Thursday, February 28, 2019

Green Or Bust

Who wants to go green?
The plan, offered by firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) will be voted on on the Senate floor later this year in a GOP-led effort to divide Democrats and get them to go on the record about the “Green New Deal.”

But Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) has floated a plan with his caucus to vote present on the ambitious legislation. It remains to be seen if Senate Democrats will embrace Schumer’s strategy.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday panned the Green New Deal as “the far-left’s Santa Claus wish list dressed up to look like serious policy.”
Nobody seems to want their Christmas present this year...

The White Stuff

Another cotton picking moment?
The tour took place Feb. 21, when the Northams hosted a traditional gathering of about 100 young people who had served as pages during the state Senate session, which would end that weekend.

Trained docents often lead tours of the Executive Mansion, which was built with slave labor in 1813 and is the oldest active governor's residence in the country. In this case, Pam Northam — a former middle school teacher — took groups of pages to an adjacent cottage that had long ago served as a kitchen.

In front of a huge fireplace with iron cooking implements, Pam Northam held up samples of cotton and tobacco to a group of about 20 children and described the enslaved workers who picked it.

"Mrs. Northam then asked these three pages (the only African American pages in the program) if they could imagine what it must have been like to pick cotton all day," Walker wrote. "I can not for the life of me understand why the First Lady would single out the African American pages for this — or — why she would ask them such an insensitive question."
It's hard out there for a Southern Democrat...

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Free For All, None For All

It's what they're going with:
The bill, unveiled by Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal from Washington state, would transition the U.S. healthcare system to a single-payer "Medicare for All" program funded by the government in two years. The legislation is the party's most high-profile and ambitious single-payer proposal in the new Congress and has more than 100 co-sponsors, many from the party's progressive flank.

It is unlikely to gain the support of any Republicans in the House or the Senate, who have derided single-payer healthcare as a socialist policy and oppose government interference in healthcare. It also remains unclear whether Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will bring the legislation up for a vote.

"Americans are literally dying because they can't afford insulin or they can't get the cancer treatment they need," Jayapal said on a call with reporters on Tuesday. "There are some things that should not be provided through the for-profit market."
If the New Socialists had their way, nobody would be able to get provided for...

Tall Trump Tales

Even other Democrats aren't guying it:
“How can we corroborate what you’re saying?” Democratic Rep. Deborah Wasserman Schultz of Florida asked Cohen, referring to the former Trump confidant’s allegations that the president was aware of Stone’s contact with WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange.

She is among a slew of Democrats and Republicans grilling Cohen during a congressional hearing.

“I don’t know, but I suspect the special counsel’s office and other government agencies have the information that you’re seeking,” Cohen said in reply.
It appears that he doesn't...

Who Cares About Climate Change?

Suppose they gave a hearing and nobody came:
Such motions are common in Congress, usually used by the minority to make the point that they object to the point of a hearing. And the majority party, having more members on all committees, always defeats the motion.
But only two of the subcommittee's five Democrats were in the room. All four Republicans were there, so the Republicans won and the hearing ended.
Gohmert called to adjourn the hearing because he believed the hearing's topic, entitled "The Denial Playbook: How Industries Manipulate Science and Policy from Climate Change to Public Health," falls outside of the Natural Resources Committee's jurisdiction.
"This is now, though, the seventh oversight hearing related to climate change that the majority is holding this month," Gohmert said in his opening statement. "It appears today's hearing topic is well outside our jurisdiction."
If you don't show up, you lose...

Failing Downward By Percentage Points

No more "F" students?
The bill in question would be based on a 15-point scale, rather than a 10-point scale for grades.

That would mean only scores lower than 39 percent would qualify for an F grade for schools, a far cry from the current 60 percent failure mark in the state and most others.

Student grades would be unaffected by the changing scale system, but would allow under-performing schools to continue operating.
And produce under-performing graduates...

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Extra Credit

How to be a grownup:
According to a report from The College Fix, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has announced a series of workshops that aim to help students learn basic adult skills. The series, which is called “Adulting 101,” will feature “practical skills” that will help students succeed in life after college.

The workshops will cover topics like self-care, creating a professional social media presence on LinkedIn and building credit. “You know that establishing credit is important, but how can you start building and maintaining an excellent credit score?” the description for the credit workshop reads. “This hands-on workshop will break down the different elements of a credit report and how they contribute to your overall credit score.”
Next up: How to tie your shoelaces...

The Peace Age

Have we achieved more peace in our time?
Experts from Norway's Peace Research Institute Oslo examined statistics from 'all possible' wars, the countries involved, and how many people were killed.

Research director Håvard Mokleiv Nygård suggested the Korean War in the early 1950s may have been a 'breaking point' signalling a change in the number of people killed in battle.

'The wars after the Korean War (1950–1953) have killed a quarter as many people as the wars before the Korean War,' he said.

'The change after this breaking point is an indication that the world has become a more peaceful place,' adding Nygård, whose researchers work alongside statisticians at the University of Oslo.
That would be good...

Red Rejection

No socialism, please:
Given a Republican incumbent who has never exceeded 50% in Gallup’s approval ratings poll and who won the presidency thanks to a dysfunctional Electoral College, the party is nevertheless determined to give Donald Trump a fair shot at re-election by sabotaging itself. In fact, it’s veering so far to the left it could lose an election in 1950s Bulgaria.

Democratic socialist ideas appear to be making significant headway in the party. The Democratic part is fine, the socialism part is not. It suggests a massive government intrusion in the economy that has not worked elsewhere — post-war Great Britain or that contemporary mess called Venezuela — and that, in a cultural sense, is un-American. Time and time again, the American people have shown they want nothing to do with socialism.
Leave it to the losing side to try and give people what they don't want...

The Rat Patrol

Here comes Cohen:
Cohen will detail his allegations of the president's lies, racism and cheating as a private businessman while Cohen spent a decade working for him, the source said.

Cohen will also give lawmakers information about Trump's financial statements and might actually provide the statements, the source said. This information would require the president's long-held secret tax returns in order to verify, providing an avenue for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to request those returns. The source noted the allegation that Trump deflated the value of his properties in some cases to reduce his property taxes.

Cohen's three-day appearance begins Tuesday with closed-door testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Only the Wednesday hearing before the House Oversight Committee is scheduled to be made public. Cohen will also testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
A rat will always squeal for a deal...

Monday, February 25, 2019

Zombie Judge

First came the dead voters, now the dead judges:
The case arose when the late Judge Stephen Reinhardt, a revered liberal jurist who died in March 2018, was listed as the author of a decision for a specially-composed 11 judge panel issued a week after his death.

“The 9th Circuit erred in counting him as a member of the majority,” the high court’s decision reads. “That practice effectively allowed a deceased judge to exercise the judicial power of the United States after his death. But federal judges are appointed for life, not for eternity.”

The case before the 9th Circuit panel pertained to a female consultant named Aileen Rizo who sued the Fresno County schools for sex-based pay disparity. The school district said her salary was based on her past compensation. Reinhardt’s decision for the panel sided with Rizo, concluding that “prior salary alone or in combination with other factors cannot justify a wage differential between male and female employees.”

The majority opinion was finalized and all votes had been cast at the time of Reinhardt’s death.
Just because you're dead, doesn't mean you still can't preside over a case...

Public Propaganda

The left's educational agenda continues:
According to a report by the Capital Research Center, “public interest research groups” are playing a silent yet major role at many major American universities. The report makes the case that these interest groups use universities and their students to advance a progressive partisan agenda.

Public interest research groups often raise funds via dishonest or deceitful methods. For example, many groups are funded by mandatory student fees. According to the report, the New York Public Interest Research Group has been able to raise $1 million each year from mandatory student fees.
You may be paying for the propaganda whether you want to or not...

Hoax Burn

Another day, another fake hate crime:
The Detroit News reported:

The church officials, Barbara Shelton and Bobby James, when asked by police about a possible motive for the fire, said Joly was disappointed the Jackson Pride Parade and Festival, held five days before the blaze, hadn’t received more attention or protests.

Contacted by a reporter, James declined to comment. But Shelton quibbled with the way police characterized her remarks, saying she had no idea if Joly was frustrated by the lack of controversy.

“Not sure I said that,” she wrote in an email. “I have no idea about anything, never heard Nikki comment in any fashion about anything like that.”

Police officer Aaron Grove, who interviewed Shelton and James, said the pair described Joly as “‘very deceptive” and possessing “layers of manipulation.”
Liar, liar, house on fire...

