Syria: Regime troops encircle rebels in Hama, imposing “choking siege”

Source: Al Jazeera [Qatar state media]

“Syria’s army encircled rebels in a cluster of towns in northwest Syria’s Hama countryside, imposing a ‘choking siege’ and marching deeper into the pocket, state-run Ikhbariya TV said on Friday. Government forces seized a dozen hills and expanded their control of a main highway that runs through the area and stretches from the capital Damascus to Aleppo city, the channel said. … Sources told Al Jazeera that Khan Sheikoun and much of the surrounding areas in northern Hama, which includes a few towns that rebels have held for years, were now either under army control or within its firing range.” (08/23/19)

As Long as Enemies of the State Keep Dying Before Trial, No One Should Trust the State

Source: CounterPunch
by Ted Rall

“There is no other way to say it: it was a political assassination. Osama bin Laden was unarmed. SEALs captured him alive. Following brazenly illegal orders from Washington, they executed him. ‘The [Obama] administration had made clear to the military’s clandestine Joint Special Operations Command that it wanted bin Laden dead,’ The Atlantic reported on May 4, 2011. … As much as the families of 9/11 victims craved justice, it was infinitely more important to the U.S. political establishment to deny bin Laden an opportunity to publicly expound on his ties to the CIA and the CIA-funded Pakistani intelligence agency ISI …. Such is the fate of enemies of the state. Last week, not so much an enemy but a man whose existence had become inconvenient, not exactly to the state but certainly to a cabal of powerful men including a former president as well as the sitting one, joined bin Laden in the kingdom of the dead.” (08/23/19)

Free Talk Live, 08/22/19

Source: Free Talk Live

“Walking Dead and other Shows Fined for Using Emergency Alert Tones :: Open Borders :: Citizenship a Sham :: Freedom of Movement :: Larry’s Against Private Property :: Devil Phones :: Mexican Court Rules in Favor of Recreational Cocaine :: Beau of the Fifth Column and Gang Shit :: Thank a Criminal Day :: Utah Abandons Government Dispensary Plans :: Court Precedent :: Fuck the FCC :: HOSTS — Chris R., Nobody, Ian.” [Flash audio or MP3] (08/22/19)

David Koch, billionaire businessman and influential GOP donor, dies

Source: CNN

“Conservative billionaire David Koch, who became a household name through the policy and political empire he created with his older brother, Charles, has died. He was 79. Charles Koch, the CEO of the family’s industrial conglomerate Koch Industries, announced the death Friday. … The Koch brothers were best known — and vilified by Democrats — for their role in politics, and they used their vast wealth to build a sprawling array of think tanks, foundations and political groups to spread their [sometimes] small-government, [sometimes] free-market message. In some elections, the Koch network rivaled the spending and scope of the national Republican Party, and analysts view their activism as helping to have fueled the Tea Party movement.” (08/23/19)

Inflationary pricing and GDP

Source: Cobden Centre
by Alasdair Macleod

“This article demonstrates that only government borrowing in the US and UK drives GDP growth. This surprising conclusion is confirmed by long-run statistics. GDP does not represent economic progress, nor does it include the expansion of activity in the non-financial private sector, because that marries up with larger trade deficits, which are excluded from GDP. These findings have important implications for how the global downturn will be reflected in national statistics for the US and UK and the eventual prospects for the dollar and sterling.” (08/23/19)

Italy: Centre left and Five Star set tough coalition demands

Source: BBC News [UK state media]

“Two days after Italy’s populist government collapsed, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) leader has told the president he will try to reach a deal with one of the populist parties, the Five Star Movement. Nicola Zingaretti said Italy needed a “turning-point government” but made a series of demands. President Sergio Mattarella wants a government deal in the coming days. Otherwise Italy faces new elections. Five Star set its own 10 conditions. After meeting the president, leader Luigi Di Maio said he was ready to negotiate for a ‘solid majority’ in parliament but made no mention of the centre left. He warned of a repeat of Italy’s 2011 crisis, which led to a technocrat government taking power and then went on to announce a list of priorities. Mr Mattarella was due to address the public at 20:00 (18:00 GMT).” (08/22/19)

The Cops Who Abused Photoshop

Conor Friedersdorf

Source: The Atlantic
by Conor Friedersdorf

“Last week, The Oregonian newspaper exposed what ought to be a headline-grabbing scandal in the course of reporting on an otherwise obscure criminal trial. The dicey behavior began when Portland cops investigating a series of bank robberies felt they knew the perpetrator’s identity: Tyrone Lamont Allen, a 50-year-old whose face is covered in several prominent tattoos. But there was a problem. None of the bank tellers had noted seeing any face tattoos on the robber. And no tattoos were visible in recovered surveillance footage. Rather than look for other suspects, or even proceed with a photo lineup knowing that the tellers were unlikely to positively identify Allen, the police officers turned to a piece of software to solve their problem. ‘They covered up every one of his tattoos using Photoshop,’ the Oregonian’s Maxine Bernstein wrote. … [Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul] Maloney affirmed that the intent was to alter the photo for the lineup so that the suspect looked more like the robber — and finds that both prudent and appropriate!” (08/23/19)

Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne resigns following “deep state” comments, stock rises


Source: CNBC

“Overstock CEO Partick Byrne resigned from the e-commerce company Thursday, 10 days after making comments about his role in the ‘deep state.’ Shares of Overstock popped as much as 17% after being halted for the news. The stock finished Thursday up 8.3% to $21.12. … Byrne, who founded Overstock 20 years ago, has been in hot water since he responded to claims of his involvement in the federal government’s investigation into the 2016 election. The announcement sent Overstock’s shares tumbling more than 30% over the following days. In a statement titled ‘ CEO Comments on Deep State, Withholds Further Comment,’ Byrne referred to federal agents as the ‘Men in Black’ and said he assisted in investigations related to the Clintons and Russian interference. In an interview with The New York Times published three days later, Byrne claimed he was romantically involved with Maria Butina, the Russian operative who used her National Rifle Association activism to infiltrate American politics. She was later sentenced to 18 months in prison.” (08/22/19)

The Courage to Be Utopian

Peter Boettke

Source: American Institute for Economic Research
by Peter Boettke

“Hayek famously penned the essay ‘Why I Am Not a Conservative.’ I have often argued that folks need to read that essay in conjunction with his ‘Errors of Constructivism’ to get a good sense of his position on why as true radical liberals we must be willing to question all existing political and social values, and submit them to critical evaluation, but also why epistemologically we cannot do so while assuming any ‘Archimedean point’ from which to commence our evaluation. We must always question within specific contexts, and criticize on the margin while holding other values as given at that moment if we are to avoid serious errors in our reasoning about society. Root-and-branch constructivism is merely an illusion of the revolutionary, and a dangerous illusion at that. But that doesn’t mean we are trapped in the status quo either. Hayek is giving us a framework for engaging in social criticism from a radical liberal perspective that is within our epistemological boundaries of the humanly possible.” (08/22/19)

Last of its kind rocket puts GPS satellite in orbit

Source: Yahoo! News

“A rocket that’s the last of its kind delivered the newest, most powerful GPS satellite to orbit for the Air Force on Thursday. United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV medium-class rocket blasted into a hazy morning sky from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. … The Delta IV Medium ended its 17-year run with 29 launches. Denver-based United Launch Alliance said it will be replaced by the still-in-development Vulcan rocket. The Delta IV Heavy, meanwhile, will continue to soar.” (08/22/19)