Still too early to know exactly what has happened but here’s an initial report from Fox News:
A Malaysian Airlines passenger plane with 295 aboard was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in Ukraine near the Russian border, according to multiple reports.
The airline, the same one whose plane disappeared over the Indian Ocean in March, confirmed only that “an incident” had occurred involving the Boeing 777, which was en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.
“Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam,” read a tweet from the airline. “The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow,” read a tweet from Malaysia Airlines’ account.
Multiple reports said the plane was shot down at cruising altitude. Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister told The Associated press that the plane, carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew people onboard, was shot down.
Gerashenko says on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit Thursday by a missile fired from a Buk launcher. A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.
The adviser also told Russian news agency Interfax that all onboard have been killed.
Prayers to the families of those hurt or killed, of course.
**Posted by Phineas
Radio host Dennis Prager cuts to the heart of the issue in this short lesson for his Prager University: the root of the Mideast problem is that one side wants the other side dead.
The one quibble I have with Prager’s lesson is that he leaves begging the question of why Arab Muslims want Israel destroyed. Why do they teach hatred of Jews in their media and their schools — even on children’s TV?
The answer is straightforward: Islam defines Jews as the mortal and eternal enemies of the Muslims. The Qur’an, Islam’s sacred book, is rife with antisemitism. And, indeed, a hadith in one of the most revered collections of the sayings and deeds of Muhammad informs the Muslims that Judgment Day cannot come until the Muslims fight and kill the Jews:
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.
–Sahih Muslim, Book 41, #6985
So, the root of the “Middle East problem” is that one side wants the other dead, and the reason for that is simple: Allah commands it. Think about it for a moment, and Hamas’ seemingly insane actions make perfect sense.
Thus I ask again: How can anyone be expected to negotiate with another party, when that other party’s is on a mission from God to kill the first party?
hat tip: JCinQC
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)
Brown, 46, has become an articulate voice and recognizable face opposing tenure, the century-old system of laws and contractual guarantees giving public-school teachers due-process rights in layoffs and terminations. Brown argues that tenure makes it difficult and expensive for school systems to remove underperforming teachers, and it protects their jobs at the expense of their students.
“I’m a mom, and my view of public education begins and ends with the fundamental question: Is this good for children?” Brown says by phone from New York, where she lives. “In a situation where it’s the child or the adult, I’m going with the child. .?.?. Tenure is permanent lifetime employment. There’s no reason why anyone’s job should become untouchable for the rest of their life.”
Campbell the journalist might interrupt an interview subject to take exception to that kind of generalization. Teachers unions and their advocates say tenure — instituted to prevent widespread abuses of a female-dominated workforce — doesn’t guarantee much beyond a fair hearing. Tenured teachers deemed ineffective or negligent, after hearings and evaluations, are fired, they point out.
“I have trouble with this issue because it’s so totally illogical,” says Diane Ravitch, an education historian. “It’s hard to understand why anyone thinks taking away teachers’ due-process rights will lead to great teachers in every classroom.”
As for Brown, Ravitch is dismissive: “She is a good media figure because of her looks, but she doesn’t seem to know or understand anything about teaching and why tenure matters. .?.?. I know it sounds sexist to say that she is pretty, but that makes her telegenic, even if what she has to say is total nonsense.”
Far be it from me to stoop to the level this so-called “education historian” did by snidely boiling down Brown’s popularity and smarts to her looks, but I have no idea – none at all – why the woman would come across as jealous of another woman’s looks. None whatsoever.
Continuing on, I don’t know her political leanings but Ravitch displays the typical behavior of a left wing feminist educrat know it all who thinks not only do they know best how to educate children and young adults, but that anyone who disagrees with them must be dismissed as “extreme” or “all hat no substance” — as a person whose opinions are not worthy of serious consideration. By doing that, self-important elitists like Ravitch can therefore summarily without a second thought dismiss a person’s arguments without taking the time to read and/or hear them and later provide a reasonable analysis after careful consideration.
Jon Chait, no friend to conservative education reformers by any stretch nevertheless slammed Ravitch here on a multitude of levels:
Why, yes, that does sound rather sexist. Now, Ravitch suggests here that Brown’s analysis is so transparently illogical that perhaps only her looks can account for her views. Why, Ravitch wonders, would the elimination of a job protection help attract better teachers? Let me reveal, via the power of logic, how this can work.
The basic problem is that some proportion of American teachers is terrible at their job and immune to improvement, yet removing them is a practical impossibility. (A good overview of the research on chronically ineffective teachers can be found here. Standard caveat: The author is my wife.) Under some conditions, loosening tenure laws can lead directly to more effective teachers in the classroom. For instance, when the Great Recession drove states to lay off teachers in order to balance their budgets, last-in, first-out hiring rules led them to fire teachers regardless of quality, thus removing highly effective (yet unprotected) teachers from classrooms.
