Archive for the ‘Austin’ Category

LinkSwarm for January 19, 2018

Friday, January 19th, 2018

This morning starts with Republican house members calling for the release of a deeply disturbing secret memo that evidently relates to the whole FISA/Clinton/Obama misuse of America’s national security assets to spy on Domestic political opponents, including Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign. House members who have read the memo say the scandal unveiled is “worse than Watergate.” Those reading this blog should already be broadly familiar with the outlines of the scandal.

However, since that memo hasn’t been released as of this writing, on with a regular Friday LinkSwarm.

Oh, and Democrats are still threatening a government shutdown over illegal alien amnesty for Obama’s “Dreamers.” So you’ve got that to look forward to as well.

  • Speaking of “Dreamers” (which, by the way, is also the name of a porn store in north Austin), illegal aliens of “Dreamer” age have a crime rate double that of American citizens.
  • Including the accused cop killer who says he “wish he killed more of the motherfuckers.”
  • “Analysis: Leftism is a status machine. A very, very successful status machine. Conservatives have lost status battle after status battle, often because they fought it as a policy battle. It rarely is.”

    The media offers people clues about what things are high status within the areas they cover. People notice, and act accordingly. Yet most conservatives still don’t understand Trump’s response:

    If I lower the media’s status, I will wreck their power.

    So The Donald says that the media has “some of the most dishonest people” he has ever seen. Not an arm’s length complaint. A direct and personal status attack, rooted in truth.

    Trump also acts in ways that cause journalists to fulfill his pre-suasion labeling. He makes “outrageous” statements, which many people outside the Beltway Bubble agree with. Those statements receive over-the-top media attacks, which make his enemies look ridiculous. Then events swiftly show that Trump had a point. Trump rubs it in, using the media’s own “Fake News” term against them and pouncing on every sloppy and dishonest mistake. As a final topper, Trump makes the dishonest media a focus during every massive rally. Which strengthens his out-grouping effect among participants and viewers.

    He uses ridicule and lèse majesté, not bended knee and appeals — note that subordinating word — to logical argument.

  • Jim Goad offers a brief essay on comparative shitholes:

    In terms of life expectancy, Norway leads the pack at 81.8 years. Then comes the USA (79.3), with a sudden drop to 63.5 years for Haitians and a mere 55.0 years for Somalians.

    Norway also wins the blue ribbon when it comes to per-capita income, which is a staggering 38 times that of Haitians and 173 times that of Somalians.

    The noble Norsemen also win when it comes to their nation’s mean IQ, which is 100 compared to the USA’s 98. Somalia (68) and Haiti (67) both suffer a mean IQ that is below the commonly accepted cutoff line for “retarded.”

    The only category where the USA comes out on top is the percentage of the population with access to improved sanitation facilities—one index claims that 100% of Americans can find a functional toilet if they try. Next comes Norway at 98.1%. Haiti (27.6%) and Somalia (23.5%) are far, far worse. According to Wikipedia, “Sewer systems and wastewater treatment are nonexistent” in Haiti, which would mean the country is a literal shithole.

  • Andrew McCarthy goes into great detail about what a nothingburger the entire Trump-Russia conspiracy fantasy is. Though larded up with the requisite National Review distaste for Trump, it does include a few valuable nuggets I hadn’t chanced across heretofore, including that the law firm of BakerHostetler was who was funneling payments from Natalia Veselnitskaya and Prevezon Holdings to Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • Is Sweden contemplating sending the army to regain control over no-go zones?
  • Democratic Senator Patty Murray’s office: “We don’t care about anti-Semitism in this office,” Murray’s senior adviser said. “We care about transgenders, we care about blacks, we care about Hispanics, we care about gays, we care about lesbians, we care about the disabled.”
  • Switzerland Rejects Citizenship Bids of Residents Who Have Been on Welfare.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Speaking of which: “Swiss town denies passport to Dutch vegan because she is ‘too annoying.'”
  • Why hasn’t power been restored to Puerto Rico? Maybe because Puerto Rican authorities were hoarding bital electrical equipment?
  • Austin on finalist list for Amazon’s second headquarters.
  • Baltmore’s mayor fires the police commissioner.
  • Dear Millennials: It has been scientifically proven that your music sucks.
  • East Coast Comicon bans Kevin “Hercules” Sorbo because he’s friends with Sean Hannity.
  • Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer for The Cranberries, dead at the untimely age of 46.
  • Former Senator, Republican Majority leader, Presidential candidate and World War II veteran Bob Dole just received the Congressional Gold Medal. Best tweet from the event:

