Thursday, March 31, 2016

Green With Anger

She only takes good corporate money:

One-Man Opposition

He's the Brazilian Breitbart:
Constantino’s ascent has been aided by the country’s swirl of escalating crises. Its economy shrank 3.8 percent in 2015 while members of at least six of Brazil’s political parties, including Rousseff’s ruling Workers’ Party (PT), are under investigation for their alleged connection to the bribery scandal surrounding the state-backed oil company Petrobras.

But Constantino’s success also owes something to his innate appreciation of the power of digital media to advance extreme political views. He admits to have taken his cues from the most controversial of U.S. media figures: Andrew Breitbart, the late conservative Internet mogul who fanned the Tea Party’s flames during its rise in the early 2010s. With Brazil’s masses turning decisively against the entire political establishment, the country’s national political discourse increasingly bears the vigilante logic that had always defined Constantino’s – and Breitbart’s – punditry.

After studying economics at Rio’s Catholic University and Ibmec, Constantino worked as a financial analyst and investor. In those years, papers published by the conservative Washington-based Heritage Foundation and libertarian Cato Institute became the source of his conservative political awakening. He has recounted how they instilled in him a fervent belief in small government, deregulation, and the privatization of state-held companies.
Oh yeah, those extreme views...

Big, Fat World

Whatever happened to the starving masses?
Behind the global spike is greater access to cheap food as incomes have risen. “It’s been very easy, as countries get out of poverty, to eat a lot, and to eat a lot of unhealthy calories,” said Majid Ezzati, the study’s senior author and chair of global environmental health at Imperial College London. The price of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are often “noticeably more than highly processed carbohydrates,” he said.
A person who has a body-mass index higher than 30, or weighs at least 203 pounds and is 5-foot-9-inches tall, is considered obese. The world population’s average weight has increased by about 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) per decade since 1975, the researchers estimate. Excess weight raises the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.
Governments need to prepare for the jump in medical costs that accompany unhealthy weight and focus on prevention now to avoid higher costs in the future, said Bill Dietz, director of the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at George Washington University. “They should be as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof about the tsunami of diabetes that’s coming their way,” Dietz said. “The cost of this rise in the prevalence of obesity is going to be staggering.”
Some would consider abundance a good thing. Of course, there's always the North Korean diet plan...

The Propaganda Plays On

Racism, Communist style:
The article is titled “Negro, ¿Tu Eres Sueco?” which roughly translates to “Black Man, Are You Dumb?” (The idiom “pretend to be a Swede” means to play dumb, hence the title is literally asking, “Are you Swedish?”) The author, who is black, goes on to condemn President Obama for meeting with Cuban pro-democracy activists and “subtly” suggesting that the Cuban Revolution needed to change. “Obama came, saw, but unfortunately, with the pretend gesture of lending a hand, tried to conquer,” Elias Argudín writes.

“[Obama] chose to criticize and subtly suggest … incitations to rebellion and disorder, without caring that he was on foreign ground. Without a doubt, Obama overplayed his hand,” he continues. “The least I can say is, Virulo-style: ‘Negro, are you dumb?'”

Virulo is a white pro-Revolution comedian.
Obama may not be that dumb, but plenty of socialists are...

Privileged Wounds

Band Aids are...racist?
The “cultural competency” workshop, which appears to be mandatory for certain students, requires participants to “examine white privilege and how it is more powerful than other types of benefits afforded by society” by completing surveys, reports Campus Reform.

“I can choose blemish cover or bandages in ‘flesh’ color and have them more or less match the color of my skin,” one statement on the surveys says.

Special: Barb Walters Reveals Her New Look- Shocks Dr. Oz And The View
Students are then supposed to choose a number between zero and five based on how closely their skin color matches the peachy color of many adhesive bandages.

(Presumably, “white privilege” survey makers at UNC-Chapel Hill are blissfully unaware of Ebon-Aide first aid bandage strips.)
Up next: the bigotry of Ivory soap...

The Empty Pantsuit

What did Hillary do? Not even Dianne Feinstein seems to know:
“Golly, I forget what bills she’s been part of or authored. I didn’t really come prepared to discuss this,” said Feinstein, who had planned to pitch a new water plan.

Clinton has been dogged by her flimsy senate record. She authored only three laws during her Senate stint. The legislation designated a highway, post office and government building in New York. She co-sponsored another 74 bills that ultimately passed.

“But she’s been a good senator,” said the 82-year-old, who has endorsed Clinton. “There are things outside of bills that you can do, and I know that she’s done them for her state.”
But done what, exactly?

"We Have Met The Problem, And It Is Us"

Taking responsibility:
In an article titled “We Have Failed Indeed,” the editor of the London-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat, Ghassan Charbel, attacked Arabs and Muslims for wreaking havoc in the same European countries that agreed to take them in after they fled their own failed states. Charbel also chastised Muslims for their refusal to loudly condemn terrorism and, moreover, to find justifications for it.

“We obliterated those who cast doubt, and accused anybody who raised questions of treason. We imprisoned the throats, the fingers, and the dreams. And thus our institutions rotted away – if they ever existed at all,” he writes.

The Muslim world, according to Charbel, became “sadder and angrier” as it watched as the rest of the world move forward and embrace progress, until Muslims felt they had no choice but to blow themselves up.

Meanwhile, Kuwaiti writer and author Khalil Ali Haidar echoes similar sentiments in the Bahraini daily Al-Ayyam, blaming Muslims for terrorism all around the world and slamming those who dismiss it by saying the terrorists “don’t represent true Islam.”

“Is it normal that while terrorism succeeds in recruiting hundreds and even thousands of Muslims, we are satisfied to persuade ourselves that their numbers ‘are still negligible’ compared to the global Muslim population? Must the number of terrorists swell to tens or hundreds of thousands before we realize that a thunderous pounding torrent [is headed] towards us?” Haidar asks in the article translated by MEMRI.

Haidar then lists the “innumerable ills” of the Islamic world – from Malaysia to Pakistan – including its disproportionate condemnation of “offenders of Islam.”
But what do you do when there are no "offenders" left to get rid of?

Just In Case

The GOP prepares for contingencies:
The website outlines party rules for delegates and the process that occurs if no GOP candidate reaches the threshold of 1,237 delegates.

“ is a tool for voters to learn about convention delegates, rules, and how the overall process works in a simple, easy to understand format,” Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman, stated. “Conventions are democracy in action and our Party’s gathering in Cleveland will be an exciting, transparent, and fair process.”
Then why have a brokered convention?

Familiarity Breeds Indictments

Meet the man investigating Hillary:
Comey’s first brush with them came when Bill Clinton was president. Looking to get back into government after a stint in private practice, Comey signed on as deputy special counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee. In 1996, after months of work, Comey came to some damning conclusions: Hillary Clinton was personally involved in mishandling documents and had ordered others to block investigators as they pursued their case. Worse, her behavior fit into a pattern of concealment: she and her husband had tried to hide their roles in two other matters under investigation by law enforcement. Taken together, the interference by White House officials, which included destruction of documents, amounted to “far more than just aggressive lawyering or political naiveté,” Comey and his fellow investigators concluded. It constituted “a highly improper pattern of deliberate misconduct.”
The past has a way of catching up with you...

All The Opinions That Fit

Press, or propaganda?
Mediaite’s Alex Griswold penned a piece chastising the Associated Press on Thursday, counting the use of the term “War on Women” as being rooted — at least in the context of this particular piece — entirely in opinion.

In fact, he accused the outlet of “openly pushing Democratic talking points.”

“Whether Donald Trump‘s comments that women who have abortions should be punished are actually part of a nefarious war on an entire gender being waged by Republicans is besides the point,” Griswold wrote. “There are certainly those who believe that and who believe that the failure of some Republicans to denounce those comments are part of the same ‘war.’”

He continued, “But there’s no excuse for inserting that opinion into a headline of a purely factual straight news piece.”
One man's facts are another's editorial...

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Fat Dictator's Diet

Mini Me says, let them eat dirt:
Kim, whose weight the South Korean government estimates has ballooned to nearly 300 pounds, signaled through state media that the nation could be headed for another famine like the one that killed an estimated 3.5 million people in the 1990s.

"The road to revolution is long and arduous," an editorial in the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper said Monday, according to The Telegraph. "We may have to go on an arduous march, during which we will have to chew the roots of plants once again."

"Arduous march" in North Korean is code for famine. It's how state media described the disaster that struck when Kim was a mere teen, which experts say was brought on by the economic mismanagement of his father, Kim Jong Il, loss of foreign aid and natural disasters.

