Friday, May 22, 2015

Wherever She May Be

"Here" being a subjective term:

Psycho Therapy

Yet another reason not to listen to celebrities on matters of health:
Meditation and mindfulness is promoted by celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow and Russell Brand, who boast of its power to help people put stress out of their minds and live for the moment.

But the treatment can itself trigger mania, depression, hallucinations and psychosis, psychological studies in the UK and US have found.

The practice is part of a growing movement based on ancient Eastern traditions of meditation.

However, 60 per cent of people who had been on a meditation retreat had suffered at least one negative side effect, including panic, depression and confusion, a study in the US found.
Judging from Russell brand, there may be some truth to this...

No Booing For Peace

No booing allowed:
The Daily Mail reports that the Vienna stage will be protected for the first time in its history by sound reducers described as “anti-booing technology” to protect the spirit of the contest, which explicitly bans any political statements in an effort to foster harmony among the European states. Russian political aggression has been the most consistent challenge to maintaining the peace at Eurovision in the past decade, with a punny entry from Georgia titled “We Don’t Wanna Put In” (get it?) banned after Putin’s 2008 invasion of Georgia. Last year, the Tolmachevy Twins act was booed soundly upon taking the stage despite their apolitical and uncontroversial entry, largely taken to be a rebuke of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine (Maria Yaremchuk, the Ukrainian contestant, received raucous applause).
In European contests, audience gets booed...

Welcome To The Occupation

Who wants to live under Nazi rule?
The Czech public broadcaster said the family members, chosen from 400 applicants, were brought back in time to March 15, 1939 - the day Hitler's troops took over the country.

They were taken to a farm in the mountains in eastern Czech Republic, where they were filmed as they were forced to confront everyday realities of the occupation, such as hunger, persecution and Gestapo raids.

The goal was to show what common people had to get through at the time and historians and architects made sure their experience was as authentic as possible.
Heil ratings?

Weather Spies

Climate change a security risk? Maybe not so much:
Measurements of Earth Data for Environmental Analysis, or Medea, which began in the 1990s, allowed civilian scientists access to classified satellite data. The program was scrapped under former President George W. Bush, but reconstituted in 2010 under president Obama.

The CIA confirmed the cancellation of the program Thursday, news outlet Mother Jones cia-closing-its-main-climate-research-program” target=”_blank”>reported.

“These projects have been completed and CIA will employ these research results and engage external experts as it continues to evaluate the national security implications of climate change,” CIA spokesman Ryan Whaylen said Friday, Defense One cia-ends-its-climate-research-program/113560/” target=”_blank”>reported.
The secrets of climate change must be protected...

The Past Informs Their Future

The Democrats, party of the past:
On one hand, most of these candidates are the best choices Democrats have. Feingold and Strickland are running ahead of GOP Sens. Ron Johnson and Rob Portman in recent polls. Hill and Hagan boast proven crossover appeal in GOP-leaning states that would be challenging pickups. Their presence in the race gives the party a fighting chance to retake the Senate.

But look more closely, and the reliance on former failures is a direct result of the party having no one else to turn to. If the brand-name challengers didn't run, the roster of up-and-coming prospects in the respective states is short. They're also facing an ominous historical reality that only two defeated senators have successfully returned to the upper chamber in the last six decades. As political analyst Stu Rothenberg put it, they're asking "voters to rehire them for a job from which they were fired." Senate Democrats are relying on these repeat candidates for the exact same reason that Democrats are comfortable with anointing Hillary Clinton for their presidential nomination: There aren't any better alternatives.
When your history is mostly mythology, can you really have a future?

More Funny Money

So who got the Clinton's money?
There was one entity clearly associated with a foreign government that provided speaking fees, of $250,000 to $500,000 for a speech by Bill Clinton: The energy ministry in Thailand.

The U.S. Islamic World Forum also provided $250,000 to $500,000 to the foundation for a speech by Bill Clinton, according to the new disclosure. The event was organized in part by the Brookings Institution with support from the government of Qatar.



In addition, the list is studded with overseas corporations and foundations.

They included the South Korean energy and chemicals conglomerate Hanwha, which paid $500,000 to $1,000,000 for a speech by Bill Clinton.

China Real Estate Development Corp. paid the foundation between $250,000 and $500,000 for a speech by the former president. The Qatar First Investment Bank, now known as the Qatar First Bank, paid fees in a similar range. The bank is described by Persian Gulf financial press as specializing in high-net-worth clients.

The Telmex Foundation, founded by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, provided between $250,000 and $500,000 for a speech by Hillary Clinton.
All worthy causes, I'm sure...

Christie Unleashed

Chris Christie unloads on the press:
“I always love being critiqued by a guy whose journalist background is from, you know, that extraordinary news magazine TMZ,” he said.

He continued: “This is a guy who says he doesn’t know what I’m doing every day…Then just get the f— away from me then if you don’t know what I’m doing. Every time I turn a corner in New Hampshire or Iowa or any place else, you and that beard are there.”

Christie then offered the reporter one final piece of advice: “Open your eyes and clean the s*** out of your ears and pay attention — then you’ll know what I’m doing.”
Get your sh*t together, people!

The Un-Incredible Bulk

So, has the Patriot Act actually worked? Not really:
FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scooped up records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism investigations.
....

Backers say the Patriot Act powers are critical and must be kept intact, particularly with the spread of the threat from terrorists. But opponents have doubted the efficacy of Section 215, particularly when it’s used to justify bulk data collection such as in the case of the National Security Agency’s phone metadata program, revealed in leaks from former government contractor Edward Snowden.

The new report adds ammunition to those opponents, with the inspector general concluding that no major cases have been broken by use of the Patriot Act’s records-snooping provisions.

“The agents we interviewed did not identify any major case developments that resulted from use of the records obtained in response to Section 215 orders,” the inspector general concluded — though he said agents did view the material they gathered as “valuable” in developing other leads or corroborating information.
I suppose spying on everyone would pay off, eventually...

The Lady In The Plastic Bubble

Come what may, Hillary's isolation goes on:
Mindful of her defeat by Barack Obama in 2008, Clinton has embraced a new strategy – one that so far does not include town-hall meetings and campaign rallies, media interviews, even public events.

Instead, she holds small controlled events with a handful of potential voters in homes, businesses and schools. She repeats many of the same lines (“I want to be your champion” is a favorite), participants are handpicked by her staff or the event host, and topics are dictated by her campaign.

Brent Johnson, 35, the owner of Bike Tech, said Clinton campaign staffers walked into the shop a week earlier and asked him if he’d be interested in hosting an event. He and the three roundtable participants were on a conference call with the campaign the day before to hear Clinton’s “basic talking points” about helping small businesses. A campaign aide says they found guests through the small business community.

Clinton’s approach – made possible by her lack of strong competition for the Democratic nomination – comes as she works to relate to working American families after years of being criticized as an out-of-touch Washington insider garnering hefty paychecks for her speeches and books.
Things haven't changed that much...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Controlling The Controllers

Free speech wins:
Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said the FEC received 5,000 comments demanding the agency keep their hands off the Internet. In response, she proposed a resolution that directly barred Internet regulation.

"I wanted to make clear that I was listening to what people are saying out there and I think we should allay those concerns if people are concerned that we are about to do that," she said. Her resolution said: "I further move that the Commission direct [counsel] to exclude from the rulemaking any proposal affecting political activity on the Internet."
For once, they listened. Let's hope this is the start of a trend...

Life After Late Night

And thus it ends:
Fans and passers-by gathered around a police barricade cordoning off the Ed Sullivan to watch workers unceremoniously chuck red theater chairs into an overflowing Dumpster and ​take reciprocating saws to his miniature Brooklyn Bridge.
“It’s an end of an era,” commented onlooker Alex Lafreniere, 24, a fan visiting from Oklahoma.
The complete breakdown of the set is expected to take about a week.
The ​George ​Washington Bridge appeared to be one of the few relics spared; it was carefully loaded into a van intact.
“I was literally sitting in one of those seats last night,” said Stephanie Strausz, of Manhattan, who scored​ a​ second-row ​ticket to​ Wednesday’s star-studded finale.
“I can’t believe they’re just demolishing the whole thing. It’s shocking,” she said.
Like Letterman himself, out with the old...

