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In-N-Out Burger

In-N-Out Burger

Is water the next oil?

Is water the next oil?

Suzanne McGee


Mammoth companies are trying to collect water that all life needs and charge for it as they would for other natural resources

This summer, however, myriad business forces are combining to remind us that fresh water isn’t necessarily or automatically a free resource. It could all too easily end up becoming just another economic commodity.

At the forefront of this firestorm is Peter Brabeck, chairman and former CEO of Nestle.

In his view, citizens don’t have an automatic right to more than the water they require for mere “survival”, unless they can afford to pay for it. For context, the World Health Organization sets such “survival” consumption levels at a minimum of 20 liters a day for basic hygiene and food hygiene – higher, if you add laundry and bathing. If you’re reading this in the United States, the odds are that flushing your toilet consumes 50 liters of water a day.

Brabeck is right to argue that we risk depleting the world’s supply of fresh water irresponsibly through careless and thoughtless consumption of an apparently free resource. How many lush golf courses should we be sustaining with millions of gallons of water in parts of the world that are naturally arid, like Arizona or southern California?

water bottles

 And then there are the bizarre mixed messages that some California residents are getting: don’t water your lawns in the state’s long-running drought that has depleted its aquifers. On the other hand, some are also being warned they’ll be fined if they don’t keep their lawns and neighborhoods looking nice.

But Brabeck probably isn’t the best standard-bearer for the cause of responsible water management, by any stretch of the imagination.

Consider the fact that as the drought has worsened, Nestle’s Nestle Waters North Americas Inc division – the largest bottled water company in the country – has continued to pump water from an aquifer near Palm Springs, California, thanks to its partnership with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. Their joint venture, bottling water from a spring on land owned by the band in Millard Canyon, has another advantage: since the Morongo are considered a sovereign nation, no one needs to report exactly how much water is being drawn from the aquifer.

Violent transnational gangs "recruiting" unaccompanied minors at Border facilities

Violent transnational gangs 'recruiting unaccompanied minors at Border Security facilities

Recruiting drive: There are reports that gangs are trying to recruit young immigrants from Border Protection facilities where they're being held

Members of notorious U.S. street gangs have infiltrated shelters housing illegal immigrant minors from Central America and are recruiting them, say Homeland Security sources.

Border Control agents have allegedly witnessed gang members using a Red Cross phone bank at the facility at Nogales, Arizona, to 'recruit, enlist and pressure' other minors. Transnational gangs such as the Mara Salvatruca, also known as MS-13, and the 18th Street gang are using established juvenile members from Central America to cross the border and recruit other children to the cartels, say sources.

The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement said earlier this week that they have no knowledge or evidence that gangs are recruiting immigrant minors.

'We know it’s happening because agents are telling us,' Moran told Fox News.

'The Border Patrol is trying to downplay it.'

Transnational: A young El Salvadorean member of the Mara MS-13 street gang. There are reports that young members are enlisting other youngsters crossing the border
What's Scully Been Up To?

Gillian Anderon to play Blanche on stage

Gillian Anderson: actress with a very distinctive X factor

Ryan Gilbey

The star of TV series The X-Files has gone on to distinguish herself on stage and screen. Now she's playing Blanche DuBois, a role she's long coveted

 It is quite a feat for an actor to be intensely memorable without appearing needy or even demonstrative, but Gillian Anderson has managed it. The plume of scarlet hair she sported in the role that defined her, as the FBI agent Dana Scully in The X-Files, which ran for nine series between 1993 and 2002 and spawned two movies, is gone, replaced by dusky blond locks. Anderson keeps a low profile and is held in high esteem. She is well-known and yet exudes an aloofness that has prevented her from becoming a national treasure and not only because, divided between Britain (where she spent a chunk of her childhood and where she now lives and works) and the US (which has claimed most of the rest of her years), it would be hard to know which nation would have dibs on doing the treasuring.

The show became a phenomenon. But the most uncomfortable truth was that she was suffering. A year into the run, she married Clyde Klotz, an assistant art director she had met on the programme. The following year, she gave birth to her first child, Piper Maru. (She has since had two more.) She missed one episode – Scully was kidnapped by aliens to cover for her absence – and was back on set only 10 days later. Postnatal depression didn't take long to announce itself. "Except there was no time for it, which made it worse," she said. "I shed a lot of silent tears. At times, all I wanted to do was quit and be with my baby."

She and Klotz didn't last much longer. "There were times, especially during the divorce, when I was just in tears constantly," Anderson said. She was accompanied on the set of The X-Files by a team of make-up artists devoted to disguising the fact that she had been crying.

To appreciate the schism in Anderson's life, it is worth remembering what else was going on in the same period. She was the co-lead in one of the most popular series in TV history, a show to which she felt increasing ambivalence. "I'm exhausted by the series," she said in the late 1990s. "I would like to do different characters." And she was participating in glossy shoots for men's magazines such as FHM, which in 1996 declared her the world's sexiest woman.

Gillian Anderson (Blanche DuBois) and Vanessa Kirby (Stella Kowalski)

She has been a celebrity – in fact, she still is – but her evident distaste for that world has only had the effect of making her look more serious about acting. The X-Files is to Anderson as an unasked-for hit single is to a painfully cool rock band – think Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. That is, something that makes your name, but which you can then rail against strategically: something you dignify yourself by refusing to exploit.

Twelve years after the end of The X-Files, Anderson has not had a pop-culture hit to match it. Quite splendidly, she shows no sign of giving a hoot.

Why Is Israel Losing a War It's Winning?

Why Is Israel Losing a War It's Winning?