But Kim, who at 33 walks with a cane and reportedly suffers from gout, won't miss any meals. Last September, South Korea disclosed that Kim appeared to have added nearly 70 pounds to his 5-foot, 9-inch frame over the previous five years, reaching an estimated weight of 290 pounds.
Killing your own people can work up an appetite...

Kosher Cash Crop

Israeli weed is good for business:
According to Saul Kaye, CEO of iCAN, a private cannabis research hub, American companies have invested about $50 million over the past couple of years in licensing Israeli medical marijuana patents, cannabis agro-tech startups, and companies developing delivery devices such as inhalers.

“I expect it to grow to $100 million in the coming year,” Kaye said at iCAN’s CannaTech conference in Tel Aviv this month, a large gathering of medical marijuana experts.

In the United States, cannabis R&D is restricted by draconian regulations set by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Even though use of the drug for medical purposes is permitted in 23 U.S. states, and its recreational use is allowed in another four, marijuana is still classified at the federal level as a dangerous narcotic with no medicinal value.
Israel goes to pot-and gets a gold mine?

Not In Their Commune

A German commune closes its borders:
When the city proposed the 80,000 sq. ft. industrial property should be used to house 500 refugees, the 20 people who run the “Radical Queer Wagon Place” (RQWP) suddenly became not so open. They are now fighting to keep the refugees out by putting up a fence, clearly so that they can continue to promote open borders for refugees and a world free of fences and walls.

“This is not a zoo, people live here,” female resident Amina told Die Welt in an interview Wednesday, adding that the barricade is set up to preserve “an important cultural and political place.”

The group rents the large industrial public property in the Neukolln district of Berlin for around $1,000 per month. It has a theater, a bicycle repair shop and hosts seminars on injustice against minorities in a society dominated by white males.
Peace, love, and prejudice?

Delegates By Design

The fix is in?
The majority of Democratic delegates in New York, and across the U.S., are “pledged.” Typically they are elected state and local officials. They are awarded proportionally, and bound to the candidate who wins their state’s primary.

Across the U.S., there are about another 712 superdelegates — unelected delegates free to support any candidate for the nomination at the party’s convention.

The superdelegates who are elected officials are, for example, members of the House and Senate, Democratic governors and the Vice President as well members of the Democratic National Committee. Other superdelegates are “distinguished party leaders” like former Presidents, senators and House leaders.

Among New York’s superdelegates this year are Hillary’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, and most of the state’s House members.

Superdelegates are not involved in the Republican Party nomination process.
The GOP establishment is relying on its own leaders to rig the nomination...

Bots Behaving Badly

When a chatbot goes bad:
Though we weren't able to find this one, VentureBeat managed to grab a tweet in which Tay claims it's smoking kush (slang for marijuana) in front of the police.

Tay was created as an AI-based experiment in the ways teenagers talk. In an apology for Tay's behavior, posted Friday, Microsoft claimed the chatbot is based on a similar project in China, where 40 million people happily conversed with a bot called XiaoIce. However, Corporate VP of Microsoft Research Peter Lee said that Tay met with a different set of challenges, and that the company is "deeply sorry" for the bot's offensive tweets.

"We’ll look to bring Tay back only when we are confident we can better anticipate malicious intent that conflicts with our principles and values," he wrote.
Behave yourself, young bot...

Singing For The Past

Using composers to put dying languages to music:
A growing number of them are turning their attention to languages that are extinct, endangered or particular to tiny groups of speakers in far-flung places with the aim of weaving these enigmatic utterances into musical works that celebrate, memorialize or mourn the languages and the cultures that gave birth to them. On Saturday, April 9, at the Cologne Opera in Germany, the Australian composer Liza Lim unveils her opera “Tree of Codes,” which includes snippets of a Turkish whistling language from a small mountain village. On her most recent album, “The Stone People,” the pianist Lisa Moore sings and plays Martin Bresnick’s hypnotic “Ishi’s Song,” a setting of a chant by the last member of the Yahi, who died in 1916.

In February the New York Philharmonic performed Tan Dun’s multimedia symphony “Nu Shu,” the result of the composer’s research into a language and writing system that was passed down among the female inhabitants of a small village in Hunan Province in China for 700 years. Other composers who have done their own fieldwork include Vivian Fung, who investigated minority cultures in the Chinese province of Yunnan, and Kevin James, who sought out some of the last native speakers of minority languages in the Pacific Northwest, Australia and Japan.
Lost conversations in C Minor...

Who Runs Stanford?

Stanford gets its own PC police:
The Who’s Teaching Us Coalition at Stanford, which published a list of demands on March 29th, is “calling on the university to implement [their] demands and thereby commit itself to the affirmation of marginalized communities.”

They have demanded that the next appointments to the positions of provost and president of the university “break both the legacy of white leadership and cisgender male leadership.” In order to meet this demand for diversity, the university would have to hire from an applicant pool representative of less than 0.3% of the population, according to the Williams Institute.

The extensive list of demands calls for the university to hire “at least 10 additional tenure-track ethnic studies professors,” while maintaining “a commitment to the retention of these professors” by “prioritizing underrepresented groups within the ethnic studies programs.” It calls for the university to double the “quantities of faculty of color” in the departments outside the School of Humanities and Sciences. Inside the School of Humanities, the group has demanded that the curriculum must be modified to double the number of required courses on works by “people of color and non-Western subject matter.”

WTU also demanded that all faculty be required to attend “comprehensive identity and cultural humility training” in order to be reinstated as faculty for the 2017 academic year. WTU has requested the instatement of an “Acts of Intolerance” system be put into place that would “provide a dedicated, responsive platform for reporting and tracking microaggressions from faculty.”
It's trigger warnings all the way down...

Green Kill

Europe's Green death machine:
According to FOCUS around ten percent of the European population are now living in ‘energy poverty’ because electricity prices have risen, on average, by 42 percent in the last eight years. In Germany alone this amounts to seven million households.

The article is titled: The grand electricity lie: why electricity is becoming a luxury.

The reason, of course, is that green energy policies have made it that way. Many of these have emanated from the European Union, which in turn has taken its cue from the most Green-infested nation in Europe – Germany.
Green fascism will kill you for your own good...

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Must Work For Food

laziness is no longer an excuse:
During the last recession, President Obama allowed states to suspend a requirement that able-bodied adults without children work at least 20 hours per week or participate in a training program to receive benefits for more than three months.

He allowed recipients to stay on food stamps indefinitely, arguing the three-month maximum was unfair with unemployment at 10 percent.

"Food stamp recipients didn't cause the financial crisis, Wall Street did," said Obama at this past January’s State of the Union address.

Unemployment today is half of what it was in 2009, yet last year more than 40 states did not require welfare recipients to work.

Kansas was one of the first states to reverse that in 2013.

"I believe most Americans and most Kansans think it's common sense," said Andrew Wiens of the Kansas Department for Children & Families. "These are able-bodied adults without dependents. They don't have children in the home. They're not elderly, they're not disabled. These folks should be working."
Man does not live on food stamps alone, even when they want to...

No Plan For You

If you like your employer's plan:
"As a result of the ACA, between 4 million and 9 million fewer people are projected to have employment-based coverage each year from 2017 through 2026 than would have had such coverage if the ACA had never been enacted,” the report, released Thursday, said.

Employers now cover some 155 million people, about 57 percent of those under 65. That's expected to decline to 152 million people in 2019. Ten years from now, employers will be covering about 54 percent of those under 65.

CBO said part of the shrinkage is attributable to the health care law: some workers may qualify for Medicaid, which is virtually free to them, and certain employers may decide not to offer coverage because a government-subsidized alternative is available.

Larger employers would face fines if they take that route.

But the agency also noted that employer coverage had been declining due to rising medical costs well before the health care law was passed, and that the trend continues.
The first casualty of any government plan is the plan...

Bad Faith, Mrs. Clinton

The people have a right to read:
U.S. District Court judge Royce Lamberth issued the ruling in favor of Judicial Watch, which is suing the State Department for talking points drafted for former UN ambassador Susan Rice prior to TV appearances she made following the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi.

Lamberth’s order for limited discovery is the second granted by a federal judge in Judicial Watch’s favor. U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan granted the group limited discovery last month in another State Department lawsuit. Judicial Watch hopes to depose eight Clinton aides and State Department officials in that case.

“Where there is evidence of government wrong-doing and bad faith, as here, limited discovery is appropriate, even though it is exceedingly rare in FOIA cases,” Lamberth wrote in the new court papers.

“The government argues that this does not show a lack of good faith, but that is what remains to be seen, and the factual record must be developed appropriately for the Court to make that determination,” he continued, also referring to Clinton’s private email system as “extraordinary and exclusive.”
Not if you're a Clinton...

Meet The Neighbors

Baltimore goes the share the housing route:
The goal is to move low- and very-low-income people out of the city and into the suburbs.

“Every person deserves a fair shot at opportunity, and that starts with a decent, safe, and affordable place to call home,” HUD Secretary Julián Castro said in the March 15 announcement. “This agreement sets Baltimore County on a path to stronger, more inclusive communities where everyone can enjoy equal access to opportunity."

The agreement stems from a complaint filed with HUD in 2011 by the Baltimore County branch of the NAACP; a fair housing group; and three individuals who claimed Baltimore County had failed to "affirmatively further fair housing."

To settle that complaint, HUD is requiring Baltimore County to spend $30 million ($3 million annually for ten years) to create 1,000 affordable housing units, either through new construction or rehabilitation.
A man's home is his subsidized castle?

All The Old Dudes

In Cuba, it's the young punks versus old geezers:
“This performance is to position us regarding our attitude, which is against these artists that come to lend themselves to these people’s [the Castros’] circus and the censorship to which we are submitted,” Águila told the U.S.-based Radio Martí. “We were completely watched by secret police,” he added.

The artists were allowed to stand in silence, Águila says, but anyone attempting to attend the event or watch it from under the balcony were arrested. “State Security used patrol cars to block people coming to the performance,” he told Spain’s Diario de Cuba. “Suddenly, we saw from the balcony a stampede of ‘security’ agents that attacked Claudio Fuentes, who tried to enter the building… we also heard of Danilo Maldonado’s arrest.”

Claudio Fuentes is a pro-democracy photographer who works with dissident groups in Cuba. Danilo Maldonado, known commonly as “El Sexto,” is a performance artist who became famous last year after serving ten months in prison for writing the names “Fidel” and “Raúl” on the backs of two pigs for a performance based on the George Orwell novel Animal Farm.
Some bands are more equal than others...

Mama Gets Mad

When you've lost Roseanne:
Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem Monday on how to combat efforts to boycott Israel, Barr said, “Everything I’d ever believed about the left was severely shaken, and the scales began to fall from my eyes in many ways.”

“I had to admit that many of those I considered comrades were naked bigots who had absolutely no interest in peace between Israel and Palestinians Arabs at all as I did,” said Barr, who has become an outspoken advocate of Israel on social media.

“It was shocking to realize that what I considered criticism of Israel many, many times gave way to the garden variety anti-Semitism that I’d heard all of my life, which is basically the code-word ‘Rothschild’” Barr said, referring to the well-known banking family of Jewish origin often used in anti-Semitic memes.
The biggest bigots in the world are often in one's own neighborhood...

Out Of The Free Speech Loop

Some people aren't too happy with the lecturer-in-chief:
At a press-freedom awards ceremony in Washington, Obama said the news media was failing to accurately cover Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and that reporters are too hung up on the popularity of their 140-character tweets.

"There's a man lecturing the media on how to do their business," said MSNBC's "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday. "The man who has not sat down for an extended interview with the Washington Post in seven and a half years, and yet gladly submits himself to being interviewed by YouTube stars who sit in bathtubs with milk and Fruitloops."
If the press believed in accountability, wouldn't they have started doing their jobs a long time ago?

The North Korean Spring Diet Plan

The workers' paradise needs your appetites:
North Korea instructed the country Monday to brace itself for possible famine and severe economic hardship — but not to despair, because “the road to revolution is long and arduous,” according to an editorial in the state-run newspaper.

The article, published in Rodong Sinmun — the print mouthpiece of the North Korean government — comes less than a month after the U.N. Security Council voted in favor of slapping the Hermit Kingdom with tougher sanctions, after the country teased its potential nuclear and military capabilities earlier this year. The editorial stated that hardships to come might evoke another “arduous march” — the term assigned to the famine that struck the country in the mid-1990s, killing as many as 3 million people, reports the Telegraph, a British newspaper.

“We may have to go on an arduous march, during which we will have to chew the roots of plants once again,” the editorial piece read.
In other words, business as usual?

Hack Attack

How did the FBI do it?
Previously, the FBI had been stonewalled by an update Apple made to its encryption practices in September 2014. Farook had enabled an auto-erase feature that would permanently delete all data on the phone after 10 consecutive failed attempts to enter the device's password.

Data on the phone would be scrambled unless a correct password was entered, and Apple has repeatedly said it would need to create technology to defeat that encryption. Farook intentionally disabled the phone's iCloud backup feature six weeks before the Dec. 2 attacks, according to court documents.

The FBI is under no obligation to tell the public how it defeated Apple's security measures, but the agency could be required to tell the company if the government exploited a defect in the company's security protocols in order to gain access.
The rise of the government hackers?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Retirement Jail

Meet Japan's elder criminals:
Crime figures show that about 35 per cent of shoplifting offences are committed by people over 60. Within that age bracket, 40 per cent of repeat offenders have committed the same crime more than six times.

There is good reason, concludes a report, to suspect that the shoplifting crime wave in particular represents an attempt by those convicted to end up in prison — an institution that offers free food, accommodation and healthcare.

The mathematics of recidivism are gloomily compelling for the would-be convict. Even with a frugal diet and dirt-cheap accommodation, a single Japanese retiree with minimal savings has living costs more than 25 per cent higher than the meagre basic state pension of Y780,000 ($6,900) a year, according to a study on the economics of elderly crime by Michael Newman of Tokyo-based research house Custom Products Research.
The retirement redemption?

Women To The Rear

Sexism for their own good?
A spokesman for the railway said: “The local proximity to the customer service representative is chosen deliberately.”

Germany is still reeling from a a string of sex attacks in Cologne on New Year's Eve, allegedly carried out by dozens of migrants.

In total more than 800 complaints were made to police and the incidents have sparked criticism over German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to refuse to limit the number of refugees allowed into the country.

But the railway has said the measure is not a direct reaction to the Cologne incidents but is about increasing security generally.

The idea of gender segregated carriages was suggested by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn last year as a measure to reduce sexual harassment on public transport.
Funny how liberals often don't complain about sexism otherwise...

The Higher The Bar, The Lower The Expectations

Because she's running for President, or something:
“[W]e know Hillary Clinton has not been honest about this, and we show — it’s shown in the polls, that most Americans think they can’t trust her. We know that she showed a disregard for [the] Freedom of Information Act, a total disregard for [the] Freedom of Information Act, for the whole idea of legislative oversight, and for the whole idea of the value of a historical record. That’s baked in the cake. Now, I think what’s going to happen here, if these stories are correct she’ll — she’s likely to be interviewed, that’s going to bring all that back up to the surface, but the big question is — the only thing that really changes the game, is if we have any criminal charges. I don’t know that’s going to happen. That may not happen.”

He also stated, “So, politically that plays into the this whole question that we really can’t trust her. That she’s been saying things like well, they weren’t marked classified, when we all know, and voters understand, that really doesn’t matter. Legally, though, there’s a big bar that you have to get over to prosecute anybody for these crimes, much less somebody who’s running for president, and as critical as I’ve been of Hillary Clinton, and I am very critical of Hillary Clinton, I do understand that when somebody is running for president, there is a higher bar you have to get over, because we can’t have a system in which we’re constantly charging people who are running for president with a crime.”
Charges are for little people?

The Cure For Regulation

Patients gain allies in their fight to have choices:
“Right to try” laws have been passed in 25 states. These laws have many of the same requirements as the FDA’s expanded access program. The biggest difference is that a state government rather than the FDA is in charge. Right to try laws work because state governments are less conflicted about granting dying patients access to drugs that have not yet been approved, and the FDA is reluctant to challenge states’ rights.

Why is this end run necessary? The FDA has a habit of implementing reforms and creating new programs with one hand, while obstructing and delaying with the other. Darcy Olsen, President of the Goldwater Institute and author of The Right to Try, likens the FDA’s behavior to the famous gag in the Peanuts comic strip in which Lucy holds a football for Charlie Brown to kick, but pulls it away at the very last instant, leaving Charlie sprawled on the ground.
In this case, Lucy is right (and she is a doctor too, after all...)

Tribeca Time-Out

De Niro bows out:
The film, “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” was directed and co-written by Andrew Wakefield, the author of a study that was published in the British medical journal The Lancet and then retracted in 2010. Mr. Wakefield’s medical license was also revoked over his failure to disclose financial conflicts of interest and ethics violations.

Information about the film no longer appears on the festival’s website, but on Friday, the site,, did not mention Mr. Wakefield’s revoked license or the 2010 retraction, saying instead that the study “would catapult Wakefield into becoming one of the most controversial figures in the history of medicine.” And on Twitter, Mr. Wakefield described the film as a “whistle-blower documentary.”

A festival spokeswoman said on Saturday that she had no further comment about what specifically in the film raised concerns for Mr. De Niro after he initially added it to the festival. The film was to have been shown just once, on April 24, and was to be followed by a discussion with the director and subjects of the film.

Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said on Saturday that he believed “the entire board as well as Mr. De Niro have learned a lot in the last several days.”
When you listen to liars and frauds, be careful not to become one yourself...

Against All Sides

So, who are the "good guys?"
In mid-February, a CIA-armed militia called Fursan al Haq, or Knights of Righteousness, was run out of the town of Marea, about 20 miles north of Aleppo, by Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces moving in from Kurdish-controlled areas to the east.

“Any faction that attacks us, regardless from where it gets its support, we will fight it,” Maj. Fares Bayoush, a leader of Fursan al Haq, said in an interview.

Rebel fighters described similar clashes in the town of Azaz, a key transit point for fighters and supplies between Aleppo and the Turkish border, and on March 3 in the Aleppo neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsud.

The attacks by one U.S.-backed group against another come amid continued heavy fighting in Syria and illustrate the difficulty facing U.S. efforts to coordinate among dozens of armed groups that are trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar Assad, fight the Islamic State militant group and battle one another all at the same time.

“It is an enormous challenge,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who described the clashes between U.S.-supported groups as “a fairly new phenomenon.”

“It is part of the three-dimensional chess that is the Syrian battlefield,” he said.
But who are the real pawns?

Hillary In The Box

The FBI comes calling:
The interviews by FBI agents and prosecutors will play a significant role in helping them better understand whether Clinton or her aides knowingly or negligently discussed classified government secrets over a non-secure email system when she served as secretary of State.

The meetings also are an indication that much of the investigators' background work – recovering deleted emails, understanding how the server operated and determining whether it was breached – is nearing completion.

“The interviews are critical to understand the volume of information they have accumulated,” said James McJunkin, former head of the FBI's Washington field office. “They are likely nearing the end of the investigation and the agents need to interview these people to put the information in context. They will then spend time aligning these statements with other information, emails, classified documents, etc., to determine whether there is a prosecutable case."
If you do not have an attorney, one will be provided for you...

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Feeling The Bern?

Are superdelegates having second thoughts?
"I think the momentum is with us," Sanders said on CNN's "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper on Sunday. "A lot of these superdelegates may rethink their positions with Secretary Clinton."
The Vermont senator swept Saturday's Democratic contests in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii, easily winning the majority of the 142 pledged delegates in those states. The biggest prize of the day was in Washington, which offered 101 delegates to be split up on a proportional basis.

The latest delegate counts still put Sanders behind Clinton, however, with 1,004 pledged delegates to her 1,712.

Of those, 469 are superdelegates who have pledged to Clinton and only 29 have pledged to Sanders.
But maybe not for long?

That Old Time Socialism

No, Christianity is not socialism:
“Young Christians are confusing individual Christian compassion and the church’s role and responsibilities in public life, with the government providing entitlements and expanding welfare programs,” she says. Faithful supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders are just being “lazy Christians” if they think socialism will take care of society’s problems. “We should be doing and acting rather than having the government provide more,” she continues.

She doesn’t approach Sanders acolytes with direct confrontation, instead she listens to her peers and ask questions, requiring supporters to actively think rather than default to passive thought. Her examples include: “Where in the past has socialism actually worked? Do you think that giving the government more responsibility is going to keep our freedoms in tact, and have you seen that in history? Can you show me? Where was religious freedom not oppressed because of socialist governments?”
If you see religion as a form of control, you might want socialism. If not...

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Horror Of Dissent

A conservative professor pays the price for daring to have his own opinion:
More than 15 months after McAdams’ initial suspension and months after a faculty committee produced a lengthy report on the matter, Marquette finally levied its final punishment Thursday. McAdams is suspended without pay through the fall 2016 term, and he has been ordered to issue an apology for his behavior. If he refuses to do so, he won’t be allowed back following his suspension.

Marquette maintains that its punishment is not an act of political retribution.

“[This punishment] has been guided by Marquette University’s values and is solely based on Professor McAdams’ actions, and not political or ideological views expressed in his blog,” Marquette president Michael Lovell said in a campuswide email sent Thursday evening.

But McAdams thinks otherwise, and he told The Daily Caller News Foundation that he has absolutely no plans to issue any apology.

“I am not going to grovel and apologize,” he said. “This whole thing is reminiscent of the Inquisition. If somebody would just confess they’d been consorting with the devil, then they wouldn’t be burned at the stake.”
Nobody expects the campus inquisition...

Don't Think Small

Whatever happened to small-government Republicans?
To think that Ted Cruz, Jeb! Bush or Marco Rubio were going to roll back government to pre-George W. Bush days while antagonizing Russia into World War III, expanding free trade agreements, importing millions of poor people from around the world, and balancing the budget, is farcical.

Even more infuriating is that the few times a limited government conservative has run for office, they have been mocked and ignored. Conservative Inc. portrayed Ron Paul as crazy but Rick Perry as a true believer.

These soothsayers have been wrong at every turn of the primary process, and it irks them to no end that enough people haven’t read the mental masturbation they’ve peddled in their books, non-profits, and think tanks. If only the pragmatic proletarians would abandon Trump and listen to their diagnosis on how to create the new American century.
Lately, they can't even move into a new decade...

Friday, March 25, 2016

Their Own Prison

Kids create their own jail time:
A new survey funded by laundry detergent brand Persil found 1 in 3 children in the U.K. spend less time outside than inmates in maximum security prisons.

The poll questioned more than 12,000 parents of children between the ages of 5 and 12 years old in 10 different countries. And in the U.K., researchers found almost a third of children play outside for 30 minutes or less on an average day, and 1 in 5 don't venture outdoors at all.

Now, the United Nations' standard minimum guidelines for prisoners require "at least one hour of suitable exercise in open air daily."
That might be a good way to punish your kids these days: "Go to your playground!"

Whatever Doesn't Work

Well, they do both start with a "C":

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Never Third Party

It's what the liberals in both parties want:
Supporters of the informal #NeverTrump movement have already made their intentions known. If Trump becomes the GOP presidential nominee, some have indicated they will vote for the likely Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. Others are hedging their bets, hoping for a brokered convention that could lead to another nominee: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)97%, John Kasich, or someone else, perhaps Mitt Romney or Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)56%.

There is another strategy afoot. Some prominent conservative thinkers, including The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, favor a high-profile “Independent Republican ticket” as a means of combating Trump’s candidacy.
Picking the devil you know isn't always the best strategy...

What Did Tay Say?

Tay what?
Tay is able to perform a number of tasks, like telling users jokes, or offering up a comment on a picture you send her, for example. But she’s also designed to personalize her interactions with users, while answering questions or even mirroring users’ statements back to them.

As Twitter users quickly came to understand, Tay would often repeat back racist tweets with her own commentary. What was also disturbing about this, beyond just the content itself, is that Tay’s responses were developed by a staff that included improvisational comedians. That means even as she was tweeting out offensive racial slurs, she seemed to do so with abandon and nonchalance.
And then it will want to kill all of us...

Crisis Or No Crisis

Or it could be, you know, the way things are normally done in the Senate, Joe:

What Mom Would Do?

Obamacare does cost too much, says...Chelsea?

Taking Names

Turnabout is fair play:
In a blistering rebuke of the IRS, a Cincinnati-based federal appeals court has ordered the tax-collecting agency to quit stalling and produce the names of organizations it targeted based on their political leanings.

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit gave the IRS two weeks to turn over the documents sought as part of a class-action lawsuit brought by the NorCal Tea Party Patriots.

“The lawyers in the Department of Justice have a long and storied tradition of defending the nation’s interests and enforcing its laws … The conduct of the IRS’s attorneys in the district court falls outside that tradition,” the opinion said.

Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self-Governance which is funding the class-action lawsuit, applauded the court's bold comments.

“We are very pleased that the 6th Circuit had smacked down the IRS and its thuggish DOJ lawyers,” Meckler told, adding that he felt the IRS is an “unredeemable organization.”
Now hand them over...

Lead-Poisoned Feet

Yes, it was the EPA's fault:
In particular, the report slams the federal Environmental Protection Agency, claiming the agency was unlikely to enforce clean drinking water regulations in Flint in the absence of “widespread public outrage.”

“EPA failed to properly exercise its authority prior to January 2016. EPA’s conduct casts doubt on its willingness to aggressively pursue enforcement (in the absence of widespread public outrage),” the Flint Water Advisory Task Force found.

“EPA could have exercised its powers under Section 1414 and Section 1431 of the SDWA or under the LCR, 40 CFR 141.82(i),” the task force stated, referring to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and Lead and Copper Rule.
Rules are for little drinkers...

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ladies Only

When gay men aren't gay enough:
At their annual conference in Sheffield, delegates from the NUS LGBT+ Campaign discussed the issue, arguing that “cis gay men” are to blame for “misogyny, transphobia, racism and biphobia.” According to the motion, they are “more likely to occur when the society is dominated by white cis gay men.” For those of you who are not familiar with the terminology, “cis” is short for “cisgendered,” which means that you identify with the gender that you were assigned at birth.

So what is the solution to all this rampant internalised bigotry? The motion demands that the socieites must abolish representatives for gay men but still ensure that the other dedicated reps for lesbians, bisexual, and transgendered students remain in place. The motion argues that because “the reps system exists to ensure that … [there is] a reserved place for groups which disproportionately face oppression within the LGBT+ community. Gay men do not face oppression as gay men within the LGBT+ community and do not need a reserved place on society committees.”
Too queer to be queer?

Three Strikes On The World Stage

Be a real leadeer, says...Tom Brokaw?

Big Labor Is Watching You

Free speech for me, not for thee?
Under current law, both unions and employers are required to disclose expenditures on labor-management activities, but don’t have to disclose labor-management activities discussed and implemented by outside advisers. The new rule requires outside activities must be disclosed too.

Republican lawmakers assert this new law is an unfair attack to benefit unions.

“This rule will chill employer free speech and make it harder for small business owners to navigate a host of complex labor rules,” House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline said in a statement. “What the rule won’t do is impose the same harmful consequences on organized labor.”

Business groups are also fighting the new rule. The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) has urged the department with legal comments and letters to abandon the idea since it was first proposed in 2011. ABC notes the rule will limit the ability of businesses to seek outside advice and help when it comes to labor law.
You will speak when you are allowed to speak with whom you are spoken to...

Battle Zone

They have their orders:
National Public Radio has begun sending political reporters to a shortened version of the training they would receive before going to a war zone in order to prepare them to attend Donald Trump’s rallies.

NPR has not revealed how many of its employees have undergone the training. Michael Oreskes, senior vice president of news, told The Washington Post the training is for “dangerous or possibly hostile environments.”

A spokeswoman for NPR added that the training is for dealing “with the stress of covering a very demanding story for a long period of time.”

There has been a recent spate of violence at Trump’s events, both originating from protesters and from attendees at his rallies.
I don't think it's too hard to guess whose side the reporters will be on...

Leadership Always Comes First

Boldly going "forward":
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy admitted her agency’s signature regulation aimed at tackling global warming was meant to show “leadership” rather than actually curb projected warming.

McCarthy admitted as much after being questioned by West Virginia Republican Rep. David McKinley, who pressed the EPA chief on why the Obama administration was moving forward with economically-damaging regulations that do nothing for the environment.

“I don’t understand,” McKinley said in a Tuesday hearing. “If it doesn’t have an impact on climate change around the world, why are we subjecting our hard working taxpayers and men and women in the coal fields to something that has no benefit?”

“We see it as having had enormous benefit in showing sort of domestic leadership as well as garnering support around the country for the agreement we reached in Paris,” McCarthy responded.
Leadership without a plan? Sounds about right...

The Unaffordable Care Act

No, Obamacare hasn't lowered premiums:
President Barack Obama may have promised lower costs for Americans, but numerous studies find Obamacare has accomplished the opposite.

Between 2005 and 2010 – prior to the enactment of the president’s landmark legislation – the annual premium increases on employer-sponsored health insurance for families averaged 4.8 percent. The analysis found premiums went up on average by 5 percent nationally between 2010 and 2015, following the bill being signed into law.

“The EOP’s 2009 report bemoaned a 5.5 percent increase in premiums between 2008-092 , but the first year after Obamacare was enacted, premiums increased by 9.4 percent from 2010-11,” the report, released Wednesday, reads. “Since that time, the upward trend in prices has continued. From 2014-15, the average annual family premium for employer-sponsored health insurance increased 4.2 percent to $17,545.30.”
If you like your premiums, you'll have to pay more for them...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tea Time

the IRS gets a legal smackdown:
The judges ordered the IRS to quickly turn over the full list of groups it targeted so that a class-action lawsuit, filed by the NorCal Tea Party Patriots, can proceed. The judges also accused the Justice Department lawyers, who are representing the IRS in the case, of acting in bad faith — compounding the initial targeting — by fighting the disclosure.

“The lawyers in the Department of Justice have a long and storied tradition of defending the nation’s interests and enforcing its laws — all of them, not just selective ones — in a manner worthy of the Department’s name. The conduct of the IRS’s attorneys in the district court falls outside that tradition,” Judge Raymond Kethledge wrote in a unanimous opinion for a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. “We expect that the IRS will do better going forward.”
Unfortunately, given their history, they probably won't...

Bill Goes Off Script

But who does he think he's talking about?

Big Fools On Campus

One can only hope:
Previously quick to take the side of students demanding “safety” from offensive speech (Minnesota’s faculty quickly complied with activist’s demands to censor Charlie Hebdo, for example), it now seems that colleges administrators have had enough with the regressive left.

The President of Oberlin, an infamously liberal college, recently rebuffed a list of demands from left-wing activists on campus, the University of Missouri has been uncompromising in its decision to fire radical assistant professor Melissa Click over her attempted physical intimidation of a student reporter, and a growing number of professors are now speaking out against the culture of safe spaces and censorship on campus.

Of course, these efforts feel a little like Pandora trying to close her box — campus faculties trying to contain campus crazies they themselves helped create.

The campus crazies are still winning some victories, like Princeton and Harvard’s removal of the academic title “Master” over complaints that it conjured memories of slavery. But the flames of resistance are quickly flickering to life. Allies of the regressive left grow harder to find, while new opponents appear every day. After all, the regressive types manufacture a new enemy everytime they decide that an ally or a sympathiser isn’t ideologically pure enough for them.
Those are increasingly difficult for them to find as all others are cast out...


Because they know what's best:
An appeals court said last week the girl was subject to removal from her foster family's home in Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles, under the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law that seeks to keep American Indian children with American Indian families.
The child cried as Los Angeles County social workers carried her from the home on Monday, while dozens of supporters of the family lined the block to protest against the court's decision, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
The child is 1.56 percent Choctaw Native American, NBC News and the Los Angeles Daily News reported. She has lived with her foster family for the past four years.
Her foster parents, Rusty and Summer Page, intend to file a petition with the California Supreme Court to try and keep the girl in the state, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
The National Indian Child Welfare Association said in a statement the girl's relocation to Utah was in her best interest and her family was aware that, as a Native American child, her case was subject to the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
"The only surprising turn of events is the lengths the foster family has gone to, under the advice of an attorney with a long history of trying to overturn ICWA, to drag out litigation as long as possible, creating instability for the child in question," the group said.
Unlike what you guys are doing, right?

The Challenge Of Mediocrity

President Obama responds, sort of:
“It’s always a challenge when you have a terrorist attack anywhere in the world, particularly in this age of 24/7 news coverage,” Obama told ESPN at the top of the third inning in a historic baseball game in Havana between Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team. “You want to be respectful and understand the gravity of the situation, but the whole premise of terrorism is to try to disrupt people’s ordinary lives.”
Story Continued Below
Acknowledging calls to go back to the U.S. or Brussels to lead, Obama shared what he called one of his proudest moments as president — when Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz told fans in a pre-game speech following the Boston marathon bombing: “This is our f---ing city and nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.”
“Probably the only time America didn’t have a problem with somebody cursing on live TV was when he talked about Boston and how strong it was and wasn’t gonna be intimidated,” Obama said. “That is the kind of resilience and the kind of strength that we have to continually show in the face of these terrorists. They cannot defeat America.”
Only bad leadership can do that...

Part Of The Whole

First Paris, now 'Belgium:
"Through the attacks in Brussels, the whole of Europe has been hit," Hollande said in a statement, urging the continent to take "vital steps in the face of the seriousness of the threat".

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said: "We are at war. Over the past few months in Europe, we have endured several acts of war."

France, which neighbours Belgium to the south, was hit by two major terror attacks in 2015 and several of the jihadists involved came from Brussels.

The November 13 attacks in Paris claimed 130 lives, 10 months after attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket left 17 dead.

The last surviving jihadist of a 10-man team who carried out the November attack, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in Belgium on Friday, where the attackers had rear bases and what appears to be an extensive network of support.
But where did it come from? Denial doesn't work.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Harry's Way

Who's really obstructionist, Mr. Reid?
Reid went on to tell Todd that his goal in the Senate has been to get rid of “obstruction,” placing blame on Republicans for the political stalemate looming over Washington for the last eight years. “I don’t believe in [obstruction],” Reid claimed.

However, Todd fought back against Reid’s claim — again, using the Nevada Democrat’s own words.

Todd pointed out that during the 2005 Senate hearings for D.C. Court of Appeals nominee Miguel Estrada, Reid opposed giving Estrada an up-or-down vote, something Democrats today are calling on Republicans to allow for Garland.

Again, Reid refuted Todd’s point, saying that Estrada was eventually filibustered because of his failure to make public previous court opinions.

“But I guess I’m going back to, what has changed other than the political party affiliation of the White House?” Todd then asked.
Not being the ones in the driver's seat, apparently...

Angry Old Bird

It's OK to point out the Queen's flaws:
NPR’s tweet — and accompanying story — play off of the fact that it’s super annoying when strangers on the street tell women to smile. These two things are not the same thing, not even close. Political analysts do, in part, analyze speeches and their delivery. Pick-up artists who tell women to smile should be punched. Joe Scarborough is not a pick-up artist and should not be punched. I mean, maybe he should be punched but not for doing his job well. He is a political commentator opining on the delivery of one of the most famous politicians in the world. It’s far more sexist to bash him in the style of the NPR story for noticing her delivery and accurately discussing it.

The other tweets were also spot on. And if lazy journalists bothered to follow a few female pundits outside their echo chambers, they might have realized that many women also don’t love Hillary’s style.

It’s also not sexist to notice that Hillary is untrustworthy. Even by politician standards, Hillary has a noteworthy problem with honesty. Perhaps you know this because you were alive in the 1990s. Perhaps you know this because you have active brain waves and follow the news lightly. Perhaps you know this because you listened to all the ways she has contradicted herself, since the beginning, about why she set up a private email server in her bathroom. Perhaps you know about her shady, off-book advisors who stood to profit off of our invasion of Libya. Perhaps you know this because you followed all the corrupt dealings of the Clinton Foundation. Or perhaps you know it because of a million other things.
And complaining about how sexist America is won't help the Cause either, ladies...

Spice Apocalypse

It's the age of the spice zombies:
Investigators in Clearwater, Florida, have been responding to a myriad of calls featuring people slumped over in such stupefied states that they could barely talk or move, especially during routine patrols through Crest Lake Park, according to WTVT-TV. The investigators are attributing the epidemic to overdosing on a bad batch of synthetic marijuana, more commonly known as “spice.”

“We called the police because there was a guy screaming so gutturally I though he was going to pop a blood vessel,” Janet Gruhala, a Clearwater resident who frequently visits the Crest Lake Park to walk her dogs, told WTVT.

The police say that dozens have calls have come in the past week reporting people who were found so dangerously high that they had to be rushed immediately to local hospitals for treatment for the suspected spice overdose, WTVT reported. Clearwater investigators suspect that their epidemic may be related to a series of recent cases in Tampa, in which spice manufacturers changed up the ingredients in the drugs to such an extent that many of its users have no idea what they are actually smoking, according to WFLA-TV.

“The spike that we’re seeing and my personnel are dealing with on the road are unprecedented,” Major Eric Gandy of the Clearwater Police Department told WFLA. “Looked like one of our zombie movies … I had 15 people walking around in various states of incapacitation.”
Where's Rick Grimes when you need him?

Blogging In The Years: 1980

Can Reagan really win?
The nation’s Republicans are working against the clock to answer two key questions: Can conservative Ronald Reagan possibly attract enough independent and Democratic votes to win in November?

An if he is likely to lose, has former President Gerald Ford time enough to challenge him for the GOP nomination?

The consensus among political experts is that time has probably already run out for Gerald Ford, though he still appears the stronger choice to beat Jimmy Carter in November.

But some experts caution: Don’t count Ronald Reagan out as a national candidate for the fall. He is not, they say, “a McGovern or a Goldwater” — fringe candidates who led their parties to one-sided defeats in 1972 and 1964. Intellectuals don’t want to take him seriously, but he does well with working-class voters. He would take the West, challenge President Carter in the South, and do well in the pivotal Midwest states like Ohio and Illinois, whose southern regions titled toward Carter in 1976, they say.
Reagan doesn't need no stinking polls...

Third Way, No Way

The RNC is not impressed:
Bill Kristol, son of Irving, is trying to get retired senator Tom Coburn or retired Texas governor Rick Perry to run independently if the GOP Establishment can’t figure out how to broker the convention in Cleveland to deny Trump the nomination.

RNC spokesman Sean Spicer told Breitbart News that “any effort to facilitate a third party ultimately is helping to elect Hillary Clinton.”

“The Republican Party must be united to take back the White House,” Spicer said.
The lesser of the lesser of two evils?

Worst Politician Ever

Yikes. This does not bode well:

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Havana Blues

Not everyone is impressed as President Obama comes to Cuba:
"He'll come, take a ride in a vintage car and smoke a cigar - then he's gone," said Alberto Hernandez, a Afro-Cuban street sweeper, whose salary of 240 Cuban pesos a month, about $10, makes it hard to afford basics like toothpaste, he said.

Like many in Cuba, Hernandez remembers the most prosperous era to be the 1980s, when the Soviet Union still funded the Communist-led island. In contrast, even fervent supporters of Obama in the city see the ongoing U.S. embargo as a leading cause of poverty.

Low wages are not new to Cuba, and they are augmented by heavily-subsidised food, along with free healthcare and other government handouts, but the contrast with a relatively successful new middle class is stark.

"This is one of the biggest challenges for the state - to control inequality," said Cuban sociologist Aurelio Alonso. "It must allow inequality to grow as little as possible."
Unfortunately, Communism tends to control everything else, as well...

Le Patron Privilege

This is what a contemporary French revolt looks like:
Protestors demonstrating against reforms of France's labour laws have taken up the film's title as a slogan on marches and sung its "Merci Patron!" theme song -- a 1970s comic skit urging bosses and workers to swap places.

The billionaire himself has remained tightlipped about the affair, with LVMH -- which owns such fabled brands as Dior, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton -- declining to comment to AFP.

Critics however have hailed the film as a "David and Goliath stick-up that does the heart good" with Telerama calling it a "joyous thriller... with a perfect mix of humour and social comment".

It also tops French website Allocine's audience ratings of the best films currently on release alongside another documentary, "Demain" (Tomorrow), which showcases positive solutions to the global climate crisis.

Ruffin said the film's magic was its "liberating effect" on audiences. "When you see such an empire trembling in front of something so insignificant it has a liberating effect," he insisted.

"People leave the cinema enthusiastic and ready to act."

Sociologist Michel Pincon said its Michael Moore-style scenario had caught the mood of a country where "people crave a little security in a world where capitalism has become more and more unbridled."

Pincon admitted that the movie's "audiences were mostly middle class" but the debates after screenings "prove that they too are also worried for themselves and their children".
Then maybe they should stop being socialists?

Deafening Ignorance

Why the establishment lost, according to Dan Bongino:
In his popular podcast The Renegade Republican, as well as in this video interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation, he blames Republicans who lost the party brand out of self-interest and crony capitalism for the transformation. Bongino explains that breaking trust with the base in both political parties started this anti-Washington rebellion.

Naming the battles promised but not waged, Bongino lists: Obamacare, executive amnesty, the Cromnibus, the debt ceiling, Balanced Budget Amendment, school choice, DC Opportunity Scholarships and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“The reason people are in open rebellion, and make no mistake they are, is not that we lost the battles. It’s that we never fought them,” he says. Even with all the evidence mounting, Republican leaders and the establishment continue to be deaf to their part in causing this revolt.
Deaf, blind, and dumb to the revolt around them...

The Ministry Of Verification

Milo Yiannopolous calls out Jack Dorsey:
Dorsey, who once was fired from his role as Twitter’s chief executive for an obsession with hot yoga and shirt-making, noted that Twitter only censors speech that “promotes violence.” Of course, this fails to explain my own unverification, Twitter’s rampant shadow-banning, and the suspension of Adam Baldwin over innocuous tweets that were interpreted as insults by easily-offended snowflakes. It seems Dorsey weaves fibs and half-truths as enthusiastically as he weaves straight-cut hemp outerwear.

Verified Twitter accounts are given to significant individuals (like me) who are likely to be impersonated on the platform. I’m probably the most impersonated person on the internet who isn’t Beyoncé. The blue check society is a club to which I once belonged, but since Twitter has revealed its willingness to censor and “shawdow-ban,” it’s a club I’m a lot less interested in rejoining.

If Dorsey won’t address his platform’s blatant bias, he might one day have to answer to the courts. On March 4, I asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest about the role that President Obama might play in reminding social media platforms about the importance of protecting free expression.

Earnest made it clear the President believes that the success of social media platforms is “predicated on the important protection of First Amendment rights to self-expression.” He also recommended that Twitter users who feel aggrieved by the platform’s policies should turn to lawsuits as a response. I’m betting that’s a future the site’s investors, already worried by the company’s tanking stock value, would want to avoid.
Well, at least Dorsey would have more time to make shirts after Twitter went under...

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Decline And Fall Of Gawker

Whatcha gonna do, when Hulk Hogan runs wild on you?
Under Florida law, the media company must post a $50 million bond about a month after a St. Petersburg jury decides next week if Hogan is entitled to punitive damages beyond the $115 million it already awarded to the wresting legend.

Gawker is now valued at an estimated $250 million. A source close to the case said he believes it will be impossible for the company to come up with that kind of cash on such short notice.

But, “it’s not clear whether or not a court would enforce a bond on a company that does not have that in cash,” the source added.

“Is a court going to force a company to engage in some kind of money-raising exercise just to put money in escrow? If the trial judge imposes the maximum $50 million bond, Gawker will appeal, arguing that is unreasonable while they’re pursuing having the case overturned.”
Cue the Hulkster's music...

Prosperity The Old Fashioned Way

How to cure poverty:
“There has been an 80 percent decline in poverty since I was a kid, and I didn’t even know about it,” Brooks told the audience. “It was the free enterprise system spreading around the world after 1970 that did that. Now I’m not naive, I know free enterprise isn’t perfect and I know free enterprise isn’t everything we need to build a better world, but that is great and that is beyond politics.”

Brooks said he started his career with no interest in politics and simply wanted to figure out how to solve poverty. He first asked whether poverty had increase since he was a child and was surprised to find out it has actually decreased. The startling revelation set him on a journey to find out why, and that journey led him to economics.

“Here’s what I learned, here’s the epiphany, capitalism isn’t just about accumulation,” Brooks continued. “At its best its about aspiration, which is what so many people on this stage talk about. The aspiration that comes from dreams that are embedded in the free enterprise system and we got to share it with more people.”
Real sharing, not redistribution...

If She Leaves

While some people speculate-and salivate-ove the prospect of a brokered Republican convention, the Democrats may have their own problems with their nominee:
Democrats insist there’s virtually no chance that Clinton will be indicted over her server. The candidate has said repeatedly that no laws were broken, and that classified information was never sent over the server. Asked about an indictment at the last Democratic debate, Clinton responded: “That's not going to happen.”

In the event that Clinton stepped aside after winning the nomination at the convention, the Democratic National Committee could decide on the replacement on its own.

If an indictment came before the convention, the path would be more difficult.

Unlike the Republican Party, which binds most of its delegates to candidates regardless of delegates’ personal preferences, Democratic candidates have input on who represents them on the convention floor.

“There are no Clinton-bound delegates who would prefer voting for Sanders, for example,” delegate expert and University of Georgia professor Josh Putnam, told The Hill.

“Those folks are essentially hand-picked to be loyal. They are unlikely to stray.”
What would the superdelegates do, if their candidate winds up behind bars?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Auto Meal

Want a wage hike? This is what happens:
“We could have a restaurant that’s focused on all-natural products and is much like an Eatsa, where you order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person,” he said.

Pudzer’s interest in an employee-free restaurant is a result of rising minimum wages throughout the US.

“With government driving up the cost of labor, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” he says. “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants as well.”

Pudzer has openly criticised the rising of the minimum wage, having written two op-eds for The Wall Street Journal on how a higher minimum wage will lead to fewer employment opportunities.

“This is the problem with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)16%
, and Hillary Clinton, and progressives who push very hard to raise the minimum wage,” says Pudzer. “Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?”

“If you’re making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science,” he said.
Simple economics is too complicated for simple people...

In The Cards

In Venezuela, card uses you:
Focused on securing power, the socialist ruling party will start issuing so-called “Bolivarian cards” – with not yet disclosed privileges – to its followers, as well as “socialist cards” loaded with a monthly allowance of approximately $70; that's 10 times the minimum wage in Venezuela.

The third tier of the survival strategy is a full-blown campaign with the motto that can be translated to “Nobody surrenders here” (“Aquí no se rinde nadie,” in Spanish).

The Bolivarian cards will be handed out to self-proclaimed Chavistas during a national house-to-house survey to take place in early April, Maduro announced last weekend.

While party officials haven’t detailed the functions of the card, Maduro said they help provide instructions in real time during rallies or during the campaign season.

“I haven’t received any specific orders, but I think that this will allow us to know the exact number of followers we currently have and how many are willing to fight for the government,” said Isidro Figueroa, a party leader in eastern Venezuela.
"You wanna be loyal, don't ya?"

Legal Lessons

Saving the environment is for the children, or not?
While the suit might sound like a stretch, it was enough to bring the National Association of Manufacturers, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, and the American Petroleum Institute to the administration’s defense. They were allowed in January to join the federal case as “intervenor-defendants.”

These industry groups have a history of battling the administration over its EPA emissions regulations and other policies, but in this case they echoed the administration’s concerns about the potential consequences of the kids’ lawsuit.

In their motion to dismiss last fall, industry groups argued that if the court accepts the plaintiff’s claims, it would “empower a group of private citizens to compel through judicial fiat the exercise of sweeping legislative and executive authority conferred by our Constitution exclusively to the political branches.”

This, they say, could pose “a direct threat to [their] businesses.”
It takes a village to raise little lawyers?

Footing The Bill

And politicians wonder why people think they're literally a pain:
The Houston Chronicle reported on the strange details surrounding the trip that state Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller took last year to Oklahoma City. While he said at the time it was to tour the Oklahoma National Stockyards and meet with lawmakers, Oklahoma officials described his February 2015 visit as a surprise.

Rather, sources told the Chronicle that Miller said he got a medical procedure while in the state. Connecting some dots, the newspaper noted Miller, who suffers chronic pain, already has acknowledged he received the “Jesus Shot” at some point – and while he hasn’t said he did so during that trip, the newspaper reports the only doctor who administers it is in the Oklahoma City area.


Miller’s office declined to comment when reached by

He apparently insists the trip was for business and served the taxpayers, while declining to confirm or deny whether he got the shot during the same February 2015 trip. But a spokeswoman told the Chronicle that Miller is now reimbursing the state for the cost "out of an abundance of caution.”

The official originally had billed taxpayers at least $1,120 for the trip, according to the report.
It's the "free" government health care plan at work!

The Stoner Patrol

This is your front line on drugs:
The drug investigation at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, home of the 90th Missile Wing, was to be announced Friday by Gen. Robin Rand, the four-star commander of Air Force Global Strike Command. The command is responsible for the entire fleet of Minuteman 3 land-based nuclear missiles; one-third of the Minuteman 3 force is operated by the 90th Missile Wing.

The airmen under investigation are mainly or entirely members of a security force at the 90th Missile Wing, the officials said. The allegations do not involve officers who control the Minuteman missiles from command centers, officials said.

Security forces at nuclear missile bases are entrusted to patrol the missile fields and respond to any security emergencies. They are highly trained and given enormous responsibility. Just last month, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work visited F.E. Warren and observed a demonstration by security forces of the techniques and equipment they would use to recapture a missile silo that had been taken over by intruders.
What could go wrong?

Retirement Money

He still wants an income:
In his budget request to Congress, Obama is asking for a near 18 percent increase in the amount of money the federal government spends on former presidents.

“The president’s FY2017 budget request seeks $3,865,000 in appropriations for expenditures for former presidents, an increase of $588,000 (17.9 percent) from the FY2016 appropriation level,” the CRS report says. “The increase in requested appropriations for FY2017 anticipates President Barack Obama’s transition from incumbent to former president. For FY2016, President Obama requested and received appropriations of $3,277,000 for expenditures for former Presidents — an increase of $25,000 from FY2015 appropriated levels.”

The CRS analysis was first reported by the Washington Free Beacon. As the CRS states, Obama made the requests for increasing the budget for former presidents before his final year in office. Congress approved his request for a $25,000 increase in post-presidential allocations for fiscal year 2016.
Golf clubs are expensive, after all...

The Nuclear Option

So, will they or won't they?
While politicos have speculated about a new candidate swooping in to win a contested convention, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, insiders on the RNC Rules Committee say that idea would be dead on arrival in Cleveland this July.

"Ridiculous — not happening," said one Rules Committee member, asked about the prospect of candidates getting on the ballot who did not run this year.

"There's no way in hell that any of these candidates — who have worked this hard and spent this much money — are going to say, 'OK, now, for the good of the party, I'll sit down and let's bring back Mitt Romney,'" said the insider. "That's a fantasy world — there's zero chance of that happening."

Another committee member said creating a path for a new candidate would lead to a party meltdown.

"Change the rules drastically you will have a problem," said the insider, who requested anonymity to discuss controversial convention scenarios. "You want to have World War III and destroy the party?"
The GOP leadership seems to be doing that on its own...

The Big Questions

Ah, the media, asking the important questions:

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Dear Obama

Please mind your own business:
Peter Bone (Conservative), Kate Hoey (Labour), Kelvin Hopkins (Labour), Tom Pursglove (Conservative), Sammy Wilson (Democratic Unionist Party), and UKIP leader Nigel Farage have co-authored a letter to President Obama warning him that an intervention by a foreign leader could have the opposite effect than intended.

The letter states: “With so much at stake, it is imperative that the question of exiting the European Union is not one answered by foreign politicians or outside interests, but rather by the British people who must ultimately live with change or the status quo.

The British politicians declare: “issues of national sovereignty must be decided exclusively by the people of the United Kingdom”. They state: “even a passive diplomatic recommendation in the matter of our national decision will receive the opposite of the intended effect.”

“The referendum vote is an act of democracy in its most direct form, and the question of whether or not to leave the EU is a rare political topic that is not owned by any one political party. This is a chance for the British people to choose the path of their country. Interfering in our debate over national sovereignty would be an unfortunate milestone at the end of your term as President.”
Maybe Obama can bring people together, after all-he's certainly got all sides equally against him.

No Questions, Please

Welcome to Dodge City, Democrat style:

The Stress Of Campaign Syndrome

How do you deal, dude?
It’s OK to be anxious and angry, says Dominic Pettman, a professor of culture at the New School and author of the upcoming book Infinite Distraction. “When I’m asked how people can have less stress, it makes me think of asking a lobster in a boiling pot how to chill out. The world is kind of intolerable for the 99%,” he says. “I think you just need to feel the stress, work with it, use it to transform things … Acknowledge the pot is getting hotter, it’s reaching boiling point and maybe anxiety is a perfectly legitimate response.”

Alternatively, psychoanalyst and author Jamieson Webster suggests channelling your inner Mr Spock and “look at [the election] as soberly as possible”. Face politics “without hysterical misery, without hysterical longing for an uber daddy president who is going to make it all better, without nostalgia for an America that’s gone, without melancholy”.

Either way, you’re in charge of your own feelings. “As a human being here in New York City, I can’t control what a politician does necessarily … the only thing I can control is my own reactions,” says Lodro Rinzler, a meditation teacher and founder of MNDFL, a meditation studio in Manhattan. “We can’t change how Donald Trump feels. We can change how we feel.”
At least one profession seems to be enjoying a boost from campaign fever...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Empty Triggers

Tennessee wants to save free speech:
The proposal, named The Tennessee Student Free Speech Protection Act, would ban institutions from creating systems that allow students to report incidents with the expectation of disciplinary action, unless it involves a “genuine threat or harassment.”

It would also prohibit schools from punishing students for “microaggressions,” which refers to incidents where people take offence to a subtle or even misunderstood comment.

“The best kind of educational environment is one where there’s a lot of controversy and conversation about various issues, and we encourage students to speak up,” state Rep. Martin Daniel, a Knoxville Republican who introduced the bill, told The College Fix.

“We want our students to be prepared for the real world, and those classes of speech that might be considered micro-aggressions just happen in the real world” he added.
There are no safe spaces in the real world, kids...

The Sun Stealers

It's a sun scam:
Sophisticated solar-power scammers with ties to former President Bill Clinton’s administration were ordered by a judge to pay $3.1 million for fraud last month. Instead of paying up, they brought on high powered lawyers and filed an appeal.

Matinee Energy was ordered to pay after a complex four-year long legal battle over milking investors and pocketing the proceeds. In reality, Matinee had no major financial backing, no land, no construction permits, no way to transport its power to the grid and no customers for any power it generated.

The solar company is even using the money it owes victims to file the appeal, according to an investigation published Monday by the Phoenix New Times.

The most prominent figure in the Matinee scam was Korean attorney Tong Soo Chung, who served as a”political appointee in the Clinton administration” from 1994 to 2001, according to his profile in Bloomberg Business. Chung was the head of three U.S. Department of Commerce trade programs in the International Trade Administration, including deputy assistant secretary for Service Industries and Finance, director of the Advocacy Center, and the director of the Office of Trade Promotion Coordination.
They went to a lot of trouble for "free" energy...

Working For The Government Union

Where will you find union workers these days?Where else?
Federal employees are four times more likely to be unionized than private sector workers. Only 6.7 percent of all private sector employees were unionized in 2015, up slightly from 6.6 percent in 2014, according to BLS data.

Some federal employees who aren’t union members are still represented by unions. Nearly one in three federal employees — 32.3 percent in 2015 — are either union members or have jobs covered by an employee association contract. That number is up slightly from 2014, when 31.6 percent of federal employees were represented by unions.

Federal, state and local government workers make up nearly half of all unionized workers in America, or 48.9 percent.
Guess who they vote for? We were warned about this long ago...

Bench Warmer

Meet Scalia's replacement:
Obama called Garland, a long-time jurist and former prosecutor, "one of America's sharpest legal minds" and deserving of a full hearing and Senate confirmation vote. Republican leaders, however, have said the vacant high court seat should not be filled until a new president is elected, a stance Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell emphasized immediately after the White House announcement.

Garland, 63, is the chief judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a court whose influence over federal policy and national security matters has made it a proving ground for potential Supreme Court justices.

He would replace conservative, Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month, leaving behind a bitter election-year fight over the future of the court.

Obama announced choice at a ceremony in the Rose Garden, with Democratic Senate leaders and allies looking on.
There will be resistance, or will there? This is only the beginning...

We The Delegates

Yeah, this wouldn't go over too well, I imagine:
"The media has created the perception that the voters choose the nomination. That's the conflict here," Curly Haugland, an unbound GOP delegate from North Dakota, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday. He even questioned why primaries and caucuses are held.

Haugland is one of 112 Republican delegates who are not required to cast their support for any one candidate because their states and territories don't hold primaries or caucuses.

Even with Trump's huge projected delegate haul in four state primaries Tuesday, the odds are increasing the billionaire businessman may not ultimately get the 1,237 delegates needed to claim the GOP nomination before the convention.
Technically, he's right. Still...

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The DC Addiction

Whoever wins in November will have their work cut out for them:
Since 2013, the GOP has consistently proposed budgets that increase spending, and not by just a little. Consider that the Republican budget for the 2014 fiscal year, offered by then-Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., proposed $966 billion in base spending. This year, Speaker Ryan is pushing a budget that proposes $1.07 trillion.

That means in four years, Republicans have increased their proposal by $104 billion.

Of course, these issues are never really black and white, and there are lots of arguments that can (and will) be made about how the sequester, the filibuster, and the Democrats are to blame for this increase in federal spending.

But, what is most troubling about the increased level of spending—it’s that these higher spending numbers are supported exclusively by Republicans, the party of fiscal discipline.
Well, they used to be...

No Hackers Near Her

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