Fog Blind [According To Hoyt]

When our older son was interviewing with medschools, on the night of his return from one, his plane was diverted to Denver because of fog.

Normally when this sort of thing happens, the fog is at a high enough level that it doesn’t affect people on the ground, or not much beyond the airport, which, in customary fashion is at one end of the city.

And normally we’d have waited till the morning, since the airline would get him home sooner or later.  Actually, if he hadn’t had a test the next morning, we’d have told him to take a taxi to the embassy suites we stayed in when they were little, and which is consistently cheaper than the others by half (old decor) and if the airline proved difficult we’d either pick him up or get a shuttle for him.

Unfortunately these were booked at the same time as finals and the next morning at nine thirty am Robert had a final with one of those professors who won’t postpone.  (Younger son has one of these, and we’re going to have to leave TVIW earlyish, so that he can make it to a final on Thursday morning.)

So… With Robert arriving just as DIA was closing, and knowing how strange the airport gets in the night, Dan and I drove, through the fog to Denver.

The Highway actually does have several places, for those who aren’t familiar with the area, where there’s a narrow berm, a metal guardrail, and then a fall of several hundred feet.

Normally there is no danger at all in those sections.

I’ve been in fog before, even driven in it.  For those who know the region, I used to live in Manitou Springs.  Sometimes in the morning, I walked through clouds taking the kid sto school.  Or looked down from a crest on the road and saw what you see from an airplane window.

This fog was worse than that, worse than the fogs in my childhood which came out of the downs and made everything past about a palm a vaguely discernible shape.  You couldn’t even discern shapes.  We were driving, most of the time at 75 — because what if someone came up behind — on a twisty mountain highway, in blank whiteness.  We couldn’t tell were the road ended and the mountain side begun on either side.

I half joke that if the universe’s set up is universes where each thing plays out, in most of those we are dead.

Our saving grace was that there were tail lights ahead of us.  We followed those tail lights, so dimly perceived through the fog we didn’t know if we were following a bus, a truck, or a car, or indeed a phantom.  The lights had that vague quality that they might very well hve been wishful illusions.

We made it there and fortunately on the way back, the fog was still there but had lifted some, and I think our son doesn’t believe how bad it was going up.

Which brings us to right now.

Not only have I not been myself, lately, but people I know, friends, acquaintances, people whose judgement I trust, don’t seem to me to be themselves either.

It’s the little things, the everyday life.  People do and say things that lead me to quirk an eyebrow and say “We all have gone a little crazy, apparently.”

And yesterday night I realized why, at least for me.

We all have to make decisions, every day, that involve assumptions about the future.  And some of those will be absolutely wrong.

They range from the trivial, like when I buy some food thinking we’ll need it/the guys will like it, and the poor thing goes bad in the freezer because no one, not even me, feels like it.

To the serious:  If I’d known 20 years ago how indie would play out, I’d have written a book for submitting and one for the drawer all along and been prepared when indie hit.

And there will always be things you don’t know about.  Like indie.  Impossible to foresee.

But for the more mundane decisions, we rely on what we read in the news a lot more than you might think.  We rely also on a sense of where the economy is.  Before you buy that house or that car, you consult your gut feeling of what your income will be.

Sure, you might be in an accident tomorrow and incapacitated the rest of your life. Or you might win the lottery.  But neither of those is the way to bet, and you tend to decide based on what you hear from your neighbors and friends/what you see around you/and yes, what the news and the government tell you.

Our official sources and their numbers were so sure we were in a recovery, they raised the rates. I don’t even know if newspapers are still proclaiming Summer (winter, spring) of recovery, because I rarely look at them anymore.

I do know the rate raising removed the one prop from the stock market.  We haven’t lost much, because we’ve never had much to invest or even to put away for retirement, but we know people who have.

And then there’s this and this and this and this.  And more.  Talk of banks collapsing.  Talk of an imploding Europe.  Talk.

I can no longer visit zero hedge because son threatened to make me call a suicide hotline if he caught me on it again.  He said it was the psychological equivalent of finding your granddad who has PTSD standing in the bathtub with the cord of the plugged in toaster wrapped around his neck.

He’s right to the extent that I only troll zero hedge when I’m profoundly depressed and uneasy.  When I have a feeling that the step I see clearly won’t be there when I lower my foot to step down. I know zero hedge is as nuts as the blogger that shall not be named for anything but finance, but for finance they’re sounding if anything conservative.

But I think that even people who don’t read blogs are feeling this.  There’s such a chasm between the happy talk of the government and their house organs (and you know what organs) and what we see and sense all around us.  It’s crazy making.  Some of us are buying houses.  All of us are counting on jobs.  Many of us run businesses.  All of us could get ill and need help tomorrow.  (And what one of my friends is going through with health insurance and the unaffordable care act is mind bending and terrifying, and I’m sure he’s not alone.)

I think it makes everyone a little crazy.  A lot on edge.

We’re all driving down a foggy road at night.  The next turn could take us down the mountain to our death, but none of our means of mass information will or perhaps can show a true picture.

The people who can (I know a few) are hunkering down in a defensible position; are bolstering their preparations; are taking no risks.

For some of us, with kids still in college, this is not possible.  We must forge on.

In the fog.  Not sure the lights we follow are not a phantom.

And then there’s the elections, where at least half of our countrymen seem determined to steer us off the cliff now, and end the suspense.

May G-d have mercy on our souls. May we come safely to the end of the journey.  And may our children find their journey easier, and in daylight, so they can see their way.

In the end, we win, they lose.  It’s inevitable, because we align with reality.  But let it happen without first destroying the world and civilization.  And in our life time, still.


Damn It Feels Good to be a Clinton [Ace of Spades HQ]

A Cruz ad. Goshdarn, he's so unlikable! First look at new @tedcruz ad in SC targeting @HillaryClinton and lampooning classic 'Office Space' scene https://t.co/Mu1YI4KJZJ— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) February 12, 2016...

AoSHQ Podcast #133: Michael Walsh [Ace of Spades HQ]

Ace and Drew interview guest Michael Walsh, author of The Devils Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West, which details the Frankfurt School's plan to subvert and destroy all pillars of American civilization (family,...

Two great MilBlogs (XBradTC) [Ace of Spades HQ]

How many of you remember the fantastic Navy blogger Neptunus Lex? Lex was a prolific, and terrific, writer. After his death in 2012, it turned out, the family didn't have his passwords to his account, and so eventually his blog...

Very Nice Gun Rights Piece [Ace of Spades HQ]

Anti-gun folks will often say things like, "Guns are only good for one thing- killing." And, you know, they are correct. I mean, they're wrong in a way, because guns are also just fun to shoot targets or clays with,...

Nature vs. Nurture (CBD) [Ace of Spades HQ]

I saw this article a few weeks ago, and was struck by how confidently the authors reject "nurture" as having any formative power. In Heritability and why Parents (but not Parenting) Matter, Brian Boutwell and Razib Khan argue that the...

Open Thread [Ace of Spades HQ]

J.E.H. MacDonald, "Snowfields, Evening" (1913)...

Morning Thread (2-12-2016) [Ace of Spades HQ]

Hello, Friday. How you doin'?...

Overnight Open Thread (2-11-2016) [Ace of Spades HQ]

Comment of the Day The point people seem to not comprehend about criminal sentencing is that its supposed to suck. That's the point: we punish people by punishing them. Prison is supposed to suck. Its supposed to be miserable and...

Democrat Debate: 9PM Eastern, PBS [Ace of Spades HQ]

They're now attacking Bernie Sanders on being insufficiently anti-racist. Could be fun....

Guardian: Britain’s Independent and Independent on Sunday will... [Breaking News]

Guardian: Britain’s Independent and Independent on Sunday will cease printing, with the last editions to be published in late March.

Follow updates on Breaking News.

Photo: Callum Welsh for the Guardian

U.S. and Russia Announce Plan for Humanitarian Aid and a Cease-Fire in Syria [Breaking News]

U.S. and Russia Announce Plan for Humanitarian Aid and a Cease-Fire in Syria:

The U.S. and Russia have agreed to a plan for expanded delivery of aid to Syria followed by a temporary nationwide ceasefire in an effort to clear the way for renewed peace talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday.

Follow updates.

Without Churchill, India’s Famine Would Have Been Worse [Chicago Boyz]

There’s been quite a bit of clamor going on the past week about Winston Churchill. First Marc Andreessen made a rather poorly received joke about Indian anti-colonialism on Twitter a few days ago. Then, in last night’s Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders referenced Churchill as a foreign leader to be emulated.

I’m an avid follower of Andreeson. He tossed out a flippant comment, probably without giving it much thought, and inadvertently got caught in the middle of a hornet’s nest. I’m certainly no fan of Bernie Sanders’ socialist proposals, but I do appreciate his point of view. He made a good point about Winston Churchill. It’s something unfortunately not shared by others in his party.

In response to these two events, the left wing camp has been working overtime to consign the legacy of Churchill to history’s dustbin, and one of their preferred vehicles has been the Bengal famine of 1943. The hipster-Jacobins at Vox.com have written a piece documenting Churchill’s supposed war crimes including his alleged complicity in the famine. They’re all based on rumor, heresay, quotes taken out of context, and statements by political and personal rivals. If you feel like diving into the pseudo-journalistic dumpster you can go search for it, but I’m not going to give it any more attention than it deserves, which is very little.

What I will provide is the Churchill Centre’s rebuttal.

When the War Cabinet became fully aware of the extent of the famine, on 24 September 1943, it agreed to send 200,000 tons of grain to India by the end of the year. Far from seeking to starve India, Churchill and his cabinet sought every way to alleviate the suffering without undermining the war effort. The war—not starving Indians or beating them into submission—remained the principal concern.

The greatest irony of all is that it was Churchill who appointed, in October 1943, the viceroy who would halt the famine in its tracks: General Archibald Wavell immediately commandeered the army to move rice and grain from areas where it was plentiful to where it was not, and begged Churchill to send what help he could. On 14 February 1944 Churchill called an emergency meeting of the War Cabinet to see if a way to send more aid could be found that would not wreck plans for the coming Normandy invasion. “I will certainly help you all I can,” Churchill telegraphed Wavell on the 14th, “but you must not ask the impossible.”

I would hope that faith and reason would lead us to see through the falsehoods of leftist revisionists. Sadly, most people now are being fed the biases of the “Explainer Journalism” view of the world, so the record needs to be set straight.

A Short Story – VJ+71 [Chicago Boyz]


(I meant to have a historical piece about an early and most mysterious resident of San Francisco ready for posting today, but … good intentions and all that, plus we were struck by sudden inspiration for the next Luna City Chronicle … which has been selling nicely and has some nice reviews on Amazon. Yes, there will be at least several more Luna City volumes – especially since the first book ends on a cliff-hanger, we haven’t gotten around to more than a handful of Luna City citizens, and I am convinced more than ever now, that light and amusing trifles are necessary diversions in bleak times.) 

Early on an August Sunday morning, Miss Leticia McAllister combed out her long grey hair, rolling and neatly pinning it into an old-fashioned hair-net, and surveyed her appearance in the dressing table mirror. The hat, gloves and scarf that she would wear against the chill – for the sanctuary of the First Methodist Church of Luna City was enthusiastically air-conditioned against the blistering heat of a Texas late summer – all lay in order on the dressing table, next to Miss Letty’s Sunday handbag, which held a fresh handkerchief, her house keys, and the envelope with her weekly offering. Hat, bag, scarf and all carefully matched, and coordinated beautifully with the colors of Miss Letty’s flowered and full-skirted summer dress.

I never had beauty or elegance, Miss Letty told her reflection, with clinical satisfaction – but I could manage chic by paying attention, and I had the brains enough to be charming. Alice was the one for elegance! Oh, my – did she turn heads! Hard to believe it has been seventy-one years to the day. Every man in Schilo’s Delicatessen on Commerce on VJ-Day – they all turned to look at her, as she came in the door. You could have heard a pin drop; I think most of them thought that a movie star had come to San Antonio, but she was really only the chief secretary to an insurance company manager, for all that she was only twenty-four. And he kept trying half-heartedly to seduce her, the wretched little Lothario. She wrote complaining about that to me, all the time that I was in England, and then in France. Alice had a hatpin, though – and she could use it, too.

Miss Letty pinned her hat, with a long, straight old-fashioned pin, which went straight through the bun on the back of her neck, firmly anchoring the straw confection into place. She touched her lips with a pale pink lipstick, and gathered up gloves, scarf and bag, but her thoughts returned to that early afternoon, seventy-one years before, and Miss Alice Everett, stepping through the street door, squinting into the dimness inside; the dark paneled walls, the floor tiled in tiny, hexagonal tiles, all of it old-fashioned even then. Alice was looking for Letty, sitting in a corner booth all by herself, waiting for her brother and Stephen Wyler.

“Letty, sweetie – you look wonderful!” Alice exclaimed, hurrying between the tables, flashing a brilliant smile at the nearest waiter. “Oh, it’s simply divine, seeing you again! Tell me – did you buy that hat in Paris! You must have – there isn’t anything half so chic at Joske’s!”

“No – Bonwit-Tellers’ in New York, on my way through,” Letty rose from the banquet seat, and the two of them exchanged an embrace. “There wasn’t anything in Paris worth buying. Just desperate refugees, too many Allied troops, and guilty collaborators hoping that everyone else had suddenly developed amnesia.”

“But it’s all over, now,” Alice said, with a sigh of happy rapture. “The war – and all that awfulness; no one in the office can get any work done, for the excitement, so Mr. Tradescent just told us to take a holiday. I have the rest of the day off! So let’s have a lunch with your brother and his pal, and then let’s all do something exciting, even if it is just walking along Commerce Street, looking at all the happy faces.” She stripped off her gloves, beaming expectantly at Letty. “I expect that you will be coming home for good, now. You looked so brave in your Red Cross uniform, though. Will you miss all the excitement?”

“No,” Letty answered, for there hadn’t been much excitement, really. Just ward after ward full of hospital beds draped in clean white sheets, full of men with broken bodies, broken spirits, and broken hearts. And after that it was displaced persons, poor skeletal shadows of the humans they had been, clad in striped rags, stumbling barefoot along muddy, rutted roads. “So much agony; I will not miss it in the least.”

“Well, you did your part,” Alice said, bracingly. “You are ever so much braver than I am – I can’t stand the sight of blood, or someone being sick, so I wouldn’t have been any good at all. I am envious!” And she looked at Letty with such openhearted affection that Letty was reminded again of why they were fast friends – from the moment they had met at the Texas State College for Women on the first day of fall term of 1939, right up until the day that Alice died in 2005 – still elegant, perfectly groomed, and complaining about the color of the hospital gowns.

The thing about true heart-friends, Miss Letty thought, carefully negotiating the stairs from the back porch of the McAllister residence – is that they look at you, see and believe the best that you are, without reservation.

Seventy-one years. She was a little early. Chris Mayall’s little red coupe was still parked in front of the old carriage-house. Miss Letty shook her head; the dear boy was obviously still primping. Young men did have their vanity.

“So, tell me about your brother’s best pal,” Alice said, as they sat in Schilo’s on that momentous day, with the sound of impromptu victory parades going up and down the street outside. Letty ordered soft drinks, which had been brought by the attentively-hovering waiter; ice-cold root beer, so cold that the frost was thick on the outside of the thick glass mug. “Army Air Corps, you said – is he handsome and dashing?”

“That goes without saying,” Letty replied, briefly amused. “They are all handsome and dashing … it’s the uniform, you know. But you have met Douglas. He was already serving in 1942. Stephen didn’t sign up until last year when he finished with his degree, and then he was training in transports. We grew up more or less together. Honestly, Alice – he was like another brother.”

Miss Letty kept it forever in her heart that Stephen Wyler had once jokingly proposed marriage to her, the summer of the year they were both seventeen, with a crowd of other teenagers swimming in the deep pool in the bend of the San Antonio River, below where the Grant’s goat farm would eventually be established.

“Hey, Letty – we can do it!” He said, smiling as he walked carefully out along a dead and sun-bleached log, which had come down in a flood year, and deeply embedded in the river-bank. They had been taking turns, diving off the end of the log into the deepest part of the pool. “You and I – we like each other fine – and won’t that set all the old hens to gossiping!”

“Ridiculous!” Letty splashed water at him. “I’ve known you forever – it would be like marrying Doug!”

“All right, but I won’t ask again,” Stephen replied and Letty snorted, “Promises, promises!” He cannon-balled into the water with an almighty splash, and everyone laughed, and there was an end to it, for they both went away to different colleges the following year, and then the war began. And now the war was over, with an abruptness that left everyone dizzy with happiness and relief. Stephen was twenty-four, Doug twenty-six. Because of this all-of-a-sudden, newfangled, and amazingly powerful bomb dropping on two cities that practically no one had heard of ever before, Doug and Stephen and hundreds of thousands of other young men were assured of living to be another year older. And for that, Miss Letty would be grateful for all the rest of her own life.

“Is that them?” Alice Everett had said, on that day in Schilo’s Delicatessen, as the street door opened, and two men stepped in from the dazzle of sunshine outside – two handsome young men, gallant in Army ‘pinks’, with silver aviator wings on their chests. “Oh, my – I do believe that I am in love already!”

Letty had made a brief ‘tisk’ of mild disapproval at that, but upon seeing the dazzled expression on Stephen Wyler’s face, and the delicate blush on Alice’s – she recognized a certain truth at once; there was such a thing as love at first sight, and no brief affection, for it lasted a full and devoted sixty years.

Now Miss Letty waited on the back porch of the McAllister house, leaning on the cane that she barely needed, as Chris Mayall trotted briskly down the outside stairs from his apartment, in the old carriage-house, car keys in hand.

(“You must go with me,” Alice could barely contain the sobs, that day in 2004, calling Letty on the telephone from San Antonio. “They’ve moved him to a ward at Brooke – You know how I feel about hospitals – but I simply must be there when he wakes up. Petty Officer Mayall was J.W.’s best friend, he was beside him when … it happened. That poor boy has no family at all – certainly none out here who can visit …”)

“All ready?” Chris said, opening the passenger-side door with a flourish. He helped Miss Letty on the last step, and into the little red coupe. “I’ll have to bring you home straightaway afterwards, though – I’m running a half-marathon in Beeville this afternoon. It’s not one of those big races, but I’d like to have it under my belt when I start competing in the fall.”

“You are serious about this, aren’t you?” Miss Letty mused, as the little red coupe pulled out onto the road. “Have you thought about getting one of those special blade-running prosthetics? “

“It is a thought, Miss Letty,” Chris mused. Miss Letty thought that yes, he would have been thinking about it. Running marathon races must be awfully hard on his regular prosthesis.

“Let me look into it,” she said. “And I’ll see what I can do. After all – I have been with the Red Cross a very long time. I know people.”

“Miscellaneous Americana (Part III): Washington’s Cabinet—their vitae—and who was well paid in the early Republic” [Chicago Boyz]

Seth Barrett Tillman:

Many good historical sources list the President and Vice President as the two highest paid officials of the early government, at $25,000 and $5,000 per year respectively. But that is not correct. President Washington appointed Ministers Plenipotentiary for the United States at London (Pinckney) and at Paris (Morris)—each made $9,000 per year, and each was also granted $9,000 for “outfit”!. . .

A brief and informative post.

Tfw all you do is post how cool you are for being in the military but you can’t even spell... [http://cupcakesandproteinshakes.tumblr.com/]

Tfw all you do is post how cool you are for being in the military but you can’t even spell Sergeant correctly 😂

I have a zit that’s so obnoxious it’s making my feel like I got punched in the chin.... [http://cupcakesandproteinshakes.tumblr.com/]

I have a zit that’s so obnoxious it’s making my feel like I got punched in the chin. Like my entire right lower half of my face hurts. Wtf.

lukehemmoh: how many followers do you need to have to have one of those nights where people just... [http://cupcakesandproteinshakes.tumblr.com/]


how many followers do you need to have to have one of those nights where people just keep on asking questions about your life nonstop

Squarespace [Daring Fireball]

My thanks to Squarespace for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. I’m sure you’ve already heard of Squarespace — it’s an all-in-one website builder that covers everything from design and layout to domain name registration and the actual hosting of the site.

Squarespace keeps evolving though, so if you haven’t checked them out recently, you should. Needs vary. That’s why Squarespace recently launched three website products, each catered to the needs of different creative people. Cover Pages are single-page websites that are perfect for when your idea is just starting out. Have products to sell? Squarespace Commerce is robust enough to be both online storefront and business manager. For something in between, Squarespace Websites provide beautiful, versatile templates that help you create the exact site you’ve always wanted. Learn which product is right for you. Start today with a free trial and use offer code DARING for 10 percent off.

Why a Die-Hard Mechanical Watch Lover Can’t Get the Apple Watch Off His Wrist [Daring Fireball]

Jack Forster, who has covered the mechanical watch industry professionally for two decades, writing for Hodinkee:

I think the Apple Watch is winning the smartwatch wars right now for several reasons: better UI is one (I struggle to find Android Wear compelling, in any form, at least so far) and its ability to keep your phone in your pocket, and your head up, is another. One of its biggest secrets, though, is this: it shows every indication of having been made by people who love and understand watches, and who know that for any kind of wearable to succeed, it has to be love at first sight. And that’s why it’s not only a threat to other smartwatches, but to mechanical watchmaking. It’s a truism in watchmaking that the face sells the watch, but that truism is based on something bigger, which is that for something you’re going to have on your skin all day, you decide in microseconds, and with your heart, not your head, whether it’s for you. I used the word “seduced” several times in writing about Apple Watch, because its ability to be instantly seductive is the reason you give everything else about it a chance. The Apple Watch is seductive; Google Glass was not, and the rest is history.

Ad Age Retracts Claim That Google Will Favor AMP Pages in Search Results [Daring Fireball]

Important correction from Ad Age, regarding the claim earlier this week that Google would favor AMP page in search results. The story now reads:

And, crucially, Google favors faster* sites over others with the same search score in the results it shows consumers, said Richard Gingras, senior director, news and social products at Google.

“Clearly, AMP takes speed to a point of extreme,” Mr. Gingras said. “So, obviously we look to leverage that. Again, it is only one signal. AMP doesn’t mean adopt AMP and get a massive boost in search ranking. That is not the case. All of the other signals need to be satisfied as well. But without question speed matters. If we had two articles that from a signaling perspective scored the same in all other characteristics but for speed, then yes we will give an emphasis to the one with speed because that is what users find compelling.”

The footnote on “faster” reads:

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Google would favor AMP sites in search results over others with otherwise identical scores. Google will simply favor faster sites. We regret the error.

Good to know.

Hollywood Reporter: ‘Dr. Dre Filming Apple’s First Scripted Television Series’ [Daring Fireball]

Michael O’Connell and Lesley Goldberg, reporting for The Hollywood Reporter:

Apple is making its first original television show. The Hollywood Reporter has learned that the technology giant is backing a top-secret scripted series starring one of its own executives, Beats co-founder and rap legend Dr. Dre.

Multiple sources say the 50-year-old mogul is starring in and executive producing his own six-episode vehicle, dubbed Vital Signs, and the production is being bankrolled by Apple. The series likely will be distributed via Apple Music, the company’s subscription streaming site, but it’s not clear if Apple TV, the iTunes store or other Apple platforms (or even a traditional television distributor) will be involved. Apple and a rep for Dre declined to comment.

If only this news had broken before I had Eddy Cue on my podcast. Interesting to think about how Apple would (will?) charge for exclusive content. Making it free for Apple Music subscribers is one idea, but if that’s the case, why did they call it “Apple Music”? What if it’s free for anyone with Apple TV?

It doesn’t sound very Disney-like, either:

While technically a half-hour, the show is not a comedy. Instead, it is described as a dark drama with no shortage of violence and sex. In fact, an episode filming Monday and Tuesday this week featured an extended orgy scene. Sources tell THR that naked extras simulated sex in a mansion in the Bird Streets neighborhood of Los Angeles’ Hollywood Hills.

The Talk Show, With Very Special Guests Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi [Daring Fireball]

Drop what you’re doing and find a pair of headphones: my guests on this special episode of my podcast are Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi. It’s a wide-ranging discussion, and includes a bunch of interesting scoops: the weekly number of iTunes and App Store transactions, an updated Apple Music subscriber count, peak iMessage traffic per second, the number of iCloud account holders, and more.

If you’re new to the show, you can subscribe via iTunes or RSS.

This special episode was sponsored exclusively by Meh.com.

Vector Networks, an Alternative to Paths [Daring Fireball]

Evan Wallace:

Before I co-founded Figma my background was in game development, not in design. I remember being very surprised when I first encountered modern vector editing tools. Many of the interactions felt broken. Why couldn’t you just manipulate things directly? Why did connecting and disconnecting stuff only sometimes work? Is this the best we can do?

The pen tool as we know it today was originally introduced in 1987 and has remained largely unchanged since then. We decided to try something new when we set out to build the vector editing toolset for Figma. Instead of using paths like other tools, Figma is built on something we’re calling vector networks which are backwards-compatible with paths but which offer much more flexibility and control.

I have never been able to make heads or tails out of Illustrator’s vector design tools. (R.I.P. Freehand.) The Figma designers have come up with something truly novel — looking forward to trying this.

Free as in Frightening [Daring Fireball]

From a Wired profile of Android founder Andy Rubin:

Rubin is typically tight-lipped about his plans — he refused to comment, for instance, on a recent report in The Information that he’s building a new Android phone. When pressed, he says he is in fact working on a dashcam, which he plans to give away in exchange for its data — potentially allowing Playground to build a real-time visual map of the world. And he has other ideas, he says, “that I’m not willing to talk about.”

I like the Engadget piece on this: “Android Creator Andy Rubin Is Making a Free Dashcam: You’ll Just Have to Give Up Its Data in Exchange.”

That’s one hell of a “just”.

Ted pulling that ad was PC [Don Surber]

UPDATE: Pardon my update, but I have further thoughts about Ted Cruz pulling an ad because an actress -- one of his supporters -- had appeared topless in a dozen movies. The press calls it soft porn.

This shows the difference between Trump and Cruz: I don't think Trump would do this. He has his feuds but I do not think you build your father's string of tenements into a multi-billion-dollar empire employing 34,000 people by throwing people under the bus. His employees seem to be loyal to him and vice versa.

Tossing people under the bus can get you elected; just ask Obama.

But one problem for Cruz is the trust issue. This does not help.

Understandably, she is upset. She genuinely believed in the guy. Here films were R-rated stuff. The Washington Examiner has a story on her here,

If Cruz is wondering why Trump -- a liberal -- is pulling more conservative voters, it is because Trump doesn't kowtow to political correctness. H isn't afraid if the late-night comics make fun of him. Cruz apparently does.

ORIGINAL POST: Ted Cruz pulled an ad featuring a former soft-porn actress, Amy Lindsay, whose most recent work was "MILF" in 2010. She also appeared in an episode of "Star Trek: Voyager."

From the London Daily Mail:

The Texas senator's ad, titled 'Conservatives Anonymous', accused Florida Sen. Marco Rubio of duping tea party voters who carried him into office in 2010.
It features a woman cautioning Marco's supporters to 'vote for more than just a pretty face next time'. The ad came down within hours after The Daily Caller identified the woman as Amy Lindsay, whose IMDb filmography lists acting 74 credits dating back to 1994, including 'Milf', 'Sex Sent Me To The ER' and 'Carnal Wishes'. 
A spokeswoman for Cruz insisted that the campaign would never knowingly hire an adult film actress.
Cruz's press secretary Catherine Frazier said: 'The actress responded to an open casting call. She passed her audition and got the job. 
'Unfortunately, she was not vetted by the casting company. Had the campaign known of her full filmography, we obviously would not have let her appear in the ad. 
'The campaign is taking the ad down and will replace it with a different commercial.'
Unfortunately for Cruz, the 30-second video was mirrored by other YouTube users 
So he dumped her. Under the bus goes she and the ad.

I do not see how this revelation would have hurt him. Christians are supposed to hate sin and love the sinner. We struggle with that, of course. But that is what we are supposed to do. He could have been magnanimous. Instead, he went small.

Tweet of the day [Don Surber]

Even Obama's campaign manager apparently has regrets now.

Soon, West Virginians will have the right to work [Don Surber]

Soon, West Virginia. Soon.

On July 1, 2016, the people of West Virginia finally will have the right to hold a job without paying a union troll for that privilege.

The Republican Party voted to override Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, a career politician whose only real life job was running illegal gambling machines for his father, who went to prison for being a crooked sheriff.

Less than 7% of the private work force (people who do not work for the government) in America is unionized. That means that 93% of Americans have rejected this 19th century approach to labor-management relations.

Less than half the people of working age in West Virginia have a job.

Tomblin said this legislation will have little economic benefit.

That's better than the 82 years of Democratic control that gutted the state's economy. Voters finally wised up in 2014 and voted in their first Republican-led legislature since 1932. This year, the Governor's Mansion, state agriculture commissioner, auditor, secretary of state, and treasurer should swing Republican. Already have a Republican attorney general, and he just beat Obama in court over outlawing coal.

Sexist of the day [Don Surber]

Laura June writes a mommy blog for New York Magazine. These are the quotes from her latest post:

I’m Voting for Hillary Because of My Daughter.
And yet, until she conceded defeat, I stuck with Hillary for the simple reason that she is a woman. 
I did it for my newly dead mother, who would have loved to see the day when a woman became POTUS.
This is how I was raised: to vote for women if viable, rational women were on the ticket.
I get that a lot of people — including many extremely intelligent women — think this is a very dumb way to choose a candidate to support. It is on some level extremely radical to say: “I will vote for her because of her gender.” Anytime you suggest that one thing — gender or race, especially — trumps all else in your voting book, people will be very annoyed. Those who disagree with this strategy often default to worst-case scenarios: “So you’d vote for Sarah Palin simply because she is a woman?” To that I’d say: “Of course not; stop being difficult to make a point.” Of course the candidate needs to share my values. But given two candidates of roughly the same values — one a man and one a woman — I think it is perfectly rational to choose the woman because she is a woman. Always.
I forgot that I vote for women. Always. I took for granted some sense of equality. The world has changed so much in the past 15 years, surely Hillary Clinton doesn’t need my vote so much, does she?
after several months of thinking, Well, I think I’ll probably vote for Bernie Sanders — that I am going to support and vote for Hillary, and that it is important for me to say this aloud to my friends and family. I’m going to vote for Hillary Clinton, because she is a woman. 
This is even more important to say aloud now, I think, in light of her defeat in New Hampshire, where it is clear that she lost many women's votes to Sanders.
Once or twice, watching her stand on that stage, I thought I saw her feel something I have felt many times in my adult life as a woman, and the best way I can describe it is to say that she looked like she was going to laugh maniacally, explode, cry, and throw up all at the same time. 
I saw for the first time the thing we have in common: We are both women. And that was enough, because I have never seen that look in Bernie Sanders eyes, because Bernie Sanders is not a woman.
Sometimes the fact that I’m a woman isn’t the most important thing about me. But sometimes, it is.
This is not an intelligent, cogent argument; it is a desperate cry from a woman for the repeal of the 19th Amendment. It doesn't matter how corrupt, weak, or incompetent Hillary is, Laura June is voting for her because she is a woman. Men need not apply.

Hillary's How Now Chairwoman Mao moment backfired [Don Surber]

Despite the fact that at times she looks like a chipmunk who munched too many chips, Missus Clinton understands the importance of appearance. In her PBS debate with Bernie Sanders last night she wanted to show she was to Bernie's left without giving Republicans a sound bite for November, because she is always thinking about November -- just as she did in 2008. She's a very slow learner. So she dressed like Chairman Mao to signal to Bernie's base (anyone who is not retired) where her heart is.

Chairman who?

I say this because despite his dominance of the largest nation in the world throughout almost half the 20th century, no one under 40 knows who he is. They do not teach Mao in America for the same reason they do not teach Mao in China: He makes communism look bad. Mao was a coldblooded mass murderer who slaughtered about 100,000,000 Chinese -- roughly the entire populations of England and France.

So this went over the heads of Bernie's supporters and not into their subconscious. A dud. They did not hear the unspoken Mao. Instead they heard grandma is a Star Trek fan.

Meanwhile, Bernie rattled on and on about Henry Kissinger, much to the amusement of all those sharp conservative commentators. You know, the ones who have been saying Trump doesn't know what he is doing. Ho, ho, ho, that dumb old man. No one know who Henry Kissinger is.


But unlike Hillary and Mao, Bernie actually said Kissinger's name, over and over again. His message was clear: Look him up. And his audience -- people under 65 -- did.
And when they did, they discovered everything everything Sanders said was "true" because the academics got to the Internet first and smeared Kissinger's good name. Bernie knows exactly what he is doing. He is the second-most underrated politician in America, after Donald Trump. Socialists don't get elected in America. Sanders did. None of the experts think that is important. I do.

Our political experts are the dumbest bunnies on the farm. They never learn.

And just to prove my point, Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican National Committee, mocked Sanders for honeymooning in the Soviet Union. No one under 40 knows what the Soviet Union is. It ended 24 years ago. Who is the dumbest in the land is a race between the Clintons and the Republican Establishment. I do not see either one making it past the primaries.

Look & listen #UNESCO #WorldRadioDay 13 Feb Radio in Times of Emergency & Disaster [DX International radio]

UNESCO World Radio Day is here once more- Saturday 13 February. See what is going on near you and further afield. The 2016 theme is “Radio in Times of Emergency and Disaster”. Radio still remains the medium that reaches the widest audience worldwide, in the quickest possible time.

There are so many events around the world in many languages. Some events celebrate radio, others show how the technology is still so vital, in a world where the majority of people do not have internet access, unlike most of those in the over-privileged countries.

SOAS in London hold an event on MONDAY 15 February SOAS Radio will be hosting a World Radio day event with trade fair (which includes the BBC) from 1500 to 1800 UTC and a panel discussion from 1800-2000 UTC with an in-depth look at some of the most innovative research using radio in development interventions worldwide from academics and professionals working in the field. I went last year and recommend it.

Speakers in 2016 are Anne Bennett, Hirondelle Foundation; Carlos Chirinos, Africa Stop Ebola; Kerida McDonald, UNICEF; and Francis Rolt, Search for Common Ground. SOAS is based at the University of London specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East.

Other exciting events include:

Listen to the Special Broadcast this Saturday 13 February
You can listen to how Radio saves lives in times of emergency and disaster by tuning in on Saturday 13 February.

Amateur Radio Special Event Radio Station (MXØLTC) operating 12:00 to 24:00 hrs UTC 13th February 2016 in support of World Radio Day. The Radio Station will be operated in the7MHz (40 metre) and 14 MHz(20 metre) Radio Bands between the frequencies of 7.080 MHz and 7.200 MHz LSB (Lower Side Band) and 14.125 MHz and 14.350 MHz USB (Upper Side Band).

VOA Radiogram marks World Radio Day with text and images via shortwave radio
VOA Radiogram, an experimental Voice of America radio gram, transmits text and images via a 50-year-old shortwave transmitter located in North Carolina. VOA Radiogram during the weekend on 13-14 February will include a mention of World Radio Day. Receive VOA Radiogram on any shortwave radio, patch the audio into a PC or Android device using software such as Fldigi from w1hkj.com .

Australia's Emergency Broadcasting - Saving lives through radio broadcasting

Protecting Radio Frequencies. Christoph Dosch on the vital importance of broadcasting in disasters

Radio in a Box is an integrated mobile radio broadcasting station that could be used during disaster and emergency response and community broadcasting.

World Radio Day Talk Show (Special Programme): Radio In Times of Emergency and Disaster A special programme in conjunction with World Radio Day 2016 run by Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI).

Through World Radio Day celebrations around the world, UNESCO will promote radio in times of emergency and disaster, and put forward the following messages:

1. Freedom of expression and journalists’ safety should be disaster-proof.

2. Radio empowers survivors and vulnerable people, whose right to privacy is to be respected.

3. Radio has social impact and provides access to information. People’s right to information should be protected even in times of emergency and disaster.

4. Radio saves lives.

5. The immediate accessibility of radio frequencies is essential to saving lives. These frequencies should be protected so they are available in times of emergency.

Listen, learn, enjoy and celebrate radio!

How TSA wants to make flying easier, II [FederalNewsRadio.com » Commentary]

When you’re being poked and patted near your pits and parts, it may be difficult to think of the Transportation Security Administration as on your side. But cut them a little slack. I have evidence the agency and its contractors are committed to continuous improvement.

Various published reports, such as this account in The Hill, detail a new training facility in Georgia so both new hires and experienced officers can hone their skills with the equipment and procedures. Training sessions will run for two weeks. The new program follows reports from the Homeland Security inspector general that banned items — including a realistic, mock bomb — were regularly getting past TSA checkpoints.

This gets to the heart of the agency’s issues: How fast and how safely it can get people through screening, one of the least agreeable rituals in 21st century life. Think of airport screening on a two-axis scatter diagram. Left scale is horribly slow and intrusive at the bottom, sail-through at the top. The bottom scale is letting bombs and loaded guns through on the left end and complete confidence to the right. The challenge is putting most of the dots in the upper left quadrant.

Last week I wrote about my experience at a TSA PreCheck enrollment center in McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. As regular flyers know, Pre status expedites screening by letting you keep your shoes and jacket on your body, your notebook PC in your bag. Also your dignity is kept somewhat intact.

First, a correction: Pre enrollment, to speed you through security in domestic air travel, is only $85 for five years. The $100 figure applies to the Global Entry system covering international travel.

Karen Gough, a senior director at MorphoTrust USA, called with more information. Morpho’s the company that operates the more than 40 TSA Pre enrollment centers at airports under a contract with TSA. It also operates many off-airport enrollment offices — 350 altogether.

Thanks to the magic of Google alerts, the company learned of the error I encountered when the agent I dealt with could not verify my mother’s maiden name on my birth certificate. Gough says the birth certificate process is still in the pilot phase.

The problem was on Ohio’s end, a faulty back-file conversion program.  The birth certificate verification, for those without a passport, is done in conjunction with a non-profit called  NAPHSIS, of Silver Spring, Maryland. That stands for National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems . Gough tells me it’s been resolved for all of us Buckeyes.

She also tells me TSA is expanding the reach of its enrollment process. Soon, Gough says, 75 H&R Block stores will also have Pre enrollment capability.

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National Science Foundation funds a magnificent, historic discovery [FederalNewsRadio.com » Commentary]

Maybe you’ve heard. The nation has been debating the roles and policies of the federal government. To tell you the truth, I’ve mostly tuned out the repulsive noise from and about the candidates. But there is one activity in which the government engages that, this week, has brought an element of grandeur to national life.

This comes from the National Science Foundation. You don’t have to be an astrophysicist to appreciate the discovery of — and I won’t try to paraphrase this — “ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe.” Albert Einstein predicted these ripples back in 1915, but no one was able to confirm them until now. Basically what scientists have discovered is the nearly incalculable power of a collision between two black holes more than a billion light years from here. That is today, the event took place 1.3 billion years ago.

Ironically, Einstein, though he believed the waves to exist, didn’t buy into the source, black holes.

LIGO picTechnician working on a LIGO detector, en route to confirming a century-old prediction from Einstein. Photo courtesy of LIGO Laboratory

The discovery came from two facilities funded by the NSF. They’re called Laser Inferomoeter Gravitational-wave Observatory detectors, or LIGO. Not surprisingly LIGO detectors were thought up by brains at CalTech and MIT, who operate them.

Just imagine two black holes, each 50 times the mass of the sun, creeping toward each other then accelerating, colliding, and blending. Some of their mass gets converted to energy and, voila, E=MC². OK, I’m simplifying.

A lot of computational math and tweaking of the LIGO detectors went into this discovery. If you like statistics and can be amazed by both the gigantic and the minute, read more at the NSF website. Eventually, the LIGOs underwent a total overhaul for a step-function increase in their sensitivity. It’s not as if a gravity wave will suddenly make an apple lift off the ground back into the tree. Scientists are looking at tiny fluctuations in numbers.

The whole thing shows the ability of government to advance basic research by committing grants to responsible people. NSF lists a large number of universities and technologies worldwide as contributing to the discovery.  It involved 1,000 people over nearly 25 years. A spokesman for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration said the discovery launches a new field called gravitational wave astronomy.

Two questions:

First, is this important? Of course it is. Whether it leads you to God Almighty or the conclusion that all existence is a random, mathematical construct, a discovery like this fulfills civilized peoples’ yearning to understand the universe. Whether something practical like Velcro or a reusable rocket will come out of it, who knows. But every piece of knowledge has value, and this is an enormous piece of knowledge.

Second, should the government fund it? I’ll answer with a question. Who else would pay for it with no chance of commercialization other than those who actually did, namely the federal government and the universities involved?

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Concerns grow over VA’s proposal to put SES MSPB rights up for grabs [FederalNewsRadio.com » Congress]

The Veterans Affairs Department is considering a proposal that would strip senior agency executives of their rights to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board when they face disciplinary action.

The proposal would reclassify VA Senior Executive Service members as Title 38 employees, meaning that if the department secretary chooses to demote or fire that employee, the decision is final. Title 38 employees cannot appeal to MSPB. These employees currently are classified under Title 5, which gives them the ability to appeal.

Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson introduced the idea to the chairman and ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee earlier this week, VA Secretary Bob McDonald said during a Feb. 10 hearing on the department’s budget.

“[It] would give us more flexibility in terms of paying them competitively in the medical community, as well as giving us greater flexibility in disciplining them without all of the things that happen with the Senior Executive Service,” he said. “We have put that proposal forward; we have to do a lot more work on it. It’s just preliminary.”

A congressional staff member said the House and Senate VA Committees will likely include Gibson’s proposal as part of their discussions on a package of veterans legislation.

The VA’s proposal as it stands now will be a hard sell in Congress, because the Title 38 employee disciplinary process can often take more than 700 days, the staff member said.

McDonald also discussed his proposal with Senate VA committee  chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).

“[Senator] Isakson is looking forward to receiving a legislative proposal from the VA to convert SES employees to Title 38 and is encouraged that the Secretary recognizes the need to improve the system of accountability at the VA,” a spokesperson for the committee said in a statement to Federal News Radio.

But a former government executive with knowledge of the VA said the mere thought of this proposal weakens the department’s credibility.

“This is a strategic mistake by the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary, because this proposal basically contradicts the argument they’ve been making for the last number of months,” said the former executive, who requested anonymity. “They’ve been making a good argument, that you can’t fire your way to excellence. If you then create the mechanism in order to make it easier to fire, then people are going to believe what you do, not what you say.”

Critics on Capitol Hill

Congress has long been critical of senior VA leaders, insisting the department hasn’t done enough to dismiss employees in the wake of numerous scandals.

Both McDonald and Gibson have previously stood up their claim: They are holding their employees accountable. At least 2,600 employees have been fired since McDonald assumed his position more than 18 months ago, he told Congress in January.

News of this proposal also will impact morale within the current VA SES workforce, the former government executive said, and it could deter other employees from wanting to join the service in the future.

“Things are difficult as it is in trying to recruit VA executives,” the source said. “The leadership in the department is aligning itself with critics on the Hill to go and make things easier, to go around the MSPB and frankly, fire people. This is probably going to generate a greater exodus of top talent from VA.”

The department already is struggling to attract new talent. Applications for available positions at the VA are down 75 percent, McDonald told the House committee Feb. 10.

Under the proposal, roughly 350 employees would move under Title 38, according to the Senior Executives Association. But the SEA, who described the VA’s ideas as “farcical,” also has its concerns.

“It remains astonishing … that so much time and taxpayer money is spent by Congress and this administration in public grandstanding focused on a few career executives instead of the systemic issues facing VA’s vast infrastructure of funding, people, services and capital,” SEA Interim President Jason Briefel said in a statement.

Strengthening VA’s cases

News of the proposal comes a few days after Gibson launched an investigation on four senior executives at the agency to reconsider possible disciplinary actions. Gibson issued orders to review actions for Diana Rubens and Kimberley Graves, senior employees who were accused of taking advantage of an agency relocation program.

The VA demoted both Rubens and Graves based on its own investigation, but the Merit Systems Protection Board recently overturned the agency’s decision. Both women have since been reinstated.

“We now find ourselves in a situation where both Rubens and Graves have been charged, and those charges have been sustained and there’s been no penalty,” Gibson told reporters Feb. 2. “I do not believe that was the intent of Congress. I don’t believe it’s the right thing for veterans. So I will impose some penalty.”

The MSPB judge ultimately reached its decision because the VA’s punishments for Rubens and Graves were not consistent with the department’s treatment of two other executives who were involved in the same scandal.

But the former government executive said VA leaders now are”bending to criticism on the Hill” and should instead work to strengthen their cases when they face MSPB.

“If the department wants to win at MSPB, it had better go in there with really good evidence,” the former executive said. “The evidence has to be rock solid. And frankly, a lot of the evidence that comes out of the IG’s office there at VA, is not.”

Gibson, who previously criticized the VA Inspector General for taking too long to complete disciplinary investigations, also was skeptical of the IG’s work on this particular case. He told reporters the IG left out evidence and “picked and chose pieces that they put in their report in order to support a conclusion that they wanted to reach.”

Even if the VA’s proposal does pass Congress, the former government executive questioned what it would accomplish for the department.

“You just lost a lot of good will in the department, and then the question is, for what? What did you get in return? The criticism is going to continue,” the source said.

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Rep. Connolly to make push for higher federal pay raise [FederalNewsRadio.com » Congress]

Rep. Gerry Connolly, (D-Va.) is planning to introduce a bill that would boost the proposed fiscal 2017 federal pay raise to 5.3 percent.

A spokesman for Connolly’s office said the latest version of the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act would likely drop in the third week of February, and it builds on the President’s proposed 1.6 percent pay raise included in the fiscal 2017 budget.

“While the President’s proposal marks a slight improvement over this year, it doesn’t come close to restoring what federal employees have lost over the past six years, including enduring pay freezes and a shutdown, or to reflecting what they are owed based on their quality of service,” Connolly said in a statement. “The FAIR Act demonstrates to our federal workforce that we value their service.”

The American Federation of Government Employees confirmed Connolly’s plans in a Feb. 12 statement. AFGE National President J. David Cox said the six years of stagnant pay have caused the decline of the “purchasing power of federal paychecks.”

“The women and men who keep this country running deserve a standard of living that keeps up with inflation and rising wages, which is why this catch-up contribution is long overdue. Congress must pass this legislation,” Cox said. “We are not asking for any special treatment, just a catch-up contribution to start making up for the $182 billion that federal employees personally sacrificed to help get our nation through the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.”

AFGE held a rally Feb. 8 calling for an increase. At the time Cox told reporters that a 5.3 percent hike might not happen, but “we are clearly putting on the record that we are owed the 5.3.”

Connolly proposed a 3.8 percent federal pay raise under the same bill name one year ago, but it didn’t go far. The bill had about two dozen sponsors, including Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

An official in Hollen’s office said he would be signing on as an original cosponsor to Connolly’s latest bill.

In mid-December the President signed an executive order for a  1.3 percent pay raise for federal and military workers. That raise went into effect Jan. 1. OPM released a memo outlining the salary tables.

The President sent a letter to congressional leaders in August authorizing across-the-board and locality pay adjustments. He sent a second similar letter a few weeks later to congressional leaders saying he was authorizing a pay adjustment for uniformed service members.

In November, Obama also backed locality pay increases for civilian federal employees in 2016.

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IRS looking to strengthen IT, customer service in fiscal 2017 [FederalNewsRadio.com » Congress]

Armed with positive figures and proactive plans for the future, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen pledged to lawmakers that the money his agency is asking for this coming fiscal year will be put to good use.

Koskinen appeared Feb.11 before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, to talk about what the beleaguered agency plans to do with potentially $11.8 billion this upcoming fiscal year to improve customer service, strengthen its IT systems and toughen up on enforcement — as well as early changes it’s made thanks to an additional $290 million Congress gave to the agency for 2016.

“We’re hiring up to 1,000 new temporary and seasonal people,” Koskinen said. “We hire several thousand every year, 8,000 to 10,000 … it takes a little while to get them hired, but already the results are in. About 25 million returns have already been filed and the level of taxpayer service has already gone up.”

Koskinen said the goal for this upcoming filing season is to have a rate of 60 percent of taxpayers who reach an IRS employee on the phone within 2-5 minutes of calling. Right now that taxpayer service level is closer to 37-to-40 percent.

“It won’t be where we think it needs to be because the $290 million was out of a request for an additional $700 million in those three areas,” Koskinen said. “Part of the reason we have more requests for additional funding for taxpayer services in the 2017 budget is we think the level of service ought to be at 80 percent. … The 1,000 people, additional adjustments of resources will allow us we think to have taxpayer level of service in the low 60 percent. Our goal would be to try to get to 70, but if we had additional funding in ‘17, we could get to 80 percent.”

The IRS has requested $11.8 billion in the President’s fiscal 2017 budget, an increase of 4.7 percent over 2016 levels.

Koskinen said lawmakers could also help the IRS by passing a legislative package to improve tax administration. Among the proposals, he said, is renewing streamlined Critical Pay Authority, expanding the matching program for taxpayer identification numbers, granting the IRS authority to require minimum qualifications for paid tax preparers, and expanding electronic filing requirements for businesses.

Protecting personal information, preserving data

Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) wanted to know what steps the IRS was taking to address identity theft.

In 2013, GAO said about $5 billion was lost to fraudulent tax refunds. Koskinen told the subcommittee that number was down, but “it’s still a significant number.”

The figure has dropped in part due to better filters and improved detection capacity, Koskinen said.

“We hope that we finally begin to catch up with, if not get ahead of the criminals,” Koskinen said. “One of the ways we measure that is the percentage of suspicious returns and refunds we’re able to stop. We’ve already stopped 300,000 suspicious returns just in the front end of this, many of which we would not have been able to stop before.”

Koskinen also touched on a power outage last week at the IRS’ Martinsburg, West Virginia office as well as answered questions from Crenshaw about a former employee’s hard drive that was thought to be erased despite a court order to preserve the information on it.

Koskinen said the data was actually pulled off the drive, but what he’s decided to do is order the stop of any hard drive data wiping when an employee leaves the IRS. Instead, the data will be copied off the hard drive into an “electronic area” when an employee leaves. Koskinen said the hope is to have that practice in place for all employees leaving the IRS by the end of the year.

Koskinen said about nearly $20 million has been requested for a “modernized e-discovery” system that will be a database in which the IRS can pull “relevant documents and give them to you virtually overnight. In the meantime nobody’s wiping anything, we’re collecting data off of [hard drives] and saving it.”

Long-term impacts of funding cuts

Last year, the IRS collected about $3 trillion, which translates to about 93 percent of the money that funds government programs that everyone else supports, Koskinen said.

Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) asked what the long-term impact of the cuts to the IRS are and how Koskinen plans to mitigate the damage.

Koskinen said leading into this year, the IRS is down 5,000 revenue agents, officers and criminal investigators, and that by the end of the year, that number will be 6,500. That means there are fewer people and thus fewer audits, which in turn cause taxpayers to think the IRS’ enforcement is “constrained, underfunded and no longer effective,” he said, and that risks undercutting the voluntary compliance system that is the platform for the IRS.

But Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) asked why taxpayer services were lagging while there was nothing that “explicitly reduces” funding for customer service, and in fact Congress increased customer service funding in fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2016.

“If service is so bad, as GAO says it is, and we’ve funded customer service, you say that you have had to use monies from all over to fund these other mandates,” Rogers said. “Our question is, the mandate we want you to have is to serve the public, and you’re not doing that according to GAO.”

Koskinen said at issue are the statutory mandates such as the Affordable Care Act and Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act with which the IRS is required to comply.

When Congress underfunds the IRS for those mandates “we have to find the funding somewhere else,” Koskinen said, pointing out that Congress has underfunded the IRS for the Affordable Care Act.

The priorities that are ultimately impacted are the same ones Congress and the IRS want to improve — customer service, IT and enforcement.

“The $900 million we did not get for information technology for funding the unfunded mandates had to come from other IT projects,” Koskinen said .”We do not replace and install every patch that we get. We get thousands of security patches and updates, they all take time, money and effort.”

While the $290 million is “a significant step forward,” Koskinen said, “we won’t be at the level we want it to be. The $290 million doesn’t fill all of the gaps that the $700 million in additional requests last year for those three areas would have done. But it will be noticeably different.”

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IRS says it will fix ‘shortcomings’ that fail to archive employee emails [FederalNewsRadio.com » Congress]

Republican members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chastised IRS leaders Wednesday for the agency’s inability to preserve its employees’ emails and track those records down when needed. The IRS says it will have a system that complies with federal recordkeeping standards by December, but critics said the promised changes are years overdue.

The latest dustup over document retention surrounds a pending Freedom of Information Act lawsuit between Microsoft and the IRS.

Last month, the agency told a federal judge that it couldn’t comply with a court order to save emails from former IRS official Samuel Maruca because it had already tagged his computer’s  hard drive for destruction shortly after he left the agency in 2014; the hard drive was likely erased later that year or early in 2015.

Although the IRS now says it can cobble together most of the relevant emails from other backup sources, GOP members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee who have held dozens of IRS hearings dating back to 2013 said record destruction was an “ongoing problem” that validated their calls to impeach Commissioner John Koskinen.

“Data storage is cheap,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). “It would have been so much easier if the IRS had decided back when we held our first hearing to preserve everything. What precluded the agency from doing that? When Lois Lerner first came in and invoked the Fifth Amendment, you should have said, ‘You know what, we have a problem, let’s just preserve everything we have’ instead of talking about this at our 24th hearing.”

As of last month, the IRS has done just that, said Jeff Tribiano, the deputy commissioner for operations.

“We recognized the [Maruca] situation reflected a shortcoming in our document controls,” he said. “Therefore, we will halt the recycling and erasure of all departing employees’ hard drives and mobile devices. We will copy that information into a digital format in addition to retaining the physical hard drive. We will also broaden our litigation hold procedures so that those hold instructions are sent not only to the employees in charge of those systems, but also to their supervisors.”

But the department had already instituted a “don’t erase” policy 2 1/2 years ago.

Following allegations that the IRS had been improperly singling out conservative groups for scrutiny of their nonprofit status, Terence Milholland, the agency’s chief technology officer issued a memo ordering that all backup tapes containing emails be saved indefinitely rather than just six months.

“Further, do not reuse or refresh or wipe information from any personal computer that is being reclaimed/returned/refreshed/liquidated from any employee or contractor. … In other words, retain everything to do with email or information that may have been stored locally on a personal computer,” he wrote in May 2013.

That policy was violated when the IRS, due to what officials say was an employee error, destroyed hundreds of backup tapes that may have contained emails sent or received by Lois Lerner, long a target of the committee’s investigation

“I was literally blown away by the fact that those tapes were destroyed,” Milholland said Wednesday. “I thought the instructions were remarkably clear.”

IRS officials said the 2013 policy remained in effect, but they seemed to suggest Thursday that it  didn’t apply to the Maruca case because the policy was only meant to apply to archival tapes,  not individual computers, and because the policy had since been amended to relax the data retention rules for the hard drives of IRS workers who were not part of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities division.

“Because of budgetary problems two years ago while we were doing our Windows 7 implementation, we asked, ‘If we make copies of the data on the physical hard drives we’ve been saving, can we erase them and reuse them?’ We got permission to do that. And in that sense, the policy was rescinded,” Milholland said.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the committee’s chairman, was unpersuaded by that explanation.

“You can dance around this all you want, but you’ve had preservation orders and do-not-destroy orders in place and you’ve continued to destroy data,” he said. “This issue has never been fixed, and that’s why we continue to have these hearings.”

IRS officials said many of their document archival challenges had do with the sheer scope of managing the email records of one of the government’s largest agencies and a massive upsurge in records requests since the allegations of improper targeting first surfaced, all during the course of five consecutive years of budget cuts.

Adjusted for inflation, the IRS budget is 17 percent smaller than in 2010.

In the technology arena, that’s meant the agency has not been able to replace applications and technology architecture that were first designed and implemented in the 1960s and 1970s. Those systems’ massive maintenance costs tend to crowd out spending on new IT infrastructure.

Milholland said many of the applications are written in Cobol and assembly language, and only a handful of aging IT staffers understand how they work — let alone how to modify them.

“The budget affects people, processes and technology,” he said. “In the people area, we have 67 individuals who are single points of failure for particular systems. If they left the IRS, we would not have any knowledge to deal with the systems they’re running. That’s how thin we’ve become.”

With regard to records management specifically, the IRS has begun to implement a system in line with the National Archives and Records Administration’s “Capstone” approach to saving federal records.

NARA has determined the IRS is “generally compliant” with the guidelines, because it’s now storing the email records of all of its senior executives — the officials most likely to generate federal records of interest to Congress and the public — in a dedicated, permanent database.

An Office of Management and Budget directive in August 2012 ordered all agencies to store all of their emails in searchable databases “to the fullest extent possible” by the end of 2016.

Milholland said IRS will at least partially comply with that deadline by storing all of its workers’ records in a separate archiving system instead of relying on individual employee computers’ hard drives and warehoused tape backups by the end of this year.

“We have an investment plan to build out the entire process of record retention, and the first elements will be in place by the end of December or the beginning of January,” he said. “But in terms of the long-term records retention initiative, a system that can search for anything and do it instantly, that’s not been completely planned out, nor staffed, nor resourced.”

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7 areas to watch in the FY 2017 defense budget [FederalNewsRadio.com » Congress]

Head shot of Katherine BlakeleyKatherine Blakeley, research fellow, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

This week on “Fed Access”, Katherine Blakeley, research fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, joins host Derrick Dortch to talk about her new report: Seven Areas To Watch In The FY17 Defense Budget.

Blakeley will discuss trends in defense spending, including an increased focus on cyber security.

She’ll also talk about how the constraints put in place by the 2011 Budget Control Act have affected both defense and non defense spending.

Blakeley will also discuss new spending priorities for DoD, and where she thinks defense dollars will go when a new president is sworn in next January.




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5 percent boost to VA spending in 2017 might not be enough [FederalNewsRadio.com » Congress]

The Veterans Affairs Department could see a 5 percent bump in funding for fiscal 2017, if Congress gives the department everything it’s asked for in the President’s new budget proposal.

The request totals $78.7 billion in discretionary funding, including $7.2 billion in discretionary funding for veterans’ care in the community programs under the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act.

But spending on the Choice Program is unsustainable, VA executives said, and funding for the program will likely dry up by the end of 2017.

“The Choice Program got off to a rocky start,” David Shulkin, VA undersecretary for health, told the House Veterans Affairs Committee at the department’s budget hearing Feb. 10. “We have been working very hard to get veterans’ access to care through Choice, and we’ve seen the results of that. We’re seeing increased authorizations in significant numbers, and that’s leading us to the projections that we’ll be spending much more money using Choice funds to serve veterans.”

The Choice Program helps veterans look for care outside the VA when certain conditions are met. Congress created it in 2014, when it learned that some VA clinics cooked the books to hide delays in patient care.

The VA will continue to spend more on the Choice program because more veterans are tapping into the department’s health care options. The average veteran uses VA services for about 34 percent of his care, VA Secretary Bob McDonald told the committee. If that estimate rises just one percentage point, the VA will have to spend nearly $1.5 billion more.

“Veterans already have a choice,” he said. “Eighty-one percent of veterans have some form of Medicare, Medicaid [or] private health insurance. As we continue to improve the care from the VA and the care in the community, more veterans are going to choose to use our system because our co-pays are zero.”

But the committee is concerned that the VA’s Choice program and others haven’t done enough to improve appointment wait times, disability claims and appeals processes.

“Simply adding more capacity within VA and opening up additional outside care options doesn’t seem to have moved the needle much,” House VA Committee Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) said. “As the Secretary has told us, demand from existing and new users from the system has overwhelmed whatever new capacity is being created.”

The budget also includes more than 40 new legislative proposals that could give the VA secretary more flexibility to shift funding to areas of emerging need and address some of these challenges.

Among the proposals are a complete overhaul of the department’s appeals process and its community care program, compensation reforms for VA medical professionals and congressional authority to terminate leases on 18 under-utilized properties.

The President’s budget proposal includes an ambitious request for more funding in nearly every facet of VA operations.

The VA would receive $65 billion for medical care in 2017, a 6.3 percent increase in funding over enacted 2016 levels. Medical care programs would receive $66.4 billion in advance appropriations in 2018.

