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Saudi Arabia: ISIS Will Reach America In Two Months

 Scott Greer

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s head of state King Abdullah issued a dire warning to the West if they choose to ignore the Muslim extremist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“If we ignore them, I am sure they will reach Europe in a month and America in another month,” Abdullah said at a Friday diplomatic ceremony and later quoted by Saudi television.

“Terrorism knows no border and its danger could affect several countries outside the Middle East,” he continued. “You see how they [jihadists] carry out beheadings and make children show the severed heads in the street.”

 
A Tipping Point for Too Much Talent

Dwyane Wade, left, Chris Bosh, center, and LeBron James of Miami Heat with their championship rings in 2012. In basketball, researchers found, adding superstars was productive — up to a point.

A Tipping Point for Too Much Talent

 Can a sports team ever have too much talent?

Those of us following the trades and roster jockeying by National Football League, Premier League and National Basketball Association teams could reasonably assume that the answer is no. But a new study of hundreds of games in several professional sports leagues suggests that, in fact, talent does have a tipping point, beyond which too many great players become detrimental to a team’s success, a finding with broad implications for coaches at all levels of play, as well as fans and athletes possessing transcendent and more-average gifts.

For the new study, which was published this month in Psychological Science, researchers with the Insead business school in Fontainebleau, France; Columbia University in New York City; and other institutions first set out to determine just how important most of us consider talent to be.

In soccer and basketball, the researchers found, adding superstars was productive — up to a point. But once a team consisted of more than about two-thirds superstars, its performance would begin to suffer, with fewer wins than would be expected, given the caliber of its talent.

But in baseball, the data showed, team performance did not decline, no matter how many stars were clustered on a roster.

Cumulatively, the findings suggest that in sports requiring teamwork and coordination, you can have too much talent.

Basketball and soccer require player interdependence, communication and ego sublimation, which are not skills at which all stars excel, Dr. Swaab said. Baseball, on the other hand, is essentially “an individual sport” in a team setting, he said, allowing multiple superstars to coexist successfully on a roster (recent Yankees seasons notwithstanding).

 
How an Entrepreneur's Passion Can Destroy a Startup

How an Entrepreneur's Passion Can Destroy a Startup

Strong Feelings Can Lead Founders to Make Bad Choices at the Worst Times. Here's What to Watch For.

 
Why the Last 5 Years of Your Life Have Disappeared

Why the Last 5 Years of Your Life Have Disappeared

By Ron Friedman, Ph.D.

Psychologists haven’t pinned down exactly when our perception of time begins to accelerate, but they do offer a few interesting theories about why it happens. The older we get, the less there is that feels truly new. So what can we do to reverse the trend?

 
U.S. Fee to Drop Citizenship Is Raised Fivefold

U.S. Fee to Drop Citizenship Is Raised Fivefold

The fee for individuals to renounce U.S. citizenship is jumping to $2,350 as of Sept. 12—more than five times the current charge of $450.

The U.S. State Department, in its explanation for the increase, said that documenting a renunciation is “extremely costly” and requires a minimum of two intensive interviews with the applicant as well as other procedures.

The fees charged for a number of other services, such as “fiance(e) visas” and employment-based visa applications,  increased far less than those for renunciation and in some cases declined.

The large increase in the renunciation fee comes at a time when record numbers of Americans living abroad are cutting ties with the U.S. Last year, 2,999 U.S. citizens and green-card holders renounced their allegiance to the U.S., a record number, and renunciations in 2014 are on track to exceed that. The State Department estimates that 7.6 million Americans live abroad.

 
Secret Service are searching for car linked to threat against President Obama

Secret Service are searching for car linked to threat against President Obama

By Snejana Farberov 

The U.S. Secret Service and Connecticut State Police are searching for a car linked to a threat against President Obama, who arrived in Rhode Island Friday for a fundraiser 

The U.S. Secret Service and Connecticut State Police are searching for a car in connection to a possible threat made against President Barack Obama. Federal and state officials are on the hunt for a silver 2014 Volkswagen Jetta with Connecticut license plates, The Hartford Courant reported. According to police, the vehicle is believed to be driven by a man who may have threatened the life of the president.

