United States

Cannabis going mainstream, front cover of National Geographic

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If you ever needed confirmation that what I have been saying about cannabis reform is true then one of the most conservative magazines out there, National Geographic has featured cannabis on their front cover and the feature article explores in depth the changing nature of the legality of cannabis.

There’s nothing new about cannabis, of course. It’s been around humankind pretty much forever.

In Siberia charred seeds have been found inside burial mounds dating back to 3000 B.C. The Chinese were using cannabis as a medicine thousands of years ago. Marijuana is deeply American too—as American as George Washington, who grew hemp at Mount Vernon. For most of the country’s history, cannabis was legal, commonly found in tinctures and extracts.

Then came Reefer Madness. Marijuana, the Assassin of Youth. The Killer Weed. The Gateway Drug. For nearly 70 years the plant went into hiding, and medical research largely stopped. In 1970 the federal government made it even harder to study marijuana, classifying it as a Schedule I drug—a dangerous substance with no valid medical purpose and a high potential for abuse, in the same category as heroin. In America most people expanding knowledge about cannabis were by definition criminals.   Read more »

Another bad day for a bad wog

The Americans are starting to make in-roads into the leadership of ISIS, killing another top scumbag with a Special Forces operation.

America claimed a “significant blow” against Isil on Saturday when Special Forces soldiers launched a rare strike inside eastern Syria, killing a senior commander.

Elite troops based in Iraq carried out the cross-border raid, which killed a terrorist leader going by the nom de guerre Abu Sayyaf.

His wife was also captured and a female slave from the Yazidi minority rescued. About a dozen Isil fighters were killed, but no American soldiers were hurt, said a US official.

“The operation represents another significant blow to Isil [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant],” said Ash Carter, the US defence secretary. “It is another reminder that the United States will never waver in denying safe haven to terrorists who threaten our citizens and those of our friends and allies.”

Raiding with Special Forces will have hurt ISIS mentally. They think they are impregnable within the areas controlled by them.

US Special Forces have struck inside Syria before, but only on hostage rescue missions. Last year, they tried to save James Foley, an American journalist, by raiding a location in Raqqa, the unofficial capital of Isil. But all of the hostages had been moved and Foley was murdered a month later.

The latest operation appeared to be the first in Syria where the aim was to kill or capture an Isil commander.

[…]    Read more »

The march of conservatism

Liam Hehir has a piece in the Manawatu Standard that explores how the left are being left behind by the march of conservatism.

It is a very good and well thought out article.

He outlines the catalogue of victories in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and the US.

But why is this happening and why is the left so hopeless.

When you survey the current state of Anglosphere politics, certain themes emerge. These don’t apply in every instance – we are talking about geographically and economically diverse countries, after all. Nevertheless, there are certain commonalities that go some of the way to explaining the current Centre-Right ascendancy.

First of all, conservative politicians have made the best of the limited means available to them. Harper’s nine years in power have included the two longest lasting minority governments in Canada’s history. Cameron’s government has had to struggle through five years of being shackled to an unpopular coalition partner – and even now its majority is puny compared to those the party enjoyed in the Thatcher years.

Our own electoral system has meant that, despite very high approval ratings, John Key has never had much margin for error.

This leads on to the second important factor in conservative electoral success: self-control.

Because none of these governments have the power to impose wide-ranging reforms, conservative politicians have had to restrain their actions and rhetoric. This comes easily for some – Key and Cameron are not temperamentally conservative anyway. For others, like Harper and Abbott, there has been more of a recognition that certain battles can’t be won and therefore aren’t worth fighting.

This moderation is sometimes frustrating for conservative voters, but it also does a good job taking the wind out of the histrionics of Left wing commentators.

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Teacher Unions (and the Left’s) Motivation Laid Bare

Recent teacher union protests in the USA make their basic life philosophies clear:

They do not like successful people.

They do not like generosity.

They love tax and spend.

Children come a distant second to protecting their patch.

New York City is the centre of change for Charter Schooling in the USA. Recent Stanford University data is pointing out how well urban children are doing under Charter schools as opposed to traditional public schools – and the unions are hating it.     Read more »

ANZAC Day – For our American friends

So much for peak oil

It is interesting being in Dubai and listening to people talk about how oil prices will rise again one Iran’s sanctions are lifted and with the low price hurting shale oil.

It is also interesting to wonder why we hear nothing anymore from the hippies about peak oil.

The US shale industry has failed to crack as expected. North Sea oil drillers and high-cost producers off the coast of Africa are in dire straits, but America’s “flexi-frackers” remain largely unruffled.

One starts to glimpse the extraordinary possibility that the US oil industry could be the last one standing in a long and bitter price war for global market share, or may at least emerge as an energy superpower with greater political staying-power than Opec.

It is 10 months since the global crude market buckled, turning into a full-blown rout in November when Saudi Arabia abandoned its role as the oil world’s “Federal Reserve” and opted instead to drive out competitors.

If the purpose was to choke the US “tight oil” industry before it becomes an existential threat – and to choke solar power in the process – it risks going badly awry, though perhaps they had no choice. “There was a strong expectation that the US system would crash. It hasn’t,” said Atul Arya, from IHS.

“The freight train of North American tight oil has just kept on coming. This is a classic price discovery exercise,” said Rex Tillerson, head of Exxon Mobil, the big brother of the Western oil industry.

Mr Tillerson said shale producers are more agile than critics expected, which means that the price war will go on. “This is going to last for a while,” he said, warning that any rallies are likely to prove false dawns. Read more »

He’s not a whistle-blower, he’s a traitor

You can tell where someone’s thinking is at by the words they use.