  • Gonna pass on the expedited shipping, thanks.
  • A little light today, but I want to hit publish on this before that memo drops…

    UT: Hey, Look At This Sweet Communist Chinese Money! Ted Cruz: DON’T EVEN! UT: 😥

    Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

    It’s been a few month since the administration of the University of Texas came up with a really bad idea, so naturally they were ready to latch on to a doozy (accepting propaganda money from Communist China) until Ted Cruz made them back off:

    After months of internal uproar and a letter from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the University of Texas at Austin has declared its China center will not accept funding from a Hong Kong-based foundation that the Republican from Texas said helps spread Chinese government propaganda abroad.

    The decision – first reported in an article in the “Opinions” section of The Washington Post – was disclosed in a letter sent Friday from UT-Austin President Greg Fenves to Cruz.

    The school must “ensure that the receipt of outside funding does not create potential conflicts of interest or place limits on academic freedom and the robust exchange of ideas,” Fenves wrote. “I am concerned about this if we were to accept funding from [the foundation].”

    The week before, Cruz had written to Fenves to “express concern” about UT-Austin’s new China center’s relationship with the China-United States Exchange Foundation – a “pseudo-philanthropic foundation,” Cruz wrote, that has ties to an arm of the Chinese government that manages “foreign influence operations.”

    In his letter, dated Jan. 2, Cruz wrote he’d heard that the UT-Austin center was considering a partnership with the foundation. Launched around the start of the fall semester, the China Public Policy Center was charged with making “fresh and enduring contributions to the study of China-related policy topics while advancing U.S.-China relations and Texas-China relations,” according to a UT news release.

    Its executive director, David Firestein, was formerly a U.S. diplomat and senior vice president at the EastWest Institute. He forwarded requests for comment to a university spokesman.

    Cruz said in his letter that he was worried about the center’s collaboration with the foundation and that it would disseminate “propaganda within the center and compromise its credibility.” The same concerns were raised in emails circulated on an internal UT-Austin faculty e-mail list in December, just four months after the China center launched.

    An ugly spat played out in one email exchange obtained by The Texas Tribune, with several faculty members voicing or agreeing with concerns about the center’s activities and funding from the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation. One lengthy email suggested an event held by the China center in November was infused with propaganda, and said it had upset students and led some to send concerned emails to the dean.

    UT’s scheme would be far from the first time a western university accepted money from a brutal foreign dictator, but it would be an unnecessary and cringe-worthy example. Good for Ted Cruz getting them to slam on the brakes.

    (Hat tip: Cahnman’s Musings.)

    (And yes, I realize I just used an emoji in a headline. Come spring I’ll surely explain it away as cabin fever brought about by #Icepocalypse2018…)

    Dukes Case Ends With Wimper

    Saturday, October 28th, 2017

    “Travis County prosecutors dropped all of the remaining charges against longtime state Rep. Dawnna Dukes on Monday, bringing an end to a legal soap opera that could have put the lawmaker behind bars.”

    Snip.

    “Moore pinned the case’s collapse on conflicting statements given by Steve Adrian, a top official in the Texas House, who had told prosecutors that travel to the Capitol was required to earn the per-diem payments but later recanted in a statement to Dukes’ lawyers.”

    This is odd, as a most of the charges against Dukes had nothing to do with the per diem abuse issue.

    (Hat tip: Dwight.)

    Happy 111th Birthday to Veteran Richard Overton!

    Saturday, October 21st, 2017

    BattleSwarmBlog would like to wish a happy (belated) 111th birthday to fellow Austinite Richard Overton, who, at the spry age of 111, is America’s oldest living veteran!

    Another point of congratulation: After 70 years in the same house in Austin, he just got air conditioning for the first time…

    LinkSwarm for September 22, 2017

    Friday, September 22nd, 2017

    Welcome to the first LinkSwarm of fall! Between a new job, car trouble, dog trouble and iPhone updates, you’re lucky there’s a LinkSwarm at all!