Standing His Ground

Rand Paul explains:
“I did wear my comfortable shoes so my feet are not as sore today,” Paul told Breitbart News. “Comfortable shoes, drink very little water so you don’t have to leave the floor. I don’t know—I think we drew a lot of attention to it and will continue to today. We have a drive right now on RandPaul.com to get people to support stopping the NSA spying and bulk collection of records. It’s amazing that this has great legs outside of Washington.”

Paul also fired away at former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who on Thursday seemingly attacked Paul’s filibuster by saying in New Hampshire that there’s “not a shred of evidence” that NSA’s spying on Americans violated their civil liberties.

“Some of the people are sort of mired in the past—and I think there were comments that Jeb Bush made this morning in New Hampshire, saying that he supports the bulk collection of data,” Paul said of his naysayers in the Republican establishment, specifically singling out Bush.
Keeping the debate alive is good. Even if your feet hurt after a while.

Back It Up

Finally, some trailer relief:
The “Pro Trailer Backup Assist” will be available for all 2016 Ford F-150 trucks. The feature, which was in development for nearly a decade, allows the driver to turn a knob to indicate how the trailer should be steered as they watch it on a video screen on the front dash. The technology then allows the truck to take over the steering wheel and speed.

Autoblog pointed out that drivers need to measure trailers attached to the truck before using the feature to allow it to do its job properly.

“Pro Trailer Backup Assist is a smart solution to save time and increase productivity for our customers,” Doug Scott, Ford marketing manager, said in a statement. “Instead of struggling to back up their trailer, they can spend more time on the job or enjoying the lake.”
Mirrors not required?

Open House

Don't lend your home to strangers:
After the Menjivars contacted the police in order to get their stuff from the home’s shared garage, Amber Menjivar did some research and found the family has done this before. KPIX reported that the Derivero family has been evicted eight times.

Tony Menjivar called them “professional squatters, they’re just serial squatters.”

“Unfortunately there are some people like Ms. Derivero who move from property to property,” attorney Aaron Farmer, who represents two landlords in separate legal battles with Derivero, told the news station. “The sheriff comes to remove her from the first property on one day and literally the next day she is moving into the next property.”
A man's home is not somebody else's castle...

Chicken Hearts

It's PETA versus the pub:
Ye Olde Fighting Cocks takes its name from the once-popular sport of cockfighting, which was banned in Britain in the 1800s. PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi told the Mirror that people today are “appalled” by the idea of forcing birds to fight each other.

“Changing the name would reflect today’s rejection of needless violence and help celebrate chickens as the intelligent, sensitive and social animals they are,” Bekhechi said.

But some locals don’t see the proposed name change as a matter of animal rights. They say the current name honors the country’s heritage and reminds them of how far they’ve come.

“The thing that appalls me is the total lack of appreciation of history,” Robert Oakhill, who frequents the bar, told the Mirror. “The current name informs us about the past. It enables us to contemplate the great advances that have been made.

“The new name is, to use the most appropriate critical term, ‘bonkers,’” Oakhill added.
You could call PETA a bunch of dumb clucks...

Parents Wanted

Pope Francis is not a fan of "experts":
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis told parents their role in the education of their children is “an essential characteristic” of the family. The pope was strongly critical of so-called experts who have “silenced” parents in their roles as heads of their families and disciplinarians due to fears, whether real or fabricated.

The pope continued that such “intellectual critics” have formed a wedge between parents and their own children, “even in the most delicate and personal aspects of their lives.” This state of affairs, said the pontiff, has led to a situation in which parents are even afraid to discipline their own children, leaving this important aspect of parenting to the experts instead.

Furthermore, the pope said the problem of parents spending less time with their children has led to schools taking on a more prominent role in their lives, even in the formation of their values and philosophy of life.
When the state raises your kids, are they really learning?

Remember To Flush

The Capitol Police learn how to use the bathroom:
The AP reports that on May 20, Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine told the House Administration Committee, “We are now providing additional training on what to do when you have to go to the bathroom.”

He added: “I would be remiss if I did not say that the officers involved in these recent weapons cases reported in the media in no way intended to leave their weapons unattended. But as noted, this is not acceptable and they will be held accountable.”

Dine said the officers “take very seriously their life and safety responsibilities and they acknowledge that they made a mistake.”

Currently, an officer who leaves his or her gun in the restroom faces a minimal five day suspension for the first offense. Dine is considering lengthening the first offense suspension to 30 days.
And remember to wash your hands...

Dirty Old Man

Revealed: Osama bin Laden's porn collection?
Reports that pornographic material was found in the compound were first published by the news agency Reuters on May 13, 2011, just weeks after a U.S. military raid on the site left the al-Qaeda leader dead. Unnamed officials told Reuters that the pornography was modern and the collection extensive. Officials said it was unclear how it came to be in the hideout, which had no Internet connection.

Reuters also reported that the officials were unsure about the precise location where the material was found or who might have been viewing it. U.S. officials have said that 22 people had been living in the compound, including a number of adult males. U.S. officials later confirmed that they had discovered pornography in the compound.

Although it has never been clear whether bin Laden had been viewing the pornography, the reports of adult videos in his compound prompted a flurry of mockery from the likes of the New York Post and Jon Stewart's "Daily Show," with some suggesting that the reports had been leaked to make bin Laden look hypocritical. (He had criticized the United States' culture as sexualized in a 2002 "letter to America").
At least we have more fun with ours...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

When Trees Attack

These trees literally bite back:
Casual contact with the vegetation of the stinging tree is all you need to have the stickers, described as “miniature hypodermic needles,” pierce your skin and begin releasing the nasty compound known as moroidin into your system.

Avoiding making contact with the Gympie-Gympie tree in the rainforest requires wearing protective gear like heavy-duty gloves and facemasks. Breathing in the tiny needles can cause some serious sneezing fits and severe nosebleeds.

Dr. Hurley has been studying the toxic plant for decades, and has been stung repeatedly. One encounter was serious enough to force the researcher to be hospitalized. She described the pain as “bad or worse as childbirth” and like having your skin “burnt and having acid on you at the same time.”
No tree hugging here...

Blogging In The Years: 2004

The existential dilemmas of small-town liberals:
There are basically two kinds of people in small towns–those who assume, as Shaw put it, that the customs of the tribe are the laws of nature; and those who have sussed out that there is a big and varied world beyond Main Street. This division used to have little to do with politics. But small-town politics in its Norman Rockwell variant–all those democratic battles over school bonds and ousting the crooked sheriff–is not what it was. Now, all politics is national. Political ideology, for most people, is a matter of whether they prefer to have Bill O’Reilly or Diane Rehm console them for their impotence in the face of events happening elsewhere.

At some point, Democrats became the party of small-town people who think they’re too big for their small towns. It is hard to say how it happened: Perhaps it is that Republicans’ primary appeal is to something small-towners take for granted (tradition), while Democrats’ is to something that small-towners are condemned for lacking (diversity). Both appeals can be effective, but it is only the latter that incites people to repudiate the culture in which they grew up. Perhaps it is that at universities–through which pass all small-town people aiming to climb to a higher social class–Democratic party affiliation is the sine qua non of being taken for a serious, non-hayseed human being.

For these people, liberalism is not a belief at all. No, it’s something more important: a badge of certain social aspirations. That is why the laments of the small-town leftists get voiced with such intemperance and desperation. As if those who voice them are fighting off the nagging thought: If the Republicans aren’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.
Never get too big for your britches...

Telling The Tale

Another cause undermined by fake data:
One of the authors of a recent study which claimed that short conversations with gay people could change minds on same-sex marriage has retracted it.

The retraction this week of the popular article published in a December issue of the Science academic journal follows revelations that his co-author allegedly faked data for the study, “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support of gay marriage.”

According to academic watchdog Retraction Watch, Columbia University political science professor Donald Green published a retraction of the paper on Tuesday after confronting co-author Michael LaCour, a graduate assistant at UCLA.

The study received widespread media coverage from The New York Times, Vox, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and others, when it was released in December.
Just because it's not true, doesn't mean they won't keep repeating it...

