The House adopted the fiscal 2016 conference budget resolution last Thursday, a compromise that strips out a procedural hurdle that could have blocked the Senate from allocating tens of billions of extra dollars included in DOD’s war account.To evade the $523 billion Budget Control Act cap on national security spending, the budget blueprints advanced in both the House and Senate allot $96 billion — including $58 billion requested by the Obama administration and $38 billion in extra funds — to the department’s overseas contingency operations account (OCO). That account is not subject to the budget caps.The Senate version, however, included a point of order on spending from the OCO exceeding $58 billion, a mechanism that likely would have required defense hawks to produce 60 votes to override any objections raised by Senate Democrats or fiscal conservatives. The maneuver essentially would have counteracted the chamber’s attempt to sidestep the budget caps by stashing extra funds for DOD in the OCO.House and Senate conferees removed the Senate point of order due to pressure from defense hawks, reported CQ Roll Call. The Senate is expected to take up the conference report, which will not go to the president for his signature, as early as today.While the compromise budget resolution removes any obstacles to appropriators allocating the extra defense funds, it will not become law and, as a result, does not settle the dispute between congressional Republicans and the White House over how to deal with the statutory spending caps. President Obama has vowed to veto any FY 2016 spending bills that adhere to the Budget Control Act caps or provide budgetary relief only to the Pentagon. Absent a bipartisan agreement to lift the caps for both defense and non-defense agencies, it is not clear how the government will be funded next year. Dan Cohen AUTHOR
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir speaks at a discussion meeting at the National Press Club on Saturday. Photo: Prothom AloThe Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) secretary general, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, on Saturday alleged the Bangladesh Awami League-led (AL) government has begun “ill politics”, as it did during the 2014 general elections.“The government has begun doing whatever needs to keep BNP away [from the elections],” Mirza Fakhrul told a discussion at the National Press Club in the capital.BNP-led 20-party alliance partner Bangladesh Kalyan Party organised the discussion marking the tenth founding anniversary of the party.“What do you [AL] want to bring through this ill-politics? Do you want to hold an election like that of 5 January 2014? You’ve started doing whatever is required to keep the 20-party alliance as well as BNP away [from the elections],” said Mirza Fakhrul.Warning the AL government against any move to hold 5-January like elections once again, the BNP spokesperson said, “The people of Bangladesh will never allow elections like that of 2014. Don’t underestimate the people of Bangladesh. Don’t think that they will tolerate everything.”Dwelling on the prime minister and AL president Sheikh Hasina’s allegation that Zia family has siphoned money to Saudi Arabia, Fakhrul said, “We’ve enquired about the allegation. We’ve talked to ambassadors. It has no basis. This is unfounded.”About the disappearance of Kalyan Party general secretary Aminur Rahman, the BNP leader said, “Even the general secretary of a political party has been forced to disappear. His whereabouts remain unknown over the last 97 days.“Former ambassadors are being picked up from their cars. MPs, university teachers, physicians, engineers, our leaders Ilias Ali, [city corporation] commissioner Chowdhury Alam and numerous people have been forced to disappear.“Where will you go? They will make anyone who differs from their [AL] views disappear. Can we call this party [AL] democratic? This party struggled to establish democracy in the past. Its original character, that is fascist character, is exposed whenever it comes to power,” Fakhrul added. Kalyan Party chairman Syed Muhammad Ibrahim told the discussion that the AL-led government with all its power is hatching conspiracies to silence the 20-party alliance.
“People feel more connected when they talk to strangers, like they are part of something bigger,” says Gillian Sandstrom, a psychologist and senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex, in Colchester, England, who studies interactions between strangers. In research studies, Dr. Sandstrom has shown that people’s moods improve after they have a conversation with a Starbucks barista or a volunteer at the Tate Modern art museum in London. She’s also found that people are happier on days when they have more interactions with acquaintances they don’t know well and that students enjoy class more when they interact with their classmates. Sometimes a stranger—not a friend or a loved one—can significantly improve our day. A pleasant encounter with someone we don’t know, even a nonverbal one, can soothe us when no one else is around. It may get us out of our own head—a proven mood booster—and help broaden our perspective. They’re typically wrong. Dr. Sandstrom’s research shows people underestimate how much another person will like them when they talk for the first time. And in a study in which she asked participants to talk to at least one stranger a day for five days, 99% said they found at least one of the conversations pleasantly surprising, 82% said they learned something from one of the strangers, 43% exchanged contact information, and 40% had communicated with one of the strangers again, an indication they might be making friends. Read the whole story: The Wall Street Journal Sue took my hand in both of hers, patted it, and held on tight. We were five minutes into the worst turbulence I’d ever experienced—approaching Boston’s Logan International Airport in a severe winter storm—when I turned to the woman next to me and said: “Hey, would you mind chatting with me for a few minutes? I’m really nervous.” We hadn’t spoken much during the flight, other than the usual pleasantries. But my seatmate seemed friendly. And I suddenly felt desperate for a human connection. “Sure, my name is Sue,” the woman replied, smiling warmly. “What brings you to Boston?” I started to explain that I was on a business trip. Then the plane lurched violently, and I blurted out: “I might need to hold your hand, too.” And yet most people resist talking to strangers, she says. They fret about the mechanics of the conversation—how to start, maintain or stop it. They think they will blather on and disclose too much—or not talk enough. They worry they will bore the other person.