Thursday, April 17th 2014
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To The Point News
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Thursday, 17 April 2014

Tripoli, Libya.  I - and events - are moving fast here, so I'm writing this on the fly.  I got here over the weekend after an incredible time in Socotra - which is more amazing than any pictures could show but no internet.

The night I arrived, Saturday 4/12, there was an attack on the family of Libya's latest Prime Minister, Abdullah al-Thinni.  The next morning, Sunday 4/13, he resigned. 

Day before yesterday, Tuesday 4/15, Jordan's ambassador to Libya, Fawaz al-Aytan, was kidnapped by masked gunmen in broad daylight right here in downtown Tripoli.

I only learned of these events on CNN's website.  There was no evidence of anything unusual driving around the city, no one I talked to thought they were worth mentioning.  By all outward appearances, everything seems normal.  Lots of traffic, everyone going about their business, traffic cops behaving normally, no military police with checkpoints all over, no heightened security that I could see.

The same outside the city.  There are two astounding World Heritage Sites - Sabratha 40 miles west of Tripoli, and Leptis Magna, 80 miles to the east.  I've been to both since I got here, and not a single checkpoint on the way to either, government soldiers nor any militia.  Everything and everyone seemed normal, no problem. 

There are some weird things, of course.  Libya is one of the world's major oil producers, yet there are long - really long - lines of cars at every gas station.  An appreciable number of drivers, over 10% at least, are majnoon, reckless madman crazy.  Huge auto junk yards filled with horrifically wrecked cars attest to their winning Darwin Awards.

The positive surprises, however, outnumber the negative.  You could say it's springtime in Libya.
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Written by Caroline Glick   
Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Passover, which began on Monday night (4/14), is the festival of freedom.

We repeat the story of enslavement, flight, redemption and freedom each year at Passover, because our sages wanted to ensure that we never forget the value of freedom, and remain vigilant in our fight for it.

In Israel, where our freedom is physically threatened, most Jews understand and live by the lessons of Passover.  But something is happening to the Jews in America.

More and more, every day we see American Jews embracing intellectual bondage. We see American Jewish leaders embracing the intolerant, who seek to constrain freedom, and shunning those who fight for freedom and the rights of Jews and other threatened peoples and groups.

To a large degree, this rejection of the lessons of the Exodus among the American Jewish community reflects the growing intolerance and tyranny of the political Left, to which most American Jews pledge their allegiance.  Here are the latest odious examples.
Written by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard   
Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Russia is at increasing risk of a full-blown financial crisis as the West tightens sanctions and Russian meddling in Ukraine pushes the region towards conflagration.

The country's private companies have been shut out of global capital markets almost entirely since the crisis erupted, causing a serious credit crunch and raising concerns that firms may not be able to refinance debt without Russian state support.

"No Eurobonds have been rolled over for six weeks. This cannot continue for long and is becoming a massive issue," said an official from a major Russian bank. "Companies have to roll over $10bn a month and nothing is moving. The markets have been remarkably relaxed about this, given how dangerous it is. Russia's greatest vulnerability is the bond market," he said.

The warnings came as EU foreign ministers agreed to draft plans for "Stage III" sanctions - this time hitting economic and financial targets - if Russian president Vladimir Putin sends troops into East Ukraine or tries to seize territory. Washington is forcing the pace in any case as is tightens the noose by other means, using regulatory "stealth" power to force banks across the world to pull back from Russia.
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Written by Dr. Joel Wade   
Tuesday, 15 April 2014

An acquaintance the other day asked me what I do, and I told her that I'm a marriage counselor and a life coach. Then she asked an interesting question: "Is compromise the key to a happy marriage?"

At first I was tempted to say yes. Compromise is certainly one part of two different people sharing a life together. We can't do everything we want whenever we want it; we have to find ways of adapting to each other's needs and inclinations.

But thinking about it a little more closely, I instead said an emphatic, "No." Compromise is not really the key. Compromise is kind of like when one person wants a room painted yellow, the other wants it painted blue, and we compromise and get green. Compromise is sometimes win/win, sometimes not. There are certainly times when we compromise, but it isn't the driving force of a great relationship.

What, then, is the driving force of a great relationship?
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Written by Richard Rahn   
Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Do you think the Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies should have the right to seize your assets, including your bank accounts, when you have not been convicted of wrongdoing?

The fact is, the IRS and other government agencies do this all the time, and often without even a formal accusation of wrongdoing.