Sea Of Change

So I guess Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and ISIS aren't a problem, then:
Climate change is one of those most severe threats. This is not just a problem for countries on the coasts or for certain regions of the world. Climate change will impact every country on the planet. No nation is immune. So I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security. And make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. So we need to act and we need to act now.

After all, isn't that the true hallmark of leadership? When you're on deck, standing your watch, you stay vigilant, you plan for every contingency. If you see storm clouds gathering or dangerous shoals ahead you don't just sit back and do nothing. You take action to protect your ship, to keep your crew safe. Anything less is negligence. It is a dereliction of duty. So to with climate change. Denying it or refusing to deal with it endangers our national security. It undermines the readiness of our forces.
It's your duty...

What Has She Done?

Detailing Hillary Clinton's long record of...what, exactly?

Copyright Of The Khan

Do bikers need copyright lawyers along with the other kind?
The Mongol Nation registered their trademark in 2005 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Unknown to the club at the time, four undercover agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had infiltrated the gang.

In 2008, the ATF issued 110 arrest warrants in four states, accusing club members of murder, drug trafficking, robbery, extortion and money laundering. As part of a plea deal, the club president forfeited rights to the Mongol trademark to the Department of Justice, and a federal judge granted an injunction prohibiting club members from wearing, licensing, selling, or distributing the any materials depicting the Mongolian warrior.

At the time, only Uncle Sam was legally entitled to wear the Mongols' leather vest -- known as a "cut" -- as a jacket without sleeves.

Federal Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ruled that upon presentation of the court's order by police, "defendants and all their agents, servants, employees, family members, and other persons in active participation with them, must surrender all products, clothing, vehicles, motorcycles, books, posters, merchandise, stationery, or other materials bearing the Mongols trademark."
Just because you've been dead for centuries, doesn't mean you're not entitled to copyright protection...

The Fixer's Fix

Sid Blumenthal, your presence is requested:
The committee issued the subpoena after a New York Times report delved into the various emails Blumenthal, the longtime Clinton fixer, sent Clinton while she was secretary of state. Gawker and ProPublica first reported, based on some of Blumenthal’s emails that hacker Guccifer published, that Blumenthal, along with others who wanted to do business in Libya as the nation was transitioning to a new government, sent Clinton intelligence briefings that she forwarded to other administration officials.

The Times noted, though, that Blumenthal’s involvement “was more wide-ranging and more complicated than previously known, embodying the blurry lines between business, politics and philanthropy that have enriched and vexed the Clintons and their inner circle for years.”

According to the Times, “much of the Libya intelligence that Mr. Blumenthal passed on” to Clinton seems “to have come from a group of business associates he was advising as they sought to win contracts from the Libyan transitional government.” The unsuccessful venture “involved other Clinton friends, a private military contractor and one former C.I.A. spy seeking to get in on the ground floor of the new Libyan economy.”
Trying to buy a country is hard work...

Safety First, Free Speech Later

Over at Reddit, safety before speech?
While there were few objections to the emphasis on ‘systematic and/or continued’ behaviour, many users criticised using of the subjective feelings of ‘reasonable people’ as a criteria. The logic of the new rule veers dangerously close to that of the campus “safe space” movement, which has seen an increase in the number of university speakers being banned from campus on the grounds that their opinions make radical activists “feel unsafe”.
....

Even before the rule-change, there had been growing tension between the Reddit’s users and moderators on the question of free speech. Reddit’s structure allows anyone to set up a new community and appoint a team of moderators. Unless a moderator goes inactive, users have no ability to challenge their decisions or remove them. This led to a culture of elitism and flippant censorship, which was brought to light last March in an explosive leak of chatlogs showing the moderators of large subreddits casually discussing the censorship of political topics they disagreed with.
being safe means never having to hear from those who disagree with you...

Portrait Of The Writer As A Young Man

Is this the real Shakespeare?
Griffiths made his discovery when he was researching the biography of pioneering botanist John Gerard (1545-1612), author of The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes.
The 1,484 page book, published in 1598, is described as the largest single-volume work on plants that has been published in English.
Griffiths said on Tuesday that he was aware of only 10 surviving copies of the first edition that contained the title page with an engraving by William Rogers.
The four figures depicted in the engraving were assumed to have been imaginary.
However, Griffiths revealed he had decoded decorative devices around the figures - such as heraldic motifs and emblematic flowers - to reveal their "true identities".
The engraving's the thing...

Miles To Tax

Going green in Oregon will cost you:
Starting July 1, up to 5,000 volunteers in Oregon can sign up to drive with devices that collect data on how much they have driven and where. The volunteers will agree to pay 1.5 cents for each mile traveled on public roads within Oregon, instead of the tax now added when filling up at the pump.
Some electric and hybrid car owners, however, say the new tax would be unfair to them and would discourage purchasing of green vehicles.
"This program targets hybrid and electric vehicles, so it's discriminatory," said Patrick Connor, a Beaverton resident who has been driving an electric car since 2007.
State officials say it is only fair for owners of green vehicles to be charged for maintaining roads, just as owners of gasoline-powered vehicles do.
Silly environmentalists, you thought it wouldn't happen to you...

Aloha, Obamacare

Suppose they had an enrollment and nobody came?
The Obama administration had implemented the special enrollment period from March 15 - April 30 to assist individuals who were unaware they would face a tax penalty for not having “qualifying” health insurance. In all, less than 250,000 individuals decided to enroll nationwide meaning that millions of Americans would rather pay the tax than enroll in Obamacare. Most alarmingly, Hawaii’s $205 million Obamacare exchange during this enrollment period.

While Hawaii enrolled zero and is the worst performer among states, it is not alone. Vermont signed up only 97 households, while Rhode Island enrolled just 25 households.
Its reputation has preceded it...

Le Resistance

Stand together, says Jake Tapper:
After hearing Hillary’s response to questioning about her relationship with Sidney Blumenthal and whether it would continue if she was elected president, which he characterized as “an attempt at deflection,” he stated “This is why a press gaggle, they can be great things but they really — the press corps needs to be unified in these events.” He then recounted a time where he asked President Obama to answer the question of the person who had asked a question before him.

Tapper continued, “People need to stick together. The Blumenthal question is a legitimate question. What is this information he was sending to Hillary? Where did it come from? And how seriously did she take it when she was forwarding it around?”
Who will stand with Tapper?

Your Stuff Has Been Terminated

Blowing stuff up with Arnold Schwarzenegger:
“I blew up my neighbor’s car. Eric Stonestreet,” Schwarzenegger told FOX411. “He was very upset, he was so angry. He is not going to invite me to his Fourth of July bar-b-que, which is hitting below the belt.”

Luckily, Stonestreet was in on the stunt, as its part of a contest where a lucky fan and a friend get an all-expense paid day to spend with Schwarzenegger doing, what else: blowing stuff up.

“When the winner comes out, we’ll have breakfast, and drive tanks, and blow things up,” Schwarzenegger explained. “We blow up cars, boats – just stuff that makes you laugh.”
It blowed up real good, too...

Poor Little Rich Bank

It's time to do something about the Export-Import Bank:
The Export-Import Bank is a federal program that “subsidizes overseas purchases of U.S. exports,” according to the Associated Press. Jordan recently wrote that the bank “is a little-known government program that operates as a slush fund for politically connected businesses, which use it to secure taxpayer-backed financing and special deals.”

“We’ve got to change this and it’s time for us to end the perks and privileges that go to the wealthy and the well connected,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) during Tuesday’s press conference. “Everyone knows that we’ve got a bloated government here in Washington and there are programs that need to be reformed. Everyone knows here in Washington we’ve got welfare programs that are actually hurting the very people they are designed to help, but we all understand that we can’t reform welfare until we start by ending corporate welfare.”
A culture of dependency is a culture of dependency...

