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Radiate Self-Acceptance Print E-mail

Radiate Self-Acceptance

By Susan McQuillan, M.S., R.D.N.

Everyone is flawed. When you accept yourself, you are much more comfortable showing your flaws to others and will attract more people who love, respect, and accept you as you are.

When you free yourself from obsession, you will be a different person from who you are now. You will think, look, and feel different. Getting to that truth, that place of self-acceptance, comes from exploring yourself from the inside out. Defining who you are and what you want from life is the first step to knowing yourself and getting what you want—a happier, healthier life.
Obama has skipped more than HALF of his daily intelligence briefings Print E-mail

Obama has skipped more than HALF of his daily intelligence briefings

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 4: U.S. President Barack Obama looks over some papers in a West Wing office after arriving on the South Lawn of the White House on February 4, 2013 in Washington, D.C. Obama returned from a trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota to promote his initiative to reduce gun violence. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama has skipped his in-person daily intelligence briefing on four out of every seven days of his presidency, according to a shocking report released Tuesday.

The Government Accountability Institute, previously best-known for needling members of Congress over insider-trading deals that lax laws have rendered legal, used the official White House calendar to compile a list of the days when Obama wasn't scheduled to receive a briefing.

The resulting numbers showed that he only attended the Presidential Daily Brief 42.1 per cent of the time.

ABC News reported in 2012 that the president often prefers to receive his daily briefing in writing, and reads it on his iPad. 

Obama received daily briefings in person only 3 out of every 7 days; this photo shows his November 14, 2012 brief with then-National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, then-Chief of Staff Jack Lew, and then-Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough

'It's pretty well-known that the president hasn’t taken in-person intelligence briefings with any regularity since the early days of 2009,' the aide said. 'He gets them in writing.'

The resulting picture is one of a solitary chief executive consuming his intelligence briefs in a vacuum instead of engaging in two-way conversations with generals and spymasters. The personal disconnect between the Oval Office and the intelligence community has been a sore spot for the military, the CIA and the National Security Agency since early in the Obama presidency. Those tensions came to a head on Sunday, when the president blamed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for failing to foresee the ISIS terror army's rise to power.

Oklahoma beheading: workplace violence or terrorism? Print E-mail

After a beheading in Oklahoma, debate over what to call it

The gruesome beheading in Oklahoma last week was, by any reasonable measure, horrifying. Police in Moore said that after Alton Nolen, an employee at a food processing plant, was fired on Thursday, he went to another part of the facility and attacked another employee with a knife. He killed Colleen Hufford and “severed” her head, according to a statement from Sgt. Jeremy Lewis. Nolen, who turned 30 last month, then attacked another co-worker named Traci Johnson.

Mark Vaughn, the chief operating officer of Vaughan Foods and a reserve deputy with Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office since 2010, confronted Nolen and shot him. Johnson and Nolen were both taken to the hospital in stable condition. Nolen has not been charged yet, though it is expected that he will be charged with murder. His mother and sister have apologized for the murders.

Authorities have not called the Oklahoma beheading terrorism, instead saying that it appears to be a case of workplace violence. Some commentators and politicians have disagreed with this assessment. Television host Joe Scarborough said this was due to “political correctness.” Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who is considering another presidential campaign in 2016, told Fox News that this appears to be “an act of violence that is associated with terrorism.”

“I think Americans are confused about what this is, and if this is a clear case of an individual going in and doing something that doesn’t meet their definition of workplace violence,” Perry said, according to the Hill. “I think any rational-thinking American is going to look and this and go this is more than just normal workplace violence.”

Putting aside the macabre reality of a world in which “normal workplace violence” and “what should count under the heading of school shootings” are things we can categorize and debate, there is the reality of what police and authorities say. The Moore police said that Nolen had tried to convert several co-workers to Islam. Two federal law enforcement officials told The Washington Post that Nolen was a recent convert to Islam with a “provocative” Facebook page that included a photo of Osama bin Laden.