The NZ media insist on calling Edward Snowden a “whistle-blower”. He is not, he is a traitor.

The traitor Edward Snowden has released some more documents that amazingly show that our spy agency actually does its job…spying.

New Zealand has been involved in spying operations in Bangladesh, sharing intelligence with the United States as part of its global counter-terrorism campaign, secret documents show.

United States fugitive Edward Snowden worked at the US National Security Agency (NSA) before turning whistleblower in June 2013, releasing documents to the mainstream media showing spy agencies were conducting mass surveillance.

New documents obtained by Snowden and released to nzherald.co.nz reveal the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) has been involved in surveillance of Bangladesh for more than a decade.

A “top secret” NSA information paper from April 2013 says the GCSB “has been the lead for the intelligence community on the Bangladesh counterterrorism (CT) target since 2004.”

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Yeah, helping Iran so they can give even more money to Hamas is a really good idea

The Obama Administration is working tirelessly to undermine Israel and to promote the interests of Iran through their shonky deal.

All the while Iran has plenty of millions to throw the way of Hamas to help them re-arm after last years attacks from Gaza on Israel.

Iran has sent Hamas’s military wing tens of millions of dollars to help it rebuild the network of tunnels in Gaza destroyed by Israel’s invasion last summer, intelligence sources have told The Sunday Telegraph.

It is also funding new missile supplies to replenish stocks used to bombard residential neighbourhoods in Israel during the war, code-named Operation Protective Edge by Israel.

The renewed funding is a sign that the two old allies are putting behind them a rift caused by the conflict in Syria, where Shia Iran is backing President Bashar al-Assad against Hamas’s mainly Sunni allies.

Iran has sponsored Hamas’s military operations for years, despite the contradiction that Hamas is part of the worldwide, Sunni-supremacist Muslim Brotherhood, while Iran is Shia.

Hamas’s leader, Khaled Meshaal, who left Damascus for Qatar after falling out with the Assad regime, has often fought with Hamas’s military wing over the strength of the Iranian connection.

However, with the Sunni Arab world joining forces against Iran, led by Saudi Arabia and President Abdelfattah el-Sisi of Egypt, who are both hostile to Hamas, the Palestinian militant group has been left little option but to accept the Iranian largesse.   Read more »

Telling liberals to get their priorities straight

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a fascinating woman…and someone we really should take notice of. She gives liberals a sound kicking in explaining her stance on Islam, feminism and atheism in an interview with The Daily Beast.

Changing the subject for a moment, you have also voiced some unorthodox opinions on the subject of women’s issues in the United States—

Listen, this is what I have to say on women’s issues in the United States. We are so blessed as women to live in the United States. The best place to be a woman in the world is in the U.S. The best place to be black in the world is in the U.S. Is it perfect? No. Are we confronted with threats? Yes. But it’s the perfect place to fight [them] off. Because in the U.S., we have—besides the law—the majority of the population who accept that we, as women, have absolutely equal rights to men. The best place to be black in the world is here. I cannot imagine what it is like to be a black man living in Saudi Arabia, in Iran—even where the majority of people are black, like Africa. I cannot imagine a better place to be gay than in the U.S. I know that all European countries have accepted gay marriage and here in the U.S. we’re still struggling to accept that. On the other hand, when the jihadists in Europe attack gays in the streets, the governments don’t protect them. The best place to be Jewish in the world, besides the state of Israel, is in the U.S. The best place to be Christian is in the U.S. I don’t know anything else to say in the U.S. I know we’re in an election cycle and I’m supposed to take sides, but I’m not going to.

Very good points there, and still we silence from the liberal left on the plight of women and gays in Syria and Iraq.

It’s almost a year since you were embroiled in a controversy at Brandeis, where you were invited to speak at the commencement and then disinvited because some people felt that you had made comments that were offensive to Muslims. Looking back at that controversy today, how do you think it was handled by everyone?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: I’m glad you mentioned that it has been almost a year. I was working on the book, and I remember thinking: Here comes Boko Haram, they kidnapped 276 girls in the name of Islam, they have the Quran and it is sandwiched between two AK-47s, at the same time that this little Brandeis thing is in our news. There’s a woman called Meriam Ibrahim from the Sudan, and the government of Sudan condemns her to death because she married a Christian man and in Sudan, the law is that if you leave the religion of Islam, you are condemned to death. And it goes on and on, and the Islamic State [of Iraq and Syria] comes about, and by September of 2014 we’re back in Iraq saying that we’re going to destroy and chase to the gates of Hell the Islamic State.

What seemed to be a small controversy in a place called Brandeis, a Jewish university—it has these enormous geopolitical consequences. And this is a message to the people, the faculty and the students of Brandeis, but also to the other liberals who think that the best way to protect Muslims is to protect them from critical thinking. The answer is: No, actually, the best way to protect Muslims is to give them room to think critically about Islam, to reform it. And that’s the subject of this book.

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State School Cost vs Charter School Cost

The PPTA/NZEI/Labour and their apologists continue to try and promote the myth that Charter Schools are over funded.

While some good results are coming here and brilliant results for urban Charters in the USA it is worth thinking of comparative costs.

A Charter school in NZ costs approximately $1 million to set up.

As a recent State example Ormiston Senior College cost $50 million and currently are spreading that over only 400 students while getting nearly $8,400 per student per annum too.

Ormiston Senior College is a decile 10, Co-Educational Secondary school, located in Auckland. The school has 396 Year 11-15 students including 8international students. The school receives $3,313,403.55 in direct government funding, which translates to a budget of $8,367.18 per student.

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