 
'ISIS Is A Movement Of Sexual Losers Channelling Their Misery Into Violence'

Brendan Bordelon

Greg Gutfeld

'Hence the allure of the virgin promise'

“This is how I understand ISIS,” he began. “Remember that kid, I guess his name was Eliot Rodgers? He was the loser who rampaged in Santa Barbara, and he killed these people because he was a romantic reject.”

 
Time Warner ends Vice Media talks

Time Warner ends Vice Media talks

Shane Smith, Vice founder.

Deal that could have handed Vice control of Time Warner cable channel HLN, collapses over dispute about value

The two companies started talking in June about a deal that could have handed Vice control of Time Warner’s cable channel HLN, a 24-hour network that reaches more than 100 million households.

But according to reports first published in the New York Times, the talks have collapsed over a dispute about Vice’s worth.

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox paid $70m for a 5% stake in Vice last year, valuing the company at more than $1bn. James Murdoch joined Vice’s board last November.

With its millennial audience and fast growing video division, Vice has hit the sweet spot for advertisers. The company, based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, had reportedly been lobbying for a value of over $2bn.

 
The Game That Changed the Game

The Game That Changed the Game

By Ben Cohen

Seven years ago, Appalachian State's historic upset of Michigan helped set in motion a series of events that have revolutionized college football. The teams meet again on Saturday.

The 2007 Appalachian State-Michigan game was supposed to be a cakewalk for the Wolverines, college football's all-time winningest team. But by the final frantic seconds, executives with the game's broadcaster—a startup called the Big Ten Network—had crammed into the station's control room in Chicago to watch the ending.

Down by two, Michigan called on its kicker to try a game-winning, face-saving field goal. BTN president Mark Silverman expected the Wolverines to prevail. He told his colleagues that this would be the best possible launch for the network, which was two days old and struggling to strike deals with carriers.

"Wouldn't it better for us if he misses?" said BTN producer Leon Schweir.

It turned out even better yet—at least for everyone besides the Wolverines.

Appalachian State blocked the kick and pulled the upset, one of the biggest in sports history. Now, as the teams get set to meet again on Saturday, it is also clear that the shocking result had a more lasting effect: It was the game that changed the business of college football.

Seven years later, the sport is almost unrecognizable from what it was then. The 2007 matchup came at a time when TV-rights fees were about to boom and athletic-department revenues were on the verge of skyrocketing. It helped ring in the era of conference realignment that temporarily consumed college sports and made the Big Ten Conference emerge as a financial titan.

 
The Elusiveness of Stolen Art

The Elusiveness of Stolen Art

Only 1.5 percent of looted work is ever recovered. Why don't museums use GPS trackers?

By Rose Eveleth

Earlier this month thieves made off with a giant Renaissance masterpiece—a 10-foot by six-foot piece painted by Guercino in 1639, and worth over $8 million. Whoever took the painting didn’t have to do much; the security alarm on the church wasn’t working, and according to The Telegraph the church that housed the painting didn’t have the money to get it fixed. 

Once a work of art leaves a museum or church, the chances of getting it back are extraordinarily slim. According to The Art Newspaper, roughly 1.5 percent of the art that is stolen is ever recovered. Once it’s removed from its home, art is as hard to track as a stolen bike or wallet. Tracking your swiped iPhone is easier than tracking a 10-foot by six-foot Renaissance painting, because your iPhone constantly sends signals to the towers around it. Simply click “Find My iPhone” and there it is, location triangulated via GPS. So why don’t museums simply do the same thing? 

Robert Wittman, a former FBI special agent who has recovered over $225 million worth in stolen art (and wrote about it in his book Priceless), says that the technology I’m imagining essentially doesn’t exist. At least not right now. “To do that you’d have to have cell phone sized GPS systems attached to the back of every painting,” he told me. “You’d have to plug in every painting every night.”

