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Opinion/Analysis: NBA grovels and makes spineless concession to China’s brutally repressive regime

The National Basketball Association found itself in the middle of a political firestorm of its own making when the Houston Rockets’ general manager tweeted something simple and admirable: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” The NBA’s first statement was cowardly. It began: “We recognize that the views expressed by… Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable.” Morey buckled and deleted his tweet. The NBA then went overseas to grovel. A statement posted on the NBA’s Weibo social media network in China stated that it was “extremely disappointed in the inappropriate comment,” and as a result, Morey “has undoubtedly seriously hurt the feelings of Chinese basketball fans.” China is a huge and lucrative market for the NBA. If business means turning your back on freedom while defending one of the most brutally repressive regimes in human history – so be it. That abject surrender, that spineless concession to a government now shooting pro-democracy protesters in the streets drew near-universal condemnation in America, ranging in Washington from conservative Sen. Ted Cruz to socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. So the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, readjusted to insist the league would not discourage athletes or executives from speaking freely. “We are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression” – which is disingenuous. That is exactly what all of the NBA’s “extremely disappointed” remarks implied. And the duplicity continued. In Philadelphia, a 76ers fan named Sam Wachs and his wife brought a pair of signs that read “Free Hong Kong” and “Free HK” as the Sixers took on the Guangzhou Loong Lions, a Chinese Basketball Association team. Wachs said he lived in Hong Kong for two years, so he sympathized with the protests. First, security confiscated the signs. When the couple yelled “Free Hong Kong” during the second quarter, Wachs said they were removed from the game. Then the same Chinese team played the Washington Wizards in D.C., and the routine repeated itself. Several fans standing with a sign reading “Free Hong Kong” and “Google: Uighurs” had them confiscated prior to the game. (The Uighurs are a Muslim minority in northwestern China, with an estimated 1 million people held in concentration camps.) The NBA now doesn’t want to be political. But it’s been very political on the home front, when it has suited its purposes, which is to say, when it placates the left. The league moved the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte over a North Carolina law that in government offices, transgender people should use the bathroom of their gender “assigned at birth.” The NBA commissioner criticized President Trump’s travel ban on people from seven Muslim countries as going “against the fundamental values and the fundamental ingredients of what makes for a great NBA.” The NBA allowed players to wear “I can’t breathe” shirts to protest police after Eric Garner suffocated while laying down on the sidewalk in New York. National Review’s Jim Geraghty underlined the hypocrisy: “Apparently the NBA is fine with protesting American police brutality, but not Hong Kong police brutality.” Speaking of American police brutality, nobody’s found Colin Kaepernick saying anything about China’s grip on the NBA. The man with the Nike sneaker-selling slogan of “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” is silent while Nike orders the removal of all the Houston Rockets merchandise from its stores in China. Apparently, America is still the most horrible country in the world that was founded on racism, slavery and genocide.

Thanks to authors Tim Graham and Brent Bozell for that outstanding op/ed calling out the hypocrisy, and liberal pandering, by the NBA.  The way the NBA has handled this is nauseating.

Beto blasted for call to strip tax status of churches opposing gay marriage: ‘Bigoted nonsense’

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke came under fire Friday for his proposal to revoke the tax-exempt status of churches and other institutions that oppose same-sex marriage, a plan denounced by one Republican as “bigoted nonsense.” Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican, said both Democratic and Republican leaders should “flatly condemn this attack on very basic American freedoms” following Mr. O’Rourke’s comments on CNN’s seven-hour LGBTQ town hall. “Last night, Beto O’Rourke said that churches, hospitals, and charities — folks who are serving their communities and loving their neighbors — should lose their tax-exempt status if their religious convictions don’t fall in line with his progressive politics,” Mr. Sasse said in a statement. The senator said that such “extreme intolerance is un-American” and that such “bigoted nonsense would target a lot of sincere Christians, Jews and Muslims.” During the town hall in Los Angeles, Mr. O’Rourke was asked by CNN host Don Lemon whether “religious institutions like colleges, churches, charities, should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?” Mr. O’Rourke responded, “Yes,” drawing applause from the crowd, and added that “as president, we are going to make that a priority and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.” “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us,” Mr. O’Rourke said. Kelly Shackelford, president, CEO and chief counsel of the First Liberty Institute, called the plan a “direct affront to the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty” and promised to take legal action if the Texas Democrat made good on his threat. “O’Rourke threatened that he would strip churches of their tax-exempt status for simply following thousands of years of religious teaching doctrine,” said Mr. Shackelford in a statement. “O’Rourke certainly isn’t the first to try such a stunt — First Liberty successfully defended a group of Texas churches and pastors in 2009 when their position on marriage and support of then-Governor Rick Perry drew the ire of the IRS.” Christian author and journalist Rod Dreher said that Mr. O’Rourke’s view is likely shared privately by other candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nod. “Beto just said what I’m certain every Democratic candidate believes,” tweeted Mr. Dreher, author of “The Benedict Option.” “This situation is why many orthodox Christians who can’t stand Trump plan to vote for him anyway: because they know what the Dems have planned for them.”