Its homelessness programs could receive $1.6 billion. More than $7 billion could go to VA mental health initiatives.

The department is also asking for $4.2 billion in IT spending, which VA Chief Information Officer LaVerne Council said will support its broader modernization goals.

“We have a large legacy issue that we need to address,” she said. “We are increasing our spending on security to $370 million, fully funding and fully resourcing our security capability. In addition, we’re putting in well over $50 million in creating a data management backbone that we didn’t have. We’ve added five new functions that will modernize the IT organization.”

A bigger VA workforce?

The size of the department’s workforce could increase by nearly 4.8 percent next year, according to the President’s budget request.

Many of those positions would come from the $2.6 million the department is requesting to improve its customer service and MyVA initiatives.

But applications for available positions within the VA are down nearly 75 percent, McDonald told the committee. He said the department has difficulty recruiting new talent — particularly skilled doctors, nurses and health care specialists — in light of recent public personnel scandals.

“They tell me people don’t want to join VA because it’s a maligned organization and everybody’s being fired,” he said. “And then I come and sit in front of you and you tell me nobody is being fired. And the truth, of course, is it’s somewhere in the middle.”

Ultimately, the committee didn’t reach any concrete decisions on the VA’s fiscal future. But any additional funding it does receive next year won’t come easily.

“This budget request is going to continue to receive every bit of scrutiny that I think the American taxpayers would expect us to give it,” Miller said.

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Cobert clears first step in path toward Senate confirmation [FederalNewsRadio.com » Congress]

Office of Personnel Management Acting Director Beth Cobert cleared the first hurdle Wednesday in her nomination to be the agency’s permanent director.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 15-0 to move the nomination forward, which the full Senate will now consider.

Beth Cobert, President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee  hearing on her nomination. Cobert promised to strengthen the agency’s cybersecurity and information technology systems after what’s believed to be the largest data breach in U.S. history.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)Beth Cobert, President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on her nomination. Cobert promised to strengthen the agency’s cybersecurity and information technology systems after what’s believed to be the largest data breach in U.S. history. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

But the committee’s chairman, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), sees some problems — despite his vote approving Cobert’s nomination.

Johnson said he’s concerned by OPM’s response to two separate requests for information.

“Both Congressman Chaffetz’s [and] Senator Vitter’s request for this information, I believe is a legitimate oversight need, and Ms. Cobert is going to have to cooperate with that if this nomination is going to move forward,” Johnson said during the committee’s Feb. 10 business meeting. “I hope she does. Because of that commitment, I’m willing to move this nomination forward in this committee.”

Cobert agreed to work with the Senate and other congressional committees “to accommodate their oversight needs,” Johnson said in reading her response to the committee’s questions for the record.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) issued a subpoena for more documents related to the OPM cyber breaches. The committee has asked for documents on the agency’s cybersecurity efforts five separate times since July.

Johnson said Chaffetz’s response was particularly troubling, calling the subpoena a “last resort” during Cobert’s Feb. 4 nomination hearing.

And Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) threatened to stall Cobert’s nomination over a special exemption given to members of Congress and their staff in an OPM rule amending the Affordable Care Act. He said he hasn’t received the documents he asked for more than two years ago.

Though Vitter is not a member of the Senate committee, his questions were included on the record for Cobert’s nomination hearing.

A Vitter spokesman said his office has not gotten a response from OPM or Cobert, other than her answers to Vitter’s questions for the record.

Vitter is questioning a final rule OPM issued in October 2013, well before Cobert assumed her role as the agency’s acting director last July.

The rule amends a section of the Affordable Care Act and lets members of Congress and their staff buy health insurance on the Small Business Health Options Plan (SHOP) exchange.

According to Vitter, OPM used the claim that the House of Representatives and Senate employed 45 people, meaning both could qualify for small business coverage under the ACA.

But Congress has at least 16,000 employees.

Vitter said Congress is simultaneously claiming itself as a small business to the D.C. Health Link — and a large employer to the IRS.

Congressional employees are now beginning to receive their 1095-C forms  for this tax filing season. The form verifies for the IRS that an employer is offering insurance to their employees.

The spokesman said those 1095 forms contain this phrase: “You are receiving this Form 1095-C because your employer is an Applicable Large Employer, subject to the employer shared responsibility provision in the Affordable Care Act.”

Vitter’s office is asking that the IRS clarify Congress’ status as either a small or large employer in a letter to Commissioner John Koskinen.

Though members encouraged her to be more communicative with Congress, the committee had mostly praise for Cobert.

“I’m delighted that we’re going to move her nomination forward,” Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) said before Wednesday’s vote. “I hope everyone supports it. We’re lucky she’s willing to take on this job.”

Duplication, administrative leave bills

The committee also passed the Duplication Elimination Act, which defines a process for the President and agencies to better address annual recommendations from the Government Accountability Office.

The bill requires the President to specifically indicate which GAO recommendations agencies should adopt. Congress would then debate the recommendations and help agencies set a faster path toward implementing them.

“Hopefully, every time this report is issued … we actually take up these recommendations and either adopt them or not adopt them or improve them,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), one of the bill’s sponsors.

Typically, agencies adopt 27 percent of GAO recommendations a year, Ayotte said.

A slew of other bills also cleared the committee:

  • Combat Terrorist Use of Social Media Act of 2016
  • Secret Service Improvements Act of 2015
  • Federal Property Management Reform Act of 2016
  • An amendment to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to build partnerships to stop extremist violence
  • Construction Consensus Procurement Improvement Act of 2015
  • Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2015
  • Enhancing whistleblower protections for contractor and grantee employees
  • Administrative Leave Act of 2016
  • Countering Online Recruitment of Violent Extremists Act of 2015
  • Making Electronic Government Accountable By Yielding Tangible Efficiencies Act of 2015
  • Department of Homeland Security Insider Threat and Mitigation Act of 2016

Perhaps most notably, the Administrative Leave Act would create new categories of administrative leave for employees accused of misconduct or poor performance.

The Homeland Security Insider Threat and Mitigation Act, which first originated in the House, would require DHS to develop a strategy for an insider threat program.

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169: With Noah Virani [The Ihnatko Almanac]

This week I'm joined by special guest Noah Virani, 13-year-old app developer and fully-qualified multidisciplinary geek. We chat about death in comics, how we relate to characters, and his part-ownership of a kick-butt Superman statue before being joined by his dad for a great second conversation about guiding a young geek. This was one of my favorite shows ever.

166: The Andy Ihnatko Holiday Goodwill Tour [The Ihnatko Almanac]

Andy and Dan talk about Christmas Eve in New York City, taking photographs when you live above the law, transitional holiday times, ornament choices, and more.

Brought to you by Squarespace (Please visit Squarespace.com/ia and use the code ALMANAC for a free trial and 10% off your first purchase).

Traces of Zika found in a man’s semen two months after he was infected [Ars Technica]

This is a transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of Zika virus, which is a member of the family Flaviviridae. Virus particles are 40 nm in diameter, with an outer envelope, and an inner dense core. (credit: CDC)

Two months after a 68-year old British man became sick with Zika virus, traces of the germ lingered in his semen, researchers reported Friday.

The finding suggests that the mosquito-spread virus may unexpectedly hang around in the body for much longer than symptoms appear, which typically only last for about a week. (Though only a quarter or so of people infected with Zika experience any symptoms.) The viral loitering may up the chances of transmission, the authors speculate.

The British man was infected with the virus while traveling to French Polynesia in 2014. Follow-up testing of the man found traces of viral genetic material in his semen 27 days and 62 days after he first reported symptoms of the infection, which included fever, lethargy, and a rash. The findings appeared Friday in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

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64-bit iPhones and iPads get stuck in a loop when set to January 1, 1970 [Ars Technica]

Zach Straley demonstrates the problem on an iPhone.

Take a 64-bit iOS device—iPhone 5S or newer, iPad Air or newer, iPad Mini 2 or newer, sixth generation iPod touch or newer—laboriously set its date to January 1, 1970, and reboot. Congratulations: you now have a shiny piece of high-tech hardware that's stuck at the boot screen, showing nothing more than the Apple logo... forever.

Posted on Reddit and subsequently demonstrated on YouTube, it appears that iOS has a rather embarrassing software flaw. Redditors testing the bug have found themselves with unusable phones, and there are reports that vandals have been resetting the clocks of display devices in Apple stores.

So far, taking advantage of this bug requires a few minutes of physical access, as it takes a while to wind the date back 46 years in the settings app. There is concern that Wi-Fi devices could be vulnerable to malicious data from NTP (network time protocol) servers. NTP is used by many operating systems to set the time and date of a device, and its data is both unencrypted and unauthenticated, making spoofing relatively straightforward. NTP clients should not generally change the time and date by such large amounts, so this may not be an issue, but iOS's behavior in this regard is currently unknown.

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E-cigs shut down hundreds of immune system genes—regular cigs don’t [Ars Technica]

(credit: Ecig Click)

WASHINGTON—It’s widely assumed that swapping cigarette puffing for vapor huffing is better for health—after all, electronic cigarettes that heat up and atomize a liquid concoction can skip all the hazards of combustion and smoke. But researchers are still scrambling to understand the health effects of e-cig use (aka vaping) and to track down the variable and undisclosed components of those vaporized mixtures. The most recent data hints at unexpected health effects unique to e-cig use.

After comparing genetic information swabbed from the noses of smokers, vapers, and non-users of both, researchers found that smoking suppresses the activity of 53 genes involved in the immune system. Vaping also suppressed those 53 immune genes—along with 305 others. The results were presented Friday at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington.

Though research on the significance of that gene suppression is still ongoing, the initial results suggest that e-cig users may have compromised immune responses, making them potentially more vulnerable to infections and diseases.

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Country microbes, city microbes—where you live can change how you get sick [Ars Technica]

Researcher Jean F. Ruiz-Calderon, collecting environmental data. (credit: Humberto Cavallin)

If you live in a city, each room of your house has its own distinct broth of microbes splattered all over its walls—most of it from your skin, mouth, and gut. But if you live in a rural area, this broth contains a lot more microbes from the environment outside. Now, scientists in the burgeoning field of "microbial biogeography" say this could help us understand why people in cities tend to develop diseases that are very different from people in the country.

Your body is full of microbes—indeed, a recent estimate suggests there are more single-celled aliens in your body than there are human cells. The average human male has about 30 trillion cells and 40 trillion microbes living inside him. But these little invaders don't stop at the envelope of your flesh. They're constantly being sloughed off with your skin, dribbling out of your mouth, and getting pooped out of your colon. Which is where microbial biogeography comes in. It's the study of all the microbes that live in our environments, whether they come from us, other animals, or elsewhere in the natural world. Taken together, the microbes in an environment—whether it's your gut or the forest floor—are called a microbiome.

There have already been efforts to sequence microbiomes in people's homes, in the soils and waters of many different environments, and (memorably) on the New York City subway. From these experiments, we've learned that our environments are crawling with different kinds of microbes, many of which co-evolved with us and contribute to our good health. Now a new study conducted in and around Brazil reveals that the microbiomes in our homes change dramatically from country to city, and even from room to room in urban homes.

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Warning: Bug in Adobe Creative Cloud deletes Mac user data without warning [Ars Technica]

Enlarge (credit: Backblaze)

Adobe Systems has stopped distributing a recently issued update to its Creative Cloud graphics service amid reports a Mac version can delete important user data without warning or permission.

The deletions happen whenever Mac users log in to the Adobe service after the update has been installed, according to officials from Backblaze, a data backup service whose users are being disproportionately inconvenienced by the bug. Upon sign in, a script activated by Creative Cloud deletes the contents in the alphabetically first folder in a Mac's root directory. Backblaze users are being especially hit by the bug because the backup service relies on data stored in a hidden root folder called .bzvol. Because the folder is the alphabetically top-most hidden folder at the root of so many users' drives, they are affected more than users of many other software packages.

"This caused a lot of our customers to freak out," Backblaze Marketing Manager Yev Pusin wrote in an e-mail. "The reason we saw a huge uptick from our customers is because Backblaze's .bzvol is higher up the alphabet. We tested it again by creating a hidden file with an '.a' name, and the files inside were removed as well."

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France says Facebook must face French law in nudity censorship case [Ars Technica]

(credit: Spencer E Holtaway)

Facebook will have to face a censorship lawsuit over a 19th century oil painting of a woman's genitalia, a Paris appeals court ruled on Friday.

The ruling favored a French teacher whose Facebook account was suspended when he posted an image (NSFW) of a famous Gustave Courbet painting called L’Origine du monde. The portrait depicts a woman naked from the waist down at a graphic angle, and it hangs in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

The teacher claimed that Facebook censored him, and he is asking for €20,000 (or about $22,500) in damages. Facebook countered that the man’s lawsuit was invalid because Facebook's Terms of Service stipulate (section 15) that all users must resolve disputes with the social network, "in the US District Court for the Northern District of California or a state court located in San Mateo County.”

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Four men—including a pair of pastors—sue Tacoma police over stingray documents [Ars Technica]

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington state has sued the Tacoma Police Department (TPD) on behalf of four community leaders, claiming that TPD has not adequately responded to their public records requests concerning the use of cell-site simulators, or stingrays.

The Thursday lawsuit comes nine months after Washington imposed a new warrant requirement for stingray use in the state and about 15 months after local Pierce County judges imposed stricter guidelines for their use.

Stingrays are in use by both local and federal law enforcement agencies nationwide. The devices determine a target phone’s location by spoofing or simulating a cell tower. Mobile phones in range of the stingray then connect to it and exchange data with the device as they would with a real cell tower. Once deployed, stingrays intercept data from the target phone along with information from other phones within the vicinity—up to and including full calls and text messages. At times, police have falsely claimed that information gathered from a stingray has instead come from a confidential informant.

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Apple: Dear judge, please tell us if gov’t can compel us to unlock an iPhone [Ars Technica]

In a new letter, Apple has asked a judge to finally rule in a case where the government is trying to force the company to unlock a seized iPhone 5S running iOS 7. Currently, United States Magistrate Judge James Orenstein has been sitting on the case for nearly three months.

In the Friday letter, Apple attorney Marc Zwillinger says that ruling now is important, as the government plans to make similar requests of Apple in the future. Prosecutors have invoked the All Writs Act, an 18th-century federal law that simply allows courts to issue a writ (or order) that compels a person or company to do something. For some time now, prosecutors have turned to courts to try to force companies to help in situations where authorities are otherwise stymied.

As Zwillinger wrote:

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Help detect earthquakes with your phone [Ars Technica]

Shake 'em up, boss. (credit: Berkeley Seismological Laboratory)

Imagine you’re a seismologist. In addition to studying data from earthquakes after the fact, you’d like to get out warnings to help save lives the moment one hits. To do that, you’re going to need enough seismometers to guarantee that you have one near the epicenter.

Seismometers cost money to install and operate properly—but everyone with a smartphone has a passable one in their pocket. Harness enough of them and you’ve got yourself a crowdsourced earthquake-detection network that could work absolutely anywhere.

Researchers have played with similar ideas in the past but have mainly had to rely on dedicated devices, along with volunteers who were willing to connect them to their computers. But in a paper published today in Science Advances, a group led by University of California-Berkeley’s Qingkai Kong describes an Android app (available now) that’s up to the task.

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Ubisoft earnings suggest Xbox One players spend more than those on PS4 [Ars Technica]

(credit: Ars Technica/Aurich Lawson)

Ubisoft's latest earnings report shows that the French mega-publisher is making significantly more money from selling PS4 games than Xbox One games. That's not surprising, considering that the PS4 is handily outselling the Xbox One worldwide. What is somewhat surprising is that the Xbox One owners appear to be spending more on Ubisoft games on a per user basis (as VentureBeat noticed).

Ubisoft didn't break out this per-user stat in its most recent earnings report, but it did report that 41 percent of its holiday quarter 2015 revenue came from PS4 game sales versus 27 percent of revenue from Xbox One games. So in their entirety, the PS4 market is currently worth about 52 percent more to Ubisoft than the Xbox One market (all of Ubisoft's recent games have come out for both platforms).

The best available hardware sell-through estimates, though, suggest that there were 35.9 million PS4s in homes worldwide at the end of 2015 compared to 19.1 million Xbox One units. Based on those figures, the size of the PS4 market should be 88 percent bigger than the Xbox One market, all things being equal (the ratio changes only slightly if you look at estimates for consoles shipped to stores by the end of the year).

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Embattled copyright lawyer uses DMCA to remove article about himself [Ars Technica]

(credit: Wikipedia)

Well-known copyright lawyer Marc Randazza used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to delete an online article about a dispute between his former employer and himself.

Randazza says he sent the notice on behalf of Xbiz.com, a porn-industry news site that he represents. Last July, Xbiz (NSFW) published an article about Randazza's legal dispute with a former employer, gay porn publisher Liberty Media. The brouhaha with Liberty Media was also featured here at Ars in a story titled "Bribery, gay porn, and copyright trolls: the rise and fall of lawyer Marc Randazza." It describes how an arbitrator found that Randazza—the Nevada lawyer once championed for helping bring down copyright troll Righthaven—solicited a bribe in a bid to settle a copyright case for Liberty. Randazza soon found himself under investigation by the State Bar of Nevada.

blog called Fight Copyright Trolls (FCT) mentioned the arbitration award as well. The blog's owner, who goes by "SJD," also noticed that the Xbiz article had been changed—but he had kept an original copy, saved and published as a PDF file on his site. On Feb. 1 nearly seven months after the FCT blog published the Xbiz article and related commentary, SJD was on the receiving end of Randazza's copyright takedown request. The FCT blog had re-published the entire Xbiz story, and Randazza claimed that made it a piratical, infringing copy.

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ISPs want “flexible” privacy rules that let them “innovate” with customer data [Ars Technica]

(credit: g4ll4is)

Broadband industry lobby groups urged the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday not to impose privacy rules that dictate "specific methods" of protecting customer data, since that would prevent "rapid innovation."

ISPs should have "flexibility" in how they protect customers' privacy and security, said the letter from the American Cable Association, Competitive Carriers Association, Consumer Technology Association, CTIA, the Internet Commerce Coalition, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and USTelecom. Together, these groups represent the biggest home Internet service providers and wireless carriers such as Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Sprint, T-Mobile, and many smaller ones.

"Rules dictating specific methods quickly become out of date and out of step with constantly changing technology, and will only hamper innovation and harm consumers," they wrote.

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Report: Google planning a standalone VR headset [Ars Technica]

The Samsung Gear VR.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Google is developing an "all-in-one" virtual reality headset that doesn't rely on a computer or smartphone to function.

You might have a bit of deja vu reading this post, since earlier this week we reported on Google's supposed other VR headset in the works, a plastic "successor" to Google Cardboard. This device would be a plastic shell with lenses and a few extra sensors, with the display and processing coming from a slotted-in smartphone—basically a Samsung Gear VR competitor. This new VR headset from Google would be a completely standalone device, with the screen, processor, and storage permanently embedded in the headset. The Journal backed up this earlier report and says that Google is working on both the smartphone-centric and standalone headsets.

A VR headset in this form factor this hasn't really been announced by any other major players. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both strap a screen and sensors to your head but require a PC to run. Google's headset would essentially be a game console for your face.

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Class-action suit over iPhone-bricking Error 53 filed in California [Ars Technica]

The iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, and 6S Plus don't like it when you replace their TouchID sensors. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

In recent weeks, you may have read about iPhone error code 53, a problem related to the fingerprint sensor that can keep iPhones with damaged or replaced TouchID buttons from installing updates or brick them entirely. On Thursday, a Seattle law firm filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. It argues that preventing iPhones with damaged TouchID buttons from working normally otherwise is "abusive," that Apple did not adequately warn consumers of problems that could arise from a damaged or replaced TouchID sensor, and that "more than 62 million units" have been affected in the US as of November 2015.

Class-action status has yet to be granted by a judge; we'll continue to follow the story if it goes forward.

As much as it has inconvenienced some users, there is a technical reason why Error 53 exists. Every single TouchID sensor is paired to the phone that it ships with, a security measure Apple says is designed to "prevent a fraudulent TouchID sensor from being used." If every TouchID-iPhone pairing is unique, it makes it more difficult to use a bad fingerprint sensor to get into the phone or collect fingerprint or Apple Pay transaction information. Fine.

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Potentially deadly drug interactions found mining FDA complaint bin [Ars Technica]

(credit: ep_jhu)

Mixing prescription drugs is exceedingly common—one in five Americans take three or more prescription medicines, and one in ten people take five or more. But, every now and then, the results can be unexpectedly harmful—and sometimes deadly. Adverse drug-drug interactions are estimated to put tens of thousands of people in the hospital each year, but they’re difficult to predict and even trickier to track. Only a relatively small number of patients may take a specific, harmful cocktail of drugs, and only a subset of those will have a notable reaction.

To get around the problem, a team of researchers (working with journalists at The Chicago Tribune) created a computer model to create side-effect profiles for prescription drugs. Then, they mined a massive database of drug-reaction complaints sent to the Food and Drug Administration, as well as 380,000 electronic health records. The results of the analysis so far suggest that four drug combinations—including the combination of the common antibiotic, ceftriaxone, with the over-the-counter heartburn medication, Prevacid (lansoprazole)—may cause a potentially fatal heart rhythm. The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Drug Safety.

The results are only preliminary and need to be backed up with more data. But in lab tests with living cells, researchers found that the combination of lansoprazole and ceftriaxone blocked an electrical channel crucial for a heart beat.

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Judge: Google dominance didn’t hurt online maps competitor [Ars Technica]

Google has won a High Court battle brought by StreetMap.EU Ltd, which had claimed in its lawsuit that the multinational's alleged search dominance had destroyed the UK-based online mapping company's business.

StreetMap alleged that Google's arrival in the online mapping market in 2007 was calamitous for the company. Its commercial director Kate Sutton told Ars that—at its height—StreetMap had a healthy turnover, five million users, and 20 staff members at its offices in Milton Keynes.

The British firm, founded in 1997, claimed StreetMap had been squished by Google when the multinational started displaying a map at the top of its search results. Google's map contained a thumbnail image directly generated from its own mapping service—known then as "Maps OneBox."

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Microsoft looks to be retreating from EU antitrust fight against Google [Ars Technica]

(credit: Shutterstock)

Microsoft-backed lobby group ICOMP's long-running fight against Google's search dominance in the European Union has collapsed, amid accusations that its members have been silenced.

Ars has learned that members including UK-based price comparison site Foundem—the original complainant in the antitrust case against Google—resigned from ICOMP, after Microsoft backed away from what had been a dogged campaign against its search rival in Europe. ICOMP was founded in 2008 to fight for an "online competitive marketplace."

One source told us that Microsoft had agreed to prop up ICOMP's food, travel, and accommodation expenses without having any active involvement in the group.

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Trek at 50: The quest for a unifying theory of time travel in Star Trek [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / The Enterprise, caught in the wake of a temporal vortex, witnesses the Earth, assimilated long ago, in the altered timeline. (credit: Paramount Pictures)

We're at the start of what should be a big year for Star Trek. The franchise will celebrate its 50th anniversary this fall, but 2016 also brings a new movie (Star Trek Beyond), the recovery of long-lost documents belonging to Gene Roddenberry, and the development of (finally!) a new series set to launch in January 2017.

It’s no secret that we here at Ars love (and sometimes hate) our Star Trek. With so much time having elapsed since the original series first aired—and with so much time spent watching/reading/thinking through it all—we felt it was about, well, time to thoroughly explore one of our favorite Trek staples: time travel.

Time travel, while perhaps one of the most interesting devices in the series, is also confusing, befuddling, and inconsistent. In the words of Captain Janeway, “the future is the past, the past is the future; it all gives me a headache.”

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Time to try the Vorkosigan Saga—you’ve never read science fiction like this [Ars Technica]

Detail from a front plate in the hardback of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, by Lois McMaster Bujold. (credit: Dave Seeley)

If you're already a fan of Lois McMaster Bujold's award-winning Vorkosigan Saga novels, then this month's release of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen will bring much rejoicing. If you're new to the series, this novel is an excellent excuse to start reading. It's one of the most realistic and funny novels you'll ever read about space colonization. Somehow it manages to be gripping, despite its focus on balancing military budgets, dealing with defense contractors, and the weirdness of long-term marriage.

Mild spoilers for the Vorkosigan Saga follow.

Meet the Vorkosigans

Bujold began her galaxy-spanning series in the 1980s with a pair of novels, Shards of Honor and Barrayar, about a young starship captain named Cordelia Naismith from the planet Beta. A peaceful, politically progressive planet—basically, Copenhagen in space—Beta sends out scientist-explorers like Cordelia to gather data for its exoplanetary "geological survey." While studying a supposedly uninhabited planet, Cordelia meets the military officer Aral Vorkosigan, from the patriarchal, conservative planet Barrayar, where women tend to be housewives and men destroy themselves on the battlefield. Against all odds, and in the midst of a deadly war, the two fall in love.

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Uber settles “industry-leading background check” class-action for $28.5M [Ars Technica]

(credit: Uber)

Uber has agreed to pay $28.5 million to settle a federal class-action lawsuit originally filed in late December 2014 by six men who argued that the startup’s claim of running "industry-leading background checks" was false and misleading. Passengers paid a "safe ride fee," usually $1 to $2 on top of each fare, as a way to offset those costs.

Under the terms of the deal, which was filed on Thursday, Uber will now rename this charge as a “booking fee” and will alter its language accordingly. The settlement also states that Uber and its subsidiary “expressly deny the allegations” and admit no wrongdoing.

Specifically, the consolidated complaint, which combined other similar lawsuits, alleged:

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Book Review and Author Interview - "Back Blast: A Gray Man Novel" by Mark Greaney [BlackFive]

The following book review and interview is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category on the right side bar. Back Blast by Mark Greaney brings back the Gray Man, a former paramilitary officer with an agenda. Anyone looking for characters and plotlines in the fashion of Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp series should read this book. It discusses intelligence organizational politics, technology possibilities, and has a main character whose job it is to assassinate bad guys. The plot is spellbinding and riveting with non-stop action. The Gray Man, Court Gentry, has been away from the US for five years. He has returned to find out why his former agency, the CIA, has turned on him, putting a “kill on sight order.” Realizing he can trust no one he must stay one step ahead of those targeting him. As bodies pile up Court is blamed for all the deaths, even those he is not responsible for; yet, the Gray Man has the ability to outthink and outgun those hunting for him. The characters are captivating. Court Gentry morally does not wear the black or white hat. But readers root for him, knowing that all his missions were necessary to keep Americans safe. This book gives insight into the personality of Court. Layers of his past are revealed, which allows the readers to understand this very complex character. Over the years he has matured and has become wiser, less trusting, and more fatalistic. At times he is the hunter searching for his prey, but soon he becomes the hunted. What makes this character so fascinating is his ability to take the offense when he should be on the run. Contrast that with Denney Carmichael, the Director of the National Clandestine Service. His attitude learned, from his Vietnam days, is kill or be killed. Wanting to climb the ladder in the Agency, his ambitions dictated his desire to eliminate anything construed as negative, including Court. By creating this elaborate frame up of the Gray Man Carmichael is able to deflect criticism off of himself, and protect what he construes as national security. An interesting character brought in to make the story more realistic is the reporter Catherine King. Readers will be reminded of Sharyl Attkisson. Someone who searches for the truth while uncovering a story, that has no agenda other than finding the facts and the reasons behind why events unfold. These days there are not many reporters whom people can respect, but King fits into that mold. Back Blast is one of those books where readers will not want to put it down. Many of the details are very realistic and the thrilling action will keep people glued to the pages. Anyone interested in an espionage spy novel should read this book. Q/A with author below for blackfive.net: Elise Cooper: How did the Gray Man series come about? Mark Greaney: I submitted the plot to my agent who told me that the sub-plot should be what the book is about. He said it is much more interesting to have the hunter being chased. This cat and mouse chase turned into the Gray Man series. My agent also helped me with the name of the series, changing it from the Goon Squad to this series title. The Gray Man name came out of the Special Ops community, which is how they refer to maintaining a low profile. EC: Did you base Denny Carmichael on anyone? MG: I do hope readers’ dislike this character. It is less about the real world and more about the world the writer created. But readers can think of people like J. Edgar Hoover. Carmichael thought of himself as a good guy. He felt Court’s life was a small price to pay to get information that would help the US, that the end justifies the means. He saw it as a win-win. EC: Why the reporter Catherine King? MG: She was based on some real national security reporters. What the Gray Man had done all over the world is now happening in Washington DC. I thought it would be interesting to have reporters trying to figure out what is going on and how the press would deal with it. I think Catherine has a lot of integrity. My father was in TV news, head of the NBC affiliate in Tennessee. Because of his experience I felt a deep understanding of the media since I have been around it. EC: What about the firearms scenes? MG: I do own a lot of weapons the characters use in my books. In researching this book I did a lot of firearms training with the leading arms instructor for naval special warfare. I also trained with a bunch of SWAT guys who had me be a part of the opposition force. The SWAT team came into a dark house with their flashlights to shoot me with paint balls. I was sore for weeks. Friends of mine are tactical officers whose brains I picked for a free breakfast. EC: What about the drone used to help Court in one of his escapes? MG: It is based on Robert Fulton’s Skyhook that the CIA came up with in the 1950s, used to rescue people from behind enemy lines. This is a modern version I created. The technology is a million times better today so who knows if there could be something like this, but I do not think I would get a patent recognition. EC: Can you give a heads up about your next books? MG: I will be writing another Clancy book out in December and then another Gray Man will be out next February. The setting for that book will be Southeast Asia. I think this next Court book will be less of a spy novel and more of a big action piece. I want to bring in some new characters. In future books all...

Feeling The Bern, And Why [JustOneMinute]

Jonah Goldberg tumbles to the secret of Bernie's youth appeal: Bernie Sanders is the most typecast presidential candidate of my lifetime. What I mean is that I can’t remember another presidential candidate who I could more easily imagine in a...

Don't Know Much About History (But I've Balanced My Checkbook...) [JustOneMinute]

A great moment from the Dem debate last night. This is Bernie going off one part of his programmatic triad (Free health care, free college, break up the banks. OK, and reform our campaign finance laws - call it programmatic...

The Trouble With the TPP, Day 30: Losing Our Way on Geographical Indications [Michael Geist]

Geographical indications (GI) are signs used on goods – frequently food, wine, or spirits – that have a specific geographical origin and are said to possess qualities, reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that place of origin. Given the quality associated with the product, proponents of GI protection argue that it is needed to avoid consumer confusion as well as to protect legitimate producers.

Europe has the most extensive geographical indication protections in the world. These include Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), which covers agricultural products produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognized know-how; Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), which covers agricultural products linked to the geographical area; and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG), which highlights traditional character, either in the composition or means of production. 

The net effect of the European system is that hundreds of items enjoy special legal protection.

What does this have to do with the TPP?

As part of the Canada – EU Trade Agreement, Canada agreed to expand protection for nearly 150 European geographical indications. However, CETA has still not been signed due to controversy over the investor-state dispute resolution provisions in the agreement, which have attracted significant European opposition. Canada and the EU are working on a compromise, but the failure to sign CETA before TPP raises the possibility of problems with the Canadian provisions on geographical indications. Moreover, several side letters indicate that at best a confusing, patchwork approach has been created.

Section E of the TPP’s intellectual property chapter establishes the legal protections for geographical indications. The U.S. is opposed to GI protection (it argues that trademarks can achieve the same thing) and wanted to use the TPP to help block European demands for GI protection. The section therefore creates several types of GI protection: protections for new GIs (very stringent requirements including the possibility of cancellation), protections for existing GIs (which are effectively grandfathered), and protections for new GIs due to existing international agreements, for which a couple of procedures are identified.

The most relevant provision for Canada involves the procedure for existing international agreements. Canadian negotiators clearly wanted to include CETA within the scope of the provision even though the deal is not concluded. Canada therefore likely inserted the following footnote:

For the purpose of this Article, an agreement “agreed in principle” means an agreement involving another government, government entity or international organisation in respect of which a political understanding has been reached and the negotiated outcomes of the agreement have been publically announced.

That sounds like CETA and reports indicate that Canadian officials believe this covers it. That would place the new European GIs under the procedures for existing international agreements. Article 18.36(2) states:

In respect of international agreements referred to in paragraph 6 that permit the protection or recognition of a new geographical indication, a Party shall

(a) apply paragraph 1(b) [which involves Internet postings of details on potential new GIs] ;
(b) provide an opportunity for interested persons to comment regarding the protection or recognition of the new geographical indication for a reasonable period of time before such a term is protected or recognised; and
(c) inform the other Parties of the opportunity to comment, no later than the commencement of the period for comment.

These provisions are designed to provide greater transparency with GIs, but does not include a clear opposition mechanism. However, there is another footnote that is creating some confusion:

In respect of an international agreement referred to in paragraph 6 that has geographical indications that have been identified, but have not yet received protection or recognition in the territory of the Party that is a party to that agreement, that Party may fulfil the obligations of paragraph 2 by complying with the obligations of paragraph 1.

The obligations of paragraph 1 include the possibility of opposition and cancellation of a GI. Some reports have speculated that Canada might have to follow this latter approach, though the word “may” suggests that either option is valid.

If that was not sufficiently complex, Canada also signed four side letters on GIs. The letters with Peru and Chile simply confirm that existing GI approach found in the Peru and Chile free trade agreements with Canada. The letter with Japan confirms the existence of GIs protected in each country and opens the door to new ones in the future. Most notably, the letter with Mexico identifies three Mexican GIs that are eligible for protection, but Canada reserves the right to use the TPP’s cancellation provisions. This letter may explain the confusing footnote that allows for two different compliance approaches.

By now, the legal complexity of this provision means that most readers will have stopped reading. Yet the Trouble with the TPP is that a trade agreement that is supposed to make things easier for business actually succeeds in making it more difficult. These rules will have a real-world impact on Canada and Canadian businesses, which will be left to grapple with numerous different legal approaches and commitments to GIs arising from domestic rules, the various trade agreements, and side letters with one-third of TPP members.

(prior posts in the series include Day 1: US Blocks Balancing Provisions, Day 2: Locking in Digital Locks, Day 3: Copyright Term Extension, Day 4: Copyright Notice and Takedown Rules, Day 5: Rights Holders “Shall” vs. Users “May”, Day 6: Price of Entry, Day 7: Patent Term Extensions, Day 8: Locking in Biologics Protection, Day 9: Limits on Medical Devices and Pharma Data Collection, Day 10: Criminalization of Trade Secret Law, Day 11: Weak Privacy Standards, Day 12: Restrictions on Data Localization Requirements, Day 13: Ban on Data Transfer Restrictions, Day 14: No U.S. Assurances for Canada on Privacy, Day 15: Weak Anti-Spam Law Standards, Day 16: Intervening in Internet Governance, Day 17: Weak E-commerce Rules, Day 18: Failure to Protect Canadian Cultural Policy, Day 19: No Canadian Side Agreement to Advance Tech Sector, Day 20: Unenforceable Net Neutrality Rules, Day 21: U.S. Requires Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Report Card, Day 22: Expanding Border Measures Without Court Oversight, Day 23: On Signing Day, What Comes Next?, Day 24: Missing Balance on IP Border Measures, Day 25: The Treaties With the Treaty, Day 26: Why It Limits Canadian Cultural Policies, Day 27: Source Code Disclosure Confusion, Day 28: Privacy Risks from Source Code Rules, Day 29: Cultural Policy Innovation Uncertainty)

The post The Trouble With the TPP, Day 30: Losing Our Way on Geographical Indications appeared first on Michael Geist.

Why Journalism is not Dying in the Digital Age [Michael Geist]

The ongoing financial struggles of Canadian businesses that have traditionally delivered the news – particularly newspapers and local broadcasters – have generated considerable discussion and consternation over the past month. With significant layoffs, newspaper closures, and testimony before Canada’s broadcast regulator that the cost of delivering local news is unsustainable, there have been mounting calls for new funding programs, studies, or other measures to address the issue.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that much of the commentary emphasizes the critical link between a strong, independent media and holding governments at all levels to account for their actions. While there is little debate over the essential role of journalism, the tougher question is whether emerging digital alternatives can provide an effective substitute.

Many of the digital sources are still relatively young, but the combination of low entry barriers, the reach into new audiences, and innovative business models from new and established players suggest that it can.

The problems facing newspapers and local broadcasters is well chronicled. The aggregation of disparate information ranging from news to movie listings holds less appeal when the public has easy online access to each of the component parts. Important sources of income such as classified advertising dried up years ago in the face of free online alternatives, Internet advertising has grown dramatically and is expected to account for nearly half of all advertising revenues within a few years, and readership has gone digital, with many relying on their social networks to identify news or videos of interest.

Some have blamed the CBC, arguing that its digital platforms make it difficult for paywalled services to compete. Yet sources of digital competition extend far beyond just the CBC and stopping the public broadcaster from offering digital alternatives amounts to rendering it irrelevant in the digital age. Others have called for new government studies or funding programs, though the challenges associated with creating state-backed media have not been fully addressed.

The really difficult issue may not be how to fix a troubled sector – the experimentation ranging from innovative tablet editions to different subscription, funding, and advertising models will mean some adapt and some fail – but rather whether new government policies or regulation are needed at all.

Political news coverage is often viewed as the most critical in holding governments to account. Some have pointed to the regional decline of membership in the Parliamentary Press Gallery as evidence of the crisis, but it is more instructive to see how many new, digital-only organizations are investing in original political reportage.

The current gallery membership list includes newcomers such as Buzzfeed, the Huffington Post, the Tyee, Rabble and VICE. Moreover, there are a host of experienced freelance journalists whose work appears in many venues alongside specialty digital publications such as iPolitics, Blacklock’s Reporter, and the Wire Report.

The work of journalists at these publications – along with niche print sources and experts who blog or write independently – offers the chance to reach different audiences and to cover specialized issues in greater depth than is often found in larger newspapers that emphasize big picture concerns.

Local and regional reporting is also undergoing a significant transformation. The Tyee,  Torontoist, and AllNovaScotia are just some of the dozens of local, online publications that have used low entry barriers and cheap digital distribution to stake out their place in the media landscape. These local alternatives supplement national sources such as the National Observer and theRebel.com that offer political perspectives from both ends of the spectrum.

Those lamenting the decline of local broadcast news coverage need only look at the ratings to recognize that the shrinking audiences suggest diminishing interest in news delivered in that format. Online video offers cheaper distribution models that may lack some of the production qualities of conventional television but the chance for a more diverse audience at a fraction of the cost.

The uncertainty associated with digital models, the loss of jobs, and the future of some of Canada’s best-known media organizations unsurprisingly elicits sadness, apprehension, and concern. However, the emergence of new voices and the innovative approaches at older ones point to the likelihood that journalism is neither dead nor dying.

The post Why Journalism is not Dying in the Digital Age appeared first on Michael Geist.

Digital Era Raises Tough Questions About Journalism’s Future [Michael Geist]

Appeared in the Toronto Star on February 8, 2016 as Digital Era Raises Tough Questions About Journalism’s Future

The ongoing financial struggles of Canadian businesses that have traditionally delivered the news – particularly newspapers and local broadcasters – have generated considerable discussion and consternation over the past month. With significant layoffs, newspaper closures, and testimony before Canada’s broadcast regulator that the cost of delivering local news is unsustainable, there have been mounting calls for new funding programs, studies, or other measures to address the issue.

Much of the commentary emphasizes the critical link between a strong, independent media and holding governments at all levels to account for their actions. While there is little debate over the essential role of journalism, the tougher question is whether emerging digital alternatives can provide an effective substitute.

Many of the digital sources are still relatively young, but the combination of low entry barriers, the reach into new audiences, and innovative business models from new and established players suggest that it can.

The problems facing newspapers and local broadcasters is well chronicled. The aggregation of disparate information ranging from news to movie listings holds less appeal when the public has easy online access to each of the component parts. Important sources of income such as classified advertising dried up years ago in the face of free online alternatives, Internet advertising has grown dramatically and is expected to account for nearly half of all advertising revenues within a few years, and readership has gone digital, with many relying on their social networks to identify news or videos of interest.

Some have blamed the CBC, arguing that its digital platforms make it difficult for paywalled services to compete. Yet sources of digital competition extend far beyond just the CBC and stopping the public broadcaster from offering digital alternatives amounts to rendering it irrelevant in the digital age. Others have called for new government studies or funding programs, though the challenges associated with creating state-backed media have not been fully addressed.

The really difficult issue may not be how to fix a troubled sector – the experimentation ranging from innovative tablet editions to different subscription, funding, and advertising models will mean some adapt and some fail – but rather whether new government policies or regulation are needed at all.

Political news coverage is often viewed as the most critical in holding governments to account. Some have pointed to the regional decline of membership in the Parliamentary Press Gallery as evidence of the crisis, but it is more instructive to see how many new, digital-only organizations are investing in original political reportage.

The current gallery membership list includes newcomers such as Buzzfeed, the Huffington Post, the Tyee, Rabble and VICE. Moreover, there are a host of experienced freelance journalists whose work appears in many venues alongside specialty digital publications such as iPolitics, Blacklock’s Reporter, and the Wire Report.

The work of journalists at these publications – along with niche print sources and experts who blog or write independently – offers the chance to reach different audiences and to cover specialized issues in greater depth than is often found in larger newspapers that emphasize big picture concerns.

Local and regional reporting is also undergoing a significant transformation. The Tyee, Torontoist, and AllNovaScotia are just some of the dozens of local, online publications that have used low entry barriers and cheap digital distribution to stake out their place in the media landscape. These local alternatives supplement national sources such as the National Observer and theRebel.com that offer political perspectives from both ends of the spectrum.

Those lamenting the decline of local broadcast news coverage need only look at the ratings to recognize that the shrinking audiences suggest diminishing interest in news delivered in that format. Online video offers cheaper distribution models that may lack some of the production qualities of conventional television but the chance for a more diverse audience at a fraction of the cost.

The uncertainty associated with digital models, the loss of jobs, and the future of some of Canada’s best-known media organizations unsurprisingly elicits sadness, apprehension, and concern. However, the emergence of new voices and the innovative approaches at older ones point to the likelihood that journalism is neither dead nor dying.

Michael Geist holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. He can be reached at mgeist@uottawa.ca or online at www.michaelgeist.ca.

The post Digital Era Raises Tough Questions About Journalism’s Future appeared first on Michael Geist.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton Debate: Who Hates America More? [The Other McCain]

“Our elites are fixated on how disappointed they are with the tawdry public precisely because that allows them to avoid examining their own colossal failures.” — Ace of Spades, 2011 Ed Driscoll quoted Ace in the context of reminding us how much liberals hate America, or at least that part of America where white heterosexual […]

Friday Fiction: 100 Word Challenge [The Other McCain]

by Smitty “You were right,” said Eddy in the playfully defeated tone they’d enjoyed for decades. Mary reached through his arm to touch his hand as he turned to kiss her forehead. They stood at the rail to view the high school track where their grand-daughter had just set a school record in the 100 […]

‘Zoe Quinn,’ SJW Martyr [The Other McCain]

Anita Sarkeesian (@femfreq) and Zoe Quinn (@UnBurntWitch) testify at the U.N. “Zoe Quinn” was Patient Zero of the #GamerGate controversy. A tattoo-covered, mentally ill ex-stripper whose real name is Chelsea Van Valkenburg, Quinn was the creator of a tediously dull game called “Depression Quest.” She broke up with her boyfriend, a software geek named Eron […]

Busted Again [The Other McCain]

— by Wombat-socho Readers of Instapundit and Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter Nation blog (which should be most of you, I would think) are already aware of Nick Cole’s very public calling out of Harper Collins for attempting to kill his latest book, CTRL-ALT-Revolt!, and terminating his contract for the unforgivable sin of Wrongthink. If not, […]

Friday Reads: Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey [The Travelin' Librarian]

We are not alone.

On Ganymede, breadbasket of the outer planets, a Martian marine watches as her platoon is slaughtered by a monstrous supersoldier. On Earth, a high-level politician struggles to prevent interplanetary war from reigniting. And on Venus, an alien protomolecule has overrun the planet, wreaking massive, mysterious changes and threatening to spread out into the solar system.

In the vast wilderness of space, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante have been keeping the peace for the Outer Planets Alliance. When they agree to help a scientist search war-torn Ganymede for a missing child, the future of humanity rests on whether a single ship can prevent an alien invasion that may have already begun . . .

The post Friday Reads: Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey appeared first on The Travelin' Librarian.

The Sanders-Trump doom loop [– Pethokoukis]

In my my new The Week column, I explore the potential impact of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy on financial markets and the US economy. When and how will investors factor in the slowly increasing odds that he will be the GOP nominee and the next POTUS?

The New York Stock Exchange building is seen past a statue of George Washington. REUTERS/Mike Segar.

The New York Stock Exchange building is seen past a statue of George Washington in January, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar.

Trump’s populist politics — particularly his talk of trade conflict — might prove especially worrisome at a time of roiled global economies and markets. Note these Wall Street Journal headlines today: “Banks Drop as Global Rout Deepens” and “Risk Grows of Markets Sparking Recession.” In the latter piece, the WSJ’s Grep Ip writes:

It’s not just anx­i­ety about growth and oil prices that’s weigh­ing on in­vestor psy­chology. There’s also pol­icy. Will the Fed­eral Re­serve press ahead with rais­ing in­ter­est rates? Will China de­value the yuan again? Will Britain leave the Eu­ro­pean Union? Will Amer­i­cans elect a pop­ulist pres­i­dent who seeks to overturn the ex­ist­ing eco­nomic order? Pol­icy un­cer­tainty has created a “risk pre­mium” that reduces what in­vestors are willing to pay for stocks and bonds.

Now I didn’t include Sanders in my piece. I consider the likelihood of him defeating Hillary Clinton far, far lower than Trump whomping the rest of the GOP field. The “doom loop” in my headline — a play off the current interest rate-bank interplay — refers to the negative feedback effects among markets, politics, and the US economy.

As Ip writes, “Mar­ket tur­moil can, of course, dent eco­nomic growth by leav­ing con­sumers less wealthy and de­priv­ing busi­ness of credit” — my point being that the US presidential race may contribute to that turmoil. Greater economic anxiety among voters may nudge them toward extreme candidates. And as investors perceive a growing risk of a populist wave, they get more nervous, too. Market turmoil increases. The risk premium grows. Rinse and repeat.

The post The Sanders-Trump doom loop appeared first on AEI.

Hells Bells... who needs Judges? [halls of macadamia]

Shorter Michele Mandel at Toronto Sun... If you wanna choke or sexually assault a bunch of women and dance away without being punished... stay away from the really smart, worldly ones who don't take an iota of unnecessary shit from incipient sociopaths.

"Ghomeshi left the courthouse with his head held high. For the first time since his trial began Feb. 1, Sun photographer Craig Robertson said the accused man looked directly into his lens."
Just imagine for a moment that Jian Ghomeshi had tried to choke his lawyer, Marie Henein. Seems to me there would have been blood, hair and teeth all over the place... and trust me, it most assuredly would not have been hers.

Would he have been guilty then, Michele? Or would you have wanted assault charges filed against Ms. Henein?

The sentence that says it all...
"These women’s allegations of sexual assaultas true as they may be — "
Apparently, though... Ghomeshi knows how to pick 'em.

Our Father... [halls of macadamia]

...Who art in Redmond...tech super powers

"The Windows operating system is full of hidden features and tricks. Using these hidden features can save you a lot of time and increase your productivity."

Meet "The Fixer" [halls of macadamia]

the fixer

“We represent people who have committed heinous acts — acts of violence, acts of depravity, acts of cruelty,” she quipped. “Or as Jian Ghomeshi likes to call it, foreplay.”
Ms Marie Henein, Jian Ghomeshi's own defense lawyer, speaking at the Ontario Criminal Lawyers’ Association Gala.

So, who exactly is this human buzzsaw?
At 50, she looks a decade younger, a vision in black chic perched on $1,500 leopard-patterned Louis Vuitton pumps. They turn out to be just one pair from a collection so notorious that Ontario’s former chief justice Warren Winkler once ribbed her, “So are you going to buy a car or a new pair of shoes?”
As one might expect, she's no shrinking violet...
“The whole point,” says Henein’s former associate Margaret Bojanowska, “is to annihilate the witness, really.”
And she doesn't trouble herself over what anyone else might think...
“I am not conflicted about being a strong feminist and what I do in court,” Henein bristles. “I just don’t feel a need to justify what I do or explain myself.”
Here's a thought. Officer James Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder because he shot and killed an unstable, drug-fueled man brandishing a knife.

Former Liberal Attorney General Michael Bryant got off scot-free after killing an unarmed bicyclist with a car.

Maybe Forcillo just didn't have the right lawyer.


UPDATE: Ghomeshi livestream - Wednesday February 10

"My boys wanted to know, 'What was the word? What was the word?' I said, 'I can’t tell you.' I had to make something up." [Althouse]

Said Marco Rubio, quoted in a NYT article titled "Bruised Marco Rubio Gets Personal and Aggressive," which says:

Mr. Rubio expressed disgust with Mr. Trump’s use of obscene language earlier this week, describing how his two young sons had watched a news clip of Mr. Trump insulting Senator Ted Cruz on the eve of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.
Does the newspaper have to go all in with the drama? "Obscene language"?! The word was "pussy," and Donald Trump didn't even really use it — if we observe the use-mention distinction — because he was quoting someone else (and even chiding that person, saying he never wants to hear that word from her again).

This is ridiculous drama. When you call someone a "pussy" to mean that they are timid, you are referring to the little animal, the kitty cat. It's like calling someone a mouse. It shouldn't even be regarded as a bad word. It's true that "pussy" can be used to refer to a woman's genitalia, but so can "box" and "snatch." As George Carlin said in his famous "Seven Dirty Words" routine:
Now the word twat is an interesting word. Twat! Yeh, right in the twat. Twat is an interesting word because it's the only one I know of, the only slang word applying to the, a part of the sexual anatomy that doesn't have another meaning to it. Like, ah, snatch, box and pussy all have other meanings, man. Even in a Walt Disney movie, you can say, We're going to snatch that pussy and put him in a box and bring him on the airplane.  Everybody loves it. The twat stands alone, man, as it should.
Now, when Donald Trump calls somebody a twat, let me know. In public, I mean. And I'll show a brief flutter of outrage. In private, they're all free to call each other twats. And pricks. Because I'm for gender equality.

Bonus George Carlin joke: "Yes, you can prick your finger, but don't finger your prick. No, no."

And by the way, this post gets the civility bullshit tag. I hope you understand the restrictive use of the civility bullshit tag. It's for political speech calling for more civility. My working theory is it's always bullshit. In this case, with Rubio, it obviously is. I'm also giving this my using children in politics tag. I don't like it.

"There is no political architecture that will convince any Sunni over the age of 3 that he or she has a future with the Iraqi state." [Althouse]

"The administration is trying to use a limited military weapon to defeat an adversary that only a political offensive can overcome, and we’re not willing or able to make that effort."

Said Ryan C. Crocker, a former American ambassador to Iraq, quoted in "Sunni Resentment Muddles Prospect of Reunifying Iraq After ISIS" (in the NYT).

Kenneth M. Pollack, an Iraq expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, worried that military gains in Iraq without political overhauls would be counterproductive. “At some point, they make things worse,” he said....

Mr. Crocker... said he had given up hope that the Obama administration would become more deeply engaged in seeking a political accommodation between Iraq’s factions. But he and Mr. Pollack, along with other experts on Iraq, have joined a task force organized by the Atlantic Council, a research organization based in Washington, that will make policy proposals on Iraq to the next administration.

“Unfortunately, that’s 11 months away,” he said. “The Islamic State rose because of a political vacuum,” he noted. “It wasn’t a military success but a political failure that allowed it to take hold.”

OK Go video of the day: "I Won't Let You Down." [Althouse]

After yesterday's post — embedding OK Go's "Upside Down & Inside Out" — my son John emailed me links to 2 other OK Go videos, the first of which is to the one you see above, which is immensely entertaining. Keep watching, as different things happen, and if you're emotionally like me, you'll be exclaiming in amazement at various points and profoundly moved by the beauty of the ending. And if you're as old as I am, you might, at a certain point, say aloud, as I did: "June Taylor Dancers!" And if you indulged in MTV in the 1980s, as I did, the audio might take you back to Scritti Politti:

Cruz campaign practices the withdrawal method on an ad with an actress who's done porn movies. [Althouse]

Here's the Cruz ad:

If I had to guess what was supposedly so offensive about that, I'd say they were making fun of people with substance abuse problems. Maybe recovery therapy sessions are supposed to be looked upon with empathy. The support group must be supported.

But no, the female in the little drama — about people seeking treatment for their addiction to Marco Rubio — was discovered to have done "soft-core pornography."

The woman, Amy Lindsay, as first reported by BuzzFeed, has appeared in multiple movies with titles like “Carnal Wishes,” “Insatiable Desires” and “Private Sex Club.” Ms. Lindsay told BuzzFeed that she was a Christian conservative and a Republican, deciding between supporting Mr. Cruz or Donald J. Trump....
She applied for the acting job through the normal process and got hired. Then she was rejected because the campaign is embarrassed by the jobs she's taken in the past and their own failure to do a background check commensurate with their potential for embarrassment.

I hope the Trump campaign figures out a way to embrace this woman, who is, we're told, deciding between Cruz and Trump. Cruz — who's running another ad about how mean Trump was to an old woman who wanted to keep her house and not lose it to eminent domain — would have denied a job to a woman who's struggled in the acting industry. Here's that Cruz ad about Trump's oppression of the female homeowner:

I'd like to see an ad, copying that presentation, putting Cruz in exactly the same negative light, oppressing the ex-porn actress. I'm not saying the Trump campaign should do it. I'd just like to see it, because there are those of us who will empathize with a woman who's treated as toxic because she took a sex-related job at some point, and there are those of us who don't want to give big political power to someone who's excessively censorious about sexual expression.

ADDED: Original Mike said: "Oh, for crying out loud, Cruz. I thought you believed in redemption."

Yes, that's what I thought when Meade told me about it. I said: "Not very Christian of him."

Citation: John 7:53-8:11.

Go, and do not sin again.

Did Scott Walker just endorse Donald Trump? [Althouse]

The headline in the Wisconsin State Journal is "Scott Walker says Republicans could win Wisconsin with Donald Trump."

But Walker seems to have just been responding to reporters who were on the scene in Wisconsin last night to cover the Democratic candidates' debate and looking for insight into which candidates might do well in Wisconsin. The Democratic candidate has taken Wisconsin in every election in the last 30 years. You have to go back to Ronald Reagan to get a GOP winner. So who cares about Wisconsin? But the governor is Republican and both houses of the legislature are Republican. What's keeping a Republican from winning Wisconsin?

Walker did say he thought Trump could win Wisconsin — but couldn't Kasich? couldn't Bush? couldn't Rubio? I don't understand the context. Why single out Trump? Is there some thought that we the people of Wisconsin could take a special liking to the mogul with the New York accent? I would think a pleasant midwestern-y guy like Kasich would suit us better.

“There’s no doubt it will be a challenge,” Walker told reporters.... Walker noted some of the other candidates are faring better against Clinton in the polls than Trump, but he also said polls can go up and down.
I'm guessing the context was that Trump would be a harder sell in Wisconsin than Kasich, Bush, or Rubio. 
He emphasized turnout will also be a factor, especially if Sanders supporters aren’t happy about the nomination process.

“If, in the end, Hillary Clinton prevails, but a lot of particularly young voters feel disenfranchised because of the whole superdelegate process, they may not vote for a Republican, but they may vote for a third party or not vote at all,” Walker said.
That's the old conventional wisdom about low turnout helping the GOP applied to the scenario in which Democrats got passionate about a candidate who they think was cheated out of the nomination.

Walker said he was "glad the Republicans don’t have something like (superdelegates) so that it’s really reflective of how people vote in the respective state." Trump won big in NH and got a corresponding number of delegates. Sanders won big in NH and, because of superdelegates, Hillary seems to be getting the same total. The superdelegate approach was designed to control the effect of an upstart outsider like Sanders/Trump. So if, in the end, Trump gets through and Sanders does not, how will people vote? That seems to be what Walker was talking about. Republicans will probably end up with Trump, because of the nature of their process, and won't that be challenging, given that the Democrats have built moderation into their process and will likely succeed in putting up their normal-seeming candidate.
Walker has not endorsed a candidate for president, but he has not ruled out doing so before the April 5 Wisconsin primary. Walker and Trump clashed in the final debate before the governor dropped out of the race on Sept. 21. In his speech announcing that he would be ending his campaign, Walker said he had been called to lead by clearing the field “so a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field. I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to do the same so that voters can focus on the limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner,” Walker said at the time.
So, I assume Walker is absolutely not endorsing Trump. I infer that he wants one of the normal-seeming Republicans to go up against normal-seeming Hillary. And then the Republicans win because everyone's bored and alienated, and it's a low turnout, the dreary condition that gets us another Republican President. And life will go on as usual. We'll have our normalcy.

"He did emit smoke from the vaporizer," said DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton about the Congressman who vaped during the hearing... [Althouse]

... on the markup of Norton’s amendment to the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act, which would treat vaping on airplanes the same as smoking. 

The vaping Congressman, Duncan Hunter (of California), said: "There’s no smoke in this. No carcinogens. It’s vapor. I would urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment."

The airlines are already forbidding vaping on planes, but it's not illegal. Holmes Norton is pushing to make it illegal on top of the fact that you already can't do it. Because you ought to have it rubbed in how much you can't do it. Or... the airlines need to be blocked from competing by offering different conditions giving customers a choice. As if that's on the horizon. Some airlines might want to distinguish themselves as the flights where you can vape and create the illusion that smoking is going on, as in olden times. Fly the vapored skies of United.

It could happen, so make a law against it before it does.

Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) exemplified the level of thought Congress is putting into its new rule: "I don’t want to sit next to someone making these clouds of vapor. I can imagine the passenger rage. We don’t want people talking on cell phones because it starts fights. We don’t want people vaping because flight attendants have enough to deal with. Duncan is free to wear a patch during the flight."

Follow the DeFazio logic and make a list of everything that people are now free to do that if done on a plane will stress out somebody else, including somebody who's sensitive and gets the facts and the science wrong, because that person might crank up into a rage and cause more trouble for the flight attendants. Make all those things illegal. 

Sorry, I can't put up with the debate... even though it's happening in Wisconsin. [Althouse]

It seems so repetitious! The American economy is rigged... top 1%... free tuition....

But I see my son John is carrying on the old live-blogging tradition, so I highly recommend that.

AND: That was a bald-faced lie when she said she wasn't asking us to vote for her because she's a woman. I was walking away from the TV and the computer, but I had to come back to take note of that. Now that I'm here, I'll add that I liked what Bernie Sanders said when he was asked how he felt about standing in the way of a first woman President. He said that if he won, considering who he is, it would also be historic. He didn't specify why. He didn't say "first Jewish President" or "socialist!" It's up to us to fill in why.

"Bill Maher Pens Blistering Essay on Hillary as 'Charlie Brown,' Trump and Why Bernie Sanders, Socialist, Can Win." [Althouse]

That's a funny, meta title for an essay by Bill Maher.

He begins:

It's finally a "Bill Maher election." And by that I mean it's a year of new rules — to borrow from Real Time — largely rewritten by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. No one thought a politician could survive, much less stay in the lead for as long as Trump has, based on a campaign of braggadocio and utter contempt for political correctness. But the younger generation is leading a movement to prize authenticity above all. Trump is a petulant child, but at least that's real, they seem to be saying. Bernie, too, is as real as real gets. (So real he doesn't even own a comb.)...
ADDED: You might not have wanted to wade through that much Bill Maher. It's in rant mode, obviously, necessarily. It's Bill Maher. Political comedians seem to need to use this mode. So let me pull out the part where he pretty much agrees with Trump — after a few disclaimers — on the subject of the Syrian refugees:
Forty countries in the world have some version of Sharia law. I just don't understand how liberals who fought the battle for civil rights in the '60s, fought against apartheid in the '80s, can then just simply ignore Sharia law in 40 countries. Apartheid was only in one. I am not anti-Muslim and never have been: I am anti-bad ideas. Killing cartoonists and apostates, these are terrible ideas and practices, and it would be lovely to think that they were confined only to terrorists. They unfortunately are not.