Thus, in criminal cases, the government has to convince a judge and jury beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime has been committed. Under civil asset-forfeiture laws, no such proof is required -- and, as a result, many innocent people have had their property taken by agents of the federal government.

Anyone who is awake knows that the IRS has been politicized -- and thus critics of the administration live in fear that their property will be taken for the mere act of speaking out against the government.  There is only one solution.
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HALF-FULL REPORT 04/11/14 Print E-mail
Written by Joe Katzman   
Friday, 11 April 2014

Many of you remember, or have heard about, a very famous exchange involving CBS/ 60 Minutes reporter Mike Wallace and USMC Col. George Connell, after Wallace said that he would refuse to warn an American patrol about an enemy ambush if he was in the zone as a reporter. Here's the setup:

Note Wallace. Unrepentant, even demanding that other follow his (a)moral lead. And winning. Until the masterful counterstrike comes from a true warrior:

Collapse, defeat, and abandonment by others at the table followed immediately. I'm here to tell you that not only was Col. Connell's response perfect, it contains embedded lessons that you have not appreciated. You will. In this HFR, we're going to take a deep look at how, and why, as we apply these and other katas to current goings-on. You'll want to bookmark this one.

Welcome to this week's HFR. Welcome... to Fight Club.
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Written by Jack Kelly   
Wednesday, 09 April 2014

U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman sentenced television pitchman Kevin Trudeau to 10 years in prison for making false claims in a weight loss book he wrote, and was hawking on tv.

Mr. Trudeau has been involved in one scam after another for most of his life, Judge Guzman noted before imposing what the Chicago Tribune said was an unusually lengthy prison term for a contempt conviction.

"He has treated federal court orders as if they were mere suggestions," Judge Guzman said. "That type of conduct simply cannot stand."

Mr. Trudeau got what he deserved, said radio talk show host Rusty Humphries. But he said Mr. Trudeau's claims for his weight loss program were not as blatantly false as those made about Obamacare by the president and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  Ms. Sebelius belongs in jail, yet she has a get-out-of-jail-free card.
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Written by Jack Kelly   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014

Virtually all Americans applaud Obamacare's ostensible goals -- to cut the cost of health insurance, reduce the number of Americans who are uninsured.

Thanks to Obamacare's flawed design and inept implementation, we know how not to achieve them. Obamacare imposes 2 1/2 times the costs as it provides in benefits, according to a study by the American Action Forum. More than twice as many Americans say they've been hurt by the law as have benefited from it.

Obamacare has worsened the problems it was supposed to solve. Here's how to ameliorate them:
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Written by Richard Rahn   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014

Paper currency is dirty and is a major transmitter of disease as it goes from unwashed hand to unwashed hand. It is easily lost and stolen, and can be easily destroyed by getting wet or burned.

It physically wears out in a short time and is costly and troublesome to replace. So why do we still use the filthy stuff in the electronic age?

When given a choice, people find credit cards, debit cards and bank account electronic payments more convenient than cash. In many parts of the world, payments can be made from cellphone to cellphone, with the phone companies serving many of the functions of traditional banks. Money can be stored and transmitted from and to almost any form of computer.

Some 15 years ago, I wrote a book forecasting the demise of paper currency. I expected paper currency to gradually disappear like paper checks have. However, I was wrong. Rather than disappearing, the demand for paper currency is rising faster than inflation or population, albeit not by much, but the total quantity of paper U.S. dollars in circulation is roughly double what it was a dozen years ago. The question is: Why?
Written by Dr. Joel Wade   
Wednesday, 09 April 2014

In 399 B.C., Socrates defended himself in the court of Athens against charges that he had corrupted the young and did not believe in the gods of the city. Though his attempt was unsuccessful, and he was shortly put to death, Plato recorded his great teacher's performance that day as his Apology. The title of this account uses an older definition of the word apology: "A defense especially of one's opinions, position, or actions."

Though the modern definition of the word is quite different, in some ways, I think we have culturally reverted to this older definition of apology - at least when it comes to politicians and other public figures.

We rarely hear publicly a genuine acceptance of responsibility for hurtful acts. It's more common to hear either a defense of one's actions, a displacement of responsibility onto the listener such as, "I'm sorry you feel badly about this," or a diffusion of responsibility into the ether through the use of the passive voice such as, "I'm sorry that happened."

That's how not to apologize.  Here's how to do it right.
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Written by Matt Ridley   
Thursday, 10 April 2014

On Tuesday (4/08), we learned that "crews searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have failed to relocate the sounds previously heard deep in the Indian Ocean, raising fears that the batteries in the plane's black box may have died."

