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Terrorism

How to Defeat Terrorism by David Solway.

No less important, indeed, perhaps the most crucial of the measures I am proposing, has to do with terminology and the concepts it signifies. We keep hearing that the enemy we are facing is “Islamic extremism” or “radical Islam.” Nothing can be further from the truth. This is the most serious in its consequences of the evasions we practice and one that ensures our eventual destruction. The enemy is not radical Islam but Islam pure and simple. The terrorists, their enablers and the “entry” cohort take their warrant from their holy scriptures—the Koran, the Hadith, the Sira, the schools of jurisprudence, and centuries of political and religious commentary.

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Related: Does the Bible Teach the Same Kind of ‘Holy War’ as the Quran? by Jeff Sanders.

There is no denying that both the Bible and the Quran relate tales of violence. Both books have commands for the faithful to kill unbelievers (most notably Deuteronomy 7:1-5 in the Bible and Surah 9:5,19 in the Quran). Joshua, in fact, did enter the land of Canaan and wiped out many (but not all) of its inhabitants. But is this the exact same thing as the Quran’s numerous commands for Muslims to slay non-Muslims and/or subjugate them?

The “holy war” in the Bible is limited to only one set of passages in the Old Testament—those related to God’s commands to eliminate the Canaanites and their fellow pagans from the land of Israel. They were given the option to convert (as in the case of Rahab in Joshua 2:11) or they could leave the land and resettle elsewhere. God had already warned the Canaanites, who were notorious for burning babies alive in worship of Baal, that they had 400 years to repent of their crimes. And with the approach of the Israelite army, it is very likely that the women and children could have fled, leaving only the warriors to fight.

Nevertheless, God did not ever tell the Israelites to go conquer and take the land of the Egyptians or the Syrians or the Greeks or the Babylonians or anyone else. And they didn’t. Whatever you think of this bloody episode in the Bible, the biblical evidence is that this command to execute the Canaanite culture was limited only to that piece of geography and that particular time period. The Canaanites no longer exist, and the present-day government of Israel (the freest government in the Middle East) does not carry out these commands from the Law of Moses upon any of its inhabitants. And Christians have historically believed that the Law of Moses was completed at the cross, and its civil and ceremonial codes have been terminated for believers today (Galatians 3:24,25; Hebrews 7:11-25; 10:1-14).

However, the commands in the Quran to make war on all unbelievers have no “sunset clause.” All of these commands are open-ended. They are not limited in any way to any geographical boundaries or to a time period. They are for all faithful Muslims for all time.

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Running

Tennis with Plato by Mark Rowlands.

In one of his letters to the Corinthians, St Paul takes a firm line on what it means to be an adult: ‘When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man I put away childish things.’ Lately, I’ve wondered more and more whether he was right as events have taken a somewhat different turn for me. My second childhood was kindly delivered to me by my children. This, I suspect, was no coincidence. Children know something that adults have forgotten — something adults have to forget when they begin playing the great game of growing up and becoming someone.

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Suppressed

Ma Bell Suppressed Innovation for Thirty Grueling Years by Bill Frezza.

“Oh, for the days of Ma Bell!” is not a lament we’re likely to hear. And for good reason. Before the breakup of AT&T, America’s telephone system was a government-sanctioned monopoly characterized by stagnant service offerings, high costs, and a glacial pace of consumer-facing innovation.

So it was distressing when a federal appeals court engaged in a bit of 1970s nostalgia last month by upholding the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ill-conceived net neutrality rules. Under the new FCC rules, Internet service will increasingly be regulated like a public utility, rather than a competitive market.

The likely result? Reduced investment in online communications infrastructure, reduced competition, and innovation slowing down to a crawl.

Technology companies in the United States are our economy’s drivers—making things better, faster, and cheaper while creating new jobs and economic growth. Nothing could be worse for American competitiveness, or for consumers, than returning to the ‘golden age’ of Ma Bell.

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Thiel

It’s Peter Thiel’s Republican Party Now… Or Should Be by Roger L Simon.

Donald Trump and daughter Ivanka may have brought down the house, but the most intriguing, original, and ultimately most optimistic speech at the Republican National Convention Thursday was given by Peter Thiel.

Like Trump, Thiel is no politician. He’s a brilliant, controversial yet wildly successful high-tech entrepreneur from the Silicon Valley (co-founder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook), a libertarian, a best-selling author, a Cleveland native and, for some time, a fully out gay.

That last alone would seem to be a game changer in Republican politics, especially since Trump gave Thiel a coveted spot only two away from him and Ivanka on the final night of the convention, a clearly not accidental gesture on Donald’s part.