Not to be an "I told ya so," but when the Syrian refugee crisis happened, I said, "Certainly our hearts go out to these refugees, but the answer can't be to empty Syria and every other country in the Middle East where people live under repressive conditions and bring them all to Europe." Now Sweden is sending 80,000 refugees back and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is saying, "Hey, when we said you could come here, we didn't mean permanently."

Rather than letting them settle in Germany, these millions of young Muslim men, how about let's train them to go back and fight for their own country? That’s another one of my issues — the soft bigotry of low expectations. How come Saudi Arabia didn't take in any Syrian refugees? I would think they’d fit in there a little more than in Cologne. Why don't they fight their own battles? Why are Muslim armies so useless against ISIS? ISIS isn't 10 feet tall. There are 20,000 or 30,000 of them. The countries surrounding ISIS have armies totaling 5 million people. So why do we have to be the ones leading the fight? Or be in the fight at all?

So no, Donald Trump is not right — but he will win the election if the American people have to choose between his demagoguery and a party that won't even say the words "Islamic terrorism." I think the Democrats could lose on that issue alone, especially if there's another attack.
And by the way — as Trump says when he segues to his next thought — doesn't Maher's flow of ideas resemble Trump's approach to campaign oration. Trump — who's been on TV a lot — does comedy some of the time... much of the time. He has great comic timing, and part of the timing is choosing when to dip into comedy, when to go all in and when to be ambiguously serio-comic. People who like him go with the flow and enjoy it. Maybe they enjoy the daring things he gets to say, maybe they're comfortable with ambiguity, and maybe they agree with even the most extreme things. It's complicated. It's unexpected. It's entertainment. Those who hate Trump have a lower panic point: The President can't be a comedian! Or they don't like Trump's political bent, wouldn't like it even if the style was conventional, and they hate to see the conservative side finding a way to win. 

Sheriff Says Texas Open Carry Is Not A Problem [The Captain's Journal]

News From Texas:

Some predicted that the law would lead to a surge of 911 calls, but according to Cpl. Tracey Knight, spokeswoman for the Fort Worth Police Department, not much has occurred:

“We do not have anything interesting to report. Two calls so far, no issues. We have no concerns and we have had no problems.”

Sheriff Dee Anderson adds:

“I said before this became law that I thought it was going to be much ado about nothing, but I didn’t know it was going to be this much nothing.”

Carolyn Daniel, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, argues it’s “too soon to tell” what effect this law will have:

“Changes in legislation can take years to determine an impact.”

Fox News reports that a number of local businesses are now banning firearms on their premises, “as well as national chains, including Starbucks [and] Jack in The Box.” But other businesses, like Home Depot and Bass Pro Shops, have embraced open carry.

But if we look to another state in which open carry was signed into law, the evidence suggests the new Texas legislation will not be an issue.

Mississippi began allowing open carry on July 1, 2013. Fourteen months later, virtually no issues had arisen.

WAPT reported in September 2014:

“The Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Jackson and Byram police departments said there have been little or no incidents reported. Utica police had one incident, where a man forgot he had his weapon on, but he put it back in his truck, authorities said.”

WAPT also quoted Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong:

“We have seen several [people utilizing the open-carry law] over the last year. I would imagine somewhere between 10 and 12…

I have to admit, initially I was a bit nervous about the debate of the law and the passing of the law. But to my surprise, we have not had one single incident as it relates to open-carry.”

Some Mississippians had similar fears regarding open carry, specifically relating to open carry at bars or pubs.

Prior to the Mississippi law going into effect, Hinds County Constable Jerry Moore argued it would be “total chaos” if the law were to be implemented:

“You get enough fights at the clubs and things that we have to respond to now. Can you imagine running up into a club of 50 to 100 people and trying to get order?”

Law enforcement also has mixed feelings about the Texas law. A survey conducted by the Texas Police Chiefs Association yielded some interesting results.

I told you so.  I said this.

Oooo … boogey man gonna getcha!  Hold me Uncle Bob!  I askeerd!  “Walking disaster.”  “Trouble.”  “Volatile and deadly situations.” Oooo …

Again, as a citizen of a traditional open carry state, I’m going to tell you what’s going to happen here.  Nothing.  That’s right, nothing.  Life will continue in the lone star state unabated, and the doomsday predictions of law enforcement and the progressives will go down as a monument to their hatred of the common man.

And this.

Really, folks, this has become a silly, exaggerated, inflated, dramatic, overly-complicated, hysterical fit.  I can say that because my home state is a traditional open carry state, and I have open carried, and seen others doing the same.  It’s just not the problem you are making it out to be.  When it’s time for open carry to be legal, some men will decide to open carry, and life will go on.  Business will occur, and the only crimes that may spiral out of control would be SWAT call-outs from politically motivated callers who use the cops to drive their points.

Here’s a note to Texas police departments.  If you don’t want to be used, don’t oblige.  Don’t do it.  Just say no.  Stand up for yourself.  Be men.

Blood won’t run in the streets, I have said.  The sky won’t fall, chicken little can go back to sleep, and the world can know that open carry isn’t the problem the “Moms demand [fill in the blank]” and LEOs say it is.

Florida is next.  And then comes South Carolina, if communist State Senator Larry Martin gets out of the way.

Donald Trump: “I Always Carry A Gun” [The Captain's Journal]

The Fiscal Times:

“I always carry a weapon on me. If I’d been at the Bataclan or one of those bars, I would have opened fire. Perhaps I would have died, but at least I would have taken a shot. The worst thing is the powerlessness to respond to those who want to kill you,” he said.

Well now.  I don’t really know you Donald, and we don’t send each other Christmas cards.  I care what my readers do, and perhaps they care from time to time what I do.  But I don’t really care what you do.

But here’s what I do care about.  How much have you pressed those communists in New York to let your fellow citizens carry guns?  You know, those poor people who are left “powerless to respond” when gangsters and thugs rob, beat and kill them?  After all, you want to be the leader of the “free world,” so shouldn’t it matter whether you’ve spoken out in favor of the rights of those around you?

Oh, that’s right.  I guess you haven’t.  I recall that informative conversation you had with Field & Stream, where you said this.

I do have a gun, and I have a concealed-carry permit, actually, which is a very hard thing to get in New York … And, you know, I’m in New York City, so I have a concealed-carry permit, and I meant to tell you—I just wanted to point that out because it’s so hard to get, and it’s one of the hardest things you can get.

Okay.  It was all about you.  Never mind.  I’m back to where I started.  I don’t really care what you do.

Notes From HPS [The Captain's Journal]

David Codrea:

“While many people might disagree with statements made by those involved in the Malheur takeover, Americans have a fundamental right to freedom of speech,” the ACLU of Oregon declared in a position statement on charges against Santilli. “We can all agree that we should not hold members of the media or protesters in jail without bail simply because they have shocking or abhorrent views. These are principles that we must stand by, even when we disagree with the message of the speaker.”

David adds, “Love him or hate him, if the government gets away with its prosecution of Pete Santilli, freedom of expression and freedom of the press will be effectively quashed.

And I’ve noticed that holding people without bail appears to be a favorite tactic these days of prosecutors who find the accused particularly objectionable.  They seldom get away with it unless judge feels the same way.  Oftentimes they do.  So whether you find justice seems to be related to whether they like you and whether they perceive you to be a threat to their social pecking order.

David Codrea:

Vote yes on the recall of Grover Norquist from the NRA board.

I didn’t know there was one, and I certainly will.  I’ve weighed in before on this worm.

Former ISIS sex slaves take up arms against ISIS.  My question: where are the men?

Muslim migrant abuse of Christians.  As I’ve said, this problem isn’t really that difficult to solve.  Remember Herschel’s Dictum.


Quake mobile app invites public test [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

A new app that turns a smartphone into a mobile seismometer is being rolled out by California scientists.

Paedophiles use Facebook to swap images [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

Paedophiles are using secret groups on Facebook to post and swap obscene images of children, a BBC investigation finds.

Anne Frank’s diary removed from website [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

The Diary of Anne Frank has been removed from book repository Wikisource after the site became aware it had fallen foul of copyright law.

GCHQ computer hacking ruled lawful [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

Britain’s spies are not breaking the law when they secretly hack into computers and smart phones, a tribunal rules.

Streetmap loses Google court challenge [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

A website that accused Google of abusing its “dominant position” in the online search market by “driving traffic” to Google Maps has lost its High Court action.

Women write ‘better’ code, study finds [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

Computer code written by women has a higher approval rating than that written by men – but only if it is not obvious that the coders are female, new research suggests.

How malware moved the exchange rate in Russia [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

After an investigation period, details were published about a unique cyberattack on a Russian bank where a malware placed trade orders for $500 million and heavily manipulated the ruble-dollar exchange rate.

The post How malware moved the exchange rate in Russia appeared first on We Live Security.

Prince Charming: The Valentine’s Day scammer [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

In this feature, we highlight some of the key tactics used by cybercriminals via online dating websites, helping you stay safe on Valentine’s Day.

The post Prince Charming: The Valentine’s Day scammer appeared first on We Live Security.

Facebook loses in French nudity case [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

The Paris appeal court rules that Facebook can be sued under French – not Californian – law, in what is seen as a test case.

Uber offers £20m ‘safe ride’ settlement [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

Uber wants to settle two lawsuits regarding safety regulation but the sum amounts to around $1 per person.

Blogsmoke [hogewash]



ANNOUNCER: (VOICE OVER MUSIC) Around Twitter Town and in the territory of the net—there’s just one way to handle the harassers and the stalkers—and that’s with an Internet Sheriff and the smell of “BLOGSMOKE”!


ANNOUNCER: “BLOGSMOKE” starring W. J. J. Hoge. The story of the trolling that moved into the young Internet—and the story of a man who moved against it. (MUSIC: OUT)

JOHN: I’m that man, John Hoge, Internet Sheriff—the first man they look for and the last they want to meet. It’s a chancy job—and it makes a man watchful … and a little lonely.


JOHN: Where was I when we left off? Oh, yeah …

JOHN: (Through small speaker) Of course, The Grouch wasn’t pleased about the pushback he was getting from the people he had been cyberharassing, and he responded with his own legal strategy—yet another LOLsuit and threats of filing his restraining orders. But those are topics we should cover later …

JOHN: (Full mike) And now is later, so let’s take a look at that LOLsuit.

THE GROUCH: (Through small speaker) (Fading up) … and John Does and Jane Roes for damages, state law torts, unlawful use of computerized communications equipment, harassment, invasion of privacy/right of publicity, stalking, defamation per se, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and mopery with intent to lurk.

JOHN: As usual for one of The Grouch’s LOLsuits, he tried to sue for a number of things that can’t be a cause of action in a civil suit. And then there was the problem that tripped him up in his first federal LOLsuit last year, diversity of citizenship. I’ll let the judge from that case explain.

JUDGE: The jurisdiction of the federal courts is limited. Federal jurisdiction is available only when a “federal question” is presented or the parties are of diverse citizenship and the amount in question exceeds $75,000. The diversity statute requires complete diversity of parties. Complete diversity of parties means that no part on one side may be a citizen of the same state as any party on the other side.

JOHN: Diversity of citizenship isn’t taken for granted. It must be demonstrated by the plaintiff.

JUDGE: The burden of establishing subject-matter jurisdiction rests on the party invoking the jurisdiction of the court. There is no presumption that jurisdiction is vested in the court.

JOHN: So has The Grouch been able to show that none of the John Does or Jane Roes he is suing reside in Wisconsin? Several lawyers that I’ve talked to say he hasn’t shown that diversity exists until he proves none of the Does and Roes reside in Wisconsin.


ANNOUNCER: Spring is just around the corner, but it isn’t here yet. It’s still going to be cold for several more weeks. On days like this, I’m glad to have my Team Lickspittle Hoodie as an extra layer of warm clothing. It and other Team Lickspittle items are some of the goodies exclusively available for you to spend your hard-earned cash on at The Hogewash Store. Stop by today, and spend some cash to support Team Lickspittle. You can also show your support by hitting the Tip Jar or by doing your Amazon shopping via the link on the Home page.


THE GROUCH: (Through small speaker) (Fading out) Plaintiff plans to seek John Doe subpoenas to determine the identities of the following anonymous commentators …

JOHN: And he has quite a list. Some of them are known to live outside the United States, so there’s no diversity issue with them. But most of the others live in parts unknown. At least one has knotty connections to Wisconsin and may actually live there. So what will happen if it The Grouch still has remaining defendants which he can’t prove are not Wisconsin residents?

JUDGE: Under those circumstances, there is no basis for diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C § 1332. Consequently, the complaint will be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3) which states, “If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”

JOHN: And he’s already burned his one free amendment to his complaint. Of course, jurisdiction is only the least of The Grouch’s problems with his LOLsuit. There plenty of other fatal errors that turned up.


ANNOUNCER: (VOICE OVER MUSIC) Even with a good imagination, we can’t come up with stories as strange as The Grouch and his buddies provide for episodes of “BLOGSMOKE”!


ANNOUNCER: The Legal Department wishes the following declaimer read: “‘BLOGSMOKE’ is a work of fiction. Anyone who feels it might be about him should read Proverbs 28:1.” Be sure to tune in on Monday at 6 pm Eastern Time for the next intriguing episode of “Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign,” and join us again every Friday at 6 for alternating episodes “BLOGSMOKE” and “Blognet.” This is LBS, the Lickspittle Broadcasting System.

RICO Remnant News [hogewash]

Judge Hazel has ruled on several pending motions in the Kimberlin v. Frey RICO Remnant LOLsuit. On the whole, things did not go well for The Dread Pro-Se Kimberlin. He did manage to dodge sanctions for his duplicative subpoena to Aaron Walker, but his motion to compel Aaron Walker to respond to the subpoena was denied. He also managed to avoid being sanctioned for his sealed motion against me. He now has to serve me a copy of the motion, and I will now be bound by the protective order concerning the confidentiality of material provided by Patrick Frey. The big hit was the denial of his motion for a further amended complaint.

I do not wish to make any additional public comments on the Letter Order as it relates to me until I have been served with TPDK’s motion and had an opportunity to review it. Even then, the constraints imposed by the protective order may limit what I have to say.

Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering? [hogewash]

I think so, Brain … but if the politicians can give us all that free stuff, what will we need money for?

Political Insight Du Jour [hogewash]

Glenn Reynolds observes:

To be fair, Bernie’s making promises he can’t keep, but Hillary’s making promises she won’t keep.


Logins [hogewash]

2016 FEB 12 12:09:25 UTC Home Page
2016 FEB 12 12:09:54 UTC Team Kimberlin Post of the Day 1069
2016 FEB 12 12:10:14 UTC Home Page

UPDATE—2016 FEB 12 16:27:05 UTC Home Page
2016 FEB 12 16:36:10 UTC Home Page

UPDATE 2—2016 FEB 12 18:39:01 UTC Home Page
2016 FEB 12 18:39:24 UTC Team Kimberlin Post of the Day 1069

Pluto’s Four Smaller Moons [hogewash]

Video Credit: NASA

Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering? [hogewash]

I think so, Brain … but isn’t this the other side of the other side?

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day [hogewash]

A clock is counting down, but not the one the Cabin Boy™ imagines.

Tick, tock.

Quote of the Day [hogewash]

Proper words in proper places, make the true definition of a style.

—Jonathan Swift

Logins [hogewash]

2016 FEB 10 03:33:14 UTC Home Page
2016 FEB 10 03:33:20 UTC Meanwhile, Back at the Courthouse 4

UPDATE—2016 FEB 10 12:06:16 UTC Home Page
2016 FEB 10 12:06:56 UTC Team Kimberlin Post of the Day 1067

UPDATE 2—2016 FEB 10 22:06:24 UTC Home Page
2016 FEB 11 00:44:43 UTC Home Page
2016 FEB 11 02:27:47 UTC Home Page

ICYMI: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog ends campus political correctness as we know it [Hot Air » Top Picks]

At the end of a long week, it came down to a choice between posting this as a palate cleanser or posting about Jim Gilmore finally suspending his campaign-in-theory. I chose the newsier of the two developments, a guy using a sock to goof on college students.

It’s 10 minutes long but worth every second. My one criticism is that the students aren’t nearly as pissy as you’d like them to be to make a bit like this work as well as it could, although that’s probably unavoidable. How many hardcore Social Justice Warriors are going to sign up for a panel to try to explain “intersectionality” to a dog puppet on some comedian’s hand? Most of the kids here take everything in good humor — although look out for the blonde in the glasses, who does seem like maybe she wandered into the wrong room on her way to the Campus Feminists meeting. It was an act of mercy that Robert Smigel didn’t zero in on her as his prime target for the sketch, which could have been a lot of fun.

There’s some profanity here so do what Rubio would do and make sure the kiddies are in another room.

GOP shifting gen-elex oppo efforts to Sanders? [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Are conservatives beginning to feel the Bern, too? Indeed they are, but not in the way that progressive populists have in flocking to Bernie Sanders’ banner. Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reports that a key GOP oppo-research group has begun catching up to Sanders’ track record with a flurry of FOIA requests this week, targeting Sanders’ e-mail and other correspondence:

A Republican opposition research firm is increasing its efforts to dig up dirt on Bernie Sanders after his victory over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.

America Rising sent a batch of routine Freedom of Information Act requests this week asking for correspondence between Sanders’ Senate office and federal government departments. The group had also submitted some requests for Sanders last month.

Typically, such requests are sent years before the presidential race due to the lengthy FOIA process. A review of FOIA logs with federal agencies shows America Rising looking into Clinton years before the election due to her status as the presumptive nominee.

America Rising assigned itself a fairly broad mandate in federal elections when launched in early 2013. Their efforts contributed to a big win for Republicans in the 2014 midterms by generating plenty of material for attack advertising and criticism of Democratic candidates. It’s fair to say that since that cycle, AR’s focus has been more on the presidential campaign, and in that almost entirely on Hillary Clinton. A quick look at their YouTube channel shows that while they have occasionally highlighted other Democrats, the vast majority of their work has taken aim at Hillary.

After watching Sanders take Hillary down to a tie in Iowa and thump her in New Hampshire by 22 points, the folks at AR have to at least start performing due diligence. In fact, given the precarious legal situation Hillary faces with an FBI investigation that appears to be broadening rather than winding down, this would be simply good preparation even if she had won both states by wide margins. As it is, though, Hillary’s bid for the nomination has begun to look shaky — and a new poll in Nevada is only making that more apparent. Jon Ralston breaks it down:

The survey, paid for by the conservative Free Beacon, shows a 45-45 tie. It was conducted by TargetPoint of 1,236 potential Nevada caucusgoers from Feb. 8-10, with a margin of error just under 3 percent. That’s a lot of interviews — “867 interviews were completed using automated telephone technology and 369 were conducted using mobile phones,” according to the polling instrument, which I have posted below along with the crosstabs. …

►Clinton loses on trust, 53-29; on who cares about people like you, 49-36; and who is progressive, 49-36. Danger, Will Robinson!

►The sample is almost 60 percent female (about what it as in ’08), which ought to worry Clinton. Sanders leads 63-16 among young voters (18-29), and if there are a lot of youngsters who register on Caucus Day…. She’s also losing among independents, as the Free Beacon reported.

Team Hillary had begun downscaling expectations for the Nevada caucus after Iowa, and now it’s clear why.

There’s another good reason to start focusing more on Bernie Sanders, and it’s not just because Sanders might end up with the nomination. Conservatives need to take on what Glenn Reynolds calls “the siren call of socialism,” and the sooner the better:

And socialism does have a siren call — essentially, the promise that if you vote for socialists, they’ll take stuff away from other people and give it to you. Since many people would rather have free stuff given to them in the name of “fairness” than have to work to get their own stuff, it’s never hard to round up votes with that approach. As the saying goes, a government that robs Peter to pay Paul can count on getting Paul’s vote. …

But there’s some good news, according to Silver: Even though young Americans say they like socialism, they also say that they don’t like redistribution of wealth. Writes Silver: “It’s possible that Sanders will trigger a shift toward more support for economic redistribution in the future, but there hasn’t been one yet.” The percentage of young Americans who support redistributing wealth is almost the same as it was in 1996.

So since you can’t have socialism without redistribution of wealth (with a large part being retained by the redistributors, of course) then what’s this all about? Silver notes that those young Americans supporting Bernie Sanders have a lot in common with the young Americans who support another older figure with heterodox economic views, libertarian Ron Paul: “What’s distinctive about both the Sanders and Ron Paul coalitions is that they consist mostly of people who do not feel fully at home in the two-party system but are not part of historically underprivileged groups.[“] …

So at this point, the enthusiasm for Sanders may be as much a search for something different as it is an endorsement of Sanders’ 1930s-era economic views. Given the failure of the two party establishments, it’s not entirely surprising that young people are looking elsewhere. Their votes are up for grabs, for those who are willing and able to offer something different. For the sake of the country, let’s hope those votes are won by people who are able to offer something different, and constructive, at the same time.

We’re paying the price for decades of poor education, especially on economics and civics. It might be amusing to conservatives to see Hillary Clinton’s ambitions get swallowed up as a consequence, but the danger of this wildfire of historical and economic ignorance is too broad to let go unchecked. If nothing else, the Right has to start answering the fallacies and fantasies that Sanders has spun and start going after him as well as Hillary.


Team Jeb: Rubio is a phony on family values given some of the hip-hop he listens to [Hot Air » Top Picks]

I thought this election was about nationalism and populism. How’d we get from that to whether it’s appropriate to employ Skinemax actresses and listen to NWA in the span of a day?

And how is it, with Republicans suddenly throwing roundhouses at each other over “values” in South Carolina, that Donald Trump, of all people, is the main beneficiary?

Two tweets from Tim Miller, head of Jeb’s communications team:

The first tweet duplicates McClatchy’s headline for its story about Rubio’s musical tastes. As in the actress post, I need some help from socially conservative readers in gauging whether this is a problem. There’s no question that Rubio listens to some hip-hop, like NWA, that’s explicit. There is, however, a very big question whether he does it around “family,” by which McClatchy obviously means his young kids. My pal Karl flagged this CNN story from last week suggesting that he doesn’t:

Marco Rubio is a West Coast hip-hop kind of guy. But he can’t listen to that stuff with his kids around.

So on the campaign trail, he’s swapped out rappers like Tupac and NWA for Calvin Harris and Avicii…

“I just like it because the lyrics are clean, so I can listen to it in front of my kids and not worry about it,” he said. “I used to be a much bigger hip-hop fan. But the lyrics have gotten harder and harder to listen to when you have 10-year-olds in the car.”

Rubio’s a phony if he claimed that people shouldn’t listen to music with explicit lyrics, period, or that that kind of music ideally shouldn’t be produced. Here’s what he actually said that’s got McClatchy and Team Jeb crying “phony”:

“It’s become harder than ever to instill in your children the values they teach in our homes and in our church instead of the values that they try to ram down our throats in movies, in music, in popular culture,” Rubio said in Nashua, N.H. in his last stump speech on primary day. The passage was made famous because Rubio actually repeated the statement twice, playing into earlier criticism about robotic adherence to talking points.

I don’t know where McClatchy gets from that that he “hates hip-hop, except when he loves it.” He loves it, he just doesn’t think it should be “rammed down our throats,” by which I assume he means “broadcast so ubiquitously that kids can’t avoid being exposed to it.” That’s a perennial complaint from parents about mass media, especially in the Internet era. It’s not that adult entertainment is bad per se, it’s that it’s too easy for children to access. Unless you think Rubio can’t instill good values in his kids if he occasionally listens to NWA when they’re not around, I don’t understand how what he said conflicts with family values. And if it does, would it also conflict with family values if he admitted to being a fan of, say, “Breaking Bad”? That’s a show about cooking meth, selling it, and murdering people who get in your way. The lead character, whom you’re supposed to sympathize with, is the local meth kingpin. Not a show you’d want to watch with young kids, but it’s a show you’d want to watch. (Take it from me.) Is he a phony for endorsing “family values” and enjoying “Breaking Bad”? Has Jeb Bush ever seen that show? Or “The Sopranos”? Or “Game of Thrones”?

Since we’re on the subject of Jeb, Right to Rise chief Mike Murphy is touting these numbers:

I’d bet cash money that’s not an accurate reflection of the race, but if it is then Marco will soon have a lot of extra free time to listen to all the music he wants.

Did Hillary aide “blackmail” reporter for advance look at speech? [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Not really — but that’s not really the point, either. Earlier this week, Gawker uncovered an e-mail exchange between Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic (and now at The Week, where I am also a regular columnist) and Hillary Clinton aide Philippe Reines setting conditions for an advance look at a little-remembered Hillary Clinton speech in 2009. Reines demanded a particular tenor of coverage in exchange for the scoop — and Ambinder apparently agreed:

On the morning of July 15, 2009, Ambinder sent Reines a blank email with the subject line, “Do you have a copy of HRC’s speech to share?” His question concerned a speech Clinton planned to give later that day at the Washington, D.C. office of the Council on Foreign Relations, an influential think tank. Three minutes after Ambinder’s initial email, Reines replied with three words: “on two conditions.” After Ambinder responded with “ok,” Reines sent him a list of those conditions:

3 [conditions] actually

1) You in your own voice describe them as “muscular”

2) You note that a look at the CFR seating plan shows that all the envoys — from Holbrooke to Mitchell to Ross — will be arrayed in front of her, which in your own clever way you can say certainly not a coincidence and meant to convey something

3) You don’t say you were blackmailed!

“Blackmailed” here is clearly a jest. Reines wanted a quid pro quo for access — and Ambinder took the bait, replying with a terse “got it.” Gawker then links to Ambinder’s review of the speech for The Atlantic:

When you think of President Obama’s foreign policy, think of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That’s the message behind a muscular speech that Clinton is set to deliver today to the Council on Foreign Relations. The staging gives a clue to its purpose: seated in front of Clinton, subordinate to Clinton, in the first row, will be three potentially rival power centers: envoys Richard Holbrooke and George Mitchell, and National Security Council senior director Dennis Ross.

The Daily Caller did some poking around and found remarkably similar reporting on the event:

Ambinder wasn’t the only person who may have followed demands from Reines. Mike Allen of Politico also used the “muscular” label for Clinton’s speech, and he also made a note of the arrangement of figures like Holbrooke and Ross. Allen taking orders from Reines wouldn’t be a huge shock, as it was recently revealed that Allen allowed Reines to ghostwrite an item in his popular daily Playbook email.

For his part, Ambinder apologized for his decision, and took total responsibility in his response to Gawker. “Since I can’t remember the exact exchange I can’t really muster up a defense of the art, and frankly, I don’t really want to,” he wrote. “I will say this: whatever happened here reflects my own decisions, and no one else’s.” Speaking to J.K. Trotter on the phone, Ambinder further elaborated, “It made me uncomfortable then, and it makes me uncomfortable today. And when I look at that email record, it is a reminder to me of why I moved away from all that. The Atlantic, to their credit, never pushed me to do that, to turn into a scoop factory.” Ambinder learned the lesson the hard way seven years ago, but his political leanings are well known and explicitly offered (Gawker notes his friendly correspondence with Reines on other topics, too).

Political journalists and commentators get lots of input from staffers for candidates and politicians, especially during elections, but at other times as well. Most of those come with requests for anonymity, but it’s pretty rare to have a demand for a particular kind of coverage in exchange for the information. Usually it takes the form of spin: “This really shows the muscularity of John Doe’s foreign policy, doesn’t it?”, with the obvious suggestion as to how the staffer wants it covered. When reporters go out looking for scoops, as Ambinder did here, the power balance shifts a bit, but it’s not incumbent on journalists or commentators to play along with it. Otherwise, one ends up taking dictation rather than offering honest analysis — and running the risk of appearing redundant, as happened in this case, especially when the “scoop” was so insignificant.

The most interesting part of this exchange is how much control the Clinton team attempts to exert over media coverage. How much of that is in play now? Do they still trade scoops for dictated coverage — perhaps in conjunction with the e-mail scandal or potential corruption involving the Clinton Foundation? They might have more valuable scoops to offer journalists in the context of a presidential campaign, and it would be very interesting indeed to see just how far that quid pro quo extends in the media.

Or, to put it more simply …. damn, it feels good to be a Clinton.

Rubio: Unlike Obama, my administration isn’t going to ram amnesty down your throat [Hot Air » Top Picks]

I’m … not sure why we should believe the guy who got elected to the Senate denouncing earned citizenship as code for amnesty and then turned around in 2013 and co-wrote an “earned citizenship” bill. The list of Rubio deceptions on immigration is very long indeed.

But since the hour is late and Trumpageddon will soon be upon us in South Carolina, here’s Rubio kinda sorta trying to reassure border hawks for your voting consideration.

“I think people will be reasonable but responsible how to deal with that, but it’s got to be something that the American people support — it can’t be something we ram down their throat and say, ‘This is the way it’s going to be,’” he said.

Rubio vowed that he wouldn’t do anything on immigration until the he secured the border in a way that the American people could “believe and see with your own eyes.”

“We’ll see what you’ll support, we’re not going to ram it down your throat,” he said.

He pointed out that President Obama was doing it backwards by offering amnesty to children of legal immigrants without securing the border. Human traffickers took advantage of the situation, he explained, by lying to parents in Latin American countries about what was possible and creating an influx of illegal immigrants.

As far as I’m aware, Rubio has never categorically rejected a comprehensive deal on immigration, even after he started running away from the Gang of Eight bill. He’s said many times that he favors a “security first” approach right now, because Obama’s executive amnesty destroyed the Democrats’ credibility as honest brokers. But that’s a personnel problem, not a matter of principle. Change the personnel in the White House and maybe comprehensive reform is viable again. What he seems to be saying here, though, is that even President Rubio would have little choice at this point but to insist on “security first” instead of comprehensive reform. If you take him at his word, that’s a positive development. (It’s also yet another case, a la Cruz shifting from being open to legalization to ruling it out under any circumstances, of Trump pushing the rest of the field to the right on amnesty.) But that gets us back to the problem of taking him at his word. There are ways to fudge the idea of “security first”; one proposal kicked around Washington over the years is to hold off on legalizing anyone until Congress passes a plan to secure the border, not until the border is actually secure. Rubio seems to be promising more than that here by emphasizing improvements you can “believe and see with your own eyes,” but his pal Chuck Schumer isn’t going to happily acquiesce to that. What will the compromise be on measurable improvements? One or two months of data showing a higher rate of deportations, say? A flat number of new hires for the Border Patrol? Realistically, border hawks should want to see several years of security improvements before legalization is taken up. That’s not going to happen so long as Democrats have 41 seats in the Senate. And Democrats have never had fewer than 41 seats in the Senate.

The best argument you can make for believing that Rubio’s more of a border hawk now than he used to be is that a man who’s been punched in the face repeatedly for three years over something he did wrong may well have a certain clarity about not repeating that wrongdoing in the future. For Rubio, that’s arguably doubly true: Not only did he take a beating from the right as a senator, he’s stuck playing catch-up with Ted Cruz in presidential polls even though his favorables are extremely high and he’s widely seen as the most “electable” Republican in the race. However much he may yearn for amnesty in his heart, there’s at least an argument that he’s learned to fear conservatives sufficiently — especially after the Trump tsunami — that he doesn’t dare repeat his old mistake again as president. The counterargument to that is that Paul Ryan is more of a true blue amnesty fan than Boehner was and might look to force the issue of amnesty onto Rubio’s plate as president. That’s a risk, but of course Ryan is watching the polls in New Hampshire and South Carolina too. His House majority right now is about as large as it can realistically get. There’s nowhere to go but down, and given the propulsion Trump is getting from immigration, a new amnesty bill would be a really obvious way to jeopardize that House majority by convincing lots of Republicans to stay home in 2018. I used to think that, if Rubio became president, he’d try for immigration reform early in his administration, when he can take advantage of his honeymoon period with voters to minimize the ferocity of the backlash. (He’d want to do it as far away from an election as possible, which means 2017 instead of 2018 or even 2019, when Rubio would be thinking about reelection.) Now, after Trump, I don’t know. Even if Trump were to collapse tomorrow, this has been a near-death experience for the modern Republican coalition. Responding to Trumpmania by pushing another comprehensive reform bill right out of the chute would be de facto suicide by the GOP leadership, one last blaze of RINO glory before the whole party shatters. It’s at least arguable that even a Gang of Eight alum like Rubio has learned his lesson from his own near-death experience in the primaries. If only we could trust him.

Trump: If Ted Cruz doesn’t stop cheating and attacking me, I have standing to sue him over his natural-born status [Hot Air » Top Picks]

I’m reasonably sure that whether Trump has standing doesn’t depend on whether Cruz is willing to run ads about eminent domain in South Carolina.

If he has standing, it’s because he’s directly competing with Cruz for the office of the presidency. If he doesn’t, a “dirty trick” by the Cruz campaign won’t confer it on him. Either way, someone who’s sincerely concerned about having a president who wasn’t “natural-born” would never use the threat of a suit as leverage. It’s as if Trump is saying, “Cancel your attack ads and I’ll choose not to care about putting a foreigner in charge of the military.”

Actually, some Trump fans are already following through on the threat. I’m not sure why this new federal suit in Alabama is buzzy news today considering Cruz has already been sued elsewhere, including in federal court, but it is. Probably it’s a combination of the high stakes in South Carolina plus the fact that the suit was filed in Alabama, part of the “SEC Primary” on March 1 that Cruz has been eyeing as his best chance to pile up delegates. There’s not a ghost of a chance that a court will remove him from the ballot if he’s the nominee (there’s probably zero chance that they’d remove now that he’s proved he’s capable of winning a state, frankly), and if he’s not the nominee by the time a ruling comes down no one will care. The goal here isn’t to win the suit, just to cast a shadow over Cruz in hopes that it’ll give some South Carolinians pause.

I assume the author of the story has simply misdescribed the complaint, as I can’t get the two boldfaced parts here to square:

Five Cullman County residents – all supporters of Donald Trump – filed a federal lawsuit this week against 2016 Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, alleging that the Texas senator is ineligible for the presidency because he’s not a natural born citizen…

While the plaintiffs concede that Cruz is a citizen, they contend that Cruz is not a natural-born citizen. They cited a portion of the Constitution that says “no person except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this constitution, shall be eligible to the office of president.”

“Plaintiffs allege that at the time of Mr. Cruz’s birth, the United States could not confer citizenship upon him under any law or legal theory that exists,” the lawsuit states. “‘Natural born’ means native born within the United States or its dominions/territories. Canada is not a territory of the United States. Whether the Defendant’s mother was/is a United State’s [sic] citizen is irrelevant. If however, she had been an Ambassador to a foreign country; or, stationed in another country while serving in the military, such would not bar Mr. Cruz’s candidacy.”

If there’s no law or legal theory by which American citizenship could have been conferred on Cruz upon his birth to a woman with American citizenship, when exactly did he become a a U.S. citizen? He’s never been naturalized. That’s another clue that this suit is political. The politically savvy way to attack Cruz’s status is to claim that he was a citizen at birth via statutory law but that the Constitution’s “natural-born” clause imposes a requirement above and beyond that for citizens who want to run for president — namely, birth on American soil. If you’re going to make the move they make here, claiming that Cruz wasn’t a citizen at his birth, period, then you’re basically stuck arguing that he’s … an illegal immigrant. That’s a serious, politically loaded charge to throw at him (although Trump has flirted with it in passing) and risks sparking a backlash among people who may be open to ruling Cruz ineligible but not to stripping him of his citizenship entirely. Assuming the excerpt is accurate, it sounds like that was a bridge too far for the plaintiffs. So they end up conceding that Cruz is a citizen but not by birth, which leaves him with no way to have become a citizen except by magic.

Enjoy this while it lasts because we might be just eight days away from Trump retiring the eligibility stuff against Cruz. I think he’ll keep it up for the rest of the month since Cruz remains strong in the southern states Trump is competing with him for, but threatening to get Cruz thrown off the ballot is a risky tactic for Trump insofar as it might anger some of Cruz’s fans. A guy who’s cruising towards the nomination, as Trump might be next Saturday night, doesn’t want to alienate any parts of the GOP base more than he absolutely needs to, especially since there’s already bound to be a mini-revolt on the right in the general election if he’s the nominee. As soon as he feels secure that Cruz can’t catch him, the prudent thing to do would be to drop all the eligibility stuff and try to be conciliatory. I think he will, sooner rather than later.

Reid to Grayson: Get out; Grayson to Reid: Great job in 2014, failing figurehead [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Well, that escalated quickly. After the New York Times revealed that the House Committee on Ethics had been investigating Alan Grayson’s moonlighting as a hedge-fund manager, the House Democrat has found himself persona non grata in the upper chamber — at least according to Harry Reid. The retiring Senate Minority Leader didn’t mince words, either:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Friday called for U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson to drop out of the race for a Senate seat in Florida.

Reid said in a statement that Grayson claims to be progressive but seems to have “no moral compass.” He said Grayson used his office to unethically promote a hedge fund that until recently had been based in the Cayman Islands. …

“His actions aren’t just disgraceful to the Democratic Party, they disgrace the halls of Congress,” Reid said.

On one hand, this is hardly surprising. The Democratic Party leadership has wanted Grayson out of the Senate primary for months; they see Patrick Murphy as a much more attractive candidate than the always-grating Grayson. Grayson alluded to this dynamic in Eric Lipton’s report, in fact:

Mr. Grayson accuses Democratic Party leaders of trying to undermine his campaign so the nomination will go to Representative Patrick Murphy, a Democrat who they say has a better shot at helping the party win a Senate seat that is being vacated by Marco Rubio, a Republican who is running for president.

The focus, Mr. Grayson said, should be on the fact that he introduced more pieces of legislation during the last Congress — 96 bills or resolutions — than any other member of the House, and many more than Mr. Murphy.

Mr. Murphy declined through a spokesman to comment.

Go figure that Reid, the party’s establishment leader in the Senate, would take advantage of a prime opportunity to push Grayson under the bus. But it’s curious that Reid chose not just to push Grayson under the Senate-campaign bus, but go full nuclear on Grayson’s character. Grayson represents Florida’s 9th CD, which straddles the key I-4 Corridor and has a Cook rating of D+4. If Grayson couldn’t run for the Senate, he could possibly have been persuaded to run for re-election in his House seat — theoretically, at least, giving Democrats an edge in a close district. Instead, Reid cast him as a complete disgrace, ending any hope Grayson would have in rehabilitating himself in this cycle for any office. Maybe Reid had tried reasoning with Grayson before now, got stiffed, and was waiting for the right moment to demolish the gadfly.

That, however, brings up another curiosity. When exactly did Reid conclude that Grayson had “no moral compass” and that these actions were disgraceful enough to repudiate Grayson publicly? As I noted in the earlier post, Grayson’s hedge-fund moonlighting has been public knowledge for months. I wrote about it in May, when questions about the hedge fund prompted the disgraceful “sh—–g robot” response to Adam Smith at the Tampa Bay Times. Four months later (!), the House Committee on Ethics finally got around to looking into it.

So what made this so disgraceful to Reid — the fact that Grayson was operating a hedge fund out of the Caymans while emoting progressive pieties, or the fact that the New York Times finally got around to reporting on it? It’s clearly the latter … and that does make the timing of that report curious, too.

Update: So … pass the popcorn, y’all:

Suggesting that Reid “may well prefer corrupt Establishment errand boy” and rival Democrat Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.), Grayson excoriated the retiring Nevada Senator in an email to Independent Journal Review:

“I’m running against a rigged system and the Washington Establishment, so it’s no surprise that its departing figurehead, who failed so badly in the 2014 Senate races, relies on a false and misleading hyped story to try to pressure me out of this race. The reason why he is making such an absurd statement at all is that he knows that I’m well ahead in the polls, and heading for a strong primary victory.” …

“Sen. Reid managed to find a way to lose six out of seven open Senate seats in 2014, and lose six incumbent Democrats when the GOP lost none. Now he is personally attacking the clear choice of Florida Democrats, making the party into a circular firing squad.”

Golly, I can’t imagine why Democrats don’t want Grayson’s charm and cool leadership around the Senate.

Cruz: Let’s face it, Rubio and Trump are using Obama’s talking points on gay marriage [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Cruz isn’t playing around in trying to consolidate evangelicals in South Carolina, huh?

I’m going to give this statement three Pinocchios, at least as it applies to Rubio.

Speaking at the Carolina Values Summit at Winthrop University, the Texas senator said that the “lawless” decision by the Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage nationwide was “judicial activism.” And he indicated that Rubio and Trump, whom he did not identify by name but as his top two challengers, were flimsy in their opposition to gay marriage.

Even though both oppose gay marriage, each said they would abide by the “law of the land” last year.

“Those are the talking points of Barack Obama,” Cruz said.

The Supreme Court decision, he added, “will not stand.”

Trump and Rubio have indeed said that SCOTUS’s decision legalizing gay marriage is the law of the land, which is why this doesn’t qualify as a total lie. (Trump also said yes last week when a reporter in New Hampshire asked him if gays could expect more “forward motion” on equality during his presidency.) But here’s the thing: Although Cruz won’t join them in saying that, he behaves as though he agrees with them. Unless I missed it, he’s never gone to the crank-ish lengths Mike Huckabee did in insisting that the Court’s decision is non-binding until it’s ratified by the various states’ legislatures. The most he’s said is that states not directly implicated in the Obergefell ruling should ignore it, which sounds like a bold call for civil disobedience but amounts to little more than putting gay-rights activists through their paces legally. If, say, Texas were to ignore Obergefell, it’d be sued immediately by gay residents of Texas and the state supreme court would simply issue an opinion ruling that Obergefell applies in Texas too. Then Texas would have to comply, and Cruz knows it. Cruz has called for civil disobedience if and when government tries to silence pastors, and he’s also proposed various constitutional amendments — one to return marriage to the states, the other to impose retention elections on the Supreme Court — aimed at undoing Obergefell. But as far as treating Obergefell as the current law of the land, I can’t recall him ever seriously challenging that proposition. Go figure that a Harvard Law grad turned state solicitor general turned would-be SCOTUS justice (if this year’s presidential run doesn’t pan out) thinks court rulings need to be followed until they can be undone through proper legal channels.

The most noteworthy difference between Cruz and Rubio on SSM is Rubio saying last year that he opposes an amendment to return marriage to the states, which is a baffling position for a socially conservative candidate in a primary to take. Rubio justified it on grounds that he doesn’t want the feds interfering in marriage, except that … the whole point of that amendment is to undo federal judicial interference in marriage by getting three-quarters of the states to vote to overturn Obergefell. Rubio has since tried to walk that back (kinda sorta), though, saying in November:

“If you live in a society where the government creates an avenue and a way for you to peacefully change the law, then you’re called on to participate in that process to try to change it, not ignoring it, but trying to change the law.

“I continue to believe that marriage law should be between one man and one woman, and that the proper place for that to be decided is at the state level, where marriage has always been regulated, not by the U.S. Supreme Court, and not by the federal government.”

Obergefell may be current law, he emphasized at the time, but it’s not settled law. Between that, his support for letting states decide on marriage, and respecting Obergefell as the law of the land, at least for now, that puts him a lot closer to Ted Cruz’s position than to Barack Obama’s. Again, the only meaningful difference I know of is their disagreement on using an amendment to overturn the decision, and since that amendment’s not going to pass anytime soon anyway, it’s academic. Cruz is trying to get to Rubio’s right on this issue largely through symbolism, proposing amendments that sound good but have no good chance of passing and showing up to Kim Davis’s rally after she was released from jail for contempt to get a photo op, suggesting that he supports individual civil disobedience to endorsing SCOTUS’s decision even though he’s put no real rhetorical muscle behind the effort. There are various reasons to prefer Cruz to Rubio as nominee but, even if you’re anti-SSM, I don’t see how this is a strong one. Especially since Cruz is already on record that rolling back gay marriage isn’t a top-three priority for him.

Update: Here’s the strongest language I’ve found from Cruz on Obergefell:

“My response to this decision was that it was illegitimate, it was lawless, it was utterly contrary to the Constitution and that we should fight to defend marriage on every front,” he said, before promoting constitutional amendments to overturn the ruling and put justices up for retention elections, along with legislation “to strip the federal courts of jurisdiction over challenges to marriage.”

Cruz conceded that none of his proposals are politically feasible at the moment. Once he is elected president, however, Cruz said he will make sure that “we will not use the federal government to enforce this lawless decision that is a usurpation of the authority of we the people in this country.” He also committed to only appoint Supreme Court justices who would not “legislate from the bench” like the justices did in Obergefell.

Okay, but the president’s role in enforcing or not enforcing Obergefell is unimportant. It’s a matter of the states enforcing it, since marriage is a creature of state law. Here again you find Cruz laying down rhetoric that makes it sound like he’s preparing to do something bold when really it’s just symbolism. Even as he’s deriding the decision as illegitimate and lawless, he insists on sticking to Article V procedures or trying a jurisdictional move in Congress to overturn it. Again, how is this different from acknowledging the decision as the current, if not settled, law of the land?

Should Cruz have pulled that ad because one of the actors did softcore porn? [Hot Air » Top Picks]

I’m with Gutfeld and Charles Cooke in saying no but I’m also self-aware enough to know that I’m not part of the target demographic Cruz is aiming at in the south.

Says Cooke:

As for the idea that she would need to be “vetted”: Again, why? She wasn’t applying for a job at the State Department, or for a position on the board of the Anti-Pornography League. All told, there is only one question that a person who appears in a commercial needs to be asked: “Can you act as we want you to?” Clearly, she could.

Fox reports that, in addition to her adult-film work, she has … “appeared in the TV series ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ and the 1996 film adaptation of Henry James’ novel ‘The Portrait of a Lady.'” Should those episodes be pulled as well? Are they “too hot for TV”? Or is it reasonable for us to draw a distinction between porn per se and TV shows that feature people who happen to have appeared in porn?

Interesting contrast — Gutfeld’s position is “a Christian candidate should welcome the idea of redemption for moral failings” while Cooke’s position is “who cares, it’s acting!” Either could have worked as spin for Cruz, although Gutfeld’s would have given him a stronger defense in case any Christian voters took exception to the casting. As it is, by yanking the clip, Cruz is going to get hit for being a judgmental scold — probably by the actress herself, Amy Lindsay:

Before the ad was pulled, she told BuzzFeed:

Prior to the Cruz campaign pulling the ad, Lindsay told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview on Thursday that she’s a Christian conservative and a Republican. While she emphasized that she did not do hardcore porn and that she also appeared in non-erotic films, Lindsay said she thinks it is “cool” that an actor who has appeared in softcore porn could also appear in Cruz’s ad.

“In a cool way, then hey, then it’s not just some old, white Christian bigot that people want to say, ‘It could be, maybe, a cool kind of open-minded woman like me,’” she said of people supporting Cruz.

Sticking by Lindsay was an opportunity for Cruz to say that none of us is perfect and everyone’s welcome in his tent who shares his vision for America. If Jesus could minister to prostitutes, Cruz can have someone who did a couple of Skinemax movies in his attack ad. Oh well. Incidentally, Lindsay also told BuzzFeed before the ad was taken down that she was on the fence between supporting Cruz and Trump. I wonder which team she’ll end up on!

Needless to say, lots of online hot takes to come about Republicans shaming women who are “unafraid of their sexuality” or whatever. Here’s the question I can’t answer but maybe evangelical readers can: Did Cruz do the right thing here in pulling the ad? I’d assume that even a “values voter” would shrug off something like this, but then I’d also assume that they would shrug off Trump using profanity at his rallies and that may not be the case. Cruz knows his audience a lot better than I do and he thought the prudent move was to pull it. Is he right or wrong?

Exit question: Lindsay’s now guaranteed to end up in a Trump ad, probably talking about how no one likes Cruz, right?

CNN, ABC: Arrest in hacking case of high-ranking Obama admin officials [Hot Air » Top Picks]

One hacking mystery has been solved — although it’s not the one that mattered most. The OPM hack exposed raw investigative files for cleared personnel and all of their personal data. The hacks into the personal e-mails of intelligence chief James Clapper and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson were more embarrassing than substantively damaging, or so the Obama administration claimed. Now British authorities have arrested a 16-year-old suspect in the hackings and may face extradition to the US, ABC News reported this morning:

British authorities, with help from the FBI, have arrested a teenager they believe is behind a series of cyberattacks targeting some of the highest officials in U.S. government, two sources with knowledge of the matter told ABC News.

Authorities are trying to determine whether others may have been involved, the sources said. The 16-year-old has not been named.

For the past several months, a group calling itself “Crackas With Attitude” has been disclosing private information associated with such high-ranking officials as CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Information about rank-and-file employees working for the FBI, Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security were posted online this week, though sources described the pilfered information as amounting to an internal phone directory.

According to CNN, this suspect may also have conducted the hack and exposure of the names of 20,000 FBI employees earlier this week. That expedited the arrest, CNN reports, because investigators believe that the suspect got access to more damaging data:

This week, the latest target became apparent when personal details of 20,000 FBI employees surfaced online.

By then a team of some of the FBI’s sharpest cyber experts had homed in on their suspect, officials said. They were shocked to find that a “16-year-old computer nerd” had done so well to cover his tracks, a U.S. official said.

Investigators also found the intruder had gotten access to a shared computer drive with sensitive documents, such as some related to investigations and legal agreements in the works.

That prompted law enforcement officials to seek an arrest more quickly.

Motherboard, which broke the news of the latest hack on the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, claims to have been in touch with the arrested teen:

On Wednesday night, Motherboard spoke to the teenager accused of being Cracka. “I got [expletive] v&,” he told Motherboard, using “v&,” the slang for “vanned,” or getting arrested. (At this point, the arrest had not been made public.) “They’re trying to ruin my life.”

The teenager said authorities arrested him on Tuesday, and are accusing him of the attacks on Brennan, White House officials, and the recent hack on the Department of Justice, which resulted in the publication of the names and contact information almost 30,000 FBI and DHS employees.

The alleged hacker, who declined to reveal his real name, said he refused to answer any questions from the police, and was subsequently released on bail after spending 7 hours in a cell. He also denied being Cracka, saying “I’m not who you think I am ;) ;) ;)”

“I’m innocent until proven guilty so I have nothing to be worried about,” he said, adding that the authorities seized this electronic devices, but he could still use the internet from a relative’s device.

That sounds more like bravado than reality. CNN notes that a Twitter account believed to be controlled by the hacker put out this request on Wednesday: “Anyone got a good lawyer?!?!?”

Extradition in this case could be tricky. Normally there would be little issue between the UK and US on extraditing suspects for any crime, but extraditing a minor may be a lot more difficult. The UK could charge and try the suspect instead, given that the crime took place in their country. That might make it easier in the long run, as long as the US could be satisfied that the hacker would not gain access to the Internet for a very long time.

Video: Kerry announces cease-fire in Syria [Hot Air » Top Picks]

A complete cease-fire? Not exactly, according to Reuters. John Kerry announced a “unanimous” agreement for a cease-fire between the Syrian government and native opposition forces that the US has backed but Russia has targeted in its bombing campaigns. The fight against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra will continue:

The primary motivation for this decision is to address the humanitarian crisis — and maybe curtail the flight of refugees and the destabilization that has wrought:

The United States, Russia and other powers agreed to a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria’s civil war, to take place within the next week, and immediate humanitarian access to besieged areas, Secretary of State John F. Kerry announced here early Friday.

“It was unanimous,” Kerry said of a communique issued after hours of meetings among participants in a group of nations that have supported and armed one side or the other in the four-year war. “Everybody today agreed,” he said. But the proof of commitment will come only with implementation. “What we have here are words on paper,” Kerry said. “What we need to see in the next few days are actions on the ground.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the projected date for ending at least some of his country’s airstrikes in Syria is a week from Friday, but he emphasized that “terrorist” groups would continue to be targeted, including the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria that is involved in the fight against President Bashar al-Assad. The group in some instances fights alongside rebel forces supported by the United States and its allies.

Bashar al-Assad insists that he will not stop fighting “terrorism,” and that “the two tracks are separate from each other”:

It all depends on how one defines terrorism. Until now, Assad and his Russian counterparts have made no distinction between supposed Syrian moderate rebels and Nusra and ISIS. While the US has focused attacks on the latter, both Assad and Vladimir Putin have focused on the former, primarily in western Syria, as a means to regain control of population centers within their grasp. The moderates have looked to the US to make good on their promises of support, to little avail, at least until now.

This cease-fire will play to Assad’s advantage in those negotiations. It should be clear by now to the moderate forces that US assistance means very little. They will need to make their peace with Assad soon and await another opportunity to replace the regime when the Russians get bored with propping up the dictator. That might be good news for the fight against ISIS, but it also might mean that Russia will bail out of that fight once Assad’s position has been re-secured. At the very least, it will give an opening for humanitarian efforts, and perhaps a reason for Syrian refugees to stay put or go home.

All of this depends, of course, on whether Assad and Sergei Lavrov really mean any of what they say at this point. They may be hoping to give the Obama administration an easy way out of the region, and expecting them to take it.

Here we go: Trump 36, Cruz 19, Rubio 15, Bush 11, Kasich 9 in Opinion Savvy poll of South Carolina [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Thanks goodness the poll drought of SC is over. I knew I was in withdrawal when I started physically shaking yesterday, but I didn’t realize how bad the problem was until I started seriously considering blogging a national poll this morning — after individual states had started voting! — just to get my fix. This is what addiction looks like.

If you’re curious about Opinion Savvy, their final poll of Iowa had Trump at 20, Cruz at 19, and Rubio at 19. They caught Rubio’s surge in other words, but missed his actual take of the vote by five points and Cruz’s take by eight. But then, even an eight-point miss on this new survey of South Carolina would still leave Trump winning the state. That’s how big his lead is.

Trump leads among those describing themselves as “very conservative,” “somewhat conservative,” “moderate” and “somewhat liberal.” John Kasich leads among the few South Carolina GOP voters who describe themselves as “very liberal.”

Nearly 60% of the voters in the GOP primary identify themselves as “evangelical” in the poll. But even among these evangelical voters, Trump leads Cruz by ten points. Of course South Carolina primaries can be very volatile and turnout can greatly impact the final numbers. But it appears Trump has consolidated and expanded upon his lead in South Carolina after New Hampshire in this poll. This is notable given that recent Opinion Savvy surveys of this race in South Carolina have shown Trump in a closer race there than most other surveys.

Per the crosstabs, Trump and Cruz are basically tied among “very conservative” voters but Trump obliterates him among every group further to the left of that. Needless to say, if Cruz can’t pile up a lead among evangelicals and the most conservative voters, we’re looking at a blowout next Saturday. Meanwhile, look at how badly Bush and Kasich are hurting Rubio here. He’s in contention for second place and they’ve got 20 percent(!) of the vote between them, presumably most of which would move to Rubio as a second choice if they weren’t in play. If you’re wondering why Cruz is still attacking Rubio in SC, a la that “therapy group” ad that got pulled last night because one of the actors had done softcore porn, these numbers would explain why. If Cruz really is staring at a distant second in South Carolina then he has a lot more to worry about from Rubio catching him than from Trump winning. Cruz can survive losing here, although a landslide would damage his strategy of cleaning up in the SEC states. Finishing third behind Rubio would be devastating, though. You’ll know Trump is walking away with this race and Rubio is in striking distance of Cruz by who Cruz ends up targeting in his ads next week.

Oh, all right. Let’s blog the national poll too. New from Morning Consult:


Those are registered, not likely, voters, but if you’re looking for evidence that Trump’s big win in New Hampshire is building momentum for him in other states, here’s some. The fact that he’s blasted through 40 percent, even temporarily, also seems significant in that the mid- to high 30s have been his ceiling in most national polls until now. In fact, not only is 44 percent his best take ever in a national poll, it’s only the third time he’s cracked the 40-point ceiling. He reached 41 percent a few weeks ago in a CNN survey and 41 again in a Monmouth survey in early December. (Both also polls of registered voters, it should be noted.) The idea that the field will winnow and the anti-Trump faction will carry someone else to victory continues to seem plausible-ish to lots of righty commentators, but I wonder how many Republicans out there who like Trump and know him much better than the other candidates by dint of his celebrity are newly open to him as nominee now that he’s scored a major win (and may be on the brink of another). One of the key “arguments” against Trump for some undecideds, I think, is “c’mon, we’re not gonna nominate Trump.” The weaker that argument seems, the more undecideds it may shake loose.

New Cruz ad: Damn, it feels good to be a Clinton [Hot Air » Top Picks]

As Matthew Continetti remarked on Twitter, whoever handles Team Cruz’ campaign ads deserves a raise — assuming this comes directly from the campaign, as MSNBC reported today. While Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders argued over the record of Henry Kissinger and the foreign policy of the Nixon administration, the Cruz campaign launched a pitch-perfect shot at Hillary in this Office Space spoof. Rather than destroying a printer, however, “Hillary” and two aides destroy an e-mail server while the soundtrack raps out, “Damn, it feels good to be a Clinton”:

The song itself doesn’t just attack Hillary, but also the media bias that shields her from accountability. “Lapdogs in the press keep their mouths tight, ’cause a Clinton never needs to explain why…” Ouch. It goes back to Hillary, though: “A Clinton plays the victim for promotion, a Clinton kills it off with a smile.”

This is brilliant, and not just for its cleverness. While Office Space may be 21 years old by now, it’s firmly in the cultural consciousness, a handy reference for Gen-Xers and even millennials. It doesn’t just zing Hillary and the media, it communicates to younger voters that Ted’s one of us. Neither Hillary or Bernie Sanders is even likely to know about Office Space, nor is Donald Trump, which is Cruz’ secondary target with this approach. It’s a grabber, and while it won’t instantly convert voters, it will likely get some of them to give Cruz another look just for that spark of cultural recognition.

In case you don’t recall it from the original, here’s the edited-safe-for-work clip from Office Space:

If Team Cruz wants to return to this theme, maybe they’ll cast Bernie Sanders as Milton. Maybe they can have him mumbling, “I’m going to Bern the place down,” while looking for his Red heritage.

Dem debate question: How do you feel about thwarting history, Bernie? [Hot Air » Top Picks]

I missed last night’s Democratic presidential debate, having a previous commitment at my church … and for my sanity. The PBS debate had at least one success in ending a debate on time, which sounds like it would be easy with only two candidates, but perhaps not with these two candidates. The previous Democratic debate on MSNBC (which I did watch) ran over by several minutes.

Thanks to the magic of YouTube, however, I still managed to catch this rather odd moment from moderator Gwen Ifill.

IFILL: Senator, do you worry at all that you will be the instrument of thwarting history, as Senator Clinton keeps claiming, that she might be the first woman president?

SANDERS: Well, you know, I think, from a historical point of view, somebody with my background, somebody with my views, somebody who has spent his entire life taking on the big money interests, I think a Sanders victory would be of some historical accomplishment, as well.

Er … does Ifill not realize that Sanders was the first Jewish-American to win a major-party primary contest, as Sanders did in New Hampshire on Tuesday? Or does history only apply to Hillary Clinton? Speaking of whom, her answer was even more odd than the question:

CLINTON: You know, I have said — I have said many times, you know, I’m not asking people to support me because I’m a woman. I’m asking people to support me because I think I’m the most qualified, experienced, and ready person to be the president and the commander- in-chief.

Ahem. Other than just a naked desire for power, that’s about the only coherent reason Hillary has put forward for her candidacy. Remember “44 Boys Is Too Many“? The nonsensical accusations of sexism against Sanders for criticizing her? How about the trio of geriatric feminists last week who claimed that young women supporting Sanders were gender traitors just out for a good time with the boys?

For that matter, the age of the debate combatants was never more in evidence when the two candidates began arguing over … Henry Kissinger:

SANDERS: Where the secretary and I have a very profound difference, in the last debate — and I believe in her book — very good book, by the way — in her book and in this last debate, she talked about getting the approval or the support or the mentoring of Henry Kissinger. Now, I find it rather amazing, because I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country. I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger. And in fact, Kissinger’s actions in Cambodia, when the United States bombed that country, overthrew Prince Sihanouk, created the instability for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to come in, who then butchered some 3 million innocent people, one of the worst genocides in the history of the world. So count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger.

IFILL: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Well, I know journalists have asked who you do listen to on foreign policy, and we have yet to know who that is.

SANDERS: Well, it ain’t Henry Kissinger. That’s for sure.

Old and busted: Votes on the 2002 Iraq AUMF. New hotness: Rehashing the 1960s! Yes, nothing will engage that over-80 demographic like a robust debate on Henry Kissinger. Everyone else … not so much.

