Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sign Of The Times

The yard signs of freedom:
In the Supreme Court Tuesday, Justice Stephen Breyer summarized why the case was thrown out: The lower courts ruled that since Heffernan was not in fact campaigning for the mayor's opponent, he was not exercising any free speech right. Therefore, he had not been deprived of any constitutional right, and could not sue.

"Sounds logical," said Justice Breyer, "but we disagree."

The critical issue here, he said, is the government's motive in demoting or firing an employee, and it really doesn't matter if the motive is based on real facts or a mistaken belief.

Writing for a six-justice majority, Breyer said that in a case like Heffernan's the constitutional harm is to more than the individual, because the punishment sends a message to all employees that they will be demoted or fired if they express a view that the government employer disagrees with.

That, said Breyer, is not permitted by the First Amendment, nor is it permitted by the civil rights law that bars the government from depriving its employees of their constitutional rights.
Sorry boss, your employees still have a right to their opinion-even when they aren't really expressing it...

Into The Zone

The day Baghdad's wall came down:
The breach marked a major escalation in the country’s political crisis following months of anti-government protests, sit-ins and demonstrations by supporters of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The Green Zone is home to most ministries and foreign embassies and has long been the focus of al-Sadr’s criticism of the government.

Earlier Saturday, al-Sadr accused Iraqi politicians of blocking political reforms aimed at combating corruption and waste. While al-Sadr didn’t call for an escalation to the protests, shortly after his remarks, his supporters began scaling the compound’s walls. A group of young men then pulled down a section of concrete blast walls to cheers from the crowd of thousands gathered in the streets outside.

Cellphone video uploaded to social media showed dozens of young men running through the halls of parliament, chanting slogans in support of al-Sadr and calling for the government to disband.

“We are all with you (al-Sadr),” one group of men yelled as the entered the building’s main chamber.

Other videos showed a group of young men slapping an Iraqi lawmaker as he attempted to flee the crowd, and protesters mobbing another lawmaker’s motorcade inside the Green Zone. The footage appeared authentic and corresponded with The Associated Press’ reporting.
they say they want a revolution, but what kind? And is it still any of our business?

Gas Mask Face

Meet the Dolphins' draft pick:
Tunsil became the biggest story of the draft when he fell to Miami hours after a video was posted on his Twitter account showing him wearing a gas mask connected to a bong. Another post on his Instagram showed an alleged text exchange with an Ole Miss football staff member that included Tunsil’s request for money, prompting a university investigation.

Tunsil said his accounts were hacked. The Dolphins conducted months of research into Tunsil and are comfortable about his character, Ross said.

“Two hours before the draft, it’s somebody totally out to get the guy,” Ross said. “It’s not a question of this guy changed overnight. Meeting the kid, you know it’s a good kid. It’s going to be a great choice.”
At least now he'll be making more for munchies...

His Last Bow

What Obama leaves behind:
The political change he predicted never appeared. Instead, partisanship and dysfunction have grown worse. His legacy on policies is more mixed. He did accomplish things, notably the Affordable Care Act. But his legacy on politics is another story.

Republicans and Democrats refuse to compromise, sometimes even talk. Congress has become more unproductive with lawmakers failing to pass budgets or even consider presidential appointments. And most Americans have little to no confidence in the federal government to tackle the problems facing the nation in 2016, according to a poll released in January.

Just Thursday, about 20 people were arrested after hundreds of protesters blocked an intersection and vandalized a police car outside a rally for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump at the Orange County Fairgrounds in California. Several fights broke out.

“It’s fair to say that President Obama entered office as chief executive of a divided country, and he’s done nothing noticeable to heal those divisions in his seven years,” said William Galston, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton and now a senior fellow at the center-left Brookings Institution.
His "work" is done...

Friday, April 29, 2016

Fan Wasteland

Are you ready for the apocalyptic fair?
Each year, attendees of the event are required to be decked out in costumes while at the festival's wasteland compound with organizers designing elaborate sets complete with Mad Max-style cars. Festival goers also drive out to the event in custom-made vehicles.

Orr, a life support aquarist at a public aquarium in Las Vegas, said he first learned of the festival through a former partner and their first year going, they decided to build a car.

He said he has worked on cars casually, rebuilding engines, but he described the competition to outdo himself by constructing a junkyard monster better than the previous year as an 'addiction.'

'It's an obsession,' he says in a documentary by MEL Films during last year's festival. 'But more than that, it's a passion. I'm married to this... even though I said I'd never get married again.'
The real apocalypse would probably dump him...

Endangered Species

Africa's albinos are facing extinction:
Ero, who is herself an albino from Nigeria and is the UN human rights council's expert on albinism, said Malawian police had recorded 65 attacks, abductions and murders of albinos since the end of 2014.
Albinos were targeted because of beliefs that their body parts "can increase wealth, make businesses prosper or facilitate employment", she said.
"Even in death, they do not rest in peace as their remains are robbed from graveyards."
Albinos, who have white skin and yellow hair as a result of a genetic disorder, are regularly killed in several African countries including Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.
Ero said she was "particularly alarmed by reports from persons with albinism that they are being called 'money' as they walk the streets and their neighbourhoods."
"Malawi is one of the world's poorest countries and the sale of body parts of persons with albinism is believed to be very lucrative."
Sadly, there is no set price on ignorance...

Funny Fail

Will Ferrell has apparently decided that making fun of an old man isn't such a great idea after all:
A spokesperson for the actor said Friday, “The REAGAN script is one of a number of scripts that had been submitted to Will Ferrell which he had considered. While it is by no means a ‘Alzheimer’s comedy’ as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project.”

Variety first reported on Wednesday that Ferrell, 48, was slated to play the 40th president in the film, which was described as a “hilarious political satire.”

The film’s script is set in 1984, shortly after Reagan won a landslide reelection for his second term. It is centered on a young aide who must convince the mentally diminished President Reagan that he is an actor playing the president in a movie.
Sounds like a million laughs. Besides, SNL got there first.

No Free Speech Zone

Protesters against free speech:
The protester said, “I don’t think it is out of control. I think that what you’re seeing people express righteous rage, at the fact that we’ve this hateful bigot coming to speak in our state, and they’re saying, ‘No absolutely not.'”

She added, “We respect the diversity of tactics, right? We planned to lock down the streets and keep him out, and stop him from speaking.”

When asked what she meant by “diversity of tactics,” Brooks stated, “We mean that black and brown and poor people have a righteous rage, and they have a right to express it in the way that they need to, and to prevent this man from speaking in our state.”

The protester further argued that Trump has been “inciting violence against black people, and brown people, and Muslim people, and giving a platform for basically, hate speech and white supremacy to permeate the country.”
But what about hate speech from anti-haters?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Devil In Disguise

Could it be, Satan?
“Lucifer in the flesh,” Boehner told an audience at Stanford on Wednesday night, according to the Stanford Daily. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

In fact, Wednesday night was not the first occasion that Boehner has compared Cruz to “Lucifer,” using the epithet last month during a question-and-answer session with reporters at the Futures Industry Association conference in Boca Raton, Florida.

As far as Donald Trump goes, Boehner remarked that he had golfed with Trump for years and that the two are “texting buddies” — a comment Cruz seized on in his requital Thursday.

“If you want someone that’s a texting and golfing buddy, if you’re happy with John Boehner as speaker of the House and you want a president like John Boehner, Donald Trump’s your man,” Cruz told reporters during a stop in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Cruz insisted he never “worked with” Boehner and, in response to being called Lucifer, Cruz added that Boehner “allowed his inner Trump to come out.”

Cruz is notorious for his toxic relationship with his congressional colleagues. It turned radioactive in 2013 when the Texas senator played a pivotal role in shutting down the federal government with his high-stakes attempt to defund Obamacare.

Republicans were widely blamed for the historic disruption, and Cruz’s colleagues heaped scorn on him as a result.
At least Boehner has his Trump side. Cruz only seems to have his own.

The Triggering

The horror of free speech:

Worm Food

The Swedish government wants you to eat bugs:
To that end, Vinnova is awarding half a million kronor each to fifteen different projects across the country, each of which tasked with creating an “edible prototype” of a new food.

Among the mouth-watering projects being funded are an attempt to produce a “good and healthy product from mealworms which are fed on vegetable food scraps to become a climate friendly source of protein”, “food prototypes” made from “refined mealworms”, and mincemeat made out of “climate smart insects” such as crickets.

Other enticing offerings not involving insects include “climate-fungal protein”, a “healthy vegetarian barbecue” made from by-products” and “fibrous raw materials”, and a “blue cheese-like product” made from beans.
Bug crap is still crap...