The audience responded. Thiel got a standing ovation and the conventional liberal “narrative” about the GOP took a serious body blow in front of a good portion of the country. Dan Rather, who has been seen wandering around the convention, may have been bewildered.

But, in truth, it wasn’t all that surprising. For some time now there has been a small but growing stream in the Republican Party that is considerably more modern than anything on the Democratic side, where the likes of Bernie Sanders dominate with a worldview out of 1932.

The fact is that liberals and progressives are the true fuddy-duddies of our time, more conservative than conservatives. These days they offer not one original thought, unless you count nostalgia for 1968 or yet one more iteration of LBJ’s moribund War on Poverty.

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Free Trade

Promoting Free Trade in Agriculture by Scott Lincicome.

Despite decades of agricultural liberalization through successes like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization, many costly, trade-distorting subsidies and barriers remain in place both in the United States and abroad. Reform is necessary, and experience in the United States and elsewhere shows that the U.S. farm sector, far from being destroyed by elimination of these non-market measures, would grow even stronger. Congress should enact reforms that convert the U.S. farm trade system into one that better reflects free-market principles, limits government intervention on behalf of well-connected cronies, and offers a broader array of benefits to U.S. consumers and the economy. Such reforms also would give the United States the moral authority to demand more of its trading partners through trade negotiations and dispute settlement. Trade has provided immense benefits to the U.S. and global agricultural sectors, but more remains to be done.

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Rulebook

The Tour de France Tears Up its Unwritten Rulebook by Joshua Robinson.

Expanded TV coverage and declining age of riders forces the peloton to abandon the race’s long-held gentlemanly agreements.

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Depression

How Japan Came to Believe in Depression by Christopher Harding.

Depression was not widely recognised in Japan until the late 1990s. When an advertising campaign called it a “cold of the soul” sales of anti-depressants boomed. Now some have been accused of faking depression to get time off work.

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Bikes

The Bicycle Problem That Nearly Broke Mathematics by Brendan Borrell.

Jim Papadopoulos has spent a lifetime pondering the maths of bikes in motion. Now his work has found fresh momentum.

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Time

A Debate Over the Physics of Time by Dan Falk.

According to our best theories of physics, the universe is a fixed block where time only appears to pass. Yet a number of physicists hope to replace this “block universe” with a physical theory of time.

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Cerebral Cortex

A Multi-Modal Parcellation of Human Cerebral Cortex by Matthew F. Glasser, Timothy S. Coalson, Emma C. Robinson, Carl D. Hacker, John Harwell, Essa Yacoub, Kamil Ugurbil, Jesper Andersson, Christian F. Beckmann, Mark Jenkinson, Stephen M. Smith & David C. Van Essen.

Understanding the amazingly complex human cerebral cortex requires a map (or parcellation) of its major subdivisions, known as cortical areas. Making an accurate areal map has been a century-old objective in neuroscience. Using multi-modal magnetic resonance images from the Human Connectome Project (HCP) and an objective semi-automated neuroanatomical approach, we delineated 180 areas per hemisphere bounded by sharp changes in cortical architecture, function, connectivity, and/or topography in a precisely aligned group average of 210 healthy young adults. We characterized 97 new areas and 83 areas previously reported using post-mortem microscopy or other specialized study-specific approaches. To enable automated delineation and identification of these areas in new HCP subjects and in future studies, we trained a machine-learning classifier to recognize the multi-modal ‘fingerprint’ of each cortical area. This classifier detected the presence of 96.6% of the cortical areas in new subjects, replicated the group parcellation, and could correctly locate areas in individuals with atypical parcellations. The freely available parcellation and classifier will enable substantially improved neuroanatomical precision for studies of the structural and functional organization of human cerebral cortex and its variation across individuals and in development, aging, and disease.

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WEIRDo

Spot the WEIRDo by Robert Colvile.

Too much research is done on Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic students. Can science widen its base?

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Fraud

The Golden State’s Fiscal Fraud by Peter Bennett and Danita Delimont.

California: For years, the liberal media have lionized California Gov. Jerry Brown’s economic “miracle” in bringing the Golden State back from the dead and balancing the state’s budget. But his supposed miracle looks more like a mirage by the day.

Thanks to budget legerdemain, Brown and his Democratic allies in the legislature have posed themselves as the fiscal saviors of California, making brave choices to balance the books and get the economy growing again. But the fact is, the nation’s largest and still-wealthiest state is in a fiscal fix from which it will be tough to extricate itself.

