Monday, December 22, 2014

Be A Felon For Your Family

Oh, this is a good idea:
The 3-minute clip, posted by San Francisco-based independent film director Rejina Sincic, walking into his parents’ bedroom without their knowledge. He opens a drawer where he finds a gun and then takes it back to his room and stuffs it in his backpack.

He goes to school with the gun in his bag. When the class ends and the rest of his classmates have already left the room, he removes the gun from his bag, walks over to the teacher’s desk and, after startling her with the firearm, places it on her desk.

“Can you take this away? I don’t feel safe with a gun in my house,” the boy tells the teacher.
That depends, kid. Are you willing to be expelled and go to jail?

Hollywood Hitters

Just because you're paranoid:
Google is going after the major movie studios with guns blazing after learning of a secret legal campaign against it.

Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, said in a blog post Thursday that he is “deeply concerned” about recent reports that the Motion Picture Association of America is leading a “secret, coordinated campaign” to revive the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act and block access to websites.

He noted that defending free expression is a founding principle of the MPAA. “Why, then, is it trying to secretly censor the Internet?” he asked.

The allegations are based on recent news reports and leaked Hollywood executive emails from the hack of Sony Pictures.

Kate Bedingfield, a spokeswoman for the MPAA, called the blog post “shameful,” and argued that free speech is not a “license to steal.”
But it is a license to criticize. Maybe some of the folks in Hollywood deserved to get hacked...

Hometown Hunger Games

President Obama's home town dumps Michelle's menu:
Mundelein High School District 120 is officially dropping out of the National School Lunch Program, making it at least the second one in the Chicago area to do so this school year.

Leaving the federal program allows the school “total flexibility to design the food service to our students’ needs,” Superintendent Kevin Myers tells the Daily Herald.

According to district leaders, lunch sales have fallen about 6 percent since last school year. The school has about 2,000 students enrolled.

Despite giving up the tighter “healthy” restrictions championed by First Lady Michelle Obama, the school will not be giving up on quality or the healthiness of lunches.

“Nutrition and good choices would also be a significant component of the wellness committee’s work,” business manager Andy Searle says. The committee with be tasked with creating new rules.
I assume actually making them edible will be one?

Cops, Iraq Style?

Watcha gonna do when they come for you?
"In the Grip of the Law," brings convicted terrorists face-to-face with victims in surreal encounters and celebrates the country's beleaguered security forces. The show, produced by state-run Iraqiyya TV, is among dozens of programs, cartoons and musical public service announcements aimed at shoring up support for the troops after their humiliating defeat last summer at the hands of the Islamic State group, which now controls about a third of the country.

On a chilly, overcast day last week, the crew arrived at the scene of one of the attacks for which Motar was convicted, with a heavily armed escort in eight military pick-up trucks and Humvees. Passing cars clogged the road to watch the drama unfold, but were quickly shooed away by soldiers.

After being pulled from an armored vehicle, a shackled Motar found himself face-to-face with the seething relatives of the victims of the attack. "Give him to me — I'll tear him to pieces," one of the relatives roared from behind a barbed wire barrier.

A cameraman pinned a microphone on Motar's bright yellow prison jumpsuit as he stood alongside a busy Baghdad highway looking bewildered by his surroundings.

"Say something," the cameraman said to him.

"What am I supposed to say?" a visibly panicked Motar asked.

"It's a mic check! Just count: 1,2,3,4..."
No rehearsal required...

North Korea Down

North Korea goes even darker:
North Korea’s already tenuous links to the Internet went completely dark on Monday after days of instability, in what Internet monitors described as one of the worst North Korean network failures in years. …

Doug Madory, the director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research, an Internet performance management company, said that North Korean Internet access first became unstable late Friday. The situation worsened over the weekend, and by Monday, North Korea’s Internet was completely offline.

“Their networks are under duress,” Mr. Madory said. “This is consistent with a DDoS attack on their routers,” he said, referring to a distributed denial of service attack, in which attackers flood a network with traffic until it collapses under the load.
Now Kim really ronery...

The Reign In Spain

Remember, they are our betters:
Princess Cristina, 49, and Urdangarin are among 17 people ordered to stand trial in the case involving his Noos Foundation charity, the High Court of the Balearic Islands said on Monday.

Cristina and her husband have both denied any wrongdoing.

