2019-02-22

Leaving the hipster ghetto.

Long story short, I moved out of Portland at the end of 2017 for a live/work situation near Scappoose. That didn't work out, and I went back to work last summer (2018) in Beaverton. I'm now living and working in Hillsboro.

I like the Portland area, but it's unlikely that I will move back to Portland proper. When I first moved to the city, I found it walkable, liveable, affordable, and generally nice. Things are different now.

I no longer find Portland endearingly quirky. Between the rent, the crowding, the traffic, and Antifa apparently being given free rein in the streets, I'm content with my nostalgic memories of living downtown.

Follow Andy Ngo on Twitter and on YouTube to keep up with the latest from Portland and the culture wars generally.

Nigeria: Voters to elect president.

The main contenders are the incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari of APC, and challenger Atiku Abubakar of PDP.
AllAfrica:
The decision of who becomes Nigeria's next president will be taken tomorrow by about 72 million persons who have so far collected their permanent voter's cards (PVCs).

According to data released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a total of 72,775,502 million Nigerians have collected their PCVs and now qualify to cast their votes in tomorrow's polls to elect Nigeria's president for the next four years.

They will also be voting in their constituencies to elect legislators in the federal parliament, that is, the Senate and House of Representatives of the National Assembly.
Atiku exhorts voters to "remove Buhari".
Buhari emerged Nigeria's president in 2015 after defeating Jonathan in the 2015 presidential election. Buhari polled 15,424,921, while the incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan polled 12,853,162.

Atiku, who was Nigeria's vice president from 1999 till 2007, has appealed to Nigerians to express their powers by voting out Buhari and elect him president.

"On March 28, 2015, we the people of Nigeria went to our polling units and only with our PVCs and yet we were able to remove an incumbent President from office. That made me very proud to be a Nigerian and very proud to be a Democrat," Atiku said in a video on his twitter handle.

"This Saturday, we will have the opportunity of doing so again. My message to you is simple: Please come out and vote as this election is about your future and the future of our great nation. On election day, we are all equal as no single vote is more important than the other."
Buhari's message to Nigerians.
Here are the key points of the President's broadcast:

1. Democracy is far from the easiest thing to achieve and maintain.

2. Democracy requires "a combination of patience, tolerance, compassion, diligence, wisdom and hope", the traits which exist in Nigerians.

3. No "worldly hand" can deter Nigeria from continuing its democracy.

4. Nigerians were commended for their patience and peaceful conduct so far during this electoral season and especially during this intervening week following the postponement of the February 16 elections.

5. INEC must realise the profound and weighty duty that rests upon it to conduct free, fair and transparent elections. ...
Read the rest at the link.

Israeli moon probe lifts off.

Arutz Sheva:
The 585-kilogram (1,290-pound) Beresheet, which means "Genesis" in Hebrew, is to lift off at 8:45 pm (1:45 a.m. GMT Friday) atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the private US-based SpaceX company of flamboyant entrepreneur Elon Musk.

The Israeli craft will be placed in Earth orbit, then begin a seven-week trip under its own power to reach the Moon and touch down on April 11 in a large plain.

The unmanned mission is part of renewed global interest in the Moon, sometimes called the "eighth continent" of the Earth, and comes 50 years after American astronauts first walked on the lunar surface.

"For the future of our children, the State of Israel and for the belief that anything is possible, join us and wish Beresheet luck on its way to the Moon!" said a collective message from SpaceIL, the non-profit organization that designed the Israeli craft.
After the launch aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9, the Israeli probe will continue to the Moon under its own power.

2019-01-16

Kenya: Terrorists attack hotel in Nairobi.

Long War Journal: Shabaab says attack followed Zawahiri guidelines.
In addition to the jihadists’ general opposition to Israel, the name of the operation is also intended to seize upon President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Indeed, Shabaab claims Trump’s decision was “an attempt to confer legitimacy upon the illegitimate Zionist regime.” Trump and “his cohorts granted the Zionist Jews the approval to desecrate the sanctity of one of Islam’s holiest sites with their filth and vile policies of ethnic cleansing,” the al Qaeda arm’s men write.

Shabaab says that its “Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan Battalion” (or Brigade) was responsible for the assault. That same unit, which is named after an al Qaeda veteran who was killed in 2009, has conducted numerous high-profile operations in the past, including the July 2010 bombings in Kampala, Uganda and the Jan. 15, 2016 raid on an AMISOM base in El Adde, among others. Nabhan, who swore allegiance to al Qaeda’s senior leadership on behalf of Shabaab in 2008, was long wanted by the US for his role in the 1998 US Embassy bombings, as well as attacks in Mombasa, Kenya in 2002. The latter operations targeted an Israeli-owned hotel and airliner.