  • Final total for J.J. Watt’s YouCaring campaign: $37,131,967.
  • Death toll in the Mexico City earthquake hits 273.
  • Mexican rescue dog saves over 50 lives.
  • 100% of Puerto Rico is without power following Hurricane Maria.
  • Obama Administration official Samantha Power asked for over 260 unmaskings of American citizens. “She continued to seek identifying information about Americans caught up in incidental surveillance right up to President Trump’s inauguration.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • And Obama’s FBI Director James Comey was apparently eavesdropping on Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “House IT Worker At Center Of Scandal Allegedly Abused Three Muslim Women.” “Multiple women in relationships with Imran Awan, the indicted former IT aide for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, have recently called Virginia law enforcement and alleged being abused by him, police reports obtained under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act show.”
  • President Trump didn’t forget Poland.
  • “The mainstream media failed to see the rise of Donald Trump in 2016. Now it’s overlooking another grassroots movement that may soon be of equal significance— the growing number of liberals “taking the red pill.” People of all ages and ethnicities are posting YouTube videos describing “red pill moments”—personal awakenings that have caused them to reject leftist narratives imbibed since childhood from friends, teachers, and the news and entertainment media.”
  • “Federal Prosecutors Say Anthony Weiner Convinced [15-year old] Teen To Strip, Touch Herself On Skype.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Evergreen State College has settled a tort claim against it from embattled Professor Bret Weinstein and his wife, Professor Heather Heying, for $500,000, according to an email sent to faculty Friday evening.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Article on the decline of NFL ratings offers and explanation in the comments section: “One after another, cogent, thoughtful comments clearly stating the exact reason that life long NFL fans have turned off the TV, dropped their cable subscription, and moved on.” Sample: “There will be no NFL at my house until the employment of players that disrespect our flag and anthem is terminated.”
  • More signs of NFL’s decline in popularity: Los Angeles Rams can’ even sell out their temporary stadium. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Flashback: Ted Kennedy, drunken serial sexual molester.
  • Wisconsin appeals court dismisses union lawsuit against right-to-work law.
  • Armed citizen stops would-be rapist near downtown Austin. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • “Scientists create world’s first ‘molecular robot’ capable of building molecules.” No indication these 150-atom “robots” can contain programming or self-replicate, so we’re still a long way from K. Eric Drexler’s nanotechnology…
  • Valerie Plame steps in it:

  • Your Tax Dollars At Work: Democrat Rep. Dawnna Dukes Spent $51,348 in Taxpayer Money on Telephone Psychics

    Thursday, September 21st, 2017

    Having been busy with Stuff and Things, Dwight beat me to the punch on the last news on the upcoming corruption trial against State Democratic Representative Dawnna Dukes. But the latest revelation is a doozy:

    As they prepare for state Rep. Dawnna Dukes’ corruption trial next month, Travis County prosecutors are prepared to present evidence that she showed up to work at the Capitol impaired, hid a cellphone from investigators and spent more than $51,000 on an online psychic.

    At least with regular draft, you can understand how the corrupt pol benefits. Blowing $51 grand of taxpayer money on Miss Cleao just adds insult to idiocy.

    More of Dukes’ Greatest Hits:

    In other “extraneous acts” listed in the filing, prosecutors say Dukes:

  • Was absent for roll call 65 percent of the time during the 2017 legislative regular session, and 36 percent of the time in the special session.
  • Responded to a search warrant for her cellphone by providing investigators a phone that did not match the identification number on the phone they had requested
  • Was noticeably impaired while trying to perform legislative duties at the Capitol and showed up late to a House Appropriations Committee hearing on March 29, stating, “I know I’m talking a lot. I’m full of morphine and will be headed out of here soon.”
  • Agreed to a contract with the Austin school district for her company, DM Dukes and Associates, to provide business evaluations but subcontracted the work to a consulting firm. The district paid Dukes $514,224 from May 2015 to March 2016.
  • Arrived late to court settings on June 30 and Aug. 21. Judge Brad Urrutia threatened to hold Dukes in contempt if she does it again.
  • Failed to submit in a timely fashion both a campaign finance report before the 2016 election and a 2017 personal financial statement. She was fined $1,000.
  • It’s a veritable buffet of bad behavior, and I look forward to Dukes appearing on Most Shocking: Legislators Out of Control.