Robo-God

God goes artificial:
The humanoid robot is modeled after Kannon Bodhisattva, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. The robot’s name is Mindar and it gave its first speech on the Heart Sutra, a key scripture in Buddhist teaching. The Japan Times reported that the teachings spoken by the robot offer a path to "overcome all fear, destroy all wrong perceptions and realise perfect nirvana.”

As Mindar gave its speech on the Heart Sutra and humanity, English and Chinese subtitles were projected on the wall as music played in the background.

The chief steward of the temple in Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward Tensho Goto during a news conference said: “If an image of Buddha speaks, teachings of Buddhism will probably be easier to understand,”

He added: “We want many people to come to see the robot to think about the essence of Buddhism.”
The path towards enlightenment begins with the holy algorithm?

No Kids For Her

No offspring, please:
"Our planet is going to hit disaster if we don't turn this ship around and so it's basically like, there's a scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult," Ocasio-Cortez said while chopping up food in her kitchen during an Instagram live video. "And it does lead, I think, young people to have a legitimate question, you know, 'Is it okay to still have children?'"
Maybe she should ask her boyfriend...

Last Stand

Maduruo's days may be numbered:
Guaido warned that "indulging" Maduro "would be a threat to all of America," while Colombia President Ivan Duque called for "more powerful and effective" pressure on the socialist leader.

"We hope for a peaceful transition to democracy. But President Trump has made it clear: all options are on the table," said Pence.

The US slapped new sanctions on the governors of four Venezuelan states aligned with Maduro for impeding aid shipments.

The European Union on Sunday condemned the government's use of violence and armed civilians to block the aid entry, while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "shocked and saddened" by the civilian deaths.

Guaido, the 35-year-old leader of Venezuela's National Assembly, sensationally declared himself acting president in January after the opposition controlled legislature concluded that Maduro was fraudulently re-elected.

Some 50 countries recognize him as Venezuela's legitimate interim president.
time for the former bus driver to think about taking one out of the country?

Sunday, February 24, 2019

School Values

Berkeley stands by free speech, sort of:
On Thursday, the school’s Chancellor, Carol Christ, sent a message to the entire campus community, stating, “Let there be no mistake, we strongly condemn violence and harassment of any sort, for any reason.”

“That sort of behavior is intolerable and has no place here. Our commitment to freedom of expression and belief is unwavering,” added the Chancellor.

On Wednesday, an employee at UC Berkeley celebrated the conservative activist being punched on campus in a tweet.

A university spokesperson said that while the school “has no legal ability to control or sanction what employees do during their free time, it should be absolutely clear that any expression of approval and support for violence stands in complete and total opposition” to the values of the university.
Hopefully they'll remember that when the next anti-conservative student riots happen...

The Big Middle

Bill Maher thinks he knows that the problem is with all those Red states:

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Poopyhead

Communism is literally crappy:
Kim Jong-un, who has led his people to believe that he is too elite to need to urinate or defecate himself, is now demanding 220 pounds of feces from his starving citizenry every single day. (RELATED: The Left Warms Up To North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un)

The new rule states that citizens who cannot meet the poop quota can supply 660 pounds of livestock manure or compost instead. Given the sheer impossibility of excreting at such a rate, North Koreans have apparently been turning to manure merchants to obtain their supply.

“The manure merchants are doing really well these days, charging 20 yuan (about $3) per 100kg (220 pounds) of human feces or 300kg (660 pounds) of compost,” an anonymous source told Radio Free Asia. “After Kim Jong Un’s [speech], the entire population has been mobilized to produce manure as the first major task of the year.”
Dumping for Dear Leader?

Green Kid Stuff

Dianne Feinstein versus the kids:

The First Cat Writer

Who was Edward Gorey?
Gorey entered the American cultural mainstream quite suddenly on the evening of February 5, 1980, when WGBH, the Boston PBS affiliate, debuted its Mystery anthology of British crime dramas. Mystery featured title sequences tracked by tango music and worked up by the animator Derek Lamb and his team from motifs in Gorey’s books: a pen-and-ink montage of rain, tombstones, flitting aristocrats, a disconsolately struck croquet ball being crushed by falling masonry, a woman’s cry, wilting and droopily orgasmic. The series was a hit, and Gorey—in his creeping, ivylike way—went nationwide.

His influence today, the seep of his sensibility, is pervasive: Dery efficiently lays out the debt owed him by the graphic-novel author Neil Gaiman, the cartoonist Alison Bechdel, the filmmaker Tim Burton, and any other fantasist who loiters in the dark gardens of childhood. “When I was first writing A Series of Unfortunate Events,” remembers Daniel Handler, the author of the Lemony Snicket series, “I was wandering around everywhere saying, ‘I am a complete rip-off of Edward Gorey,’ and everyone said, ‘Who’s that?’ Now everyone says, ‘That’s right; you are a complete rip-off of Edward Gorey!’ ” You can hear Gorey’s feline phrasing in the voice-overs of Wes Anderson movies. Or you can just look at a dusty chandelier, or someone in jodhpurs, or a particularly knotty, obscurely communicative tree, and say: Yup … Gorey-esque.
The Gorey details...

Friday, February 22, 2019

Blogging In The Years: 1988

Bernie Sanders, a socialist Congressman from Vermont, is apparently a huge fan of Depression-era living:

California Gold Crush

President Trump wants the peoples' money returned:
Newsom said the state would still build a portion of the high-speed rail project in the Central Valley in an effort to hold onto the federal funds that President Barack Obama’s administration had allocated to the project: “I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump, Newsom told legislators in the State Capitol in Sacramento.

But President Trump objected, demanding on Twitter: “California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars. They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a “green” disaster!” Newsom responded: “This is CA’s money, allocated by Congress for this project. We’re not giving it back.” He also taunted the president, accusing him of “desperately searching for some wall $$,” referring to Trump’s barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border.

That did not impress the president. On Tuesday, the Federal Railroad Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation wrote to California’s High-Speed Rail Authority, informing it that it had breached the terms of its contract with the federal government and that $928,620,000 would therefore no longer be available to the project.
A contract is a contract...

Those Left Behind

Why don't socialists like working class people?
“This was a deal which was going to bring in 25,000 jobs, $150,000 average salary and it would’ve brought in probably $27 -30 billion more in revenue, at least,” King pointed out. “For the Democratic left to oppose it, the ones who got hurt the most is the Democratic working class, the hardworking, blue-collar families.

He added, “It would’ve been a magnet to so many jobs. It would’ve gone beyond Amazon. It would’ve said that New York is open for business.”


King said the Democrats who claim to be fighting for the working people are not because they are “working for their own, naked ideology, which is bereft of any real thought.”
Thought would require them to consider the consequences of their actions...

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Empire Collapses

So it was all about the money?
Smollett’s salary was reportedly over a million dollars before taxes — $65,000 per episode — according to a report from the Huffington Post.

The “Empire” actor on Wednesday was charged with a felony for filing a false report in the racist and homophobic assault he claimed to have suffered in Chicago last month. He turned himself in to police custody early Thursday.

Smollett was paid $65,000 per episode for his co-starring role in the most recent season of “Empire,” a well-placed source told HuffPost. On average, there are 18 episodes of “Empire” per season.

The 36-year-old actor claimed that he was the target of a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago last month. Smollett claimed that he was beaten, had a rope wrapped around his neck, and had a chemical poured on him while his attackers yelled “This is MAGA country!”

His story has rapidly unraveled over the last week, and the police now believe that Smollett paid two brothers to orchestrate the attack on himself. Chicago Police Superintendent Johnson said Smollett paid the pair $3,500 by check, which law enforcement is possession of.
That check may no longer be valid...

Debt Prisoners

The spending spree continues:
Tapping the top 1 percent just to fill the current deficit would require an 102 percent tax rate on those earning above $400,000 a year.

The reality is that paying for the omnibus Democratic wish list would take an 87 percent value added tax on every purchase made by every American, or a new 37 percent payroll tax on every wage earner, rich and poor, according the Manhattan Institute.

And we'd still have that $22 trillion-and-growing national debt.
But somebody will pay for it-just not the spenders...

Case Dismissed

Sorry, kids:
Disagreeing with a judge overseeing a similar case in Oregon, U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond in Philadelphia ruled on Tuesday that the Constitution does not guarantee what the boys and the Clean Air Council called a due process right to a “life-sustaining climate system.”