Five reasons why Israel is on the back foot even as it defeats rockets and tunnels

By Jeffrey Goldberg

 2. Hamas’s strategy is to bait Israel into killing Palestinian civilians, and Israel usually takes the bait. This time, because of the cautious nature of its prime minister, Israel waited longer than usual before succumbing to the temptation of bait-taking, but it took it all the same. (As I’ve written, the seemingly miraculous Iron Dome anti-rocket system could have provided Israel with the space to be more patient than it was.) Hamas’s principal goal is killing Jews, and it is very good at this (for those who have forgotten about Hamas's achievements in this area, here is a reminder, and also here and here), but it knows that it advances its own (perverse) narrative even more when it induces Israel to kill Palestinian civilians. This tactic would not work if the world understood this, and rejected it. But in the main, it doesn’t. Why people don’t see the cynicism at the heart of terrorist groups like Hamas is a bit of a mystery.

The Man Behind ‘The Princess Bride’

Rob Reiner on the State of Romcoms, ‘The Princess Bride’s’ Alternate Ending, and the Red Viper

Do you think the audience’s appetite has changed at all when it comes to romcoms?

No, no. People still like to see what happens between men and women because that’s who we are, and what we do with each other. But there’s a lot more violence in the movies now because they’re like rides, and if all that’s there in the movie is something to titillate, whether it’s through violence or sex, and all it’s about is shaking your theater seat, the problem is you get immune after a while to certain things so you have to shake the seat even more. For movies who want to make movies about real people, it gets harder. But there is an audience out there for it. But studios these days aren’t interested in making a lot of money, they’re interested in making a ridiculous amount of money. The Bucket List made $200 million. It used to be that if you made $100 million, it was a blockbuster hit. But now, you’ve got to make that opening weekend.

Israeli-Palestinian crisis: why this latest conflict cannot be considered a sideshow

Israeli ground operation in Gaza

Israeli-Palestinian crisis: why this latest conflict cannot be considered a sideshow

Rosemary Hollis

The twists and turns of political animosities, sectarian rivalries and territorial disputes in the Middle East over many decades now include further unravellings of the regional order as new forces take hold. The enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be now be seen within this context.

Many Palestinians and Israelis foresaw another round of conflict on the Israel-Gaza front this summer. They depict a kind of inevitability to it all, that speaks of a fatalism about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some Israelis even hold to the view that they can sustain the status quo in both the West Bank and Gaza through a combination of containment and periodic resort to force, while mouthing the rhetoric of a two-state solution sometime in the future.

Yet the situation in the region as a whole should give them pause. The regional order that has more or less prevailed for decades is fast unravelling and new forces are emerging that cannot be contained in the way that the Palestinians have been since the 1948 war in which most of them became refugees and the state of Israel was established.

The configuration of Arab states that came into being at the end of the First World War has experienced relative stability on the basis of a system designed by Frenchman Georges Picot and his British counterpart, Mark Sykes, (the Sykes-Picot Agreement) in May 1916. They paved the way for the British mandates in Palestine and Iraq and the French mandate in Syria-Lebanon that endured until 1948. Thereafter, maintenance of the lines drawn on the map by the British and French has required a level of enforcement and dictatorial rule at odds with the ideals of self-determination and democracy. And the fate of the Palestinians today derives from their relative weakness in the successive struggles for power that have characterised the Middle East since 1916.

The enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, in a sense, unfinished business from that era and it might have remained so, in relative isolation, but for the fact that in 2003 the Americans and British thought that by intervening in Iraq they could remake the regional system for the better. Instead, they opened Pandora's box, to quote former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and now the whole system is in flux.

Malibu beach wars: app reveals public access to beaches

Malibu beach wars: app revealing public access to beaches infuriates wealthy homeowners

By Nick Allen

Malibu Beach in California

Once called the "most expensive sandbox in the world," the beaches of Malibu are at the centre of a bitter battle between billionaires and sunbathers. Now, an app appears to have helped the masses claim victory

The signs next to strips of pristine sand in Malibu seem clear. "Private beach," "No stopping," and "Subject to control of owner," they say, striking fear into the hearts of passing tourists hoping for a glimpse of the glistening Pacific Ocean beyond.

But the signs are, to say the least, misleading, a tactic employed by uber-rich residents in an on-going battle to stop hordes of sun worshippers descending on their little piece of paradise.

"Every one of these signs is wrong," said Jenny Price, an environmental historian who has created a wildly popular app that tells people where to gain access to the beaches. "The homeowners have not been sharing their toys and now they have to."

Each year tens of thousands of tourists drive through Malibu, a 21-mile stretch of picture perfect California coastline, along Highway 1. It is a playground for billionaires whose ocean-side homes sell for eight figure sums. But under state law, there is no such thing as a private beach, with every inch public up to the mean high tide line.

In addition to increasingly alarming fake signs some residents have resorted to all sorts of tactics to disguise designated public access ways, allowing hedges to grow over them, padlocking gates, and putting up bright orange cones. In one bizarre case, a billionaire is reputed to have erected several fake garage doors.

Ben Adair, co-creator of the Our Malibu Beaches app, which has been downloaded 35,000 times since its launch a year ago, said residents were less than welcoming when they turned up at access ways. One homeowner shouted at him: "I'll punch you in the face."

Mr Adair added: "We've been really surprised by the success of something we thought would be quite niche. We thought everyone in Malibu would hate it, but it turns out the people who live right on the beach is only a tiny proportion of people living in Malibu. The rest think it's great because now they can go to the beach."

Nowhere is the effect more noticeable than Carbon Beach, once described by Forbes as "the most expensive sandbox in the world". It is also known as "Billionaires' Beach," which is entirely accurate.

In 2012 America's third richest man, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, bought his ninth house on the one-and-a-half mile strip for $36.9 million. Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, has a $25 million white U-shaped home.

