: Microsoft to Cut Up to 18,000 Jobs

 

Morning Headlines

 

Domestic                                                          

 

Associated Press

1. Gaza Rocket Hits Israel as Humanitarian Lull Ends

 2.  Justice Dept: Missing Emails Now Part of IRS Probe 

 

Politico

1. Barbours Spent to Boost Mississippi Black Turnout

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So Sick of Media Anti-Semitism

By on 7.17.14 | 9:43AM

In today's news about the charging of three Israelis (one adult and two youths) in the murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khedair (who lived in Jerusalem), you can tell the professional media anti-Semites from the amateurs.

Spot the difference between the opening of these two news reports on the same story:

CNN: "An adult and two minors have been indicted in what Israeli authorities say was the revenge killing of a Palestinian teen -- a death that helped stoke tensions between Israelis and Palestinians this month -- an Israeli district attorney said Thursday."

BBC: "One Jewish man and two youths have been charged by Israeli prosecutors with the murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdair, the justice ministry says."

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Hamas is No Bargain

By on 7.17.14 | 12:05AM

Lucy Schouten might very well be correct when she argues that Hamas turned down an Egyptian brokered ceasefire with Israel because it believes it can get a better bargain elsewhere. 

But if we are going to use a shopping analogy it should be clear any deal Hamas enters into is no bargain. Because when it comes to Hamas life is cheap. 

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Hamas Searches for a Better Bargain

By on 7.16.14 | 5:01PM

Shopping in the Middle East can be a surprise to Westerners. There's the greeting, the inquiry after one's family, leading questions from the buyer, perhaps a cup of Arabic coffee from the seller. The buyer suggests a price, and the vendor protests that to accept it would bring his children to the brink of starvation. The buyer strides ostentatiously from the establishment, only to be called back by a better deal.

The rejection by Hamas of Egypt's cease-fire deal after more than a week of missile exchange with Israel was merely good business for Middle Eastern bargaining, said Ghaith al Omari of the American Task Force on Palestine at an American Enterprise Institute discussion. 

The Egyptian deal did not meet any of Hamas's demands, namely: a re-release of the prisoners Israel first freed in 2011, funds from Qatar to pay employees' salaries, and a reopening the "secret" supply tunnels between Egypt and Gaza. That last one is especially relevant; some have speculated that the supply tunnels are what drove Hamas to enter a unity government with Fatah, which is what started the recent hostilities in the first place. 

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CBO Predicts a Hangover of Economic Proportions

By on 7.16.14 | 4:43PM

According to the CBO, the Clairvoyant Bureaucratic Office, “federal debt will be growing faster than GDP, a path that would be ultimately unsustainable.” Our national debt is already bigger than our economy.

The key source of upward pressure on the federal debt is expanded federal spending in the form of Obamacare, its gluttonous siblings Medicare and Medicaid, and its senile cousin Social Security. Because of government encroachment into the health care industry, health care spending will double over the next twenty-five years to 14 percent of GDP.

In order to stop the Social Security trust fund from defaulting and return to sustainable levels of unfunded liabilities by 2025, future and current Americans will have to incur a 25 percent cut in their benefits.

The CBO hearing had the tone of a doctor’s appointment for a self-destructive addict. The doctor says, “You know you can’t keep overspending like this, America,” and the government nods sheepishly and then scampers off to print more money.

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Bergdahl: I’m Deeply Grateful to Obama

By on 7.16.14 | 4:30PM

Bowe Bergdahl directed his newly appointed attorney Eugene Fidell to make the following statement, “Sergeant Bergdahl is deeply grateful to President Obama for saving his life.”

Perhaps Obama will reward Bergdahl by giving him an Obamacare waiver.

It's good to know that Bergdahl doesn't feel that Obama deserted him.

No word if the Taliban leaders released in exchange for Bergdahl are grateful to Obama for being free once again to plot attacks against Americans.

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Darrell Issa, Subpoenas, and Political Theater

By on 7.16.14 | 4:06PM

Congressman Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, issued a subpoena to White House senior adviser David Simas, compelling him to testify at a Wednesday morning hearing exhaustively titled, “White House Office of Political Affairs: Is Supporting Candidates and Campaign Fund-Raising an Appropriate Use of a Government Office?”

White House counsel Neil Eggleston pushed back against the subpoena in a letter, describing it as a violation of the separation of powers, as it “threatens longstanding interests of the executive branch in preserving the president’s independence and autonomy, as well as his ability to obtain candid advice and counsel to aid him in the discharge of his duties,” the Washington Post reported. Issa insisted the subpoena remain in place.

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