Andrew Malcolm did watch the debate, but noticed a few issues got missed in favor of history-thwarting and Kissinger support:

Of the 16,000 words uttered by Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and moderators Gwen Ifil and Judy Woodruff, not one of them concerned Clinton’s deepening email scandal. Not one mention of the words email, e-mail, private server or FBI.

Not a single media question or opponent mention of the huge legal cloud hanging over the party’s presumptive nominee. Nor of the ongoing FBI investigation into unauthorized use of her unsecured private email server for government business, including loose handling of Top Secret documents endangering national security intelligence-gathering and covert operations.

Not any reference to the State Department Inspector General’s subpoena to the Clinton Foundation exploring possible connections between foreign government donations possibly trying to curry favor during Clinton’s four-year tenure as Obama’s secretary of State.

Oh, and not a single word either about Benghazi, the murder of four Americans there, the phony video excuse, the lack of rescue or reinforcement attempts and any Clinton responsibility for the well-documented poor consulate security. Nothing on tax or entitlement reforms. National debt.

A complete pass for Hillary Clinton. Whoosh! Home free. Other than that, it was a serious grilling about being female, admiring Obama, taxing the rich more, free stuff and other liberal issues.

Sounds like we didn’t miss much. Maybe Debbie Wasserman Schultz had the right idea on scheduling these debates after all.

Politinerds: Andrew Malcolm [Hot Air » Top Picks]


This week on Politinerds we decided to bring back one of our favorite guests, Andrew Malcolm of Investors Business Daily. With the first primary out of the way and the Battle of South Carolina moving into high gear we thought we’d let Andrew weigh in on it. The Prince of Twitter has seen an election or twelve in his time, so he brings a lot of perspective to the discussion.

Andrew’s no fan of The Donald, you should be warned in advance, but he sees a variety of possible scenarios which may play out. We touch on the current hot topic of a possible brokered convention and what would have to happen in both parties for it to be a reality. (Spoiler alert: it’s still not terribly likely.) How long will it take before we get any clarity on the two final nominees? Andrew lets you in on what’s likely coming down the road.

Remember, the show is now available on iTunes so you can catch up with us as soon as new episodes air. And for you non-iTunes users, there’s still the archive of all our previous shows.

House ethics probe into Grayson’s hedge-fund moonlighting [Hot Air » Top Picks]

How often do investors get advice from hedge-fund managers to seek out “blood in the streets” before investing in hot spots? Probably as often as they have to call the manager Congressman. The House ethics committee has opened an investigation into Alan Grayson, the Florida Democrat seeking the nomination for the state’s open US Senate seat, for mixing public service with private enrichment, the New York Times’ Eric Lipton reported late yesterday:

This highly unusual dual role — a sitting House lawmaker running a hedge fund, which until recently had operations in the Cayman Islands — has led to an investigation of Mr. Grayson by the House Committee on Ethics.

The inquiry has become public, but emails and marketing documents obtained by The New York Times show the extent to which Mr. Grayson’s roles as a hedge fund manager and a member of Congress were intertwined, and how he promoted his international travels, some with congressional delegations, to solicit business.

Interviews and the documents show that Mr. Grayson told potential investors in his hedge fund that they should contribute money to the fund to capitalize on the unrest he observed around the world, and to take particular advantage when there was “blood in the streets.”

The emails also show how Mr. Grayson’s work for the hedge fund — which had $16.4 million in assets as of October and only four investors since it was established — at times interfered with his other duties. In August 2015, after Mr. Grayson introduced legislation calling for larger annual increases in Social Security benefits, he signed off on a plan to highlight the proposal at an event in Tampa, Fla., emails obtained by The Times show. But the plan was scuttled, two former aides said, when economic turmoil in China sent stock markets tumbling globally and Mr. Grayson had to turn his attention to the fund.

This is a curious streak of progressive populist, no? Grayson loves to rail on about Wall Street and capitalists, all while running a hedge fund based in part in the Cayman Islands. Four years ago, Democrats tore into Mitt Romney for having a portion of his investments in the Caymans, a tax haven commonly used by wealthy Americans.

This goes beyond hypocrisy, however. Lipton reports that Grayson had campaign staff doing double duty for both his endeavors. His former spokesman was a vice president in the fund while acting as treasurer for the 2012 campaign. His campaign finance director got paid for finding investors at the same time.

Other Grayson political aides tried to get him to dump the side job months ago. Lipton gained access to an e-mail exchange between Grayson and his former Senate campaign manager Doug Dodson in which Grayson was urged to get out before the story blew up. Grayson refused, telling Dodson that it would make him look guilty. “I don’t see how closing the account would change anything,” Grayson wrote on June 30th, 2015. “The media would take that as an admission of wrongdoing.”

That brings us to a very curious point in Lipton’s tale. Dodson wrote earlier on that same day that “the reporters want to write this story badly it is pretty obvious.” This did get reported by the Washington Free Beacon and Saint Petersblog (as well as Daily Kos) within a week to ten days of that e-mail chain. Two months previous to that, Tampa Bay Times reporter Adam Smith had asked about it, and wound up getting a rather bizarre response from the sitting Congressman, which is when I first wrote about the hedge-fund angle:

“This is even worse than Grayson’s girlfriend might run for congress 18 months from now,” referring to a recent Politico story attributed to no named sources. “This is a whole nother level of bull—-….Are are you some kind of sh—–g robot? You go around sh—-g on on people?”

Grayson said he is “probably going to run” for the U.S. Senate and will make a final decision within 60 days. Every time “some bull—- artist calls you up and tries to stick a knife in my gut” makes him more inclined to run, he added.

The “sh—–g robot” meme lived for a few days on Twitter, but other than local and conservative media, the story didn’t go far. In fact, despite the obviously colorful “sh—–g robot” hook, this is the first story that the New York Times has run on Grayson’s hedge fund. That seems odd, considering the NYT’s self-concept as the Paper of Record for both politics and the investment community. Even odder is the fact that it took so long for the House ethics committee to take up the case, and for the investigation to become public. Had someone like Darrell Issa run a hedge fund out of the Cayman Islands, I suspect the media interest in this case would have been significantly more pressing.

Jake Tapper’s interview with the DNC Chair on superdelegates and the train wreck that followed [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Just the other day we talked about the Democratic primary superdelegate situation and how it compares to the Republican Party’s rules. (The GOP scheme isn’t a “pure” representation of the voters’ collective will either, but the Democrats make it look like the residents of ancient Athens putting dark or light stones in an urn.) Yesterday we had the chance to see Jake Tapper ask DNC Chair Debby Wasserman-Schultz how it is that new voters should trust a scheme where Bernie Sanders could beat Hillary Clinton by such a wide margin, yet come away with no more delegates than her. The answer she managed was both hilarious and instructive. Let’s go to the video.

(Jake’s questioning on the superdelegates starts right around the 1:10 mark after her non-answer on a brokered convention if you want to skip ahead to it.)

TAPPER: What do you tell voters who are new to the process who say this makes them feel like it’s all rigged?

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Let me just make sure I can clarify what was available during the primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire. The unpledged delegates are a separate category. The only thing available on the ballot in a primary and a caucus is the pledged delegates, those that are tied to the candidate that they are pledged to support and they receive a proportional number of delegates going into our convention.

Unpledged delegates exist, really, to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists. We are, as a Democratic Party, really highlight and emphasize inclusiveness and diversity at our convention and we want to give every opportunity to grassroots activists and diverse committed Democrats to be able to participate, attend and be a delegate at the convention and so we separate out those unpledged delegates to make sure that there isn’t competition between them.

TAPPER: I’m not sure that that answer would satisfy an anxious, young voter but let’s move on.

Tapper’s rather droll reply of, I’m not sure that answer would satisfy… seems to professionally but clearly indicate that he wasn’t buying any of the previous, incomprehensible word salad. But if I’d had the chance to script a follow-up question for Jake (or any future reporters who get hold of her) I’d have wanted to see something along these lines:

There were a total of 151,584 votes cast for Bernie Sanders, giving him 15 delegates. That means that 10,105 people had to drag themselves out in the snow for each delegate he received. Why should voters have any faith in a system where one person appointed by the party leadership can cancel out the votes of more than ten thousand people who chose the other candidate?

The DNC Chair’s answer was actually a practiced response, and not a terrible one considering her position. She’s been at this a long time now and has to deal with reporters on a daily basis. Debbie knows that one of the worst things you can do is get caught in one of those deer in the headlights moments, staring in silence or stammering. When you’re asked a question for which you have no plausible answer, you need to fill that potential dead air time with something, so you stock up in advance with a collection of talking points or at least a few buzzwords to carpet over your horrible answer.

But that second paragraph of her answer above might have been plucked out of a word cloud. The first part of her answer, consisting of a dry explanation of the difference between pledged and unpledged delegates, seems like she’s buying some time. You can almost see the thought bubble over her head reading, oh crap. I’d better come up with something here. Then she launches into her stream of consciousness, starting with the idea that party leaders and elected officials shouldn’t wind up running against grassroots activists. What does that even mean? Did she just want to get the word “grassroots” in there to make it sound like she cared what the voters thought? The superdelegates aren’t “running against” anyone. They aren’t running at all. They don’t even need to vote in the election since they get to cast the only votes that really matter at the convention.

Then, after a couple more buzzwords about diversity, she claims that she wants the grassroots activists and diverse committed Democrats to be able to participate, attend and be a delegate at the convention. There are a few hundred people who get to “participate” at the convention and they are all hand selected by the leadership. They could hand out tickets to attend and cheer on the speakers to anyone they liked, but she’s being asked about the people chosen to cast votes equal to ten thousand members of their base with no consideration of how they voted.

Hopefully this question can keep bubbling up over and over again as the season wears on. I don’t expect them to change their rules, but their voters deserve to see just how badly they’re getting ripped off if they don’t toe the party line.


Quotes of the day [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Republican elites are 0-for-2 in presidential nominating contests this year, a rare and panic-inducing outcome for the party’s leadership. Yet their preferred candidates continue to fight each other, and have begun the march to the next battlefield in South Carolina without a plan to stop Donald Trump

With plenty of campaign cash to spare, Trump is pushing the kind of America-first message that resonates in South Carolina, a state that flew the Confederate flag on its Capitol’s grounds until last year. The primaries beyond are just as southern and just as friendly to Trump’s message. And he remains an extremely difficult candidate to beat in a war of words and media attention…

The anxiety has grown more palpable as Trump has shattered predictions that his crowds and poll numbers wouldn’t translate at the ballot box…

[E]xit polls in the party’s center-right New Hampshire base revealed no obvious weaknesses for Trump. He won voters across age groups, income levels, gender, marital status and ideologies; he even won independents. National polls say Trump is dominating among self-identified moderate Republicans, the group that the establishment-friendly candidates are also gunning for.


Every Republican candidate who finished first and second in Iowa and New Hampshire has won the presidential nomination. Having done so, Trump is now in a class with Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, and Mitt Romney. John McCain was a partial exception in 2000, having basically skipped Iowa and then won in New Hampshire. And it doesn’t matter where the first and second place finishes occurred. Reagan was second in Iowa in 1980, then won New Hampshire. Dole won Iowa in 1996 and settled for second to Pat Buchanan in New Hampshire.

That New Hampshire failed to force all the marginal candidates out of the race is a boon for Trump. There’s still no single “establishment” candidate to oppose him. There are three, maybe four, and they’re fighting each other, not Trump. This is important. If Jeb Bush is still running when the Florida primary occurs on March 15, he’ll split the establishment vote with Marco Rubio. And Trump will win Florida. A similar situation will exist in Ohio if Kasich, the state’s governor, hangs around. Kasich and Rubio and maybe Bush will form a circular firing squad. Should Trump win both states, the race is over…

The Trump magic appears to be spreading to states with upcoming primaries. A political group polling in House races found recently that Trump’s lead in Alabama and North Carolina is roughly 2-to-1. That’s what Trump beat runner-up Kasich in New Hampshire…

The message to Republican leaders from New Hampshire is this: you’d better start figuring out how to help Donald Trump win the general election because he’s probably going to be your presidential nominee.


Why does the mainstream media heap such scorn and disbelief on Donald Trump over his promise to build a great wall along the border with Mexico — and make Mexico pay for it? After all, Donald Trump has built a winning presidential campaign — and made the media pay for it

The last time a secular, loud, brash New Yorker who was leading in all the national polls faced Iowa Republican voters — former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 2008 — he got truly schlonged. Mr. Giuliani came in sixth place with only 4 percent of the vote…

If Rudy Giuliani had done as well in Iowa as Trump did, the media would have declared him the winner and he very likely would rushed through New Hampshire and South Carolina on waves of positive press and his ultimate gambit of winning it all in Florida very likely could have worked. In other words, if Mr. Giuliani had done as well as Mr. Trump did in Iowa, we quite possibly would be referring to him now as former President Giuliani…

Perhaps the sweetest thing out of New Hampshire is how the media will be forced to spin the results. They will, of course, try to minimize Mr. Trump’s thumping.


Trump’s 18-point victory and the self-described democratic socialist’s 21-point win are reminders of the limits of party power in an age of anger toward Washington and frustration with politics…

On Tuesday, establishment-minded Republicans from New Hampshire expressed a mix of frustration and shame that it was their state that delivered Trump’s first victory. “I refuse to support him under any circumstance,” said Fergus Cullen, a former New Hampshire Republican Party chairman. “Trump would be a disaster.”

Cullen likened Trump to Pat Buchanan in 1996, the divisive former Nixon aide and conservative commentator who also won the New Hampshire primary. GOP leaders quickly coalesced behind mainstream alternative Bob Dole, the former Republican Senate leader who went on win the nomination.

“The party was able to stop Buchannan 20 years ago,” Cullen said. “Today, they’re incapable of doing it.”


Trump’s political skills are considerably better than either Buchanan’s or Paul’s. He has the ability to command the national media’s attention pretty much whenever he wants to, and he has improved as a debater and speaker. Furthermore, Trump’s lack of allegiance to traditional Republican policy positions allows him to adapt himself as he sees fit — a characteristic more associated with shape-shifting, coalition-building candidates like Romney than agenda-driven ones like Paul. Trump’s support also cuts relatively evenly across different demographic groups, another front-runner characteristic…

If you could somehow combine Rubio’s likability and appeal to conservatives, Kasich’s policy smarts and post-New Hampshire momentum, and Bush’s war chest and organization, you’d have a pretty good candidate on your hands. But instead, these candidates are likely to spend the next several weeks sniping at one another. The circular firing squad mentality was already apparent in New Hampshire, where fewer advertising dollars were directed against Trump despite his having led all but one poll of the state since July. Trump has also been attacked less than Rubio and Cruz in recent debates…

By the time that consolidation happens, however, Trump and Cruz will have swept up quite a few delegates. And whichever Republican emerges from the “establishment” pack isn’t necessarily a favorite to beat Trump one-on-one (or Trump and Cruz in a three-way race).


For the past several months, the smartest of the Trump doubters have based their case on Trump’s relatively low ceiling of support. Yes, he’s leading the polls in a very crowded field, but that ceiling (never higher than the mid-30s) is unlikely to go much higher, and certainly not past a majority in any state. As soon as the non-Trump vote falls in behind an establishment candidate, he’ll be beaten.

But what if that doesn’t happen before the GOP primaries become winner-take-all in mid-March? In that case, Trump is going to start piling up an awful lot of delegates, even if his share of the popular vote never rises above 40 percent. That might not be enough to clinch the nomination, but it would be enough to give us the most riveting political convention in a very long time…

But there is, of course, another possibility: the catastrophe of Donald Trump winning the nomination outright and competing head-to-head with the Democratic nominee to become president of the United States.


“I think if Trump is the front-runner on March 15 and there are still 2-3 other candidates in the race, it¹s very difficult,” Katie Packer, who runs the anti-Trump Our Principles PAC, told MSNBC…

[S]ome “proportional” states require candidates meet a minimum threshold to receive any delegates, a rule that means the top performer can rack up a significant delegate lead with only a strong plurality vote. In other words, the kind of lead Trump held in New Hampshire against divided opposition.

Sam Wang, a professor at Princeton University analyzing the race, estimates that a candidate could take 50 percent of the delegates during this period with only 30 percent of the vote on average so long as there are four or more candidates running. This is more than in line with Trump’s national polling average.

The point of no return is most likely the March 15 contest, which includes critical winner-take-all contests in Ohio and Florida. Nearly 60 percent of the delegates will have been awarded at that point, making it hard to catch Trump if he’s amassed a solid lead.


That’s what has establishment Republicans so freaked out about Trump: He shows no commitment to core conservative policy dogma, on economics or anything else. Democrats can attack him for being very, very rich, but if he won there’s no guarantee he would actually represent rich people’s interests. Sure, he’ll put out a perfunctory tax plan saying he’ll cut rates, but he’ll also promise trade wars and pledge not to cut Social Security and Medicare…

Nevertheless, it’s ironic that of all the Republicans, the one who has the most appeal to working people may be the one who sees ostentatious displays of wealth as a brand-building project. That may be part of what insulates him: Unlike Mitt Romney, Trump doesn’t try to play down his fortune, but instead offers it up as an object of aspiration. As I’ve argued before, what Trump enacts is in many ways a poor person’s idea of what a rich person is like, a comically over-the-top version of great wealth. Many people look at his ornate houses and private plane and rotating cast of Eastern European model wives, and say not “What a rich jerk,” but rather, “If I had a billion dollars, that’s what I’d do too.”

Democrats will, of course, try to portray Trump as just another iteration of the plutocrat Republicans they’ve struck down so many times before. In fact, they’re already preparing the opposition research necessary to do just that. But it would be truly something if the way Republicans finally convinced voters not to see them as just the party of the rich was to nominate a billionaire and just wait around to see what happens.


His supporters believe that Trump will fight for them, and they have no such confidence in his GOP rivals. The voters flocking to Trump believe that they’ve been lied to and betrayed by conventional politicians, and that he is offering them the unvarnished truth…

Trump is a traitor to his class, who rails against hedge funders and the executives of drug companies for manipulating the political process to enrich themselves at the expense of ordinary Americans. These are the very same people you’d expect Trump to dine with at Mar-a-Lago, and here he is declaring war on them. The fact that his tax plan would “be a huge windfall for private equity and hedge funds,” in the words of Len Burman, director of the Tax Policy Center, is almost immaterial to the people who support him. There is something strange and compelling about seeing a billionaire declare war on his own kind…

Imagine how dangerous Trump would be if he were more disciplined and focused, and if he had serious prescriptions for how to make the global economy work for Americans in the bottom two-thirds of the income distribution. For now, however, Trump is on a mission of destruction: He is demonstrating the weakness of the Republican donor class, which has barely dented him over months of campaigning, and he is forcing orthodox conservatives to question the agenda they’ve been advancing for decades as they see rank-and-file GOP voters reject it in large numbers. I hate Trump far less than I hate the Republicans who’ve paved his way. And if Trump goes down in flames, as I still believe he will, the Republican Party must never forget the Rust Belt Americans he’s inspired—because if they do, there will be another Trump waiting in the wings.


Trump’s supporters like the fact that he’s rich, blunt, and hasn’t spent his life in politics. But his pledges to keep the rest of the world at bay are core to his appeal. In New Hampshire, Trump lost to John Kasich by 12 points among voters who oppose banning Muslims from entering the United States. But among voters who favor the ban, Trump beat him by 33 points. Trump and Kasich tied among voters who believe undocumented immigrants should have a path to legalization. But among voters who want to deport the undocumented, Trump won by 43 points…

Despite their victories in New Hampshire, it’s still unlikely either Sanders or Trump will win their party’s nomination. But their success says something profound about the shifting identities of the two political parties. While grassroots Democrats and Republicans remain divided over the size of government, increasingly, what divides them even more is American exceptionalism. In ways that would have been unthinkable in the mid-20th century, the boundaries between American and non-American identity are breaking down. Powered by America’s secular, class-conscious, transnational young people, Democrats are embracing an Americanism that is less distinct than ever before from the rest of the world. And the more Democrats do, the more likely it is that future Trumps will rise.


The Republican Party has no idea who Trump supporters might be. That may be why the Trump rebellion exists in the first place. Like Pat Buchanan in 1996, Donald Trump’s populist, blue-collar-focused campaign carried the Granite State.

What does it mean? The Republican National Committee did a post-2012 election analysis. Their recommendations for winning future general elections could not have been more congenial to the Republican donor class: Ditch any hint of immigration restrictionism, and play down social issues. Iowa and New Hampshire voters have rebuked this strategy…

Trump did not do the normal events bagging groceries in New London shops. He did not do little evening strolls at winter festivals, or barnstorm the state with townhall events. He did not raise money from the normal Republican donors, or get policy and speechmaking advice from its class of conservative intellectuals and courtiers. He only realized this week that well-worn campaign clichés about having a “ground game” in a state referred to actual things like a get-out-the-vote operation. He broke every rule in the game and won easily.

Right now, the only effective counter-move to his hostile takeover of the party is to give in to the other hostile takeover led by Ted Cruz.


“We got a standing ovation for doing that. Everybody was up and down, standing, screaming. It was an amazing event. And it’s one of the reasons I won. You have to be yourself,” Trump said about the infamous use of the word ‘pussy’ at a campaign event.

John Lewis said he knew the Clintons in the civil rights era, but he didn’t always make that claim [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Poor Bernie Sanders. The guy can’t seem to catch a break. First the Congressional Black Caucus mostly endorses Hillary Clinton and then none other than civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis stands up to make a speech saying how he never saw Sanders at any marches supporting black citizens. But he did see the Clintons. (The Hill)

“To be very frank, I never saw him, I never met him,” Lewis said during the CBC PAC’s endorsement.

“I chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years, from 1963-1966. I was involved in sit-ins, Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, the March from Selma to Montgomery … but I met Hillary Clinton, I met President Clinton.”

As he spoke, someone in the crowd could be heard repeatedly saying “uh oh” and “tell it” as Lewis made his points.

Well, you don’t get much more of a living authority on the civil rights era than Lewis, so I guess that’s that, eh? Or maybe not. We received a tip about a rather fascinating book which everyone may want to rush out and have a look at. It’s an older volume, but it was written by Janis F. Kearney, who served as the Presidential Diarist to President Bill Clinton from 1995 – 2001. The book is titled Conversations: William Jefferson Clinton : from Hope to Harlem.

The tome contains this interesting section from a chapter on John Lewis. Here’s how it starts, with a bit of emphasis added:

The first time I heard of Bill Clinton was in the early ’70s. I was living in Georgia, working for the Southern Poverty Law organization, when someone told me about this young, emerging leader in Arkansas who served as attorney general, then later became governor.

Just a moment ago he was talking about his work from 1963-1966 when he had never met Sanders, but had met the Clintons. But he apparently told Bill’s diarist that he’d never heard of him until the early seventies. And mind you… that’s just when he heard of him. When did they actually meet? The chapter continues.

I think I paid more attention to him at the 1988 Democratic Convention, when he was asked to introduce the presidential candidate and took up far more time than was allotted to him. After he became involved with the Democratic Leadership Council, I would run into him from time to time. But it was one of his aides, Rodney Slater, who actually introduced us in 1991 and asked me if I would support his presidency.

So he had “run into him” from time to time and was finally introduced in 1991. It’s also worth noting that there is still zero mention of Hillary. If he had known her and not her famous husband, it seems like it would have come up in the conversation by now. But back to the question of dates, I’m not a history expert and math isn’t my strong suit, but I think 1991 was considerably after the march on Selma… possibly by almost 30 years. Further, Lewis has always had his finger on the pulse of black leaders who were in tune with the history and progress of civil rights. Perhaps some of them knew Bill and Hillary instead?

Rodney gets the credit for convincing me that Bill Clinton was “the man,” when he told me all he had done in Arkansas to help change the layout of that state. In the summer of 1991, I hosted a breakfast for him in the Rayburn building. Congressmen Mike Espy and Bill Jefferson were there. The three of us were trying to convince the Democratic Black Caucus to endorse Clinton. Most Northern members didn’t know him and wasn’t very interested. Only a few members of the black Caucus came to the breakfast, but those of us there had a wonderful discussion. Several staff people came from different offices, and they all came back to me later to say how wonderful he was.

What was so striking about Bill Clinton was that here was a governor and a presidential candidate, and he actually made you feel as if he knew he needed you. He was warm, engaging, and comfortable with the African American audience. We literally began to feel he was one of us. The people there were amazed to see this white Southerner so comfortable around blacks.

We’re talking about two famous individual who Congressman Lewis clearly stated had been involved with the civil rights movement dating back to the sixties. And yet when he was introducing Bill around in 1991 the other members of the Black Caucus were “amazed” that this southern white man was so comfortable around blacks? How amazing could it be if he’d been out there working on civil rights for the past thirty years? And if his wife was such an integral part of that noble effort, wouldn’t she have even merited a mention?

Somebody might want to ask the Congressman about this if they run into him.


“A pattern of sleaze”: Brutal Cruz attack ad hits Trump over eminent domain in South Carolina [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Maybe this helps explain why Trump yanked his own attack ad against Cruz this afternoon. Now, when he’s questioned about this ad from Cruz, he can claim that he tried to elevate the discourse by being nice but the sleazy professional pol — Canadian maniac cronyist pussy that he is — just can’t let go of the nastiness.

Will the ad hurt Trump? Last night I watched Cruz on Megyn Kelly’s show attacking him as a phony conservative and caught myself rolling my eyes at the thought that that’s going to work now after eight months. But I reconsidered. Cruz’s campaign is famously data-intensive; if he thinks there are still votes to be had in South Carolina by questioning Trump’s conservative bona fides, he has a good reason to think so tucked away somewhere in the numbers on his desk. Ditto for this spot, I’m sure. It’s a truism by now that nothing will cost Trump any of his core supporters — and no one understands that more than Trump himself — but there are still true undecideds out there to be won and beyond them plenty of voters who like Trump but remain open to other candidates. That’s who Cruz is aiming at. Trump probably has an absolute floor of 25 percent, but Cruz’s ceiling is higher than that floor. And for what it’s worth, there is reason to believe that ads have already hurt Trump this cycle. His polling dipped in Iowa in September when the Club for Growth began attacking him, although he eventually came back after Ben Carson collapsed. This ad, by the anti-Trump Super PAC Our Principles, ran in Iowa before Trump’s loss to Cruz there and was universally described as highly effective. It has more than half a million views on YouTube as I write this. Even Trump’s not wholly immune from a punchy critique.

One easy criticism of this spot is that eminent domain is a boutique issue, something maybe one in five Americans could define if asked. That’s true, but that’s not the point. The message here isn’t that Trump is abusing an arcane aspect of state power for his personal gain (although that message will be absorbed by dogmatic conservatives), it’s that Trump, for all of his populist bravado, tried to roll over the little guy in the person of Vera Coking to line his pockets. Trump’s critics on the right, like Liam Donovan, have been begging the rest of the field to pursue that line of attack for months. It’s not enough to say Trump isn’t really a conservative, since neither Trump nor his fans care much about that. To claim that he’s not really a populist, though — now you’re hitting him where he lives.

A billionaire real estate developer might make for an odd working class political (anti-)hero, but he has always projected the over the top caricature of what a working stiff might think being rich would be like. And his outer borough accent conveys a disarming familiarity that is impossible to fake.

So how do you chip away at this rapport? You start by shattering the illusion that Trump is a friend of the little guy. To his credit, Trump possesses an uncanny ability to perceive, identify, and harness the wants and needs of the average Joe. The problem is that Trump takes this unique insight into the working class and exploits it for his own gain.

Perhaps the best instance of this is Trump University, his for profit “education” venture that was investigated and later sued by the State of New York, which held Trump personally liable for running an unlicensed school. Personal accounts from former students are damning, describing a boiler-room operation that imparted no real estate knowledge while leaving them deep in debt. One student, a Trump supporter no less, called the school an outright “scam.” These stories, when combined with the slick Trump U pitch video could make for a great opening salvo. The possibilities are limitless, particularly given the mountain of opposition research material that has yet to be uncorked.

The bottom line is that you need to disabuse people of the notion that Trump is on their side. This is a con, and we are the collective mark.

I thought of Trump University too when I watched this ad. I’ll be shocked if Cruz doesn’t have a spot about that already ready to roll, along with one about illegals allegedly taking American construction jobs at some of Trump’s building projects. These are all facets of the same argument, that Trump is happy to screw the blue-collar Americans who are supporting him if he can make a buck doing so. And if you don’t like Cruz’s version of these ads, no worries. You’ll see another version of them in six months from Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders as they go all-out to paint Trump as a Wall Street oligarch turned power-seeking phony populist. The only surprise in Cruz’s ad is that it took a major candidate this long to really unload on him on that point.

Then again, the media being what it is, we’ll probably spend most of the day tomorrow talking about the fact that Team Cruz accidentally cast a porn actress in its new ad hitting Rubio instead of Trump’s eminent domain record. Trump wins again!

Reid: Say, a brokered Democratic convention would be a lot of fun, huh? [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Pundits have been holding out hope for a brokered convention in 2016 … as they do in every cycle, because what could be more fun for commentators? The potential certainly exists for Republicans, where five candidates still have significant draw among the electorate and may last well into the campaign cycle. If the GOP quickly narrows its primary contests to a two-man race, some feel they might be able to avoid it. Two-candidate races don’t usually end up with neither candidate getting enough delegates to win outright on the first convention ballot.

Not so fast, says Harry Reid. He thinks it would be fun to have a floor fight in 2016 among Democrats — and that the possibility exists for one:

In an interview with CNN, Reid said that the race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton shows no signs of dying down, even as the former secretary of state had hoped the upcoming Nevada caucuses and South Carolina primary would be her launching pad to the Democratic nomination.

“These races go on for a long long time,” Reid said. When asked if that included a brokered convention, he responded “Sure, seriously some of the old conventions produced some good people.”

Reid also said, “It would be kind of fun.”

You know who would have the most fun? The woman who’d be in charge of running it, right? Er … not exactly. Debbie Wasserman Schultz doesn’t exude much enthusiasm when Jake Tapper broached the topic:

No, it wouldn’t. If it takes a convention floor fight to pick the Democrats’ nominee, it will mean that at least one of the two current candidates had to bail out … and we know which one that would be, don’t we? And a floor fight would come because the party establishment had to push out Sanders, which would be a Chicago 1968-esque meltdown.

Wasserman Schultz also offered a strikingly bad answer on superdelegates, but Jazz will have more on that tomorrow.

Cruz — and Rubio — back Mike Lee’s bill to make sure Congress, not Obama or the courts, decides whether women can be drafted [Hot Air » Top Picks]

This is a no-brainer for Cruz, who came out hard against drafting women last week, but it’s interesting coming from Rubio after he declared himself in favor at the last debate. You can read his motives here as charitably or uncharitably as you like. Charitably: He’s striking a blow for legislative power at the executive’s and judiciary’s expense, a welcome corrective in an age of growing presidential power and judicial social engineering. Uncharitably: He realized belatedly that “let’s draft your daughters” isn’t a sentiment that’ll play well in a Republican primary, especially among the social conservatives he’s trying to win, so he’s backtracking from what he said at the debate to the extent that he can.

Rubio knows Cruz is preparing a roundhouse for him on this topic at the next debate on Saturday night, so here’s his attempt to clinch:

Though Rubio made clear in last Saturday’s Republican debate that he supports opening up the draft to women, Alex Burgos, the Senator’s spokesman, affirmed his support for leaving that decision up to the legislative branch. “Senator Rubio agrees with Senator Lee that Congress needs to determine the future of the Selective Service system and is working on legislation to codify that role and plans to support it,” Burgos said.

Cruz has stated on the campaign trail that he would ardently oppose any attempt to change the current law. “The idea that we would draft our daughters to forcibly bring them into the military and put them in close combat, I think, is wrong. It is immoral,” he told a New Hampshire audience on Sunday.

Lee’s legislation is an attempt to preempt a scenario in which the Supreme Court takes up another challenge to the selective-service law and decides to “rewrite it like they did for Obamacare,” says Conn Carroll, the Utah Senator’s spokesman.

Why do we need a bill like this? Because the rationale underlying an old Supreme Court precedent upholding an all-male draft has weakened:

The Supreme Court upheld the all-male draft in 1981, finding that women could be excluded because they would not be called to fill critical combat positions during a war. But since the Pentagon began full integration of women that rationale might no longer be valid.

Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley testified to the Senate this month that they believe the exemption should be ended.

That’s one reason Rubio gambled on supporting drafting women at the debate. He’s got cover from the military itself for his position, and he’ll surely use it when Cruz comes after him. Another reason is that the polling on this issue isn’t quite as lopsided as you might think if Rasmussen’s new data is accurate:

The poll found that 52 percent of women oppose requiring women to register, while 38 percent favor it and 10 percent are undecided.

Sixty-one percent of male respondents favored requiring that women register.

Overall, the split was more even, with 49 percent supporting and 44 percent opposing.

Most Republicans, 53 percent, said they oppose making women register for the draft, while 49 percent of Democrats said they favor it.

Republicans lean against it but not overwhelmingly, and there may be room for a shift given that the GOP skews male and men support including women in the draft. Even if this issue costs Rubio a tiny bit in the primaries, though, he’s always been touted as the candidate Republicans should ideally want for the general election and that’s how he seemed to be thinking in his debate answer — towards the general election. (It’s hard to remember now, after the debate malfunction heard ’round the world, but prediction markets had Rubio as the favorite for the nomination last weekend.) The “should we draft women?” question reeks of a wedge issue being used by the media to force Republicans to choose between their primary audience, which opposes the idea, and the general electorate, which leans in favor. According to another poll taken three years ago, 59 percent of Americans support including women in the draft. Rubio is trying to stay on that side of the issue to deny Hillary another easy bit of “war on women” demagoguery about paternalism in the general election campaign. Cruz, whose brand rests on proving that he’s the most solid conservative in the race, is less worried about that than about the opportunity to show Republican voters that he’s further right than Rubio on yet another issue.

Why not a compromise: Make women eligible for the draft on the stipulation that their numbers will be called only when the population of draft-eligible males is exhausted? The idea of the draft coming back is fanciful to begin with; might as well just add an extra layer of nonsense by imagining a national emergency so dire that we run through tens of millions of young and middle-aged men in grappling with it. Exit question for con-law junkies: What good will a bill like this do if SCOTUS finds that gender discrimination in the draft violates equal protection? Isn’t it just a political talking point being handed by Lee to his friends Rubio and Cruz?

South Korea: So long Kaesong, we’re off to stop the bomb [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Three years ago, the Kaesong development project got shut down in a war of words between the two countries on the Korean peninsula. That showdown with North Korea got so bad that at one point the Kim regime trapped South Korean managers within the complex. In response to actions by Pyongyang in launching a satellite and testing another nuclear device, Seoul has ordered operations at Kaesong to cease, accusing the Kim regime of using its proceeds to fund its nuclear-weapons development:

As protest actions go, this one has a real sting to it. Pyongyang has been buried in sanctions that limit its access to hard currency, so the Kaesong project offered a rare chance for legitimate cash acquisition. According to the Washington Post, that brought in over a half-billion dollars over the life of the project, and $120 million last year alone. The move will sting the South a bit, too:

The zone, where North Koreans worked in South Korean-owned factories, opened during a period of engagement and and was originally championed as a way to improve the North’s economy — with a long-range goal of minimizing the gap between the countries if they are eventually reunified. The South Korean government and private companies invested about $1 billion in the industrial zone, which had about 124 companies mostly in light manufacturing, such as clothing and electronics. About 54,000 North Koreans were employed there, with the South paying their wages directly to the regime.

But the Unification Ministry statement said the international community needed to come up with a “vigorous response” to a recent nuclear test and rocket launch that “exacts a price for North Korea’s misguided actions, as well as extraordinary measures that compel North Korea to give up its nuclear capabilities and change its ways.” …

“It appears that such funds have not been used to pave the way to peace as the international community had hoped, but rather to upgrade its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles,” the ministry said. As a result, President Park Geun-hye’s government in Seoul said it had “completely shut down” the complex.

Pardon the observation, but this has a whiff of Captain Louis Renault to it. What, pray tell, did Seoul believe Pyongyang would do with the cash — especially since they paid it directly to the regime? This isn’t the first ballistic-missile launch conducted by the DPRK, nor is it the first nuclear test. They reopened Kaesong not long after their citizens had been all but hostaged in the crisis, so it’s not as if anyone could rationally claim to be shocked, shocked at the intentions or actions of the Kim regime.

For its part, North Korea has reacted with all the aplomb and poise one would expect:

North Korea said it was kicking out all South Koreans from the jointly run Kaesong industrial zone on Thursday, calling the South’s move to suspend operations, in retaliation for Sunday’s rocket launch by the North, a “declaration of war”.

The North declared the industrial park, run by the rivals as a symbol of cooperation for more than a decade, a military control zone, the agency that handles its ties with Seoul said, according to the official KCNA news agency. …

“Unpardonable is the puppet group’s act of totally suspending the operation in (Kaesong), finding fault with the DPRK’s H-bomb test and launch of a satellite,” the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said, referring to South Korea.

How long will this fight last? Keep it in this perspective: North Korea desperately needs hard cash, and South Korea needs to keep a close eye on the North. The same needs drove both sides back to the table the last time, although in this case Seoul might want the cash flow to dry up a while longer to make the point stick a little more. But if they do reopen Kaesong, the South cannot offer up much credible outrage as to where all that hard cash goes. It’s either going to make the weapons that Kim Jong-un plans to use for their destruction (and Japan’s and ours, in Kim’s fevered imaginings), or to pleasure Kim and his close cronies. Those are the only two choices, and they’re not mutually exclusive, either.

Note: Apologies to Tom Lehrer for the headline.

Almost a lost decade [Marginal REVOLUTION]

The 19-country eurozone, the core of Europe’s economy, grew at an annual rate of 1.1 percent in the last quarter of 2015. But total economic output remained just slightly lower than when the global economic crisis began, in 2008.

Here is Jack Ewing from the NYT.  Here is the blog, run by Thomas Cooley among others, European Economic Snapshot.  And from the FT:

Gross domestic product in Italy — the eurozone’s third-largest economy — rose by just 0.1 per cent in the fourth quarter, missing economists’ expectations of a 0.3 per cent increase and raising concerns that the tepid return to growth that begun in 2015 after three years of recession is already fading.

“Italy is struggling to emerge from the great recession and despite some encouraging signs in the first part of 2015, growth lost momentum in the second half,” says Lorenzo Codogno, a visiting professor at the London School of Economics.

That is why I do not understand the common view that the eurozone crisis is over.  Greece, by the way, has returned to a state of recession.

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*Rich People Poor Countries* [Marginal REVOLUTION]

That is the new and excellent book by Caroline Freund; the subtitle is The Rise of Emerging-market Tycoons and Their Mega Firms.  It looks at the rise of billionaires in emerging markets, offers a new data base on how they earned their wealth, and takes a generally “pro-billionaire” stance, at least relative to many other sources.

Here is a tape of yesterday’s session on the book.  The author summarizes, I give my comments a smidgen after 35:00, and then there is more.  Here is also a new and related working paper by Freund and Sarah Oliver.

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“If you could recommend only one book for me to read…” [Marginal REVOLUTION]

That is a question from a very smart person, over thirty years of age, who claims not to have read very much (I don’t know how much).

So which book should I recommend?

Conditional on the person knowing me, the idea of simply introducing economics is not going to win, even if that would be the correct recommendation for many others.  And “Collected Works” are not allowed.

How about a broadly philosophical novel, such as Don Quixote or Homer’s Odyssey or In Search of Lost TimeMoby-Dick?  A play of Shakespeare?  A current favorite, such as Ferrante or Knausgaard?

How about a perfectly constructed travel book, touting the virtues of a new and magical place?  But most travel books I find dull, unsatisfying, and too scattered with wasteful, overly subjective sentences about sunsets and train trips.

A didactic, moralizing book, perhaps on charity or Effective Altruism?

For many people music may be more powerful than the written word, so perhaps the recent Jan Swafford biography of Beethoven, or John Eliot Gardiner’s book on Bach, or any number of good books on Mozart.  A critical guidebook to some of the best movies available?  Almost everyone can glean new ideas for their Netflix queue, even if they already have seen lots of films.

I don’t know of a biography which is inspirational for everyone or even most people, and I figure an intelligent person older than thirty already has been exposed to the world’s major religions.

How about a book which is a compendium for a hobby, such as a bird watcher’s guide, a Sotheby’s auction catalog, or a Fuchsia Dunlop cookbook?

I keep finding myself drawn to recommend a book which leads the advice recipient away from books, rather than toward them.  Is that a strength or weakness of the book medium?

The post “If you could recommend only one book for me to read…” appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

Negative interest rates are looking worse [Marginal REVOLUTION]

And eurozone banks down 41% since ECB introduced negative interest rates, notes

That is from @RobinWigg.  The Japanese market has not responded positively either.

Of course negative interest rates, while intended as a form of stimulus, or currency depreciation, are also a tax on financial intermediation.  Negative interest rates, even if you agree with them in principle, are also a sign that more straightforward measures are politically impossible.

Here is Landon Thomas Jr. on negative rates in Sweden (NYT): “…many investors saw the rate cut as smacking of desperation and the latest sign that global central bankers are moving toward a round of competitive devaluations — also known as currency wars — as a way to stimulate their economies.”

Miles Kimball has written much in favor of negative rates, Izabella Kaminska against, if you wish to survey further opinions.  Here is Matt Rognlie.

I don’t see negative rates as the main problem today, but it’s getting harder to see them as a potential remedy.  They’re a sign that economies are trying to solve their core problems on the cheap.

Addendum: Here is Neil Irwin at NYT.

The post Negative interest rates are looking worse appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

Huma Abedin and the Tangled Clinton Web [Ordered Liberty]

Multiple investigations of Hillary Clinton appear to be focusing on her close aide, Huma Abedin.

Touch of Evil [KCRW's Martini Shot]

Rob wishes he could do what Orson Welles did, which was to shoot ten pages in a night.

Upgrading to SAP Hana? This new tool can help prepare your code [PCWorld]

SAP has placed a big bet on Hana, so customers that haven't already switched to its in-memory computing platform can be sure they'll be encouraged to do so in the near future. If they're smart, they'll make sure they're ready.

A big part of preparing for a move to Hana is updating your custom code -- and that can be easier said than done.

"Most SAP users will have thousands of objects with custom code," said Joe Strand, director of Gekkobrain, a consultancy firm that focuses on that challenge. "Each single code line needs to be vetted and fixed for Hana to work best."

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The eyes have it: How one startup aims to change the future of VR [PCWorld]

Augmented and virtual reality headsets could be the future when it comes to computing, but right now, navigating virtual worlds and interacting with applications is often a clunky experience.

That's the problem Eyefluence aims to solve with a technology that tracks the movement of your eyes. Eyefluence isn’t developing its own VR and AR headsets; it's leaving that to other companies and hopes to put eye tracking inside their devices.

The company is led by CEO Jim Marggraff, an entrepreneur best known as the mind behind the LiveScribe pen. So far, Eyefluence has raised $21 million in funding from Intel, Motorola Solutions and others.

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Gaming on Linux, Steam machines set to soar with DirectX competitor Vulkan [PCWorld]

The look of games on Linux-based Steam machines and mobile devices should improve significantly with the soon-to-be-released Vulkan API (application programming interface).

Vulkan can be used for many applications, but is most relevant to games, much like DirectX for Windows. The new API is a much-needed upgrade from the aging OpenGL, which was first introduced in 1991 by Silicon Graphics.

Khronos, the consortium behind the development of Vulkan, hasn't provided a formal release date for Vulkan. But momentum for the API has grown in recent weeks with Intel and Qualcomm talking about it.

Khronos has scheduled an introductory Vulkan webinar for Feb. 18. The consortium in December delayed the release of Vulkan 1.0, but said development was in its "final stretch." 

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Five to Try: Nike shows off its SNKRS, and Alto's Adventure is winter wonder-fun [PCWorld]

Snag the week's most enticing new Android apps and games.

Google overhauls My Maps with its first update since 2014 [PCWorld]

Google’s dormant My Maps app is back after a lengthy hiatus. It sprung to life with an update that splashes the interface with Material Design and adds in several new features.

My Maps lets you create custom maps to keep track of important places or travel routes. The app now has a brief tutorial that gives you an overview of the features to explore. Google also says the performance is much quicker thanks to under-the-hood improvements. 

google my maps android Google Play

Creating and editing your own apps is much smoother thanks to an update to Google’s My Maps app.

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PCWorld Show Episode 3: Surface vindicated and the end of cheap Skylake overclocking [PCWorld]

In Episode 3 of the PCWorld Show, Jon, Melissa, and Gordon discuss whether the Surface proved itself during the Super Bowl; tell you why Intel just bclock-blocked cheap Skylake CPUs; and ponder the implications of a computer being deemed the "driver" of a car. Plus, are you over physical media, or do you want a 4K UltraHD Blu-ray player?

Watch Gordon do his best Cam Newton imitation in HD quality above, or listen to the audio stream of the PCWorld Show below.

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This week in games: Assassin's Creed takes a break, Sonic the Hedgehog goes to Hollywood [PCWorld]

This week was “Everyone holds earnings calls” week in the games industry, meaning games were announced, confirmed, and re-confirmed. Like a new Watch Dogs, if anyone wanted one of those.

Also in the news this week: No Assassin’s Creed for 2016 (finally), Need for Speed is angling for PC accolades, and Blizzard turns 25 years old. This is gaming news for February 8 – 12.

Full throttle

The last time a Need for Speed game hit PC (2013’s Rivals) there were complaints—namely, a locked frame rate and a baffling lack of steering wheel support.

Not this time! We’ve had to wait an extra four months for the PC release of last year’s Need for Speed reboot, but a new trailer ahead of the March release touts an unlocked frame rate, wheel support, and 4K resolution as key features. Good on you, Ghost Games.

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Google didn't abuse its position in Streetmap case, UK court rules [PCWorld]

Google has prevailed in a court case, filed by U.K. online mapping company Streetmap, accusing the search giant of anticompetitive behavior.

The case, which dates back to 2013, charged Google with abusing its dominant search position to promote Google Maps at the expense of Streetmap's service. Google abused its position by placing a Google Maps clickable image at the top of its search results page and relegating Streetmap to a link lower down on the page, Streetmap contended.

Streetmap had operated for several years by the time Google Maps arrived in the U.K. in 2005. Google's addition in 2007 of a clickable thumbnail map atop search pages effectively ruined Streetmap's business, the company said.

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NBC's latest streaming video service is for reality TV junkies [PCWorld]

NBC is expanding its streaming video efforts with a new service for reality TV fans, but only outside the United States.

Hayu will include full episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians (and its spin-offs), The Real Housewives, Million Dollar Listing, Top Chef, I Am Cait, Made in Chelsea, Flipping Out, Shahs of Sunset, and The Millionaire Matchmaker, among others. The service will kick off with more than 3,000 episodes, and promises an additional 500 episodes per year, all arriving on the same day as their U.S. telecasts.

For all this, NBC will charge 4 pounds per month in the United Kingdom, 5 Euros per month in Ireland, and 5.99 dollars in Australia, all with a free one-month trial when Hayu launches next month. Apps will be available for phones, tablets, and connected TV devices, though NBC hasn’t revealed any specific platforms.

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Facebook Messenger may again handle SMS messages on Android [PCWorld]

Facebook may bring SMS conversations back to its Messenger app. Some Android users have noticed the option to use Messenger for this purpose has popped up inside of their app

After some Android users spotted it, Facebook confirmed the testing in a statement to VentureBeat

At Messenger, we are always trying to create new ways for people to communicate seamlessly with everyone. Right now, we’re testing the ability for people to easily bring all their conversations—from SMS and Messenger—to one place. It’s a really simple way to get, see and respond to all your SMS messages in just one app. By choosing to access your SMS messages in Messenger, they’re right alongside all the other enhanced features that Messenger offers.

To see if you’re in on the test, go to the Facebook app settings and see if you have Change SMS App as an option.

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New Chromebook won't break with 365-pound person standing on it [PCWorld]

A new laptop targeted toward classrooms is perhaps among the toughest Chromebooks out there.

CTL claims its NL6x Extra-Rugged Chromebook for Education won't break if a 365-pound (165 kilogram) person stands on it. It can also withstand drops of 70 centimeters, more than 2 feet.

That makes the US$269 laptop ideal for classrooms, where clumsy children can drop and rough up laptops. The device has the look of a small briefcase, with a retractable handle on the top to carry it.

The laptop has been reinforced to ensure it doesn't break. At the top is a protective cover that can double as a whiteboard. The lower layer has a shock absorber in case of drops. The hinges and open ports are also reinforced.

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New SourceForge owners kill contentious DevShare bloatware program [PCWorld]

After last summer’s bloatware incident, the new owners of Sourceforge hope to improve the site’s image as a haven for trusted open source downloads. Bizx LLC, which also owns Slashdot, recently announced on the SourceForge site that it would halt the download site’s DevShare program effective immediately.

DevShare was a revenue-sharing scheme that allowed developers to bundle other applications with their downloads. It was introduced to SourceForge in 2013 by the site’s previous owners.

“We want to restore our reputation as a trusted home for open source software, and this was a clear first step towards that,” said Logan Abbott, SourceForge’s new president, in a blog post. “We’re more interested in doing the right thing than making extra short-term profit.”

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Dish defangs its AutoHop ad-skipping technology for Fox shows [PCWorld]

Dish Network’s ad-skipping AutoHop technology is a lot less powerful than it was when it launched four years ago.

This week, Fox became the third major broadcast network to settle a long-standing lawsuit with Dish over the DVR tech, which automatically bypasses commercials on primetime programming from the major networks. Subscribers must now wait seven days from the original broadcast before they can skip Fox’s ads, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

CBS and Dish reached a similar settlement in December 2014 as a part a renewal of their carriage agreements, and CBS agreed to provide Showtime Anytime streaming to subscribers in exchange. Earlier that year, Dish and Disney reached an agreement that required a three-day delay for ad-skipping, but also paved the way for Dish’s Sling TV streaming service, which includes Disney’s ESPN in the base package.

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Uber has to refund those so-called Safe Ride fees [PCWorld]

Two years ago, UberX passengers began noticing a strange $1 charge tacked on to their ride receipts. It was called a “Safe Rides Fee,” and the car-hailing company said it was to help offset the costs of screening drivers and cars to make sure they complied with federal, state, and local regulations. Now Uber has to pay up for advertising that its background checks were “industry leading,” when in fact they were just super fast.

Uber now has to pay $28.5 million to some 25 million Uber riders in the States to settle a class-action lawsuit that accused the company of being dishonest about how intense its driver background checks are.

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Nasdaq to use blockchain to record shareholder votes [PCWorld]

Add shareholder voting to the list of applications for blockchain technologies.

Later this year, Nasdaq plans to record stockholders' electronic votes on its own blockchain system for companies listed on one of its exchanges. By digitizing the entire process, it expects to speed and simplify the proxy voting process.

Blockchains -- the best known of which is the public ledger of bitcoin transactions -- are distributed records of events, each block in the record containing a computational "hash" of itself and of the previous block, so that all are connected like links in a chain.

A hash, or digest, is a short digital representation of a larger chunk of data. Hash functions are designed so that calculating (or verifying) the hash of a chunk of data takes little computing power, while creating data with a particular hash is computationally expensive.

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Pwn2Own contest puts $75,000 bounty on VMware Workstation bypass [PCWorld]

The Pwn2Own hacking contest will return in March, pitting researchers against the most popular browsers and operating systems. The novelty: Contestants can win a $75,00 prize for escaping a VMware virtual machine.

Contestants will be able to exploit Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome on fully patched versions of 64-bit Windows 10 and Apple Safari on OS X El Capitan. System or root-level privilege escalation pays extra, as does escaping from the virtual machine.

Every year, Pwn2Own, at the CanSecWest security conference, has slightly modified rules, and 2016 is no different. Adobe Reader, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer are no longer on the contest's target list. Adobe Flash remains, but only the version that comes bundled with Microsoft Edge.

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Foursquare wants to send you food and groceries when you don't feel like checking in [PCWorld]

Foursquare is all about discovering new places to visit, but for those times you don't feel like venturing out, the app can now help bring takeout, booze, and groceries to you. The “location intelligence” company recently announced a new partnership with Delivery.com and mobile commerce platform Button.

Users living in or visiting the 36 cities where Delivery.com is available will soon see the site’s icon within the Foursquare app. Tap the icon next to a location that uses the service, and you will move from Foursquare to the Delivery.com app (or be encouraged to install it). That means you’ll have to sign-up for Delivery.com’s service to use the new integration.

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Super-fast 10TB Intel SSDs could be on the horizon thanks to new Micron chips [PCWorld]

Intel’s solid-state drives could be poised for a big jump in capacity and speed with new 3D flash chips coming from Micron.

Micron, which makes the flash in Intel’s SSDs, has started volume shipments of its 3D NAND flash chips. The chips could lead to SSDs the size of a pack of gum with more than 3.5TB of storage and standard 2.5-inch SSDs with capacities greater than 10TB.

SSDs have been advancing in capacity and durability. Fixstars last month shipped a 13TB SSD, which is priced at about $1 per gigabyte, or $13,000. This year, SanDisk plans to ship 6TB and 8TB SSDs, while Samsung is aiming to release a 4TB SSD.

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Google VR may ditch the smartphone with motion-tracking standalone headsets [PCWorld]

Google’s virtual reality plans may include more than just headsets with smartphones inside.

Citing unnamed sources, the Wall Street Journal reports that Google is working on a standalone VR headset that doesn’t connect with a PC or rely on a smartphone. The idea would be to occupy a middle ground between devices like Samsung’s Gear VR, which uses a smartphone for the display and processing power, and Facebook’s Oculus Rift, which must be tethered to a high-end PC.

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North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un hates freedom, loves his Macs [PCWorld]

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un isn’t exactly known for encouraging personal choice and freedom. “North Korea remains among the world’s most repressive countries,”  Human Rights Watch says, counting al the ways: There’s no independent media or religious freedom. Dissidents are thrown into what HRW calls “secretive prison camps.” Red Star OS, the country’s homebrew Linux operating system, is rife with surveillance tools and preventative measures to thwart users who'd dare tinker with the system beyond what’s officially allowed.

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How to make File Explorer's Favorites/Quick access section work for you [PCWorld]

Some people just aren’t fans of File Explorer’s Favorites section (known as Quick access in Windows 10). They're missing out. Because for anyone who regularly goes back and forth between a specific set of folders—and I'd wager that's most of us—Favorites/Quick access allows you to, er, access those folders quickly. That's a whole lot better than having to always dig through File Explorer to hunt them down.

Here's how to customize the Favorites/Quick access section to meet your needs.

Add and remove folders

Putting a new folder in the Favorites/Quick access section is easy enough. The most direct way is to drag-and-drop a folder under the Favorites/Quick access heading in the left-hand navigation panel. Alternatively, in Windows 8.1 and earlier right-click on the folder you want to add and in the context menu choose Add current location to Favorites. In Windows 10, the context option is called Pin to Quick access.

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Apple's iPhone sued for infringing touch feedback patents [PCWorld]

Haptic technology company Immersion has accused Apple and carrier AT&T of infringement of three of its patents in the latest iPhone models and Apple watches.

Immersion, which claims over 2,100 issued or pending patents worldwide covering various aspects and commercial applications of haptic or touch feedback technology, has asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban the import of the specified iPhone and Apple Watch models in the U.S., besides suing for damages in a Delaware federal court, company CEO Victor Viegas said in a conference call Thursday.

Under the rules, it will take the ITC 30 days to decide on instituting an investigation, and the subsequent proceedings could take another 16 months, making an appeal to the ITC the most effective and quick way for redress, Viegas said.

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10 ways you show someone you care (with your smartphone) [PCWorld]

This will probably come as no surprise, but studies have shown that smartphones (and technology in general) are negatively affecting our relationships. Smartphones, and their constant interruptions, interfere with our in-person interactions, which causes us to feel less connected to our partners.

The obvious solution is to ban smartphones from the bedroom…but how realistic is that, really? Not very, if you ask me. So instead of focusing on the negatives, let’s focus on the positives, like how smartphones enhance our relationships and all the cute little smartphone-related things we do to show people we care.

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Brompton S6L folding bike review: Here's your edge in the urban rat race [PCWorld]

The Brompton S6L folding bike solves a problem I thought I’d left behind me. That is, when I traded my hour-long suburban car commute for an urban one, I thought my life would get better.

Little did I know it would be just as bad. Instead of sitting in my air conditioned car listening to music on clogged freeways, I’m now stuck behind crowds of people—I call them Walkers—plodding along to the subway station while checking Facebook. 

On bicycle, I can cut nearly 30 minutes from my commute—but getting a bike on a crowded San Francisco train is a challenge.

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Switching from Mail to Airmail on iOS: 7 tips to get started [PCWorld]

Those looking to ditch Apple’s stock Mail app for iOS already have plenty of options—from Google’s Gmail and Inbox to Microsoft’s Outlook for iOS—but now, there’s a new player on the field: Airmail, a sleek iPhone version of an already popular Mac mail client.

Boasting dozens of customization options, one-tap inbox filters, and the ability to “snooze” messages, Airmail makes for a tempting alternative to Mail, so long as you’re willing to pony up for the $5 price tag. (That’s just for the iPhone version, by the way; there’s no iPad version of Airmail yet.)

If you decide to take the plunge, we’ve got a few Airmail tips to help get you started, from the first settings you’ll want to customize to how to integrate Airmail into iOS’s sharing menu.

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6 reasons why I love being a PC gamer [PCWorld]

I can’t quit you, PC gaming.

Unlike some diehard “PC or nothing” enthusiasts, I don’t harbor any innate hatred toward consoles. Heck, my earliest gaming memory is of playing Super Mario Bros. until midnight, after my dad came home with a Nintendo tucked under his arm when I was five. I enjoyed the Xbox 360 so much that I burned through five of them. (Stupid Red Ring of Death and disc read errors.) And sometimes—in my darkest hours, when I’ve been battling borked drivers or broken PC ports—the streamlined allure of consoles still whispers to me.

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What's up, Docs? We focus our streaming spotlight on documentary films this week [PCWorld]

We can also recommend several other movies that have a sense of reality all their own.

Is the road to machine learning paved with API providers? [PCWorld]

When it comes to machine learning, the future is already here, but it’s not yet evenly distributed. Taking advantage of breakthroughs in the field can require a lot of work, which is tough for small companies and those without a whole team to build custom applications and algorithms.

According to Okta CEO Todd McKinnon, there’s a lot of hype around the potential of machine learning, but companies aren’t actually taking advantage of it. It's similar to how people discussed big data a few years ago.

“We think about this a lot, and the most interesting thing about machine learning that I’ve noticed over the last year is that it’s kind of like what big data was three years ago,” he said. "Everyone talks about it, but nobody really has it."

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Need data-science skills? Now your team can learn together [PCWorld]

It's an opportunity-filled world for those with data-science skills; for everyone else, the question is mostly how to get them.

That's where DataCamp comes in. Founded in late 2013, the online data-science school offers training for students and professionals alike, including those who want to make a career switch. More than a few of its customers are large companies and universities.

Data visualization, dynamic reporting, R programming and large data sets are all among the topics on DataCamp's curriculum. Courses don’t follow a traditional academic format, though; instead, DataCamp uses short video lessons and online programming challenges to teach the material, all of which is delivered through a browser. Rather than degrees, students earn badges and statements of completion for each course they finish.

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Censorship, United Airlines Style [Power Line]

(Steven Hayward)

It’s not just at college campuses that politically incorrect speech is being censored. The other day I was killing time between connecting plane fights in the United Club at LAX, and I stumbled across a link to Paul Gottfried’s review of Brad Birzer’s fine new biography of Russell Kirk that appeared on the VDARE website. Gottfried is always interesting and highly readable, though usually idiosyncratic.

But when I clicked on the link, this is what came up (pay close attention to the bolded explanation below the blue HTML link):

VDARE BlockedVDARE is unquestionably controversial, and perhaps nativist, but by no means should it be classified as a “Militancy/Hate and Extremist” website. (It’s where John Derbyshire hangs out ever since National Review fired him.) Seriously—a site that runs a review of a university press-published biography is blocked?  I wonder what other right-of-center websites are blocked by United? (I didn’t have time to check since I had to catch my next flight. Next time. . .) And who at United is making these decisions, or do they farm their Club wireless network control out to some outside firm? Is it “Zscaler” mentioned at the bottom? I’d be curious to know. I wonder, having posted this complaint, whether Power Line will now be blocked at United Clubs. It is entirely United’s prerogative to constrain their private wireless network, but it isn’t a good sign.