Probably true..  But, its greater than that.  The overwhelming majority of Christian conservatives will vote for Trump in 2020 because of the judges he’s put on the federal bench from the Supreme Court to the appellate courts on down..  Beto is a nauseating pandering fool of the worst kind.  If you’ve actually watched him speak, and can look past his wild arm movements, he’s really pretty stupid.  …Not that he has a prayer of winning the Dem nomination..

US to send 1,800 troops, dozens of fighter jets to Saudi Arabia amid Iran tensions

Roughly 1,800 U.S. service members, as well as several dozen fighter jets and other air defense implements, will be sent to Saudi Arabia to help protect the Kingdom amid heightened tensions with Iran, the Pentagon announced Friday. Officials said the U.S. is set to ship two F-15 squadrons, two Patriot missile batteries, one anti-missile defense system known as THADD and other planes. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he informed Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman earlier Friday about the additional troops “to ensure and enhance the defense of Saudi Arabia.” “Saudi Arabia is a longstanding security partner in the Middle East and has asked for additional support to supplement their own defense and defend the international rules-based order,” Esper told reporters at the Pentagon. The Pentagon’s announcement came just hours after Iranian officials said two missiles from an undetermined source hit one of its oil tankers that was traveling through the Red Sea about 60 miles off the coast of Saudi Arabia. The explosions from the missiles damaged two storerooms aboard the oil tanker – identified as the Sibiti – and caused a brief oil leak into the Red Sea. The leak was later plugged, Iranian state television reported. Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi described the incident as an “attack” carried out by those committing “dangerous adventurism.” He said the incident was under investigation. There has been no word from Saudi Arabia regarding the reported missile strikes. That incident comes amid fraught tensions and charges by the U.S. that Iran has attacked oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf — something denied by Tehran. Right now, there are roughly 250 U.S. troops deployed to Saudi Arabia and more than 60,000 U.S. troops deployed throughout the Middle East, both within various countries and aboard warships. This recent deployment is part of the response to the suspected Iranian missile and drone attack on Saudi oil facilities on Sept. 14.

NASA advances Trump-led manufacturing push with six innovative technologies

NASA is doing its part to advance American manufacturing. The Trump administration has pushed American manufacturing as a cornerstone of economic growth. According to a report released last year, the White House said that “advanced manufacturing…is an engine of America’s economic power and a pillar of its national security,” adding that advances in manufacturing have played “a major role in America’s global economic dominance in the 20th century.” However, the report warned that “this century saw dramatic changes, with significant declines in U.S. manufacturing employment starting in the 1990s and accelerating losses during the 2008 recession.” NASA, which not only develops but builds extremely complex aerospace systems, is a big part of the manufacturing push. The government space agency has come up with a list of six emerging technologies that are “ripe” for commercialization in the country. Click here for a taste of what’s been invented in America by NASA to manufacture and maintain its aerospace systems:

Opinion/Analysis: The people are still sovereign: Only Trump gets that

Message to the Swamp: American voters still are supposed to be in charge. That means they get to decide who gets elected. For example, in 2016, they elected a man named Donald Trump. He is still the president. Go suck an egg if you don’t like it. It also means that American voters get to choose where our soldiers, sailors and airmen get deployed around the world. They choose that by electing “representatives” to Congress, who vote to declare wars. They also get to choose the commander in chief of America’s mighty military. (Again, see previous paragraph about a man named Donald Trump, who is still president. And feel free to go suck another egg.) In addition, American voters get to choose — again, through the “representatives” they have elected — how much money we spend on bombs and ammunition and where we deploy them. Most important, American voters choose where all that firepower gets launched and who, exactly, gets killed by American bombs and bullets. That is the way this is supposed to work. For more than two years, Britain under Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill begged American President Franklin D. Roosevelt to join the fight against Nazi Germany. Roosevelt was more than sympathetic. But he understood that he could not do so unless and until the American people understood the fight, knew who the enemy was, comprehended the risk of getting involved and supported the mission. Then — and only then (with a little push from the Japanese navy) — could Roosevelt join Churchill to defeat the greatest threat to the civilized world in the 20th century. And with the approval and enthusiasm of the American voter, the enemy was annihilated. There are a lot of differences between the global threat Roosevelt defeated in Germany and the global threat Mr. Trump faces now in the Syrian civil war. But one thing remains the same: American voters are still in charge. Therein lies the great political sickness of our time. American voters of every stripe are nearly unified against U.S. involvement in these endless wars in places like Syria at the very same moment when American politicians in Washington of every stripe are nearly unified in favor of same said wars. The disconnect between voters back home and politicians in Washington is cavernous. Mr. Trump is one of the only politicians to hear the voice of the people and obey it. Of course, these very same politicians could be brave adults about it and Congress could vote to declare war in Syria. But that might cost them an election back home. A common response around here when you suggest that Congress should vote to declare war is: “Declare war on whom?” Exactly! Even these people don’t know whom to fight over there. Yet it is the American people (and Mr. Trump) who are so deeply immoral for wanting to get out of this insane, faraway fight. The other explanation you hear from people around here is that we are not really at war over there. Sure, we are helping kill people and all, but we are actually on a “peacekeeping” mission. OK. That’s probably the biggest reason to get out of Syria. All our “peacekeeping” is not working.

Thanks to Charles Hurt for that op/ed.  Charles makes a good point..  Ever since the end of WWII Congress has abdicated its role in the process.  Even the Korean and Vietnam Wars were never technically declared by Congress.  And, now..  We’ve been involved in several long-term military wars in the middle east over the last two decades which has cost the American taxpayers BILLIONS, and thousands of lost American lives.  As someone who went to Afghanistan as a “field grade” Army officer, I’m proud of that service, and strongly believe that our involvement was appropriate AND in our national security interests.  That said, I also recognize Charles’ points here and agree that either Congress needs to step up, or shut up.

FBI’s Foreign Surveillance Program Violated Americans’ Civil Liberties, FISA Court Finds

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has ruled that an FBI program intended to target foreign suspects violated Americans’ constitutional right to privacy by collecting the personal information of American citizens along with the foreign targets of the surveillance. According to the ruling, tens of thousands of searches the FBI made of raw intelligence databases from 2017 to 2018 were illegal, the Wall Street Journal first reported. The searches involved personal data including emails and telephone numbers of private citizens. “The court…finds that the FBI’s querying procedures and minimization procedures are not consistent with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment,” wrote U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in the ruling, which was released Tuesday in partially redacted form. Boasberg said the Trump administration failed to persuade the court that adjusting the program to more efficiently protect American citizens’ privacy would impede the FBI’s ability to counter threats. Federal law limits searches on such databases to to those that are explicitly related to the collection of evidence of a crime or foreign intelligence. In one case revealed in the ruling, an FBI official used a database to search for information on himself, his relatives and other FBI personnel. The Foreign Intelligence Service Act has come under scrutiny in recent years after the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to conduct an investigation into former Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page. The FBI maintains it suspected Page may have been working with Russian officials to interfere with the 2016 presidential election campaign, while President Trump has said the FBI “illegally spied” on his campaign.

…which it did.  But, this is an interesting development.  It’s the classic battle between law enforcement trying to protect us, and the need to make sure that they don’t cross that line where they impede on our civil liberties as Americans.  It’s a very fine line..

Dow jumps over 400 points on US-China trade progress

U.S. stocks kicked off the final day of the week on a high note as the U.S. and China begin day two of trade talks. This after President Trump signaled that thus far the talks are going well. He tweeted as much on Friday after the opening bell. Trump is set to meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House later today. The Dow rose by more than 400 points in early trading. Also providing a boost was a rebound in consumer sentiment, which in October climbed to a three-month high of 96, up from 93.2 the prior month, according to preliminary data released by the University of Michigan. In stock news, General Motors shares were higher after the automaker provided fresh details on negotiations with the United Auto Workers union. GM, in a letter, outlined some revised points on its offer to the union. Investors are also eyeing Apple which hit an all-time high after a Wall Street analyst raised his price target. Wendy’s also saw a nice pop after disclosing that sales in the third-quarter were stronger than expected. In commodities, oil prices spiked around 1 percent after a rocket attack on an Iranian tanker. Global investors are also expecting to hear from Saudi oil giant Aramco as it prepares for its initial public offering. Early reports indicate the company’s valuation may around $1.5 trillion, slightly below the $2 trillion Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was aiming for. In Europe, London’s FTSE gained 0.3 percent, Germany’s DAX added 1.9 percent and France CAC was higher by 1.2 percent. In Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite finished higher by 0.9 percent on Friday and 2.4 percent for the week. Tokyo’s Nikkei closed up 1.2 percent and 1.8 percent for the week. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng ended the session higher 2.3 percent and 1.9 percent for the week.