Attaching a tracking unit to every painting might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s actually a huge challenge, Wittman explains. You’d need something that has a long battery life that you don’t have to constantly be charging. It would have to be small, small enough to put on the piece without damaging it and small enough to evade detection by thieves. At the same time, it would have to be designed so that if thieves did find it, they could remove it without damaging the art. This mythical unit would have to be powerful enough to transmit from inside boxes and closets and warehouses where burglars might take it, but cheap enough to allow museums to buy thousands of them. “That technology simply doesn’t exist,” Wittman said.

 
Lies Immigration Reformers Told Me

Lies Immigration Reformers Told Me

 David Frum 

President Obama and backers of deferred action for Dreamers tout the conditions that limit applicants. How restrictive are they, really?

There’s a long record of broken promises in this policy domain.

The record stretches back to the immigration reform of 1986. That year, Congress enacted an amnesty for illegal immigrants joined to promises of more effective enforcement in future. Instead of halting law-breaking, however, the 1986 reform enabled more of it. Immigration officials detected fraud in one-third of the applicants for the specialized amnesty for agricultural workers. Some applicants had never worked in the fields a day in their lives. Some had been convicted of crimes. Some weren’t the people they said they were. Some were disqualified for other reasons. Yet 90 percent of the 1.3 million applications were approved regardless.

Thirty years later, the question of good faith has again become urgent to the immigration debate.

 
Israelis Frustrated With Gaza Outcome

Israelis Frustrated With Gaza Outcome

By Joshua Mitnick

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces frustration over how the conflict with Hamas is winding down, both from the Israeli public and from parties that wanted harsher action against Gaza's Islamist rulers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces frustration over how the conflict with Hamas is winding down, both from the Israeli public and from parties that wanted harsher action against Gaza's Islamist rulers.

Two political parties that take a harder line on Palestinians than Mr. Netanyahu's Likud faction saw an upswing in support in a new poll published Friday in the Israeli daily Maariv. The survey also found 58% of Israeli Jews believe it was a mistake for the government to accept an open-ended cease-fire with Hamas this week, while 61% don't think the prime minister achieved his goal of prolonged quiet.

"I think that there is a general atmosphere of disappointment after 50 days of war, 72 victims, billions of shekels lost, we are back at square one,'' said Likud parliament member Danny Danon, a leading critic who Mr. Netanyahu fired as deputy defense minister early on in the conflict. "You cannot ignore the fact that it's problematic."

 
Why I Just Can't Become Chinese

[image]

Why I Just Can't Become Chinese

The contributions of Chinese Americans underscore a great U.S. advantage in the 21st century—and the limits of China's rise.

Try as I might, I just can't become Chinese.

It started as a thought experiment: I wondered what it would take for me, the son of Chinese immigrants, to become a citizen of China. So I called the nearest Chinese consulate and got lost in a voice mail maze with nobody at the end. The consulate's website explained the process for getting visas but not for naturalization.

Then I realized why it was so difficult to get an answer: Beijing doesn't ever expect to hear from foreigners who want to become Chinese citizens.

As it turns out, a naturalization procedure is found under China's Nationality Law. But precious few people pursue it: The 2000 Chinese census counted just 941 naturalized citizens.

No matter how huge China's GDP gets, the U.S. retains a deep, enduring competitive advantage: America makes Chinese Americans. China doesn't make American Chinese.

China also isn't particularly interested in making American Chinese. It isn't in China's operating system to welcome, integrate and empower immigrants to redefine the very meaning of Chinese-ness. That means that China lags behind the U.S. in a crucial 21st-century way: embracing diversity and making something great from many multicultural parts.

Consider, for instance, the way that a Chinese state media organ earlier this year mocked the departing U.S. ambassador, Gary Locke, as a "banana": yellow on the outside, white on the inside. What did Mr. Locke—the first Chinese American ambassador to Beijing, Eagle Scout, former governor and cabinet secretary—do to earn such an epithet? Merely his job: representing U.S. interests and values even when they conflicted with China's.