Arutz Sheva: Terrorists cited Trump, Jerusalem recognition.

The group said in a statement picked up by the SITE monitoring group that its fighters stormed the DusitD2 complex on instructions by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

"It is a response to the witless remarks of the US president, Donald Trump, and his declaration of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of Israel," said Al-Shabaab.

The East African: American 9/11 survivor Jason Spindler among victims.
An American who survived the 9/11 terror attack is among those who were killed in Tuesday’s terror attack at Nairobi’s 14 Riverside Drive.

Jason Spindler’s mother Sarah Sandler told NBC News that her son “was trying to make positive change in the third world in emerging markets.”

Spindler’s brother, Jonathan, also confirmed the family’s tragic loss via Facebook.

“It is with a heavy heart that I have to report that my brother, Jason Spindler passed away this morning during a terror attack in Nairobi, Kenya. Jason was a survivor of 9/11 and a fighter. I am sure he gave them hell!” Jonathan’s post read.

2019-01-13

Nigeria: Troops retake Baga.

AllAfrica: Nigerian troops retake Baga from Boko Haram.
The military had repeatedly denied that Boko Haram captured Baga after dislodging soldiers of the Nigeria military, including those of the Multi National Joint Task Force. But in the statement issued by the army spokesman, Sani Usman, said troops were able to reclaim the community after a heated gunbattle.
Daily Trust (Abuja): 'A statement from army spokesman, Brigadier General Sani Usman said the 707 Special Forces Brigade dealt the decisive blow that neutralized several terrorists along that axis. He said, "The Special Forces commenced clearance operations on 28th December 2018, where they cleared Zare, Gudumbali, Kukawa and Cross Kauwa without any resistance from suspected terrorists." Usman said, "Though some of the terrorists attempted to infiltrate troops camp at Monguno, the gallant troops lured them and neutralized many of them and recovered some arms and ammunition."'
This Day (Lagos): 'An Army officer and a soldier were killed while five soldiers wounded as Nigerian military engaged Boko Haram terrorists in a gritty battle that led to the death of over 80 terrorists in different battlegrounds notably in Baga Naval Base, which was recently reclaimed; Cross Kauwa and Monguno in Borno State. This is coming as Nigeria and China signed a N2billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to offer assistance to the Nigerian military in order to strengthen its counter-insurgency measures.'

2019-01-01

2019-01-01

Nigeria: Town of Baga reported seized by Daesh. Long War Journal: 'The Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) reportedly seized the town of Baga in northeastern Nigeria earlier this week. Reports from the region are often murky, and it is possible that ISWA’s men will not continue to hold the town, if they still do. But the group released a series of images today that purportedly document its advances there. The photos show captured spoils, including military vehicles and weaponry, as well as dead Nigerian soldiers. The Nigerian military issued its own statement on recent events, disputing a media report suggesting that Boko Haram had captured the town and pinned down the Army’s forces. The Nigerian military’s statement did not mention ISWA, which has its own footprint in the region. ...'

Ukraine / Russia: Russian moves continue. ISW: 'Russia continues to build up and prepare its military forces for possible offensive operations against Ukraine from the Crimean Peninsula and the east. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has been warning that Russia could conduct such operations at short notice since December 11, 2018. It remains impossible to assess whether Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to launch an offensive or will do so, or whether the visible military preparations are intended to pressure Ukraine and its partners without escalating to additional open conflict. The data suggests that Putin is preparing to attack, although alternative interpretations are possible. One can make reasoned arguments about why it would be unwise for him to attack now (or, indeed, at all). The West should nevertheless focus first on the data itself and the risks that flow from it, rather than on reasoning about Putin’s intentions. ...'

USA / Middle East - analysis: Trump looking for exit. FDD:
... But to say, as Mr. Trump did last week, that IS has been defeated is premature. An estimated 30,000 fighters remain in Syria and Iraq. We must now expect them to revive and rebuild under the leadership of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi whom we’ve not yet tracked down and eliminated.

America’s military presence also has succeeded in preventing Iran’s rulers from establishing a land bridge through Syria into Lebanon – now effectively ruled by Hezbollah, Tehran’s proxy – and on to the Mediterranean.

Useful too: About 90 percent of Syria’s oil lies under territory controlled by the U.S. Those resources will soon replenish Mr. Assad’s coffers, reducing the amount Ayatollah Khamenei spends – an estimated $16 billion annually – to prop up the mass-murdering dictator.