In most fields, your pay is based on your perceived value rather than on the number of years you have spent on the job. Value-based pay does not work perfectly in any field. It certainly doesn’t work perfectly in my field, which explains, for instance, Howard Kurtz’s rumored extravagant wealth. Yet if we stopped paying journalists on the basis of their perceived value and started paying them on the basis of time served, I’d argue it would reduce the quality of journalism.
Opponents of reform relentlessly pick apart the various performance pay measures that are being implemented by reformers, and it’s true that none of those measures is perfect, either. But nearly all of them work better than paying people on the basis of how long they’ve held a job and making it functionally impossible to fire them for being terrible at their job. In places like Washington, D.C., education reformers have given teachers a chance to forfeit their tenure in return for the possibility of much higher pay.
Whatever side of this issue a person is on is irrelevant to how the debate over it is conducted. Ravitch’s sneers and condescending attitude towards disagreement in any form are beneath contempt and, frankly, are not worthy of the children for who she claims to be fighting. Time to grow up, ma’am. As many in your circle have often said in the past, this is not about you. It’s about the children. So stop acting like one.
**Posted by Phineas
Per Bryon York:
First, because Republicans want him to do something:
Who is pushing Obama to get tough? Mostly, it’s the Republicans whose wishes Obama has ignored for years. And now, since his well-publicized decision to abandon hopes of making a deal with GOP lawmakers on immigration, Obama needs them even less. It’s to his political benefit to oppose them, not to do their bidding.
Second, because Democrats back him:
…the Democrats, who don’t strongly oppose action on the border but want the president to go forward only if Republicans will agree to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Without a grand bargain, these Democrats are not terribly bothered by Obama’s handling of the crisis. While a few border state Democrats like Reps. Henry Cuellar and Ron Barber express reservations about Obama’s performance, most won’t give the president any trouble.
Third, because the progressive media is cheering him on:
Next is the liberal commentariat, which supports Obama so strongly in this matter that it is actually pushing back against the idea that the border crisis is a crisis at all. “The besieged border is a myth,” the New York Times editorial page declared on Sunday. “Republicans are … stoking panic about a border under assault.”
And, finally, because Obama himself is simpatico with immigration “activists:”
Finally, there are the immigration activists who don’t want Obama to do anything that involves returning the immigrants to their home countries. “We’re in the midst of a humanitarian crisis affecting kids fleeing gang violence, extortion and rape,” Frank Sharry, of the immigration group America’s Voice, said recently. It is Obama’s responsibility, Sherry added, to find a way to settle “thousands of child refugees.”
Obama recently met with a group of those advocates. One of them later told the Washington Post that the president said to them, “In another life, I’d be on the other side of the table.” By that Obama meant that in his old days as a community organizer, pressing for the “refugee” rights would be just the sort of thing he would do.
In other words, all the incentives encourage him to ignore national interests and instead be true to his nature. He doesn’t have to worry ever again about reelection, and, if the Democrats are going to take a drubbing in the midterms, anyway, why not make his Leftist base happy?
There are those who argue that Obama’s actions have to be the result of incompetence, that no one would willingly do something so obviously self-destructive to their political fortunes. See, for example, Andrew Klavan’s essay at PJM, “Is Obama just a hapless putz?”, in which he argues that Cloward-Piven is an “idiot’s strategy.”
Perhaps, but one can still be idiotic enough to try it, with all the harmful effects that would follow.
Having read extensively on Obama’s political background, especially Kurtz’s crucial work, “Radical in Chief,” I’m not at all convinced that he cares about the fortunes of the Democratic Party (let alone the nation, or, frankly, those kids on the border), that he isn’t indeed willing to take a political hit in order to achieve what he and his leftist allies hope will be irreversible change. As with Obamacare, so with immigration. Whether Obama and his administration intended for this crisis on the border to occur, they’re quite happy to take advantage of it.
From his point of view, all the incentives work that way.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)
Teachers unions have turned on Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Obama administration, creating a major divide in the Democratic Party coalition.
The largest teachers union in the country, the National Education Association (NEA), called for Duncan to resign at its convention on July 4, arguing his policies on testing have failed the nation’s schools.
Tensions between Duncan and the unions had been building for some time.
The administration’s Race to the Top program, which has provided $4.35 billion to states, incentivized changes that unions strongly oppose. One of the most controversial policies backed by Duncan is using students’ improvement on standardized tests to help evaluate teachers and make pay and tenure decisions.
“Our members are frustrated and angry,” said NEA president Dennis Van Roekel. “Number one is the toxic testing. There is too much.”
An added spark came on June 10, when a California judge ruled the state’s teacher tenure laws are unconstitutional because they keep ineffective teachers in the classroom and deprive poor and minority students of their right to an equal education.
Teachers unions, which are strong defenders of tenure, expressed outrage when Duncan said the plaintiffs in the case were just some of millions of students disadvantaged by tenure laws. He called the decision “a mandate to fix these problems.”
With the teachers unions at loggerheads with the administration, Democrats are suddenly at risk of losing one of their most reliable allies and fundraising sources.