 
Vladimir Putin: Don't mess with nuclear-armed Russia

Vladimir Putin attending the Seliger 2014 National Youth Forum

Vladimir Putin: Don't mess with nuclear-armed Russia

By Colin Freeman

Russia's president, speaking at a pro-Kremlin youth camp at a lake near Moscow, said "it's best not to mess with us," adding "I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers"

Accused by Europe and Nato of launching a full-scale invasion of eastern Ukraine, the Russian leader boasted to a group of Russian youngsters that "It's best not to mess with us."

In language not seen since the height of the Cold War, he told his audience: "Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers."

Mr Putin's comments, made during a visit to a pro-Kremlin youth camp on the banks of a lake outside Moscow, will horrify Western governments as they try to bring Russia into check. Even during the height of Cold War hostilities, few Kremlin leaders ever resorted to the direct mentions of Russia's nuclear arsenal.

He made his remarks as European leaders prepare to gather tomorrow for an emergency summit to discuss further sanctions on Moscow over the appearance in the last few days of more than 1,000 regular Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.

 
David Cameron: Britain facing 'greatest terrorist threat' in history

David Cameron: Britain facing 'greatest terrorist threat' in history

Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a press conference

 By Tom Whitehead, and Steven Swinford

Prime Minister warns that Isil have made 'specific' threats against Britain as the terror threat level is raised to 'severe'

Britain faces the “greatest and deepest” terror threat in the country’s history, David Cameron warned as he pledged emergency measures to tackle extremists.

The UK threat level was raised to “severe” — its second highest — meaning that a terrorist attack is “highly likely” in light of the growing danger from British jihadists returning from Iraq and Syria.

The Prime Minister said that the risk posed by Isil (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) will last for “decades” and raised the prospect of an expanding terrorist nation “on the shores of the Mediterranean”.

He disclosed that Isil had made “specific” threats against the UK and did not rule out military action to tackle the growing problem.

 
Yasiel Puig slump sparks concern

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig slump sparks concern

By Mark Saxon

he Los Angeles Dodgers have become concerned enough about Yasiel Puig's nearly monthlong batting slump that manager Don Mattingly gave him Friday's game in San Diego off, the second time Puig has been out of the starting lineup in the past week. Mattingly said he sensed Puig's frustration level has, at times, taken him out of his game.

The concern is that Puig's relentless style makes it difficult for him to stay consistent throughout a major league season. Last year, Puig came up in June and sparked the Dodgers' charge until batting .202 in September and having inconsistent at-bats in the playoffs.

"The season is long, and it wears you down," Mattingly said. "It's part of learning to regulate yourself here, as far as rest or anything else. We've seen Dee Gordon and how much more consistent his approach is day in and day out now, staying at a certain level. I think Yasiel's really emotional, and it's hard to be really emotional and play 162."

 
Dumb & Dumber: Interactive Screentime is Worse than TV

Dumb & Dumber: Interactive Screentime is Worse than TV

By Victoria L. Dunckley, M.D.

screen time worsens sleep mood focus

Few parents would argue that television is good for kids' brains, while many mistakenly believe that interactive screen-time--in the form of video games, internet use, and social media--has beneficial effects that outweigh any risks. But is it possible that interactive screen-time is WORSE than passive?

 
Obama Weighing Delay in Action on Immigration

Obama Weighing Delay in Action on Immigration

President Obama is considering a delay of his most controversial proposals to revamp immigration laws through executive action until after the midterm elections in November, mindful of the electoral peril for Democratic Senate candidates, according to allies of the administration who have knowledge of White House deliberations.

The president vowed in late June to act unilaterally, declaring a deep frustration with what he termed Republican obstruction in Congress. He pledged to act to reshape the immigration system soon after he received recommendations from senior advisers at the end of the summer.

But now Mr. Obama and his aides appear to be stepping back from a firm commitment to that timing, a move that could draw fire from immigration advocacy groups who are expecting decisive action soon. In remarks to reporters on Thursday, Mr. Obama himself hinted at the possibility of a delay.