That will leave more money for terrorists and missiles that can deliver nuclear warheads. ...

2018-08-20

John Bolton in Israel.

Arutz Sheva: National Security Adviser John Bolton arrives in Israel for first official visit.
Bolton assumed office on April 9, after US President Donald Trump fired his predecessor, H.R. McMaster.

Bolton is scheduled to meet Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday morning.

Following his visit to Israel, Bolton is expected to visit Ukraine and Geneva, where he will meet
with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev.

Times of Israel: Talks expected to focus on Iran.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton was set to arrive in Israel on Sunday for two days of talks expected to heavily focus on Iran and its military presence in Syria.

Bolton will be hosted for dinner Sunday evening by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his official residence, Netanyahu’s office said Saturday, and will meet with the premier again on Monday morning for further discussions.

VOA: Iran nuclear program at top of list.
Iran's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs are at "the top of the list," U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said Sunday after arriving in Israel, where he plans to holds talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The two held a working dinner Sunday and will continue their talks Monday.

2018-07-31

WalkAway

My post in the #WalkAway campaign.

I grew up in Connecticut, in a liberal home; but the word meant something different then. My parents were old-school liberals - Kennedy Democrats. Mom in particular had no use for Communism, and admired Soviet dissidents like Solzhenitsyn. (Another Soviet dissident of the day - a Jewish activist - would later play an important role in my own thinking.) Our family didn't follow an organized religion, although we were nominally Unitarians.

We were book-lovers and intellectuals, and Mom and Dad instilled a love of learning in my sister and me. But we were also a very troubled family. As a kid I had a love of science and a nerdy bent. (This was in the 1970s, before the computer revolution made geekiness cool. In those days, "nerd" was definitely not a compliment.) I didn't want to spend the rest of my life hiding in books, like in the Simon and Garfunkel song "I Am a Rock."

I joined the military after high school and served 10 years active duty in two branches - the Air Force and the Marines. It was a great challenge and an opportunity to grow as a person. Surrounded by all different kinds of people from very different backgrounds, I learned more than I ever would have learned in a classroom.

I was still independent and unconventional in my thinking, though, including my politics. I spent about seven years as an active member of the Green Party in California and Oregon (where it's known as the Pacific Green Party for historical reasons). This was in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I liked the camaraderie and the sense of engagement. Even then, though, I probably would have identified my politics as "classical liberal" (rather than "progressive" or "leftist") - which put me firmly to the right-of-center among my fellow Greens!

As a young adult I had started to gravitate toward religion, first learning Hebrew (so as to understand the Bible better) and eventually attending synagogue services on a regular basis. The party chapter I belonged to was not anti-Zionist or anti-Semitic as far as I could tell, but I realized with growing unease that this could not be said of many of our comrades on the Left. I also noticed a strange affinity for radical Islam in some corners. The local "progressive" newspaper (oh, how I wish I'd saved that copy) ran a glowing article on the role of Islam in western Asia. That issue was published in the summer of 2001.

The September 11 attacks forced me to re-think a lot of things, but it wasn't until 2003, I think, that I officially left the Greens and joined the Democratic Party. The primaries were underway, and one of the early Democratic hopefuls was an Orthodox Jewish Senator from my home state, who struck me as a decent man and a principled liberal of the old style. I got to hear him speak once at my synagogue.

Senator Joe Lieberman dropped out of the primary on February 3, 2004, and that was my #WalkAway moment. It was clear that the Democratic Party and I were headed in different directions. I changed my registration to Republican the next day.

In the following months I began following Republican politics and learning more about conservatism. I avidly followed the freewheeling debates in National Review Online's 'The Corner'. I discovered that conservatism had nothing in common with the caricatured image presented in the news media and in TV shows like 'All in the Family'. I came to understand the importance of small government, individual liberty, and free markets. I also started to understand the role of social institutions - churches, fraternities, and even families - in a healthy, functioning Republic. And I also started to see the media bias more and more clearly.

Fast forward through the Obama years (please!) and to the recent elections. I was a Ted Cruz guy in the primaries, and did not know what to make of this Donald Trump character. I thought his supporters seemed like zealots, and a little bit unhinged. I followed the debates in the news, on the blogs, on YouTube and Facebook. And I noticed something strange: as crazy as the pro-Trump people sometimes sounded, the anti-Trump people were worse. Even among supposed Republicans and conservatives.