Impossible Art

This painting is driving the Internet crazy:

The Invisible Mayor

Whatever happened to Bill De Blasio?
“I think that he should spend a little more time in New York dealing with issues that are here,” Union Square resident Camille Guigliano said. “One of the big issues for me is quality of life, and I feel like since the mayor has come on board, I’ve started to see a lot more homeless people on the street, and a lot more of those kinds of issues that were plaguing New York 15, 20 years ago.”
Look at his calendar from last week:
On Monday, May 11, the NYPD warned the city about a man attacking strangers with a hammer.
The next morning, as police hunted their suspect, Mayor de Blasio took off for Washington D.C.
Later that night, a New York City-bound Amtrak train derailed. Even then, de Blasio stayed in Washington pushing his progressive agenda.
“I think he should have came back. It wasn’t right for him to be away. He should be concerned. Be the mayor, be concerned,” said Ken Murray of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The next morning, CBS2 demanded answers, asking the Mayor’s office if he would be returning to the city in light of the derailment. CBS2 was told no.
“We put the wrong man in office,” one New Yorker said Tuesday.
If he wants to leave town, perhaps the voters should arrange that...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Home For School

School's increasingly out:
According to data published on May 7 by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in 2003 1,096,000 school-aged children were homeschooled in the U.S., representing 2.2 percent of the total number of students in that age range that year. In 2012, the number homeschooled was 1,773,000, or 3.4 percent of elementary and secondary school-aged children that year.

The increase in the number of children homeschooled between 2003 and 2012 is 677,000—or 61.8 percent.

As CNS News.com observes, “The 677,000 increase in homeschooled students from 2003 to 2012 is more than the populations of Memphis (653,450), Seattle (652,405), Boston (645,966) and Washington, D.C. (646,449).”
And if the educated population of D.C. is any indication, the home-schooled kids might be better off...

They Don't Love L.A.

Businesses in L.A. find an alternative to unrealistic wage hikes:
L.A. businesses are especially frustrated with the bureaucratic nightmare they experience dealing with of local, county and state building and safety planning departments. The BizFed poll found that the burden of securing operating permits was the most frustrating issue for local businesses, other than taxes and compliance fees.

For companies that do expand, they “must navigate what’s been called a spaghetti bowl of permit requirements”, according to the Times. Rafter worries that technological advancements have made it easier for frustrated local companies to just go “mobile” and conduct the bulk of their business elsewhere.

The Center for Jobs & the Economy published a study last week entitled, “Economic Tale of Two Regions: Los Angeles County vs. Bay Area.” The report revealed that Silicon Valley has been subject to far less direct regulation and therefore can pay higher salaries than Los Angeles County. While the Bay Area saw 25.3 percent private sector job growth since 1990, Los Angeles County actually lost 1.2 percent of its jobs.
People need not apply...

Critter Tracks

The anthropomorphism of our furry little friends seems to be gaining ground:
The percentage of Americans who support the idea that animals’ rights should be equal to those of humans increased across all major U.S. demographic groups. Women remain more likely to support this view than men do, but support among both groups has increased by a similar amount since 2008. Similarly, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are more supportive of this view than Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are, but both groups have seen an increase from the last time Gallup asked them. There continues to be little difference between younger and older Americans.
Pets still aren't people, and neither are the things in the wild that can eat us...

Bears In Space

There's a bear in the stars:
Earth animals have a widely known relation between size and the number of individuals — the smaller the species is, the more individuals of that species tend to exist. For example, an alien seeking life on Earth would be far likelier to run into a mosquito than a blue whale.

However, the relation between size and population can also be plotted on a curve against probability, which predicts that the median weight of an alien would be about 692 lbs. (314 kg) — about the size of a bear or an elk. So, based on the results of this model, about half of extraterrestrial creatures would weigh more than that, and half would weigh less.

It might sound contradictory for large creatures to be from smaller planets, but it isn’t: Remember that the populations from small planets, on average, would be small relative to the 7 billion humans who live on Earth.
Interstellar bear hugs?

The Long March

She is woman, hear her march:
Gloria Steinem is among 30 women activists marching from Beijing through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea in a call for peace next Sunday. The event marks the International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament.

The 81-year-old activist told Reuters that “it seems to me that the past of no contact has not worked,” invoking former President Ronald Reagan’s call to tear down the Berlin Wall.

“We are saying: ‘Take down this isolation,’” she said, according to the report, which also notes that the organizers will meet with North Korean women and tour a maternity hospital, a women’s factory in Pyongyang and a preschool.
"Mr. Kim, tear down this DMZ?"

The Orb

Just dropping by?
“We can’t explain it, nor can the fellas who put in the system for us,” museum president Charlie Mars told WKMG-TV of the video. ”There are many items in here that were brought in by people who are no longer with us. They could be coming back to check on it.”
A tourist of the third kind?

Soda Shaming

Berkeley is darned proud:
Berkeley, California, brought in $116,000 in taxes from sodas sold in March, the first month it went into effect, KTVU-TV reported. With that, the city can now project getting up to $1.2 million in soda taxes within the year. According to the Contra Costa Times, that’s not too far off from unofficial estimates that had projected the tax at bringing in between $1 million to $2 million annually.

“We’re thrilled with it. We really are,” Berkeley Vice-Mayor Linda Maio told the news station.
....

Berkeley Councilman Laurie Capitelli told the Times in 10 years the hope is that the city won’t be collecting any soda taxes because people at that point would have decided to stop buying such sugary drinks all together.

There was a statewide proposal for a soda tax that would hit distributors, but it was rejected by assemblymen last week.
If you can't force 'em, tax 'em...

Scout's Water

The Boy Scouts have banned water gun fights:
A blog for the organization’s leaders said May 6 that pointing simulated firearms at people is not allowed.

“Why the rule? A Scouter once told me this explanation I liked quite a bit: A Scout is kind. What part of pointing a firearm [simulated or otherwise] at someone is kind?” said Bryan Wendell on the scouting website.

The rule is clarified in the Boy Scouts of America National Shooting Manual, which says “For water balloons, use small, biodegradable balloons, and fill them no larger than a ping pong ball. […] Water guns and rubber band guns must only be used to shoot at targets, and eye protection must be worn.”
Because water droplets can be so deadly, you know...

Swordsmen Wanted, No Experience Necessary

Saudi Arabia has a swordsmen shortage:
The civil service ministry said that no qualifications were necessary and that applicants would be exempted from the usual entrance exams.

It said that as well as beheadings, the successful candidates would be expected to carry out amputations ordered by the courts under the kingdom's strict version of Islamic sharia law.

Amputation of one or both hands is a routine penalty for theft. Drug trafficking, rape, murder, apostasy and armed robbery are all punishable by death.

Most executions are carried out by beheading, but a few are carried out by firing squad, stoning or crucifixion.
The rack and iron maiden are optional...

Uninterested In Chief

Ralph Nader tries in vain to get Obama to remember his roots:
Nader described his unanswered letters to the White House trying to get President Obama to attend a meeting like the one he had with President Jimmy Cater and thousands of representatives from non profits and volunteer organizations across the nation. After getting no answer from the president’s office, Nader reached out to first lady Michelle Obama who wrote back the president was “too busy,” to attend.
Was he really expecting anything different?

Gulliver's Web

John Kerry supports tying it down:
"As I’ve mentioned, the basic rules of international law apply in cyberspace. Acts of aggression are not permissible. And countries that are hurt by an attack have a right to respond in ways that are appropriate, proportional, and that minimize harm to innocent parties. We also support a set of additional principles that, if observed, can contribute substantially to conflict prevention and stability in time of peace. We view these as universal concepts that should be appealing to all responsible states, and they are already gaining traction," said Kerry.

"First, no country should conduct or knowingly support online activity that intentionally damages or impedes the use of another country’s critical infrastructure. Second, no country should seek either to prevent emergency teams from responding to a cybersecurity incident, or allow its own teams to cause harm. Third, no country should conduct or support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets, or other confidential business information for commercial gain. Fourth, every country should mitigate malicious cyber activity emanating from its soil, and they should do so in a transparent, accountable and cooperative way. And fifth, every country should do what it can to help states that are victimized by a cyberattack.

"I guarantee you if those five principles were genuinely and fully adopted and implemented by countries, we would be living in a far safer and far more confident cyberworld.
I guarantee you that safety and confidence sometimes aren't all they're cracked up to be...

The Other Emails

An email smoking gun?
Multiple emails show Clinton used account “hrod17@clintonemail.com” while serving in the Obama administration as secretary of state.

Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall, had previously told Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) that that particular address had not “existed during Secretary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.”

Another statement from Clinton’s office said she only used one address during her time as secretary of state.

“Secretary Clinton used one email account during her tenure at State (with the exception of her first weeks in office while transitioning from an email account she had previously used),” it said. “In March 2013, Gawker published the email address she used while Secretary, and so she had to change the address on her account.”

Clinton served as secretary of state from Jan. 2009 to Feb. 2013. The emails she sent with the “hrod17@clintonemail.com” were sent in 2011 and 2012, according to the documents released by the Times.
Whoops...

To Love The Queen

They love her, though they know not why:

Monday, May 18, 2015

America’s Deadliest Jobs Revealed — and There Are Some Surprises | TheBlaze.com

These are the most dangerous jobs in America:




Graph via Daily Mail; Data via Bloomberg

Double Time

The Supreme Court nixes Maryland's double-tax law:
In a 5-4 ruling, the justices agreed with a lower court that the tax is unconstitutional because it discourages Maryland residents from earning money outside the state.

"Maryland's tax scheme is inherently discriminatory," the justices wrote in the majority opinion. They wrote that the policy effectively discourages "interstate commerce."

The ruling said: "If every State adopted Maryland's tax structure, interstate commerce would be taxed at a higher rate than intrastate commerce."

The ruling could have far-reaching consequences beyond just Maryland. It also could affect similar laws in other states, including New York, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Let incomes be free...

States Of Obamacare

The collapse of Obamacare by state:
Incidentally, every state mentioned in this post was governed by enthusiastic, Obamacare-supporting Democrats during the law's implementation, undermining liberals' excuse that nihilistic and obstructionist Republicans are to blame for the "Affordable" Care Act's myriad failures. Several of the states included -- Kentucky and California, in particular -- have been touted as prime examples of state-level successes by supporters of the law.
Except that they aren't...

Tweeter In Chief

At long last, President Obama has joined Twitter:
Yes, there is indeed already a very, very, very popular @BarackObama account on Twitter, but that’s not his. It’s run by Organizing for America, his old campaign operation. There’s also a separate @WhiteHouse account, but that’s for executive branch news. This is the president’s own account, to be bequeathed to his successor in office in 2017. Why a pol as media-savvy as O didn’t think of it until year seven of his presidency is unclear; until today, the White House account seemed sufficient for his needs.
World peace through hash tags?

All Politics Is Activity

The Clintons appreciated their support:
“U.S. Department of Labor’s union financial disclosure reports reveal that Big Labor gave at least $2,034,500 in union general treasury funds to Clinton Foundations. Union treasuries are funded mostly by compulsory union dues or fees collected from workers who would be fired for refusing to pay,” the NILRR report says. “As Mrs. Clinton became closer to her current run for president, donations amounts appear to have increased.”
....

“Some of these ‘donations’ are categorized by the unions as ‘political’ on their financial disclosure report” to the Labor Department, the report says.

United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices, a national plumbers union, for example, poured in nearly $200,000 through two contributions in 2013; each of those donations was classified as a political activity.
it was just a small contribution for the cause...

From The Heartland

rethinking the death penalty in Nebraska:
Senator Colby Coash, a conservative who is a sponsor of the bill, said he had come to believe that opposing capital punishment aligned with his values as a Republican and a Christian conservative.

“I’m a conservative guy — I’ve been a Republican my whole life,” he said in an interview. “A lot of my conservative colleagues have come to the conclusion that we’re there to root out inefficient government programs. Some people see this as a pro-life issue. Other people see it as a good-government issue. But the support that this bill is getting from conservative members is evidence that you can get justice through eliminating the death penalty, and you can get efficient government through eliminating the death penalty.”
It needs to start somewhere...

Drill, Kids, Drill

What a great way to start your day:
A creepy looking man with a backpack and hooded sweatshirt pulled over head leered at children on the playground at East Side Elementary around 10 a.m. Thursday, and teacher Kevin Heyer approached the man, who then allegedly ran off, according to the news site.

Heyer was apparently aware that a random training drill was expected last week and told students “Run! Run!” to the opposite end of an open field from which the “intruder” appeared. But students like Aubrey Truman thought Heyer said “He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun!” and frantically scrambled to the end of the field, where another teacher gathered students by grade, the Star-Tribune reports.

Truman told the news site she thought she was going to die, and couldn’t stop shaking, despite local law enforcement who arrived on scene to tell students the scary ordeal was a training exercise. Regardless, Truman and other students complained about the harrowing experience to their parents, who relayed their frustrations to school officials. Roughly 200 students were involved in the surprise drill.

Truman was so shaken that her mother, Amy Truman, decided to keep the 9-year-old and her brother home from school the next day, according to the news site.

“They took it to an extreme not to discuss this with parents and the community beforehand,” parent Amy Munoz told the Star-Tribune. “It’s a slap in the face.”

“They just think they can do whatever they want with our kids,” she said.
It's what they do...

Elian Grows Up

Whatever happened to Elian Gonzalez?
Gonzalez was found floating off of Florida's coast in 1999, after the boat he was in with his mother capsized. Gonzalez stayed with his uncle in Miami, but the 6-year-old boy soon found himself at the center of a tug of war between Cuba and the United States over whether he should remain in this country or be returned to his father in Cuba.

Today, Gonzalez says he'd like to come back to the United States, but only as a tourist, telling ABC News he'd like to see a baseball game, visit Washington museums and talk to Americans.

"For my family it has always been, we always have the desire to say to the American people, to say to each household our gratitude, appreciation and love that we have," he said. "Perhaps one day we could pay a visit to the United States. I could personally thank those people who helped us, who were there by our side. Because we're so grateful for what they did."
Would Loretta Lynch allow it?

Oil, Oil Everywhere

What do we do with all our oil?
Daines, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said “there’s an abundance of energy in the United States and we have this ability from a geopolitical viewpoint now to make the world more secure as well as grow our economy.”

He said the U.S. is in a position to lead with an “all of the above” energy policy.

“Based on what seems to be going on with the debate with Iran, think about this contrast. The sanctions in Iran, their oil export ban is likely to get lifted here in the near term and the last country in the world that has a ban on oil exports will be the United States of America,” Daines said.

“The studies show that prices at the pump actually will go down because you will start creating more of an abundance of energy and we’re sitting on not only oil, it’s natural gas, it’s coal, it’s wild, it’s hydro, it’s solar, we truly have the ability to lead with this all-of-the-above energy portfolio,” he added.

Daines warned that the U.S. should not follow Germany’s lead on energy policy.

“They swung the pendulum hard and removed nuclear energy from their portfolio rather than thinking thoughtfully about an all-of-the-above energy portfolio,” he said. “I think we need to have that same thoughtful debate in the United States Senate.”
It ought to go somewhere...

Core Removal

How to replace Common Core:
Since new schemes are always appearing, it would seem that they are not working. Educators should look at those things that work. If scores are the ultimate indicators of success, then it would stand to reason that any proven method to improve test scores should win the enthusiasm of educators everywhere. It should not matter to educators how the scores improve, but only that they improve. Success should be rewarded by adopting such methods.

However, there are methods out there that are proven to be highly successful … and yet are ignored. Moreover, these are methods that can be immediately encouraged by any school district. Every parent can implement them. Best of all, this can be done without costing the taxpayer a single dime.
The tried and true...

Suing On The Yard

The Ivory Tower gets sued:
More than 60 Chinese, Indian, Korean and Pakistani groups came together for the complaint, which was filed with the civil rights offices at the Justice and Education departments. The groups are calling for an investigation and say these schools need to stop using racial quotas or racial balancing in admission.

"We are seeking equal treatment regardless of race," said Chunyan Li, a professor and civil rights activist, who said they'd rather universities use income rather than race in affirmative action policies.

Harvard says its admissions approach has been found to be “fully compliant federal law.” Officials also say the number of Asian students admitted increased from 17.6 percent to 21 percent in the last decade.

"We will vigorously defend the right of Harvard, and other universities, to continue to seek the educational benefits that come from a class that is diverse on multiple dimensions," said Robert Iuliano, Harvard's general counsel.
"We can't be racist-we're elitists!"

Gather Your Forces

I blame Leroy Jenkins:
“We’ve recently taken action against a large number of World of Warcraft accounts that were found to be using third-party programs that automate gameplay, known as ‘bots’,” the company said, in a post on WoW forums Wednesday. “We’re committed to providing an equal and fair playing field for everyone in World of Warcraft, and will continue to take action against those found in violation of our Terms of Use. Cheating of any form will not be tolerated.”
No real nerds allowed!