 
Roger Federer’s Nine Racquets

Roger Federer at the U.S. Open, August 26, 2014.

Roger Federer’s Nine Racquets

By Michael Steinberger

For some of the top tennis players in the world, forty thousand dollars is a price worth paying to have their tennis-racquet needs completely taken care of.

 
I was taking pictures of my daughters. A man thought I was exploiting them.

Jeff Gates takes a photo of his daughters on the Cape May ferry each year.

I was taking pictures of my daughters. A man thought I was exploiting them.

Jeff Gates

How an encounter with a stranger during a family vacation to the Jersey Shore left a bad taste in this dad’s mouth.

I was looking for just the right pose — often waiting for that perfect smile or pausing as they fixed their hair after a strong ocean breeze. I was trying to get just the right exposure and flash combination to bring out their faces in the harsh midday sun.

Totally engaged with the scene in front of me, I jumped when a man came up beside me and said to my daughters: “I would be remiss if I didn’t ask if you were okay.”

At first none of us understood what he was talking about. His polite tone and tourist attire of shorts, polo shirt and baseball cap threw us off. It took me a moment to figure out what he meant, but then it hit me. He thought I might be exploiting the girls, taking questionable photos for one of those “Exotic Beauties Want to Meet You!” Web sites or something just as unseemly. When I explained to my daughters what he was talking about, they were understandably confused. I told the man I was their father. He quickly apologized and turned away. But that perfect moment was ruined, and our annual photo shoot was over.
 
Divided Britain: socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest of us

UK Fears Triple-dip Recession.

Divided Britain: socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest of us

Owen Jones

Who are the real scroungers? Free-marketeers decry 'big government' yet the City and big business benefit hugely from the state – from bailouts to the billions made from privatisation. Socialism does exist in Britain – but only for the rich.

Socialism lives in Britain, but only for the rich: the rules of capitalism are for the rest of us. The ideology of the modern establishment, of course, abhors the state. The state is framed as an obstacle to innovation, a destroyer of initiative, a block that needs to be chipped away to allow free enterprise to flourish. "I think that smaller-scale governments, more freedom for business to exist and to operate – that is the right kind of direction for me," says Simon Walker, the head of the Institute of Directors. For him, the state should be stripped to a "residual government functioning of maintaining law and order, enforcing contracts". Mainstream politicians don't generally talk in such stark terms, but when the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg demands "a liberal alternative to the discredited politics of big government", the echo is evident.

And yet, when the financial system went into meltdown in 2008, it was not expected to stand on its own two feet, or to pull itself up by its bootstraps. Instead, it was saved by the state, becoming Britain's most lavished benefit claimant. More than £1tn of public money was poured into the banks following the financial collapse. The emergency package came with few government-imposed conditions and with little calling to account. "The urge to punish all bankers has gone far enough," declared a piece in the Financial Times just six months after the crisis began. But if there was ever such an "urge" on the part of government, it was never acted on.
 
California gets it right on sexual assault and abortion coverage

California gets it right on sexual assault and abortion coverage

 Jenny Kutner

Affirmative consent and mandated insurance coverage shouldn't be unique. We should follow California's lead

On Thursday, the California legislature passed a bill requiring state universities to adopt a “yes means yes” affirmative consent policy, aimed at curbing campus sexual assaults. The new law promotes the novel idea that having sex with someone who is unconscious or otherwise unresponsive is not consensual — a notion that has yet to be codified into law elsewhere, but which could spur a culture change across college campuses.

 
Why Gaza was betrayed
The war on Gaza and the dubious role played by Egypt in ceasefire talks between Hamas and Israel are testaments to the Arab betrayal of the Palestinian cause. Talk of solidarity is a show of words and masks that some Arab countries wish to see Israel crush any semblance of Palestinian resistance, in Gaza or elsewhere.
 
Can You Be Both Mad and Creative?

Can You Be Both Mad and Creative?

By Christopher Badcock, Ph.D.