Billionaire Hollywood studio boss Jeffrey Katzenberg, President Barack Obama's biggest political donor, has an ultra-modern 10,000 sq ft Gwathmey Siegel-designed pad.

Last month Jerry Brown, the Governor of California, signed a law that will see homeowners fined up to $11,500 a day if they block access ways with fake signs or padlocks.

The app, and the arrival of the masses, was said to have been the subject of much discussion among some guests at the annual Memorial Day party hosted by Joel Silver, producer of the Lethal Weapon and Die Hard films, at his Carbon Beach house.

Linda Locklin, coastal access manager for the Coastal Commission, said: "We're fully supportive of it. It disseminates correct information about the public's rights to go to the beach easily in Malibu.

"This problem has been cumulative over the decades. First, you had the highway and then houses get built between it and the beach, Then they get bigger, and the ability for the person driving along the highway to ever see the coast got narrower and smaller.

"But the homeowners are starting to realise they don't have a choice. These are public spaces."


George Will Says U.S. Should 'Welcome' Illegal Children

Brendan Bordelon

George Will

'The idea that we can't assimilate these 8-year-old criminals with their teddy bears is preposterous'

Conservative columnist George Will surprised “Fox New Sunday’s” Chris Wallace when he claimed the United States should “welcome” the flood of illegal immigrant children along our southern border — adding that concerns about America’s ability to absorb Central America’s problems are “preposterous.”

Will spoke on a panel along with Fox News contributors Kirsten Powers, Juan Williams and Brit Hume about the ongoing border crisis. Powers had just finished slamming the Republican Party for not wanting to work on any kind of comprehensive immigration issue beyond deporting the tens of thousands of Central American children coming into the country illegally.

“How do you respond to Kirsten and her talking about Republicans who don’t want to deal with immigration except deporting children,” Wallace asked, “and is there a right way to deal with this problem?”

“Well, I think Kirsten’s largely right,” Will responded. “I think we ought to say to these children, ‘Welcome to America. You’re going to go to school and get a job and become Americans. We have 3,141 counties in this country. That’d be 20 per county.”

“The idea that we can’t assimilate these 8-year-old criminals with their teddy bears is preposterous,” the conservative columnist went on, mocking those concerned about putting further strain on the United States’ limited resources.

Everything Happens For A Reason (Or Doesn't)

Everything Happens For A Reason (Or Doesn't)

By Nick Luxmoore

When young people say that everything happens for a reason, they need to be challenged gently and sympathetically. It doesn't matter that we end up not having the answers but it does matter that we keep asking the questions. The alternative for young people is sometimes a catastrophic disillusionment.

‘Everything happens for a reason’ is simple thinking. It denies that things might happen for no reason, that they might be ‘random’ (as young people might also say). When the really big things happen – disasters, genocides – it’s comforting to believe that there’s a purpose behind everything, something that makes meaning out of apparent meaninglessness and futility. But when smaller, everyday things go wrong – when there are no jobs to be had, when lovers break up, when families fight – it’s much harder to believe the mantra because these are the things over which young people expect to have control. They’ve worked hard in school and yet still there’s no job; they’ve tried their best and still their lover leaves them; they’ve helped out at home and still their parents are quarrelling.

The One Number That Will Decide This Year's Election

The One Number That Will Decide This Year's Election

Molly Ball

For the past decade, the working-class vote has determined whether the country swung toward Democrats or Republicans. 

What will be the deciding factor in this year's elections? Will it be Obamacare? The chaos erupting across the globe? The president's approval rating? Will it be single women voters, Hispanics, young people?

Mike Podhorzer crunched the numbers and found there's one factor that, with eerie consistency, explains the way elections have swung for the past decade. Podhorzer, the political director of the AFL-CIO, is one of the top electoral strategists on the left. The crucial factor, he found, is Democrats' vote share among voters making less than $50,000.

Republicans consistently win voters making $50,000 or more, approximately the U.S. median income. The margin doesn't vary too much: In 2012, Mitt Romney got 53 percent of this group's vote; in 2010, Republican House candidates got 55 percent. And Democrats consistently win voters making less than the median—but the margin varies widely. In fact, whether Democrats win these voters by a 10-point or a 20-point margin tells you who won every national election for the past decade.

In 2004, Democrats won the working-class vote by 11 points; George W. Bush was reelected. In 2006, Democrats won the working-class vote by 22 points and took the House and Senate. In 2008, Democrats won by 22 points again, and President Obama was elected. In 2010, the margin narrowed to 11 points, and Republicans took the House back. In 2012, Obama was reelected—on the strength of another 22-point margin among voters making under $50,000.

Federal judge rules D.C. ban on handguns in public is unconstitutional

Federal judge rules D.C. ban on handguns in public is unconstitutional

By Jessica Chasmar - The Washington Times

A federal judge has declared that Washington D.C.’s ban on carrying handguns in public is unconstitutional and ordered a halt on its enforcement.

Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. said in a ruling made public Saturday that, in light of Supreme Court decisions that struck down near total bans on handguns in the District and Chicago in recent years, “there is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns is constitutional under any level of scrutiny.”

The judge said he would stop enforcing the ban until a more constitutionally sound law is put in place.

In Colorado, they’re pot tourists. Leave the state and they’re criminals.

Dispensary worker Carole Cross, 70, takes a puff at her home. (N. Kahn/Post)

In Colorado, they’re pot tourists. Leave the state and they’re criminals.

Marc Fisher

Legalized marijuana is good for jobs and tax revenue, but it’s filling jails and perplexing parents in nearby states.

An old man with a snow-white beard bounded into the double-wide trailer that houses the only pot shop in eastern Colorado. He wore bib overalls over a white T-shirt, and a huge grin. He was a farmer from Nebraska, and he was 78 years old. “How much can I get for $100?” he asked.