So I voted for Trump in the general election, not knowing what to expect, but knowing for darn sure I wasn't going to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Obama years had convinced me that the people at the helm of the Democratic Party were not simply misguided or over-zealous reformers - they were anti-American. The deaths at Benghazi, and the untimely demise of numerous persons inconvenient to the Clintons, convinced me that something very dark and sinister was afoot.

When I started listening to what Trump was actually saying - instead of what the media were telling me he was saying - I started to like what I was hearing. Grow the economy, fight illegal immigration, move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem - sounds great! But would a President Trump actually do any of those things?

Now we are getting our answer. In retrospect I realize that my fellow Republican voters called it right.

Our Nation - our Republic - is something unique and precious in the world. We are blessed with freedoms few other nations enjoy (even the so-called "democratic" nations of Europe), and with a rich intellectual and spiritual heritage. But we live in a difficult world, where totalitarian forces would like to see us defeated. Our security and our liberty depend on our strength as a nation.

It's good to be independent in your thinking, but it's also good to understand where other folks are coming from, and to understand the importance of traditions and of institutions. We need freedom, but we also need purpose. ("Man's search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life." - Viktor Frankl, 'Man's Search for Meaning') We need to be individuals, but we draw strength from a larger identity. ("The enemy's will is strong because his identity is strong. And we must match his strength of purpose with strong identities of our own." - Natan Sharansky, 'Defending Identity')

The ancient Israelites walked away from slavery in Egypt, not knowing where they were headed. They wandered in the wilderness for weeks before receiving the Torah that gave their lives meaning, and years more before settling in the homeland where they would build a national identity.

The search for meaning and identity is the work of a lifetime - but the first step is to #WalkAway.

.

2018-06-04

Financial Times: Portland near bottom in fiscal health index.

KATU:
PORTLAND, Ore. — The city of Portland is currently about $3.4 billion in debt and ranks near the bottom of a national "fiscal health index."

The Fiscal Times evaluated the finances of 116 U.S. cities with populations greater than 200,000 and ranked Portland No. 103 last year.

Officials say Portland's debt has risen by more than 20 percent over the past 10 years from $2.82 billion in 2008.

The city currently pays more than $500 million annually to service its debt, which includes both principal and interest. The city's total budget this year is $5.1 billion. ...
Go to the KATU link for a breakout and analysis of the debt from city debt manager Eric Johansen.

China / New Zealand: Concern over PRC influence in NZ.

Business Insider:
A former CIA analyst has raised the prospect of kicking New Zealand out of an international intelligence-sharing alliance, which includes the US.

Five Eyes is the name of the intelligence alliance between the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand that has routinely shared sensitive intelligence since 1955. But failure to respond to interference attempts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) should endanger New Zealand's membership, Peter Mattis, a former CIA China expert testified to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission last month.

"In New Zealand, both the last prime minister, Bill English, and Jacinda Ardern, have denied that there's a problem at all," Mattis, now a fellow at The Jamestown Foundation, said. ...

Seth Frantzman: Europe's overdue immigration reform.

Seth Frantzman at Jerusalem Post:
It’s not by chance that immigration became the No. 1 issue in all these countries. It is because almost every single government across the continent thought that bourgeois post-Cold War sensibilities and neoliberalism could solve everything. They labeled everyone discussing immigration, when such discussions were much smaller, as crackpots, extreme rightists. This was mostly because the old parties of Europe, the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, the Liberals and Conservatives, had a convivencia of power-swapping. Years of peace changed the political landscape, and it was expected that borders would be reduced and a common currency would lead to common values. The nation-state was an anachronism, said intellectuals like Tony Judt. Growing inequality, unemployment, and the social distance between leaders and governed crept in quietly, without major media noticing it.

The refugee crises of 2015 was emblematic of what had gone on for years. I went to Eastern Europe to cover the crisis. I watched as police in Greece lined up migrants and sent them into Macedonia across an undocumented border crossing. No security checks, no fingerprints, no IDs. Just “go across.” ...

Jonathan Spyer: Iran's strategic response.

Jonathan Spyer:
Iran can be expected to respond with a counter-strategy of its own, designed to stymy and frustrate western and allied efforts. What form will this Iranian response take? What assets does Iran possess in the furtherance of this goal?

First of all, it is worth noting what Iran does not have: Teheran is deficient in conventional military power, and as such is especially vulnerable when challenged in this arena. The Iranians have neglected conventional military spending, in favor of emphasis on their missile program, and their expertise in the irregular warfare methods of the Revolutionary Guards Corps and its Qods Force. ...