Clooney - Alamuddin wedding: 'A sensational piece of multimedia street theatre' Print E-mail

George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin wave for the camera as they leave Venice City Hall, Palazzo Ca' Farsetti, after their wedding on 29 September, 2014.

 Clooney - Alamuddin wedding: 'A sensational piece of multimedia street theatre'

The nuptials of the actor and the lawyer were so lavishly staged and starry you’d be forgiven for wondering what kind of heist was happening in the background.

Human-rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin finally married her movie actor fiancé George Clooney in a five-day festival in Venice, which has been like an affair of state, conducted in what paparazzi brusquely call “goat fuck” conditions.

 The boat carrying George Clooney and his wife Amal Alamuddin is surrounded by media and security boats as they cruise the Grand Canal after leaving the Aman luxury Hotel in Venice on Sunday

Innumerable reporters and photographers in speedboats and chartered water taxis have been drenching canalside gift shops with tidal waves of murky water as they whoosh madly back and forth looking for stories. Meanwhile, thousands of columnists all over the world have all filed “Does-this-mean-I-can’t-marry-George?” articles.

The ceremony itself has been locked down, picture rights having been sold for charity to US Vogue – whose editor, Anna Wintour, has been pictured gingerly stepping aboard a bobbing craft – but snippets have got out. The ceremony was performed by Rome’s former mayor Walter Veltroni, and the bride and groom processed through an arch of imported white roses while the assembled guests beamed and a string quintet played Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Later, guests were reportedly offered a choice between sea bass and Chianina steak. The couple have released a lovably goofy snapshot of George biting Amal’s hat.

George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin in Venice on Sunday.

What a difference to his first wedding in 1989, in which the younger George Clooney, unencumbered by these almost constitutional responsibilities, just jumped into a Winnebago with his girlfriend Talia Balsam, headed for Vegas and got hitched. The couple parted some years later, on perfectly amicable terms. That cheap’n’cheerful scenario, together with his new wife’s job, call to mind one of George Clooney’s greatest and in my view most underrated performances: as Miles Massey, the divorce lawyer in the Coen brothers’ comedy Intolerable Cruelty, from 2003.

Miles Massey specialises in protecting older rich guys with what he calls the “Massey prenup”, a specially worded clause that will ring-fence their fortunes in case of marital breakdown. He himself is not susceptible to the blandishments of beautiful women – or so he thinks, until he meets serial divorcee Marilyn Rexroth, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, a woman so seductive she gets rich men galloping to Las Vegas to tie the knot without taking any form of legal precaution. At the time, Zeta-Jones’s witty performance was especially savoured because she had just married Michael Douglas.

Well, there is of course no comparison here. Alamuddin is highly successful and respected as a professional in her own right: a brilliant and serious person who was perhaps the only plausible marital prospect for a man who has become almost a byword for handsomeness, a bachelor from another, more glamorous age who could surely not expect or want to remain single forever.

Revisiting the Lehman Brothers Bailout That Never Was Print E-mail

Revisiting the Lehman Brothers Bailout That Never Was


Inside the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, time was running out to answer a question that would change Wall Street forever.

At issue that September, six years ago, was whether the Fed could save a major investment bank whose failure might threaten the entire economy.

The firm was Lehman Brothers. And the answer for some inside the Fed was yes, the government could bail out Lehman, according to new accounts by Fed officials who were there at the time.

But as the world now knows, no one rescued Lehman. Instead, the firm was allowed to collapse overnight, a decision that, in cool hindsight, let problems at one bank snowball into a full-blown panic. By the time it was over, nearly every other major bank had to be saved.

Why, given all that happened, was Lehman the only bank that was not too big to fail? For the first time, Fed officials have offered an account that differs significantly from the versions that, for many, have hardened into history.

Ben S. Bernanke, the Fed chairman at the time, Henry M. Paulson Jr., the former Treasury Secretary, and Timothy F. Geithner, who was then president of the New York Fed, have all argued that Lehman Brothers was in such a deep hole from its risky real estate investments that Fed did not have the legal authority to rescue it.


