We take no position in the ongoing Taylor Swift versus Kanye West divide.  But as perhaps surprisingly…
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Taylor Swift: Intellectual Property and Anti-Counterfeiting Champion

We take no position in the ongoing Taylor Swift versus Kanye West divide.  But as perhaps surprisingly featured in a Wall Street Journal opinion this week, we do applaud her strong stance in defense of intellectual property (IP) and against the scourge of counterfeiting:

Pop star Taylor Swift has been feuding in recent days with rapper Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian.  The details of the drama are lurid and complicated, but young aficionados of Snapchat and Instagram have been following it all intently.  If only the same were true for other Taylor Swift feuds that have received less attention.  Namely, those the 26-year-old songstress has fought in defense of a principle often scorned by fellow celebrities and the social-media generation generally:  the value of intellectual…[more]

July 22, 2016 • 01:09 pm

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Feds Unveil a “Friends & Funding” Program for American Islamist Mosque Print
By Ashton Ellis
Wednesday, May 19 2010
American taxpayers are now writing monthly checks of $23,000 to the center. Over the life of the contract, that means $582,000 will be deposited directly into the bank account of a mosque where two of the last three Islamic terrorists to attack America attended services.

Not content to let Americans indirectly fund Islamic terrorism through gasoline purchases and illegal drug buys, the U.S. Census Bureau and State Department are each engaged in activities that would land most citizens on a watch list: funding and befriending the most controversial mosque in the United States. 

The mosque is called the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center.  Nestled on an unincorporated parcel in Fairfax County, near the Falls Church area of Northern Virginia, it is a modern looking facility.  It portrays itself as just another religious institution offering spiritual direction for adherents.  But according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection documents obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, the center has been identified as “associated with Islamic extremists” and was “operating as a front for Hamas” – the Palestinian political terrorist group. 

The center’s most damning association is with its former imam, Anwar al-Awlaki.  Described by a successor as a “charming” figure, he gave eloquent talks on Islam in fluent English.  Though his outreach to young non-Arab speakers was thriving, he left the country when his connection to several 9/11 hijackers became known.  Other pupils of his include the Fort Hood shooter, Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, and the 2009 Christmas Day bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.  Even Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber, allegedly found inspiration in al-Awlaki’s ubiquitous internet presence. 

With al-Awlaki now living in the terrorist haven of Yemen, the center continues to be investigated for numerous links to funding terrorist activities. 

Apparently, the U.S. Census Bureau didn’t think to run a background check on the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center before leasing office space from it in Alexandria, VA.  In order to house some of its temporary Census workers, the Bureau at least went through the trouble of enlisting the help of the Government Accountability Office.  On its website, GAO bills itself as “the congressional watchdog” that “helps improve the performance and accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people.”  It is doubtful that missing several years’ worth of reports linking the center to terrorist activities fulfills that mandate. 

Because of this oversight, American taxpayers are now writing monthly checks of $23,000 to the center.  Over the life of the contract, that means $582,000 will be deposited directly into the bank account of a mosque where two of the last three Islamic terrorists to attack America attended services.   

With this ill-advised agreement, two truths about the federal government are once again confirmed.  First, the government has plenty of information and lots of money.  Unfortunately, it can’t figure out how to manage either effectively. 

At least the Census Bureau can blame its decision on a lack of knowledge.  The State Department is another story.  Students in the Foreign Service Institute planned what the Department termed “an informal event” to visit with the center’s leadership.  The purpose of the trip was to give the future diplomats an up close and personal view of Muslim immigrants and the latter group’s attitudes toward American culture.   Ostensibly, the students chose this particular mosque because it is large and close by. 

Supposedly, the Foreign Service exam is one of the toughest civil service tests, yet somehow it’s not screening for computer savvy and discretion.  Just entering the name of the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center into an internet search returns several hits to terrorist activities and federal investigations.  The center’s Wikipedia page alone is filled with references to Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. 

If this is the kind of wisdom we can expect from America’s future career diplomats, perhaps we should go back to the days of rolling the dice with “non-professional” political appointees.  At least then we can blame incompetence on the people making the misjudgments instead of the institution that trained them.

The irony is that if the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center were in a foreign country, not even the federal bureaucracy would think twice about whether the center is a legitimate business or cultural exchange partner.  Unfortunately, the easiest way to get the federal government to lose the Global War on Terror may be to move a terrorist recruitment center into the Washington, D.C. suburbs. 

Question of the Week   
In which one of the following years was Secret Service protection afforded to major candidates for President and Vice President of the United States?
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Quote of the Day   
 
"Disruptive. That's a good word to describe Donald Trump's presidential candidacy, and to describe the sometimes ramshackle Republican National Convention his campaign more or less superintended in Cleveland this past week. ...Over history America has mostly been built by disruption. ... Maybe some disruption from a candidate who says he has 'no tolerance for government incompetence' is in order."…[more]
 
 
—Michael Barone, Principal Co-Author, The Almanac of American Politics and Washington Examiner Senior Political Analyst
— Michael Barone, Principal Co-Author, The Almanac of American Politics and Washington Examiner Senior Political Analyst
 
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Following the Republican National Convention, how do you now rate Donald Trump’s chances of winning the presidency?