Monday, November 20, 2017

In Their Own Sealed Words

Team Lerner doesn't want their testimony released because of threats, or something:
Court documents, reviewed by Fox News, said the “public dissemination of their deposition testimony would expose them and their families to harassment and a credible risk of violence and physical harm.”

“Whenever Mss. Lerner and Paz have been in the media spotlight, they have faced death threats and harassment,” the documents stated. “Returning Mss. Lerner and Paz to the media spotlight places them at risk, regardless of what they actually said in those depositions.”

The documents also stated that: “Public exposure will put innocent bystanders, namely Mss. Lerner’s and Paz’s family members (including young children), at risk, too.”

Lerner and Paz pointed to comments from Tea Party leader Mark Meckler that the lawsuit would “treat the IRS like the criminal thugs they are.” The court filing argued that his comments have created a “fertile environment where threats” against them have “flourished.”
Like the way the IRS threatened them?

Baby Talk

What do babies really know?
At six months old, a baby probably doesn’t know what wallet or avalanche means—but even at such a young age, months before children start talking, they do understand some basic nouns, like ball and dog. And a new study suggests that the few words infants know are structured in their minds the same way as an adult’s vocabulary, in a complex web of related concepts. The evidence: When words have similar meanings, babies can get confused. That confusion hints that babies know more about language, at a younger age, than scientists have found before.

In the study, which was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, infants were shown images of two different common objects at a time: a blanket and a dog, a book and a diaper, a stroller and a car, and so on. The babies’ parents would name one of the images, and researchers would then track where the babies looked by reflecting infrared light off their eyes. When the images depicted related words, like nose and mouth, the infants spent more time looking at the wrong picture than when the images depicted unrelated words, like nose and bottle.
You might really have to watch what you say around them, after all...

New Government Wanted, No Experience Necessary

Germany is at a crossroads:
Merkel was forced into seeking a coalition with an unlikely group of parties after inconclusive elections in September left her without a clear majority.

But the shock breakdown of talks has left Merkel with no viable coalition partner in sight, endangering her fourth term in office.

But any new election also carries risks for her, as it could deliver results that are just as, or even more, fragmented.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who holds the power to call a new vote, made it clear that this was not his favoured option, as he told mainstream parties to rethink their positions and return to the negotiating table.

Underlining the duty of lawmakers to their voters, Steinmeier noted: "We have before us an unprecedented situation in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, that is, in the last 70 years."

Germany now faces weeks, if not months, of paralysis with a lame-duck government that is unlikely to take bold policy action at home or on the European stage.
Welcome to the new Weimar Republic?

The Worst Defense

This isn't quite the way to make your case:
"This attack on Judge Moore is an attempt by the Democrats to sway voters in Alabama," said Pastor David Floyd of Marvyn Parkway Baptist Church, Opelika. "I don't believe those women. In this country you are innocent until proven guilty."

Floyd is one of around 50 pastors that signed a letter of public support for Moore in August before allegations of sexual misconduct and the dating of teens became public. Moore has denied the allegations, calling them an "attack on my character and reputation" and a "desperate attempt to stop my political campaign for the United States Senate."

Pastor Franklin Raddish of the Capitol Hill Independent Baptist Ministries, a nationwide church, told AL.com from his South Carolina home that the spate of accusations against men in politics, Hollywood and elsewhere was a "war on men."

"More women are sexual predators than men," said Raddish. "Women are chasing young boys up and down the road, but we don't hear about that because it's not PC."
What road is that, exactly? The one you wish you were on?

Nature's Privilege

Camping is racist, or something:
McCann seems to take issue with outdoor programs at Claremont, which is a conglomerate of five colleges known as the “5Cs.” Those programs, McCann argued, are the most funded on campus, yet are saturated with white supremacy. McCann admitted the clubs are open for all people, no matter the color of someone’s skin, but not everyone feels safe to attend.

“This discomfort is unfortunately caused by existing racial boundaries,” he claimed

The writer added: “Historically, white people in imperialist conquests have appropriated land as their own. North America rightfully belongs to indigenous communities, yet it has been taken away from them by force. Consequently, a false sense of ownership of nature permeates white America.”

What else does McCann claim?
McCann then goes on to take issue with the “image of modern outdoor enthusiasts,” which he claimed is of white men.