Democrats boast of running a “surplus.” What they don’t say is they only run a surplus by excluding costs for the state’s out-of-control public-pension programs. If a company did this, it would be accused of fraud. In California, this gets you re-elected.

California’s total debt is $118.17 billion, but when you add in what it really owes, that surges to an unbelievable $757 billion — roughly equal to 46% of the state’s total income. This is why the Mercatus Center at George Mason University recently ranked California 44th in the nation in terms of fiscal health.

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Insidious

The Left’s Insidious War on the Free Speech Rights of Climate Dissenters by Shikha Dalmia.

The main casualty of global warming is the Democratic Party’s sanity.

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Related: Democrats’ Climate Agenda Deserves a Conservative Response by Devin Hartman.

As the Democratic Party looks to advance what has been characterized as the “most progressive platform in the party’s history,” there’s never been a more urgent time for Republicans to revitalize their energy and climate agendas.

The Democrats’ formal 2016 platform will not be adopted until delegates convene for the Democratic National Convention, scheduled for July 25 to July 28 in Philadelphia. But a leaked version of the platform draft obtained by NBC News shows an intent to double down on “climate justice” and proposals to transform America into a “clean energy superpower,” long-standing priorities of the Democratic Party. Despite Republicans’ best efforts over the years, there has been a pileup of regulations and market-stifling subsidies aimed at achieving these goals.

The Democrats’ platform correctly diagnoses the benefits of a renaissance in energy technology, including technologies to combat climate change. But by refusing to bend on their ideological attachment to command-and-control solutions to exaggerated problems, party leaders may impede the very future they long to see. The Republicans, meanwhile, if they hope to resist the problematic elements of the Democratic plan, must counter with their own pro-market energy and climate platform.

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Winter

Welcome to the Turkish Winter: The Great Purge is Just Beginning by Burak Kadercan.

On July 15th, 2016, Turkey witnessed its first “real” coup attempt in more than 35 years. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) stood their ground and called their supporters to the streets. AKP’s supporters responded and hit the streets in the thousands, and some literally faced off coup plotters, even their tanks. In the meantime, opposition parties and their supporters openly condemned the coup attempt, leaving the plotters with little air to breathe.

The plot eventually failed in a matter of hours, leaving behind almost 200 dead and thousands more wounded. Erdogan responded with a massive purge that has so far left around 2745 judges and 3000 officers (including more than 40 generals/admirals) detained. They are all blamed for aligning with or being members of what the Turkish establishment refers to as FETO, or the Fethullah Terrorist Organization, which refers to the Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. This “great purge” will likely continue to spread outside the military and judiciary into the bureaucracy, academia, the press, and beyond. There will also be a witch hunt on social media. The Turkish National Police have asked citizens to notify them of social media accounts that might be deemed as coup-friendly to its cyber division. The great purge is just beginning.

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Upends

Nice Upends French Politics by Pierre Briançon.

They all insist they would never, ever use such a tragedy for petty political purposes.

Then the criticism starts. For the first time since the recent string of terror attacks started in France in 2012, the country’s political solidarity in the face of the ISIL threat has broken down. Conservative opposition leaders are now directly taking the Socialist government to task for not doing enough to prevent such atrocities.

French voters agree with them. Also for the first time, they have lost faith in the ability of French President François Hollande and his government to deal with terrorism. That’s a fundamental shift in public opinion that pollsters and politicians alike say will be a major determinant of the French presidential election next year.

Two-thirds of the French don’t trust the government to fight terrorism, according to an IFOP poll published Monday in Le Figaro. Compare that to the reaction after the January and November 2015 attacks, when a majority of the population approved Hollande’s reaction and saw him as a president who dealt with terror threats effectively. His popularity, low as it was, surged on a “national unity” reflex.

Now the hostility is becoming vocal. On Monday French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was booed in Nice after a minute’s silence in honor of the attack victims, as cries of “Resignation!” could be heard from the crowd.

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Deep State

No Matter Who Wins The Presidency, The ‘Deep State’ Will Run Things by James Poulos.

When crunch time has come, our deep state has managed largely to keep the ship afloat and chugging ahead. They’ll see us through either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

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Key

What is the Fundamental Key to Happiness? by Robert Puff.

In over twenty-five years as a clinical psychologist, assisting people whose lives are difficult, I have had clients that are struggling with very challenging situations. Sometimes, a client needs my help immediately. Like many psychologists, from time to time, I get calls from people who feel as if they are going to die and want my help. So what do I do? Do I spend an hour on the phone with them? Do I drive down to my office and meet them there immediately? No. Instead, I do the same thing I have always done. I listen to the person and the situation he or she faces, and then I ask them to go for a walk outside for half an hour to an hour, just spending time outdoors in the fresh air. If after that time, at the end of the walk, the person still feels upset, I say give me a call again. In my twenty-five years, I have never received that second call! I have never had to hospitalize anyone.