    Texas Gas Shortage Ends

    Monday, September 11th, 2017

    The short-lived post-Harvey gas shortage is pretty much already over:

    Long lines for gasoline in Austin and elsewhere in the state have dissipated for the most part along with the short-lived, social media-fueled frenzy over fears of a severe shortage.

    Motorists remain more likely than before Hurricane Harvey hit to encounter the occasional empty filling stations, and gas prices remain elevated, but “the run (on gas) has stopped,” said Cary Rabb, owner of the Round Rock-based Wag-A-Bag convenience store chain.

    “It’s the panic buying that has stopped — at some point, everybody has topped off,” Rabb said.

    In addition, gasoline supplies are becoming more accessible as Gulf Coast refineries and pipelines slowly come back on line after being closed since Harvey made landfall.

    Flint Hills Resources — which operates a Corpus Christi refinery that provides the bulk of gasoline dispensed at Austin area gas stations — “has resumed normal operations,” company spokesman Andy Saenz said Wednesday. The Flint Hills refinery had been shut down since the storm hit, leaving area fuel distributors to tap reserves.

    Flint Hills pumps gasoline to an Austin terminal east of Interstate 35 through a pipeline, where it’s picked up by distributors with tanker trucks and transported to local gas stations.

    Thanks to Hurricane Irma (now downgraded to a tropical storm), it’s Florida that’s suffering gas shortages, not least because Florida is dependent on those same gulf coast refineries idled by Harvey:

    Between 2007 and 2014, Florida’s daily gasoline consumption shrank significantly — by about 90,000 barrels. In 2012, two Caribbean refineries that had supplied Florida with a significant share of its gasoline were idled, leaving Florida more dependent upon refineries located along the Gulf Coast. That’s all well and good when the weather is fair, but Hurricane Harvey disrupted things. For one thing, it forced the shutdown of several refineries in the Houston area. For another, it made navigating the Gulf of Mexico treacherous — you don’t want to sail an oil barge into a hurricane. And there is no gasoline pipeline connecting those Gulf Coast refineries to Florida: that trade is conducted by boat. Pipelines are the cheapest and safest way to move petroleum products from producers to consumers, but America’s fanatical environmentalists, who oppose the development of new energy infrastructure categorically, have been remarkably successful in blocking or delaying the development of new pipelines.

    So far Irma seems to have devastated the Caribbean, but damage to Florida seems to be less than feared for such a large storm.

    Dukes Plea Deal Expires, Headed for Trial

    Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

    The plea deal for Austin Democratic State Rep. Dawnna Dukes on corruption charges has expired.

    The Travis County District Attorney’s office on Tuesday said its offer to drop all corruption charges against state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, in exchange for her agreeing to resign immediately had expired.

    In a statement sent to The Texas Tribune after 5 p.m. Tuesday, Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said she’d had no contact from the attorneys for Dukes.

    “The offer to resolve this matter has expired and is no longer available,” Moore said in a statement. “We will be ready for trial.”

    As a part of the deal, Dukes would’ve had to also pay $3,500 in fines and restitution and agree to a drug and alcohol assessment. Dukes has previously denied charges that she had her legislative staff run personal errands and that she was compensated for days she did not work at the Texas Capitol.

    Dukes seems awful confident of beating the rap, especially since her previous legal team bailed:

    On July 25, two of Dukes’ Houston-based lawyers filed a motion to withdraw as counsel, citing an inability to “effectively communicate with the defendant on matters essential to the representation.”

    State Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, put out a statement Tuesday night indicating he was representing Dukes, writing that the 12-term representative rejected the Travis County DA’s proposal because she “strongly reiterates her innocence,” adding that the “inexplicable request that she undergo some drug assessment is absurd.” He said neither Dukes nor her attorneys plan on commenting further.

    Oliveira has been practicing law since 1979, so presumably he knows what he’s doing.

