Monday, August 21, 2017

There Goes The Sun

Here comes the eclipse:

Here Comes The Judge

A judge has taken a big step in making the IRS more accountable:
The targeting scandal drew much attention in 2013 when the IRS, headed at the time by Lois Lerner, admitted it was applying extra scrutiny to conservative groups applying for nonprofit status.

“That was wrong,” Lerner said at the time in the press. “That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. ... The IRS would like to apologize for that.”

But director of investigations and research at Judicial Watch Chris Farrell, whose organization is also involved in litigation with the IRS on this issue, told Fox News that the IRS owes litigants “real accountability.”

“This was creepy, chilling stuff,” Farrell told Fox News. “Judge Walton has accomplished more with one ruling than all of the rest of the federal government—all three branches—over the last six years.”
Sometimes all it takes is one...

The Wilderness Brigade

Even Joe Scarborough admits it:

Gruber Gets Got

The Architect is out:
Under the terms of the settlement, Gruber will no longer work as a taxpayer-funded economic consultant for the state’s health care system and he won’t seek to be paid any money he might be owed, reports the Rutland Herald, a Vermont newspaper.

For its part under the agreement, the Vermont’s attorney general will not pursue legal action under the Vermont Civil False Claims Act.

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced the settlement on Friday after state investigators wrapped up an inquiry into Gruber’s billing practices.

Officials in Vermont had hired Gruber as an economic consultant to assess, examine and provide economic models for a now-abandoned plan to roll out a single-payer health care system across the tiny state.

The single-payer health care scheme, called Green Mountain Care, was the brainchild of former Gov. Pete Shumlin.
Not so great minds think alike...

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Climate By Committee Is Dead

Donald Trump does away with another do-nothing committee, causing liberal outrage everywhere:
The skinny
The panel, aptly named, “Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment,” is a 15-member panel comprised of people from different backgrounds whose purpose was to simplify the findings of the National Climate Assessment for people in and out of the government, according to The Hill.

Ben Friedman, acting administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, informed the committee on Friday that its charter would not be renewed, according to the Washington Post.

The National Climate Assessment was intended to be updated and released every four years, but only three reports have been released since 1990. The next report was due to be released next year.

Former President Barack Obama established the committee in 2015.

The controversy
There was controversy surrounding the panel earlier this month after the New York Times reported that next year’s report had been leaked to them. However, the reported wasn’t leaked and it had been publicly available for months.

The Times seized on the opportunity to posture the Trump administration in a negative light because the report concluded that human activities were causing a rise in global temperatures. The Times’ report quoted scientists who suggested the Trump administration was trying to suppress the report. However, that was proven false.
Why pay liars when you don't have to?

The King Of Comedy

RIP Jerry Lewis:
Barely out of his teens, he shot to fame shortly after World War II with a nightclub act in which the rakish, imperturbable Dean Martin crooned and the skinny, hyperactive Mr. Lewis capered around the stage, a dangerously volatile id to Mr. Martin’s supremely relaxed ego.

After his break with Mr. Martin in 1956, Mr. Lewis went on to a successful solo career, eventually writing, producing and directing many of his own films.

As a spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Mr. Lewis raised vast sums for charity; as a filmmaker of great personal force and technical skill, he made many contributions to the industry, including the invention in 1960 of a device — the video assist, which allowed directors to review their work immediately on the set — still in common use.

A mercurial personality who could flip from naked neediness to towering rage, Mr. Lewis seemed to contain multitudes, and he explored all of them. His ultimate object of contemplation was his own contradictory self, and he turned his obsession with fragmentation, discontinuity and the limits of language into a spectacle that enchanted children, disturbed adults and fascinated postmodernist critics.
He never stopped going, and maybe still is:

Thumbing For The Gold

Finally: Video games at the Olympics?
According to Associated Press, Tony Estanguet, co-president of the Paris Olympic bid committee, will hold talks with the IOC and eSports officials on the matter. He believes a competition involving digital skills should be considered, especially if they’re going to appeal to a younger generation of fans. Estanguet says the discussions will help everyone understand why competitive gaming has been successful, Associated Press reports.

The eSports market is expected to make $696 million in revenue this year and rise to $1.48 billion by 2020, according to Business Insider. Its total audience is expected to grow from 385 million in 2019 to 589 million over the next three years.