Findings related to incidence of mental disorders among people of different professions fit the diametric model: but most of all poets, who are strikingly predisposed to bipolar disorder.

There certainly is good evidence that many of the world’s leading poets have shown unmistakable signs of psychotic illness, most notably bi-polar/manic-depressive disorder. Examples from literature in English include William Blake, Robert Burns, Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, John Keats, Sylvia Plath, Ezra Pound, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Dylan Thomas, and Walt Whitman.

A study of all major British and Irish poets born between 1705 and 1805 found a strikingly high rate of mood disorders, suicide, and institutionalization within this group of writers and their families. By comparison with the rate of manic-depressive illness in the general population, these British poets were 30 times more likely to suffer from manic-depression, 10 to 20 times more likely to suffer from milder forms of manic-depressive illness, more than 5 times more likely to commit suicide, and at least 20 times more likely to have been committed to an asylum or madhouse.

 
Why Doctors Are Sick of Their Profession

Why Doctors Are Sick of Their Profession

American physicians are increasingly sick of their once-vaunted profession, and that malaise is bad for their patients. But physicians can still save themselves—and us too.

Today medicine is just another profession, and doctors have become like everybody else: insecure, discontented and anxious about the future. In surveys, a majority of doctors express diminished enthusiasm for medicine and say they would discourage a friend or family member from entering the profession. In a 2008 survey of 12,000 physicians, only 6% described their morale as positive. Eighty-four percent said that their incomes were constant or decreasing. Most said they didn't have enough time to spend with patients because of paperwork, and nearly half said they planned to reduce the number of patients they would see in the next three years or stop practicing altogether.

 
U.K.'s New powers to seize terror suspects' passports

New powers to seize terror suspects' passports

Police stand guard after a series of anti-terror arrests in Birmingham

PM announces plans for legislation to deal with increased security threat posed by homegrown militants

David Cameron announced plans to introduce new powers to strip terrorist suspects of their passports to tackle a "greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before".

In a hastily convened press conference at Downing Street, the prime minister said he would announce legislation to deal with the security threat posed by homegrown militants.

The measures, set to be announced in the Commons on Monday, would be the first new counter-terrorism powers to be introduced since Islamic State (Isis) militants took hold of large swaths of Syria and moved into Iraq. Cameron said urgent action was needed to address the "poisonous narrative of Islamist extremism" and specifically Isis, a terrorist group he said was planning to establish a state on the shores of the Mediterranean.

Cameron said: "There's no doubt in my mind that Isil [Isis] is targeting all of us in western Europe. The attack in the Jewish museum in Brussels was perhaps the clearest indication yet that this is an organisation that wants to kill entirely innocent people in pursuit of its agenda. I'm absolutely satisfied that Isil would make specific threats to the UK as well."

 
The lawful way to fight the Islamic State

The lawful way to fight the Islamic State

By HAROLD HONGJU KOH

Congress’ return in September signals a new decision point. The more the president keeps bombing, the more Congress and the public will accuse him of committing U.S. forces to “hostilities” without congressional approval, beyond the 60-day time period specified by the War Powers Resolution. Under U.S. law, President Obama can hardly extend a conflict with ISIL to Syria based on claims of inherent constitutional authority, when he rightly criticized the Bush administration for pursuing a “Global War on Terror” based on similar sweeping claims.