Diamond also said the boys, who were 7 and 11 when the lawsuit was filed in November 2017, could not trace their respective severe allergies and asthma to White House policies.

He said this meant the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue Trump, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and other defendants who had moved to dismiss the case.

“Plaintiffs’ disagreement with defendants is a policy debate best left to the political process,” wrote Diamond, an appointee of President George W. Bush. “Because I have neither the authority nor the inclination to assume control of the Executive Branch, I will grant defendants’ motion.”
Consider this a learning experience...

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Olympic Boogaloo

Breakin' at the Games:
Breakdancing, an acrobatic style of street dance typically set to hip-hop or funk music, would be making its first appearance in the Olympics, while the three other sports will all be introduced at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

Karate and baseball/softball, all part of the Tokyo programme, are also candidates, as well as squash, which has been repeatedly rebuffed, and petanque.

At least 20 disciplines from federations recognised by the IOC have applied for inclusion.

Local organisers must submit the recommended list to the IOC which will make a decision in December 2020, following the Tokyo Games.

Breakdancing appeared at last year's Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, in the form of "battles" -- or duels -- decided by judges, and falls under the auspices of the World Dance Sport Federations (WDSF).
I'm still waiting for the Rubik's Cube Olympic team myself...

Banana Split

There's an app for that:
Through the app, the student offered to sell cocaine, "Molly" and "Shrooms," and also offered customers special requests, prosecutors said.

A university police officer who noticed posters advertising the app around campus then worked with the Department of Homeland Security to try to get drugs from Howard via the application.

Authorities used the app to request weed and cocaine and then coordinated with Howard through Snapchat to buy the drugs, according to prosecutors. The undercover sting operation included four separate drug buys. On the fourth encounter, campus police officers didn't buy drugs from Howard and instead arrested him.
Apping ain't easy...

No Noose Here

Hanged by his own noose:
Authorities in Chicago on Wednesday approved felony criminal charges against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, hours after he was "officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation" for allegedly "filing a false police report" in connection with his Jan. 29 attack claims, police said.

The update in the case was provided by the department's Chief of Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi on Twitter, who said the Cook County State's Attorney's Office approved the "Disorderly Conduct / Filing a False Police Report" charges.

"Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest," he continued.

So far, Smollet has not surrendered, Chicago police told Fox News. His attorneys were made aware of the charges.
He wanted attention-now he's got it...

Rich Man, Poor Campaign

They do so love their money:
It's one thing to hammer the rich for failing to “pay their fair share” in front of a bank of cameras, quite another while sipping wine together in the mansions of Beverly Hills and penthouses of New York City while asking them to write a check for $5,000, or more.

Democratic strategist Doug Schoen said it happens every election, but especially this one.

"This Is an election where the ultra-wealthy are going to pay more pay more in contributions. Pay more to super PACs and, ultimately, if the Democrats win pay more in taxes," he said.

Early Wednesday, the Sanders Campaign released a statement announcing it raised $6 million from small donors – averaging $27 each – in the first 24 hours after Sanders announced. It was signed 'Paid for Bernie...not billionaires."

By contrast, Sen. Cory Booker is scheduled to attend a Silicon Valley fundraiser Saturday at the home of Laura and Gary Lauder, heir to the Estee Lauder fortune, which, according to Fortune, is worth $13.7 billion.

Booker proposes raising the estate tax to 65 percent on wealthy families like the Lauders. Booker opposed the Trump tax cut because it increased the national debt, though even the Washington Post said Booker's platform "would add trillions to the federal debt."
They have to pay back their donors somehow...

The Enemy Within

Oh, the horror:
Sarah Isgur Flores, the chief Department of Justice spokeswoman under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and a former campaign aide to Carly Fiorina, will help oversee CNN’s 2020 campaign coverage. CNN appears to have a habit of hiring former Obama officials to handle coverage — particularly current anchor and former chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto — but the addition of a Trump administration official led to severe criticism of the network from the left.
....

David Rutz, a managing editor for The Washington Free Beacon, argued that the criticism is hypocritical by listing the number of former Democratic officials who now serve in high-profile roles in the news business. For example, ABC’s chief political correspondent George Stephanopoulos served as a senior adviser and communications director in the Bill Clinton White House.

New York Magazine’s Josh Barro also attempted to quell some of the outrage, noting that Flores’ title as “political editor” does not mean she will be the sole person in charge of 2020 coverage. He also slammed the idea that there are too many conservatives in political media.
In a profession that's 90% liberal, one is enough...

Think Of The Subsidies

Who pays for the kids?
Childcare is expensive. Nationwide it averages around $10,000 per child, and runs as high as $20,000 per child in Warren’s home state of Massachusetts. The idea that the subsidies—a family of four with $85,000 of income would receive subsidies worth more than $14,000—would not draw families away from the home and into the centers is implausible.

The marketing campaign for the Warrens would also likely draw families away from home care. In promoting the program, Senator Warren has been touting the alleged benefits of out-of-home childcare, although the social science on this is far more uncertain than she lets on. It’s very likely that families will feel increased social pressure to enroll children—for the sake of the children. We’ve already seen this in areas that offer free pre-school.

It’s very likely that instead of the number of children in childcare centers rising from 6.8 million to 12 million—as Warren’s economists predict–the number would likely be quite a bit higher.

But even if they are right about the number of children enrolled in the program, their math still does not add up. With 12 million children at $14,500 per head, the program would cost $174 billion—more than $100 billion more than what Zandi and Koropeckyj estimate.
How much is your kid's care worth?

Blogging In The Years: 1971

John Wayne has given an interview in Playboy. The results are...well, it's John Wayne, being John Wayne...

Not The World Wide Web

Who killed the Internet?
Under the final text, any online community, platform or service that has existed for three or more years, or is making €10,000,001/year or more, is responsible for ensuring that no user ever posts anything that infringes copyright, even momentarily. This is impossible, and the closest any service can come to it is spending hundreds of millions of euros to develop automated copyright filters. Those filters will subject all communications of every European to interception and arbitrary censorship if a black-box algorithm decides their text, pictures, sounds or videos are a match for a known copyrighted work. They are a gift to fraudsters and criminals, to say nothing of censors, both government and private.
It's a very European web...

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Bug Zapped

Bugs are still here:
First, some good news: The claim that insects will all be annihilated within the century is absurd. Almost everyone I spoke with says that it’s not even plausible, let alone probable. “Not going to happen,” says Elsa Youngsteadt from North Carolina State University. “They’re the most diverse group of organisms on the planet. Some of them will make it.” Indeed, insects of some sort are likely to be the last ones standing. Any event sufficiently catastrophic to scour the world of insects would also render it inhospitable to other animal life. “If it happened, humans would no longer be on the planet,” says Corrie Moreau from Cornell University.

The sheer diversity of insects makes them, as a group, resilient—but also impossible to fully comprehend. There are more species of ladybugs than mammals, of ants than birds, of weevils than fish. There are probably more species of parasitic wasps than of any other group of animal. In total, about 1 million insect species have been described, and untold millions await discovery. And having learned of a creature’s existence is very different from actually knowing it: Most of the identified species are still mysterious in their habits, their proclivities, and—crucially for this discussion—their numbers.
They're not going anywhere, like it or not...

Diversity For All

The "diverse" crowd in Palm Springs appears to have forgotten someone:
Roberts has proposed city-sponsored educational forums in order to involve all members of the community.

“… [O]nce you set aside the issue of sexual identity, other political differences arise,” University of California at Riverside professor Benjamin Bishin said, according to The Post. “The real question is whether these representatives from one traditionally marginalized group can adequately represent those from another, in this case Latinos,” he continued.

“I’m in the group that says we can celebrate our all-LGBTQ council, but that we can also improve,” LGBT Community Center of the Desert community engagement director Alexis Ortega said, according to The Post.

“Never before was there a complaint that we weren’t representative,” bisexual council member Christy Holstege said, according to The Post. “This may not be the most inclusive council, especially when it comes to people of color. But we have to be careful that this is not used against us.”
Everybody welcome?

Logan's Run

A former insider, now on the outside:

Gay Goes Global

But I thought Trump was supposed to be a bigot, or something:
Narrowly focused on criminalization, rather than broader LGBT issues like same-sex marriage, the campaign was conceived partly in response to the recent reported execution by hanging of a young gay man in Iran, the Trump administration’s top geopolitical foe.

Grenell, as Trump’s envoy to Germany, has been an outspoken Iran critic and has aggressively pressed European nations to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions. But while the Trump administration has had some success in pressuring Iran through stepped-up U.S. penalties, efforts to bring the Europeans along have thus far largely fallen flat.