The final irony here is that the article in question contains an attack on Power Line and me:

In his work, Birzer quotes Jaffa-disciple and Reagan biographer Steven Hayward, who extolls Reagan for having saved “conservatism” from a fate worse than death—that is, from “having gone in the direction of Russell Kirk, toward a Burkean tradition-oriented conservatism.” [The Vindication of Harry Jaffa, PowerLineBlog, July 4, 2011]

Now, that’s not an accurate rendering of what I said, but never mind. I wouldn’t call Gottfried an extremist, even if he “hates” Power Line.

I think next time I’m killing time over a delayed fight in a United Club, I’ll just find an unblocked porno site (or a Ted Cruz campaign ad) and turn up my speakers full blast.

Another South Carolina poll [Power Line]

(Paul Mirengoff)

Okay, here’s a South Carolina poll that’s more in line than the one I mentioned yesterday with what I fear to be the case. Augusta Chronicle/ Morris News Service/Fox 5 Atlanta surveyed 779 likely GOP primary voters. The results are:

Trump 36
Cruz 20
Rubio 14.5
Bush 11
Kasich 9
Carson 5

These results are nearly identical to those reported by Marist/WSJ/NBC in mid-January, except that Kasich has gained substantially. Is it plausible to think the shape of the race really changed so little in South Carolina in the past three weeks? Yes, I think it is.

Maybe it will begin to change now, with all the negative ads being run and a debate to take place tomorrow. I sure hope so.

Being a Bureaucrat Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry [Power Line]

(John Hinderaker)

We have covered the Gold King Mine environmental disaster here, here, here and here. Briefly, the EPA and its contractor spilled three million gallons of toxic liquid contaminated with lead, arsenic, cadmium and aluminum into the Animas River. The spill turned the river orange and inflicted environmental damage for many miles downstream:


In response to the spill, the EPA has been uncommunicative and unhelpful to the impacted communities. It has resisted production of documents requested by the Associated Press, among others. There has been no accountability, as EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has excused her agency’s employees and downplayed the significance of the spill:

We were “very careful.” Contaminants “are flowing too fast to be an immediate health threat.” The river is already “restoring itself” back to pre-spill levels, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy insisted.

Now, the Denver Post reports that the EPA’s key on-site employee was aware of the precise hazard that gave rise to the spill, and did not accurately describe his knowledge to the press in the aftermath of the spill:

The Environmental Protection Agency employee overseeing work at the Gold King Mine was aware of blowout danger at the site before a massive August wastewater spill, according to a report released Thursday.

The revelation, in findings by congressional Republicans, comes in contrast to the EPA’s claims that the risk was underestimated ahead of excavation at the mine’s collapsed opening. That work ultimately led to the disaster.

Hays Griswold, the agency’s on-scene coordinator, wrote in an October e-mail to other EPA officials that he personally knew the blockage “could be holding back a lot of water and I believe the others in the group knew as well.”

The note provides more indications the EPA probably had knowledge of the potentially looming disaster at the mine long before workers accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of contaminants.

But that isn’t what Griswold told media after the spill occurred last August:

An EPA internal review released three weeks after the spill, however, said operators believed water inside the Gold King was not very high because of draining at the site and based on seep levels above its opening. Those factors, officials said, made checking pressure seem unnecessary, and it was never done.

Griswold’s e-mail appears directly to contradict those findings and statements he made to The Denver Post in the days after the disaster, when he claimed “nobody expected (the acid water backed up in the mine) to be that high.”

Yet the EPA has walked away from its own three million gallon spill, with no employees suffering meaningful consequences, let alone being criminally prosecuted.

Contrast this with how the federal government has treated Freedom Industries, which was held responsible for a chemical spill in West Virginia. Coincidentally, on the same day when the Denver Post printed the story above, the Department of Justice announced the latest criminal sentencing in connection with the Elk River spill:

A former owner of Freedom Industries was sentenced today to 30 days in federal prison, six months of supervised release, and a $20,000 fine for environmental crimes connected to the 2014 Elk River chemical spill, announced Acting United States Attorney Carol Casto. Dennis P. Farrell, of Charleston, previously pleaded guilty in August 2015 to unlawfully discharging refuse matter and violating an environmental permit by failing to have a pollution prevention plan. Farrell is one of six former officials of Freedom Industries, in addition to Freedom Industries itself as a corporation, to be prosecuted for federal crimes associated with the chemical spill.

Was this private company dealt with so harshly because the Elk River spill was larger than the EPA’s Animas River discharge? No: the Elk River spill was only 7,500 gallons, compared with three million gallons the EPA discharged into the Animas River.

Was Freedom Industries prosecuted so aggressively because the contaminant it spilled was far more toxic than the chemicals that EPA spilled into the Animas River? No: Freedom Industries spilled 4-methylcyclohexane methanol. Scientific American says that while this chemical has not been studied extensively, its makeup is such that it should not be very dangerous:

MCMH should not be swallowed and may readily cause skin and eye irritation but it is not known to pose major risks to human health and safety. …

Exposure to the slurry of water and other chemicals formed after coal is washed would be more dangerous to human health than exposure to MCMH—and there have been numerous coal slurry floods and spills in West Virginia and U.S. history. That slurry is made far more toxic by the heavy metals and other dangerous elements leached from the coal itself.

Heavy metals like lead, cadmium, arsenic and aluminum, all of which the EPA negligently caused to flow into the Animas.

Was Mr. Farrell, one of Freedom Industries’ former owners, prosecuted and sentenced to prison because his personal conduct was unusually blameworthy? No: in fact, it is a little hard to tell from DOJ’s press release exactly what Mr. Farrell did wrong. MCHM leaked out of an above-ground storage tank. Prosecutors did not claim that Mr. Farrell had anything to do with the leak, nor did they argue that he knew, or should have known, about the leak. The charges against him were predicated on the fact that “Freedom never developed or implemented a storm water or groundwater plan,” which DOJ asserted in conclusory fashion “was a proximate and contributing cause of the chemical spill.”

So Mr. Farrell is going to federal prison on account of a spill that was one four-hundredth the size of the Animas River discharge, and involved a less hazardous chemical. He is going to prison even though he had nothing to do with precipitating the spill, either intentionally or negligently.

It is difficult to see how the kid glove treatment accorded to the EPA can be reconciled with the aggressive criminal prosecution of Freedom Industries and its executives. The only apparent explanation is that federal bureaucrats are a protected class. They receive preferential treatment and are not held accountable for their negligence, or for attempting to cover up that negligence.

This is one more data point suggesting that the popular perception that government is our master, and we are its servants, is correct.

Damn, it feels good to be a Clinton [Power Line]

(Paul Mirengoff)

Ted Cruz’s campaign has produced this ad called “Damn, it feels good to be Clinton.”

The ad is based on a famous scene from the movie “Office Space.” It combines the scene with lyrics based on the song “Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta.”

I was unfamiliar with both the movie and the song. Even so, I found the ad hilarious.

Tevi Troy has written that Republican candidates in this campaign have displayed a “facility to invoke images and references that go beyond politics.” This ad certainly supports Tevi’s view. It’s a two-fer, brilliantly combining what apparently is an iconic movie scene with hip-hop music.

By the way, I gather that the music used is Southern hip-hop, as opposed to the East or West Coast variety. Rubio is said to favor West Coast hip-hop. Maybe he can find something from that genre with which to top Cruz’s ad.

It won’t be easy, though.

Does the “cessation of hostilities” in Syria provide Russia a win-win? [Power Line]

(Paul Mirengoff)

The U.S. and Russia have agreed to a “cessation of hostilities” Syria. The cessation won’t begin for about a week, but there supposedly will be immediate humanitarian access to desperately besieged areas of Syria.

Before discussing this agreement, it’s worth looking at the current humanitarian, military, and political disaster in Syria, and to ask how it came about.

The disaster currently is most clearly manifested in Aleppo, an ancient city with a population of around 2 million. It has been a stronghold of anti-Assad regime rebels. Now, it is under siege by Russia, Iran, and the Assad government. You can get a sense of the resulting disaster in this article, From stalemate to slaughter” by CNN.

Russia is the main culprit in Aleppo’s tragic descent from stalemate to slaughter. According to the Washington Post, it has engaged in indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets, using banned cluster munitions. The bombing campaign defies a U.N. Security Council resolution that Russia voted for.

The situation in Aleppo is just the tip of the humanitarian disaster iceberg, though. It is estimated that the civil war in Syria has produced at least 300,000 deaths. It has also generated a refugee crisis that is roiling much of Europe.

So tragic is the humanitarian disaster that it almost seems heartless to discuss who is winning. Yet, it matters a good deal that the winners in the Syrian civil war include Russia, Iran, and ISIS. Russia because it is gaining massive influence in the region; Iran because it is gaining a puppet in the form of the Assad regime; ISIS because while Assad and his foreign allies concentrate on pounding rebels in the west, it controls large swaths of territory and key cities and towns in the east.

The big losers are the non-jihadist Syrian opposition (not coincidentally, the forces we have halfheartedly backed); the U.S., unless one assumes (as President Obama seems to) that Russia and Iran are not our enemies; and most of all, the people of Syria.

How did this disastrous situation come about? It came about to a significant extent because of decisions made by President Obama.

Michael Ignatieff and Leon Wieseltier identify the main two. First, instead of getting strongly behind the non-jihadist rebels, Obama contented himself with empty declarations that Assad must go and halfhearted, at best, arms shipments.

Second, he allowed his alleged “red line” on Assad’s use of chemical weapons to be crossed. This made it clear that the U.S. wasn’t willing to take on the regime in even a limited way. The clear signal to Assad and his backers was that anything goes.

Even before Assad crossed the red line, Obama should have instituted a no-fly zone in Syria. It would have prevented Assad’s air force from engaging in the bombing that has killed tens, if not hundreds, of thousands. It likely would have prevented Assad and Iran from gaining the upper hand. It would have prevented Russia from later unleashing its air power, the move that seems to have been decisive in Syria’s descent from stalemate to slaughter.

Once Assad crossed the red line, any good excuse for not instituting a no-fly zone evaporated.

But this was not the end of Obama’s fecklessness. When Aleppo came under sustained attack, the U.S. could have instituted a no-fly zone for the area from that city to the Turkish border. As Ignatieff and Wieseltier argue, this would have prevented the bombardment of civilians and refugees and kept open the corridor to Turkey, thus enabling the transport of aid and supplies to people trapped in the area.

Would Russia have challenged such a no-fly zone? It’s very unlikely. Putin is too smart to risk taking on the U.S. military in the name of slaughtering Syrians. But if he had, we could have taught him an important lesson.

Instead, Obama opted for the “peace talks” that led to the temporary “cessation of hostilities.” What should we make of his arrangement?

First, as noted, Russia did not agree to an immediate cessation. Tellingly, it wanted the cease fire to begin on March 1. Under the compromise reached, it goes into effect in about a week.

Thus, Russia is free to keep pounding Aleppo, thereby creating even more “favorable” facts on the ground. These facts will strengthen its already powerful position if negotiations proceed (about which, more below).

Second, it’s not clear whether there will be a meaningful cessation of hostilities at any time. Even John Kerry admitted that “all we have is words on paper.”

And even assuming that there is a cessation, hostilities can be renewed at any time. Apparently, some rebel forces, perhaps sensing a full sell-out by the U.S., have not agreed to stop fighting. (In taking this position, they reportedly have been encouraged by Assad’s enemies in the region — Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia).

Thus, the Russians will have a ready excuse to start bombing again whenever they feel it serves their interests. Not the Russians will feel they need an excuse.

Third, as Max Fisher says, even if the Russians cease hostilities, there is no guarantee that Assad’s forces will comply. And even if both Assad and Russia comply, their control over pro-Assad Shia militias is not complete.

Even so, the possibility that significant humanitarian aid will reach Aleppo, even if only in the short-term is welcome news. The Syrians in this area desperately need a reprieve.

Why have the Russians agreed to provide one. I speculate that they view the cessation of hostilities as a win-win.

Russia, Assad, and Iran win if the Obama administration, using the cessation of fighting as cover, makes one of its characteristic deals. Russia has reason to hope that, given its clear upper-hand and the pressure on Obama to make better progress in the fight against ISIS in Syria, the U.S. will capitulate insofar as the fight against Assad is concerned. More importantly, given how little the U.S. has done in this fight), Russia probably hopes the U.S. will pressure some of the opposition groups to give up the fight.

Alternatively, Russia, Assad, and Iran win (or at least don’t lose) if, after a brief cessation of hostilities, they resume the slaughter. In this scenario, Russia can tell the world it tried in good faith to end the war, but failed because the rebels were intractable.

The Obama administration is always looking for an “off-ramp.” When the red line on Assad’s use of chemical weapons was breached, the Russians offered one, and Obama snatched it. In so doing, he sold out the Syrian rebels and, indeed, the Syrian people.

My sense is that Russia is constructing an off-ramp for Obama in the expectation of a repeat performance. Obama, I suspect, is eager to oblige.

Sexy Socialism: Seb Corbyn’s Tinder Profile in Full [Guido Fawkes]

Last week’s Sunday Times revealed that the taxpayer-funded 24 year-old chief of staff to the Shadow Chancellor is a Tinder lothario, a story which wound up all the right people. Guido can bring you sexy socialist Seb Corbyn’s full profile on the hook-up app. He has enlisted the help of Dame Judi Dench to impress the women of Westminster:

Labour aides have gossiped about fun-loving Seb’s extra-curricular activities for months. The Peroni-sipping adviser is rarely seen without a crowd of adoring female fans, and party staffers have been known to take clandestine late night photos of him and his admirers and share them on WhatsApp for a laugh. Lad.

Tagged: Labour Party, Totty Watch

Robert Jenrick Gets Cricked Over By-Election Expenses [Guido Fawkes]

The boys in blue are investigating the Tories.

The allegations are not going away…

Tagged: By-Elections

Friday Caption Contest (Fixing Roof Edition) [Guido Fawkes]

osbo-roof Entries in the comments please…

Tagged: Caption Contest

Confirmed: Indy Closing March 26th [Guido Fawkes]


Confirmed: the Indy and the Sindy are closing. Last edition of the Indy will be on 26th March and the last Independent on Sunday on 20 March. Online only after that…

UPDATE: The i’s editor tweets:

Tagged: Indy

My Oldham Kentucky Home [Guido Fawkes]

Kentucky Rayner

Labour MP Angela Rayner has found herself in a spot of bother after taking to Facebook to protest about Government cuts to courthouses in Tameside and Oldham. Unfortunately for the MP some eagle eyed constituents noticed that the rather imposing Colonial building she had posted doesn’t look anything like the courthouse in Oldham. So just where is it?raynerAs it transpired, the Ashton-Under-Lyne MP seems to have posted picture of the La Grange County Clerk’s Office in Oldham County, Kentucky. An easy to make mistake, although the rural American state which is home to bluegrass and banjo music may be almost 4,000 miles away from Oldham, they do both share a great many fried chicken shops…

Tagged: Labour Party

Job Culls Coming at Indy, Guardian, Telegraph [Guido Fawkes]


Evgeny Lebedev is expected to close the Indy and Sindy print editions as soon as tonight. Of the 150 full-time staff, just 20 or so look like they’ll moving over to the i paper. It will not be difficult for the owners to find voluntary redundancies. Many journalists at the Indy will be loathe to work for the much-derided, clickbait-obsessed online offering.

Meanwhile the Guardian is imposing 20% cuts, with staff warned in an email this morning that “As our staff costs are by far our biggest overhead, one outcome of the budgeting process may be that redundancies are proposed”. They are looking at 100 redundancies, and according to Beth Rigby they want to start with their “on leave” columnist Seumas Milne. He is in line for a £90,000 payout.

Media sources tell Guido that the Telegraph is set to announce a jobs cull next week. Print journalists there are furious at the dumbing down of content for their own ‘digital first’, Indy-style clickbait-based website. You will often find the exact same traffic-farming stories on the Telegraph site as you will on the Indy online. See the Telegraph’s “Man with two penises writes tell-all memoir” and the i100’s “The man with two penises has now written a tell-all memoir”. 

The FT have some killer numbers:

“Fleet Street’s large newsroom may be unsustainable. The Times had 454 editorial staff at last count, The Sun 525, the Daily Telegraph 662 and The Guardian, following expansion overseas, 925.”

Online-only is the only option. The question now is how proprietors and executives will reconcile the trend for traffic-driving churnalism to the pay the bills with actual, old-fashioned journalism in the digital age. The future of journalism is specialism, the most profitable online media operations have focus, that generates specific audience demographics that can be packaged for advertisers at premium prices.

Tagged: Dead Tree Press, Guardian, Independent, Indy, Media Guido, Telegraph

Squandermania: Roof Not Fixed [Guido Fawkes]

Yesterday global stock markets passed the technical point where the world is defined as being in a global bear market. It is likely that problems in financial markets will soon be reflected in the real economy, property transaction volumes are already tailing off in a way that suggests we are near to the top of a property bubble. George Osborne promised to fix the roof when the sun was shining, as the moment of truth arrives, has he?

The stand out success of the British economy has been job creation and falling unemployment. Welfare reform driving people back to work and flexible labour markets largely explain that phenomena. The public finances have not been re-balanced, according to the IMF the UK deficit gap is the worst in the G7 and among the worst in Europe. Worse than even Greece.

Osborne has missed every single deficit target he has set himself. He asked us to judge him on how well he tackled the deficit, well he missed his balanced budget target for 2015, he’ll miss his new adjusted target for 2016 and his overall balanced budget target for 2020. If the global economy derails the likely knock on effect will mean even higher deficits.

Despite all this Osborne indulges in squandermania, allowing him to wander the country in hi-viz and hard hats for photo opportunities that will be the pictorial backdrop for his premiership campaign. There are it is famously said two types of Chancellor; those that get out in time and those that don’t. Unfortunately for George, time has run out…

Tagged: Market Watch

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Flavors Prepare for Their First “Xenial Xerus” Beta Release [Full Circle Magazine]

The first Beta of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS will be available only for the opt-in flavors, and until now, only the Ubuntu MATE, Lubuntu and Ubuntu Kylin have been the ones to participate in the previous two Alpha builds, but it remains to be seen if more flavors will be joining the Beta 1 release.
According to the official release schedule, which has suffered no modifications until now, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Beta 1 should hit the streets in exactly two weeks from today, on February 25, 2016. After that, the development cycle of Xenial Xerus will continue with the second and final Beta build on March 24, in which Ubuntu itself will also take part.

Source: http://linux.softpedia.com/blog/ubuntu-16-04-lts-flavours-prepare-for-their-first-xenial-xerus-beta-release-500248.shtml
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht

Canonical Updates the All-Snap Snappy Ubuntu Images to Remove Misplaced SSH Key [Full Circle Magazine]

At that point in time, Canonical urged Snappy users to reflash their devices with the new all-snap images, but it looks like they forgot a developer’s SSH (Secure Shell) key in those images, which they used to do final QA on the images, as Canonical’s Tyler Hicks reports on February 9, 2016.
As expected, it appears that only the all-snap images announced on February 3 by Michael Vogt were affected by the issue. However, those images have been rebuilt, the SSH key removed, and all Snappy Ubuntu Core users are urged, again, to reflash their devices with the new all-snap images.

Source: http://news.softpedia.com/news/canonical-updates-the-all-snap-snappy-ubuntu-images-to-remove-an-ssh-key-500242.shtml
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht

Ubuntu Touch OTA-9.5 Hotfix on Its Way to Fix the Big Mir Issue on Ubuntu Phones [Full Circle Magazine]

According to Mr. Zemczak, the Mir team responsible for fixing the nasty bug reported by Ubuntu Phone users a few days ago have finally manage to release a patch and send it to the Ubuntu QA team for testing before it is delivered to users via the usual channels.
As reported a few days ago, many Ubuntu Phone users complained that they weren’t able to use their devices for incoming calls. At first, the Ubuntu Touch developers were skeptical about the issue, as it was hard to reproduce, but now a patch is coming.
“As mentioned yesterday, the Mir team developers had a possible fix in the works already – but just a few moments ago we got news that it’s almost ready and will be passed on to QA for validation soon (silo 64,” said Łukasz Zemczak, Ubuntu Foundations.

Source: http://news.softpedia.com/news/ubuntu-touch-ota-9-5-hotfix-on-its-way-to-fix-the-big-mir-issue-on-ubuntu-phones-500231.shtmlSubmitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht

RSGB GB2RS NEWS BULLITEN for 14th. February 2016. [GB2RS]


Sunday 14th February 2016

The news headlines:

  • First school ham TV ISS link

  • Thinking Day next weekend

  • New 472kHz distance record set

The UK ARISS team achieved a world first at the Royal Masonic School for Girls, Rickmansworth on Thursday, by receiving live ATV video from the ISS during the contact. Using the HamTV transmitter, which has recently been commissioned on board the ISS, Tim Peake was the first astronaut to use this equipment during a two way schools contact. The next UK school contact will be with Oasis Academy in north Bristol, on Friday 19 February. The 10-minute window opens at 1423UTC. Students there have already completed a Buildathon, thanks to Shirehampton ARC, and are looking forward to the actual contact. After that, The City of Norwich Schools have a contact scheduled between the 22nd and 28th of February. The exact dates and times are only notified by NASA about 10 days beforehand, but will be publicised via GB2RS, the RSGB website and social media once available. All school contact transmissions from the ISS can be heard on the usual downlink frequency of 145.800MHz.

World Thinking Day will take place on the 20th and 21st of February. This is when members of Girlguiding use amateur radio to try to contact other members throughout the world as part of the celebrations of their founders’ birthdays. For further details and to add your station to the list of participants go to www.guides-on-the-air.co.uk or contact Liz, M0ACL via m0acl@guides-on-the-air.co.uk If you hear Thinking Day stations on the air, please give them a call.

Tuesday the 9th of February saw a new record set for the longest DX on the new 600m band. WSPR was used by Phil Dwyer, VK3ELV and Laurence Howell, KL7L, the latter operating as WE2XPQ. The contact, from Victoria in Australia to Alaska in the USA, is the first-ever between VK3 and KL7 on the 472kHz band. KL7L also reported a 136kHz opening to Japan at the same time.

Stuart, M0SGS has been given granted an NoV to operate a Simplex Fusion C4FM Digital Voice Gateway callsign MB6ILE on 431.075MHz. The gateway is located in Pudsey, West Yorkshire, and serves the Leeds and Bradford area. Transmission is via a 70cm folded dipole at about 630ft ASL with a 5 watt output. The system went live on the 6th of February and can be accessed via any C4FM Fusion enabled radio. Details of operating times, updates and how to connect can be found at www.m0sgs.co.uk

The latest RSGB Band Plans have now been finalised. They cover all 29 UK amateur bands from 136kHz to 250GHz, including the special 146MHz band that is only available by Notice of Variation to Full licence holders. The Band Plans are available on the RSGB website at www.rsgb.org/bandplans. They also appear in the March edition of RadCom, which should start arriving with Members on Wednesday this week.

And now for the details of rallies and events for the coming week

Today, the 14th, the UK Allstar Radioactive Fair will be held at the Civic Hall, Nantwich, Cheshire, CW5 5DG. The venue is well served by public transport, has free car parking and disabled facilities. Doors open at 10.30am and admission is £4. There will be trade stands, a Bring & Buy, an RSGB bookstall and catering facilities. More information from Roger Reeves, M0ROJ on 0774 761 8131.

Also on today, the Harwell Radio and Electronics Rally takes place in Didcot Leisure Centre, Mereland Road, Didcot, OX11 8AY. The venue has free car parking, disabled facilities a licensed bar and catering. The talk-in station will be on 145.550MHz. Doors open at 9.45/10am and admission is £3, with under 12s free. There will be trade stands, a flea market and special interest groups. Details from Ann, G8NVI on 01235 816 379.

There are no rallies in the diary for next weekend. On the 28th, two rallies will take place. These are the Rainham Radio Rally and Pencoed Table Top Sale. More details on those next week.

If you have any rally or event information you’d like to appear in future editions of GB2RS News, in RadCom and on the RSGB website, please email details to radcom@rsgb.org.uk.

And now the DX news compiled from 425 DX News and other sources

Masato, JA0RQV will be active as 6Y5/JA0RQV mainly from his hotel in Kingston, Jamaica, NA-097, starting on the 21st of February until the 17th of April. Activity will be mostly on the weekend and spare time. He will work on the 10 to 160m bands using CW and SSB. QSL via M0OXO using ORQS or Logbook of The World.

Wim, ON6DX is visiting Togo in West Africa. He will reactivate his 5V7TH callsign until the 22nd of February. He will be active on 40m to 6m CW, SSB and RTTY. QSL to his home call.

Members of the Radio Club Argentino will be on the air from Carlini Base in the South Shetland Islands during the last few weeks of February. They will sign LU1ZI and the IOTA reference number is AN-010.

Members of the Italian DXpedition Team will be active as 3XY1T from the Los Islands, AF-051, between the 18th of February and the 4th of March.

Mark, K0MDJ is on the air as 9H3DJ until June 1 while on a business trip to Malta. Activity is in his spare time using mostly SSB on 17 meters. Malta is EU-023. QSL to home call.

Now the contest news

The first of this year’s CQ Worldwide Worked All Prefix Contests is RTTY, which is held for the entire 48 hours this weekend ending at 2359 on the 14th. There are too many categories to list, so please check the contest website www.cqwpx.com/ for more information. Using the 3.5 to 28MHz bands the exchange is signal report and serial number.

Another contest this weekend with numerous categories is the PACC, a Dutch contest. It’s a CW and SSB event ends its 24 hour run at 1200UTC today, the 14th. Using the 1.8 to 28MHz bands, the exchange is signal report, serial number and Dutch stations send their Province code too.

On Tuesday the 1.3GHz UK Activity Contest takes place from 2000 to 2230UTC. Using all modes the exchange is the usual signal report, serial number and locator.

On Thursday it’s the CW leg of the 80m Club Championships running from 2000 to 2130UTC. The exchange is signal report and serial number.

The second 48-hour contest is the ARRL International DX, on the weekend of the 20th and 21st. Work the USA, contiguous 48 States, and Canada only, giving them a signal report and your transmit power. US/Canadian stations give a signal report and their State/Province code. This is the CW leg of the event; the SSB leg takes place next month.

Now the radio propagation report, compiled by G0KYA, G4BAO and G3YLA on Friday 12th February.

This past week saw an increase in the solar flux index, helped along by a gaggle of sunspots. The SFI hovered around 117 mid-week which, when coupled with relatively settled geomagnetic conditions, brought some life to the upper HF bands. Andy, M0NKR reported working Japan on twenty metres from his car at lunchtime using a monoband whip and 150 watts. Australia has also put in an appearance on 10m at times.

Next week, NOAA predicts the solar flux index will be around 110 to 115, with generally settled geomagnetic conditions. There is the chance of unsettled conditions later in the week with the K index predicted to hit four on Thursday and/or Friday. This is due to a high-speed solar wind stream from a recurring coronal hole. So the message is, get your DXing efforts in earlier in the week.

The critical frequency as measured by the Chilton Ionosonde was 8.6MHz at noon on Wednesday the 10th. This translates to an estimated maximum useable frequency of 31MHz over a 3,000km path and explains why DX was to be found on ten metres. It may be worthwhile keeping an eye on 28MHz this week to see if the good conditions continue.

And now the VHF and up propagation news.

It’s been a poor winter overall for tropo and there are few glimmers of hope in the coming week. After we have shunted the cold wintry weather into the continent, indications are that it will be Monday when a ridge of high pressure moves into Ireland and western Britain. This will migrate eastwards across the country, being replaced by low pressure again from Thursday onwards. This means that we may have a mid-week opportunity to get some marginal tropospheric enhancement on the VHF and UHF bands, before it fades away again.

This is not a particularly strong ridge and is unlikely to bring widespread good conditions. The best tropo prospects are reserved for the eastern Mediterranean, around Cyprus and Crete, and also from Portugal to the Azores and Canaries.

There is still no respite from the annual dip in meteor rates so early morning continues to be best time day for random meteor scatter operation.

The Moon declination increases all next week, reaching maximum on Thursday. So long moon windows, with associated low losses, means it’s a good week for Earth-Moon-Earth operation. If you aren’t equipped for EME, or Oscar Zero as the Moon is sometimes called, artificial satellite DX is always available. Maybe take this slow week as an excuse to try satellite operation.

And that’s all for this week from the propagation team.

Hak5 1925 – Linux BASH Tips and Silly Commands [Technolust since 2005]

Shop: http://www.hakshop.com
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Contact Us: http://www.twitter.com/hak5

In this episode of Hak5, we break into some linux BASH commands that we favor, plus some hilarious easter eggs.

The post Hak5 1925 – Linux BASH Tips and Silly Commands appeared first on Technolust since 2005.

The best Simpsons callback ever? I just looked it up, this is... [Conor Lastowka]

The best Simpsons callback ever? I just looked it up, this is from Radioactive Man, the second episode of Season 7 (September 95). Itchy and Scratchy Land, the original Bort episode, aired almost a year before, and itself contained an amazing Bort callback.

Never count your Street Sharks when you’re... [Conor Lastowka]

Never count your Street Sharks when you’re sittin’ at the table

A Few Good Hand Sharks [Conor Lastowka]

A Few Good Hand Sharks

Sonny & Cher & Vin? [Conor Lastowka]

Sonny & Cher & Vin?

Sen-Dog wasn’t the only guy who could shout things in... [Conor Lastowka]

Sen-Dog wasn’t the only guy who could shout things in the background of Cypress Hill songs

Marc Ribot gets a ton of credit for Tom Waits’s sound,... [Conor Lastowka]

Marc Ribot gets a ton of credit for Tom Waits’s sound, but don’t underestimate Vin Diesel’s contributions

Forget Billy Preston. To me, Vin Diesel will always be the... [Conor Lastowka]

Forget Billy Preston. To me, Vin Diesel will always be the fifth Beatle

What if Vin Diesel were in Hootie & the Blowfish? I think... [Conor Lastowka]

What if Vin Diesel were in Hootie & the Blowfish? I think it might go a little something like this

Harsh, Teacher Bear. Harsh [Lint]

Harsh, Teacher Bear. Harsh

"The Future of Libraries" John Palfrey Radio Interview [LISNews:]


John Palfrey, founding president of the Digital Public Library of America and a director of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, recently told the Deseret News that he has “been struck by the number of times people tell [him] that they think libraries are less important than they were before, now that we have the Internet and Google. He says he thinks “just the opposite: Libraries are more important, not less important, and both as physical and virtual entities, than they’ve been in the past.” John Palfrey, author of the new book  "BiblioTECH: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google," joins Tom Williams to discuss the future of the library on Thursday’s Access Utah.

From "The Future of Libraries" On Thursday's Access Utah | UPR Utah Public Radio

Online legal publishers squabble over the right to copyright the law [LISNews:]


Two big-name legal research companies are battling in federal court over the right to exclusively publish the law—in this case, the Georgia Administrative Rules and Regulations.

The lawsuit (PDF) comes as states across the nation partner with legal research companies to offer exclusive publishing and licensing deals for digitizing and making available online the states' reams of laws and regulations. The only problem is that the law is not copyrightable—or so says one of the publishers involved in the Georgia litigation.

From Online legal publishers squabble over the right to copyright the law | Ars Technica

Maker kit program turns libraries into places for content creation, not just consumption [LISNews:]


Librarianship is a funny profession–the day is often a mixture of hokey jokes from people who haven’t been in a library in years, and strategizing ways to implement robotics and computer coding into programs for everybody from preschoolers to seniors. When people see what libraries actually get up to these days, they’re almost always surprised. So many people in America depend on their libraries to help them forward when it comes to technology, and lots of libraries have answered that call with aplomb, learning as they go.

From Maker kit program turns libraries into places for content creation, not just consumption | KnightBlog

Open-source textbooks gain in push for college affordability [LISNews:]

An early adopter of open source textbooks, Neth said he turned to the new technology out of frustration with spiraling prices of commercial textbooks.
"It's seeing the costs go up every semester and almost feeling powerless," Neth said.
Universities and state governments are lining up behind the cause as a way to make college more affordable. The open textbooks, produced with publicly available material, are issued to students for free or a small fraction of the hundreds of dollars they typically spend annually on books.

From Open-source textbooks gain in push for college affordability

My RedState post on Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s revolting base. [Moe Lane]

Found here. Short version: …yes, I made the pun. I REGRET NOTHING

So at what point do we call this a domestic Islamist terror attack? [Moe Lane]

Oh, right. That’s scheduled for the Fifth of Never, as S.M. Stirling might say.

They’ll go with ‘lone wolf,’ which has the ‘advantage’ of being technically accurate while ignoring that groups such as ISIS have been looking for suitable ‘lone wolves’ for some time now. …And this is the point where the conversation gets tangled up and people end up glaring at each other, so let me just say that we will not resolve the problem until we admit that there is a problem. And by ‘we’ I mean ‘the current administration.’

My RedState post on Alan Grayson’s Congressional hedge fund. [Moe Lane]

Found here.  Short version: Alan Grayson was actually managing a hedge fund while in office. And he still doesn’t understand why his own campaign staff was and is screaming at him over that.  Because, hey, Alan Grayson.

Well, yes, the GOP is obviously prepping for a possible Sanders nomination. [Moe Lane]

Hillary Clinton does still have better odds to get the nomination, but between New Hampshire and the super-delegate fix being in there’s a nontrivial chance that her election campaign will implode on its own. There’s also a nontrivial chance that she gets indicted, honestly – or that the head of the FBI ends up resigning because Hillary Clinton doesn’t get indicted, which would be almost as practically useful, from the point of view of a partisan political hack such as myself*. So, preparations will be made in case Bernie Sanders somehow gets the nomination.  Contingency planning is rarely a bad idea, after all; better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it…

Moe Lane

*Yes, of course I want to see the woman indicted. She’s guilty as Hell.  But if the opposition decides to give me a five-pound sledgehammer instead of a ten-pound one, what am I supposed to do? Not swing it?

‘Bad To The Bone.’ [Moe Lane]

I was originally gonna go with “I Drink Alone,” but to heck with it. Bo Diddley. I always figured that he and George were secretly running a con on the old rich dude.  That’d be the smart way to play it.

Bad To The BoneGeorge Thorogood & The Destroyers

Oh, yeah, there was a Democratic debate tonight. [Moe Lane]

Don’t worry if you didn’t watch it: it was on PBS, so neither did anybody else.  I only have even a vague idea what happened in it because apparently ten percent of my Twitter timeline apparently secretly hates themselves, and thus forced themselves to watch the blipping thing.  This will probably give you a good idea of what they went through:

Kissinger. The Bernie Sanders campaign had its fast-response squad respond to stuff about Henry Kissinger. And to think we thought that the Democrats would have trouble connecting with young voters!

Wait. Surely SOMEBODY has redone Dorian Gray using The King In Yellow. [Moe Lane]

As in, a redoing of the novel where the mysterious ‘yellow book’ was in fact The King In Yellow.  I mean, sure, you’re swallowing your own tail there (Robert Chambers was probably himself referencing The Picture of Dorian Gray, at least in part), but still.  You’d think that somebody would have written this up for Call of Cthulhu.

Man, I may have to. Although it’s been a while since I read the book, admittedly. Hmm…

The Hardcore Henry trailer. [Moe Lane]

I’ve mentioned this movie before, but it looks like the retail version is finally out of beta and releasing on time*. Via BigGator5 comes the… oh, just watch it. You’ll figure out the conceit right away.

Moe Lane

*Classical reference.

My RedState post on New Hampshire Democratic super-delegates. [Moe Lane]

Found here. Short version: Hillary Clinton is doing unto Bernie Sanders what Barack Obama did unto her. Also: I despise Commies.  But you knew that already. God knows I’m hardly shy about expressing that opinion…

Tweet of the Day, Louisiana Elections Have Consequences edition. [Moe Lane]

As Dan McLaughlin noted, this is what happens when you elect Democrats. Enjoy, Louisiana!

Somali Muslim Mohammad Barry Killed After Chopping up Columbus Restaurant PatronsAuthorities Stumped on Motive [The Jawa Report]

I dunno, maybe the smell of bacon bothered him, I mean its understandable.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Police shot and killed a man who stormed into a central Ohio restaurant wielding a machete and randomly attacking people as they sat unsuspectingly at their dinner tables, authorities said.

Four people were injured in the brutal attack Thursday evening at Nazareth Restaurant and Deli, a Mediterranean restaurant in Columbus. The victims were taken to an area hospital and were expected to recover.

CBS News has learned that investigators have identified the suspected attacker as Mohammad Barry. CBS News homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues reports that investigators were running down leads to try to determine if the attack was somehow tied to terrorist organizations.

"There was no rhyme or reason as to who he was going after," said Columbus police Sgt. Rich Weiner.

Police said the man walked into the restaurant, had a conversation with an employee and then left. He returned about a half hour later. That's when police said he approached a man and a woman who were sitting just inside the door at a booth and started the attack.


Update: So that explains it. it was a Jewish Israeli Christian (still Zionist) establishment.

So my bacon theory was wrong... Which changes everything.

I mean doesn't it?]

Update: Apparently this person was a known Jihadi to the FBI, either they had no crimes, other than the usual support for terrorists of course, so they were probably just watching collecting "intelligence" intelligence that was never used. You know because Muslimophobia or something.

The suspect, identified as Mohamed Barry, 30, according to Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz, was in a law enforcement database which includes names potentially related to terrorism, sources said. Being in the database would have flagged him if he came in contact with local authorities.

The FBI is investigating the suspect's motive, Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said at a news conference this afternoon, adding that the motive is not yet clear.

Its a good thing he is now dead and that his victims, by the grace of God, are not dead.

Hat Tip: Patrick.

Saudi Arabia Issues Fatwa Against Uncovered Princess Mascot [The Jawa Report]

Because she was a dirty dirty whore princess!. Princess whore? I dunno.

Religious police in Saudi Arabia detained a pastry shop’s cross-dressing mascot — for showing a little too much skin.

As part of a promotional campaign, a bakery in Riyadh had the man dress up in a costume depicting an unveiled Muppet-like woman in a blue gown.

Maybe this outrage against Pastry Princesses will finally get Oliver Willis' attention on Islamic oppression?

Millions of Hopes Dashed as SMOD Finally Strikes Killing Only One (update_: Never Mind Just a Terrorist) [The Jawa Report]

SMOD why hast thou forsaken us?

Indian officials say a meteorite struck the campus of a private engineering college on Saturday, killing one person. If scientists confirm the explosion was due to a meteorite, it would be the first recorded human fatality due to a falling space rock.

According to local reports, a bus driver was killed on Saturday when a meteorite landed in the area where he was walking, damaging the window panes of nearby buses and buildings. Three other people were injured.

Update: No meteorite was found and the crater appears to have been from an explosive device. After examination the meteor shards were determined to be rocks of the type space scientists classify as J.A.F.R.

So in other words the guy was just another victim of Islamic Terrorism, not a meteor.


Ted Cruz: Two New Ads, One Doesn’t Seem To Add Up [Patterico's Pontifications]

[guest post by Dana]

The Ted Cruz campaign has released a terrifically blistering ad mocking Hillary Clinton and her “server problem”.

The ad is a spoof on “Office Space”. It won’t matter if you haven’t seen the film because there’s no mistaking the the message of “Damn, it’s good to be a Clinton”:

The campaign also released another ad on Thursday, attacking Marco Rubio for being just another pretty face:

The campaign pulled the ad after it was discovered that a female actress appearing in it had also starred in adult films:

The woman, Amy Lindsay, as first reported by BuzzFeed, has appeared in multiple movies with titles like “Carnal Wishes,” “Insatiable Desires” and “Private Sex Club.” Ms. Lindsay told BuzzFeed that she was a Christian conservative and a Republican, deciding between supporting Mr. Cruz or Donald J. Trump.

Okay, so first off, if she is a practicing, not-in-name-only Christian, would she really be doing adult films? Or has she left that part of her acting life behind? And, if she were still an adult film actress, what on earth would compel her to be in a Ted Cruz ad? Surely, if she really were a supporter of the very conservative Cruz, she wouldn’t want to risk jeopardizing the candidate in a place like South Carolina where his strongest support comes from Christian conservatives. But if she weren’t a Cruz supporter and supported another candidate who views Cruz as a serious threat, whether in the primaries or general election, there might be a good reason for an adult film actress to appear in the ad.

A representative from the Cruz campaign released this statement:

“The actress responded to an open casting call,” said Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for the Cruz campaign. “She passed her audition and got the job. Unfortunately, she was not vetted by the casting company. Had the campaign known of her full filmography, we obviously would not have let her appear in the ad. The campaign is taking the ad down and will replace it with a different commercial.”

A woman applied for a job and was selected to do the job because she was the best candidate? Sounds good. But because of her employment history, the ad was pulled? I can’t agree with this decision. If there were accusations of Cruz being linked to a porn actress (which of course, there would be), it would have been an opportunity for the very clever Cruz campaign to push back by reminding voters that Americans being hired to do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage is an essential part of Conservatism and a big part of what Cruz wants to do for America: grow job creation and employment for any willing American, while working toward a goal of undoing the dismal unemployment rates under Obama. Because an employed America is a successful America. Isn’t this something we want to encourage?

Further, does the campaign risk an accusation of sexism by pulling the ad because of one woman’s work history? A woman who auditioned for a job and got it, beating out the competition fairly and squarely. Could the decision to pull the ad be a lost opportunity to reach the more moderate-libertarian voters still looking for a candidate?

The actress apparently thought the campaign knew about her previous work:

Though Lindsay initially told BuzzFeed News that the person at the campaign who hired her “absolutely knew everything that I had done,” she later called back to say that she realized that was not the case.

“I have clearly talked to the filmmakers and stuff and just to be clear, I assumed that they knew, but none of the filmmakers or the casting director knew about my complete filmography in the past that you’re talking about, so I was wrong in that statement,” Lindsay said, saying that she had assumed that an old friend of hers from an acting class who was present when she was hired was aware of her film history.

As it now stands, Lindsay has tweeted her disappointment in the campaign’s decision to pull the ad:

Extremely disappointed the #TedCruz campaign pulled the national television spot I had a role in… #moretocome #myvotecounts
8:23 PM – 11 Feb 2016

Of course given that the ad was part of a six-figure buy in South Carolina, the state’s Christian conservative voters may not have taken too kindly to having an adult film star appear in their candidate’s ad. Maybe the campaign has an accurate reading of the voters in the state. But would Cruz have lost voters because of the ad? If so, then that would have spoken far more about the kind of people in South Carolina rather than the candidate Ted Cruz.


Stop Applying a Different Standard to Donald Trump [Patterico's Pontifications]

Journalists do not hold Donald Trump to the same standard as other candidates. When he makes grand, sweeping, and ridiculously unsupportable statements, they let it go — apparently thinking that the silly nature of the statements is self-evident. Maybe they are — to educated, intelligent, and informed people. But those aren’t the people still making up their minds about who should be President.

This idea that we apply a different standard to Trump is likely to be a running theme here. Today, let me start the discussion by showing you this video:

“Nobody knows banking better than I do.” “Nobody has more respect for women than I do.” “Nobody knows health care better than Donald Trump.” “I think I know more about foreign policy than anybody running.” Etc. etc. etc.

All but about two of you think these statements are obvious piffle. Why bother demonstrating they’re false, when anyone can see that right off the bat? you think.

That’s a mistake.

If another candidate made any of these statements, journalists would call them on it, and hard. You know more about foreign policy . . . than anyone running? Then answer this specific question, and that one. For example: you can’t name terrorists who are well known to thousands of counterterror experts, sir — and to several of the other candidates on the stage. It’s not a gotcha question if you said you know more than anybody else.

Trump said in The Art of the Deal that he uses “truthful hyperbole” — calling it “an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.” Except the “truthful” part is a lie. Hyperbole is a hyperbole. Exaggeration is exaggeration. It’s why Trump claims, over and over, that he is worth more than $10 billion when he clearly isn’t. John Fund:

Trump became president of his father’s real-estate organization in 1974. His share of his father’s empire as one of five siblings was $40 million. As the National Journal has pointed out, If someone were to invest $40 million in a S&P 500 index in 1974, reinvest all dividends, and have to pay capital gains he’d wind up with about $3.4 billion in 2015. Trump claims to be worth over $10 billion but has admitted in a 2007 deposition he frequently exaggerates his wealth. Bloomberg currently puts it at $2.9 billion, while Forbes puts it at $4 billion. So Trump’s actual wealth probably is about as much as he would have accumulated if he had taken his dad’s money and put it into an index fund.

Trump isn’t a successful businessman. He’s a rich kid who got a bunch of money from Daddy. He could have done nothing at all — no “deals,” no bankruptcies, no nothing — and gotten as much money or more as he has today.

Yet he lies about it. He continually claims to be worth over $10 billion, and nobody ever squarely calls him on it. They would, if he were anyone else. Again: I think they assume people know better. But people don’t.

The Trump phenomenon would be over tomorrow if, in a debate, moderators spent 30 minutes asking each candidate how they would do any number of things, and then pointed out each time the candidate failed to say how they would do it. Trump never says how he would do anything. But journalists let it go. I think they’re scared to attack him because of the jihad he would unleash, as he did with Megyn Kelly.

Candidates can’t it around and wait for journalists to do this. They have to attack Trump themselves. But the candidates (with the exception of Ted Cruz, who is attacking Trump these days) do the same as the journalists. They attack each other and sit around assuming Trump is going to blow himself up. Not happening. I think they’re scared to attack him too. Except for Cruz.

Nate Silver says:

The “one weird trick” is to treat him as the front-runner and attack him.

The attacks work, when you actually bother to try them — because the truth hurts Trump. He is all about making vague promises to chump suckers. He is a liar. He exaggerates habitually.

Any other candidate who did this would be savaged. It’s time to start savaging Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton’s Problem With Women Voters [Patterico's Pontifications]

[guest post by Dana]

Poor Hillary Clinton. Not only did she get clobbered in New Hampshire by the Sexist Socialist, she also lost every demographic group other than the 65+ crowd and those making over $200,000.

Perhaps her landslide loss this week speaks to voters being weary of her never-ending presence on the national stage and being tired of her yelling at them. Certainly their increasing distrust of her greatly factored into the outcome. Considering everything from Benghazi, to her email scandal, to an FBI investigation, well, any of these would cause a rational person to harbor grave doubts and misgivings about her judgement and trustworthiness.

And then there is her hypocrisy. Consider her close ties to Wall Street. She earned big Wall Street money giving big speeches. Speeches, by the way, whose content she would rather you didn’t know. And no wonder. Pandering is always fraught with danger. You pander to a special interest group one day, the next day you are excoriating them before voters for their mere existence. It’s quite a juggling act, and one that will cost dearly if you are exposed.

Clearly there are a number of reasons why she lost so badly.

I’m guessing that most shocking, and frankly, embarrassing to her is that the iconic feminist of all feminists lost the vote of women.

If you’re the self-proclaimed savior of women who claims to have spent an entire lifetime championing women’s rights and are running on a campaign platform of the same, to lose the vote of your people has to be the biggest blow of all.

But when one considers Hillary’s inability on the campaign trail to successfully address accusations about smearing women who accused her husband of sexual abuse and rape, and enabling his bad behavior toward women, one is not convinced that she has ever been a friend to women.

Further, it’s not wise to try to guilt women into voting for you. While women may like to play the guilt trip on their kids, and even their husbands, they don’t like it being played on them. So trotting out Madeline Albright to threaten women with going to hell if they didn’t vote for Hillary was bound to backfire.

To make matters worse, when Gloria Steinem steps in and makes a profoundly sexist accusation and blames young women’s hormones for not supporting Hillary, it shouldn’t be surprising that those young women get righteously pissed off about being treated in such a condescending manner.

Simply put, Hillary Clinton cannot win by simultaneously campaigning on a platform of feminism and women’s rights, and at the same time, insult the intelligence of the very women she hopes to convince.

With that, Carly Fiorina, who ended her campaign for the presidency yesterday, keeps it simple, because it is:

To young girls and women across the country, I say: do not let others define you. Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you’re a woman. That is not feminism. Feminism doesn’t shut down conversations or threaten women. It is not about ideology. It is not a weapon to wield against your political opponent. A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts. And always remember that a leader is not born, but made. Choose leadership.

This is a woman I can respect.


the "credit the last uploader" problem [Perlsphere]

First, a refresher…

At its simplest, the CPAN is a bunch of files and an index. The index directs you from package names to the files that contain the latest authorized release of that package. Everything else builds on top of that.

If you want to publish Foo::Bar to the CPAN, you need to use PAUSE. PAUSE manages users and permissions, authenticates users, accepts uploads, and then decides how and whether to index them. To make those indexing decisions, first PAUSE analyzes an uploaded file to see what packages it contains. Then it compares those packages to the permissions of the uploading user. If the user has permission, and if the uploaded package is later-versioned than the existing indexed package, the package is indexed.

I have skipped some details, but I believe that for the purpose of everything else I'm going to write about, this is a sufficient explanation.

To get permissions on a package that isn't indexed at all, you upload it. Then you have permissions. If you want to work with a package that already exists, the person who uploaded it needs to give you permission. There are two kinds of permission:

  • first-come; you're the person who first uploaded it, or the person to whom that person has handed over the keys; there is only one first-come user per package; you can upload new versions and you can assign and revoke co-maint permissions
  • co-maint: you are permitted to upload new versions, but you may not alter the permissions of the package

The Complaint

When you view code on MetaCPAN or search.cpan.org, one of the most visible details is the name (and avatar) of the last user to have uploaded that package. This creates a strong impression that this is the contact point for the package. Sometimes, this is true, or true enough. On the other hand, sometimes it's not, and that's a problem. It may be that the last person to upload the library only did so as a one-off act, or that they were a member of the team working on a project years ago when it was last released. Now, though, they will be boldly listed as the contact person.

Here's a scenario:

  • in 2002, a library, Pie::Packer is uploaded by Alice and is popular for a while
  • in 2008, Bob finds a bug and finds that Alice isn't really working on Perl anymore; Bob offers to do a release for just this bug fix
  • Alice gives Bob co-maint on Pie::Packer
  • Bob uploads Pie::Packer v1.234, the only release he ever plans to make
  • from 2008 through 2016, Bob is sent requests for help with Pie::Packer

Bob can't just pass on permissions to stop it. He can give up permissions, but he'll still be the last uploader.

You might object: "Alice should have given Bob first-come! Then he could pass along permissions!"

This is true. Maybe in 2010, Bob gives permissions to Charlotte... but now Charlotte is stuck in the same position. If nobody ever comes along to take it over, Charlotte can't usefully get out from under the distribution.

Half a Solution

In 2013, the QA Hackathon led to a consensus about a mechanism for permission transitions. It goes something like this:

  • give user "ADOPTME" co-maint to indicate that first-come permissions can be given to someone who wants them, and you don't need to be consulted
  • give user "HANDOFF" co-maint to indicate that you're looking to pass along first-come to someone else, but they should go through you

(The third magic user, "NEEDHELP," is not relevant to the topic at hand.)

Marking a library with ADOPTME or HANDOFF is useful in theory, but not in practice, because it's almost impossible to know that it has happened. Yesterday, I filed a bug about making ADOPTME/HANDOFF visible on MetaCPAN, and I think it's critically important to making the ADOPTME/HANDOFF worth having.

So, why is this section headed "half a solution"?

Because this solution helps you if you have first-come, but not if you have co-maint. Imagine poor Bob, above, in 2016. By this point, Alice has moved off the grid and can't be contacted. Bob can't mark the dist as ADOPTME. He can ask the PAUSE admins to do so, but that's it. It's also a bit a burden to put onto the PAUSE admins, who may not know whether Bob has really made a good faith effort to contact Alice.

The final remaining problem is this: There is no escape hatch for someone who has co-maint permissions and wants to get out from under the shadow of an unwanted upload.

The Simplest Thing That Could Possibly Work

This problem could be solved by adding a "GitHub Organizations"-like layer to PAUSE… but I think there's a much, much simpler mechanism.

We should always treat the first-come owner as the authoritative source, including when displaying a distribution on the web. MetaCPAN Web should stop showing the name and image of the latest uploder as prominently, and should show the first-come user instead. The same goes for search.cpan.org and other such sites. MetaCPAN already has a place for listing other contributors, which should contain the last uploader. Adding note like "last upload by BOB" seems okay, too, but the emphasis should be on connecting the distribution with the one person who can actually make decisions about its future.

Benjamin Mako Hill: Unhappy Birthday Suspended [Planet Debian]

More than 10 years ago, I launched Unhappy Birthday in a fit of copyrighteous exuberance. In the last decade, I have been interviewed on the CBC show WireTap and have received an unrelenting stream of hate mail from random strangers.

With a recently announced settlement suggesting that “Happy Birthday” is on its way into the public domain, it’s not possible for even the highest-protectionist in me to justify the continuation of the campaign in its original form. As a result, I’ve suspended the campaign while I plan my next move. Here’s the full text of the notice I posted on the Unhappy Birthday website:

Unfortunately, a series of recent legal rulings have forced us to suspend our campaign. In 2015, Time Warner’s copyright claim to “Happy Birthday” was declared invalid. In 2016, a settlement was announced that calls for a judge to officially declare that the song is in the public domain.

This is horrible news for the future of music. It is horrible news for anybody who cares that creators, their heirs, etc., are fairly remunerated when their work is performed. What incentive will there be for anybody to pen the next “Happy Birthday” knowing that less than a century after their deaths — their estates and the large multinational companies that buy their estates — might not be able to reap the financial rewards from their hard work and creativity?

We are currently planning a campaign to push for a retroactive extension of copyright law to place “Happy Birthday,” and other works, back into the private domain where they belong! We believe this is a winnable fight. After all, copyright has been retroactively extended before! Stay tuned! In the meantime, we’ll keep this page here for historical purposes.

—“Copyrighteous“ Benjamin Mako Hill (2016-02-11)

Michal Čihař: New projects on Hosted Weblate [Planet Debian]

I had some pile of hosting requests in queue since half of January and my recent talk on FOSDEM had some impact on requests for hosting translations as well, so it's about time to process them.

New kids on the block are:

Second round includes:

Unfortunately I had to reject some projects as well mostly due to lack of file format support. This is still the same topic - when translating project, please stick with some standard format. Preferably what is usual on your platform.

If you like this service, you can support it on Bountysource salt or Gratipay. There is also option for hosting translations of commercial products.

Filed under: English Weblate | 0 comments

Michael Meeks: 2016-02-12 Friday. [Planet openSUSE]

  • Up rather early; prayer breakfast @ NCC; mail chew; sync. with Kendy & Andras, mail chew; customer call; poked at some ugly bugs and reviewed tender documents until late.
  • Really thrilled by the Gravity Waves discovery - and more thrilled that an old LibreOffice (in spirit) hacker friend Volker Quetschke is listed among the authors as wellas in our very early git logs. I still have fond memories of his passionate descriptions of the problems of high power laser inferometry in a Hamburg bar many years ago.

Michael Meeks: 2016-02-11 Thursday. [Planet openSUSE]

  • Built ESC stats; better late than never. Poked at project planning and some bugs; closed a number of issues. ESC call.

Michael Meeks: 2016-02-10 Wednesday. [Planet openSUSE]

  • Up lateish; still not terribly well. To action; read mail, patches, chat with Jos. Plugged away at bugs, and piled up admin tasks.

Michael Meeks: 2016-02-09 Tuesday. [Planet openSUSE]

  • Up early; mail chew, more code reading, chasing down a vile GL crasher; sales team call - more work, apparently un-related to recent commits - always fun. Finally created a workaround, unfortunately GL drivers appear to mangle memory where valgrind cannot go - poked Julian. Out to help at Scouts with M. back, and up extremely late working with Emmanuel & Tomaz.

Jorge Castro: Super fast local workloads with LXD, ZFS, and Juju [Planet Ubuntu]

I was at Config Management Camp last week in Belgium and I ran into James Page, who was running OpenStack on his laptop. I mean a real OpenStack in containers, not a devstack, a real thing you could poke at. He would stand it up, do a bit of work on it, commit, test, tear it all down, retest, and so on.

He had repartitioned his hard drive so he could have a ZFS partition, and together with LXD and the OpenStack Juju Charms it all just worked and was very fast. His Thinkpad X230 was sweating a bit, but it all worked.

I had to have this. Real instances with ip’s that behave just as they would on a real cloud, except you don’t spend money, and thanks to LXD and ZFS, hella fast. It’s up to you if you want to run xenial a few months before release, but for me it’s worth it, so I went all in. Here are my notes:

First off you need a machine. :) I needed to redo my workstation anyway so this became an evening of moving drives around and scrounging some parts. When I was done I had an i7 3770, 16GB of RAM, 4x2TB drives, and 2 SSDs.

Step 1 - Installation

Install Xenial. I installed this on one of my SSDs. I used the normal ext4 filesystem. Next I had the 4x2TB drives and a 60GB Intel SSD, let’s put the spinning rust in a mirror, and use the SSD as cache for some decent writes (EDIT: Apparently the cache command in this context is for reads, not writes, thanks Manual Zachs for the correction). Feel free to set it up how you wanted, but I wanted a bunch of room so I could run large workloads and not worry about space or speed.

# apt install zfsutils-linux
# zpool create home mirror /dev/sda /dev/sdb /dev/sdc /dev/sdd cache /dev/sde

As you can tell, /dev/sde is the SSD and we’re just going to use the array as our home directory. If you’re in your desktop you’ll want to logout and not be in your home directory so you don’t step on yourself when you do this. After some activity, you can see the SSD start to be used as a cache device:

# zpool iostat -v

               capacity     operations    bandwidth
pool        alloc   free   read  write   read  write
----------  -----  -----  -----  -----  -----  -----
home         132G  7.12T      3     64   314K  5.34M
  sda       33.0G  1.78T      0     16  78.8K  1.33M
  sdb       32.9G  1.78T      0     16  78.0K  1.33M
  sdc       32.9G  1.78T      0     16  78.7K  1.34M
  sdd       32.9G  1.78T      0     16  78.8K  1.34M
cache           -      -      -      -      -      -
  sde       25.9G  30.0G      0     34  41.0K  4.19M
----------  -----  -----  -----  -----  -----  -----

Step 2 - LXD configuration

Now time for our containers …. first install what we need:

sudo apt install lxd
newgrp lxd

The newgrp command puts you in the lxd group, and you don’t even need to log out, bad ass. Now we tell LXD to use our ZFS pool for the containers:

lxd init

And follow the directions, select zfs and put in your zpool name, mine was called home from the command above.

LXD needs images of operating systems to launch containers (duh), so we’ll need to download them. While my host is xenial, we want trusty here because just like the real world, cloud workloads run on Ubuntu LTS:

lxd-images import ubuntu trusty amd64 --sync --alias ubuntu-trusty

Now chill for a minute while it gets images. Ok so now you’ve got lxd installed, let’s make sure it works by “sshing” into the container:

lxc launch ubuntu-trusty my-test-container
lxc exec my-test-container /bin/bash

And there you go, you’re own new OS container. Make as many as you want, go nuts. Make sure you check out the fine docs at linuxcontainers.org

Exit out of that and move on to step 3!

Step 3 - Modelling Workloads on your shiny new setup

Ok now we need to put something awesome on this. Check out the docs for the LXD provider for Juju, here’s the TLDR:

sudo apt-add-repository -y ppa:juju/devel
sudo apt update
sudo apt install juju-local

OK, now let’s tell Juju to use LXD:

juju init
juju switch lxd
juju bootstrap --upload-tools

Now let’s plop a workload on there … how about some realtime syslog analytics?

juju deploy realtime-syslog-analytics

Nine containers worth of Hadoop, Spark, Yarn, Flume, and we’ll plop an Apache Zeppelin on top to make it all pretty:

Since we’re fetching all those Hadoop resources it’ll take a bit, on my system with decent internet about 10 minutes total from zero to finished. Do a watch juju status and the bundle will update the status messages with exactly what it’s doing. Keep an eye on IO and cpu usage while this is happening and if you’re coming from the world of VMs then prepare to be impressed.