Congress has enacted two Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMFs) in the region, but both address different situations. The 2001 AUMF was enacted 13 years ago to prevent al Qaeda and its co-belligerents from attacking the United States, not to fight a distant battle against a terrorist group that did not exist on Sept. 11, 2001, and has now clearly split from al Qaeda. The 2002 AUMF for Iraq targeted the national security threat in Iraq, but was directed at Saddam Hussein, not ISIL, and at the unfounded fear that he possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Under international law, military strikes in Iraq with local consent could be justified in the near term, especially to protect U.S. nationals, or to prevent genocide against ethnic groups, such as the Kurds or the Yazidi. But inside Syria, President Bashar al-Assad’s government would not openly consent to U.S. intervention. Moreover, the goal would be different—to attack ISIL leadership, not just to protect U.S. nationals or Syrian civilians, tens of thousands of whom have already died. If partner governments such as Iraq, Turkey and Jordan request strikes, the administration could plausibly argue that it is conducting limited military actions in Syria in collective self-defense to protect these countries from ISIL’s threat to regional peace and security. And the administration could justify particular military actions in Syria that are demonstrably necessary to save American hostages—like the rescue attempt for James Foley—to prevent an imminent attack on U.S. citizens, or to avert a mass slaughter of innocents. The United States could also take necessary and proportionate actions to target particular senior ISIL leaders who have clearly taken up arms alongside al Qaeda against the United States. But absent a U.N. Security Council resolution, these limited rationales could not sustain more concerted military action against ISIL inside Syria.

 
Peter Beinart: Actually, Obama Does Have a Strategy in the Middle East

Actually, Obama Does Have a Strategy in the Middle East

The president is neither a dove nor a hawk. He’s a fierce minimalist.

By Peter Beinart

On the one hand, Obama has shown a deep reluctance to use military force to try to solve Middle Eastern problems that don’t directly threaten American lives. He’s proved more open to a diplomatic compromise over Iran’s nuclear program than many on Capitol Hill because he’s more reticent about going to war with Tehran. He’s been reluctant to arm Syria’s rebels or bomb Basher al-Assad because he doesn’t want to get sucked into that country’s civil war. After initially giving David Petraeus and company the yellow light to pursue an expanded counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan, he’s wound down America’s ground war against the Taliban. Even on Libya, he proved more reluctant to intervene than the leaders of Britain and France.

On the other hand, he’s proven ferocious about using military force to kill suspected terrorists. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, he’s basically adopted the policy Joe Biden proposed at the start of his administration: Don’t focus on fighting the Taliban on the ground, since they don’t really threaten the United States. Just bomb the hell out al-Qaeda from the air. Compared with George W. Bush, he’s dramatically expanded drone strikes, even though they’re unilateral, legally dubious, and morally disturbing. And, as promised, he sent special forces to kill Osama bin Laden without Pakistan’s permission, even though his vice president and secretary of defense feared the risks were too high.

 
U.S. Identifies Citizens Joining Rebels in Syria, Including ISIS

U.S. Identifies Citizens Joining Rebels in Syria, Including ISIS

 American intelligence and law enforcement agencies have identified nearly a dozen Americans who have traveled to Syria to fight for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the militant group that the Obama administration says poses the greatest threat to the United States since Al Qaeda before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

As ISIS has seized large expanses of territory in recent months, it has drawn more foreign men to Syria, requiring more American and European law enforcement resources in the attempt to stop the flow of fighters, senior American officials said. And as a result of the increasing numbers of men, ISIS is now recruiting foreign women as jihadist wives.

 
Obama’s Shallow Worldview Failed Us

The president puts too much faith in historical progress. The long arc of history won’t beat ISIS—but a determined effort will.

Thursday, August 28th, 2014, will go down as one of those rare moments when a President of the United States admitted publicly that the United States didn’t know how to deal with a major foreign policy crisis. When President Obama declared, “we don’t have a strategy yet” to confront ISIS, he was merely admitting what his Administration’s actions, or lack thereof, had made obvious.

Every President has to deal with a chaotic world that often seems focused on wrecking havoc on America’s self-interest. Presidents fail at foreign policy objectives more frequently than they succeed. Yet rarely have we seen a President so openly struggle with a declaration of American purpose and goals. Some of this is undoubtedly due to President Obama’s personality and the reluctance he shows in leading on many issues, foreign and domestic. But for the first time since JFK, we have a President who is not a product of the Cold War era—and the ramifications of that are profound.

 
Five Ways to Keep Fit While Traveling

Five Ways to Keep Fit While Traveling

Harry Hanson, trainer to Hollywood and Wall Street stars, explains five ideal exercises for the hotel room.

 
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