Reframing the conversation on Iran around a human rights issue that enjoys broad support in Europe could help the United States and Europe reach a point of agreement on Iran. Grenell called the hanging “a wake-up call for anyone who supports basic human rights,” in Bild, a leading German newspaper, this month.
Any takers from the American left?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Green Goes Down

It's not so easy going green:
In the past year, for example, Washington state voters rejected — for a second time — a proposal to tax carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon tax opponents successfully framed the proposal as an energy tax that would raise prices and do nothing for future global warming. The tax was backed by Democrats like Gov. Jay Inslee, who is also mulling a 2020 presidential run.

Inslee, who styles himself as the Democratic “climate candidate,” has also failed to push major climate policies through the legislature and using his own executive authority.

“It shows you how ineffective he’s been even in a state like Washington,” Todd Myers, environmental policy director at the Washington Policy Center, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a recent interview.
The rest of the Left's green ambitions seem to be following this trend, as well...

Problem No. 1

Ronald Reagan was right:
The current percentage of Americans naming government as the most important problem is nearly twice as high as the 18% recorded in November. That increase likely reflects public frustration with the government shutdown that occurred from late December through most of January. Gallup observed a similar double-digit spike spanning the 2013 government shutdown, from 16% in September 2013 to 33% in October 2013.

Americans have different things in mind when they name the government as the most important problem. An analysis of the verbatim responses to the question from the latest survey finds that 11% of Americans specifically cite "Donald Trump" as the most important problem, while 5% name "the Democrats" or "liberals" and 1% "Congress." About half of those who say the government is the most important problem -- 18% of U.S. adults -- blame both parties or cite "gridlock," "lack of cooperation" or the shutdown more generally. The latter figure has grown from 6% in December and 12% in January.
Who says politicians can't bring people together?

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Shopping News Network

Reporters help out wherever they can:
The recently-declared 2020 presidential candidate was on a tour of female-owned businesses in Columbia, South Carolina, at the time — and according to a series of tweets, was convinced by several of the reporters flanking her to try on a rainbow sequined jacket.
....

Harris’ campaign moved on to the next boutique. But a number of pundits — and fellow journalists — were a little concerned about the reporters’ level of involvement in the whole affair.
Not to mention her fashion sense...

No Money For Nothing

The school district that dug its own hole:
“We agree that our teachers deserve to be paid more,” OUSD spokesman John Sasaki said, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday. “It’s just a matter of how much can we pay, given our financial reality.”

The district has suffered from financial woes for awhile, however. California loaned OUSD $100 million in emergency funds — the largest at the time — after gathering a $37 million deficit in 2003. The district managed to get into a $30 million deficit in 2017, according to the Chronicle.

Generous teacher pay raises, decreasing enrollment and hefty special education costs contributed to the financial crisis in the district.

The district has been caught for misusing funds like paying for parking and legal fees, the Chronicle reported.
Which raises the question-why would a good teacher want to work for such a system in the first place?

Peeling Away The Layers

Whatever happened to The Onion?
The company reported that its English-language digital businesses, which includes The Onion, lost $32.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to just $3 million in the same quarter a year earlier. But the losses were even greater in the third quarter of 2018, with the company reporting a loss of $96.1 million for the U.S. digital brands.

Univision is still looking for a buyer for the Gizmodo Media Group properties, which the company still believes to be strong.

"Our English-language digital brands are longstanding, recognized sources of news, information and entertainment in their verticals that we believe can thrive as part of a company whose focus better aligns with theirs," the Univision spokesperson said.
It may simply be harder for the Onion to keep up with real life these days...

Fake Hate

The hate crime that wasn't?
A source close to the investigation confirms to CBS News the brothers told detectives Smollett paid them to participate in the alleged attack on January 29 and that they purchased the rope — which was found around Smollett's neck — at a nearby hardware store. The source said detectives have evidence to corroborate the sale, something the men's attorney alluded to Friday night.

"New evidence that was brought to their attention, obviously I had it, my clients had it," said Gloria Schmidt, the brothers' attorney.

The Chicago Police Department released a statement Saturday night saying information from the brothers had "shifted the trajectory of the investigation."

"We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation. We've reached out to the Empire cast member's attorney to request a follow-up interview."
They have a few more questions...

Saturday, February 16, 2019

No Collusion Anywhere

Whatever happened to Russian collusion?
“Neither CBS This Morning nor NBC’s Today have even acknowledged this new information from Senate investigators since the news broke on February 12,” MRC reports. “ABC’s Good Morning America briefly touched on it in a news brief totaling less than one minute on February 13.”

What’s especially fascinating is that NBC’s Ken Dilanian broke the original news of the Senate report, and NBC is still refusing to cover the story.

The reasons for this are quite obvious: the media know a reckoning is on the horizon, and they are buying time in the hopes of finding a way to wriggle out of it.
They'd rather forget the "scandal" that wasn't there...

Wasting All Around

They've become equal opportunity wasters:
Health care is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Federal spending on health care (not including state expenditures) is projected to be $17 trillion over the next 10 years, dwarfing the cost of Social Security and the military. By 2047, health care spending will be about 25 percent greater than the insolvent and crushing cost of Social Security. As such, health care in itself is the largest driver of the other great crisis, as noted: the mushrooming cost of the interest on the debt itself. Health care spending alone will be greater than all the revenue from payroll taxes and corporate income taxes combined and almost as large as individual income tax revenue.

This is all going to the creation of a monopoly in a circuitous death spiral of price inflation and increased government spending. It’s no mystery why our national expenditures on health care have popped from $27 billion in 1960 to over $3.3 trillion today. Assuming health care would rise at the same rate as the rest of the economy, that number would be under $250 billion today. If we flushed $1.6 trillion down the toilet every year, we’d come out with a better result because we’d just waste money. Now, we are taking that wasted money and artificially inflating the cost of health care to the point that nobody can afford it without government continuing the death spiral of spending, monopolizing, and price inflation.
You can't recycle government waste forever...

Friday, February 15, 2019

With A Little Help From His Friends

Well, this doesn't look good:
Multiple sources have told ABC7 Eyewitness News that police are investigating whether Smollett and the two men staged the attack allegedly because Smollett was being written off of "Empire."

A source familiar with the investigation told the ABC7 I-Team that Smollett failed to appear for an interview with detectives earlier Thursday, but has since spoken with police.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson contacted ABC7 to say they are continuing to treat Smollett as a victim and the investigation remains ongoing.

Chicago police told ABC News, "Police are investigating whether the two individuals committed the attack - or whether the attack happened at all."
If it looks like a hoax...

State Of Alert

Trump declares an emergency, prepares for a fight:
Mr. Trump, in lengthy remarks on the courts system, said he expected to be sued over his emergency declaration. “We will possibly get a bad ruling. And then we’ll get another bad ruling. And then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court, and hopefully we’ll get a fair shake,” he said.

He also suggested he didn’t need the full $8 billion his administration is seeking to build the wall. “So we have a chance of getting close to $8 billion,” he said. “Whether it’s $8 billion, $2 billion or $1.5 billion, it’s going to build a lot of wall.”

Mr. Trump voiced frustration with the resistance to funding a border wall and sought to play down the drama of his declaration, noting that emergency declarations had been put in place before. He added: “There’s rarely been a problem. They sign it, nobody cares.” Previous presidents have signed emergency declarations, but not to fund initiatives that Congress declined to fund.

In addition to the wall funds in the spending bill, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Friday that the president will seek to divert about $6.7 billion from elsewhere in the government to build 234 miles of steel bollard wall—a move that is certain to invite court challenges. Mr. Mulvaney said the president was taking executive action because Congress had proved “simply incapable” of allowing the level of wall funding Mr. Trump had demanded.
Not incapable, just unwilling. But do some of his critics have a point?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Deep State Plan

A coup by any other name:
Last year, the New York Times reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment.

McCabe confirmed the report in a new interview with “60 Minutes” host Scott Pelley, who relayed what McCabe told him on “CBS This Morning” Thursday.

“There were meetings at the Justice Department at which it was discussed whether the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet could be brought together to remove the president of the United States under the 25th Amendment,” Pelley said.
Trump wasn't paranoid, they apparently really were trying to get rid of him...

Chewing The Fat

In Russia, pounds add you:
Japan made it illegal in 2008 for citizens between 40 and 74 years old to exceed the state-prescribed limit of 85 centimeters for male waistlines and 90 centimeters for female waistlines. Russia is on a drive to reduce obesity and improve nutrition as part of President Vladimir Putin’s national goals signed after his inauguration in May 2018, which included calls to ensure sustainable natural population growth, reported The Moscow Times.
....

“We’ve studied the experience of countries with the highest life expectancy very carefully,” Rospotrebnadzor’s chief Anna Popova told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency on Thursday, pointing out Tokyo’s experience with waistline reduction, colloquially known in Japan as the “Metabo-law,” reported The Moscow Times.

“The applicability [of the practice] to Russia and Russian citizens is a question that will be discussed over our first year of work on the national goals,” she said, adding that studies currently being conducted would help reach a conclusion.
Namely, that the state should be your dietitian?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Don't Read It And Weep

They never learn:
“No one has seen the final wording of a long and complicated bill we will be expected to vote on tomorrow evening,” Republican Maryland Rep. Andy Harris told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “That’s no way to run a legislature.”

Republican Study Chairman Mike Johnson also confirmed that “as of lunch on Wednesday, members of the RSC, and to our knowledge, even members of the conference committee, had not seen the text.”

“It has been reported that [House Majority Leader Steny] Hoyer has said if the bill is dropped today we will consider it tomorrow. This is reminiscent of the, ‘you must pass it to find out what is in it,’ Obamacare debacle,” Johnson said to TheDCNF. “This bill is expected to be well over 1,000 pages, and we will potentially have less than 24 hours to digest it. This is absurd.”
Always read the fine print, even if you don't want to...

The Great Cheaper North

Could Canada be the next tax haven?
Although some Americans think of Canada as a quasi-socialist economy thanks to its single-payer health-care system, it’s not actually a high-tax country. The top federal income tax rate in Canada is 33 percent — lower than the equivalent rate in the U.S. The provincial tax rate in Ontario, home to the business hub of Toronto, is 13.16 percent, similar to the 13.3 percent paid by Californians.

If the U.S. raised taxes a lot on the rich, would Canada follow suit? It’s true that during the past century or so, the top tax rates charged by major developed economies have tended to move roughly in concert:

But that doesn’t mean Canada would necessarily follow the U.S.’s lead on top taxation. And even if it did raise taxes on the rich when the U.S. did, it wouldn’t necessarily raise them by as much.
They may lean left, but not that far left...

Broken Bread

No dough, no bread:
Resources and wealth do not exist in a vacuum. Someone had to provide and pay for the tables, chairs, ovens, checkout computers, et al. that allowed Panera Cares to provide a service to their customers. And that's not to mention the food costs, salaries, and the overhead that come with doing business in a building that requires electricity, climate-controlled temperatures, and, well, walls and a ceiling. Making money costs money. This is why businesses that give their stuff away or sell it below the market rate go out of business. All the caring and empathy in the world can't change the fact that it cost money to provide Panera Cares' customers with food. And if the money that the company receives back is less than the money the company spent, everyone eventually loses.

The other side of that is that humans tend to be greedy and all about self-preservation. If you offer a customer the option to pay whatever they want, the vast majority of customers are not going to inquire about how much it cost the restaurant to put the food on their plate. Instead, as a general rule, customers are going to approach payment in terms of themselves.
There is no such thing as a free bread lunch...

Green Is Not Good

No green deal for him:
"I read that by 2030 they're suggesting that every building in America becomes clean energy, conforms to clean energy, just to put that in perspective, because it's not realistic, that would mean that between 2,000 and 3,000 buildings a day would have to be reconstructed to conform to what they're saying," Schultz said. "So let's be sensible about what we're suggesting,"

Schultz' comments are likely to further raise tensions between him and Democrats running against Trump. Several Democrats have said Schultz' candidacy would only split the anti-Trump vote and help Trump win re-election in 2020.

Schultz pledged that he would drop out if it becomes clear he can't win and that his campaign is only helping Trump, but said it's too early to make that assessment. In the meantime, he also criticized the "Green New Deal's" employment guarantee provision.

"I don't understand how you're going to give a job for everybody, how you're going to give free college to everybody, how you're going to create clean energy throughout the country in every building of the land," he said. "I think it's immoral to suggest that we can tally up $20, $30, $40, $50 trillion of debt to solve a problem that could be solved in a different way."
Especially when it might not be that big of a problem...

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Thin Line

You apparently can be too thin:
Gingell, who blogs under the name Cardiffornia Gurl, begins her message by insisting that thin privilege is a very real thing, arguing that "if you're thin, you have a certain privilege," because "everyday tasks that a thinner person can take for granted can leave a plus-size person like myself feeling full of anxiety, burden, and upset."

The video shows Gingell out in the world where fat people have problems, such as on the subway where others make them feel uncomfortable, or at a bakery where they might be judged for their choices. In both scenes, she is seen eating while making the case for her oppression.

While Gingell does not explicitly define what it means for an individual to be considered a "thin" person, she explains that you likely have thin privilege if you can go shopping for clothes "and take an outfit away that very same day."
The real fashion police?

Smoked Out

Some pot smokers are more equal than others:
Harris, by her own admission, was smoking pot and listening to Tupac and Snoop Dogg — while she was in college.

Here's the thing: Harris finished her schooling in 1989. Tupac didn't release an album until 1991.

As for Snoop Dogg, well, he didn't release his first album until 1993.

Harris did, however, start working as a deputy district attorney in Alameda County, California, in 1990, where part of her job would have been to enforce existing drug laws.

Anything else?

Oh yes.

During her time as a prosecutor, Harris was as hard-nosed on drug laws as you could get. And when Harris was California Attorney General, she opposed the legalization of marijuana "as late as 2014," according to Reason.
Well it does affect your memory...

Off The Rails

The great high-speed railway is effectively dead:
"Let's level about the high-speed rail," Newsom said. "Let's be real, the current project as planned would cost too much and, respectfully, take too long. Right now, there simply isn't a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were."

Recent estimates assessed former Gov. Jerry Brown's plan would be cost about $77 billion and be completed in 2033. Newsom then pivoted to his alternate proposal, to instead connect the two Central Valley cities, 160 miles apart.

"Critics are going to say that's a train to nowhere, but I think that's wrong and that's offensive," said the governor.
Even though it's true...

The Great Nothingburger

No collusion, just confusion:
"If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don't have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia," said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in an interview with CBS News last week.

Burr was careful to note that more facts may yet be uncovered, but he also made clear that the investigation was nearing an end.

"We know we're getting to the bottom of the barrel because there're not new questions that we're searching for answers to," Burr said.
That's not stopping his colleagues from trying...

Monday, February 11, 2019

Land Of Lawyers

It's the Chicago way:
Drawing information from the Department of Justice, the report shows 25 public figures were convicted of charges tied to corruption in 2017 in the City of Chicago and the northern third of Illinois. 2017 was the most recent year for which the DOJ data was available, the report says.

More than 30 Chicago City Council members have been tied to corruption cases since the 1970’s, with Ald. Edward Burke (14th) becoming the latest Chicago politician to make headlines after being charged with one count of attempted extortion on Thursday, Jan. 3 for allegedly trying to use his power on the City Council to solicit business for his private law firm.

The charge against Burke, Chicago’s most powerful and longest-running City Council member, comes on the heels of two FBI raids carried out in his offices late last year. After serving the city’s Southwest Side for 50 years, the charge puts Burke on the ever-growing list of disgraced city officials.

Although Chicago accounts for 82 percent of the state’s public corruption convictions, according to the report, federal corruption is a statewide problem.

Statewide, Illinois ranked–on a per capita basis–as the third most corrupt state in America. In 2017, the state had 34 convictions for public corruption.
How much for just the state?

Friends In Low Places

He was a thug with connections:
But while Democratic officials are distancing themselves from Alcoff now, until recently he was a well-connected, aspiring political player in Washington who may have even had a hand in key policy proposals.

His endorsement apparently mattered when several congressional Democrats in February 2018 issued press releases with his quote backing their bill on regulating payday lenders.

As the payday campaign manager for the liberal group Americans for Financial Reform, Alcoff participated in congressional Democratic press conferences, was a guest on a House Democratic podcast and met with senior officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from 2016 through 2018.

He was also pictured with now-House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Both committees oversee financial regulatory policies Alcoff was advocating.
He fit right in...

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Fertilizing Dead

From dust to dirt?
“There’s really only two options for when we die: cremation and burial,” said Katrina Spade, a human composting advocate and CEO of Recompose, the company hoping to become the go-to firm for human composting in Washington if it becomes legal.

Neither of those options “felt particularly meaningful to me and I think if that’s the case, it’s true for others as well,” Spade said.

Spade compared human composting to processes already in effect to recycle animal remains.

“They’ve already done lots of research about the safe and effective ways to recycle animals back to the land on farms,” she said.

“We proved recomposition was indeed safe and effective for humans as well,” Spade said, referring to a study conducted at Washington State University using the corpses of six human donors.

According to Spade, human composting involves covering the dead body with natural materials, such as straw or wood chips, which leads to accelerated decomposition over the course of three to seven weeks.
Bring out your fertilizer?

Chicago Spare Change

Because it worked so well elsewhere:
It's a seductive idea. Even some libertarians like Charles Murray think it's worth a shot. With one dollar out of every three spent by the government on social welfare programs going to feed the bureaucracy, the idea of giving the poor direct cash payments seems an attractive way to save taxpayer money.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work.

Finland ended a similar experiment in April and the results have just been released.
....

This is an idea thought up by people who have no clue about human psychology. You give people money and don't ask anything of them for it and, guess what? You get nothing in return.
Nothing for nothing equals nothing...

Saturday, February 9, 2019

No Deal, Democrats

Sorry, guys, it's still your deal:
This cockamamie scheme is not about saving the planet. It's about massively expanding the size and scope of the U.S. government, making mincemeat of the Constitution, and spending trillions upon trillions of dollars to make us all dependent on government.

It's as if Vladimir Lenin has been resurrected and his plan to nationalize business, industry, and capital has been reimagined.

The reaction to Ocasio-Cortez's plan has been so negative -- even from Democrats -- that she's been forced to pull the text from her website. It's that bad.

Graham has the right idea. Democrats should not be allowed to quietly tiptoe away from this massive political blunder and they should be told to put up or shut up.
You wrote it, you bought it...

Real Reform Matters

Passing the health care savings on to you:
The CEA estimated that five million Americans will choose an AHP or a short-term plan as the result of the Trump administration’s health care executive orders. The study also suggested that another five million will benefit as the result of the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate.

Many Americans have contended that because 80 percent of those who paid the Obamacare mandate made less than $50,000 a year, the individual mandate repeal serves as a significant middle-class tax break.

The CEA said about 87 percent of Obamacare exchange enrollees receive ACA subsidies and “only pay a fraction of their health insurance costs.”

Many Obamacare proponents suggested that the repeal of the individual mandate, as well as the expansion of short-term plans and AHPs, would lead to higher premiums on the Obamacare exchanges.

In contrast, the CEA contended that because more people will use AHPs and short-term plans and fewer people will use the ACA exchanges, the government will save $185 billion over the next ten years.
If you like your savings, you can keep your savings...

Worst Boss Ever

The terror of working for Amy Klobuchar:
BuzzFeed News reported more alleged aggression that sometimes left staffers in tears. One was reportedly hit after a binder was launched into the air.

The news outlet reportedly interviewed eight former staffers who complained of a workplace governed by "fear, anger, and shame." Many employees, the report stated, found the environment "intolerably cruel." Bouts of rage and humiliation happened "almost daily," according to interviews and emails obtained by BuzzFeed.

Almost anything allegedly set her off, from grammar mistakes to using the word "community" in press releases or failing to recharge her iPad, BuzzFeed reported.
Just another dictator-in-training?

President Godfather

Mobster-in-Chief?
Wanting to wield power and wishing to be President aren’t synonymous, according to Victoria, who doesn’t think her dad would have been interested in the latter.

“I don’t think that would have been a job he would’ve wanted,” she said. “He was too much a people person. He believed politicians tell nothing but lies. It was all about games and the drama and the chutzpah — he didn’t buy that.”

However, if her dad were alive and ran for office in this day and age, she thinks he would have won.

“Today, yeah, I think he would,” she said.
He might have been more honest than his opponents, at that...

The Happy People

When you have a handout, who needs a job?
Finland's minister of health and social affairs Pirkko Mattila said the impact on employment of the monthly pay cheque of 560 euros ($635) "seems to have been minor on the grounds of the first trial year".

But participants in the trial were happier and healthier than the control group.

"The basic income recipients of the test group reported better wellbeing in every way (than) the comparison group," chief researcher Olli Kangas said.

Chief economist for the trial Ohto Kanniainen said the low impact on employment was not a surprise, given that many jobless people have few skills or struggle with difficult life situations or health concerns.

"Economists have known for a long time that with unemployed people financial incentives don't work quite the way some people would expect them to," he added.
Maybe because some of them don't want to?

A Scandal Too Far

Did the Enquirer go too far, even for them?
Los Angeles attorney Louis Shapiro, who represents high-profile criminal defendants in both federal and state court, said, "This isn't your traditional extortion.

"It is usually, ‘If you don't give me something then I will reveal or report something.’ The person usually wants money," he said.

Shapiro said California and federal law defines extortion as the "depriving of property or attempting to do so by threatened force, violence or fear. Shapiro said it is clear AMI was seeking something from Bezos, but the question is whether that contract is actually property.

"They didn't demand money, just an agreement," he said. That makes it far harder to prosecute, he said. "You rarely see this kind of extortion case filed involving lawyers. Things can get muddy between lawyers.”

But Shapiro said the "extraordinary circumstances here might mean prosecutors give it a second look as it could have a profound impact on public policy and public perception."
One man's story is another's trial date...

The Slow Season

You may have to wait:
The first batch of weekly data from the IRS offers a very preliminary, unrepresentative look at what’s happening to taxpayers using the new tax system, which increased the standard deduction, lowered rates, and curbed some deductions. Typically, early filers are those who expect significant refunds, while those who owe money file closer to the mid-April deadline.

The picture will become clearer later this month, as tens of millions more returns are processed. The IRS is required to withhold certain refunds containing the earned-income tax credit and child tax credit until Feb. 15. The IRS, which had been partially shut down in the run-up to filing season, says it is running smoothly so far.
As inefficient as ever?

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Invisible Attackers

No attack, real consequences:
On Wednesday, the superintendent of the Chicago Police Department announced that if Smollett is found guilty of filing a false police report, the Chicago P.D. will "pursue charges."
....

Smollett claimed that he was attacked while walking home from Subway. He claimed he was on the phone with his manager during the time of the attack and continued home following the attack. The police have reviewed surveillance footage from the city block where the attack allegedly happened, but have yet to find any evidence of an attack in the area.
Where are the real criminals?

My Mother The Vampire

How much blood does one mother need?
According to the Associated Press, the woman was a trained nurse and had drained more than a pint of blood from her son on 110 occasions, sometimes as frequently as once a week. This behavior began when her son was only 1 year old and continued until police arrested her when he was 6. The boy lives with his father now and has reportedly recovered.

She has since been arrested and sentenced to four years in prison. A court-ordered psychiatrist diagnosed the woman with Munchausen by proxy. People with this condition either make up symptoms in another person or do something to cause those symptoms, in order to make the that person appear sick. In one famous Munchausen by proxy case from 2015, a girl whose mother had made her believe for years that she was seriously ill, eventually snapped and murdered her mother.

The Daily Mail reported that the woman would post updates on her son's fake illness to social media and tried to get local news outlets to cover the story. When the prosecutor in her trial asked her about this, she said she had reached out because "I think, I felt, that it helped us. It was a statement. You can feel a bit alone. Both as a mother, but also as a mother with a sick child."

The prosecutor in her case responded by pointing out that she was only the mother of a sick child because she had made her child sick. She insisted that this wasn't the way she saw it.
Mom's food source?

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Don't Carry That Weight

Ilhan Omar is upset that human physiology doesn't work the way she wants it to:
“Men naturally have a larger bone structure, higher bone density, stronger connective tissue and higher muscle density than women. These traits, even with reduced levels of testosterone do not go away. While [male-to-female athletes] may be weaker and less muscle than they once were, the biological benefits given them at birth still remain over that of a female.”

In her letter, Omar makes specific reference to International Olympic Committee guidelines, when deciding how to incorporate transgender athletes. However, as USA Powerlifting points out, IOC guidelines give various sports some latitude when it comes to implementing policy regarding transgender participation.

“…the IOC Guidelines also allows sports to determine the impact on fair play through such inclusion. The IPF Medical Committee, while respecting the rights of those who choose to transition, has been consistent in its opinion that use of testosterone and participation of male to female transgender athletes in our sport compromises fair play.”
Unfortunately for some, nature-and life-isn't always fair...

The Balloon Police

No balloons for you:
House Bill 183, which was proposed by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D) Tuesday, states that "no person shall knowingly release or launch into the atmosphere more than twenty-five plastic balloons filled with gas that is lighter than air during a twenty-four hour period." Hot air balloons and balloons released indoors would be exempt.

Violators "shall be subject to a civil penalty of $100 per day for the first and all subsequent offenses."

Balloons have already been banned altogether in the city of Louisville since 2003, but law enforcement officials have been reluctant to enforce the law, according to the Courier-Journal.

The prohibition was spearheaded by animal rights activists, and the ordinance warns that runaway helium-filled balloons "are carried east by prevailing winds and burst over the Atlantic Ocean where they have been eaten by dolphins, sea turtles, seabirds and migratory waterfowl, sometimes resulting in the death of such animals by (an) intentional blockage."
More hot air, but not for balloons...

Pathological Publishing

A lie well told:
Mallory said his untruthfulness was the result of "crushing depressions, delusional thoughts, morbid obsessions and memory problems" brought about by "severe bipolar II disorder."

His explanation was dismissed by UCLA psychiatry professor Carrie Bearden, who told the New Yorker that bipolar II disorder does not cause delusions, memory loss or deceptive behavior.

Mallory had claimed on several occasions that his mother had succumbed to cancer. His mother did indeed have cancer at one point, but is still living. She declined to be interviewed by a New Yorker reporter about her son's claims.

His father, however, did speak to the reporter, and denied that Mallory had ever himself had cancer, as he had claimed to co-workers in the past. "[N]o, Dan didn’t have it. He’s just been an absolutely perfect son. He has his faults, like we all do, he’s just a tremendous young man," the elder Mallory said.
With a tremendous gift for stretching the truth, so to speak...

New Green Reds

Democrats have finally embraced their inner socialist:
The biggest political story of 2019 is that Democrats are embracing policies that include government control of ever-larger chunks of the private American economy.

Merriam-Webster defines socialism as “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.”

The U.S. may not be Venezuela, but consider the Democratic agenda that is emerging from Congress and the party’s presidential contenders. You decide if the proposals meet the definition of socialism.
If it sounds like socialism...

Governor Who?

Democrats find themselves blindsided by their own scandals:
Democrats have expressed fear that the uproar over the governor could jeopardize their chances of taking control of the GOP-dominated Virginia legislature this year. The party made big gains in 2017, in part because of a backlash against President Donald Trump, and has moved to within striking distance of a majority in both houses.

At the same time, the Democrats nationally have taken a hard line against misconduct in their ranks because women and minorities are a vital part of their base and they want to be able to criticize Trump’s behavior without looking hypocritical.

Trump accused Democrats Thursday of political bias, tweeting that “If the three failing pols were Republicans, far stronger action would be taken.”
And the press would be paying a lot more attention...

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Green Deal Goes Bust

Is the "Green Deal" already dead?
Green New Deal critics say the omission of a fossil fuel ban as an admission that moving the U.S. to 100 percent renewable energy within 10 years is politically and technologically infeasible.

“It’s easy to declare the end of fossil fuels, but actually crafting a plan to destroy the economy is both bad policy and bad politics,” said Texans for Natural Gas spokesman Steve Everley.

“We eagerly await the next walk-back from supporters of the Green New Deal,” Everley said.

Indeed, the U.S. gets 80 percent of its energy from coal, natural gas and oil. Just replacing the infrastructure would cost trillions of dollars and likely take decades even with a “Green New Deal.”

“We have a $20 trillion economy that rests on an energy foundation that’s been developed over a century. It doesn’t go away overnight,” IHS’s Yergin told E&E News.
How much green would a Green Deal really cost?

Breaking The Bread Bank

There really is no such thing as free bread:
The program, Panera Cares, was initially created to serve food to low-income people nine years ago in 2010. The concept was a pay-what-you-want business model in which patrons visiting the restaurant could eat for a donation.

In 2010, Ron Shaich — the company's founder and former CEO — said that the program's aim was a "test of humanity."

"Would people pay for it?" he asked during a TEDxStLouis talk. "Would people come in and value it?"
The answer was apparently "no," because here we are less than a decade later, with no Panera Cares' franchises running in the black.

The outlet also reported that through the project's nine-year run, many of the locations were "mobbed" by homeless people and students who ate without donating. Because of the "mob," one location was forced to limit its homeless patrons' meals to a few per week.
You can't have your bread and not pay for it, too...

Blue Review

Not all Democrats hated the speech:
House Democratic leadership waved away Trump’s talk of unity, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi lamenting the president’s long history of “empty words” and the progressive Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan saying in an interview on MSNBC that “so much of what he was saying [doesn’t] translate into his actions.”

But where the most high-profile Democrats saw Trump performing the cause of unity, some moderate Democrats seemed reassured, particularly when it came to his calls for infrastructure investment and lowering prescription-drug prices. Representative Haley Stevens of Michigan said that she was “encouraged” by Trump’s comments on both fronts. “The president is right,” said Representative Max Rose, a freshman representing parts of New York City. “The American people are united around doing something to lower health-care costs, rebuild our infrastructure, and end the opioid epidemic.” Representative Anthony Brindisi of New York pledged on Twitter that in these areas, he will “be the first one at the table, ready & willing, to work [with] anyone serious about getting things done.”
Who will come to the table first?

Laws Of The Land

How many laws does one state need?
In total, 1,016 new laws will take effect in California in 2019. In most cases, these range from the unnecessary to the silly to the sad.

In the “unnecessary” category, we have the requirement that only milk and water be published as beverage options on kids’ menus in sit-down restaurants. While childhood obesity is a huge problem, what do they actually expect to accomplish with this? When was the last time you saw a kid actually read the menu or order their own food and drinks? Parents aren’t actually prohibited from ordering their child a soda, milkshake or whatever else they want. The options are simply removed from menus.

As for “silly” new laws, the most notorious, of course, is the requirement that restaurants no longer automatically offer patrons plastic straws when they order a drink. Never mind the expectation that you are supposed to put your mouth on the side of a questionably clean glass every time you take a drink, but the law will be as ineffective as not listing soda on kids’ menus. Ask and you shall receive anyway.

Finally, when it comes to “sad” laws, the familiar is often the most depressing. It’s an established economic fact, demonstrated time and again, that raising minimum wage depresses the availability of jobs to entrants, who are simply priced out of the market as firms tighten their belts to offset the increased labor cost. And yet states such as California continue to pursue policies that will guarantee harm to those they claim they are trying to help.
Sad, but true...

Socialism Shutdown

Donald Trump delivers a blow to the socialists in the room:

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Robots At Work

They really are taking over:
Software-generated reports are heavy utilized in areas where quick figures are needed such as in financial journalism, sports statistics, and analyzing polling or other data. According to the New York Times, Bloomberg News uses automated technology in roughly a third of its content, racing against Reuters and even hedge funds to compete in delivering the latest business news.
Media executives insist that artificial intelligence is not a threat to human employees because machines cannot produce analyses and perspectives. But robo-journalism is capable of generating more than just numbers — with publications such Forbes using tools to provide templates and rough drafts to reporters, and the Los Angeles Times using machines to issue earthquake alerts and bots for mapping analyses.

Outlets in China and Japan have even introduced robot news anchors.
When you have fake news, why not fake reporters?

The Rain Tax Kings

Here comes the rain tax:
Some Republicans have dubbed the bill the “Rain Tax,” saying another tax makes New Jersey even more unaffordable, and state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. agrees.

“We all want to protect our environment. We all want to preserve it for future generations. But this is a weighted tax. The citizens of New Jersey … really with no oversight and no way to defend themselves against tax increases at local levels,” Kean said.

When asked what he would say to taxpayers who say they cannot afford another tax, Codey said, “It’s a small cost to live safely.”
When it rains taxes, it pours...

The Judge Who Wasn't There?

Here doesn't come the Judge?
Attendees at the Notorious RBG in Song described Ginsburg as “glam,” and “resplendent,” and “magnificent,” but you’ll have to take their word for it.

In an era when every person is carrying a camera and isn’t afraid to use it, there wasn’t a single snap of the 85-year-old to be found. Every media story that covered her alleged appearance used file photos.