“The image of the ‘outdoorsy individual’ is an exclusive classification that gives white people the authority to venture into the outdoors freely, leaving people of color behind,” McCann wrote.

But there aren’t just “racial barriers” that prevent non-white people from stepping outside, McCann said, but also financial barriers. Only people with “economic privilege” can participate in outdoors activities and understand “obscure outdoor lingo.”
It must be those racist trees...

The Way They Were

Remembering the good old days:
For the first part of a 90-minute conversation with the Clintons on Saturday moderated by James Carville, Mr. and Mrs. Clinton made all manner of references, both direct and indirect, to the man who denied their bid to reclaim the White House, Donald J. Trump.

However, it was not until Mr. Clinton invoked his wife’s losing campaign — “I’m proud of her for getting caught trying to put people first,” he said — that her admirers rose to their feet in what was an obvious emotional release.

That was the cue to Mr. Carville, the 1992 campaign maestro who now makes a living delivering speeches and can read an audience, that the attendees hungered for more than Clinton-Gore nostalgia. And Mrs. Clinton gave it to them.


“Apparently, my former opponent is obsessed with my speaking out,” she said, noting that Mr. Trump had just trained his Twitter fire on her earlier in the day. “Honestly, between tweeting and golfing, how does he get anything done?”
By not obsessing over What Happened?

Room For One More

Hell has a new arrival:
Considered one of the most infamous criminals of the 20th century, Manson died of natural causes at a Kern County Hospital at 8:13 p.m Sunday, according to Vicky Waters, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He was 83.

Sentenced to death for the crime, Manson escaped execution when the state Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional at the time. He spent decades behind bars, an unrepentant and incorrigible inmate who’d been cited for behavioral issues more than 100 times.

Manson did not commit the murders himself; instead he persuaded his group of followers to carry out the killings. The crimes received frenzied news coverage, because so many lurid and sensational elements coalesced at the time — Hollywood celebrity, cult behavior, group sex, drugs and savage murders that concluded with the killers scrawling words with their victims’ blood.
Sometimes the good really do die young, but even the truly evil get there eventually...

Sunday, November 19, 2017

This Is An Ex Dictator

Mugabe is officially out:
The news came hours after the ruling party’s Central Committee on Sunday fired Mugabe as party leader and said if he didn’t resign as the country’s president by noon Monday it would start impeachment proceedings.

Mugabe was set to address the nation shortly on state-run television. The official close to the talks spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The 93-year-old Mugabe has been under house arrest since the military moved in Tuesday, angered by his firing of his longtime deputy and the positioning of unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe to succeed him.

Mugabe tried to buy time in negotiations with the military on a dignified exit but quickly found himself isolated.
It would be nice if certain other thugs would follow his example...

The Twitter Paradox

Time travel, anyone?
While speaking about the peace process in Northern Ireland during her husband’s first term, Hillary bragged that Bill Clinton didn’t tweet about challenges facing his presidency.

“He didn’t tweet about it, he got to work about it and he actually got it done,” she said to applause from the audience. Twitter was founded in 2006.

The former first lady made the comment while speaking at an event commemorating the 25th anniversary of Bill’s victory in the 1992 presidential election.
But what does she think about this whole Internets thing?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Senate Smackdown

He's mad as hell, and he's not gonna take this anymore:

Communication Breakdown

Whatcha gonna do when they come for each other?
It all started when two undercover cops from the 12th Precinct, pretending to sell marijuana, were waiting for customers on a street corner, according to Fox 2 Detroit.

As they waited for customers, undercover special operations officers from the 11th Precinct arrived and ordered the pair to the ground.

The rest of the special ops team from the 12th Precinct showed up and were about to raid a suspected drug den when guns were drawn, leading to punches being thrown after one cop was put in a headlock.

The homeowner stood and watched while the officers brawled.

“You’ve gotta have to have more communication, I guess,” one resident told Fox 2 Detroit. “I don’t understand what happened about that — communicate.”
Why tell others about your own shakedown operation?

No Trophies For You

The elephants stay:
Trump's reversal came hours after his administration released a rule on Friday to allow hunters who kill elephants in Zimbabwe to bring their trophies back to the United States, which had been banned by the Obama administration.

"Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!" Trump wrote.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement that he had spoken with Trump and "both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical." He said the "issuing of permits is being put on hold as the decision is being reviewed."

Early word of the planned change had drawn protests from conservationists, who said it could deplete already at-risk elephant populations. It also caused a social media firestorm, with opponents posting photos of President Donald Trump's sons Donald Jr. and Eric, avid hunters, posing with dead wild animals.
The hunt is off, for now...

Mean Season

Maxine Waters wants to impeach Trump for...being mean?
“When I talk about impeachment, I describe what I think about this president. I think he’s deplorable and I think he defined himself in the campaign the way that he mocked and mimicked a disabled journalist, the way he talked about grabbing women by their private parts,” she said.

“The way he called names of his peers, etc., etc.,” Waters told Bloomberg, apparently referring to his Republican primary opponents.

“I think that’s unacceptable, and for people to allow this kind of behavior to be normalized is beyond what I believe our democracy should be all about, and so I encourage people and I inspire people and I show people that you don’t have to be intimidated. You don’t have to be afraid and you don’t have to be traditional,” she said.
You're still a poopy head...

Friday, November 17, 2017

Jungle Fever

No, it wasn't the cannibals:
Allen, 57, had become feverish and disoriented with what was suspected to be malaria, the BBC reports. He was looked after by Christian missionaries during his trek, the report said.

Allen had been working on the doc for the network when he failed to show up for a planned rendezvous, sparking fears for his safety.

Allen was helicoptered to the Papau New Guinea capital of Port Moseby and was expected back in England on Sunday, the report said.

"Benedict looks forward to being reunited with his family and friends but will need some time to get back to full health," his agent said in a statement. "He would like to send thanks for all the kind messages he has received."
They threw him back?

Top Gun

You're dangerous, Maverick:
Residents of Okanogan County, Wash., sent photos of the obscene skywritings to KREM. The photos resembled a phallic symbol.

One woman told KREM that she was “upset” and was unsure how to describe the drawings to her young children.

Officials from the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island told Fox News in a statement that the drawings were “wholly unacceptable" and have begun an investigation into the incident.

"The actions of this aircrew were wholly unacceptable and antithetical to Navy core values. We have grounded the aircrew and are conducting a thorough investigation - and we will hold those responsible accountable for their actions," the Navy told Fox News in a statement.
The ultimate mansplaining?

As The Worms Turn

North Korea can be bad for your health:
South Korean doctors said the defector was in stable condition after surgery for his gunshot wounds. But physicians identified another reason for alarm: an “enormous number” of parasitic worms that are complicating his recovery, Reuters reported.

Doctors believed the soldier could have had the parasites for a while.

Lee Cook-jong, the defector's lead surgeon, showed photos of the parasitic worms, including an 11-inch long worm found in the man's digestive tract.

“In my over 20 year-long career as a surgeon, I have only seen something like this in a textbook,” Lee told reporters.
Unfortunately the head parasite is still there...

Die Hippie Die

What's taking so long?
Vicky Waters, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the department would only say that Manson was still living but could not provide any further details.

Kern County Sheriff’s Lt. Bill Smallwood told The Times earlier this week that Manson is at a local hospital.

In January, Manson, 83, was rushed to Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield for what authorities at the time would describe only as a serious medical problem. He was returned to prison a few days later.

Manson’s health problems come as Gov. Jerry Brown is deciding whether to grant parole to one of his followers.
Running out the clock is costing the taxpayers money...

Obamacare Math

Does this make any sense?
How can repealing a mandate be a tax hike? Recall that the mandate imposes a tax on most Americans if they decide that health insurance is unaffordable. In other words, removing the mandate means that Americans will no longer have to choose between paying a tax to Uncle Sam or paying premiums to one of Uncle Sam’s approved insurance companies.

Under most common sense definitions, that’s a tax cut. But Washington, D.C. budgetary projections are largely immune to common sense or reality-based forecasts.

According to the nonpartisan committee, many lower-income Americans will choose not to buy insurance once the mandate is removed. In other words, they will have concluded that the insurance they have available to them–even with generous government subsidies that are not cut by the Senate bill that would repeal the mandate–are not worth the price.

But since they are not buying insurance, they also are not getting the tax subsidies. So, according to the JCT, their taxes are going up–even though their take-home pay would be increasing. That’s because the JCT does not count having to buy insurance under penalty of law as a tax. But it does count not getting a subsidy as a tax increase.
Sometimes a tax is still a tax...

Party Every Day

Gene Simmons gets banned for being Gene Simmons?
“OK, I’m a powerful and attractive man, and what I’m about to say is deadly serious,” Simmons said. “Men are jackasses. From the time we’re young we have testosterone. I’m not validating it or defending it.”

According to the report, “within minutes he was demonstrating it.”

An unnamed Fox News source told The Daily Beast that Simmons was scheduled to do another interview with FoxNews.com’s entertainment section but barged into a staff meeting unannounced instead.

“Hey chicks, sue me!” he shouted as he pulled open his shirt, the source said.
He just wants to shout it out loud...

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The New Gods

It's the gospel according to AI:
The non-profit religious organization would be called "Way of the Future" (WOTF). According to the website (wayofthefuture.church), the movement is "about creating a peaceful and respectful transition of who is in charge of the planet from people to people + 'machines.'"

"Given that technology will 'relatively soon' be able to surpass human abilities, we want to help educate people about this exciting future and prepare a smooth transition," the site explains. "In 'recent' years, we have expanded our concept of rights to both sexes, minority groups and even animals, let's make sure we find a way for 'machines' to get rights too."

There is an inherent contradiction in creating a deity of artificial intelligence and then worshipping it.

"Let's stop pretending we can hold back the development of intelligence when there are clear massive short term economic benefits to those who develop it and instead understand the future and have it treat us like a beloved elder who created it," the site argues. Yet the IRS document spoke about a "Godhead based on artificial intelligence."
Thou shall have no other programs before me?

The New Net Rules

Internet regulation takes a step forward:
In a statement issued late Wednesday, the three GOP members cited the “thousands of comments” from the public calling for new disclosure rules in light of concerns Russian activists used Internet posts on Facebook to try to influence the 2016 presidential elections.

“We hereby move to direct the Office of General Counsel to draft a notice of proposed rulemaking, as soon as is practicable, that proposes revisions to commission rules governing disclaimers on paid Internet and digital communications,” said the three, Vice Chair Caroline C. Hunter, Matthew S. Petersen, and Lee E. Goodman.

They called for a public hearing before any changes would take place.

The support for new disclosure on paid political communications on the Internet fell short of more liberal calls for regulation on non-paid ads and political communications posted on websites like Facebook and Twitter.

Still, it is a victory for Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub who has been pushing for regulations. She issued a note Wednesday saying that she would introduce a new regulation at Thursday’s meeting. In a separate note, FEC Chairman Steven T. Walther said he would move on the issue Thursday and called on Congress to consider new Internet laws.
Come what may, Big Regulator goes on...

The Franken Fix

So now it's Stuart Smalley's turn:
Franken said he doesn't remember the kissing incident but apologized for posing for the picture. He said he intended it to be funny -- but it wasn't.

“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann," Franken said in an initial statement. “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

Franken later issued a detailed statement saying there’s “no excuse” and he feels “ashamed,” while also offering to cooperate in an ethics investigation into the matter.

“I respect women. I don't respect men who don't. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed,” Franken said. “... I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter. There's no excuse.”

He added, “I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.”
Investigate thyself, Stuart...

No Special Counsel For Her, Please

Hillary Clinton is shocked that anyone would want to investigate her:

Friends Of Bob

Bob Menendez gets a mistrial:
A mistrial is a major victory for a senator who had to fight 18 counts of alleged corruption, and a setback for the Justice Department, whose efforts to combat public corruption have been curtailed by a recent Supreme Court decision.

After receiving Thursday’s note, U.S. District Court Judge William Walls decided to interview the foreman and at least one other juror in chambers, in the presence of the lawyers on the case.

Prosecutors had asked the judge to issue a clarifying instruction to the panel, telling jurors they could reach verdicts on individual counts in the indictment, even if they can’t find agreement on all the counts. Judge Walls rejected that suggestion, saying to do so would be “going down the slippery slope of coercion.’’
Corruption is in the eye of the juror?

Reform Goes Forward

State One complete:
The House plan would permanently chop the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent and make other tweaks aiming to make businesses more competitive. It would reduce individual tax brackets to four from seven and make changes to several tax breaks. Among them, the bill would limit state and local deductions and the mortgage interest deduction, eliminate the personal exemption and nearly double the standard deduction.

The vote marks a significant achievement as Republicans push to put a tax bill on President Donald Trump's desk by Christmas. Trump, who along with most congressional Republicans ran on a pledge to trim taxes, went to Capitol Hill to push GOP lawmakers to support the bill before the vote.

Despite passage of the bill Thursday, pitfalls await the party.

Senate Republicans hope to pass their own bill as soon as the week after Thanksgiving. One GOP senator — Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — opposes the chamber's bill as written.

Several other Republicans in the Senate, where the GOP holds a slim two-seat majority, have expressed doubts about the upper chamber's version. The budget deficits generated by chopping tax rates, the expiration of individual tax cuts in 2025, and the effective repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate could all turn into sticking points in the Senate plan.
The glass is half full, but who will drink from it?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Amish Way

Along with their furniture, the Amish apparently produce better genes:
Researchers studied 177 members of the Berne Amish community in Indiana, and found 43 who had one mutant copy of the gene, SERPINE1.

These carriers lived to 85 on average, while those without it in the Amish community tend to live to 75.

Amish people with this gene mutation were also significantly less likely to get diabetes, and they had more efficient metabolisms.

The key protein at play in the aging of cells appears to be PAI-1 (plasminogen activator inhibitor,), which is influenced by SERPINE1.

PAI-1 is known to be related to aging in animals but its effect in humans has been less clear.

Northwestern University researchers have partnered with Japan's Tohoku University to develop and test an experimental drug that would inhibit the action of PAI-1, like in Amish people with the mutant gene.
Being a mutant doesn't have to make you an outcast...

The Coup That Isn't A Coup

It looks like Zimbabwe's military has gotten fed up with Mugabe:
Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Sibusiso Moyo addressed the nation Wednesday morning, saying “the situation in our country has moved to another level” and assured the public that Mugabe and his wife were safe and sound.

Zimbabwe's Army Commander, Constantino Chiwenga addresses a press conference in Harare, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. The army commander Monday criticized the instability in the country’s ruling party caused by President Robert Mugabe who last week fired a vice president.

“We wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover,” the military official said in the broadcast. “We are only targeting criminals around [Mugabe] who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.”

Moyo added that “as soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy” and urged the country to remain calm, while warning that “any provocation will be met with an appropriate response.”
Military coups often don't end well, but then again neither did Mugabe's rule.

He Gave His Life For Political Correctness

He's not their favorite honky:
The video and song was brought to students’ attention when it was played in a humanities class at Reed to spur discussion. Students became so worked up over the video, however, that they have demanded the course be made optional until alternative coursework can be created.

The group primarily upset about the video being played in class, Reedies Against Racism, is comparing Martin’s comedic song to the use of the N-word. The Atlantic spoke to members of Reedies Against Racism to get a better idea as to why they are upset about the King Tut song from 1978.

One member of Reedies Against Racism told the Atlantic the song is “like somebody … making a song just littered with the N-word everywhere.” She went on to say that the Egyptian clothing that the backup dancers wear is racist as well. “The gold face of the saxophone dancer leaving its tomb is an exhibition of blackface,” she said.
Don't want no fancy protest, just one like old King Tut's...

The Empty Spaces

Suppose they gave an atheist event and nobody cared?
The conference, which was scheduled for February of this year, was set to be headlined by atheist novelist Sir Salman Rushdie, who was a huge get for the convention organizers. Iranian cleric Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Rushdie in 1989 in light of his published work, "The Satanic Verses." The book targeted the prophet Mohammad, Sikhs, and religion in general.

"What is there to respect in any of this, or in any of the crimes now being committed almost daily around the world in religion's dreaded name? How well, with what fatal results, religion erects totems, and how willing we are to kill for them," Rushdie once critically said of religion, SMH notes.
....

The author of the SMH report, Anglican Rector Dr. Michael Jensen, writes that he is personally "disappointed" that the conference was cancelled.

"It's a great shame there's a lack of interest," said Jensen. "I say that as someone who believes in God and thinks that it is the most reasonable thing to believe. ... But I also think that the full and frank discussion of fundamental ideas is part of what a healthy culture promotes and enjoys. A Global Atheist Convention is to be welcomed, because every time people think about God and about the meaning of life is a time we more deeply consider the value and purpose of human life. It makes us better citizens."
Maybe that's why they didn't go...

Nuts To Nuts

Beware the other nuts:
The worldwide chain this week recalled its Clancy’s Barbecue Flavour Coated Peanuts, which also contains cashews. because they contain cashew nuts — which did not warn customers about on the label.

The U.K's Foods Standards Agency said that the omission puts people at a “possible health risk." The bags of nuts were only available across three regions in the U.K. — Neston, Darlington and Goldthorpe.

The agency-issued “allergy alert” said: “Aldi is recalling its Clancy’s Barbecue Flavour Coated Peanuts because they contain cashew nuts, which are undeclared on the label. This means the product is a possible health risk for anyone with an allergy to nuts."
Some nuts are more equal than others...

No Kids For You

Another "expert" who hates kids:
Rieder has written approvingly about population control, and insisted in September 2016 that he liked “small humans in general,” as he admitted he was “pretty wild about my own kid.” Of course, having more than one child must be problematic for Rieder, who noted, “I, like many philosophers, believe that it’s morally better to make people happy than to make happy people. Those who exist already have needs and wants, and protecting and providing for them is motivated by respect for human life. It is not a harm to someone not to be created.”
....

More: “I believe that the seriousness of climate change justifies uncomfortable conversations. In this case, that means that we need to stop pretending the decision to have children doesn't have environmental and ethical consequences. The argument that having a child adds to one’s carbon footprint depends on the view that each of us has a personal carbon ledger for which we are responsible. Furthermore, some amount of an offspring’s emissions count towards the parents’ ledger.”
Climate change nuttery both for the books and on them...

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Capitol Creeps

It's creeps all the way down:
"Our goal is not only to raise awareness, but also make abundantly clear that harassment in any form has no place in this institution," said Ryan, R-Wis. "As we work with the Administration, Ethics, and Rules committees to implement mandatory training, we will continue our review to make sure the right policies and resources are in place to prevent and report harassment."

The policy change will happen through legislation.

The move comes days after the Senate unanimously approved a measure requiring all senators, staff and interns to be trained on preventing sexual harassment.

During a House Administration hearing Tuesday on sexual harassment prevention, Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., said she was recently told about a staffer who quit her job after a lawmaker asked her to bring work material to his house, then exposed himself.

"That kind of situation, what are we doing here for women, right now, who are dealing with someone like that?" Comstock asked. Comstock said there should be clear-cut rules about the kinds of relationships and behaviors that are off-limits and create a hostile work environment.
The similarities between Washington and Hollywood continue to be striking...

Reds In The Red

Venezuela is now broke:
On Monday Caracas missed interest payments due on two government bonds and one bond issued by the state-owned oil monopoly known by its Spanish initials PdVSA. Venezuela owed creditors $280 million, which it couldn’t manage even after a 30-day grace period.

Venezuela is broke, which takes some doing. For much of the second half of the 20th century, a gusher of oil exports made dollars abundant in Venezuela and the country imported the finest of everything. There were rough patches in the 1980s and 1990s, but by 2001 Venezuela was the richest country in South America.

Then in 2005 the socialist Hugo Chávez declared that the central bank had “excessive reserves.” He mandated that the executive take the excess from the bank without compensation. Today the central bank has at best $1 billion in reserves.

Falling oil prices are partly to blame, but the main problem is that chavismo has strangled entrepreneurship. Faced with expropriation, hyperinflation, price controls and rampant corruption, human and monetary capital has fled Venezuela.
What remains is what the socialists wanted...

The Repeal In The Deal

Repeal comes to reform:
"We are optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal will be helpful," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters. "And that is obviously the view of the Senate Finance Committee Republicans as well."

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, predicted, "We are going to repeal the individual mandate" in the tax bill. And Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., confirmed the plan and said the money saved would help the GOP deliver a tax cut to the middle class.

"It will be distributed in the form of middle-income tax relief," Thune said. "It will give us even more of an opportunity to really distribute relief to middle-income cohorts that could benefit from it."

While Republicans talked about "repeal," the language is expected to keep the individual mandate on the books, but zero out all the penalties that can be applied to people who don't buy insurance. That language will make the individual mandate unenforceable, and will give people the freedom not to buy health insurance as if the mandate weren't there at all.
What happens when the mandate is a mandate in name only?

Radical Fashion Fail

It's the fashion statement rioters haven't been waiting for:
The olive green jacket, which is posed with designer distressed jeans and Doc Marten boots – a symbol of punk fashion – features a bold “Revolution” printed across the front, along with a sloppy anarchy symbol and other “edgy” phrases and quips.

Angelyn Fernandez, VP of Product at Alpha Industries, said in an e-mailed statement to the Daily Dot, “We have seen resistance to power and authority become a trend in our current pop culture and society, often expressed through fashion,” she said.

However, that attempt to capitalize on the pop culture “trend” of resistance to power is what has many outraged on Twitter. Some have questioned if the jacket is fake because of its bizarrely high-price tag (members of the Antifa movement are usually against capitalism), and over-the-top look.

The commercialized jacket tries very hard to look authentically anarchist, while also costing nearly $400 and being mass-produced, but is not winning any fans.
You can't blame capitalists for trying...

Le Cult

The man who would be a Roman god gets a reminder that he's not:
Mr Macron, 39, swept to victory in May in part thanks to the help of an army of grassroots supporters, many with no prior political experience and who were promised they would all have a say in the way his newly-created movement would be run.

But sixth months into the presidency, 100 members of his centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) party - from students to elected officials - say they are throwing in the towel, claiming the party as an "affront to the fundamental principles of democracy with an organisational style worthy of the Ancien Régime".

The self-styled "100 democrats" said Mr Macron had enthused citizens who had lost faith with their elites by promising to place them "at the heart of political life and not as background decor".

Instead, they said the party had fallen foul of a Macron personality cult.

"What a shame that by opting for a top-down organisation and a governance by elites, by shunning collective skills and intelligence, LREM has cut itself off from its life force," they lamented in a letter to headquarters.

The party, they said, had failed to create an internal regulatory body and tolerated "neither freedom of opinion and expression nor internal criticism of power against its own abuse".
Viva Le Revolution?

The Last Offline Zones

Where there is no internet:
Many of these places aren’t on the radar of travellers and their low internet usage is in part down to war, civil unrest, and poverty. Libya, Mali, Yemen, and Burkina Faso, for example, are firmly off-limits, with the Foreign Office currently advising against travel.

But others are well worth visiting. Sarah Baxter’s guide to the 50 best holidays for solitude, published by Telegraph Travel earlier this year, included a beach holiday in Nicaragua, a walking holiday through the Himalayan foothills of Ladakh, India, and a three-day trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake in Myanmar.
Or you could simply turn off your device for awhile and get the experience while staying home...

Good Clone

Pet clones are here:
For more than 15 years, ViaGen has been cloning livestock. They have cloned thousands of cattle, more than 250 horses, and thousands of pigs and sheep, too. Two years ago, they starting doing dogs and cats.

Shawn Walker, PhD is Vice President of Science and Technology for ViaGen.

“I would have probably never thought about cloning a pet 10 years ago. I was in the livestock world. Now, my biggest regret is that we had one dog that we connected to, and I’d love to bring it back,” he said.

Now you can — or at least duplicate that animal’s genetic DNA — and have the “new” puppy born again.

“The dog that you are going to clone is not going to be a Frankenstein,” says Rodriguez. “(Baxter) is just a normal dog like any other dog. You would never know that he’s a cloned puppy.”
And would it matter? Your friend is your friend...

The Clinton Sessions

Are the Clintons next?
The list of matters he wanted probed was wide ranging but included the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, various dealings of the Clinton Foundation and several matters connected to the purchase of the Canadian mining company Uranium One by Russia’s nuclear energy agency. Goodlatte took particular aim at former FBI director James B. Comey, asking for the second special counsel to evaluate the leaks he directed about his conversations with President Trump, among other things.

In response, Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd wrote that Sessions had “directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters,” and that those prosecutors would “report directly to the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.”
Well, they did say there'd be a reckoning...

In Their Own Sealed Words

Team Lerner doesn't want their testimony released because of threats, or something: Court documents, reviewed by Fox News, said the “pub...