The Long, Slow Recovery

Why is the economy still struggling?
The disappointing growth of 0.5 percent in gross domestic product was a result of “weak foreign demand and low oil prices,” said Jason Furman, Mr. Obama’s top economic adviser.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest blamed congressional Republicans in part for the weak growth, saying the economy would be stronger if Congress had agreed to Mr. Obama’s proposals for higher spending on infrastructure projects three or four years ago.

“The reason that opportunity was missed was because of Republicans’ stubborn refusal to consider any priority that President Obama has identified. That’s unfortunate,” Mr. Earnest said.

In an interview with The Times’ magazine, Mr. Obama said he believes the U.S. economy is in better shape than the public appreciates.

“I actually compare our economic performance to how, historically, countries that have wrenching financial crises perform,” the president said. “By that measure, we probably managed this better than any large economy on Earth in modern history.”
Well, when you have lowered expectations...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

School Break

Washington's mayor backs choice over coercion:
The Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR) gives key funding to D.C. public and private schools that focus on vouchers for students from impoverished communities, giving them chances to pursue meaningful educations. In a rare show of bipartisanship Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Democratic D.C. Council have united to keep the program alive, despite years of opposition from the Obama Administration, reports The Washington Times.

“The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is a proven success with support from Mayor Bowser,” Doug Andres, an aide to Speaker Ryan told The Washington Times. “So the choice for President Obama is simple: stand with D.C. kids and their mayor or entrenched special interests.”

It remains unclear whether or not the president will threaten to veto the legislation, which the House is scheduled to vote on Thursday. Since the program’s inception five years ago President Obama has fought to block it. The vouchers were a key issue for former Speaker John Boehner, who butted heads numerous time with Obama over the program.
Choice! It's for the children!

The Plan Goes On

Supreme Court? What Supreme Court?
The EPA submitted a proposal to the White House for green energy subsidies for states that meet the federally mandated carbon dioxide reduction goals early. The Clean Energy Incentive Program would give “credit for power generated by new wind and solar projects in 2020 and 2021” and a “double credit for energy efficiency measures in low-income communities,” according to Politico’s Morning Energy.

The move seems to violate the Supreme Court’s stay against CPP preventing the EPA from implementing its plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants. EPA, however, argues it’s doing this for states that want to voluntarily cut emissions — despite this being part of CPP.

“Many states and tribes have indicated that they plan to move forward voluntarily to work to cut carbon pollution from power plants and have asked the agency to continue providing support and developing tools that may support those efforts, including the CEIP,” reads a statement provided to Politico from EPA.
Of course, it depends on what they mean by "voluntary..."

Not Moving On

Sorry, Michelle Obama, kids are still fat:
According to the new study, in 1999-2000 (NHANES’ surveys are conducted in 2-year cycles), 27.5 percent of all youth between 2 and 19 years old were considered overweight. That increased to 31.8 percent in the 2011-2012 study and 33.2 percent in the 2013-2014 cohort.

The ratio of children who are obese has also increased in that period. In 1999-2000, 14.6 percent of children were considered Class I obese. That increased to 17.2 percent in 2011-2012 and remained the same during the most recent cycle. The ratio of obese children — those in the Class III category — increased from 0.9 percent in 1999-2000 to 2.5 percent in 2013-2014.

“There is no evidence of a change in obesity prevalence in any age group, despite substantial clinical and policy efforts targeting the issue,” the study’s authors concluded.
All that bad lunch food, gone to waste...

The Justice-Involved League

They're not criminals anymore:
Convicts who turned to a life of crime early on are “the future,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said, calling them “justice-involved youth”:

The future of our nation depends upon the future of our young people – including young people who have become involved with our justice system. By helping justice-involved youth find decent jobs and stable housing after they return home, these critical grants provide a foundation for a fresh start and offer a path towards productivity and purpose. In the months ahead, the Department of Justice will continue helping justice-involved youth enrich their lives and improve our country.


The Department of Justice put money from the 2007 Second Chance Act towards the Juvenile Reentry Assistance Program, granting $1.75 million to nonprofits and Public Housing Authorities in order to help “justice-involved individuals” convicted of crimes get jobs and housing after they serve their sentence.
At which time they presumably become parole-involved...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Man With Fear

Is Paul Ryan scared?
“I think what’s holding it back, I think the leadership is worried about being criticized by inside the Beltway media and stuff,” Desantis told Breitbart News at a gun show here. “We are going to try to force the issue potentially in a way that at least people have to go on the record, look I think if Republicans have to go on the record on it, it will sail through because no one wants to be defending a recalcitrant IRS commissioner.”

DeSantis and some other conservative members in the House Freedom Caucus, which is chaired by the Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)94%
, are planning to lead an effort this week to force the issue. In mid-April, a band of Freedom Caucus members took to the House floor to lead a special order to call attention to the fact that leadership has thus far ignored the matter.

Ryan’s leadership team, in many ways, has frustrated conservatives nationwide because of his unwillingness to pick a fight with President Barack Obama on issues ranging from government overregulation to agency power abuse and transparency to Muslim refugee resettlement to immigration to trade to budget matters. Despite grassroots conservatives’ dissatisfaction with Ryan in his early days as Speaker, however, most conservatives inside Congress have thus far been unwilling to challenge him. But that’s starting to change—and much faster than it did for now former Speaker John Boehner, who Ryan replaced.
The silence does seem to be speaking volumes here...

The Grand Dragon And The Dragon Lady

Hillary Clinton really does have friends in low places:
“She is friends with the Klan,” Quigg said. “A lot of people don’t realize that. She’s friends with Senator Byrd. He’s been an Exulted Cyclops in the Klan. He’s been King Kleagle.” (King Kleagle is another KKK title for the leader of an entire “realm,” or state. Quigg is the King Kleagle for California.) Quigg was referring to the late U.S. senator Robert Byrd from West Virginia, who organized and served as the leader of a West Virginia Klan chapter in the 1940s. In 2005, Byrd publicly disavowed the Klan and called his involvement “wrong.” Upon the senator’s death in 2010, Hillary Clinton called Byrd a “friend and mentor.”

Quigg said that he and other Klan members have raised more than $20,000 for the Clinton campaign and donated it anonymously.

“In the Bible, it says when you pray, pray in a closed, dark place by yourself,” Quigg said. “Do not pray on the street corners where people can see you … that’s why I got $20,000 together and sent it to Hillary Clinton’s campaign anonymously.”
You can also do certain other things in the dark, by yourself, which this guy may be familiar with...

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Grass Is Greener

Greenhouse gasses are actually helping plants grow:
The study estimates roughly half of Earth’s land-mass showed “significant greening” and only 4 percent of the world saw a decrease in plant life. The study noted vegetation growth is likely slowing global warming as well, since more trees and plants equates to more sequestered CO2.

The research concludes that CO2 fertilization is responsible for roughly 70 percent of increased plant growth.

“The greening over the past 33 years reported in this study is equivalent to adding a green continent about two-times the size of mainland USA (18 million km2), and has the ability to fundamentally change the cycling of water and carbon in the climate system,” Dr. Zaichun Zhu, another of the study’s authors who is a researcher from Peking University, said in a statement.

Scientists have long understood high carbon dioxide levels help boost foliage through a process called carbon dioxide fertilization. High carbon dioxide levels cause plant life to thrive, particularly in arid regions where carbon emissions arecausing deserts to bloom with foliage.

The research is an enormous boost for scientists skeptical of global warming, as it indicates they were correct about a long running positive effect of rising CO2 emissions.
It's a greener world, after all...

The Syrian Two-Step

He's both for and against intervention:
Obama will explain his decision to the deploy the contingent of mostly U.S. Army Special Forces during a speech Monday in Germany after he said deploying ground troops to Syria would be a “mistake” during an interview with BBC.

“Syria has been a heart-breaking situation of enormous complexity, and I don’t think there are any simple solutions,” said Obama. “It would be a mistake for the United States, or Great Britain, or a combination of Western states to send in ground troops and overthrow the Assad regime.”

Obama’s sentiments echoed an earlier speech in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh where he said “none of the options are good” when it comes to the conflict in Syria, but he noted an end to the violence will require a political solution.

Despite his supposed apprehension to committing a ground force to Syria, Obama’s deployment will bring the total U.S. presence in the country to around 300. The initial 50 personnel were in the country for what has been referred to as a “counter-terrorism” mission.
It's a mess, but he'll muddle through...

Kanye's Con?