Urdangarin has been charged with breach of legal duty, embezzling public funds, fraud, influence-peddling and money-laundering. The princess is accused of two tax crimes.
In America, the tax collectors only prosecute those who disagree with the government...

The End Of Al?

Years of race-baiting may have finally caught up with Al Sharpton and his ilk:
Civil rights leaders Sunday condemned the ambush killings of two New York police officers and expressed fear that the backlash over the bloodshed could derail the protest movement that has grown out of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner…

Similarly, the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has called for peaceful protests, condemned “eye-for-an-eye” violence and called it absurd to blame protesters or politicians for the officers’ deaths.

“We are now under intense threat from those who are misguided – from those who are trying to blame everyone from civil rights leaders to the mayor rather than deal with an ugly spirit that all of us need to fight,” he said.

Sharpton added: “There are those of us committed to nonviolence and making the system work. And there are those committed to anarchy and recklessness who could care less about the families of police or the families who have raised questions about police accountability.”
There's no money in it for him, is the problem...

Payback, Please

Um, yeah:
The United States urged North Korea on Monday to admit it ordered a cyberattack on the Hollywood studio Sony Pictures and to pay for the damage it had caused.
"If they want to help here they could admit their culpability and compensate Sony for the damages that they caused," deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.
Washington accuses Pyongyang of being behind the hack that led to the release of embarrassing company emails and caused Sony executives to halt the debut of the comedy action film "The Interview."
Team Collection Agency?

Up Where We Belong

RIP Joe Cocker:
Cocker was known for his bluesy, gravely voice and skyrocketed to prominence with his cover of the Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends,” which he performed at Woodstock in 1969.
In 1975, his song “You Are So Beautiful”, reached No 5. in the charts in the US. He also won a GRAMMY award in 1983 for his US No. 1 duet with Jennifer Warnes, “Up Where We Belong.”

Born in Sheffield, England, Cocker started performing in various groups at a very young age. He formed the Grease Band in 1966, and later performed on TV shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show and This Is Tom Jones.

Known for his twitchy, erratic movements on stage, Cocker played SNL in 1976 and was playfully impersonated by John Belushi.
Here he is with a signature song:

The Color Of Journalism

TNR's new boss says his magazine will be, well, less white:
Snyder also announced a crew of new contributors to upcoming issues including Ann Friedman, Batya Ungar-Sargon, Cathy Park Hong, Inga Safron, Jazmine Hughes, Jeff Ball, Thomas Rogers, Jen Doll, William Giraldi and Jeet Heer. Snyder wrote that these new voices and experts will “be diverse in race, gender, and background.”

“As we build our editorial staff, we will reach out to talented journalists who might have previously felt unwelcome at The New Republic. If this publication is to be influential, and not merely survive, it can no longer afford to represent the views of one privileged class, nor appeal solely to a small demographic of political elites,” Snyder wrote.
Like the liberals who read the magazine?

Tribal Grass

Native American tribes debate growing their own weed:
Marijuana isn't tied to tribal culture, like tobacco commonly used in religious ceremonies, and any pot growing operation would run counter to the message that tribes have preached for decades that drugs and alcohol ruin lives, said Carl Artman, former U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs assistant secretary and member of the Oneida Tribe in Wisconsin.

"When you look at what tribes have to offer - from gaming to ecotourism to looking out over the Grand Canyon, just bringing people out on the reservation for art or culture - this is not one of the things they would normally want," Artman said. "It hearkens back to something that's archaic and stereotypical as opposed to what the modern day Indian is about."

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Planet Of The Activists

In Argentina, an orangutan gets human rights:
In a landmark ruling that could pave the way for more lawsuits, the Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) argued the ape had sufficient cognitive functions and should not be treated as an object.
The court agreed Sandra, born into captivity in Germany before being transferred to Argentina two decades ago, deserved the basic rights of a "non-human person."
"This opens the way not only for other Great Apes, but also for other sentient beings which are unfairly and arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in zoos, circuses, water parks and scientific laboratories," the daily La Nacion newspaper quoted AFADA lawyer Paul Buompadre as saying.
Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty lawyers?

King PB

It's the Elvis sandwich:

And, from the history of peanut butter:
The modern form of peanut butter was invented by Canadian Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montreal. According to Wikipedia, he was the first to patent peanut butter, in 1884. Peanut flour already existed. His cooled product had “a consistency like that of butter, lard, or ointment,” according to his patent application. He included the mixing of sugar into the paste in order to harden its consistency.