Understanding why Lehman was allowed to die goes beyond apportioning responsibility for the financial crisis and the recession that cost millions of ordinary Americans jobs and savings. Today, long after the bailouts, the debate rages over the Fed’s authority to bail out failing firms. Some Fed officials worry that when the next financial crisis comes, the Fed will have less power to shield the financial system from the failure of a single large bank. After the Lehman debacle, Congress curbed the Fed’s ability to rescue a bank in trouble.

Whether to save Lehman came down to a crucial question: Did Lehman have enough solid assets to back a loan from the Fed? Finding the answer fell to two teams of financial experts at the New York Fed. Those teams had provisionally concluded that Lehman might, in fact, be a candidate for rescue, but members of those teams said they never briefed Mr. Geithner, who said he did not know of the results.

5 Lessons Monogamous Families can Learn from Polyamorists Print E-mail

5 Lessons Monogamous Families can Learn from Polyamorists

By Elisabeth A. Sheff, Ph.D.

While polyamory is not for everyone, the folks who are successful at it spend so much time and energy nurturing their relationships that they have developed a variety of techniques to sustain their connections. These techniques can be useful to people in more conventional relationships as well, especially those in blended or divorced families.

US & Russia Re-Arming for a New Cold War Print E-mail

US & Russia Re-Arming for a New Cold War

The U.S. and Russia are sinking billions into nuclear-capable bombers, missiles, and submarines. Another round of “Mutually Assured Destruction,” anyone?

Along with Russia’s persistence in the development of the Bulava sea-launched ballistic missile, the replacement of older intercontinental ballistic missiles by the road-mobile RS-26, and the apparent breach of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty by the testing of the Iskander-K truck-mobile cruise missile, these developments have (to put it mildly) weakened the argument that if the U.S. led the way in cutting its nuclear forces, the rest of the world would follow.

A U.S. administration that started out showing sympathy with the Global Zero movement—the one to eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons—has quietly taken decisions that point in a very different direction. Notably, the future of the nuclear-deterrence triad seems more assured than it has for many years.

Between Obama’s election and inauguration, the first significant contract for what is now the Ohio Replacement Program submarine project was signed, and the administration has continued to support it. The controversial issue of whether, when and how the Long-Range Strike Bomber would be nuclear-capable has been put to bed: Every LRS-B will be nuclear-capable and it will be nuclear-certified two years after it enters service.

On the frontlines with drone pilots Print E-mail

On the frontlines with drone pilots

Ed Pilkington in Grand Forks, North Dakota

global hawk drone

The remote Grand Forks air force base is a command centre for Global Hawks surveillance drones, and the futuristic base from which pilots fly over far-flung nations by way of controls, keyboards and monitors.

Lieutenant Matthew, 23, is the face of the new generation of US fighter pilot. He dresses in the familiar single-piece olive green uniform worn by Tom Cruise in Top Gun, and like Cruise’s character, Maverick, he flies missions over war zones with multi-million dollar aircraft.

But Matthew – due to air force security rules, he did not give his last name – has never felt the G-forces of a fighter jet or flown at supersonic speeds. His background is not in flying, but in civil engineering. He sits behind a bank of digital screens rather than in a cockpit. And instead of a control stick, he uses a mouse.

In other words, Matthew is a computer geek.

He is a pilot with the 69th Reconnaissance Group stationed at Grand Forks air force base in North Dakota. His job is to fly Global Hawks, the unmanned surveillance drones that act as the frontline intelligence gatherers – the eyes and – of the US military.

Every day Matthew flies a Global Hawk remotely from his computer console, steering it with his mouse over a militarily significant part of the globe, from where the aircraft’s powerful sensors stream back precision images of enemy targets to air force headquarters. (He was not allowed to identify the countries in which he is currently flying.)

He says that although he is usually thousands of miles away from the location in which he is operating, he takes a keen interest in the geography. “You want to know which areas are dangerous and where there’s a risk of being shot down,” he says.

Lieutenant Matthew Global Hawk drone.

The Global Hawks do not carry weapons. But they are intimately involved in the deadly work of the US military, acting as intelligence gatherers for forces on the ground as well as pinpointing targets for bombers. Does he feel, as he sits at his computer console, that he is part of a military effort – that there is a “fighter” component to his title of “fighter pilot”?

When not on active missions over Afghanistan or Iraq, the Global Hawks are maintained in a hangar in the Grand Forks base. They make a jaw-dropping, if inelegant, spectacle. With their gargantuan 131-feet wingspan, and lumpy bodies, they have none of the brutal sleekness of conventional manned fighter jets, resembling nothing so much as a featherless chicken.

But they do well what they were designed to do: endurance flying at high altitudes. This summer a team at Grand Forks broke the record for distance flying, keeping a Global Hawk in the air without refueling for 34 hours straight. And with their formidable array of sensor equipment – including electro-optical and infrared cameras, synthetic aperture radar and ground moving target indicator radar – the aircraft can detect individual people and trucks moving on the ground from 60,000 feet.

It is an indication of the power of drones to revolutionize the way humans do business, in this case warfare, that the arrival of the Global Hawks has entirely transformed Grand Forks air force base. Until four years ago the base was a centre for conventional piloted aircraft, specifically the KC-135 refueling tankers that are used to keep fighter jets aloft.

But within a year, all manned planes at Grand Forks had been replaced by the Global Hawks. Today, the 1,700 active duty military personnel on the base focus their energies specifically on operating the drones.

How Serious Is the Supreme Court About Religious Freedom? Print E-mail

How Serious Is the Supreme Court About Religious Freedom?

By Dawinder S. Sidhu

A new case will test how Hobby Lobby will apply to minority faiths like Islam.

Religious freedom in the United States has ebbed and flowed between two competing concepts: the principled view that religion is a matter of individual conscience that cannot be invaded by the government, and the practical concern once expressed by Justice Antonin Scalia that accommodating all religious practices in our diverse society would be “courting anarchy.” In June, the Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that closely held corporations, whose owners objected to contraception on account of sincere Christian beliefs, could not be forced by the Affordable Care Act to include certain contraceptives in their employee insurance plans. In supporting the religious rights of business owners over a national health-care policy predicated on broad participation, the Roberts Court seemed to stake its place on the more protective end of the religious-freedom spectrum.

But the idea that Hobby Lobby creates robust protections will be credible only if the justices are willing to recognize the religious freedom of marginalized religious minorities—not just the Judeo-Christian tradition. The next religious-freedom case to come before the Court, Holt v. Hobbs, will test whether the Roberts Court’s stance on religious freedom includes a minority faith, Islam, practiced by a disfavored member of our society: a prisoner. At stake are both the state of religious freedom in the country and the Court’s reputation.

Riding a wave of fiery speeches, Cruz appears as a favored contender Print E-mail

Riding a wave of fiery speeches, Cruz appears as a favored contender

Sebastian Payne and Robert Costa

There isn’t a leader in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, but Ted Cruz is gaining support from social conservatives.

Cruz’s core supporters on the right are the activists and high-powered interest groups determined to keep faith-infused positions at the center of the Republican Party, regardless of a push by some in the GOP to seek distance from socially conservative stands on marriage and abortion.

Greg Mueller, a conservative strategist who has worked on three Republican presidential campaigns, said what’s fueling Cruz’s rise is a fierce determination by social conservatives not to be dictated to in 2016, as he believes they were in the past two elections and told to rally around more centrist nominees.

“Many social conservatives feel their issues have been kicked to the side and they are frustrated. Someone like Cruz taking the nomination in 2016 would give them a voice again,” he said. “It’s still early, and there are many potential candidates that could appeal to this base, but there is no question Senator Cruz has some early momentum with them. He hits all of the main themes the conservative base want to hear.”

Conservatives see an opening in the disarray in the GOP establishment, which has yet to settle on its preferred candidate amid former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s indecision about running and the troubles of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has seen his administration embroiled by a scandal over last year’s politically motivated closure of traffic lanes near the George Washington Bridge.

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