The talks are set to begin in 2019, according to the Associated Press. The Paris program will be finalized by the IOC shortly after the 2020 Olympics, giving eSports supports ample time to lobby their cause.
World of Warcraft for the Gold?

Blogging In The Years: 1982

What it's like to get lost in an eclipse:
You do not see the moon. So near the sun, it is as completely invisible as the stars are by day. What you see before your eyes is the sun going through phases. It gets narrower and narrower, as the waning moon does, and, like the ordinary moon, it travels alone in the simple sky. The sky is of course background. It does not appear to eat the sun; it is far behind the sun. The sun simply shaves away; gradually, you see less sun and more sky.


The sky’s blue was deepening, but there was no darkness. The sun was a wide crescent, like a segment of tangerine. The wind freshened and blew steadily over the hill. The eastern hill across the highway grew dusky and sharp. The towns and orchards in the valley to the south were dissolving into the blue light. Only the thin river held a trickle of sun.

Now the sky to the west deepened to indigo, a color never seen. A dark sky usually loses color. This was a saturated, deep indigo, up in the air. Stuck up into that unworldly sky was the cone of Mount Adams, and the alpenglow was upon it. The alpenglow is that red light of sunset which holds out on snowy mountaintops long after the valleys and tablelands are dimmed. “Look at Mount Adams,” I said, and that was the last sane moment I remember.
The moon may not be blue, but there is blue light nonetheless...

Frank Lloyd Wright's Last Island Dream

What would Frank Lloyd Wright have done with Ellis Island?
What Wright proposed was a city of the future. On the square, grassy foundation of Ellis Island, Wright placed another grassy round second level in something of a large-scale Lazy Susan that hovered over the island.
On top of that piece would sit everything a modern community could ever need. Apartments were situated in towers that had long suspension cables extending from their roofs down to the edge of the island.
Visitors could stay at the 500-room hotel, while glass-domed structures dotted around the island would house a theater, planetarium, nightclubs, restaurants, shops, banks, a hospital, a library, a sports stadium, a church, and more.
A swimming pool was cordoned off in the sea, moving sidewalks were placed around the community, and up to 450 boats could dock on the sides of the island under cover from the top piece of land.
“It’s incredible. It’s a little nuts,” Sam Lubell, co-author of Never Built New York, told The Daily Beast. “It’s sort of the part of Frank Lloyd Wright’s career where he had really been seduced by futurism, and some of it’s a little over the top, but it’s also extremely interesting and intricate and kind of wonderful, something that never gets old this whole idea of ebullient futurism.”
Perhaps some things are better left unbuilt...

The Writer's Best Friend

Why the typewriter still matters:
In a scene about half-way through the film, Shepard, in what will surely be one of, if not his last onscreen performance after his July 27 death, is sitting in his indexed library in front of a vintage Swiss-made Hermes 3000 typewriter essentially bleeding his heart out over his keyboard. He talks of apparitions and magic, and then apologizes for sounding “all hocus-pocus” about the experience and solitude of being alone with his typewriter as his one true writing companion.
He speaks lovingly about the feel of the keys under his fingers and the ‘splat’ of the ink as the letter hammer hits the paper. “When you are going to go ride a horse, you have to saddle it,” he says. “When you are going to use a typewriter, you have to feed it paper. There is a percussion about it. You can see the ink flying onto the surface of the paper.”
But what he really captures is the companionship a good typewriter offers to its owner, which even the latest version of Siri can never provide. “I feel my great strength as a writer is being alone,” he says poignantly, grazing the keys of his Hermes. “Aloneness is a condition of writing.” Alone, of course, with his typewriter.
Sometimes all you need is a little creative, mechanical companionship...

Elvis Who?

Remember the King?
Before long we may have more Elvis imitators than Elvis fans.
Unlike, say, Johnny Cash, his fellow Sun Records alumnus, Elvis never caught on in a big way with the generations born after he died. But then, Cash was perennially cool in a way Elvis was not.
Elvis’ appeal was more mysterious. First of all, it wasn’t merely about his music, at least not after the first few years. After he left the army and went to Hollywood and Vegas, the music became just another facet of the empire that his manager, Col. Tom Parker, built and ran off Elvis’ back for more than two decades. There would be more good songs (“Suspicious Minds,” “Burnin’ Love,” best jukebox song ever), but long before he died nobody thought of Elvis as anything but this weird cat in a class all his own.
Is Elvis really eternal, or just generational?

