Three Things You Need to Know – February 7, 2018

Saudi national arrested in Oklahoma

Yesterday, the FBI arrested a Saudi immigrant who was living in Weatherford, Oklahoma, about seventy miles west of Oklahoma City. The Saudi is charged with visa fraud, but what was he really up to His backstory is troubling.

The man has lived in the U.S. since 2011 and the FBI has been watching him for the past five months. So far, the FBI hasn’t said much about why he was under surveillance, only that they were trying to determine whether he was involved in terrorist activity in the U.S.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the man’s story regarding his activity in the U.S., is that he obtained his pilot’s license in 2016. Whether he got the license for nefarious purposes or not, it led to his arrest. As a non-U.S. citizen, he had to submit his fingerprints as part of the licensing process. Remarkably, the FBI was able to match his fingerprints with prints on a document that was captured in Afghanistan.

The captured document was an application for admission to Al Farooq, which was Al Qaeda’s most notorious training camp. Four of the September 11th hijackers were trained at Al Farooq. Admission to the camp required an invitation to join and a reference from someone Al Qaeda knew and trusted. So far, authorities haven’t disclosed whether this man actually trained at the camp, but he apparently filled out the application in 2000. The camp was destroyed by the U.S. bombing campaign in the weeks after the 9/11 attacks.

The FBI got lucky with this one. It has hundreds of thousands of captured documents, photographs, emails, phone numbers, fingerprints, and DNA samples stored in Northern Virginia and FBI headquarters in Washington that have still not been researched. The agency lacks the resources to process this trove of material collected in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past seventeen years.

The Saudi man in Oklahoma was a good catch by the FBI, but this episode highlights the fact that there is still a mountain of work to be done in counter-terrorism, and a lot of holes yet to plug in the immigration system.

The federal government is set to borrow a trillion dollars this year – how much of that is earmarked for actual important stuff? Like catching terrorists on American soil.

Nothing shows military might like... a parade?

We now have something in common with North Korea. Kim Jong Un is planning a grand military parade set to kick off tomorrow, and - as confirmed by the White House yesterday - plans are in motion for our own version of a large spectacle military show. Is this who we are? When did we become a country that emulates the actions of Communist dictatorships?

Let me tell you what this is not. This doesn’t have anything to do with respect for the military. That’s not the purpose for military parades. North Korea, the Soviets, and any other nation that does these things - Democratic or not - isn’t trying to show admiration for their men and women in uniform, they’re just projecting power.

Let’s make it very clear. There’s a huge difference between a Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day parade, and a military demonstration. Ask anyone in the military. They’ll never ask for this kind of tribute. With the amount of money this will cost, why not put those funds into the VA? Divert some of that cash into a program that will help Veterans find jobs after they come back to civilian life. Show the military your admiration and respect by taking care of them. That’s what they really want, and it’s what they deserve.

Wanna show off American power? True American power isn’t in the government nor is it in our awesome military. True American power is the spirit of the individual. It’s the opportunity that individual has to change their stars and become better than what they were born to. Because of that, American ingenuity has become the most powerful force on planet Earth.

At this very moment, a cherry red Tesla Roadster is in space on it’s way to the Asteroid Belt. A manikin nicknamed “Starman” is sitting at the wheel with David Bowie’s Space Oddity playing on repeat. Yesterday, SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy. At more than five million pounds of thrust, it is the world’s most powerful rocket. Minutes after reaching space, the two gigantic boosters that lifted the main capsule into space detached and remotely flew back to Cape Canaveral. With synchronization that would rival two Olympic ice skaters, the two boosters simultaneously deployed their landing legs and touched down - side by side - at the same time.

Where else but in America could this be possible? A government didn’t do this. This was one man’s dream, and he pulled it off with other like-minded dreamers at his own PRIVATE COMPANY.

THIS is American power, and it doesn’t need a parade either. The truly powerful don’t need a show to prove their power. The truly intelligent don’t need to prove to people they’re smart. They just are.

The discriminatory Daddy-Daughter Dance

Victoria had her dress and shoes all picked out. She was so excited to go to the Daddy-Daughter dance at PS 65 on Staten Island this Friday.

But yesterday she got some disappointing news. Her school’s Parent-Teacher Association was forced to reschedule the dance because of the Department of Education’s gender-neutral policy—which “requires school events to include all types of students and families."

The Daddy-Daughter Dance was canceled because it only included…daddies and daughters.

Extreme inclusion is taking over our lives. It’s not a Daddy-Mommy-Son-Daughter-Cousin-Godfather-Sister-In-Law Dance. When everyone is invited that’s just called a dance.

For many fathers, daddy-daughter dances offer a much-needed chance to bond with their girls. The madness of political correctness has destroyed this special occasion for them. And that’s really sad.

PS 65 has rescheduled the event to take place in March and is now open to the entire school.

Other schools have followed suit. PS 30 is having a FUDGE Dance. That stands for Fun with Uncles, Dads, Grandpa, Etcetera.

This is just shameful. I would encourage the parents of these schools to organize their own Daddy-Daughter dance—just because the public school system is going crazy doesn’t mean you can’t show your daughters that it’s important to spend time with their fathers.

MORE 3 THINGS

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

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