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Dead?

Is Liberalism Dead? by S. Adam Seagrave.

Is liberalism dead? The shadow of this troubling question overhangs much of the sweeping, profound, and timely narrative of Kim R. Holmes’s new book, The Closing of the Liberal Mind. In his acknowledgments, Holmes helpfully reflects that “the history of ideas involves a complex interaction between people’s thoughts and deeds that often remains as elusive as an evening breeze.” As elusive as this interaction can indeed often be, Holmes tracks the evening breeze remarkably closely and faithfully throughout the book.

The metaphor is particularly apt in the case of Holmes’s subject, which involves a story of “tragedy,” of “closing,” and of the symbolic extinguishing of the bright flame of liberty represented on the book’s cover. Like a few other recent works with depressing Tocquevillian twists, such as Paul Rahe’s Soft Despotism: Democracy’s Drift or Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, Holmes argues that the early promise of liberalism in its “classical” or “moderate” guise has given way to a noxious blend of individualism, subjectivism, relativism, atheism, and nihilism. The promising dawn of liberal modernity in the thought of John Locke and the American founders has run its course and turned to the dusk of its dark “postmodern” twin.

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You can read an excerpt here.

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CalPERS

More CalPERS Pension Debt to Hit Taxpayers by Daniel Borenstein.

The nation’s largest pension plan continues adding to state and local taxpayers’ $93 billion debt.

The question now is whether the board of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System will stanch the bleeding. Or will it continue to laden our children and grandchildren with higher taxes and reduced public services because of its failure to properly fund the retirement system now?

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Radical?

Why Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Criticism of Islam Angers Western Liberals by Jeff Robbins.

Ms. Hirsi Ali warns against use of the words “extreme” and “radical” to describe as peripheral an ideology which, she argues, is in fact quite prevalent in Muslim communities around the globe, and which leads easily to violence—whether in the form of female genital mutilation or honor killings or wife-beating or suicide bombings. She views the reliance on those words as self-delusion, a soothing, self-administered palliative whose effect is to mask evidence that violence is the largely natural extension of fundamentalist values sternly dictated and widely embraced in Muslim communities—values that encourage harsh treatment of women and strict, even brutal, punishment of non-believers. Her warnings, and those of others who risk their reputations and lives to criticize Islamic institutions, are distinctly unwelcome in many Western quarters, where they are regarded as grievously politically incorrect, and where the “few-bad-apples” narrative of Islamic extremism is vastly preferred.

A December 2015 report by the Pew Research Center reinforces Ms. Hirsi Ali’s point. Decisive if not overwhelming majorities of Muslims in most of the 39 countries surveyed wanted Sharia law—a fundamentalist legal code based on the Koran and other Islamic texts—to be the official law of the land in their countries. In Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, 77 percent of Muslims said they want Sharia law imposed. In Pakistan the figure was 84 percent; in the Palestinian territories, 89 percent; in Iraq, 91 percent and in Afghanistan it reached 99 percent. The accepted line that Islamic fundamentalism and the embrace of violence are the result of grievance and alienation is worse than wishful thinking, Ms. Hirsi Ali says. It is “wrong, it is dangerous and it is suicidal,” she says, pointing to Great Britain to illustrate her argument. A poll conducted this month found that 88 percent of British Muslims believe Britain is a good place to live. The poll shed light on that same community’s adherence to values that Western politicians dismiss as aberrant. One-third of British Muslims refuse to condemn the stoning of women accused of adultery. Thirty-nine percent believe women should always obey their husbands. And almost a quarter believe Sharia law should replace British law in areas with large Muslim populations. An estimated 100,000 British Muslims express sympathy for suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks, and two-thirds say they would refuse to contact law enforcement if they believed someone close to them was collaborating with jihadists.

Whether out of political expediency or superficiality, Western politicians and commentators treat individuals like those responsible for the massacres in France, Belgium, California and across the Middle East and Africa as mere “pop-ups”—making it seem as though, as Ms. Hirsi Ali says, “a 21-year-old wakes up one day and decides to commit jihad.” She wryly refers to this as “Sudden Jihadi Syndrome.” Ms. Hirsi Ali views matters quite differently. “That’s not the way it works,” she says. “This is the product of indoctrination that goes on year after year. In North America and Europe [no less than elsewhere] they preach that jihad is obligatory. They may preach that there is a time and a place for jihad, but they preach it.”

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