Watcher’s Council Nominations – Faith Edition

IDF soldiers sing before entering Gaza; “The whole world is a narrow bridge and you must not be afraid. Serve G-d with joy and come before Him with song. We have no one to rely upon except our Father in heaven.”

Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere, and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council.Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday morning.

Council News:

Ah, the big news today is that it’s party time..

Our own Courtney, GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD adds another year to the ledger. The actual date was Monday, but we’ll celebrate it today…especially since she managed to get through her birthday weekend in one piece and without any serious encounters with the authorities.

Courtney_52

First, some flowers, just because..

flowersNow this is a decadent rum cake..the alcohol’s cooked off, but that wonderful flavor of Mount Gay Bajan rum remains. And I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to mar that wonderful chocolate top with candle holes, but I’ll let the birthday girl decide that one..and how many candles.

Happy-Birthday-Cake-2

And some chilled Veuve Cliquot on the side to wash it down..

champaign

Another year Courts, and you still crack me up with the joyful mayhem you perform on the defenseless English language in your articles and of course in our asides! Even better is the real substance in what you write that’s behind it.It’s a great pleasure to have you in the group, and especially to have you as my friend..many, many more and keep treading the Narrow Way.

The Council In Action!!

My latest over at The Times Of Israel is up.When it comes to Hamas and Gaza, ‘demilitarization’ is the new buzzword, and it gets mentioned frequently as a solution. In What ‘Demilitarization’ Really Means’ I revisit what happened the last time this carrot was held out to push a ceasefire with the full force of the ‘international community’ behind it.

This week, The MidKnight Review, Blazing Cat Fur and Gates Of Vienna earned honorable mention status with some great articles.

You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.

To bring something to my attention, simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title and a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address ( which won’t be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category. Then return the favor  by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week when it comes out Wednesday morning

Simple, no?

It’s a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members. while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?

So, let’s see what we have for you this week….

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us Twitter..’cause we’re cool like that!

Audio: Knesset Member Describes Obama and Netanyahu’s Unpleasant Phone Conversation

Danny Danon, member of Knesset for the Likud party in Israel, was on the Steve Malzberg Show, Tuesday to talk about the Israel/Hamas war and the Obama Regime’s epic PR meltdown in trying to negotiate a ceasefire agreement. Danan said that the call between  Netanyahu and Obama Sunday night was a subject of much conversation in Israel, and claimed that O had yelled at Bibi, telling him “what to do and what not to do.”

“I want to sound polite, but it is an insult the way President Obama is treating Israel and Secretary Kerry is treating Israel,” Danon began.  “It is an insult for us – the demand to have a ceasefire and putting Israel on the same level as Hamas – it is unacceptable.”

“It was not a pleasant conversation,”  Danon said of the phone call. “It was yelling and telling Prime Minister Netanyahu what he should do and what he should not do. And I tell you frankly, we have a very close relationship with the US –  the strongest ally of Israel – but this is not the way to talk to the leader of an allied country.”  He brought his point home by suggesting that Obama was treating Netanyahu no differently than he would treat the leader of the Taliban.

” He’s not talking to the leader of the Taliban,” Danon said.

Here is the transcript of the Sunday evening conversation that was leaked to the Times of Israel – which the White House and Prime Minister denies is accurate.

Barack Obama: I demand that Israel agrees to an immediate, unilateral ceasefire and halt all offensive activities, in particular airstrikes.Benjamin Netanyahu: And what will Israel receive in exchange for a ceasefire?

BO: I believe that Hamas will cease its rocket fire — silence will be met with silence.

BN: Hamas broke all five previous ceasefires. It’s a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

BO: I repeat and expect Israel to stop all its military activities unilaterally. The pictures of destruction in Gaza distance the world from Israel’s position.

BN: Kerry’s proposal was completely unrealistic and gives Hamas military and diplomatic advantages.

BO: Within a week of the end of Israel’s military activities, Qatar and Turkey will begin negotiations with Hamas based on the 2012 understandings, including Israel’s commitment to removing the siege and restrictions on Gaza.

BN: Qatar and Turkey are the biggest supporters of Hamas. It’s impossible to rely on them to be fair mediators.

BO: I trust Qatar and Turkey. Israel is not in the position that it can choose its mediators.

BN: I protest because Hamas can continue to launch rockets and use tunnels for terror attacks –

BO: (interrupting Netanyahu) The ball’s in Israel’s court, and it must end all its military activities.

Although both  Obama and Netanyahu say that the transcript of their telephone call is fake, there is reason to believe that they both doth protest too much.

Joel Pollak at the Conversation notes that the transcript “strongly resembles the White House’s readout of the call, in which he called for an “immediate, unconditional” ceasefire.”