    Maybe Dukes saw that John Wiley Price beat a federal rap and figured she could so the same for the comparatively piddling local charges. Given how quickly DA Margaret Moore was willing to sweep away the cobwebs of the Ronnie Earle/Rosemary Lehmberg era at the DA’s office, she may have miscalculated.

    The trial is currently scheduled to start October 16.

    DA to Dukes: Resign or Else

    Monday, July 31st, 2017

    There’s been a new development in Democrat State Rep. Dawnna Dukes corruption case:

    Beleaguered state Rep. Dawnna Dukes has until the end of the day Tuesday to resign from office — and submit to a drug and alcohol assessment — as part of a plea offer in her criminal corruption case.

    The plea offer is similar to one Dukes rejected last year prior to the Texas Rangers launching an investigation that led to a Travis County grand jury indicting Dukes on 13 felony charges and two misdemeanors.

    Dukes did not respond to messages left by the American-Statesman on Monday morning. She told reporters in June after pleading not guilty that she would not take any plea deals and instead will proceed to trial on Oct. 16.

    The deal expires at the close of the business day on Tuesday and will not be re-offered, according to Justin Wood of the district attorney’s office. In addition to her resignation, the plea offer calls for Dukes to:

  • Submit to a drug and alcohol assessment and complete any treatment and counseling recommended as a result of the assessment. In a March 29 meeting of the House Appropriations Committee, Dukes showed up late and, after posing a rambling question, referred to medication she was on — “I know I’m talking a lot. I’m full of morphine and will be headed out of here soon,” she said.
  • Pay restitution in the amount of $3,000 related to charges of tampering with governmental records and abuse of official capacity. Dukes is alleged to have collected pay for days she did not travel to the Capitol in the 2014 Legislative session. She’s also charged with using her legislative staff for personal chores.
  • Pay a $500 fine to the Texas Ethics Commission. Dukes was sued by the commission earlier this month for missing a deadline for an elections finance report and then not paying the fine.
  • Waive her right to a speedy trial in any future litigation related to these matters
  • In exchange for accepting the offer, the DA’s office has agreed to drop all charges, but only after Dukes has complied with all conditions.

    If found guilty at trial, Dukes could face a maximum punishment of 28 years in prison.

    Dukes’ attorney, Dane Ball, of Houston, declined comment Monday morning and would not say if he is still representing Dukes in this case.

    Dukes was indicted in January and pled not guilty June 30. Her continuing in the legislature was a surprise, as she had been absent from from the legislature for more than a year for “medical reasons,” and had previously said she would step down, but then changed her mind and was sworn in for the 85th Texas legislature.

    Dukes previously stated she wanted to go to trial, but she has continually delayed the case, most recently on the grounds of legislative continuance, a cause that would still presumably hold while the special session is active.

    And if she beats the rap, Dukes says she’s considering running for reelection again in 2018.

    Stay tuned…

    (Hat tip: Dwight.)

    LinkSwarm for July 28, 2017

    Friday, July 28th, 2017

    Supposed to hit 104° in Austin today, and 106° tomorrow. Try to keep your cool…

  • “Why Was Wife of DWS’s Swindler Staffer Allowed to Leave the Country?”

    In early March [Imran’s] wife, Hina Alvi, suddenly left the country for Lahore, by way of Doha, Qatar. Notwithstanding the return flight she booked for a date in September 2017, the FBI believes that she actually has no intention to return to the U.S. She had abruptly pulled the couple’s three daughters out of school without alerting the school’s staff, and brought them with her — along with lots of luggage and household goods — to Pakistan.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Mark Steyn on Tucker Carlson: Everything Democrats have looked for and not found in the Russia wild goose chase is actually, demonstrably present in the Imran Awan case:

    Steyn also notes: Why worry whether Vladimir Putin gave the DNC emails to Wikileaks when Debbie Wasserman Schultz just gave Imran Awan her DNC iPad password? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • “The mainstream media are doing their best to ignore a bizarre, serious, and colorful story, but it’s not going to work.” Also: “Occam’s Razor suggests that DWS and the Dems were being blackmailed. For what? And what secrets, if any, were compromised by the members of the House Intelligence Committee who employed the Awan ring?” Note that both Steyn and American Thinker’s Thomas Lifson invoke Occam’s Razor to conclude that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was being blackmailed. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • This eye-opening Lee Smith piece in Tablet mag not only details how Fusion GPS came to gun up the Trump Russian fantasy (and how it’s plating both sides of the fence on Russia), but how deep research is now outsourced to opposition research firms:

    Donald Trump, Jr. appears to be the latest figure in President Donald Trump’s inner circle to be caught in the giant web of the Great Kremlin Conspiracy. Trump the younger said he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, but that all he got in his June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer was an earful about dropping the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russian officials involved in the death of a Russian lawyer who was killed in detention.

