Saturday, May 28, 2016

And Idiocy For All

That Declaration is racist, yo:
Louisiana lawmaker Barbara Norton (D-Shreveport), argued that America’s founding document was racist during debate on a bill requiring public school students in the state to recite the Declaration of Independence daily, Fox & Friends reported Saturday.

“For the Declaration of Independence only Caucasians (were) free,” Norton, who is black, said Wednesday during the debate on the floor of the Louisiana House of Representatives. “And for you to bring a bill to require that our children will recite the Declaration of Independence I think it’s a little bit unfair.”

Rep. Valarie Hodges (R-Denham Springs) shelved the bill before lawmakers could vote on the proposal, which she sponsored. The measure would have required public school students in fourth through sixth grade to recite a passage from the Declaration of Independence.

Norton and Pat Smith (D-Baton Rouge) told Hodges that children shouldn’t have to recite words written at a time when slavery was prevalent, reading the document was used to bar blacks from voting at polling places and equality wasn’t extended to all people.

“Back in 1776 our forefathers who wrote the Declaration of Independence, I don’t believe they had any idea or that they thought for a moment that America would be as diverse as it is today,” Norton told KTAL-TV.
Diverse enough for revisionism, anyway...

WHO Cares About Zika?

The Olympics won't be moved:
With just 10 weeks before the Games are due to begin, 152 leading scientists have written an open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) saying new findings about the virus make staging the event in the city "irresponsible" and "unethical".

But the WHO rejected the warning, insisting that shifting the Olympics would "not significantly alter" the spread of the virus.

It said in a statement: "Based on current assessment, cancelling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus.

"Brazil is one of almost 60 countries and territories which to-date report continuing transmission of Zika by mosquitoes. People continue to travel between these countries and territories for a variety of reasons.

"The best way to reduce risk of disease is to follow public health travel advice."
Like, stay away?

Friday, May 27, 2016

No Goal

He's not a fan:

Bunker Mentality

Mark Zuckerberg has a plan for the angry masses:
Zuckerberg bought four surrounding houses to his $7 million mansion and has started the process of tearing one down in order to make way for security additions detailed in a recently submitted plan to the Palo Alto planning department.

According to the plans, Zuckerberg’s panic bunker is described as having “white brick walls, dark steel doors and windows, dark gray siding and louvers where they occur above the roof line, and a dark gray standing seam metal roof,” giving the impression of a steel fortress for the Facebook CEO to hide in if necessary.

Zuckerberg’s compound already has a perimeter of black panel walls in an attempt to stop both trespassers and snoopers. The Facebook CEO was slammed on social media after criticizing Donald Trump’s Mexican border wall plans and then returning to his fortressed mansion.
He now has the ultimate safe space...

Spectacle

The better to prank you with:
Khayatan told Buzzfeed that he and his friends came up with the idea after observing one piece on display in the museum that they found puzzling.

“We stumbled upon a stuffed animal on a gray blanket and questioned if this was really impressive to some of the nearby people,” he said.

The group then decided to leave the glasses on the floor and watched as several visitors gathered around to observe the “art.”

Khayatan was surprised by both the reaction to the prank and its viral success, but said that his group generally enjoyed the museum’s exhibits.

“Some may interpret it as a joke, some might find great spiritual meaning in it. At the end of the day, I see it as a pleasure for open-minded people and imaginative minds,” he said.
Or gullible...

The Grandmother And The Computer

Apparently Grandma doesn't do computers:
The revelations came as part of a May 18 deposition released Thursday by Judicial Watch, the nonprofit government watchdog group, of Lewis A. Lukens, a veteran 27-year foreign service officer at the State Department who served as the deputy executive secretary and executive director of the Office of the Secretariat from 2008 to 2011.
From the start of her term in January 2009, State Department officials grappled with Clinton’s ignorance of the use of basic computers. In a January 24, 2009 email from Lukens to the department’s Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy, the foreign service officer said Clinton didn’t know how to use a computer for emails.
Citing a conversation Lukens had with Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, he wrote, “She says problem (sic) is HRC does not know how to use a computer to do emails — only Blackberry.” HRC refers to Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Don't blame Grandma...

Secret European Wars

What is the EU Army for?
Liam Fox, the former defence secretary who served under David Cameron, told The Telegraph that the ambitions showed the EU is wedded to the “dangerous fantasy” of creating a single defence force.

Another eurosceptic Tory MP said voters were being “deceived” and “hoodwinked” about the true scale of the EU’s drive to create a single army.

The backlash came as it emerged plans to move towards the creation of a European army are being kept secret from British voters until the day after next month’s referendum.

Drawn up by the EU’s foreign policy chief, the Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy foresees the formation of new European military and operational structures.

This first step towards an EU army is supported by Germany and other countries, The Times reports.
Every empire needs one...

Up The Long Ladder

The next time you hear a kid complain:
Children, between ages 6 and 15, scale a cliff about 2,625 feet high multiple times a month between their home and a school in Atuler village. The trip takes about 90-minutes.
Images from their home trek, taken by award-winning Beijing News photographer Chen Jie, went viral on Chinese media after appearing on the front page of the English-language China Daily and other newspapers on Thursday, AP reported. Now, authorities in the area said they are looking for ways to help the villagers, including building a steel staircase, according to The Guardian.
Chen, who spent three days with the villagers and made the journey with them three times, told The Guardian “if you have any kind of accident, you will fall straight into the abyss.”
It's sort of the ultimate "when I was your age" argument...

Shark Psych

They may not have charm, but they have personality:
A team of researchers from Macquarie's Department of Biological Sciences observed the behaviour of sharks from the east coast of Australia and found that individual sharks had distinct and consistent responses when exposed to an unfamiliar environment and stress.
In humans our personality defines who we are and how we are likely to respond to certain situations. If you know someone well enough, it is possible to predict how they will likely respond in given situations. That is, their behaviour tends to demonstrate repetition over time or in similar situations. It is this behavioural stability and predictability that defines personality.
"Over the past few decades, personality research has shown that nearly 200 species of animals demonstrate individual personality. Personality is no longer considered a strictly human characteristic, rather it is a characteristic deeply engrained in our evolutionary past," says lead author Evan Byrnes.
But how do you give a shark therapy?

There's Always A First Time

Dr. Heimlich finally uses his own maneuver:
Monday’s incident at the Deupree House was the first time Heimlich, who has demonstrated the maneuver countless times since inventing it in the 1970s, used it to stop someone from choking, he said.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Heimlich recounted what happened. He said Ris had been sitting next to him at his table.

“When I used it, and she recovered quickly,” he said, “it made me appreciate how wonderful it has been to be able to save all those lives.”
You're never too old...

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Non Family Man

It's no longer a family matter:
O’Sullivan argues that the phrase “start a family” is “loathsome” because of its implication: children. “What this euphemism means is get pregnant — or try to get pregnant, or have a baby, or adopt,” Sullivan claims. And that’s offensive.
“Start a family devalues any couple who doesn’t happen to have kids, for whatever reason. It even sells single people short, who may not have children but do have ‘chosen’ families of friends,” he argues.
O’Sullivan also points out that the phrase has “heterosexist” roots. He notes that LGBT people now use the phrase as well (implying it might not be “heterosexist” to say “start a family”) but he still hears it “more often from straight people.”
Either way, he says, “For the sake of all the ways to be in the world, it’s time to put an end to start a family.”
Spoken like a man whose family line will end with him...

Full Erasure

No more searches for you:
For years, the OGE website featured a sortable, searchable list of over 1,000 government appointees, including their names, agencies and titles, and flagging new ones. By clicking on a name, users could easily access multiple disclosures for the appointee, including yearly financial accounting, stock ownership and a letter detailing any agreements surrounding conflicts, such as issues when the individual promises to recuse himself.
By January, the list was inexplicably removed, leaving only a search box. That action severely reduced the chance of officials’ finances being scrutinized because it became necessary to know the name of a person and have a reason to want to look up that individual, as opposed to, for example, looking for listings from an agency of interest.
Now, even that capability is gone, along with almost all references to actually seeing the disclosures. Thousands of PDFs have also been deleted, leaving dead links.
"Transparent" shouldn't mean "Invisible..."

The Voting Dead

In California, it's the zombie vote:
“CBS2 compared millions of voting records from the California Secretary of State’s office with death records from the Social Security Administration and found hundreds of so-called dead voters,” according to investigative reporter David Goldstein.

“Specifically, 265 in Southern California and a vast majority of them, 215, in Los Angeles County alone.”

The voters are genuinely dead, but others are voting in their names, often through vote-by-mail.

While it is not clear how the “so-called dead voters” voted, 86 were registered Republicans, and 146 were registered Democrats. Votes have been cast on behalf of some dead individuals for decades, over several election cycles.
The dead are always there for you...

Cotton Pickin' Fight

Tell him how you really feel:

The Magic Number Man

Donald Trump gets the nomination:
Trump was put over the top in the AP delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the national convention in July. Among them was Oklahoma GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard.

"I think he has touched a part of our electorate that doesn't like where our country is," Pollard said. "I have no problem supporting Mr. Trump."

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination. Trump has reached 1,238. With 303 delegates at stake in five state primaries on June 7, Trump will easily pad his total, avoiding a contested convention in Cleveland.

Trump, a political neophyte who for years delivered caustic commentary on the state of the nation from the sidelines but had never run for office, fought off 16 other Republican contenders in an often ugly primary race.

Many on the right have been slow to warm to Trump, wary of his conservative bona fides. Others worry about his crass personality and the lewd comments he's made about women.

But millions of grass-roots activists, many of them outsiders to the political process, have embraced him as a plain-speaking populist.
So where does the RNC go from here? Where, indeed?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Obamas' New 'Hood

So what kind of a place are the Obamas moving to?
Obama’s new neighborhood is one of DC’s richest. According to Statistical Atlas, Kalorama sits among DC’s wealthiest twelve neighborhoods and has a median household income four times that of the city’s poorer African-American neighborhoods (such as Anacostia).

According to Washingtonian Magazine, a four-bedroom home in Kalorama goes for about $2.8 million.

“It’s hard to imagine the Obama of eight years ago deciding to forgo the potential to move to a revitalizing area, or just a slightly less hoity one, in favor of a zip code where the blood runs royal blue and the servants’ stairs are still used by the help,” the magazine said in a piece that was critical of the president’s neighborhood choice.
I'm sure he'll be a hit at all the parties...

Bursting Her Bubble

Elizabeth Warren, real estate queen:

How Much For The Island?

Who really benefits from "saving" Puerto Rico?
While precise details of Ryan’s rescue plan aren’t finalized, the legislation is expected to create a financial control board to oversee a restructuring of the territory’s massive $70 billion debt. Aside from rampant government spending in Puerto Rico, the island is suffering from decades of economic micromanagement from Washington. It is unclear whether the control board would have the necessary powers to reform the territory’s economy.

Many supporters of Ryan’s effort point out that bondholders will have to absorb a “haircut” in any restructuring deal. Under some proposals, bondholders would have to accept a 47 percent cut on the par-value of their bonds. For example, if an investor holds bonds with a face-value of $10,000, it would have to accept $5,300 for them in a restructuring.

Supporters stress this as both a means to explain opposition of some bondholders to a federal rescue package and an assurance to outsiders that “Wall Street” will take some losses in a restructuring deal.

This argument, however, obscures the fact that many hedge funds have already purchased Puerto Rico bonds at a steep discount to their face value. On just Tuesday, a host of Puerto Rico bonds were sold at prices ranging from as low as 50 percent below their face-value. These bondholders could realize an immediate gain even after a restructuring enforced haircut, because they were purchased before the new Congressionally-mandated price.
So much for the haircut. How about just a trim?

Hillary's Law Is No Law

Email rules are for little people:
Notably, current SecState John Kerry, and his predecessors Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice, cooperated with the OIG… but Hillary Clinton and her highly controversial top aides Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and Huma Abedin did not. That’s a massive scandal, bordering on a national embarrassment, in its own right.

No amount of padding can soften the blow of what the OIG determined about Hillary Clinton’s uniquely furtive tenure as Secretary of State.

“At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service,” says the Inspector General report. No amount of bleating about what Condi Rice did, back when America Online and dial-up Internet were all the rage, can excuse Clinton for deliberately refusing to comply with such a basic, common-sense requirement.

The Washington Post reports that the Inspector General could find no evidence that Clinton ever obtained a review by legal counsel for her email arrangement, even though her aides have insisted the system was legally approved.
Self-approval is always easier...

McBot

The robots come to McDonald's:
Ed Rensi has said that buying highly skilled robotics is a cheaper alternative than employing people on minimum wage to work in the company's worldwide restaurants.

He warned that huge job losses are imminent, and commented that it would be 'common sense' to replace humans in the workplace.

This comes as a study into the future of human employment has predicted a surge in machine-led work such as robotic counsellors, body part makers and virtual lawyers.

The worrying research, by professor of management practice at London Business School, Lynda Gratton, and futurologist David A. Smith, suggests that humans will be replaced because robots are able to produce better results.
Robots don't whine...

Below Average Intelligence

Failure is literally not an option:
The students say that between their activism work and their heavy course load, finding success within the usual grading parameters is increasingly difficult. "A lot of us worked alongside community members in Cleveland who were protesting," Megan Bautista, a co-liaison in Oberlin's student government, said, referring to the protests surrounding the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a police officer in 2014. "But we needed to organize on campus as well — it wasn't sustainable to keep driving 40 minutes away. A lot of us started suffering academically."

The student activists' request doesn't come without precedence: In the 1970s, Oberlin adjusted its grading to accommodate student activists protesting the Vietnam War and the Kent State shootings, The New Yorker reports. But current students contend that same luxury was not granted to them even though the recent Rice protests were over a police shooting that took place just 30 miles east of campus.

"You know, we're paying for a service. We're paying for our attendance here. We need to be able to get what we need in a way that we can actually consume it," student Zakiya Acey told The New Yorker. "Because I'm dealing with having been arrested on campus, or having to deal with the things that my family are going through because of larger systems — having to deal with all of that, I can't produce the work that they want me to do. But I understand the material, and I can give it to you in different ways."
It's hard out there for a slacker...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

No Woman, No Card

Hillary drops the gender card:
A research report completed by Emily’s List, which is a Democratic organization that supports female candidates for abortion rights, suggests the likely Democratic nominee should “de-emphasize the ‘first’ talk” in reference to being the first woman on top of a political party’s ticket and possibly the first woman president.

“They already know she’d be the first woman president,” the report stated, referencing donors, adding, “But we don’t get anything by reminding them.”

According to the Associated Press, speaking about being the first female president was not benefiting the candidate.

“Clinton has stopped explicitly mentioning her role in history and joking about being the “youngest woman president.” That’s by design: Those kinds of direct appeals weren’t working with voters,” reports the Associated Press.
Neither, apparently, are most others...

"Nobody Told Me About My Corruption"

Terry McAuliffe is shocked that there was crooked activity in his establishment:
“No one had outreached to us,” McAuliffe told reporters Tuesday after a bill-signing at the state arboretum. “Listen, you get leaks and things happen in the business. As I say, I’m very confident.”

CNN first reported the inquiry, saying that investigators are looking into a six-figure contribution that Chinese businessman Wang Wenliang made to McAuliffe’s campaign through his U.S. businesses.

But a federal official told The Washington Post federal investigators are looking broadly at donations to McAuliffe and at his personal finances

Attorneys for McAuliffe’s 2013 gubernatorial campaign carefully reviewed all donations, the governor said.
They just wanted to make sure they got their story straight...

The Zombie Constituency

They're always reliable:
CBS2 compared millions of voting records from the California Secretary of State’s office with death records from the Social Security Administration and found hundreds of so-called dead voters.

Specifically, 265 in Southern California and a vast majority of them, 215, in Los Angeles County alone.

The numbers come from state records that show votes were cast in that person’s name after they died. In some cases, Goldstein discovered that they voted year after year.

Across all counties, Goldstein uncovered 32 dead voters who cast ballots in eight elections apiece, including a woman who died in 1988. Records show she somehow voted in 2014, 26 years after she passed away.

It remains unclear how the dead voters voted but 86 were registered Republicans, 146 were Democrats, including Cenkner.
Just check which Democrat got the most votes...

Facebook Wars: Rogue

Blame it on the rogues?
The online giant denied that it’s shown “systematic political bias,” but admitted employees played a bigger role than previously acknowledged in determining what news is highlighted in the trending topics section.

Facebook also acknowledged that it couldn’t rule out the possibility that rogue employees unintentionally discriminated against conservative stories or even acted with malice in “isolated improper actions.”

In one instance Facebook rejected a story this year about the opening of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference — the largest gathering of right-wing activists in the country. Facebook says that was likely because there were already enough stories about the Republican presidential primary. But the company said since it allowed CPAC posts in 2015, and covered other parts of the 2016 conference, there wasn’t any discrimination.

“Our investigation has revealed no evidence of systematic political bias in the selection or prominence of stories included in the Trending Topics feature. In fact, our analysis indicated that the rates of approval of conservative and liberal topics are virtually identical in Trending Topics,” Colin Stretch, the company’s general counsel, said in an extensive reply to Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, who is probing the allegations of bias.
Some topics are still more equal than others...

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mac's Millions

It was strictly business:
Federal officials are investigating whether Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's 2013 campaign accepted illegal campaign contributions, sources familiar with the investigation confirmed Monday to Fox News.

The Democratic governor and Clinton ally is the target of a Justice Department investigation into whether he violated campaign finance laws.

The probe, first reported by CNN, involves a $120,000 donation from Chinese businessman Wang Wenliang through his U.S. businesses. U.S. election law prohibits foreign nationals to donate to political races.

McAuliffe's attorney, Marc Elias, said in a statement his office was not aware of the investigation, but would cooperate if contacted by federal officials.
Hillary may avoid prison time, but some of her friends might not...

The Regulations Left Behind

His work really is done:
More than $22 billion per year in new regulatory costs were imposed on Americans last year, pushing the total burden for the Obama years to exceed $100 billion annually.

That’s a dollar for every star in the galaxy, or one for every second in 32 years.

The consequences of this rampant rulemaking are widespread:

Restricted access to credit under the hundreds of rules unleashed by the Dodd–Frank financial regulation statute
Fewer health care choices and higher medical costs from the Affordable Care Act
Reduced Internet investment and innovation under the network neutrality rules dictated by the Federal Communications Commission

These are just a few of the 2,353 regulations of 2015—and there have been 20,642 since Obama took office in 2009.
My God, it's full of red tape...

Empty Gardens

Whatever happened to gardens?
Sue Biggs, director general of the society, said she believed the gap in knowledge was because Britons that age were born after it became common for both parents to work.

“The lost generation are the ones from their mid-twenties to forties,” she said, according to The Times.

“For a lot of them, their parents just didn’t teach them gardening and we lost a lot of the skills.”

Ms Biggs explained that her mother did not work and consequently had time to teach her children about plants and gardens.

Her comments came after a RHS survey, which saw 500 people from three different generations asked about their gardening habits, showed that less than 1 per cent of parents were taught how to garden in school.

This was in comparison with 55 per cent of grandparents, the 2011 research showed.
Today's growers seem to be more interested in a different kind of crop, at that...

Hating On Hillary

Why don't people like her?
Think of her worst moments: Does she exaggerate? Hmm. OK. She’s in politics. Does Trump exaggerate? Are there any Trump voters out there equally offended by his flat-out lies, or is it just the woman in the race?

Trump says that she’s an enabler of Bill Clinton. I would think anyone thinking of voting for Trump is enabling a truly mentally-ill con artist (his GOP opponents said it, not me), but let’s look at that assertion for fun.

Bill gets caught. It’s embarrassing. He has been with a bunch of other women, which isn’t exactly a Breaking News Alert for Hillary. She has even said that “Bill is a hard dog to keep on the porch.”

So she stays with him. Perhaps she actually loves him enough to forgive him. Is that enabling? If you’re in politics, everything is cynical, right? Or maybe some things are just as they appear.
In that case, Hillary is exactly what many people think of her...

Against His Own Flag

Meet the new anti-leader of Austria:
Alexander Van der Bellen – who appears to have defeated the Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer by around just 30,000 of nearly five million votes – has a track record of opposing the nation state as a concept, and his own as a reality.

In 2007, while he was leader of the Austrian Greens, the party published a picture of a dog with the Austrian flag in its mouth. The poster read: “Take your flag for your gag”, followed by the declaration that anyone who loves the country “must be sh*t”.

The flag “joke” was a play on a campaign urging dog owners to place their dog’s excrement in bags and trash cans. The Austrian greens replaced the bag with a flag of Austria in the image (right).

And while, of course, efforts were made to distance Van der Bellen from this 2007 Green Party initiative, the issue re-emerged on the run up to this weekend’s final round of presidential election voting. Far be it from a “gag” or one-off incident, critics say, this attitude against borders and nations runs deep through the Austrian Green Party which is now in charge of the presidency of the country.
Or, as things might stand now, their former country...

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Paper Trail

Paper through the ages:
“As with all new inventions, some saw parchment as the way of the future and others disdained it,” Kurlansky writes. The concerns were political as much as economic. Parchment was more durable than papyrus and immune to Egyptian papyrus monopolies, but it was still relatively expensive and labor-intensive to produce. Rulers also fretted how rising literacy and access to new ideas might affect their populations. “A new way of thinking was emerging,” Kurlansky writes, and it needed to be recorded in a new way. “Something as disposable as wax, as light as leaves, as cheap as clay, and as durable as parchment was needed.”
And thus was early social media born...

King Is Gone

Shaun King quits:
While my practice and devotion to religion has waxed and waned across the past few years, I still very much believe that verse is true. When you find evil in the world, when you find corruption, when you find starvation and exploitation, when you find poverty and despair, when you find drugs, guns, and substandard housing, when you find evil — if you dig far enough, you will often discover the love of money at the root. Underneath so much of what is wrong in this country is the deep love of money and all that it brings. Sometimes the connection is obvious and undeniable – other times not so much, but like the huge glacier underneath the still water, it is there.

Right now, the Democratic Party, which I have called home my entire life, is deeply in love with money. Consequently, its leaders have supported and advanced all kinds of evil, big and small, in devotion to this love affair.
At least he seems to have seen the light. Will others follow?

Never Trump, Nevermore

Yes, they lost:

A Fake Dog's Life

They're men...dressed as dogs:
Tom has spent more than £4,000 over the past 10 years on his canine habit and he shows off his rubber costume, complete with breathing tube, but admits: 'It is quite awkward to put on, you need a lot of talc.'

So intense is Tom's craving that he has taken to sleeping in a dog training crate, lined with puppy training pads in case he has to answer the call of nature.

Tom - or Spot, as he likes to be known - was crowned Mr Puppy UK in November - pipping Minty and Oakleigh - and is filmed travelling to the finals of Mr Puppy Euro in Belgium.

On his Twitter account Spot says he is owned for by Colin, whose own Twitter profile describes him as being into 'Lycra, Gunge, Pup Play, BDSM.'

Tom tells the programme: 'Rachel thought I was becoming gay.'

He later admits: 'A tiny bit of me regrets being a puppy because I lost what I had.'
Your sanity?