There is nothing new in the supposed transcript except the tone of the exchange, in which Obama is depicted as rather rude and condescending.

***

The denials are standard for both. More than that, Israel seems eager to prove its friendship by helping the Obama administration save face: Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer recently defended Secretary of State John Kerry, for example. And the Obama administration wants to play up the sense that it is the victim of a propaganda campaign by its critics–not a victim of its own misguided policies and incompetent execution.

In that regard, it is possible that both Israel and the U.S. are taking advantage of the fact that the transcript is inexact–that it is just an excerpt, as conceded by the Israeli journalist who reported it (and who is sticking to the story), or that it leaves out some of the back-and-forth of the actual conversation. In the cloak-and-dagger of international diplomacy, we may not know the truth for a while–but the “fake” charge is yet unproven.

Meanwhile, a State Dept. flack reportedly said that if the conversation had indeed been leaked, it was ” a severe violation of a private discussion.”

According to BBC reporter Paul Danahar, the State Department says that if President Barack Obama’s conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indeed leaked to Israel’s Channel 1, it would constitute a “severe violation of a private discussion.”

Hmmm.

For Breaking Political News, Sourced by Social Media, Try BadBlue

badblue
 This public service announcement comes you via my blog buddy, Doug Ross.

Like you, I spend a lot of time trying to keep up-to-date on the hottest significant news stories. Since we free-thinking folks have to largely bypass vintage media, which have largely become a public relations arm of the Obama administration, it isn’t easy to do. There are thousands of great sites out there, any of which can have a noteworthy news story.I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the time to check thousands of websites for breaking news.

Yes, there are some great aggregators out there: Drudge, Twitchy, etc. But all of them rely upon human editors and, most importantly, don’t give smaller blogs and websites much of their attention.

That’s why we created BadBlue News. It’s a very different type of news aggregator because it uses machine learning and automation to achieve massive scalability in assessing news sources and breaking stories. Here’s how it’s different:

1. It uses social network buzz, not a set of human editors, to determine how important a story is.

2. It levels the playing field for smaller websites and blogs by taking into account traffic patterns; that is, a story on a small blog with 15 retweets might be equivalent to a story on Fox News with 1,000 retweets. The traffic patterns and social buzz are both factored in by BadBlue to offer a much wider range of news coverage than any other aggregator.

3. It never sleeps: BadBlue runs 24×7 and never relies upon human editors making decisions.

BadBlue is growing quickly. From September 2013 to January 2014, page views grew by 20 percent, with Google Analytics reporting the average time onsite is a startling 31 minutes!

In this election year, BadBlue can play an important role for advancing the conservative agenda by cutting through the media censors and offering a level playing field for websites and blogs of all sizes.

I’d love for you to come visit and, if you like it, to tell your friends, tweet about it, or like it on Facebook.

2014 will be a big year for liberty and I believe getting the word out on uncensored news stories — bypassing the state-run media — will be critical.

You can find the BadBlue button near the top of my right sidebar right under Larwyn’s links.

Shock: Jesse Ventura Wins Defamation Lawsuit

jesse ventura

This is just horrendous news.

Jesse Ventura, the former wrestler, Minnesota governor and truther, won his defamation lawsuit against the estate of late “American Sniper” author and former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.

Although verdicts in such cases are customarily unanimous, both sides agreed to a split verdict. The verdict of 8 to 2 was reached after more than a week of deliberations. Jurors awarded Mr. Ventura $500,000 for defamation and $1.3 million for what was termed the author’s unjust enrichment.

Mr. Ventura, 63, had sued the estate of Chris Kyle, the former member of the SEALs, saying that his book, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” included passages about Mr. Ventura that were false and defamatory. Mr. Ventura, an outspoken and colorful figure, stunned the nation by winning election as governor of Minnesota against two well-known candidates from the traditional parties. He was governor from 1999 to 2003.

Two weeks ago, I reported on the testimony of witness after witness who said that they heard at least part of Ventura’s ranting and saw parts of the fight. It looked to me like the trial was not going well for him.

One saw him take a punch. Another said he saw him on the sidewalk outside a bar. Another saw him leave with blood on his lips.

***

Rosemary deShazo, a friend of Chris Kyle’s who attended the wake, testified that she heard Ventura make a disparaging remark about U.S. Navy SEALs similar to the one Kyle described in “American Sniper.”

“He said, ‘They probably deserved it, they die all the time,’ ” she testified.

Under cross-examination DeShazo conceded that she was paraphrasing Ventura. But when asked by Kyle attorney Leita Walker how confident she was about the quote, she responded, “quite confident, very confident.”

DeShazo is a sister of Laura deShazo, who testified Monday that she saw Ventura punched in the bar.