    If the Trump, Jr. meeting is just another chapter in the Beltway telenovela about Trump selling out America to the Russians through an ever-changing cast of supposed intermediaries—come back, Mike Flynn and Carter Page, we hardly knew ye—it sheds valuable light on the ways and means by which the news that fills our iPhone screens and Facebook feeds is now produced. You see, the Russian lawyer—often carelessly presented as a “Russian government lawyer” with “close ties to Putin”—Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump, also worked recently with a Washington, D.C. “commercial research and strategic intelligence firm” that is also believed to have lobbied against the Magnitsky Act. That firm, which also doubles as an opposition research shop, is called Fusion GPS—famous for producing the Russia dossier distributed under the byline of Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent for hire.

    Steele’s report, a collection of anonymously-sourced allegations, many of which were said to come from “high-ranking former Russian government officials”—i.e. not exactly the kinds of people who seem likely to randomly shoot the shit with ex-British spooks—detailed Trump’s ties to Russian officials and strange sexual obsessions. Originally ordered up by one of Trump’s Republican challengers, the dossier circulated widely in D.C. in the months before the 2016 election, pushed by the Clinton campaign, but no credible press organization was able to verify its claims. After Clinton’s surprise loss, the dossier became public, and it’s claims—while still unverified—have shaped the American public sphere ever since.

    Yet at the same time that Fusion GPS was fueling a campaign warning against a vast Russia-Trump conspiracy to destroy the integrity of American elections, the company was also working with Russia to influence American policy—by removing the same sanctions that Trump was supposedly going to remove as his quid pro quo for Putin’s help in defeating Hillary. Many observers, including the press, can’t quite figure out how the firm wound up on both sides of the fence. Sen. Chuck Grassley wants to know if Fusion GPS has violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

    As the founders of Fusion GPS surely understand, flexibility is a key recipe for success—and the more room you can occupy in the news cycle, the bigger the brand. After all, they’re former journalists—and good ones. Fusion GPS is the story of a few journalists who decided to stop being suckers. They’re not buyers of information, they’re sellers.

    Snip.

    For the past seven years, I’ve reported on and written about American foreign policy and what I saw as troubling trends in how we describe and debate our relationship to the rest of the world. What I’ve concluded during that period is that the fractious nature of those arguments—over the Iran Deal, for instance, or the war in Syria, or Russia’s growing role in the Middle East and elsewhere—is a symptom of a problem here at home. The issue is not about this or that foreign policy. Rather, the problem is that the mediating institutions that enabled Americans to debate and decide our politics and policies, here and abroad, are deeply damaged, likely beyond repair.

    The shape of the debate over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action illustrated this most clearly. The Obama White House turned the press into an instrument used not only to promote its initiatives, but also to drown out and threaten and shame critics and potential opponents, even within the president’s own party. Given the financial exigencies of a media whose business model had been broken by the internet, mismanagement, and the rise of social media as the dominant information platform, the prestige press sacrificed its independence for access to power. If for instance, your beat was national security, it was difficult at best to cross the very few sources of power in Washington that controlled access to information. Your job depended on it. And there are increasingly fewer jobs in the press.

    Read the whole thing.

  • Breakdown of Fusion GPS toes to Russia. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Another day, another failed ObamaCare repeal vote in the Senate, although the “skinny repeal” was nothing to write home about, Republicans John McCain, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted against it.
  • While we were concentrating on the Islamic State, the Taliban seized three districts in Afghanistan:

    The Afghan Taliban has overrun three districts previously held by the Afghan government in the provinces of Paktia, Faryab and Ghor over the past several days. The Taliban is demonstrating that it can sustain operations in all theaters of Afghanistan. The three districts are located in three different regions of the country.