The tragic disappearance of all 239 people on board flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean has one really peculiar feature to it: none of the possible explanations is remotely plausible, yet one of them must be true.

The usual rule on these occasions - choose the simplest explanation or, as William of Ockham taught, make the fewest assumptions - simply does not work. There is no simple explanation. Whether the cause was an accidental decompression, a terrorist act or a suicide, all three require us to assume that an outlandish and bizarre sequence of events happened.

I don't know about you, but I have had conversations about MH370 with many people recently, some of whom were fairly confident that they knew what had happened. Yet every story they told was baroque in its contrivance to the point of implausibility, requiring a chain of events that stretched my credulity. Yet, as I say, one such story will turn out to be right.

Consider the sequence of events.
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Written by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard   
Thursday, 10 April 2014

The eurozone debt crisis is deepening and threatens to re-erupt on a larger scale when the liquidity cycle turns, a leading panel of economists warned in a clash of views with German officials in Berlin.

"Debts above 130% of GDP for Italy and 170% for Greece are a recipe for disaster once we go into the next downturn," said Professor Charles Wyplosz, from Geneva University.

"Today's politicians believe the crisis is over and don't want to hear any more about it, but they have not tackled the core issues of fiscal union and public debt," he said, speaking at Euromoney's annual Germany conference.

Ludger Schuknecht, director-general of the German finance ministry, insisted that the debt-stricken states of the eurozone are well on the way to recovery, ending their EU-IMF rescue programs successfully one by one. There is no need for any major shift in policy. "The strategy has been right. We need to bring down debt and this is now consensus," he said.

This optimism is sharply at odds with the view of almost every foreign-based economist attending the event. Charles Dallara, former head of the International Institute for Finance and chief negotiator for global banks in Greece's debt-restructuring, said little has been done to put the eurozone on a viable footing, even if sovereign bond yields in southern Europe have fallen to record lows.
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PUTIN VS. OBAMA Print E-mail
Written by To The Point News   
Friday, 11 April 2014

HALF-FULL REPORT 04/04/14 Print E-mail
Written by Joe Katzman   
Friday, 04 April 2014

We Are Called To Action

We're going to open this week with Ted Cruz at Liberty University. Why? Because he reminds me of Lincoln's comment regarding Grant: "I cannot spare this man. He fights."

Cruz is an interesting study. You'll notice that his speaking ability isn't quite good enough to have his asides, jokes, etc. come off well, but his willingness to stand his ground and act makes up for it. His comments about getting in the wheelbarrow, and doing something concrete for your beliefs today, exactly mirror the difference between Gen. Grant and Gen. McLellan, who was excellent at preparation but never seemed to get around to going after the enemy when it mattered. Remind you of anyone in Washington?

If you're here, I know which general you'd rather be. Take Cruz's advice. TTP is here with news, tips, insights, and stories about others who are fighting their own courageous fights.
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Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Thursday, 03 April 2014

[Note:  I am off to Socotra and beyond.  Jack Kelly is also away on a well-deserved vacation.  In our absence, Joe Katzman will man the HFR ramparts.  He is asking TTPers to send him their suggestions for what recent events of note deserve inclusion in the HFR. "Send your suggestions etc. to our new [Half-Full Report email address ] at gmail dot com, the "person" is TTPHFR" - Thanks, and thanks, Joe!]

Here's an interesting question:  Do Russians and Chinese exist?  Obviously yes in an ordinary sense.  But do they possess any individual identity beyond being simply members of their tribal collective?

Human beings seem genetically hard-wired to be tribal.  Just about all of us derive at least part of our self-identity via membership in one or more tribes.  But most in the West do not submerge their identity into the tribe. 

An exception might be a substantial fraction of American Blacks, for whom being "black" overrides everything else.  This, of course, is racism, but all forms of racism are merely a variety of tribalism.

For most of us, however - and this includes a great many American Blacks - what we see in the mirror is an individual human being distinct and separate from others.  Our participation in the welter of groups and tribes to which we belong is something more of choice than necessity, something that we could withdraw from without feeling at a loss to know who we were.

This is not the case with the great majority of Russians and Chinese.  Having little sense of individual empowerment, the average Russian gets a frisson whenever his government pushes other governments and countries around.  They want Russia to be a bully.  They want other people to be afraid of them because they are Russian.
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