Russian Cash Cow

Don't tell the Democrats:
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has accepted more than $60,000 in small donations from Leonard Blavatnik, a Ukrainian-born energy billionaire with ties to Russian oligarchs, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation examination of the Democrat’s financial disclosure reports .

Blavatnik plowed $25,000 into Schneiderman’s political war chest in January of 2017 – his generous contribution was one of the largest individual donations given to the New York Democrat this year. Blavatnik had previously donated $38,000 to the anti-Trump lawman from 2011 to 2014.

Schneiderman’s office has not responded to TheDCNF’s request for comment in time for the publication of this article.

His fundraising efforts highlighted various legal challenges against the president have earned Schneiderman $1.7 million in contributions during the first half of this year, Politico reported in July. Schneiderman’s first half of contributions were consistent with the $1.6 million he reported in January.
Looking for fake Russians with the help of real Russians is good work if you can get it...

Bottle Backers

Plastic bottles are back:
“While we will continue to encourage the use of free water bottle filling stations as appropriate, ultimately it should be up to our visitors to decide how best to keep themselves and their families hydrated during a visit to a national park, particularly during hot summer visitation periods,” Acting National Park Service (NPS) Director Michael Reynolds said in a statement released Wednesday.

A 2011 directive from the Obama administration allowed park officials to ban the sale of water bottles at national parks but allowed bottled soft drinks and juices.

The purpose of the directive was to reduce the sale of plastic bottles throughout the National Park System.

Park Service officials said that only 23 of the 417 national parks in the system, adding that the policy took away “the healthiest beverage choice” available to visitors.
It's all water under the park bridge now...

Water Vapor Trails

Defying the...water authority?
It began when a person by the name of Blake Albert tweeted a short video of himself vaping near a city utility vehicle to appear “gangster.” He tweeted the video at the Lawrence Police Department, presumably because he thought the car he posed in front of was a cop car.

But it wasn’t — and Lawrence PD was quick to inform him.

“I’m sorry Blake, this is awkward, but that’s not a police car. You vaped in front of a water service vehicle. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯,” the police department tweeted.
It's a clear case of H20 brutality...

Saved By A Hair

Haircuts are now racist:
The man aimed for his head over his car door, but Witt blocked the blow with his hand, which needed three stitches.

“I threw my hands up and once the knife kind of hit, I dived back into my car and shut the door and watched him run off west, behind my car."

Witt, who is in no way a neo-Nazi, joked that he believes it was indeed his haircut that confused the anti-fascist, and said he's considering changing his style. He has no other marks that would make his attacker mistake him for a white nationalist, he said.

“Apparently, my haircut is considered a neo-Nazi statement,” he told The New York Post.
Sometimes a haircut is just a haircut...

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Creative Labeling

What do we call liberal arts?
The word “liberal” is “politically charged,” the polling group’s essay says, “and ‘arts’ has a negative connotation regarding improving graduates’ job prospects.”

“The words ‘liberal’ and ‘arts’ just don’t resonate in the minds of far too many Americans, especially those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.”

In support of its claim, Gallup cites data indicating that a majority of Republicans believe higher education is detrimental to the nation. Specifically, a majority of Republicans voters and those voters who lean toward the GOP say they are apprehensive about the value of a college education because they believe the campus environment is “too liberal.” (Majorities of GOP voters do not cite cost or career prospects as reasons for apprehension.)

Also, Gallup notes, a recent poll shows that a large percentage of U.S. parents who have children currently in middle school or high school say they believe “no college at all” is more likely to lead to a good job than a “liberal arts degree.”
Perhaps that's because most jobs require a real degree?

A Tax By Any Other Name

Where do they get these ideas?
Recently, the Daily News and Washington Times reported that party leadership is considering replacing the failed border adjustment tax with revenue raisers from former Rep. Dave Camp’s (D-MI) 2014 tax reform plan. Allegedly, one of the top contenders for replacement is his old advertising tax provision, which would scrap advertising’s full deductibility as a business expense and make it only half deductible, with the other half being amortized over a ten-year period.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) are too smart to let this tax go into their soon to be released tax reform proposal. If it arises, they must use their knowledge and instincts to kill the provision, because passing such a tax would undoubtedly be political and economic suicide.
....

By holding back Americans’ money for over a decade, the Camp ad tax proposal would be violating that amendment by essentially making free speech a dollar and cents game. Only those who could afford to do without the money would be able to continue.

