Sunday, May 31, 2015

Creative Journalism

How to save Brian Williams?
Weeks of complex negotiations between Williams and NBC are not yet complete, according to sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

There are any number of possible outcomes. Several of the sources said Williams could end up leaving NBC altogether following a financial settlement. But another possibility, and the one advanced in recent discussions, involves a new role for Williams.

Andy Lack, the chairman of NBC News, has been a proponent of this outcome.

“Andy’s contorting to figure out a way to keep Brian,” one of the sources said.

One of the sources described employee meetings where Lack asked attendees to “think creatively” about a new role for Williams.
Just trying to help a brother out...


Rand Paul wins one:
Although the lapse in the programs may be brief, intelligence officials warned that it could jeopardize Americans' safety and amount to a win for terrorists. But civil liberties groups applauded as Paul, who is running for president, forced the expiration of the once-secret program made public by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which critics say is an unconstitutional intrusion into Americans' privacy.

The Senate voted 77-17 to move ahead on the House-passed bill, the USA Freedom Act, which only last weekend fell three votes short of the 60 needed to advance in the Senate. For McConnell, it was a remarkable retreat after objecting ferociously that the House bill would make the bulk phone collections program dangerously unwieldy by requiring the government to search records maintained by phone companies.

"It's not ideal but, along with votes on some modest amendments that attempt to ensure the program can actually work as promised, it's now the only realistic way forward," McConnell said.
At least until it ends altogether?

The Great Non-Gender North

Boys and girls, no more?
The Human Rights Tribunal in British Columbia will consider completely eliminating gender designations from birth certificates in response to complaints from the Trans Alliance Society (TAS) and other transgender individuals, according to an article in the National Post.

According to the complainants, we need to stop acting as if doctors can tell the sex of a baby just by looking at the baby’s genitals:

Birth certificates [may] give false information about people and characterize them in a way that is actually wrong, that assumes to be right, and causes people . . . actual harm,” said transgender woman and TAS chair Morgane Oger.
Oh, the harm of biology...

Musk's Millions

Where is he getting his money from?
Tesla Motors Inc., SolarCity Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support, according to data compiled by The Times. The figure underscores a common theme running through his emerging empire: a public-private financing model underpinning long-shot start-ups.

"He definitely goes where there is government money," said Dan Dolev, an analyst at Jefferies Equity Research. "That's a great strategy, but the government will cut you off one day."
That's assuming they'll figure out he's ripping them off...

The End Of Big Government Blue

The end of blue jobs for minorities:
Historically, the black middle class has relied on the government for good jobs. One in five African Americans are employed by the government, making them more dependent on public sector employment than whites and Hispanics. But those jobs are disappearing. . . .

The loss of these jobs has and will hit the African American community hard, putting it in an even more economically precarious position in the coming years. But there’s no reversing the economic and technological trends of the last half-century that have eroded the blue model and employment it generated. These jobs are gone and it’s futile to lament the end of the glory days of peak blue—or strive to bring them back.

Instead, those concerned for the welfare of the black middle class should be putting more energy into considering what the high-wage middle class jobs of the future will be.
Anywhere but in government, presumably...

Shakespeare In The Slammer

High culture meets hard time:
It wasn't just the fine performance of LeMar Harrison, aka Maverick, who played Antony, that moved the crowd. It was the heft of Azraal Ford, the larger-than-life actor who played Caesar. Big Az is a towering, well-built man. Maverick is buff but shorter, yet he somehow managed to carry Big Az with seeming ease down the aisle of the 300-seat chapel that served as San Quentin's stage.

An English major at one of America's most prestigious universities can skip Shakespeare, but the Bard still commands respect in select California prisons. The Marin Shakespeare Company has sponsored Shakespeare productions at San Quentin State Prison since 2003. The program is funded by grants and donations. This May, San Quentin and Solano state prisons put on two plays, "Julius Caesar" and "Macbeth." Lesley Currier of the company told me that many inmates enter the program "shut down emotionally." Practicing the dramatic arts teaches empathy, as actors have to put themselves in another's skin. "Theater breaks down social barriers, creates friendships, reduces stress and builds bridges between people who might not otherwise have had reasons to interact and learn about each other," a teachers manual explains.
Channeling their inner Brutus?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Rand Paul Battles On

Rand Paul is determined:
Sunday, I will continue my fight to end the illegal collection of American phone records. The Second Appeals court has ruled the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records illegal. We should not be debating modifying an illegal program. We should simply end this illegal program.

How will we defend ourselves if the Patriot Act expires? Well, perhaps we could just rely on the Constitution and demonstrate exactly how traditional judicial warrants can gather all the info we need—and how bulk collection really hasn’t worked.

We have all the tools we need to preserve both security and liberty. What we now need is a president with the will to do just that.
The monster can only be killed by its creators...

Beau Biden Gone

Gone too soon:
"It is with broken hearts that Hallie, Hunter, Ashley, Jill and I announce the passing of our husband, brother and son, Beau, after he battled brain cancer with the same integrity, courage and strength he demonstrated every day of his life," the vice president said in a statement late Saturday.

"The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words. We know that Beau's spirit will live on in all of us, especially through his brave wife, Hallie, and two remarkable children."

President Barack Obama said he and the first lady were grieving alongside the Biden family.

"Michelle and I humbly pray for the good Lord to watch over Beau Biden, and to protect and comfort his family here on Earth," Obama said.

The younger Biden was a lawyer, member of the Delaware National Guard and former Delaware attorney general.

He was hospitalized earlier this month at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The vice president's office had declined to say what he was being treated for.

Union U-Turn

Unions suddenly decide that wage hikes aren't for them:
For months, organized labor went after companies like McDonalds and Walmart, shaming any business that paid the old minimum wage. Carrying signs saying, "We see greed" and "We are worth more," union members marched outside businesses and appeared at City Council meetings demanding Los Angeles raise the minimum wage from $9 to $15 by 2020.

"We say, 'Don't leave anybody out, don't cut anybody out, a wage raise for all workers!'" Mary Elena Durazo, the longtime leader of the 600,000-strong Los Angeles County Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, told a cheering crowd of supporters at a recent council meeting.

Yet after pushing through the new wage law, union officials are asking for a waiver that would allow any company that unionizes to avoid paying the minimum wage.

"It was a real surprise that in the 11th hour that labor was saying, 'well, we basically support a sub-minimum wage if a company decides to enter into collective bargaining,'" Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell said. "And that really is a complete contradiction to what they've been saying the last couple of months."
Wages for thee, not for me...

Friendly Fire

Hillary's got some explaining to do, says...Nancy Pelosi?

The Singing Candidate

Martin O'Malley is in:
“We cannot rebuild the American dream here at home by catering to the voices of the privileged and the powerful,” O’Malley said.

“Recently the CEO of Goldman Sachs let his employees know that he’d be just fine with either [Jeb] Bush or Clinton. I bet he would,” O’Malley continued. “Well I’ve got news for the bullies of Wall Street. The presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth by you between two royal families. It is a sacred trust we earn from the American people.”
If he was good enough for Baltimore...

Just Ask Questions

I'm pretty sure he's a serial murderer:
“Dan” seems at first to perfectly embody that popular object of scorn these days in San Francisco: the privileged tech worker. He’s a developer-turned-manager at a thriving startup, the type of guy you would expect to see dodging protesters at a Google bus stop or evicting low-income tenants in order to build his dream condo. But beyond that veneer of untouchable privilege, there is a soft underbelly. He’s a 40-year-old virgin, and his troubles with women are bad enough that he’s sought out a sex therapist for help.

While being a virgin at 40 may be extreme, Dan is one of many tech guys who are driving business for the sex therapists of the San Francisco Bay Area. The counselors I’ve spoken with say that anywhere between 50 to 90 percent of their clientele are tech workers, and the vast majority of them are heterosexual men. (Tech employees were estimated in 2011 to account for only 12 percent of workers in the Bay Area.)
This is going to be bad...

Only The Young

The inconvenience of being old in the UK:
In an open letter published in The Lancet, an international group of ageing specialists say the new guideline sends out the message that health provision for younger groups must be prioritised at the expense of older people.
Prof Peter Lloyd-Sherlock, professor of social policy and international development at the University of East Anglia, and lead author of the letter, said: “This premature mortality target is highly unethical, since it unjustifiably discriminates against older people.
“We already know that there is age discrimination in cancer care and surgery and these targets give that the stamp of approval.
“The targets are not quite set in stone yet, so we have a final opportunity to impress upon the UN the need to alter this explicitly ageist health target.
“If this doesn’t happen, people aged 70 and over will become second-class citizens as far as health policy is concerned.”
The nanny state has no more need of you...

They Eat Their Own

Feminists getting censored by other feminists:
“The new codes sweeping American campuses aren’t just a striking abridgment of everyone’s freedom, they’re also intellectually embarrassing,” Kipnis had written in that essay, skewering the modern academic culture that treats students as delicate objects incapable of handling tough thoughts or saying “No” to sexual advances. “Sexual paranoia reigns; students are trauma cases waiting to happen.”

But while Kipnis thought her university would stand behind her and reject the Title IX charges, she was wrong.

The investigation pressed ahead, and Kipnis hadn’t even been informed of the specific charges against her.

Kipnis wrote:
I wrote back to the Title IX coordinator asking for clarification: When would I learn the specifics of these complaints, which, I pointed out, appeared to violate my academic freedom? And what about my rights — was I entitled to a lawyer? I received a polite response with a link to another website. No, I could not have an attorney present during the investigation, unless I’d been charged with sexual violence. I was, however, allowed to have a “support person” from the university community there, though that person couldn’t speak. I wouldn’t be informed about the substance of the complaints until I met with the investigators.
Ultimately, Kipnis met with the investigators — two out-of-town lawyers — but she was not allowed to record the meeting or even get her charges in writing.

Her “support person” was soon hit with Title IX charges of his own.

Kipnis wrote that she’s still waiting to hear the results of the investigation, and while she was willing and able to weather the storm as tenured faculty, she worries the growing ranks of adjunct professors nationwide will fare far worse if and when they’re hit with similar charges.
Congratulations, lefties...

Friday, May 29, 2015

Department Of Party On

Let the good times roll:
In the latest of many flagrant examples of how tax dollars are wasted, government-issued credit cards were used by Department of Defense (DOD) employees to make more than $4 million in personal charges, including at casinos and strip clubs.

During a one-year period the agency charged 20 million transactions for $3.4 billion on government credit cards, according to a DOD Inspector General report issued this month. About $3.2 million of it was spent at casinos and nearly $1 million on personal expenses, including about $100,000 at strip clubs by 646 card holders. The casino charges were made through 4,437 transactions by 2,636 charge card holders, according to the report which breaks down expenditures by military branch.

The U.S. Air Force is by far the biggest offender, outspending other branches and civilian DOD employees with government-issued credit cards. In the year analyzed by investigators, the Air Force charged more than $400,000 in personal expenses at casinos and nearly $40,000 at strip clubs. The Army came in second by spending almost $350,000 at casinos during the same period and nearly $35,000 at “adult entertainment establishments.”
So let adults go there and keep out these riff raff...

Robot Collar

Are we ready for robot lawyers?
Though it’s unlikely we’ll see robots litigating in courtrooms any time soon, Ford says that some highly billable work normally reserved for seasoned attorneys is in the process of being automated.

“There’s a new emerging technology called quantitative legal prediction. It turns out that experienced lawyers often add a lot of value by making predictions. They’ll do things like tell you what is the likelihood you’re going to win a case, or that the case will be overturned on appeal, for example. It generally takes a lot of judgement and experience to make those kinds of predictions, but these algorithms can actually out-perform even the most experienced lawyers by just looking at lots and lots of data.”
Don't say anything without your robot present...

Winter Is Still Here

When in doubt, blame it on the weather:
The hard, cold truth is that the people who inflicted ObamaCare on us had no clue about most of its ramifications (and lied through their teeth about the ones they did understand.) Likewise for the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, which has tortured our financial systems in ways the authors did not predict, or vowed would never happen.

Another way to interpret this perpetual excuse-making about cold winters and unpredictable variables is that Obama’s central-planning gurus didn’t leave the free-market economy with enough strength and freedom of action to deal with setbacks. The crushing burden of carrying our insanely expensive, corrupt, incompetent central government leaves businesses with insufficient capital and limited options to either exploit opportunity, or prepare for reversals.
The convenience of climate change...

Buying Friends And Influencing People

Proving that the Clintons are guilty of bribery:
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Andy McCarthy thinks there’s enough evidence for the FBI and DOJ to launch an investigation into whether Hillary Clinton broke federal statutes that prohibit the bribery of public officials.

“There is certainly a reasonable basis for federal agents and prosecutors to investigate whether there was an understanding that Secretary Clinton would be influenced in the performance of her official duties by lavish donations to her family foundation, and, indeed, that the Clinton Foundation was operated as a racketeering enterprise,” McCarthy tells Breitbart News.

“This is the theory on which the Justice Department has proceeded in the prosecution of Senator Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) — in fact, the main difference between the two cases may be that the staggering sums of money that were poured into the Clinton Foundation by supplicants who benefited from Hillary Clinton’s stewardship of the State Department dwarf the amounts involved in the Menendez indictment,” McCarthy continues.
Yeah, but Menendez was expendable...

Mr. Fantasy

Er, yeah:
The campaign for Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders on Thursday distanced itself from a 1972 essay the Vermont senator wrote for a now defunct newspaper.

Campaign spokesman Michael Briggs told CNN that the article was a “dumb attempt at dark satire in an alternative publication” and “in no way reflects his views or record on women.”

“It was intended to attack gender stereotypes of the ’70s, but it looks as stupid today as it was then,” Briggs told the cable-news network.
And so does Sanders...

Freedom From Obamacare

Anticipating a post-Obamacare boom:
If the court rules against the government, 7.7 million individuals will lose their health insurance subsidies, according to the study, for an average of $3,156 per person. Many of these people had insurance before, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank that conducted the study, told reporters Thursday. Holtz-Eakin is also a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

The flipside is that the individual and employer mandates will become unenforceable, the study says. This will prompt companies to hire more people, and give part-time employer more hours.

With 11.1 million individuals and 262,000 businesses free from the mandate, it would lead to the creation of 237,000 new jobs, add another 1.2 million workers to the labor force, and increase hours for 3.3 million part time workers. The study also projects wages will increase per worker between $830 and $940 per year, for a total increase in pay of $13.6 billion.
Funny how that works out...

The Quiet Times

Dennis Hastert's hush money?
The indictment did not spell out the exact nature of the “prior misconduct” by Hastert, but it noted that before entering state and federal politics in 1981, Has­tert served for more than a decade as a teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School in Illinois.

In 2010, confronted about the “prior misconduct,” the former speaker agreed to pay $3.5 million to the person “to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A,” prosecutors alleged.

That person, whose identity was shielded by prosecutors, has known Hastert most of his or her life, growing up in Yorkville, the city next to Hastert’s home town of Plano, in the exurbs west of Chicago. Prosecutors said the actions “occurred years earlier” than the 2010 meeting that sparked the payments.
Blackmail is a dirty business...

Putin's Disease

I'm sure it's just a coincidence:
Kara-Murza was a close associate of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated in February, and works with a civic organization founded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former oil tycoon and Kremlin opponent.

U.S. Ambassador John Tefft said on Twitter that ""We are concerned about Vladimir Kara-Murza and urge that he receive the best medical care now."
Before or after he's never seen again?

Uncle Sam's Anthrax

Sorry about that:
The Pentagon said the 26 affected, including at least four civilians at U.S. commercial laboratories, are being given antibiotics and in some cases, vaccinations, as a safeguard.

The 22 others being treated are at a U.S. military laboratory at Osan Air Base in South Korea, where emergency response teams destroyed the anthrax sample. A joint U.S.-Korean program at Osan aims to boost bio-surveillance capabilities on the Korean Peninsula.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was working with state and federal agencies to investigate how the anthrax samples were sent from the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground, a vast facility in southwest Utah where researchers try to build and test defenses against chemical and biological agents, including viruses and bacteria.

Less Is S'mores

Finally-Government s’mores:
In the government-sponsored recipe, chocolate is replaced with strawberries while the marshmallow makes way for yogurt. “Low-fat” of course.

The final step in the directions is to “enjoy immediately.”

The Washington Examiner notes the USDA urged Americans to move “away from s’mores” last August.

“Take a banana and slice one side open, exposing the fruit but leaving the peel intact,” it said. “Slice the banana, add a few chocolate chips then top with tiny marshmallows.”
Soft and fruity...kind of like her husband?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Devil's Twitter

Don't go online with the Devil:
Spanish exorcist Jose Antonio Fortea told ACI Prensa that the so-called #CharlieCharlieChallenge involves the very real, occult practice of “calling on spirits.”
In an interview May 27, he warned that “some spirits who are at the root of that practice will harass some of those who play the game.” Even though the priest thinks that players “won't be possessed” necessarily, the spirit that has been invoked “will stay around for a while.”
Fr. Fortea also warned that playing the game “will result in other spirits beginning to enter into even more frequent communication.”
“And so then the person really can suffer much worse consequences from the demons,” he said.
Beware Satan's hash tag...


I wish I could say this was from The Onion:
“I think banning erasers is a draconian action,” says John Coe, a spokesman for the National Association for Primary Education (NAPE). “However, on occasions rubbers should not be used. If I’m teaching a class mathematics, I’d want them to show workings. I wouldn’t want my pupils to be so overwhelmingly concerned for the correct answer that they didn’t show me any indication – and that includes the wrong answer – as to how they got to the answer they arrived at.”
The shame of error, or the error of shame?

The Poor Peoples' Web

Free internet for the poor?
According to a Pew Research Center report from 2013, 70 percent of U.S. adults have a high-speed Internet connection at home. Only 54 percent of households earnings less than $30,000 a year do. The FCC says low-income Americans are more likely to rely on smartphones for Internet access. According to the Pew report, 67 percent of households that make less than $30,000 a year have home broadband or a smartphone.

Lifeline was started in 1985 and expanded to include wireless phones in 2005. The FCC’s proposal calls for extending Lifeline’s $9.25 monthly credit to give low-income households a choice of phone service or Internet access, via a wire to the home or a smartphone.

“Voice is no longer sufficient to be able to participate in society today,” said Harold Feld of Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy group. “The broad assumption is that you’ve got broadband access somehow.”

But Lifeline has been criticized for being susceptible to fraud, and the proposal may get pushback from Republicans. The FCC’s proposal says it will build on anti-fraud measures that were put in place in 2012, such as extending the period that providers must keep documents on customers’ eligibility for the programs.
I'm sure everything will work out just fine...

Abandon In Place

Now they want them around:
Arrests were already declining before Freddie Gray died on April 19 of injuries he suffered in police custody, but they dropped sharply thereafter, as his death unleashed protests, riots, the criminal indictment of six officers and a full-on civil rights investigation by the U.S. Justice Department that has officers working under close scrutiny.

“I’m afraid to go outside,” said Antoinette Perrine, whose brother was shot down three weeks ago on a basketball court near her home in the Harlem Park neighborhood of West Baltimore. Ever since, she has barricaded her door and added metal slabs inside her windows to deflect gunfire.

“It’s so bad, people are afraid to let their kids outside,” Perrine said. “People wake up with shots through their windows. Police used to sit on every corner, on the top of the block. These days? They’re nowhere.”
You can't have it both ways...

Leg Wrap

How to make a mummy:
The team adhered to ancient Egyptian techniques to mummify part of the human body, which had been donated to science. They placed the tissue in a salt solution, and measured the progress of preservation using state-of-the-art microscopy and imaging techniques.

The findings, detailed Friday (May 22) in the journal The Anatomical Record, give researchers some fascinating new clues about the ancient Egyptian embalming process.

"We wanted to have an evidence-based methodology" for understanding what the mummification process looked like, said Christina Papageorgopoulou, one of the researchers on the new study and a physical anthropologist at the Democritus University of Thrace in Greece. "The only way you can do this is by [doing] the experiment yourself."
Pharaohs not included...

The Buzzing Dead

It's the zombie-making wasp:
The Ampulex Dementor, named after the terrifying soul-suckers from the “Harry Potter” movies, is one of a 139 new species discovered in Asia’s Mekong Delta in 2014, according to a World Widlife Fund report.

The wasp, which was discovered in Thailand, injects venom into a mass of neurons on the cockroach’s belly that turns the roach into a passive zombie, according to the report. “Cockroach wasp venom blocks receptors of the neurotransmitter octopamine, which is involved in the initiation of spontaneous movement. With this blocked, the cockroach is still capable of movement, but is unable to direct its own body,” the report explained.

It gets worse for the wasp’s unfortunate victim. “Once the cockroach has lost control, the wasp drags its stupefied prey by the antennae to a safe shelter to devour it," the report added.
Got bug brains?

Say Goodbye To Hollywood

Will wage hikes kill Hollywood?
The added cost to making a Hollywood production might very well make Hollywood a less attractive venue to do business.

“Costs are going to go up,” Stuart Waldman, president of the San Fernando Valley-based Valley Industry & Commerce Assn. told Variety. “It just makes L.A. a little less film friendly, a little more difficult. If someone can get catering for cheaper in Louisiana, do they make that decision to shoot there? ”

Julie Jackson of Jackson Shrub Supply, which for almost 80 years has supplied greenery to Hollywood sets, agrees with Walman. “We just started getting production to come back to California, and now could face them leaving us yet again, and perhaps permanently this time,” she stated in an email.
Leave it to Hollywood liberals to shoot themselves in the foot...

The King Retreats

Team Obama is apparently not interested in pursuing their amnesty:
Officials from the Justice Department said in a statement that they would not ask the Supreme Court for permission to carry out the president’s immigration programs — which seek to provide work permits and deportation protection to millions of undocumented immigrants — while a fight over presidential authority plays out in the lower courts.

That legal battle may extend for a year or more, officials said, undermining any hope of putting the president’s plan into effect until right before the 2016 election.

“The timing is critical,” said Stephen H. Legomsky, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis. “If the process drags on until the summer of 2016, then implementation becomes very difficult.”
When in doubt, punt...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Flying The Waves

I thought they didn't work over water:

The Racketeers

Taking the cons to court:
The lawsuit, filed by Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, includes a legal request to have the Florida judge seize the private server on which Hillary Clinton and her aides hosted their emails while she served as secretary of state.

Klayman has filed dozens of lawsuits against the Clintons and other prominent politicians.

The racketeering, influenced and corrupt organizations, or RICO, case alleges the former first couple and their family philanthropy traded political favors for donations or generous speaking fees for Bill Clinton while his wife was the nation's chief diplomat.

"Negotiations by email about influencing U.S. foreign policy or U.S. Government actions to benefit donors to ... The Clinton Foundation or sponsors of speaking engagements would not be captured on a U.S. Government email account because her emails would not be with a U.S. Government official," Klayman said in court documents obtained by the Washington Examiner.
Doing business the Clinton way...

No Wage Hike For us, We're Union

California unions aren't too keen on a wage hike for their workers:
For much of the past eight months, labor activists have argued against special considerations for business owners, such as restaurateurs, who said they would have trouble complying with the mandated pay increase.

But Rusty Hicks, who heads the county Federation of Labor and helps lead the Raise the Wage coalition, said Tuesday night that companies with workers represented by unions should have leeway to negotiate a wage below that mandated by the law.

“With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them,” Hicks said in a statement. “This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing.”
The union'll take care of ya...

"Who Ordered Anthrax?"

It's in the mail:
Officials are concerned because samples left over at the lab in Dugway, Utah, where the samples originated, were tested and determined to contain live agent.

The shipments, thought to be dead, were shipped under less rigorous conditions than the live agent protocol.

Science experts told the Defense Department there was no risk to the public from shipping in those containers. However, four workers across the nine states that received the shipments have been put on post-exposure treatment, because they handled samples.
Everything is just fine...

Watch That Puddle

The EPA's water rules are coming to a puddle near you:
“We’re finalizing a clean water rule to protect the streams and the wetlands that one in three Americans rely on for drinking water. And we’re doing that without creating any new permitting requirements and maintaining all previous exemptions and exclusions,” EPA head Gina McCarthy told reporters Wednesday.

The moves comes as part of the Clean Water Act and federal officials say they are simply trying to help businesses comply with regulations.

“This rule is about clarification, and in fact, we’re adding exclusions for features like artificial lakes and ponds, water-filled depressions from constructions and grass swales,” McCarthy said. “This rule will make it easier to identify protected waters and will make those protections consistent with the law as well as the latest peer-reviewed science. This rule is based on science.”
In the sense that doing the math on this nonsense is science?

The Wanderer Who Wasn't

Yes, Bergdahl was a deserter:
In fact, last year State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf said allegations Bergdahl deserted were simply "rumors." Not only did President Obama hold a Rose Garden ceremony to honor Bergdahl, but administration officials Jay Carney and Susan Rice said he "served with honor and distinction."

But now, Army General Stanley McChrystal is confirming the accounts of Bergdahl's platoon mates and said in a recent interview with Fox News it was known Bergdahl deserted immediately after his disappearance.

"My initial understanding, based on the reportings I got, that he had walked off intentionally," McChrystal said.
So much for the little soldier who simply got lost...

CSI: Prehistoric

The world's oldest cold case?
Using modern forensic techniques not so different from what you might see on "CSI," the researchers determined that the victim was facing the assailant when the violence occurred. They also know the strike occurred at or near the time of death because the pattern of the fracture on the skull suggests it broke while enmeshed in living tissue.

The cranium shows evidence of two blows located adjacent to each other just left of center on the forehead. Both injuries were strong enough to break through the bone and puncture the brain, the researchers said.

"Keep in mind these guys were robust and this was one of the denser parts of the skull," said Kurin, who was not involved in the research. "You would need a lot of force to make a fracture that causes the bone to get knocked into the brain."
Who killed the caveman?


It's the Ted Cruz rap. Is America ready?

Catch Of The Day

That's a big fish:

Gamer's Creed

Altaïr: You'd kill people simply for believing differently from you?
Majd Addin: Of course not! I killed them because I could!
Their latest effort to reestablish some sense of ethics in the media was launching, a site dedicated to keeping track of the conflicts of interest and various shenanigans of the gaming press.

Those shenanigans not only include outright ethics violations, but also attempts to force industry players to conform to certain ideologies, like the constant harping on Ubisoft for not including enough female characters in their Assassin’s Creed series of video games. Last year one of the biggest controversies in gaming was the revelation that Assassin’s Creed Unity would include multiplayer, but not a female character model. After claiming they cut the female character for budgetary reasons, Ubisoft was lambasted in the gaming press for their excuses.

But now Ubisoft has finally added a playable female character to share the lead role in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, so everyone’s thrilled they’re making their games more diverse, right? Haha no, of course not.
I have lived my life as best I could, not knowing its purpose, but drawn forward like a moth to a distant moon...

FIFA Corruption

The Justice Department goes
According to a Justice Department release, the defendants include high-ranking FIFA officials—including two of the organization's vice presidents—officials from soccer associations "that operate under the FIFA umbrella," and South American and U.S. marketing executives. The indictment comes as FIFA is slated to hold an election Friday for president; it had been expected that the current leader, Sepp Blatter, will get a fifth term in office.

In a statement, Lynch said the Justice Department plans to work with other nations to "end corrupt practices" within FIFA and "root out misconduct."

"The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States," Lynch said in a statement. "It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. And it has profoundly harmed a multitude of victims, from the youth leagues and developing countries that should benefit from the revenue generated by the commercial rights these organizations hold, to the fans at home and throughout the world whose support for the game makes those rights valuable."
But were they using inflated balls?

Watch for Humans

Remember the humans:
The accident may have happened because owners have to pay for a special feature known as “pedestrian detection functionality”, which costs extra. The cars do have auto-braking features as standard, but only for avoiding other cars — if they are to avoid crashing into pedestrians, too, then owners must pay extra.

“It appears as if the car in this video is not equipped with Pedestrian detection,” Volvo spokesperson Johan Larsson told Fusion. “This is sold as a separate package.”

The feature uses a radar and camera to see pedestrians.
If you see it coming, run, don't walk...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Only Winning Move

How about a nice game of chess?

The 90 Per Cent

Bernie Sanders, economic moralist:
“When you think about 90 percent, you don’t think that’s obviously too high?” CNBC’s John Harwood asked.

“No,” Sanders immediately replied. “What I think is obscene, and what frightens me is, again, when you have the top one-tenth of one percent owning almost as much wealth as the bottom 90.”

He continued: “Ninety-nine percent of all new income generated today goes to the top 1 percent. The top one-tenth of 1 percent owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Does anybody think this is the kind of economy we should have. Do we think it’s moral?”
Is 90 per cent of Bernie Sanders' opinion worth anything?

The Virtual Schoolyard Fight

Don't tweet about fight club:
Educators and parents worry that the recordings are not only encouraging fights, but are also sometimes making them more brutal as students attempt to gain notoriety on social media. In some areas of the country, preplanned, off-campus fights are even drawing a large number of spectators, with nonstudents sometimes taking part.

One Instagram page devoted to Clayton County student brawls — clayco.fights — has nearly 400 fight videos and more than 30,000 followers. A Henry County page, which sprung up shortly after a similar page was deleted, has more than 3,000 followers. Last year, a distraught Cobb County parent alerted police and school officials to a site called Cobb Hook Session, which featured brawls between young people.

The fight pages are so troubling that some school districts are taking steps to address the problem by monitoring the Internet. If students are caught on tape on school grounds, they could be suspended. If administrators become aware of fights off campus, they try to intervene with the help of teachers, parents, school administrators and counselors.The scuffles occur in classrooms, hallways, bathrooms and schoolyards. Some are staged. Many are violent free-for-alls. And, while the popularity of the recordings is on the rise, it’s not a new problem.
It's actually an old one, but adapted for the times...

Cluck Park

Who wants dino chicken?
Talk of a “chickenosaurus” lit up the science world last week when researchers announced they had modified the beak of a chicken embryo to resemble the snout of its dinosaur ancestors. But although some experts have lauded the feat, a beak is just one of many modifications needed to revert a chicken into a dinosaur.

Given these obstacles, how close are scientists to creating a dino-chicken?

“From a quantitative point of view, we’re 50 percent there,” said Jack Horner, a professor of paleontology at Montana State University and a curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies. [See Images of the Chicken Embryos with Dinosaur-Like Snouts]

Horner has long supported the idea of modifying a chicken to look like a dinosaur, and unlike the researchers on the latest study, he actually wants to raise a live one. And why stop there? By understanding how and when to modify certain molecular mechanisms, countless changes could be within reach. As Horner pointed out, a glow-in-the-dark unicorn is not out of the question.
I'll take mine with mashed potatoes and gravy...

Badges For Everybody

They don't need no stinking badges:
An exclusive NBC 5 investigation found hundreds and perhaps even thousands of airport security badges, known as Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) badges, are unaccounted for across the country.

NBC 5 Investigates requested records from some of the nation's largest airports asking how many SIDA badges are unaccounted for.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport sent a response saying more than 1,400 badges were lost or stolen over approximately two years.

Larry Wansley, who once led security for American Airlines, believes the missing badges present serious concerns for security officials and are something terrorists would like to have possession of in order to compromise security.

Police reports obtained by NBC 5 Investigates from D/FW Airport show more than just ID badges disappear each year. Employees have reported lost and stolen airline uniform shirts, an entire FedEx pilot's uniform, missing TSA badges and even a federal flight deck officer's credentials and badge, which allow a pilot to carry a gun on a plane.
Everything is under control...

The IRS Job

Somebody stole from the IRS:
The IRS said the thieves accessed a system called “Get Transcript.” In order to access the information, the thieves cleared a security screen that required knowledge about the taxpayer, including Social Security number, date of birth, tax filing status and street address.

“The IRS notes this issue does not involve its main computer system that handles tax filing submission; that system remains secure,” the agency said in a statement.

The IRS said thieves targeted the system from February to mid-May. The service has been temporarily shut down.

“In all, about 200,000 attempts were made from questionable email domains, with more than 100,000 of those attempts successfully clearing authentication hurdles,” the agency said. “During this filing season, taxpayers successfully and safely downloaded a total of approximately 23 million transcripts.”
Doing what the IRS might have done anyway?

Executive Action On Hold

Sorry, Mr. President:
A federal appeals court refused Tuesday to lift a temporary hold on President Barack Obama’s executive action that could shield as many as 5 million immigrants illegally living in the U.S. from deportation.

The U.S. Justice Department had asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a Texas judge who agreed to temporarily block the president’s plan in February, after 26 states filed a lawsuit alleging Obama’s action was unconstitutional. But two out of three judges on a court panel voted to deny the government’s request. …

Justice Department lawyers sought a stay while they appealed the injunction. They argued that keeping the temporary hold interfered with the Homeland Security Department’s ability to protect the U.S. and secure the nation’s borders. They also said immigration policy is a domain of the federal government, not the states.

But, in Tuesday’s ruling, 5th Circuit judges Jerry Smith and Jennifer Walker Elrod denied the stay, saying in an opinion written by Smith, that the federal government lawyers are unlikely to succeed on the merits of that appeal. Judge Stephen Higginson dissented.
Just because you claim the power, doesn't mean you have it...

Partying For Uncle Sam

Your tax dollars at work:
A now-retired DEA Assistant Special Agent-in-charge -- and an IT specialist -- are charged with falsifying national security forms -- and lying during background-checks.

They are accused of failing to disclose outside employment -- that could put them -- in proximity to crime -- and at risk for blackmail.

The FBI also claims that the agents tended to strip club affairs -- while on the clock for the DEA.
For a good time, call the agent in charge?


Sometimes a digital cigar is just a:
The developer stated that they could either “make two versions [of the character], one smoking, one non-smoking,” or just “remove the cigar” altogether. He said that “making 2 versions means more data management, multiple duplicates of the asset,” and rationalized removing the cigar as “a decision based on productivity. The appeal of Tychus should not hinge on a cigar anyways.”

But there was some dissent on the thread. A commenter replied that he’s “pretty sure there are some regions that also frown upon cleavage, legs shown above the knee and even some that forbid women to show their faces in public. When should we expect [game characters] to be edited to appease these regions?”
I guess as long as they're not smoking...

Bacteria Is Our Friend

Nature's secret weapon against oil spills:
Georgia Institute of Technology microbiologist Joel Kostka reported in Scientific American that the “damage” from seepage is not highly visible due to Thalassolituus oleivorans bacteria, such as Alcanivorax borkumensis, T. oleivorans. They munch on oil as a natural product of the decayed plants and animals that are part of their diet.

The bacteria extract the oil’s nitrogen for metabolic energy and release CO2 and clean water as waste products. These bacteria are found all over the world and are credited with devouring 200,000 tonnes of oil from the 2006 Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The reason dispersants were used in that spill was to break oil slicks above and below the surface into smaller droplets. This assisted the bloom of billions of hydrocarbon-chewing bacteria get more surface angles to consume the oil quicker.
Of course this doesn't mean that humans shouldn't clean up their own messes, but it is a reminder of what nature can do to protect itself without our "help".

Jailbait Johnny

Could Johnny Depp go to jail?
Australia’s Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce said two weeks ago, “if he doesn’t take Boo and Pistol back, we do have to euthanize them… Just because he’s Johnny Depp doesn’t make him exempt from Australian laws.”

An Australian senate committee heard Monday Depp could be jailed for up to 10 years or fined a maximum penalty of $340,000 for not declaring the dogs when he and his wife touched down, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Additionally, the actor’s pilot could also face a maximum two-year prison sentence.

An ongoing investigation has declared that Depp, fellow passengers on his plane, and the flight crew all failed to declare the presence of the dogs, which politicians and others have called “very serious.”
What would Jack Sparrow do?

Rights Of The Rich And Famous

A British historian tells George Clooney's wife to stuff it:
Dr Starkey, 70, recently published ‘Magna Carta: The True Story Behind The Charter‘. He believes that the 800 year-old balance in Britain between individual rights on the one hand and duties to society on the other, which began with the Magna Carta, has now been thrown off-kilter.

Starkey blames activist judges and lawyers for this, accusing them of having hijacked the European Convention on Human Rights to take it way beyond the purpose proposed by the likes of Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill helped devise the document after the Second World War intending that human rights be “guarded by freedom and sustained by law.”

Starkey did not limit his criticism to Mrs Clooney, he also brought in Shami Chakrabarti, Director of human rights campaign group Liberty. He said balance could be restored if “the Amal Clooneys and Shami Chakrabartis would shut up.”
Those who don't know history try to lecture those that do...


This is the end of civilization as we know it:

Say The Words

What words? Not theirs:
“I don’t ever recall any distinction between federal and state exchanges in terms of the availability of subsidies,” said Olympia J. Snowe, a former Republican senator from Maine who helped write the Finance Committee version of the bill…

“As far as I know, it escaped everyone’s attention, or it would have been deleted, because it clearly contradicted the main purpose of the legislation,” Mr. Bingaman said. He added, “In all the discussion in the committees and on the floor, I didn’t ever hear anybody suggest that this kind of distinction between federal and state exchanges was in the bill.”
This is what happens when you don't read it first...

Government Family Values

Government policies intended to help working moms don't work, after all:
Unlike many countries, the United States has few federal policies for working parents. One is the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which provides workers at companies of a certain size with 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

Women are 5 percent more likely to remain employed but 8 percent less likely to get promotions than they were before it became law, according to an unpublished new study by Mallika Thomas, who will be an assistant professor of economics at Cornell University. She attributed this partly to companies that don’t take a chance on investing in the careers of women who might leave. “The problem ends up being that all women, even those who do not anticipate having children or cutting back in hours, may be penalized,” she said.
One penalty fits all...

Foundation Contributions Not Included

Now you, too, can dress like Hillary:
For $30, Clinton supporters can buy “The Everyday Pantsuit Tee,” a red shirt with a screen-printed suit and Hillary pin on the front. On the back of the shirt: “Pantsuit Up.”

“Pantsuit bottoms not included,” the description says.

The Democratic front-runner’s campaign is also selling a $55 throw pillow, with the phrase “A Woman’s Place is in the White House” stitched on it, along with the ubiquitous campaign logo.
Wear it while refusing to answer questions...

Brain Pollution

the air in New York City is making kids dumber:
Big Apple kids exposed to high levels of airborne filth and economic hardship have lower IQs that will haunt them into adulthood, according to an exhaustive, first-of-its-kind study by Columbia University.
“The findings are a concern because, as has been shown with lead [poisoning], even a modest decrease in IQ can impact lifetime earnings,” warns the report published in the medical journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology.
Researchers reached the alarming conclusion by tracking the development of 276 minority children from Harlem, Washington Heights and the South Bronx for seven years — starting while their moms were pregnant.
The kids who were exposed to the most pollutants and came from the poorest families scored 6.6 points lower on the overall IQ test than others in the group.
the city's educational system will take care of the rest...

Monday, May 25, 2015

Are Our Robots Learning?

Should we be worried?

Who Killed The King?

Was B.B. King murdered?
Daughters Karen Williams and Patty King allege that family members were prevented from visiting while King's business manager, LaVerne Toney, and his personal assistant, Myron Johnson, hastened their father's death.

"I believe my father was poisoned and that he was administered foreign substances," Patty King and Williams say in identically worded sections of affidavits provided to The Associated Press by their lawyer, Larissa Drohobyczer.

"I believe my father was murdered," they say.

Toney and Johnson each declined to comment.

"They've been making allegations all along. What's new?" said Toney, who worked for King for 39 years and had power-of-attorney over his affairs.

Toney is named in King's will as executor of an estate that according to court documents filed by lawyers for some of King's heirs could total tens of millions of dollars.
Well, it could be an incredible coincidence...

For The Revolution

It's for the Cause:
"So get out there and volunteer on campaigns, and then hold the folks you elect accountable. Follow what’s happening in your city hall, your statehouse, Washington, D.C. Better yet, run for office yourself. Get in there. Shake things up. Don’t be afraid. (Applause.) And get out and vote in every election -– not just the big national ones that get all the attention, but every single election. Make sure the folks who represent you share your values and aspirations.

"See, that is how you will rise above the noise and shape the revolutions of your time. That is how you will have a meaningful journey on those clamorous highways of life. And, graduates, that is how you will carry on the proud legacy of this great institution for generations to come."
"Now get out there and protest!"

No Lie

Bush didn't lie about Iraq, says...Bob Woodward:

Demon Tweet

Satan's Twitter account?
The Charlie Charlie Challenge surfaced Thursday on Twitter and has gone viral across social media platforms.

The challenge includes putting two pencils on a piece of paper in the shape of a cross. The words “yes” and “no” are written in boxes outlined by the pencils. Then the participants say “Charlie, Charlie are you here?”

Social media users have been uploading videos “summoning” Charlie.
The devil made them tweet it...

Left Versus Left

Kirsten Powers talks about what happens when liberals attack other liberals:
I only became really aware of it in the last few years. I think it is a fairly recent phenomenon in how frequent it’s happening now. In the past you would hear stories but now I feel like, if you follow the issue, almost every day something seems to be happening. One of the things that’s noteworthy is that it used to be focused on conservatives and so I think conservatives were just more attuned to it. It’s something that is now getting everybody in their crossfire. They’re becoming targets of this whether they’re a moderate Democrat or a liberal who has sort of strayed on an issue or just a politically agnostic person who offended somebody. I tell the story in my book about the student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks who wrote a satirical piece and next thing you know the campus newspaper is under a special harassment investigation for satire. This girl is a self-described feminist and Democrat. And I’m not saying it’s okay to do this to conservatives, I’m saying that as it sort of broadens out more people are becoming aware of it.
They never were about free speech, only their own.

Back To The Gulf

Did BP actually save tourism?
Many are still wrangling with BP over spill-related claims. Attorneys for businesses and individuals claiming damages from the spill announced a $211 million settlement last week with Transocean Ltd., owner of the failed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

Yet, at the same time, parking lots are full outside the same coastal hotels and condominium towers that struggled for business and slashed prices while crude was pouring into the gulf off Louisiana’s coast in 2010.

Visitors bob in surf where oil once washed in, and some restaurants have 90-minute waits for dinner on the weekend. Tourist business has doubled in Alabama’s largest beach towns since before the spill, officials say, and Pensacola Beach, Florida, is so clogged with visitors that traffic is a primary problem.

Many attribute the change in large part to the millions of dollars that BP spent on tourism grants and advertising that promoted the Gulf Coast nationwide to people who previously didn’t even realize that Alabama and Mississippi had coastlines.
Life goes on, even with the involvement of "evil" oil companies.

Bill Nye The Constitutional Guy

Cenying climate change is unconstitutional?
Twitchy noted that the words Nye pulled from Article I, Section 8 are taken way, way out of context.

Here’s what comes after the quote Nye spouted off: “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;”

Yup. Nye’s interview text actually linked to the Constitution. Then a simple reading of the quote in context indicates it’s all about what has become American copyright and patent law — and has nothing to do with the Nye’s claim that those who question science are “unpatriotic.”
Kind of like Bill Nye doesn't really have anything to do with science...

Drive, They Said

Are people really ready for robot cars?
The new technology heralds a big change in the way drivers relate to their cars. Few features threaten the traditional promise of the automobile — freedom, independence, control of the road — like a computer that can drive far safer and has no qualms about taking the wheel.

That has put automakers in an awkward spot to reach car buyers who are drawn to the idea of driving with fewer dangers and drudgeries but are still leery of self-driving technology. To win them over, carmakers increasingly are selling the illusion of control while, in practice, taking more and more away.

“The technology is probably the easiest problem to solve,” said Jeremy Carlson, a senior analyst for IHS Automotive. “Consumer acceptance might be the hardest.”
People were skeptical of horseless carriages more than a hundred years ago, too...

Fox Tales

Why liberals still don't get Fox News:
Like many Fox critics, Bartlett inflates the network’s power. Fox’s most popular program, The O’Reilly Factor, pulls in about 3.3 million viewers on its best nights. In a country whose voting-age population exceeds 234 million, 3.3 million ain’t squat. What’s more, the O’Reilly/Fox audiences aren’t even uniformly Republican! According to a Pew survey from 2012, 45 percent of O’Reilly viewers (and 55 percent of Fox viewers) self-identify as independent or Democrat, which means many of the eyes and ears absorbing the Fox message are only tangentially connected to Republican politics. It’s comic to think of Democratic and independent Fox viewers pushing the Republican Party further to the right.
Independent being the operative word here. When people are given real alternatives, they tend to take them.

The Short March

Gloria Steinem and her feminists go to Korea:
The group of 30 women from 15 countries, calling themselves WomenCrossDMZ, faced hostile questioning after completing their walk, and a heavy police presence was deployed to separate them from angry demonstrators accusing them of allowing themselves to be used as propaganda tools by the North Korean regime.
Demonstrators waved placards reading “Don’t say peace, you are unqualified!” and “”Women Cross (sic) Go to Hell!” Other posters accused them of being agents of Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s young but brutal leader.

Having crossed the DMZ, they arrived at the Dora-san Rail Station just to the south, built more than a decade ago during a period of detente as part of attempts to reopen rail services, as yet unfulfilled.
“We came to end this war, “ said Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian activist. “This is a first step in the right direction.”
Maybe North Korea could keep them as a compromise?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Guitar Man

"Brother? Me no have brother!"
Jong-chol, 34, attended Clapton’s concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday and Thursday, according to the BBC. The middle son of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, Jong-chol is reportedly a big fan of the British blues rocker and has been photographed attending concerts in several different countries over the past few years, including in Germany in 2006 and Singapore in 2011. Jong-chol had not been seen in public since his father’s death in 2011.

In video captured by the BBC, Jong-chol can be seen arriving at the Thursday concert wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses and surrounded by aides.
Jacket now property of the state...

Green Mold

You've got to get 'em while they're young:
David Thorpe, author of the book Stormteller, said that children were more open minded and claimed that writers could ‘infect’ their minds with ‘seriously subversive viral ideas’.

He was speaking at the Hay Festival alongside ‘cli-fi’ authors George Marshall and Saci Lloyd.

“I like writing for children because their minds are still forming,” said Mr Thorpe whose novel is set in a coastal Wales ravaged by climate change and rising sea levels.

“They are asking all sorts of questions about how the world is working. Their minds haven’t been tainted by ideological bias, they are still open minded about it.

“You can try to be seriously subversive and try to infect their minds with these viral ideas that they can explore on their own to make it exciting. When I was that age I loved having my mind boggled.”
You mean controlled...

Hiking All The Way Home

Welcome home, kids:
Since the drive began in the late 1990s for mandated federal, state and local minimum wage hikes, the labor workforce participation rate for 16-24 year old workers have plummeted by 17.4 percent. Much of this shrinkage in youth employment is directly correlated to higher minimum wages encouraging businesses to replace people with mahcines.

As Tracy Rafter, Chief Executive of the Los Angeles County Business Federation commented on this year’s poll results, “Hiring, which it’s a bit better, is not where things are growing–they’re growing in technology,” because “People cost so much more than technology over time.”

The UCLA academic and NPR have little to worry about LLA’s higher minimum wage law causing rental housing inflation. A big percentage of today’s minimum wage workers will soon be replaced by machines. For the few fortunate youth that were earning minimum wage and had their own apartments, many will soon be back living in their parents’ home.
In other words, it's pretty much like after college graduation...

What You Leave Behind

His work is done:
They have had successes, like passage of the hard-fought bill that could pave the way to the largest trade agreement in a generation and a bill to give Congress a voice in the Iran nuclear negotiations. And more senators are allowed to try to influence legislation through amendments, which Mr. McConnell’s Democratic predecessor as majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, prevented.

But as senators raced for the airport on Saturday after a six-week session that ended in disarray, they left behind a wreck of promises made by Mr. McConnell on how a renewed Senate would operate. Mr. McConnell has found himself vexed by Democratic delaying tactics he honed in the minority, five presidential aspirants with their own agendas and a new crop of conservative firebrands demanding their say.

Mr. McConnell promised that his party would instill more discipline, avoiding the last-minute legislative cliffhangers that have long marked Congress and left government workers and the capital markets in a state of constant unease. Instead, he allowed the Senate to depart with a key national security program dangling on the precipice of extinction.
Never put off until tomorrow what you're never going to do today...

Extreme Cookout

How to grill a steak-with lava:

How To Train Your Journalist

The UN is "supporting" journalists in their work:
The push “comes at a time when people want to know what it will take to eradicate extreme poverty and tackle the big questions related to sustainability,” Kathy Calvin, CEO of the U.N. Foundation, told Fox News. “If our work helps encourage the media to dive deeper into these issues, we are achieving something that is core to our mission but also a public good worthy of 2015′s moment in history.”

Media behemoth Thomson Reuters is joining the effort, and says the training will be useful to help journalists understand what’s going on.

“Very often the problem of the UN is that the speeches long, full of acronyms, and the jargon is difficult to understand,” Monique Villa, head of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, told Fox News. “Making the jargon of the U.N. understandable is quite important.”

The SDG list is incredibly broad.

It includes such sweeping goals as ending hunger and poverty, ensuring global “gender equality” and securing “full and productive employment and decent work for all.”

The list of news outlets that will be on the receiving end of U.N. Foundation subsidies is yet to be released, with 15 recipients slated to be named by the end of this month and 15 more named in June, Russell reported.

Each recipient will receive subsidies ranging from $25,000 to $100,000, he noted.
It's good work if you can get it...

Dancing Days

Well, good for them:
Sean O’Brien was ridiculed online a few months ago when someone snapped a picture of him boogying in a nightclub and mocked the overweight man for dancing.

But celebrities and regular folks alike soon jumped to O’Brien’s defense, and using the hashtag #dancingman, they organized to find him and fund a massive dance party — with a GoFundMe crowd funding campaign raised more than $40,000 — for him.
Nice guys don't always finish last...

The Genius

He blew his mind out in a car:
Originally from West Virginia, Nash had long suffered from paranoid schizophrenia but had a productive career despite his mental illness.

He won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1994 and joined the Princeton mathematics department the next year.

His groundbreaking work in game theory — the science of human decision-making — and his battle with paranoia were featured in 2001′s “A Beautiful Mind.”

He had been married to his wife for 60 years, and she cared for him during his struggles with mental illness, noted.
The voices are silent now...RIP.

No Dissent For You

In Russia, government organizes you:
The law is part of a campaign to stifle the dissent that intensified after Putin began his third term in 2012. His return to the presidency had been accompanied by mass street protests that Putin accused the U.S. of fomenting. Russia suspects of Western intentions have been further heightened because of tensions over Russia’s role in the conflict in Ukraine.

This new law allows Russian prosecutors to declare an organization undesirable if it presents a threat to Russia’s constitutional order, its defenses or its security.

Laws passed in recent years already have led to increased pressure on Russian non-governmental organizations, particularly those that receive foreign funding. Rights activists fear the new law could be used to extend the crackdown to Russian branches of international groups and the Russian activists who work with them.
In the U.S. the government uses the IRS for this type of work...

Be On The Lookout

Has anyone seen this hat?
The "Eyeball with Hat," worth $100,000, was one of four original masks worn by the group The Residents, police said.

The mask was also worn in a photo of the band taken in front of the Golden Gate Bridge and used on the back cover of the 1979 "Subterranean Modern" album. The original photo, worth $20,000, was also reported stolen, police said.

The owner of the mask and photo had loaned the items to Seattle's Experience Music Project for an exhibit, authorities said. The museum had then sent the artwork back to San Francisco via courier service when the crate they were in went missing, police said in a statement.

The owner was not home to accept shipment and an unknown person with an illegible signature signed for the items, police said.
There are people in San Francisco who see eyeballs with hats all the time, but they aren't reliable witnesses...

Animal Planet

How many Americans actually believe in equal rights for animals?
That would mean no ownership of animals. After all, people have the right not to be owned.

It would also mean no eating meat, animal experimentation to achieve medical and scientific advances, or perhaps even the ownership of pets–unless one had to obtain a guardianship for dogs, cats, fish, and birds as they often do for a dependent human.
So can they own us, then? Well, cats already do anyway...

No Future For You

Whatever happened to the Democratic Party?
It’s awfully unusual to see how dependent Democrats are in relying on former losing candidates as their standard-bearers in 2016. Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold, Pennsylvania’s Joe Sestak, Indiana’s Baron Hill, and Ohio’s Ted Strickland all ran underwhelming campaigns in losing office in 2010—and are looking to return to politics six years later. Party officials are courting former Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina to make a comeback bid, despite mediocre favorability ratings and the fact that she lost a race just months ago that most had expected her to win. All told, more than half of the Democrats’ Senate challengers in 2016 are comeback candidates.

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

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

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Attack Of The Blockbusters

Mr. Scott is not that pleased with current sci fi:
It is a kind of dumbing down in a way. Because it’s taking our focus away from real-world issues. Films used to be about challenging, emotional journeys or moral questions that might make you walk away and re-evaluate how you felt about… whatever. Now we’re walking out of the cinema really not thinking about anything, other than the fact that the Hulk just had a fight with a robot.
He does have a point-in the battle between formula versus fun, formula seems to be winning out. And sometimes it does take a geek to point this out to fellow geeks.

Hip Hop Hillary

They're down with the old white lady:
An early high-profile endorsement came from Atlanta rapper Waka Flocka Flame, who announced his own candidacy for the 2016 presidential race on 4/20 last month in a video posted by Rolling Stone, promising to legalize marijuana if he became president.

Waka later endorsed Clinton in an interview with MTV News, proclaiming that "A woman could do it. I've seen my momma raise five boys -- that's super hard, so women can do the same s--- that men could do," adding that he might even help Clinton with her campaign if she helps him promote his newest album, "Flockaveli 2."

Another Clinton endorsement came from Queens rapper Ja Rule, who topped U.S. Billboard charts in the early and mid 2000s.

In an interview with Fox Business, the "I'm Real" rapper said "I like Hillary. But, you know, it's crazy because ... I also think Jeb is a good candidate as well." But Ja quickly added that he's a Democrat, "so yeah, so I would vote Hillary."

And earlier this month, Clinton won a ringing endorsement from legendary rapper Snoop Dogg, who endorsed Texas Rep. Ron Paul in 2012 due to the Republican's stance on marijuana, before voicing support for Obama.

In an interview on Bravo TV, the "Peaches N Cream" rapper said "I'll say that I would love to see a woman in office because I feel like we're at that stage in life to where we need a perspective other than the male's train of thought," and added that he will be voting for "Ms. Clinton."
The chronic will make you act crazy, yo...

Blame It On Boehner

Because republicans are obviously responsible for everything:
The video, which promotes this summer's Western Conservative Summit, presented students with a non-sequitur asking if they believe John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, should be forced to resign over the totally unrelated "Deflategate" incident in which the New England Patriots allegedly underinflated AFC championship game footballs.

"Uum...I think so, I think you just gotta keep it fair," one girl answered when asked if Boehner should resign.

"Personally, I don't think he's [John Boehner] responsible for Tom Brady's actions, and I don't know if he was involved. They need to do a little bit more investigation [sic]."
Republicans can be blamed for an awful lot (see Obamatrade) but the ignorance of college students isn't one of them...

Redemption Of The Machines

Is it literally Terminator Salvation?
Minksy believes that intelligence is nothing more than the sum of many non-intelligent parts, so he sees no reason why computers could not eventually replicate even the most human aspects of humanity—even to the possession of what many would call a “soul.”

So if machines could have a soul, could they become Christians?

These debates aren’t new. For centuries, theologians have theorized about what Jesus meant when he told his apostles that besides them, he had “other sheep that are not of this fold.” This text has been taken to refer to everything from Gentile Christians to the existence of aliens on other planets to Christ’s supposed visit to America to establish the Mormon church to the African missions and, now, to machines.
Well, the Cylons found God...

Stuffed Spy

Who's up for toys that can spy on your kids?
The truth is Google isn't likely to start putting out teddy bear snooping devices any time soon. The point, in fact, isn't surveillance but allowing kids to control their music or movies without having to invoke an invisible Siri or navigate a TV interface. Children can just grab the smart toy, say "play 'My Little Pony'!" and it'll do the rest. Think of it like a 21st-century Teddy Ruxpin.

Put like that it's not so creepy — might even be useful. But an illustration of a stuffed rabbit with cameras for eyes is naturally going to alarm people. In the meantime, there are already camera-equipped dolls and toys that kids can talk to and interact with, if you're not troubled by the idea. Of course, you'll have to tear them away from that smartphone or tablet first.
Which are already most likely doing the same thing anyway...

Don't Worry-We'll Fix It

Democrats discover high insurance costs:
"I think it's going to be the next big problem," said Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., a congressional leader on health care.

"We've got some 17 million more people covered ... but they can't access the care they seem to be entitled to," McDermott said. "It costs too much to use the care. That's the deceptive part about it."

Since virtually all U.S. residents are now required to have health insurance by President Barack Obama's health care law, McDermott said Democrats have a responsibility to make sure coverage translates to meaningful benefits.

Several liberal-leaning organizations have recently focused on the issue.
There might be a connection here...

The Mysterious Missing Recovery

Why is the economy so slow?
At issue is a process known as "seasonal adjustment," which is not nearly as convoluted as it sounds. Many routine patterns affect the economy, such as the layoff of temporary retail employees after the winter holidays, or a spike in consumer spending around Easter. Seasonal adjustment attempts to factor out those patterns to get a clearer picture of how the economy is actually performing.

Yet what appears to be a seasonal pattern still exists. Alec Phillips, an economist at Goldman Sachs, noticed that from 2010 through 2014, growth in the first three months of the year has averaged 0.6 percent, while it has averaged 2.9 percent in the other three quarters.
Well, it couldn't be because of anything the Obama administration has done, couldn't it?

We're Coming For You

Be very very quiet:
In a statement on Friday it also accused Washington of kidnapping Russians, citing cases such as that of Vladimir Drinkman, who was extradited to the United States from the Netherlands earlier this year.

"By believing that it is allowed to do all it wants, Washington goes as far as kidnapping our citizens," the foreign ministry said.

Drinkman has pleaded not guilty to accusations that he conspired with at least four other men to install "sniffers" to comb through computer networks of financial companies, payment processors and retailers around the world.

"The threat of detention or arrest on the warrant of law enforcement bodies and special services of the USA in third countries still persists. It is quite real," the ministry said in the statement, which was peppered with angry passages.
"You can't hunt citizens! Only our government can do that!"

Have You Seen These Litterers?

By their DNA you will know them:
A Virginia-based genetics technology company and a Hong Kong ad agency are using the DNA people leave behind on their litter to print computer-generated images of their faces on wanted posters.

The company’s first project launched last month in Hong Kong, reports the South China Morning Post. Yet the science behind the idea has existed for years.

In 2012, New York City-based artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg used the same technology to make sculptures of complete strangers using only the tiny bits of DNA left on discarded cigarettes and chewing gum that she collected from the streets of New York.
Shaming through science?

Hotel Mecca

It's like Vegas without sin:
With 10,000 bedrooms and 70 restaurants, plus five floors for the sole use of the Saudi royal family, the £2.3bn Abraj Kudai is an entire city of five-star luxury, catering to the increasingly high expectations of well-heeled pilgrims from the Gulf.

Modelled on a “traditional desert fortress”, seemingly filtered through the eyes of a Disneyland imagineer with classical pretensions, the steroidal scheme comprises 12 towers teetering on top of a 10-storey podium, which houses a bus station, shopping mall, food courts, conference centre and a lavishly appointed ballroom.

Located in the Manafia district, just over a mile south of the Grand Mosque, the complex is funded by the Saudi Ministry of Finance and designed by the Dar Al-Handasah group, a 7,000-strong global construction conglomerate that turns its hand to everything from designing cities in Kazakhstan to airports in Dubai. For the Abraj Kudai, it has followed the wedding-cake pastiche style of the city’s recent hotel boom: cornice is piled upon cornice, with fluted pink pilasters framing blue-mirrored windows, some arched with a vaguely Ottoman air. The towers seem to be packed so closely together that guests will be able to enjoy views into each other’s rooms…

“These are the last days of Mecca,” says Alawi. “The pilgrimage is supposed to be a spartan, simple rite of passage, but it has turned into an experience closer to Las Vegas, which most pilgrims simply can’t afford.”
As in Nevada, that's what the cheaper motels are for...

Free Care Coda

About those Obamacare premiums:
The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that Obamacare rates are about to shoot up, in some cases as much as 40%. The rate increases requested by insurance carriers vary state by state, but the overall picture is bad.

“In New Mexico, market leader Health Care Service Corp. is asking for an average jump of 51.6% in premiums for 2016,” the Journal reports. “The biggest insurer in Tennessee, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, has requested an average 36.3% increase. In Maryland, market leader CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield wants to raise rates 30.4% across its products. Moda Health, the largest insurer on the Oregon health exchange, seeks an average boost of around 25%.”

The Washington Examiner reported today that in Oregon the primary insurance carrier is facing costs (payouts) exceeding premiums (income) by just over 60%. “Moda Health, which serves roughly half of (Oregon’s) individual market, is aiming to raise rates by an average of 25.6 percent. As Jed Graham of Investor’s Business Daily noted, Moda’s costs for 2014 – the first year of Obamacare’s exchanges — exceeded its premiums by 61.5 percent.”
That's an awful lot for "affordable care..."

Officer Of The Insane

Libeals can't be racist-oh, wait:
The Evening Standard reports that Scotland Yard are now investigating allegations about her post. A spokesman said: “Police received a complaint on 7 May about a racially motivated malicious communication that had been made on a social media account. There have been no arrests and enquiries are continuing.”

Goldsmiths has also distanced itself from her, saying she is “not an employee of the university and is not a student.” The college added: ” We are treating all concerns with sensitivity and with the utmost urgency.

“The Students’ Union is independent of Goldsmiths, University of London. It is run by student officials elected by union members.

“Both the University and the Students’ Union are committed to fighting all forms of oppression, including racism, sexism and any other form of bigotry.”

Students are gathering signatures for a petition to call a vote of no confidence in Mustafa, but if a vote is called they will need a two-thirds majority to remove her. In response, she admitted the use of the term “white trash” on an official Twitter account was “not professional”, but defended the #killallwhitemen hashtag and similar posts, saying they were “in-jokes and ways that many people in the queer feminist community express ourselves”.
So says the bigot...

Game Off

Gamer Gate, a huge waste of time?
After receiving a threatening, anonymous phone call, Wu took to the pages of The Mary Sue to complain that despite ‘meticulously documenting threats for law enforcement’, the Ohio attorney had yet to take any action. She also confirmed to Ars Technica that she had been in contact with both the attorneys office and the FBI, complaining that it was ‘radio silence from them’. Cory Doctorow, editor of the online blog Boing Boing, also claimed that Wu was trying to ‘shame’ the attorney into action after ‘furnish[ing] the authorities with the graphic death threats she received’.

But according to the attorney himself, Wu made no effort to contact them before taking her story to the press. In a tersely-worded email to a concerned citizen, the attorney’s office said that no report had been filed to their office from either Wu or the FBI. The attorney’s office also emphasised that the emails and phone calls generated by Wu’s media blitz led to official time and resources being wasted.
People who have no life tend to do that...

Dragons Everywhere

Here there be dragons:
“She could perceive and recognize actual faces, but after several minutes they turned black, grew long, pointy ears and a protruding snout, and displayed a reptiloid skin and huge eyes in bright yellow, green, blue, or red,” the Anglo-Dutch research team wrote, according to

Brain scans and blood tests showed that she was healthy, and doctors eventually diagnosed her with prosopometamorphopsia, a psychiatric condition that affects perception of faces, reported.

“She saw similar dragon-like faces drifting towards her many times a day from the walls, electrical sockets, or the computer screen, in both the presence and absence of face-like patterns, and at night she saw many dragon-like faces in the dark,” the researchers wrote.
If you look at politicians long enough, you see horns and tails...

Mad Dog Men

An organ donor ad is leaving a lot of people puzzled:
In the ad, a faithful dog follows its master until the old man collapses, leaving the dog to bond with a seemingly strange new woman outside the hospital — until you realize the message seems to be that the old man died and the woman got his organs.

“I thought the guy had a sex change, and the moral was that dogs don’t see you for what sex you are,” wrote one commenter on Reddit.

“I think it more [refers] to the good smelling of dogs, so that it smells his old owner in the lady,” another chimed in.

Overall, many commenters found the ad sweet, but quite a few were puzzled and found the whole thing a little creepy.
A dog will love its owner's organs unconditionally...

Who's Sorry First?

Chris Platt apologizes in advance:
I want to make a heartfelt apology for whatever it is I end up accidentally saying during the forthcoming ‪#‎JurassicWorld‬ press tour. I hope you understand it was never my intention to offend anyone and I am truly sorry. I swear. I'm the nicest guy in the world. And I fully regret what I (accidentally will have) said in (the upcoming foreign and domestic) interview(s).
I am not in the business of making excuses. I am just dumb. Plain and simple.
In today's world, preemptive apologies seem to be a good idea...

No Hackers Near Her

Joy Reid's story continues to fall apart: Cybersecurity expert Jason McNew, who spent 12 years working for the White House and Camp Davi...