Is your tweet also your word?
Tidal, per Wikipedia in the simplest terms, “is a subscription-based music streaming service that combines lossless audio and high definition music videos with curated editorial.” Just last month, the service passed three million subscribers (context: rival Spotify just passed 30 million). Tidal also boasts having 20 artist-owners invested in it, including Kanye, Jay-Z, BeyoncĂ©, the late Prince, Madonna, Arcade Fire, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Daft Punk, Alicia Keys, Usher, and Chris Martin, among others.

So when Kayne says he won’t be offering his new album on the immensely-popular iTunes or Spotify, that’s notable news to his fans (as you can see, that Tweet alone generated more than 36,000 retweets and 51,000 likes). How notable? Enough for more than a few of them (one estimate is two million people) to race to Tidal and pay for a $9.99 subscription after hearing about (via news afterwards) and/or reading Kanye’s Tweet.

Fast forward a few weeks later and Kanye’s new album, The Life of Pablo, is released to much fanfare. But one problem: It’s not only not exclusive to Tidal, but is released on the aforementioned iTunes, Spotify and even Kanye’s own website. One fan, Justin Baker-Rhett is now so steamed the new album is no longer exclusive to Tidal that he decided to file a class action lawsuit against West and Tidal for deceptive marketing practices.
Promises not delivered?

The Missing Blue Line

What happens when your entire police department quits:
Residents told the station that they weren’t exactly sure why the resignations occurred.

“Our marshal and three deputies quit, and that’s about all they said,” Ann Pinnell said. “We’ve had our hometown marshal for many, many years, so I sure hope we get another marshal in our town.”

A reporter from KXRM-TV who visited police headquarters was unable to get inside the building, which was empty and had the lights turned off. A town meeting summary hanging in the local post office states that Bradley’s resignation had been accepted, but it provides no other details, the station reported.

The town’s newly elected mayor, Jane Newberry, told the Colorado Springs Gazette that she didn’t learn about the resignations until an emergency meeting was held several days before she was sworn in. She characterized the sudden turnover as a routine byproduct of election-year politics and told KOAA that the idea that the resignations were tied to her election was merely “rumor.”
Maybe they're "on vacation..."

Sunday, April 24, 2016

No Questions For The Queen

You can't ask her that:

Prison Country

The way to reform?
Economists are "of one mind" that packed prisons, excessively long sentences, and insufficient reentry programs "are counter-productive to our economy as a whole in addition to hurting the people involved," Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters in a call on Friday.

On Monday, administration officials, economists, business leaders, and scholars will discuss the Council's findings at an event hosted by the White House, the American Enterprise Institute think tank, and New York University's Brennan Center for Justice.

The United States can reap greater economic benefit through investments in police, prisoner education, and job opportunities for ex-prisoners than it can from putting additional funding toward prisons, the Council's report said.
Prisoners for profit?

Bernie's Kids

So who would benefit from Sanders' "free" education plan? Not the poor:
“Under the Sanders free college proposal, families from the top half of the income distribution would receive 24 percent more in dollar value from eliminating tuition than students from the lower half of the income distribution,” Brookings researcher Matthew M. Chingos explains.

“The non-tuition costs of attending college, including living expenses, are larger than the costs of tuition and fees for most students. Free college, which does not address these expenses, leaves families from the bottom half of the income distribution with nearly $18 billion in annual out-of-pocket college costs that would not be covered by existing federal, state, and institutional grant programs.”
Let them eat tuition!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Super President

He saved the world, you know:
“Saving the world economy from a Great Depression — that was pretty good,” Obama bragged when asked by a student in London what he wanted his legacy to be.

He recalled that when he visited London in 2009, the world economy was in a “freefall” because of irresponsible behavior of financial institutions around the world.

“For us to be able to mobilize the world’s community, to take rapid action, to stabilize the financial markets, and then in the United States to pass Wall Streets reforms that make it much less likely that a crisis like that can happen again, I’m proud of that,” he said.

Obama also touted his Iran nuclear deal as “something I’m very proud of” asserting that he successfully stopped their nuclear weapons program without going to war.

He griped that everybody forgot about his efforts in stopping the Ebola crisis, saving “hundreds of thousands of lives.”

“I think that I have been true to myself during this process,” Obama said, insisting that the things he said while running for office “matched up” with his presidency.
To thine own ego, be true...

Odd Conservative Out

A conservative student finds out what that really means on campus:
Ciccotta was, by the numbers, a dedicated and hard-working member of Bucknell’s student government. He put in over 100 hours over the course of this semester alone and attended over 75 meetings since January. He also organized two major social events for Bucknell’s junior students, despite only being obliged to organize one.

Ciccotta managed these commitments despite taking five classes at Bucknell instead of the usual four, managing the campus radio station, and acting as president of the College Republicans — all in addition to his writing commitments at Breitbart. Yet his superiors have now removed him from his position just one week before his term as president was due to expire.

Their reason? Ciccotta had missed 4 (out of 79!) meetings this semester. One of those was due to a scheduled job interview with Alex Marlow, the Editor-in-Chief of Breitbart News.

Another was missed due to Ciccotta organizing a campus event with conservative personality Steven Crowder. A further meeting was missed due to Ciccotta’s work commitments at Breitbart, which required him to travel to Atlanta to attend a university event with editor Milo Yiannopoulos at short notice.

Bucknell’s Student Government Constitution states that when meetings are missed, “special circumstances” must be taken into account.
You can be an activist-just not their kind of activist...

The Facebook Empire

The Internet is not enough:
The scale of Facebook’s audience is unprecedented. More than 1.6 billion people use Facebook at least once a month, or half of all internet users. That’s before you count users on other Facebook-owned sites including WhatsApp, which has more than 1 billion monthly active users, and photo-sharing site Instagram, which has 400 million.

Facebook has also introduced its free basics service to 37 countries, offering a free but limited package of apps to mobile phone users, but which some critics say allows Facebook to tightly control the online experience of potentially the next billion people to come online.

“You hear all the platitudes about Facebook connecting the planet, but to say they are doing it for benevolent reasons is absolute nonsense. It’s about connecting commerce, not people,” says venture capitalist and former journalist Om Malik, who reminds us of the hidden agenda of social networking firms: if you’re not paying, you’re the product.
I am not a product, I am a free consumer!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Doomsday Delayed (Again)

Doom and gloom? Not so much:
Harvard biologist Dr. George Wald warned shortly before the first Earth Day in 1970 that civilization would soon end “unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” Three years before his projection, Wald was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Wald was a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War and the nuclear arms race. He even flew to Moscow at one point to advise the leader of the Soviet Union on environmental policy.

Despite his assistance to a communist government, civilization still exists. The percentage of Americans who are concerned about environmental threats has fallen as civilization failed to end by environmental catastrophe.
Repeating the same thing for more than forty years hasn't made it so...

Don't Spread 'Em?

San Francisco deals with the threat of "spreading":
Men (or women) with problematically wide stances could face hefty fines after the San Francisco transit board approved a strict “one ticket, one seat” policy. Los Angeles transit officials will consider a similar measure in the coming months.

Offenders will be fined $100 for the first violation, $200 for a second offense within a 12-month period, and $500 for each repeat violation within five years. It is unclear how the new rule will be enforced.
Just so long as the complainers get their cut...

Bill's Kids

It's your fault, kids:
Speaking in Harrisburg, Pa., Clinton said the economy isn't great, but this time didn't blame President Obama.

"The reason that there's so much anxiety, intensity, anger, blame in this election is that 80 percent of the American people have not gotten a pay raise since the crash eight years ago, after inflation. And a lot of young people feel like they've played by the rules, went to school, they're gonna graduate with debt they can't repay, or they've already graduated with debt they can't repay, and they may not ever get to do what they really wanted to do with their lives," Clinton said in a report by Huffington Post's Michael McAuliffe.

Then he added the punch line: "If all the young people who claim to be disillusioned now had voted in 2010, we wouldn't have lost the Congress, and we'd probably have our incomes back."

McAuliffe added in a side note, "Many millennials were probably too young to vote in 2010."
But they're old enough to protest for $15 an hour now...

Back Scratchers

Cronyism is good work if you can get it:
Clinton has said she can be trusted to spurn her donors on critical issues, noting that President Barack Obama was tough on Wall Street despite his prolific fundraising there. But her earnings of more than $21.6 million from such a wide range of interest groups could affect public confidence in her proclaimed independence.

"The problem is whether all these interests who paid her to appear before them will expect to have special access when they have an issue before the government," said Lawrence M. Noble, general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington-based election watchdog group.

The AP review identified at least 60 firms and organizations that sponsored Clinton's speeches and lobbied the U.S. government at some point since the start of the Obama administration. Over the same period, at least 30 also profited from government contracts. Twenty-two groups lobbied the State Department during Clinton's tenure as secretary of state. They include familiar Wall Street financial houses such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., corporate giants like General Electric Co. and Verizon Communications Inc., and lesser-known entities such as the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries and the Global Business Travel Association.
Just a few words-for the right price...

Cooking With Kim

Meet Kim Jong Un, master chef:
The Commie connoisseur developed a love of European cheeses and fine wines when he went to school in Switzerland.

But the tubby tyrant was served decidedly different fare during the contest as competitors served up terrapin stew and grey mullet fish soup.

More than 1,000 people entered the competition, with the Pyongyang Times reporting: “The festival was comprised of the exhibitions of gastrological [sic] hits, famous and local special dishes and compulsory dishes and the technical contest and demonstration of top chefs and waiters and waitresses.

“The participants presented famous local and foreign dishes and specialties of their units and local areas.”

The TV menu did include some European dining options including pizza and spaghetti as well as a five-pheasant dish and “broccoli five ways.”
In North Korea, you watch other people eat food...

The Britain Stomp

So pro-EU Obama is in England, and some across the pond aren't too happy about it:
‘A monstrous interference,” Farage told Fox News Thursday. “I’d rather he stayed in Washington, frankly, if that’s what he’s going to do.”

“You wouldn’t expect the British Prime Minister to intervene in your presidential election, you wouldn’t expect the Prime Minister to endorse one candidate or another. Perhaps he’s another one of those people who doesn’t understand what [the EU] is,” Farage said.

In March, a letter sent from Conservative MP and former cabinet minister Liam Fox, and co-signed by over 100 MPs from four different political parties, asked the U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. to persuade Obama not to intervene, calling any such intervention “extremely controversial and potentially damaging.”

“It has long been the established practice not to interfere in the domestic political affairs of our allies and we hope that this will continue to be the case,” the letter to Ambassador Matthew Barzun read.

“While the current U.S. administration may have a view on the desirability or otherwise of Britain’s continued membership of the E.U., any explicit intervention in the debate is likely to be extremely controversial and potentially damaging,” the letter said.

London Mayor Boris Johnson -- who was born in New York and has expressed strong support for the UK-U.S. relationship -- accused Obama of hypocrisy.

"I just think it's paradoxical that the United States, which wouldn't dream of allowing the slightest infringement of its own sovereignty, should be lecturing other countries about the need to enmesh themselves ever deeper in a federal superstate," Johnson said Tuesday.
Obama was born to lecture. It's what he does...

Leave The Science Alone

The Weather Channel's founder isn't having any of the propaganda:
When all the scare talk is pushed aside, it is the science that should be the basis for the debate. And the hard cold truth is that the basic theory has failed. Many notable scientists reject man-made global warming fears. And several of them, including a Nobel Prize winner, are in the new Climate Hustle movie. The film is an informative and even humorous new feature length movie that is the ultimate answer to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. It will be shown one day only in theaters nationwide on May 2.

As a skeptic of man-made global warming, I love our environment as much as anyone. I share the deepest commitment to protecting our planet for our children and grandchildren. However, I desperately want to get politics out of the climate debate. The Paris climate agreement is all about empowering the U.N. and has nothing to do with the climate.
Except maybe for the hot air coming from the politicians and bureaucrats...

Cat Litter

The cat cafe is kaput:
The "Neko no Te" (cat's paw) cafe -- one of many in Tokyo where guests can stroke the fluffy felines while sipping on a cappuccino -- was visited by authorities after the cooped-up kitties bred rapidly and began showing signs of illness, Tokyo officials said Friday.
A spokeswoman from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health told AFP the cafe had received several warnings over hygiene standards, before the patience of authorities snapped and they revoked its licence for 30 days.
"We issued repeated requests but there was no improvement," said Yuriko Iwamoto.
"The property wasn't being cleaned properly and it was beginning to smell very bad," she added.
"In line with animal welfare laws we were therefore forced to order them to cease business."
Even cats-especially cats-deserve a clean eating establishment. They can't help it if they're cleaner than the humans...

The Secret Is Out (Of Business)

Hollywood conservatives are no longer getting together:
“Effective immediately, we are going to begin to wind down the 501 c3 organization, bring the Sustaining Membership dues to an end, and do away with the costly infrastructure and the abespal.com website,” the executive director, Jeremy Boreing, told members in an email, a copy of which the Guardian has seen.

“Today, because we have been successful in creating a community that extends far beyond our events, people just don’t feel as much of a need to show up for every speaker or bar night, and fewer people pay the dues that help us maintain that large infrastructure.”

The announcement caught members by surprise and fueled speculation that infighting over Donald Trump’s candidacy, among other factors, had drained commitment. Others said the group had been losing steam for years.

Instead of electrifying the organisation, California’s 7 June primary, a final and potentially decisive showdown between Trump and his GOP rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich, appeared to frazzle it.
Hard to see how John Kasich could frazzle anybody, but there they are...

Monkbot

Welcome to Robot Monastary:
Named Xian'er, the 60-cm (2-foot) tall robot resembles a cartoon-like novice monk in yellow robes with a shaven head, holding a touch screen on his chest.

Xian'er can hold a conversation by answering about 20 simple questions about Buddhism and daily life, listed on his screen, and perform seven types of motions on his wheels.

Master Xianfan, Xian’er’s creator, said the robot monk was the perfect vessel for spreading the wisdom of Buddhism in China, through the fusion of science and Buddhism.

"Science and Buddhism are not opposing nor contradicting, and can be combined and mutually compatible," said Xianfan.
Inner peace and programming?

State Of The European Union

Why should Britain stay in the EU? Well, according to President Obama:
“And in today’s world, even as we all cherish our sovereignty, the nations who wield their influence most effectively are the nations that do it through the collective action that today’s challenges demand.”
Welcome to the Collective. You will be assimilated...

Shake Pay

So how will Ecuador rebuild?
Anyone with assets over $1 million will be required to contribute 0.9 per cent of their wealth, while lower earners must hand over a day's salary for every $1,000 of their monthly income up to $5,000.
....

President Rafael Correa, in an evening address to the nation, estimated that rebuilding could come to as much as $3 billion and knock two or three points off the country's GDP.

Mr Correa went on to announce a series of measures to help cover the costs, including an increase in the country's value added tax from 12 percent to 14 percent for a year.

He also announced mandatory wage contributions - people earning $1,000 a month will have to pay the equivalent of a day's salary for a month, those earning $2,000, one day's worth for two months, up to those earning more than $5,000 who are being asked to contribute one day's salary for five months.

And anyone whose assets exceed $1 million will have to pay a one-time contribution of 0.9 percent of their wealth, he added.
Never let a disaster get in the way of socialism...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Juiced

The sober generation?
For those 35 and under, cutting back on booze no longer means social suicide. In addition to juice crawls, there are now sober day raves, alcohol-free bars, boozeless dinner and dance parties, and a sober social network that organizes group outings and launched a dating app so popular it has temporarily shut down.

The long line outside of Shine, a booze-free event that combines food, water with “Australian flower essences”, meditation and “enlightertainment” (music, a talk and a film) is full of people who either do not drink or are trying to cut back. Since 2014, when the gathering was first launched in LA, Shine has spread to New York and now regularly sells out to crowds of more than 100 people, who the founder describes as “mindful tastemakers” and “spiritually curious”.

Most attendees are millennials with new-agey reasons for socializing sober. Ask and they’ll say they “love real, authentic relationships”, and want to “open up to others on the same journey” and be “centered and calm to appreciate the day”.

In plain-speak, they think booze makes interactions less meaningful and that hangovers get in the way of their goals.
I thought that was what alcohol was for...

Cashing Out

Who needs cash? Apparently not these folks:

If You Like Your Hikes...

Another "unforeseen" outcome of "free" care:
Without venturing a specific percentage increase, Marilyn Tavenner, the president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), said in an interview with Morning Consult that the culmination of market shifts and rising health care costs will force stark increases in health insurance rates in the coming year.

Related: More Bad News for the Remaining Obamacare Co-ops

“I’ve been asked, what are the premiums going to look like?” she said. “I don’t know because it also varies by state, market, even within markets. But I think the overall trend is going to be higher than we saw previous years. That’s my big prediction.”

If Tavenner is right, Obamacare will jump dramatically—last year’s premium for the popular silver-level plan surged 11 percent on average. Although Tavenner didn’t mention deductibles, in 2016, some states saw jumps of 76 percent, while the average deductible for a 27-year-old male on a silver plan was 8 percent.
Eventually, it has to be paid for-and it won't be by those you thought it would...

Purple Majesty

RIP Prince:
A singular force, he famously performed, produced and wrote nearly all of his own songs at the beginning of his career and would go on to build a music empire out of his home near Minneapolis as he expanded his musical vocabulary. Four of his albums topped the Billboard 200, and the RIAA awarded 20 of his LPs with gold, platinum and multiplatinum plaques.

At the peak of his career in the early Eighties, Prince embraced acting. He starred in the 1984 blockbuster Purple Rain and would go on to appear in 1986's Under the Cherry Moon and 1990's Graffiti Bridge, the latter two of which he also directed. He also wrote the screenplay for Graffiti Bridge.

He was also an iconoclast. He went against the grain of the music industry, renaming himself as an unpronounceable symbol at a time when he was protesting his record contract and refusing to bow to emerging formats like online music streaming. He distributed albums to concertgoers along with their tickets when that was a novel concept, and he planned other tours at the spur of the moment, dubbing them "hit and run" shows.
His relationship with the Web might have been complicated, but his music lives on regardless:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Propaganda Is Media

The new era of freedom of suppress:
The World Press Freedom Index ranks 180 countries on indicators such as media independence, self-censorship, the rule of law, transparency and abuses.
This year's report warned of a climate of fear that has seen world leaders "developing a form of paranoia about legitimate journalism."
Christophe Deloire, secretary general of the Paris-based group told AFP there had been a decline in all parts of the world, with Latin America of particular concern.
"All of the indicators show a deterioration. Numerous authorities are trying to regain control of their countries, fearing overly open public debate," he said.
"Today, it is increasingly easy for powers to appeal directly to the public through new technologies, and so there is a greater degree of violence against those who represent independent information," he added.
"We are entering a new era of propaganda where new technologies allow the low-cost dissemination of their own communication, their information, as dictated. On the other side, journalists are the ones who get in the way."
It doesn't help that many in the media want to be used...

More Room For The Wealthy

Will the wealthy have a new home in the Democratic Party?
In a world of Trumpism and Clintonism, Democrats would become the party of globalist-minded elites, both economic and cultural, while Republicans would become the party of the working class. Democrats would win backing from those who support expanded trade and immigration, while Republicans would win the support of those who prefer less of both. Erstwhile neocons would go over to Democrats (as they are already promising to do), while doves and isolationists would stick with Republicans. Democrats would remain culturally liberal, while Republicans would remain culturally conservative.

The combination of super-rich Democrats and poor Democrats would exacerbate internal party tensions, but the party would probably resort to forms of appeasement that are already in use. To their rich constituents, Democrats offer more trade, more immigration, and general globalism. To their non-rich constituents, they offer the promise of social justice, which critics might call identity politics. That’s one reason why Democrats have devoted so much attention to issues such as transgender rights, sexual assault on campus, racial disparities in criminal justice, and immigration reform. The causes may be worthy—and they attract sincere advocates—but politically they’re also useful. They don’t bother rich people.
Of course, the Democrats already have their fair share-to borrow a phrase-of the wealthy to support them-they just don't want to admit it. But times change...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Keeping Them Honest

Why we need accountability:
Public officials have a duty to act in the best interest of the people who elect them. When they make decisions based on personal interest, they are defrauding the public. The honest services statute criminalizes government corruption by punishing those who execute a scheme to deprive another of the right to “honest services.” The Hobbs Act prohibits extortion “under color of official right.”

Petitioner was convicted of violating these statutes when he accepted more than $175,000 in personal benefits (loans and luxury items) in exchange for agreeing to use the power of his office on behalf of his benefactor. In considering whether the actions taken by petitioner constituted “official acts,” amici urge the Court to adopt as broad as possible interpretation.

The honest services statute and the Hobbs Act have served as critical tools in prosecuting public corruption. The Court should adopt a broad interpretation of what constitutes an “official act” as not to deprive prosecutors of these critical tools.”
You need to remind them of who they really work for, after all...

Voting Mayhem In Gotham

The New York City primaries are going swimmingly:
“There is nothing more sacred in our nation than the right to vote, yet election after election, reports come in of people who were inexplicably purged from the polls, told to vote at the wrong location or unable to get in to their polling site,” Mr. Stringer said in a statement this afternoon. “The people of New York City have lost confidence that the Board of Elections can effectively administer elections and we intend to find out why the BOE is so consistently disorganized, chaotic and inefficient.”

In a letter to BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan, Mr. Stringer ticked off a litany of problems constituents had reported at the polls today, including one voter who reported arriving at 6 a.m., when voting begins, to find their Williamsburg polling site wasn’t open and wouldn’t be open any time soon. Voters have also complained of being sent to different poll sites or being given conflicting information, Mr. Stringer’s office noted.

“Comptrollers audit agencies, that’s why comptrollers are there,” Mr. Ryan said in a telephone issue. “If Comptroller Stringer believes that it is a worthy use of his agency resources to investigate the Board of Elections, we’re no different than any other city agency.”

Mr. Ryan insisted the voter problems Mr. Stringer and others had cited today were rare.

“I bristle at the suggestion that some folks might be making that there are widespread problems. We’re just not seeing it,” Mr. Ryan, who noted he’d been out at polling sites since 6 a.m., said. “I’m out going all across the city and we’re just not seeing it.”
Maybe he needs to get out more...

Blogger In Chief

Decree by blogging?
The report, made public Tuesday, says federal regulators are imposing new restrictions on American business and individuals “through guidance documents, memoranda and even blog posts.”

This comes with little oversight from Congress or the public. Executive branch regulations do not require congressional approval, but do require a process of public comment, economic analysis and agency hearings.

Wayne Crews, the CEI vice president for policy and the author of the report, calls this “regulatory dark matter.”

“The Obama administration is imposing its regulatory agenda on the American economy by dodging legally-required checks and balances,” Crews said. “The administration has been deservedly criticized for unilateral executive actions, but other types of agency rulemaking go overlooked, and people have no chance to weigh in on new policies that impact them.”
Comments are disabled by executive order...

Last Exit From Obamacare

Well, who could have seen this coming?
CEO Stephen Hemsley told analysts Tuesday morning that the company cannot continue to broadly serve the market created by the Affordable Care Act's coverage expansion due in part to the higher risk that comes with its customers.

The state-based exchanges are a key element behind the Affordable Care Act's push to expand insurance coverage. But insurers have struggled with higher than expected claims from that business.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. has estimated that it could lose as much as $475 million on its public exchange business this year. It has already decided to pull out of Arkansas, Georgia and Michigan in 2017.
Losing money, for a waste of money...

Monday, April 18, 2016

Odd Woman Out

Brazil's ruling socialist president is out:
Those press­ing for impeach­ment had to win the support of two-thirds of the 513 deputies in the lower house; the decisive 342nd vote for impeach­ment happened at about 10:10 p.m. Eastern time. At that time, there were 127 no votes, and six absten­tions.

If the Senate accepts the case, Ms. Rouss­eff will step down temporar­ily while it delib­er­ates her fate. Vice Presi­dent Michel Temer, a consti­tu­tional law scholar and seasoned politi­cian, will assume the presi­dency.

Given the larger-than-expected margin of deputies voting for impeach­ment, some polit­i­cal analysts said the Senate was likely to remove Ms. Rouss­eff from office, a ruling that would require a two-thirds major­ity.
Mrs. Clinton, this is your future?

Non-Men Only

No women for the Greens:
If you are a member of those political party groups and happen to have two X chromosomes, you will henceforth be know as a ‘non-male’, Green Party Women and Young Greens have announced.

Female members first learnt of their new status when Young Greens tweeted last month: “…non-men who are Young Greens can find and join our Facebook group ‘Young Greens Women’”.

The idea was that it would be more “inclusive” to the confused, the transgendered and ‘non-binary’ people to stop referring to women all together. ‘Non-binary’, for the uninitiated, is a politically correct term for someone who does not consider themselves a man or a woman.

However, many prominent feminists were annoyed. They argued that it was absurd to “erase” women from a women’s movement just because biological men who consider themselves women (or somewhere in between) might get offended.
Real women still exist...

A Man With A Country

Liberland the dream continues:
Thanks to the efforts of the Croatian border police, Liberland has still technically not got a single inhabitant, and its 7 sq km of boggy wetlands boast just one dilapidated building, an abandoned hunting lodge.

But speaking in an exclusive interview with The Independent, “President” Jedlicka reveals that plans are nearly in place for a group of Liberlanders to break through that police blockade in such numbers “there is nothing they can do to stop it”.

Liberland lies on the Croatia-Serbia border, roughly halfway between Zagreb and Belgrade. A product of a border dispute between the two countries lasting a quarter of a century, it lies on a portion of territory which neither country is willing to claim.

“They made it no man’s land,” Mr Jedlicka says after giving a speech at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in London, to a receptive audience of bankers, free marketeers and young Conservatives.
All hail Freedom-ia!

The Taxman Taketh

Once again, a reminder of who really pays more:
“Liberals say that high earners pay a high share of taxes only because they have high incomes,” explains Chris Edwards, a tax policy expert at the Cato Institute. “But high earners also pay much higher tax rates than everyone else. For example, Congressional Budget Office data show that the average federal income tax rate for the top fifth of households is 14 percent, but the average rate for the middle fifth is only 2 percent.”

“The [Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development] has found that the United States has the most “progressive” or graduated income tax among all high-income nations,” Edwards said. “If Congress proceeds with major tax reform next year, it should focus on making the tax code more equal and proportional. The level of progressivity in the tax code has become extreme.”

According to Alan Viard, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, the rich pay a higher total federal tax burden than the middle class.

“The [Congressional Budget Office’s] most recent data, for 2011, show that the average household in the middle 20 percent paid $8,100 in federal taxes, less than 15 percent of its $55,400 market income,” Viard said. “The average household in the top 1 percent paid $422,700 in federal taxes, more than 29 percent of its $1,447,500 market income. Even before the 2013 high-income tax hikes, the rich bore a much higher total federal tax burden than the middle class.”
Pay their fair share? They already are...

Thieves Against Thieves

They'd be shocked that such activity was going on at their agency:

The Right To Right To Work

Wisconsin is fighting back:
Dane County Circuit Court Judge William Foust ruled Apr. 8 that right-to-work is unconstitutional. Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel disagreed with the decision and plans to appeal it after requesting it be put on hold. The law has been passed in 25 other states and upheld over the decades as a state right under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act.

“We wholeheartedly disagree with (the) decision and final order,” Schimel said in a statement Friday to The Associated Press. “We will seek a stay and immediately appeal the decision. I am confident the law ultimately will be upheld and Wisconsin will remain a Right-to-Work state.”

Right-to-work outlaws mandatory union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Foust gave his final order blocking the law Friday, effectively allowing the state to challenge the decision on appeal. His decision notes right-to-work equates to the taking of private property since unions have to represent everyone in a unionized workplace regardless if they pay dues.
When unions no longer represent the workers, where else can the workers turn to?

Furious George

"Bernie Sanders is right about these Hollywood fundraisers I'm attending":

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Learning To Lie

When dishonesty begins:
Children learn to lie at an average of about 3 years old, often when they realize that other people don't know what they are thinking, said Kang Lee, a professor at the University of Toronto.

He has done extensive research on children and lying. Lee set up an experiment in a video-monitored room and would tell children there's a toy they can have that's behind them, but they can only get it if they don't peek. Then the adult is called out of the room, returns a minute later and asks if they peeked.

At age 2, only 30 percent lie, Lee said. At age 3, half do. By 5 or 6, 90 percent of the kids lie and Lee said he worries about the 10 percent who don't. This is universal, Lee said.

A little later, "we explicitly teach our kids to tell white lies," with parental coaching about things like saying how much they love gifts from grandma, and it's a lesson most of them only get around age 6 or older, Lee said.
The problem with politicians is, they don't know when to stop at the white lies...

Witchfinder Attorney Generals

They had a plan:
Peter Frumhoff of the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Climate Accountability Institute’s Matt Pawa spent 45 minutes each providing talking points behind the scenes on “the imperative of taking action now” and “climate change litigation,” according to a cache of emails released over the weekend by the free market Energy & Environmental Legal Institute.

For climate change groups, the New York press event was the culmination of four years of planning and advocacy in support of an explosive proposition: using the legal system to link fossil fuel firms and others challenging the catastrophic global warming consensus to fraud and even racketeering, the emails and other documents show.

The effort paid off. At the press conference, which included former Vice President Al Gore, a coalition of 16 Democratic attorneys general and one independent — Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude E. Walker — announced that they would use the power of state government to explore legal avenues to challenge climate change dissent.

Four of the attorneys general have reportedly launched investigations into Exxon Mobil Corp., and Mr. Walker has issued a subpoena for 10 years worth of climate change documents and communications from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free market think tank.
"Free" is a dangerous word to use around these people...

Not The People's News

Americans just don't trust the media:
Just 6 percent of people say they have a lot of confidence in the media, putting the news industry about equal to Congress and well below the public's view of other institutions. In this presidential campaign year, Democrats were more likely to trust the news media than Republicans or independents.

But trust today also goes beyond the traditional journalistic principles of accuracy, balance and fairness.

Faced with ever-increasing sources of information, Americans also are more likely to rely on news that is up-to-date, concise and cites expert sources or documents, according to a study by the Media Insight Project, a partnership of The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute.

They want to be able to navigate the news app or website easily and quickly, without having to wade through intrusive or annoying ads.

"The skill set that journalists have to master is bigger," said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute. That's because the expectations of news consumers have increased.

The poll shows that accuracy clearly is the most important component of trust.

Nearly 90 percent of Americans say it's extremely or very important that the media get their facts correct, according to the study. About 4 in 10 say they can remember a specific incident that eroded their confidence in the media, most often one that dealt with accuracy or a perception that it was one-sided.
Don't bother the media with facts...

Bills And Change

Andrew Jackson is gone:
Lew announced last summer that he was considering redesigning the $10 bill to include the portrait of a woman. The decision to make the historic change at the expense of Hamilton drew angry rebukes from fans of the former Treasury Secretary. The pro-Hamilton movement gained steam after the smash success of the hip-hop Broadway musical about his life this year.

Those pressures led Lew to determine that Hamilton should remain on the front of the bill. Instead, a mural-style depiction of the women's suffrage movement -- including images of leaders such as Susan B. Anthony -- will be featured on the back of the bill.

A Treasury spokesman declined to comment on the pending changes. But Lew hinted that a decision could come this week.

"When we started this conversation not quite a year ago, it wasn't clear to me that millions of Americans were going to weigh in with their ideas," he told CNBC. "We're not just talking about one bill. We're talking about the $5, the $10, and the $20. We're not just talking about one picture on one bill. We're talking about using the front and the back of the bill to tell an exciting set of stories."
Most people just use their money to actually buy stuff...

Silent Partners In Crime

A look at some of the Clintons' offshore friends:
Among them are Gabrielle Fialkoff, finance director for Hillary Clinton’s first campaign for the U.S. Senate; Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining magnate who has traveled the globe with Bill Clinton; the Chagoury family, which pledged $1 billion in projects to the Clinton Global Initiative; and Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng, who was at the center of a Democratic fund-raising scandal when Bill Clinton was president. Also using the Panamanian law firm was the company founded by the late billionaire investor Marc Rich, an international fugitive when Bill Clinton pardoned him in the final hours of his presidency.

The ties are both recent and decades old, not surprising for the Democratic presidential front-runner and her husband, who have been in public life since the 1970s.

Each is listed in the massive leak of data from Mossack Fonseca, a law firm with expertise in registering offshore companies, which can have legitimate business purposes, but can also be used to evade taxes and launder money. Several heads of state were found in the leak, leading to the departure of the leader of Iceland and investigations in several other countries.
They can hide the money, but they can't run from it...

The Failed Revolution Continues

No free markets for the last Communist:
"Cuba will never permit the application of so-called shock therapies, which are frequently applied to the detriment of society's most humble classes," he said in a lengthy speech opening the congress, which takes place every five years and will stretch on for several days.

The main political event in a one-party system that brooks no dissent, the congress comes less than a month after US President Barack Obama's historic visit and with Havana normalizing ties with the United States, its longtime Cold War foe.

But if Cubans and international observers were hoping for a sign of significant political and economic change at the meeting, Castro -- the man responsible for setting in motion economic reforms -- swiftly signaled otherwise.

"The neoliberal formulas that promote accelerated privatization of state assets and social services such as education, health and social security will never be applied under Cuban socialism," warned Castro, who formally took over from his ailing brother Fidel in 2008.

Castro, 84, defended the slow pace of change to the island's economy, which has only cautiously and gradually opened up to some private entrepreneurship and foreign investment.

"Private enterprise will evolve within defined limits and will provide a complementary element of the country's economic framework," he added, in remarks broadcast to the country's 11.3 million people on state television.
In Cuba, real economic freedom is still a dirty word...

Saturday, April 16, 2016

This Jersey For Sale

Advertising is coming to the NBA:
The crass commercialization of team uniforms provides another $4-6 million per year from selected sponsors, which comes out to $120-180 million per year in new revenue for the league, sources told ESPN. The additional revenue grab comes on the heels of the NBA signing a $24 billion television deal with ESPN and Turner.

Silver rationalized the decision saying that it won’t affect the competition. “What we’re talking about is a patch on the jersey… it creates an additional investment in those companies in the league. … But once they put their name on the jerseys, they’ll then use their media to promote the NBA extensively. That’s probably the greatest reason for us to do it.”

Teams can now solicit companies to purchase a 2.5-by-2.5-inch space as the NBA becomes the first of the four major U.S. sports leagues to fasten advertisements on regular game-day jerseys. Practice jerseys already bear advertising logos.
"He has a great hook shot, sponsored by..."

Secrets And Saudis

Saudi Arabia says don't blame us:
Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, delivered the kingdom’s message personally last month during a trip to Washington, telling lawmakers that Saudi Arabia would be forced to sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets in the United States before they could be in danger of being frozen by American courts.

Several outside economists are skeptical that the Saudis will follow through, saying that such a sell-off would be difficult to execute and would end up crippling the kingdom’s economy. But the threat is another sign of the escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The administration, which argues that the legislation would put Americans at legal risk overseas, has been lobbying so intently against the bill that some lawmakers and families of Sept. 11 victims are infuriated. In their view, the Obama administration has consistently sided with the kingdom and has thwarted their efforts to learn what they believe to be the truth about the role some Saudi officials played in the terrorist plot.
Conspiracy, complicity?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friend This Election

I'm sure they can be trusted:
Gizmodo published a screenshot Friday of an internal poll that Facebook employees were purportedly using to decide what questions to ask CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a meeting in March.

Several of the questions concerned either the company’s business position or internal matters, but one was about politics: “What responsibility does Facebook have to prevent President Trump in 2017?” Some employees apparently voted for the question to be posed to the CEO.
Gizmodo speculated that Facebook could downplay stories and posts related to Trump in its New Feed, potentially putting a damper on his campaign.

A spokesperson for the company says it cannot confirm or deny leaks but bristled at the suggestion it would seek to help or hinder any political candidate.

"We encourage any and all candidates, groups, and voters to use our platform to share their views on the election and debate the issues,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“We as a company are neutral — we have not and will not use our products in a way that attempts to influence how people vote.”
Now they'd just like to ask a few questions for their poll...

The Comedian And The Authoritarian

A comic will go on trial:
Under German law, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government had to approve a criminal inquiry.
Mrs Merkel stressed that the courts would have the final word, and it was now up to prosecutors to decide whether to press charges.

The chancellor added that her government would move to repeal the controversial and little-used Article 103 of the penal code, which concerns insults against foreign heads of state, by 2018.

Boehmermann is a satirist and television presenter well-known for pushing the boundaries of German humour. He was given police protection earlier this week.

Some experts say he has a strong defence against potential charges, because his poem could be seen as part of a wider piece of satire about free speech, rather than a deliberate insult, the BBC's Damien McGuinness reports from Berlin.
It rhymes with freedom...

Calling All Lawyers

It's always good to have friends:
Several reports indicate that the FBI investigation has entered its final stages. So it is no surprise that Clinton would need a lawyer by her side, and who better than the man who has been loyal to the Clinton family for more than twenty years. The choice of Kendall is not shocking as he’s also been handling the State Department and Senate’s inquiry into her private emails for months now. There was some speculation that as the investigation reportedly intensified, she may hire another attorney to deal with the FBI’s probe specifically, but Clinton is staying with a friend she knows well.

Kendall is known to be somewhat media shy and usually avoids the spotlight (he turned down an interview for this profile piece). He first got to know Bill and Hillary Clinton as their classmate at Yale Law School in the 1970s.
I'm sure he'd have first crack at visitation rights...

Don't Test The Water

You try it first:
The agency claims the superfund proposal stems from fish populations decimated by decades of leaking mine waste. A document EPA recently posted on its web site, the Hazardous Ranking System Documentation Record, however, shows that drinking water for humans could also be endangered.

“This contamination threatens not only human food chain fisheries, wetlands and wildlife habitat, including endangered species habitat, but also has the potential to impact downstream drinking water supplies serving thousands of people,” the document said.

Yet, the EPA says it didn’t measure the threat to drinking water after the accident because “there are no municipal wells located within the four mile radius that serve as potable supplies and a low population density in the mining area, so therefore, the pathway is unlikely to greatly impact the site score.”
Go ahead; the water's fine...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Buddha The Living Weapon

You've got to watch out for those violent Buddhas:
The piece, titled “Divine Intervention,” features warning from “ethnic and religious commentator” Zhou Quan that living Buddhas can be “a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ if used by evil or splittist forces.”

A living Buddha, or tulku, is someone religious scholars deem to possess the reincarnated identity of various forms of Buddha himself. Paramount among these is the Dalai Lama, the foremost Buddhist religious authority in the world. The Chinese government is working to replace religious scholars as the arbiters of who is deemed a living Buddha to prevent separatist or anti-communist monks from being promoted into positions of influence among the Buddhist population.
Fear the Buddha?

Robot Class

The robot who went to school:
With his venture into the public school system, Pepper has made history as the first robot to receive an education alongside children. In an introduction ceremony arranged by the school, Pepper shared its feelings with the students, saying, “I never thought that I will be accepted into a human school.”

At this point, Pepper is programmed to speak English, French, Japanese, and Spanish. Due to its quad-lingual and self-teaching capabilities, Pepper will spend the majority of its time in English classes but is welcomed throughout the entirety of the school and its activities. The hope is that continuous exposure to the robot in an educational environment will enhance the students’ desire to learn.

At nearly 4 feet tall and sporting a touch screen on its chest, Pepper uses various cameras and sensors to identify human emotions and then respond with its own emotions in a natural, appropriate way. While the android is “the first humanoid robot designed to live with humans,” the company states that Pepper “doesn’t clean, doesn’t cook and doesn’t have super powers. Pepper is a social robot able to converse with you, recognize and react to your emotions, move and live autonomously.”
Just make sure he doesn't hang out with the wrong robot crowd...

Into The Lion's Den

We now have peace in our time:

Berkeley Budget Busters

The center of the liberal universe discovers an unpleasant reality:
“My concern and the public’s concern is that UC Berkeley is going to start cutting the people it can ill afford to lose — the people who clean buildings, who work in food services or health clinics,” Todd Stenhouse, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents workers at Berkeley, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Berkeley employs about 8,500 staffers, from custodians to administrators, the Chronicle notes. Faculty members will not be affected by the employment reductions, which will take place through attrition.

Departments on campus were reportedly also told to reduce their budgets by 10 percent in whatever way they wish.
Any takers from the politically correct courses?

Phoning In The Fraud

Don't talk about the scam:
The FCC alleged that Total Call Mobile committed fraud in the federal Lifeline program of $10 million and that the federal agency would seek $51 million in damages and penalties, the Free Beacon reported.

But Republican FCC member Ajit Pai said members were told not to talk about the case until after the April 1 vote to expand the Lifeline program. Pai voted with the rest of the members to unanimously approve the Notice of Liability, or NAL, but gave a partial written dissent.

“Commissioners were told that the Notice of Apparent Liability could not be released or publicly discussed until April 1, 2016, conveniently one day after the Commission was scheduled to expand the Lifeline program to broadband,” Pai wrote. “That’s not right.”

FCC spokesman Will Wiquist told the Free Beacon, “The timing of the enforcement action was in no way related to the timing of the vote on the program modernization.”
They weer just trying to protect their phony-baloney subsidy...

Turnabout Is Unfair Play?

Team Obama has a warning:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans have said voters should have a say in the next Supreme Court justice that will determine the balance of the high court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Still, Obama nominated Garland, the chief judge on the Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals, to fill the vacancy.

“The president said if Republicans follow through on this threat to refuse to do their job, to refuse to consider Chief Judge Garland’s nomination, even though they describe him as a consensus nominee, what’s to stop Democrats who are in charge of the Senate when a Republican is in office from saying, ‘We’re just going to wait four years for a vacancy’?” Earnest said. “There is no material difference in that argument. That would represent a breakdown of the process.”

A reporter asked Earnest if Senate Democrats would hold up a Republican president’s Supreme Court nominee for four years.

“They would be justified in doing it based on what Republicans have done so far,” Earnest responded. “Hopefully it won’t come to that. Hopefully Republicans will do what every Senate has done since 1875, which is give a hearing or a vote to every Supreme Court nominee that has been put forward to fill a vacancy.”
Unless, of course, said president just picks who they want-which is something else the current one claims he can do...

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Government Moneybags

They got their cut:
In the first half of fiscal 2016, which included the months of October, November, December, January, February, and March, the amount of taxes collected by the federal government outpaced the first half of all previous fiscal years, even after adjusting for inflation. The 2016 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2015, and runs through Sept. 30, 2016.

The federal government collected $1,476,218,000,000 in the first half of fiscal year 2016. Most of the $1.48 trillion came from individual income taxes, which comprised almost half of that total, totaling $675 billion.

One year ago, the government collected $1.42 trillion in inflation-adjusted revenues in the first half of fiscal year 2015. The Treasury Department has been tracking these data on its website since 1998. In that fiscal year, the federal government collected $1.11 trillion in inflation-adjusted revenue in the first half of that fiscal year. This means that since 1998, tax revenues have increased 33 percent.
So what are they using it for? The welfare state can only take so much...

Chinese Imports

It's China's fake ghost cities:
When the Chinese economy started to skyrocket in the early 1990s, people wanted a new house to make them feel successful, so they duplicated architecture from other countries. Author Bianca Bosker calls this phenomenon "duplitecture."

"China's copycat and 'duplitecture' enthusiasts have chosen a very specific range of styles and countries to copy. Among the options, there is no Cleveland town. The cities and landmarks we see copied over and over again in China are those associated with countries and cultures that oftentimes command a lot of influence and often a lot of wealth," Bosker told "Nightline." "These 'duplitecture' developments have become so embedded in parts of Chinese culture that I was surprised to hear...this idea that the way to live best was to eat Chinese food, drive an American car and live in a British home."

Not all of these developments, however, are drawing large numbers of residents. And recently, the Chinese government announced that these knock-off cities are “at odds with Socialist core values” and says it wants to rename them.
In China, city leaves you...

Bernie Gets Burned

Verizon's CEO takes Bernie to task over taxes:
“[Sanders'] first accusation – that Verizon doesn’t pay its fair share of taxes – is just plain wrong,” Lowell McAdam wrote in a LinkedIn piece. ”As our financial statements clearly show, we’ve paid more than $15.6 billion in taxes over the last two years – that’s a 35% tax rate in 2015, for anyone who’s counting. …”

McAdam added that Sanders “has started to fudge his language – talking of taxes not paid in some unspecified ‘given year’ – but that doesn’t make his contention any less false.”

“Sen. Sanders also claims that Verizon doesn’t use its profits to benefit America. Again, a look at the facts says otherwise,” the CEO continued. “In the last two years, Verizon has invested some $35 billion in infrastructure — virtually all of it in the U.S. — and paid out more than $16 billion in dividends to the millions of average Americans who invest in our stock. In Sanders’s home state of Vermont alone, Verizon has invested more than $16 million in plant and equipment and pays close to $42 million a year to vendors and suppliers, many of them small and medium-sized businesses.”
Not that Sanders would know anything about running a business, of course...

The Cause Always Comes First

How did Exxon run afoul of the "law?"
“A key meeting in the new push unfolded in January behind the closed doors of a Manhattan office building,” the WSJ reported Wednesday. “The session brought together about a dozen people, including Kenny Bruno, a veteran of environmental campaigns, and Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, two activists who helped lead the successful fight to block the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Environmentalists want “to establish in public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution that has pushed humanity (and all creation) toward climate chaos and grave harm,” according to a meeting agenda obtained by WSJ. The whole point of this closed door meeting was to come up with ways to convince the Justice Department to follow the lead of state attorneys general and investigate Exxon. Activists want the DOJ to go after Exxon using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO — an anti-mafia law.

“Their hope is to encourage state attorneys general and the U.S. Justice Department to launch investigations and lawsuits that ultimately will change Exxon’s behavior, force it to pay big damages and drive public attention to climate change,” WSJ reported.
Meanwhile, the real gangsters and thugs want to throw those who disagree with them in jail...

Consumer Protection Racket

Are the Consumer Protection Agency's days numbered?
The possibility of dramatic action against CFPB arose in an oral argument Tuesday before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The National Law Journal first reported the hearing.

CFPB has been an aggressive regulator, allegedly bullying banks, mortgage companies and other financial institutions with costly actions designed to force compliance with the bureau’s anti-business rules on financial transactions. Many companies have fallen in line rather than contest the new bureau’s power.

Critics of CFPB have noted it is the only agency not accountable to congressional oversight and therefore violates the separation of powers set down by the Constitution. That principle provides that Congress have checks over the executive branch agencies like CFPB. Those checks do not apply to the agency.
Well, it's not like President Obama has ever really cared about Congress in the first place, is it?

Fake Movie Night

It's another stunt by an anti-gun group:
AdWeek reports the film turned to out be a collection of real crime scene footage instead of Hollywood-directed action.

The goal of showing unarmed people being shot in a city council setting or of a police officer being outnumbered, overpowered, and shot, was to persuade viewers to support more gun control against law-abiding citizens.

On March 17, 2015, Breitbart News reported that this same group set up a fake gun store in New York City to shame first-time gun buyers into foregoing gun purchases. They did this by letting the would-be customers hold guns that had been used in the commission of a crime, then explaining how many people had been shot and wounded or killed with that particular gun.

They called that video, “Guns With History.”
But also a history of saving lives, which people like this conveniently forget...

Blame It On Bill

She was just there:
“Well, look, it was Mayor de Blasio’s skit,” Clinton said in an interview with Cosmopolitan. “He has addressed it, and I will really defer to him because it is something that he’s already talked about.”

The controversy came for Clinton after she and de Blasio performed a comedy skit over the weekend at the annual New York City press dinner.

“I just have to say thanks for the endorsement, Bill. Took you long enough,” Clinton said to de Blasio.

“Sorry, Hillary, I was running on C.P. time,” de Blasio responded.

“Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr., who is black, responded to de Blasio by saying, “I don’t like jokes like that.”

“Cautious politician time,” Hillary said nervously as the joke failed to translate to a noticeably silent audience.
Tough room...

Who Killed Coal?

What happened to the coal industry?
While the entire story of the U.S. coal industry’s demise is worthy of much more discussion, it can be summarized as follows: The coal industry’s political enemies have successfully used expensive, heavy-handed, junk science-fueled regulation which, in combination with an unforeseeable coincidental glut of cheap natural gas, has virtually broken the coal industry’s back.

What is the future of the coal industry? About one-third of our electricity still comes from coal, though that may shrink further. Under current conditions — a natural gas glut, constrained energy demand and heavy EPA regulation — there will not be much profit in coal for the foreseeable future even though we will still rely on it for much electricity.
Coal isn't dead yet-but Obama did his best to turn it into the next best thing...

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Unequal Foundation

Equal pay? Not for Hillary:
The foundation’s 2013 IRS form 990 reveals that nearly three times as many men as women occupy the executive suites at the Little Rock, Arkansas-based foundation.

On average, top male executives at the foundation earn $109,000 more than the top female executives with positions in the C-suite.

The numbers were in stark contrast to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign-oriented “Equal Pay Day” speech, which she delivered in Silicon Valley Tuesday. She charged that equal pay for women was “long overdue.”

“I feel like [equal pay] is something that’s long overdue,” she told an event organized by Glassdoor, which compares salaries and working conditions at corporations.

“It is way past time to end the outrage of so many women still earning less than men on the job,” she told the audience.
Practice what you preach, ma'am...

Kangaroo Climate Change Court

Oil companies feel the heat:
The announcements follow a similar investigation by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who subpoenaed Exxon’s financial records and emails last November. Schneiderman has indicated ExxonMobil is not the only energy company in his office's crosshairs, vowing to prosecute any that committed fraud to maximize profit at the public's expense “to the fullest extent of the law.”

Yet industry representatives and their allies say what’s really going on is a coordinated attempt to silence climate change skeptics while punishing the industry itself for society’s use of fossil fuels, all based on spurious claims of a cover-up. Exxon representatives say the accusations against the oil giant are “laughable” and “not credible,” blasting recent news reports that assert the industry tried to mislead the public about global warming dangers.

“The stories were designed to put forth the inaccurate notion that our researchers had reached definitive conclusions about climate change decades and decades before the world’s experts on climate change had,” ExxonMobil media relations manager Alan Jeffers told FoxNews.com.
Of course, the "real experts" are right by default...

The Regulation Train

Who regulates the regulators? Today, US Railroads run a successful freight transportation system for shippers and consumers. Their networks ...