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Isimple Shader System Merchant Resource   


If you have been struggling to get a handle on Iray material setup, or you just want a more efficient material creation workflow, this set of four base-shaders can save you time, confusion and energy.

Isimple – just the basics you need most often (and nothing else).

Isimple+emitter – the basics, plus only the settings to make the surface a light emitter. Needed for anything that has glowing parts.

Isimple+volume – the basics, plus only the settings to make the surface transparent and/or SSS (Sub Surface Scattering). Needed for water, glass, wax, blood, milk, etc.

Isimple+translucency – the basics, plus only the settings to make the surface have translucency and dual lobe specular. Useful for single-sided SSS effects commonly used for things like skins, leaves, grass, etc.

Each of these variations provide purpose-built speed and a newfound clarity to the creation process, while fully maintaining the highest quality results from Iray. Taken as a group, these four shaders can cover most of the Iray materials you are likely to ever create for any product in Daz Studio.

Price: $19.95 Special Price: $5.99


Morphing Tux Props   


Here's a standalone 3D model prop set designed to perfectly complement your Ultimate Morphing Tux, or anything else in your Genesis wardrobe. It consists of a round, handled timber stick with engraved gold or silver handle, a gold or silver smart-propped monocle, a pocket handkerchief in shirt-matching textures, a cigar with glowing tip and a superb set of morphing opera glasses in your choice of tortoise shell, mother of pearl or cloisonnŽ.

All pieces are smart propped to Genesis.

This set does not require either the Ultimate Morphing Tux or Morphing Tux to work.

Price: $9.95 Special Price: $4.98


Pose Blender   


Pose Blender is a set of scripts for creating new poses by blending poses, or parts of poses, quickly and easily. Don't just combine poses, blend them! Pose Blender has been designed to work with almost any character or figure... from Victoria 4 to Genesis 8, from Horse to Dragon, male or female. Anything with bones!

Pose Blender works by allowing you to blend poses and body parts. You don't just copy an arm pose from one pose and a leg pose from another pose (though you can do that too). Rather, you can create a unique new arm pose by making a blend of the arm between one pose's arm and another pose's arm. You choose how much to blend from each pose. Now with Pose Blender, you can "kitbash" your poses just like you have been doing with your clothes products. Quickly and professionally expand your pose library by using Pose Blender!

No poses are included with the package.

Price: $29.95 Special Price: $14.98


Pose Randomizer   


Unlock the infinite potential lurking inside your expensive pose collection! Pose Randomizer is a pair of scripts for creating new poses and enhancing existing ones. Pose Randomizer works by selectively randomizing the bone orientations of your Figures and Characters. It is designed to work with any character... from Victoria 4 to Genesis 3, from Horse to Dragon, Male or Female... anything with bones!

  • Designed for any Character or Figure... from Victoria 4 to Genesis 3, from Horse to Dragon... anything with bones
  • Works with entire figures or Sub-Trees of the bone hierarchy
  • Create new looks for your poses with just one click
  • Give just a hint of imperfection to your poses to make them look more realistic and less "posed." Life isn't perfect, your poses shouldn't be either
  • Selectively control which parts of the body are affected (Genesis - Genesis 3 only, though may work with other characters)
  • Settings are automatically saved and restored

No poses are included with the package.

Price: $19.95 Special Price: $9.98


Ron's Dry Ice   


Special effects of Dry Ice are so cool, they can produce vigorous and voluminous types of fog, not anything like fire or early morning coldness can look like.

Its cold temperatures of -109.3 Degrees Fahrenheit or -78.5 Degrees Celsius when immersed in hot water, create a cloud of true water vapors. It actually flows down and in the direction of any air movement. Never have I seen brushes like these. I love producing something no one has; and this is one of them.

I'm very proud for you to be the owner of such a unique product. I'm sure you will be pleased and it's my pleasure to make these for the finest artists on this planet at Daz 3D. Thank you and enjoy.

Price: $28.95 Special Price: $14.48


Deutsch CEO Mike Sheldon Reflects on Two Decades at the Agency   


By Doug Zanger
Senior Editor

Reprinted with permission

Deutsch North America’s CEO Mike Sheldon 
is hanging up his cleats. It’s not a retirement, per se, but a move away from Deutsch in Los Angeles after 22 years.

During his tenure, the Michigan native has presided over highs and lows. Most notably, Sheldon is credited with turning Deutch’s then-nascent L.A. operation into one of the staples of the market, taking it from a handful of people to, at its peak, a 600-plus juggernaut. The agency continues to create standout work for brands, including high profile campaigns for Taco Bell, Dr. Pepper and others.

On the downside, the agency split from Target, yet won the Reebok business shortly after that. Additionally, after nine years—and being credited with reviving Volkswagen’s fortunes with breakout work including the oft-referenced “The Force”—Deutsch and the carmaker ended their relationship.

Yet with all of the ups and downs (common in any agency), Sheldon, who spent six years at TBWA\Chiat\Day pre-Deutsch, remained upbeat and steadfast in his mission to build and retain a positive outlook and culture. Adweek caught up with Sheldon to find out a little more about his time at Deutsch and what’s next.

I’ll start with the predictable question. Why now?
Mike Sheldon: It’s a confluence of events. I’ve been doing this for 22 years, and I turned 60 a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been talking to [IPG CEO] Michael Roth about this for a while and want to see what else is out there. I’m not ready to go feed pigeons on a park bench. I want to see what the universe brings. I still have a lot of energy and interest in new and exciting ventures, and I figured after 22 years at Deutsch and 37 years in advertising, maybe there’s something else out there for me.

What would you say, outside of the obvious things like technology, are the most significant changes you’ve seen at Deutsch L.A.?
We’ve always been about investing ahead of revenue. In the future, it will be the same. You have to stay ahead of the business, or you’ll get run over. We got into digital production years ago, 
and started Steelhead [Deutch’s in-house production company] a few years ago. Experiential is now huge, analytics are as well. The future is going to be like the past: Unless you stay ahead, it will get the best of you.