It’s clearly unconstitutional, and as constitutional scholar Bruce Fein at Huffington Post and litigation attorney Christopher Cooke at The Hill have detailed, there’s plenty of Supreme Court precedent to prove it. Under the plan, advertising would be treated worse than every other business expense that receives full expensing, making it a clear violation of the First Amendment that would lead to the bankrupting of local newspapers and radio stations. This would keep communities in the dark about what’s going on around them, all while adding more monopoly strength to the already-powerful cable news giants. Essentially, it would do exactly what our founding fathers tried to prevent.
Censorship by tax? Leave it to politicians to be this dumb...

Friday, August 18, 2017

Corruption Pays

If you were a crook before, the IRS is willing to rehire you:
According to the document, 13 of those rehired employees had previously been terminated from the IRS for falsifying employment forms, and both official and unofficial documents. Two of those employees had repetitively falsified employment forms by omitting prior convictions or terminations, TIGTA found.

Four of the 213 rehired employees were previously terminated or resigned for “willful failure to properly file their Federal tax returns,” and another 15 separated from the agency for various other tax issues.

Another four of those who were rehired by the IRS had previously separated from the federal agency while under investigation for unauthorized accesses to taxpayer information, while TIGTA cited 86 employees as having separated due to absence and leave, workplace disruption, or failure to follow instructions.
Being a government employee means never having to worry about really losing your job...

Bannon Begone

Steve Bannon is history:
The White House confirmed in a brief statement that Bannon, a hardcore populist who often sparred with his West Wing colleagues, would make Friday his last day -- just over a year after he joined the Trump presidential campaign.

"White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve's last day," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. "We are grateful for his service and wish him the best."

One White House aide told Fox News the departure was a long time coming, and that Bannon actually submitted his resignation in writing two weeks ago.
This would have been just days after Kelly joined as chief of staff. Kelly was said to have been the driving force in the ouster of former communications director Anthony Scaramucci, and speculation swiftly centered on Bannon as the next one to go.

Sources say Bannon has become increasingly isolated in the White House. Adding to the pressure, some critics also publicly attacked Bannon in the wake of last weekend's Charlottesville violence, in which a counter-protester was killed at a white nationalist rally. Trump came under intense criticism for his response to that violence, and some blamed Bannon for the tone -- though it's unclear how much influence he had in Trump's remarks.
And now, apparently, no more...

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Portrait Of A President

John Quincy Adams in black and white:
Adams, who sat for more than 60 portraits over the course of his life, was intrigued by the uncanny likenesses produced by the new medium of photography, even if he wasn’t always charmed by the results. In his diary on March 8, 1843, he recorded his first visit to the Washington studio of Philip Haas, where he sat for three daguerreotypes. (Daguerreotypes, which are made directly onto chemically treated plates, are unique objects; no negatives are involved.)

“The operation is performed in half a minute; but is yet altogether incomprehensible to me,” Adams wrote. “It would seem as easy to stamp a fixed portrait from the reflection of a mirror; but how wonderful would that reflection itself be, if we were not familiarized to it from childhood.”

He returned a week later, interrupting a sitting of his friend Horace Everett, a congressman from Vermont. Adams sat for three more daguerreotypes, according to his diary, and at some point gave one of them to Everett.
The daguerreotypes make the man...

Time To Pay The Payers

A judge rules that it's time for the IRS to come clean:
IRS senior executive Lois G. Lerner initially said the problem was rogue employees at an Ohio office who botched the handling. But subsequent investigations revealed that IRS officials at the highest levels of Washington were aware of the delays and extra scrutiny.
Some applications are still awaiting approval, though the IRS as of late last month had agreed to a process for deciding on one of the key outstanding cases.
Still, some tea party groups say they feel they are being treated unfairly.
Carly Gammill, a lawyer at the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing some of the groups in the lawsuits, told Judge Walton that they are concerned about an email sent by IRS employees during the initial targeting speculating that they would approve applications but would review them later for follow-ups.
“We suspect we will have to approve the majority of the c4 applications,” Holly Paz, a top Lerner aide, said in one 2011 email. “We will also refer these organizations to the Review of operations for follow-up in a later year.”
Ms. Gammill said the case against the IRS has been open for four years and that it’s time the agency explain what it did and whether it’s still treating tea party applications differently.
An explanation is long overdue...

Avert Your Eyes

Some things are best left unseen:
In just the past month, residents in California, Kansas, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey, Houston, and Nevada have been shocked to see naked and agitated men in their neighborhoods, acting in bizarre and, in some cases, threatening manners.

On Wednesday, a suspected car thief led police on a chase that ended in a standoff "when the man climbed a crane at the Port of Los Angeles and got naked."
....

In Lawrence, Kansas, earlier this month, "scores of people" were left speechless when 34-year-old Kyle Carlson nonchalantly decided to walk down the street completely in the buff. Carlson was promptly arrested, but immediately shed his clothes again when he was let out of jail later in the day.
The nude apocalypse?

Pardon Time?

Does Julian Assange really have the inside scoop?
"He reaffirmed his aggressive denial that the Russians had anything to do with the hacking of the DNC during the election," Rohrabacher told the Orange County Register. "He has given us a lot of information. He said there's more to come. We don't have the entire picture yet."

Assange "emphatically stated that the Russians were not involved in the hacking or disclosure of those emails," according to a statement from Rohrabacher's office.

Rohrabacher, a former Reagan White House communications aide, is an outspoken defender of Russian President Vladimir Putin and one of the Democrats' top targets for the 2018 midterm elections. He is a fervent supporter of President Trump, who has also cast doubt on whether Russia was involved in the 2016 election meddling.

Speaking of the information he says he obtained from Assange, Rohrabacher told the Register it would have "an earth-shattering political impact. It wouldn't be so important if Democrats hadn't focused so inordinately on the Russians. Democrats are creating a total upheaval over this."
Will Assange create even more upheaval for them? We'll see.

Blade Runners

That's not a knife:
In a twist on typical open-carry laws that deal with guns, Texas starting Sept. 1 will end its ban on the open-carry of any blade longer than five-and-a-half inches.

“Some other states are looking at us as a return to the old Wild West,” said Dianna Knipp, owner of Charlie’s Knife Shop in El Paso.

The new law, while drawing some attention in the press, has stayed relatively under the radar. Some Texas residents Fox News spoke with didn’t know about the change.

“I think it will be similar to the open-carry law in Texas [for firearms] in that it will be a big stir for a while and then it will die down,” Knipp said.
In the end, there can be only one...

Fake News Fight

Do not make fun of the Fake News:

Tax Reform The Hard Way

Can the Republicans still do reform?
Some are pushing for Republicans to embrace a long-shot strategy to tie tax reform to an infrastructure spending package to bring Democrats on board.

Others have given up hope that Congress will be able to pass anything more than a temporary tax cut for individuals — maybe the only measure that can attract 50 Republican votes in the Senate.

“We’ll end up with some lower rates and some business tax changes and probably some tax cuts that are probably temporary because they’re doing it all with Republican votes,” said Randy Hardock, a partner at Davis & Harman who worked for Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) in 1986.

The landmark tax legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 is the standard by which all other tax reform efforts are judged. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has acknowledged the current bill will be less ambitious, Hardock and half a dozen other present-day lobbyists who were involved in the 1986 effort say it underscores just how difficult it will be to pass a true tax reform package.
You can't always get what you want, even when you have the votes...

Blues In The Red

Democrats are still hurting for cash:
Many Democrats are frustrated by the sluggish fundraising pace, which comes even as President Trump's sagging approval rating drives Democratic outrage across the country.

They're also concerned about the implications of being financially outgunned ahead of a pivotal midterm election cycle, where Democrats will attempt to take the House while defending a number of Senate seats.
"We really should be kicking their asses," one longtime Democratic donor said. "It shouldn't even be close, considering all hell is breaking loose on their side."

The donor, like many top Democratic donors and fundraisers who requested anonymity to share their candid assessments with The Hill, conceded that it’s “still early” in the cycle. The group still thinks there's time for new DNC Chairman Tom Perez to right the ship following a bruising 2016 run for Democrats.

“We all know that the last six months has been a complete rebuild of the party structure with Tom Perez and it seems like they are trying to be very methodical on how they rebuild. So it’s not surprising that their fundraising isn’t as aggressive or advanced right now,” one top Democratic fundraiser said.

“What happens six months, nine months, 12 months from now will be a much clearer signal on whether the Democrats are truly in trouble.”
Seems to be happening sooner than that...

No Symbols Allowed

See no Southern evil?
Outlawing all Confederate flags, symbols, statues, and groups would not only be indescribably impractical — taking into account the existence of battlefield monuments, graves, Civil War re-enactors, every single souvenir shop within a 10-mile radius of Gettysburg, historical computer games, and Lynyrd Skynyrd albums — it would also be illegal.

"Even the most liberal Supreme Court justice knows that the remedy to hateful or offensive speech is opposing speech," Eddie Zipperer, an assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College, told LifeZette. "This would be a blatant violation of the First Amendment."

"Leftists always haul out the argument that you can't yell 'fire' in a crowded theater, so free speech has limits," he said. "But that argument is nonsensical. Historically, the Supreme Court goes to any length to protect political speech — even wildly unpopular speech."
Unfortunately, the left won't...

Like Butter

The Butter Apocalypse is real:
The problem began with the 2014 Russian embargo of European food items (note that 24 percent of the EU’s butter exports went to Russia), which resulted in the price of bottled water being higher than a bottle of milk across much of the continent. European dairy farmers reacted by producing far less milk than they normally would, but the demand for butter, milk, and other dairy products continued to rise.

It’s likely that global demand for butter will rise about 3 percent this year, partially due to the emerging trend of shunning margarine and butter substitutes for the real deal. Even China, which imports the vast majority of their dairy products from New Zealand and Europe, is slated to consume 38 percent more milk in 2017. With a milk shortage already gripping the EU, it’s a good time to be a dairy farmer in New Zealand.

What does this mean for the average European diet? For starters, the price of butter itself has risen 20 percent since June 2016, and the prices for food items containing dairy, including pastries, croissants, and cakes, will likely increase by fall, and shortages of milk and butter are to be expected in the months ahead.
Got milk? Maybe not...

The Rejected Presidents

Thus it begins:
A bronze statue of George Washington on horseback stands at the corner of 51st and King Drive, at the northwest entrance to Washington Park.

Bishop James Dukes, pastor of Liberation Christian Center, said he wants the statue gone, and he wants George Washington’s name removed from the park.

“When I see that, I see a person who fought for the liberties, and I see people that fought for the justice and freedom of white America, because at that moment, we were still chattel slavery, and was three-fifths of humans,” he said. “Some people out here ask me, say ‘Well, you know, he taught his slaves to read.’ That’s almost sad; the equivalent of someone who kidnaps you, that you gave them something to eat.”
He also gave all Americans something else-like the country we live in...

Guests Wanted

Who wants to let in the riff raff?
Homeowners in unincorporated communities who qualify can receive up to $75,000 to build a second dwelling in areas zoned for such structures, while others may get $50,000 to update and legalize an existing dwelling.

The program was introduced last year as part of Los Angeles County’s set of 47 strategies to solve homelessness. The office of Regional Planning will work with several departments countywide with an allocated $550,000 in part to be used to offer subsidies.

Unlike a guest house, second dwellings include kitchens.

The program also will streamline the permitting process and provide technical assistance to homeowners within the county’s unincorporated areas, who would qualify, officials said.

Details of who would be housed and the selection process are still under discussion, said supervising regional planner Connie Chung on Monday. Funding allows for two to three new second dwellings, and for the remodeling of two to three existing ones, she added.
I'm sure there are many wealthy L.A. liberals who would agree to this...right?

Trump Therapy

Let's talk about Trump:
Deborah Cooper, a therapist based out of California, told the New York Daily News that business is so good that she is working overtime to accommodate all her patients.

“I have people I have not seen in literally 30 years that have called me to come back in because of trauma,” she said. “I am more than full. I am overworking.”

Cooper said that Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville was one anxiety-provoking event of many instances in Trump’s presidency that are coming “too fast and furious” for patients and therapists.

Clinical psychologist Scott Christnelly said there is a lot of evidence to back up his patients’ anxiety over Trump’s remarks on Tuesday.

“This is more evidence they should be anxious. There is evidence the anxiety is real, and it’s not just something they are making up,” he said.
Trump is literally living in their heads...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Pay Now, Pay Later

The Obamacare subsidies will continue:
The president previously has tried to use the threat of ending the cost-sharing payments as a means to force passage of a bill to replace Obamacare.

But just as he has done every month since taking office, Trump on Wednesday agreed to let them continue.

The Affordable Care Act, as Obamacare is formally known, requires insurers to offer reduced out-of-pocket charges customers of individual health plans if those people earn less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level, or less than $30,150 per year for a single person.

A report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that for people who earn between 150 percent and 200 percent of poverty "the average deductible is reduced to $809, a savings of $2,800" each year.

The ACA also says that the federal government will compensate insurers for the money they do not collect in co-payments, coinsurance and deductibles from the qualified customers.

Next year the subsidies are projected to be worth $10 billion to insurers.
They're not going to give up that gravy train so easily...

Bad For Business

Big business jumps ship:
Their decision was not unanimous, initially. The strategic council's leader, Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, seemed reluctant at first to disband the group. He changed his mind on Tuesday, CNBC has learned.

Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch was also skeptical at first about ending the forum.

In a statement, the Strategic and Policy Forum members said they "believe the debate over Forum participation has become a distraction from our well-intentioned and sincere desire to aid vital policy discussions on how to improve the lives of everyday Americans."

Corporate leaders and notable Republicans distanced themselves from Trump this week because of his response to last weekend's violence.
They don't want him on their resumes...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Falsely Accused

Student rights are everyone's:
Brent E. Turvey, now the director of the Forensic Criminology Institute in Alaska, advanced the claim in his recently published book, False Allegations: Investigative and Forensic Issues in Fraudulent Reports, designed to be a handbook for criminal investigators.

Students are one of a few “vulnerable groups” that routinely either make false reports or are subject to them, Turvey writes, along with people who suffer from addiction, sex workers, public figures, and politicians. Because college students often accuse their peers, false reports are often made by students against other students, Turvey explains.

Investigating claims of sexual assault made by these students is difficult because of their history of making false allegations, Turvey concedes. Because it is impossible to know off-the-bat whether an allegation is true or false, all complaints must be taken seriously, he says.

Thus, investigators must be prudent to investigate all cases “without consideration of personal bias, public pressure, or politics” that could otherwise cloud the investigation.
Unfortunately campus kangaroo courts don't work that way...

Profit Motives

Never let a riot go to waste:
The broader mission of Indivisible is raising money to “defeat the Trump agenda” and put liberals in public office.

“The Indivisible Project’s mission is to cultivate and lift up a grassroots movement of local groups to defeat the Trump agenda, elect progressive leaders, and realize bold progressive policies,” states the website.

“We need your help to provide the 6,000 grassroots Indivisible groups across the country with resources, tools, and support to take action,” says the website, urging donations. “Most of all, we want you to be part of this nationwide movement.”

“Every part of the progressive ecosystem is under threat by this President and Congress,” according to the website. “The only way to win is by standing together, indivisible.”

The website also lists events for interacting with members of Congress during the August recess.
Come what may, the "cause" goes on...

Fake News Under Fire

President Trump fights back:
“There was no way of making a correct statement that early,” he said, defending his first statement on Saturday before the facts were in. “Unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.”

As reporters grew more agitated, Trump continued defending his decision and condemning the media for their one sided reporting.

Trump again denounced racist elements among the protesters, including people supporting the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white nationalists, but clarified that he still believed that there was blame on both sides.

“You look at both sides. I think there is blame on both on both sides. I have no doubt about it … if you reported it accurately, you would say that,” he said.
Never let facts get in the way of the blaming...

Words Times Two

Nobody could ever accuse Hillary's friends of being too original:
CNN posted an excerpt from the book last week, featuring an email Shillady sent to Clinton the day after her shocking election loss titled "Sunday's Coming."

Rev. Matthew Deuel, of Mission Point Community Church in Winona Lake, Indiana, reached out to CNN after noticing striking similarities to a blog post he wrote in March 2016.

For example, Deuel wrote: "For the disciples and Christ followers in the first century, Good Friday represented the day that everything fell apart. All was lost. The momentum and hope of a man, claiming to be the Son of God, the Messiah who was supposed to change everything, had been executed."

Shillady's email to Clinton contains a nearly identical passage: "For the disciples and Christ's followers in the first century, Good Friday represented the day that everything fell apart. All was lost. The momentum and hope of a man claiming to be the Son of God, the Messiah who was supposed to change everything, had been executed."
It's all in the execution...

One Message For All

Suppose the Democrats had a message and nobody listened?
The Democrats’ leaders have continued to declare that their losses in every special election during President Donald Trump’s first 200 days were not due to any middle-class problem, economic problem, national security problem, religion problem, illegal alien problem or any other policy problem. As Paul Waldman claimed in The Week last month, the only reason Democrats have a problem is that they “don’t have a bunch of simplified messaging and pithy slogans that describe their agenda.”

With 43 years of government experience, Rep. Garamendi served in the State Assembly and State Senate; was California Insurance Commissioner and Lieutenant Governor; and has been a congressman from Northern California since late 2009. During Garamendi’s entire political career, he has constantly pushed the for a single-payer healthcare system — but that message has gone nowhere.
Saying the same thing over and over and expecting people to listen might be considered a form of insanity...

The Gifs That Keep On Giving

Apparently emojois and gifs are now racist:
The online clip, presented by writer and Guardian contributor Victoria Princewill, begins with a “trigger warning”, in case viewers find historical footage of minstrel shows “offensive”.

Ms. Princewill claims the “most popular” reaction GIFs are “black people being dramatic”.

“This, is digital black face,” she declares, before comparing the GIFs to the explicit racism of past decades and claiming the tiny images used to communicate in text messages and on social media are the “21st-century version of that”.
Speaking of people being dramatic...

The New Hieroglyphics

Is the emoji replacing the texted word?
Emojis, a popular way to replicate non-verbal communication, are used six billion times a day and have been described as the fastest growing language in history.

Now it seems that like so many jokey messages that have gone down like a lead balloon, the sender could simply make themselves seem less competent.

Concluding that "a smiley is not a smile", academics have even warned that peppering an email with emojis could harm your job prospects by making colleagues less likely to share information with you.

The effect can be so damaging that people are advised to avoid them at work all together, especially the first time you talk to someone.

Dr Ella Glikson, an expert in business and management at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, said: "Our findings provide first-time evidence that - contrary to actual smiles - smileys do not increase perceptions of warmth and actually decrease perceptions of competence."
Leave the smiles at home?

Doomsday Deferred

There won't be an Armageddon just yet:
North Korea’s decision to back down is a major victory for the United States, as it was achieved — apparently — with no concessions to the regime, and after a sustained “Twitter war” of words with President Donald Trump.

Trump was roundly criticized by politicians from both parties and by the media for his responses to North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches, and to news that the regime could miniaturize a nuclear warhead. Trump threatened “fire and fury” and declared that U.S. military plans were “locked and loaded.” His critics, including former Obama administration National Security Adviser Susan Rice, accused him of escalating the situation. Rice even suggested appeasement: “[W]e can, if we must, tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea.”

However, Trump’s method of one-upping Kim-Jong-un’s belligerent rhetoric seems to have worked, as Trump cast himself as even more unpredictable than the infamously impetuous tyrant.
Crazy is as crazy does...

Robot Vision

It's time for the Doctor Robot show:
The Daily Star reports Double Act Productions hope to make a version of the successful Jeremy Kyle show.

Showbiz agents have apparently been contacted as the producers look to find celebs interested in having a bot fix their problems.

One agent told the Star: "I wouldn't mind representing the robot, as unlike human hosts it would hopefully be happy with any deal I could fix.

"It sounds like it'll be fascinating daytime TV. Jeremy Kyle needs to keep looking over his shoulder, as artificial intelligence could be the future."

A producers note to agents said: "We’re looking for stories where there is a dilemma or a couple, family or friends needing to make a big decision. This could be just about anything – big or small!"
Could a robot really understand the human mind? Would it really want to?

Clocking Out

London's iconic clock tower is going silent for awhile:
Big Ben is to be silenced amid fears workers involved in a restoration project could have their hearing damaged. Authorities say it would be 'unacceptable' to expose workers on scaffolding surrounding the bell tower to the noise of its chimes – and also 'unacceptable' for them to wear ear defenders.

They say they owe the workers 'a duty of care' on health and safety grounds, but the decision triggered an outcry last night.

Labour MP Steve Pound said: 'They kept the bells tolling through the Blitz. The Luftwaffe could not stop it but health and safety has. There has to be a way around this.'

The bell at the north-eastern end of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster will ring for the last time at noon next Monday. The renovation of the Elizabeth Tower is expected to be completed by 2021.

A spokesman for the Parliamentary authorities said: 'The chimes are being stopped to provide a safe environment for the people working on the scaffolding. Constant proximity to the chimes would pose a serious risk to their hearing, and prevent efficient working.'
Even clocks sometimes need to take a break...

There Goes The Sun

Here comes the eclipse: