Monday, August 31, 2015

Black Gold Mine

Not everyone in Alaska is enamored by a visit from the President who renamed a mountain for them:
The Inupiat people, who live in ANWR on the northern coastal plain, also oppose Mr. Obama’s proposal because they support energy development on their own lands. Arctic Slope Regional Corp., an Alaska Native regional corporation, owns subsurface rights to land within ANWR, and Kaktovik Inupiat Corp. owns the surface rights.

Alaska state Rep. Benjamin Nageak, a Barrow Democrat who was born in ANWR and is a member of the Inupiat tribe, objected to the president’s proposal when it was announced earlier this year.

“We have thousands and thousands of acres of land that our people in the state of Alaska, especially in ANWR, have title to, and [they] cannot even use that resource to enrich themselves,” Mr. Nageak said. “That is wrong. When you give the people the ability to enrich themselves, you don’t lock up their lands so they don’t do anything else but just sit on it, and nothing comes out of it except the renewable resources that we depend on.”
Just because it's their land, doesn't mean they can use it. Just ask the EPA...

Gone To Texas

California, there they go:
Nearly 600,000 Californians wound up in Texas, while about 348,000 Texans moved to California. The other top net recipients of Californians were Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, the analysis found.

Even so, California has seen its population increase slightly from 37 million in 2010 to nearly 39 million, thanks largely to an influx of foreign-born immigrants.

Analysts blame a host of factors for the migration, starting with California’s high tax rate and cost of living. The state is also entering its fourth year of drought and recently enacted mandatory reductions on residential water suppliers.
Somebody has to stay to make sure the faucets are turned off...

Do Not Collect One Million Dollars

The Illinois lottery is broke:
The Chicago Tribune reported that disbursements of Illinois Lottery winnings of more than $25,000 have been halted because the state doesn't have a budget.

"For the first time, we were finally gonna get a break," Rick said. "And now the Illinois Lottery has kind of messed everything up."

Under state law, checks for such winnings must be cut by the state comptroller's office and, since lawmakers have yet to approve a budget, the office cannot release those funds, the newspaper said.
No winnings for you...

Ape Army

Unleash the monkeys of war:
According to Wang Minghzi of China's air force, Peoples' Liberation Army monkeys have “mastered” the skills necessary to destroy birds’ nests.
The primates take twigs out of the nests one by one, before shaking the remnants out of the branches.
Two of the army's fastest apes, Qitian and Ziyun, can do so in under a minute, having cleared 180 nests between them this month.
“There is no problem doing this”, Wang said on Sunday, as the macaques have “graduated” after a month’s training.
Beware of where this could lead:

Mountain Man

If the mountain won't come to Obama:
For more than a century, the tallest mountain on the continent was named after the 25th U.S. president, William McKinley.

Now, in honor of Alaska’s indigenous Athabascan people, who had always called it “Denali,” President Barack Obama is changing it back, the White House said in a release Sunday.

“This designation recognizes the sacred status of Denali to generations of Alaska Natives,” the release said.
I guess a dead President's name just isn't worth what it used to be these days...

Hand 'Em Over

Sorry, IRS:
White House emails to the IRS about individual tax returns cannot be exempted by the embattled agency under the Freedom of Information Act, a federal judge ruled Friday.

United States District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Section 6103 of the tax code does not justify the IRS from withholding from FOIA requesters by refusing to say whether the records exist. She ordered the IRS to respond properly to an FOIA request submitted by the non-profit watchdog group Cause of Action.

“As we have said all along, this administration cannot misinterpret the law in order to potentially hide evidence of wrongdoing. No administration is above the law, and we are pleased that the court has sided with us on this important point,” said Daniel Bernstein, executive director of Cause of Action.
You can't hide these in a sewer...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Meal Time, Human

Your robot will serve you now:
Traditionally, the Turing Test is evaulated on conversation bots, as a panel of judges guess whether they are conversing with a human or an algorithm. In Eatsa’s case, the leadership team of Scott Drummond and Tim Young want to iteratively develop a restaurant design which will look the same when they eventually implemented the automated food preparation and delivery assembly line.

“Our initial prototypes will allow us to test the customer experience and our food, as well as the software system that we’ve developed to tie everything together from ordering through kitchen operations to pick-up,” Drummond tells The Ferenstein Wire.

Perhaps more importantly, Eatsa’s model is one of many technological advancements that is pressuring us to choose between restaurants that provide many low-paid jobs to low-skill workers or restaurants that provide bowls of healthy, hygienic, cheap, no-worry food to wealthy and poor customers.
Come and get it, flesh bags...

Hunting for Idiots

If you're this dumb:
Viewers issued “likes” with hearts and commented live, spurring on the pair — one follower asked Gonzalez to prove the gun was real, and shortly after the weapon was fired, KMAX added. Their supposed target apparently wasn’t found.

“We’re very fortunate that it ended this way, that no one got hurt,” Sergeant Doug Morse told the station, adding that “it’s not something we see every day.”

Police reviewed a copy of the Periscope broadcast Wednesday night, identified Batson and Gonzalez — who also displayed what appeared to be marijuana plants in the broadcast — and then took the pair into custody.

Social-media expert Julie Gallaher told KMAX that social media can skew users’ desires to be famous.

“Recognition is a basic human desire that everyone has, but some people have it more than others,” she told the station.
Sadly, these morons will probably enjoy the attention-until they get to prison...

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Dark Age

Getting it right:
“In less than two minutes, comedian Colin Quinn paints a hilariously scary picture of what it’s like in the United States of Political Correctness, where people walk on eggshells and fear insulting someone or being ‘noninclusive.’ This is the atmosphere most modern college students live under, and they’re sure to get a knowing chuckle at Colin’s all-too-real joke on PC culture run amok,” the YouTube description read.
See what it means to be funny in this day and age:

No Protests Near Me

Hey you free speech kids, get off their lawn!
The appeals court judges upheld a 1949 law that forbids demonstrations on the grounds of the high court, on the premise that protests at the court’s doorstep might lead to the perception that the justices are swayed by vox populi rather than the dictates of the law.

“Allowing demonstrations directed at the Court, on the Court’s own front terrace, would tend to yield the opposite impression: that of a Court engaged with — and potentially vulnerable to — outside entreaties by the public,” wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan, who argued often before the court as a lawyer and is sometimes mentioned as a future ­Supreme Court justice.

On days when controversial cases are argued and decided, the 50-foot-wide sidewalks surrounding the court are filled with chanting, flag-waving, ­bullhorn-toting protesters of all stripes. The Supreme Court itself, in 1983, ruled that these sidewalks — on First Street NE, just across from the Capitol — are open for protests.

But demonstrators are not allowed any closer. The court in its 1983 decision did not address the protest restrictions on the court’s grounds, which include the 252-by-98-foot oval marble plaza, with its fountains, benches, flagpoles and steps leading to the court’s iconic, six-ton bronze doors.
But if the court acts on its own, is that free speech? Maybe the protesters should ask...

Friday, August 28, 2015

Return Visit

Bush comes back to New Orleans:
He and Laura Bush visited the oldest public school in the city – Warren Easton Charter High School, which was closed for a year because of storm damage and then reopened as a charter school. Bush visited the same school on the storm’s first anniversary, and the library foundation of his wife helped rebuild it.

The Bushes met with students and were greeted by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and former Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco, who fought hard to get federal aid during Katrina. Laura Bush wore a purple dress to honor the school’s colors.

The school’s success is a rare bright spot from what was an extremely trying time for Bush, who was vilified for his administration’s lackluster response to the catastrophic storm.
Mayor Nagin didn't help much, either...

Jack Strikes Back

Don't mess with Jack Sparrow:
According to the Daily Mail, Depp had his security detail look into Roy’s past during the 2010 movie shoot, but the investigative team was forced to drop the issue when their criminal records search came up empty. That changed recently after Roy’s now-ex-wife, Michelle Schrauwers, went to police.

Investigators said Roy was keeping as many as 40 videos and 400 photos. Reportedly among the secret stash were “upskirt” shots taken at a shopping mall in Los Angeles, a Target store and the bathroom of his own home, according to the Daily Mail.

Roy pleaded not guilty in May to invasion of privacy charges involving secret videos allegedly taken in bathrooms and dressing rooms in California, Louisiana and Hawaii.
Feed him to the Kraken...

Picking And Choosing

Are you entitled to ask a certain question? The Queen seems to think so:

Brother Of The Wind

Quiet contemplation, and sunbathing?
Miller wrote on Reddit that the wind turbine is located at Portsmouth Abbey Monastery and School. He added that the man, he is “Brother Joseph, one of the Benedictine monks that live on campus. He likes to take students up the windmill when the weather’s nice, and goes up there a lot in the summer to pray and reflect. I’ve been up twice, and the view is absolutely amazing.”

Portsmouth Abbey’s Twitter and the local newspaper are also confirming the man on top of the turbine is Brother Joseph Byron.

Byron told the Portsmouth Journal that while he’s not afraid heights, finding it “peaceful” on top of the turbine, he did find all the attention of the drone footage a bit annoying.
It could have been worse. He could have been nekkid...

The Z Words

In Tennessee, catching up on your z's:
"With the new semester beginning and an influx of new students on campus, it is important to participate in making our campus welcoming and inclusive for all. One way to do that is to use a student's chosen name and their correct pronouns," blogged Donna Braquet, director of the school's Pride Center.

"We should not assume someone's gender by their appearance, nor by what is listed on a roster or in student information systems. Transgender people and people who do not identity within the gender binary may use a different name than their legal name and pronouns of their gender identity, rather than the pronouns of the sex they were assigned at birth," ze wrote.
What do zu say?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Lasting Storm

Conventional liberal wisdom says that Bush screwed up on Katrina-or did he?
Brazile and journalist and author Walter Isaacson, both from New Orleans, spoke to reporters during the flight. Both agreed that Bush was correct in his response – although the Bush administration was heavily criticized at the time.

“I’m one of those individuals that believes that under President Bush’s leadership, we got it right,” Brazile said. “It was slow. Remember, the state and local government was overwhelmed. The federal government had to step in. The federal government had to figure out its role.”

“It took a while for the federal government to really figure out how to help us, and I think once the president made the decision that New Orleans would be rebuild, despite some of the conversation on Capitol Hill that didn’t believe that the federal government should invest hundreds of billions of dollars into the recovery effort, the president made a commitment and I think he kept his word,” she added.
Which is more than can be said for FEMA these days...

Fear And Loathing In Clinton Land

Is it panic time?
As Democratic Party insiders gather for their summer meeting, there is a growing undercurrent of concern whether Hillary Clinton would be the party’s strongest candidate to keep the White House next year.

They still like and mostly support her. But many are increasingly questioning her handling of official emails while Secretary of State and her response to the furor over it. Some worry about her ability to connect with voters. And all this is aggravated by Vice President Joe Biden and his supporters stepping up their soundings on whether to mount a challenge.

The controversy over Clinton’s email “muddles the thinking of a lot of people,” said Alexandra Rooker of West Sacramento, vice chair of the state party in California…

Party officials most of all want a winner, and are open to a Biden bid.
I thought they wanted a winner...

Topping It Off

Finally, the government is doing something about the dreaded unregulated pizzas:
Pizza chains argue this would be particularly tough for them, and take extraordinarily large menu boards. Domino’s Pizza claims it offers 34 million different pie combinations; Pizza Hut boasted last year it can make 2 billion different pizzas. While the FDA has suggested restaurants can institute calorie “ranges” for each pizza, one Domino’s franchise owner in Missouri guessed it would cost him $5,000 to build the boards -- though over 90 percent of Domino’s business comes in over the phone or online, and so most customers never see the in-store board.

“You can’t possibly fit all the iterations of pizza on a typical menu board like you can for burgers, for example,” Lynn Liddle, executive vice president of communications for Domino’s, said in testimony before Congress in June. According to this Domino's video, menu boards are used in less than 1.5 percent of their total orders each day. She told Thursday that Domino's has been providing nutritional information voluntarily online for 10 years.
I'm sure the government will have a regulation for every topping choice...

Don't Let Him Be Misunderstood

Leave the Boss alone:
Zeitz, a college history teacher, expends several paragraphs praising subjects the album doesn’t even hint at — labor movements, strikes and a failed candidate for the presidency of the United Steelworkers (Ed Sadlowski) who is supposedly relevant to the album because his political coalition resembled the E Street Band.

The piece’s subheadline makes the strange claim that the album is about “the tense, political, working-class rejection of an increasingly unequal society,” as though Springsteen’s hustler poets were worried about what the effective tax rates of hedge fund managers might be 40 years later. Zeitz also tags Springsteen’s crew as suffering from “dislocation.”

No. The album is almost the opposite of what Zeitz says it is: It’s a celebration, not a rejection. It’s a barbaric yawp. It’s a blaze in the dark, a cry of pride amid desolation.
Some people are just dancing in the dark...

Poorhouse Party

The Democrats are out of cash:
Federal Election Commission reports tell a disappointing story for the party: The DNC collected $36.5 million in the first six months of the year and had almost no money in special accounts, including one designated for its convention. It had about $7.6 million in available cash and $6.2 million in debts and loans.

The Republican National Committee, coming out of years in the red, posted $63 million in receipts through June, leaving it with $16.7 million cash on hand and $1.8 million in debts and loans. Party fundraising dominance has flipped: At this point before the 2012 election, the DNC was outpacing the RNC.

Republicans also have been far more active in using the accounts created last year by Congress that enable donors to give at higher levels, investing about eight times what Democrats have.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC's chairwoman, said she isn't worried.

"We are building the organization now to make sure that whoever our ultimate nominee is, they are in the best possible position to win next November," she said in a statement, "and we are confident we will have the resources we need."
Meanwhile, back to panhandling...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

One Irishman, One Mob

Don't mess with an Irishman:
Trouble started in İstanbul's Aksaray district when the big Irishman opened a shop fridge and all the bottles of water spilled out into the street.

The shopkeeper took offence and hit him with a stick after the situation escalated, reports Today's Zaman.

Dozens of neighbouring shop owners then steam in to help - but unluckily for them, their victim is a trained boxer.
Just a daily workout for him...

Honestly Biased

They have made their opinions known:
An analysis of news, blogs and forums by Crimson Hexagon, a nonpartisan social media analytics software company, also found that overall mentions of Mr. Trump in the Spanish-language news media since he announced his candidacy were 69 percent negative, but were less negative — 58 percent — in the English-language news media.

Critics of the Spanish-language news coverage, including Mr. Oliver-Méndez, say that the Hispanic press is engaging in advocacy and not journalism.
In other words, they're catching up to our own media...

Firing Blanks

So, this is the governor's response to today's horrific shooting:
McAuliffe said, “I mean, what a tragedy. I know the area well. I was just there a week and a half ago. We just finished our family vacation, standing literally right on that deck area at the Bridgewater Marina, where we rented our boats, where this occurred. It’s such a beautiful sight. And this young woman, 24 years old, photographer, 27, another woman shot, doing an interview talking about economic development, and bringing businesses to the Smith Mountain Lake region. It is — it go back — goes back to what I’ve talked about for a long time, there are too many guns in the hands of people who should not have guns. This is why I’ve long advocated for background checks. I’m a gun owner, I’m a hunter. But you know what? I went through background checks myself to get it. We’ve got to — in America, we have got to come together. There is too much gun violence in the United States of America.”
There is also too much grandstanding. This was a psychopath, not the country.

Dogged Pursuit

That's a good dog:
While most police service dogs specialize in finding drugs, guns, and other illicit items, Bear specializes in finding things such as micro-cards, which can be easily hidden.

“Labs are the best on this… They’ll do anything to please their owner,” Jordan told NBC.

Lead prosecutor on Fogle’s case, Steven DeBrota, also spoke of Bear, describing him as “a key part of the team” in helping to take down the now-disgraced Subway pitchman.

The Seattle Police Department just purchased Bear for $9,500, the cost of training, but Jordan plans to train more dogs using his techniques and plans to give them to other police departments around the United States.
Labs are worth it!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Blame It On The Dog

The dog ate her email?
“Toby Miles,” according to a former Lerner colleague, is the name of Lerner’s dog: Toby is the dog’s name, and Miles is the surname of Lerner’s husband, Michael Miles.

The IRS disclosed the existence of the second account in a legal filing as part of its ongoing battle with the right-leaning investigative group Judicial Watch.

“In addition to e-mails to or from an e-mail account denominated ‘Lois G. Lerner’ or ‘Lois Home,’ some e-mails responsive to Judicial Watch’s’s request may have been sent to or received from a personal e-mail account denominated ‘Toby Miles,’” a lawyer for the agency told Federal District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan.
No treats for him, then...

Word From On High

The time is soon?
While he doesn't need the President's permission, of course, a potential presidential candidacy was among the topics of their lunch Monday at the White House. The President made clear he would not stand in his way or counsel him against a run, the senior Democrat said.

The Vice President's office downplayed the speculation about Biden's political future.

"Sources continue to speculate about something they know nothing about," Biden spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said. "This lunch was a private meeting between two people -- the President and the Vice President."

The Vice President was expected to huddle at his home Monday night with Anita Dunn and Bob Bauer, the husband-and-wife team who have been at Obama's side for much of the last decade, two people familiar with the meeting told CNN. Steve Ricchetti, the Vice President's chief of staff, was also expected to attend.
That sound you hear is Hillary being ground under the wheels of Obama's bus...

Dear Baristas

Be kind to your clientele:
In a flowery memo to the chain’s 190,000 employees (called “partners” in Starbucks lingo), the coffee giant’s billionaire chairman and chief executive told baristas to be especially sensitive to the customers asking them for a cup of joe.

“Today’s financial market volatility, combined with great political uncertainty both at home and abroad, will undoubtedly have an effect on consumer confidence and … our customers are likely to experience an increased level of anxiety and concern,” Schultz wrote in his “Message from Howard” morning email, which Starbucks provided to the Washington Post.

“Please recognize this and – as you always have – remember that our success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn, every day,” Schultz continued. “Let’s be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling, and do everything we can to individually and collectively exceed their expectations.”

Schultz, 62, has long been a believer in the greater social good achievable at the cappuccino machine.
A cup of kindness in the financial apocalypse will go a long way...

Miles to Go

Meet Lois Lerner's alter ego:
IRS lawyer Geoffrey J. Klimas told the court that as the agency was putting together a set of documents to turn over to Judicial Watch, it realized Ms. Lerner had used yet another email account, in addition to her official one and another personal one already known to the agency.

“In addition to emails to or from an email account denominated ‘Lois G. Lerner‘ or ‘Lois Home,’ some emails responsive to Judicial Watch’s request may have been sent to or received from a personal email account denominated ‘Toby Miles,’” Mr. Klimas told Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is hearing the case.

It is unclear who Toby Miles is, but Mr. Klimas said the IRS has concluded that was “a personal email account used by Lerner.”
What's in a fake name?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Space Bar

In space, no one can hear you drink:
The supply ship contains nearly 10,000 pounds of cargo, including the six liquor samples. Suntory Global Innovation Center in Tokyo wants to see if alcoholic beverages mellow the same in space as they do on Earth.

The samples will spend at least a year in orbit before being returned to Earth. An identical set of samples will be stored on the ground in Japan.

The experiment has NASA's blessing. Spokesman Dan Huot said all research flown to the space station is agreed upon by everyone involved. It's not the first liquor-related space study.
If you want to float, you need assist...

Bad Greens

Why you don't need salad:
The makings of a green salad — say, a head of lettuce, a cucumber and a bunch of radishes — cost about $3 at my supermarket. For that, I could buy more than two pounds of broccoli, sweet potatoes or just about any frozen vegetable going, any of which would make for a much more nutritious side dish to my roast chicken.

Lettuce is a vehicle to transport refrigerated water from farm to table. When we switch to vegetables that are twice as nutritious — like those collards or tomatoes or green beans — not only do we free up half the acres now growing lettuce, we cut back on the fossil fuels and other resources needed for transport and storage.

Save the planet, skip the salad.
Man does not live on lettuce alone...

In The Stone House

A man's home is his fortified castle:
Belles said he didn’t have much time before the flames from the wildfire that’s now more than 227,000 acres in size were already on his property. The flames were raging about 30 yards away from his property before he decided to take shelter in his home.

He said he knew that moving into the valley would be risky, given the weather and fire risk, and he also knew that police might not always be able to help out right away. He didn’t want to have to depend on anyone, so he built the concrete house.

“It’s a perfect example of the authorities being spread thin and not being able to take care of everybody,” Belles said. “You know, you can’t depend on that you have to prepare.”
Sounds like good advice these days...

They Came To Collect

Never get between angry capitalists and their money:
The Fanya Metals Exchange stopped making payments on investment products in July, prompting protests from investors. When answers proved elusive, some investors flew into Shanghai to join those circling a luxury hotel in the city, awaiting Shan Jiuliang, the founder of the Fanya Metals Exchange.

When Shan attempted to check out, the protesters manhandled him into a car and drove him to the nearest police station, according to the FT.

The police took Shan into custody and promised to investigate what happened to investors money. Shan was later released without charge.
The way things are going in China, he may have nowhere to go...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Home On The Rails

Can you live on the train?
The German college student gave up her apartment in spring. "It all started with a dispute I had with my landlord," Müller told The Washington Post via e-mail. "I instantly decided I didn't want to live there anymore — and then I realized: Actually, I didn't want to live anywhere anymore."

Instead, she bought a subscription that allows her to board every train in the country for free. Now, Müller washes her hair in the train bathroom and writes her college papers while traveling at a speed of up to 190 mph. She says that she enjoys the liberty she has experienced since she gave up her apartment. "I really feel at home on trains, and can visit so many more friends and cities. It's like being on vacation all the time," Müller said.
Is that what hobos called it?

Sing It To The Judge

Never let political correctness get in the way of a good performance:
Word about the band getting benched spread across the town quicker than kudzu. I must have received emails and Facebook messages from nearly the entire state - from Desoto County to Yazoo City.

Something must be done to right this wrong, people said. A message had to be sent to the likes of Judge Reeves. Locals gathered in coffee shops and garages to devise their plan.

And what they did — would become known as the musical shot heard around the world.

During halftime of Friday night’s game - a lone voice began to sing the forbidden song.

“Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee,” the singer sang.

Brittany Mann was there and she witnessed the entire moment of defiance.

“We were just sitting there and then one by one people started to stand,” she told me. “At first, it started out as a hum but the sound got louder and louder.”
Of thee they sing...

Hip Hop Hurt

When will rap end its war on women?
Dr. Dre, who has previously spoken dismissively or vaguely about the decades-old episodes, confronted them on Friday in a statement to The New York Times. While he did not address each allegation individually, he said: “Twenty-five years ago I was a young man drinking too much and in over my head with no real structure in my life. However, none of this is an excuse for what I did. I’ve been married for 19 years and every day I’m working to be a better man for my family, seeking guidance along the way. I’m doing everything I can so I never resemble that man again.”
Good fr him, but unfortunately others in his community haven't been so enlightened...

Saturday, August 22, 2015

In The Wings

Biden rising?
“I think he is doing the prudent thing, which is to look at it and lay down some groundwork should he run,” said Mr. Tsunis, saying that Mr. Biden is aware that Mr. Tsunis will help him if he enters the race.

At the same time, some Democrats supporting Mrs. Clinton have quietly signaled that they would re-evaluate their support if Mr. Biden joined the race. For example, Tom Daschle, an influential former Senate Democratic leader who has given the maximum amount allowable to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, has indicated that he would reassess his position if Mr. Biden entered the race, according to people who have been in contact with him in recent days…

“He’s not unrealistic that if she’s able to right the ship here, at this point it’s tough, really tough, to see a lot of Democrats coming off her,” said one former senior Obama administration official who recently discussed the merits of a campaign with Mr. Biden. “On the other hand, the things with the emails and everything else could deteriorate — who knows? So I think he’s figuring he’s got another month or so to see what happens, to sort of put feelers out there.”
Assuming a coronation isn't what is's cracked up to be...

A New Leaf

No high for them:
Nutritional High International describes itself as being dedicated to “developing, acquiring and designing products and brands in the marijuana-infused edible products and oil extracts sectors for medical and adult recreational use.” It had been trading under the symbol NHL since it became a public company in March.

But it appears that the hockey league contacted the marijuana edibles company’s CEO, David Posner, and asked for a change in the stock symbol. Posner was only too happy to avoid any further legal actions saying:

We’re honored to follow in the footsteps of the Nordiques, who were also asked to change their name upon their move from Canada to Colorado. The Avalanche won the Stanley Cup that year, so we figured why fight a winning formula? While we don’t believe anyone would confuse our respective products, we decided to make the symbol change to avoid possible legal costs, despite being on solid legal ground.

The change in the symbol and the company’s public announcement caused Yahoo! Sports’ Greg Wyshynski to quip, “Glad that’s cleared up. We’d hate to see people invest their money in something that promotes things that society generally frowns upon. You know, like fighting or brain injuries.”
Why can't both sides have brain damage equally?

Lend A Hand

Whose hand is that?
Right to Rise USA tweeted a picture of the inaugural mailing, which appears to show Bush posing in front of a bridge in what appears to be Cedar Rapids, the second largest city in Iowa.

But a closer look at the photo seems to show that Bush was actually superimposed on a a stock image of the city, while his left hand appears to belong to someone else.

Federal Election Commission could be partly to blame. The FEC bars coordination between a super PAC and a campaign, so if Right to Rise wanted a photo of Bush in Iowa, they couldn’t just ask for it.
Anyone in Iowa missing a hand?

Gold Dumpers

The EPA knew, the mine still blew:
EPA released the documents following weeks of prodding from The Associated Press and other media organizations. EPA and contract workers accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater on Aug. 5 as they inspected the idled Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado.
Among the documents is a June 2014 work order for a planned cleanup that noted that the old mine had not been accessible since 1995, when the entrance partially collapsed. The plan appears to have been produced by Environmental Restoration, a private contractor working for EPA.
"This condition has likely caused impounding of water behind the collapse," the report says. "ln addition, other collapses within the workings may have occurred creating additional water impounding conditions. Conditions may exist that could result in a blowout of the blockages and cause a release of large volumes of contaminated mine waters and sediment from inside the mine, which contain concentrated heavy metals."
They loved only gold...

Friday, August 21, 2015

Gangster Putin

The cult of Putin breeds strange souvenirs:
Tourists who visited the city of Kazan for this month's world swimming championships would have found Putin-face wall clocks and monster fridge magnets with the president in various heroic poses - as bare-chested action man, naval commander ("We will not abandon our own!") or historic "Volodya (Vladimir) the Brave". One recurring motif even has him cuddling a puppy.

But there is also a glossily finished decorative china plate bearing the inscription "Crimea is Ours!" over a map of the peninsula, a Russian flag, and a picture of Putin clenching his fist.

From there, it's a small step to the t-shirts sold outside the Kremlin showing Putin delivering a karate kick to the throat of U.S. President Barack Obama, accused by many ordinary Russians of trying to foment anti-Russian feeling in Ukraine.

And there is more than a hint of admiration on display for some of the darker arts employed by a president whose personal popularity rating regularly tops 80 percent.

The "Anyavanya" brand carried by upmarket online shop Aizel.Ru, which says it has "made the patriotism of the fashionable Russian public into a trend", displays smartphone covers of Putin, in camouflage coat, labeled "The most polite of people".
It's strictly a very polite business...

His Work Is Done

Congratulations on destroying your own Party, Mr. President:
As just one example, Stevens points to the 2014 Alaska Senate race, where one-term Democratic incumbent Mark Begich narrowly lost his reelection bid. “Begich ran ads defending many of the provisions of the law, but they never used ‘Affordable Care Act’ or ‘Obamacare,’” Stevens says. “Anytime you’re trying to defend something but won’t use its name, you’re in a tough spot.”

It’s a point given a nonpartisan spin by Norm Ornstein, who’s been observing Washington from his perch at the American Enterprise Institute for decades and argues that the Obama administration has done a remarkably poor job selling even its top accomplishments to the American people. “My puzzlement goes back to 2009,” he says. “From the beginning, it was clear that the Republicans had crafted the agenda. And Obama never offered a sense of what the stimulus did, or what his administration was doing. It’s remarkable that a campaign with incredible communications skills more or less abandoned them; it’s not that there’s magic in presidential communication, but they did nothing that was not related to the ordinary way of doing things.”
If you can't defend yourself, don't expect others to do it for you...

Suspicious Minds Matter

Is somebody out to get him?
The basic mythology is that someone — maybe frontrunner Hillary Clinton, maybe the Republicans, maybe her billionaire backers, maybe even the FBI — is using Black Lives Matter to tear Sanders down, to diminish an insurgent candidacy that, the supporters say, is viewed as a real threat by the establishment.

On a flight from San Francisco to Phoenix recently, for instance, a young, white, male Sanders supporter noticed the reporter sitting next to him was writing about Sanders and, unprompted, started talking about information dug up on Marissa Johnson, one of the young black women who took the stage at the Seattle Social Security event. He noted online sleuths on reddit had discovered the woman had posted about being an evangelical Christian and a Sarah Palin supporter on Facebook years earlier. Subterfuge, he said. She’s not the real deal. Something’s afoot.

Black activists like Johnson who have interrupted Sanders on stage have been doxxed, digitally harassed, and shouted at by Sanders backers, they say. Online there is the vibrant talk about who is really, secretly, responsible. The activists laugh off specific conspiracy charges but say that the continued incredulity from Sanders’ white supporters toward their cause prove their point that “white progressivism” isn’t interested in the issues Black Lives Matter is trying to bring to the fore. The lasting conspiracy narrative is all the proof they need, the activists say.
Not that Sanders isn't his own worst enemy-guys like him usually are-but it does make one wonder...

The Vigilantes Of Capitol Hill

The Democratic response to the Planned Parenthood scandal is to...investigate the investigators:
The Center for Medical Progress may have broken federal laws in setting up a false-front company to secretly record Planned Parenthood employees talking about these and other practices, the Democrats say.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also said it’s possible some of his colleagues in Congress knew about CMP’s activities and didn’t flag them for potential illegal behavior.

“These disturbing actions raise questions about whether the Center for Medical Progress has broken federal or state laws, and whether some members of Congress may have been aware of these potentially illegal activities before they were made public earlier this year,” the Maryland congressman wrote in a Thursday letter to David Daleiden, chief executive of CMP.
Note that he's not talking about Planned Parenthood itself there...

Busted Secrets

So it turns out those emails were classified, after all:
In the small fraction of emails made public so far, Reuters has found at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails, that include what the State Department's own "Classified" stamps now identify as so-called 'foreign government information.' The U.S. government defines this as any information, written or spoken, provided in confidence to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts.

This sort of information, which the department says Clinton both sent and received in her emails, is the only kind that must be "presumed" classified, in part to protect national security and the integrity of diplomatic interactions, according to U.S. regulations examined by Reuters.

"It's born classified," said J. William Leonard, a former director of the U.S. government's Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). Leonard was director of ISOO, part of the White House's National Archives and Records Administration, from 2002 until 2008, and worked for both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

"If a foreign minister just told the secretary of state something in confidence, by U.S. rules that is classified at the moment it's in U.S. channels and U.S. possession," he said in a telephone interview, adding that for the State Department to say otherwise was "blowing smoke."
Now the smoke is clearing...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sugar Goes South

How to save our sugar:
If the government wants people making Oreo cookies and similar products to keep their jobs, a logical starting point would be to eliminate the U.S. sugar program, including barriers to imported sugar.

This obvious connection between the lost jobs and sugar quotas was missed by many observers. According to one online commenter: “This is why tariff[s] on products coming to U.S must be raised.”

That’s backwards. When protectionist policies like the U.S. sugar program lead to offshoring, the response shouldn’t be to pass new laws to discourage such offshoring or to raise tariffs even higher. The response should be to eliminate government policies that encourage offshoring in the first place.
Also to stop demonizing the sweet stuff in the first place...

Jihad For Gaia

Holy war for your Mother's sake:
“Excessive pollution from fossil fuels threatens to destroy the gifts bestowed on us by God, whom we know as Allah – gifts such as a functioning climate, healthy air to breathe, regular seasons, and living oceans,” wrote Islamic leaders from 20 countries after attending a summit in Istanbul, Turkey.

“We are driven to conclude from these warnings that there are serious flaws in the way we have used natural resources – the sources of life on Earth. An urgent and radical reappraisal is called for,” the Muslims wrote to Islamic government officials, delegates and activists.
The Green Jihad?

Law School For Dummies

Are lawyers getting (even) dumber?
Erica Moeser, the president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, told law school deans that the students who sat for last year’s exam in July 2014 were “less able” than those who took it a year prior. When law school deans said her comments were offensive and demanded an investigation in the fairness of the 2014 test, Moeser apologized for causing insult. Nevertheless, she suggested that the drop-off may be due to the lower LSAT scores of the students being admitted to law schools.

You can forgive law school deans for being on the defense—their entire industry is midst of an unprecedented upheaval. BloombergBusiness explains: “In 2015 fewer people applied to law school than at any point in the last 30 years. Law schools are seeing enrollments plummet and have tried to keep their campuses alive by admitting students with worse credentials.”
A man who is his own lawyer may no longer have a fool for a client...

No Comments

Some people just can't take the heat:
The debate about comment sections on news sites is often as divisive as the comments themselves. Recently outlets such as The Verge and The Daily Dot have closed their comments sections because they’ve become too hard to manage. And they’re far from alone. Moderating comments is a full-time job (or several full-time jobs) at many news organisations. Officiating comments on a BBC News story requires knowledge of more than a dozen different disqualifying categories. Alongside shouting, swearing and incivility, comment sections can also attract racism and sexism. BBC Trending recently found evidence of the latter when looking at live streaming app Periscope.
When you treat all of your readers like trolls, the trolls win...

I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Raisins are raisins:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a regulation on Thursday to stop referring to midget raisins as “midget” after an activist group called the term offensive.

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) issued the proposed rule, announcing the U.S. “Standards for Grades of Processed Raisins” would eliminate all five times the word midget is used. Midget has long been used to describe the differences in sizes of California raisins.

“The action would clarify AMS grade standards by eliminating the use of the term ‘midget,’ while consistently using the term ‘small’ for raisins graded in that category,” the USDA said in the proposed rule. “The industry has used the two grade terms interchangeably for years. The proposed grade standards would be applied uniformly by all handlers.”
Well, at least the grapes won't be offended...

Nuts For America

He may be the candidate America has been looking for:
It turns out Deez Nuts, who says his real name is Brady Olson, is about to enter his sophomore year in high school, and has a full two decades to prepare for a legal run for president of the United States.

A Mark C. Olson, who is listed at the Wallingford address on Deez Nuts's FEC filing, said via Twitter that Deez Nuts is "my 15 year old son."
He's no more or less qualified than the current occupant of the White House...

Trumped In Rio

In Brazil, they like Donald Trump:
“I’m a Latin and I have to say, I didn’t get offended at all with his comments,” said Paulo Figueiredo Filho, 33, a Brazilian real estate mogul and self-described conservative libertarian who is building the lavish new Trump Hotel here.

“I spend a lot of time in the U.S.,” Mr. Figueiredo added, “and I have seen a lot of illegal immigrants that are causing problems, causing trouble in the country, and I actually agree with him.”

Scholars attribute some of the indifference here about Mr. Trump’s immigration remarks to an entrenched tradition in Portuguese-speaking Brazil of seeing the country as separate from its Spanish-speaking neighbors in Latin America, despite energetic diplomatic efforts in recent decades to forge stronger ties in the region.

Many “Brazilians are not offended by Trump’s remarks concerning Latinos because they don’t think his nasty remarks” refer to them, said Maxine Margolis, an anthropologist at the University of Florida who is a leading authority on Brazilian emigration to the United States. “He is talking about a population they see as ‘the other.’ ”
Maybe because Brazilians who emigrate are willing to actually follow the law?

Burning Man Buzz

It's hippies versus bugs:
'We don't know where they came from, but there are two main theories: One is that all the spring and summer rain has hatched critters that lie dormant, or usually come to life at a different time of year.

'Or maybe they hitchhiked in on a load of wood from somewhere.

'Or maybe, as Shade postulated out at Man Base, there’s a Johnny Bugseed making the rounds at night, sprinkling them anywhere and everywhere.'

According to Curley's post, 'the hope is that the heat and the dryness will knock down the bug population.'
Things like this tend to happen when one doesn't bathe...

Lord Love A Quack

Quack, quack:
"Continue, continue. Continue to abuse, I am filming you. A little bit of empathy for the animals. They also have a life, like your children or your family," the man who was filming can be heard saying in a video of the incident released by animal rights group Animal Rescue Espana.

The footage shows a young woman wearing a white bathing suit attack the man with a duck -- holding it by the legs as she repeatedly lashes him with it.

As the attack goes on, animal rights activists gathered on the shore can be heard chanting, "You would not do that to your dog," before they were removed by police.
If you can't get tar, settle for feathers?

Secrets And Lies

Hillary Clinton’s campaign said Wednesday that emails on the private server she used when she was secretary of state contained material that is now classified, the clearest explanation thus far of an issue that has roiled her bid for the presidency.

At the same time, the campaign sought to play down the disclosure by saying the material had been retroactively classified out of an abundance of caution by U.S. intelligence agencies.

“She was at worst a passive recipient of unwitting information that subsequently became deemed as classified,” said Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.
Or a felon...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bad Timing Of The Year

Kids could play with Jared Fogle’s pants in an ill-timed online game that was still live on Subway’s website Wednesday — the same day it was alleged the ex-pitchman possessed kiddie porn and solicited minors for sex.
The free “Jared’s Pants Dance” game, which has since been removed from Subway’s kids site, featured a pair of Fogle’s blue jeans which are used to catch sandwiches, bottles of water and other snacks for points.
Fogle allegedly possessed kiddie porn and had sex with minors between 2011 and 2013, according to federal court documents filed Wednesday in Indiana.
Hey, kids! Never mind...

The Reviews Aren't In

It's always nice to have imaginary friends-except in academia:
Springer confirms that 64 articles are being retracted from 10 Springer subscription journals, after editorial checks spotted fake email addresses, and subsequent internal investigations uncovered fabricated peer review reports. After a thorough investigation we have strong reason to believe that the peer review process on these 64 articles was compromised. We reported this to the Committee on Publishing Ethics (COPE) immediately. Attempts to manipulate peer review have affected journals across a number of publishers as detailed by COPE in their December 2014 statement. Springer has made COPE aware of the findings of its own internal investigations and has followed COPE’s recommendations, as outlined in their statement, for dealing with this issue. Springer will continue to participate and do whatever we can to support COPE’s efforts in this matter.
Reviewers, review thyselves...

The Handwriting On The Paper

Will Hillary be undone by her own hand?
“It’s the responsibility of the person to know if the information is classified,” said Hanson, now the vice president of the Center for Security Policy, a national security think tank. “If she didn’t sign a 312, she signed a version of a nondisclosure agreement. If she is indicted, they would lay that document down in front of her and say, ‘Is this your signature?’”

Even if a federal official is supposed to know if a document is classified, the agreement includes language for uncertainty: “I understand that if I am uncertain about the classification status of information, I am required to confirm from an authorized official that the information is unclassified before I may disclose it.”

For several months, including in an interview Monday, Clinton said, “I never sent nor received any classified email, nothing marked ‘classified.’” However, speaking with reporters on Tuesday, the Democratic presidential candidate refused to answer whether she wiped her server clean before providing to the FBI last week.

Neither the Clinton campaign nor the State Department responded to repeated inquiries from TheBlaze as to whether Clinton signed the agreement.
She could always just blame it on the vast paperwork conspiracy...

Don't Look Into My Eyes

Look away:
Research based on a small study published by Giovanni Caputo of the University of Urbino in Italy described how study participants who stared into each other’s eyes in a dimly lit room for 10 minutes started to experience “dissociative symptoms, dysmorphic face perceptions and hallucination-like strange-face apparitions.”

Though Research Digest noted some possible flaws in the study’s methodology, it stated that “staring into another person’s eyes might be the most effective dissociation-inducing exercise yet.”

Another study by Caputo published a few years ago involved a similar experiment where participants stared at themselves in a mirror in a dimly lit room. This experiment also yeilded results where participants saw monsters or experienced “otherness” in the room.
You are your own illusion?

Yelp Out Loud

Give them a piece of your mind:
While users have long been able to leave comments about their encounters with bureaucracy, now federal agencies will be able to claim their pages and respond to reviews, so in theory, "you can actually make an impact by sharing your feedback directly with the source."

Fiorina may be the only presidential contender currently campaigning via Yelp, but she is far from the only Yelp user to have a beef with the TSA. In the words of one representative review, "When I drag my very annoyed, thirsty, and barefoot self through the airport security line where I may or may not be felt up: I DO NOT FEEL SECURE."
Let the games begin!

Big Little Sister

What if you had a sibling and didn't know it?
Kavangh, a London native now living in Cyprus, had previously given birth to two children but rarely visited doctors and had never gone to a gynecologist. Both of her pregnancies had been normal.

When the doctors told her the news, Kavangh had a hard time believing it — so they showed her a photo.

"The fact that it had long black hair — just like mine — a face, with one eye and one baby tooth makes it more believable," Kavangh said, adding, "I felt shocked, very scared, horrified, and felt like an alien was inside me."
The sister she never knew...

Grow A Brain

Who wants a brain?
Though not conscious the miniature brain, which resembles that of a five-week-old foetus, could potentially be useful for scientists who want to study the progression of developmental diseases. It could also be used to test drugs for conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, since the regions they affect are in place during an early stage of brain development.

The brain, which is about the size of a pencil eraser, is engineered from adult human skin cells and is the most complete human brain model yet developed, claimed Rene Anand of Ohio State University, Columbus, who presented the work today at the Military Health System Research Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
If nothing else, they can be a food supply for zombies...

Gold Stars For No One?

Why every kid doesn't deserve a trophy:
A study earlier this year found that children whose parents overvalued them were more likely to develop narcissistic traits, such as superiority and entitlement — two qualities that aren’t necessarily going to benefit our kids when the going gets rough.

Another concern about participation trophies, said Merryman, who wrote a New York Times op-ed “Losing is Good for You,” is that they don’t give our kids room to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.

“It’s fine to say … ‘You didn’t go to all of the games. You didn’t practice soccer. The other kid worked really hard and he did really well and he deserves a trophy and you should go over and congratulate him.’ That’s a hard lesson, but it’s an important lesson,” she said.

“So I would rather have kids realize that there are no stakes and they can make mistakes and move on then have them find out the first time in their lives, when they are in their teens and 20s, that not everyone is going to give them a trophy.”
Unless maybe you're a president who gets a Nobel Prize...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Blogging In The Years: 1998

Clinton comes clean:
"Indeed I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible," he said.

The president gave his televised address from the Map Room in the private residence of the White House, where he had faced prosecutors from Independent Counsel Ken Starr's office for more than four hours earlier in the day. During his testimony, sources tell CNN the president did admit to having sex with Lewinsky.

"But I told the grand jury today, and I say to you now, that at no time did I ask anyone to lie, to hide or destroy evidence or to take any other unlawful action," Clinton said.

In Clinton's public comments, the word "sex" was never spoken and the word "regret" was only used in reference to his admission that he misled the public and his family over the last seven months about his relationship with the former White House intern.
It depends on what the meaning of "honesty" is. But watch his apology for yourself:

England Swings Both Ways

Some would argue that this has been the case for generations:
In a poll of 1632 people of all ages taken by YouGov last week, 89 percent of respondents classified themselves as heterosexual, while just six percent declared themselves gay or lesbian.

But that result was not uniform across all age groups: of those aged 60+, 96 percent were straight and just one percent were gay, while at the other end of the scale, 83 percent of 18-25 year olds were straight, and ten percent said they were gay. Similar figures were recorded for 26-39 year olds.

There were also differences between the sexes: 10 percent of all the male respondents identified as gay, whereas only two percent of women identified as lesbian.

But when asked to place themselves on the Kinsey Scale, which grades sexuality from 0, completely heterosexual to 6, completely homosexual, just 46 percent of 18 – 24 year olds placed themselves at 0. A further 6 percent said they were completely homosexual, whereas everyone else was somewhere on the scale.
England is the gay (or maybe not...)

Queen Of The Animals

She can literally get them to play dead:
Experts told the GB Times that the trick uses a natural reflex called 'tonic immobility' or 'apparent death'.

Some animals appear to be temporarily paralysed in response to an external threat, such a a predator.

Humans can induce tonic mobility by gently restraining an animal, particularly when on its side or its back.

Jiaying first discovered her talent after hypnotising a frog that someone had taken in to her kindergarten more than a year ago.
Use her on your next hunting trip...

God Is My Co-Counsel

Did the judge cross the line?
The Freedom from Religion Foundation filed the complaint with the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct on Friday, seeking to disbar Smith County Court-at-Law Judge Randall Rogers.
The judge last month gave Josten Bundy, 21, a choice of marrying his girlfriend Elizabeth Jaynes, 19, and being released on probation or spending 15 days in jail after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. Bundy, who had gotten into a fight with Jaynes's former boyfriend, chose to get married.
The judge also ordered Bundy to write Bible verses and attend counseling, according to a transcript of the proceedings obtained by broadcaster KLTV in Tyler, Texas.
Rogers could not be reached for comment.
Sam Grover, a staff attorney for the foundation that filed the complaint, said the judge had violated his ethical duties and his behavior was unacceptable.
"It violates the personal liberties of the couple and ordering the writing of Bible verses is clearly a violation of the separation of church and state," Grover said in an interview.
Unforced marriages can sometimes be punishment enough, at that...

Webs Are Free

Not so fast:
“It has become increasingly apparent over the last few months that the community needs time to complete its work, have the plan reviewed by the U.S. government and then implement it if it is approved,” Assistant Commerce Secretary Lawrence Strickling wrote in a blog post.

Mr. Strickling wrote that the government plans to extend its contract with Icann for one year to Sept. 30 of 2016, with options to extend it another three years. Mr. Strickling said Commerce informed Congress of the plan on Friday.

Commerce said the extension will provide time to work out additional details on how a “multistakeholder” governance approach might work.
Seems this global internet control thing doesn't sound like such a good idea just yet after all...

Brown Water

Farmers need not apply:
Brown's administration said re-engineering water flows of the delta - the largest estuary on the West Coast - is essential to undoing mistakes of past water projects and to supplying water to Southern California.

Brown has pushed for a massive delta makeover since his first stint as governor in the 1970s and 1980s. In May, he told critics of the tunnels to "shut up."

Opponents say the tunnels would jeopardize delta farming and destroy vital wildlife habitat.

"If these reports are correct, then we have further confirmation that the tunnels project has been a forgone conclusion," state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, who chairs a committee on the delta, said in an email Monday.

The environmental review, "which should be used to choose a project, is simply being used to justify the favored project," she wrote.
Your rights stop at big government's door...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Disappearing, Reappearing Emails

Oh, there they are:
Earlier this year, Gawker Media sued the State Department over its response to a Freedom of Information Act request we filed in 2013, in which we sought emails exchanged between reporters at 33 news outlets and Philippe Reines, the former deputy assistant secretary of state and aggressive defender of Hillary Clinton. Over two years ago, the department claimed that “no records responsive to your request were located”—a baffling assertion, given Reines’ well-documented correspondence with journalists. Late last week, however, the State Department came up with a very different answer: It had located an estimated 17,000 emails responsive to Gawker’s request.

On August 13, lawyers for the U.S. Attorney General submitted a court-ordered status report to the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia in which it disclosed that State employees had somehow discovered “5.5 gigabytes of data containing 81,159 emails of varying length” that were sent or received by Reines during his government tenure. Of those emails, the attorneys added, “an estimated 17,855” were likely responsive to Gawker’s request[.]
I knew they could find them if they really tried...

Welcome To Work Camp

No more dole for them?
Under the plan, anyone under 21 who is out of work and on benefits will have to take part in a three-week intensive course to help them find employment or training.

They will have to sign up to the programme within a month of claiming benefits – or see those benefits stopped.

The course, which ministers are provocatively describing as a “boot camp”, includes practising job applications and interview techniques. It is expected to take 71 hours to complete and benefits will be dependent on attendance.

The proposal is likely to be attacked by Labour for further stigmatising young people who can’t find work while at the same time making it harder for them claim benefits.
Or it could make it easier for them to not need the welfare state, which could be what Labour is really afraid of...

Working Player Blues

Sorry, athletes:
In a unanimous decision, the board said the prospect of having both union and nonunion teams could lead to different standards at different schools — from the amount of money players receive to the amount of time they can practice — and create competitive imbalances on the field.

The ruling dismissed a stunning decision in March 2014 by a regional NLRB director in Chicago who said football players with scholarships are effectively school employees and entitled to organize. But Monday's decision did not directly address the question of whether the players are employees.

The face of the union drive, former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, expressed disappointment in the ruling. But he said the unionization drive pressured the NCAA to take athletes' grievances more seriously.

"Once we started this movement, within one year, things started changing," he said. "It turned out to be the right thing to do, and I don't regret it."

Northwestern welcomed the ruling, and its vice president for university relations, Alan K. Cubbage, praised pro-union players, saying the school applauded them "for bringing national attention to these important issues."
Now get back out on the field, you bums...

Taken To The Limit

How high is too high?
Neither Obama nor Clinton has spoken critically of a $15-an-hour federal minimum. But recent comments from the candidate, and from officials in Obama’s administration, suggest Clinton and Obama may be worried that such a large increase could prove too much for some parts of the country to bear…

“The national minimum wage is a floor, and it needs to be raised,” she said. “But let’s also remember that the cost of living is different in Manhattan than in Little Rock and many other places.”
Which is where the lion's share of the Democratic money tends to go, at any rate...

The Lonely App

Are you lonely?
Meet Cortana. Available on the Windows Phone 8.1, the Microsoft creation will text-message you back and forth about everything from your football team’s latest game to your date last night.

“Whether it’s to keep you in the loop with your world or to help you manage your everyday life, Cortana is there for you,” Microsoft states. Much like a good friend then.

In China, Cortana’s phone-based “little sister” Xiaoice has attracted millions of loyal followers since its introduction last year. Dubbed the “girlfriend app”, the chatbot uses artificial-intelligence software to remember details from previous discussions and mines the web for question-and-answer style conversations.

Such is the emerging popularity of chatbots that Bletchley Park, home to Alan Turing’s famous Enigma code-breaking machine, runs an annual competition to celebrate the phenomenon. Steve Worswick, a 45-year-old IT technician and 2015 finalist, attracts a couple of thousand interactions to his Mitsuku chatbot every day. People log in from as far afield as the Vatican City and US navy ships in mid-ocean to talk to the “artificial lifeform”.

“Some of them [users] are just plain weird, but many are lonely and looking for companionship,” says Worswick.
But what if the app doesn't have the time?

Missing The Green

So how's California's green economy working out?
Money is trickling in at a slower-than-anticipated rate, and more than half of the $297 million given to schools so far has gone to consultants and energy auditors. The board created to oversee the project and submit annual progress reports to the Legislature has never met, according to a review by The Associated Press.
Voters in 2012 approved the Clean Energy Jobs Act by a large margin, closing a tax loophole for multistate corporations. The Legislature decided to send half the money to fund clean energy projects in schools, promising to generate more than 11,000 jobs each year.
Instead, only 1,700 jobs have been created in three years, raising concerns about whether the money is accomplishing what voters were promised.
"Accountability boards that are rubber stamps are fairly common, but accountability boards that don't meet at all are a big problem," said Douglas Johnson, a state government expert at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California.
You'd think it was a scam, or something...

Princess Of Mars

The lady of the Red Planet?
In a post entitled “Alien Woman on Mars Watching Rover From Hill” the UFO Sightings Daily website said that the shape “looks like a woman partly cloaked.”

Mashable is somewhat more circumspect in its analysis of the image. “Perhaps it's a cloaked ghost Martian woman, perhaps it's a statue left over from a once great society, perhaps it's a piece of dirt,” it said.
The dirty Martian girl?

No Views For You

No more fun of any kind?
The quantity of Netflix viewing in the week under discussion was roughly the equivalent of 2-9 full-time employees watching TV for the full 40-hour work week.

One IT consultant said, “And when you have over 60,000 employees, like this state, you really want to look at how much of your bandwidth is being used by these services.”

Although the entertainment viewing will be cut, the employees may still watch Youtube, Adobe Flash Media, and similar media sites because they can be used for job-related purposes. Employees who have watched video streaming entertainment will not be punished.
With all due respect to their supervisors, how much hard work do government workers in Hawaii have to do?

No One Is Indespensible

Want to keep your job? Don't give them an excuse to replace you:
About 30 percent of the restaurant industry’s costs come from salaries, so burger-flipping robots — or at least super-fast ovens that expedite the process — become that much more cost-competitive if the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is doubled.

“The problem with the ­minimum-wage offensive is that it throws the accounting of the restaurant industry totally upside down,” said Harold Miller, vice president of franchise development for Persona Pizzeria, who also consults for other chains. “My position is: Pay your people properly, keep them longer, treat them right, and robots are going to be helpful in doing that, because it will help the restaurateur survive.”

Many chains are already at work looking for ingenious ways to take humans out of the picture, threatening workers in an industry that employs 2.4 million wait staffers, nearly 3 million cooks and food preparers and many of the nation’s 3.3 million cashiers.
Be prepared to be replaced by a preparer...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Golf Course Awaits

His work is almost done:
Mr. Obama “seemed incredibly relaxed,” said another guest, the writer Malcolm Gladwell. He recalled how the group, which also included the actress Eva Longoria and Vinod Khosla, a founder of Sun Microsystems, tossed out ideas about what Mr. Obama should do after he leaves the White House.

“Where we’ll end up, I don’t know yet,” said Marty Nesbitt, the president’s longtime Chicago friend who is leading an extensive planning effort for Mr. Obama’s library and an anticipated global foundation.

Publicly, Mr. Obama betrays little urgency about his future. Privately, he is preparing for his postpresidency with the same fierce discipline and fund-raising ambition that characterized the 2008 campaign that got him to the White House.

The long-running dinner this past February is part of a methodical effort taking place inside and outside the White House as the president, first lady and a cadre of top aides map out a postpresidential infrastructure and endowment they estimate could cost as much as $1 billion. The president’s aides did not ask any of the guests for library contributions after the dinner, but a number of those at the table were potential future donors.
One endless campaign ends, another begins...

Fake Cigarettes Are Evil

First, they came for the real thing:
Nicotine is no more dangerous to health than coffee, but 90 percent of the public still consider it harmful, according to a report from the U.K.’s Royal Society for Public Health.

The study heaps praise on e-cigarettes with the chief executive of the RSPH, Shirley Cramer commenting “getting people on to nicotine rather than using tobacco would make a big difference to the public’s health.”…

“Clearly there are issues in terms of having smokers addicted to nicotine but this would move us on from having a serious and costly public health issue from smoking-related disease to instead address the issue of addiction to a substance which in and of itself is not too dissimilar to caffeine addiction,” said Cramer.

While the health consequences of long-term e-cigarette use are still unknown, evidence to date suggests there are few if any health consequences. E-cigarettes do not contain many of the chemicals in regular cigarettes associated with lung cancer and emphysema.
But they're still too close to the real thing for comfort, aren't they?

Woman Town

No men allowed:
Rebecca Lolosoli is the founder of Umoja and the village matriarch. She was in hospital recovering from a beating by a group of men when she came up with the idea of a women-only community. The beating was an attempt to teach her a lesson for daring to speak to women in her village about their rights. The Samburu are closely related to the Maasai tribe, speaking a similar language. They usually live in groups of five to 10 families and are semi-nomadic pastoralists. Their culture is deeply patriarchal. At village meetings men sit in an inner circle to discuss important village issues, while the women sit on the outside, only occasionally allowed to express an opinion. Umoja’s first members all came from the isolated Samburu villages dotted across the Rift valley. Since then, women and girls who hear of the refuge come and learn how to trade, raise their children and live without fear of male violence and discrimination.
I guess they don't have to worry about gender identity issues...

Mouth Disease

Why aren't you yawning?
As is widely known, most people will yawn if someone around them yawns and shows signs of fatigue. The students were shown video clips of people using different facial expressions, including yawning.

The ones who scored highly for cold-heartedness were the ones less likely to yawn.

Brian Rundle, a PhD student involved in the study, told The Times: ‘One of the biggest lines of evidence is that (contagious yawning is) very much related to empathy.

‘While this is a really interesting finding, it doesn’t mean that if you’re not affected by a contagious yawn there’s something wrong with you.’

‘There’s some evidence that to show that in baboons or dogs or chimps the alpha male tends to yawn first,’ he added.
We must fight the spread of yawn-itis...

Blame It On The Base

It's your fault, ya rubes:
You do not benefit by trying to draft behind Donald Trump and hope that he collapses and his low-information supporters run into your arms. This is a guy who is increasingly leading a fraction of the conservative base into a very dangerous cul-de-sac. He is promising things that he can never deliver. And it is time for Jeb Bush and other folks to start posting up and really comparing and contrasting Donald Trump’s rhetoric with the reality.
The reality is that a lot of people are simply fed up with career politicians and those who treat elections like coronations. The establishment risks continuing to alienate these folks at their own peril.

Bond, Julian Bond

RIP Julian Bond:
The Nashville, Tenn. native was considered a symbol and icon of the 1960s civil rights movement. As a Morehouse College student, Bond helped found the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and as its communications director, he was on the front lines of protests that led to the nation’s landmark civil rights laws.

Bond later served as board chairman of the 500,000-member NAACP for 10 years but declined to run again for another one-year term in 2010.

The SPLC said Bond was a “visionary” and “tireless champion” for civil and human rights.

“With Julian’s passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice,” SPLC co-founder Morris Dees said in a statement. “He advocated not just for African Americans, but for every group, indeed every person subject to oppression and discrimination, because he recognized the common humanity in us all.”
I remember when he was on Saturday Night live:

Life With Dogs

Why dogs matter:
I’ve seen Homeward Bound. I tear up at Marley and Me. But another reason the Goldston’s mitzvah hits home for me personally is because my family had nearly the same thing happen to us back in 2008. Our full-sized, purebred Collie (Bo the Dog) was stolen from our property in the suburbs of Chicago on Memorial Day 2003. At the time, local law enforcement informed us that there was wave of similar thefts, with people stealing expensive dogs and re-selling them.

I’m the oldest of six children and the dog was meant as a gift for my younger brothers, especially my kid brother Brent who was understandably bummed when he vanished. But then, five summers later, we received a call from a police officer in Rockford, IL (about 90 minutes west of Chicago) who had seen the now disheveled Bo wandering around his neighborhood at the edge of some nearby woods. That same officer brought him in to a veterinarian’s office to get checked out and that’s when they found the microchip with our information.
Dogs (and for that matter, some cats) are better than most people out there. In them we see a part of ourselves (at least the part that wants hugs and treats.)

Gorilla Speak

Can Koko talk?
Koko the gorilla, famous for her ability communicate with her keepers using American Sign Language, has also developed breathing and grunting patterns associated with the ability to talk – something scientists thought to be impossible in her species.

Postdoctoral researcher Marcus Perlman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Nathaniel Clark at the University of California studied 71 hours of video footage of Koko interacting with her keepers and identified vocalizations thought to be impossible for gorillas.

The researchers say that they have “found examples of Koko performing nine different, voluntary behaviors that required control over her vocalization and breathing.” The 44-year-old ape’s sign-language training began in 1972, and she has spent most of her life working with humans.
This is how it begins...

Saturday, August 15, 2015

For Want Of A Chef

What really happens when you sacrifice cooking for cash:
Many people would eat fewer meals outside the home. There’s a restaurant near my house that I’d say is 20 percent overpriced for the neighborhood and the quality of the food it serves. It had no competition nearby but still opened empty, and remains mostly that way a year later. The food is good — not stellar, but I’d be happy enough to eat there, if it weren’t for the fact that everything costs too much. If prices at the pub that opened nearby went up by the same amount, I wouldn’t simply start splitting my time between the two; I’d eat out less.

Americans spend a phenomenal amount of money consuming food outside their homes, and a major reason is that with restaurant labor so cheap, the convenience and price are attractive to people who don’t feel like cooking. If the wages go up, that calculus shifts. And unfortunately those “rich bosses” can’t just take it out of their profits, because margins in the industry are under 5 percent, and the difference between making that profit and closing up shop can be surprisingly thin.
It's simple economics. Which makes it too difficult for economic liberals to understand...

In Space, No One Can Hear You Shoot

Space, the next battlefront frontier?
About 1,300 active satellites wreathe the globe in a crowded nest of orbits, providing worldwide communications, GPS navigation, weather forecasting and planetary surveillance. For militaries that rely on some of those satellites for modern warfare, space has become the ultimate high ground, with the U.S. as the undisputed king of the hill. Now, as China and Russia aggressively seek to challenge U.S. superiority in space with ambitious military space programs of their own, the power struggle risks sparking a conflict that could cripple the entire planet’s space-based infrastructure. And though it might begin in space, such a conflict could easily ignite full-blown war on Earth.
All your orbits are belong to us...

The Queen Responds

Hillary scoffs at the opposition:
“Now I’m in their crosshairs again,” she said reminding them of the opposing corporations and “right wing operatives” that were trying to block her agenda.

“Now they’ll try and tell you that this is about Benghazi, but it’s not,” she said, referring to the attacks as a “tragedy” that should be prevented in the future.

“It’s not about Benghazi, and you know what, it’s not about emails or servers either, it’s about politics,” she shouted.

Clinton praised herself for her record of transparency regarding her emails, noting that she had already released and published some of her emails and turned over her server to the Justice Department.
Now shut up, she said...

Anti-Union Man

Unions are great, except:
“I think unions have had a positive impact on a lot of places, like if you’re working on an assembly line, and if you’re negotiating with management it can make a huge difference, particularly when labor is more replaceable,” Mr. Peretti said, according to a story written by BuzzFeed’s labor reporter, Cora Lewis. “I don’t think a union is right for BuzzFeed.”

A BuzzFeed spokeswoman confirmed Mr. Peretti made the remarks at a company meeting on Thursday.

Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East, which has recently organized workers at Gawker Media, and Vice Media, said Mr. Peretti “doesn’t seem to understand how collective bargaining actually works.”

“If the company respects its editorial staff enough to support their work, it should respect their independent judgment about unionizing,” he said in an email. “It’s really not his decision to make.”
You'd think Peretti was a Republican governor, or something...

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Suds Of Champions

Finally-beer for breakfast:
“We were intrigued from the get-go on this idea for many reasons, including that we’re both Minneapolis companies, and that the beer and the cereal both started from the same place in terms of raw ingredients and the same city,” said Ryan Petz, president and co-founder of Fulton, in a press release about the new item.

HefeWheaties will be the first Hefeweizen style beer brewed by Fulton and will be made with “malted wheat, malted barley, hops from Germany, the U.S. and Australia, and a yeast strain specifically developed for fermenting American-style wheat beers.”

The beer was developed earlier this summer and will be available in Minneapolis and St. Paul starting Aug. 26 in 4-packs of 16 oz tallboys. HefeWheaties will not be available for shipment or purchase outside of Minnesota, but starting late August, the brewery will host several tasting events for the brew.
Somewhere, Homer Simpson is smiling...

Blogging In The Years: 2005

Why Bush's Social Security reform should have worked:
The fact is that the Social Security reform proposed by the president is quite moderate. Individuals could choose to put some of their payroll tax in an account. They could choose not to as well.

Reforms of this type are hardly new or radical. By my count, there are now 31 countries that have incorporated private accounts into their public pension systems, a list that includes the U.K., Sweden, most of South and Central America, a large number of central European countries and even Mongolia.

So the idea of letting citizens have increased ownership of their pension money is mainstream enough to please Swedes and Mongolians, but so ``radical'' that U.S. Democrats opposed it with all their might.
We can't be too much like those right-wing Swedes, you know...

Sex In The City

Will D.C. go there?
“It is something that my staff and I have been working on and thinking about for a few months now,” Grosso (I-At Large) said Wednesday. “Once the Amnesty report came out, it validated a lot of the concerns that I have of how we handle this in the District.”

Amnesty argued that decriminalizing sex work is the most effective way to defend sex workers’ human rights. Grosso similarly said this policy move would “respect the fact that sex workers are human beings, too.”

“The only way we can solve this is to work closely with the folks that are in this type of environment and get them what they need,” Grosso said. “We don’t want this on the streets, and it’s not going to necessarily go away if we continue to criminalize it.”
Politicians looking for dates will certainly be happy...

The Other Side Of The Street

Sesame Street goes uptown:
For Sesame Workshop, the deal helps alleviate funding pressures the group has faced, especially since important revenues from sources like DVD sales have eroded. HBO, in turn, becomes a stronger force in children’s TV, a valuable area of programming as it pushes further into streaming and seeks subscriber growth.

Still, Sesame Street’s decision to broadcast its new shows on a premium pay-TV service like HBO — and not free on PBS until months later — drew an immediate backlash. On social media, hundreds of commentators said that the arrangement with HBO created a perception of an economic class divide, with PBS favoring privileged children and jettisoning its commitment to less-advantaged ones, whom the show was originally aimed at.

“Kids are getting squeezed in the middle,” said Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, a nonpartisan education group that advocates for responsible entertainment. “In order to watch original episodes of the most iconic children’s program in television history, parents are now forced to fork over about $180 per year and subscribe to the most sexually explicit, most graphically violent television network in America. I can’t imagine a greater juxtaposition in television than this.”
It seems they didn't need Mitt Romney to tell them where to go, after all...

Drink Of Death

Hey, it's his river:
The drinking exercise indicated that state officials are more than confident that the river does not pose a toxic risk to humans, as they publicly stated on Tuesday.

“Am I willing to go out there and demonstrate that we’re back to normal?” Hickenlooper asked out loud after The Durango Herald raised the idea with the governor. “Certainly. I’m happy to do that. I’m dead serious.”
Just don't expect anyone else to try it...

The Fourth Horseman

Hillary, Sanders, Biden, and now?
Gore, 67, won the popular vote in the 2000 election and has been mentioned as a possible candidate in every contested Democratic primary since then. He instead spent much of the 2000s focused on environmental campaigning and business ventures. He has largely slipped out of public view in more recent years.

But in recent days, “they’re getting the old gang together,” a senior Democrat told BuzzFeed News.

“They’re figuring out if there’s a path financially and politically,” the Democrat said. “It feels more real than it has in the past months.”

The senior Democrat and other sources cautioned not to overstate Gore’s interest. He has not made any formal or informal moves toward running, or even met with his political advisers about a potential run.
If elected, he will declare a war on glaciers...

Unfair Play

Some politicians are more equal than others: In the case of Clinton’s email probe, Comey relates numerous issues with Lynch’s actions that ...