How does an agency “stay ahead”?
For us, it’s having rock-solid clients like Taco Bell, Keurig Dr. Pepper and H&R block that appreciate the partnership and long-term commitment and depths of understanding that an agency can have into a client’s business and provide value way beyond any marketing communication. Then some clients want a TV spot or need to spend time looking at their consumer base. You have to go with the flow since there aren’t a ton of AOR relationships. I keep telling everybody to think of yourself as the ultimate Swiss army knife because that’s what we need to be a good, successful agency moving forward.

You’ve touched on a couple of successful points in your tenure. Aside from those, what would say is another significant accomplishment?
By far, the idea of kindness. There are a lot of really good people in this business—brilliant and creative people. But that has to be combined with being kind and putting your employees first and, unfortunately, making some of those difficult decisions like walking away from a prickly client. It doesn’t get talked about much in this business, but being good to other humans is a business asset.

Anything you would have done differently over the past two-plus decades?
I thought that I could have started an agency at one point, but it was never in the cards or the right things for me. I used to think that I should have done that, but looking back, I’ve realized how much I’ve enjoyed and valued my time here.

One of the tougher times for the agency was the end of the VW relationship. What did you learn from that?
I’d be less than truthful if I didn’t say it was a kick in the gut after nine years of really great results, fantastic work and a great brand point of difference. But that’s advertising. That’s what we signed up for. There are a lot of things that you can’t control, and the best advertising executives have a short memory. So while that stung, nine months later, it’s a distant memory, and we’re on to all the work that’s currently filling up the plate. You can’t take that stuff too seriously, personally or emotionally—it’ll eat you alive.

What’s your view on the agency world today?
It’s a tougher time than it’s ever been in the business, but it’s also kind of a mind game now. You have to stay positive, keep pitching and pushing. Anybody that reads too much of the press or gets bummed out about anything is dead because this business is just unforgiving. So it’s staying ahead. It’s innovating, it’s adding new divisions. It’s not being afraid to invest and keeping both feet on the gas. Otherwise, there’s just too much gravity pulling things down right now. Clients will always pay for ideas, great execution and results-driven communications.

What’s next for you?
I’m going to keep the aperture wide open. I have purposely not overplanned this. My goal is to see what the universe brings in. That might be taking a bike ride on a random Tuesday, consulting, bringing in a direct-to-consumer product to life, or another type of product to life. I really want to stay open.

Is Lil’ Sweet, Diet Dr. Pepper’s mascot, the most underrated ever?
I think he might be. But, in all seriousness, 
we love Lil’ Sweet, and that brand continues to defy gravity year after year because it’s the coolest, weirdest campaign in the world.

Doug Zanger is a senior editor at Adweek focusing on creativity and agencies. Find him on Twitter at @zanger.

This article originally ran in Adweek and is reprinted with permission.



Ron's Mud   


In this Dirty Filthy Collection,I give you the tools to cover,smear or splatter anything with MUD. There are High Resolution Photoshop brushes with a (Bonus) of layer styles to assist in creating all colors,textures of MUD, from wet to dry. Along with individual layers of Real Mud on a Transparent Background in .PNG format. Enjoy and get

Price: $17.95 Special Price: $8.98


Ron's Spray Paint   


Glad to give you this colorful real Hi-Resolution Spray Paint Photoshop Brush & Background set.

Photoshop CC 2018 has introduced a host of (NEW) brush management and organizational tools in which you can separate your brushes into groups so you can find things much easier. I have done this for you, you will find
Textures & Misc.,Custom Brushes,Gradients,Drips,and Splatters.The Brush grouping only works in the new 2018 update, but they will still come in just fine in other CC versions.

You will find unique custom features one brush acts just like a spray can of paint, grab it choose a color and paint anything letters, words,shapes,graffiti even paint a car if you like;along with the other brushes and abstract backgrounds you will find useful in about any creative project you desire.

Thank you again for supporting me and my family during these difficult times.
Enjoy have fun and create.

Price: $15.95 Special Price: $7.98


Ron's Stain Splatter Drips & Wash   


Totally revised edition of some wonderful stains, splatters, drips and washes. All hand painted natural media using inks, transparent glazes, watercolors, paint and any other liquid I could find. Easy to apply or even use Photoshop styles to accent. Great for horror scenes, backgrounds, or anything you desire. Add this to your arsenal!

Price: $14.95 Special Price: $7.48


Saffron Hair for Genesis 3 Female(s)   


Saffron Hair is a young, fresh and fun hair that can look great in any female character from modern fashionable girls to fantasy sword masters, elves and fairies, and anything you can imagine. You can use it with or without the headband, and also move it freely in all directions and with wind, put it all back in each side or both, and more things with its 140 morphs. With 20 hair dyes, 18 fabrics for the headband and 9 fabrics for the ties, the customization possibilites are huge. A must have!

Includes Iray materials to give the hair the quality you need for the new generation of NVIDIA Iray renders, in addition to the traditional 3Delight materials.

The hair also includes 140 custom morphs, in these 17 categories: All Back, Chest Adjust, Ears Adjust, Elf Ears , Face Adjust, Hairline, Head Adjust, Headband Adjust, Move Ends, Move Middle, Move Tails, Nape Adjust, Neck Adjust, Shoulders Adjust, Sidebangs, Style, and Wind.

The hair is completely rigged even for the ears, so you can pose freely without any needed adjustment, but if you need it you have plenty of adjustment morphs. You can put all the hair back in one or both sides, move it with the wind in several ways, use it with many elven or special ears, set the hairline height, move the tails or only the middle or the end section, move the sidebangs, and style it with headband, without it, or give it more volume in one side or both, and make each side a bit longer or shorter.

Works with all the Genesis 3 Head and Body Morphs, as all of them have been included when needed, which means full freedom to use any of those morphs in your creations. In addition, we have adjusted the rigging features as much as possible, so it will also work great with custom head morph shapes. Saffron Hair is for Genesis 3 Female(s), including Eva 7, Arabella 7, Bethany 7, Gia 7, Izabella 7, Kalea 7, Karen 7, Mei Lin 7, Olympia 7, Rune 7, Teen Josie 7, Tween Julie 7, The Girl 7 and Victoria 7. If you need some more adjustment, you have morphs for that too both for face and body.

Price: $18.95 Special Price: $9.48


Shackled! 2 for Genesis 2   


Shackled! 2 For Genesis 2 is a set of props, smart props, poses and pose + prop special loaders. The special loaders apply a pose and smart props to the character at the same time, giving you shortcuts to having characters break free from chains or chained to altars and pillars.

Each individual chain has pose controls to help with posing in your own scenes. There are also a set of separate versions of the shackles and chains, both together and separately, and a broken link to make any chain a broken chain. And the wrist and ankle-only restraints can be used on top of other poses, since they won't overwrite anything but the arm areas.

Don't forget to watch the video tutorial!

Price: $19.95 Special Price: $9.98


Super Diva Outfit And Accessories for Genesis 3 Female(s)   


All the glamour and charm of the great diva singers is here! With this pack you get all that you need: an outfit of dress, sandals, bracelets and microphone, and also the poses and expressions, and lots of customization options to make any scene of superstars for Genesis 3 Female(s). A must have!

Super Diva Outfit And Accessories is a complete set of Dress, Sandals, Microphone, Bracelets for both wrists, 10 Poses and 4 Expressions for Genesis 3 Female(s).

Iray materials are included to achieve the quality you need for the new generation of NVIDIA Iray renders, in addition to the traditional 3Delight materials.

The 10 provided poses load just clicking an icon which automatically poses Genesis 3 Female(s) and adjusts all the needed morphs of the dress and bracelets, and holds the microphone. So for example in the sit on knees poses you don't have to do anything else. Also, the 3 expressions used in these promos are included here.

You have 8 full material presets for the dress, 8 for the sandals with gold or silver buckles, 4 different microphone finishes and you can hide the music note that it has one side of its windscreen, 4 for the bracelets plus 8 jewel sets to choose or hide them.

In addition, we provide 8 hierarchical material presets that allow you to click an icon and get all the matching sets of materials applied for all the outfit at once!

You can also load all the outfit at once using an icon, or load each piece independently.

The dress can also be styled opening more or less the back and the cleavage, or making it cover more or less, and you can also make the skirt a bit longer or shorter or wider. It has 77 morphs in these categories: Back, Breasts, Cleavage, Glutes, Sit, Skirt, Skirt Movement, Skirt Pose Fix, Straps, Style, Torso, Underskirt, and Wrinkles. With them you can style, adjust, and sit the dress.

The microphone also has a Turn morph to turn it and show the music note or put it looking to inside.

This product is for Genesis 3 Female(s), including Victoria 7, Eva 7, Bethany 7, and Karen 7. The microphone conforms to the hand of Genesis 3 and fits by using the transform dials easily, and bracelets have these premade fit morphs too, and also have their dials fine tuned for easy adjusting.

Price: $18.95 Special Price: $9.48


SY Squirts Splats and Splashes Iray   


Summer fun, silly pranks or just your good old fashioned water gun fight, it's time for squirts, splats and splashes! This set contains 24 new props, many of them rigged with bones so the jets of water can change their direction! The two styles of squirt gun have working triggers and the one with a slide has a slide that works!

Not only that, but the included wearables presets make the water gun setup easy to use: select a figure and apply a gun, then select the gun and apply a water splat! The various jets and arches of water are individual and can be applied to anything at all – drinking fountains, public water features, humorously spitting dolphins, the fountains you already have in your library. With these props it's easy!

There is no postwork other than brightness and contrast on the promotional images. All the bright flecks you see are from the included splash pieces and are in-scene.

Price: $14.95 Special Price: $7.48


Violet Hair and Pin-Up Earrings Collection   


This pack includes Violet Hair plus a collection of Pin-Up Earrings: the most classic pin-up hair with the most representative pin-up earrings. The hair is for Genesis 2 Female and V4, and the earrings can be used in any figure. A must-have!

Violet Hair is a hair model for Genesis 2 Female (and an V4/A4 version is also included in the package).
It also includes 20 hair mats (14 natural colors, and 6 fantasy colors), and 10 bandana mats of diverse kind. And morphs for setting the hairline high or low, the bun higher or lower, or putting the bandana behind the ears.
Works on Genesis 2 Female and her derived females: Aiko 6, Gia 6, The Girl 6, Olympia 6, Stephanie 6, Teen Josie 6, Victoria 4 Shape for Genesis 2 Female, Victoria 6, Giselle 6. In addition, we have adjusted the rigging features as much as possible, so it will also work great with custom head morph shapes. If you need some more adjustment, you have morphs for that too.

And the Pin-Up Earrings are 6 designs with multiple finishes each one, with 36 materials. Left and right earrings that can be applied independently.
They can be used with any figure. By default they fit to Genesis 2 Female, but we also included fit morphs for Victoria 6, and V4. Also works great in any other Genesis 2 figure or character, usually with very little adjustment required, and also on any figure for Poser or DAZ Studio.

Descriptions of the earrings designs and materials:

- Anchor And Bow: A very essential element for sailor pin-ups which mixes the reference to the sea and the cuteness you need for the sexy appeal of one of the most famous pinup themes. Anchor in black, gold or silver,and bow in black, black polka dots, black and silver, pink, pink polka dots, red, and red polka dots

- Cherries: Your girls are fresh as cherries, with the touch of rubor that makes men go crazy. Carefully detailed to the millimeter, two cherries with two leaves with the leaf nerves modeled, and every detail for top-notch renders. Metal in gold or silver, and cherries in light or dark red

- Cupcake: Let's add some sugar! The message here is clear: tasty and sweet, a pleasure for your senses. All details modeled: biscuit, cream, and delicious toppings. Metal in gold or silver, and cupcakes in chocolate with lemon and orange toppings, cream with lemon and strawberry toppings, and strawberry with blue and red toppings

- Pin-up Hoop: The sexiest earrings on earth. The most versatile shape with a modeled girl hanging from the earring center. You can hide her or not as you wish. Perfect for anything related to parties, summer, pinups, fashion... playful and sassy. Black, Blue, Green, Pink, Red, Turquoise, or Yellow polka dots

- Rose: Nothing is more like a woman than a rose: the beauty that seduces and captures the heart and can hurt it with a word, with a look. This one also fits perfectly on many other themes in addition to pinup like fantasy or gothic. Rose in black, blue, gold, silver, pink, or red

- Watermelon: Fun and juicy set, a refreshing, original detail for the hottest days of summer! Metal in gold or silver, and pink or red watermelon

Price: $17.95 Special Price: $8.98


Comment on Fostering Your Children's Vocations by (Mr.)Lee Gilbert    


Hi Ellen, While it's hard to quarrel with anything on your to do list of 24 items, honestly as a totality it seems overdone . As my friend Fr. Daniel used to say, K.I.S.S. Keep it super simple. So, following that advice, I would say FIRST OF ALL, get rid of the TV. In other words get the bad stuff out, all secular media. SECONDLY, to the extent possible, have family evenings together. For us, this meant half an hour of good secular reading ( e.g. Chronicles of Narnia, Swiss family Robinson, etc), half an hour of the life of saint ( book length lives, not the three page version filled with miracles), twenty minutes of catechism. We had a blast THIRDLY, from the moment they are conceived, and before, soak them in prayer and make sacrifices, as if you were Monica and your child was the wayward Augustine, for it is easier to keep children in the right way by prayer now than recover them after they have fallen away. FOURTHLY, end every day with a prayer, and it does not have to be the Rosary. The importance of this is that it is a kind of distant early warning system, for as the end of the day approaches, any hard feelings have to be dealt with, for otherwise prayer would be sacrilege. Even so perfunctory a prayer such as the Hail Holy Queen is enough, and off to bed you go, enough to bring blessings down on your family. All that you suggest is optimal, but at the same time it can be self-defeating. The Rosary is the best, of course, but paradoxically, the best can be the enemy of the good. I have known children who deeply resented having their play ended of an evening and being called in to say the rosary. At least this reflects our experience and we did have two vocations for our two children.


Tighten, Sculpt, and Strengthen Your Glute Muscles With This 4-Move Strength Workout   


There isn't one perfect way to sculpt and grow your glute muscles, but the method by Bret Contreras, PhD, CSCS, and author of Glute Lab: The Art and Science of Strength and Physique Training, is pretty close. It's so good, he's been dubbed "The Glute Guy" and has the receipts to prove it on his Instagram.

If you've been doing random lower-body exercises at the gym without any real purpose, you've got to try Bret's lower-body workout format to grow your glutes, develop your lower-body strength, and become more functional.

Before getting started it's important to manage your expectations. "So much of getting a nice butt is due to genetics," Bret told POPSUGAR. "If you've got amazing genetics, you can barely do anything and have a nice butt," he added. Conversely, "You might never end up with the perfect butt of your liking, but it will get bigger and stronger," he said.

If you're a beginner, you can and should start with bodyweight movements, eventually building up to using dumbbells and barbells. You can also incorporate upper-body push and pull exercises, like a dumbbell bench press, the inverted row, pull-ups, and the overhead shoulder press to your routine to make it a total-body workout. If you don't add upper-body movements into this workout, Bret said you can do it three times a week, taking a day of rest in between each time you perform it. On the other days, you can do cardio or an upper-body workout. If you do add upper-body exercises to the following workout, perform this workout three times a week.

If your goal is to improve your lower-body strength and get a bigger butt, check out Bret's workout ahead.

The 4-Move Lower-Body and Butt-Strengthening Workout

Before getting started, be sure to warm your muscles up. Make sure you have access to a barbell, bumper platers, and dumbbells. When choosing a weight, Bret recommended going as heavy as possible while maintaining good form. Here's more on how to choose the right weight.

If the weight is too light, increase it in order to challenge your muscles. If it's too heavy and you can't perform the designated sets and reps, lighten the weight. Most importantly, don't forget to lift with effort to stimulate muscle growth, Bret said. Be sure to take two to three minutes of rest in between each exercise to allow your body to fully recover since you're lifting heavy weights and fatiguing your muscles.

  • Barbell hip thrust: three sets of eight to 12 reps
  • Barbell squat: three sets of eight to 12 reps
  • Romanian deadlift: three sets of eight to 12 reps
  • Lateral band walk: three sets of 20 to 30 reps


Essential Oils for Sore Feet (EVEN Plantar Fasciitis)   


A Tale of “Super Cute Sandals” Leading to “Anything But Cute” Foot Pain! As I said a while back on the Self Help Blog, I have fallen in love with essential oils. I’ve always been a HUGE fan of aromatherapy but am fairly new to the world of essential oils. Trust me, I’m making up...

Read More »


Button of Three Pretty Cats by kohaku16   


3.00 USD

Great for a cat lover!

This item is a pinback button by default, but we can make it as a magnet only instead if you wish. That is where the pin part of the backing is removed before pressing the item and you get a magnet sent along; this way you can wear/use the button without putting holes in fabric! You can also ask for it as both magnet and pin together, just to keep your options open. Let us know if you want anything changed, otherwise you will get the default pinback form.

The pin is made of durable steel pieces, and the high-quality paper is covered with a strong, clear plastic. Made to last for a long time!

The slight fuzziness on the right side of the above image is just a result of the scanning process and is not present on the actual button.


The strategic incoherence of Trump's Syria critics   


The strategic incoherence of Trump's Syria criticsIt's always foolish to put your faith in Donald Trump. He's incapable of thinking strategically about anything besides advancing his own material interests.So it makes perfect sense to presume that Trump's apparent decision to permit Turkey to conduct military operations against (until now) American-backed Kurdish forces near the Turkish border in Syria has nothing to do with geopolitical strategy or any process of foreign policymaking beyond his personal and business relationship with Turkey's quasi-authoritarian president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.But that doesn't mean that the bipartisan freak-out against Trump's policy shift is founded in a coherent strategic vision. It isn't. Instead it grows out of a combination of inertia, hubris, pusillanimity, and moralism -- all of them traits that have been on the ascent since the end of the Cold War, and especially since the September 11 attacks.The one positive thing to come out of Trump's flailing foreign policy is that it has exposed the incapacity of the country's leading thinkers in international affairs to offer a compelling reason to resist the president's mischief-making and revert to the status quo. That doesn't give us much to work with now. But it just might set America up for an eventual reckoning with our foolishness and mistakes over the past few decades.The most common response to Trump's announced change of course in Syria has been a cry of lament for the fate of Kurds, who may well find themselves the target of Turkish attacks. How can we abandon allies who fought by our side against the Islamic State and allow them to be crushed by a dictator like Erdogan?There's just one problem -- or rather, several. For one thing, the Kurds aren't our allies. Allies are defined by mutuality: We promise to defend a given state if attacked, that state promises to defend us if we are attacked. The Kurds, a stateless ethnic group found in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, has zero capacity to come to America's defense. They are American clients: We have provided them with aid and protection in return for help in fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Precisely how long should the United States be obligated to provide that protection in a dangerous part of the world 6,000 miles from our borders? None of Trump's critics in and out of Congress will tell us. Instead, they'd rather posture earnestly and avoid having to answer.If the U.S. has an ally in the region, it is … Turkey, a member of NATO, an explicit defense alliance. Do those denouncing Erdogan favor ejecting Turkey from NATO, thereby revoking the country's status as an American ally? Maybe that makes sense. But deciding whether it does would require engaging in clear-sighted strategic thinking about NATO, its purpose, and American interests in the Middle East, which is something no one wants to do. They'd rather keep Turkey in NATO -- because no one ever leaves NATO, and because keeping Turkey in the organization helps to antagonize Vladimir Putin -- and then bash the government in Ankara when it's convenient to do so.When critics of Trump's policy shift want to sound harder-nosed, they move beyond Turkey and the Kurds and talk instead about how irresponsible it would be to give up the fight against ISIS: If we don't stay in Syria, terrorists will grow powerful again, threatening the U.S. homeland like they did on 9/11!The first thing to be asked in response to those making such claims is whether they think it's possible for the U.S. to win any war anywhere in the world. Because if the battle against ISIS, which began in earnest five years ago, is measured against the goals enunciated at the start -- the elimination of ISIS's territorial caliphate -- it has been a smashing success. We won. The caliphate is gone. Yet now the goalposts have been shifted. Now "victory" has been redefined to mean … I'm not really sure. Sometimes it sounds like the goal is to make sure ISIS or a successor Islamist organization doesn't arise. At other times it appears to mean something even more amorphous, like the complete elimination of any person who might aspire to revive the caliphate at some time in the future.But is that a sensible foreign policy goal? Keeping an American military footprint in the desert of Syria and Iraq in order to exert control over what happens there for fear that it may possibly cause eventual harm to the United States, a continent and an ocean away? Even assuming this makes sense, for how long should it continue? Five more years? Ten? Twenty? More? And what metrics should we use to evaluate whether it's really benefiting the country, or is working, or has worked?No one wants to say because no one has an answer that makes sense. It's enough, they think, to speak gravely and vaguely about dire threats and keep us doing the same thing -- always expanding American commitments abroad, never pulling them back, and never even prioritizing among them. Anywhere.The U.S. is committed, all at once, to defending Europe, including serving as a check on Russia's ambitions in Eastern Europe, and to defending Israel. It also wants to micromanage regional rivalries across the Middle East in perpetuity. And keep a lid on terrorist activity across North Africa. And win an 18-year-old game of Whack-a-Mole against the Taliban in Afghanistan. And contain North Korea. And stand toe to toe with a rising China. And determine the outcome of a political transition in Venezuela.That's a lot for any country to handle intelligently or wisely -- because having such control-freak ambitions in the world isn't intelligent or wise in the first place. That doesn't mean that Donald Trump's acting out in defiance of Washington's foreign policy consensus makes sense. But it does mean that those who oppose the president need to do more than run screaming back into the arms of that consensus without reflection on its many unacknowledged problems and confusions.Want more essential commentary and analysis like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for The Week's "Today's best articles" newsletter here.


North Koreans Think Trump Admin Talks Are ‘Sickening.’ So Should You.   


North Koreans Think Trump Admin Talks Are ‘Sickening.’ So Should You.Alex Wong/GettyIf President Donald Trump is thinking a deal with his friend Kim Jong Un might distract from his troubles at home, he'd better think again. The abrupt end of “working-level” negotiations between U.S. and North Korean officials in Stockholm over the weekend proves yet again that talking isn’t working. “Kim thought he could sucker us because of the president's statements and because our alliances are in trouble and because he believed Trump wanted a foreign policy success,” said David Maxwell, retired special forces colonel and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “We have to keep pushing Kim to really conduct negotiations, but the minute we give in to giving him concessions, he has won and we have lost.”While Trump Shrugs, North Korea’s Building Better MissilesIf the firing of the hawkish John Bolton as Trump’s national security adviser “helped Kim think he could get what he wants,” said Maxwell, the North Koreans at Stockholm yet again confirmed that Kim is not about to give up his precious nukes. The nuclear program was initiated by his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, perpetuated by his father, Kim Jong Il, and is now the centerpiece of Kim’s defense policy.North Korea’s foreign ministry left no doubt about the failure of the talks. “We have no intention to hold such sickening negotiations as what happened this time,” said the statement, throwing cold water over the session in Stockholm, which had lasted eight hours and thirty minutes. The U.S. negotiator, Stephen Biegun, had tried in vain to present ideas that the Americans should have known would be unacceptable. A North Korean official identified only as a spokesperson, possibly First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, who is a key figure in talks with the U.S., sarcastically mimicked Washington’s demand for “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.” The U.S., said the spokesperson, must take “a substantial step to make complete and irreversible withdrawal of the hostile policy toward the DPRK," i.e., the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.The statement wound up with a threat intended to catch the attention of Trump as he contemplates maybe a third summit with Kim–his fourth if you count their impromptu meeting on the North-South line at Panmunjom at the end of June.Better watch out, was the message. If the U.S. “again fingers [points] at the old scenario,” said the spokesperson, “the dealings between the DPRK and the U.S. may immediately come to an end.” Indeed, the statement concluded, “the fate of the future DPRK-U.S. dialogue depends on the U.S. attitude, and the end of this year is its deadline.”The Americans for their part seemed to think another round of talks would be just the thing to head off that looming deadline lest Kim inspire a crisis similar to that of two years ago when tests of nuclear warheads and long-range missiles were the norm. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said the U.S. was accepting Sweden’s invitation to meet again in two weeks, but North Korea was having none of it.“The U.S. is spreading a completely ungrounded story that both sides are open to meet after two weeks,” said the North Korean spokesperson, but “it is not likely at all that it can produce a proposal commensurate to the expectations of the DPRK and to the concerns of the world in just fortnight [sic].”The statement decried the U.S. failure to come up with what the North Koreans call “a new calculation method,” dismissing out of hand the litany of proposals that Biegun had put on the table.The exact nature of that “calculation method” was not clear, but presumably it calls for prolonging the moratorium on testing nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles in exchange for relief from sanctions. The North might even suspend its aging nuclear complex at Yongbyon while fabricating warheads elsewhere in a step-by-step process immune from serious inspections and would surely press for an “end-of-war” declaration under which the U.S. would have to withdraw most of its 28,500 troops from South Korea.“The fundamental problem with Trump’s North Korea efforts—they can’t be called an actual policy—is that North Korea has not even considered giving up its nuclear weapons,” said David Straub, retired senior U.S. diplomat in Seoul and Washington. “As long as that’s the case, no amount of Trump sucking up to Kim will make a real difference, and Trump backed off maximum pressure long ago.”To veteran U.S. diplomats, Trump’s grasp on reality is far from clear. “As with many of his other policies, Trump is engaged in fantasy,” said Straub, “but because he engages in fantasy, who can predict how he will now respond?”  Straub asks if Trump “is mad at Pompeo and his negotiating team and will order even more gifts and concessions?”Evans Revere, who once headed the North Korean desk at the State Department and was number two U.S. diplomat in Seoul, sees the outcome at Stockholm as “a very predictable collapse.” The North Korean strategy, said Revere,  “appears to have been to take advantage of the U.S. fixation on working-level talks, use the testing of increasingly capable ballistic missiles to pressure Washington, and to issue threats about an end-of-year deadline to ensure the United States team came to the table with a more generous, flexible, and creative offer than the one Trump made in Hanoi.”Trump, Revere believes, “backed off maximum pressure long ago.”Under the circumstances, the U.S. was in no mood to articulate publicly its proposals at Stockholm. “The U.S. brought creative ideas and had good discussions with its DPRK counterparts,” said Ortagus at the State Department, citing but not explaining “a number of new initiatives that would allow us to make progress.”Clearly the North Koreans saw all that stuff as diplo-speak for an elaborate ruse to get them to give up their nukes while the North has flaunted its military prowess in short-range missile tests.Trump has said such tests are not in violation of any understanding reached with Kim at their first summit in Singapore last year, but North Korea most recently has aroused concerns by test-firing a short-range missile from an under-water platform. North Korea’s party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, called the prototype for a submarine-launched ballistic missile a “time bomb” and “most fearful dagger” pointed at its enemies. In theory, a submarine might be able to launch such a missile, tipped with a nuclear warhead, while submerged undetected off the U.S. west coast.In fact, the North Koreans in Stockholm seemed to have gained a measure of revenge for the humiliation of the second Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi at the end of February when Trump walked out without reaching so much as a meaningless statement with Kim similar to the one that ended the Singapore summit.Donald Trump Enters the Eccentric Dictator Phase of His PresidencyThat denouement, which the North Koreans blamed on Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, resulted in the dismissal of the top North Korean advisers surrounding Kim, notably Kim Yong Chol, the North’s former intelligence chief, whom Pompeo had seen in Pyongyang, New York, and Washington. Trump, after his 45-minute closed-door meeting with Kim on the North-South line at Panmunjom on June 30, said Kim had agreed on working-level talks to bring about a real deal on the basis of their summit in Singapore. “The Kim regime may misperceive from Singapore that it can throw negotiators under the bus, rush into another summit, and extract greater concessions from Trump,” said Leif-Eric Easley, professor of international relations at Ewha University in Seoul, “but a lesson from Hanoi is that if the North Koreans want sanctions relief, they’re going to have to do the work at the working level.” This time, however, the new North Korean negotiator, Kim Myong Gil, a veteran diplomat who had negotiated with Americans in talks in the '90s and then as ambassador to the United Nations, was taking no chances. The meeting, he said, had “not fulfilled our expectations and broke down.” Presumably, on orders from Pyongyang, he was not going to concede anything in return for whatever concessions the Americans might offer. Instead, he staged a walkout of his own.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


US withdrawal from Syria leaves fate of Isis fighters and families in detention uncertain   


US withdrawal from Syria leaves fate of Isis fighters and families in detention uncertainTrump’s latest move has officials scrambling to understand the implications as Turkish forces gather near the Syrian borderTurkish fighters gather near the north-east Syrian border in preparation of a widely-anticipated invasion. Photograph: Nazeer Al-Khatib/AFP via Getty ImagesKurdish forces in Syria have said the fate of tens of thousands of suspected Islamic State fighters and their families is uncertain, after US forces began a sudden withdrawal from the country, abandoning their former ally on the eve of a widely-anticipated Turkish invasion.The effects of the shock retreat continued to reverberate through the region on Monday as Turkish forces massed near the border with the Kurdish stronghold of north-eastern Syria.The looming offensive– which was green-lighted by Donald Trump in a phone call to Recep Tayyip Erdogan late on Sunday – came as a surprise to US officials and allies, who were scrambling to understand the implications. There was a furious backlash in Congress, including from some of Trump’s closest allies, who accused the president of betraying the Kurds.The decision represents the latest in a series of erratic moves by Trump, who is fighting impeachment at home, apparently taken without consultation with, or knowledge of, US diplomats dealing with Syria, or the UK and France, the US’s main international partners in the country.A White House statement on Sunday night after his conversation with his Turkish counterpart said that: “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into northern Syria”, adding that US forces were being removed from the area.The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Monday its US partners had already begun withdrawing troops from areas along Turkey’s border. Footage aired on Kurdish news agency Hawar purportedly showed US armoured vehicles evacuating key positions in the border region.The SDF spokesman, Mustafa Bali, accused the US of leaving the area to “turn into a war zone”, adding that the SDF would “defend north-east Syria at all costs”.But on Monday the Pentagon, which has been cooperating with Turkey along the Syrian border, issued a statement saying: “The department of defence made clear to Turkey – as did the president – that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in northern Syria. The US armed forces will not support or be involved in any such operation.”State department officials also sought to minimize the announcement, telling reporters that only about two dozen American troops would be removed from the Turkey-Syria border, and suggesting that Turkey might not go through with a large-scale invasion.In the face of fierce criticism from both political rivals and allies in Congress, Trump took to Twitter to try to defend the move and threaten Turkey.“I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” he said.“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” he said.It was unclear however, what was “off limits”.In earlier tweets, Trump had appeared unsentimental about the Kurds, noting that they had been paid “massive amounts of money and equipment” in the four year campaign, when they were used as the main US proxy to fight Isis in Syria.But the issue of Isis foreign fighters, most of them European, has clearly preoccupied the US president.Both Trump and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have repeatedly called on European states to repatriate around 20,000 foreign nationals currently held in north-east Syria for trial and rehabilitation at home.Trump argued it was up to Turkey and Europe and others, “to watch over the captured Isis fighters and families”.An SDF spokesman, Amjed Osman, said on Monday it was not clear what would happen to the prisoners. “We repeatedly called for foreign states to take responsibility for their Isis nationals. But there was no response,” he said in a statement. It is far from clear if Turkey has the capacity – or desire – to take custody of the detainees being held in crowded Kurdish jails and displacement camps, stretching the SDF to its limits and prompting warnings that militants are using the prisons to regroup.Some 74,000 women and children of the caliphate are held at the infamous Hawl camp, where they are guarded by just 400 SDF soldiers. But the camp, a hotbed of violence and extremist ideology, falls outside the parameters of the 32km-deep safe zone on the Turkish-Syrian border that Erdogan has said his forces would establish.Aid agencies warned that an offensive could displace hundreds of thousands of people, and create a new humanitarian disaster.Save the Children said that more than 9,000 children from 40 countries were being held in camps and depended on humanitarian aid to survive.“Reports of imminent military operations and troops already sent to the border are deeply troubling. The international community, including the UK, should take urgent steps to do what’s best for these children and bring them to their home countries before access becomes even more unpredictable,” the group said.The Guardian understands that the SAS and French special forces present in Rojava would be tasked with securing the camp perimeters if the Kurds withdrew. However, with only several hundred troops between them, their numbers would need to be quickly boosted by regular soldiers to avoid a catastrophic collapse in security.In Washington, the move was condemned by allies and opponents of the president. House speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said the move “poses a dire threat to regional security and stability, and sends a dangerous message to Iran and Russia, as well as our allies, that the United States is no longer a trusted partner”.Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said: “A precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that Isis and other terrorist groups regroup.”Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch Trump loyalist on most issues, said he would call for Turkey’s suspension from NATO and introduce sanctions against Ankara if the Turks attack Kurdish forces.“This decision to abandon our Kurdish allies and turn Syria over to Russia, Iran, & Turkey will put every radical Islamist on steroids. Shot in the arm to the bad guys. Devastating for the good guys,” Graham wrote in a tweet.During the campaign against Isis, the SDF did the bulk of the ground fighting to defeat Isis in Syria, losing 11,000 troops in the grinding battle. The senior ranks of the organisation are dominated by members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a four-decade guerilla war against the Turkish government.Ankara has long complained that, while fighting Isis, PKK forces were also waging war in Turkey.


Trump boasts of 'great and unmatched wisdom' and threatens to 'obliterate' the Turkish economy   


Trump boasts of 'great and unmatched wisdom' and threatens to 'obliterate' the Turkish economyPresident Trump seemingly set out to quell fears Monday that the White House was creating an opening for Turkey to attack U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in Northern Syria.The White House announced Sunday night that U.S. troops would leave northern Syria and that Turkey would launch an invasion in the region. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan considers the Kurdish fighters "terrorists," as a result of a longstanding separatist movement among Kurds in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey, but the U.S. considered the Kurdish forces in northern Syria their strongest allies in the fight against the Islamic State, which is why Trump has received bipartisan criticism for leaving them vulnerable to Turkish forces.Trump, though, said that Turkey won't do anything he, in his "great and unmatched wisdom," considers "off limits" or else he'll "totally destroy and obliterate" the Turkish economy -- again.> As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I've done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over...> > -- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2019Trump doesn't mention the Kurds by name, but he has boasted about preventing Erdogan from attempting to "wipe out" the Kurds in the past, so it stands to reason he was referring to them. > Trump in June:> > -- Dan Froomkin (@froomkin) October 7, 2019


Lindsey Graham Blasts Trump’s ‘Irresponsible’ Syria Decision: ‘Unnerving to Its Core’   


Lindsey Graham Blasts Trump’s ‘Irresponsible’ Syria Decision: ‘Unnerving to Its Core’REUTERSOne of President Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters in the Senate raged against the president’s Sunday night announcement that America will bow out of Syria while Turkey attacks allied Kurds in the region, calling the decision on Monday “shortsighted and irresponsible.”Appearing on Trump-boosting morning show Fox & Friends, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was asked whether he supported the president’s move, prompting the hawkish Republican lawmaker to exclaim, “Absolutely not.”“If I didn’t see Donald Trump’s name on the tweet, I thought it would be [former President] Obama’s rationale for getting out of Iraq.” he said. “This is gonna lead to ISIS’s reemergence!”Graham went on to say this was a “big win for ISIS,” claiming that the Kurds in the area will align with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad because they’d have no choice due to the United States abandoning them. “So this is a big win for Iran and Assad,” he added.(During another Fox & Friends segment, co-host Brian Kilmeade criticized the president as well, calling the president’s decision “disastrous” and that it would leave the Kurds to fend for themselves.)The South Carolina senator then stated that the “Kurds stepped up when nobody else would to fight ISIS,” noting that if we abandon the Kurds at this point, nobody will want to help America in the future in fighting radical Islam. Graham also pushed back on Trump’s claim that ISIS has been eradicated.“The biggest lie being told by the administration [is] that ISIS is defeated,” he declared. “This impulsive decision by the president has undone all the gains we’ve made, thrown the region into further chaos. Iran is licking their chops. And if I’m an ISIS fighter, I’ve got a second lease on life. So to those who think ISIS has been defeated, you will soon see.”“I hope I’m making myself clear how shortsighted and irresponsible this decision is, in my view,” Graham concluded.The GOP lawmaker continued to blast the president’s move on Twitter following his Fox & Friends appearance, saying he doesn’t “believe it is a good idea to outsource the fight against ISIS to Russia, Iran and Turkey.”“I feel very bad for the Americans and allies who have sacrificed to destroy the ISIS Caliphate because this decision virtually reassures the reemergence of ISIS. So sad. So dangerous,” he wrote in another tweet. “President Trump may be tired of fighting radical Islam. They are NOT tired of fighting us.”Furthermore, piggybacking off his assertion on Fox & Friends that he would do everything he can to sanction Turkey if they invade Syria, Graham announced that he would “introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if they invade Syria and will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the U.S. in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate.”Graham wasn’t alone among Trump’s allies and loyalists to call out the president over his decision to stand aside as Turkey attacks one of America’s most reliable allies in the region. For example, Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said we “must always have the backs of our allies” and leaving the Kurds to “die is a big mistake.” And Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), weeks after competing with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for Trump’s affections, called it a “catastrophic mistake” to pull out of Syria, adding that terrorists “thousands of miles away can and will use their safe-havens to launch attacks against America.”Facing overwhelming criticism from within his own party on the Turkey-Syria decision, Trump tweeted late Monday morning that if Turkey does anything that “I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


Comment on Impeachment summary 2: of honeymoons and resumés by alibe50    


How likely is it that a country that has been a participant in one of Trumps extortion attempts will turn tables on Trump and extort him and in return, U. S. Interests or they will reveal more impeachable offenses so as to increase likelihood of his impeachment and conviction? Trump will do anything to stay in power. I imagine this may be the genesis of Trump all of a sudden allowing Erdogan to invade Syria and get rid of his long time nemesis, The Kurds! Or maybe the Russians have again blackmailed Trump. It is all very likely. The sooner he is impeached the better. I am sure the schemes of Trump go way way beyond trying to smear Biden. And now he has left himself and this country vulnerable to being coerced to abandoning allies and long held positions of trust.


Comment on Impeachment summary 2: of honeymoons and resumés by William    


Ah, the media. I never can abide Todd, so I am glad that he may have actually stood up to a Trump lackey in an interview. According to what I read, most of them on the Sunday shows just let them make their ridiculous defenses of Trump and attacks on Democrats, and say nothing. Why that is, would require a much-needed and bold book. Gene Lyons and Joe Conason wrote one after the Gore vs. Bush election, and I skimmed it in the store (too depressing to actually buy and fully read), and it said what most do not even dare to say, about how biased the media was against Gore, almost reveling in it. It was even worse with Hillary, of course. It is not a bug, as the computer people like to say. Trump is veritably destroying this country, and yet there must be this "respect" shown to him. He has called Biden and Waters crooked and stupid; he calls Schiff a traitor, and I guess it's okay. Hillary said "deplorables," and was excoriated for it. Yes, no one will trust us again Trump supports all dictators, and that's apparently okay with the media, too. If there were a fascist elected as president, someone who wanted to align with other fascists to form a consortium, which aided each other financially, and helped to snuff out all forms of protest, it would look very much like Trump.But the media can't or won't see what is at stake here. Are tax breaks that wonderful that the cost is giving up the American democracy? Can one imagine what a Trump second term, or even a Pence or Mark Sanford term would look like? Like France before the Revolution, most likely, or perhaps Dickens' London. The media cannot stop itself from holding Democrats to an infinitely higher standard in discourse and behavior. And rest assured that if we nominate Warren, as now seems likely, the entire campaign will be about the feasibility of her proposals, we will be on the defensive throughout. Corporate America values its wealth more than anything else. Trump has given them massive tax cuts and breaks, and that is apparently enough to obviate all the rest of the horror. I am much afraid that with an apparent chance to win the field, we are about to send the troops off a cliff because the view toward the other side looks inviting.

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