Ray — no last name, he said nervously — bought a couple of grams, went across the street to show his wife what he’d scored, and scurried back to the sales counter.

“Forget something?” asked the clerk, a schoolteacher who is spending the summer selling marijuana.

“More weed!” Ray squealed with glee.

He’s been smoking since he was 12, “and I will till the day I die,” he said, and now Ray was about to get back in his truck and drive his first legal purchase 322 miles east, back to his Nebraska farm. The trip would make him a criminal, because although recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado this year, it most assuredly is not on the other side of the state line.

French blogger owes $2,000 in damages for review 'too prominent' on Google

French blogger owes $2,000 in damages for review 'too prominent' on Google

By Sara Miller Llana

The blogger's critique of a restaurant was so high in Google's search results that it damaged the restaurant's reputation, a French court ruled.

A blogger eats in an Italian restaurant in southwestern France. She thinks the food is bad, the service even worse, and she writes up a review that is not glowing, to put it mildly. It’s a scenario that plays out daily in the cyberworld. Hair in a dish of pasta? Many would snap a photo and share it on Twitter or Facebook. An insufferable waiter? Blog it out. But this blogger, a French woman named Caroline Doudet who runs “Cultur'elle,” got sued for it by the restaurant Il Giardino.

And a judge has ruled that she must amend the title of her piece – because with it the post appears too prominently in Google search results – and that she owes $2,000 in damages.

The blog, originally titled “The place to avoid in Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino,” was taken down by Ms. Doudet, but it’s still cached in cyberspace.

Doudet told The Christian ScienceMonitor that the experience won’t have legal repercussions for other bloggers, since French lawyers are fairly unanimous about the fact that her case doesn’t set legal precedent, she says. But it does carry the risk that other bloggers could tone down their criticism in fear of retaliation.

The judge, according to court documents reported by the BBC, said that her blog, with over 3,000 followers, came up as the fourth result any time someone searched for the restaurant in Google. Therefore, she reasoned, the title should be changed so “place to avoid” was less prominent.

The case comes as the issue of the “right to be forgotten,” upheld by the European Court of Justice in May, is creating headaches across the Internet.

That case, which has major implications for Google and other mostly US-based companies, revolves around a Spanish man who wanted links from newspaper articles about his debt problems – from 15 years ago – removed from Google. The court ruled that citizens have the rights to request information be removed from search results that include their names if it is "inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant, or excessive."

Three Dicks: Cheney, Nixon, Richard III and the Art of Reputation Rehab


Three Dicks: Cheney, Nixon, Richard III and the Art of Reputation Rehab

Men die but their reputations live, grow, and change as was the case 500 years ago and still today. 

You have to admire their nerve. This summer Dick Cheney, his wife Lynne and daughter Liz have embarked upon a sustained campaign of reputation rehabilitation. Invading Iraq was “absolutely the right thing to do.” No apologies needed.

They are a united and defiant trio. They need to be. Barring a few co-conspirators from the neocon academy, nobody else is interested in supporting them. Even Fox News responded incredulously to Cheney’s assertion that the current collapse of Iraq was all Obama’s fault and had nothing to do with him.

The Cheneys exhibit indecent haste in their attempt at rep rehab. This is usually posthumous, left to historians. In the fullness of time it is possible to see beyond the fleeting moments of a life to a more balanced and complete picture. Records are combed, correspondence revealed, skeletons fall out of cupboards.

Unlike the Cheneys, here is a man ( Nixon ) whose misdemeanors came to torment him. And, eventually, who repented – famously on television during a remarkable series of interviews with David Frost. In that moment, when silent seconds go by as Frost waits and the camera moves into hard close-up, the former president reaches within himself and confesses that he let down the American people (and himself) by overseeing the Watergate break-in.

By no means is this cathartic. The impeachable crime is admitted but the guilt runs too deep to die so easily. And yet, from that moment on and for the rest his life Nixon saw his presidency reassessed, its achievements better understood when clear of the Watergate stain. Most notably we could see that this man, so petty and small-minded in his personal animosities, mentally crippled by grudges and perceived slights, had real presidential size in the big things, the biggest being his understanding that China could not be left in international limbo even though it was ideologically an adversary.

Nixon’s tragedy was partly to do with an irrational insecurity. He had no need of dirty tricks to win the 1972 election; there was nothing he could possibly learn from burgling the Democratic files that would have changed what turned out to be an astounding victory by winning 49 states. But he kept bad company. The Nixon tapes reveal a grisly gang of conspirators listening obediently to Nixon’s diatribes about people in his own service that he could not trust and about a legion of enemies, real or imagined, who had to be dealt with. Had Richard III been able to install a tape recorder in his palaces the ranting might well have been identical.

Yet as the opening to of China displayed Nixon’s historical literacy his domestic policy also gave him credentials that his own party would today find intolerable and today’s Democrats can only dream of. One act says it all: Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency. Concerned about dangerous pollution of the public water supply and the increasing toxicity of the air because of industrial emissions, Nixon believed that only one instrument was available to effectively counter the special interests of polluting business: the federal government.

These days the Republican base is so far to the right that nobody with Nixon’s belief in the role of government would be a viable candidate. In a new Republican administration, the EPA might well become an endangered species. Thus the extreme polarity of American politics has had the strange effect of transforming Nixon’s ideological reputation. Tricky Dicky is no more: he’s an exemplar of political moderation.

Nobody could say that about Dick Cheney. Perched up on the battlements in his cowboy hat, unrepentant and more and more choleric, he has even said that military budgets need replenishment whatever the cost. “Forget food stamps, repairing highways,” he snarls.

Only somebody with Cheney’s breathtaking historical and cultural illiteracy could have his degree of certitude that hard power is the only tool that can make America safe. Within days of 9/11 he was talking about a “crusade” to avenge the blow, without realizing how freighted that word was. This medieval mindset framed all of his subsequent actions. He has learned nothing and – even more alarming – regrets nothing. As a result, his rep rehab remains a lonely and futile mission.

Willem Dafoe, Man of Action

Willem Dafoe, Man of Action

The actor on why he likes complicated characters and his action-oriented approach

Judge overturns D.C. ban on carrying handguns in public

Judge overturns D.C. ban on carrying handguns in public

Martin Weil and Clarence Williams

A federal judge has declared the law unconstitutional and ordered enforcement halted, but it’s unclear what immediate effect the ruling may have.

The ruling by Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr., made public Saturday, orders the city to end its prohibition against carrying a pistol in public.

It was not clear Saturday night what immediate effect the order would have.

The order was addressed to the District of Columbia and Police Chief Cathy Lanier, as well as their employees and officers and others “who receive actual notice” of the ruling. But it could not be determined Saturday night who had received notice. Also unclear was whether the city would appeal and what effect that would have on the enforcement ban.

Legal sources said Saturday night that in general all parties to a case must be duly informed of a ruling and given the opportunity to appeal before it takes effect.

Dose Matters: Exercise as an Antidepressant

Dose Matters: Exercise as an Antidepressant

By Victoria L. Dunckley, M.D.

Exercise treats depression

How many times have we heard that exercise helps with depression? But does it really work? Researchers recently discovered that the amount and frequency really does matter. In an age where patients increasingly seek natural, drug-free treatments, it's helpful to know what works--and how to prescribe it.

How do you get someone to go for a run or partake in some other kind of serious cardio workout when they don’t even feel like getting out of bed? One way is to provide clear and convincing evidence that research has demonstrated not just effectiveness but that a particular “dose” is needed to make a substantial difference:  The magic numbers equate to 3-5 days/week of rigorous exercise for 45-60 minutes (e.g. jogging or biking, or using a treadmill or stationary bike)—similar to current public health recommendations.

Immigration Sinks Another Republican

Immigration Sinks Another Republican

Jack Kingston's loss in the Georgia Senate primary is bad for reform—and for the GOP.

By Molly Ball

The political world was mildly surprised on Tuesday, when David Perdue—a billionaire former CEO and cousin of a former governor who has never held elected office—won the Republican nomination for Senate in a runoff in Georgia. Perdue was up against Jack Kingston, a longtime congressman from Savannah; Kingston had been ahead in every public poll since the first round of balloting back in May.

But on Election Day, Perdue narrowly prevailed, 51 percent to 49 percent. As upsets go, it was relatively minor—nothing on the order of Eric Cantor's shocking defeat in last month's primary in Virginia. But Kingston's loss may have had something in common with Cantor's: In both cases, a Republican candidate was rejected by primary voters after being accused of being soft on illegal immigration.

Cantor's loss—to a no-name opponent who, backed by talk radio, hammered him for supposedly supporting immigration reform—occasioned days of handwringing about its impact on policymaking. Immigration's role in Kingston's defeat has received less attention. In the final days of the campaign, Perdue ran a television ad attacking Kingston for his support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the business lobby that supports immigration reform and invested heavily in Kingston. "Kingston's largest backer, who has pumped almost $3 million into Kingston TV ads, is 100 percent, openly pro amnesty," the ad said. "Kingston now owes them big. Career politician Jack Kingston: Backed by amnesty supporters. Wrong for Georgia."

The ad was accurate but misleading: Kingston's position is that "there should be no amnesty for any individual who has crossed the border illegally." And while Kingston gladly accepted the support of the pro-reform Chamber, Perdue had also sought the Chamber's endorsement, unsuccessfully, leading the Chamber to proclaim the attack on Kingston mere "sour grapes."

As with Cantor, plenty of other factors played a role in the Georgia runoff. (Most postmortems on the race focused on Perdue's appeal as a political outsider, and Kingston's status as a 22-year member of Congress, in a political climate seen as hostile to Washington.) But given the closeness of the result, the late-breaking amnesty attack may well have pushed Perdue over the top. If so, it would be the second time this year that Republican base voters have risen up against a candidate seen as sympathetic to the business community's desire for immigration reform.

In the past, contrary to popular belief, support for immigration reform has seldom been toxic in Republican primaries. (A notable exception came four years ago in Georgia, when Nathan Deal ran to the right on immigration on the way to winning his gubernatorial primary and the governorship.) But the current crisis on the border has inflamed the perpetual hot-button issue, particularly among the vocal minority of the Republican base for whom the only acceptable "reform" is mass deportation. And candidates like Perdue are exploiting the issue as a wedge.

Inside the crumbling marriage of Jay Z and Beyoncé

Inside the crumbling marriage of Jay Z and Beyoncé

Inside the crumbling marriage of Jay Z and Beyoncé

By Maureen Callahan and Stacy Brown

They are one of the most famous couples on earth, yet intensely private — rarely allowing a glimpse of anything but the picture of a marriage and partnership that is constantly, blissfully happy.

But a source who has been close to Beyoncé and Jay Z for years tells The Post that all is not well — and hasn’t been for quite some time.

This is the first peek behind the firewall that is Beyoncé and Jay Z Inc. — what drew them together, why they’re headed for a split and why love was never the thing that held them together.

“There’s still something there, even though it’s not going to last,” says the source. “Business is always part of the equation. They know they’re the king and queen of hip-hop — and really, all of music. Neither wants to lose that.”

Their current “On the Run” tour is predicted to gross $100 million, according to Forbes — which also ranked Beyoncé the world’s most powerful celebrity of 2014, with Jay Z ranked sixth.