Rosemary deShazo said she did not see a punch, but recalled Ventura’s remarks because of the context. “Unusual things that are emotional stick in your memory. I remember he offended me, offended people I was with.”

I started to worry when the jury took more than a few hours to come to a verdict. Obviously, I wasn’t in the courtroom, but defamation cases are notoriously hard to prove in a court of law:

 First of all, you have to prove without a doubt that what was said or written about you is not true. Once you have proved that the statement is in fact false, you have to prove that the other person said the false statement with the intent of causing you some form of harm.

Apparently the jury found the witnesses for Ventura to be more compelling than Kyle’s witnesses, but I still have no idea how this high bar could have been met when there was such conflicting testimony. How on earth did the prosecution prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Kyle told the story with the intent of doing harm to Ventura?

In his deposition, Mr. Kyle said Mr. Ventura had indeed made such comments, and that Mr. Kyle had ended the conversation by punching Mr. Ventura as he described in the book. Several witnesses for Mr. Kyle said that they had overheard the former governor’s negative comments or had seen him on the ground following an altercation, while witnesses for Mr. Ventura said they saw no such confrontation that night.

The NYTs reports that “Mr. Ventura has said that his lawsuit is not about money.” He just wanted an apology and to clear his name.

Not that he has any plans to return the $1.8 million dollars he won against Chris Kyle’s widow and children.

The Kyle family is considering appealing the decision according to Kyle estate attorney John Borger.

During a news conference, he said Kyle’s widow “was very surprised and obviously upset,” when he called to tell her the news.

SEE ALSO:

Twitchy: ‘Lone Survivor’ Marcus Luttrell’s Facebook thread mocks Ventura [pics]

Senate Introduces Bi-partisan Bill to Ban Bulk Record Collection

 nsa spying

 

The Senate Judiciary Committee introduced a revised version of the USA Freedom Act on Tuesday promising “more oversight, transparency and privacy requirements aimed at the National Security Agency’s collection of telephone and Internet records.”

It’s unclear when the bill will come to a vote, as we’re days away from the August recess,  and the silly season will be in full swing when lawmakers return to Capital Hill in September.

Via USA Today:

The Freedom Act – first introduced in October by Leahy, D-Vt., in the Senate and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., in the House – is unique from other bills responding to revelations of broad NSA surveillance because it would end the automatic bulk collection of phone records. Leahy has been negotiating with the Obama administration and other members of the Senate and the intelligence community on changes to the legislation since a compromise version of the legislation passed the House in May.

Leahy said in a statement that the revised bill balances privacy and transparency with the ability of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to monitor national security threats.

“If enacted, this bill would represent the most significant reform of government surveillance authorities since Congress passed the USA Patriot Act 13 years ago,” he said. “This is a debate about Americans’ fundamental relationship with their government – about whether our government should have the power to create massive databases of information about its citizens.”

 Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a co-sponsor of the bill,  released the following statement regarding the USA FREEDOM Act of 2014:

“Republicans and Democrats are showing America that the government can respect the privacy rights of law-abiding citizens, while at the same time, giving law enforcement the tools needed to target terrorists,” said Sen. Cruz. “The USA FREEDOM Act of 2014 ends the government’s bulk record collection program and implements other necessary surveillance reforms. Importantly, it also sends a strong signal that a bipartisan coalition in Congress is working to safeguard our privacy rights. I am honored to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle toward delivering this bill to the President’s desk for his signature. We need to protect the constitutional rights of every American.”

The USA FREEDOM Act of 2014 was introduced by Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont. Sen. Cruz and Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) are original co-sponsors.

Incompetence and Betrayal: How The Obama Regime Muffed The Israeli/Hamas Ceasefire Agreement

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The Times of Israel’s DJohn Kerry’s ceasefire proposal, Friday. He writes that he “wondered if something had gotten lost in translation.”

It seemed inconceivable that the American secretary of state would have drafted an initiative that, as a priority, did not require the dismantling of Hamas’s rocket arsenal and network of tunnels dug under the Israeli border. Yet the reported text did not address these issues at all, nor call for the demilitarization of Gaza.

It seemed inconceivable that the secretary’s initiative would specify the need to address Hamas’s demands for a lifting of the siege of Gaza, as though Hamas were a legitimate injured party acting in the interests of the people of Gaza — rather than the terror group that violently seized control of the Strip in 2007, diverted Gaza’s resources to its war effort against Israel, and could be relied upon to exploit any lifting of the “siege” in order to import yet more devastating weaponry with which to kill Israelis.

Israel and the US are meant to be allies; the US is meant to be committed to the protection of Israel in this most ruthless of neighborhoods; together, the US and Israel are meant to be trying to marginalize the murderous Islamic extremism that threatens the free world. Yet here was the top US diplomat appearing to accommodate a vicious terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction, with a formula that would leave Hamas better equipped to achieve that goal.

The appalled response to the Kerry proposal by the members of the security cabinet on Friday night, however, made plain nothing had gotten lost in translation at all. The secretary’s proposal managed to unite Israel’s disparate group of key political leaders — from Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Liberman on the right, through Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni on the center-left — in a unanimous response of horrified rejection and leaked castigation.

But actually, it’s worse than that. What emerges from Kerry’s self-initiated ceasefire mission — Israel had already accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal; and nobody asked him to come out on a trip he prefaced with sneering remarks about Israel’s attempted “pinpoint” strikes on Hamas terror targets — is that Jerusalem now regards him as duplicitous and dangerous.

Contrary to his public claim at his press conference in Cairo that his ceasefire proposal was “built on” the Egyptian initiative, it manifestly is nothing of the kind. As indicated by the unconfirmed text reported by Issacharoff, by other subsequent reports of its content, and by the cabinet’s outraged rejection, it is a proposal that, to quote an unnamed official cited by Channel 2, “tunneled under the Egyptian initiative,” a document, to quote from another of those leaked comments, that reads like it was drawn up for or even by Hamas’s Khaled Mashaal.

Horovitz describes Kerry’s intervention as nothing short of a betrayal by Israel’s (heretofore) staunchest ally.

Obama further inflamed the Israelis with a late night phone call, Sunday night, demanding an unconditional ceasefire:

Via The Blaze:

Israeli politicians from the right and left are fuming at President Barack Obama following a late-night phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling for an “unconditional” humanitarian cease-fire, likening Obama to “background noise” and one Israeli lawmaker calling for a “cease-fire from Washington.”

In their Sunday night telephone call, Obama “underscored the United States’ strong condemnation of Hamas’ rocket and tunnel attacks against Israel and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself” and said that “ultimately” a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should disarm terrorist groups and demilitarize Gaza, the White House said in a statement.

But leave it to the malicious – yet still comically inept Obama – to give the Israelis cover in rejecting the ceasefire proposal.

Obama attempted to impose his will on Israel one more time –and save face after Kerry’s disastrous ceasefire mission — at an emergency UN Security Council midnight session overnight, which resulted in a demand for a ceasefire, Monday morning.

Via Joel Pollak of Breitbart.com:

The war has continued Monday, since Hamas keeps firing rockets and boasting about terror tunnels, and Israel–which promised not to initiate fire for three days–has responded. Israeli politicians are very reluctant to defy the U.S. openly (albeit less so as the grievances against Obama mount). Yet it is far easier to defy the UN–even the UN Security Council–for which Israelis of all political stripes have long ago developed a studied contempt.

Ironically, therefore, while Obama’s stunt at the UN was meant to isolate Israel, he made it easier for Israel to keep fighting. Now Israeli leaders can say they are not defying Obama directly, or alone: they are defying such human rights paragons as Nigeria and Rwanda, along with Russia and China, which presume to sit in judgment of Israel’s self-defense efforts.

Just more of that “Smart Power” we were promised when Obama came into office.

UPDATE:

Via Weasel Zippers: White House Furious With Israel’s Criticism of John Kerry, Warn It May Put Israel’s Relationship With U.S. In Jeopardy…

WASHINGTON (AP) — Obama administration officials were fuming Monday over a torrent of Israeli criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest bid to secure a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

In unusually harsh language, officials said the criticism of Kerry could put the relationship between the U.S. and Israel in jeopardy. They also said the personal attacks on Kerry crossed a line and were particularly disappointing at a time of active conflict.

Has it occurred to these officials that John Kerry actually does suck at his job?

RELATED:

Weasel Zippers: Facebook: “Death To Zionist Baby Killer Israeli Jews” Page Doesn’t Violate Our “Community Standards”…

A Facebook page calling for the death of Israeli Jews does not violate the social network’s “community standards,” according to multiple messages sent by Facebook in response to user complaints.

The page in question, is named, “Death to zionst baby killer israeli jews.” The page, which spells “Zionist” incorrectly, features an Image of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a vampire with blood dripping down his chin as he feasts on a child. It was started on July 25.

Keep reading…

Facebook claims to be dedicated to providing a “safe and welcoming environment” – which it certainly does – for haters of a conservative Christians and Jews.

Your Sunday Hymn: Be Thou My Vision

For your listening pleasure – a live studio performance of Chelsea Moon singing the traditional Irish hymn, “Be Thou My Vision.”

Lyrics:

Read the rest of this entry »

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