Edson, a pharmacist, developed the idea of peanut paste as a tasty and nutritious staple for people who could hardly chew on solid food, which was not uncommon back then. Peanut paste, according to Wikipedia, was initially sold for six cents per pound.

His U.S. patent described “a process of milling roasted peanuts until the peanuts reached a fluid or semi-fluid state.”

George Bayle, a snack-food maker in St. Louis, also started to make peanut butter in the 1890s.

John Harvey Kellogg, who served peanut butter to his patients at his Battle Creek Sanitarium, boiled his peanuts to make the product.

In 1923, Heinz became the first company to homogenize the product into the consistency we enjoy today.
And a fine one it is...

Liberalism In Retreat

Liberals are facing an epic existential crisis:
Shell-shocked liberals are beginning to grasp some inconvenient truths. No gun massacre is horrible enough to change Americans’ ideas about gun control. No UN Climate Report will get a climate treaty through the U.S. Senate. No combination of anecdotal and statistical evidence will persuade Americans to end their longtime practice of giving police officers extremely wide discretion in the use of force. No “name and shame” report, however graphic, from the Senate Intelligence Committee staff will change the minds of the consistent majority of Americans who tell pollsters that they believe that torture is justifiable under at least some circumstances. No feminist campaign will convince enough voters that the presumption of innocence should not apply to those accused of rape.
People just don't seem to want to think the way the Left wants them to...

Facepalm Book

In Russia, Facebook unfriends you:
Russian authorities convinced Facebook to shut off a page inviting people to attend a rally in support of an opposition politician, drawing ire from Internet users Sunday.

Supporters on Friday created an event page for January 15, the day President Vladimir Putin's biggest critic Alexei Navalny will hear his verdict in a controversial embezzlement case which could see him sent him to prison for up to 10 years.

Russia's Internet watchdog Roskomnadzor said Sunday that the page has been blocked on orders of the general prosecutor.

The prosecutor "demanded to limit access to a number of resources calling for an unsanctioned mass event, including social networking groups. The demand has been fulfilled," RIA-Novosti news agency quoted spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky as saying.
Et Tu, Mark Zuckerberg?

Team GOP

Censorship makes strange bedfellows:
The Republican Party chairman, Reince Priebus (ryns PREE'-bus), says in a letter to theater chain executives that he's concerned that a foreign regime would be allowed to dictate the movies Americans can and cannot watch.

Noting that Hollywood and the GOP have had their differences, Priebus says the situation with "The Interview" is about freedom and free enterprise.

Priebus says he will ask Republican supporters to buy tickets "to show North Korea we cannot be bullied into giving up our freedom," and suggests part of the proceeds go to military charities.
We have the right to watch dumb movies, which is one of the things Hollywood does best these days...

Final Duty

In the wake of the shootings of two NYPD officers, New York's Mayor is not a popular man:
"There's blood on many hands tonight," Patrolman's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said late Saturday. "Those that incited violence on this street under the guise of protest, that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did everyday.

"We tried to warn it must not go on, it cannot be tolerated," Lynch continued. "That blood on the hands starts on the steps of city hall in the office of the mayor."

Also on Saturday evening, video obtained by the New York Post showed several officers turning their backs on the mayor as he made his way down a hallway at Woodhull Medical Center in Brooklyn, where Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu had earlier been pronounced dead.

The Post also reported that earlier in the evening, de Blasio approached a group of officers outside the hospital and told them, "We're all in this together."

"No, we're not," an officer responded, according to the Post, which cited another policeman who witnessed the exchange as its source.
The mayor's past statements certainly won't help him, and neither will his "friends."

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Women's Daily

President Obama, reverse sexist?
Obama took questions from the Associated Press’ Julie Pace, Bloomberg BNA’s Cheryl Bolen, McClatchy’s Lesley Clark, Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown, Reuters’ Roberta Rampton, the Wall Street Journal’s Colleen Nelson, the Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin and American Urban Radio’s April Ryan.

No one from major TV networks — and no men — were called on. No Ed Henry, no Jon Karl, none.

The move was intentional, according to TIME political reporter Zeke Miller, who quoted Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

“The fact is, there are many women from a variety of news organizations who day-in and day-out do the hard work of covering the president of the United States,” Earnest said. “As the questioner list started to come together, we realized that we had a unique opportunity to highlight that fact at the president’s closely watched, end-of-the-year news conference.”
The war on men?

Fears Of A Clown

McDonald's gets hit by the NLRB:
In a significant victory for fast-food demonstrators, the Obama administration filed 13 legal complaints on Friday against McDonald’s USA, LLC, alleging 78 instances in which it violated federal labor law by punishing workers for taking part in fast food protests.

The complaints allege that the company and its franchisees retaliated against protesters by reducing their hours or firing them. It’s illegal to retaliate against any worker for “concerted activities” to protest workplace conditions, even when no union organizing takes place — which was almost always the case in the fast food protests.
Maybe, but why are communists involved?

Nothing Left To Lose

Obama goes for broke in his final years:
“’Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose’ — Barack and Bobby McGee,” says former Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry. “President Obama is free to take the risks and use executive authority that will either make him a much more popular president with rising approval rates or get him impeached by a Republican Congress that won’t be able to control itself. We can contemplate the possibility of each result while smoking a Cuban cigar.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says Obama’s newly aggressive stance – exemplified by his unilateral moves on immigration and Cuba – poses an early challenge to new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and to House Speaker John Boehner, who are trying to re-shape the GOP into a party that can actually run a government. “Mitch and Boehner have to deal with the fact that Obama is becoming bolder and more radical,” Gingrich told me a few days before Obama announced his move to normalize relations with Cuba.
As opposed to before?

Back To The Cave

Sony does not know of this cave of which you speak:
Lynton told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that Sony did not cave to the hacker group Guardians of Peace by pulling the movie…

He said the decision to pull “The Interview” came only after the major theater chains decided not to show the film. It wasn’t because Sony didn’t want to distribute the movie.

“Movie theaters came to us … one by one and announced they would not carry the movie,” Lynton said.

“We have not caved,” he said.
Even so, their new masters seem pleased.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Green Mountain Goes Bust

Vermont has scrapped single payer:
"I am not going (to) undermine the hope of achieving critically important health care reforms for this state by pushing prematurely for single payer when it is not the right time for Vermont," Shumlin said to reporters and two boards advising him on health care changes.

Legislation Shumlin signed in 2011 put the state on a path to move beyond the federal Affordable Care Act by 2017 to a health care system more similar to that in neighboring Canada. Shumlin adopted the mantra that access to quality health care should be "a right and not a privilege."

The legislation called for the administration to produce a plan for financing the Green Mountain Care system by 2013 but it wasn't completed until the last several days. Shumlin said it showed the plan would require an 11.5 percent payroll tax on businesses and an income tax separate from the one the state already has of up to 9.5 percent.

Shumlin said small business owners would be hit with both, and he repeatedly expressed concern about whether those businesses, many of which now don't offer health insurance or offer much less costly insurance, could cover the new expense.

The governor said he had asked his health care team for alternative designs, but no one could come up with a plan to offer quality coverage at an affordable cost.

"The bottom line is that, as we completed the financing modeling in the last several days, it became clear that the risk of economic shock is too high at this time to offer a plan I can responsibly support for passage in the Legislature," the governor said.
This hasn't stopped him from fantasizing about keeping it, but the writing seems to be on the wall, not just for Vermont, but for other states.

The Wizardry Of Oz

Should you trust TV doctors?
There’s clearly a market for doctor talk shows. “The Dr. Oz Show” ranks in the top five talk shows in the United States, bringing in a haul of roughly 2.9 million viewers per day. And the talk show “The Doctors,” also studied in the paper, nets around 2.3 million viewers per show. These days, Oz considers disease in terms of marketability. Cancer, he told the New Yorker, “is our Angelina Jolie. We could sell that show every day.”

But some doctors have expressed alarm at Oz’s willingness to sell it. “Although perhaps not as ‘sexy’ as Dr. Oz would like, the public needs more information about the effects of diet as a whole on cancer risk,” commented one paper titled “Reality Check: There is no such thing as a miracle food” in the journal of Nutrition and Cancer. It lambasted Oz’s assertion that endive, red onion and sea bass can decrease the likelihood of ovarian cancer by 75 percent.

“Mehmet is now an entertainer,” New York doctor Eric Rose told the New Yorker. “And he’s great at it. People learn a lot, and it can be meaningful in their lives. … [But] sometimes Mehmet will entertain wacky ideas — particularly if they are wacky and have entertainment value.”
Pay no attention to the publicity behind the curtain...


Literally, in this case:
Nigel Golden, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin who took part in the project told the BBC that the ground temperature around the rodents’ burrows was higher than in the surrounding area. “’They are soil engineers,” he said. “They break down the soil when they are digging their burrows, they mix the top layer with the bottom layer, they are bringing oxygen to the soil and they are fertilizing the soil with their urine and their faeces.

“We saw an increase in soil temperature in the soils where the arctic ground squirrels were occupying. This is a major component. As that permafrost begins to warm, now microbes can have access to these previously frozen carbons that were in the soil. And because they mix the soil layers, they are being exposed to warmer temperatures.”
The cows must be breathing a sigh of relief...

Coal For Me, Not For Thee

Divest as I say, not as I don't:
The Washington Spectator reported in 2013 that while Steyer was senior managing partner at Farallon Capital Management — a post he held until 2012 — the firm had $440 million worth of stock in oil and gas companies, about 10 percent of the company’s publicly disclosed equity portfolio.

Only days before Steyer announced that he would be leaving Farallon, the San Diego Reader reported that he still had investments in several companies that provided energy from coal and oil. His company held these investments even while Steyer was campaigning against California’s Proposition 23, which would have suspended California’s self-imposed cap-and-trade law.
Being a hypocrite means never having to apologize for your own investments...

The Silent Era

George Clooney condemns Hollywood cowardice:
Now, this isn’t finger-pointing on that. This is just where we are right now, how scared this industry has been made. Quite honestly, this would happen in any industry. I don’t know what the answer is, but what happened here is part of a much larger deal. A huge deal. And people are still talking about dumb emails. Understand what is going on right now, because the world just changed on your watch, and you weren’t even paying attention.
Not everyone is interested in surrendering to North Korea...

The Quaint Communist State

Not everyone is happy about the prospect of Cuba opening up:
'On the one hand it is very evident that change will come at some stage, and that the younger generation of Cubans are waiting for that to happen. While they have excellent education and healthcare, there is still real poverty, and they lack things that we all take for granted such as a choice of goods to buy (food is mostly from ration shops) and access to the internet and to world news.'

He goes on to add: 'On the other hand, part of the charm and intrigue of Cuba as a travel destination is that it is 'stuck in time', with few shops, no global brands and of course a huge number of old gas guzzling 50's American cars on the roads.

'I have no doubt that change will happen quickly once diplomatic relations start to build, and especially if congress agree to start lifting sanctions, which looks likely to happen now,' he added

'All these things will take some time, but if you want to see Castro's Cuba before change starts to happen and I would really recommend travelling soon.'
See the last Communist dictatorship before it becomes commercialized?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

They So Ronery

Now this is just un-American:
Forget those plans by Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and other theaters to run Team America: World Police in place of The Interview. The Austin-based chain says that Paramount has now decided not to offer South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s 2004 satire that focuses on Kim Jong-il, the late father of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Alamo says that the cancellation at its Dallas theater is “due to circumstances beyond our control” and says it will offer refunds to those who have already bought tickets. Cleveland’s Capitol Theater also tweeted that Team America “has been canceled by Paramount Pictures.”
Team Sony, FU!


Michael Moore will be pleased:
“Obesity can constitute a ‘disability’ within the meaning of the Employment Equality Directive,” the European Court of Justice ruled.
“While no general principle of EU law prohibits, in itself, discrimination on grounds of obesity, that condition falls within the concept of ‘disability’ where, under particular conditions, it hinders the full and effective participation of the person concerned in professional life on an equal basis with other workers.”
The EU court ruling, which is binding on British employers, follows a case brought by Karsten Kaltoft, a Danish childminder, who claimed he was sacked by his local authority employer because he was so overweight.
You can never be too irresponsible in the EU...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Produce Or Perish

TIME warns its reporters to get readers or else:
The warning comes from Time’s Washington boss who told the Washington Post that he has “the right” to fire a reporter who is unpopular on the internet.

Once home to many reporters who poured their scoops into a blender that editors turned into impactful stories, the goal now appears to be dragging in as many “eyeballs” to the website as possible, helping to drive up advertising rates.
That's assuming they're still doing real journalism. These days, it's hard to tell...

The Ring

Did she at least get fries with that?

It's Not Showtime

Somebody doesn't want to be made fun of:
Although the film’s Los Angeles premiere last week did proceed as planned, it was a low-key affair with minimal media attention. Earlier on Tuesday, appearances by the film-makers including a Buzzfeed Brews conversation, as well as on Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon’s late-night talkshows, were pulled.

The scaling back of publicity came as the Carmike Cinema chain announced that it would not be screening the film, due to open in the US on Christmas Day. Shares in Carmike, as well as the country’s three other biggest cinema chains — AMC, Regal and Cinemark and Carmike — all fell after news of the threat broke.
One thinks that Hollywood would be braver than this; they usually claim to be...

Hand Out To Havana

Cuban-American relations get a makeover:
Under the new measures, the United States plans to reopen its embassy in Havana and significantly ease restrictions on travel and commerce within the next several weeks and months, Obama said. Speaking from the White House, he declared that a half-century of isolation of the communist country “has not worked.”

“It’s time for a new approach,” he said.

The history-shaping overtures come after more than 18 months of secret negotiations with the Cuban government of President Raul Castro. The final touches appeared to be arrangements for a series of simultaneous prisoner releases.
Apparently Pope Francis was the one who helped make this happen. A historical moment-or historical mistake?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Free Birds?

Did the prisoners involved in the last escape from Alcatraz actually make it?
"We didn't know exactly when the inmates launched their boats, or their precise starting point, and so we decided to release 50 'boats' every 30 minutes between 20:00 and 04:00 (11 p.m. and 4 a.m.) from a range of possible escape spots at Alcatraz to see where they would end up," Fedor Baart, a hydraulic engineer at the Netherlands-based research instituteDeltares, said in a statement. "We added a paddling effect to the 'boats,' as we assumed the prisoners would paddle as they got closer to land."

If the three men left Alcatraz any earlier than 11:30 p.m., they would have been swept out to sea by strong currents, Baart and his colleagues found. But if the prisoners set off on their raft between 11:30 and midnight, it's likely that they could have landed just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, at Horseshoe Bay. The models also show that any debris after the landing might have drifted toward Angel Island, north of Alcatraz, which is where the FBI found a paddle and some personal items linked to the men.

"Of course, this doesn't prove this was what really happened, but the latest and best hydraulic modeling information indicates that it was certainly possible,"another study author, Rolf Hut, of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, said in a statement.
Patrick McGhoohan would not be pleased...

Silent Victory

Congress quietly ends the Feds' ban on medical marijuana:
Pot advocates had lobbied Congress to embrace the administration's policy, which they warned was vulnerable to revision under a less tolerant future administration.

More important, from the standpoint of activists, Congress' action marked the emergence of a new alliance in marijuana politics: Republicans are taking a prominent role in backing states' right to allow use of a drug the federal government still officially classifies as more dangerous than cocaine.

"This is a victory for so many," said the measure's coauthor, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa. The measure's approval, he said, represents "the first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana."
Congress displays some common sense, for once. Can the Federal government follow suit?

The Bear Is Still There

What happens if a wounded bear decides to bites back?
Putin is like a Augusto Pinochet or a Juan PerĂ³n … but with much more steely resolve, a massive military, and nuclear bombs.

But even with Putin's extremely visible and frightening track record before us, it's clear the Obama administration and even the investment community is still not prepared for the extent of the damage the Russian leader can unleash on his own people, on his neighbors, and on the U.S. financial markets.

There is nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal. Vladimir Putin is wounded — and he's not known for holding back.
There's a bear in the woods. And eventually, he may decide to come out...

Bank To The Future

Banks lower their standards:
"As banks continue to reach for volume and yield to improve margins and compete for limited loan demand, supervisors will focus on banks' efforts to maintain prudent underwriting standards," said Jennifer Kelly, the OCC's chief national bank examiner. She said the trends are "very similar" to those from 2004 through 2006.

The annual survey looked at 91 of the largest banks with loan portfolios amounting to about $4.9 trillion, or 94% of loans in the federal banking system. The report predicted that credit risk will continue to increase in 2015.
What could go wrong?

Woman Meets Monkey

A woman tries to take a selfie with a monkey:

Hi Mom

Mom calls in:

Non-Green Machine

Researchers find that electric cars actually cause more pollution:
The findings showed a dramatic swing the positive and negative effects on health based on the type of energy used. Internal combustion vehicles running on corn ethanol and electric vehicles powered by electricity from coal were the real sinners; according the study, their health effects were 80 percent worse compared to gasoline vehicles. However, electric vehicles powered by electricity from natural gas, wind, water, or solar energy might reduce health impacts by at least 50 percent compared to gasoline vehicles.