Step 4 - Small tweaks

apt update and apt upgrade can be slow. If you think about it that’s a bunch of http requests, deb package downloads which are then unpacked, and then installed in the container. Multiply that 9 times and happening at the same time on your computer. We can mitigate this by telling juju to not update/upgrade when we spawn a new instance. Find ~/.local/share/juju/environments.yaml and turn off updates for your lxd provider:

    type: lxd
    enable-os-refresh-update: false
    enable-os-upgrade: false

Since we publish cloud images every few weeks anyway (and lxd will refresh these for you via a cron job) you don’t really need to have every update installed when doing development. For obvious reasons, we recommend you leave updates on when doing things “for real”.


Well, I hope you enjoy the speed and convenience. It’s a really nice combination of technologies. And I haven’t even gotten to things like rollback, snapshots, super dense stuff, and more complex workloads. LXD, ZFS, and Juju each have a ton more features that I won’t cover today, but this should get you started working faster!

In the meantime here are some more big data workloads you can play with. Next up will be OpenStack but that will be for another day.

Michael Terry: FastMail is the Perfect Gmail Alternative [Planet Ubuntu]

If, for whatever reason, you’re looking to switch from Gmail, I think you’ll love FastMail.

Its workflow, interface, and features will be immediately recognizable to you: it has conversation view, archiving, spam detection, categorization, filtering, keyboard shortcuts, a modern and fast web UI (ditto for mobile), fast search, calendars, contacts, two-factor authentication, and the option to use your own domain name.

I’ve looked around and having even just that first one (a conversation view) is a shocking rarity in either webmail or mail apps. Let alone all those features.

Switching is easy too. You can import email directly from Gmail and can just export/import any calendars and contacts from Google. Plus, for any shared calendars that you still want to host at Google, you can have FastMail show them and sync any changes.

The big catch of course is that it isn’t free. But it’s not expensive either.

I know this post reads like an ad, but I’m just genuinely pleased so far (and I’m intentionally not using a referral code on the link above). Hopefully the next person doesn’t have to do as much comparison shopping as I did.

Friday Fiction: 100 Word Challenge [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

The inspiration:


A story:


So handsome! He smiles, touching my cheek, familiar and thrilling. Husband, father of my children, I still blush like a young bride, never the plain “Fran” to him.

You were just in the next room, darling, but how I have missed you!

Gently, he pulls me up. There’s a moment of vertigo, but he wraps my arm around his, steadying me, stepping me toward the door.

One brief moment, I glance behind and see an old woman, the shell that once held me.

I smile up at him as light spills from the door, eager for the next chapter.


Now, your turn.

Not to be immodest but I believe my reboot of Eragon vastly... [Join me, won't we?]

Not to be immodest but I believe my reboot of Eragon vastly improves on the original.

lastowka: thehungryhungryreader: I’ve got something... [Join me, won't we?]



I’ve got something interesting and experimental planned for Thanksgiving this year, and it uses this exciting new app called @squishtoon! Here’s a test animation I did featuring the uncompensated likeness of @kwmurphy, who may or may not feature prominently in this project… but it’s not like anyone associates him and his friends with Thanksgiving, right?

This is literally what Kevin does every time we rehearse something

First school ham TV ISS link [Radio Society of Great Britain – Main Site]

The UK ARISS team achieved a world first at the Royal Masonic School for Girls, Rickmansworth on Thursday, by receiving live ATV video from the ISS during the contact. Using the HamTV transmitter, which has recently been commissioned on board the ISS, Tim Peake was the first astronaut to use this equipment during a two […]

Thinking Day next weekend [Radio Society of Great Britain – Main Site]

World Thinking Day will take place on 20 and 21 February. This is when members of Girlguiding use amateur radio to try to contact other members throughout the world as part of the celebrations of their founders’ birthdays. For further details and to add your station to the list of participants go to www.guides-on-the-air.co.uk or […]

New 472kHz distance record set [Radio Society of Great Britain – Main Site]

Tuesday, 9 February saw a new record set for the longest DX on the new 600m band. WSPR was used by Phil Dwyer, VK3ELV and Laurence Howell, KL7L, the latter operating as WE2XPQ. The contact, from Victoria in Australia to Alaska in the USA, is the first ever between VK3 and KL7 on the 472kHz […]

Latest RSGB Band Plans finalised [Radio Society of Great Britain – Main Site]

The latest RSGB Band Plans have now been finalised. They cover all 29 UK amateur bands from 136kHz to 250GHz, including the special 146MHz band that is only available by Notice of Variation to Full licence holders. The Band Plans are available at www.rsgb.org/bandplans. They also appear in the March edition of RadCom, which should […]

New digital voice gateway goes live [Radio Society of Great Britain – Main Site]

Stuart, M0SGS has been given granted an NoV to operate a Simplex Fusion C4FM Digital Voice Gateway, call sign MB6ILE, on 431.075MHz. The gateway is located in Pudsey, West Yorkshire, and serves the Leeds and Bradford area. Transmission is via a 70cm folded dipole at about 630ft ASL with a five watt output. The system […]

This giant, flightless bird roamed Canada's North 50 million years ago [CBC | Technology News]

More than 50 million years ago, Canada's Arctic was a warm, wet place, home to alligators, giant tortoises and — as it now turns out —giant, flightless birds.

Data centre dilemma: How online consumption is leading to higher energy use, costs [CBC | Technology News]

Nautilus Barge-2

Every time you update your Facebook profile, every time you email a friend, every time you stream your favourite show, you're using data. And the energy required to power that usage is increasingly becoming a problem.

Detection of gravitational waves marks new era in astronomy: Bob McDonald [CBC | Technology News]

The announcement Thursday that elusive gravitational waves have been detected for the first time heralds a new era in astronomy that could be as important as Galileo’s first use of the telescope.

Clean-energy deal signed today in 1st step to green NAFTA [CBC | Technology News]

Energy Ministers

Energy ministers from Canada, the United States and Mexico have signed a significant deal on clean energy, a first step toward continental collaboration to battle climate change.

A meteorite probably didn't kill that bus driver in India last week, scientists say [CBC | Technology News]


Scientists have expressed doubt that a man in Tamil Nadu, India, was the first person to have been confirmed killed by a meteorite strike, as the state's top official has declared.

2016 Canadian International Auto Show opens in Toronto [CBC | Technology News]

ford gt

It’s show time in Toronto for the automotive crowd, as the country’s largest expo of cars, trucks, new concepts, classics and other vehicles opens at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. More than 1,000 vehicles will be on display during the Canadian International Auto Show until Feb. 21.

Philae comet lander likely dead now, scientists say [CBC | Technology News]

Philae touchdown

European scientists have given up hope of restoring contact with space probe Philae, which successfully landed on a comet in a pinpoint operation only to lose power because its solar-driven batteries were in the shade.

Cut your cellphone bill in half? Here's how [CBC | Technology News]

Ready to hang up on your cellphone company? You’re not alone. Here’s how to get your problems fixed.

'Crazy idea' to grow cells on apples nets U of O prof TED talk [CBC | Technology News]

University of Ottawa professor and self-described 'biohacker' Andrew Pelling will be delivering a TED Talk next week on his lab's research into using apples and pears to grow living cells.

Auction Score: a Sony ICF-SW55 [The SWLing Post]


Regular SWLing Post readers know that I’m a sucker for classic solid-state portables and vintage tube radios.

What many of you may not know, however, is that I’m not a fan of auction-style bidding for radios. Those who are familiar with it will recognize the story: it begins on an optimistic note, when I find something I’m enthusiastic about.  Then the bidding war begins, and invariably, the price quickly ratchets upwards to far beyond my comfort zone.  It’s only then I find I’ve wasted my time on the entire process, and my hopes are dashed.  So it’s not a purchasing method I relish.

Therefore, despite all of the radio gear I’ve purchased over the years, I’ve only bid for a radio in an online auction perhaps three or four times.

But a couple of weeks ago, my buddy David Korchin (K2WNW)––who has a knack for finding deals on radios, and often alerts me to them––mentioned that he was bidding on a Sony ICF-SW55.

Photo of the ICF-SW55 from auction listing.

Photo of the ICF-SW55 from auction listing.

David wasn’t bidding on the popular online auction eBay––rather, he’d found this deal on ShopGoodwill.com.

A note about ShopGoodwill.com


In case you haven’t heard, ShopGoodwill.com is Goodwill Industries International’s online auction site.  Goodwill employees select exceptional donations, items they feel are worth more than typical Goodwill retail prices, and post them there for online auction.

I believe it was SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi, who first introduced me to ShopGoodwill.

The cool thing about ShopGoodwill is that it’s not as popular as, for example, eBay. Thus a bidder has a better chance of finding a good deal, with the added benefit that less enthusiasts will be hiking up the price with rapid bidding.

There are issues with ShopGoodwill.com, though, some of which are very off-putting:

  • Items are often poorly described, thus:
    • searching through the collection can be rather difficult
    • you often can’t trust these condition descriptions, as they’re written by someone who is clearly not an expert
    • Photos are sometimes of low quality, low resolution, and rarely offer enough detail for an informed decision
  • Buyer beware: nearly all items are sold “as-is,” and are untested
  • No returns on most items
  • No real seller feedback: if you’re frustrated with a Goodwill shop, you have no real recourse other than complaint

So, in summary: unless otherwise specified in the listing, you must assume that any item offered for auction on this site doesn’t function and may be in poor cosmetic condition as well. After all, these are donated items.

With that said, even though the risk is higher than on eBay–where sellers are rewarded with positive feedback and endeavor to fully describe merchandise––some good deals are occasionally to be found on ShopGoodwill!

Now back to my story…

The Sony ICF-SW55 listing that David found on ShopGoodwill.com kept a steady bid of $28 until the day before the auction’s end, when it increased to $48 US.

It’s likely that this listing would have seen more active bidding if the description were better––it didn’t even provide the model number, and was listed as “Sony Worldband Portable Receiver.” Moreover, the feature photo for the listing was of the radio’s case, not the radio itself (see below), yet another reason the listing got so little attention. But David, being the deal hound he is, found it!

The feature photo.

The feature photo.

I encouraged David to really go for it, saying that this could be an excellent opportunity to snag one of these classic portables for a good price. And if it didn’t work, there would be a good chance Vlado could fix it for a fair price.

The morning the auction concluded, David messaged me that he’d decided to pull out of the bidding. He found something else he wanted to snag, so he encouraged me to take the baton and bid on the ICF-SW55, myself.

I read the vague description…then took a deep breath, and decided to go for it!


Again, I’m not adept at bidding, but at least I have a method that has worked for me in the past. My simple rules:

  1. Only bid once.
  2. Wait until the last few seconds, then offer my highest comfortable bid.

Final bidding, blow-by-blow

Here’s how the final moments of the auction played out:

I waited until one minute before auction end. I decided I would go as high as $120––a little rich for my modest budget, considering this could amount to a parts radio, but it was late in the day and I admit I wasn’t thinking clearly.

Then, at thirty seconds before auction’s end, the ShopGoodwill.com site simply stopped responding––!


No, it wasn’t my dubious Internet connection this time––their site was having problems loading.

finally got the auction screen to pop back up ten seconds before auction’s end. I quickly attempted to place my bid: the web page churned…and churned…and churned.

Finally, up popped the review screen at literally the last breath of a second. I clicked “confirm/submit” (thank you, LastPass, for filling in my password immediately) and just managed to record the bid!

I’m certain that my bid was received within the last second. I had the countdown clock running on my Android phone so I’d know when the auction’s end was coming up. Unlike eBay, there is no dynamic counter on ShopGoodwill: you must refresh the page to see the time remaining. The Android countdown was set to end three seconds before the actual end of auction. When I confirmed the bid, it read “-3 seconds.”

The Goodwill site was having so many problems, that it took it two full minutes before I could get the auction screen to refresh after it accepted my bid––it was still stuck on the screen that confirmed my bid was recorded and that I was––for the moment, anyhow––the highest bidder.

When the page finally loaded, I saw that I had, by the skin of my teeth, snagged the SW55, and for a mere $53.

ShopGoodwill-WinningBidThat is one of the lowest prices I’ve ever seen one of these units go for in an online auction, even when listed as a “parts-only” radio.  Needless to say, I was exhilarated!  My heart pounded.

I’m certain that the problem with the Goodwill site helped me win the auction. There were multiple bidders, and I think mine just happened to trigger a bid, leaving the competition no way to outbid me in the last 1/10 of a second.  This wasn’t bidding skill.  And it surely wasn’t a fat wallet.  Frankly, I was just lucky.

I was thrilled to have won the radio at such a relatively low price, but the relief afterward reminded me why I don’t like auctions like this. I definitely prefer a more straightforward, less exciting (and less anxiety-producing), approach to making purchases.

Good news comes in small packages


Goodwill can be relatively slow to ship.  It took about two weeks, but on Monday, I received the package from Goodwill in California.  The rig, save a little dust, looked fine.  But…how would it function?

I put in some freshly-charged Enloop AA batteries and turned it on.

Much to my surprise, the rig turned on…I rapidly tested all the functions. Again, I couldn’t believe my luck: it functions perfectly!

Sony-ICF-SW55-Right Side

The only feature in need attention is the DX/Normal/Local switch, which makes the rig sound a bit scratchy when I change positions––an easy fix, however, with the aid of a little DeOxit.


This auction had a happy ending: I got a radio I’ve always wanted for a price I could swing, I didn’t need my friend Vlado to come to my rescue (though I’ve no doubt he would have), and best of all, I find I absolutely love the ICF-SW55.


Stay tuned…A review of the classic SW55 is in the works, and will be here on the SWLing Post in the coming weeks!


World Radio Day 2016 [The SWLing Post]

fb banner greenFebruary 13th is World Radio Day, a day “to remember the unique power of radio to touch lives and bring people together across every corner of the globe,” as UNESCO reminds us. At the SWLing Post, we get it: shortwave radio listeners understand the unique power of information unhindered by borders, censors, or subscription fees, as supplied by radio.

This year, the UNESCO theme for World Radio Day is a worthy one: “Radio in Times of Emergency and Disaster.”

And here are just a few ways you can celebrate World Radio Day 2016…

Ears To Our World (ETOW)

GSM Bohnso School, Cameroon (Photo courtesy of ETOW partner, EduCare Africa)

GSM Bohnso School, Cameroon (Photo courtesy of ETOW partner, EduCare Africa)

Of course, at my non-profit Ears To Our World, we celebrate the unique power of radio everyday. While we use a variety of technologies in rural and remote communities, radio still plays a central role since it’s such an accessible technology.

In 2014 and 2015, for example, we distributed Sony AM/FM radios that gave children in Sierra Leone the opportunity to listen to over-the-air classes while their school system was shut down due to Ebola.

Powered by this success, we’re now in the process of putting together radio projects for rural, off-the-grid communities in Haiti, Cameroon, and Kenya, where children and their families need the education and information radio can provide.

If you would like to help, please consider a donation of any amount.  This is unquestionably a meaningful way to give the gift of radio, as well as education.

Amateur Radio

The Phoenix Amateur Radio Club will celebrate World Radio Day on the 13th and 14th of February with on-air shortwave activities, as a key part of the club’s ongoing British Scientists Commemorations.  This sounds like an enjoyable way to honor the day as well as the contributions of British scientists.

Click here for more info.

Radio Romania InternationalRRI-RadioRomaniaInternational

Radio Romania issues the following fun invitation:

On World Radio Day 2016, we invite you, dear friends, to send us short recorded messages on this [year’s] topic, by e-mail, as audio-attachments, at engl@rri.ro. You can also send us short written messages on the importance of radio in times of disaster by e-mail or…post them on RRI’s Facebook page, on Google+, LinkedIn and Tumblr.

The most interesting texts and audio messages will be included in a special program on RRI, around February 13th, 2016.

Also, if you have royalty-free personal photos illustrative of the role played by radio in your life, or… the role of radio in times of emergency and disaster, please send them to us in electronic format, accompanied by the necessary explanations, in order to create a photo gallery on RRI’s website and to post them on our social network profiles.
Click here for the full article.

VOARadioGramVOA Radiogram

VOA Radiogram will honor World Radio Day with text and images sent via shortwave radio; you may enjoy receiving this fun “coded” message:

Old shortwave, medium wave, and longwave transmitters can be used to transmit text and images. This can be useful when the Internet is not available for any reason.

VOA Radiogram, an experimental Voice of America radio gram, transmits text and images via a 50-year-old shortwave transmitter located in North Carolina. VOA Radiogram during the weekend on 13-14 February will include a mention of World Radio Day. Receive VOA Radiogram on any shortwave radio, patch the audio into a PC or Android device using software such as Fldigi from w1hkj.com.

VOA Radiogram transmission schedule
(all days and times UTC):

  • Sat 0930-1000 5865 kHz
  • Sat 1600-1630 17580 kHz
  • Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz
  • Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz

All via the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in North Carolina.

Want the full WRD events list?

There are dozens of World Radio Day events happening around the world.  For a full list of registered events, check out the World Radio Day website.

Here’s to WRD 2016!  Enjoy!

How will you celebrate World Radio Day 2016?

Alert! Zoom detected! Catch up on the latest episode of The... [The Flash]

Alert! Zoom detected! Catch up on the latest episode of The Flash before Tuesday’s new episode: on.cwtv.com/FLA13 

Trump Voters, American Institutions, and Nostalgic Politics with Yuval Levin [The Federalist]

Yuval Levin is the editor of National Affairs and also the Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He is a contributing editor to National Review and author of The Fractured Republic. Levin joined the Federalist Radio Hour, where he discussed his observations on political trends and frustrations, both in Washington and across the U.S.

Levin noted the extreme sense of nostalgia coming from both parties, longing to return to their glory days. “Everybody is talking about something they miss in American politics and very few people are talking about what’s actually happened and where we are now and what our strengths might be, as well as what our weaknesses are.”

Domenech and Levin also discussed how the bottom third of American society is experiencing less integration with the institutions that make success possible. “Family, religion, community, work–all have been breaking down for people and I think this is a direct function of exactly the same process that is driving our diversity and economic dynamism,” Levin said.

Both contributors to National Review’s Against Trump symposium, Domenech and Levin discuss what Trump supporters look and sound like. “One of the things conservatives need to wrestle with is that their ideology and their policy prescriptions have nothing to offer the Trump voter,” Domenech said.

Click here to subscribe or listen below:

Weird Twitter Playlists, Vol. I [The Federalist]

Federalist editors have asked friends and strangers alike to share their favorite songs and curate playlists of the tracks they’ve been listening to. You can follow The Federalist’s Spotify account as our collection grows, or listen below. First up, Rich Cromwell, aggregator of weird Twitter, asked some of his fellow tweeps to share their jams.

Valerie Williams, @ValeeGrrl

When I get my kids ready for school in the morning, my goal is twofold–to give them 20 minutes or so to run off a little energy since their recess is so short (THANKS COMMON CORE) and to send them to school in a great mood. I firmly believe getting their blood pumping first thing in the morning helps them focus better and as a bonus, we have a total blast. These songs were all hand-picked by my kids as their favorites but we have so many more. I love to sing and dance and we’ve been doing Mommy-Kid Dance Parties since they were babies. Some of my best memories with my kids are when we’re all silly and dancing. This list totally gives a feel for those moments. @ValeeGirrl is the weekend editor for Scary Mommy.


My playlist is a reflection on the 2016 elections, specifically the Republican primary. Without giving too much away, the central themes are The Establishment vs the outsiders, a party hell bent on eating their own, and the general brutality of a primary fight. For a quick gauge of how cheerful this list is, refer to song 10.

Marl Beans, @Marlebean

Though most of her time is spent jammin’ to kid music and cleaning play-doh out of the carpet, Marlebean enjoys getting pumped up on her drive to work with these great songs. And if anyone asks, she’s only drinks all that wine to collect corks for a Pinterest project.


Featuring experimental guitar riffs, inspired lyrics, playful flirtatiousness, political protest, brazen attitude, and unchained personality: these top ten selections cover a spectrum going back to the 60’s (come on, let’s admit music before the 60’s was boring).

Face It, Bernie Sanders Is Obama’s Real Successor [The Federalist]

Call it “democratic socialism” to make yourself feel better, but what we have is an old hippie regurgitating cut-rate Lenin. And it’s obvious — especially when contrasted with the Democrat alternative — this kind of radical idealism is what really propels the Democratic Party.

No one seems too concerned about this development. Before last night’s debate, for example, the media were getting pretty worked up about a new Bernie Sanders spot called “Together.” Setting aside my personal contempt for its creepy authoritarian vibe, I can see how the ad clues us into why many liberals are taken with Sanders’ candidacy. An ad like “Together” would seem calculated and vacuous coming from Hillary Clinton. It would have been perfect for 2008 Obama. It definitely works for Sanders.

Because like the president, Sanders pins his aspirations to a movement, not merely himself. Which is always intriguing to younger voters. Then again, quixotic voters are intrigued by all kinds of dumb ideas. Utopianism is intriguing. Equality is intriguing. Unity is intriguing. “Our job is not to divide. Our job is to bring people together!” Sanders roars in the ad. All genders, ethnicities, races, ages, and sexualities will meld into one and force government to “work” for everyone. The thing is, if we weren’t divide by our gender, race, class, and sexual orientation, Democrats wouldn’t win any elections.

Sanders represents the natural trajectory of liberalism.

The entire edifice of contemporary progressivism rests on identity politics and class envy. The idea that more economic coercion — not to mention the moral coercion that often goes along with it — is going to bring Americans together is as preposterous now as it was eight years ago.

That’s far from the worst part. Events can always alter the dynamics of American politics, but right now Sanders represents the natural trajectory of liberalism. Where else did people think eight years of relentless fearmongering about the inequities and corruption of capitalism would lead? You can’t keep blaming everything on the inherent racism in America and not expect your party to radicalize. You can’t accuse oil companies of bloodlust and not mainstream the idea of nationalizing the energy sector. You can’t blame every economic tribulation on Wall Street and bankers and the Koch Brothers and then be surprised a major candidate ends up railing against “speculators” and argues that the entire business model of modern banking is a “fraud.”

Yet, there isn’t much policy debate on the Left. There is an electability debate. And it’s about who is more realistic and who can get things done. It might be true, as Hillary contends, that choosing her is choosing a continuum of Obama’s policies. But she’s a lagging indicator of political trends. Right now progressives seem less interested in conserving gains than embracing the promise of more revolutionary change. Hillary can’t move left fast enough.

So there are lots of grievances. There are a lot of victims. And there is a bunch of people standing in the way. What there isn’t is any ‘togetherness.’

“It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency  — that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has (sic) gotten worse instead of better,” was the admission the president made at the State of the Union. The other day he groused about the “divisiveness” and “meanness” that have emerged under his presidency. Liberals will doubtlessly blame all this on inherent bigotry and unfettered selfishness. But uncompromising policies are typically met with uncompromising resistance. This is the lesson of the Obama era.

Progressives seem less interested in conserving gains than embracing the promise of more revolutionary change.

To be fair, Sanders doesn’t have the president’s touch when it comes to identity politics. He may struggle with the black vote. Numerous times during the debate, Hillary attempted to attack Sanders for his lack of loyalty to the president. A “low blow,” Sanders called her sharpest attack, before pointing out that only one of them had actually run against Obama. Anyway, Sanders explained, his opposition wasn’t aimed at the spirit of the president’s agenda, but rather the speed and potency.

But Sanders is a quick study. A couple of days after his win in New Hampshire, he went to Harlem to grab breakfast with noted racist and extortionist Al Sharpton. The two dined at Sylvia’s, the same spot Sharpton met Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign. In this era, a person may be drummed out of polite society for presuming that “all lives matter,” but a contemptible anti-Semite on the appropriate side of a progressive grievance can become a king maker.

Fortunately for establishment Democrats (I assume most still do not believe Sanders can win in the general), some delegates are more equal than other delegates. Unlike Obama’s ascent, there is little chance that Sanders can pull it off, and consequently even less chance that donors and endorsements will go his way. But if not Sanders, someone very much like him — maybe more charismatic, articulate, and younger — will show up the next time around.

Of course, from where I sit, this all looks unmoored from anything remotely American. On Thursday night, Sanders was asked how big the federal government would be under his stewardship. Let’s put it this way: Sanders does not believe in limiting principles. And, really, after eight years of attacking those who believe in them, what did we expect?

Political Correctness Is A Mask For Leftists’ Intellectual Insecurity [The Federalist]

2015 will undoubtedly go down as the year the Left’s efforts to impose its absolutist ideology went well beyond targeting lecturers and graduation speakers invited to colleges.

In late spring, the University of California distributed a guide to forbidden classroom phrases, including “America is the land of opportunity” and “America is a melting pot,” to faculty at each of its 10 campuses. Later in the year, George Mason University professor Jagadish Shukla and 19 others went national with a letter to President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, demanding they criminally prosecute any company or organization that denies climate change.

Now, in 2016, we discover that even public officials directly responsible for the safety of millions—the police chief of Cologne, Germany, and the mayor of Philadelphia, for example—have been cowed into a stunning dereliction of duty by the apostles of political correctness.

Many on the Left will argue that prescience justifies their rigidly enforced opinions. Having twice elected a liberal black president, successfully promoted gay marriage, enabled women to serve in combat roles, and taken major steps toward legalizing marijuana—all in less than a decade—liberals like to see themselves as prodding a cautious public to go where it sooner or later will agreeably follow.

Yet a much stronger case can be made that the Left’s aggressive enforcement of its ideology stems, not from any victory-inspired confidence, but from the very opposite. It stems from recognizing that its most fundamental conviction—that a government of enlightened bureaucrats (like themselves) can best guide society—has never proved true in any country, be it communist, socialist, or social democratic.

Government By ‘Experts’ Is Failing Everywhere

Consider the fate of the two nations historically most identified with benevolent control from the top. One, the Soviet Union, nearly imploded at the end of the twentieth century while the other, China, has been privatizing its economy for more than 40 years.

The ‘dream’ of a unified continent is at risk from the ‘fissures and fractures’ of popular disenchantment.

Similarly, the so-called “mixed economies” of Western Europe have increasingly turned against centralized government, particularly about empowering an umbrella parliament to look after their shared interests. From London to Warsaw, Brussels technocrats are perceived, not as caring benefactors, but as a privileged caste, insulated from the intrusive regulations they are so eager to impose on ordinary citizens.

“Support for the EU is at record low,” notes demographer Joel Kotkin, a presidential fellow at Chapman University in Orange, California. “Increasingly Europeans want, at the very least, to dial down the centralization and bring back some control to the local level.” Even Jean Claude-Juncker, president of the European Commission, recently admitted that “the European Union is not going very well.” The “dream” of a unified continent is at risk from the “fissures and fractures” of popular disenchantment.

Here in America, respect for the country’s largest government-run institution, public education, has collapsed over the last decade. An astonishing 80 percent of respondents to the 2014 Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup annual survey on education graded the nation’s schools with a C or less. In the most recent poll, two-thirds of all parents expressed support for charter schools, which operate independently of district and state control. At a broader level, Gallup’s surveys show that almost half of all Americans now consider the federal government “an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens.”

Social Science Has Moved On

Even the Left’s aforementioned victories on behalf of minority rights and reduced penalties for victimless crimes are more rightly attributable to the growing popularity of libertarian thought than progressives would care to admit. On social issues where liberals have been on their own, such as gun control, they have made little political headway.

The Left might still have grounds to feel optimistic, were there some plausible reason to believe its social engineering schemes could eventually work.

Of course, the Left might still have grounds to feel optimistic, were there some plausible reason to believe its social engineering schemes could eventually work. Liberal activists in the 1920s and ’30s also suffered many setbacks, yet continually reassured themselves with then-popular academic theories.

The young social sciences of that time—psychology, sociology, and anthropology—had all been influenced by Johns Hopkins University professor John Watson. He famously bragged that, given a dozen healthy infants, he could “take any one at random and train him to become any type of [adult] … doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors.” This so-called behavioristic view of human nature gave credence to the idea that enlightened bureaucrats, armed with the right formula for dispensing rewards and punishments, could shape a better and fairer society.

The serious, if widely under-appreciated, problem for modern progressives is that this “malleable clay” view of the mind, which provided academic support for so many left-wing policies at the beginning of the twentieth century, has significantly eroded in our own time. Beginning with the research of University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist Aaron Beck in the late 1960s, it has increasingly been shown that character, innate cognitive skills, freedom, and intuition have far more to do with the average person’s happiness than any kind of paternalistic intervention.

Research Shows Strong, Traditional Institutions Matter Most

In his 1975 presidential address to the American Psychological Association, Donald T. Campbell actually publicly apologized for the demeaning view of human nature an earlier generation of social scientists had promulgated, saying his colleagues had “special reasons for modesty and caution in undermining traditional belief systems.”

Great Britain and later the United States became affluent precisely because the elites who had wielded power were overturned.

The growing influence of today’s conservative think tanks, such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, stems in no small part from the degree to which basic scientific research supports their advocacy of free markets, religious faith, and personal responsibility.

Ever since 1985, when Alan L. Ginsburg and Sandra L. Hanson published their U.S. Department of Education study on “Values and Educational Success among Disadvantaged Students,” studies have repeatedly confirmed that a strong work ethic, spiritual conviction, and parental support are by far the best psychological predictors of a successful life, no matter what a person’s ethnic or class background. These same values have also proved singularly crucial in treating and preventing America’s number-one health problem, substance abuse.

In the area of economics, M.I.T. professor Daron Acemoğlu and his University of Chicago collaborator James A. Robinson have demonstrated that the most prosperous countries are those where citizens resist any kind of top-down or ideological regulation, no matter how well-intentioned. Great Britain and later the United States became affluent precisely because the elites who had wielded power were overturned.

The Last Leftist Bastion: Environmentalism

It is not a coincidence that today’s Left has been reduced to justifying its policies with contorted references to the one remaining science whose findings can appear to suggest an expanded role for government: environmentalism. The long-standing progressive desire to impose racial and class quotas in affluent suburbs, for example, now issues forth under the guise of “ecologically friendly” higher-density housing.

Political correctness is best understood as the desperate last stand of a statist ideology that has been discredited wherever it has been tried.

Liberals similarly claim that public funding for community organization empowers the poor to fight for cleaner air, that avoiding military conflict prevents atmospheric pollution, and that greater access to abortion eases humanity’s burden on scarce environmental resources.

The progressive distortion of environmentalism for unrelated political purposes has become so ludicrous, in fact, that many serious ecologists believe it has undermined bipartisan support for legitimate conservation programs. “The takeover of the greens by the reds has helped to torpedo some key green causes,” complains Paul Kingsnorth, former deputy editor of The Ecologist magazine.

In the end, political correctness is best understood as the desperate last stand of a statist ideology that has been discredited wherever it has been tried, which long ago lost any intellectual justification from the social sciences, and which today is clumsily trying to pin its fading legitimacy on, of all things, climate change. If anything, it resembles the very kind of religious narrow-mindedness the Left has historically claimed to despise: arbitrary, loud, retrograde, and intolerant.

Why Are Media Ignoring These Threats To Rape A Pro-Lifer’s Family? [The Federalist]

Hey, did you hear the story about the Purdue University staffer who allegedly threatened to rape some women? No, you probably didn’t—because so far the media have almost completely ignored it.

Earlier this week, Jamie Newman—a staff member at Purdue’s dance department—allegedly posted comments on a Live Action News article stating his intentions to rape another commenter’s “wife/daughter/great grandmother.” Those comments have since been deleted, although the rest of the conversation remains.

According to Newman, the suggestion that he “actually threatened to rape” anyone is a “complete fabrication;” but it is, according to Newman, a fabrication “built on a fragment of a much longer conversation.” Newman suggested that the “whole conversation” would make it clear that he had no intention to rape anyone, but that Live Action News deleted his comments. “Makes it so much easier to spin,” he said, “when all relevant context is removed.”

Newman is apparently trying to say that he did indeed make these disgusting rape threats, but within a larger conversation in which “relevant context” would provide an exculpatory explanation. Make of that what you will. It’s entirely possible that Newman indeed had no intention to rape anyone, though when you’re arguing that your rape threats should be taken “in context,” you’re probably on the losing side of things either way.

After a brief investigation, the university announced it would take no action against Newman: “[T]he speech was repugnant and inconsistent with Purdue values,” Purdue said. “We don’t condone it, but at this time no personnel action is intended.” That is, when you think about it, rather remarkable: a university employee apparently hurled sexual assault threats at a young woman, and the university will take no administrative action against him.

Who Cares If People Threaten Pro-Lifers

But that’s not the real story here. The real story is this: at the time of this writing, more than 24 hours after the news dropped on Campus Reform, the media have almost completely ignored this incredible story. More than a day after it was first reported, a few scattered outlets have run pieces on it: the Lafayette Journal and Courier, Breitbart News, the Christian Post, and some local news outlets. That’s it.

In our lightning-quick digital media age, how could such an astonishing story go so underreported?

Think about that for a moment: a staff member at a prominent American university apparently made public, vile, profoundly disturbed, and disgusting threats of sexual assault towards innocent women, the university is refusing to do anyting about it, and the mainstream media have ignored it for nearly a day, if not more. In our lightning-quick digital media age, how could such an astonishing story go so underreported for so long?

The reason is this: Newman apparently made these threats in the course of an argument with a pro-life activist. Moreover, he apparently made these threats towards a pro-life activist. In most of the media’s eyes, this isn’t even worthy of a throwaway article on page A16.

When Rape Threats Aren’t Newsworthy

There is a craven and cowardly streak within American journalism, and it is no better exemplified than in the way it reports on the pro-life movement. The Planned Parenthood sting videos, the March for Life, the compelling and self-evident scientific arguments for the pro-life position: time and again, the media prove themselves incapable of approaching these topics with any measure of fairness or accuracy. This is a serious and pervasive problem, and it shows no signs of getting any better.

Now we see just how far the media are willing to go to deny the pro-life movement fair coverage.

Now we see just how far the media are willing to go to deny the pro-life movement fair coverage. Had these disgusting alleged threats taken place in any other context—had they been directed at a liberal student activist, or a pro-choicer, or really anybody other than a pro-lifer—the coverage would have been immediately wall-to-wall.

The media circus would have descended upon Purdue, the person who had made the threats would have likely been placed on administrative leave prior to being fired, and social media would have exploded with righteous and appropriate indignation. None of that has happened. For the most part, at the time of this writing and long after the story should have blown up nationwide and even globally, there has been silence.

This is how bad things have gotten. It is not merely a matter of lazy reporting. It is a case of the media’s professional priorities being wildly out of step with any kind of journalistic ethics. Newman apparently made disgusting and evil threats towards an innocent young women and her family, and his employer—a public university—will do nothing about it—because, aside from a few mostly conservative outlets, the media have not bothered to look into it. They have instead chosen to look away.

It is, in other words, apparently no big deal if a staff member of an American public university allegedly threatens to rape several women—that is, as long as he is threatening the right kind of women: pro-life women. In that case, most journalists can’t even be bothered to care.

This Week In Weird Twitter, Volume 37 [The Federalist]

Supposedly, Valentine’s Day began with one, or possibly several, saints who answered to the name Valentinus. The good saint, as the story goes, would marry those who were forbidden to marry for one reason or another. For this, as well as his Christian faith, he was imprisoned and executed.

It wasn’t until much later that he came to be associated with romantic love. At least, that’s what legend would have us believe. The truth is that scientists in the 1980s developed a time machine for the purpose of going back and killing Hitler. Alas, a representative from the greeting card industry had other plans. He hijacked their time machine, and a legend was born.

Someday, a new time machine will be built so we can go back and kill the greeting card guy who stole the first one. Until then, though, we’re stuck. So put on some Barry White and crack open some bubbly, but don’t forget to do something with the young ‘uns first.

Unless you’ve got this going on, in which case you’ll need something stronger than a crate.

As we saw above, they come home that way anyways, so go for it.

Even if you don’t address them as Satan, there are other ways to make their parents hate you.

These candies are chalky and unpleasant, plus this concept of “wuv” confuses and infuriates me.

If you don’t have a dog crate and really love your wife, do this. You’ll be rewarded later.

But what about the chill, Val? You have to include “and chill.”

Hospitals definitely have ice chips, so they’ve got the chill, but do they even have Netflix?

It’s not just about married people. It’s also about those still in the courtship phase.

So, fellas, don’t forget to sweep her off her feet.

Or let her sweep you off yours.

This sounds pretty good, too.

But then you arrive here.

You should’ve gone to Jared, man.

You, too.

You ladies don’t exactly make it easy on us.

If you find yourself alone on the dread holiday, put your phone away.

Or go out and party instead.

If you’re not feeling like drunk texting or partying, just avoid the subject.

With flowers you bought at a gas station.

Don’t believe her when she says this. Plus, the end results would be boring, like a Stepford Wife.

I fail to see what’s wrong with this logic, other than he didn’t give it as a gift.

When the magic is gone, every word a knife.

I forgot most other things marked by dates, too, but I’m an overachiever.

That is why this is also the title of my memoir.

This is how I feel about whiskey, but I usually relent.

Moving on. Valentine’s Day isn’t the only time you get to hope your wildest dreams will be fulfilled.

Small dreams, too.

That’s why they just whisper about it instead of actually cutting us. Usually.

As I said, usually.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from telling them to calm down is being too nice.

The song was about someone.

But who is this tweet about? Is it about me? Now I’m going to question every retweet.

This isn’t a joke.

Nor is this. It’s sound advice.

If I can ever stop procrastinating, I’ll be the exception that proves the rule.

Technically, it’s already allowed, it just comes with consequences.

Love is a many-splendored thing.

Why do we speak so poorly of the abyss? I’m a fan.

And what did the abyss say back?

This alternate reality is why it’s probably better that the greeting card guys stole it.

To be fair, they also resumed production of high-performance cars. They started making Argentinians, though.

Uhhh, goodnight, honey. Don’t take it personally that I’m locking the door.

And then the kid said…

This is an excellent superpower.

Although this superpower is excellent, too.

Combine the previous two superpowers with this, and you’ll become unstoppable.

When all is said and done, go out shaken, not stirred.

Where were you one tweet ago?

And with that, he was gone.

Enjoy Love Day, you magical weirdos. May it be filled with lots of splendor and excitement. Or nothing. Or somewhere in between, depending on your level of commitment. Also, even if it is a made-up holiday, remember that everyone is lying. We all want diamonds and roses and maybe baby hedgehogs or at least some peace and quiet.

If You Like Glorying In Nihilism, You’ll Love ‘Deadpool’ [The Federalist]

“Deadpool” is not so much a movie as an extended inside joke with a movie wrapped around it. Not only does Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) tell his backstory and chase his nemesis while protecting a lost love, he takes shots at Marvel in general and Wolverine in particular while maintaining a string of R-rated monologues on life, the universe, and everything that would send Captain America into spasms of mortification. Through it all, Reynolds apologizes abjectly for “The Green Lantern.”

The plot tells the story of Wade Wilson’s transformation through a torturous quickening process from brutal, unhinged vigilante into a brutal unhinged vigilante with mutant powers. He could always hit hard, swing his katanas with deadly speed, and dodge danger, but after the quickening, he cannot be killed. All wounds heal except the emotional ones.

The film gives Deadpool a lady love, Vanessa (the luminous Morena Baccarin, who at 37 makes a refreshingly age-appropriate match for the 40-year-old Reynolds). Their sexual activity (of which we learn in parent-distressing detail) may be kinky, but their love is surprisingly conservative. His heart is hers and marriage is on his mind.

This is a step away from the maniacal, changing Deadpool of the comics, but it works in the film and gives the main character the motive for his mission of revenge.

The spoofy opening credits just reek of smart-ass edginess, which sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the movie.

From the hilarious frozen-in-time 3D opening sequence, though, the audience is put on notice that this isn’t your normal superhero movie. The spoofy opening credits just reek of smart-ass edginess, which sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the movie. Deadpool knows he is in a movie and has pointed opinions on Marvel and modern life. When he breaks the fourth wall, he crushes it.

The biggest drawback of Deadpool—that is, if you can handle the explicit content—is also his greatest draw: A determined and unapologetic moral ambiguity. Deadpool isn’t a hero, he constantly reminds the audience, he is just a %&!# who beats up worse %&!#s. Lest you think this is all some cover for some coming moral revelation, the final scene explicitly sets up a moral conflict for him to fail.

He gets the question. He gets the moral standard. He chooses not to follow it. The audience is left with the question of how they feel about that. I fear that many will cheer.

The intended audience will certainly cheer for heavy R-rated content. The violence is intense, gleeful, and gory, with heads sprouting red mist left and right. Sexual content is about as far as you can go and still keep an R rating: Graphic nudity, bare boobies and butts, several scenes of actual sex, depictions of masturbation, the works. Of course, the language is what you’d expect. All the words and plenty of talk about obscene things. This is not one for the kiddos.

But you knew that. What you want to know is whether it kicks ass. Yes. It accomplishes its goals, both in humor and in action sequences. The intended audience may be narrower than for “Captain America: Civil War” or “The Avengers,” but that audience will relish this flick. Maybe the degree of that relish is not comforting, but, then again, that is the point.

You Can’t Really Be Pro-Life And Feminist [The Federalist]

By now it’s axiomatic that the pro-life movement is largely incompatible with modern feminism, and that today’s feminists, by and large, passionately oppose most of what the pro-life movement stands for. Some have attempted to reconcile this tension, but it seems on balance to be an exercise in futility.

Some years ago, for instance, the activist Jennifer Baumgardner was asked if you can “be a feminist and pro-life.” Her rather astonishing response was effectively: “Yes, so long as you don’t want to outlaw abortion.” Perhaps one might suggest Baumgardner doesn’t represent the feminist movement at large, except that she has written two books on the topic, one about “young women, feminism, and the future” and “a field guide for feminist activism.” She is also the executive director and publisher of the Feminist Press at the City University of New York. If she is not a good example of the mores of modern feminism, I am not sure what is.

In spite of this, some still occasionally attempt to bridge the gap between the rabidly pro-abortion feminist movement with the anti-abortion pro-life movement, and last month—on the same day as the March for Life, appropriately enough—Vox played host to one of these attempts, running an essay by Claire Swinarski entitled “I’m a pro-life feminist.”

Abortion Is Murder, But Don’t Outlaw It

It would be nice to see a genuine defense of the unborn coming from someone who styles herself a “feminist.” But Swinarski does not really effect such a defense. Her “pro-life” position, in fact, seems more or less pro-choice, so she fails to make the case for defending unborn children from murder. Feminism has once again trumped the lives of the unborn.

She fails most particularly because she does not actually want abortion outlawed in any meaningful sense. She makes the claim that the pro-life movement “[has] no interest in legal punishment for women who’ve had abortions.”

I asked her to clarify this, and she claimed she is “not for arresting women who were in desperate situations.” Rather, she believes we should “provide counseling instead.” (Over email, I also asked Swinarski whether she believed killers of born humans should receive “counseling,” as well. “Feel free to use [my] article,” she replied, “but I’d rather not be quoted in any other context.”)

Other “pro-life feminists” such as Feminists for Life actually share the desire to fight abortion without actually outlawing it. This is, to say the least, a breathtakingly mystifying position: we do not, in any other situations that I am aware of, sentence first-degree murderers solely to “counseling” after they have killed another human being, even if the murderer was in a “desperate situation.”

Either Unborn Babies Are People Or They Are Not

Swinarski’s apparent philosophical incoherency actually underscores one of the key questions that the wider pro-life movement must answer: once abortion is made illegal, what should happen to the women who procure them and the doctors who perform them?

To be pro-life is to also be pro-justice for the murdered unborn.

If anti-abortion activists really believe abortion is the unjust killing of another human being, then the logical penalty for such premeditated murder would be either the death penalty or—for those of us who oppose the death penalty—years in prison, possibly life. Any plan of action less punitive than these measures necessarily accepts, at least in part, the core premise of the pro-choice movement, which holds that unborn humans are less-deserving of rights and legal protection than are born ones.

To be pro-life is to also be pro-justice for the murdered unborn, something that you can’t accomplish by simply “counseling” the people who murder, and aid in the murder of, the unborn. One can, of course, sincerely desire that fewer abortions take place while not simultaneously demanding that abortion be made illegal. Plenty of well-meaning people do. But this position seems woefully incomplete, chiefly because of its deliberately selective application of justice: nobody would consider applying the same standards of justice to the murder of born humans.

Swinarski’s Potential Solution Isn’t One

It is thus hard to take Swinarski seriously when she calls herself “pro-life,” at least given that her preferred “pro-life” policies would have no practical effect in either protecting the unborn or securing them justice.

Clearly, more generous maternity leave does not necessarily correlate to a lower abortion rate.

To her credit, she apparently tries to reconcile this problem by advocating policies that make abortion “unnecessary in the first place.” In this she fails, as well. “Bad policies,” she writes, “have led many women to believe they are unable to be mothers.” She claims that the United States’ failure to require paid maternity leave drives women toward abortions. “Better policies are good for women,” she says, “and could help reduce the perceived need for abortion.”

Maybe so. But then you’d expect that, the more generous a country’s paid maternity leave policies, the lower the abortion rate—and that isn’t always the case. Sweden, for example, has some of the most generous parental leave policies on the planet, but their abortion rate in 2012 was nearly 21 per 1,000 women of childbearing age. The United States’s rate for that same year and same demographic was 13.2. England’s maternity leave is similarly generous, as is that of Wales, yet the abortion rate for England and Wales in 2012 was 16.5 percent.

To be sure, plenty of countries with generous maternity leave policies have lower abortion rates than the United States. But clearly more generous maternity leave does not necessarily correlate to a lower abortion rate—and anyone who is serious about pro-life efforts should not pin her hopes on leave policies altering the abortion rate. Human lives are far too precious for such a whimsical approach to saving them.

If abortion is murder then neither ‘cultural change’ nor ‘tackling’ ‘social structures’ is sufficient.

Swinarski also advocates limiting the number of sex-selective abortions through “cultural change,” and reducing the number of black babies that are aborted by “tackl[ing] these structures at the base,” i.e. fixing the “complicated social structures and other disadvantages” minority women face. Both of these are worthwhile goals, but they are also in a sense immaterial to the core effort of the pro-life movement, which seeks to afford unborn humans the same legal protection as born ones.

If abortion is murder—and it is—then neither “cultural change” nor “tackling” “social structures” is sufficient to bring about the necessary justice that all unborn persons deserve, any more than mere “cultural change” would have brought about justice for enslaved black Americans.

You Can’t Serve Two Political Masters

Swinarski finishes her argument with a bang, writing about the inappropriate behavior of some anti-abortion activists: “Pro-lifers bug me, too.” Thanks for that.

The politics and the philosophy of one side will often crowd out the other.

The modern feminist movement largely diametrically opposes the pro-life movement: the former believes abortion is sacrosanct, and the latter believes it to be a crime against humanity. It is, indeed, possible to call yourself a “feminist” and also style yourself “pro-life,” but as Swinarski’s efforts show, such a marriage is ultimately untenable—the politics and the philosophy of one side will often crowd out the other.

In Swinarski’s case, the pro-choice side has clearly won. In spite of her good intentions, she merely gestures at the pro-life movement while proposing to keep pro-choice policies firmly in place. I’m sure it made the editors at Vox very proud of themselves to publish what they termed a “pro-life” essay, but they were lying to themselves.

Meanwhile, thousands of unborn children are killed every day in the United States. Their lives ultimately cry out for justice—not “cultural change.”  They deserve the protection of the law, and they suffer a grave injustice by “pro-life feminists” who are more concerned with feminism than they are with life.

David Bowie’s Last Bows To His Past [The Federalist]

Judging by the entertainment media frenzy accompanying the issue of David Bowie’s latest album “Blackstar” on the multimedia star’s 69th birthday (coincidentally also the birthday of Elvis Presley) the singer/songwriter/provocateur had released 2016’s equivalent of “Pet Sounds,” “Sgt. Pepper,” and “Exile on Main Street.” It’s good, but not that good.

In fact, it’s also not as good as Bowie’s landmark albums of the 1970s, but it’s a compelling album just the same, especially when listened to as the final chapter of Bowie’s recorded output.

That he died a mere two days after its release had writers scrambling to find Easter eggs in Bowie’s “Blackstar” lyrics. Yes, the album contains lyrical examinations of mortality alongside the flashes of creative wonderment that characterized the majority of his musical compositions. However, “Blackstar” is also at times bleak, a condition underscored by lyrical ambiguity and sometimes offensive imagery featured in the title track’s accompanying video.

I’ll return to all that after a brief prologue.

It’s All There on that Glorious Vinyl

It’s hard to imagine my experiences in the 1970s devoid of Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke. I recall hearing “Changes,” “Space Oddity,” and “Rebel, Rebel” on the radio; borrowing “Aladdin Sane” and “Pinups” from my older brother’s girlfriend; grooving on “Diamond Dogs” in a high-school classmate’s car while she smoked Marlboro Reds and shared with me several sips from a bottle of Annie Green Springs Berry Frost; snapping my fingers to “Young Americans” when Bowie performed it on “Soul Train;” missing my 45 of “TVC15”/“GoldenYears” when a younger sibling filched it to take to school; and buying “Heroes” the week it was released.

Despite my youthful fascination with most things Bowie, his public persona seemed more a parody of hipster rock star rather than the real deal.

By the time Bowie hooked up with Soupy Sales’ kids in Tin Machine in the late 1980s, it had become apparent his once remarkable talent had gone fallow, perhaps never to return. Ever optimistic, I waited for its resurgence with much the same degree of anticipation as Vladimir and Estragon in some multi-decade, musical version of a Sam Beckett play.

Despite my youthful fascination with most things Bowie, his public persona seemed more a parody of hipster rock star rather than the real deal. His videos—for all the bizarreness, freaky costumes, and Luis Bunuel references—seemed mere Euro-trash, existentialist, avant-garde posturing, and not far from his coldly detached, ennui-laden performance in “The Hunger.” Seriously, has any other rock video star employed a prop cigarette with as much world-weary aplomb?

His music, for the most part, was only as good as his creative partnership with whatever guitarist he may have been working at the time, and the list extends from Mick Ronson and Carlos Alomar to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Fripp, and Adrian Belew. Of course, one cannot ignore the creative sparks ignited by further collaborations with Mott the Hoople, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno, and—lest we forget—Bing Crosby and Queen.

While all told it was a mixed-bag, my appreciation of Bowie could be summed up best by quoting Pete Townshend: “It’s all there on the vinyl.” Some of that vinyl was glorious indeed. Having hooked me in the 1970s, I checked in on Bowie from time to time to see what he was up to in subsequent decades.

Weird Prophetic Tone

What did Bowie do after nearly five decades and more than 20 studio albums into his career to recapture the attention of his core audience and win new fans to his oeuvre? Contrary to other reviews I’ve read thus far of “Blackstar,” he didn’t go full-throttle jazz, because if he did it wouldn’t reflect Bowie’s wide-ranging musical restlessness.

On ‘Blackstar’ Bowie went so far as to invent a new sub-genre, which I dub Apocalyptic Soundtrack Jazz.

Bowie has always incorporated elements of jazz into his music, which made albums like “Low” prime fodder for other composers such as Philip Glass to adapt for their own purposes. On “Blackstar” Bowie went so far as to invent a new sub-genre, which I dub Apocalyptic Soundtrack Jazz.

Not that such a designation renders the album as a whole devoid of merit. After several hearings, the album sonically concocts a weird prophetic tone perfect for an evening of celebrating a world in the grips of spiritual entropy. The two videos released from the album thus far, for example, depict Bowie as a blindfolded prophet with buttons sewed over the singer’s covered eyes.

But this is where I take exception to the creative vision of Bowie (and his video director, John Renck) alluded to above. The video for the title track features discovery of a bejeweled astronaut skull (the remains of Major Tom?), Cthulu, twitching individuals engaged in dark ceremonies and, most disturbingly, three dancers erotically writhing on crucifixes and Bowie panning Anton LaVey’s “Satanic Bible” across the screen.

Substituting Blasphemy for Creativity

LaVey, founder of the Church of Satanism, exhibited a flair for dramatic exhibitionism by referring to himself as “the most evil man in the world.” To quote an email from my friend, Karl Nilsson, an advertising copywriter and graphic designer in southeast Michigan: “Whenever a pop star (or modern artist or filmmaker) runs out of ideas, they substitute blasphemy for creativity.” Referencing the science-fiction- and psychedelic-drug-inspired British rock band, Nilsson added: “I saw most of this claptrap at a Hawkwind concert decades ago.”

Left to viewers’ interpretation is whether Bowie believes in any of the “time is a flat circle” twaddle or is delving deeper into sinister cultural archetypes in order to depict our troubled times. According to “Blackstar” guitarist Ben Monder, Bowie told him the song ostensibly deals with ISIS, but longtime Bowie producer and collaborator Tony Visconti, for one, disputes that reading.

One thing’s for certain, however, and that is “Space Oddity” was Bowie’s breakthrough hit. It’s also the song that introduced Major Tom, who subsequently reappeared in “Ashes to Ashes.” The Major Tom persona, then, is the recurring alternate stage presence of Bowie’s career. He never returned to Ziggy Stardust or the Thin White Duke thematically or visually, but those jewels embedded on the astronaut’s skull in the “Blackstar” video certainly point toward an identification of Major Tom with Bowie’s initial and subsequent commercial success. In the latter video, a woman retrieves the skull and uses it as an object of cultish veneration.

Venerating what, exactly? Listeners are told again and again by the narrator of “Blackstar” that he isn’t a film star, a pop star, a porn star, a gang star, or a marvel star, yet the Blackstar says:

How many times does an angel fall?
How many people lie instead of talking tall?
He trod on sacred ground, he cried loud into the crowd …
I’m a blackstar, way up, on money, I’ve got game
I see right, so wide, so open-hearted pain
I want eagles in my daydreams, diamonds in my eyes….
You’re a flash in the pan (I’m not a marvel star)
I’m the Great I Am (I’m a blackstar).

Is Bowie singing in character as I Am, the Greek Eimi, or Jehovah, proclaiming he’s not a superhero? Or is he invoking a false prophet, an ISIS fighter—or could he deliberately be attempting to invert the Judeo-Christian God as the fallen angel Satan, hence the LaVey reference?

Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried
(I’m a blackstar, I’m a star’s star, I’m a blackstar)

The remainder of the album utilizes the band of saxophonist and bandleader Donny McCaslin, which includes drummer Mark Guiliana, keyboardist Jason Lindner, and bassist Tim Lefebvre, to great effect. “Lazarus,” written by Bowie for his Broadway stage production of the same name and sequel to the Nicholas Roeg 1976 cinematic mindbender “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” resembles the saxophone-drenched soundscape of “Sons of the Silent Age” from “Heroes.”

Ben Monder plays guitar on the album’s closing song, “I Can’t Give Everything Away,” and does a superb job of recreating Robert Fripp’s masterful work on Bowie’s classic late 1970s Berlin Trilogy albums, which included “Low,” “Heroes,” and “Lodger.” The harmonica heard in the background of the same song also hearkens back to “A New Career in a New Town” from “Low.” The song “Girl Loves Me” is a lyrical nod to Anthony Burgess’ “Clockwork Orange” married to mid-1970s London gay patois.

“Blackstar” is a step up from Bowie’s “comeback” album from 2013, “New Day,” which was intriguing and kicked open the creative door for this swan song. “Blackstar” captures a terminal Bowie inching in a direction even more aesthetically satisfying and able to stand on its own musical and lyrical merits rather than trolling out occult props to provide edginess and relevance.

Surprise! Health Insurance Costs To Spike 60 Percent, Thanks To Obamacare [The Federalist]

A new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report estimates that private health insurance premiums will continue to balloon over the next decade thanks in large part to Obamacare.

The report states that, over the next 10 years, private health insurance premiums will increase by about 5 percent annually — a rate that outpaces the gross domestic product by 2 percentage points.

By 2025, employment-based coverage (health-care insurance an employer offers) will cost 60 percent more than it does today. For a family, that increase costs to an average of $24,500 per year. For those with an individual plan, health-care costs will increase to cost an average $10,000 per year.

What’s driving these price increases? Obamacare.

The CBO report states that Obamacare’s costly federal mandates on insurance companies — like forcing them to cover everyone regardless of preexisting conditions — increased costs of individual, or non-group, health-care plans (which account for 15 percent of all plans) by 27 to 30 percent.

Increased costs don’t just affect the families and individuals shilling out escalating amounts of cash for their plans, it also affects the national budget and taxpayers who subsidize them. The subsidies that the federal government offers to some people to pay for health insurance cost about $300 billion this fiscal year.

Obama campaigned on the promise that his namesake legislation would reduce health-care costs for the average family by up to $2,500 annually. Here’s a supercut in which he repeats that promise 19 times.

(h/t Breitbart)

But as it turns out, the health-care law that was supposed to lower costs is actually doing the opposite. If only someone had predicted this earlier!

Why Donald Trump Is The Establishment Candidate [The Federalist]

Donald Trump’s loss in Iowa cannot be chalked up to a wave of antidisestablishmentarianism. After all, Iowa winner Ted Cruz is hardly a Beltway favorite. But the downing of the Donald makes total sense if you realize that, when it comes to campaign mentality, Trump is the establishment candidate. He’s even campaigning like it in South Carolina, fresh off his New Hampshire win.

This is counterintuitive because Trump earns much of his support from the idea that he is running against the Washington establishment. He gives voters the idea that he is here to disrupt the system that has failed them and rig it in their favor instead. This works so well because voters have legitimate reasons to distrust the system.

As has been noted countless times, the 2014 election of a Republican Congress and the subsequent voter disappointment in conservative legislation is enough reason for voters to seek candidates with an anti-establishment message. Voters are reacting against Republican candidates who pander to their conservativism for their votes then go on to betray conservative principles once in office. Voters feel taken for granted.

Donald Trump Takes Voters for Granted

But in Iowa, Trump did exactly this—he took voters for granted. He assumed that his usual bravado and politically incorrect comments were enough to win him the historically tight Iowa caucuses. He assumed he could win Iowa without attending the only Republican debate held in the state and without a serious grassroots campaign.

This shows tremendous disrespect for voters—the same disrespect Trump supporters are supposedly rallying against.

Trump even told attendees at one Iowa rally, “I have the most loyal people, where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters. It’s like incredible.” This shows tremendous disrespect for voters—the same disrespect Trump supporters are supposedly rallying against. Trump himself admitted after Iowa he had “never realized” the importance of meeting voters in person to ask for their votes: “It would seem to me that people would just go out and vote.”

Trump repeated this mistake in New Hampshire. After the initial Iowa shock set in, Trump’s campaign squeezed in a few more stops in the Granite State. However, Trump only made around 40 stops to the state. In contrast, his opponents Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Jeb Bush all made 80, 185, and 111, respectively.

Already underperforming in face-to-face events, Trump cancelled all his campaign stops due to snow, including a town hall in Londonderry—one of the few voter-focused events he was hosting. Trump’s campaign said these cancellations were because nearby airports were closed (they weren’t) but that should not have been a problem for the Donald, who travels via his private jet.

The Little People Exist to Make Me Win

Think what you want about Ted Cruz’s controversial Iowa mailers: he asked for votes. Not only does he ask for votes, Cruz expects to earn them. Cruz’s South Carolina headquarters are calling in people from across the country to reach South Carolina voters in person. Even the candidate many say is the establishment’s choice, Rubio, practices asking for votes. It’s at the end of most of his speeches: “I ask for your vote.”

It is clear that Trump and the GOP have the exact same view of voters.

Even a month out from the primaries, the Washington Post reported Trump’s New Hampshire hub was empty. In addition, there is growing evidence that his usual tactic of drawing crowds at rallies is beginning to diminish. Trump won New Hampshire because his genuinely conservative opponents divided the other votes among them, as the New Hampshire Union-Leader pointed out, not because he has the overwhelming support he claims.

Donald Trump does not give voters the dignity of acting like he ought to earn their votes. He thought that showing up for a few rallies and a view inside his private jet would be enough for the little people of Iowa. Since he won New Hampshire with little change of tactics, he almost certainly thinks he’ll get votes in South Carolina just for existing.

The biggest lie the Donald ever told was that his philosophy was somehow different than that of the Republican establishment. It is clear that Trump and the GOP have the exact same view of voters: a patronizing view of an expendable herd that can be easily swayed by rhetoric without needing proof candidates can achieve results through the political process. For voters burned by the 2014 midterm elections, this is some serious déjà vu.