It would appear that when it comes to crucial issues of “tenure” and “teacher performance”, Duncan is surprisingly more right than left. On the flip side, he supports the implementation of the controversial Common Core “teaching standards”, which the right strongly opposes and even a growing number of left wing educators have issues with. If Duncan starts to become too much more of a liability for our celebrity President, look for him to “resign to spend more time with family” in the very near future …
**Posted by Phineas
What’s next, lambs lying down with lions? Obama embracing the writings of Thomas Sowell?
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi has thus far turned down appeals from Palestinians and other Arabs to work toward achieving a new ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas telephoned Sisi and urged him to intervene to achieve an “immediate ceasefire” between Israel and Hamas. Abbas later admitted that his appeal to Sisi and (other Arab leaders) had fallen on deaf ears.
Sisi’s decision not to intervene in the current crisis did not come as a surprise. In fact, Sisi and many Egyptians seem to be delighted that Hamas is being badly hurt.
Some Egyptians are even openly expressing hope that Israel will completely destroy Hamas, which they regard as the “armed branch of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization.”
Sisi’s Egypt has not forgiven Hamas for its alliance with Muslim Brotherhood and its involvement in terrorist attacks against Egyptian civilians and soldiers over the past year.
Egyptian ex-general Hamdi Bakhit was quoted as expressing hope that Israel would re-occupy the Gaza Strip. “This would be better than the Hamas rule,” he said.
[Egyptian TV presenter Amany al-Khayat's] colleague, Azza Sami of the newspaper Al-Ahram, went as far as thanking Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for ordering the attack on Hamas. “Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more [people] like you to destroy Hamas,” she wrote.
Emphases added. This is pretty amazing stuff, akin to us rooting for the Russians in a confrontation with the UK. But, on further thought, it’s not as surprising as one might think. Egyptians experienced a year or so under the thumb of the Muslim Brotherhood, which spawned Hamas, after Muhammad Morsi replaced Hosni Mubarak as president. To say it was a miserable year for Egypt would be an understatement. The economic mismanagement and social disorder finally resulted in a coup d’etat by the army, an act that had massive support from the people. After the coup, the Brotherhood did nothing to redeem itself with Egyptians, attacking the army, a popular institution in Egypt, in a guerrilla war that continues to this day, especially in Sinai. And Hamas supported their fellow Brothers in this.
In addition Egypt has been an economic basket case for years, unable to feed itself without massive and expensive imports. (Skip down to “Wheat prices 101.”) The situation is only getting worse. With such problems, many Egyptians are understandably reluctant to give aid to a Brotherhood offshoot. As the Egyptian paper El-Bayasher wrote:
“The standard of living for a Gazan citizen is much higher than that of an Egyptian citizen. The poor in Egypt are more in need than the poor in the Gaza Strip. Let Qatar spend as much as it wants on the Gaza Strip. We should not send anything that Egyptians are in need of.”
I doubt a majority of Egyptians feel this way, but that so many feel free to speak publicly what would have been unthinkable just a few years ago is a remarkable change. Egypt is Hamas’ lifeline in the region; this is indicative of how thoroughly they’ve screwed up.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)
Harry Reid is the da Vinci of distraction. The moment any scandal, policy failure or political defeat crashes down on him — and there have been plenty the past few years — the Senate majority leader unleashes outrageous rhetoric that’s better suited for a sandbox than what once passed for the world’s greatest deliberative body. Worse, the Nevada Democrat has become especially fond of slinging race cards just to crank up the outrage.
Last week, Sen. Reid was in rare form following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn part of the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. The 5-4 ruling declared that closely held for-profit businesses, such as craft retailer Hobby Lobby, do not have to provide some forms of birth control to female employees if doing so violates the owners’ religious beliefs. Sen. Reid eviscerated the decision. “The one thing we are going to do during this work period, sooner rather than later, is to ensure that women’s lives are not determined by virtue of five white men,” Sen. Reid said.
Sen. Reid’s slip was no accident. He believes racial and ethnic minorities are ideologically monolithic constituencies who are incapable of independent or — gasp! — right-of-center thinking. In the majority leader’s mind, Mr. Thomas is not an African-American because the justice doesn’t blindly subscribe to liberal orthodoxy.
Never mind that Sen. Reid himself, like the entire Senate Democratic leadership, is as white as an Irishman in a snowstorm. And never mind that after more than five years of Democratic control of the White House and the Senate, black and Hispanic unemployment — especially among teenagers — remains scandalously high. Sen. Reid’s “fix” for this problem — a higher minimum wage — will actually make it worse.
We thought the 2008 election of Barack Obama as president was supposed to herald an age of post-racial politics. So much for hope and change. Quit the race-baiting already, Sen. Reid. You’re clearly colorblind — in all the wrong ways.
By the way, Reid was quoted years ago as saying to the director of LVRJ advertising during a Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce business luncheon that he hoped the Review-Journal would “go out of business.” Gee, I can’t imagine why, can you?