When Jay Z and Beyoncé first got together in 1999, she was a star but a sheltered one.

At 19, she still lived with her parents in Houston — dad Matthew, who quit his job at Xerox to manager her career with Destiny’s Child, and mom Tina, who became the group’s stylist. She hinted at being a virgin, and it’s reported that she left school at 14.

Jay Z, then 30, had emerged from the Brooklyn projects as a hip-hop powerhouse. Having released his critically acclaimed debut “Reasonable Doubt” in 1996, he had a breakthrough commercial smash with 1998’s “Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life.”

A year later, Jay Z was arrested for allegedly stabbing producer Lance “Un” Rivera in a dispute over bootlegging; Jay pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and walked away with three years’ probation.

Jay Z and Beyoncé have always been circumspect about the beginnings of their romance, even as they stoked intrigue with their collaborations.

Three Reasons Childfree Couples Cheat Less

Three Reasons Childfree Couples Cheat Less

By Ellen Walker, Ph.D.

3) Childfree couples have more time to spend together. If you’ve spent time around small children, you know that they tend to command the attention of the adults in the room. An infant does so because most everyone thinks he or she is so darned cute, and toddlers and pre-schoolers do because they seem to require constant interaction. When a couple is childfree, they can continue to engage in the same adult activities they’ve always enjoyed together.

Most Migrant Children Entering U.S. Are Now With Relatives, Data Show

A Border Patrol agent with a 13-year-old Salvadoran who had crossed the Rio Grande into Texas.

A Border Patrol agent with a 13-year-old Salvadoran who had crossed the Rio Grande into Texas.

Officials said more than half of all children initially placed in shelters have gone on to be reunited with at least one parent already living in the United States.

A total of 30,340 children have been released to sponsors — primarily parents and other relatives — from the start of the year through July 7, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which has overseen the care of the children after they are turned over by Customs and Border Protection. More children have been released in Texas than in any other state, with sponsors there receiving 4,280 children, followed by New York with 3,347. Florida has received 3,181 children and California 3,150. Maryland and Virginia have each also received more than 2,200 children.

What's happened to Cameron Diaz's love life?

What's happened to Cameron Diaz's love life? 

Has impeachment talk gone too far?

Has impeachment talk gone too far? 

By Mark Sappenfield

Both parties are openly talking about impeachment when, politically speaking, it's going nowhere. The chatter shows how impeachment – or at least talk of it – is evolving as a useful political tool.

White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer had a lot to say about impeachment Friday, and in saying it, he said a lot about how the politics of impeachment are shifting.

Speaking to reporters at a Monitor Breakfast, Mr. Pfeiffer said that House Republicans' recent moves toward a lawsuit against President Obama open "the door to Republicans possibly considering impeachment at some point in the future."

For the record, House Republicans haven't done anything to suggest they're going to impeach Mr. Obama. There's been some low-level chatter, true. But the very lawsuit Pfeiffer is talking about is seen by many analysts as House Speaker John Boehner's attempt to head off any push for impeachment by throwing a bone to the Republican base.

Later in the Monitor Breakfast, Pfeiffer circled back to the topic of impeachment in a different context. He said that if Obama uses his executive authority this year to ease deportations of some illegal immigrants – as he has vowed to do – that "will certainly up the likelihood that [Republicans] would contemplate impeachment at some point."

Pfeiffer's comments clearly reflect a political reality: Many conservatives would dearly love to see Obama impeached, and their conviction will only grow if Obama takes executive action on immigration reform this year.

Central Americans criticise US

Central Americans criticise US

Chris McGreal

Barack Obama (third left) speaks as Otto Perez Molina (second left) of Guatemala, Juan Orlando Herna

Presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador tell Barack Obama US border policies are seriously harming their countries

Three Central American leaders met President Obama on Friday to tell him that billions of dollars poured into attempting to prevent migrant children crossing the US border would be better spent addressing the root causes of the crisis in their countries.

The presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador urged the US administration to do more to combat the armed gangs and drug cartels responsible for the violence driving emigration that has seen more than 57,000 unaccompanied children from their countries arrive at the Texas border in recent months. The three leaders – Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras, Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala and Salvador Sánchez Cerén of El Salvador – urged the Obama administration to do more to address the destabilisation caused by cartels shipping narcotics to the American market, and to invest in more rapid economic development to relieve widespread poverty.

But in comments after the meeting, Obama stuck to Washington's emphasis on a campaign to discourage what the White House called "irregular migration" with publicity campaigns and the pursuit of people smugglers.

"I emphasised that the American people and my administration have great compassion for these children," he said. "But I also emphasised to my friends that we have to deter a continuing influx of children putting themselves at risk."

Senate Report on CIA Interrogations Could Be Released Next Week


Senate Report on CIA Interrogations Could Be Released Next Week

Soon the world will be able to read a redacted version of the Senate report on CIA interrogation techniques after 9/11 that caused a war between the CIA and the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

 Josh Rogin

The report — the subject of a now-public feud between the CIA and the committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. — contains the final rounds of administration redactions. The White House, which has been trying to mediate the bickering, is set to give portions of the report back to the committee early next week, multiple officials said. The committee will then have one more opportunity to protest any redactions they don’t agree with before releasing selected excerpts to the public. The release is expected to include a long executive summary, a CIA response, and a dissent by the committee’s Republican minority staff.

Behind the scenes, Tenet has “quietly engineered a counterattack against the Senate committee’s voluminous report,” according to The New York Times, reflecting the CIA’s belief that their interests were not protected during the Committee’s long investigation and the White House’s mediation of the feud, which spilled out into public view when Feinstein accused the CIA of spying on her investigative staff.

Feinstein took to the Senate floor to accuse the CIA of monitoring staff performing the investigation and then removing sensitive and incriminating documents from the trove that the committee had access to, in an attempt to thwart the investigation.

The CIA accused Feinstein’s staff of printing out classified documents and taking them back to their Senate offices. Feinstein said that was done to keep them safe and ensure they were not destroyed. Among them was a series of documents called the “Internal Panetta Review.”

Ron Dermer: Israel’s Outspoken Envoy Is Wise to U.S. Ways

Israel’s Outspoken Envoy Is Wise to U.S. Ways


 As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, Ron Dermer reluctantly accepted an assignment to argue that Israel should be condemned for its treatment of Palestinians.

“You’ll do it or I’ll flunk you,” his professor, the Republican pollster Frank Luntz, recalled telling Mr. Dermer, the quick-witted son of a prominent Miami Beach family. Mr. Dermer, barrel-chested and unrelenting, turned in such a passionate performance that Mr. Luntz declared him the debate’s victor. Mr. Dermer celebrated with a call to his Israeli-born mother.

“How did you do it?” Yaffa Dermer recalled asking incredulously.

“I lied,” Mr. Dermer said. “Like they do.”

More than two decades and a renounced American citizenship later, Mr. Dermer is the Israeli ambassador to the United States, with such a close relationship to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he has been called “Bibi’s brain.” He is now at liberty to make a full-throated case for Israel.

Because of Mr. Dermer’s unabashed hawkishness and his role in organizing Mitt Romney’s 2012 visit to Israel, White House officials — including Denis McDonough, President Obama’s chief of staff — long resisted his appointment, according to people close to the administration. But in the renewed push last year for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Secretary of State John Kerry, who attended Mr. Dermer’s Passover Seder this spring, thought having a Netanyahu confidant close at hand would present an opportunity to sway the prime minister. 

Russia’s message to the E.U.: Money talks

Russia’s message to the E.U.: Money talks

David Cameron, the British prime minister, led the attack: It would be “unthinkable” for the British to sell a warship to Russia, he declared. Almost immediately, the French president, François Hollande, confirmed his intention to do precisely that: He would, he said, deliver a Mistral amphibious assault ship to the Russian navy, as contracted — and then he hit back hard. “This is a false debate led by hypocrites,” one of his party colleagues declared. “When you see how many [Russian] oligarchs have sought refuge in London, David Cameron should start by cleaning up his own back yard.”

Which is worse? France sending Russia a ship that could be used against NATO allies in the Baltic or the Black Sea? Or Britain’s insistence on its right to launder Russian money through London’s financial markets? It was an amusing spat, not least because it plays into the stereotypes: Britain vs. France, crooked bankers vs. cynical politicians. The dispute dominated headlines as Europeans debated the right response to Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.

But in some sense, it also disguises the real nature of Russian influence in Europe. For Russia’s strongest political influence is not in relatively large countries such as Britain or France, where at least these things are openly discussed, but rather in weaker countries that barely have a foreign policy debate at all.

None of this influence is a direct product of Russia’s size or wealth. Russia’s population of 142 million people is smaller than that of Nigeria or Pakistan, about the same as Britain and Germany combined, and its economy is about the same as Italy’s. The European Union, which contains 500 million people, sends only 7 percent of its exports to Russia. Though it sounds surprising, Germany now trades more with Poland than it does with ­Russia.

Nevertheless, Russia has political influence in Europe because of the nature of Moscow’s European business counterparts and partners: very large companies, usually connected to oil and gas, that make very large donations to political parties. Even taken altogether, 100,000 German traders and manufacturers doing business in Poland do not have the same clout as the chairman of E.ON Ruhrgas, which has deep Russian investments and investors. All of Italy’s wine and cheese exporters combined do not have the same voice in Italian politics as the chief executive of Eni, the Italian state gas company that is Russia’s biggest wholesale gas client. For that matter, the wishes of the saddened, angry Dutch victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash may not, in the end, matter as much to the Dutch government as the views of Royal Dutch Shell, which has major investments in Russia, although I hope this doesn’t prove to be true. 

BuzzFeed sacks editor Benny Johnson over plagiarism

BuzzFeed sacks editor Benny Johnson over plagiarism

Viral politics editor fired for 41 instances of plagiarism after Twitter users brought copying of phrases and sentences to light

Shane Hickey


The news and entertainment website BuzzFeed has fired one of its most prominent writers for plagarism after finding he had copied sentences and phrases "word for word" from other sites.

BuzzFeed's editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, issued a statement announcing that Benny Johnson, the viral politics editor, had been sacked, and apologising to users of the site.

The dismissal comes after a number of Twitter users illustrated instances where he had used phrases and sentences from other websites.

A review of 500 posts of his work was carried out, and 41 were found to have instances of plagarism, Smith said.

"Benny is a friend, colleague and, at his best a creative force, but we had no choice other than letting him go," he said in the statement.

"We owe you, our readers, an apology. This plagiarism is a breach of our fundamental responsibility to be honest with you — in this case, about who wrote the words on our site."

The Science Behind the World's Greatest Athletes

Sports writer David Epstein explores the genetic basis of athletic acheivement.

—By Indre Viskontas

At the 1964 Winter Olympics, Eero Mäntyranta won the 15 kilometer cross-country skiing competition by a whopping 40 seconds—a margin of victory that has never been equaled. That same year, he won the 30 kilometer race by a full minute. So what made this legendary Finnish skier such a success?

According to sports journalist David Epstein, Mäntyranta became the "greatest endurance athlete" of his generation in part because of a single mutation to his erythropoietin receptor (EPOR) gene, which helps regulate the production of red blood cells. Remember Lance Armstrong's blood doping scandal? It turns out that because of his DNA, Mäntyranta had a similar advantage over his competition—but without ingesting or injecting a single cell. Mäntyranta "produced about 50 percent more oxygen-carrying red blood cells than a normal person," explains Epstein on this week's episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast. "So he essentially was naturally what…Lance Armstrong was through doping technology."

Saying that some people are "better suited" than others sounds a lot like the idea that some of us are born more talented. But in recent years, much of the sports community has embraced the notion that achievement in athletics is attributable largely to logging 10,000 hours (or so) of dedicated training. The "10,000 hour" rule also permeates education in other domains, such as music and chess, where complex skills need to be developed. But with athletes like Mäntyranta in the competition, can this status quo idea possibly still hold true? And what, exactly, is the scientific recipe for building an elite athlete? 

Learn to to predict the future.

When it comes to professional baseball, says Epstein, "keep your eye on the ball" is useless advice. That's because Major League pitches take far less than half a second to reach the plate—they're simply moving faster than the eye can track. What batters are actually keeping track of is a specific pattern of movements that the pitcher is making.

Ted Williams

The ability to predict where the ball will go based on how the pitcher releases it is the real talent of an all-star hitter. That's why Mariano Rivera could strike out batter after batter with one pitch: a 90+ mile-per-hour cut fastball whose final destination was very difficult to predict. With just a subtle difference in how much pressure he put on the ball with two of his fingers, he could alter its course dramatically.

That's also why no amount of trips to the batting cage will turn you into a slugger like Albert Pujols or Ted Williams. "We've only just realized that pitching machines are totally worthless for baseball practice," explains Epstein, "because they don't teach you to read body movements the way that you need to."

Jennie Finch

Putting this idea to the test, softball pitcher Jennie Finch struck out Pujols and other Major League batters during the 2004 Pepsi All-Star Softball Game—her windup and delivery confounded their ability to predict where the pitch will go, despite the fact that she threw a bigger ball.

No Drama Obama's Israel Ambivalence

No Drama Obama's Israel Ambivalence

The right says President Obama hates Israel, but in reality he’s just aloof and smug.

Conservatives have for several years wondered aloud about Barack Obama and his seemingly less-than-warm approach to Israel. Could it be, they asked themselves, that he’s an anti-Semite?

They should ask themselves instead how anyone as bored and aloof as Barack Obama could bother himself to hate anything.

Back in 2012, a “greybeard” member of the Republican establishment reportedly told AEI’s Danielle Pletka that Obama did, in fact, despise the Jewish state. Pletka made sure this person —“in every way a member of the establishment”—didn’t just mean Obama hated Benjamin Netanyahu. “No,” said the Republican. “He hates Israel.”

Pletka’s verdict on the president took a more measured stance. “Perhaps hate is too strong. But dislike strongly? I’ll buy that,” she wrote.

It’s hard to be sure what borderline hatred is. But it’s easy to understand what fellow conservative firebrand Ace of Spades meant when he tweeted that “Obama has a pretty good shot at topping the historians' lists of Most Chill Presidents.”

As Ron Fournier is in the habit of reporting, big time Democrats have reached just about the same conclusion. According to a House Dem whose endorsement gave Obama a much-needed boost in 2008, "He's bored and tired of being president, and our party is paying the price."

Barack Obama is not just over his presidency. When it comes to the outside world that has intruded so rudely on his pet domestic projects, he just. Can’t. Even. And The New York Times, as they say, is ON IT:

“Sometimes stretching into the small hours of the morning,” reports the Times, the president’s expansive, expensive dinner parties “reflect a restless president weary of the obligations of the White House and less concerned about the appearance of partying with the rich and celebrated. Freewheeling, with conversation touching on art, architecture and literature, the gatherings are a world away from the stilted meals Mr. Obama had last year with Senate Republican leaders at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington.”

This is not a guy who despises Israel. He’s a guy who resents being distracted.

Blue Crush: How the left took over the Democratic Party.

Blue Crush: How the left took over the Democratic Party.

From 2000 to 2008, no one did more to unite the Democratic Party than George W. Bush. But Democrats haven’t fallen apart in the years since Bush exited the political stage. Instead, President Barack Obama has maintained their cohesion thanks in large part to his personal popularity with the base, unrelenting Republican opposition and strong Democratic congressional leadership. But simmering beneath the surface of this united front is an ascendant progressive and populist movement that is on the verge of taking over the party.

The very forces that have held the Democratic Party together are forestalling the takeover. Many of Obama’s most enthusiastic supporters have been loath to criticize him publicly—even when the president’s idea of “change you can believe in” hasn’t matched up with his campaign promises. As long as the party is defined and controlled by the sitting president, these progressive impulses will remain somewhat muted.

The lead-in to the 2016 presidential campaign could force a tipping point as early as next year if Hillary Clinton declines to run and a broad field emerges. If that happens, candidates will feel a great deal of pressure to appeal to the highly engaged, energized and well-funded activists who have been clamoring for a robust progressive agenda. Even if Clinton runs, her candidacy won’t preempt the party’s eventual takeover by the activist forces. It will only slow it down. Candidate Clinton, who appears to have the overwhelming support of the activist base, will nevertheless feel pressure from the left to pursue a more economically populist approach to solving our country’s problems.

And now, with the left lining up around a Clinton candidacy, the activist base will continue to make incremental progress toward assuming control of the Democratic Party. Absent any countervailing forces that have yet to emerge, there won’t be the same kind of intra-party battles between liberals and moderates that took place in the 1970s and 80s. Those conflicts were finally resolved in the ‘90s when Bill Clinton brought together the competing forces that had divided the Democrats and alienated swing voters since the 1960s, largely by focusing on improving the lives of the middle class while not betraying the core values of the party.

But Hillary Clinton will take control of a different party than her husband did because Democratic activists and elected officials have only become more liberal over the last two decades.

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