“Ham TV” System Used for First Time During ARISS Contact with UK School [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

The “Ham TV” digital Amateur Radio television system onboard the International Space Station was used for the first time ever this week for an Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) school contact. UK and ESA Astronaut Tim Peake, KG5BVI, inaugurated the system as he spoke on February 11 with students at a school in Rickmansworth, England. The DATV system in the Columbus module...

The K7RA Solar Update [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

All four of the indices we track rose over the past week, with average daily sunspot number rising from 50.6 to 86.6, average daily solar flux up from 105.4 to 117.4, average daily planetary A index increasing from 7.3 to 9.4, and average daily mid-latitude A index up from 5.6 to 6.4.

Predicted solar flux for the near term is 110 and 105 on February 12-13, 105 on February 14-16, 111, 100, 105 an...

Amateur Radio Parity Act Gets Favorable Subcommittee Report [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

On a voice vote, the US House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology has sent the Amateur Radio Parity Act, H.R. 1301, to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee with a favorable report for further consideration. The measure was among three bills the Subcommittee considered during a February 11 "markup" session. The Subcommittee is chaired by Rep Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR).

“I’m optim...

India Halts Free Facebook Plan [Tech Tent]

The row over US firms' attitude to India after Facebook's free net access plan is blocked. Plus how toy giant VTech wants parents to accept their kids' data could be hacked. And Diffbot, the company trying to teach robots to read the Web. Presented by Rory Cellan-Jones, with special guest Professor Angela Sasse. (Image: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook, Credit: Getty Images).

FriComedy: The News Quiz 12 Feb 16 [Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4]

Series 89 of the satirical quiz. Miles Jupp is back in the chair, trying to keep order as an esteemed panel of guests take on the big (and not so big) news events of the week. This week's programme comes from Bristol and Miles is joined by Jeremy Hardy, Susan Calman, Justin Moorhouse and Steve Lamacq. Producer: Richard Morris A BBC Radio Comedy Production

Scanning Borders, Israel Surveys New Reality of Tunnels and Terror [Blazing Cat Fur]

Israel fence

MOUNT HERMON, Golan Heights — Israel’s military commanders are rethinking their concept of border security as they watch the reality of what is happening on the other side changing in front of their eyes.

With new terrorism, violence and chaos engulfing the Middle East, it is clearer than ever to them that nonstate actors with sophisticated weapons and technology have replaced the threat from Arab armies, forcing Israel to weigh differently the advantages of preventive strikes against the risks of setting off the next war.

Aleppo Notebook: the city’s terrorist besiegers will now be besieged [Blazing Cat Fur]

syria aleppo

Again and again I was asked: why is Britain supporting the terrorists in Syria’s civil war

Capture Of U.S. Sailors Reenacted At Celebrations Of Iran’s 1979 Revolution [Blazing Cat Fur]

Iran reenacts capture of US Sailors

The capture of 10 U.S. sailors by Iranian forces last month was reenacted at rallies in Iran celebrating the anniversary of the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Images published by Iranian news agencies and shared on social media show actors in fatigue pants walking in the streets, some with their hands tied and with chains around their necks.

An Arab Right to Back Terrorism? [Blazing Cat Fur]

Diversity in Toronto

In recent months, the news has been filled with stories alleging that Israeli democracy is in decline. The coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been accused of subverting the rights of political opponents and dissenters as well as those of the country’s Arab minority. While these charges are untrue, they do point to the unfortunate and unique position that Israel is placed in as a thriving and lively democracy that simultaneously seeks to defend itself while also guaranteeing equality before the law to a minority group that has, at best, equivocal feelings about the Jewish state’s survival.

Turkey’s immigrant problem could soon become ours [Blazing Cat Fur]


In Istanbul, signs of the Syrian influx are everywhere. Syrian mothers sit on pavements clutching babies wrapped in blankets; children from Homs, Syria’s most completely devastated city, push their way through packed tram carriages begging for coins. Arabic adverts offer rooms for rent. It’s almost inconceivable how many Syrians Turkey has taken in as refugees — around 2.5 million of them so far. That’s almost three times the number who have sought refuge in Europe. And while the Turks are hospitable, Turkey has more than any country should bear. Yet still more refugees arrive. This is a serious cause for concern, not just in Turkey but in Brussels too, because if Turkey can’t cope, their migrant problem will quickly become ours.

My Open Letter to Ottawa’s Mayor Jim Watson re ‘Hijab Day’ [Blazing Cat Fur]


The Honorable Mayor, Jim Watson,

I hope you will take the time to listen to my concerns about “Ottawa Hijab Day” scheduled in Ottawa, Feb 25th, 2016 and that you will give serious consideration to my request outlined below.

I am someone who believes in information and education. What reasonable person could possibly object to an event which promotes “education, acceptance and tolerance”? Unless, of course, the “education” was disinformation; the “acceptance” was acceptance of a superordinate (according to Islamists) legal system (i.e. Sharia Law) that is contrary to our democratic values and human rights; the “tolerance” was tolerance of an extremist ideology that condones honour killings, FGM and treatment of women that is incompatible with Canadian values.

The Ultimate Minority Right [Blazing Cat Fur]

Uneven scale

In recent weeks, I kept meaning to write up a stylized history of the evolution of political ideology over recent centuries. But my examples—why Andrew Jackson rather than Alexander Hamilton will get booted off the currency, how Spike Lee learned painfully to start denouncing Hollywood for being run by whites and stop denouncing it for being run by Jews, and why democracy in Poland is undemocratic—grew into entire columns.

In Search of Fixes for a Fossilized Economy [Blazing Cat Fur]

Bad Economy

The U.S. economy grew at an anemic rate of less than 1 percent in the last quarter of 2015.

While the unemployment rate has dipped below 5 percent, the all-important labor force participation rate is at a historic low of just 62.7 percent. More than 90 million able-bodied adults are either not currently in the labor force or have stopped looking for work altogether.

Hillary Fights to Keep Wall Street Speeches Secret [Blazing Cat Fur]

hillary clinton liar woman

The campaign of class-warrior Hillary Clinton is pushing the panic button over the prospective release of secret transcripts of high-dollar speeches she made to Goldman Sachs that threaten to portray her as a two-faced un-progressive Wall Street elitist who is out of touch with the common people.

Clinton, Sanders debate as focus turns to minority voters [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated again Thursday night as the focus turned to minority voters influential in contests later this month in South Carolina and Nevada.

John Kasich, the rise of the Republican ‘moderate’ [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Ohio Governor John Kasich surged to second place in the Republican primary in New Hampshire on Tuesday as voters there embraced his message of bipartisanship and compromise.

Onus on Russia to 'save' Syria peace process [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

France and Germany said Friday that the latest peace plan drawn up by world powers for a ceasefire between Syrian government forces and rebels within a week can only work if Russia stops airstrikes in support of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Pope and Russian patriarch urge action for Mideast Christians [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill on Friday called on the international community to protect Christians under assault in the Middle East, in apparent reference to violence by the Islamic State group.

‘Wall of love’ heals Paris neighbourhood scarred by terrorism [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Steps away from two establishments targeted by terrorists during last year’s gruesome Paris attacks, local residents, children and street artists have pulled together to overcome the trauma through art.

French authorities to move 1,000 migrants from Calais 'Jungle' camp [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Local French government authorities said Friday they would move up to 1,000 migrants living in the notorious Jungle camp in the northern port town of Calais.

ICC dismisses testimony linking Kenya’s Ruto to post-election violence [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Judges at the International Criminal Court dealt a major blow to prosecutors trying to convict Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto over post-election violence by ruling on Friday that some testimony against him was inadmissible.

France’s Green Party in disarray after its leader joins Hollande's government [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

France’s Green party has disowned leader Emmanuelle Cosse after she accepted the position of housing minister in Thursday’s cabinet reshuffle.

Republicans 'asked Iran to delay prisoner swap' until after US election [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Members of the US Republican Party asked officials in Tehran to delay a January prisoner swap until after the 2016 presidential election, an Iranian admiral told FRANCE 24 on Thursday.

Video: Can love finally beat the caste system in Senegal? [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

In Senegal, genealogy is not to be taken lightly. A rigid social hierarchy sometimes thwarts blossoming romances. We bring you a 26-minute documentary on these "forbidden" loves.

Deadly attack targets UN mission in northern Mali [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Gunfire and explosions tore through a UN peacekeeping camp in the northern Malian city of Kidal on Friday, killing at least six people, according to officials.

Video: 40 years on, Franco's ghost still haunts Spain [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Forty years after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, Spain is still unable to fully move on from its past. The population remains deeply divided between pro and anti-Franco camps. Our reporters went to Madrid to meet those still affected by the memory of El Caudillo.

Clinton, Sanders debate as focus turns to minority voters [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated again Thursday night as the focus turned to minority voters influential in contests later this month in South Carolina and Nevada.

Islamic State group has used chemical weapons, says CIA chief [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

CIA director John Brennan has said that Islamic State fighters have used chemical weapons and have the capability to make small quantities of chlorine and mustard gas, CBS News reported Thursday.

NY cop found guilty in 2014 fatal shooting of unarmed black man [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

A jury on Thursday found a rookie New York police officer guilty of manslaughter in the 2014 fatal shooting of an unarmed black man -- an incident that fueled US protests against police tactics.

Photo of the Day: Burglar in Rough Shape After Run-in With Texas Homeowner [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Man, talk about an ass-kicking.

A Longview resident thwarted a home invasion Monday. Mugshots of the alleged burglar show he apparently took a beating in the process.

Kevin Mitchell Gonzales, 28, was arrested after police say he engaged in a scuffle with a homeowner after trying to enter the dwelling through the garage. CBS 19 in East Texas reported that during the fight Gonzales pulled out a pistol and fired shot. The homeowner then removed the pistol from the suspect and managed to restrain him until police arrived.

The homeowner was not injured.

Unless he broke his hand on the dude’s face.  Day-um.

Bullseye: Clinton Sycophants Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell Butthurt Over Brilliant Ted Cruz ‘Office Space’ Ad Skewering Hillary [Jammie Wearing Fools]

This brilliant spot has been trending on Twitter most of the day, with very few people objecting; mostly humorless lefties. Speaking of which, Clinton campaign aides Chuck Todd and Andrea Rodham Mitchell expressed their displeasure.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Ted Cruz has had very edgy, clever, some would say, ads. But there’s a question. I just want to play part of this Office Space spoof for you. Because I was talking to a political science professor just yesterday about civility and discourse in this campaign. We talked about profanity, a lot of other obvious issues and then this pops up.

[Clip of Ted Cruz “Office Space” ad.]


CHUCK TODD: That was a little rough. That was a little uncomfortable to watch.

MITCHELL: Yeah!  First of all, Ted Cruz is not running against Hillary Clinton yet. And I just think the parody is great in politics or anything, but —

TODD: Whatever. There was the line. That looked vicious. It was sort of, whatever it is, whatever that line —

MITCHELL: I’m not sure it plays in South Carolina, the Bible Belt.

TODD: I’m not sure if it does either. I don’t know if it does either.

They’re not the target audience, you idiots.

If this was a Democrat ad roasting a Republican there’d be guffaws all over the place and it would be running on an endless loop at MSNBC. But it shreds their sacred cow and the butthurt is palpable.

Cruz helpfully made the entire clip available:

Police Baffled After Guy Named Mohammad Goes on Machete Rampage at Ohio Deli [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Move along, nothing to see here. Weird how these things always happen after Obama lectures us about Islamophobia.

Police shot and killed a man who stormed into a central Ohio restaurant wielding a machete and randomly attacking people as they sat unsuspectingly at their dinner tables, authorities said.

Four people were injured in the brutal attack Thursday evening at Nazareth Restaurant and Deli, a Mediterranean restaurant in Columbus. The victims were taken to an area hospital and were expected to recover.

CBS News has learned that investigators have identified the suspected attacker as Mohammad Barry. CBS News homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues reports that investigators were running down leads to try to determine if the attack was somehow tied to terrorist organizations.

“There was no rhyme or reason as to who he was going after,” said Columbus police Sgt. Rich Weiner.

Police said the man walked into the restaurant, had a conversation with an employee and then left. He returned about a half hour later. That’s when police said he approached a man and a woman who were sitting just inside the door at a booth and started the attack.

Pegues reports the suspected attacker has a Somali background, and officials believe he may have traveled to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in 2012. Pegues reports that law enforcement is concerned that this incident has the hallmarks of the type of so-called “lone wolf” terrorist attack that they have been working to stop.

Police said employees and patrons tried to get the man to stop.

“Some of the patrons there started throwing chairs at him just trying to get him out of there,” Weiner said.

The man eventually fled the scene in a white car and led police on a short chase. Officers forced the man off the road a few miles away and when he got out of his car police said they tried unsuccessfully to use a stun gun on him.

Weiner said, “At that point he had a machete and another knife in his hand and he lunged across the hood at the officers.”

That’s when police said an officer shot and killed the man.

It remained unclear what sparked the attacks.

“Right now there’s nothing that leads us to believe that this is anything but a random attack,” said Weiner.

Sure. Just a random attack by a guy named Mo. Totally baffling. Now we’ll hear about police brutality or something.

Total mystery.

Ted Cruz Ad Brutalizes Hillary: ‘Damn It Feels Good to be a Clinton’ [Jammie Wearing Fools]

A fantastic take on a classic scene from Office Space.

Cruz’s ad people know what they’re doing, that’s for sure.

We’ve Failed Him: Obama Says Washington is ‘Depressing’ [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Here’s a solution: Leave.

President Obama, while taping an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Thursday, said that he doesn’t really miss campaigning except for one aspect of it: Getting out of Washington, “which can sometimes be a little depressing.”

“Well to get out of Washington or what part is depressing?” DeGeneres asked.

“Well, Washington,” he said, drawing some laughs at the deadpan delivery.

Obama was in Los Angeles on Thursday for an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and apair of fundraisers in Hancock Park, before spending the weekend in Palm Springs.

He also talked about gay rights, saying that “one of the things I’m proudest of because my whole political career has been based on the idea that we constantly want to include people and not exclude them.” He praised DeGeneres, telling her, that “changing hearts and minds I don’t think anybody’s been more influential than you on that. I really mean it.”

Except he never supported gay rights until it was politically expedient a few years ago. What a fucking fraud.

Trump Snags Coveted Harry Reid Endorsement: ‘He’s Authentic’ [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Quite obvious who Democrats want to see in the general election. A guy who donated heavily to Harry Reid.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday praised Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for speaking his mind and being “authentic.”
“You may not agree with his authenticity, but he’s authentic. People like that. He speaks his mind, which reminds me of me once in a while. I think that’s something that’s refreshing,” Reid said, according to CNN.
“He just says whatever he thinks is appropriate. I think some of the stuff is not so good but he does that. People identify with that,” he added.
Although Trump’s style wouldn’t “sell very well” with Democrats, Reid said, it’s resonating with Republicans.
Reid also slammed Trump’s rival Marco Rubio for continually saying the Democrats are scared to run against him. Reid laughed when asked whether the Democrats were worried about Rubio.
Yeah, they have no fear of Rubio, which explains why Clinton operatives were chasing him around in New Hampshire with cheesy robot outfits. Meanwhile, back in the real world, Ted Cruz unveiled a new ad blasting the liberal Trump. It’s very effective:

Cold as Ice: Grandma’s Aide (Mrs. Weiner) Shoves Away Woman Looking for a Hug [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Probably just a bit upset what with being under federal investigation for handling classified emails.

Cameras caught top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin apparently shoving away a woman who tried to hug her after Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate.

It’s not immediately clear who the woman was. The video shows the woman hugging and briefly chatting with Clinton on the stage after the debate. She then moves toward Abedin.

When the woman tries to hug her, Abedin apparently pushes her away and moves on.

Watch this video on YouTube.

What a nasty bitch.

Florida Phys Ed Teacher Sends Students Nude Snapchat Photos and Drunk Dials Them [Jammie Wearing Fools]

What’s wrong with kids these days they can’t keep their mouths shut and enjoy their good fortune?

A physical education teacher in Florida has been fired after she allegedly sent naked Snapchats to multiple students and called them up when she was drunk.

Dionne Younce, 28, was let go from her position at Allen D Nease High School in Ponte Vedra following an investigation into her sexual misconduct.

A number of students – including members of the football team – came forward claiming she had sent them nude pictures.

In one, she was allegedly only wearing a bra.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, one student the communications were ‘casual’ at first but then turned sexual.

She then told the boy, who has not been named, not to talk about it as she didn’t want to get caught. 

Rule No. 1 when sending nude shots to kids: They’re not going to keep it to themselves.

Younce’s firing from her teaching and coaching job beaome official during a board meeting on February 9, St Johns County School District officials confirmed.

Younce, who was hired by the district at the beginning of this school year, was put on paid leave on January 20.

District spokeswoman Christina Langston would not describe the type of communications – via text or social media – but said it involved more than one student and multiple messages.

At least three students indicated that Younce allegedly texted and direct-messaged some students, written statements given to school district investigators said.

The written statements also mentioned students following Younce on Twitter and that she added students on Instagram and Snapchat.

One student’s account said that he had a relationship with Younce that started as subtle flirtation on the phone to ‘sexual snapping’, where the two would send nude photos to each other.

The high school football player claimed that while attending a basketball game, he and a fellow teammate both received the same Snapchat photo of Younce only wearing a bra.

The teen and another male student wrote in their statements that they hadn’t had sex with the teacher, though there had been rumors at the school that they had. 

Johns County Sheriff’s deputies escorted Younce out of the high school on January 20 for ‘possible sexual misconduct’ with students, a police report said.

Just a hunch, but she may have some alcohol issues:


The media’s blindness to Bernie’s socialist extremism is telling [Jammie Wearing Fools]

On NPR, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne saw it as positive: “Let’s list two names who we don’t get to talk about, Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas. This is the most serious socialist candidacy for president since they ran. But Bernie Sanders has a long list of particulars that he wants to put on the table, and I think by shifting the campaigns to economics, he will generally help Democrats.”

Yes, the media elite, which eternally predicts the Tea Party and the Christian conservatives will destroy the Grand Old Party, could only see better days ahead for Democrats with a self-described socialist contender in the race.

Sanders reminds conservatives of that appendix in Milton Friedman’s 1980 book “Free to Choose” where he underlines that most of the 1928 Socialist Party platform of Norman Thomas was already part of the American federal establishment when President Reagan began his tenure.

The Democrats distance themselves from the word “socialist,” but continue marching the country toward its definition.

The usually servile Chris Matthews has offered one important contribution in recent months by asking leading Democrats to name the difference between a Democrat and a socialist, only to watch them babble and bumble over their barely suppressed ideology.

DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to change the subject to the difference between Democrats and “right-wing extremist” Republicans. Sen. Charles Schumer protested, “I’m not going to get into it.” Hillary said, “You’d have to ask him [Sanders].”

Journalists like Karen Tumulty at The Washington Post have described the Democratic base as torn between their idealistic (socialist) heart for Sanders and their poll-calculating head favoring Clinton. So the more that the garbage barge of ethical scandals casts a pall over Clinton’s image, the more tempting it is for Democrats to toss out the caution and go crazy for the capital-S socialist.

Full story.

The Fix Is In: CNN Somehow Avoids Asking Mrs. Clinton About FBI Investigation During Democrat ‘Debate’ [Jammie Wearing Fools]

How is it possible that a leading contender for president isn’t asked a question about being investigated by the FBI during a nationally televised debate? Could you imagine a Republican facing multiple criminal investigations skating by without any questions? Neither can we:

Oh well, when you look at who the “moderators” were, you can figure it out. Because it was “historic” or something.

Subpoenas? What subpoenas?

This seems liegitimate:

A Jewish skier’s picks: Prayer, kosher food and divine snow [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

An Israeli flag is posted at Deer Valley's Sunset Cabin every Friday afternoon to alert skiers to the weekly Kabbalat Shabbat service. (Uriel Heilman)

An Israeli flag is posted at Deer Valley’s Sunset Cabin every Friday afternoon to alert skiers to the weekly Kabbalat Shabbat service. (Uriel Heilman)

Jewish skiers now can find American mountains that serve kosher food, offer daily prayers and let you ski into a Kabbalat Shabbat service. Based on this reporter’s legwork, here are some destinations that Jews should consider checking out — even if just for the divine snow.

Whenever possible: Ski Utah.

Park City: After Vail Resorts bought Park City Mountain Resort and linked it to Canyons over the summer, the newly renamed Park City Mountain became America’s largest ski area, with 7,300 acres of terrain. Fortunately, there are 41 lifts (including one to zip you from the parking lot to the base area and one from the middle of town) and more than 300 trails to help you get to around.

Combine that with the 400 inches of snow that falls in Park City every year and that’s a lot of white stuff to bust up. The powder is practically everywhere you turn: In the groves of aspens that hold fluffy snow up to several days after a storm, between the scented pines in the mountain’s shadowed canyons and in mogul piles on the advanced trails.

Fortunately, there are 41 lifts (including one to zip you from the parking lot to the base area and one from the middle of town) and more than 300 trails to help you get in as many turns as possible.

Park City also has the nation’s only slope-side kosher restaurant, Prime at Canyons, and most days, there’s a daily Orthodox minyan prayer service next door.

Deer Valley: Cushy, well-groomed and ritzy, the mountain is home to America’s only ski-in, ski-out weekly Kabbalat Shabbat service, held every Friday afternoon. You’ve never been so elevated.

Snowbasin: If you’re looking for something off the well-trod tourist path, try this local secret — one of about 10 large ski areas within an hour’s drive of Salt Lake City (and not to be confused with the better-known Snowbird ski resort). Because there are no hotels near Snowbasin (the closest ones are in Ogden, 17 miles away), it’s almost never crowded.

The skiing there is superlative — it was the site of the downhill, combined and super-G races in the 2002 Winter Olympics — and just three lifts give you access to practically all of the mountain’s 3,000 calf-straining acres. For the experts, there’s also backcountry terrain. Just watch where you go. One wrong turn atop Allen Peak (elevation 9,465), and you’ll be headed all the way down to Ogden, at the bottom of the valley.

People skiing at Snow Basin, Utah.

People skiing at Snowbasin, Utah.

Otherwise, there’s plenty to ski back East, where most of America’s Jews live. 

Okemo Mountain Resort: There’s no getting around it. Skiing in the Northeast can be c-o-l-d. Nevertheless, when southern Vermont’s Okemo Mountain Resort opened North America’s first heated bubble lift in 2014, many hard-core skiers derided it as a lift for sissies. Then came the polar vortex, and they quickly got on board. Now, the resort has two bubble chairlifts, which both shield skiers from the biting New England winds and offer heated cushions for tush-warming.

Of course, no one comes to Okemo for the heat (there’s Miami Beach for that). The mountain is known for its groomed runs, relative proximity to New York (four hours by car) and kid-friendly amenities. For the little ones, there’s a slope-side tubing park, six magic carpet lifts and a 3,100-foot-long mountain coaster. For older kids, there are seven terrain parks and the longest halfpipe in the East: 18 feet high and 500 feet long. If you’re there for the skiing, Okemo is a well-suited to intermediates and beginners.

Mount Snow: If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, Mount Snow in southern Vermont has some pretty gnarly terrain, especially if you’re willing to brave the trees of the North Face. This reporter spent a good portion of his visit in those woods, schussing quietly through untouched snow, and only rarely screaming in primal fear while desperately maneuvering to avoid hitting a tree.

For something less hair-raising, try Mount Snow’s Main Face, which is loaded with intermediate trails and has great views of the valley below, weather permitting. Unless you’re a snowboarder, avoid the Corinthia section of the mountain. It’s all terrain parks.

Gore Mountain: Most New Yorkers who take ski vacations in the East mechanically head for Vermont or New Hampshire. But here’s why you should consider Gore Mountain, in North Creek, New York: Though little-known, it’s actually the Empire State’s largest ski area (439 acres), has a respectable vertical drop (2,537 feet from peak to base) and is almost never crowded.

Gore is run by a New York state agency, the Olympic Regional Development Authority, so it’s much less commercial than most ski areas. The base area harkens back to a bygone time before ski mountains became appendages for fancy hotels and ritzy shops. And because there’s very little lodging nearby, Gore hasn’t become a destination resort.

The downside is Gore is under-developed. The lifts tend to be slow, and you’ll probably have to sleep at least 30 minutes away – unless you snag one of the dozen or so rooms at the quaint Gore Mountain Lodge a couple of miles down the road.

The mountain itself is a lot of fun, with some scary-steep slopes on top and some beautiful, windy tree trails mid-mountain. If you time your visit right, you can even ski in the trees. Unfortunately, as of mid-February that would require the incredible feat of skiing on dirt. Pray for snow!

Hummus in Hanoi: Israeli chef brings Middle Eastern cuisine to Vietnam [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Israeli chef Shahar Lubin, owner of a Daluva, "Middle Eastern gastropub" in Hanoi, Vietnam. (Emily S. Adams)

Israeli chef Shahar Lubin, owner of Daluva, a “Middle Eastern gastropub” in Hanoi, Vietnam. (Emily S. Adams)

HANOI, Vietnam (JTA) — Shahar Lubin earned his culinary chops in Israel and, later the United States, cooking his way through more than 20 restaurants, starting at the age of 16.

Still, it was a leap when he moved to Vietnam and opened a restaurant of his own.

“I said, ‘I’ve been doing it for other people for so long, I might as well do it for myself,’” said Lubin, who operates Daluva, the first and only “Middle Eastern gastropub” in Hanoi, a city of 7 million with a lively street-food culture.

Lubin, 37, grew up in the Israeli village of Hararit, in the Galilee, and spent summers working as a shepherd. He said he began cooking as a social activity with boys in neighboring villages. In 2000, after serving in the Israeli army and living in Jerusalem, Lubin moved to Philadelphia, his father’s hometown, and began working his way up the restaurant food chain, from line cook to senior chef.

Working in a wide variety of kitchens, Lubin said he prepared everything from pub food to “contemporary Israeli” cuisine. At one point he worked in the same restaurant under three different incarnations.

“I was like a cat — I came with the building,” he said with a laugh.

But the long hours exacerbated a chronic back injury and Lubin grew desperate for a long break. Southeast Asia seemed like a logical place to get “recharged,” he said, partly because he liked what he knew of the region’s food. So Lubin traveled there in 2009 for what he thought would be a one-year sabbatical.

Lubin said he spent most of a year exploring Southeast Asian cities, including Bangkok, Thailand and Yangon, Myanmar.

“I’ve seen enough nature in my life, and I’ve seen enough dead ruins of dead civilizations,” he said flatly. “I like life.”

In Hanoi, Lubin met the owners of a Vietnamese restaurant group who were planning to open a Mexican restaurant. They offered to bring him on as a consultant.

The job didn’t materialize, but Lubin stayed in Hanoi anyway, working as a restaurant consultant, English teacher and freelance writer. In 2012, when a restaurant was folding in Hanoi’s upscale West Lake district, he took it over.

READ: From the archives: Israel’s friend in Hanoi

Daluva’s previous owner had created a menu of Asian and Western fare that Lubin describes as “nondescript.” So Lubin renovated the restaurant and relaunched it in 2013.

The menu now has Israeli favorites like hummus, falafel and shakshuka alongside American burgers and rib-eye steaks. But other items, such as the Tunisian salmon stew or “fancy pants pizza” — topped with pears, blue cheese and cured duck pancetta — make it difficult to neatly categorize the restaurant’s offerings.

That’s intentional, Lubin said — he deliberately cooks in a range of styles, and he used to bristle when Philadelphia journalists labeled him an “ethnic” cook.

At Daluva, bún chả — a traditional Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and noodles — is made with falafel. (Courtesy of Daluva)

At Daluva, bún chả — a traditional Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and noodles — is made with falafel. (Courtesy of Daluva)

“I try to divorce food from its origin and think, ‘What is the taste?’ not ‘Where is it from?’” he said on a recent weekday morning as he sat in Daluva’s unassuming, exposed-brick dining room.

Lubin said the vast majority of Daluva’s ingredients are sourced locally, and he likes to use them in unorthodox ways. His tagines use Vietnamese salted limes instead of lemons, for example; his taramosalata has Vietnamese fish sauce instead of salted fish roe.

Israel’s ambassador to Vietnam is among those impressed. “I find him to be a very creative chef,” Meirav Eilon Shahar said in a telephone interview.

Another Daluva fan, Peter Nacken, a German travel and food writer who lives near the restaurant, said it was nice to have a “creative food spirit” around the corner.

“With these kinds of platters, you don’t realize you’re eating vegetarian,” Nacken said on a recent evening at Daluva, surrounded by empty white plates. He and his family were sharing a meze platter that included a tabbouleh made with diced banana flower.

The dishes at Daluva are not elaborately presented. Lubin said his instinct is not to show off his culinary prowess in obvious ways, and to instead focus on creating a casual dining atmosphere.

“I guess it’s a Philadelphia attitude,” he said. “In Philadelphia, we don’t like things that are too frou-frou.”

READ: The rise of ‘Jewish-slash-something else’ restaurants

But Daluva’s food is full of subtle complexity. A “pulled” eggplant sandwich, for example, is Lubin’s intrepid variation of the pulled-pork classic. In a cooking process that requires 12 to 14 hours of labor, he said, the star ingredient is smoked, roasted, peeled, dry rubbed and dehydrated — all before it meets a homemade barbecue sauce. The result is a smoky, tangy creation that would please ranchers and vegans alike.

And every few months, Lubin creates a specials menu based around whatever strikes his fancy. Previous menus have celebrated — and, to a degree, reinvented — cuisines from Greece, New Orleans, Japan and beyond. Last month, he created what may be the world’s first Vietnamese-Israeli fusion menu for a Culinary Friendship Week sponsored by the Israeli Embassy.

A highlight of the menu was Lubin’s quirky reinterpretation of bun cha, a Hanoi street-food medley of grilled pork, vermicelli noodles and fresh herbs. Lubin nixed the pork and replaced it with falafel.

“It seems improbable to give bun cha an Israeli flavor,” Shahar said, “but he did it.”

The restaurant is tucked among the West Lake villas and serviced apartments of wealthy Vietnamese and expatriates. But a more traditional Vietnamese neighborhood — complete with swarms of honking motorbikes and street vendors wearing traditional conical hats — is just a few blocks away.

Daluva's "pulled" eggplant sandwich. (Trung Del)

Daluva’s “pulled” eggplant sandwich. (Trung Del)

Lubin said he may someday move his restaurant to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s other major city, which is generally seen as more cosmopolitan and may be more receptive to his Middle Eastern gastropub concept.

“I’m happy with our product,” Lubin said. But for anyone serving non-Vietnamese cuisine in Hanoi, he added, “it’s hard, apparently, to be successful here, consistently, unless you’re an Italian or Japanese restaurant.”

Nguyen Phuong Mai, 27, a Vietnamese food blogger in Hanoi who goes by the nickname Tho, said some of her friends regarded Daluva’s food as “strange” because it is so unfamiliar to their palates.

But Mai has traveled in Israel, she said, and she recognizes a good chef when she sees one. On her blog, Tho Loves Food, she has praised Daluva in glowing terms.

Some of Mai’s posts include extended musings on the nuances of Lubin’s ingredients, or similarities and differences between Vietnamese and Middle Eastern cooking. But a recent heading summed up her views in just a few words.

“Daluva – True gem in Hanoi – Must try,” she wrote.

At kosher ski restaurant in Park City, an avalanche of challenges [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Laurent Masliah runs the nation's only slopeside kosher restaurant, Prime at Canyons, in Park City, Utah. (Uriel Heilman)

Laurent Masliah runs the nation’s only slopeside kosher restaurant, Prime at Canyons, in Park City, Utah. (Uriel Heilman)

PARK CITY, Utah (JTA) – Laurent Masliah likes wine as much as the next Frenchman.

But that’s not why he bought up every last bottle of kosher wine in the state of Utah and is desperately angling for more.

Masliah is the general manager of Prime at Canyons, the nation’s only kosher slope-side restaurant. It’s located in this glitzy Utah ski town at the base of what is now America’s largest ski area – thanks to a gondola, completed last summer, that links Canyons with next-door Park City Mountain.

Between the good food, fantastic skiing and lack of any kosher competition for hundreds of miles in any direction, Prime is doing brisk business. But because the only way to purchase wine in Mormon-majority Utah is via state liquor stores, Masliah is in a bind. He just doesn’t have enough of the stuff. The order he placed three weeks ago with the state store, as required by law, still hasn’t come through.

“I have no cabernet. I’m running low on merlot,” Masliah told JTA in a recent interview at the restaurant. “At this point, I want to make sure I have at least a glass of red and a glass of white to offer customers. My ambitions have sunk pretty low.”

Getting kosher wine is just one of the many unique challenges of running a kosher restaurant on a ski mountain in a remote Western state with hardly any Jews.

There are others. For starters, all the meat and specialty kosher items are trucked in from New York, where the restaurant company’s headquarters and lead eatery, Prime Grill, are located. Getting a mashgiach, or kosher supervisor, in Park City wasn’t easy; there’s almost no Orthodox Jewish population in Utah to speak of (though there are Chabad centers in Park City and Salt Lake City).

READ: At Utah’s on-slope Shabbat service, ski boots required

Park City Mountain in Utah, where America's only kosher slopeside restaurant is located, is also the nation's largest ski area, at 7,300 acres. (Uriel Heilman)

Park City Mountain in Utah, where America’s only kosher slopeside restaurant is located, is also the nation’s largest ski area, at 7,300 acres. (Uriel Heilman)

Even finding waitstaff is a problem. Most young people who come to Utah for winter are ski bums; waiting tables is a secondary occupation. One of the restaurant’s waitresses was put of commission early in the season after she shattered her ankle skiing. She was back after several weeks, but had to serve while hobbling around on a walking cast. Another waitress is the mashgiach’s wife; the couple, from New York, decided to come to Utah as an adventure.

When it comes to cooking, there are the vicissitudes of preparing food at a high altitude – in this case, 6,800 feet elevation. Baking takes longer, dough rises faster and some dishes require longer cooking times because water boils at a lower temperature. Then there’s the problem of exploding food packages. Because air pressure is lower and gases expand at higher altitudes, bags of chips and other foods often burst open during shipping.

“I was very surprised by how many effects there are to the altitude,” said Masliah, 46, who worked as a ski instructor in France when he was 18. “Almost everything has to be cooked slightly differently.”

Though there has been a kosher restaurant at this site in Canyons’ Silverado Lodge since 2012, this is the eatery’s debut season under the ownership of Prime Grill, one of New York’s premier kosher establishments. (The previous restaurant, called Bistro at Canyons, was run by the resort).

Joey Allaham, owner of the Prime Hospitality Group, said that when he first decided to buy the restaurant this fall – at the behest of Vail Resorts, which owns Park City Mountain and whose CEO, Rob Katz, is a graduate of Ramaz Jewish day school in New York — his wife told him he was crazy. Allaham, a 41-year-old Jew who grew up in Syria and now lives in New York, knew nothing about snow until he came to the United States.

But after he opened Prime at Canyons in early December and flew out to Utah to see how things were going, he said he encountered a level of customer appreciation he had never experienced before.

“When people come down from skiing, all they want to do is have a piece of meat,” Allaham told JTA. “I never saw such excitement in people’s faces to see food. They told me they never had something like this – real kosher food at the mountain. They were used to surviving on tuna fish sandwiches and protein bars.”

READ: A Jewish skier’s picks: Prayer, kosher food and divine snow

The menu at Prime at Canyons has some commonalities with Prime Grill: There’s the steak filet ($49), slow-cooked lamb ribs ($54) and mustard-crusted salmon ($40). But the menu is also adapted for the simpler dishes skiers tend to crave after a day on the slopes, according to Laurent: chili ($18), burgers ($29), nachos ($17), chicken pot pie ($36). It’s less fine dining and more comfort food, he said, and the Utah menu is a bit less expensive than the New York menu.

Prime at Canyons is only open for dinner, but kosher skiers can buy Prime’s prepared kosher sandwiches and wraps (tuna, egg salad, turkey, pastrami, roast beef, peanut butter and jelly) during the day at the mid-mountain Red Pine Lodge. Prime at Canyons also is open on Shabbat, for those who pre-order meals.

Most days, there’s a daily Orthodox minyan prayer service next door, at 4000 Canyons Resort Drive (visitors can sign up online), thanks to the popularity of the ski area and the stewardship of Rabbi Yudi Steiger of Park City’s Chabad.

Despite the myriad challenges, Allaham says the restaurant has been a financial success. And though Masliah has his hands full at night in the dining room, he still has found time to “moonlight”: During the day, he’s a ski instructor on the mountain.

Jordan’s king: Solving Israeli-Palestinian conflict necessary to defeat ISIS [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Jordan's King Abdullah II, speaks during the opening session of the World Economic Forum in Southern Shuneh at a Dead Sea resort 22 miles west of Amman, Jordan, May 15, 2009.  (Hussein Malla/AP Images)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II, speaks during the opening session of the World Economic Forum in Southern Shuneh at a Dead Sea resort 22 miles west of Amman, Jordan, May 15, 2009. (Hussein Malla/AP Images)

(JTA) — The Islamic State cannot be defeated until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved, Jordan’s king said.

Speaking Friday at the Munich Security Conference, an international gathering of foreign and defense policy leaders held in Germany, King Abdullah II said, “Left unresolved, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will become a religious conflict of a global dimension,” according to the Times of Israel.

Abdullah noted that the “festering injustice” of the unresolved conflict “continues to be exploited by [ISIS] and its kind.

“Left unresolved, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will become a religious conflict of a global dimension. And it is only a matter of time before we may be faced by yet another war in Gaza or in south Lebanon,” he said. “This is why reaching a two-state solution should remain a priority for us all.”

Abdullah also called for “a new level of global action” focused on defeating ISIS.

“We, as Arabs and Muslims, have a responsibility and duty to be in the lead in the fight against the Khawarej, or outlaws of Islam. This is a war to protect our religion, our values and the future of our people,” he said, “but it must be global in partnership, just as it is global in scope.”

Ex-settler leader Dayan still Brazil envoy pick, Israel says [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — Israel is denying reports that it plans to withdraw a former settler leader as its proposed ambassador to Brazil.

For six months, Brazil has refused to accept the appointment of the ambassador, Dani Dayan. Dayan, who lives in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, is a past leader of the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

On Friday, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said, “The official Israeli position is Dayan is the person appointed, and we expect the Brazilian authorities to agree to the appointment,” according to the Times of Israel.

Nahshon’s statement came a day after Brazil approved Israel’s new consul general, and five days after Tzachi Hanegbi, the chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, suggested the Israeli government was retreating from its insistence on Dayan being the envoy.

Brazil has said it objects to Dayan’s appointment in part because his name initially was made public on social media rather than though diplomatic channels. The government has also expressed discomfort with Dayan’s ties to the Yesha Council.

A native of Argentina, Dayan immigrated to Israel as a teenager.

French rabbi, Muslim rapper to release song for murdered Jew [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — A rabbi and a Muslim rapper announced the release in France of a song against racism that they co-produced ahead of the 10-year anniversary of the anti-Semitic murder of Ilan Halimi.

Coco TKT, a well-known rapper who converted to Islam after spending several years in prison for robbery, collaborated with Rabbi Michel Serfaty of Ris-Orangis north of Paris to perform the clip, which the two intend to release online on Feb. 13 – the date on which Halimi, a cell-phone salesman who was kidnapped and tortured because he was Jewish, was found dying in a field outside the French capital.

“A rabbi who goes to prison to look for a rapper who converted to Islam to sing with him for the sake of coexistence it a pretty crazy undertaking,” Coco TKT told the Le Parisien weekly, which reported on the initiative Friday. “But I think he was right: Rap can be the vehicle through which young people can be reached in France.

“Ilan Halimi is the proof that one must must act to fight against anti-Semitism and all that separates the people and communities,” said Coco TKT, whose real name is Julien Cocoa. According to the weekly, he was released last year from prison.

“Rap is used to disseminate many negative messages, but it can also become a tool to reach young people,” said Serfaty. The 72-year-old rabbi and the 30-year-old rapper have collaborated in the past, and are both members of a non-profit Association for Friendship between Muslims and Jews in France, or AJMF.

Separately, the Haverim Jewish organization held a ceremony commemorating Halimi, 26 at the time of his death, on Thursday in a public garden named after him in Paris’ 12th district. Several hundred people attended the event.

People are confused why Bernie Sanders won’t own his Jewishness [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Bernie Sanders participatig in the PBS NewsHour Democratic presidential candidate debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Feb. 11, 2016. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Bernie Sanders participatig in the PBS NewsHour Democratic presidential candidate debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Feb. 11, 2016. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Toward the beginning of Thursday night’s Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders had the perfect opportunity to tout that he would be the first Jewish president.

Asked whether he’s worried about blocking the inauguration of the first female president, the Independent Vermont senator pointed out that he too would make history if voted into the White House.

“Well, you know, from a historical point of view, somebody with my background, somebody with my views, somebody who has spent his entire life taking on the big money interests — I think a Sanders victory would be of some historical accomplishment as well,” he said.

By “background and views,” Sanders ostensibly meant that he’s  a 74-year-old Jewish socialist from New York with more than a hint of a Brooklyn accent.

Sanders roots have garnered growing attention as he’s risen in the polls. In the past week, there’s been the revelation about the Israeli kibbutz he worked on, his appearance on “Saturday Night Live” as Bernie Sanderswitzky, the hoopla around him becoming the first Jew to win a presidential primary in New Hampshire and his televised return to his Brooklyn neighborhood.

READ: Why Bernie Sanders isn’t beating Joe Lieberman on Jewish pride

But the Vermont senator still has yet to say the word “Jewish” on the national political stage, leaving some in the Jewish community disappointed — or simply confused.

As reported by Jewish Insider, an array of pundits and others took to Twitter during Thursday night’s debate to raise the question Why?

When the debate turned toward foreign policy — a policy area where Clinton has had the upper hand throughout the race — Sanders also managed to not say the word “Israel.”

Sanders may be focused on uniting Americans for a better future, but some Jews would clearly like to hear him acknowledge his past.

Free Robert Levinson, Senate appeals to Iran in unanimous vote [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Robert Levinson (Screenshot from YouTube)

Robert Levinson (Screenshot from YouTube)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution urging Iran to fulfill its pledge to help find Robert Levinson, a Jewish American who went missing in Iran in 2007.

Five Americans were released last month in a prisoner exchange with Iran timed to mark the launch of the implementation of the sanctions relief for nuclear rollback deal between Iran and six major powers. The Iranians said they would assist in tracking down Levinson; the Obama administration believes he is no longer in Iran.

The non-binding resolution approved Thursday, sponsored by Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, respectively a Democrat and a Republican from Levinson’s home state of Florida, “notes the pledges by current Iranian officials to provide their government’s assistance in the Robert Levinson case” and “urges Iran, as a humanitarian gesture, to intensify its cooperation in the Robert Levinson case and to share the results of its investigation into his disappearance with the U.S. government.”

Levinson, 68, of Coral Springs, Florida, a private detective and a former FBI agent, has been missing since disappearing from Iran’s Kish Island during what has since been revealed as a rogue CIA operation.

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., who represents Levinson’s southern Florida district, is advancing a similar motion in the U.S. House of Representatives. It was approved this week by the House’s Middle East subcommittee.

White House says it does not support ‘territories’ component of anti-BDS legislation [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Jewish winemakers inspecting grapes at a winery in the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion, Sept. 8, 2014. (Gershon Elinson/FLASH90)

Jewish winemakers inspecting grapes at a winery in the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion, Sept. 8, 2014. (Gershon Elinson/FLASH90)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration said it does not support the portion of a new trade law that requires actions against entities that boycott goods manufactured in the West Bank.

“As with any bipartisan compromise legislation, there are provisions in this bill that we do not support, including a provision that contravenes longstanding U.S. policy towards Israel and the occupied territories, including with regard to Israeli settlement activity,” the White House said in a statement Thursday.

The United States does not recognize the West Bank as belonging to Israel.

The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, aimed at removing unfair barriers to competitive U.S. trade, is otherwise acceptable in its current form, the White House said, and the president will sign it. Versions of the bill were passed last year by both chambers, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a reconciled version in December and on Thursday the Senate passed it as well.

The bill, in a lengthy section on promoting U.S. Israel trade, requires non-cooperation with entities that participate in the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, and reporting on such entities. The section includes within its definition of an Israel boycott actions that would target businesses in “Israeli-controlled territories.”

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee in a statement praised the bipartisan slate of lawmakers who advanced the anti-BDS provision, although the statement did not specify inclusion of the problematic “Israeli-controlled territories” language.

“The provision puts the U.S. firmly on record opposing BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) and supporting enhanced commercial ties between the United States and Israel,” it said. “It further establishes new requirements for administration reporting on an array of global BDS activities, including the participation of foreign companies in political boycotts of Israel. The provision also provides important legal protections for American companies operating in Israel.”

Dovish pro-Israel groups, including J Street and Americans for Peace Now, had advocated for the removal of he “Israeli-controlled territories” language.

The European Union, over strenuous Israeli objections, last year adopted a policy requiring the labeling of goods manufactured in Israeli settlements, a practice that would facilitate the targeting of settlement businesses. The Obama administration last summer said it would not object to the policy.

U.S. policy since the 1990s has also required distinct labeling of products manufactured in the West Bank; however, unlike the E.U. regulations, the rule applies not only to settlements, but to goods manufactured throughout the territory, including by Palestinians. Additionally, the George W. Bush administration on at least two occasions issued orders overriding the requirement, allowing goods manufactured in the West Bank to be labeled as made in Israel.

Separately, a bipartisan slate of lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation that would make it easier for state legislatures choosing to target BDS, authorizing the divestment of state monies from entities engaged in BDS.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Joe Manchin, D-W.V. in the Senate and Reps. Robert Dold, R-Ill, and Juan Vargas D-Calif., in the House, follows the passage recently of a bill in Illinois targeting BDS. “This bipartisan bill would authorize state and local governments in the United States to follow Illinois’s lead and divest from companies engaged in boycotts and other forms of economic warfare against Israel,” Kirk said in a statement.

The Illinois law specifies protections for companies operating in territories controlled by Israel, as do a number of other proposed bills circulating in legislatures throughout the country. A number of proposed state-level anti-BDS bills do not specify the territories.

Separately, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Thursday introduced legislation that would shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington until the Palestinian Authority has been proven to end incitement against Israelis, stops paying subsidies to the families of terrorists who are in jail or who have been killed, ends its bid to obtain statehood recognition in international forums outside the framework of negotiations with Israel and pulls out of the International Criminal Court, which is investigating war crimes charges against Israeli officials. Cruz is among the front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination.

The PLO has maintained an office in Washington since 1994, following the launch of the Oslo peace process.

Barry Manilow rushed to hospital following mouth surgery complication [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — Barry Manilow was rushed back to Los Angeles after a performance in Memphis because of complications from emergency oral surgery this week, a statement on his website said.

The 72-year old American-Jewish musician, known for hits “Mandy,” “Can’t Smile Without You,” “Could It Be Magic” and “Copacabana,” performed in Memphis on Wednesday, Reuters reported Friday. His next two concerts were canceled and are being rescheduled.

“Following a triumphant sold-out concert in Memphis, Barry Manilow was rushed back to Los Angeles due to complications from emergency oral surgery that Manilow had on Monday,” the statement posted on the singer’s website and his Facebook page on Thursday said.

Manilow’s latest album “My Dream Duets” has been nominated for a Grammy Award. Winners will be announced at a ceremony in Los Angeles on Monday.

“At this time it is unclear if Manilow will be able to attend the Grammy Awards” on Feb. 15, the statement said.

Season 4 Episode 3 [Linux Voice Podcast]

In this episode: There's going to be an Ubuntu tablet, complete with convergence. India says no to Facebok and Lincolnshire County Council has been attacked by ransomware. We've got some great Finds and an exciting freshly invented section.

NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN - English News at 21:01 (JST), February 12 [English News - NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN]

Jim Gilmore Suspends Presidential Campaign [Outside the Beltway]

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, whose campaign for President was largely ignored by the media, is suspending his campaign for President:

Former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore is ending his long-shot bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Gilmore suspended his campaign following a poor performance in the New Hampshire primary, which followed an even worse showing in Iowa, where he barely campaigned and was the choice of only 12 caucusgoers.

Since his campaign’s launch last July, Gilmore, 66, could lay claim to the dubious distinction of being the longest long shot in a GOP field that at one one time featured many of them. After participating in the opening Republican undercard debate in Cleveland last August, Gilmore didn’t make a debate stage again until Jan. 28 in Des Moines.

His quixotic bid back something of a social media curiosity. The hashtag #Gilmentum was regularly seen on Twitter, and Gilmore himself even seemed to embrace his status as social media curiosity, tweeting after the departures of Rand Paul and Rick Santorum from the GOP field after Iowa: “Started out as 1 of 17 GOP Candidates, now with Rand Paul & Rick Santorum out, 1 or 9. #StillStanding.”

Gilmore’s exit from the race marks the latest disappointing campaign in a political career that once elevated him to national prominence. Elected governor of Virginia in 1997, Gilmore was chosen by then-President-elect George W. Bush in December 2000 to take the helm of the Republican National Committee. His tenure as party chief, however, was rocky and brief, and after reportedly clashing with White House aides like Karl Rove, he resigned the post after just a year on the job.

Despite his previous government experience, Gilmore was largely ignored by the media and had the dubious distinction of being the only candidate excluded from all of the debates with the exception of the first and last undercard debates. Ostensibly, Gilmore was excluded because he failed to garner at least 1% in any poll but in many cases that appeared to be the case because he wasn’t included in the poll to begin with. Personally, my perspective always had been if they were going to have undercard debates to begin with there was no rational reason to exclude a former Governor and national party chairman from the mix of lesser-known candidates. Perhaps if he’d been invited he might have fared better in the polls, or at least gotten more media exposure.

Trump Holds Lead In South Carolina [Outside the Beltway]

The first new poll to be released since the New Hampshire shows Donald Trump holding on to a lead he’s had in the Palmetto State for several months now:

The poll showed support for Trump in South Carolina at 36 percent, followed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) at 20 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) at 15 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) at 11 percent.

This indicates only minor shifts in the South Carolina race following the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. When Opinion Savvy polled the state last month, it found Trump leading at 32 percent, followed by Cruz at 18 percent, Bush at 13 percent and Rubio at 11 percent.

With the addition of this new poll, the first one conducted in South Carolina since before the Iowa Caucuses, Trump remains in first place in the RealClearPolitics average at 37.3%, followed by Ted Cruz in second at 20.3%, Marco Rubio in third at 14.0%, and Jeb Bush in fourth at 9.3%. Ben Carson stands in fifth place at 7.3% but his numbers have been consistently slipping in the state just as they have nationwide since November. Ohio Governor John Kasich, who garnered nine percent in the new poll, comes in last at 4.0% but he may start moving up given that this is the highest he’s ever polled in the state.  We can expect more polling out of South Carolina in the coming week, and especially after Saturday’s Republican debate.

Clinton And Sanders Tied In Nevada? [Outside the Beltway]

One of the first polls out of Nevada in six weeks purports to show Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders tied in Nevada just about a week before that state’s Democratic caucuses:

A Washington Free Beacon/TargetPoint Consulting poll released Friday shows between Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sander (I-VT) in Nevada. It’s the first poll conducted in the state this year.

The poll showed support for Clinton and Sanders tied at 45 percent of respondents.

This is the first poll of Democratic voters in the state by this pollster, as well as the first conducted there since December. Most previous polling showed Clinton holding a double-digit lead in the state, indicating a collapse in her support consistent with the rapid tightening of the race following Clinton’s narrow win in Iowa and substantial loss in New Hampshire.

As noted, there has been no polling in Nevada since before the end of last year, and very little before that, so it’s hard to tell if this is an outlier or and indication of just how much things have changed since Gravis polled there and found Clinton with a twenty-three point lead. Presumably, we’ll start to see other polls of the race in the coming days so we should get a better idea of what’s going on, and whether the Clinton campaign now has something to worry about in Nevada.

Clinton Gets Aggressive With Sanders In Wake Of New Hampshire Loss [Outside the Beltway]

With the race for the nomination now in full swing, Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders met for another debate in Wisconsin last night, and in with the shadow of a big loss just behind her Clinton was perhaps more aggressive against the Vermont Senator than she has been to date:

MILWAUKEE — Hillary Clinton, scrambling to recover from her double-digit defeat in the New Hampshire primary, repeatedly challenged the trillion-dollar policy plans of Bernie Sanders at their presidential debate on Thursday night and portrayed him as a big talker who needed to “level” with voters about the difficulty of accomplishing his agenda.

Foreign affairs also took on unusual prominence as Mrs. Clinton sought to underscore her experience and Mr. Sanders excoriated her judgment on Libya and Iraq, as well as her previous praise of former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger. But Mrs. Clinton was frequently on the offensive as well, seizing an opportunity to talk about leaders she admired and turning it against Mr. Sanders by bashing his past criticism of President Obama — a remark that Mr. Sanders called a “low blow.”

With tensions between the two Democrats becoming increasingly obvious, the debate was full of new lines of attack from Mrs. Clinton, who faces pressure to puncture Mr. Sanders’s growing popularity before the next nominating contests in Nevada and South Carolina.\

She is wagering that even voters excited by Mr. Sanders’s inspiring message will reconsider their support when they learn of his lack of experience in foreign policy and his vague explanations for how he will pay for his expansive government programs.

Mrs. Clinton pounced from the start, after Mr. Sanders demurred in saying how much his proposals would increase the size of the federal government. She stepped in and said that by economists’ estimates, the government would grow 40 percent under Mr. Sanders.

And rather than bashing him as she did at their debate last Thursday, she appeared to try to get under his skin by implying that he had not been transparent about the cost of his programs, such as his proposed expansion of government health care.

“This is not about math. This is about people’s lives, and we should level with the American people,” Mrs. Clinton said. She then repeated a jab at Mr. Sanders’s reputation as a truth-teller that she would return to during the debate: “You need to level with people about what they will have at the end of the process you are proposing. And based on every analysis that I can find by people who are sympathetic to the goal, the numbers don’t add up.”

“I don’t know what economists Secretary Clinton is talking to,” Mr. Sanders responded, insisting that families could come out with savings. “That is absolutely inaccurate.”

Mr. Sanders, who has exuded confidence since his New Hampshire win, raising more than $6 million in the 24 hours after the polls closed there, was more pointed and even belittling of Mrs. Clinton at times. He said bluntly that some of her attacks were wrongheaded, and he was dismissive after Mrs. Clinton talked about her plans to increase federal spending by about $100 billion a year. After Mrs. Clinton responded to a question by saying, “once I’m in the White House,” he began his next answer by saying, “Secretary Clinton, you’re not in the White House yet,” drawing some murmurs and jeers.

The candidates had one of their sharpest exchanges of the race when the moderators of the debate asked them what is typically a softball question: which leaders they admire. Mr. Sanders named Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, while Mrs. Clinton named Nelson Mandela — and then used the question to berate her opponent for his complaints about Mr. Obama over the years.

“The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president, I expect from Republicans,” she said. “I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination.”

Mr. Sanders called the comment a “low blow” and said that while he disagreed with Mr. Obama on occasion in the Senate, the president was a friend.


Mrs. Clinton’s pointed critique of Mr. Sanders was part of a new calculation by her campaign that the debate format, in which Mrs. Clinton excels, was the best way to draw attention to Mr. Sanders’s record and his minimal expertise in foreign policy. The role of commander in chief became another flash point on Thursday, when Mr. Sanders argued that his judgment was better than Mrs. Clinton’s, and more important than her experience. He criticized Mrs. Clinton’s 2002 vote to authorize the war in Iraq, her push to oust Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya and her consulting of Mr. Kissinger.

“I’m proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend,” Mr. Sanders said, saying Mr. Kissinger had enabled genocide in Cambodia under Pol Pot.

Mrs. Clinton turned the exchange back on Mr. Sanders, noting that he had sidestepped requests to identify his own foreign policy advisers.

“Well, it ain’t Henry Kissinger,” Mr. Sanders snapped back.

Mr. Sanders also criticized Mrs. Clinton for telling CNN in 2014 that the children who entered the United States from Central America should be sent back, a statement that made some young Latinos question her commitment to their communities.

“I made it very clear that those children needed to be processed appropriately,” Mrs. Clinton said. But she said the United States also had to send a message to parents “not to send their children on this dangerous journey in the hands of smugglers.”

“These are children,” Mr. Sanders said. “I don’t think we use them to send a message, I think we welcome them into this country.”

Mrs. Clinton, sensing her rival’s relative inexperience on world affairs, offered a somewhat belittling reply at one point in the exchange: “It’s a big, complicated world out there,” she said.

As Jonathan Martin notes in his analysis of the debate for The New York Timesthe shift in tone that Clinton seemed to be displaying at this debate appears to be aimed at reminding Democratic voters that the election had entered a more serious phase, and that however infatuated they may be with many of the ideas that Senator Sanders has expressed on the campaign trail, and which have drawn so many supporters to his side. This is something that Clinton has hinted at before, but she has not stated quite as specifically as she did last night, but it’s one that seems to have much truth behind it. Although she didn’t come right out and put it this way, the truth of the matter is that it’s highly unlikely that a President Sanders would ever really be effective at getting his ideas implemented. For one thing, Republicans are likely to continue their hold on the House of Representatives through the redistricting that will take place in the wake of the 2020 Census, and quite probably well beyond that absent the kind of wave election we saw in 2006 or 2010. Republicans could also continue to hold on to the Senate, or at least have a sufficiently large minority to be able to use the legislative filibuster to block legislation that would somehow make its way through the House. Furthermore, the nature of Senate elections over the next several cycles suggests that party control of the upper chamber is arguably just as likely to switch back and forth between Republican and Democratic control as it is to stay under the control of one party for an extended period of time. In any case, under these circumstances, the idea that Sanders, who has never successfully originated a bill that was signed into law in his entire legislative career, would be able to get things as complicated as “single payer” health care or “free” college tuition through Congress is really quite fanciful. We haven’t gotten to the point where Clinton is being this explicit in her critique of Sanders, but much of her rhetoric last night makes it clear that this is where she’s headed. Senator Sanders is great as an idealist, Clinton is saying to voters, but as a President he’d be utterly hopeless when it comes to getting anything done.

Clinton’s concentration on foreign affairs is also unsurprising. Whereas Clinton has experience in this area both from her time as a Senator and Secretary of State, this is an area in which Sanders has never really had much to say. Indeed, most of his commentary on the issue of foreign affairs on the campaign trail has been to criticize Clinton, both for her vote in favor of the Iraq War more than ten years ago and the decisions she supported during her time as Secretary of State such as the intervention in Libya. Even conceding that Sanders criticisms here are good ones, they don’t demonstrate much about his own positions on foreign policy or how he’d handle the various issues that would likely come up in the world were he to become President. Foreign affairs has been an area of weakness for Sanders before, both in debates and in one-on-one interviews, and the Clinton campaign obviously knows this, which is why she’s likely to continue hitting on this topic.

Generally speaking, it would appear that Clinton’s campaign is aiming to get Democratic voters to look past Bernie Sanders and his idealism and begin to focus on what can realistically be accomplished and who is best suited to achieving those goals. The hope, obviously, is that Democratic voters will conclude that it’s Clinton and her seemingly more pragmatic approach to politics that would best fit that bill. In that regard, the consensus from analysts who watched last night’s debate appears to be that Clinton won the night, but it’s unclear what impact this will have on the race going forward. So far at least, Democratic voters who have actually gone to the polls have appeared to be quite attracted to Sanders’ idealism. Now that we’re entering a more serious phase of the race, though, we may start to see voters become more serious about questioning who should really represent their party going forward. That, combined with what still appears to be an overwhelming advantage on Clinton’s part among minority groups, is what is likely to propel her past Sanders in the end. The only question is how much longer Democrats are going to continue feeling ‘the Bern.

News from Around New Zealand for 12 February 2016 [RNZ: News about New Zealand]

A summary of news around New Zealand over the past week.