“What a delight to see RBG tonight at ‘Notorious RBG in Song,’ written & beautifully performed by her daughter-in-law, Patrice Michaels,” Post contributor David Hagedorn posted to Twitter. “She sat in the back, a few rows behind us, looking resplendent. Being hugged & wished a happy birthday by her made a grand night spectacular.”
Still waiting for her comeback?

No More Humans

Whatever happened to overpopulation?
There are currently 7.7 billion people living on the planet, and this is expected to climb to 9 billion by 2050.

But, Canadian journalist John Ibbitson and political scientist Darrell Bricker have found that these predictions may have missed the mark completely.

In Empty Planet, the pair re-examines the forecasting models to conclude that global population will start dropping in about 30 years, and warn ‘once that decline begins, it will never end.’
It might get lonelier than you think...

The Drug Boat

Your government at work?
Their downfall, according to police: intercepted emails in which the two discussed their plan on government-issued computers. Police said both men were government contractors, though their arrest reports don’t say which agency employed them.

The Homeland Security special agent who intercepted the emails said their strategy was “to smuggle the narcotics into the ship and distribute it once on board the ship,” according to their arrest reports.

The ship the men were trying to board wasn’t named in the reports.
I guess they had to have some sort of a backup plan in case of another shutdown...

Monday, February 4, 2019

Lost Change

You really can take it with you?
Citing a sworn affidavit by Robertson as she filed for credit protection, Sky News reports that Cotten held “sole responsibility for handling the funds and coins.”

About $190 million in cryptocurrency and traditional money is said to be in “cold storage,” with the digital key held by Cotten. While Robertson has Cotten’s laptop, she does not know its password and even a security expert has been unable to get past the device’s encryption.
....

In a statement posted on its website on Jan. 31, QuadrigaCX said that it applied for creditor protection in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court “to allow us the opportunity to address the significant financial issues that have affected our ability to serve our customers.”

“For the past weeks, we have worked extensively to address our liquidity issues, which include attempting to locate and secure our very significant cryptocurrency reserves held in cold wallets, and that are required to satisfy customer cryptocurrency balances on deposit, as well as sourcing a financial institution to accept the bank drafts that are to be transferred to us,” the company added, in its statement. “Unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful.”
Dead men tell no passwords...

Blame Your Parents

Born against your will?
"I want to tell all Indian kids that they don't owe their parents anything," Samuel told India's The Print. "I love my parents, and we have a great relationship, but they had me for their joy and their pleasure."

He added, "My life has been amazing, but I don't see why I should put another life through the rigamarole of school and finding a career, especially when they didn't ask to exist."
Samuel's belief is part of a system called "anti-natalism," which promotes the notion that children shouldn't be forced to be born, especially at the expense of the planet.

"Other Indian people must know that it is an option not to have children, and to ask your parents for an explanation as to why they gave birth to you," he explained.
I'm sure his parents are now wondering the same thing...

Eat Your Shirts

Let them eat clothing?
A North Korean news site shared a spread from the men's fashion catalog, which shows several button-up formal shirts and a translation of the accompanying text.

"Clothing made from artificial flannelette fabrics composed of trace elements such as high-grade protein, amino acids, fruit juice, magnesium, iron and calcium, as clothing worn by people engaged in sailing, outdoor exploration and mountain climbing, can be eaten to avoid starvation in the event that food has run out," it reads.
With a side of socks and underwear?

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Rave On

Remembering Buddy Holly:
What does a person achieve in this world as an artist by the age of 22? How possible is it to show more than a flash of the ability you were born with? Part of the miracle that was Buddy Holly was how fully formed he was by this age—which isn’t to say that if you’re fully formed, you won’t be able to extend your growth, producing oohs and aahhs with your latest direction, your latest invention. Buddy Holly was a kicker of ass in terms of physicality, for his music felt like something that was launching itself bodily at you, but he could also kick your ass mentally, making listeners reconsider how far one might push rock’s geographical boundaries, until any conception of them vanished.
Fortunately, Buddy Holly's influence never did...

The Valley Mob

How social media gangsters took over tech:
Increasingly, Silicon Valley seems to be governed by a Mafia-like cycle of shakedowns imposed by the mainstream media. It usually follows the same pattern.

First, a relentless wave of negative coverage, aimed at causing outrage about the success of the mainstream media’s competitors on social media. Words like “misinformation,” “hate,” and “conspiracy theories” usually feature in such reports. Example: BuzzFeed – We Followed YouTube’s Recommendation Algorithm Down The Rabbithole.

Second, disingenuous “requests for comment” to advertisers, sponsors, business partners — anyone who the social media platform or the content creator relies on for revenue. (Example: Mandatory.com – PewDiePie Claims Wall Street Journal Tried To Get Him ‘Fired From YouTube’.

Third, unconditional surrender by the social media platform, which promises to ban or cut ties with whoever the journalist objected to, or adjust its search results or algorithm to better appease the mainstream critics. (Example: YouTube Official Blog – Continuing Our Work To Improve Recommendations on YouTube.

Having seen how easy this game is, other journalists follow suit, taking aim at their personal favorite targets — whether its search results on YouTube or the criticism of progressive activists on Twitter. Silicon Valley might consider the advice of Rudyard Kipling — once you pay the Dane-geld, you never get rid of the Dane.
It's strictly business...

New Deal Review

In the fight between Hoover and FDR, who really won?
Roosevelt and his advisers were pushed by events they did not control and by political actors representing a broad range of ideas—communists, socialists, and labor radicals, as well as the followers of Huey Long, Father Charles Coughlin, and Francis Townsend. By the end of the 1930s, many in Washington believed that the New Deal, whatever it was, had failed. Although unemployment had fallen from its peak and some of the worst pain of the Depression had been mitigated, the economy had not recovered—and wouldn’t until World War II. Even the power and stability of the unions were truly secured only during the war. As the economist Alvin Hansen put it in 1940, when asked whether he believed the “basic principle” of the New Deal was economically sound: “I really do not know what the basic principle of the New Deal is.”
Today's Democrats seem to have a similar problem...

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Netflix Empire

Because Netflix is invading Canada, or something:
Although she admitted Canadians might be “very grateful” to Netflix for offering a wide variety of programing, she urged them to “fast-forward to what happens after imperialism – and the damage that can do to local communities. So, all I would say is, let us be mindful of how it is we as Canadians respond to global companies coming into our country.”

Netflix’s Canadian pubic policy director was on-scene to hear Tait’s criticism and to respond. Stéphane Cardin suggested her fears were unwarranted and noted that the company planned to spend hundreds of million of dollars on Canadian projects — without any government legislation forcing them to do so.
Canada isn't a colonial backwater, eh?

Left Of The Left

Democrats embrace their inner extremist:
Several Democrats, including Ocasio-Cortez, have recently floated taxing wealthy Americans up to 70 percent. But it was Omar who suggested this week that the wealthiest American pay up to 90 percent in taxes.
....

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who is running for president in 2020, said during a CNN town hall this week that all semi-automatic guns should be outlawed. During the same town hall, she advocated for the eradication of the private health care industry, comments she quickly walked back.

Finally, it was also Omar who voiced support for Nicolás Maduro's regime in Venezuela, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) who allegedly belonged to a Holocaust denier Facebook group.
If you're going to lose, lose all the way?

Man On The Moon

That didn't go well:
During a bizarre press conference, in which Northam defended himself from accusations of being a racist, the embattled Virginia governor admitted that he once used shoe polish to "darken" his face for a Michael Jackson-themed dance contest in San Antonio.

Northam said he looks back at his actions with "regret" because he now understands "the harmful legacy of an action like that." He went on to explain that he won the dance contest because he looked how to moonwalk.
Some people just need to quit while they're behind...

Friday, February 1, 2019

Insurance For None

If you like your plan, you won't be able to keep your plan:
Private health insurance would only be allowed for extra benefits not covered by the plan, the bill’s text reveals:

SEC. 107. PROHIBITION AGAINST DUPLICATING COVERAGE.

(a) In General.—Beginning on the effective date described in section 106(a), it shall be unlawful for—

(1) a private health insurer to sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under this Act; or

(2) an employer to provide benefits for an employee, former employee, or the dependents of an employee or former employee that duplicate the benefits provided under this Act.

(b) Construction.—Nothing in this Act shall be construed as prohibiting the sale of health insurance coverage for any additional benefits not covered by this Act, including additional benefits that an employer may provide to employees or their dependents, or to former employees or their dependents.

Other co-sponsors who are running, or considering a run, for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 are Sen. Kirsten Gellibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
You will have the health plan they want you to have...