Barbie Busted

The human Barbie, revealed:
“The pictures were taken in the botanical garden on the phone. They were not high quality. I had to edit them in order to correct the defects of the phone picture.”

The photos generated a huge amount of backlash from critics who said Lukyanova looks “unnatural” and suffers from having a “body dysmorphic disorder,” but she doesn’t seem to care too much about the haters.

“Those who are unsatisfied with what I do and critique me and offend me clearly don't have the same figure as I do. Otherwise they would not be so negative,” she explained via email to Cosmo. “People who are satisfied with themselves don't comment on who they don't like. They will pass by. And those who write nasty [things], they are openly jealous. To have an ideal body is important to every self-respecting girl.”
Even a fake one...

Dead Presidents

Susan Sarandon reaches back for blame:
“I think that the conversation changed around the Reagan era, where everything was your fault.” Sarandon replied when asked why the issue of homelessness has fallen “off the radar for discussion.” “And so you blamed, you were blamed for not trying hard enough, you know, from drinking, for drugs, whatever. Just like in the AIDS epidemic the focus went on your lifestyle as opposed to what was actually happening.”
In all fairness, she thinks it's still 1982...

The Queen Has No Past

What has Hillary done, ever?
“She hasn’t accomplished anything in her life. That’s the thing. She married the wizard campaigning of all time, he made her first lady. The fact that she was his first lady made her senator from New York. She was secretary of state for four years, she accomplished nothing, absolutely nothing. Traveled one million miles.”

He continued, “Absolutely nothing to do with achievement, she no achievements whatsoever. That being said, I was her school mate at Yale Law School and I wear the old school tie sometimes on her behalf. But she accomplished nothing.”
So she's at least as qualified as Barack Obama was...

Dances With Stupidity

They just can't help it:
The man who made the video with his cellphone told Sacramento’s KCRA News: “Well, I was shocked and appalled that she would make disparaging comments about Native Americans that way. It’s just very un-Democratic.”

Sanchez herself ran from a KCRA reporter who tried to ask her about the controversy, but had said earlier in the day that she had faced considerable pressure not to challenge Harris, who could be the state’s first black senator. There was also pressure for a Hispanic candidate to run.

Warren was the undisputed star of the convention, with a stirring address to delegates that targeted economic inequality. The Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, went largely unmentioned.
Fake Indians run from the real thing...

Blogging In The Years: 1996

What' exactly, will George Stephanopoulos do at ABC?
A press release issued by ABC last Wednesday stated that he "will serve both as a political analyst and as a correspondent." Vice President of News Joanna Bistany now says Mr. Stephanopoulos will be just an analyst; he will not report news or question guests on "This Week." Ms. Bistany says his role will be similar to that of ABC contributor William Kristol, who was Dan Quayle's chief of staff. "We want a mix of voices," she says, adding that Mr. Stephanopoulos "won't do anything that has any appearance of conflict."
Well, that remains to be seen...

On The Bad Foot

Like father, like daughter:
In the suit, filed against the city departments of Transportation and Environmental Protection, she claims she “still suffers and will continue to suffer for some time physical pain and bodily injuries.”

“I sprained my ankle real bad lol,” Sharpton wrote in an Instagram post after her Oct. 2 tumble, the Post noted.

Others have made big bucks suing the city over pavement issues — the Post noted one woman got a $2.25 million settlement after ankle surgery and a seven-year legal battle — with New York City receiving hundreds of “defective roadway” claims each year.

But will Sharpton’s claims of “internal and external injuries to the whole body, lower and upper limbs, the full extent of which are unknown, permanent pain and mental anguish” net her the $5 million she’s demanding for “loss of quality of life, future pain and suffering, future medical bills, [and] future diminution of income”?
She's a Sharpton. She'll find a way...

Born To Be Trialed

Should Twin peaks be taken to court?
In total, nine people died—all of whom were gang members—and “eighteen people were transferred to local hospitals with gunshot and stab wounds.” No word yet on whether any of those eighteen people are non-gang patrons who were in or around the Twin Peaks restaurant when they were injured.

Yet Sgt. Swanton made clear “that the event could have been avoided had the restaurant worked with Waco PD.”

So here’s the question: If Swanton is correct and the fight and subsequent shootout could have been prevented by Twin Peaks’s management cooperating with authorities, does this open the restaurant chain to lawsuits if, in fact, some of the injured turn out to be non-gang patrons who were simply in the restaurant to eat, drink, and watch sports on TV?
Only if they don't mind disappearing for a while...

Oddfellows

Why is Mitch McConnell reaching out to george Stephanopoulos?
“McConnell is now taking his ‘non-partisan’ governing agenda to the media,” Daniel Horowitz of the Conservative Review, a leading critic of the GOP establishment, tells Breitbart News. “He has this leadership thing exactly backward. Instead of embracing conservatives, McConnell embraces the repudiated policies, politicians, and media figures of the Left.”

McConnell’s office hasn’t responded to a Breitbart News request for comment on why he’d throw Stephanopoulos a lifeline—appearing on his show lends him credibility. Stephanopoulos has had to recuse himself from Republican debates in 2016, and won’t be allowed to moderate them—despite previous plans to do so—but is still moving forward with plans to be involved in ABC News’ 2016 and political coverage despite his conflict of interest that he kept from the public until he was later caught. Many, including the Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell, are calling for Stephanopoulos to recuse himself from all 2016 political coverage–noting that ABC is facing a credibility crisis with him at the helm.
I guess Mitch hasn't gotten word that George isn't exactly the honest type...

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Non-Graduates

What happens when an entire class drops out:
The letter began, “We are a group of seven artists who made the decision to attend USC Roski School of Art & Design’s MFA program based on faculty, curriculum, program structure and funding packages….We are a group of seven artists who have been forced by the school’s dismantling of each of these elements, to dissolve our MFA candidacies…..We were presented with a different curriculum, one in which entire semesters would occur without studio visits, a bizarre choice for a studio art MFA.”

Roski School dean Erica Muhl responded to the letter by emailing the Los Angeles Times, “I regret that several of our MFA students have stated they will leave the program over issues that were presented to us, and that we considered to have been resolved, specifically having to do with financial aid and curriculum. The school honored all the terms in the students’ offer letters.”
Silly students, job guarantees are for suckers!

Battle Of The Bans

You can't un-ban that:
In the past five years, roughly a dozen states have enacted laws barring local governments from requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees. The number of states banning local minimum wages has grown to 15. And while oil-rich states such as Texas and Oklahoma are pursuing bills banning local restrictions on drilling, other states where agriculture is big business have been banning local limitations on the types of seeds sown for crops.

It seems no issue is too small for businesses to take to capitol halls.

Wisconsin has banned local bans on sugary drinks. Arizona and Florida have barred local governments from forbidding toys in fast-food meals. And Utah has barred cities from requiring bicyclists to be served in drive-thru lanes.

In each case, states have stepped in after city officials somewhere in the nation proposed local policies that business leaders didn't like. Businesses have warned lawmakers that a potential patchwork of local regulations could be bad for the economy.
The states versus the towns?

The Road To Ramadi

So how's the battle against ISIS going?
Ramadi fell a day after the Pentagon said Special Operations forces, flying in helicopters that took off from Iraq, carried out a raid in eastern Syria that resulted in the death of an Islamic State leader and the capture of his wife, along with the recovery of a trove of materials American officials hope will yield important intelligence on the group.

American officials said recently that the Islamic State was on the defensive in Iraq, noting that the group had lost territory in Salahuddin Province and in some other areas in northern Iraq near the border with the autonomous Kurdish region. Yet the fall of Ramadi shows that the group is still capable of carrying out effective offensive operations.
Today Ramadi. Tomorrow...?