    The district of Jani Khel in Paktia, a known stronghold of the Haqqani Network – the powerful Taliban subgroup that is based in eastern Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal areas – fell to the Taliban earlier today after several days of heavy fighting, according to Afghan officials and the Taliban. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the district headquarters buildings, the police headquarters and all security checkpoints are under his group’s control. Fighting is underway at a nearby military base.

    Jani Khel was effectively under Taliban control. At the end of March, the group claimed that all but six percent of the district, including the district center, was under Afghan government control.

    The districts of Taywara in Ghor in central Afghanistan, and Kohistan (or Lolash) in Faryab in the northwest fell to the Taliban on July 23 after several days of fighting. TOLONews confirmed that the two districts are now Taliban controlled and “government forces have not yet launched military operations to re-capture these districts.”

    The Taliban has also claimed it seized control of Pusht Koh in Farah province and Guzargah in Baghlan, however the reports cannot be independently confirmed. However Taliban reports on the takeover of districts have proven accurate in the pasts.

    The loss of the three districts shows that the Taliban is capable of conducting operations in all regions of the country. Even as the three districts fell, the Taliban is on the offensive in all of the other regions. Afghan security forces, which are sustaining record highs in casualties and desertions, is largely on the defensive in most areas of the country.

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

  • The awful time Yazidi girls have recovering from Islamic State sexual slavery.
  • Liberals freak out over President Trump’s no trannies in the military policy. I don’t think most of America realized our military had trannies. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Defense of same ban by wounded Iraq veteran.
  • Texas special session update. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has gotten the Senate to consider and pass 18 bills in just the first week. Meanwhile, Speaker Joe Straus’ House hasn’t even considered most in committee yet.
  • Kid Rock can win.
  • Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke outraised Ted Cruz in Q2 for the 2018 Texas Senate race, but Cruz still has $5.7 million cash on hand.
  • Flashback: Trump has no path to 270 electoral votes. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • We were close to nabbing Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in 2015 until a leak to the New York Times dried up information.
  • Congress passes veto-proof sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.
  • Sweden now has 61 “no go” zones, up from 55 last year. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Convicted felon Brett Kimberlin loses in court yet again. “Nearly four years after Brett Kimberlin sued Patrick Frey, myself and numerous other defendants (including Michelle Malkin, Breitbart.com and Red State) in a bogus federal RICO suit, the case has finally concluded with Judge George Hazel granting Frey summary judgment.”
  • Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn to build $10 billion display plant in Wisconsin.
  • President Trump gets a huge welcome in Youngstown, Ohio. Bonus: People interviewed are sick and tired of hearing about Russia. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • “Greece Arrests Russian ‘Mastermind’ Behind $4 Billion Bitcoin Laundering Scheme.”
  • Dwight has DEFCON and Black Hat rundowns for you computer security boffins. Plus regular updates.
  • Appeals court invalidates D.C.’s ‘good reason’ constraint on public carry of firearms.”

    Because the District’s good-reason law merits invalidation under Heller regardless of its precise benefits, we would be wasting judicial resources if we remanded for the [lower] court to develop the records in these cases. … We vacate both orders below and remand with instructions to render permanent injunctions against enforcement of the District’s good-reason law.

  • NSA expert hacks “smart gun” with $1.5 million supercomputer. And by “NSA expert” I mean a random hacker and by $1.5 million supercomputer I mean $15 worth of magnets. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • 15 pro-illegal alien protestors arrested for blocking traffic near the capitol in Austin. Bonus: Only five actually reside in Texas.
  • Swarthmore commies disband after realizing they were all middle upper class white people. Also, “Swarthmore Commies” would make a good name for a rock band.
  • My piece on ISIS-pledged terrorist groups made it to Zero Hedge. Which I’m happy about. But the comments do seem to be much more Israeli/Jewish conspiracy theory-heavy than I’ve seen there in the past…
  • Speaking of which, no, Edward Snowden did not say that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s is really an Israeli Jew named Elliot Shimon. In fact, he specifically denied saying that through his lawyer.
  • Charlie Gard, RIP.
  • “A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof paper…an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes.”
  • Nice house, lots of room. The decoration scheme is a little…wait a minute…”