"We were surprised that many alternative vehicle fuels and technologies that are put forward as better for the environment than conventional gasoline vehicles did not end up causing large decreases in air quality-related health impacts," Tessum says. "The most important implication is that electric vehicles can cause large public health improvements, but only when paired with clean electricity. Adapting electric vehicles without taking steps to clean up electric generation would be worse for public health than continuing to use conventional gasoline vehicles."
"Green" vehicles need energy sources, too. And those might not be so green...

Martian Breath

Has the Curiosity rover found life on Mars?
An instrument on the six-wheeled robot identified mysterious spikes of methane that cannot easily be explained by geology or organic material transported to the planet by comets or asteroids.

While scientists cannot be sure what is producing the methane, they acknowledge the source could be bacteria-like organisms.

If the existence of living, breathing microbes on Mars is confirmed, it will be one of the most monumental discoveries in history.
Even Martians can get too much gas...

The Law And The King

It seems President Obama can't simply rule by decree:
According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab, the president’s policy goes “beyond prosecutorial discretion” in that it provides a relatively rigid framework for considering applications for deferred action, thus obviating any meaningful case-by-case determination as prosecutorial discretion requires, and provides substantive rights to applicable individuals. As a consequence, Schwab concluded, the action exceeds the scope of executive authority.

This is the first judicial opinion to address Obama’s decision to expand deferred action for some individuals unlawfully present in the United States.

This isn’t the only case challenging the lawfulness of the Obama’s immigration actions. Some two-dozen states have filed suit challenging Obama’s recent immigration policy reforms. Led by Texas, these states claim that the president as exceeded the scope of executive authority in this area. As I’ve noted before, I’m skeptical of these arguments on the merits (as is Ilya), and wonder whether the states will be able to satisfy the requirements of Article III standing to bring their claims. Yet as this case shows, even if the states don’t have standing, the legality of the president’s actions could nonetheless be decided in federal court.
Doing what Congress wouldn't?

Dude, She's Old

College students learn how old Hillary really is:
Of those interviewed at the public research university, home to roughly 50,000 students, only six guessed Clinton is in her 60s, but of those, they still thought she was younger than 67, Cooley told The Fix. Most thought she is in her 40s or 50s, and expressed surprise at her real age, according to a video of the interviews.

But they were even more stunned to learn Clinton gets chauffeured around everywhere, and by her own admission has not driven a car since 1996. Several students interviewed said they thought she drove herself around, and expressed amazement after learning the truth.

“Students tend to be uninformed about the candidates they support,” Cooley said in an email to The College Fix. “When confronted with the truth – that Hillary is a career politician and is out of touch with the American people – college students quickly changed their tune and Hillary lost her appeal.”
Hard truths are often the most difficult to accept...

The E Generation

E-cigarettes are making teens smoke less:
Electronic cigarettes have surpassed traditional smoking in popularity among teens, the government’s annual drug use survey finds.

Even as tobacco smoking by teens dropped to new lows, use of e-cigarettes reached levels that surprised researchers. The findings marked the survey’s first attempt to measure the use of e-cigarettes by people that young.

Nearly 9 percent of eighth-graders said they’d used an e-cigarette in the previous month, while just 4 percent reported smoking a traditional cigarette, said the report being released Tuesday by the National Institutes of Health.
So, if they are going to be toking, isn't this actually a good thing?

Play Money

The millionaire who wasn't:
In an exclusive interview with Mr. Islam and his friend Damir Tulemaganbetov, who also featured heavily in the New York story, the baby-faced boys who dress in suits with tie clips came clean. Swept up in a tide of media adulation, they made the whole thing up.

Speaking at the offices of their newly hired crisis pr firm, 5WPR, and handled by a phalanx of four, including the lawyer Ed Mermelstein of RheemBell & Mermelstein, Mr. Islam told a story that will be familiar to just about any 12th grader—a fib turns into a lie turns into a rumor turns into a bunch of mainstream media stories and invitations to appear on CNBC.
It was fun while it lasted...

Bush III

Jeb Bush is in:
Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush and the son of President George H.W. Bush, announced in a Facebook post that he decided to take the step after spending Thanksgiving with his family.

"As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States," he wrote.

Bush also said that he will establish a leadership PAC -- a political fundraising organization -- in January.

"The PAC's purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans," he said.
The dynasty continues?