We Heart Obamatrade

They say they'll get it done:
"Yes, we’ll pass it. We'll pass it later this week," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in an interview with ABC.
Republican U.S. Representative Paul Ryan said on CNN's "State of the Union" that he was confident the measure would also pass the House of Representatives.
"We will have the votes," said Ryan, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. "We're doing very well. We're gaining a lot of steam and momentum."
The trade issue has made unlikely allies of Republicans in Congress and the Democratic president. McConnell, who has frequently clashed with Obama on a number of issues, offered him rare praise on Sunday.
"The president has done an excellent job on this," McConnell said on ABC's "This Week." He pointed out that the six-year Trade Promotion Authority was "not just for President Obama, but for the next president as well."
Why does that not make me feel any better about it?

Permanent Wage Slaves

Is the economy in an eternal downturn?
In manufacturing, for example, Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Caterpillar and Navistar (formerly International Harvester) all pay many of their new workers much less. In some of these two-tier structures, the new wage may be as little as half the old one. In addition to this rapid change, the companies also seem to be reducing the ranks of highly paid workers through slow attrition.

Here is another change that might be a broader sign of a pending reset: A heavy burden of adjustment in the overall labor market is being borne by the young. Wages for the typical graduate of a four-year college have dropped more than 7 percent since 2000, and the labor force participation rate of the young has been falling. One consequence is that young people are living at home longer and receiving more aid from their parents. They also seem to be less interested in buying their own homes.

All of these factors could indicate that our economy is evolving into one that will offer far less favorable long-run wage prospects. Much research has shown that the effects of a recession can be pernicious for decades: Earning a lower wage in earlier years is predictive of lower wages through the rest of one’s career. While we are seeing economic problems for the relatively young, they will eventually become dominant earners in the economy and the major force behind broader statistics.
We are all low-income now...

Unleash The Kayaks

How a group of activists are protesting Big Oil:
A solar-powered barge - The People's Platform - joined the protesters, who chanted slogans and also sang songs.
"This weekend is another opportunity for the people to demand that their voices be heard," Alli Harvey, Alaska representative for the Sierra Club's Our Wild America campaign, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.
"Science is as clear as day when it comes to drilling in the Arctic - the only safe place for these dirty fuels is in the ground.''
The protesters later gathered in formation and unveiled a big sign which read "Climate justice now".
They mostly stayed outside the official 100-yard (91m) buffer zone around the Polar Pioneer, the Seattle Times newspaper reports.
Call me crazy, but there seems to be an awful lot of petroleum by-products floating near the petroleum platform...

Speaking Cash To Power

Remember, she used to be poor:
[L]ast July, when it was clear that Clinton would again seek the presidency in 2016, Corning coughed up a $225,500 honorarium for Clinton to speak.

In the laundry-whirl of stories about Clinton buck-raking, it might be easy for that last part to get lost in the wash. But it’s the part that matters most. The $225,500 speaking fee didn’t go to help disease-stricken kids in an impoverished village on some long-forgotten patch of the planet. Nor did it go to a campaign account. It went to Hillary Clinton. Personally.
What else is a Foundation for?

Whooping Crone

Well, at least she didn't ask him to say something in Indian:
Two days after entering the race for the U.S. Senate, Rep. Loretta Sanchez met with an Indian American group on Saturday and mimicked a racial stereotype of American Indians.

In a video shown to The Sacramento Bee and posted online shortly after, Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, describes a pending meeting she had with an East Indian.

“I am going to his office, thinking that I am going to meet with a,” she said, holding her hand in front of her mouth and making an echo sound. “Right? … because he said Indian American.
Here's the level of cultural sophistication:

Radio Earth

What's causing these sounds?
The first video posted on YouTube recording the unusual, unearthly sounds, was in 2008 when a user recorded the strange sounds in the sky from Homel, in Belarus.

That same year another anonymous user shared the 'ear-deafening' sounds that they insisted 'were not a hoax,' from a quiet neighbourhood believed to be in the U.S.


Kimberly Wookey from Terrace, British Columbia in Canada first captured the alien sound in June 2013, and since then she has managed to capture several recordings of the noise with her most recent being on May 7 this year.
The Earth yawns?

Rain Kid

The dry generation:

Hammer Time

If you're a kid, this will be brutal:

Working Moms Vs Working Moms

How not to make your point?
Holder looked like she had never been exposed to such a radial idea — a view that’s anathema to modern feminists. When McInnes doubled down and said that women often choose to prioritize their families over work, Holder spat, “Having a choice does not mean you’re less ambitious! Your comments are deplorable!”

McInnes’ words should have come with a trigger warning because at that point, Holder lapsed into incoherent mumbling, appealing to host Sean Hannity to stop McInnes’ vile words. “Sean…boy…like…you to — you’re a father with a daughter…”

“If you’re a real feminist, you would support housewives and see those as the heros — and women who work wasting their time,” McInnes continued.

As he often does, McInnes crossed that fine line. He went from provocative opining — making a perfectly valid point — to unhelpful hyperbole.

Seeing that he had activated Holder’s launch sequence — or trigger sequence — McInnes kept going, enjoying her inability to do much more than cover her ears and say, “Stop it!”

“You’d be happier at home with a husband and children.”

“Oh, boy…oh, boy…I’m literally…” the apoplectic Holder said.

“You don’t have a boyfriend,” McInnes said to her. “Look, you’re miserable. You would be so much happier with kids around you tonight. Imagine coming home. Mommy’s home!”
And mommy's not amused...

The Arrogance Factor

The arrogance of competence:
One doesn’t think of Reagan as arrogant, but he was in fact the most arrogant leader we have had since Lincoln. He ignored the whole of the foreign policy establishment in his conviction that America stood to win the Cold War and bring down Communism. Then as now, the foreign policy establishment resembled Jonathan Swift’s scientists on the floating island of Laputa, treading perilously close to the edge with noses in the air.

Sen. Cruz is authentically bright, sufficiently so for the liberal Alan Dershowitz to declare that he was the best student he had ever had at Harvard’s Law School. The conservative legal theorist Robert P. George, who taught Cruz at Princeton, says the same thing. He’s so smart that he is not the least impressed by the conservative foreign policy establishment.
He may be too smart for the room, at that...

Boys And Girls

It's a fluid education:
“Human beings are created male and female. But the current transgender ideology goes way beyond that. They’re telling us you can be both genders, you can be no gender, you can be a gender that you make up for yourself. And we’re supposed to affirm all of it.”

The plan calls for teaching seventh graders about transgenderism and tenth graders about the concept that sexuality is a broader spectrum — but it sure smells like unadulterated sex indoctrination.

Get a load of what the kids are going to be learning in middle school:

“Students will be provided definitions for sexual orientation terms heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality; and the gender identity term transgender,” the district’s recommendations state. “Emphasis will be placed on recognizing that everyone is experiencing changes and the role of respectful, inclusive language in promoting an environment free of bias and discrimination.”
Gender distinctions need not apply...

Censorship For Freedom

Tolerance at work again:
The event, called “Playwrights for a Cause” and featuring four new short plays about censorship in the arts, was set to take place on June 14 at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture in Greenwich Village, as the opening of the Planet Connections Theater Festivity, a monthlong arts festival at various locations.

On Tuesday, the Sheen Center canceled the contract for the event, which was organized as a benefit for the National Coalition Against Censorship.

William Spencer Reilly, the executive director of the Sheen Center, said in an email that the play and its title was not in keeping with the mission of the center, which opened last year with funding from the archdiocese of New York and is named for former Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

“When an artistic project maligns any faith group, that project clearly falls outside of our mission to highlight the good, the true, and the beautiful as they have been expressed throughout the ages,” Mr. Reilly said, referring to the center’s mission statement, which describes it as serving Catholic and non-Catholic audiences alike.

The Sheen Center, he added, “will not be a forum that mocks or satirizes another faith group.”
Define irony....

Stu's Way

Stu slams Rolling Stone:

The African Loon

So what do Western (particularly American) liberals have to say about this nutbar?
Yahya Jammeh told a crowd in the Gambian town of Farafeni last week, “If you do it I will slit your throat — if you are a man and want to marry another man in this country and we catch you, no one will ever set eyes on you again, and no white person can do anything about it.”

“The recent unconscionable comments by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh underscore why we must continue to seek a world in which no one lives in fear of violence or persecution because of who they are or whom they love,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice said in a statement. “We condemn his comments, and note these threats come amid an alarming deterioration of the broader human rights situation in The Gambia. We are deeply concerned about credible reports of torture, suspicious disappearances – including of two American citizens – and arbitrary detention at the government’s hands.”

Late last year, the U.S. stopped trade preferences with Gambia because of its “crackdown against its LGBT community and wider human rights violations,” Rice noted, and “we are reviewing what additional actions are appropriate to respond to this worsening situation.”

“We repeat our call for the Gambian government, and all governments, to lead inclusively, repudiate intolerance, and promote respect for the universal rights and fundamental freedoms of all people,” she added.
Aside from Bill Maher, anyone?

To Boldly Go

How to go in space:

Remember Us?

A group of Republicans wants some answers:
The group, which focuses on getting Republicans elected and reelected to the Senate, provided documents earlier this week showing 10 letters in which the IRS has asked for more time to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests since May 21, 2013.

"On January 14, 2015, I asked for more time to obtain the records you requested,” IRS tax law specialist Denise Higley wrote NRSC lawyer Megan Sowards on April 29. “I am still working on your request and need additional time.”

Higley also said she would contact the NRSC by July 6 if she needs more time.
Any day now would be fine...

Big Man's Money

A look at how President Obama spends his money:
The forms reveal a wealthy president with multiple sources of income and heavy retirement investments in Vanguard — a favorite of the “slow and steady wins the race” investing crowd — but they also reveal a few questionable decisions made by the leader of the free world.
Number 2 on the list is somewhat telling...

Hoops Fight

What happens when sports couples get violent:
According to the New York Times, the pair, who married last week, must also complete counseling sessions in addition to sitting out the games.

Griner, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, and Johnson, who plays for the Tulsa Shock, were arrested in April on suspicion of assault and disorderly conduct after fighting at their home outside of Phoenix. According to the Times, a WNBA investigation found that Griner suffered a “bite wound on her finger and scratches on her wrist, and Glory received a scratch above her lip and was diagnosed with a concussion.”

“This will never happen again, and I take my relationship and my responsibility as a role model seriously,” Griner said in a statement after pleading guilty to the disorderly conduct charges.

WNBA President Laurel J. Richie called the couple’s behavior “unacceptable.”
But at least they weren't using inflated balls...

Blue Pill World

Is this the real life?
So perhaps we’re not that close to a true simulation singularity after all. But as far as simply confusing the human senses about what’s real and what’s not, Fawkes reckons that’s not far off at all. Indeed, you don’t necessarily need perfect graphics to induce suspension of disbelief in the human brain anyway: Just think about how your mind can get carried away watching a film or reading a book. On some level you know it’s not real, but that doesn’t stop you being emotionally invested. People get married in Second Life.

As Fawkes concluded in his talk, the human brain is one of the best simulators we’ve got. Things take an inevitable philosophical turn at this juncture: if simulations are so realistic (or we’re so gullible), then how do we know we’re not already in a simulation? It’s a question that’s been pondered by everyone from Plato with his cave allegory to Matrix fanboys to philosopher Nick Bostrom with his simulation hypothesis.
Remember: all I'm offering is the truth...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

In This Corner

The big fight is over:
As you’ll see in the video outtakes below, Romney was clearly the winner. He knocked down the former champ in the first round with a stiff right cross to the head. (Well, he at least appeared to briefly make contact with Holyfield’s head with his glove anyway and the guy took a standing eight count.) Then, in a clever display of footwork – which some skeptical observers have incorrectly termed “running away” – he had tricked the heavyweight into leaning forward in the center of the ring. Unfortunately, some confusion in the Romney corner led to his manager throwing a white towel at the referee, at which point Mitt was summarily declared to have lost the fight.
Now, if they could only get presidential candidates to do this...

World Leader Z

Zoltan for president?
Popular Science: Why are you running on the Transhumanist platform?

Zoltan Istvan: Because nobody is addressing the big questions. Hillary Clinton, what is your position on designer babies? Jeb Bush, are you planning on stopping stem cell technologies, like your brother George W. Bush? The Transhumanist party is willing to discuss this all day long. We’re willing to tackle exoskeleton technology and eliminating disability. We’re willing to talk about how whether we should promote artificial intelligence or whether we’re actually talking about ending our species through some sort of Terminator scenario. I don’t think the other politicians are even coming close to addressing any of those issues.

What would you do if you became president?

We would take large amounts of the defense money and put it into the scientific and medical fields, and especially the life-extension fields. I think the biggest thing I’m running on is, if you voted me in, I would do my best to guarantee you an indefinite lifespan. I know that sounds a little crazy–“Vote for me and I’ll give you eternal life!”–but it’s true. We believe that with one trillion dollars, within 10 years we would come up with all sorts of anti-aging drugs, age-reversing procedures, and organ printing–because it’s organ failure that usually causes death. It’s not that we’re going to eliminate death, but we can make it so that the average person would have a much better chance of living far longer.
But what about the artificial intelligence vote?

No Boss Necessary

The body of work:
Encouraging quick decisions on whether to stay with or leave the company is a core part of Hsieh’s management style.

Feloni noted Zappos has long offered an extra $2,000 to employees who decide to quit within their first month working at the company.

But what is the Holacracy that prompted so many employees to quit?

Management mentor Brian Robertson introduced Hsieh to the concept at a conference in 2012, Feloni noted.

At its core, a Holacracy is a breakdown of traditional management structures.

Instead of reporting to a boss, employees function more like organs in a body, each doing their well-defined jobs without reporting to a central authority and frequently collaborating with coworkers to solve problems.
A healthy body equals a healthy profit margin...

The Hard Yard

Is Harvard racist?
To equal the chance of admission to other races, Asian applicants need SAT scores that are:

140 points higher than white applicants,
270 points higher than Hispanic applicants and
450 points higher than African-American students, according to research cited in the complaint.
The SAT is a 2400-point test on which Asians have long outscored other U.S. ethnic groups.

Students of Asian descent currently make up roughly 21 percent of Harvard’s student body, but the complaint notes that schools that use a “race-neutral” admissions process, like the California Institute of Technology, can see the Asian proportion of their student bodies rise close to 40 percent.

The complaint, filed with the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, requests a federal investigation and demands that Harvard “immediately cease and desist from using stereotypes, racial biases and other discriminatory means in evaluating Asian-American applicants.”
You've got to be smarter than everyone else, but not too smart...

Up In The Air

The hacking hijacker?
Chris Roberts, a security researcher with One World Labs, told the FBI agent during an interview in February that he had hacked the in-flight entertainment system, or IFE, on an airplane and overwrote code on the plane’s Thrust Management Computer while aboard the flight. He was able to issue a climb command and make the plane briefly change course, the document states.

“He stated that he thereby caused one of the airplane engines to climb resulting in a lateral or sideways movement of the plane during one of these flights,” FBI Special Agent Mark Hurley wrote in his warrant application (.pdf). “He also stated that he used Vortex software after comprising/exploiting or ‘hacking’ the airplane’s networks. He used the software to monitor traffic from the cockpit system.”
Who's flying the plane? Do the pilots know?

Three Amigos

New York's dirty trio:
In the political language of Albany, the governor, the speaker and the Senate leader are known collectively as the "three men in a room," a nod to the longstanding practice of negotiating the budget and other key pieces of legislation behind closed doors. Silver's arrest came the day after Cuomo referred to Skelos, Silver and himself as the "three amigos" during his budget presentation, which contained a depiction of the three men wearing sombreros.

Millions of dollars in contributions by New York City real estate interests, mainly funneled through LLCs, have been cited in the cases against Silver and Skelos, who received large contributions from Glenwood Management, a New York City real estate firm headed by Leonard Litwin, Cuomo's top donor.

Glenwood has been identified as the New York City company that gave large campaign donations to Skelos using LLCs, allegedly in return for helping continue tax breaks now worth about $1 billion annually to the city's residential developers. Those tax breaks, along with New York City's rent regulations, are up for renewal this year. The complaint against Skelos alleges that he used his influence to pressure a Glenwood executive to arrange payments for his son.

Cuomo received $1 million from limited liability companies tied to Glenwood. Cuomo said recently that he never discussed rent laws with the company. Administration records show he met with Glenwood executives three times to discuss rent regulations in 2011, the last year they were up for renewal.

Cuomo's spokesman said later that the governor simply forgot the meetings.
And it seems he's forgotten his two "friends" as well...