Tagata o te Moana for 13 February 2016 [RNZ: Tagata o te Moana]

Vanuatu elects a new prime minister; Pacific island countries agree to offer the United States a modified deal to resolve the tuna treaty breakdown; The Tongan Prime Minister, 'Akilisi Pohiva, appears to be unconcerned about death threats that were revealed in parliament; Three Kiribati parliamentarians will face off in the presidential election set for next month; The Fiji prime minister Frank Bainimarama wants a new flag by July this year and it seems he'll get it. Radio Norfolk volunteer says he was sacked for telling the people something they needed to know; More than 30,000 people in French Polynesia have signed a petition urging a local referendum on French weapon tests carried out in the South Pacific between 1966 and 1996; Bougainville may move to formalise the alluvial mining industry and to boost tax coffers; Tonga's Olympic Committee denies being bankrupt and says it's on course to have full funding resumed from the IOC.

College Radio Watch: What Do You Think My 100th Radio Station Tour Will Be? [Radio Survivor]

In this week’s Radio Survivor Podcast, I talked about my ongoing radio station tour project. I’m nearing my 100th radio station tour, so I chatted with Eric Klein about the overall project and reflected back on some of my early station tours in 2008. When I first started to tour stations, my goal was to […]

The post College Radio Watch: What Do You Think My 100th Radio Station Tour Will Be? appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Donald Trump’s God Problem [RedState]


Donald Trump has a problem with God. Or more specifically, he has a ‘God problem.’ At least when it comes to voters in South Carolina, for whom Christian faith is often a requirement in a public official. This is simply the reality of the state, not a judgment on religion.

But Donald Trump is not credible when it comes to God. At least, not to folks who take the subject seriously, like they do in the First in the South state. And it already shows.

Last night, I attended an event for Senator Ted Cruz in Fort Mill, South Carolina. The rally was in a large church building, and was packed with people. The crowd was more than enthusiastic, and Rep. Steve King, special guest Glenn Beck, and of course Senator Cruz all included religious themes in their remarks. The crowd most definitely approved.

The event was jam-packed and the atmosphere was excited. The crowd broke into cheers and applause many times, and there were plenty of “testify” moments as members of the audience shouted back to Sen. Cruz, shouted out slams on Trump, or just plain whooped and hollered.

One thing that came up several times was Donald Trump’s authenticity on the subject, with both King and Beck specifically mentioning the Donald’s lack of credibility, even saying the idea that he had ever “cracked open” a Bible was “bullcrap.”

After the event, I asked a number of people what they thought, who they were voting for, and what they specifically thought of Trump.

One older couple really stood out for me. The wife was using a walker, and both were bundled against the cold. They took a minute to speak with me about who they were voting for, without using their names.

She told me that she had not decided yet who to vote for, but that she was now considering Ted Cruz for her vote. I asked her who else she had considered and she surprised me when she said Trump, though not enthusiastically. Her husband leaned forward to quickly say Trump more emphatically. I asked them both why they were now considering Ted Cruz, and she responded that he “seemed to know God better,” which I thought was a great line. Her husband nodded along with.

I was expecting a more definitive rejection of Trump from the crowd that cheered so loudly the talk of God and booed so thoroughly recounting of his recent comments and language. But generally those leaving were still soft in their opposition to Donald. The thing that was hanging them up was his faith.

Another woman was leaving on her own. Again, she was older and had a cane, though I suspect for health problems not age. I asked her the same questions and she told me that Trump was no longer a consideration for her, though he had been up until that night. I asked her why and she said “he doesn’t seem to know about the Bible.”

I got the same from a younger couple, who also described Trump as “awful”. I met a member of the military who left certain he was going to vote for Trump, but his girlfriend was for Cruz. Far out in the parking lot I met a group of four girls who seemed to be in their twenties, one of whom hollered out “dump Trump!” I asked her why, and she said he was “fake” about God.

The crowd inside was strong in their support of Ted Cruz and everything the speakers said. They did not in any way seem undecided. In the exodus afterward, nearly everyone who I asked about Trump refused to answer. A “don’t say anything if you can’t say anything nice” attitude still rules in Fort Mill, South Carolina. As a result, nearly all of the few people would talk to me still had, or had previously held, a soft spot for Donald Trump. But after this event, that soft spot was gone.

In South Carolina, faith matters. It is not some small quirk of the electorate. It’s a big deal. And Donald Trump’s overtures toward seeming to be a faithful, Bible-reading, God-fearing man aren’t selling. He’d probably be better off toning down his claim to faith. Right now, they see him as a liar. Both the crowd cheering when King called him a liar on faith, and the few people I met who still held some sympathy toward him. They just don’t buy Donald Trump as a Bible man.

The post Donald Trump’s God Problem appeared first on RedState.

BREAKING: Jim Gilmore To Suspend Campaign [RedState]

One of the most charismatic men of the 2016 campaign, a victim of both circumstance and Donald Trump, Jim Gilmore was never given a chance. But, here is Jim Gilmore being awesome.

However, The Hill is reporting that Gilmore is set to exit a stage he was never really on.

“My campaign was intended to offer the gubernatorial experience, with the track record of a true conservative, experienced in national security, to unite the party.” Gilmore said in a statement, first reported by the Washington Examiner.

“My goal was to focus on the importance of this election as a real turning point, and to emphasize the dangers of continuing on a road that will further undermine America’s economy and weaken our national security,” he added.

Gilmore received 12 votes in Iowa and 133 in New Hampshire. A 111% growth in each primary would have ensured a delegate at some point probably, however Gilmore read the writing on the wall. Or at least the Internet.

The field narrows.

The post BREAKING: Jim Gilmore To Suspend Campaign appeared first on RedState.

Donald Trump Was Right. Democrats Have Filed A Birther Lawsuit Against Ted Cruz [RedState]

AP Image AP_565594372356

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hurls obscenities at random people to energize his followers. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert; caption by me)

Okay. I admit it. I am not funny enough to come up with that line. I stole it.

If you aren’t following this guy on Twitter you are missing some fun.

On to our story.

Donald Trump supporters have filed a lawsuit challenging the eligibility of one of his primary rivals, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), to run for president.

The lawsuit, filed Feb. 3 at a district court in Alabama, seeks a judgment “declaring that Rafael Edward Cruz is ineligible to qualify/run/seek and be elected to the Office of the President of the United States of America” due to his Canadian birth.

Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada, to an American mother.

The five plaintiffs — Sebastian Green, Shannon Duncan, Kathryn Spears, Kyle Spears and Jerry Parker — are all backing Trump in the Republican primary, according to AL.com.

The lawsuit cites Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, which rules that “no person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of president.”

Under that clause, the plaintiffs claim, “Cruz is not a ‘natural born’ citizen of the United States of America.”

“Plaintiffs allege that at the time of Mr. Cruz’s birth, the United States could not confer citizenship upon him under any law or legal theory that exists,” the lawsuit states.

“‘Natural-born’ means native born within the United States or its dominions/territories,” it continues. “Canada is not a territory of the United States.”

I’m not going to get into the legal part of this argument beyond saying that John McCain and George Romney and, maybe, Chester A. Arthur, all had the same problem. Ultimately, this is a political issue and I would expect that the suit will be tossed for lack of standing. Quite honestly, if the House of Representatives certifies the election of President Cruz then he is a natural born citizen.

What is illustrative here is that Trump was really right. The Democrats in this race would file this lawsuit and they have. And they still threaten to.

The post Donald Trump Was Right. Democrats Have Filed A Birther Lawsuit Against Ted Cruz appeared first on RedState.

West Virginia GOP passes right-to-work, wage reform over Governor’s veto. [RedState]

[UPDATE: For more background information, see alecstates’s post here and Phillip Wegmann’s post here. They should help folks get up to speed on this topic. – ML]

Right to work

The GOP-controlled legislature passed right-to-work and a repeal of prevailing wage rules for government projects in West Virginia.  Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, promptly vetoed both.  And the legislature then just as promptly overrode his veto on both on strictly partisan lines (in West Virginia you only need a simple majority to do that). Excellent news!

…And it represents a lot of work.  A lot of effort – a lot of patient, frustrating, and decidedly not glamorous effort – went into breaking the Democratic party’s stranglehold on the government of West Virginia. People in the West Virginian Republican party have been trying to get to this point for decades. I mean that literally: as the Washington Post noted in 2014, we hadn’t had control of the West Virginia House of Delegates for eighty years.  But a rising tide lifts all boats.  The general movement towards the Republican party in state and federal elections nationwide pulled along West Virginia for the ride… and lo! Now that the West Virginia GOP is in a position to do something, they’ve done something. As has happened across the country, in fact.

I bring all of this up to remind people: things are not as bad as you have been told they are.  Yes, they’re bad.  The economy is stuck on neutral and the world is full of people who don’t really like us very much.  But. You are not alone and surrounded by a gathering darkness.  Everywhere across the country people just like you are repairing the damage and getting on with the job.  So you do not need anybody to rescue you. You can be the rescuers, and you don’t need anybody’s permission, example, or even leadership.  You can just go do it.

You merely have to, you know, not give into despair. Which is the one thing that nobody can do for anybody else.  It’s one of those fundamental moral choices that people have to work through on their own.

Moe Lane

PS: If you think that I’m primarily talking to any one particular candidate’s supporters, I humbly suggest that you stop for a second and ask yourself just why you thought that. And maybe whether it might be in somebody’s best interests that you did think that.

The post West Virginia GOP passes right-to-work, wage reform over Governor’s veto. appeared first on RedState.

John Kasich Lies About God [WATCH] [RedState]

Politicians tell a lot of whoppers, but some are obviously more blatant or galling than others. In John Kasich’s case, he doesn’t think small and goes straight for the top, as part of a smear against his opponents and a lie about himself. Take a look:

First, this article from the Wall Street Journal, hilariously titled ““Kasich: I’m a Conservative, But I Won’t Play the God Card”, where Kasich says:

“I don’t know why I can’t win conservative votes. I don’t know why I wouldn’t be able to win evangelicals. I don’t go out and try to win a vote using God. I think that cheapens God.”

Leon Wolf shows just how absurd this claim is given Kasich’s repeated religious appeals to date. But today we find that he is also continuing to do so after having made that statement.

Watch this video, courtesy Jason Hart:

My parents were killed by a drunk drive,r but my parents did not die in vain. I discovered my purpose by discovering the Lord.

A personal testimonial is not so terrible. I mean, it only sort of makes his God-card promise a lie. But he doesn’t stop there. Instead, he goes on to implicitly tie his faith to his candidacy.

“I believe the Lord put us on this earth to use the gifts that we’ve been given to bring about a healing. And, um, that’s the motivation for me.”

So he didn’t want to play the God card in New Hampshire, but a week or so later, he does. You see, because in South Carolina, this kind of thing matters. He lied about playing using God to promote his campaign.

Guess he’s trying to win a vote after all.

The post John Kasich Lies About God [WATCH] appeared first on RedState.

Ted Cruz, Homeschooling, S.306, Dishonesty and Pig-Ignorance [RedState]


One day, when I am acclaimed Galactic Commander, I will mandate a civics test before allowing people to vote and test of reading comprehension skills before allowing them to access the internet.

What is circulating now is a story that Ted Cruz supports the federal regulation of homeschooling. There are two underlying causes of this story: rank dishonesty and pig-ignorance.

Let’s set the baseline. Ted Cruz supports homeschooling. (So does Marco Rubio, btw.) His support has been full, clear, un-nuanced, and unequivocal.

Not all states, however, are supportive of homeschooling. And there are areas within certain states where the decision to homeschool your child will be accompanied by anonymous allegations of child abuse/neglect and a visit from Child Protective Services.

The crux of the issue: the Coverdell Education Savings Account. The Coverdell ESA works much like one of the standard 529 plans with this major exception: it allows you to set aside money that can be withdrawn tax free for high school and elementary school expenses. This is where homeschooling takes place and you can incur non-trivial expenses if you are homeschooling. Fourteen states have provided guidance that affirmatively define homeschooling as being the equivalent of elementary through high school education. Thirty-six states, however, are silent on the issue.

Why is this important. If you have a tax audit in one of those 36 states and you are a homeschool family that has set up a Coverdell ESA you will find yourself having to prove that your plan is allowed and that you aren’t liable for taxes and penalties. You may prevail. You may not. But it will be a stressful, expensive, and non-productive exercise. Moreover, a discrepancy like this allows the IRS to engage in rule-making and, given what we’ve seen of how they treat anything that looks vaguely conservative, they could very well put the plans off limits to homeschooling parents.

Enter Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and S.306 and proof that no good deed goes unpunished. The bill itself is very, very simple:

Amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to allow a state educational agency to allocate grant funds among local educational agencies based on the number of eligible children (children age 5 to 17 from a family with an income below the poverty level) enrolled in the public schools and the state-accredited private schools within each local agency’s geographic jurisdiction.

Amends the Internal Revenue Code to: (1) allow payment of home school expenses from Coverdell education savings accounts; (2) remove the dollar limitation on contributions to Coverdell education savings accounts and require such accounts to provide adequate safeguards to prevent contributions from exceeding the amount necessary to provide for the qualified education expenses of the account beneficiary; and (3) allow tax-exempt qualified tuition programs (529 tuition programs) to pay qualified pre-kindergarten, elementary, and secondary education expenses.

From this an assorted collection of poltroons and imbeciles have constructed the argument that this bill creates a “federal definition of homeschooling” and will subject homeschooling to federal regulation. That anyone would believe a bill written by Ted Cruz and Mike Lee would actually do that tells you all you need to know about the sheer number of idiots there are on the internet. Take this douchebaggery, for instance:

What’s so sinister about a tax-free education account? Simple: it’s a federal program that comes with federal government strings attached. Granted, the strings may not seem that onerous right now, but the shadows of tyranny are already looming. Currently, in order to use the funds tax-free, you must send your child to a school that is accredited and also able to receive federal student aid. If you use the funds outside of such parameters, you not only have to pay the taxes but penalties on top of them.

More importantly, what could these accreditation and federal-aid regulations portend for homeschoolers? Maybe very little at first, and maybe nothing, some supporters would even say. But remember that such regulations can be tweaked and redefined by activist administrations, no matter what Congress allegedly did or did not intend. Take the money, and you just signed a contract that could allow the federal government to impose mandates on curriculum and more. Common Core would be just the beginning. Under an executive-order-happy president like Obama (and they all are), you could easily have common core, evolution, and the gay agenda shoved down your throats, or else face steep fines.

Ummm… NO. It doesn’t do any of that stuff. The bill does not create either “accreditation” or “federal-aid regulations.” It simply amends the definition of a qualified Coverdell ESA expense in IRS regulations to specifically include homeschool expenses. The federal government cannot impose a curriculum. Common Core is imposed by the states upon themselves. More to the fact, the Coverdell ESA rules don’t require you to report the name of the school and the school district has no idea which kids are using the program.

Via Brian Skima at Erick Erickson’s The Resurgent:

Opponents of Cruz and S.306 argue that giving home schoolers access to education savings accounts creates federal regulations for home education and, they insist, results in federal aid to home education that invariable comes with strings.

That is just not true.

Coverdell accounts operate just like an IRA or a health savings account. Just like a savings account or checking account, the money in a Coverdell, IRA or HSA comes from deposits made by the account holder. The advantage of a Coverdell over a regular bank account is that, just like an IRA or HSA, after the money is deposited it can grow with interest and not encounter a tax penalty as long as the money is withdrawn to pay education expenses. In the case of IRAs and HSAs the money is withdrawn to pay for retirement or health care expenses.

As a provision of the tax code, Coverdells have a similar function as tax credits or tax deductions. Families frequently take advantage of the child tax credit, standard deductions or itemized deductions to reduce their tax liability. Coverdell accounts function as a means of controlling tax liability.

“In some ways [a Coverdell account] is actually even better than a tax credit or tax deduction, because those require you to show documentation to the IRS. The Coverdell has your own money in it; it isn’t something the IRS needs documentation for,” [ director of federal relations for Home School Legal Defense Association, Will] Estrada explained. “It is even more safe, if you will, from government regulation, than a tax credit.”

This non-troversy is being driven by a variety of Trump friendly websites, but even RedState is not immune to this cretinish douchebaggery (here | here). Note that this bill is being defended by the Home School Legal Defense Association. That, alone, should tell you that the Trump-ish critique is dishonesty on stilts.

This is not an argument about the Constitution. It is not about the role of the federal government in education. It is a very simple concept. The Coverdell ESA is a federal program that could benefit homeschooling families. The current definition of whom is eligible to participate omits homeschooling families making use of that program potentially risky. The Cruz-Lee bill, S.306, simply includes homeschooling expenses as an eligible expense, it does not create a federal definition of homeschooling.

The post Ted Cruz, Homeschooling, S.306, Dishonesty and Pig-Ignorance appeared first on RedState.

(VIDEO) New Ted Cruz Ad Hits Donald Trump For His Sleaze… And Doesn’t Even Mention His Personal Life [RedState]

AP Image AP_101983229301

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at the Carolina Values Summit at Winthrop University Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Rock Hill, S.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Donald Trump’s campaign manager made a big deal yesterday about the Trump campaign pulling an negative ad directed at Ted Cruz:

Donald Trump is pulling an ad hitting Ted Cruz for his stance on immigration and replacing it with a positive spot in South Carolina.

“Right now we are running a positive campaign for Mr. Trump,” campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told CNN.

The Trump campaign has relied almost exclusively on “earned media” coverage of his rallies on live television and phoned-in interviews to cable shows to build his name as a contender. But he bought time on-air against Cruz last month when the Texas senator emerged as a threat.

The new positive spot features Trump supporters delivering testimonials supporting Trump’s message and lacks much of the negativity that has been a hallmark of Trump’s campaign.

The spot also hit Cruz for being a “Washington insider” and for the non-troversy over Ben Carson’s failed campaign not folding after Iowa.

I suspect the decision to pull the ad had more to do with its ridiculousness, even by the very low standards of the Trump campaign when it comes to douchebaggery, than by any desire to set a high moral tone. Trump is, after all, the first candidate for president, from a major political party, in history to refer to an opponent as a “pussy” at a campaign rally.

The Cruz campaign, however, is hitting Trump for being sleazy. This, as you may imagine, is a big, fat, slow moving target.


CRUZ: I’m Ted Cruz and I approve this message.
VO: Vera Coking’s home was all she had left but it stood and Donald Trump’s way and the limousine parking lot he wanted for his casino. To him she was a nobody so Trump schemed with Atlantic City government to force Coking from her home using eminent domain.
INTERVIEWER: “You’re bullying these people out because…”
TRUMP: “Excuse me, this is a government case this is not Donald Trump…”
INTERVIEWER: “Yes, it’s Donald Trump. It’s you and your cronies in government working together”
VO: Public power. Private gain.
TRUMP: “I offered her a lot of money out of this, a little thing called heart.”
COKING: Heart? He doesn’t have no heart, that man.
VO: Trump bankrolled politicians to steamroll the little guy. A pattern of sleaze stretching back decades. Worst Trump still support eminent domain today.
INTERVIEWER: Do you support taking private property for private use?
TRUMP: I am for that. Eminent domain is wonderful. Yes, we have to use the power of eminent domain.
VO:Trump uses power for personal gain. Imagine the damage he could do as president.

Even so, the Cruz camp went easy on Trump. They didn’t mention the lengthy list of failed business ventures, the small vendors forced into insolvency because Trump declared bankruptcy, his serial adulteries and infidelities. And on and on. If Cruz is going to hit Trump for being sleazy he’s going to have to hire a lot more folks to write his ads.

The post (VIDEO) New Ted Cruz Ad Hits Donald Trump For His Sleaze… And Doesn’t Even Mention His Personal Life appeared first on RedState.

Watercooler 02/12/16 Open Thread: Selling your soul, San Bernardino, Reality Check, Best NH reaction. [RedState]


As the work week comes to a close I can’t help but wonder what did we really learn from the past five days.  For me I learned the people of New Hampshire are down right kooky.  I get the whole we like Donald thing (I do not agree with it mind you but at least I understand how you were deceived into coming to that position).  What I can not fathom is where did this tsunami of support for John “Mr. Personality” Kaisich come from?  Which part of his generic tired message made you show up in droves and support his candidacy?  New Hampshire, you had your moment in the sun and the good news is, it is over now.  But don’t worry you will relevant again in just four short years.

Shame, Shame, Shame on you.  A group of African American Pastors gathered to bless Hillary Clinton as our President-to-be.  These “men of God” did not gather to pray for Hillary Clinton as a potential leader of our nation.  This would be acceptable, to ask the almighty to provide clarity and wisdom to our possible (it pains me to say) leader.  No these men gathered to anoint her, to bless her every action, to declare that God’s favor would be upon her.  Now some may say that not every good Christian needs to be a republican, and hesitantly I will agree with that point.  We can disagree on Obamacare, the economy, entitlements, etc. and still love Jesus.  I however can not begin to grasp how men who have dedicated their life to teaching others about the love and freedom that can be found in God can anoint a woman who is actively leading a genocide against their people.

And the stark reality is that, what slavery and segregation could not do, abortion is doing, killing black babies at a disproportionate rate compared to the rest of the nation. In the words of black pastor Clenard Childress, “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb. (He claims that “1,786 African-American children . . . are killed each day in the womb.”)

“there were more black babies killed by abortion (31,328) in New York City than were born there (24,758), and the black children killed comprised 42.4 percent of the total number of abortions in the Big Apple, according to a report by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.”

Note also that while blacks make up roughly 25 percent of the city’s population, they made up more than 42 percent of the abortions, while nationwide, blacks make up roughly 13 percent of the population but account for more than 35 percent of all abortions.

The truth is Hillary’s abortion stance is extreme.  She feels not enough babies are being slaughtered.  If you agree with her you will one day answer to your maker as well, but for me and my family… we will vote for Ted Cruz.

This is scary, In all the time that has passed since the Islamic terror attack in California we still can not see what is in the couples cell phones.  So we have no idea who they were in communication with leading up to the attack.  Apparently two nothings with limited education and funds were able to encrypt their cell phones so well the FBI is stumped.  See this is why I just can not get behind so many “conspiracy theories” that get floated around the internet.  The same guys who can’t figure out how to get into an icloud account are capable of imploding buildings in NYC and keeping it quite for 15 years.  Or wait… maybe that is exactly what they want us to think!

Reality Check Time for conservatives.  It is time to bring down Trump.  Some Republican on Republican violence (figuratively) is gonna be required.  Those of us who have not drank the kool-aide yet need to arm ourselves with facts to combat Trump supporters and shame them for the deception that they are allowing to be enacted upon them.  Even if you tend to believe Trumps bold faced lies at least acknowledge that a Trump nomination = a Clinton Presidency.  If that doesn’t scare you then you may just be on the wrong team.  Rush may have woken up this week.

They were moving left faster than anybody I’ve ever seen go left. And I opened the program yesterday saying, “You will never, ever have to worry about that with Ted Cruz.” And then I expanded on it. And let me say one thing: If conservatism is your bag, if conservatism is the dominating factor in how you vote, there is no other choice for you in this campaign than Ted Cruz, because you are exactly right: This is the closest in our lifetimes we have ever been to Ronald Reagan.  In terms of doctrinaire, understandable, articulated, implementable conservatism, there’s nobody closer.

Ted Cruz, you need to lead this charge.  Keep talking like this, be forceful and certain that Trump is not an inevitability.

“South Carolina historically has played a critical role picking presidents. And I think Iowa and New Hampshire perform an incredibly important function in narrowing the field and in many ways this field is becoming a two-person race between me and Donald Trump,” the Texas senator said on the Mike Gallagher Show Wednesday. “What Iowa and New Hampshire demonstrate is that the only person in this field who can beat Donald Trump is me. The other candidates are not able to beat Donald Trump.”

“You can’t beat Donald coming from the left. It doesn’t work,” he said. “If you campaign against Donald saying, ‘hey, I’m more liberal than you I’m more into amnesty than you, I’ll be softer on radical Islamic terrorists than you, it doesn’t work, as we’ve seen twice in Iowa and New Hampshire.”

Priceless.  I have no idea if San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich loves Hillary or hates Trump.  Either way his reaction on live TV to the results of the New Hampshire primary is perfect.  Check out the video of his full 30 second interview at the link above.  It will make you chuckle.

As always Red State this is open thread so feel free to discuss what ever you want.  I appreciate you taking the time to read the Watercooler.

The post Watercooler 02/12/16 Open Thread: Selling your soul, San Bernardino, Reality Check, Best NH reaction. appeared first on RedState.

Trump Leads In South Carolina [RedState]


Donald Trump speaks during the family leadership summit in Ames, Iowa Saturday Aug. 10, 2013. Republican presidential hopefuls are hoping to impress conservative voters at the conference organized by an influential Christian group. The daylong event will be one of many candidate cattle calls in the grueling run-up to the 2016 presidential election. None of the potential contenders appearing Saturday has declared candidacy. Conservative voters could be key to a 2016 victory in Iowa's caucuses, the nation's first presidential nominating event. (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)

Donald Trump speaks during the family leadership summit in Ames, Iowa Saturday Aug. 10, 2013.  (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)

A new Opinion Savvy poll of likely South Carolina voters in next Saturday’s Republican Primary finds Donald Trump leading handily:

  • Trump – 36%
  • Cruz –  19%
  • Rubio –  15%
  • Bush –  11%
  • Kasich –  9%
  • Carson – 5%
  • Undecided – 5%

The new poll of was conducted after the New Hampshire Primary, February 10-11, and  has a margin of error of 3.5% and 95% confidence level.

According to analysis by Matt Towery (Sr.) Political Analyst FOX5 Atlanta/columnist and the owner/manager of Opinion Savvy:

Trump carries every age group except for the youngest (18-29) where Rubio nudges Trump out by 7 points. But Trump has comfortable leads among the other age groups in the poll. Trump has the highest support from almost every segment of respondents grouped by political philosophy. Trump leads among those describing themselves as “very conservative,” “somewhat conservative,” “moderate” and “somewhat liberal.”  John Kasich leads among the few South Carolina GOP voters who describe themselves as “very liberal.”

Nearly 60% of the voters in the GOP primary identify themselves as “evangelical” in the poll. But even among these evangelical voters, Trump leads Cruz by ten points. Of course South Carolina primaries can be very volatile and turnout can greatly impact the final numbers.

The poll isn’t that different from the Real Clear Politics Average for the South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary, which as of Friday morning is based on nearly month-old polls:

  • Trump – 36%
  • Cruz – 19.7%
  • Rubio – 12.7%
  • Bush – 10%
  • Carson – 8.7%
  • Kasich – 2%

The significant change is the rise of  John Kasich and the decline of Ben Carson.

The post Trump Leads In South Carolina appeared first on RedState.

Louisiana’s Democrat Governor Threatens College Football Over Taxes [RedState]

Last night, a Democrat was on TV and pretty much threatened to ruin everything… and surprisingly, it’s not Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders I’m referring to. Louisiana’s newly-seated Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, gave an address to the state calling for new taxes to be passed by the state legislature. If he does not get those tax increases, then it will mean no college football in the state of Louisiana. No, really.

As I mentioned earlier, if the legislature fails to act and we are forced to proceed with these cuts, the LSU Ag Center and parish extension offices in every parish, and Pennington Biomedical Research Center will close by April 1st and the LSU main campus in Baton Rouge will run out of money after April 30th, as will the Health Sciences Center in Shreveport and LSU Eunice. There is no money left for payroll after those dates. The Southern University System, and University of Louisiana System, and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System are in the same boat: without legislators approving new revenue this special session, some campuses will be forced to declare financial bankruptcy, which would include massive layoffs and the cancellation of classes.

If you are a student attending one of these universities, it means that you will receive a grade of incomplete, many students will not be able to graduate and student athletes across the state at those schools will be ineligible to play next semester. That means you can say farewell to college football next fall.

He calls out LSU specifically by name, because it is the state’s flagship school, and therefore the most recognizable. However, that is a double-edged sword. The LSU athletics machine is a juggernaut that self-funds and generates tons of its own revenue, all due to how popular it is and how much big money in the state is invested in it. There is a power there that Edwards may not be ready to take on yet (if ever).

Edwards goes on and on in his speech about how these aren’t scare tactics, it’s just the reality. Just like the “reality” that, mere hours before he gave his scary speech, Edwards’ administration announced that TOPS (Taylor Opportunity Program for Students) scholarship money is now unavailable, meaning middle and lower class families that have budgeted based on the knowledge that their kids’ college was paid for this semester are now scrambling for thousands of dollars to keep their kid in school.

Between LSU football and TOPS scare tactics, Edwards may have overplayed his hand. We know we face a terrible budget situation, and maybe taxes are part of the answer. But, he has hurt himself with this rhetoric, and it is going to create – if it hasn’t already created – a very hostile atmosphere against his administration (which is one month old).

The post Louisiana’s Democrat Governor Threatens College Football Over Taxes appeared first on RedState.

John Kasich’s Campaign Strategy is Insane [RedState]

The John Weaver-led campaign strategy of John Kasich has at no point ever had any plan other than “win New Hampshire.” Kasich did not accomplish that, or even come particularly close. In fact, Kasich got almost exactly the amount of support that the John Weaver-led Jon Huntsman campaign did in 2012, and Huntsman dropped out immediately following New Hampshire. However, with a more muddled (and crowded) field, Team Kasich has deluded themselves into believing that getting 16% of the vote in New Hampshire is a referendum to go forward.

Okay, fine. Kasich is going to move on in this campaign. I accept this as a reality of the insane world we live in now. What’s Kasich’s strategy? Where does he plan to make his next stand? South Carolina? Nevada? Some grouping of the Super Tuesday states? Nope. John Kasich is instead planting his flag in… Michigan.

COLUMBUS, Ohio—John Kasich and his allies are scurrying to ramp up his presidential campaign in South Carolina, but the Ohio governor is also looking farther along the campaign schedule as well.

Fresh off a strong second-place finish in New Hampshire, Kasich now must survive a string of tougher contests – including South Carolina, Nevada, and a string of southern state primaries – until he reaches friendlier Midwestern primaries such as Michigan and Ohio starting in early March.

* * *

Kasich has planned two days next week in Michigan — a March 8 primary state that might be his first chance for a win. He also has a campaign stop planned for Virginia and a fundraiser in New York before returning to the Palmetto State for the home stretch.

The mind boggles. Here’s the thing: you really can’t expect Kasich to do well in any state until Michigan. He just has no base of support in any state until then. But if you’re John Kasich, you have to sure as hell try, because if you string together a bunch of 5th and 6th place finishes all the way through Super Tuesday, this race is going to be over for you before Michigan ever occurs. Ask Rudy Guiliani how well it works to put off working for your next actual win for more than a month during primary season.

The Kasich campaign right now is like the dog that caught the car – except they didn’t even catch the car, they just came unexpectedly close to catching the car and are pretending like they have the bumper in their teeth. Even still, they don’t know what to do with the fake bumper that they don’t actually have.


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We all knew this candidate was taking cues from the Nixon administration [RedState]

Republicans have pretty thoroughly repudiated Richard Nixon by this point. We’re less friendly with China, we’re less friendly to creating new agencies like EPA, and we sure aren’t breaking into Democrat offices. Importantly, starting with Ronald Reagan, and continuing with George W. Bush, we recognized that when we face ideological actors, sometimes Realpolitik doesn’t have all the answers.

So it turns out the Democrats are adopting the Nixon legacy. Specifically, Hillary Clinton is.

Henry Kissinger Leonid Brezhnev

I doubt it’ll make much difference in the race, but Bernie Sanders attacked Clinton for looking to Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon’s chief foreign policy advisor, for advice. Says CNN:

“I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. Count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger,” Sanders said.

Clinton quickly turned the exchange to her advantage, replying with one of her most well-timed jabs of the night, highlighting the idea that Sanders has been reluctant to reveal who is advising him amid claims he has a threadbare national security policy.

“Well, I know journalists have asked, ‘Who you do listen to on foreign policy? And we have yet to know who that is,'” she said.

Clinton went on to say that she sought expertise as secretary of state from a raft of foreign policy experts, including Kissinger.

No word on whether she favors using the IRS against her enemies list, as Nixon also did.

The post We all knew this candidate was taking cues from the Nixon administration appeared first on RedState.

Is Jeb Bush Even Bothering To Try To Win South Carolina? [RedState]

DonkeyHotey via Flickr Creative Commons image 24815447215_e5c1dbef09_o
This is a serious question.

Following the New Hampshire primary, the Bush campaign made a big deal of saying they were going full-bore in South Carolina with their objective to take out both Marco Rubio and John Kasich. But is that, in fact, what is happening?

I offer this. For the January 1 through February 7 period, this is the most recent data that I can access unless there is a sugar daddy out there who wants to buy me a subscription, this is the advertising picture in South Carolina. This reflects paid radio and television purchases:

Marco Rubio CONSERVATIVE SOLUTIONS Super PAC bought 836 radio ads, with 396 in CHARLESTON, 220 in COLUMBIA, and 220 in GREENVILLE-SPARTANBURG.

Marco Rubio CONSERVATIVE SOLUTIONS placed 108 anti-CRUZ ads

Ted Cruz KEEP THE PROMISE I bought 712 spots, 191 in CHARLESTON, 139 in COLUMBIA and 382 in GREENVILLE-SPARTANBURG

TED CRUZ campaign bought 337 spots in the three markets

HILLARY CLINTON bought 575 spots

DONALD TRUMP campaign 336

BERNIE SANDERS campaign 235

JEB BUSH campaign 235

Jeb Bush RIGHT TO RISE USA bought 120 ads against RUBIO

BEN CARSON campaign 182

The polling situation looks like this:

The primary is next Saturday.

One has to anticipate that this picture will not change a whole lot. Campaigns that were spending big before New Hampshire will already have made their advertising buys for the period leading up to the South Carolina primary. It doesn’t make sense to think Rubio or Cruz are going to let up on their ad buys right before the primary. What does make sense is that Jeb Bush was looking at South Carolina as being his last hurrah. He was going to toss everything into New Hampshire.

Based on this we have to assume Bush’s strategic announcement falls directly in the too-little-too-late category. The advertising market in South Carolina is basically bought out and Bush will be going into what he has declared as a must-win with his advertising buys looking like those of Bernie Sanders or Ben Carson.

Caricature by DonkeyHotey flic.kr/p/Ct4G4K

The post Is Jeb Bush Even Bothering To Try To Win South Carolina? appeared first on RedState.

Ben Carson Will Help Donald Trump at LEAST Through South Carolina [RedState]

After finishing 4th in Iowa and 8th in New Hampshire (behind Carly Fiorina, who completely missed the last two debates), Ben Carson is currently polling 5th (out of 6 remaining candidates) in South Carolina. He further appears to be doing less campaigning in South Carolina than his rivals and has purchased less media.

In short, there is not at all an obvious path for him to actually win or do well in South Carolina, and there’s not a ton of evidence that he is really even trying. However, just by being on the ballot, he helps Donald Trump by splitting at least some portion of the vote that would otherwise go to other candidates, and so it sounds like that’s exactly what he plans to do. Here he is on Morning Joe this morning sounding like a man who is basically planning to run interference for as long as he can:

Mika: So, what is your strategy moving forward in South Carolina, perhaps even to make that message (NB – “that message,” in context is “Ted Cruz cheated!!”) very clear to voters who take values very seriously there?

Carson: Well, South Carolina is the kind of place where I love to come. You know, I’ve understand (sic) the people here, I think they understand me, and I think we’re going to do extraordinarily well here. It’s a matter of really getting out in front of enough audiences so that they get a chance to see me and hear me as opposed to the way that I have been characterized by many in the media.

Mika: Alright, Steve Kornacki?

Kornacki: Doctor, if you don’t prevail or if you don’t do well in South Carolina – you didn’t do well in New Hampshire, you were a bit off the lead in Iowa – if you’re not able to get a breakthrough in South Carolina, is that a moment you might reassess the future of your campaign?

Carson: I reassess the future of the campaign every day. So of course I will continue to do that. You know, I had no expectation of doing well in New Hampshire, and you know, a lot of people who spent millions of dollars there and many, many weeks there didn’t do that well either (NB – those candidates have dropped out of the race). Uh, I was able to foresee that, and you have to pick your battles.

Well, a couple things here. First, Ben Carson has been on 8 nationally televised debates now, talking to the voters using his own words. The idea that there is a humongous cache of voters in South Carolina who have somehow not seen Ben Carson for themselves just absolutely beggars the imagination.

Second, if the problem with Ben Carson is that he hasn’t been able to overcome the way the media unfairly portrays him, and that he needs to be able to talk to voters directly without media interference, then that is proof positive (if more was needed) that he would be a disaster in the general election. The Republican nominee will always face a hostile media that is in the tank for the Democratic nominee, and if he or she is unable to overcome that and win votes anyway, then he or she is doomed.

Third, and most importantly, Carson shows no signs of setting a goalpost at any time for his candidacy that he must meet. Santorum, Huckabee and Paul set down a marker that if they did not do well in Iowa, their campaigns would not be viable. Christie, Fiorina, Bush and Kasich did the same in New Hampshire. One presumes that is because those candidates were in this to win the actual nomination, and when they realized that could not happen, they gracefully stepped aside.

The fact that Carson refuses to set any sort of equivalent marker for himself, in spite of a total lack of success in either Iowa or New Hampshire, indicates that he is running much more of a Ron Paul 2008 campaign, whose design was never to win but rather to build a massive email/mailing list that could be sold and/or used for gain later. Heck, maybe I’m wrong, but I get the sense that after Carson finishes fifth in South Carolina, he’ll be invited back on Morning Joe to explain why Nevada’s going to be a great state for him, and then after that, he’ll be on to talk about all the Super Tuesday states he expects to win.

The post Ben Carson Will Help Donald Trump at LEAST Through South Carolina appeared first on RedState.

(VIDEO) PROOF POSITIVE. Ben Carson’s Dishonesty Is Bone Deep [RedState]

Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson smiles during an interview with The Associated Press in his home in Upperco, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson smiles at the thought of the money he’s raking in from the gullible and the attention he’s getting from Donald Trump and Joe Scaroborough (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik — caption by me.)

If yesterday’s assertion by Ben Carson that he was putting a lot of effort into campaigning in South Carolina (he’s not, he is taking this weekend off and has only run 182 radio/television ads, all of them in Columbia, SC.) and that he has a plan for moving forward convinced you he was either delusional or dishonest, the balance has radically tipped to “dishonest.”

Today on Morning Joe, Ben Carson was back on the air with Donald Trump’s favorite television host pushing Donald Trump’s favorite attack line

In this video clip Carson claims that the rumors his campaign started in Iowa about him dropping out, rumors that both the Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio campaigns pushed, were “devastating.” According to Carson, the polls showed him doing “significantly better” than the outcome. (Apologies for the lack of a transcript.)

Even were that statement true, that would be more a reflection of the perpetual difference between polling results and the results of actual people casting actual votes. But let’s look at the polling. As you can see, Ben Carson peaked in the October 25 poll at 23.2% and began a nosedive.

When you move to the most recent polls and the outcome, you see that Carson performed two points better than his RCP average and better than all but one of the seven polls closest to the election.

rcp iowa final

Carson is just flat-out lying. He is lying for two reasons. First and foremost, the faux outrage over this nothingburger lets him continue to gull the gullible. His campaign, right now, is nothing more than a direct mail fundraising scam with the objective of building a large list of donors to be rented commercially. It is no accident that the single largest source of contributions to Ben Carson, as his campaign reported to the FEC, is income from mailing list rental. The second reason is that Carson knows his campaign isn’t going anywhere and he is out to damage Ted Cruz to the benefit of his new BFF, Donald Trump. Likewise, it is no coincidence that Carson made this claim on Morning Joe.

The post (VIDEO) PROOF POSITIVE. Ben Carson’s Dishonesty Is Bone Deep appeared first on RedState.

Cruz Pulls Anti-Rubio Ad Featuring Porn Star [RedState]

AP Image AP_2046725431

On Thursday Sen. Ted Cruz launched, and then pulled, an ad hitting Sen. Marco Rubio for his Gang of Eight immigration reform work with Chuck Schumer and company because one of the actresses had appeared in pornographic films. Cruz campaign spokesman Rick Tyler said the actress had responded to an open casting call for the ad and “Unfortunately, she was not vetted by the production company. Had the campaign known of her full filmography, we obviously would not have let her appear in the ad.”

According to Fox News, the actress in question, Amy Lindsay, appeared in several movies with titles like “Carnal Wishes” and “Insatiable Desire.” She is also listed as having appeared in the TV series “Star Trek: Voyager” and the 1996 film adaptation of Henry James’ novel “The Portrait of a Lady.” Lindsay let it be known she wasn’t happy the ad was pulled in a tweet:

Extremely disappointed the #TedCruz campaign pulled the national television spot I had a role in… #moretocome #myvotecounts
— Amy Lindsay (@amylindsayLA) February 12, 2016

The TV ad, “Conservatives Anonymous,” was to be part of series of Cruz ads and website to focus on how Conservatives have been betrayed by their elected officials in Washington, D.C. who fail to keep their promises to fight for Conservative principles. The ad, as described by the New York Times goes like this:

Seven actors playing members of a support group sit on folding chairs in a dimly lighted gymnasium or social hall, over the quietly chirpy sounds of syncopated strings and xylophone. “Has anyone else here struggled with being lied to?” the moderator asks, as the other men and women shift in their seats and look at the floor.

A white man with a shaved head, wearing a red flannel shirt, speaks up. “Well, I voted for a guy who was a Tea Party hero on the campaign trail, and then he went to D.C. and played patty-cake with Chuck Schumer and cut a deal on amnesty.” The moderator frowns, says “Mmm,” and asks if that made him angry. The rueful voter says no, “It makes me feel dumb for trusting him.”

A woman suggests, “Maybe you should vote for more than just a pretty face next time,” as the moderator consoles the voter with an empathetic shoulder squeeze. The voter, and the group, nod as one.

At that, we hear a door opening, and a haggard-looking man in a wrinkled Marco Rubio campaign T-shirt abruptly appears. “You guys have room for one more?” he asks, and the group eagerly welcomes him.

You can still watch the ad courtesy of the John Kasich endorsing New York Times. The paper has embedded it as a Times video obviously seeing it as a way to take a shot at both Cruz and Rubio.

The ad was not effective enough and tried to be way too cute with the “just a pretty face” line. The ad didn’t go over well with Rubio supporters on social media and might have been counterproductive. Perhaps that had something to do with the ad being pulled.

The post Cruz Pulls Anti-Rubio Ad Featuring Porn Star appeared first on RedState.

This anti-Hillary Clinton campaign ad from MSNBC is AWESOME. [RedState]

msnbc hillary clintonExecutive summary: MSNBC aired a hilarious anti-Hillary Clinton ad. They SAID it’s from Ted Cruz, but they left off all the markings, so who knows?

The ad in question is a spoof of one of the iconic scenes from the movie Office Space. Specifically, it’s the scene where the hero and his two sidekicks steal the perennially-malfunctioning printer/fax that has come to symbolize everything they hate about their jobs, take it out to a field, and then pretty much beat it to death (link SFW, but the NSFW versions are much more satisfying) with a baseball bat while Geto Boys plays in the background.  It’s one of the more satirical scenes in a deeply satirical movie, and you can reasonably expect that anybody that’s my age has seen it.

Now switch in Hillary Clinton for one of the attackers, and a computer server for the printer-fax, and you have the ad. [EDIT: Sorry! Mild profanity warning. Very mild, by today’s standards, but still. – ML]

Interestingly enough, the only place that this ad is showing up right now is on MSNBC, where they credit it to “Cruz for President” while not providing any of the usual disclaimers/approvals that you should expect from official political ads. Which is interesting. I have no objection at all to this coming from the Ted Cruz campaign; shoot, I would have no objection to this coming from the Donald Trump campaign (it’d make for a refreshing change). I however suspect that this is actually coming from an officially unaffiliated group. Because, after all: right now we’re playing by South Carolina Rules.

And is one of the players MSNBC?  I do not know – and it’s MSNBC’s fault that I don’t.  We put those disclaimers and approvals on the ads for a reason, remember?

Moe Lane

PS: Note, by the way, that this just reiterates that you always have to take what MSNBC does with a grain of salt.  Their video editing was done deliberately. And probably with a specific agenda in mind.  It was actually very subtle; I almost got caught by it.

The post This anti-Hillary Clinton campaign ad from MSNBC is AWESOME. appeared first on RedState.

Democrat Debate: Two Old White People Yell At Each Other [RedState]


If you watched any of the Democrat debate as I did last night, you had a chance to see two old white people go back and forth, jockeying to see which of them could prove to the masses who was the most far-left-neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie. It was hard to tell. Ever since Sanders has made life difficult for the anointed one, Hillary Clinton, she’s been making a mad walker-assisted dash to the left.

Seriously, the title of this post is pretty close to what it was. I wasn’t the only who noticed. Amy Otto tweeted the following:

Or the grocery story. Bernie: “I told you I wanted the oatmeal without raisins!” Hillary: “The Republicans are going to take away raisins for everybody if we don’t do something!”

The debate was not much of a debate. It was more about who was going to give away more stuff, who was going to be tougher on the evil Wall Street companies, evil pharmaceutical companies and evil banks. Who was going to raise taxes more. Who kissed Barack Obama’s tookus more. The list goes on.

What neither of them were able to do then entire time I watched, was to lay out any kind of realistic vision for what they expected to do beyond “FIGHT!” (sound familiar) when they get into office. It was all a big leftist welfare state utopia.

That said, if you were going to look for two distinct ways these two geezers differentiate themselves from each other, there are two specific instances:

1. Hillary Clinton excels at victim creation. She has said “Flint, Michigan” more than I can count. She seems to think railing about it constantly will help, seemingly forgetting the Environmental Protection Agency knew about Flint’s water issues for over a year and did not act on it. This of course will only be followed with with Hillary calling for an expanded EPA because apparently making the bureaucracy bigger is the way to go in these situations.

2. Bernie Sanders excels at attacking almost anything as a tool of special interests. To listen to the self described socialist, one would think everybody who is not at least a millionaire is somehow getting screwed by somebody. “Roto-rootah is a tool of the big banks who want to “flush” your savings down the terlet when they come by to unclog your crappuh.”

What’s really sad is as you listen to their list of just plain idiotic ideas, there’s a bunch of people out there clapping like seals at the prospect of these ideas becoming law.

What’s frightening is, either of these two could actually win. To quote Richard Vernon from ‘The Breakfast Club’ in that one of them could be running the country: “This is the thought that wakes me in the middle of the night.”

So listen closely while the two old old coots yell and spray the debate moderators with spittle. This country cannot afford what they’re yelling about.

The post Democrat Debate: Two Old White People Yell At Each Other appeared first on RedState.

Quote of the Day, Debbie Wasserman Schultz Downplays Worries That Her Base Is Revolting edition. [RedState]

ap image

You’re the best dang DNC chair that a Republican could hope for, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I mean that. Don’t ever change.

“Unpledged delegates exist, really, to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists,” Wasserman Shultz said, adding that the Democratic Party “highlights inclusiveness and diversity at our convention” and wants to give activists “every opportunity” to participate, which she says it what the superdelegates are for.

Translation: God forbid that the crazy people in the Democratic base should ever have the chance to take over the process. Which I sympathize with, tell truthful – but in that special, rather detached way.  There may even have been snickering involved, on my part. I am not yet a Buddha.

Via the Blaze. The whole video was fascinating, particularly the part where Debbie Wasserman Schultz had to gamely explain away why the GOP is two-for-two in turnout so far (soon to be three-for-three, but that’s unfair: South Carolina has become Republican territory*). Also: they’ve got this big voter file! Like they did in 2008 and 2012! Trust in the File, ye Democrats! TRUST IN THE FILE!

…Yeah, some of you are remembering similar Republican assurances from the last decade. It’s amazing, isn’t it? We forget, and then they forget, and then we forget again, and then they do… it’s like nobody ever remembers anything from past cycles. It’s a puzzler, let me tell you.

Moe Lane

*You can tell that from the way that minorities get regularly elected to statewide positions there now.

The post Quote of the Day, Debbie Wasserman Schultz Downplays Worries That Her Base Is Revolting edition. appeared first on RedState.

The #BATF: New Hampshire Recapapalooza [RedState]

Welcome back to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Friends! Tonight, North Carolina radio host Pete Kaliner joins RedState’s own Jay Caruso, F. Bill McMorris of the Washington Free Beacon, Jeff Blehar of the Ace of Spades Decision Desk, and myself to recap the New Hampshire results, plus look forward to South Carolina.

To join the group, watch live below. Enjoy the show!

The post The #BATF: New Hampshire Recapapalooza appeared first on RedState.

Your Moral and Intellectual Superiors [Small Dead Animals]

No worries, though. The Press will remember their responsibilities the day after a Republican is sworn in as POTUS.

Not exactly as advertised. [Small Dead Animals]

"Government by cabinet is back" - Trudeau

Except the 'cabinet' he meant was the Party Whip.

Ottawa Citizen [Small Dead Animals]

Well. That's a big change.

I do however, know of one who wont be missed.

h/t maz2

Short-tails [Small Dead Animals]

Trudeau and Wynne shoot blanks in Whitby-Oshawa.

"It's nice to see that sunny ways have come with blue skies here in Whitby-Oshawa," Brown said.

Reader Tips [Small Dead Animals]

This is an excellent series. Highly recommend going to the playlists and going through all the lectures.

"He Was Such a Good Kid" [Small Dead Animals]

Until he carjacked the wrong car and now he's a disabled kid.

Ahhhhh, warm fuzzies.

"The Budget will balance itself." [Small Dead Animals]

Two more Trudeau promises bite the dust.

Experts say it's not surprising that the Liberal government will blow through its initial projected deficit of $10 billion this coming year, and even less surprising that it won't find its way back to balanced books by 2019.

Those nannies must cost a pile.

How Playster breaks down the barriers between media types [TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond]

PlaystarSCimagexProof._DSC3121Content filters are evolving all the time, and they’re changing how we discover the entertainment we love. Pretty soon we won’t just be searching for simple things like “Romance Novels” or “YA Fiction”—we’ll be able to spell out our interests into extremely focused queries like “romantic comedy book featuring two dog-loving and socially awkward lawyers with wildly different political views” or “dystopian novel featuring young green-eyed girl who discovers she’s chosen and must use powers to overthrow despotic government.”

It sounds silly, but it’s true. Online film and TV provider Netflix is widely known for its extremely comprehensive search algorithm that allows it cater to the most specific and baffling of tastes with startling accuracy. The formula—which was further enhanced thanks to a million-dollar contest promoted by the company—has won Netflix millions of subscribers and allowed them to dominate the subscription TV market. But some companies are looking to apply this model on an even bigger scale.

Playster.com is a new contender in the world of online multimedia entertainment provision (the service concluded its Beta test in December of last year). The company gives customers online access to movies, music, games, books and audiobooks for a monthly fee. Playster’s slogan, “Entertainment Unlimited,” promotes their niche of cross-media entertainment. The service hinges on the idea that, like genres situated within specific media types, the boundaries between media types themselves could be blurring—and they see this as a huge opportunity.

As a service, Playster is all about bundled content and the potential that it can offer. They want to provide users with a service that caters to all interests at once, whether that’s recommending movies based on someone’s literary tastes, or music that would pair well with an all-night gaming session. If genres within media types are collapsing due to the ever-expanding potential of recommendations algorithms, Playster argues, who’s to say the divisions between media types wouldn’t buckle under the same kinds of pressure? It could even work to the benefit of content marketers. While it’s perhaps easy to imagine Playster as a rabble of different media types clamoring for attention, the multimedia nature of the service actually provides an exciting opportunity for targeted marketing and cross-promotion—”people who read this book liked this movie and these games” and so on. It’s a way to reach new audiences.

Songza is a good example of a service that’s already doling out content to users in a way that, while still tailored, doesn’t rely wholly on genre; the service provides thousands of playlists organized by mood. Whether you’re cleaning the house or throwing a 1920’s themed Gatsby party for your book-loving friends, Songza has a playlist that unites different genres thematically to serve up an appropriate soundtrack. It’s a different approach to content organization that could signal a shift towards more lifestyle-based content suggestions for users.

Could a similar mood-based recommendations model be applied to e-books and audiobooks, then? Amazon currently suggests books to readers based on a combination of sales data and user-provided reviews and star ratings, but readers have complained that it still can’t reliably serve up relevant content. One of the potential reasons for this problem is that, unlike songs, TV shows or even movies, the medium requires a significant time investment, as well as a financial one, so when it fails, the impact is more deeply felt.

While all music services give blanket access to the catalogue for one subscription fee (Songza is actually free), books services are different. Bookbub, for example, rotates its content, so users only get access to a limited selection of the site’s total catalogue at any given time. Unlimited audiobooks services are especially rare, with most requiring the purchase of credits for each individual audiobook—Playster being the notable exception. The frustration, then, is that a dud book or audiobook recommendation actually makes a reader feel like they’ve wasted their time and money if they bought credits to consume it.

Lifestyle recommendations could work in some capacity for books, mainly for non-fiction titles—it’s easy to target healthy living books at fitness fanatics or market how-to guides on wealth building to aspiring businesspeople. Fiction is a bit harder to pin down. Offering snippets of books for free online could alleviate the problem, allowing people to read (or listen to) a few pages to see if a suggestion is actually relevant to their interests. Until a truly sophisticated algorithm comes along, though, the best way to find books to fit your tastes is probably through word-of-mouth, reading blog posts, and taking the time to browse.

Opinions in this article are the sponsor’s. They are not necessarily TeleRead’s, and vice versa.

The post How Playster breaks down the barriers between media types appeared first on TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond.

Amazon says only 40 successful self-published authors? I don’t think so [TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond]

Success Iggy PopOne of the oddest pieces of misreading to come my way arrived earlier with the headline “Only 40 Self-Published Authors are a Success, says Amazon.” This was based on a New York Times profile piece about self-publisher – and more recently, just publisher – Meredith Wild, romance author and creator of Waterhouse Press. Now, the New York Times has not always been distinguished for objective or impartial coverage of ebooks or Amazon. But this time – if you’ll excuse just a slight slathering of smarm – they seem to have done a fairly detailed position piece on the potential of self-publishing. Somehow, though, one source managed to spin that into the claim that “40 self-published authors ‘make money’, all the others, and they number in the hundreds of thousands, don’t.”

Claude Forthomme, herself a writer under the pen name Claude Nougat, presents this as a revelation. “The cat is out of the bag, finally we know exactly how many self-published authors make it big: 40.” And as she continues, “‘Making money’ here means selling more than one million e-book copies in the last five years. Yes, 40 authors have managed that.”

Now, the odd thing is that neither the NYT, nor Meredith Wild, claim anywhere in the article that I can see that one million copies is some kind of benchmark for making money, or success. The article does state that: “close to 40 independent authors have sold more than a million copies of their e-books on Amazon, the company said.” Admittedly, that’s no mean feat for them. But the sole standard for success? As Joanna Cabot wrote elsewhere, there are many individual standards for success which self-published authors are free to indulge up to their personal best.

This is especially surprising in the light of the release of the February 2016 Author Earnings Report. Now, there are some interesting figures there about the success of self-publishing and self-published authors. One is that, as of January 2016, self-published indie titles account for 42 percent of all U.S. ebook sales on Amazon. Another is that U.S. Amazon customers are spending some $5,755,000 daily on ebooks, and that $1,756,000 daily is going to authors. Oh, and that “$140 million a year in Kindle Unlimited payouts is going directly to authors.” And that self-published titles now account for almost 45 percent of ebook unit sales on Amazon, up from around 26 percent in February 2014.

Now, the NYT may point out justly that “only a small fraction of self-published authors sell enough books to make a living, and many are put off by the drudge work and endless self-promotion involved.” And it may use Association of American Publishers stats to build a biased picture of the ebook market. But nowhere is it anything like as negative as that “Only 40 Self-Published Authors” title suggests. Which makes me wonder why anyone would rush to misinterpret it so drastically. Especially with far better sources than a single NYT article around. Whatever the reason, I really would be surprised, and dismayed, to see that “only 40” rumor get around.

The post Amazon says only 40 successful self-published authors? I don’t think so appeared first on TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond.

Want all-text bold and E Ink? Kobo Glo HD on sale for $110. But won’t read DRMed Amazon books [TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond]

koboGloAdAmazon’s E Ink Kindles won’t give you all-text bold, a little detail for most people but a big deal for some elderly booklovers, K-12 kids and others with contrast-sensitivity issues. Keep speaking up! Beyond that, you can thumb your nose at Amazon’s ageists and can buy a rival Kobo E Ink machine with a font-weight adjuster. In fact, the Kobo Glob HD model with front-lighting and a 300 pixels-per-inch screen is on sale through Valentine’s Day for $110 with free shipping—$20 off.

The catch is that Kobo devices can’t read DRMed Amazon books, and U.S. laws bans the stripping of DRM in most cases. No small problem. Amazon’s bookstore offers more choices and lower prices than Kobo’s. Not to mention the issue of enjoying your existing books.

But the Kobo might be just right for you if you stick to nonDRMed titles such as public domain classics and many offerings from self-publishers and small presses. The fit might also be good if you live in a place where it isn’t illegal to strip DRM, or if you’re in the U.S. but think you could still get away with circumventing DRM for accessibility reasons. In the latter case, please check with a lawyer and keep your expectations very low.

Going by the specs for the Glo, it can read not only ePub, among other formats, but also Mobi, used with many Amazon books. What’s more, the Glo HD works with OverDrive library books and perhaps those from other vendors.

Here’s the Glo HD’s page at the Kobo store. According to Good e-Reader—I haven’t tested this—people in the U.S. can actually save still more money by ordering the Glo instead from one of the Indigo stores in Canada to take advantage of currency exchange rates. True? Shipping charges to U.S.? To locate a store, go here and just type in the name of a Canadian city. I chose Toronto and found an ample supply in stock.

For still more information on the Glo HD, see Juli Monroe’s articles here on TeleRead—Kobo Glo HD: First Impressions and Head to Head: Kobo Glo vs Kindle Paperwhite 3.

Meanwhile, just so Kindle owners know what they’re missing, here’s a shot of the Glo’s typographical menu (it’s from Kobo, which added the top shading—not present in real life). Why can’t the brains at Amazon give us something similar for the Paperwhite and Voyage machines? Is a font-weight adjuster too high tech for Jeff Bezo’s crew? Oh, and you might also care to know that the Kobo offers 48 font sizes, many more than the limited options available on Kindle machines.


The post Want all-text bold and E Ink? Kobo Glo HD on sale for $110. But won’t read DRMed Amazon books appeared first on TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond.

Massive civil disobedience for scholarly open access [TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond]

Civil disobedience Martin Luther KingOnline knowledge forum Big Think has shared a profile of the Kazakh woman who’s single-handedly taking on the Goliath of scholarly publishing, and leading a global civil disobedience campaign in support of scholarly open access. Alexandra Elbakyan, born in Kazakhstan, created Sci-Hub in 2011, the online repository of over 48 million scientific papers – nearly every peer-reviewed paper ever published anywhere – available online, for anyone, for free. And this wouldn’t be possible without an anonymous (no, not that Anonymous) global network of academics who are donating paywall access keys to make sure that Sci-Hub stays up to date with the latest in research and learning.

Needless to say, Big Publishing isn’t pleased. Reed Elsevier launched and won a case in 2015 in a New York district court, arguing that Sci-Hub contravened their copyrights. However, since Elbakyan and Sci-Hub have no assets in the U.S., the court could do no more than bar the website. Sci-Hub promptly hopped to another domain, and will probably continue to do so every time it has to.

Elbakyan claims that in fact she is fully justified, and Elsevier is the one acting illegally, according to Article 27 Clause 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which reads: “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.” Elsevier might counter-claim that they are protected under Clause 2, which reads: “Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author” – except that that clearly refers to the rights of the authors, who usually receive no payment whatsoever from Elsevier.

TeleRead has chronicled Elsevier’s many abuses against the spirit of free intellectual inquiry – and giving the community the benefit of their own tax dollars – again, and again, and again. What makes the Sci.Hub case so gratifying is that, no matter how many millions Elsevier gets awarded in U.S. damages, Elsevier probably won’t ever see any of it, while losing the battle for hearts and minds into the bargain. And the Sci.Hub model is now so well established, with so many participants and supporters, that they probably won’t ever be able to get the genie back in the bottle. Time to own up and act decent for a change?

The post Massive civil disobedience for scholarly open access appeared first on TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond.