Heat Map of John Walsh's Paper [Ace of Spades HQ]

In this New York Times map, Yellow indicates "Plagiarism," and Pink indicates "En Fuego Plagiarism." Okay, just kidding. Yellow indicates where he footnoted sentences entirely or substantially lifted from a source, but did not put the words in quotes to...

Open Thread [Ace of Spades HQ]

Per-Andre Hoffman...

Top Headline Comments (7-24-2014) [Ace of Spades HQ]

OK, today I didn't forget. Gabe must just be catching up on all his fancy lawyerin'. Here's some actual news-ish content. Obama's going after "tax inversions" today. This isn't a good idea, a substitute for broader corporate tax reform, or...

Applications for new AM stations [American Bandscan]

Brampton, Ontario: 1350KHz:
Application for new station.

450 watts daytime; 55 watts night; non-directional all hours.
News, talk, and 39% ethnic.

Toronto, Ontario: 1280KHz:
Application for new station.< />

100 watts, presumably both day & night non-directional?
English campus station, to more-or-less replace deleted CKLN-88.1.

AM station going away [American Bandscan]

Caraquet, New Brunswick: 810KHz:
Requests move to 94.1 FM.

JOYBAT [Tim Blair]

Enjoy the therapeutic benefits of wearing a man’s word: Yes! You, too, can look this good and feel so happy with a…

Josh Topolsky Leaving The Verge for Bloomberg [Daring Fireball]

A lot of musical chairs being played in tech journalism lately.

‘But Even the Home Screen Is Confusing’ [Daring Fireball]

David Pierce, reviewing the Amazon Fire Phone for The Verge:

You can’t even see the time without tilting your phone just so. An errant buzz is your only indication that you have a notification, prompting you to cock your wrist or swipe down from the top bezel to open the notification windowshade. None of this is explained, none of it is intuitive. Dynamic Perspective makes everything look cleaner, but makes actually using your phone a lot harder. I don’t need my phone to be clever, or spartan. I need it to be obvious. The Fire Phone is anything but.


Related: Josh Topolsky:

My quick personal take on the Fire Phone: it is functionally and aesthetically awful.

Farhad Manjoo on Amazon’s Fire Phone [Daring Fireball]

Farhad Manjoo:

Other instances of Dynamic Perspective are downright annoying. Take Auto Scroll, which moves the text on your screen as you tilt the phone back and forth. Because Auto Scroll calibrates its scrolling speed according to how you’re holding the device when you first load up an article, your brain will struggle to find a set rule about how much to tilt to get the right speed. Often I’d scroll too fast or too slow.

Worse, if you put your phone down on a table while you’re in the middle of an article, the scrolling goes haywire and you lose your place. The best thing about Auto Scroll is that you can turn it off.

If Mayday is the phone’s best feature, they have a problem.

More Amazing Xiaomi/Apple Design Coincidences [Daring Fireball]

Posit: Xioami (a.k.a. “Mi”) poses a serious threat to Samsung because:

  1. Xiaomi is more shamelessly willingly to blatantly copy Apple, down to as many details as they’re able.

  2. They’re better at it. Xiaomi copies with some degree of taste; Samsung has no taste.

  3. Xiaomi operates only in countries with weak IP laws and culture, further enabling and protecting them re: points 1 and 2. (This third point was first brought to my attention by Ben Thompson, when he was my guest on The Talk Show a few weeks ago.)

GOG rolls out Linux support with over 50 games, many on sale [Ars Technica]

While Valve and its Steam distribution platform have been pushing Linux as the future of PC gaming for a long while now, the folks at online store GOG have contented themselves with PC and Mac software. That situation changed today, as GOG (formerly Good Old Games) announced support for Linux, offering over 50 titles for DRM-free download.

GOG's list of available Linux titles is unsurprisingly dominated by indie titles and overlaps somewhat with the more robust list of nearly 600 Linux titles on Steam. But GOG is promoting nearly two dozen titles that are being offered as appearing on Linux for the first time through GOG, after the site says it "personally ushered [them] one by one into the welcoming embrace of Linux gamers" with "special builds prepared by our team." That list of new-to-Linux titles on GOG includes some well-remembered, big-name classics like FlatOut (and FlatOut 2), Rise of the Triad, Sid Meier's Pirates, and Sid Meier's Colonization (not to mention Duke Nukem 3D, which was previously available on Linux).

Users who buy a Linux-compatible game from GOG will be able to download their games as distro-independent tar.gz archives and/or as DEB installers that will work on Ubuntu or Mint. For games compatible with multiple operating systems, one purchase gives access to all versions.

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Kids really do avoid food that’s good for them [Ars Technica]

Children are often fussy eaters, and most parents would say that trying to convince them that a given food is good for them won't help convince them to eat it. As it turns out, "won't help" might be overstating things. When told that a food serves some purpose other than tasting good, kids will rate it as less tasty and eat less of it.

Two Chicago-area researchers, Michal Maimaran and Ayelet Fishbach, phrase their research in terms of what they call "food instrumentality"—the idea that a given type of food is good for achieving a goal. Carrots are good for your vision, spinach makes you strong, and so on. The researchers suspect that this idea interacts with a quirk in the reasoning of young children: they tend to think of things as only serving a single purpose. If carrots are good for your vision, the reasoning goes, they're not likely to be good for your tastebuds at the same time.

Over a series of experiments with children three to five years old, the authors tested foods that were given various purposes: makes you strong, helps you read, or helps you count. In each case, the same foods were offered to a set of control children without any message. By a variety of measures, a positive message about the food undermined the cause: the children rated it as less tasty, planned on consuming less, and actually did consume less when they were given the chance to eat it.

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PSA: Download the OS X Yosemite public beta now [Ars Technica]

You, too can Yosemite-ize your desktop. Just proceed with caution.
Andrew Cunningham

If you didn't sign up for the OS X Yosemite public beta after reading our preview yesterday, you should do it sooner rather than later. Apple has just released the software to its Beta Program site, and people who have signed up should be receiving their notification e-mails now if they haven't gotten them already. Beta testers will receive a Mac App Store redemption code for the software, at which point they can download it as they would a standard OS X installer.

Since this build of Yosemite is beta software, you should back up all of your data and treat the release as though it could wipe out your entire hard drive at any time. Time Machine is your friend. Use a Mac you don't rely on day-to-day if you have one, or at least make a separate test partition after backing all of your stuff up.

If you're one of the people who's going to run this on your primary computer as your primary operating system no matter what we say, Apple has said that the public beta build will be able to update to the final, "golden master" build of Yosemite when it's finished in the fall. There shouldn't be any need to completely reload the OS.

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Researchers learn about gas-giant cores by hammering diamond with lasers [Ars Technica]

The target chamber of the National Ignition Facility.
Matt Swisher

The discovery of so many exoplanets in recent years has raised many new questions, forcing us to reexamine some of our ideas. Scientists had extrapolated models of stellar system evolution from our own Solar System, assuming that others look very similar to our own. But extrapolation can only get us so far. Scientists never expected to find so many “hot Jupiters”—gas giants larger than Jupiter and orbiting very close to their star.

We’re also having a hard time understanding the inner workings of exoplanets and stars with much greater mass than Earth. Scientists have managed to test some materials under extreme pressures and found that our conventional ideas about a material’s behavior may not apply. Certain exotic quantum mechanical models could apply in such extreme cases, but until recently, scientists have not been able to test those models’ predictions.

The difficulty, of course, is that actually visiting the cores of gas giants to test our understandings is wildly impractical. The next best thing, then, is to recreate these massive pressures on Earth and study their effects on materials. As impossible a task as it may seem, scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) used its enormous lasers to do exactly that.

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Sony to pay up to $17.75 million in 2011 PSN hacking settlement [Ars Technica]

The PSN cracking saga is finally coming to a close, legally.

The final loose ends from the massive hack of Sony's PlayStation Network that first came to light in April 2011 are being tied up, with Sony agreeing to a settlement that could hold it liable for up to $15 million in damages, plus nearly $2.75 million in attorney fees.

The lengthy settlement agreement (PDF) offers a number of benefits to users affected by the breach: a free downloadable PS3 or PSP game (from a selection of 14 titles), three PS3 themes (from a selection of six), or a three-month subscription to PlayStation Plus. Users who took advantage of Sony's "Welcome Back" promotion back in 2011 can choose one of those benefits, while those who didn't get a free game back then can choose from two of the three benefits.

Sony has also agreed to pay up to $2,500 to each user who can show that their identity was compromised in a way that "more likely than not... directly and proximately resulted from the PSN Intrusion or the SOE Intrusion and not from any other source." Users can get additional benefits if they can show they stopped using their PSN account for the last three years because of the breach, if they lost out on time using an existing Qriocity music subscription, or if they were registered for Sony Online Entertainment games.

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More Advice from the Clueless [Annoyed Librarian]

It’s often amusing to read big bold statements about libraries from people who don’t know anything about libraries. It’s even more amusing when the statements are ludicrous. Ah, but what can one expect from a fellow from someplace called the Adam Smith Institute, which bills itself as “one of the world’s leading think tanks,” but [...]

Why Has Bell Remained Silent on Its Subscriber Information Disclosure Practices? [Michael Geist]

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Spencer decision, several leading Canadian ISPs have publicly announced that they have changed their practices on the disclosure of subscriber information (including basic subscriber information such as name and address) to law enforcement. For example, Rogers announced that it will now require a warrant or court order prior to disclosing information to law enforcement except in emergency situations. Telus advised that it has adopted a similar practice and TekSavvy indicated that that has long been its approach. SaskTel says that it will release name, address, and phone number.

Unlike its competitors, Bell has remained largely silent in recent weeks. In media reports, the company says little more than that it follows the law.  In fact, the Toronto Star’s Alex Boutilier tweets that the company is now declining to respond to journalist inquiries about the issue. In the past, the company was a clear supporter of disclosing “pre-warrant” information in some circumstances to law enforcement. As detailed in this Canadian Bar Association article:

Under the auspices of the Canadian Coalition Against Internet Child Exploitation (“CCAICE”), certain Canadian ISPs, including Bell Canada, developed in conjunction with certain Canadian law enforcement agencies (“LEAs”), in particular the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre (“NCECC”), a process to handle law enforcement requests of certain limited customer information. A participating ISP, in response to an agreed upon template letter of request, will disclose to the requesting LEA the last known name and address of the account holder that was using a particular IP address at a specific date and time. These requests are made in non-emergency situations and in the absence of a court order [my emphasis added].

The article explains why this policy of disclosing information linking name, address, and IP address may have passed legal muster before the Spencer decision. Post-Spencer, a change is surely in order.  Bell owes it to its customer to publicly disclose its current policy.

The post Why Has Bell Remained Silent on Its Subscriber Information Disclosure Practices? appeared first on Michael Geist.

HORROR IN IRAQ: Islamists Order Genital Mutilation for All Females [The Other McCain]

#YesAllWomen are targeted by Muslims for savage butchery: Militant group Islamic State has ordered all girls and women in and around Iraq’s northern city of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), the United Nations said today. The “fatwa” issued by the Sunni Muslim fighters would potentially affect 4 million women and girls, UN resident […]

Bring Back the Firing Squad [The Other McCain]

Joseph R. Wood III was 30 when he murdered his ex-girlfriend, Debbie Dietz, 29, and her father, Gene Dietz, 55, in Tucson in 1989. Because our legal system has been encumbered by federal court concessions to the “rights” of murderers, it took 25 years to impose justice on this cowardly hateful killer. Also, because of […]

Democrats: The Party of Theft [The Other McCain]

It’s not merely that they steal money from taxpayers. Democrats are just generally dishonest and untrustworthy: Senator John Walsh of Montana took most of a 2007 final paper required for his master’s degree from the United States Army War College from other sources without proper attribution. Mr. Walsh copies an entire page nearly word-for-word from […]

LIVE AT FIVE: 07.24.14 [The Other McCain]

– compiled by Wombat-socho TOP NEWS US Pushes Truce As Gaza Fighting Rages On No statements from Kerry or Netanyahu after meeting US lifts ban on flights to Israel; death toll hits 700 Red Cross van attacked by civilians in Gaza Hamas resists Kerry’s attempts at Gaza cease-fire deal Netherlands Mourns As Malaysian Airlines Victims […]

On Fair Use: Can Dateline NBC Just Run Your YouTube Clip Without Permission? [The Travelin' Librarian]

Fair Use logoThe law doesn’t set out hard and fast rules about how much copyrighted material one can use without crossing the line between fair use and copyright infringement. If a news story quotes a sentence or two from a book that is relevant to the topic of the story, the author of the book would likely have a hard time saying this isn’t fair use. But if that excerpted text grows into multiple paragraphs, it becomes more and more difficult to claim fair use.

Perhaps the easiest way to talk about fair use isn’t in the abstract, but through examples.

Let’s start with the premise of a YouTube user who posted a video about how to build a dining room table.

Example 1:
A news program does a story on “How to Build a Table” and uses the YouTube clip in its entirety with no critical response or editorial addition to the content of the clip. This would be difficult to defend as fair use as there is nothing transformative about the way in which it was presented.

Read the full article @ The Consumerist.

The post On Fair Use: Can Dateline NBC Just Run Your YouTube Clip Without Permission? appeared first on The Travelin' Librarian.

Throwback Thursday: Tigger & Me, 1997 [The Travelin' Librarian]

I have no idea what’s with that horrid haircut…

Tigger & Me, 1997

The post Throwback Thursday: Tigger & Me, 1997 appeared first on The Travelin' Librarian.

The "50 Shades of Grey" trailer is ready to see you now. [Althouse]

I hope you find that suitably ludicrous. If not, if you got actual twinges of sexual feeling, you are not doing your part to prevent the downfall of civilization.

"It is not a coincidence... that judges appointed by Republican and Democratic presidents have divided along party lines in these cases." [Althouse]

"I do not believe this is because Republicans dislike Obamacare and Democrats like it. It is because Republican presidents now appoint judges who stick to textualism even when it leads to harsh results while Democratic presidents are more likely to choose judges who will look at the big picture and the human costs, when they’re parsing the words of a law."

Writes lawprof Richard L. Hasen.

My question for Hasen: But if a judge is going to look at the big picture and the human costs, won't that perception include his likes and dislikes?

I think the answer must be yes, and if so, I believe Hasen — wittingly or unwittingly — conceded that textualism does constrain a judge. Yes, this person — this Scaliaesque entity — will not save us from harsh results, but at the same time, this means that the textualist's idea of what results are, in fact, harsh never becomes part of the analysis.

ADDED: What, if anything, is wrong with Republican Presidents choosing textualists and Democratic Presidents choosing nontextualists? (Maybe that isn't what's happening, but we can assume it is, for the purpose of discussion.) Why isn't that what a liberal should like best (aside from preventing any Republican Presidents from ever appointing any judges)? What would the nontextualist conservative do with clearly written statutes that seem "harsh" to him or impose what he calculates as "human costs"? Does Professor Hasen really want this character's "big picture" trumping the words of legislatures?

AND: I'm trying to imagine what this out-and-proud conservative creative-rewriter of statutes would do. Imagine an arch-conservative President appointing stalwart conservatives with strong visions of the good who feel free to fix statutes to save us from harsh results and human costs. Obviously, Hasen would hate that, and yet it's so tempting to excoriate the textualist conservatives for their textualism, even when you know damned well you'd really hate their nontextualist work. But I think most laypersons think textualism is what a judge should do, and a judge who emerges from the cloak of textualism is much easier to criticize.

ALSO: A textualist may think he can discipline legislators into writing their statutes clearly, but what can such a project mean with a sprawling text like the Affordable Care Act? Did anyone even read it? Was any legislator in a position even to perceive the loose ends that needed tying up? The original act was intended to coerce the states into setting up the exchanges by putting all of the Medicaid funding at risk. The Supreme Court saved Obamacare by rewriting the statute so that only the Medicaid extension would be lost, otherwise the spending power would not have supported the scheme.

So the scheme survived, many states were able to say no, and the federal exchange became necessary. But that was not envisioned by the original statute. A Scalia majority would have taken the entire statutory scheme down in 2012, and we wouldn't be talking about this new set of cases.

In the new cases, no one can find the text needed to make the federal exchange work, and it's no surprise that there's nothing in the text that addresses the remnant of the ACA that was left after the Supreme Court saved us from what Chief Justice Roberts — in his Republican-appointed nontextuality — might have considered a "harsh result."

The newest attack in the war on women: Men commenting on the food women eat. [Althouse]

Be careful, guys, women are taking notes and tweeting about your off-handed remarks about what they are eating, and what you might imagine is lighthearted and even charming, they are portraying as an effort to control their bodies.

"In my late 50s, at a time of life when most people are supposed to be drifting into a cautious conservatism..." [Althouse]

"...I am surprised to find myself moving steadily leftward," writes Thomas Ricks a Politico piece titled "Why Am I Moving Left?/I used to be right down the middle. But America’s changed, and so have I."

Is Ricks someone whose political shift matters, someone we shouldn't suspect of hacking out another essay desperate for links? He informs us that he's spent his journalistic career "covering the U.S. military, first for the Wall Street Journal and then for the Washington Post, and now for Foreign Policy magazine." He's "written five books about the Marines, the Army and our wars." And he actually refrained from voting, because he wanted to maintain a professional detachment from his subject matter. (I wonder how many reporters do that. I've actually toyed with the idea of not voting, but it was a way of conveying my commitment to what I call "cruel neutrality," and in the end, I care too much about participating in the ritual of going to the polls.)

"What is ridiculous is the Obama administration refusing to answer simple questions about whether this was dictated by politics and why the FAA is singling out Israel..." [Althouse]

"... while not focusing on other areas around the world... Was this politics from the White House? Or was this an airline safety decision? And I think the facts strongly suggest it was politics and an effort to strong arm the nation of Israel."

Said Ted Cruz.

Islamic State Orders All Women in Mosul to Undergo Genital Mutilation [The PJ Tatler]

There is no “war on women” in the United States. Those who claim that there is are either cynical are woefully misinformed.

There is a very real war on women in Iraq.

Irish Times says that the Islamofascists are behaving like Islamofascists in the lands they now hold in Iraq.

Militant group Islamic State has ordered all girls and women in and around Iraq’s northern city of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), the United Nationssaid today.

The “fatwa” issued by the Sunni Muslim fighters would potentially affect 4 million women and girls, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Iraq Jacqueline Badcocktold reporters in Geneva by videolink from Arbil.

“This is something very new for Iraq, particularly in this area, and is of grave concern and does need to be addressed,” she said.

Obviously the caliphate’s thugs are most directly to blame for this. Maliki bears some blame as well.

But President Obama deserves a share of the blame for abandoning Iraq. This real and brutal Islamist war on women has his fingerprints on it.

Hillary: ‘Yeah, I’m Kind Of A PR Trainwreck’ [The PJ Tatler]

Well, almost.

Hillary Clinton, who has long had a tempestuous relationship with the media, on Thursday said she may need to “work on” her “expectations” of the press.

Her comments, which came on NPR’s “On Point” program, follow criticism from former New York Times editor Jill Abramson that Clinton expects loyalty from journalists, especially female journalists.

“I think maybe one of the points Jill was making is that I do sometimes expect perhaps more than I should,” the former secretary of state and possible Democratic presidential front-runner said.

This is classic Madame Clinton: imperious, dismissive and always finding a way to blame it on someone else.

It’s just that she expects too much from the poor dears, who are forever failing to live up to what she wants from them.

This “inevitable” woman who would be president is a Democrat who can’t get along with the MSM, a group of people who have mostly become the publicity wing of the party in the past twenty years. Hillary Clinton is such an awful human being that the lap puppies can’t warm up to her.

The best thing that could happen to the Republicans would be Mommy Dearest being the nominee. Fingers crossed…

Sudanese Christian Woman Finally Leaves Country, Meets Pope at Vatican [The PJ Tatler]


The Sudanese Christian who narrowly escaped death for her beliefs was finally out of Khartoum today and in safe hands at the Vatican.

Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli helped arrange Meriam Ibrahim’s departure from Sudan to Rome, according to Vatican Radio. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi welcomed her at the airport.

Along with her husband, American citizen Daniel Wani, her son Martin and baby Maya, born in prison two months ago, Ibrahim met with Pope Francis for half an hour.

The pope thanked Meriam for her “courageous witness to perseverance in the Faith,” and she thanked the pontiff for his prayers.

Under intense international outcry, her death sentence was overturned last month but Sudanese officials kept her from leaving the country by questioning her travel documents.

The family’s next — and final — stop will be the United States.

“As Christians around the world are being persecuted, attacked and even killed, Meriam’s freedom is good news in an otherwise depressing state of affairs,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

“Meriam is just one of thousands, potentially millions, of Christians worldwide whose lives are in danger because of their religious beliefs,” he added. “The U.S. government must continue to make religious freedom a core of our global human rights agenda, by speaking out for those being denied it and using every tool at our disposal to pressure repressive governments to recognize the virtues of tolerance and religious pluralism.”

The State Department’s report on international religious freedom is due for Monday release.

Rubio said that should be a time for the Obama administration to “back its words with actions.”

“This means targeting religious freedom violators with sanctions under existing law, as well as finally taking the long overdue step of filling the post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom,” said the senator. “There is no excuse for this important post to have gone vacant as it has for nine months.”

China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela Condemn Israel for Violating Human Rights [The PJ Tatler]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the latest condemnation of the Jewish state at the UN Human Rights Council as a “travesty” that “should be rejected by decent people everywhere.”

With council members accusing Israel of war crimes, the body approved a “commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

The United States was the only country to vote against the measure.

Seventeen countries abstained, and among the 29 states voting in favor of the resolution were human-rights violators China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.

“Rather than investigate Hamas, which is committing a double war crime by firing rockets at Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians, the UNHRC calls for an investigation of Israel, which has gone to unprecedented lengths to keep Palestinian civilians out of harm’s way, including by dropping leaflets, making phone calls and sending text messages,” Netanyahu said. “The UNHRC should be launching an investigation into Hamas’s decision to turn hospitals into military command centers, use schools as weapons depots and place missile batteries next to playgrounds, private homes and mosques.”

“By failing to condemn Hamas’s systematic use of human shields and by blaming Israel for the deaths that are caused by this grotesque human shields policy, the UNHRC is sending a message to Hamas and terror organizations everywhere that using civilians as human shields is an effective strategy,” the prime minister continued.

“Like the investigation that led to the infamous Goldstone report, a report which was ultimately renounced by its own author, this investigation by a kangaroo court is a foregone conclusion. The predictable result will be the libeling of Israel and even greater use of human shields in the future by Hamas. Those who will pay the price will be not only Israelis but also Palestinians who Hamas will redouble its efforts to use as human shields in the future.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters yesterday that the U.S. voted against the resolution because “we’re opposed to one-sided and biased inquiries of any kind.”

“Unfortunately the Human Rights Council has often put forward one-sided documents,” she added.

Democrat Mark Begich will Flog the Hobby Lobby Hobby Horse Until It Falls Over Dead [The PJ Tatler]

Alaska Democrat Sen. Mark Begich has an editorial on the Hobby Lobby decision in today’s Juneau Empire.

You won’t be surprised that Begich precisely apes the Democrats’ dishonest talking points on the case completely. His editorial is entirely devoid of any originality or independence from the Obama orthodoxy.

Talking point #1: Gender renders the court’s decision illegitimate.

In late June, a narrow majority of five male justices issued an opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell, in which for-profit companies challenged the guarantee that women receive health insurance coverage of birth control of her choice without cost-sharing.

The Democrats’ consistent slamming of the SCOTUS majority is sexist and anti-male.

Talking point #2: Letting some Americans who own closely-held corporations set their own insurance policies somehow constitutes putting government into your healthcare.

As Alaskans, we don’t want the government intruding into our lives and telling us how to make personal decisions. Bosses should not be able to dictate family planning and birth control options for Alaska women.

The kindest response to that is that it is total BS. Obamacare is one, gigantic and permanent government intrusion into Americans’ personal healthcare decisions, which includes millions of ways that government intrudes on personal healthcare decisions. Begich voted for all of that and continues to support it. The abortifacient mandate was created under Obamacare. The above talking point is dishonesty from end to end.

Talking point #3: Choosing not to fund 4 of 20 kinds of contraception somehow constitutes “discrimination.”

That is why I recently cosponsored the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act, also known as the Not My Boss’ Business Act. The bill makes it illegal for any company to deny its workers specific health benefits, including birth control, required to be covered by federal law.

This makes it clear that bosses cannot discriminate against their female workers, ensuring equal treatment under the law. This bill was recently blocked from moving forward on the Senate floor, but I remain undeterred in my efforts to ensure women have the right to choose the birth control and reproductive care options that are best for them.

It simply is not “discrimination” in any way, shape or form. The mandate can be seen as discrimination against Americans who oppose abortion. But a company choosing not to pay for a particular kind of controversial abortifacient drug is not discrimination.

The real reason Begich supports that bill, which has no chance of passing, is because the Democrat base is fired up by it as a wedge issue. The Democrats, including Begich, are using bedrock religious and property rights as a wedge issue for the mid-terms. That’s how little the Democrats as a party consider those fundamental rights. They put those rights up for grabs for the sake of trying to hold onto the Senate.

Begich also supports a bill that would discriminate against religious people who own businesses, and object to abortifacient drugs.

In an effort to make sure women are informed about their employer’s stand on this issue, I am the lead co-sponsor of The Preventive Care Coverage Notification Act. It ensures that current employees and job applicants at for-profit corporations are informed in advance if the corporation intends to deny birth control coverage.

Again, even Hobby Lobby is not “denying birth control coverage.” It objects to paying for four abortifacient drugs. It does cover 16 types of contraception.

The rest of Begich’s piece just rehashes the Democrats’ other talking points against the Hobby Lobby decision.

The Obamacare bill would not have passed if the abortifacient mandate had been included when it was up for consideration. The Obama administration wrote it into regulations after passage. It’s a regulation that can be unwritten at any time. But it’s clear that the mandate’s purpose all along was to generate a phony “war on women” when anyone objected to the mandate, and it’s clear now that it’s a phony issue built to stir up the hard left, anti-religious Democrat base and its ill-informed hangers on.

And dishonest Washington partisans like Mark Begich.

FAA Lifts Ban on Flights to Tel Aviv, May Take ‘Additional Actions’ [The PJ Tatler]

The Federal Aviation Administration lifted its ban on U.S. flights into Tel Aviv a day and a half after imposing the controversial restrictions.

“Before making this decision, the FAA worked with its U.S. government counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the Government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation,” the FAA said in a statement last night.

“The FAA’s primary mission and interest are the protection of people traveling on U.S. airlines. The agency will continue to closely monitor the very fluid situation around Ben Gurion Airport and will take additional actions, as necessary,” the statement continued. “The FAA initially instituted the flight prohibition on Tuesday, July 22, in response to a rocket strike that landed approximately one mile from the airport.”

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg flew to Israel on El Al in protest of the ban, and was greeted at the airport by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I just wanted to do something personally to show my support for standing up for what’s right. I think Israel is doing that. Hamas is trying to kill the Palestinians and kill the Israelis, and somebody has got to say that they have got to stop this. And then along comes the FAA, which I think made a mistake. I hope they will rectify it soon, but they said they didn’t want American planes flying into the world’s most secure airport,” Bloomberg told CNN.

“And so I decided I would take a trip over here on the world’s most secure airline going to the world’s most secure airport. It’s a good lesson for all of us how to run security. Unfortunately, in America, too many times we find people walking across runways, people carrying guns and getting through security onto planes, baggage not being claimed afterwards,” he continued.

“And so it’s a good lesson for us how to run an airline and how to run an airport and I think the FAA should try to make sure that American airports and American airlines follow what is done here. And we certainly don’t want to stop flights into airports in America. It would be devastating for America. It’s devastating for Israel when you stop flights in.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) threatened to hold all State Department nominees until the administration answered his questions about the ban, which was announced shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry announced $47 million in aid to the Palestinians. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf called Cruz’s assertion that there were political motivations “offensive” and “ridiculous.”

“Serious questions were asked about the nature of a decision that handed Hamas a public relations victory and will cost Israel billions of dollars,” said Cruz. “The only thing ‘offensive’ about this situation is how the Obama Administration is spurning our allies to embolden our enemies; the only thing ‘ridiculous’ is the administration’s response to basic questions. Until the State Department answers my questions, I will hold all State Department nominees.”

Asia Tells Obama to Take a Hike on His Energy Schemes [The PJ Tatler]

Energy prices are rising for Americans because Barack Obama wants it that way. He told the San Francisco Chronicle that he would use energy prices hikes to socially engineer energy use, and that is one promise on which he is following through. His EPA’s war on coal alone stands to jack up power prices 70 to 80 percent, according to Dr. Julio Friedmann, of the US Department of Energy.

In recent remarks to the League of Conservation Voters, Obama said that he expects the rest of the world, including developing countries and the largest economies, to do what he is doing to their own energy consumers.

“[W]e’ve got to lead by example.  They’re waiting to see what America does.” Obama said on June 25. “And I’m convinced when America proves what’s possible, other countries are going to come along.”

About that.

Asia’s two largest economies are not waiting to see what America does, and they’re showing no sign of following Obama’s anti-coal lead.

China says it shares Obama’s goal, but it is following its own lead.

China’s chief climate official Xie Zhenhua said China should not be subject to the same rules for greenhouse gas emissions as the United States and other rich countries, signaling that Beijing will oppose any attempt to impose them at next year’s world climate conference.

“We are in different development stages, we have different historical responsibilities and we have different capacities,” Xie told reporters.

Japan is not only not following Obama’s war on coal, it is increasing coal use in new domestic energy projects, according to Mari Iwata in the Wall Street Journal today.

Japan said Wednesday it would step up support for coal-fired power plants in developing nations, challenging a U.S. policy that seeks to discourage such plants in an effort to fight global warming. […] The move represents a repudiation of the Obama administration’s strict stance of carbon emissions. Washington is talking to members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club of developed nations, about a rule that would ban national export-credit agencies from financing new overseas coal power plants.

Japan understands that coal can safely power its economy.

Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s growth strategy, Tokyo seeks each year to back overseas coal power-plant projects worth about $4 billion. Typically those projects have Japanese investors and use at least some Japanese equipment. While the annual target hasn’t been reached yet, several major projects have recently gotten under way.

Japan has long supported energy efficiency. Unlike Barack Obama, who claims to support an “all-of-the-above” strategy that in reality only supports the development of expensive so-called “clean” or “green” energy, Japan actually does support all-of-the-above.

China and Japan are the world’s second and third largest economies respectively.

They’re not buying the Luddite, anti-energy radicalism that Barack Obama is selling on energy.

Free game alert: EA's giving away The Sims 2 after ending support for the game [PCWorld]

EA continues its recent spate of free Origin games this week by giving away its best-selling elaborate murder-trainer The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection. EA just formally ended support for the game a week ago, a decade after the game's initial 2004 launch.

To get access you have to set up an account with Origin and download the client. Next, you have to redeem the product code "I-LOVE-THE-SIMS," regardless of whether that sentiment is true or not. For more detailed instructions you can check EA's official page here.

Along with the base game, Ultimate Collection gives access to the game's eight expansion packs: University, Nightlife, Open for Business, Pets, Seasons, Bon Voyage, FreeTime, and Apartment Life. I assume the co-branded "Stuff Packs" such as the H&M and Ikea packs are not included in the Ultimate Collection, though I haven't verified it for myself. The offer expires at the end of the month (July 31).

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

5 ways to use social media to boost your career prospects [PCWorld]

Face it: Employers, both current and future, look you up online. And not just your LinkedIn profile—most of them will also click any public social network links that are floating around. But don’t panic. With a little effort, you can polish your profiles so your personality shines through and makes you a more attractive candidate to recruiters. Here are five tips for leveraging your social networks to give your career a competitive edge.

1. Keep it professional

It should go without saying that if you have a penchant for posting sexy selfies, risqué party pics, and curse-filled tirades, you should lock down public access to your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles. Although the question of whether your boss can fire you because of something you posted on your own time is up for debate, you don’t want that photo of you at the business end of a beer bong to be the first thing that pops up when a potential employer Googles your name.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Google Maps' contextually aware Explore button shows you cool stuff nearby [PCWorld]

If it's the morning, Google Maps' Explore feature will point you towards breakfast joints; if it's raining, it won't tell you to walk 30 minutes in the rain.

Thousands of sites compromised through WordPress plug-in vulnerability [PCWorld]

A critical vulnerability found recently in a popular newsletter plug-in for WordPress is actively being targeted by hackers and was used to compromise an estimated 50,000 sites so far.

The security flaw is located in MailPoet Newsletters, previously known as wysija-newsletters, and was fixed in version 2.6.7 of the plug-in released on July 1. If left unpatched, it allows attackers to upload arbitrary PHP files on the Web server and take control of the site.

MailPoet Newsletters has been downloaded almost 2 million times from the official WordPress plug-in repository to date.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

EU hears Google, Microsoft, Yahoo on 'right to be forgotten' [PCWorld]

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are meeting with European data protection authorities Thursday to discuss how to implement a recent ruling that gives people the right to have personal information excluded from search results.

The main search engines in Europe are meeting in Brussels with the article 29 Working Party (A29WP), which brings together data protection authorities from across the EU.

The authorities called the meeting after having analyzed the May ruling of the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) that gives people the so-called right to be forgotten online. As a result of the ruling, search engines can be compelled upon request to remove results in Europe for queries that include a person’s name, if the results shown are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive.”

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Watch OneNote's hilariously bad LMFAO parody and 8 more classic Microsoft spoofs [PCWorld]

Microsoft's deep love of hilariously bad parody videos has struck once again, with the OneNote team rolling out "Click it and I Note It," an absolute gem of a disaster that celebrates the note-taking service's deep Surface Pro 3 integration by miming LMFAO's already ridiculous "I'm Sexy and I Know It."

Folks are hating on the video on Twitter, but I kind of love it.

Microsoft's no stranger to so-bad-they're-good parody videos, though. Former CEOs Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer starred in a series of amazing spoofs in years gone by. Here's a few of them; they're all deliciously horrible.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

In-depth interview: Pillars of Eternity's Josh Sawyer talks character creation, cloaks, and ten-foot poles [PCWorld]

Control your desktop, or Windows will control it for you [PCWorld]

Al Nagy asked how to stop Windows from rearranging the icons on his desktop.

Windows likes a neatly-arranged desktop. It wants to snap everything into a grid that starts in the upper-left corner of the screen. Unfortunately, the program's idea of "neatly-arranged" may not coincide with yours.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

To gain control of your own desktop, right-click that desktop and select View. You'll find several options there for controlling how the desktop looks.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

GOG rolls out Linux PC game support ahead of schedule [PCWorld]

GOG.com is adding Linux support to its classic gaming catalog ahead of schedule.

The site, which optimizes older games for modern PCs and sells them DRM-free, is now offering 50 games on Linux. Some of them, including Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold, Sid Meier's Colonization, and Rise of the Triad: Dark War, have never been on Linux before, as GOG has created custom builds for over 20 games.

Games with Linux support will include DEB installers for Ubuntu and Mint, allowing users to easily set up their games. GOG will also provide tar.gz archives for installing on other Linux distributions.

GOG announced its Linux plans in March, saying it would bring at least 100 games to Linux this fall. "We're still aiming to have at least 100 Linux games in the coming months, but we've decided not to delay the launch just for the sake of having a nice-looking number to show off to the press," the site said in a statement.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Razer bakes WeChat into feature-packed Nabu smartband, teases U.S. launch [PCWorld]

You may not care about WeChat integration, but Razer is going to roll out the Nabu smartband soon in the U.S.

Super Smash Flash 2 brings 16-bit Smash Bros. straight to your browser [PCWorld]

Every console generation, it's the same thing. 1) Nintendo releases a console. 2) Nintendo's console isn't doing too well. 3) Nintendo releases a new version of Smash Bros. 4) Nintendo's console sells a lot of units.

Yes, it's a hostage situation that dates back nearly a decade-and-a-half now. You've got to get your Smash Bros fix, and the only place you can get that is on Nintendo hardware.

Or is it?

What if it didn't have to be this way? What if you could play Smash Bros from the comfort of your PC—perhaps while sitting at work? [Note: We in no way encourage you to slack off while you're working. We would never.]

Meet Super Smash Flash 2. Super Smash Flash 2 is a fan-made (read: entirely unofficial) Flash-native entry in Nintendo's popular fighting series. An update rolling out today will add support for multiplayer which, let's be honest, is what people really want to play anyway.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Europeans call for a single EU copyright to get more access to online services [PCWorld]

Many European consumers are frustrated by frequently being denied access to online services outside of their home countries and are calling on the European Commission to implement a ‘common copyright’ in Europe. This pits them against publishers and broadcasters, who want enforcement of existing rules instead, a public consultation on EU digital copyright reform showed.

The difficulty consumers have when trying to access online services in other countries was one of the main problems highlighted in the public consultation. The goal of the consultation was to gather input from all interested parties on the Commission’s review of the EU copyright rules.

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Lenovo reveals smartglasses prototype that apes Google Glass, seeks hardware partners [PCWorld]

Lenovo showed off a smart glasses prototype on Thursday, part of a push to attract developers and other hardware manufacturers to a new partner program.

The wearable device looks similar to Google Glass, but has its battery attached down at the user’s necks. More details will be announced in October.

Lenovo is also looking for partners to help it develop products ranging from wireless routers to air purifiers for its home market of China. The PC maker wants to team up, and even invest in tech companies that work on products beyond PCs and smartphones.

To that end, Lenovo has established the “NBD” platform. If it wants to address a broader market, including connected devices that make up the so-called Internet of things, Lenovo can’t just build the hardware independently, and hope it sells, company executives said to journalists on Thursday.

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Google Voice's website gets Hangouts integration, no Google+ account required [PCWorld]

We're still waiting to see if Google will eventually merge Google Voice with Hangouts for Android and iOS, as has been anticipated for months now. But on Wednesday, Google went ahead and did the opposite for PCs, integrating Hangouts into the Google Voice website.

The new feature makes it easier to quickly call friends, family, and coworkers when you're not close to a phone connected to your Google Voice account.

Even better, the new Google Voice-Hangouts integration does not require a Google+ account or Hangouts in Gmail to work, Alex Wiesen, tech lead manager for Google Voice (and as first reported by Engadget).

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Solid State Doctor 3.1 review: SSD TRIM for the masses [PCWorld]

For anyone not running Windows 8.1 with its "optimize drive" command, there haven't been a lot of options for forcing your SSD to clean house—i.e. erasing cells, consolidating data, or whatever other techniques SSD vendors use to make sure that the drive continues to perform at its peak and doesn't suffer debilitating conditions such as erase-before-write contention. Solid State Doctor, a toolbox utility from the LC Technology data recovery house, will spur nearly any SSD into tidying up the place via TRIM commands.

Alas, in the few short months since I started my evaluation, vendors such as SanDisk and Samsung have added this trick and others to their utilities, so the $39 Solid State Doctor’s market is shrinking. That said, if your drive's vendor doesn't offer a TRIM tool, and not every vendor does, then Solid State Doctor is the only option I'm aware of. And for techs it remains an attractive option as it obviates the need to maintain multiple vendor-specific tools. 

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Hackers steal user data from the European Central Bank website, ask for money [PCWorld]

Hackers have stolen user contact information, including email addresses and phone numbers, from the website of the European Central Bank and attempted to extort money from the institution.

The attackers exploited a vulnerability to access a database serving the ECB’s public website, the institution announced Thursday on its website. No internal systems or market sensitive data were affected, the ECB said.

The compromised database primarily contained contact information provided by users when registering for various ECB events and conferences. Most of the data was encrypted, but email addresses, phone numbers and street addresses were not, according to the ECB.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Salesforce.com launches Sales Reach for real-time selling and marketing [PCWorld]

Salesforce.com is combining its Pardot marketing software, sales automation application and social communities platform into a new product called Sales Reach, which it says can help salespeople nurture leads and make deals in real time.

Today’s buyers don’t follow a linear, predictable process, said Mark Woollen, senior vice president of product marketing, Salesforce.com Sales Cloud. Sales Reach gives salespeople the ability to closely track a prospect’s buying mood and then “strike while the iron is hot,” all from their mobile devices, Woollen said.

To this end, Sales Reach provides real-time activity notifications that get pushed to a salesperson’s device. For example, a salesperson might get a notification that a prospect just downloaded a case study from the company’s product website and looked at pricing information, said Salesforce.com product evangelist Mathew Sweezey.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

EBay faces class action suit over data breach [PCWorld]

EBay faces a class action suit in a U.S. federal court over a security breach earlier this year.

The consumer privacy class action lawsuit, filed Wednesday by Collin Green, a citizen of the state of Louisiana, alleged that the security breach was the result of eBay’s inadequate security in regard to protecting identity information of its millions of customers.

The e-commerce site’s failure to properly secure the information “has caused, and is continuing to cause, damage to its customers, the putative class members herein,” according to the complaint by Green which asks for class action status.

EBay informed users in May that it was aware of unauthorized access to eBay systems that may have exposed some customer information. The company said there was no evidence that financial data was compromised. The company subsequently advised users to change their eBay passwords as the attack compromised a database containing eBay user passwords.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Android Influencers: iFixit founders Kyle Wiens and Luke Soules [PCWorld]

The two head honchos of iFixit talk about how the site started, where it's headed, and why the HTC One ranks so low on the repairability scale.

LG notches record smartphone shipments on G3 strength [PCWorld]

The G3 has boosted LG’s smartphone shipments to record levels and helped reverse three quarters of losses at its phone division, the electronics giant said Thursday.

LG Electronics said its LG Mobile Communications Co. shipped a record 14.5 million smartphones in the second quarter, marking a 20 percent increase from a year earlier.

LTE products accounted for more than one-third of all LG smartphones sold this year, LG Electronics said, announcing a 165 percent year-on-year increase in net profit for the quarter, to 412 billion Korean won (US$400 million).

Sales by the mobile unit were up 16 percent to 3.62 trillion Korean won, while its operating profit of 85.9 billion Korean won ended three consecutive quarters of losses.

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10 technologies that will transform PCs in 2015 and beyond [PCWorld]

The PC's future is so bright, you gotta wear shadesnearfuturepctech primary

You might write off PCs as archaic or boring. You might take for granted that they'll get faster, lighter, more power-efficient and more convenient to use over time.

But if you stop and consider all the things that go into making a computer better, there’s actually a lot to be excited about. Here are 10 PC advancements that will transform PCs over the next several years.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

More AT&T customers switch to paying for their phones [PCWorld]

A majority of AT&T’s new smartphone customers are now choosing a plan where they pay for their phones over time, helping to drive strong second-quarter financial results, the carrier said.

Under the AT&T Next plan, introduced last July, subscribers make monthly device payments and can switch to a new phone model once a year. That saves AT&T from having to subsidize the phone, something U.S. mobile operators have done for years at great cost. Interest in Next is accelerating, making up more than 50 percent of the carrier’s smartphone additions and plan upgrades in the second quarter.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Facebook isn't giving up on search [PCWorld]

Facebook reported Wednesday that it now handles an average of more than 1 billion searches a day, but it still has work to do to provide a comprehensive search tool.

Early last year, Facebook unveiled an ambitious search project called Graph Search. The feature was conceived to index the people on Facebook, their posts and the connections between them, to provide a personalized search tool based around people’s social networks. It would allow for searches on a variety of topics pertaining to places, people, interests and other topics.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Bruce Braley couldn’t be bothered with VA oversight hearings [Power Line]

(Paul Mirengoff)

Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democratic candidate for the Senate in Iowa, landed in hot water when video emerged of a fundraiser with trial lawyers at which he ridiculed Sen. Chuck Grassley for being an Iowa farmer. Now we learn, via the Des Moines Register, that Braley missed 75 percent (15 of 20) of meetings of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, which provides oversight for the immensely troubled Veterans Administration.

One of the committee meetings Braley missed occurred just a few months before news reports found systemic and shocking problems in patient care. The subject of that particular hearing was the backlog of disability claims and reports of problems with mental health care and stewardship of VA funding — an important subject, one might have thought.

The day of that hearing, Braley attended three fundraisers.

Braley’s staff claims that he missed the VA oversight hearing on the day of the three fundraisers because he went to a congressional hearing on Fast and Furious. However, according to the Des Moines Register’s report, Braley said nothing during that hearing. And the multiple times his seat was within camera view during the hour and a half that the Veterans Affairs committee was in session, Braley wasn’t seated at the Fast and Furious hearing.

Braley did check himself in as “present” for the Fast and Furious hearing, but apparently did not participate in it — and certainly not in a way that would have prevented him from attended at least part of the Veterans Affairs hearing.

Evidently, Braley had places to go and people to meet that day, and those places and people did not pertain to the care and treatment of our wounded warriors. Indeed, given his pattern of skipping VA oversight hearings, it’s fair to conclude that the mental health and medical treatment of military veterans isn’t a priority item for this politician.

By the way, Braley’s opponent, Joni Ernst, is an Iraq war veteran. Ernst just took two weeks off from campaigning to perform her annual service in the Iowa National Guard whose largest battalion she currently commands.

Drafting error vs. drafting miscalculation [Power Line]

(Paul Mirengoff)

Sean Davis, a former congressional staffer, examines the claim that the provision in Obamacare limiting subsidies to those participating in state exchanges was the product of “drafting error.” He finds it laughable.

I discussed what a legislative drafting error looks like here. Davis sees it the same way:

When I worked in the Senate. . .it was not uncommon to find obvious errors in bills and amendments. Sometimes you would see a date written as 3015 instead of 2015. Sometimes a non-existent section would be referenced, or a section number in a table of contents might be wrong. Other times, you might see a dollar figure that had too few or too many zeroes (seriously, that happened).

You might even find a misspelled word or an incorrect line number every now and again. Those were true “drafting errors,” the typos of the legislative world.

The legislative language at issue in Halbig v. Burwell is an entirely different matter:

The deliberate creation of a separate section to authorize a separate federal entity [the federal exchange] is not a drafting error. The repeated and deliberate reference to one section but not another is not a drafting error.

The refusal to grant equal authority to two programs authorized by two separate sections is not a drafting error. The decision to specifically reference section X but not section Y in a portion of a law that grants spending or tax authority is not a drafting error.

Clear evidence that Congress did not commit a drafting error can also be found in the events that followed the passage of Obamacare:

When I witnessed drafting errors that went uncorrected and ended up being codified in law, I saw the same behavior over and over again: recognition of the error, followed by an immediate attempt to correct it. Usually the corrections were done via an uncontroversial “technical corrections” bill. They were almost always drafted and passed within a couple of days or weeks of the original law’s passage.

But that’s not what we saw with this alleged “drafting error.” No attempt was made to rectify the alleged “error.”

The timeline tells it all. Obamacare was signed into law in March of 2010. It wasn’t until August of 2011 that the IRS decided to make tax credit subsidies available to plans purchased on federal exchanges. That’s a span of 16 months—an awfully long time to recognize and address a “drafting error.”

What occurred during these 16 months that caused Democrats to discover the error of their ways? As of August 2011, only ten states had established Obamacare exchanges and 17 had rejected them — that’s what.

The subsidies for those participating in state exchanges were intended to induce states to establish such exchanges. No such incentive was needed to bring about the establishment of the federal exchange; they were mandated by the Obamacare legislation itself.

By August 2011, Team Obama realized that its plan had backfired. The subsidy incentive wasn’t inducing many states to create exchanges, and this meant that subsidies would not widely be available.

To avoid this draconian consequence of Democrat miscalculation, the legislation had to be fixed. Congress wasn’t about to fix it, so the IRS did.

In doing so, the IRS did not pretend it was correcting a drafting error. Rather, as Davis emphasizes, the IRS claimed the opposite: that the text clearly endorsed the IRS interpretation. In its May 2012 announcement of the rule in question, it stated:

The statutory language of section 36B and other provisions of the Affordable Care Act support the interpretation that credits are available to taxpayers who obtain coverage through a State Exchange, regional Exchange, subsidiary Exchange, and the Federally-facilitated Exchange. . . .

Accordingly, the final regulations maintain the rule in the proposed regulations because it is consistent with the language, purpose, and structure of section 36B and the Affordable Care Act as a whole.

The validity of the IRS’s rule must stand or fall on this assertion. And given the clarity of the statutory language, no court acting in good faith could sustain the IRS’s rule.

Absent a drafting error in the true sense, black can only black; it cannot mean white.

The Eternal Spotlessness of the Sunshine Mind [Power Line]

(Steven Hayward)

In today’s climate news, those crazy people who are sometimes called “climate skeptics” have from time to time pointed at the bright yellow thing in the sky during the daytime and suggested that maybe it has something to do with the earth’s climate.  Noooooo, say the climatistas—it’s SUV emissions all the way down.  Shut up.  Because 97 percent!

The Los Angeles Times, which proudly announced it would publish no more letters to the editor from climate skeptics (because 97 percent!), today reports on a current puzzle that hitherto only climate skeptics have been asking about: the sun goes through fairly regular epicycles that typically feature a lot of sunspot activity at the peak of the cycle.  And sunspots are thought to play some role in climate variation, albeit probably very small.  But the current “solar maximum” of this epicycle is showing very little sunspot activity.  The Times reports:

So what’s going on here? Is the “All Quiet Event” as solar physicist Tony Phillips dubbed it, a big deal or not?

“It is weird, but it’s not super weird,” said Phillips, who writes about solar activity on his website SpaceWeather.com. “To have a spotless day during solar maximum is odd, but then again, this solar maximum we are in has been very wimpy.”

Phillips notes this is the weakest solar maximum to have been observed in the space age, and it is shaking out to be the weakest one in the past 100 years, so the spotless day was not so out of left field.

“It all underlines that solar physicists really don’t know what the heck is happening on the sun,” Phillips said. “We just don’t know how to predict the sun, that is the take away message of this event.” . . .

“You just can’t predict the sun,” Phillips said.

Yeah, but the sunshine minds of the climatistas can predict the climate 50 and 100 years from now.  Because 97 percent!

RELATED: From the Washington Post yesterday: “How a Solar Storm Two Years Ago Nearly Caused a Catastrophe on Earth.”

Annals of diplomacy [Power Line]

(Scott Johnson)

Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met yesterday in Jerusalem and posed for a photo prior to the meeting (below). Israel is engaged in a deathly struggle with a genocidal enemy; Kerry seeks to retard its efforts. Kerry’s presence was — he has now departed to return to Cairo — as we have noted a few times, unwanted. Netanyahu was not thrilled to see Kerry. Our friend Ed Morrissey interpreted the photo, commenting concisely on Twitter: “Someone doesn’t look happy to see someone else.”

If he could have, Netanyahu might have borrowed from Jeremiah Denton’s playbook and communicated his message to the world in Morse Code, blinking his eyes: T-O-R-T-U-R-E!


Taking a break from his work in Jerusalem yesterday, Kerry paid a courtesy call on the parents of Max Steinberg, the 24-year-old Los Angeles native and IDF soldier who was killed in action in Gaza. Steinberg had been a member of Israel’s elite Golani brigade and his funeral elicited a massive turnout. Kerry appeared at the shiva held that evening to express his condolences.

Steinberg had been a member of Israel’s elite Golani brigade. His funeral elicited a massive turnout. According to the Jewish Journal, “Kerry entered and exited the room swiftly, surrounded by men in black and refusing to take any questions from press.”

For a Secretary of State, Kerry is one weird dude. It’s nice that he appeared at the shiva; his attendance speaks for itself and, I am sure, meant a lot to the family. Yet Kerry seems to lack a certain tact that is common among average Americans. You might even say it comes naturally to them. Where others fall back on conventional expressions of sympathy that ease human interaction under difficult circumstances, Kerry struggles unsuccessfully to simulate normality.

“How’s your day?” Kerry asked as he sat down. Well, they just buried their son, but other than that…

“How’s your day?” Mrs. Steinberg responded.

“My day’s going better than yours,” Kerry allowed. He understands they just buried their son…he just doesn’t know what to say. How about something like: I pray that you will find consolation in your son’s memory. Just for starters.

Kerry didn’t say that, but he added: “I am so honored to be here. I am in awe of your son, truly,” Kerry told the family. “And I think you know, I served in the military, and I have great respect for anybody who… especially puts themself [sic] willingly in harm’s way. And as an American, we’re so proud of the affection that he felt, just the love he felt, and the roots he found in this country.”

Via Washington Free Beacon.

Breaking News: ‘Socialists Are Cheaters, Says New Study’ [Ed Driscoll]

Well, of course. But it’s always nice to have confirmation:

“The longer individuals were exposed to socialism, the more likely they were to cheat on our task,” according to a new study, “The (True) Legacy of Two Really Existing Economic Systems,” from Duke University and the University of Munich. The team of researchers concluded this after working with 259 participants from Berlin who grew up on opposite sides of the infamous wall.

When playing a dice game that could earn them €6 ($8), subjects originally from the East, which was for four decades under socialist rule, were more likely than their market economy counterparts in West to lie about how they fared. The Economist explains the task:

The game was simple enough. Each participant was asked to throw a die 40 times and record each roll on a piece of paper. A higher overall tally earned a bigger payoff. Before each roll, players had to commit themselves to write down the number that was on either the top or the bottom side of the die. However, they did not have to tell anyone which side they had chosen, which made it easy to cheat by rolling the die first and then pretending that they had selected the side with the highest number. If they picked the top and then rolled a two, for example, they would have an incentive to claim—falsely—that they had chosen the bottom, which would be a five.

The results were that “East Germans cheated twice as much as West Germans overall,” leaving the researchers to conclude the “the political regime of socialism has a lasting impact on citizens’ basic morality.”

And then there’s the game that asks: who goes national socialist? 

Popular during the predecessor regime to the former East and West Germany and increasingly en vogue today.

Update: QED.

POLL: We’re Gonna Keep Our Lousy Congress [VodkaPundit]


Aaron Blake for WaPo:

Americans appear prepared to deal with their historic unhappiness using perhaps the least-productive response: Staying home.

A new study shows that Americans are on-track to set a new low for turnout in a midterm election, and a record number of states could set their own new records for lowest percentage of eligible citizens casting ballots.

The question of Senate control might come down to the percentage of ineligible citizens casting ballots.

This Isn’t the Stephen Green You’re Looking For [VodkaPundit]

So of course I have Google News Alerts set for my real name and for my nom me de blog. And while I am the world’s only living VodkaPundit, I’m not the only Stephen Green sometimes making the news. To wit:

Every month, the Kansas City School Board pays the bill for Superintendent Stephen Green’s district credit card.

Through a public records request, KCTV5 News dug through the transactions to find the card swiped at high-end restaurants for meals with administrators, school board members, consultants and community leaders, along with other questionable transactions.

In just three meals at the Bristol restaurant in the Power and Light District, Green’s card was used to pay the tab for himself and his cabinet staff to dine on lobster, swordfish and filet mignon. The bills totaled $624.65.

Green defends the transactions.

KCTV5 reviewed receipts for nearly two years of transactions to see the district card used at high-end restaurants in Kansas City including Brio, Classic Cup, Capital Grill and Houston’s. But hands down the most meals paid for with taxpayer dollars were spent at Bristol, which is a short walk from the district’s downtown headquarters.

“The crazy thing to me is you have 23 visits to Bristol, with over $2,000 in charges,” said James V. Shuls, director of education policy at the Show-Me Institute in St. Louis. “A ton of other restaurants people are going to and it seems like nobody is really checking these things.”

I hope KC residents remember this guy, next time the district wants to raise property taxes to pay off his Amex.

Flipping the Semi-Bird [VodkaPundit]


Changyuraptor is the largest four-winged, feathered dinosaur found yet:

The meat-eating creature, called Changyuraptor yangi, had exceptionally long tail feathers, the longest feathers of any dinosaur, at one foot in length (30 cm). It had feather-covered forelimbs akin to wings as well as legs covered in feathers in a way that gave the appearance of a second set of wings.

Changyuraptor is not considered a bird but rather a very bird-like dinosaur. It illustrates that it is not always easy to tell what is and is not a bird. It measured a bit more than 4 feet long (1.3 meters) and weighed roughly 9 pounds (4 kg).

“Animals like Changyuraptor were probably not engaged in powered flight like modern birds. However, Changyuraptor and dinosaurs like it could flap their wings and certainly had large feathered surfaces on both their forelimbs and hind limbs,” Turner said.

“So this does raise the possibility they could glide or ‘fly’ in a primitive sort of way. The way I like to think of it is: if you pushed them out of a tree, they’d fall pretty slowly,” Turner added.

If you want to try pushing the large meat-eating dinosaur out of a tree, be my guest.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day [VodkaPundit]

It’s easy to determine the winners and losers of any government scheme — just follow the money:

The winners of ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion are able-bodied, working-age adults; almost all of whom (82%) have no children to support, nearly half of whom (45%) do not work at all and many of whom (35%) with a record of run-ins with the criminal justice system. The losers when it comes to ObamaCare expansion are the vulnerable people Medicaid was created to protect—low-income kids, poor moms, the elderly, the blind and the disabled.

“Nothing is fair or compassionate about how ObamaCare expansion treats the truly vulnerable patients relying on Medicaid to survive,” explained FGA Director of Research Jonathan Ingram. “ObamaCare fast-tracks the Medicaid expansion population of working-age, able-bodied childless adults to the front of the line while it cuts the Medicaid safety net out from under the patients who need it most.”

The federal government has promised states that expand Medicaid eligibility under ObamaCare to pay the full cost of the expansion through 2016 then ratchet its share down to 90% by 2020. This funding promise is only made for the Medicaid expansion population. There is no change in federal funding for currently-eligible patients, which stands today at an average 57%. Put simply, Medicaid expansion states will receive substantially more federal funding for working-age, able-bodied childless adults than they will for truly vulnerable patients.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that the childless, able-bodied unemployed tend to be a Democrat constituency. Besides, breadwinning parents are probably just bitter clingers, anyway.

The Science of Poverty [VodkaPundit]


Longtime “Universal Basic Income” supporter (and self-avowed right-winger) Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry has changed his mind about the UBI. Because science:

It just so happens that the UBI is one of the very few, if not the only, domains of social science policy where we have exactly that: extensive, long-term, repeated RFTs, which are the gold standard of evidence in social science.

As RFT expert Jim Manzi writes, these experiments “tested a wide variety of program variants among the urban and rural poor, in better and worse macroeconomic periods, and in geographies from New Jersey to Seattle”; more than 30 experiments were done in the U.S. from the ’60s to the ’90s and there was another set of experiments done in Canada in the ’90s. The universal basic income is one of the few areas of social policy where we can say with some confidence “Science says…”

And science says the UBI doesn’t work.

As Manzi writes, one of the few consistent findings across all these experiments is simply this: The only type of welfare policy that reliably gets people who can work into work is a welfare policy with work requirements.

The best anti-poverty program is an unbridled and growing economy, where everyone who wants to work, can find work.

And the ones who don’t want to work? I find it hard to get excited over any potential program to lavish them with my tax dollars.

Craig Small: PHP uniqid() not always a unique ID [Planet Debian]

For quite some time modern versions of JFFNMS have had a problem. In large installations hosts would randomly appear as down with the reachability interface going red. All other interface types worked, just this one.

Reachability interfaces are odd, because they call fping or fping6 do to the work. The reason is because to run a ping program you need to have root access to a socket and to do that is far too difficult and scary in PHP which is what JFFNMS is written in.

To capture the output of fping, the program is executed and the output captured to a temporary file. For my tiny setup this worked fine, for a lot of small setups this was also fine. For larger setups, it was not fine at all. Random failed interfaces and, most bizzarely of all, even though a file disappearing. The program checked for a file to exist and then ran stat in a loop to see if data was there. The file exist check worked but the stat said file not found.

At first I thought it was some odd load related problem, perhaps the filesystem not being happy and having a file there but not really there. That was, until someone said “Are these numbers supposed to be the same?”

The numbers he was referring to was the filename id of the temporary file. They were most DEFINITELY not supposed to be the same. They were supposed to be unique. Why were they always unique for me and not for large setups?

The problem is with the uniqid() function. It is basically a hex representation of the time.  Large setups often have large numbers of child processes for polling devices. As the number of poller children increases, the chance that two child processes start the reachability poll at the same time and have the same uniqid increases. It’s why the problem happened, but not all the time.

The stat error was another symptom of this bug, what would happen was:

  • Child 1 starts the poll, temp filename abc123
  • Child 2 starts the poll in the same microsecond, temp filename is also abc123
  • Child 1 and 2 wait poller starts, sees that the temp file exists and goes into a loop of stat and wait until there is a result
  • Child 1 finishes, grabs the details, deletes the temporary file
  • Child 2 loops, tries to run stat but finds no file

Who finishes first is entirely dependent on how quickly the fping returns and that is dependent on how quicky the remote host responds to pings, so its kind of random.

A minor patch to use tempnam() instead of uniqid() and adding the interface ID in the mix for good measure (no two children will poll the same interface, the parent’s scheduler makes sure of that.) The initial responses is that it is looking good.


Martin Pitt: vim config for Markdown+LaTeX pandoc editing [Planet Debian]

I have used LaTeX and latex-beamer for pretty much my entire life of document and presentation production, i. e. since about my 9th school grade. I’ve always found the LaTeX syntax a bit clumsy, but with good enough editor shortcuts to insert e. g. \begin{itemize} \item...\end{itemize} with just two keystrokes, it has been good enough for me.

A few months ago a friend of mine pointed out pandoc to me, which is just simply awesome. It can convert between a million document formats, but most importantly take Markdown and spit out LaTeX, or directly PDF (through an intermediate step of building a LaTeX document and calling pdftex). It also has a template for beamer. Documents now look soo much more readable and are easier to write! And you can always directly write LaTeX commands without any fuss, so that you can use markdown for the structure/headings/enumerations/etc., and LaTeX for formulax, XYTex and the other goodies. That’s how it should always should have been! ☺

So last night I finally sat down and created a vim config for it:

"-- pandoc Markdown+LaTeX -------------------------------------------

function s:MDSettings()
    inoremap <buffer> <Leader>n \note[item]{}<Esc>i
    noremap <buffer> <Leader>b :! pandoc -t beamer % -o %<.pdf<CR><CR>
    noremap <buffer> <Leader>l :! pandoc -t latex % -o %<.pdf<CR>
    noremap <buffer> <Leader>v :! evince %<.pdf 2>&1 >/dev/null &<CR><CR>

    " adjust syntax highlighting for LaTeX parts
    "   inline formulas:
    syntax region Statement oneline matchgroup=Delimiter start="\$" end="\$"
    "   environments:
    syntax region Statement matchgroup=Delimiter start="\\begin{.*}" end="\\end{.*}" contains=Statement
    "   commands:
    syntax region Statement matchgroup=Delimiter start="{" end="}" contains=Statement

autocmd BufRead,BufNewFile *.md setfiletype markdown
autocmd FileType markdown :call <SID>MDSettings()

That gives me “good enough” (with some quirks) highlighting without trying to interpret TeX stuff as Markdown, and shortcuts for calling pandoc and evince. Improvements appreciated!

Oli Warner: Converting an existing Ubuntu Desktop into a Chrome kiosk [Planet Ubuntu]

You might already have Ubuntu Desktop installed and you might want to just run one application without stripping it down. This article should give you a decent idea how to convert a stock Desktop/Unity install into a single-application computer.

This follows straight on from today's other article on building a kiosk computer with Ubuntu and Chrome [from scratch]. In my mind that's the perfect setup: low fat and speedy... But we don't always get it right first time. You might have already been battling with a full Ubuntu install and not have the time to strip it down.

This tutorial assumes you're starting with an Ubuntu desktop, all installed with working network and graphics. While we're in graphical-land, you might as well go and install Chrome.

I have tested this in a clean 14.04 install but be careful. Back up any important data before you commit.

sudo apt update
sudo apt install --no-install-recommends openbox

sudo install -b -m 755 /dev/stdin /opt/kiosk.sh <<- EOF

  xset -dpms
  xset s off
  openbox-session &

  while true; do
    rm -rf ~/.{config,cache}/google-chrome/
    google-chrome --kiosk --no-first-run  'http://thepcspy.com'

sudo install -b -m 644 /dev/stdin /etc/init/kiosk.conf <<- EOF
  start on (filesystem and stopped udevtrigger)
  stop on runlevel [06]

  emits starting-x

  exec sudo -u $USER startx /etc/X11/Xsession /opt/kiosk.sh --

sudo dpkg-reconfigure x11-common  # select Anybody

echo manual | sudo tee /etc/init/lightdm.override  # disable desktop

sudo reboot

This should boot you into a browser looking at my home page (use sudoedit /opt/kiosk.sh to change that), but broadly speaking, we're done.

If you ever need to get back into the desktop you should be able to run sudo start lightdm. It'll probably appear on VT8 (Control+Alt+F8 to switch).

Why wouldn't I always do it this way?

I'll freely admit that I've done farts longer than it took to run the above. Starting from an Ubuntu Desktop base does do a lot of the work for us, however it is demonstrably flabbier:

  • The Server result was 1.6GB, using 117MB RAM with 38 processes.
  • The Desktop result is 3.7GB, using 294MB RAM with 80 processes!

Yeah, the Desktop is still loading a number of udisks mount helpers, PulseAudio, GVFS, Deja Dup, Bluetooth daemons, volume controls, Ubuntu 1, CUPS the printer server and all the various Network and Modem Manager things a traditional desktop needs.

This is the reason you base your production model off Ubuntu Server (or even Ubuntu Minimal).

And remember that you aren't done yet. There's a big list of boring jobs to do before it's Martini O'Clock

Just remember that everything I said about physical and network security last time applies doubly here. Ubuntu-proper ships a ton of software on its 1GB image and quite a lot more of that will be running, even after we've disabled the desktop. You're going to want to spend time stripping some of that out and putting in place any security you need to stop people getting in.

Just be careful and conscientious about how you deploy software.

Ubuntu Scientists: Who We Are: Svetlana Belkin, Admin/Founder [Planet Ubuntu]

Welcome all to the first of many “Who We Are” posts.  These posts will introduce you to many of our  members of the team.  We will start with Svetlana Belkin, the founder and admin of the team:

I am Svetlana Belkin (A.K.A. belkinsa everywhere in Ubuntu community and
Mechafish on the Ubuntu Forums), and I am getting my BS in biology with
molecular sciences as my focus at University of Cincinnati. I used
Ubuntu since 2009, but the only “scientific” program that I used was
Ugene. But hopefully, I will get to use more in my field.

Filed under: Who We Are

Oli Warner: Building a kiosk computer with Ubuntu 14.04 and Chrome [Planet Ubuntu]

Single-purpose kiosk computing might seem scary and industrial but thanks to cheap hardware and Ubuntu, it's an increasingly popular idea. I'm going to show you how and it's only going to take a few minutes to get to something usable.

Hopefully we'll do better than the image on the right.

We're going to be running a very light stack of X, Openbox and the Google Chrome web browser to load a specified website. The website could be local files on the kiosk or remote. It could be interactive or just an advertising roll. The options are endless.

The whole thing takes less than 2GB of disk space and can run on 512MB of RAM.

Update: Read this companion tutorial if you want to convert an existing Ubuntu Desktop install to a kiosk.

Step 1: Installing Ubuntu Server

I'm picking the Server flavour of Ubuntu for this. It's all the nuts-and-bolts of regular Ubuntu without installing a load of flabby graphical applications that we're never ever going to use.

It's free for download. I would suggest 64bit if your hardware supports it and I'm going with the latest LTS (14.04 at the time of writing). Sidebar: If you've never tested your kiosk's hardware in Ubuntu before it might be worth download the Desktop Live USB, burning it and checking everything works.

Just follow the installation instructions. Burn it to a USB stick, boot the kiosk to it and go through. I just accepted the defaults and when asked:

  • Set my username to user and set an hard-to-guess, strong password.
  • Enabled automatic updates
  • At the end when tasksel ran, opted to install the SSH server task so I could SSH in from a client that supported copy and paste!

After you reboot, you should be looking at a Ubuntu 14.04 LTS ubuntu tty1 login prompt. You can either SSH in (assuming you're networked and you installed the SSH server task) or just log in.

The installer auto-configures an ethernet connection (if one exists) so I'm going to assume you already have a network connection. If you don't or want to change to wireless, this is the point where you'd want to use nmcli to add and enable your connection. It'll go something like this:

sudo apt install network-manager
sudo nmcli dev wifi con <SSID> password <password>

Later releases should have nmtui which will make this easier but until then you always have man nmcli :)

Step 2: Install all the things

We obviously need a bit of extra software to get up and running but we can keep this fairly compact. We need to install:

  • X (the display server) and some scripts to launch it
  • A lightweight window manager to enable Chrome to go fullscreen
  • Google Chrome

We'll start by adding the Google-maintained repository for Chrome:

sudo add-apt-repository 'deb http://dl.google.com/linux/chrome/deb/ stable main'
wget -qO- https://dl-ssl.google.com/linux/linux_signing_key.pub | sudo apt-key add -

Then update our packages list and install:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install --no-install-recommends xorg openbox google-chrome-stable

If you omit --no-install-recommends you will pull in hundreds of megabytes of extra packages that would normally make life easier but in a kiosk scenario, only serve as bloat.

Step 3: Loading the browser on boot

I know we've only been going for about five minutes but we're almost done. We just need two little scripts.

Run sudoedit /opt/kiosk.sh first. This is going to be what loads Chrome once X has started. It also needs to wipe the Chrome profile so that between loads you aren't persisting stuff. This in incredibly important for kiosk computing because you never want a user to be able to affect the next user. We want them to start with a clean environment every time. Here's where I've got to:


xset -dpms
xset s off
openbox-session &

while true; do
  rm -rf ~/.{config,cache}/google-chrome/
  google-chrome --kiosk --no-first-run  'http://thepcspy.com'

When you're done there, Control+X to exit and run sudo chmod +x /opt/kiosk.sh to make the script executable. Then we can move onto starting X (and loading kiosk.sh).

Run sudoedit /etc/init/kiosk.conf and this time fill it with:

start on (filesystem and stopped udevtrigger)
stop on runlevel [06]

console output
emits starting-x


exec sudo -u user startx /etc/X11/Xsession /opt/kiosk.sh --

Replace user with your username. Exit, Control+X, save.

X still needs some root privileges to start. These are locked down by default but we can allow anybody to start an X server by running sudo dpkg-reconfigure x11-common and selecting "Anybody".

After that we should be able to test. Run sudo start kiosk (or reboot) and it should all come up.

One last problem to fix is the amount of garbage it prints to screen on boot. Ideally your users will never see it boot but when it does, it's probably better that it doesn't look like the Matrix. A fairly simple fix, just run sudoedit /etc/default/grub and edit so the corresponding lines look like this:

GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR=`lsb_release -i -s 2> /dev/null || echo Debian`

Save and exit that and run sudo update-grub before rebooting.
The monitor should remain on indefinitely.

Final step: The boring things...

Technically speaking we're done; we have a kiosk and we're probably sipping on a Martini. I know, I know, it's not even midday, we're just that good... But there are extra things to consider before we let a grubby member of the public play with this machine:

  • Can users break it? Open keyboard access is generally a no-no. If they need a keyboard, physically disable keys so they only have what they need. I would disable all the F* keys along with Control, Alt, Super... If they have a standard mouse, right click will let them open links in new windows and tabs and OMG this is a nightmare. You need to limit user-input.

  • Can it break itself? Does the website you're loading have anything that's going to try and open new windows/tabs/etc? Does it ask for any sort of input that you aren't allowing users? Perhaps a better question to ask is Can it fix itself? Consider a mechanism for rebooting that doesn't involve a phone call to you.

  • Is it physically secure? Hide and secure the computer. Lock the BIOS. Ensure no access to USB ports (fill them if you have to). Disable recovery mode. Password protect Grub and make sure it stays hidden (especially with open keyboard access).

  • Is it network secure? SSH is the major ingress vector here so follow some basic tips: so at the very least move it to another port, only allow key-based authentication, install fail2ban and make sure fail2ban is telling you about failed logins.

  • What if Chrome is hacked directly? What if somebody exploited Chrome and had command-level access as user? Well first of all, you can try to stop that happening with AppArmor (should still apply) but you might also want to change things around so that the user running X and the browser doesn't have sudo access. I'd do that by adding a new user and changing the two scripts accordingly.

  • How are you maintaining it? Automatic updates are great but what if that breaks everything? How will you access it in the field to maintain it if (for example) the network dies or there's a hardware failure? This is aimed more at the digital signage people than simple kiosks but it's something to consider.

You can mitigate a lot of the security issues by having no live network (just displaying local files) but this obviously comes at the cost of maintenance. There's no one good answer for that.

Photo credit: allegr0/Candace

“Greenpeace in Chaos as Staff Revolt Against Management” [protein wisdom]


Greenpeace is in turmoil after more than 40 staff signed a letter calling two of the group’s most senior officials to resign. The group faced ridicule last month after it emerged that Husting chose to regularly fly between his home in Luxembourg and work in Amsterdam, leaving a massive carbon footprint.

NL Times reports that staff members have now penned a letter to Husting and Greenpeace director Kuni Naidoo, calling for Husting’s sacking and also urging Naidoo to “consider his position”, adding that only their departure can repair the damage they have caused the environmentalist group.

The letter has spread among the group’s employees and has now been signed by almost all important campaign leaders and senior staff. Only Dutch director Sylvia Borren is missing, as she believes that dismissal is unnecessary.

Staff are also angry at Husting’s salary, believing it to be far too high. At €6,075 (£4,790/$8,170) a month, staff members say that the amount is “multiple times the average income and a lot of money for most of our supporters”.

The letter adds that there is no way for the group to recover its reputation unless both Husting and Naidoo go, as keeping them on will continued to undermine their credibility.

I hate to be the one to break it to the letter’s signatories, but Greenpeace’s “credibility” has already been significantly undermined. By the co-founder of Greenpeace.

But then, that’s just nitpicking. Because I hate the earth and such. And probably racism.

The one good thing to come out of all this, as I noted on Twitter, is that we can all sit back and giggle as protesters try to figure out a way to chain themselves to the air.

Hillary Clinton, future President! [protein wisdom]

God Bless the United States of the Transnational Progressivist Utopia!

Now, before you get all miffed, think about this from her perspective: the reset did in fact work, if what you were after was a rekindling of the Cold War. Because maybe this time the good guys will win!

You can’t have “fundamental transformation” without “fun”! Or “mental.” Or “Jesus Christ, tell me this is a dream!”

Okay. So maybe that last requires a bit of artistic license. But then, I’m an artist. So deal.

“Howard Stern Gives Impassioned Defense of Israel” [protein wisdom]

Stern: “If you’re anti-Israel, then you’re anti-America. It’s the only democracy over there, it’s the only friend we have who’s willing to fight and stand up for what’s right.”

Idea for a pay-per-view event: Stern and Mark Steyn vs John Stewart and just about anyone from MSNBC, CNN, or the LAT. Topic: Who would Hitler most approve of, the Israelis or Hamas, the offshoot of the PLO, PLA, and the Mufti who pushed for the Final Solution.

Winner gets bragging rights. Losers move to Israel or Gaza, their choice.

Fuck, man. I’d pay $40 to see that, wouldn’t you?

“Landmark Legal Foundation Seeks Sanctions on EPA for Destroying Emails, Text Messages” [protein wisdom]

Via Mark Levin, Landmark Legal’s press release, which includes this great bit:

The EPA is atoxic waste dump for lawlessness and disdain for the Constitution,” said Landmark President Mark Levin. “When any federal agency receives a FOIA request, the statute says it must preserve every significant repository of records, both paper and electronic, that may contain materials that could be responsive to that request. When an agency gets sued it must also notify everyone who might be involved in the suit to preserve everything in their possession that could be discoverable in the litigation. But the people at the EPA, from the Administrator on down, think they’re above the law, that no one has the right to question what or how they do their jobs. Well, they’re wrong. The laws apply to everyone, even federal bureaucrats.”

Magical thinking aside, it sure is fun — not to mention nostalgic — to recall an America wherein the rule of law wasn’t something that was arbitrarily applied, or used as a political and partisan weapon to help “nudge” us toward the Utopian Dreams of our New Progressive Fathers.

Dogs feel jealousy, science confirms [CBC | Technology News]

Christine Harris and Samwise border collie dog

Dogs are a man's best friend, and new research says canines want to keep it that way. The study shows that dogs are capable of feeling jealousy.

HitchBot the hitchhiking robot to travel across Canada [CBC | Technology News]


A hitchhiking robot is set to start off on a whirlwind adventure, attempting to hitchhike from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, and relying on the kindness of strangers to get to its final destination.

Telcos' extra charge for paper billing probed by CRTC [CBC | Technology News]

Canada's broadcast regulator is going to look into why some telecom and cable companies charge customers who want to receive paper bills instead of electronic ones.

More than half of Ontario bees died during harsh winter [CBC | Technology News]


More than half of Ontario's bees did not survive the winter, according to a new report that has the province's beekeepers' group very concerned.

VOA and RFA via homemade radios in North Korea [The SWLing Post]

FlagNorthKoreaMany thanks to SWLing Post reader, Anil, for sharing this article regarding the importance and inspiration radio provides to many North Koreans. This comes from our favorite North Korea independent news site, NK News.

Here’s a quote from the article from a North Korean defector known as “Park”:

“I have been listening to the North Korea Reform Radio and other outside radios since 13 years ago,” he said.

Using this homemade radio, Park could access VOA, RFA, NKRR, VOP, RFC and ONK over the past five years.

“Frankly, the ideological education in North Korea is so strong that many people including myself could not believe the content of the outside world radio,” he said of his first experience listening with the device. “I was once certain that this radio signal was sent by someone who was trying to deceive us.

“But this radio played strong role in motivating me to escape North Korea. My friends and I used to regularly listened to NKRR and other radio programs inside the underground hideout.

“Many told me to quit listening to those radio signals and start making money for myself, but with the help of this radio, I finally decided to escape the North.”

Read the full article, including a description and photos of Park’s homemade radio at NK News.

In addition, note that North Korea is the theme of this year’s San Fransisco Hackathon.

To follow other posts about North Korea, please note the tag: North Korea

Sudanese Christian Woman Sentenced To Death For Apostasy Finally Out Of Sudan, Flies To Rome To Meet Pope Francis… [Weasel Zippers]

Wonderful news! A Sudanese woman who fled to Italy after being spared a death sentence for renouncing Islam has met the Pope. Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag flew to Rome with her family after more than a month in the US embassy in Khartoum. There was global condemnation when she was sentenced to hang for apostasy […]

Video: Hamas Fires At IDF Forces From Hospital, Israel Bombs It After Confirming No Civilians Inside… [Weasel Zippers]

I can’t think of any other country in the world that goes to these lengths to avoid civilian casualties, and yet Israel is still demonized. Note: Video includes audio of two calls with a Palestinian informant who confirms no civilians are inside the hospital.

Hatey Cakes: NYC Cupcake Truck Goes On Anti-Israel Rant [Weasel Zippers]

Not sure if hacked or just really this stupid…

Surprise! Rockets Found At U.N. School In Gaza “Have Gone Missing”… [Weasel Zippers]

And by missing they mean they were given back to Hamas. Via Times of Israel: The UN secretary-general on Wednesday said he was “alarmed” to hear that rockets were placed in a UN-run school in Gaza and now “have gone missing,” and he demanded a full review of such incidents. A statement by the spokesman […]

AWESOME! Maine GOP Gov. LePage To Make “Able-Bodied” Welfare Recipients Work For Their Food Stamps… [Weasel Zippers]

Libs recoil in horror! (AJ) – Maine’s Republican governor on Wednesday launched a push to make more “able-bodied” people work for their food stamps. “People who are in need deserve a hand up, but we should not be giving able-bodied individuals a handout,’’ said Gov. Paul R. LePage. LePage will reportedly stop seeking a federal […]

Biden: “I Should Have Had One Republican Kid To Go Out And Make Money”… [Weasel Zippers]

So he’s admitting libs are lazy bums who leech off the rest of us? Via Free Beacon: Joe Biden, speaking at the Urban League conference in Cincinnati, reflected, “I should have had one Republican kid to go out and make money.” “You know,” Biden continued, “so when they put me in a home, I get […]

As World Burns, Obama Brags About His Dancing Skills… [Weasel Zippers]

He’s not even trying to pretend he cares. OBAMA: My girl, Janelle Monae. (Applause.) Janelle has performed at the White House, like, 15 times. And we — there’s going to be an official Janelle Monae room in the White House. (Laughter.) We love her. Michelle and I love Janelle. We love her energy. We love […]

Mooch Jabs Hillary: “I Don’t Believe One Family Should Be In The White House Or Running For Office Constantly”… [Weasel Zippers]

Cat fight! Via Fox News: Michelle Obama may not be having a blood feud with Hillary Clinton, but that doesn’t mean she’s crazy about another Clinton in the White House. The first lady reportedly told people who attended a Manhattan fundraiser earlier in the month that she isn’t at war with either Hillary Clinton or […]

Pro-Israel Protesters In Oregon Harassed: “F*ck Israel! They Hung Jesus!,” “Colonizers!” [Weasel Zippers]

Which is exactly what you’d expect in moonbat-infested Portland, Oregon. HT: Laughing at Liberals

Dem Senator Caught Plagiarizing: PTSD Made Me Do It [Weasel Zippers]

Update to this story. Maybe it’s just me, but I find him blaming PTSD for being a liar and a cheat, yet still wanting people to vote for him and trust him, to be a bit disingenuous. Via Fox: A Montana senator who is running for re-election suggested Wednesday that medication he took for post-traumatic […]

Cook County Board Sends “Assault Weapons” Referendum To The Ballot [Weasel Zippers]

Additional restrictions on law abiding citizens. Up next each block will have a block Captain with an MRAP to protect the citizens. Via Chicago Sun Times Cook County voters will get to say in November whether they believe the state should enact tougher gun laws, including an outright ban on the sale and transfer of […]

Twitter Caves In To Jesse Jackson’s Racial Shakedown, Apologizes For Hiring Too Many White And Asian Men… [Weasel Zippers]

Jackson already gloating. SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Twitter acknowledged Wednesday that it has been hiring too many white and Asian men to fill high-paying technology jobs, just like several other major companies in Silicon Valley. The lack of diversity in Twitter’s workforce of roughly 3,000 people was spelled out in data released by the San […]

U.N. Says Islamic State Fatwa Orders All Women In Mosul To Undergo Female Genital Mutilation… [Weasel Zippers]

I’m sure this is going to go over well with the locals. (Al Arabiya) – The al-Qaeda-Inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has ordered all girls and women between the ages of 11 and 46 in and around Iraq’s northern city of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation, the United Nations said on […]

DHS Chief: ‘Almost All’ Unaccompanied Alien Children Are Smuggled – ‘Nobody’s Freelancing’ [Weasel Zippers]

Did he spend the night in a Holiday Inn Express? Via CNS News Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Tuesday that the majority of children who arrive at the U.S. Mexico border without parents are brought there by human smugglers. “Almost all of them are smuggled, Johnson said at a press conference at Immigration […]

Poll: 58 Percent Say Obama Regime Is Incompetent At Managing The Government… [Weasel Zippers]

And then some. Via Fox News: Has the Obama administration competently and effectively managed the government? A Fox News poll released Wednesday finds a majority of American voters says no — including about a third of Democrats. A 58-percent majority says the White House has not been competent at managing the federal government. Some 32 […]

Islamic State Begins Selling Oil From Captured Oilfields In Iraq To Finance Their “Caliphate”… [Weasel Zippers]

Those suicide bomb vests aren’t cheap. BAGHDAD, July 23 (Reuters) – Islamic State militants seized four small oilfields when they swept through north Iraq last month and are now selling crude oil and gasoline from them to finance their newly declared “caliphate”. Near the northern city of Mosul, the Islamic State has taken over the […]

Atheist Group Urges Congress To Allow Humanist Military Chaplains [Weasel Zippers]

The designation NRP (No Religious Preference) by a Soldier doesn’t equate to being an atheist. Update to this story. Via Military Times More than one in five service members do not identify with a particular religion, according to Defense Department statistics. To better serve them, an organization is working to expand the Chaplain Corps to […]

Shalom, motherf****r. [Jammie Wearing Fools]

If anyone doesn’t understand any of the above; if anyone doesn’t get it; if any of my friends are going to post anti-Israel messages in a time where over 500 Palestinians have tragically died in this current conflict yet you remained silent while almost 200,000 Arabs were murdered by Arabs these past few years; if you’re not writing about Assad using chemical weapons against his people; if you’re not writing about ISIS who crucified 8 christians the other day and who are telling Iraqi Christians ‘convert, pay tax, or die’; if you only have criticism for the State of Israel that is doing EVERYTHING in its power to avoid civilian losses to Palestinians during a war; if you’re going to do nothing but sit wherever you’re sitting and just dish out your anti-Israel dirt while rockets are being aimed at my house, family and friends as our boys are fighting to protect us – and you’re going to dish it out simply because we’re living in this land and you haven’t got a clue as to our connection to it; if you’re going to join the anti-semitic and anti-Israel demonstrations flaring up in the world like we’re seeing in France, Turkey, Berlin, most Arab states and even in the US that have nothing to do with this conflict but are really just expressions of hatred directed at Jews and Israelis (and these expressions will be directed at the host countries soon); if you’re going to stay quiet and just accept, then go ahead and unfriend me from Facebook now because you’re probably no friend of mine.

Know this: when someone tries to end my life, IT IS PERSONAL.

And if you’re adding fuel to the fire by posting crap that in some small way will contribute to my demise, then again - un-friend me now.

Because you can have the hatred, the twisted, the sick and evil and be a part of that – or you can have me. But you can’t have both.

Shalom, motherf****r.

Read more: Shalom, motherf****r. | Eitan Chitayat | Ops & Blogs | The Times of Israel http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/shalom-motherfr/#ixzz38P6o7kVf
Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

Full story.

“That is crazy. This administration is filled with a bunch of liberal loonies” [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Expect nothing less from a bunch of far-left cop-hating freaks.

A top de Blasio administration lawyer infuriated cops by tweeting about how the city failed NYPD “chokehold” victim Eric Garner — even as the investigation into his death remains open.

“RIP Eric Garner,” wrote Ian Bassin, a deputy counsel who earns $140,000 a year. “You deserved so much more from our City. We will and we must do better.”

The premature July 19 posting on Bassin’s personal Twitter page enraged cops, who are under fire over the death even before an official autopsy report.

“That is crazy. This administration is filled with a bunch of liberal loonies,” said a police source. “I don’t understand how someone who represents the mayor could go public with a statement like that without the autopsy report.”

The tweet came just two days before Mayor de Blasio stressed the need to let the investigation take its course before rushing to judgment. “All sides need to be heard and all evidence looked at,” he said Monday in Italy.

Thanks to this tool the city can expect to be pay out millions to this guy’s family.

#WarOnWomen: ISIS Terror Goons Order Female Genital Mutilation [Jammie Wearing Fools]

No doubt the left is all busy coming up with a hashtag campaign to blame all this on Tea Partiers.

They’re busy murdering Christians and now this. But the world yawns.

Let’s just stay focused and keep the focus on the real enemies of women.

“What happened is y’all didn’t vote. And that’s when all kinds of …stuff happened. That’s what it was, stuff” [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Ladies and gentlemen, The Great Orator of our time. After leaving a woman in labor stranded at a Los Angeles bus stop, King Obama wrapped up his grueling West Coast fundraising blitz at the home of ‘Scandal’ creator Shonda Rimes Wednesday evening and whined incoherently about the mean old Republicans.

Speaking at the fundraiser, Obama tore into the Republican party saying that it “has been taken over by people who just don’t believe in government.”

Republicans he said “obfuscate and they bamboozle and sometimes don’t say what’s true — that was a euphemism,” he said to laughter.

This coming from the most secretive, duplicitous, mendacious  administration in American history.

Obama made the remarks in the middle of a three-day west coast swing, where he’s been raising money for Democrats in the midterm election in November.

Speaking at the fundraiser, he urged donors to turn out in the midterm elections, saying that Republicans have larger turnouts on Election Day and that resulted in the GOP taking control of the House and leading to John Boehner’s role as Speaker of the House.

“What happened to Nancy Pelosi?” Obama said. “What happened is y’all didn’t vote. And that’s when all kinds of …stuff happened. That’s what it was, stuff.”

Dud is just mailing it in already, and we have more than two years left of this nonsense.

“I’ve got two years left in this presidency, I want to get a whole bunch of stuff done,” Obama said.

Whoever paid for this clown’s education should demand a refund. No wonder his college transcripts are harder to find than Lois Lerner’s emails.

Plane carrying 116 disappears from radar over Africa [Jammie Wearing Fools]

An Air Algerie flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers disappeared from radar early Thursday, the official Algerian news agency said.

Air navigation services lost track of the plane after 0155 GMT, or 50 minutes after takeoff, the agency said. That means that Flight AH5017 had been missing for hours before the news was made public.

“In keeping with procedures, Air Algerie has launched its emergency plan,” the agency quoted the airline as saying.

The flight path of the plane from Ouagadougou, the capital of the west African nation of Burkina Faso, to Algiers was not immediately clear.

Ougadougou is in a nearly straight line south of Algiers, passing over Mali where unrest continues in the north.

Full story.

Woman in Labor Forced to Wait for King Obama’s Motorcade to Pass By on Way to Swank Fundraiser [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Needless to say if a Republican president forced a woman in labor to sit on a bench across from a hospital and wait for his motorcade to apss by it would be the top story on every newscast across America. For days. But King Obama? Heck, the baby is just a burden for her. She should’ve just had an abortion and she wouldn’t have had to suffer such an indignity.

Thanks, Obama!

regnant woman in labor Wednesday afternoon was not allowed to cross the street to get to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center by authorities in Los Angeles because President Barack Obama’s motorcade was going to come through the area.

Some in the crowd were outraged about the incident and took to social media to show pictures and video of the unidentified woman while she sat on a bus bench, waiting to get to Cedars.

This story was first reported by The Blaze.

“This woman is in labor but can’t get to Cedars cuz of Obama!!!” witness Carrie Clifford tweeted, along with a picture of the woman.

Obama’s L.A. visit, which started Wednesday afternoon, led to street closures in West Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles, Mid-Wilshire, Exposition Park, Pacific Palisades and Brentwood, among other areas.

Some of the medical staff from the hospital finally came to help the pregnant woman.

“A few people in scrubs are there now. Still no baby. Still no #Obama.” Clifford tweeted with a picture.

Wait until Obama reads about this in the papers.

Meanwhile, some in the media are pretty fed up with Obama’s pathetic lack of transparency.

That’s how he rolls.

The decision by Obama and his staff to take the secrecy approach to super PAC appearances has aggravated the concerns even further. This was, after all, the president who stepped away from State of the Union tradition in 2010 to directly attack the Supreme Court for the Citizens United ruling that helped spur the dramatic rise in campaign spending. (A separate federal court ruling paved the way for super PACs.) And Obama, even during his own 2012 reelection campaign, kept distance from the Priorities USA super PAC that was supporting him.

(Also on POLITICO: What D.C. got wrong on Obamacare)

But Obama has attended three super PAC events in the past week: one in New York last Thursday and the two on the West Coast.

How many people Obama met with was a secret. How much they paid to get in was a secret. Finding out who the people were? Forget it. Even a general account of what the president said to them? Not from this White House.

Parsons said the WHCA has asked the White House to reconsider its position regarding access, but has not yet filed a formal complaint.

All this as the White House, like previous administrations, looks for as much free media as it can get, sending the president out to lunch with people who’ve written him letters, and capitalizes on D.C. reporters’ Twitter excitement with unannounced stops at Starbucks and Chipotle.

They sold this schmuck on America, so stop the whining.

Elsewhere: Hamas as neo-Nazis, IDF’s door knock, Auschwitz inmate’s germ resistance [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

The IDF’s worst knock on the door: The IDF’s Casualty and Wounded Soldiers Department is charged with breaking the bad news to family members of soldiers killed in combat. (Times of Israel)

Hamas = Palestinian neo-Nazis: Hamas is a fascist group that has turned Gaza into a bastion of totalitarianism, terrorizes Gazans, and oppresses women and gays, Ari Shavit writes. (Haaretz)

A family divided: The daughter of a Jewish mother and a Palestinian father, Claire Hajaj finds herself “standing between bunkers, exposed to fire from both sides.” (Newsweek)

Fighting Germans with germs: Working under unknowing Nazi bosses in an Auschwitz lab, conscripted Jewish doctor Ludwik Fleck developed fake typhus vaccines, which were distributed to the German army, and real ones, which he gave to Jewish inmates. (Politico)

Farm program’s harvest: The alumni of Adamah, an immersive Connecticut program for young Jews, are creating some of the most influential institutions in Jewish food, farming and sustainability, Michael Tortorello writes. (N.Y. Times)

Soundtrack to the war [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

There’s no shortage of footage from the Israel-Hamas war: Scenes of Palestinians running bearing the wounded or dead in their arms, Israel Defense Forces videos showing Palestinians using ambulances or schools for military uses, rockets falling, funeral processions, talking heads.

Here are three videos that offer a soundtrack that show another side of this war.

The song Israeli nursery school kids sing about how to behave during a rocket attack: 

Israeli soldiers at the Gaza border get psyched up with music and dancing at a staging ground for operations inside the Gaza Strip:

In an intimate moment, a father and son playing guitars sing David Broza’s “Yihiye Tov” before the son goes off to war:

3 senators urge Obama to let Israel neutralize Hamas ahead of cease-fire [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Three senators urged President Obama to ensure that Israel removes Hamas’ military threat before a cease-fire is in place.

“The threats posed by Hamas rockets and tunnels whose only purpose is to kill and kidnap Israelis are intolerable, and Israel must be allowed to take any actions necessary to remove those threats,” Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Lindsey Graham (R- S. C.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote in a letter Wednesday. “Any effort to broker a cease-fire agreement that does not eliminate those threats cannot be sustained in the long run and will leave Israel vulnerable to future attacks.”

While expressing sympathy for the death of both Palestinian and Israeli civilians, the senators wrote that Hamas’ “primary goal is to destroy Israel. We must do everything possible to ensure they do not succeed.”

Cardin, along with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), also wrote to Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, on Wednesday to express “our strong objections” to his calling Israel’s operations in Gaza an “atrocious action.”

“We respectfully request that your future comments recognize the fact that the ‘atrocious action’ is the deliberate terrorist attack on civilians — not the measured response of a nation-state trying to defend its citizens,” the Cardin and Ayotte wrote.

They said Ban’s pronouncement “lends a degree of perceived legitimacy that terrorist organizations do not deserve” and also “undercuts the legitimate right of the nation-states to defend their citizens.”

In a third letter concerning the war between Israel and Hamas, Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) wrote to Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, to condemn Wednesday’s decision by the U.N. Human Rights Council to establish a commission of inquiry focusing mostly on Israel’s actions in Gaza without addressing allegations that Hamas hides its weapons and fighters among civilians.

“Hamas’ continued use of civilians as human shields is a direct violation of international law,” the Congress members wrote in a two-page letter that also condemned Hamas’ use of schools, hospitals and mosques “as covers for their rocket launchers and weapons caches.”

Separately, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), a physician, called on Israel not to target medical facilities.

“I am distressed by reports that Israel has attacked hospitals, ambulances and medical personnel in its on-going military offensive in the Gaza Strip,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

“Palestinian health and emergency workers are unable to reach the dead and wounded in many parts of Gaza due to the danger of being attacked themselves,” McDermott said. “I call on America’s long-time friend and ally Israel to abide by international humanitarian law and cease all attacks against health facilities and workers.”

Shelling on U.N. building in Gaza serving as shelter kills at least 15 [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

JERUSALEM (JTA) — At least 15 people were killed and 200 injured when a shell hit a U.N. school in northern Gaza serving as a shelter for displaced Palestinians.

The school in Beit Hanoun affiliated with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency was hit Thursday, the Ministry of Health in Gaza told international media outlets.

UNRWA spokesman in Israel Chris Gunness said on Twitter that there were multiple deaths and injuries in the attack.

Though 15 have been confirmed dead, Al Jazeera correspondent Nicole Johnston, who is in Gaza, said sources told her that up to 30 people had been killed.

A UNRWA spokesman in Gaza, Adnan Abu Hasana, blamed Israel for the shelling, telling the Palestinian Maan news agency that there had been no warning before the shell hit.

Gunness also tweeted, “Precise co-ordinates of the UNRWA shelter in Beit Hanoun had been formally given to the Israeli army.”

The Israel Defense Forces said it was reviewing the incident. It also said that rockets fired from terror organizations in the neighborhood are believed to have landed in the area.

The agency said it was the fourth time that a U.N. facility had been hit since the start of Israel’s Gaza operation on July 8.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “strongly condemned” the shelling, while acknowledging that “circumstances are still unclear,” in a statement issued hours after the incident.

He said that throughout the day, the staff had been working to negotiate a break in the heavy fighting in the area to evacuate the civilians.

“I express my profound condolences to the families of the victims and those of so many hundreds of innocent Gazans who have tragically been killed as a result of the massive Israeli assault,” Ban said.

According to the UNRWA, there are currently 140,469 displaced Palestinians in 83 agency shelters across Gaza.

The Palestinian Maan news agency reported that 37 Palestinians were killed across Gaza on Thursday morning, bringing the Palestinian death toll on the 17th day of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge to 734, with more than 4,000 injured.

Ban orders review following allegations UNRWA gave rockets back to Hamas [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commissioned a review of U.N. practices for relocating weapons found on its premises following reports that rockets found in an UNRWA school were returned to Hamas.

“The Secretary-General is alarmed to hear that rockets were placed in an UNRWA school in Gaza and that subsequently these have gone missing,” Ban said in a statement Wednesday, a day after the second such cache of weapons was uncovered in a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the principal group assisting Palestinian refugees.

“The Secretary-General has asked for a full review of such incidents and how the U.N. responds in such instances,” the statement said. “The United Nations is taking concerted action to increase its vigilance in preventing such episodes from happening again.”

Ban, the statement said, directed two security departments to “to immediately develop and implement an effective security plan for the safe and secure handling of any weapons discovered in U.N. premises.”

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, accused UNRWA of returning the missiles to Hamas when he met Wednesday with Ban, who is in the region trying to bring about a cease-fire, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Christopher McGrath, an UNRWA spokesman, told JTA in an email that UNRWA’s practice was to refer unexploded ordnance to “local authorities.” He said the local authorities in this case did not answer to Hamas but to the government of unaffiliated technocrats in Ramallah.

“They pledged to pass a message to all parties not to violate UNRWA neutrality,” he said of the authorities.

Another UNRWA spokesman said the missing weapons to which Ban referred was the second batch, discovered Tuesday. UNRWA evacuated the school, Christopher Gunness told JTA, and its staff sought appropriate personnel to remove the weapons only to discover the next day when they returned that the weapons had been removed.

“We evacuated the premises and placed a guard at the gate,” Gunness told JTA in an email from Jerusalem, where he is based.

“At the same time, we began intensive consultations to find an international actor to help survey the weapons so the extent of the problem could be ascertained and a safe disposal plan developed,” he said. “There were 1,500 displaced civilians in schools on either side of the installation and their safety was paramount. UNRWA staff did not re-enter the installation until the following day when displaced people from Beit Hanoun forced open the school seeking refuge. At that point our staff went to secure the area in which the weapons had been discovered the previous day and found they had been removed.”

Gunness noted that UNRWA staff have come under fire during the war. Three teachers, all women, were killed Thursday by Israeli fire — two in their residences, where family members also were killed, and one returning home from an UNRWA emergency shelter.

“Our hearts go out to their surviving family members,” he said.

Relocate nationals from near Gaza border, Thai embassy asks [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Thai embassy in Tel Aviv asked the Israeli government to relocate Thai nationals working in southern Israel near the Gaza border.

The request on Thursday came a day after a Thai worker was killed when a mortar fired from Gaza struck the hothouse in which he was working.

Narakorn Kittiyangkul, 36, was the third civilian killed in Israel since the start of the Israeli operation in Gaza on July 8. His body will be returned to Thailand.

Foreign Ministry Information Department chief Sek Wannamethee announced the request in a statement to Thai reporters, the Bangkok Post reported. Sek reportedly said there are no plans to evacuate Thai workers from Israel.

Meanwhile, the Thai embassy has halted sending new Thai workers to areas within up to 24 miles from the Gaza border. Some 38 workers in the area also have requested assistance in moving to a safer place.

Some 25,000 Thais are working in Israel, most in factories or in agriculture. About 4,000 of the workers are located in agricultural settlements in southern Israel, according to the Bangkok Post.


150 Palestinians detained in raids on southern Gaza [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli troops in southern Gaza detained 150 Palestinians, dozens of whom surrendered voluntarily to the soldiers.

About 70 of the arrested Gazan Palestinians, who are suspected of carrying out terrorist attacks, were transferred for interrogation, The Times of Israel reported, citing an Israeli military spokeswoman.

Most of those who surrendered in the raids on Rafah and Khan Yunis are believed to be members of Hamas, according to the Times of Israel.

All of the detainees were later released.

Several prominent field commanders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad were targeted in recent days by both the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service in a combined effort, the IDF said in a statement issued Thursday.

“All terrorists targeted were involved in many attacks against IDF soldiers in Gaza and in the firing of rockets at Israeli communities,” the statement said. “They’ve also been central figures during Operation Protective Edge.”


Pro-Palestinian student demonstrators arrested in Australia for flag burning [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – A group of student demonstrators in Melbourne protesting Israel’s military operation in Gaza was arrested after burning Australian and Israeli flags.

About 10 students in Wednesday’s protest by Students for Palestine are facing charges of criminal damage and theft of the Australian flag, according to local media reports. Police intervened as the protesters gathered inside the foyer of the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade.

Earlier, some demonstrators reportedly chained themselves inside the Passport Office before the protest moved into the foyer.

“The storming of a government office, theft of goods, and burning of flags is a disgusting and unacceptable act,” said Matthew Lesh, the political affairs director for the Australasian Union of Jewish Students. “These types of acts serve to show how extremist and disconnected the Socialist Alternative is from civilized political debate or peaceful solutions.”


Rockets intercepted over central Israel hours after FAA lifts ban [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted five rockets over central Israel hours after the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority lifted its ban on American carriers flying to Israel.

On Thursday morning, two rockets fired from Gaza were intercepted over both Bat Yam and Tel Aviv, while one was snared over Petach Tikvah.

Shrapnel from the rockets was discovered on major highways in Tel Aviv after the interceptions, according to reports.

The FAA had banned flights to Israel on Tuesday after a rocket fired from Gaza struck a house in the central Israeli town of Yehud, located about a mile from Ben Gurion International Airport. The ban was lifted late Wednesday night.

A US Airways’ representative in Israel told Haaretz on Thursday morning that the airline will begin flying to and from Ben Gurion Airport on Friday. Other U.S. airlines have not yet indicated if and when they will resume flights.

A notice on the Delta website continued to read as of Thursday morning, “Delta has suspended service until further notice to and from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv (TLV) and its New York-JFK hub.”

In a safety information bulletin issued Thursday, the European Aviation Safety Agency revised a previous bulletin to flight operators warning them to refrain from flying in and out of Ben Gurion “on the basis of information provided by the Civil Aviation Authority” of Israel.

Under the revision, the agency recommends that airline operators “base their decisions for flight operations to and from Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel on thorough risk assessments.”

“The Agency continues to draw the aviation community’s attention to the necessity to closely monitor risks to the safety of international civil flights,” the bulletin said.

U.N. Human Rights Council to review IDF’s conduct in Gaza [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — The U.N. Human Rights Council voted to launch an inquiry into the conduct of the war in Gaza.

The council voted Wednesday to launch an inquiry into “all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law” in Palestinian areas, particularly the Gaza Strip, where Israel and Hamas have been at war since July 8.

Israel’s government called for the rejection of the U.N. inquiry into the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Prior to the vote, Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said Hamas and Israel were likely both guilty of war crimes.

In making the case against Israel, Pillay cited the deaths of children, noting the killing of four who were playing on a beach and three playing on a rooftop.

In a statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office faulted the resolution for not singling out what it said was Hamas’ practice of endangering Palestinian civilians by placing its fighters and weapons among them.

“The decision today by the UNHRC is a travesty and should be rejected by decent people everywhere,” the statement said.

“The UNHRC should be launching an investigation into Hamas’s decision to turn hospitals into military command centers, use schools as weapons depots and place missile batteries next to playgrounds, private homes and mosques.”

A similar inquiry, the Goldstone report, launched after the 2008-09 Israel-Hamas war led to calls for war crimes charges against Israeli officials. Israel would not cooperate with that inquiry.

Its lead author, South African Judge Richard Goldstone, eventually renounced the report, acknowledging some conclusions were colored by anti-Israel bias.

In Wednesday’s UNHRC vote, 29 nations voted for the resolution and just the United States voted against. There were 17 abstentions, including a number of European nations.

Israel and the United States have faulted the Human Rights Council for its lopsided focus on Israel.

Lincolnshire Council loses judicial review on two grounds: all the chief points, links and analysis [Public Libraries News]


So the judge has agreed that Lincolnshire Council failed to do things properly on two out of the four grounds that they were challenged on. Here’s the key stuff reported in the media:

  • The consultation was fundamentally flawed, with a key thing being that the decision had already effectively being made. However, as campaigners in Gloucestershire discovered a year or two ago, there appears to be nothing stopping council simply consulting again, this time properly, and then doing the same thing, although in that case significant changes had to be made by the county which, saved three static libraries.
  • Lincolnshire failed to properly consider the alternative proposals made by GLL to run the service.
  • The judge did not reprove the Council with regard to the 1964 Act or over Equalities legislation.
  • Judge says that council “would have difficulty putting in an appeal” suggesting he was not overly impressed by their arguments on the two lost grounds.

For Lincolnshire, therefore, how things move depends on how seriously the council wants to cut the library budget and pass branches to volunteers.  Every indication so far is that they are very set on this and so this may be just a temporary reprieve.  However, it is in no way a waste of time or money for campaigners – for one thing, it means the Council will have to do things correctly, which is something that everyone (including the Council itself, if it thought about this properly) should want.  For another, every month gained is another month closer to the looming General Election.  Do the councillors there really want to close libraries months before a vote? And anything could happen after that election.

Councils should take from this, at the very least, the need to genuinely consult their public before making the decisions.  This is, however, very difficult for some councils who are used to doing things their own way and are in the habit of seeing consultations as, at worse, a tick box exercise or a necessary annoyance.  In their defence of course, it doesn’t help, of course, that councils are under great pressure, often with lack of time and resources to do anything else.  In library circles as well, “consultations” are also often used as a thinly veiled recruitment campaign (or blackmail exercise, depending on how badly it is done) for volunteers to run the buildings the council has already effectively decided it can no longer afford to run.  This, the judge appears to have agreed with today, is an unlawful way to go about things.  Put simply, consult before you decide otherwise you’re not consulting lawfully and you may have to waste money by backing down or doing it all over again.

The other decision here is that the alternative proposal to run the service by GLL was not properly considered.  This will be viewed with decidedly mixed feelings by some who doubt the good intentions of the social enterprise.  Leaving the merits of that case aside, the decision means that councils should beware not considering other proposals for their services other than the one they have their hearts set on.  But hang on, for those councils who seriously want to do the best thing for their libraries, this is what should be happening anyway.  For those councils who do not do things properly – and it’s pretty clear that the Judge thinks Lincolnshire Council comes under this heading – then let this be a warning.

In plain language to any chief librarians reading this (hi there), the judge said make sure your council does its research and consultations properly and that it’s able to show it has.  If enough someones don’t agree then there’s a strong possibility of a legal challenge and then a whole pile of unnecessary pain awaits.

Lincolnshire judicial review

“I have decided that the means by which the county council decided and reached their decision was flawed, in two respects. In respect of the consultation, and of their failure to properly deal with an application by a charitable organisation [Greenwich Leisure Limited] which already ran library service for two London boroughs, Greenwich and Woolwich. I have decided that the decision made in December last year should be quashed.” Mr Justice Collins

“Yay! We are simply over the moon. As soon as the full judgement was reached and read out, we had a bit group hug and started phoning everybody. I want to thank the people of Lincolnshire for standing with me against the council in this, we really are not to be walked over!” Simon Draper, leader of challenge

“One of the great things in our democracy is that governments have to act under the law and respond to public opinion and pressure – and that’s what is happening in Lincolnshire.” David Cameron, speaking on BBC Radio Lincolnshire

“We are, of course, disappointed with the decision. We believe that our proposals would have increased library provision in the county, while also making substantial savings, meaning taxpayers would be getting a much better deal.” He added: “Ironically, although we must consider that proposal as a community offer to take over the council’s services under the Localism Act, it could lead to the library service being put out to procurement and outsourced to a commercial organisation. We will now address the points raised by the judge and remain open-minded.” Richard Wills, executive director of Lincolnshire council.

“The council response makes it sound like they’re determined to carry on, to put their head in the sand and continue as though the highest court in the land hadn’t just called their plans ‘flawed’. The council last year again underspent its budget by £60m to put in its reserves – forget about the £2m they’re trying to save from libraries, that could fund libraries in the county for a generation. We need to invest in libraries to encourage education and employability across the county.” Phil Dilks, shadow executive minister for libraries

National news

  • Elected – Leon’s Library Blog. “It seems a number of reservations have been expressed regarding several areas of the review but overall there doesn’t seem to be that much opposition to the proposals from the wider membership, certainly not in the way that the name change last year generated opposition. Whether this amounts to approval of the suggested changes or just simple indifference is difficult to tell. Maybe librarians are more concerned about pay and conditions than the esoteric maneuverings of their professional body. Certainly there are a lot less of us nowadays in public libraries to be worried about Cilip’s shenanigans.” … “There are some very sensible suggestions in the review and in the main I support more of the proposals than I don’t. However, the recommendations form a single package so it seems a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater to vote against them.”

UK local news by authority

  • Poole – Fears Poole council will axe valuable mobile library service used by vulnerable residents – Bournemouth Echo. “The council is to consult on withdrawing the book van, which visits elderly people in sheltered housing as well as residents in outlying parts of the borough. “The mobile library is sacrosanct,” said Dennis Blackler, chairman of Age Concern Poole. “This is deprivation for the elderly and the people who can’t get out. There will be uproar.” Currently 161 readers who are unable to visit a library borrow books from the van at sheltered housing and residential homes and 136 residents who live far from a library.” … “THE mobile library has an annual budget of £45,274 however its vehicle is due for replacement shortly at a cost of £100,000. The service employs 4.4 professional staff and 41.4 full time equivalent staff and if changes go through there could be one job at risk. “
  • Worcestershire – Wythall Library’s future looks to have been secured - Redditich Advertiser. “The latest national cost-per-visit figure of £1.93 for Worcestershire is lowest of any county council and considerably less than the national average of £3.36. Cabinet’s decision means that in Wythall, a charitable incorporated organisation – Wythall Together – will take on responsibility for the premises management and internal maintenance and repair. The library will continue to be run by the county council.”

Radio Survivor Visits Gramophoney Baloney Show at KPOO-FM in San Francisco [Radio Survivor]

On Monday, fellow Radio Survivor Matthew Lasar and I were guests on the Gramophoney Baloney radio show at community radio station KPOO-FM in San Francisco. Matthew has written numerous times about his love for this radio show and he’s even followed its host DJ Schmormac from station to station. Although I didn’t know too much […]

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Outrage: the FEC tramples Paul Ryan’s First Amendment rights [RedState]

**Promoted from the diaries. – Aaron**censorship-button


Wisconsin GOP Congressman Paul Ryan’s leadership PAC, Prosperity Action, asked the Federal Election Commission for permission in advance of doing something fairly logical.  They want to buy copies of Ryan’s published book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea, to give away to supporters, in conjunction with a book tour.  Of course they’d also help promote the book, since its author is also their candidate.

In an Orwellian reversal, the FEC responded to Ryan’s innocuous request with not one, but two drafts.  The second, “Draft B”, would be a major policy change, calling the PAC’s purchase a “third party contribution” with “excessive personal use.”

Not only would “Draft B” represent a chilling restriction on a candidate’s ability to promote his (or her—Hillary) own book, but it also flies in the face of logic and common sense.  FEC Chairman Lee E. Goodman has the horse-sense to see this.

“By failing to affirm this publisher’s constitutional right, statutory right, to disseminate a political book free from FEC conditions and regulations, we have effectively asserted regulatory jurisdiction over a book publisher,” warned Chairman Lee E. Goodman, one of three Republicans on the six-person FEC.

“That failure reveals a festering legal uncertainty and chill for the free press rights of books and book publishers to publish and disseminate political books free from government regulation,” he added.

Everybody who writes or publishes a book realizes that it’s the author’s job to promote the book.  Otherwise, the book doesn’t sell, and the publisher loses money.  Just ask Simon & Schuster, who paid Hillary Clinton millions so she could raise money (for a—gasp!—campaign??) and not promote the book, which bombed.

This FEC decision limits Ryan’s ability to promote his own book to two sentences on the website run by Prosperity Action.  If that’s not censorship, no…of course it can’t be, it’s just enforcing a little-known campaign law used to prosecute John Edwards hush money paid by Bunny Mellon to conceal his mistress.  To make this jump from a filthy payoff to book promotion, you’d need a pole that reaches over the Grand Canyon.

After Goodman’s remarks at the FEC meeting, Democratic Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub screeched “No one is banning books”.  Of course not, you’re just banning promoting books, a ludicrous distinction.

The FEC’s trampling the First Amendment rights of a sitting Congressman is beyond every red line of Government tyranny we have.  It is in fact, a genuine outrage.

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The Monstrously Incompetent TSA [RedState]

Download Podcast | iTunes | Podcast Feed

On today’s edition of Coffee and Markets, Brad Jackson is joined by Daniel Payne to discuss the TSA, it’s latest ridiculous policy and if we would be better off without them.

Related Links:

Is The TSA The Most Monstrously Incompetent Agency In History?
TSA Strip-Search ‘Humiliated’ Texas Grandmother Seeking Medical Treatment
Trial of the Century
Daniel Payne at The Federalist

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E.J. Dionne’s Unseemly Whinging About the Judiciary Continues Apace [RedState]


In 1973, nine unelected judges (all men), overturned almost two hundred years of unbroken precedent and historical practice and declared that there existed in the United States Constitution a heretofore undiscovered constitutional right to an abortion. They did this despite the fact that nothing in the text of the Constitution even hinted at the existence of such a right, and that for hundreds of years numerous states had had unmolested laws on the books either forbidding or restricting the practice – not to mention a complete absence of evidence of any kind that the drafters or ratifiers of the Constitution had abortion within their contemplation when the Constitution was written (even though abortion was a well-known historical practice at the time). About this subject, E.J. Dionne is curiously silent.

Not to be outdone, numerous judges over the last forty years have echoed in their decisions their belief, first set forth in the repudiated Furman v. Georgia decision, that the death penalty is unconstitutional, in spite of the fact that the explicit text of the Fifth Amendment states that it is within the Constitutional power of the government to take the life of its citizens as long as due process is afforded. Say what you will about whether the death penalty is a good idea; no serious person can contend that it is actually unconstitutional. About this subject, E.J. Dionne is curiously silent.

All over the country now as we speak, federal judges are overturning the clearly stated and democratically-expressed views of the voters of this country and declaring that laws or state constitutional amendments affirming the unbroken understanding of millenia of human practice that marriage is an institution that exists between a man and a woman. The idea that the Constitution was intended to provide a safeguard for the existence of gay marriage is so farfetched that anyone with a passing knowledge of the Constitution, its history or its ratification cannot speak it aloud without breaking into gales of laughter. Even liberals acknowledge the undisputable fact that at the time of the Constitution’s ratification, buggery was widely punishable with death – the notion that men who doubtlessly approved of a regime where a single instance of sodomy was a capital offense could have somehow held within their contemplation a universal right within the Constitution to gay marriage boggles the mind of anyone capable of basic reason. Again, say what you will about the desirability vel non of gay marriage as an institution; the notion that it is demanded by the Constitution is unserious and completely unsupportable; and yet this is the very basis upon which numerous federal judges have stricken down state laws in a transparent attempt to usurp the power of the legislature to define marriage. And yet, about these subjects. E.J. Dionne is silent.

No, what really gets E.J. Dionne’s panties in a wad – what he really objects to in terms of “anti-democratic sabotage,” is when a panel of the D.C. Circuit decides that when a statute says “Federal” it means Federal and when it says “State” it means State. Dionne himself acknowledges that if the D.C. Circuit committed an error at all, that error was in taking the words of a poorly-written statute at face value:

The law includes a mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance and subsidizes those who need help to pay their premiums. The law falls apart without the subsidies, which go to its central purpose: providing insurance for those who cannot afford it.

But the law was not particularly well drafted. It’s not uniquely flawed in this respect. As Judge Andre M. Davis wrote in a concurrence to the 4th Circuit ruling: “Neither the canons of construction nor any empirical analysis suggests that congressional drafting is a perfectly harmonious, symmetrical and elegant endeavor. … Sausage-makers are indeed offended when their craft is linked to legislating.”

In other words, Dionne concedes that the fault here lies with the people who drafted the law, who chose apparently not to write the law to say what they actually meant. Mind you, Dionne (and the dissent and the Fourth Circuit) have to invent a completely fictitious post hoc history to say that Congress meant anything other than what the law says – as has been exhaustively covered in the briefing on this issue, no contemporary legislative history exists on either side of this issue. And so Dionne is forced to pretend (along with the Halbig dissent and the 4th Circuit opinion) that the contrary explanation is the obviously correct one, because it is the one Democrats currently favor, and they are the ones who forced this law down the throats of America.

Griffith has to pretend that his cramped reading of the written text — again, a reading utterly disconnected from the reality of the law’s history — is the only one possible. From there, he goes on to force the government and those losing their subsidies to live with a patently absurd result.

Edwards’ logic is compelling: that the Griffith decision “defies the will of Congress” and goes along with a “not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

Certainly no one would dispute that the Halbig decision thwarts what the Democrats currently in office want. It’s a matter of reasonable dispute as to whether it thwarts what Congress wanted at the time they passed the law (supposing we care about what they wanted as opposed to what they said). But E.J. Dionne and his ilk have constructed a world in which judicial disregard for the intentions of the drafters of a document (most especially including the Constitution) is a perfectly acceptable feature of our Republic. He cannot now be heard to complain that the sauce for the goose doesn’t go well with the gander.

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Rampant fraud the standard condition on ObamaCare exchanges [RedState]

Health Overhaul-Penalty Waiver

The #FAIL in ObamaCare continues to exceed anyone’s wildest imagination. Via the Washington Post:

According to testimony to be delivered before a House Ways and Means subcommittee, undercover GAO investigators tried to obtain health plans for a dozen fictitious applicants online or by phone, using invalid or missing Social Security numbers or inaccurate citizenship information.

All but one of the fake applicants ended up getting subsidized coverage — and have kept it. In one instance, an application was denied but then approved on a second try. In six other attempts to sign up fake applicants via in-person assisters, just one assister accurately told an investigator that the applicant’s income was too high for a subsidy.

The GAO’s account of fictitious applicants obtaining subsidized coverage goes beyond a related problem that surfaced this spring and that the investigators also cited: The government may be paying incorrect insurance subsidies to a significant share of the 5.4 million Americans who signed up for health plans for this year through the federal marketplace.

To date virtually no part of ObamaCare has worked as advertised but the subsidy system seems to be little more than a huge pot of money available to virtually anyone without regard to eligibility:

“We are seeing a trend with Obamacare information systems: under every rock, there is incompetence, waste and the potential for fraud,” committee Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, told NBC News. “Last month, we found that the administration was unable to verify income or eligibility for insurance subsidies. Now, we learn that in many cases, the exchange is unable to screen out fake identities or documents.”

Taken in its totality, ObamaCare must be viewed as a program that simply cannot be reformed. Not only is the underlying concept, the federal government seizing control of the market for health and medical insurance, utterly corrupt but each part of the law either defies norms of human behavior, is rife with fraud and abuse, or is simply nonsense. The only solution is to remove it, root and branch, and return to the status quo ante.

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Montana Senator John Walsh used plagiarism to get promoted [RedState]

walsh plagiarism

The Democrats knew retaining Max Baucus’s Senate seat was going to be a challenge. In an attempt to hold onto that seat, Max Baucus was convinced to retire from the Senate and was shipped off to China as Ambassador. A new Senator was appointed by the Democrat governor to fill out Baucus’s term and to set him up to defend the seat using the power of incumbency.

On paper it looked like a good plan. The replacement was the serving lieutenant governor John Walsh. Walsh was superficially an attractive choice. He was a career National Guardsman, rising in rank from private to lieutenant colonel. He commanded 1st Battalion, 163d Infantry Regiment (Montana Army National Guard) when it deployed to Iraq in 2004-2005. In 2007 he was selected to attend the prestigious US Army War College at Carlisle Barrack, PA, when he returned to Montana he was selected to be the state Adjutant General — commander of the state Army and Air National Guard — and given state rank of brigadier general. In 2012, he ran for lieutenant governor and was elected.

After his appointment as Senator, he received  glowing profile in National Journal titled Five Things To Know About the Newest US Senator. Clearly the media and Democrats, to the extent they are different, thought Walsh was headed for big things.

But all was not well.

Usually the state Adjutant General carries the federally recognized rank of major general. Walsh never received federal recognition for his promotion above lieutenant colonel because an investigation substantiated that he’d pressured members of the Montana Guard to join the National Guard Association, a lobbying group that represents the needs, wants, and desires of the National Guard in Washington. The reason he’d pressured them to join was because he was seeking a higher profile in the National Guard brotherhood and needed a higher percentage of his troops to join the organization in order to advance. It was self-aggrandizement, pure and simple. The letter of reprimand from Army vice chief of staff Peter Chiarelli said “Your failure to adhere to the Army Values causes me to question your ability to lead.” Had Walsh been a Regular Army officer and not a politically connected National Guardsman his career would have been over.

Now the New Yorker has reported that is seems that Senator John Walsh earned his master’s degree at the US Army War College the old fashioned way. He plagiarized his thesis.

On the campaign trail this year, Mr. Walsh, 53, has made his military service a main selling point. Still wearing his hair close-cropped, he notes he was targeted for killing by Iraqi militants and says his time in uniform informs his views on a range of issues.

But one of the highest-profile credentials of Mr. Walsh’s 33-year military career appears to have been improperly attained. An examination of the final paper required for Mr. Walsh’s master’s degree from the United States Army War College indicates the senator appropriated at least a quarter of his thesis on American Middle East policy from other authors’ works, with no attribution.

And it wasn’t just a little, tiny bit of plagiarism. It was massive plagiarism carried out in the best tradition of “go big or go home.”

About a third of his paper consists of material either identical to or extremely similar to passages in other sources, such as the Carnegie or Harvard papers, and is presented without attribution. Another third is attributed to sources through footnotes, but uses other authors’ exact — or almost exact — language without quotation marks.

The senator included 96 footnotes in his paper, but many of them only illustrate this troubling pattern. In repeated instances, Mr. Walsh uses the language of others with no quotation marks, but footnotes the source from which the material came. In other cases, the passages appear in his paper with a word or two changed, but are otherwise identical to the authors’ language.

And it isn’t like the Army War College’s policy on plagiarism is ambiguous or hidden:

Such copying of a footnoted source without quotation marks is specifically prohibited in the War College’s handbook.

“Copying a segment of another’s work word for word, then conveniently ‘forgetting’ to include quotation marks, but ‘remembering’ to cite the source,” is described as the second example of academic fraud in the handbook.

The first is: “Directly quoting another author’s work without giving proper credit to the author.”

“Plagiarism,” the handbook notes, “is a serious form of cheating that carries serious consequences.”

When confronted about the theft, Walsh predictably wrapped himself in the Cloak of Patriotic Service that Democrat politicians seem to be issued when they run for office:

In an interview outside his Capitol Hill office on Tuesday, after he was presented with multiple examples of identical passages from his paper and the Carnegie and Harvard essays, Mr. Walsh said he did not believe he had done anything wrong.

“I didn’t do anything intentional here,” he said, adding that he did not recall using the Carnegie and Harvard sources.

Asked directly if he had plagiarized, he responded: “I don’t believe I did, no.”

On Wednesday, a campaign aide for Mr. Walsh did not contest the plagiarism but suggested that it be viewed in the context of the senator’s long career. She said Mr. Walsh was going through a difficult period at the time he wrote the paper, noting that one of the members of his unit from Iraq had committed suicide in 2007, weeks before it was due.

The aide said Mr. Walsh, who served in Iraq from November 2004 to November 2005, “dealt with the experience of post-deployment,” but acknowledged he had not sought treatment.

The same spokesperson, or a different one, gave a conflicting story to Politico. In this version Walsh was using medication for PTSD.

Walsh campaign spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua wrote in an email, “This was unintentional and it was a mistake.”
A Walsh campaign official told POLITICO, “At the time, Senator Walsh was prescribed medication used to treat PTSD. This does not excuse the mistake, but provides important context for the circumstances which the Senator was working in.”

One of the phrases you often hear in the Army is “integrity is non-negotiable.” It is a lesson you beat into your soldiers the same way that as a parent you drill it into your kids. If you can’t be taken at your word in peacetime, if you can’t stand up and take responsibility for your mistakes, you are going to get people killed in combat. Even though most officers are not West Pointers, the US Military Academy honor code, “a cadet does not lie, cheat, or steal nor tolerate those who do,” is the de facto code of conduct. This is not to claim perfection exists. It doesn’t. But the social norm within the institution is that your word is your bond.

What makes Walsh’s saga so despicable is the way he has cheapened and traded upon the honor of every military officer. His plagiarism let him receive a master’s degree to which he was not entitled and for which many of his colleagues worked very hard. By essentially stealing this accomplishment, he was able to catapult himself into the position of state AG and the general officer’s rank that comes with that. A promotion that was stolen from someone who had not cheated. And when caught he blamed his service in Iraq… as, I wish to point out, a battalion commander, not a young specialist or sergeant walking point or kicking in doors… for leaving him with PTSD, which, as we all know, just makes you cheat left, right, and center.

A man of integrity would at this point quit the senate race and quietly fade away. There is little chance that will happen. Guys like Walsh tend to have massive and fragile egos and he will attempt to worm his way out of this by claiming PTSD and all manner of things.  Because once he ceases to be important he ceases to be.

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Please Don’t Muddy the Moral Clarity [RedState]

“[T]he new Jerusalem will have a wall. It’s gates may never shut, but gates and wall there will remain.”

Russell D. Moore of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and Ronnie Floyd, the current president of the Southern Baptist Convention, have added some much needed moral clarity to the crisis at the border.

They have gone and served as eye witnesses to what is not just a national security problem, but a humanitarian crisis. Ronnie Floyd notes that the Southern Baptist National Disaster Relief Ministry is no longer permitted to assist those who have come over the border. The Department of Health and Human Services has “assumed custody of unaccompanied children, permitting only federal authorities and federal contractors to be in contact with them.” I hope these kids fair better with HHS than the millions of Americans trying to navigate Obamacare.

SBC President Floyd and Dr. Moore have seen up close and personal the kids “as young as seven years of age” streaming across the border. Dr. Moore has made clear that

As Christians, we don’t have to agree on all the details of public policy to agree that our response ought to be, first, one of compassion for those penned up in detention centers on the border. . . . The Gospel doesn’t fill in for us on the details on how we can simultaneously balance border security and respect for human life in this case. But the Gospel does tell us that our instinct ought to be one of compassion toward those in need, not disgust or anger.

I agree with him. I am reminded of Hebrews 13:2. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (ESV) Christians, indeed all Americans, should show compassion to these children who have been put in this situation by their parents often out of a desire for the children’s safety or well being.

I appreciate the moral clarity of leaders like Ronnie Floyd and Russell Moore. I am sympathetic to and want to provide private Christian charity to these children. I am somewhat shocked by the very hostile reaction some Christians are having to folks to Russell Moore and Ronnie Floyd, along with Glenn Beck, Dana Loesch, and others. They’re being accused of helping criminals. The Good Samaritan never asked for papers before rendering assistance. Chuck Colson started a prison ministry to minister to law breakers. Christianity does not stop at the border. Christian charity should not start with a passport check.

Concurrently, I hope the many evangelicals who are providing assistance at the border do not rush forward and muddy the moral clarity with opposition to proposals to close our border, ensure the expeditious reunion with families south of us, end the DACA program, and bring this crisis to closure. A number of mainline denominations are attempting to do that even now with requests that Congress and the Administration not deport and not take the steps needed to ensure this crisis starts.

I am reminded of Romans 13:1. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (ESV). We are a nation of laws. But first, we are a nation. That nation has borders. Those borders must be respected. Those crossing over show no respect for our borders. “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,” Peter wrote at 1 Peter 2:13 (ESV).

This border crisis highlights a longing for what our nation represents for many, but also, for others not featured in the sympathetic press, an opportunity for crime and other issues. Christians should show compassion, but we should also respect the law and want others to respect the law and our institutions.

Christians should provide for those in need. Christians should comfort the poor and the refugee. As a nation, we should be ending incentives[1] for the perpetuation of this crisis through both rapid repatriation and rapid closing of the border. Jesus said in Matthew 19:13-14, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.” I agree with that. Let us also agree that America is not Jesus. Even upon the arrival of the new Heaven, the new Jerusalem will have a wall. It’s gates may never shut, but gates and wall there will remain.

  1. A Christian, in private charity, providing a teddy bear to a seven year old abandoned by his parents or a warm meal to a teenager coming to find his family does not provide an incentive for the perpetuation of the crisis. If you think it does, you are not a serious person.

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Tech at Night: The LOCAL TV Act needs retooling [RedState]

Tech at Night

Well here’s an interesting development. Deb Fischer is no Ted Cruz but Heritage Action does have her slightly above average for a Republican Senator. So it caught my eye to see that she’s working with Cory Booker on the LOCAL TV Act, which would direct the FCC to study how it divides up the country into “Designated Market Areas” (DMAs) to see how some areas might be poorly served by that.

Then I saw the intent, and I think it needs some work.

As it’s being presented now, the bill sounds like it’s meant to encourage FCC to pick new winners and losers in place of the winners and losers currently chosen. Right now the DMAs are drawn to favor bigger states and bigger cities, at the expense of smaller neighbors like Booker’s New Jersey and Fischer’s Nebraska.

Booker and Fischer want the FCC to rig the rules to create new favored middlemen in their states, at the expense of their neighbors. I think that’s a bad idea. We need to get the FCC out of the business of picking winners and losers.

That said, they seem to have a point, that the current system is disfavoring some areas. I think we can fix that, and we should probably take the kernel of their idea, and modify it with a more deregulatory approach, one that will let the market move to serve underserved areas.

In particular we may want to see how the Internet and unlicensed spectrum may come into play here, to create opportunities for smaller video and radio markets to be served in new and innovative ways.

But please, no more winners and losers.

Turns out those Internet filters that a lot of us were worried about in the UK were entirely optional, and as it turns out, people are choosing to opt out, so it was a big nothingburger after all. I admit I got fooled by the complaints about this, but it was no problem at all. Probably still a bad law, but not nearly as terrible as it sounded. It’s a market intrusion, not censorship.

The blackshirts at 4chan and Anonymous apparently hate Jews and are declaring war against Israel. So much for that alleged libertarianism, fighting for Sharia and all that to be imposed by Hamas.

This makes me smile. Right now fantasy sports for some reason that makes no sense to me have an exemption from federal gambling law, but that may end. I think we need to get the feds out of gambling entirely, and bring it back to its rightful place under state control, but this makes me laugh.

So the House passed a clean STELA Satellite TV bill and the Senate finally might pass a temporary Internet tax reprieve. So we get two mediocre compromises.

Here’s another example of why DMCA takedown rules don’t need strengthened. Right now they’re already prone to abuse. We need to make filing false claims an offense, with a right of private action.

The post Tech at Night: The LOCAL TV Act needs retooling appeared first on RedState.

Can we trust anything the new Harper Lee biography says? [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

The publication of the controversial – and apparently unofficial, no matter what the author and publishers originally claimed – Harper Lee memoir has led to coverage in certain journals of all the nuggets on the celebrated author’s life that Marja Mills supposedly reveals. For example, Bookriot’s Dwight Garner shares the revelations that Ms. Lee has […]

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The Bookseller takes time to rubbish, undermine AuthorEarnings report [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

In the immediate aftermath of the latest Hugh Howey-helmed AuthorEarnings report, which came hard on the heels of the UK Society of Authors’ lamentation over the state of … well, author earnings … , The Guardian sought out SoA general secretary Nicola Solomon and Philip Jones, Editor of The Bookseller, for their reaction to the […]

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Morning Roundup: Amazon Fire Phone Roundup. Love and hate reading for pleasure? [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

We Love and We Hate Reading for Pleasure (Book Riot) Reading is great, and we can talk about it in a million different contexts, but we must always pause for a moment to offer a people now don’t read like people used to read, like there’s some sort of crusty Reading God to whom we […]

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Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act SHELVED [The Register]

Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing

The Ministry of Fun says that it isn't putting the anti-piracy legislation in the Digital Economy Act into use – citing the creative industry's newer, kindler and gentler VCap programme – but the DEA isn't totally dead.…

BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now [The Register]

BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch

BlackBerry has given users another reason to throw out their BlackBerry servers – by putting BES10 into the cloud as a hosted service.…

HP Printer and PC boss: Lenovo is the LAST thing on my mind [The Register]

Dion Weisler on the art of strategy...

Interview  The man straddling HP's global printer and PC portfolio has a few things on his mind, but he claims worrying about Apple, Samsung and Lenovo aren't chief among them.…

Dive in, penguins: Upstart builds Linux virtual SAN [The Register]

Flash splash into StorPool - from KVM we’ll boldly go

Three Bulgarian engineers who co-founded a firm called StorPool – which builds a virtual SAN using the aggregated storage of Linux KVM servers – are aiming to expand the reach of their three-year-old project.…

Cyber-robbers hack European Central Bank's... website [The Register]

Not the actual banking bit, insists ECB after attempted shakedown

The European Central Bank has written to 20,000 people to warn them their personal data may have been stolen during a huge cyber-heist.…

Batten down the hatch- ... oh. Quantum's actually close to growth [The Register]

Keep it up, lads, and you might get yourselves back to black

It’s Quantum quarterly results time. The temptation is to immediately think same old, same old, but is its drawn-out recovery finally becoming visible?…

Who has your credit card data? 1 million HOLIDAY-MAKERS' RECORDS exposed [The Register]

Travel agent fined £150K – Sloppy coding fingered

A UK-based online travel firm has been fined £150,000 over a breach of breach of the Data Protection Act after their "insecure" coding reportedly exposed more than a million customer records to cybercrooks.…

Internet of Stuff my Pockets: Investors plough 1 BEELLION dollars into IoT [The Register]

Let's hope it catches on

The "internet of things" – the rebranding of good old machine-to-machine comms – has investors chucking ludicrous amounts of cash at firms who hope to get our gadgets talking to each other.…

Six charged over StubHub e-ticket heist for Elton John gigs [The Register]

Compromised passwords re-used, say prosecutors

Six suspected cybercriminals have been indicted over their alleged involvement in a hack attack on eBay-owned ticketing website StubHub.…

ICO: It's up to Google the 'POLLUTER' to tidy up 'right to be forgotten' search links [The Register]

UK watchdog: Rewriting history, airbrushing claims 'absurd'

Google and its rivals are meeting privacy officials in Brussels today to discuss a recent European Court of Justice ruling that calls on search engine providers to de-link certain listings on their indexes.…

It's Google HQ - the British one: Reg man snaps covert shots INSIDE London offices [The Register]

Reality distortion field heir apparent

Pics  It’s not every day that El Reg gets invited to Google UK’s London HQ, so we thought we’d take a few snaps to remember the occasion. That’s not to say we haven’t been here before, back in March 2012 we were in the very same place, only Google hadn’t moved in yet as the offices were still being fitted out.…

Report: Beijing watchdog reckons chip-slinger Qualcomm has monopoly in China [The Register]

Still investigating whether it is abusing position

Beijing’s anti-competition authority, currently midway through a probe of Qualcomm, has reportedly said it believes the chipmaker does have a monopoly in China.…

BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu [The Register]

Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog

BMW's ConnectedDrive car-to-mobe interface has suffered a UK-wide outage that may also affect customers in mainland Europe.…

Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage [The Register]

Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk

BBC techies have no idea why the load on its database "went through the roof" last weekend, when Auntie was struck by a huge, two-pronged outage that caused its iPlayer service and website to go titsup.…

Integrate? Moi? Amazon’s first API-free service should open up [The Register]

Zocalo niggles may nobble Box and Dropbox dethroning effort

Amazon’s Zocalo document-sharing and collaboration service, in limited public preview, is unusual among Amazon’s web services because it (currently) has no API.…

Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places [The Register]

Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?

BT is recruiting an expert on 4G small cells. What are they up to?…

New licence and SAP unit sale knackers Software AG's numbers [The Register]

Q2 revenues down by double digits, profits halved, CEO surprised

Delayed IT projects and offloading the SAP business have dealt Software AG’s business a double blow for its latest quarter.…

Psst. Hey, Jock. I got £100m for outsourcers here. Fancy a hit? [The Register]

Scottish government's giant pile'o'dosh quivers as it awaits MSP bidders

A £100m pot of cash for managed service providers will form part of the Scottish government's next public sector-wide tech agreement.…

VMware fuels cloudy drive, plonks second bit barn in UK [The Register]

First Slough, now Chessington... give it a year and they'll be EVERYWHERE

VMware's virtual cloud hybrid service has quietly added a second British bit barn.…

'Unsolicited texts' outrage: Man fined £4k for DPA breach [The Register]

But it WASN'T about any SMSes

The owner of a marketing company which allegedly sent "millions of unsolicited text messages" was prosecuted for "failing to notify the ICO of changes to his notification" at Willesden Magistrates Court last week.…

BT: Hey guys, we've developed NEW MOBE TECH! It’s called... 2G [The Register]

Zombie OnePhone claws its way out of the grave again

BT has fallen through a timewarp and introduced a system based on GSM technology – and even resurrected a name used in the last millennium to christen it.…

Watching smut at work is bad but emailing it is just fine, says Oz court [The Register]

Workers celebrate glorious hole in workplace pr0n policies

Voyeurs rejoice! The Federal Court of Australia has ruled Aussies cannot be easily sacked for emailing porn to work colleagues.…

Fortinet fawns over fast-if-unfashionable ASIC [The Register]

How else can you get a firewall to Terabit-per-second performance?

Fortinet is making hefty claims for its latest firewall release. In a world obsessed by squeezing performance out of virtualised functions running on white-box servers, the company is puffing its feathers over a new ASIC it says bestows Terabit-per-second performance on its biggest iron.…

eBay impulse buyers STAY AWAY: Holy Grail Superman comic book to fetch $2m+ [The Register]

Certainly not one to click on while drunk at 2AM

One of the rarest comic books of all time is going under the hammer – well, a virtual hammer.…

SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans [The Register]

Junk in the trunk? That's what people have

Few people can fail to notice that an elephant's appendage is way bigger than a dog's, but it may come as more surprise that it can use it better too.…

World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record [The Register]

One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h

The University of New South Wales' Sunswift, the third-placed car in the Cruiser class of the 2013 World Solar Challenge, claims to have set a new record for the swiftest single-charge traversal of a 500km course.…

Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade [The Register]

Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln

Mozilla has released a bug-and-security update for Firefox, with 11 security fixes, three of them critical.…

Obama will reportedly order privacy guidelines for domestic drone use [The Verge - All Posts]

Privacy guidelines may soon be put in place for drones flying within the US. According to Politico, President Obama plans to issue an executive order to have a set of voluntary privacy guidelines drafted for commercial drones. The guidelines would help protect citizens as these small aircraft — often carrying cameras — become increasingly available. Politico reports that it is not yet known when the order will be issued, but that the White House is working to figure out the proper policy.

Continue reading…

'Join us in our ritual,' beckons Cthulhu-based cryptocurrency [The Verge - All Posts]

Written in the voodoo cultspeak of futurist horror writer H.P. Lovecraft's short story, "The Call of Cthulhu," the creepy Cthulhu Offerings may be the most confusing digital currency yet.

"The time draws near, the return of The Great Old One is upon us," writes the developer. "Join us in our ritual."

Continue reading…

There goes my hero: preparing for the insanity of Comic-Con 2014 [The Verge - All Posts]

The stars! The cosplayers! The lines! This week, Comic-Con is taking over San Diego for the annual celebration of fandom. Casey Newton, preparing for his first-ever trip to Hall H, explains what's about to happen.

Continue reading…

Listening to Level: can Samsung do headphones better than Beats? [The Verge - All Posts]

Watch your back, Jimmy Iovine. Samsung's coming for you.

Last week, Samsung launched a new lineup of products in the US called Level. Beginning with four products — over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear headphones, and a Bluetooth speaker — the Level lineup is about the least subtle Beats competitor ever created. Even the names are both cut from the same words-about-song-production cloth.

It's a move with obvious incentive: Beats is much-derided but massively popular, and is presumably about to...

Continue reading…

Welcome to the future [The Verge - All Posts]

Hello — again.

As you might have heard, I’m stepping in to be the next editor-in-chief of The Verge. I’m also excited to announce that my friend Dieter Bohn will be our new executive editor. We’ll be working with the amazing team that’s already in place and making The Verge happen every day, a team I think is the best in the industry.

This is going to be rad.

The Verge at its best is a window into the future — the future of technology, design, science, and culture. That’s the vision we had for the site when we launched it in 2011, and it’s the vision now. And the job of examining and understanding that future has become more important than ever. Technology has become a disruptive force in every sense of the word. Every story is a...

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We piloted a giant robot from 'Pacific Rim' using Oculus Rift [The Verge - All Posts]

Last night, Legendary Pictures gave us a brief look at how it wants to bring the worlds of Pacific Rim and Guillermo del Toro's upcoming gothic horror film Crimson Peak closer to real life. For Pacific Rim, the company teamed up with Oculus to put fans inside a virtual Jaeger. For Peak, del Toro himself was on hand to walk us through a gallery of props and costumes, explaining some of his vision for what we can expect from the film.

Continue reading…

Instagram may have leaked an image of its Snapchat competitor, Bolt [The Verge - All Posts]

Instagram seems to have accidentally posted a link to its new "one tap photo messaging app" Bolt inside Instagram for Android. Tapping the "free" button yields a dead end in the Google Play Store. Only a few users seem to be seeing the link, and some of whom have posted screenshots on Twitter. Instagram hasn't responded to a request for comment.

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The 5 biggest questions about surviving Soylent [The Verge - All Posts]

Chris Ziegler spent (almost) a month eating (almost) nothing but Soylent, a brown nutritional sludge and meal replacement. He wrote about the experience in great detail, but people still wanted to know more — a lot more, it turns out — about his life eating a science project. Here, Chris gets on camera to address some of the most pressing questions.

Continue reading…

African flight reportedly crashes carrying 116 people [The Verge - All Posts]

A plane crossing Northern Africa crashed overnight with 116 people on board, Reuters reports that an Algerian official has said. The flight, AH5017 operated by Air Algerie, was headed from the capital of Burkina Faso to the capital of Algeria and disappeared about 50 minutes after takeoff, according to the BBC. Contact was lost just before 2AM GMT (10PM ET), shortly after the aircraft is reported to have requested permission to change course to avoid a storm. The plane was reported missing many hours later, with officials only confirming the crash after 1PM GMT. Almost half of the people on board were French citizens.

There are not yet details on where the plane crashed or what caused it to crash. The Washington Post notes that the...

Continue reading…

'Lucy' review: dissecting Scarlett Johansson's perfect brain [The Verge - All Posts]

Given people’s desire to dump money on all sorts of self-improving pills, superfoods, fitness trackers, and life hacks, it’s no wonder that Hollywood has taken to neuroscience’s most persistent myth — the idea that humans only use one-fifth of their brains. Way back in 1996, John Travolta gained access to the rest of his and learned to levitate things in Phenomenon; a few years ago Limitless’ Bradley Cooper took a “smart pill” and used his new brain power to get super-rich playing the stock...

Continue reading…

The New Extraterrestrial Geography [Transterrestrial Musings]

My thoughts on what we haven’t done and where we haven’t been in forty-five years.

SLS Budget Problems [Transterrestrial Musings]

I’m sure you’re as shocked about this as I am.

How Hackers Hid a Money-Mining Botnet in Amazon’s Cloud [WIRED » Threat Level]

Hackers have long used malware to enslave armies of unwitting PCs, but security researchers Rob Ragan and Oscar Salazar had a different thought: Why steal computing resources from innocent victims when there’s so much free processing power out there for the taking? At the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas next month Ragan and Salazar […]



Radical Lesbian Feminism: Coming Soon to a Public School Classroom Near You? [The Other McCain]

“Can it be valid to conceptualize ‘girls’ as having certain personal attributes universally in common, except perhaps their youth relative to women? In grappling with this question, we need not to lose sight of the fact that, however different, girls’ actions are oriented toward the same or similarly structured objects that construct their bodies’ social […]

Senate Effort Underway to Require Congressional Approval of Iran Deal [The PJ Tatler]

GOP senators bit back at the Obama administration’s four-month extension of nuclear talks with Iran today, introducing legislation that would require congressional review of any deal and makes clear that this is the last extension before sanctions go back into effect.

It’s a bill that many Democrats would vote for — if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) allows it to come to the floor.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the top GOP on the Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the bill in a colloquy Wednesday with his co-sponsors: Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho).

Corker gave a nod to the work on sanctions pushed forward by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), though it was unclear if either would sign on to the bill.

“Congress must weigh in on any final deal, ensure Iranian compliance is strictly enforced, and provide a backstop to prevent a bad deal from occurring,” Corker said. “While this bill does not include new sanctions on Iran, it allows Congress to seek further sanctions if an acceptable final deal can’t be reached.”

What it does include is the requirement that the president submit any agreement to Congress within three days of reaching a final deal. Lawmakers would have 15 days to review the deal, then have the option to introduce a joint resolution of disapproval that would have to pass the House and Senate.

If Obama failed to submit a plan to Congress or a resolution of disapproval would pass, sanctions that the administration had rolled back during the negotiation process would automatically be reimposed.

“Additionally, if Iran at any time violates the terms of its nuclear agreements, this legislation rightly obligates the Obama administration to re-impose all previous sanctions and start over,” Risch said. “Given Iran’s history and bad faith on this issue, this legislation is absolutely necessary.”

Additionally, sanctions would be re-imposed on Nov. 28 — four days after the newly extended deadline is up — should Obama fail to submit a comprehensive agreement to Congress.

“Congress played a fundamental role in enacting sanctions against Iran and should have a say whether this agreement is strong enough to lift sanctions,” Graham said. “President Obama felt he needed congressional approval to move forward in Syria and Congress should insist on being involved in any nuclear deal with Iran.”

Rubio said on the Senate floor that refusing to let Congress give the final approval to a deal “leaves us vulnerable – not just to a terrible deal –  but to a dangerous one that could potentially endanger the future of our allies and even of our own country.”

“So the Iranians in this whole negotiation view themselves as being in a position of strength. To be quite frank, they believe that our president wants this deal more than they do. They believe he wants this deal more than they do. And that’s what puts them in this tremendous position of strength. And the result is that these negotiations are not going to, in my view – I hope that I’m wrong, I hope that tomorrow we open up and read, you know what? They’ve changed their mind. They don’t want to do any more terrorism, no rockets and no nuclear weapon program and they’ve become just a normal government and a normal country,” Rubio said.

“Don’t hold your hopes out for that because that is not what they’ve shown in the past, that is not what they’re doing now, and they are negotiating from a position of strength because they believe that the president wants a deal much more than they want or need a deal.”

Sale of Mt. Gox-related Bitcoins.com halted after court order [PCWorld]

The sale of the domain Bitcoins.com, affiliated with Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles, has been halted after a U.S. court order, according to the auction house.

“This lot has been withdrawn from this auction. Bids are no longer accepted and previous bids are cancelled,” U.S.-based Heritage Auctions wrote on its website.

The move follows a restraining order issued Tuesday by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle that effectively prevented the sale.

Responding to a motion by Bitcoin startup company CoinLab, the court ordered Mt. Gox parent company Tibanne, which is led by Karpeles and owns Bitcoins.com, to preserve and account for all its assets. The duration of the restraining order is 14 days.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Qualcomm faces hurdles collecting royalties from China [PCWorld]

China’s anti-monopoly investigation of Qualcomm is starting to disrupt its licensing business and making it harder for the U.S. company to collect royalties from the country.

The government probe is creating “significant challenges” for Qualcomm, the company reported on Wednesday in an earnings presentation.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) began examining Qualcomm’s business in November, following complaints that the company had been overcharging local clients.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

‘Can’t You See.’ [Moe Lane]

Can’t You SeeThe Marshall Tucker Band

I sing this, tunelessly.  It’s very middle-aged of me.

Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS [The Register]

VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked

Security outlet VUPEN has revealed it held onto a critical Internet Explorer vulnerability for three years before disclosing it at the March Pwn2Own hacker competition.…

Little trouble in big China: Are some of Qualcomm's chip slingers fibbing? [The Register]

Patent licensee figure disputes, antitrust probe mar US biz's Q3

Mobile chipmaker Qualcomm reported solid results for the third quarter of its fiscal 2014 on Wednesday, with revenues, earnings, and chip shipments all reaching record highs.…


Overnight Open Thread (7-23-2014) [Ace of Spades HQ]

First a little mood music... The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Jazz Gehort und Gesehen in Germany 30 minutes of cool jazz awesomeness from their 1960 tour. Quote of the Day I Nor do you ever have to lie in bed...

Hey We Should Really Pass That Cornyn-Cuellar Compromise, STAT [Ace of Spades HQ]

One of the provisions of that was that children would either be granted asylum or scheduled for deportation within ten days. That's supposed to signal that we're getting serious about border control. But what if they just stocked the ranks...

Speaking of Beautiful Dented and Scratched Machines [Daring Fireball]

Everyone is calling this “the new X-Wing”, but I’m not sure the wings open into an X. Looks cool though, and it’s great to see them going back to practical special effects.

Update: It’s definitely an X-Wing. Here’s a tweet illustrating how the S-foils open. Even better, this new X-Wing hews closely to Ralph McQuarrie’s original design. Awesome.

Review: 2040 [Armed and Dangerous]

2040 (Graham Tottle; Cameron Publicity & Marketing Ltd) is a very odd book. Ostensibly an SF novel about skulduggery on two timelines, it is a actually a ramble through a huge gallimaufry of topics including most prominently the vagaries of yachting in the Irish Sea, an apologia for British colonial administration in 19th-century Africa, and the minutiae of instruction sets of archaic mainframe computers.

It’s full of vivid ideas and imagery, held together by a merely serviceable plot and garnished with festoons of footnotes delving into odd quarters of the factual background. Some will dislike the book’s politics, a sort of nostalgic contrarian Toryism; many Americans may find this incomprehensible, or misread it as a variant of the harsher American version of traditionalist conservatism. There is much worthwhile exploding of fashionable cant in it, even if the author does sound a bit crotchety on occasion.

I enjoyed it, but I can’t exactly recommend it. Enter at your own risk.

YouTube star hit with copyright lawsuit, label seeks $150,000 per song [Ars Technica]

Michelle Phan, a very popular YouTube user, demonstrates the stretchiness of hair ties.

Popular YouTube user Michelle Phan is being sued for alleged copyright infringement on songs she has used in her videos, according to reports from the BBC. Ultra Records claims that Phan has used 50 of its songs in her YouTube posts and on her website illegally despite one of the label's own artists objecting to the legal action.

Phan's YouTube channel centers around using and buying makeup, and her videos are often backed by upbeat music with the artist credited in the video's description. Artists whom Phan has used in her videos include Kaskade, deadmau5, and Calvin Harris.

Kaskade spoke out on Twitter about the lawsuit, condemning Ultra for pursuing Phan for copyright infringement. "Copyright law is a dinosaur, ill-suited for the landscape of today’s media," he wrote. "We can’t love (& won’t buy) music we haven’t heard." If it's exposure artists are looking for, Phan's audience isn't a bad target. She boasts more than six million subscribers and videos that consistently crack a million views each.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

I'm considering posting about... [Althouse]

... this article on procrastination, and I'm pondering exactly how to do it, and the whole time I'm distracted by this plan I formed 10 minutes ago to shut off the computer and go to bed.

"The execution of a convicted murderer in Arizona lasted for nearly two hours on Wednesday..." [Althouse]

"... as witnesses said he gasped and snorted for much of that time before eventually dying."

“I’m telling you he was snoring,” Stephanie Grisham, spokeswoman for the Arizona attorney general’s office, said in an e-mail to The Washington Post. “There was no gasping or snorting. Nothing. He looked like he was asleep. This was my first execution and I have no reason to minimize this.”

Marco Rubio's social conservative manifesto. [Althouse]

Here's the full text. There's good, there's boilerplate, and there's the predictable effort at grappling with the discrimination against gay couples that some people feel sure belongs in the social-conservative platform:

[T]raditional marriage... is the definition of marriage that I personally support – not because I seek to discriminate against people who love someone of the same sex, but because I believe that the union of one man and one woman is a special relationship that has proven to be of great benefit to our society, our nation and our people, and therefore deserves to be elevated in our laws....

Those who support same sex marriage have a right to lobby their state legislatures to change state laws. But Americans, like myself, who support keeping the traditional definition of marriage also have a right to work to keep the traditional definition of marriage in our laws without seeing that overturned by a judge.

Our nation has in the past demonstrated a tremendous capacity to work through issues such as this. And I believe it will again. Doing so will require those of us who support traditional marriage to respect those who support same sex marriage. But it will also require those who support same sex marriage to respect those of us who support traditional marriage, for tolerance is also a two way street.
People who experience discrimination are going to have trouble tolerating the discrimination supported by those who think the discrimination is a good idea, but I get the feeling Rubio sees that in the end, Americans will accept same-sex marriage and wonder that acceptance didn't come more quickly. Or why would he refer to working through the issue? The resolution is coming soon enough. Please don't be too mean to people like him who are communing with the stragglers on the road of progress. That's how I hear it anyway. Meanwhile, this social conservatism is ruining its reputation, and I wish that if Rubio really cares about its survival into the next generation, he would rip this retrograde plank out of the platform.

Twitter employees mainly male and white, says it has 'lot of work to do' [PCWorld]

Twitter disclosed the gender and ethnicity breakdown of its employees on Wednesday, less than a week after U.S. civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson called on the company to release its employee diversity information.

The data is more or less in line with that released earlier by the company’s Silicon Valley peers like Google, Facebook, Yahoo and LinkedIn, which showed that both women and blacks are a minority in their companies.

Silicon Valley tech companies have been under pressure to release their employee diversity data after Jackson initiated a campaign to highlight the underrepresentation of African-Americans in Silicon Valley companies, starting with a delegation in March to Hewlett-Packard’s annual meeting of shareholders.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Firm says vulnerability in Tails contained in I2P component [PCWorld]

A vulnerability broker published a video demonstrating one of several flaws it has found in the privacy-focused Tails operating system, which is used by those seeking to make their Web browser harder to trace.

Exodus Intelligence of Austin, Texas, said its short clip shows how the real IP address of a Tails user can be revealed using the flaw. The company said it hoped publicizing its findings would serve as a warning to users about putting “unconditional trust” in a software platform.

“Users should question the tools they use, they should go even further to understand the underlying mechanisms that interlock to grant them security,” Exodus said in a blog post on Wednesday.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Are The Oceans Warming? [Power Line]

(Steven Hayward)

We’re reported previously (here and here, among others) about one of the leading explanations for the current lull in global warming climate change, namely, that the heat is going into the oceans—particularly deep in the ocean, where, convenviently for the climatistas, we have very little data—instead of the atmosphere.  It is a plausible hypothesis, and while there is some data to support ocean warming, it is very incomplete and over a short time scale.

There’s a new paper just out in the Journal of Physical Oceanography by Carl Wunsch of Harvard and Patrick Heimbach of MIT—both prominent figures in the field, neither known as a climate “skeptic”—that is likely to make waves (pun intended).  You can find the abstract here (you can find a manuscript copy of the complete article on Wunsch’s website.) It is typically dense and difficult to follow, and appears to be written cautiously so as not to give direct aid and comfort to climate skeptics.  But this sentence in particular appears significant:

Interpretation requires close attention to the long memory of the deep ocean, and implying that meteorological forcing of decades to thousands of years ago should still be producing trend-like changes in abyssal heat content.

In other words, it would not be unfair to suggest that ocean trends might have much longer-term causes than the emissions from your SUV alone.

And there’s this possibly inconvenient fact:

Parts of the deeper ocean, below 3600 m, show cooling. 

I’d sure like to hear more about what this might mean, but on the surface it would sound like a problem for the conventional climate narrative.

And on p. 22 of the complete manuscript, the authors say this:

Direct determination of changes in oceanic heat content over the last 20 years are not in conflict with estimates of the radiative forcing, but the uncertainties remain too large to rationalize e.g., the apparent “pause” in warming. (Emphasis added.)

In other words, “we don’t know.”  But that won’t stop a lot of climatistas from saying that they do know.  There’s lots more interesting and carefully worded analysis in the paper, which is extremely dense and difficult for a non-specialist to follow, that suggests the climatistas might want to pause in how they assert they know why the temperature has plateaued.

Quote of the Day [Ed Driscoll]

The real issue when it comes to immigration is not simply what particular immigration policy America should have, but whether America can have any immigration policy at all.

A country that does not control its own borders does not have any immigration policy. There may be laws on the books, but such laws are just meaningless words if people from other countries can cross the borders whenever they choose.

—Thomas Sowell, “Bordering on Madness.” Read the whole thing.

Related: “If governments shouldn’t be in the business of deporting children, Mexico should go ahead and amnestize all the Central American kids currently waiting near its northern border to cross into Texas, right?”

‘The Lust That Dare Not Speak Its Name’ [Ed Driscoll]

“My secret lust for right-wing women” is explored by self-described “liberal-lefty-pro-feminist” Cosmo Landesman in the UK Spectator:

I have slept with women who write for the New Statesman and women who write for the Daily Telegraph and I can’t honestly claim that one lot is better than the other. But there are certain post-coital benefits that come with women of the right. They never subject a man to the music of Nick Drake or Nina Simone. As good libertarians, they don’t mind if you smoke in bed or pick up a newspaper or roll over and go to sleep — come to think of it, that’s what they are more likely to do. Nor do you ever have to lie in bed and watch some mawkish film about Nelson Mandela or one made by Michael Moore. (They don’t think you’re demented because you’d rather watch Die Hard.) And right-wing women never think that leaving the toilet seat up is a passive-aggressive act of patriarchy.

Sorry, comrades, but when it comes to the bedroom I’ll have to vote Tory.

Fair enough — but didn’t Landesman’s fellow Brit (well, expatriate Brit) John Derbyshire explore this exact theme for National Review in early 2001?

Though the Derb’s column was much more devoted to aesthetics than Landesman. Derbyshire wrote:

Still, I think I could make an objective case for the general proposition. Just line them up, for goodness’ sake. On the Left: Janet Reno, Donna Shalala, Hillary Clinton (you can take her before or after the style crash, far as I’m concerned), Madeleine Albright, Barbra Streisand, Rosie O’Donnell, Katie Couric, Anna Quindlen, Andrea Dworkin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nina Khrushchev, Mao Tse-tung’s last wife … On the Right: Margaret Thatcher, Condoleeza Rice (pity about that forename — what were her parents thinking of?), Linda Chavez, Katherine Harris, Laura Bush (a cutie, in my book, though I wish she’d get the squint fixed), Suzanna Gratia Hupp, Heather Nauert (oh God), Paula Zahn, Ann Coulter, Peggy Noonan, Grace Coolidge, Elizabeth the First, the last Tsarina, Eva Peron … I rest my case.

There are a few necessary qualifications, but I don’t think they blunt my argument. They may actually strengthen it. Madeleine Albright, for example, is said to have been a babe when younger. Well, water will find its level, physical states return to equilibrium sooner or later, and all lefty women, whatever attributes they may have started out with, revert to type at last. Margaret Thatcher at 60 could still drive men crazy — I would have given my all for one favoring glance. Those Young Conservative girls I used to know, who are now Middle-Aged Conservatives in tweeds, manage to look good in tweeds. (There is, in fact, a great deal to be said for women in tweeds. There will be a future column on this topic.) But Hillary Clinton at 60?

* * * * * * *

When Arthur Koestler was a communist in Weimar Germany, he used to have secret meetings with comrades in open public places where a police “tail” would be easy to spot. Once he met with a female comrade in a Berlin park. While discussing necessary business, the woman lost her attention and began staring at the surrounding trees. “Why is it,” she suddenly blurted out, “that the leaves die wherever we go?”

Perhaps because, as Landesman writes this month:

I recently had sex with a woman who writes for the Guardian and in the heat of the moment I said, ‘I love you — you filthy slut!’ I meant it as a compliment! Honest! She stopped the proceedings and gave me a long lecture about how the ‘verbal demeaning of women’ was totally unacceptable. I had a similar experience with a woman of the right. (I won’t repeat what I said because it’s too embarrassing.) But she just laughed and said, ‘Oh, you do say the sweetest things to a girl!’

Women of the right will not tolerate sexism; but nor do they have that tendency of some left-wing women always to play the victim of sexism. They have a robust, get-on-with-it attitude to life that makes them less prone to the neurotic, whiney, oh-poor-me melodrama that has infected so much thinking of left-leaning feminists.

Is Landesman kidding? In any case, does it matter? I’m sure his column is already receiving the following stern rebuke from the left

(Via Kathy Shaidle.)

Related: “A Guardian columnist looks at the subtext of Thomas the Tank Engine,” as spotted by James Lileks. Entirely predictable archleftist Brit-scolding of an venerable and universally beloved kiddie show ensues. As Lileks quips:

Every parent does this: analyzes their kids’ shows to death for fun, because you’re stuck at home watching something inane. Everyone has that “hmm: this is a show about slavery, in a way.” It also lacks class consciousness:

Inevitably, the trains get in a fight with or pick on one another (or generally mess up whatever job they are supposed to be doing) until Hatt has to scold one of them about being a “really useful engine”, because their sole utility in life is their ability to satisfy his whims. Yeah, because I want to teach my kid to admire a controlling autocrat.

Well, it’s Guardian writer, so yes, she does, but the proper kind.

Heh, indeed.™

Update: Naturally, the smoke from Thomas’s engine is racist — it’s white smoke, get it?!  — but then, isn’t everything?

So, yeah, I got nothing. [Moe Lane]

Unless you want to hear about the ribeye I got to have tonight when the babysitter showed up unexpectedly*.  No? So what do you want to talk about?

Moe Lane

*It was a pretty tasty ribeye, in fact.

Shocker: pretty much anybody can scam #obamacare. [Moe Lane]

Mind you, this isn’t a bug.

An undercover operation found that the majority of fake Obamacare applications submitted were approved by the health law’s enrollment system.

Fake applicants were able to get subsidized insurance coverage in 11 of 18 attempts, according to a report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office. The agency conducted the sting operation to test the strength of the Affordable Care Act’s eligibility-verification system.

The findings will be discussed at a House Ways and Means hearing Wednesday. They were revealed in an advance copy of the testimony from Seto Bagdoyan, head of GAO’s Forensic Audits and Investigative Service, provided to the Associated Press.

More accurately, the administration hasn’t particularly acted as if this sort of thing was a bug. A scam still counted as a signup, after all: and the Obama administration was absolutely desperate to get signups, pretty much by any means necessary.  Note: I am not saying that the administration deliberately let people scam the system.  I am saying that keeping people from scamming the system was in no way a priority for anybody involved with Obamacare.

Not that one should expect the Democrats to be anything but cavalier with your tax money, of course.  Far too many of them are bitter about the fact that you technically had that money to be taxed in the first place.

Moe Lane

A quick look at why Halbig v. Burrell got decided the way that it did. [Moe Lane]

Megan McArdle lays out the problem for the administration with regard to Halbig v. Burrell*:

When you read through the ruling, it’s easy to see the many ways in which the law’s architects brought this on themselves. The law was highly complex, badly drafted and highly controversial. When a Republican won a special election for the Senate in Massachusetts (!), the Democrats had to push it through on a straight party-line vote with some adroit parliamentary maneuvering — which gave them a health-care law, but one that was badly put together and couldn’t be substantially amended. The gaping holes were patched with administrative fixes, like an Internal Revenue Service ruling that held federally established exchanges to be equivalent to an exchange established by the state. But the vast scale of the law meant that the administrative gymnastics that held it together might not be sustainable.

Legislate in haste, repent at leisure. Not that this administration ever repents anything, of course.  They’re not exactly enamoured of ever admitting that Barack Obama was wrong about anything, although when it comes to Obamacare it’s sometimes difficult to figure out what the administration was right about.  Even their justification for the individual mandate (Commerce Clause) got shot down, 5-4**…

Via Instapundit.

Moe Lane

*Short version: the plaintiff contended that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) explicitly prohibited the federal government from offering subsidies to any Obamacare policy on the federal exchanges. A panel of judges from the US Court of Appeals agreed, 2-1: the administration has asked that the entire Court of Appeals rule on the decision, which will probably reverse that (Obama appointees). Couple that with another, contradictory ruling elsewhere and you can pretty much assume that the Supreme Court is going to rule on this one eventually.

**I know people hate the Obamacare tax rationalization, but there’s something to be said for at least putting some curb on the federal government’s tendency to use the Commerce Clause as a policy skeleton key.

Tweet of the day, It’s Nice When People Reference The Classics edition. [Moe Lane]

That movie was simply made of awesome.

Seriously, if Ghostbusters was the only thing to survive of Harold Ramis’s body of work, it’d be enough.

Matthew Palmer: First Step with Clojure: Terror [Planet Debian]

$ sudo apt-get install -y leiningen
$ lein new scratch
$ cd scratch
$ lein repl
Downloading: org/clojure/clojure/1.3.0/clojure-1.3.0.pom from repository central at http://repo1.maven.org/maven2
Transferring 5K from central
Downloading: org/sonatype/oss/oss-parent/5/oss-parent-5.pom from repository central at http://repo1.maven.org/maven2
Transferring 4K from central
Downloading: org/clojure/clojure/1.3.0/clojure-1.3.0.jar from repository central at http://repo1.maven.org/maven2
Transferring 3311K from central

Wait… what? lein downloads some random JARs from a website over HTTP1, with, as far as far I can tell, no verification that what I’m asking for is what I’m getting (has nobody ever heard of Man-in-the-Middle attacks in Maven land?). It downloads a .sha1 file to (presumably) do integrity checking, but that’s no safety net – if I can serve you a dodgy .jar, I can serve you an equally-dodgy .sha1 file, too (also, SHA256 is where all the cool kids are at these days). Finally, jarsigner tells me that there’s no signature on the .jar itself, either.

It gets better, though. The repo1.maven.org site is served by the fastly.net2 pseudo-CDN3, which adds another set of points in the chain which can be subverted to hijack and spoof traffic. More routers, more DNS zones, and more servers.

I’ve seen Debian take a kicking more than once because packages aren’t individually signed, or because packages aren’t served over HTTPS. But at least Debian’s packages can be verified by chaining to a signature made by a well-known, widely-distributed key, signed by two Debian Developers with very well-connected keys.

This repository, on the other hand… oy gevalt. There are OpenPGP (GPG) signatures available for each package (tack .asc onto the end of the .jar URL), but no attempt was made to download the signatures for the .jar I downloaded. Even if the signature was downloaded and checked, there’s no way for me (or anyone) to trust the signature – the signature was made by a key that’s signed by one other key, which itself has no signatures. If I were an attacker, it wouldn’t be hard for me to replace that key chain with one of my own devising.

Even ignoring everyone living behind a government- or company-run intercepting proxy, and everyone using public wifi, it’s pretty well common knowledge by now (thanks to Edward Snowden) that playing silly-buggers with Internet traffic isn’t hard to do, and there’s no shortage of evidence that it is, in fact, done on a routine basis by all manner of people. Serving up executable code to a large number of people, in that threat environment, with no way for them to have any reasonable assurance that code is trustworthy, is very disappointing.

Please, for the good of the Internet, improve your act, Maven. Putting HTTPS on your distribution would be a bare minimum. There are attacks on SSL, sure, but they’re a lot harder to pull off than sitting on public wifi hijacking TCP connections. Far better would be to start mandating signatures, requiring signature checks to pass, and having all signatures chain to a well-known, widely-trusted, and properly secured trust root. Signing all keys that are allowed to upload to maven.org with a “maven.org distribution root” key (itself kept in hardware and only used offline), and then verifying that all signatures chain to that key, wouldn’t be insanely difficult, and would greatly improve the security of the software supply chain. Sure, it wouldn’t be perfect, but don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. Cost-effective improvements are possible here.

Yes, security is hard. But you don’t get to ignore it just because of that, when you’re creating an attractive nuisance for anyone who wants to own up a whole passel of machines by slipping some dodgy code into a widely-used package.

  1. To add insult to injury, it appears to ignore my http_proxy environment variable, and the repo1.maven.org server returns plain-text error responses with Content-Type: text/xml. But at this point, that’s just icing on the shit cake.

  2. At one point in the past, my then-employer (a hosting provider) blocked Fastly’s caching servers from their network because they took down a customer site with a massive number of requests to a single resource, and the incoming request traffic was indistinguishable from a botnet-sourced DDoS attack. The requests were coming from IP space registered to a number of different ISPs, with no distinguishing rDNS (184-106-82-243.static.cloud-ips.com doesn’t help me to distinguish between “I’m a professionally-run distributed proxy” and “I’m a pwned box here to hammer your site into the ground”).

  3. Pretty much all of the new breed of so-called CDNs aren’t actually pro-actively distributing content, they’re just proxies. That isn’t a bad thing, per se, but I rather dislike the far-too-common practice of installing varnish (and perhaps mod_pagespeed, if they’re providing “advanced” capabilities) on a couple of AWS instances, and hanging out your shingle as a CDN. I prefer a bit of truth in my advertising.

Dustin Kirkland: Improving Random Seeds in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Cloud Instances [Planet Ubuntu]

Tomorrow, February 19, 2014, I will be giving a presentation to the Capital of Texas chapter of ISSA, which will be the first public presentation of a new security feature that has just landed in Ubuntu Trusty (14.04 LTS) in the last 2 weeks -- doing a better job of seeding the pseudo random number generator in Ubuntu cloud images.  You can view my slides here (PDF), or you can read on below.  Enjoy!

Q: Why should I care about randomness? 

A: Because entropy is important!

  • Choosing hard-to-guess random keys provide the basis for all operating system security and privacy
    • SSL keys
    • SSH keys
    • GPG keys
    • /etc/shadow salts
    • TCP sequence numbers
    • UUIDs
    • dm-crypt keys
    • eCryptfs keys
  • Entropy is how your computer creates hard-to-guess random keys, and that's essential to the security of all of the above

Q: Where does entropy come from?

A: Hardware, typically.

  • Keyboards
  • Mouses
  • Interrupt requests
  • HDD seek timing
  • Network activity
  • Microphones
  • Web cams
  • Touch interfaces
  • WiFi/RF
  • TPM chips
  • RdRand
  • Entropy Keys
  • Pricey IBM crypto cards
  • Expensive RSA cards
  • USB lava lamps
  • Geiger Counters
  • Seismographs
  • Light/temperature sensors
  • And so on

Q: But what about virtual machines, in the cloud, where we have (almost) none of those things?

A: Pseudo random number generators are our only viable alternative.

  • In Linux, /dev/random and /dev/urandom are interfaces to the kernel’s entropy pool
    • Basically, endless streams of pseudo random bytes
  • Some utilities and most programming languages implement their own PRNGs
    • But they usually seed from /dev/random or /dev/urandom
  • Sometimes, virtio-rng is available, for hosts to feed guests entropy
    • But not always

Q: Are Linux PRNGs secure enough?

A: Yes, if they are properly seeded.

  • See random(4)
  • When a Linux system starts up without much operator interaction, the entropy pool may be in a fairly predictable state
  • This reduces the actual amount of noise in the entropy pool below the estimate
  • In order to counteract this effect, it helps to carry a random seed across shutdowns and boots
  • See /etc/init.d/urandom
dd if=/dev/urandom of=$SAVEDFILE bs=$POOLBYTES count=1 >/dev/null 2>&1


Q: And what exactly is a random seed?

A: Basically, its a small catalyst that primes the PRNG pump.

  • Let’s pretend the digits of Pi are our random number generator
  • The random seed would be a starting point, or “initialization vector”
  • e.g. Pick a number between 1 and 20
    • say, 18
  • Now start reading random numbers

  • Not bad...but if you always pick ‘18’...

XKCD on random numbers

RFC 1149.5 specifies 4 as the standard IEEE-vetted random number.

Q: So my OS generates an initial seed at first boot?

A: Yep, but computers are predictable, especially VMs.

  • Computers are inherently deterministic
    • And thus, bad at generating randomness
  • Real hardware can provide quality entropy
  • But virtual machines are basically clones of one another
    • ie, The Cloud
    • No keyboard or mouse
    • IRQ based hardware is emulated
    • Block devices are virtual and cached by hypervisor
    • RTC is shared
    • The initial random seed is sometimes part of the image, or otherwise chosen from a weak entropy pool

Dilbert on random numbers


Q: Surely you're just being paranoid about this, right?

A: I’m afraid not...

Analysis of the LRNG (2006)

  • Little prior documentation on Linux’s random number generator
  • Random bits are a limited resource
  • Very little entropy in embedded environments
  • OpenWRT was the case study
  • OS start up consists of a sequence of routine, predictable processes
  • Very little demonstrable entropy shortly after boot
  • http://j.mp/McV2gT

Black Hat (2009)

  • iSec Partners designed a simple algorithm to attack cloud instance SSH keys
  • Picked up by Forbes
  • http://j.mp/1hcJMPu

Factorable.net (2012)

  • Minding Your P’s and Q’s: Detection of Widespread Weak Keys in Network Devices
  • Comprehensive, Internet wide scan of public SSH host keys and TLS certificates
  • Insecure or poorly seeded RNGs in widespread use
    • 5.57% of TLS hosts and 9.60% of SSH hosts share public keys in a vulnerable manner
    • They were able to remotely obtain the RSA private keys of 0.50% of TLS hosts and 0.03% of SSH hosts because their public keys shared nontrivial common factors due to poor randomness
    • They were able to remotely obtain the DSA private keys for 1.03% of SSH hosts due to repeated signature non-randomness
  • http://j.mp/1iPATZx

Dual_EC_DRBG Backdoor (2013)

  • Dual Elliptic Curve Deterministic Random Bit Generator
  • Ratified NIST, ANSI, and ISO standard
  • Possible backdoor discovered in 2007
  • Bruce Schneier noted that it was “rather obvious”
  • Documents leaked by Snowden and published in the New York Times in September 2013 confirm that the NSA deliberately subverted the standard
  • http://j.mp/1bJEjrB

Q: Ruh roh...so what can we do about it?

A: For starters, do a better job seeding our PRNGs.

  • Securely
  • With high quality, unpredictable data
  • More sources are better
  • As early as possible
  • And certainly before generating
  • SSH host keys
  • SSL certificates
  • Or any other critical system DNA
  • /etc/init.d/urandom “carries” a random seed across reboots, and ensures that the Linux PRNGs are seeded

Q: But how do we ensure that in cloud guests?

A: Run Ubuntu!

Sorry, shameless plug...

Q: And what is Ubuntu's solution?

A: Meet pollinate.

  • pollinate is a new security feature, that seeds the PRNG.
  • Introduced in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS cloud images
  • Upstart job
  • It automatically seeds the Linux PRNG as early as possible, and before SSH keys are generated
  • It’s GPLv3 free software
  • Simple shell script wrapper around curl
  • Fetches random seeds
  • From 1 or more entropy servers in a pool
  • Writes them into /dev/urandom
  • https://launchpad.net/pollinate

Q: What about the back end?

A: Introducing pollen.

  • pollen is an entropy-as-a-service implementation
  • Works over HTTP and/or HTTPS
  • Supports a challenge/response mechanism
  • Provides 512 bit (64 byte) random seeds
  • It’s AGPL free software
  • Implemented in golang
  • Less than 50 lines of code
  • Fast, efficient, scalable
  • Returns the (optional) challenge sha512sum
  • And 64 bytes of entropy
  • https://launchpad.net/pollen

Q: Golang, did you say?  That sounds cool!

A: Indeed. Around 50 lines of code, cool!


Q: Is there a public entropy service available?

A: Hello, entropy.ubuntu.com.

  • Highly available pollen cluster
  • TLS/SSL encryption
  • Multiple physical servers
  • Behind a reverse proxy
  • Deployed and scaled with Juju
  • Multiple sources of hardware entropy
  • High network traffic is always stirring the pot
  • AGPL, so source code always available
  • Supported by Canonical
  • Ubuntu 14.04 LTS cloud instances run pollinate once, at first boot, before generating SSH keys

Q: But what if I don't necessarily trust Canonical?

A: Then use a different entropy service :-)

  • Deploy your own pollen
    • bzr branch lp:pollen
    • sudo apt-get install pollen
    • juju deploy pollen
  • Add your preferred server(s) to your $POOL
    • In /etc/default/pollinate
    • In your cloud-init user data
      • In progress
  • In fact, any URL works if you disable the challenge/response with pollinate -n|--no-challenge

Q: So does this increase the overall entropy on a system?

A: No, no, no, no, no!

  • pollinate seeds your PRNG, securely and properly and as early as possible
  • This improves the quality of all random numbers generated thereafter
  • pollen provides random seeds over HTTP and/or HTTPS connections
  • This information can be fed into your PRNG
  • The Linux kernel maintains a very conservative estimate of the number of bits of entropy available, in /proc/sys/kernel/random/entropy_avail
  • Note that neither pollen nor pollinate directly affect this quantity estimate!!!

Q: Why the challenge/response in the protocol?

A: Think of it like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

  • The pollinate challenge (via an HTTP POST submission) affects the pollen's PRNG state machine
  • pollinate can verify the response and ensure that the pollen server at least “did some work”
  • From the perspective of the pollen server administrator, all communications are “stirring the pot”
  • Numerous concurrent connections ensure a computationally complex and impossible to reproduce entropy state

Q: What if pollinate gets crappy or compromised or no random seeds?

A: Functionally, it’s no better or worse than it was without pollinate in the mix.

  • In fact, you can `dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/random` if you like, without harming your entropy quality
    • All writes to the Linux PRNG are whitened with SHA1 and mixed into the entropy pool
    • Of course it doesn’t help, but it doesn’t hurt either
  • Your overall security is back to the same level it was when your cloud or virtual machine booted at an only slightly random initial state
  • Note the permissions on /dev/*random
    • crw-rw-rw- 1 root root 1, 8 Feb 10 15:50 /dev/random
    • crw-rw-rw- 1 root root 1, 9 Feb 10 15:50 /dev/urandom
  • It's a bummer of course, but there's no new compromise

Q: What about SSL compromises, or CA Man-in-the-Middle attacks?

A: We are mitigating that by bundling the public certificates in the client.

  • The pollinate package ships the public certificate of entropy.ubuntu.com
    • /etc/pollinate/entropy.ubuntu.com.pem
    • And curl uses this certificate exclusively by default
  • If this really is your concern (and perhaps it should be!)
    • Add more URLs to the $POOL variable in /etc/default/pollinate
    • Put one of those behind your firewall
    • You simply need to ensure that at least one of those is outside of the control of your attackers

Q: What information gets logged by the pollen server?

A: The usual web server debug info.

  • The current timestamp
  • The incoming client IP/port
    • At entropy.ubuntu.com, the client IP/port is actually filtered out by the load balancer
  • The browser user-agent string
  • Basically, the exact same information that Chrome/Firefox/Safari sends
  • You can override if you like in /etc/default/pollinate
  • The challenge/response, and the generated seed are never logged!
Feb 11 20:44:54 x230 2014-02-11T20:44:54-06:00 x230 pollen[28821] Server received challenge from [, pollinate/4.1-0ubuntu1 curl/7.32.0-1ubuntu1.3 Ubuntu/13.10 GNU/Linux/3.11.0-15-generic/x86_64] at [1392173094634146155]

Feb 11 20:44:54 x230 2014-02-11T20:44:54-06:00 x230 pollen[28821] Server sent response to [, pollinate/4.1-0ubuntu1 curl/7.32.0-1ubuntu1.3 Ubuntu/13.10 GNU/Linux/3.11.0-15-generic/x86_64] at [1392173094634191843]

Q: Have the code or design been audited?

A: Yes, but more feedback is welcome!

  • All of the source is available
  • Service design and hardware specs are available
  • The Ubuntu Security team has reviewed the design and implementation
  • All feedback has been incorporated
  • At least 3 different Linux security experts outside of Canonical have reviewed the design and/or implementation
    • All feedback has been incorporated

Q: Where can I find more information?

A: Read Up!

Stay safe out there!

Michael Hall: When is a fork not a fork? [Planet Ubuntu]

Technically a fork is any instance of a codebase being copied and developed independently of its parent.  But when we use the word it usually encompasses far more than that. Usually when we talk about a fork we mean splitting the community around a project, just as much as splitting the code itself. Communities are not like code, however, they don’t always split in consistent or predictable ways. Nor are all forks the same, and both the reasons behind a fork, and the way it is done, will have an effect on whether and how the community around it will split.

There are, by my observation, three different kinds of forks that can be distinguished by their intent and method.  These can be neatly labeled as Convergent, Divergent and Emergent forks.

Convergent Forks

Most often when we talk about forks in open source, we’re talking about convergent forks. A convergent fork is one that shares the same goals as its parent, seeks to recruit the same developers, and wants to be used by the same users. Convergent forks tend to happen when a significant portion of the parent project’s developers are dissatisfied with the management or processes around the project, but otherwise happy with the direction of its development. The ultimate goal of a convergent fork is to take the place of the parent project.

Because they aim to take the place of the parent project, convergent forks must split the community in order to be successful. The community they need already exists, both the developers and the users, around the parent project, so that is their natural source when starting their own community.

Divergent Forks

Less common that convergent forks, but still well known by everybody in open source, are the divergent forks.  These forks are made by developers who are not happy with the direction of a project’s development, even if they are generally satisfied with its management.  The purpose of a divergent fork is to create something different from the parent, with different goals and most often different communities as well. Because they are creating a different product, they will usually be targeting a different group of users, one that was not well served by the parent project.  They will, however, quite often target many of the same developers as the parent project, because most of the technology and many of the features will remain the same, as a result of their shared code history.

Divergent forks will usually split a community, but to a much smaller extent than a convergent fork, because they do not aim to replace the parent for the entire community. Instead they often focus more on recruiting those users who were not served well, or not served at all, by the existing project, and will grown a new community largely from sources other than the parent community.

Emergent Forks

Emergent forks are not technically forks in the code sense, but rather new projects with new code, but which share the same goals and targets the same users as an existing project.  Most of us know these as NIH, or “Not Invented Here”, projects. They come into being on their own, instead of splitting from an existing source, but with the intention of replacing an existing project for all or part of an existing user community. Emergent forks are not the result of dissatisfaction with either the management or direction of an existing project, but most often a dissatisfaction with the technology being used, or fundamental design decisions that can’t be easily undone with the existing code.

Because they share the same goals as an existing project, these forks will usually result in a split of the user community around an existing project, unless they differ enough in features that they can targets users not already being served by those projects. However, because they do not share much code or technology with the existing project, they most often grow their own community of developers, rather than splitting them from the existing project as well.

All of these kinds of forks are common enough that we in the open source community can easily name several examples of them. But they are all quite different in important ways. Some, while forks in the literal sense, can almost be considered new projects in a community sense.  Others are not forks of code at all, yet result in splitting an existing community none the less. Many of these forks will fail to gain traction, in fact most of them will, but some will succeed and surpass those that came before them. All of them play a role in keeping the wider open source economy flourishing, even though we may not like them when they affect a community we’ve been involved in building.

Asteroid named after CBC science journalist Bob McDonald [CBC | Technology News]

Bob McDonald is now flying through space, between Mars and Jupiter — Bob McDonald the newly named asteroid, that is.

It Appears a New York Times Writer Wants Orthodox Christian and Islamic Views Stamped Out. “Ruthlessly.” [RedState]

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 11.05.39 PM

Who will rid Josh Barro of these turbulent priests? Barro is a writer at the New York Times. He has taken to twitter to proclaim that “anti-LGBT attitudes are terrible” and “we need to stamp them out, ruthlessly.”

Barro supports gay marriage, etc. The BLT&G[insert preferred letters here] ideas of picking your gender, same sex marriage, etc. are incompatible with Christianity, Islam, and more.

In order to “stamp out” these attitudes “ruthlessly” society will have to go where only totalitarian societies like to go.

But then the totalitarianism of the left knows no bounds when it comes to “tolerance.”

Certainly I’d like to think Barro doesn’t have extermination of the religious at mind, but then King Henry never said to kill Thomas a Becket. He just openly pondered about who would rid him of that turbulent priest.

There are a whole lot of turbulent priests who’d need to be silenced to get rid of what Barro believes are “anti-LGBT attitudes.”

The post It Appears a New York Times Writer Wants Orthodox Christian and Islamic Views Stamped Out. “Ruthlessly.” appeared first on RedState.

See Ya Later, I’m Voting Vader [RedState]

Stumping In The Snow Ahead of The New Hampshire Primary

Stumping In The Snow Ahead of The New Hampshire Primary

So you’re tired of the hypocrites and the 3rd party types that flame out. I could empathize. I endorsed Rick Santorum on what I believed to be his comparative merits in 2012. I cried in my pitcher Newcastle Brown when SMOD burned up somewhere above the Tropopause. For those of you with too much hair on yer chest to ever vote for the lesser evil, Cthulhu for President was a diabolical option. Regrettably, General Zod had to go and ruin everything*.

Yet this year the field has been cleared before The Evil Primary season even gets started. You see, Darth Vader has already accepted your puny nomination. After careful consideration; he decided not to view it as an insult to his person. This man is not 1/32 Cherokee. He does not claim to be Dead Broke. He would brag about the crime stats if he were the mayor of Bulletmore, Murderland. He is the one true channeler of the Dark Force. He is none other than Darth Vader. That’s Lord Vader for those not in The Galactic 1%.

You will endorse him, lest he find your lack of faith to be disturbing. You will endorse his platform of utter domination. Pray that he doesn’t alter the deal any further. The Wonk Blog at The Washington Post has told you your future. Lord Vader will condescend to be your president. If you don’t like how your constitution is doing, go swim fifty laps.

Now these silly infatuations with genuinely evil candidates are amusing. The idea of SMOD fresh from the pages Lucifer’s Hammer being preferable to Mitt Romney of Barack Obama is worth a chuckle. I mean you wouldn’t want an anthropogenic dorked-up Presidency; would you? But these polls also have a message behind the Monty Pythonesque black humor. It comes from all of the mental and moral midgets who campaign for our votes by telling us to “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life.”

On a more serious note; I take two things away from the internet memes on behalf of Authentically Evil Candidates. A lot of people think of the guys we have now as less competent and less honest versions of Zod or Vader. It’s almost like they are saying. “Psst, Hey Mitt. This is how it’s done, Chowderhead.” And the dishonesty is key. People are so tired of the typical man of the people hooey we get from these disgusting, elitist pigs. The jokes about kneeling before Zod always bring to mind the times interns got made kneel before our real life Commander-In-Cheeses. The whole idea of Cthulhu For President would not be amusing if we were able to dig up a halfway decent human being to elect in real life.

*-Better to tell King Fahd to kneel before Zod than have a US President bow to him like the one we have now!
Image Source: www.moddb.com

The post See Ya Later, I’m Voting Vader appeared first on RedState.

The Watercooler ~ Evening Open Thread [RedState]

I made it pretty clear when I agreed to do these Watercooler open threads that I would publish a variety of diaries along the way. Anyone who has followed me for any length of time knows that I have a less serious side to my writing that I resort to quite often. That means that I am subject to break out in biblical prose, publish a purely satirical diary, and frequently dig out music that seems apropos — or at a minimum — capable of piercing through the sometimes tedious, monotonous and otherwise boring nature of covering politics 24/7.

This is precisely one of those times.

I have a hunch that a majority of RedStaters are type A personalities who take themselves much too seriously too much of the time. Consider this Youtube vid a test to see if you can laugh and enjoy something competely disconnected from Washington, D.C. This doesn’t mean you can’t use this thread to discuss something serious, just a reminder that it’s okay to have fun. (And these guys are really good dancers. They just make it look easy.)

This is your Watercooler evening open thread.

The post The Watercooler ~ Evening Open Thread appeared first on RedState.

Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol [The Register]

Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery

The human spine is poorly-designed for the rigours of modern life, but so are the drugs most commonly prescribed to help you endure a bad back.…

50,000 sites backdoored through shoddy WordPress plugin [The Register]

Not running WordPress? Better hope your neighbour isn't

Some 50,000 sites have been sprayed with backdoors from shonky malware targeting a popular and vulnerable WordPress plugin, according to researcher Daniel Cid.…

vBlock user says EMC bug slipped through VCE's matrix [The Register]

Just how integrated is integrated infrastructure?

The Cisco/EMC/VMware/Intel lovechild VCE has a simple schtick: the boxed-up rigs of hardware and software it sells are sold in configurations that have been documented and tested to the last detail. As the company told us by email “we commit to delivering Systems that have been engineered, tested and certified as one.”…

Copyright kingpins charged for sailing pirate Android app ships [The Register]

Six charged, two arrested, in wake of coordinated raids.

US prosecutors have unsealed indictments against six men in connection with some of the biggest, albeit now defunct, Android piracy stores.…


Dumb Media Gun Story of the Week [Ace of Spades HQ]

So, apparently we'll just have one of these embarrassments from this day forth. So Beretta has announced plans to move its factory from gun-controlling Maryland to gun-rights-respecting Tennessee. This gives the gun-control people, and perhaps some Maryland legislatures, a case...

Hey, Remember That Teenager Who Left Home (Because Her Parents Didn't Approve Of Her Boyfriend) and Then Sued Her Parents for Upkeep and Allowance? [Ace of Spades HQ]

Well that's all working out about as well as you might have imagined. Rachel Canning, the teenager who moved out of her parents' home and then sued them for support and college costs, has gotten a domestic violence temporary restraining...

Whoa: Democratic Senator John Walsh of Montana Plagiarized 25% of His 2007 War College Masters Thesis [Ace of Spades HQ]

You might not have known about this Senate race, which is my way of saying I didn't know about it, and I don't want to feel stupid about that, so I'm going to graciously forgive your not knowing about it....

IRS Head John Koskinen Now Says... They've Found Some of those Old Email Back Up Tapes? [Ace of Spades HQ]

I wonder if these tapes will feature any "artifacts" which result in the loss of information. If I'm reading this right, they haven't found the Lois Lerner backup tapes per se. What they've found is some old backup tapes, covering...

The Independent (UK): Tear gas fired at ["Mostly Peaceful"] pro-Palestinians demonstrators in Paris [Ace of Spades HQ]

Everything except the brackets is in their headline -- the bracketed part comes from the article itself. Riot police fired tear gas and fought running battles with pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Paris this afternoon after a banned protest march turned violent....

Bad Polling News For Hillary: Less Than Half of Americans Say Hillary Clinton "Shares My Ability to Walk Under My Own Power" [Ace of Spades HQ]

Well okay they didn't say that, but that's probably just because the Skewed Poll never asked the question. Here's what they did say: Less than optimal poll numbers for HRC http://t.co/lJazRPB7tK pic.twitter.com/G4tXJBTSom— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) July 23, 2014 That last...

Obama: Now I'm Not Bothering to Watch the News, Either [Ace of Spades HQ]

The guy who only learns about major stories from the news is now not bothering to watch the news? Because he already knows it all? All right sir. Whatever you say, this week. Mr. Obama told supporters [at a Democratic...

The Curious thing about the Scratched Hard Drive [krakatoa] [Ace of Spades HQ]

The latest scraps from the IRS aren't much better than the first few courses we've been presented. I'm not speaking as a current computer tech. Those days are long past, and now it's just a hobby. But I do have...

Wednesday Morning Open Thread [Ace of Spades HQ]

Sorry, too busy to put something together. Check back tomorrow....

Top Headline Comments 7-23-14 [Ace of Spades HQ]

Happy Wednesday. Fake applicants are having no trouble signing up for Obamacare and its tax subsidies. President Obama says he doesn't watch much news because he knows it all, y'know, except for all his scandals which he'd never heard anything...


The United Nations Relief and Works Agency reports: Today, in the course of the regular inspection of its premises, UNRWA discovered rockets…


This week’s posts are brought to you by the Bloody Caesar – Canada’s oddball shellfish-inclusive version of a Bloody Mary.


Our friend Jim Treacher has defeated the US State Department. This is basically like … no, it’s exactly like an Indiana boy taking on…


Rapper Kanye West gave a 45-minute toast to himself following his marriage to Kim Kardashian. It included a claim that “celebrities [are] being treated…

IT GREW ON HIM [Tim Blair]

Taking a brief break from answering fan mail, Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mike Carlton discusses his “air hellair” UK radio accent with a…

Apple Q3 2014 Results [Daring Fireball]

The most interesting numbers to me: iPad sales were down about 9 percent year-over-year, but Mac sales were up about 18 percent.

OS X Yosemite Public Beta Arrives Thursday [Daring Fireball]

Jason Snell:

On Thursday, fall will come early for hundreds of thousands of Mac users when Apple releases its first public beta of OS X Yosemite. The public-beta program, announced during Apple’s annual developer conference in June, lets regular users download and test pre-release versions of OS X. Apple says the first million users to sign up at the OS X Beta Program website will be able to test Yosemite before the OS is released to the general public in the fall. […]

When Yosemite is finished, users will be upgraded to the final version automatically, also via the Software Update feature within the App Store app.

Just as a reminder, OS X Yosemite is still software that is under development, so apps and services may not work as expected some (or all) of the time. It’s always wise to back up your Mac before installing, and you should seriously consider installing Yosemite on a Mac that you don’t use for day-to-day operations just in case something goes wrong.

Good advice. Judging by the developer betas, Yosemite is in good shape for a beta, but that is not the same thing as being in good shape for production use.

Making It Easy [Daring Fireball]

Remember that phone call last week, where Veronica Belmont and Ryan Block simply could not get a Comcast “Retention professional” to cancel their account? Consumerist obtained an internal memo from Comcast COO Dave Watson, which reads in part (emphasis mine):

That said, it was painful to listen to this call, and I am not surprised that we have been criticized for it. Respecting our customers is fundamental, and we fell short in this instance. I know these Retention calls are tough, and I have tremendous admiration for our Retention professionals, who make it easy for customers to choose to stay with Comcast.

That is literally just another way of saying that their job is to make it difficult to leave Comcast. It’s somehow more obnoxious though, that he phrases it so euphemistically.

[Sponsor] TopBrewer [Daring Fireball]

Tap into perfection with Denmark’s newest product sensation, TopBrewer. The revolutionary TopBrewer coffee system dispenses espresso, coffee, cappuccino, latte, sparkling water, cold and hot filtered water, and other drinks on demand with just a tap on your iPhone or iPad. And with a fully integrated under-counter design, all you’ll see is the graceful sweep of the beautiful, above-counter swan neck, stainless steel tap. And the TopBrewer’s commercial-grade components are perfect for home installations as well as small offices and commercial settings. It’s the perfect marriage of beautiful design, exquisite coffee, and the iOS user experience.

The History of Autocorrect [Daring Fireball]

Gideon Lewis-Kraus, writing for Wired Gadget Lab:

On idiom, some of its calls seemed fairly clear-cut: gorilla warfare became guerrilla warfare, for example, even though a wildlife biologist might find that an inconvenient assumption. But some of the calls were quite tricky, and one of the trickiest involved the issue of obscenity. On one hand, Word didn’t want to seem priggish; on the other, it couldn’t very well go around recommending the correct spelling of mothrefukcer. Microsoft was sensitive to these issues. The solution lay in expanding one of spell-check’s most special lists, bearing the understated title: “Words which should neither be flagged nor suggested.”

Mi 3 Product Page Rips Off Aperture Icon [Daring Fireball]

Scroll down on the Mi 3 “features” page and you’ll see this image, named “detail-camera.jpg”. (Cached version, for when Mi pulls the original.) Take a good look at the camera in that image, then look at the app icon for the current version of Aperture. (Cached.) It’s a simple copy-paste-skew job of the lens, and not a very good one. Two panels down on the page, they use it again, horizontally flipped. (Shockingly, they cropped out the “Designed by Apple in California”.)

Now re-read this.

Digital Tattoo for Moto X [Daring Fireball]

Is this a joke? This is a joke, right?

Hello? What.

Bitcoins.com domain auction cancelled after judge’s restraining order [Ars Technica]

Heritage Auctions, the Texas company orchestrating the Bitcoins.com sale, pulled the auction listing on Wednesday afternoon, stating: "This lot has been withdrawn from this auction. Bids are no longer accepted and previous bids are cancelled."

The move comes as the result of a federal judicial order issued on Tuesday that put an immediate halt to the sale of Bitcoins.com, the domain name owned by embattled Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles.

"The lot is being held for now so we can get this sorted out one way or the other," Noah Fleisher, a Heritage Auctions spokesman, told Ars. "I haven't heard from [Karpeles] at all."

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NASA to examine commercializing Mars communication relays [Ars Technica]

Today, NASA announced that it's issuing a Request for Information that seeks parties, either academic or commercial, who are willing to set up a communications relay orbiting Mars. Should the agency like the information it gets, it could extend its current fee-for-service approach well beyond Earth's orbit.

Because of weight and power restrictions, the hardware that we've landed on Mars can't carry high-bandwidth communication devices that can reach Earth (it does, however, carry lower-bandwidth hardware that can establish a direct connection). Instead, missions like the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has its own science instruments, also carry communications hardware that lets them receive high volumes of data from the planet's surface and quickly send it back to Earth.

MRO is the most recent hardware that serves this purpose, but it's already nearly a decade old; Odyssey, its fellow relay, is even older. Fortunately, the MAVEN mission, which arrives this year, will also have relay capabilities, as will the ESA's ExoMars orbiter, which should arrive in 2016.

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Researchers identify possible glitch in Antarctic ice measurements [Ars Technica]

With all the attention given to every nuance of climate data, areas of research that would have never attracted much public interest sometimes find themselves in the spotlight. So it is with the process of measuring sea ice cover. People pay careful attention because it appears to be a leading indicator of climate change. In the Arctic, where the warming has been most intense, sea ice is retreating rapidly, with record lows having been set every few years over the past decades.

But at the other pole, Antarctic sea ice has been steadily expanding, creating a bit of a conundrum for scientists. They've come up with a variety of explanations for why the two poles might be behaving differently but, in the mean time, people have latched on to the difference to question our understanding of climate change.

Now, a paper has come out questioning whether the difference between the poles is as dramatic as it seemed. The reason for the potential difference? Measuring sea ice is remarkably hard.

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Multi-user beamforming is here—in $270, 1.7Gbps Asus Wi-Fi router [Ars Technica]

The Asus RT-AC87.

If you've been waiting for a Wi-Fi router that supports multi-user beamforming, there's now one for sale. The Asus RT-AC87 advertises support for 1.73Gbps throughput, and it implements one of the most highly anticipated features of 802.11ac Wi-Fi: MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple-input, and multiple-output).

As we explained in the feature, "Wi-Fi networks are wasting a gigabit—but multi-user beamforming will save the day," MU-MIMO relies on multi-user beamforming to send data streams of up to 433Mbps to three or more users simultaneously. This is an improvement over single-user beamforming, which could send multiple streams of data, but only to one device at a time.

The Asus RT-AC87 uses a Quantenna MU-MIMO chipset and sends data over four streams to get up to 1.73Gbps on the 5 GHz band. It can send another 600Mbps over 2.4 GHz.

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Mass exploit of WordPress plugin backdoors sites running Joomla, Magento, too [Ars Technica]

As many as 50,000 websites have been remotely commandeered by attackers exploiting a recently patched vulnerability in a popular plugin for the WordPress content management system, security researchers said Wednesday.

As Ars reported in early July, the vulnerability in MailPoet, a WordPress plugin with more than 1.7 million downloads, allows attackers to upload any file of their choice to vulnerable servers. In the three weeks since then, attackers have exploited the bug to install a backdoor on an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 websites, some that don't even run WordPress software or that don't have MailPoet enabled, according to Daniel Cid, CTO of security firm Sucuri.

"To be clear, the MailPoet vulnerability is the entry point," he wrote in a blog post. "It doesn't mean your website has to have it enabled or that you have it on the website; if it resides on the server, in a neighboring website, it can still affect your website." In an e-mail to Ars, he elaborated:

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Client files mysteriously show an analog stick on mock-up Steam controller [Ars Technica]

This image, confirmed by Ars Technica to be buried in the latest Steam client beta, could show a potential new design for a Steam Controller with a traditional analog stick.

When Valve first unveiled its prototype for a handheld video game controller last September, the most striking thing about it, from a modern design perspective, was the complete lack of analog joysticks. It's an omission that remained even after Valve updated the controller prototype to include more traditional digital button placement.

So it's quite interesting that the latest version of the official Steam beta client includes the above image, showing a version of the Steam controller with an analog stick where the directional buttons used to be.

The file seems to have been first spotted by an enterprising member of the FacePunch.com forums, but we've confirmed that anyone with access to the PC version of Steam's latest beta client update should have this file on their hard drive (if you've updated the beta, it should be in [Steam directory]\tenfoot\resource\images\library\alpha_conroller_lines_d0g.png in case you want to confirm for yourself; we haven't checked the Mac and Linux clients yet). The file on our system, which appears to be an overlay for some sort of controller configuration or help menu, was created on May 19 and modified to the current analog-stick-sporting version on July 16.

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Old apps, new faces: More stuff that looks different in OS X Yosemite [Ars Technica]

In our preview of the OS X Yosemite beta today, we focused mostly on the OS-wide changes to the user interface and the new features of a few built-in apps. As happened in the transition from iOS 6 to iOS 7, though, there are plenty of other applications in Yosemite that still work like they did in Mavericks, just with a fresh coat of paint.

We've collected a few different representative examples in the photo gallery below—some of these designs completely rethink the way the original application looked (Game Center). Some of them look basically the same but compress the UI or move buttons to different places to make existing features more accessible (Maps, Preview). Still others are just the same apps with different colors (Notes).

The one class of app that remains essentially the same as before (at least of this writing) are the things in the Utilities folder, many of which even use the same "old-style" glassy icons as before. Only the Terminal and Activity Monitor get different icons at all, though the look of the apps don't change. The apps in Utilities are all, you know, utilities, so aesthetics aren't especially important there. Just know that Apple hasn't changed everything about the way Yosemite looks.

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PSA: EA makes Sims 2 Ultimate free for all after ceasing support [Ars Technica]

Whether you're still running a years-long instance of 2004's The Sims 2, complete with a family's dozens of generations babbling in Simlish while running into all matter of torture-inducing home spaces or haven't even played the game once, Electronic Arts has a giant, if ancient, freebie for you. Years after the game's "exchange" content website shuttered, the game's producer announced last week it would no longer post updates or patches for the decade-old game.

To ease the pain for all 50 players who'll never see their Radeon-related visual glitches fixed, EA gave all Sims 2 owners on the Origin PC games service a free upgrade to the game's "Ultimate Collection" version, which includes the game's eight expansion packs and nine "stuff" packs.

But what about players who didn't register the game on Origin (or, er, never bought The Sims 2 in the first place)? EA has them covered, too, because as of Wednesday, the company is now offering free downloads of The Sims 2: Ultimate Collection to all Origin members until July 31. Simply log in to Origin and use the redemption code "I-LOVE-THE-SIMS" to immediately jump into the "Apartment Life" expansion, the Ikea household pack, and everything else your dollhouse heart desires.

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Man ejected from Southwest flight for tweeting that a gate agent was rude [Ars Technica]

Duff Watson, of Minnesota, stirring up trouble with his hand computer, no doubt.

A Minnesota man was ejected from a Southwest Airlines flight for a tweet calling a gate agent rude, reported CBS Minnesota Wednesday. After tweeting, the man was removed from the plane and stated he was "forced" to delete the tweet before he could re-board.

Duff Watson is an "A-list" passenger with Southwest, which gives him priority boarding. Watson was miffed when the agent in question told him his two children couldn't board the plane as priority passengers with him, and Watson let her know that Twitter would, in fact, be hearing about this.

"Something to the effect of 'Wow, rudest agent in Denver. Kimberly S, gate C39, not happy @SWA,'" is how Watson summarized the tweet to CBS. The family eventually boarded the plane, but according to Watson's daughter, Lucy, the agent threatened to call the cops over the tweet. Watson relayed that the agent said her safety felt threatened.

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Comcast’s Internet for the poor too hard to sign up for, advocates say [Ars Technica]

A California nonprofit says that a Comcast Internet service program for poor people is too difficult to sign up for, resulting in just 11 percent of eligible households in the state getting service.

Comcast had to create the $10-per-month Internet Essentials program in order to secure approval of its acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011. About 300,000 households containing 1.2 million people nationwide have gotten cheap Internet service as a result, but the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) complains that the signup process is riddled with problems, a charge Comcast denies.

CETF itself was created by the California Public Utilities Commission when approving the mergers of SBC-AT&T and Verizon-MCI, and its purpose was to accelerate broadband deployment for unserved or underserved populations. The group says additional requirements should be imposed on Comcast as part of its pending acquisition of Time Warner Cable.

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Amazon lawyers: We’ll take that fireTVnews.com site, thanks! [Ars Technica]

Amazon released the Fire TV in April into a market already chock-full with streaming media boxes that one can attach to a television. At the same time, it filed for an "Amazon Fire" trademark and two service marks. Amazon also claims the word "Fire" itself on its long list of trademarks, and Amazon lawyers are apparently already engaged in sweeping the Web of sites that contain the mark.

The anonymous proprietor of fireTVnews.com explained on his site that Amazon has given him seven days to turn over the domain to them because it contains an Amazon trademark. He wrote:

I’ll admit, when I registered the domain, I knew there was a possibility that one day I would be contacted by Amazon’s trademark lawyers. I naively thought Amazon was nicer than your average mega corporation and registered the domain anyway. Lesson learned. It would have been nice if they gave me more than 7 days, or at least given me a way to contact them. Instead, I’m supposed to give them the domain release information through their standard ‘Contact Us’ form.

I’m just one guy with a small blog and a few loyal readers, so I wont be fighting their request. This website will continue, but under a different name and URL. I will post the new website information shortly. I hope everyone reading this will stick around and not get lost in the move.

Yesterday, the site completed a move to AFTVnews.com, gave up its Facebook page, and changed its Twitter handle as well. The news site appears to be tiny, with just 84 Twitter followers. (Twitter followers aren't lost when a handle changes.) He wrote:

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Brokedown premise: Drone caught smuggling cell phones into Thai prison [Ars Technica]

The captured DJI Phantom drone and its cargo, held by Thai prison authorities.

The Bangkok Post reports that guards at the Khao Bin Prison in Thailand took possession of what appears to be a DJI Phantom drone laden with cell phones and accessories. The drone was snagged on a tree limb inside the prison compound.

Taped to the drone were two Nokia cell phones, four SIM cards, a pair of Bluetooth devices, and headphones. Also attached to the aircraft was what appeared to be a system on a board—about the size of a Raspberry Pi computer. The gear was concealed in a plastic bottle.

In addition to its illicit cargo, the quadcopter was equipped with a GoPro video camera and a Wi-Fi signal range extender to allow the drone to be remote-controlled from a greater distance, based on analysis of the photos published by the Post.

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Apple files patent for smartwatch [Ars Technica]

What time is it? According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, it's iTime!

As the smartwatch market has grown with entries from Qualcomm, Samsung, and Google, Apple has remained remarkably mum on the concept, in spite of long-standing rumors hinting at a wristwatch in the works in Cupertino. On Sunday, iWatch's hopes grew further with the unveiling and approval of a new smartwatch patent filed by Apple in July, 2011.

As reported by Wired UK, the US patent describes a "wrist-worn electronic device and methods therefor," and its description certainly resembles the features users have come to expect from recent smartwatches. In particular, the section about "information exchanges" between the watch and a user's phone describes a system of notifications and on-screen controls for everything from SMS to media playback (along with the naming of compatible Apple devices like iPhones and iPods).

The patent (which never uses the term "iWatch") mentions features like gyroscopes, accelerometers, and vibrating elements, along with a variety of models, including one whose base can very clearly be removed from the wristwatch band, iPod Nano-style. This patent's unveiling comes nearly two years after Google's own "smartwatch including flip-up display" patent, but Apple beat Google to the filing punch by three months—and included a far wider range of designs and functionality (e.g. gyroscopes) to boot.

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Model drone finds elderly man, missing for three days, alive [Ars Technica]

It took just 20 minutes for a model drone to locate a missing elderly Wisconsin man, a feat that helicopters, search dogs, and volunteers couldn't accomplish in three days.

Just don't tell that to the Federal Aviation Administration, whose regulatory wings are already flapping about model drones.

This weekend's discovery of the 82-year-old man in an area of crops and woods comes amid a legal tussle between flight regulators and model drone operators—the latest of which coincidentally involves search-and-rescue missions.

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Microsoft announces new Lumia 530, a cheap Windows Phone for the masses [Ars Technica]

The Lumia 530.

If analytics companies are to be believed, the lowly Lumia 520 and its variants have been the most popular Windows Phone handsets ever. Today, Microsoft officially announced that phone's successor, the Lumia 530. It will come in both single- and dual-SIM variants, though it's safe to say that only the single-SIM version will end up making it to the US, and Nokia expects both to be priced at around "€85 (about $114) before taxes and subsidies."

The 530 is a somewhat cut-down version of the Lumia 630 that was introduced earlier this year, and the devices share many design elements—eye-melting neon color options, software navigation buttons rather than hardware or capacitive buttons, and no dedicated camera shutter button. Microsoft has made some changes to Windows Phone to make it easier for OEMs to put it on lightly modified Android hardware, and these two Lumias showcase those changes.

On the inside, the Lumia 530 is a combination of small upgrades and small downgrades from the 520. Both phones share the same 5MP camera and 512MB of RAM. Storage is down to 4GB (from 8GB in the 520), but the phone's microSD slot will now support cards up to 128GB in size. The resolution of the 4-inch screen increases slightly to 854×480. The 530 uses a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 200 SoC rather than the 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 in the 520, but overall performance may break roughly even since the S4's Krait CPU architecture is faster clock-for-clock than the 200's Cortex A7 architecture. Finally, the GPU takes a minor step down from the Adreno 305 GPU to the Adreno 302. New buyers will still get a solid budget handset, but current 520 users won't need to rush out to buy this one.

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Booming cloud business is leading the way for Microsoft [Ars Technica]

PCs may not be thriving the way they once were, but Microsoft has posted a strong set of financials for the fourth quarter of its 2014 financial year on the back of substantial, sustained growth in its cloud businesses.

Revenue for the quarter was $23.38 billion, up 17.5 percent on the same quarter a year ago. Operating income rose 6.7 percent to $6.48 billion, and earnings per share were down 5 percent to $0.56, with the drop largely attributed to a hefty tax adjustment.

The results for the quarter were complicated by Microsoft's purchase of Nokia's Devices and Services business, which closed in April. In the wake of the purchase, the company has adjusted the way it breaks down its earnings. The "Devices and Consumer Hardware" segment has been renamed "Computing and Gaming Hardware." This includes Surface and Xbox hardware. A new segment, "Phone Hardware," will cover the Nokia business.

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FCC bid to boost broadband competition faces attack over “constitutionality” [Ars Technica]

The Federal Communications Commission will face a lawsuit if it tries to invalidate state laws that restrict the ability of cities and towns to offer Internet service, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler yesterday. Such a move would infringe on states' rights protected by the Constitution, the group claimed.

Wheeler has said he intends to "preempt state laws that ban competition from community broadband," relying on authority detailed in a court decision that overturned the FCC's net neutrality rules. These state laws make it difficult or impossible for municipalities to create their own broadband networks that compete against private Internet service providers like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon.

The US House of Representatives has already approved a budget amendment that would prevent the FCC from invalidating these laws.

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WSJ website hacked, data offered for sale for 1 bitcoin [Ars Technica]

A screenshot posted by "w0rm" showing he had dumped the user table from a Wall Street Journal database.

Dow Jones & Co. took two servers that store the news graphics for The Wall Street Journal website offline yesterday evening after a confirmed intrusion by a hacker calling himself “w0rm.” The hacker was offering what he claimed was user information and server access credentials that would allow others to “modify articles, add new content, insert malicious content in any page, add new users, delete users, and so on,” Andrew Komarov, chief executive officer of cybersecurity firm IntelCrawl, told The Wall Street Journal.

W0rm, according to Komarov, is the same individual previously known as “Rev0lver” and “Hash,” a Russian hacker who tried to sell access to the BBC’s servers last December and attacked the Web servers of Vice Media earlier this year. At 5:30pm ET on July 21, he posted a screenshot to Twitter that showed the e-mail address, username, and hashed password for the database admin on a wsj.com server. He offered to sell the full dump of the database table of authorized users for one bitcoin through an exploit marketplace at w0rm.in.

According to The Journal, Dow Jones has taken the servers offline to isolate them and prevent further intrusions into their systems. A spokeperson for the company said, “At this point we see no evidence of any impact to Dow Jones Customers or customer data.”

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Apple documents previously undocumented services that can leak user data [Ars Technica]

Four days after a forensics expert warned that undocumented functions in iOS could leak personal user data, Apple has documented three services it says serve diagnostic purposes.

"iOS offers the following diagnostic capabilities to help enterprise IT departments, developers, and AppleCare troubleshoot issues," the support article published Tuesday stated. "Each of these diagnostic capabilities requires the user to have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer. Any data transmitted between the iOS device and trusted computer is encrypted with keys not shared with Apple. For users who have enabled iTunes Wi-Fi Sync on a trusted computer, these services may also be accessed wirelessly by that computer." As Ars reported Monday, three undocumented services include a packet sniffer dubbed com.apple.mobile.pcapd, a file downloader called com.apple.mobile.file_relay, and com.apple.mobile.house_arrest, a tool that downloads iPhone and iPad files to an iTunes folder stored on a computer.

Jonathan Zdziarski, the forensics expert who brought the undocumented functions to light on Saturday, published a blog post in response that criticized Apple's characterization of the services. He continued to maintain that at least one of the capabilities—stemming from the file relay service—constitutes a "backdoor" as defined by many security and forensics practitioners. He also took issue with Apple's suggestion that the purpose of the services was limited to diagnostics. He reiterated his previous stance that he doesn't believe Apple added the functions at the request of the National Security Agency.

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Mysterious orbits of dwarf galaxies found all over the nearby Universe [Ars Technica]

A rare dwarf galaxy that initiated a burst of star formation within the last billion years.

Large galaxies such as the Milky Way appear to have been built by repeated mergers of smaller ones, but not every small galaxy has ended up being swallowed completely by a large one. The Milky Way is orbited by dozens of dwarf galaxies, some of which have been disrupted and stripped of stars, while others may have slipped into orbit largely intact. Similar dwarf galaxies orbit our nearby neighbors, including Andromeda.

Based on what we know about these mergers and computer modeling of galaxy formation and growth, the collection of dwarfs should be an unruly lot, having approached the galaxy they orbit from directions that are essentially random. Yet the dwarfs orbiting the Milky Way largely inhabit a single plane, orbiting in a manner analogous to moons around a giant planet.

It's easy to dismiss that as a fluke of chance, but that became a bit harder to do as evidence built over the past several years that most of Andromeda's dwarf galaxies were also organized into a single plane. Stranger still, that plane's edge is oriented toward the Milky Way. Now, a French-Australian team of astronomers has figured out a way to search existing data for the presence of planes farther out from the Milky Way, finding that Andromeda's setup is actually quite common.

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Preview: A closer look at OS X Yosemite, just in time for the public beta [Ars Technica]

This is Yosemite.
Andrew Cunningham

It's not difficult to get your hands on pre-release Apple software. For a mere $198 a year ($99 each for OS X and iOS) you can download beta versions of operating systems from Apple's developer site even if you've never written a line of code in your life.

This year, Apple is taking things a step further. The new public beta program for OS X Yosemite officially launches Thursday, taking software that has traditionally been protected from the public by a $99 paywall and distributing it to the first million users who sign up on Apple's site. It's a very Microsoft-esque way to roll out an OS: you give enthusiasts a chance to work with an early-but-reasonably-stable build in exchange for valuable bug-squashing feedback. Ideally, it will keep Yosemite from suffering from some of the general bugginess that affected iOS 7.0 when it launched last year.

In advance of the public beta, we've been given about a week of time to use the third developer preview and get a sense of what Yosemite brings to the table. Beta subscribers will get a slightly newer build of the operating system, but at this point most of the features are locked down and ready for evaluation by the public.

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The never-advertised, always coveted headphones built and sold in Brooklyn [Ars Technica]

Exploring Grado Labs' manufacturing space and creating our own pair of headphones. Shot and edited by Jennifer Hahn. (video link)

Buried in a packed townhouse on a quiet street in south Brooklyn is a manufacturing operation that produces some of the most renowned headphones in the business. Despite Yelp reviews for the business, Grado Labs doesn't sell directly from its location to consumers, though it does take the occasional walk-up request for repairs. For the most part, its long-time employees, including owner John Grado and his son Jonathan, tinker away through four crowded floors on audio gear that hasn't appeared in advertising since the 1960's.

In the building, the company assembles and ships models that range from the flagship PS1000, priced at $1,700, to the $79 SR60s. As of early June, Grado has evolved the drivers for the second time in 23 years, from the I-series to the E-series.

The average New York City apartment building is narrow to begin with, but Grado's space is like a house eternally in the middle of moving day. You get around by edging your way around boxes, through the halls, on the stairs, and in the rooms. During the holiday season, Jonathan says, the boxes are stacked high enough to effectively move the walls in.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Review: Amazon’s Fire Phone offers new gimmicks, old platform growing pains [Ars Technica]

Amazon's first phone isn't without its charms, but is it good enough to replace the iOS or Android stuff you already have?
Andrew Cunningham

It took other companies a long time to respond to the iPad. Early efforts like the first Samsung Galaxy Tabs, the Motorola Xoom, and Barnes & Noble's Nook Color had their fans, but compared to Apple's tablets, they all had major flaws. Amazon's first Kindle Fire had its problems too, but Amazon's name recognition and the tablet's $199 price made it one of the iPad's first semi-credible competitors. It opened the door for even better tablets at the same price point, and Android's tablet market share is largely built on the cheap tablet foundation that Amazon helped establish.

Amazon's first smartphone is taking the opposite path. It's jumping into the high-end smartphone market surprisingly late in the game. The market started showing signs of saturation, and its competitors are entrenched. At $649 unlocked for a 32GB phone ($199 with a two-year contract), it doesn't have a price advantage. It's also not being subsidized by Amazon's media storefronts or by "Special Offers"-style advertisements.

Because it's 2014, because the phone costs what it does, and because there are dozens of great phones to be had at (and well below) this price bracket, it's going to be much more difficult for users to overlook flaws or shortcomings when compared to those first Kindle Fire tablets. Amazon's phone brings unique features, like its Dynamic Perspective head tracking cameras and its Firefly scanning software, but can the phone get by on a couple of cool features if it has other problems?

Read 59 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Are the people who refuse to accept climate change ill-informed? [Ars Technica]

Polls relating to publicly controversial scientific issues often trigger a great wailing and gnashing of teeth from science advocates. When large proportions of a population seem poorly informed about evolution, climate change, or genetically modified foods, the usual response is to bemoan the state of science literacy. It can seem obvious that many people don’t understand the science of evolution, for example—or the scientific method, generally—and that opinions would change if only we could educate them.

Research has shown, unfortunately, it's not that simple. Ars has previously covered Yale Professor Dan Kahan’s research into what he calls “cultural cognition,” and the idea goes like this: public opinion on these topics is fundamentally tied to cultural identities rather than assessment of scientific evidence. In other words, rather than evaluate the science, people form opinions based on what they think people with a similar background believe.

That shouldn’t come as a shock, especially given the well-known political or religious divides apparent for climate change and evolution.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Liveblog: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talks Q4 earnings, big layoffs [Ars Technica]

Satya Nadella and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop in a photo-op.
View Liveblog

Last week, Microsoft announced that it would be making the largest set of staff cuts in the company’s history, axing as many as 18,000 jobs over the next fiscal year. This week, CEO Satya Nadella will be delivering Microsoft’s fourth-quarter earnings results, and according to his corporate-speak-filled layoff e-mail, Nadella will take the opportunity to "share further specifics on where we [Microsoft] are focusing our innovation investments."

This likely means elaboration on both the specific nature of the cuts (which Microsoft EVP and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop discussed at length in his own e-mail last week) and some details on where and how Microsoft plans to expend effort to improve itself. There will also likely be a barrage of questions from analysts wanting to know about how the cuts will affect Microsoft’s business strategy, since Nadella’s e-mail contained language indicating that he wanted to (among other things) flatten the organization’s notoriously thick management layer cake.

Shares of MSFT actually jumped a few points when trading commenced after the layoff announcements on the morning of July 17; revenues are expected to be up from last fiscal year’s fourth quarter, and analyst expectations are that Microsoft’s Q414 performance will come in at about $0.60 per share, down from $0.66 last year.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple’s Q3 2014 earnings call liveblog [Ars Technica]

Apple's newly split stock price has been on the rise lately. Let's see if this quarter's earnings make it move one way or the other.
Andrew Cunningham
View Liveblog

Apple will be announcing its Q3 2014 financial results on Tuesday, July 22 at 5pm Eastern time (2pm Pacific), and the standard earnings call with press and analysts will follow shortly afterward. As we usually do, we'll be following along with the call to liveblog and provide charts and other contextual information—Apple rarely makes major announcements on these calls, but it does give more information on how particular Apple products are doing both in the US and other markets.

Apple's third fiscal quarter runs from the beginning of April to the end of June, and while WWDC was full of new software announcements, those updates (and the new hardware that will accompany them) won't actually be available until the fall, late in Q4 2014 or early in Q1 2015. Beyond a new, slightly cheaper iMac and a security lock for the Mac Pro, we just haven't gotten many new gadgets lately, and the majority of Apple's money is made by selling hardware. That said, Apple's products tend to sell well even when they're in the middle of a refresh cycle. One stat in particular to keep an eye on: will iPad sales continue to be down as they were last quarter, or will they bounce back up? Analysts believe that tablet sales are beginning to level off, and the iPad's sales numbers will be a major data point in that discussion.

Apple's guidance for the quarter predicted revenue between $36 billion and $38 billion with profit margins between 37 and 38 percent. Other predictions for this quarter can be found in the Q2 2014 announcement.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

OECD Releases New Broadband Data: Canada Ranks in Bottom Third on Mobile Broadband Subscriptions [Michael Geist]

The OECD released its latest Internet broadband data yesterday, covering the 34 OECD member states. The update emphasized wireless broadband access, comparing subscription rates across the OECD (many other aspects of the OECD data collection, including pricing and speeds, were not updated). Wireless broadband has emerged in recent years as a critical method of Internet connectivity with consumers and businesses relying on mobile broadband, yet the OECD data has Canada ranking poorly for wireless broadband subscriptions when compared to the rest of the developed economy world (coverage from the Wire Report (sub req)). The OECD release comes one week after a CRTC sponsored report found that Canadian wireless pricing is among the most expensive in the G7 in every tier of usage.

Seven countries, including Finland, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Korea, and the U.S., have at least one subscription for every inhabitant. In Canada, the number drops to 53.3 subscriptions for every 100 inhabitants. That places Canada 24th out of 34 OECD countries.

OECD, 2014, http://www.oecd.org/sti/broadband/oecdbroadbandportal.htm

OECD, 2014, http://www.oecd.org/sti/broadband/oecdbroadbandportal.htm

Canada’s major wireless providers insist that speeds and pricing are competitive with the rest of the world, yet the data confirms that there are far fewer mobile broadband subscriptions in Canada when compared to other OECD countries. Policy makers and regulators must be asking why the numbers are much lower in Canada. Canada ranks higher for fixed broadband (ie. cable or DSL) at 11th in the OECD, but virtually all the countries ahead of it also rank ahead on wireless, so it is not simply a case of consumers replacing fixed with wireless services. Further, countries such as Japan and South Korea rank toward the top of the wireless broadband chart, so multiple subscriptions to overcome roaming costs do not explain the differences. Is it a function of pricing? Different access plans or tethering? Different usage of devices? The consistently poor rank – Canada has been in the bottom third of the OECD on wireless broadband subscriptions for years – requires some answers.

The post OECD Releases New Broadband Data: Canada Ranks in Bottom Third on Mobile Broadband Subscriptions appeared first on Michael Geist.

ObamaCare: Fake It and Take it [The Other McCain]

“Healthcare reform” as a massive fraud on taxpayers: Undercover government investigators were able to obtain thousands of dollars in taxpayer subsidies under ObamaCare using fake identities, according to findings presented to Congress on Wednesday. The probe by the Government Accountability Office has raised fresh concerns about the ability of the sprawling health care program to prevent or […]

Feminist Prostitution in Canada? [The Other McCain]

Olga Marques, Ph.D. (@omarques_) is an assistant professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, where her research interests include “Qualitative and feminist research methods” as well as “Sexuality, sexual deviance and sexual labour.” Her Ph.D. dissertation was on “Women’s Engagement with Sexually Explicit Materials: Deviance, Stigma and Negotiating Identities”; her master’s thesis was […]

Ditch Mitch? [The Other McCain]

Who was ultimately responsible for the evil Mississippi primary campaign that smeared supporters of Chris McDaniel as racists? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, that’s who. The GOP Establishment Incumbent Protection Machine and the big-money donors who fund it have been determined to eradicate the Tea Party movement in the 2014 campaign cycle. This is McConnell’s […]

LIVE AT FIVE: 07.23.14 [The Other McCain]

– compiled by Wombat-socho TOP NEWS Israel Continues Gaza Offensive; Diplomats Seek Ceasefire Multiple sites pounded, including Gaza’s only power plant Ukraine Separatists Use Shot Down Airliner To Promote Cause Donetsk Holds Its Breath As Shelling Intensifies Joko Widodo Wins Narrow Victory In Indonesian Presidential Vote Beats former general Subianto 53-47% POLITICS Perdue Beats Kingston […]

Trannies Keep Harassing Feminists [The Other McCain]

Sophia Banks (@sophiaphotos) is a Canadian transsexual who decided to “expose” some radical feminists who stubbornly cling to the notion that being a woman is a condition involving XX chromosomes. Yes, apparently, it’s come to this: Science is now HATE. I’ve been covering this conflict intermittently for six months now (e.g., the situation that caused […]

The best case scenario for the US debt would be historically terrible [AEIdeas » Pethokoukis]

The current US (publicly held) federal debt-to-GDP ratio is about 75%. As the above chart shows, under the “best case” fiscal scenario — including continued low interest rates, higher productivity, reduced healthcare cost growth — that ratio stabilizes between now and 2040. (Keep in mind, of course, that at 75%, the debt-GDP-ratio is twice what it was before the Great Recession.)

And if everything doesn’t go so well? The the debt more than doubles to 159% of GDP. From the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

While long-term projections are inherently very uncertain, uncertainty is not a reason to disregard them. It is reasonable to anticipate a significant rise in debt over the long term considering the demographic and health care pressures facing the budget. Even if lawmakers adhered to PAYGO and economic and technical assumptions turned out better than CBO anticipates in its baseline, debt would only stabilize at twice its historical share of GDP; it could very well could be worse.

Follow James Pethokoukis on Twitter at @JimPethokoukisand AEIdeas at @AEIdeas.

Study: Breaking up the megabanks isn’t a silver bullet for ending bailouts [AEIdeas » Pethokoukis]

In the new Minneapolis Fed paper, “Too Correlated to Fail,” V.V. Chari and Christopher Phelan argue attacking “Too Big To Fail” and moral hazard by limiting bank size won’t by itself end the moral hazard problem caused by financial institution anticipating government bailouts:

In this paper, we argue that the anticipation of bailouts creates incentives for banks to herd in  the sense of making similar investments. This herding behavior makes bailouts more likely and potential crises more severe. Analyses of bailouts and moral hazard problems that focus exclusively on bank size are therefore misguided in our view, and the policy conclusion that limits on bank size can effectively solve moral hazard problems is unwarranted.

It is an intuitive conclusion. What good is many smaller banks and fewer big banks if herding results in the risk profile of the broader financial system remaining unchanged? Banks of whatever size will be encouraged to take the sort of macroeconomic risks (mortgages rather than small business) that would result in bailout if they went bad. Indeed, Chari and Phelan highlight how the securitization process “ensures that all banks end up holding very similar portfolios and thus have highly correlated risk.”

All this very much syncs with what Ashwin Parameswaran has written on how the “Greenspan Put” and its emphasis on supporting asset prices and thus the banking system — think Long-Term Capital Management — negatively affected the financial system by encouraging herding and the real economy by encouraging financialization:

If you protect a system from the effects of any particular risk, actors within the system will take on more of the protected risk assuming rationally that the system manager (in this case the Fed) will protect them. The Greenspan Put regime drove down the risk of being exposed to broad macroeconomic market risk. Market participants rationally took on more macroeconomic asset-price risk and substituted for the risk they had been relieved of by the Fed with more leverage. …

And this is exactly what the financial sector proceeded to do. Far from being a neutral channel of monetary policy from the Fed to the real economy, the deregulated yet too-big-to-fail financial sector that was also protected from new entrants realigned itself to take on macroeconomic risk by lending to housing and large established firms. The attractiveness of this strategy meant that banks shunned lending exposed to non-macroeconomic idiosyncratic risks such as lending to small businesses or new firms. … The doctrine also encouraged firms in the real economy to become as bank-like as possible. No firm took advantage of the new regime like General Electric(GE) did. GE under Jack Welch transformed itself into an industrial firm whose profits came largely due to its financial arm, GE Capital which lent to its industrial customers (amongst others). So successful was this transformation that by the time the 2008 crisis hit, GE had also become too-big-to-fail thanks to GE Capital and was found to be eligible for a bailout.

In “Room to Grow,” I mention a couple of policy approaches including forcing banks to hold vastly more capital and increase financial industry startups.

Follow James Pethokoukis on Twitter at @JimPethokoukisand AEIdeas at @AEIdeas.

Why big box retailers are good for worker wages [AEIdeas » Pethokoukis]

Some people really don’t like “big box” retailers. The openings of new stores, particularly in cities, are frequently accompanied by protests. Recall that Occupy Wall Street targeted retailers, including Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy. Critics knock these companies for a variety of reason, including low wages, meager benefits, and their effect on local “mom and pop” stores.

But a new study suggests the big boxes are good for wages and upward mobility. From the new NBER working paper “Do Large Modern Retailers Pay Premium Wages?” by Brianna Cardiff-Hicks, Francine Lafontaine, and Kathryn Shaw:

Over the last forty years, modern retail firms, those with the modern products and  processes that support large chains, have become a large segment of the retail sector. Using  worker-level panel data on wage rates, we show that the spread of these chains has been  accompanied by higher wages. Large chains and large establishments pay considerably more than small mom-and-pop establishments. Moreover, large firms and large establishments give  access to managerial ranks and hierarchy, and managers, most of whom are first-line supervisors,  are a large fraction of the retail labor force, and earn about 20 percent more than other workers. A good part of these wage gains are returns to ability – large firms and large establishments hire and promote the more able.

True, the retail sector pays less than manufacturing. But employment in that sector has declined because of offshoring and automation. That means more workers have flowed into retailing. And thanks to the growth of modern big box chains, retail wages and promotion opportunities have increased.

The authors also suggest an alternative to the current obsession with boosting manufacturing employment (either by bringing back outsourced factory jobs to the US or by improving worker training for modern manufacturing jobs).

First of all, advances in automation will make it hard to counter the long-term and global decline in manufacturing employment. Second, as the authors note, retail managers actually make more than manufacturing workers:

Managers in retail are more highly skilled than operatives in manufacturing: managers have some college education and likely have unobserved personal skills, such as people management skills or organizational skills. But expending resources on education to increase preparation for managerial jobs in the retail sector could be a viable alternative to expending resources on education for manufacturing work, because wages are higher for managers in retail than they are for non-managers in manufacturing … retail firms employ a larger proportion of managers than manufacturing firms do. Also, large firms, who need managers, have been growing fast in the retail sector.


Follow James Pethokoukis on Twitter at @JimPethokoukisand AEIdeas at @AEIdeas.

At the Green Café... [Althouse]


... I think I'm going to lie down right here and rest.

"In fact, this is nothing like breast implants. If breast implants got stuck under your tongue..." [Althouse]

"... and in the back of your throat when you were pleasuring your (hypothetical) woman, then you could say it's the same. Also, these are not so much complaints as they are common, first-hand reports on the sexual logistics associated with not grooming. We women (and men) are trying to give you [ungroomed] men a glimpse into our struggle. We just want to help, man, we just want to help."

Comment (by a female) at a Buzzfeed article (written by a man) called "Dear Men, Stop Shaving Your Pubes/Let’s end this once and for all." The article got huge pushback from females, and the comment I've quoted comes after a defensive male said:

Dear women, I don't groom for you. I groom for me. If you don't like it, we're obviously not sexually compatible, and I couldn't care less what you think. I say the same thing about breast implants, but that makes me a misogynist. Your complaints are no less superficial than that of people who hate "fatties" and "uggos"...
What's this world coming to? It seems that people don't like each other too much anymore.

"Given the potential for chaos in the Obamacare scheme if the states decline to participate, it's surprising that Justices Breyer and Kagan went along with the Chief Justice's opinion on the spending power." [Althouse]

"The original legislation had the states locked in, because they'd lose all their Medicaid funding if they didn't participate. That was held to be coercive, and thus not supportable by the spending power, which requires that states be given a choice whether to run federal programs and accept various related conditions. Under the Court's ruling, the states only lose the funding for the expansion of Medicaid, which makes it possible for them to say no, as many seem to be doing. There's an elaborate set of moves in the future, and I wonder how far ahead the Chief Justice looked when he chose his position. Perhaps Obamacare is doomed by the seemingly modest, miminalist hit it took on the spending power issue. But wouldn't Breyer and Kagan have seen ahead too? Why did they join him? I'm not ready to give him genius points for skillful playing of the long game."

Just something I wrote on July 5, 2012 that should be useful in thinking about the new Court of Appeals cases.

"A new Marquette Law School Poll finds that the Wisconsin governor’s race remains a dead heat..." [Althouse]

"... with Republican Gov. Scott Walker receiving the support of 46 percent of registered voters and Democratic challenger Mary Burke receiving 45 percent support...."

Among likely voters, i.e., those who say they are certain to vote in November’s election, Burke receives 47 percent and Walker 46 percent....

The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points. For the sample of 549 likely voters, the margin of error is +/- 4.3 percentage points.

"I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained." [Althouse]


That's my photo, from 3 days ago. The post-title quote is from Zhou Dunyi, from a thousand years ago.

"Another professor showed me a large paper of instructions for discovering plots and conspiracies against the government." [Althouse]

"He advised great statesmen to examine into the diet of all suspected persons; their times of eating; upon which side they lay in bed; with which hand they wipe their posteriors; take a strict view of their excrements, and, from the colour, the odour, the taste, the consistence, the crudeness or maturity of digestion, form a judgment of their thoughts and designs; because men are never so serious, thoughtful, and intent, as when they are at stool, which he found by frequent experiment; for, in such conjunctures, when he used, merely as a trial, to consider which was the best way of murdering the king, his ordure would have a tincture of green; but quite different, when he thought only of raising an insurrection, or burning the metropolis."

From Jonathan Swift, "Gulliver's Travels":

You don't know squat. [Althouse]

Last night, we were discussing that article in The Guardian about how everything in the bathroom is wrong, beginning — of course — with the toilet. The statement "our bodies were designed to squat" irked the commenters, beginning with Joe:

[Our] bodies weren't designed.
Some religionists may protest, and I got sidetracked into wondering if the Bible has anything to say about what sort of toilet we should be using. I found something in Deuteronomy (putting the doo in Deuteronomy):
"Choose a place outside the camp for a latrine. Include a spade among your equipment so that when you squat to relieve yourself, you can dig a hole and then cover your excrement. For the LORD your God is on the move within your camp to deliver you and to hand your enemies over to you. Therefore your camp must be holy so that he will not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you."
When you squat to relieve yourself... Aha! So God was picturing you squatting over a hole. If we are to believe Deuteronomy...

In a nonreligious mode, ken in sc said:
Only a person who has never tried to rise up from a squat on 60+ year-old knees would think our toilets are too high. They make adapters to make toilets even higher for semi-invalids.
This got me thinking that if the squatting position is better for many people, there's no need to install different toilets, just make some sort of stool that fits around the base of the toilets we already have to raise the feet to a higher position. I figured this must already exist, but I despaired at the prospect of Googling the word "stool" with "toilet," given the alternative meaning of "stool." I carefully constructed my search: footstool for toilet to make it more like a squat toilet.

Behold: The Squatty Potty.

And here's NPR nattering about squatting. Last paragraph:
For most people, the modern toilet doesn't cause any problems," [said Rebekah Kim, a colorectal surgeon at the Center for Pelvic Floor Disorders at Virginia Hospital Center]. But if you're to believe Slate's [Daniel] Lametti, squatting on top of the toilet could be a time-saver — he managed to drop his 10-minute routine down to a minute.
I was afraid to click on that last link. I really don't want to hear about some man's 10-minute routine. But I did, and I'm not sorry, because the illustration is so absurd — 2 men on side-by-side toilets, one much happier than the other. Lametti concludes that even though he "gained an hour over seven days," he still preferred the familiar chair-height toilet and doubted that squat toilets would be "the next back-to-nature craze—the new barefoot running shoe or caveman diet," mainly because "Americans, now fatter than ever, are having trouble standing up from a sit, never mind a squat." Lametti's a bit of an asshole, no?

"I firmly believe — and I don't say this as a criticism — that life is meaningless." [Althouse]

Said Woody Allen, in the context of promoting his newest movie "Magic in the Moonlight." It's not incongruous to mix comedy-movie promoting and a statement of the meaninglessness of life, of course. If there is no larger truth about life and you're on you own with the life that you have, you've got to find some things to do, and obviously, going to a comedy movie is one of those things. I remember the scene in the Woody Allen movie "Hannah and Her Sisters" where the Woody Allen character, confronted with the meaninglessness of life, sees the Marx Brothers movie "Duck Soup" and decides that life is nevertheless worth living.
The current quote continues:

"I'm not alone in thinking this... There have been many great minds far, far superior to mine that have come to that conclusion. Both early in life and after years of living and, unless somebody can come up with some proof or some example where it's not [meaningless,] I think it is. I think it is a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. That's just the way I feel about it. I'm not saying one should opt to kill oneself, but the truth of the matter is when you think of it, every 100 years... there is a big flush and everybody in the world is gone, then there is a new group of people, then that gets flushed, then there is a new group of people and this goes on interminably for no particular end -- I don't want to upset you -- there's no end and no rhyme or reason. And the universe -- as you know from the best physicists -- is coming apart and eventually there will be nothing. Absolutely nothing. All the great works of Shakespeare and Beethoven and Da Vinci. All that will be gone. Now, not for a long time, but gone...."
As in "Hannah and Her Sisters," Woody's solution is to pay attention to the particular details of life:
"What I would recommend is the solution I've come up with -- distraction. That's all you can do. You get up. You can be distracted by your love life, by the baseball game, by the movies, by the nonsense: 'Can I get my kid in this private school?' 'Will this girl go out with me Saturday night?' 'Can I think of an ending for the third act of my play?' 'Am I going to get the promotion in my office?'"
But shouldn't it still matter what your details happen to be? Is distractingness the only standard? Woody plays into the hands of those who believe him to be an amoral monster. And he's not helping the atheist crowd, who perpetually strain to convince us that people can be good — if not better — when they don't believe there's a God who's put us here for a reason. Well... not perpetually... perpetually is wrong. Shakespeare and Beethoven and Da Vinci are gone and so is Christopher Hitchens, the best of atheists devoted to convincing us that atheists are good people.

From "God Is Not Great":

We [the atheists] are not immune to the lure of wonder and mystery and awe: we have music and art and literature, and find that the serious ethical dilemmas are better handled by Shakespeare and Tolstoy and Schiller and Dostoyevsky and George Eliot than in the mythical morality tales of the holy books. Literature, not scripture, sustains the mind and—since there is no other metaphor—also the soul. We do not believe in heaven or hell, yet no statistic will ever find that without these blandishments and threats we commit more crimes of greed or violence than the faithful. (In fact, if a proper statistical inquiry could ever be made, I am sure the evidence would be the other way.) We are reconciled to living only once, except through our children, for whom we are perfectly happy to notice that we must make way, and room. 
Hitchens may have been "perfectly happy" to make room, but Woody saw "a big flush" that only makes room for the next set of people headed for the great flushing.
We speculate that it is at least possible that, once people accepted the fact of their short and struggling lives, they might behave better toward each other and not worse. We believe with certainty that an ethical life can be lived without religion. And we know for a fact that the corollary holds true—that religion has caused innumerable people not just to conduct themselves no better than others, but to award themselves permission to behave in ways that would make a brothel-keeper or an ethnic cleanser raise an eyebrow.  

Nothing to see here! Move along! That Obamacare case is nothing — nothing, I tell you! [Althouse]

At the top of Memeorandum — which collects trending news and opinion pieces — the flop sweat shows:

(Click to enlarge.)

ADDED: It's funny, these websites are obviously trying to draw traffic, so they are imagining a need and serving it. These writers — especially the headline writers — must think there are a lot of potential readers who are upset and in need of soothing. The writers themselves may not be experiencing any sort of panic or anxiety. They may simply be grinding out the next damn thing that one does in the daily enterprise of grabbing eyeballs. The shamefully dishonest!!!! enterprise of grabbing eyeballs.

"A few years ago, Mel and I got into an argument about the house. I told her it was embarrassing." [Althouse]

"I asked her what she did all day. 'It really can’t be that hard to keep the house clean,' I said."

We got into a huge fight. Mel told me that I needed to realize what she was up against. And then she told me something that really hit home. She said, “Sometimes it comes down between cleaning the house, and taking Tristan and Norah to the park. Or spending time having fun with them, or teaching them to read or write. Sometimes I can either do the dishes, or teach our son how to ride a bike, or our daughter how to walk. I’d rather do those things, frankly. I’d rather not be that mom who ignores our kids, and myself, because I’m so busy worrying about what the neighbors might think of our messy house.”
How about spending time teaching Tristan and Norah how to help with the dishes? 

IN THE COMMENTS: Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:
Our daughter turned 3 a few months ago. So far this month she's done all of the following, most of them several times, and it's not an exhaustive list: picked up her books and toys; swept the kitchen floor; vacuumed her room (sort of); fed the cats every day; fed the dogs; rinsed dishes and placed them in the drainer (we wash by hand); set the table for supper several times; picked raspberries; made and baked cookies in her own toaster oven; cracked and scrambled her own breakfast eggs; hung clothes on the line; brushed out a shedding dog and put the fur in the trash; picked tomatoes; sliced cucumbers with a very sharp serrated knife (under close supervision); competently nailed in shoe moulding with her own 12 oz hammer; figured our which wire nuts I need or three different projects and handed me the right one; helped prune *roses*; cut zinnias and made a vase of them for Papa's office; handed me wrenches (usually the right one) as I have repaired farm equipment; and ... had a glorious good time with each and both of her parents as we go about the normal activities of our lives.

*None* of that has prevented her from beginning her basic reading, becoming fluent in two languages (beginning a third), going for walks with us, taking music lessons, spending hours creating kingdoms in her sandbox, or bringing us caterpillars she wants to watch become butterflies.

"My own childhood seems to have become illegal." [Althouse]

"I was the son of a single mother. During summers I would explore my neighborhood, visit friends' houses, walk to a pond to fish, ride my bike from our home in Bloomfield, N.J., to the abandoned lots of Newark, and jump it over curbs. I could be unsupervised from 10 in the morning until 8:30 at night, when the streetlights started coming on. If I was home with my grandmother, sometimes she would leave me alone to do grocery shopping."

From "Why are so many parents being arrested?/The communities that used to assist them are gone. So we call the cops instead."

Distribution Release: Oracle Linux 7.0 [DistroWatch.com: News]

Oracle has announced the release of Oracle Linux 7.0, a distribution rebuilt from source code of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, but featuring a custom "unbreakable" kernel: "Oracle is pleased to announce the general availability of Oracle Linux 7. Oracle Linux 7 offers the latest innovations and improvements....

Schumer, Graham, Cardin to Obama: Don’t Force Israel Into Cease-Fire that Doesn’t ‘Remove’ Rocket Threat [The PJ Tatler]

Two Democratic senators joined Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) today in insisting that President Obama not force any cease-fire in the Middle East that leaves Israel in danger of rocket attacks.

Graham, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) wrote to Obama that “the threats posed by Hamas rockets and tunnels whose only purpose is to kill and kidnap Israelis are intolerable, and Israel must be allowed to take any actions necessary to remove those threats.”

Obama dispatched Secretary of State John Kerry, who met today with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to forge a cease-fire agreement.

The senators wanted to impress upon Obama their “strong belief that any viable cease fire in Gaza must remove the threat to Israel posed by Hamas rockets and tunnels.”

“Any cease fire should create a situation in which Israeli citizens no longer face the threat of brazen terrorist attacks,” they wrote. “Israeli citizens have faced over 1800 rocket launches from Hamas since June. While Iron Dome has saved countless lives, over five million Israelis live in fear of incoming rockets fired indiscriminately from Gaza. Twenty-eight tunnels have been discovered by the IDF since the ground operation in Gaza began. Israel has an absolute right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel.”

“…Any effort to broker a ceasefire agreement that does not eliminate those threats cannot be sustained in the long run and will leave Israel vulnerable to future attacks.”

Schumer, Graham and Cardin stressed to Obama that Israel “has taken great pains to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties.”

“The IDF has used text messages, leaflet drops, phone calls, and other methods to clear out areas before attacks. The same cannot be said about Hamas. Their rockets have only one purpose: to kill as many innocent Israelis as possible. At the same time, they use their own civilians as human shields by placing missile launchers next to schools, hospitals, mosques, and private homes. The Hamas interior ministry has called on Gaza residents to ignore IDF warnings to get out of harm’s way,” they continued.

“The human toll in this crisis is tragic. Both Palestinian and Israeli civilians are dying because of the distorted priorities of the leaders of a terrorist organization whose primary goal is to destroy Israel. We must do everything possible to ensure they do not succeed.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said today that “obviously our top priority is getting a ceasefire and achieving a ceasefire.”

“What the contours of that ceasefire will look like, I’m obviously not going to outline. But longer term, the issue of rocket fire does need to be addressed. We’re very serious about that. Again, how that looks like, what that looks like, I’m not going to get into the details of that either,” Harf said.

Images of Syrian Victims Poached for Hamas Propaganda [The PJ Tatler]

More than 170,000 people have been killed in Syria as the world has largely ignored the slaughter. So, Hamas figured it could poach some of those victims for its own use without the world noticing:



Romney Says He’s Not Running for President [The PJ Tatler]

On Wednesday’s Sean Hannity Show, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney told Sean Hannity that he is not running for president in 2016. “I’m not running, Sean, but I’ll be rooting for the nominee,” Romney said. Saying that he had his chance in 2012  and lost, Romney thinks it’s time for someone else to have a shot at beating the Democrats.

He then ticked off a list of potential candidates he hoped would consider running:  Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio.

Romney suggested that he wouldn’t fare well in a face-off with Hillary. “I am not the person who should be the nominee to run against the Democratic nominee, who I think will be Hillary Clinton,” he said. However, Romney lambasted the former secretary of State for her disastrous record, including the “reset” button debacle with the Russians.

Romney also criticized President Obama saying, “He lacks the experience to do what America needs to do,” adding that he’s more focused on golf than on world events.

Hannity, meanwhile, gushed about what a great president Romney would have been, saying the country had “buyer’s remorse” for choosing Obama over the more experienced and more qualified Romney.

Kerry: Abbas ‘Committed to Nonviolence and Committed to a Harder Route’ [The PJ Tatler]

Secretary of State John Kerry said today in Ramallah that he’s “very grateful” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for his “tireless” leadership in the conflict between his unity government partner Hamas and Israel.

Following his meeting with Abbas, Kerry noted to reporters that he’s “been in constant touch with President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority over the course of the last months.”

“But particularly in the last days, we have been talking about how to achieve an end to the current violence and an effort to try to not only have a cease-fire, but build a process that can create a sustainable way forward for everybody,” he said. “I’m very grateful to President Abbas for his leadership, for his deep engagement in the effort to try to find a cease-fire. He has traveled tirelessly, he has been working with all of the interested groups and parties, and encouraging people to do the responsible thing, which is to come to the table – not only have a cease-fire, but then negotiate the immediate issues and the underlying issues.”

Abbas was criticized for a trip to Turkey last week on which he was photographed posing with TV stars.

“We had a good conversation today about how we can take further steps, and we’re doing this for one simple reason: The people in the Palestinian territories, the people in Israel, are all living under the threat or reality of immediate violence, and this needs to end for everybody,” Kerry continued. “We need to find a way forward that works, and it’s not violence.”

“President Abbas has been committed to nonviolence and committed to a harder route,” he said of the leader who has vowed “no way” will he recognize the Jewish state. “Sometimes it’s very satisfying for people to see the immediate impact of the violence, but it doesn’t take you to a solution. President Abbas understands the road to the solution, and that’s what we’re working for.”

Kerry said the U.S. will continue to push for a cease-fire, and “will continue to work with President Abbas and others in the region in order to achieve it.”

“And I can tell you that we have, in the last 24 hours, made some progress in moving towards that goal,” he said. “And I will leave here now with President Abbas’ thoughts about how we could make some progress, and I will go and meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and subsequently return to Cairo, where we will continue in the hopes that before long, we can change course and, for everybody’s sake, end this violence and move to a sustainable program for the future.”

Cruz: Is the FAA Ban on Flights to Israel Really an Obama Economic Boycott? [The PJ Tatler]

The US FAA has extended the ban on flights into Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, citing increased risk after a Hamas rocket landed within a mile of the airport. Hamas is calling the ban a “great victory,” while several European countries are following up with flight bans of their own.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is now asking, is the FAA’s decision really based on risk, or is it a stealth economic boycott of Israel?

In a press release, Cruz notes that the FAA still allows flights into Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, all of which are under constant terrorist threat.

Sen. Cruz also notes that so far in the current battle with Hamas, the terrorist group has launched over 2,000 rockets. Only one has landed anywhere near Ben Gurion.

Mindful of the shootdown of MH17 last week, Cruz also notes that that shootdown was accomplished by a sophisticated BUK anti-aircraft missile made by Russia. Yet the FAA still allows flights into Ukraine.

According to Sen. Cruz’s statement, tourism is an $11 billion industry in Israel. Thanks to the FAA’s ban, though, tourist charters are canceling trips at a 30% rate, costing the Israeli economy enormously. At the same time, Secretary of State John Kerry arrive in Israel — at Ben Gurion, incidentally — pledging $47 million in aid for the Palestinians, which really means more money for Hamas.

Taking the impact of these decisions together with Kerry’s previous statements, in which he has accused Israel of being an “apartheid state,” Cruz wonders what is behind the FAA’s decisions — true risk or politics?

Read Sen. Cruz’s full statement on the next page.

Meanwhile, in the Capital of the Caliphate, the Trains Run on Time, Impressing the NY Times [The PJ Tatler]

One can’t help but compare today’s New York Times’ dispatch from Raqqa, the “capital” of the new Islamic caliphate, with previous Times reports highlighting the troubles afflicting U.S. efforts in Iraq.

While sturm und drang prevailed in the latter, the leaders of the Caliphate seem to make the figurative trains run on time (something even Mussolini didn’t do).

More pragmatically, ISIS has managed to keep food in markets, and bakeries and gas stations functioning.

“What I see in Raqqa proves that the Islamic State has a clear vision to establish a state in the real meaning of the word,” said a retired teacher in the city of Raqqa. “It is not a joke.”

Many said that they received official receipts stamped with the ISIS logo and that the fees were less than they used to pay in bribes to Mr. Assad’s government.

 “I feel like I am dealing with a respected state, not thugs,” said a Raqqa goldsmith in his small shop as a woman shopped for gold pieces with cash sent from abroad by her husband.

In fairness, the story also notes that Muslim Sharia law leaves the hands of thieves disarmed,  smokers without a break, drinkers dry and women cloaked.

But there is a darker side to Islamic rule, with public executions and strict social codes that have left many in this once-tolerant community deeply worried about the future.

Of course, mentioning “a darker side” indicates the reader should weigh the relative merits of the coming Muslim dynasty with an open mind. Take the good with the bad.

O, and by the way, all three of Raqqa’s Christian churches have been shuttered, stripped of crosses, black flagged and converted to Islamic suicide bomber recruitment centers.

Nevertheless the story ends on a high note.

After ISIS’s advance into Iraq last month, the Jordanian went to Mosul to help organize a hospital there before returning to Raqqa.

“He talked with an eager shine in his eyes, saying that the caliphate of the Islamic State that began in Raqqa would spread over the whole region,” one of his employees said.

There was a time when the Left pooh-poohed theories that jihadis would establish a caliphate from which to launch their conquest of the rest of the earth.

Now, it seems, the caliphate exists, but it’s not as bad as those radical Right-wing scaremongers said.


At Fundraiser, Obama Steers Foreign Policy Crises to Economic Equality Platform [The PJ Tatler]

President Obama used the foreign policy crises unfolding across the globe as a jumping-off point to promote economic equality policies at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Seattle last night.

He was addressing donors at a private home “under a white tent near a pool, on the lawn of an Italianate style house with a panoramic view of the lake,” according to the White House pool report.

Despite “enormous progress across the board on a whole range of fronts,” he said, “…people are anxious.”

“Now, some of that has to do with some big challenges overseas. I am very proud that we have ended one war, and by the end of this year we will have ended both wars that I inherited before I came into office,” Obama said to applause. “But whether people see what’s happening in Ukraine, and Russia’s aggression towards its neighbors in the manner in which it’s financing and arming separatists; to what’s happened in Syria — the devastation that Assad has wrought on his own people; to the failure in Iraq for Sunni and Shia and Kurd to compromise — although we’re trying to see if we can put together a government that actually can function; to ongoing terrorist threats; to what’s happening in Israel and Gaza — part of people’s concern is just the sense that around the world the old order isn’t holding and we’re not quite yet to where we need to be in terms of a new order that’s based on a different set of principles, that’s based on a sense of common humanity, that’s based on economies that work for all people.”

“But here in the United States, what people are also concerned about is the fact that although the economy has done well in the aggregate, for the average person it feels as if incomes, wages just haven’t gone up; that people, no matter how hard they work, they feel stuck,” he added. “And that’s not an illusion. Because what’s happened is, is that a lot of our gains, a lot of the progress that’s been made in this economy — and this is like a 20, 25, 30-year trend — have gone to the folks at the very top. And middle-class families find themselves with stagnant incomes, even as the cost of health care or the cost of a college education for their kids keeps on skyrocketing.”

“And part of what people are also anxious about is the fact that government doesn’t seem to be responsive, at least at the federal level, to those concerns.

“We know how to solve some of our big problems. But what we’re going to have to do is break the logjam in Washington. So where I’m able to get Congress to help, I want to work with them. Where I can’t get Congress to help, I’m going to do everything I can on my own. Everything I can on my own. If they don’t want to pass a sensible climate change bill, we’re going to go ahead and put forward a Climate Action Plan and make sure we’re working with the EPA under authorities we already have to reduce carbon,” he said.

“And that’s why these midterm elections are so important. I do not want anybody here to succumb to cynicism. Cynicism is a choice, and hope is a better choice. But in order for us to make hope live, in order for hope to be more than just a slogan, we’ve got to work. We’ve got to work to make sure that members of Congress — whether the Senate or the House of Representatives — are serious about you. And I will say, for all the Democrats around here, I’m not overly partisan.”

House Working Group Arrives at List of Border-Control Actions [The PJ Tatler]

A working group appointed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to study the border crisis has arrived at its slate of recommendations.

Boehner named Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) to lead the group on June 24, and she said last week that the group was making “extraordinary progress in a short amount of time to understand the facts of the situation at the border, and develop sensible, humane, but tough recommendations on a course of action for Congress and the president to act on immediately.”

Granger along with Reps. John Carter (R-Texas), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) visited the Texas-Mexico border twice and flew to Central America to meet with the presidents of Honduras and Guatemala.

Their recommendations are:

·         Deploy the National Guard to the Southern border to assist Border Patrol in the humanitarian care and needs of the unaccompanied minors. This will free up the Border Patrol to focus on their primary mission.

·         Prohibit the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) from denying or restricting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) activities on federal land under their respective jurisdictions.

·         Require a DHS strategy and implementation plan to gain operational control of the Southwest border.

·         Establish independent third party commission to develop border security metrics as a means to accurately gauge progress on border security.

·         Establish border security in Central American countries and Mexico.

·         Establish repatriation centers in originating countries in order to facilitate the return of family units and unaccompanied minors.

·         Deploy aggressive messaging campaigns in originating countries and the U.S. to dispel immigration myths, clarify that individuals will be deported on arrival and advise on the dangers and legal penalties of traveling through Mexico to enter the United States illegally.

·         Mandate the detention of all Family Units apprehended at the border with the ultimate goal of processing family units 5-7 days. Congress must continue stringent oversight to ensure this mandate is being met.

·         Amend the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008 so all unaccompanied minors are treated the same as Mexicans and Canadians for the purpose of removals. This would require unaccompanied children who do not wish to be voluntarily returned to their home country to remain in HHS custody while they await an expedited immigration court hearing that must occur not more than 7 days after they are screened by child welfare officials.

·         Deploy additional judge teams and temporary judges to expedite the hearing of asylum and credible fear claims. Congress must address the occurrences of fraud in our asylum system. Baseless claims crowd the immigration court system and delay processing for those with legitimate claims. The standard under current law that allows an alien to show a “credible fear of persecution” needs to be examined and addressed to ensure a fraud-free system moving forward.  In addition, criminal aliens and criminal gang members should not receive asylum.

·         Establish tough penalties for those engaged in human smuggling, including the smuggling of unaccompanied minors by strengthening penalties for human smugglers and those who assist them.

·         Increase law enforcement operations domestically and in originating countries to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations and encourage originating countries to pass strict laws against human smuggling.

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) said he expected the House to “take up these recommendations so that we can quickly send them to the Senate for a vote and to the president for implementation.”

“I expect that whatever proposal we pass will remain fiscally responsible and not add to our deficit,” Salmon added.

How Secretary John Kerry Can ‘Address Long-Term Palestinian Grievances,’ Stopping War with Israel [The PJ Tatler]

Shortly after touching down in Tel Aviv today (7/23), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the press why he had come to the region.

The goal, Mr. Kerry stressed, was not only to obtain a cease-fire but to map out a “sustainable process going forward” that would address some of the long-term grievances of the Palestinians in Gaza and prevent the fighting between Hamas and Israel from erupting every few years. [emphasis added]

His jet landed at Ben Gurion Airport, Israel’s front door, which had already been slammed shut by U.S. and European officials banning flights in and out. One can only imagine the comfort Kerry’s words brought to the mothers of Israel, whose sons crawl through tunnels attempting to flush out Hamas terrorists.

After all, what long-term grievances might the Palestinians harbor that Mr. Kerry could address?

How about the fact that Israelis live on land that Palestinians will forever claim as their own?

Well, he might address that by agreeing with Hamas and Fatah that a Jew can no longer have an address in the former, and ephemeral, state of Israel. Then he could get back on his plane at Tel Aviv’s new Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Hassan Yassin International Airport and enjoy a ticker-tape parade down Broadway.

That might encourage Hamas to stop lobbing thousands of missiles into the area. Although history shows that if radical Muslims don’t have Jews or Christians to kill (or even if they do), they’ll kill each other. Even Bill Maher knows that.

Hamas Threat to Israel’s Airport Demands a New Strategy: Let Israel Win [The PJ Tatler]

Hamas launched a powerful rocket that landed within a mile of Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport. Israel has opened an alternative airport in Negev.

The US Federal Aviation Administration overreacted to the Hamas rocket, by banning American carriers from landing at Ben Gurion, temporarily. Secretary of State John Kerry has flown to the Middle East to try and arrange a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

Michael Bloomberg, of all people, showed stronger leadership by flying into Ben Gurion and publicizing his flight, to show that it is still safe.

Hamas is believed to possess from 10,000 to 20,000 rockets. The terrorist group has used that arsenal to start the current round of fighting by firing those rockets at Israeli civilian population centers.

Israel has responded by going after Hamas in as precise a manner as possible, to avoid civilian casualties. That is no easy feat when Hamas deliberately hides its weapons in schools and when its fighters do not wear uniforms and who themselves hide among civilians, using them as human shields. When those civilians are inevitably killed, Hamas then uses them for propaganda against Israel.

At this point, what would a cease-fire achieve?

For Israel, a temporary and untenable “peace.” For Hamas, it would achieve quite a lot. A cease-fire would leave its rocket arsenal intact. It would also leave the threat that Hamas could shut down Israel’s main international airport, at any moment, intact.

For Israel, that is an intolerable threat. Hamas could cut Israel off from the rest of the world, or at least from its strongest ally, any time it wants, just by firing one of its thousands and thousands of rockets near the airport.

Kerry should not have gone to Israel to mindlessly try to broker another cease-fire.

He should have gone to Israel to tell Hamas unambiguously that the United State supports Israel’s right to self-defense, and that if Hamas does not turn over all of its rockets immediately, that the United States supports Israel’s right to destroy the entire arsenal by means and methods of its choosing.

In other words, Kerry should have gone to Israel to tell Hamas and the world that the United States supports Israel and its right to defeat Hamas once and for all.

Negotiating with Hamas has proven to be futile. It’s time to let Israel win.

John Kerry Fan Boy On CNN.com Not Quite Sure What Hamas Is Up To [The PJ Tatler]

Yes, he’s talking about that John Kerry.

This is mostly full of what you would expect from cheerleaders in the MSM but there are a couple of notable nuggets here, the first of which is an implication that Kerry has grown weary of the boss’s thumb-twiddling:

Kerry is an activist and simply couldn’t abide the fact that people were dying and the United States wasn’t at least trying to stop it.

The comments on Kerry are generally full of praise for a Secretary of State who talks about climate change as a threat more than he does terrorism.

Amid the repeated reminders in the op-ed that Palestinians are dying, the author tosses out this gem:

As for Hamas, it’s not easy to read its calculations, in part because it’s not clear whether the military or political wing is in charge.

Really? Are we still pretending there is a lot of nuance there?

Let me offer some armchair (ok, desk chair) analysis: Hamas attacks Israel until it runs out of things with which to attack. As a distraction while re-arming, Hamas then whines about retaliation and is supported by useful idiots in various media around the world. Then it attacks again.

It is rather difficult to deal with the various evils in the world when so many keep playing dangerous games of moral equivalence.

Go Home, United Nations, You’re Drunk [The PJ Tatler]

Detroit has a water crisis.

Actually, no, it doesn’t. Detroit has a deadbeat crisis.

The broke down Motor City has announced that it is suspending shutting off water to those who don’t pay their water bills, for 15 days. Just about half of the city’s residents are actually paying their water bills.

Detroit, which by the way is bankrupt, made that decision because the United Nations pressured it to.

How did Detroit get to be bankrupt? Well, it has a deadbeat problem. And a corruption problem.

The United Nations claims that access to clean water is now a “human right.” And because of that, the city should not cut off the water to people who are using the city’s water service, but are refusing to pay for it.

Most of the same people who are refusing to pay for the water they use are on taxpayer-supported public assistance. Public assistance is meant to help them pay for food, shelter, and of course, water.

But instead, many of them are paying for cell phones and satellite or cable TV service.

They are making choices in what they pay for. If they prize other things over clean water, well, there ought to be consequences for that. The United Nations, which itself lives off of the public assistance of member states including the United States, disagrees.

Potable water doesn’t clean itself and, for the most part, doesn’t exist in nature in the quantities that we need to support our cities. Humans have to process water to make it drinkable. That processing costs money. Somebody has to pay for it. If that somebody is not the people who are actually using the water, then who ought to pay for it?

The United Nations has taken the position that it doesn’t care, and it doesn’t matter, who pays for water.

They’re not going far enough.

Food is just as important to our health as water. If clean water is a human right, why isn’t food? And if food is a human right, why should anyone ever have to pay for food?

Why shouldn’t farmers just give away all of the crops, beef, milk, and other products that they generate? Why shouldn’t all restaurants serve everyone whatever food they want, free of charge? Aren’t they violating our human rights if they force us to pay for the food that we eat? Steak and lobster for everyone, every day, whenever they want — since it’s a human right. Why shouldn’t the United Nations make this happen?

Then no one would have to choose between food and their smartphone.

Because having to make choices isn’t fair. Or something.


IRS IT: Lerner’s Hard Drive Was Merely ‘Scratched,’ Data Was Recoverable [The PJ Tatler]

The House Ways and Means Committee’s IRS targeting scandal investigators have tracked down some IRS information technology specialists who contradict the agency’s official line regarding the spoiled hard drive of Lois Lerner.

According to the IRS, Lerner’s hard drive “crashed” and the data on it was not recovered. That data, according to the IRS, included all of Lerner’s emails to and from people outside the IRS itself. Those so-called lost emails could shed light on who Lerner was communicating with outside the IRS and who outside the agency may have been aware of the targeting of conservative groups, and what the purpose of the targeting was.

But the IRS says that those emails are “lost,” and Lerner’s “crashed” hard drive was later “recycled,” meaning it was destroyed entirely.

But the IRS IT specialists tracked down by Ways and Means tell a different story.

According to them, Lerner’s hard drive was merely “scratched,” and most of the data on it was recoverable. The IT specialists tell the Committee’s investigators that they recommended the IRS seek outside assistance to recover the data on Lerner’s drive. Forensic experts consulted by the Committee agree that most of the data would have been recoverable.

The IRS apparently never followed that advice to seek outside experts for help with the drive.

But the IRS’ record-keeping on Lerner’s hard drive may not be complete or accurate itself. Paperwork discovered by the committee says that at one point, Lerner’s computer was described as “recovered.” The IRS has also failed to provide a paper trail for the destruction of the hard drive. To date, IRS officials have testified that it was destroyed. But the agency systematically tracks the disposition of hard drives. There ought to be paperwork tracking Lerner’s hard drive to its demise, but there is no such paperwork.

President Obama Casts Himself as Champeen News Reader in the World, or Something [The PJ Tatler]

President Barack Obama is spending three of this week’s five work days fundraising for the Democratic Party. At a fundraiser last night, he contradicted everything he has ever said about how he learns about scandals in his own government.

POLITICO reports that Obama said he’s fighting however he can to combat cynicism from becoming a dominant theme in the upcoming midterm elections. And when the president brought up the media as partly to blame, he remarked, “Whatever they’re reporting about, usually I know.”

That’s a funny thing to say for a guy who claims that he learned about Fast and Furious, the Veterans Administration secret waiting lists, the NSA spying on foreign leaders, the terrorist capture of much of Iraq, Russia’s invasion of Crimea, the IRS targeting scandal and the failure of Healthcare.gov from the news media.

Or maybe he was just lying about not knowing about any of that beforehand…

Survey Says Millennials Think Socialism is a Joke [The PJ Tatler]

The Reason Foundation just released a survey proving the failure of the American public education system. But, according to Derek Thompson in The Atlantic, we might as well just laugh at it:

3. Far less important, but entertaining nonetheless: Millennials don’t know what socialism is, but they think it sounds nice.

I predict that any readers over the age of 30 will absolutely love this fact about voters under the age of 29. Forty-two percent of Millennials think socialism is preferable to capitalism, but only 16 percent of Millennials could accurately define socialism in the survey.

Say what you want about the tenets of national socialism, dude, at least it’s an ethos that young people can define in an Internet survey.

A number of my PJMedia colleagues jumped on the survey with the usual complaint that “kids these days” want everything handed to them on a silver platter. Conservatives in general fail to address the far more creepy comedic love affair with socialism because we fail to understand the media that informs the Millennial generation.

Case in point: The “Jon Stewart takes on Gaza” debacle. Times of Israel editor David Horovitz did an excellent job ripping the comedian to shreds for his stereotypical, biased account of the meanie Israelis versus the poor Palestinians. Conservative media proceeded to join in the dissection 15 years too late. From the day he took the anchor’s chair on the set of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart has attempted to be the court jester of the hipster elite. An admitted leftist, he was a psych major turned stand-up comedian who makes no bones about being a professional satirist – nothing more. Yet, the bulk of the millennial news audience share goes to Stewart and his former Daily Show co-star, Colbert Report comic actor Stephen Colbert. Knowing this, why should we be the least bit surprised that Millennials are laughing about the real issues facing the world and our country today, including socialism?

Americans Dovish, New Poll Finds [The PJ Tatler]

Politicians and pundits apparently have more interest in asserting American strength on the world stage than do the American people. From Fox News:

It’s no secret that after a decade of bloodshed and sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan, most Americans are weary of war. But the numbers in a new Politico poll bring home how sizable majorities are increasingly wary of further foreign entanglements.

Take Ukraine, which became a flash point when Russia invaded Crimea and has dominated the news since the downing of a Malaysian Airlines plane, almost definitely by pro-Russian separatists. When the pollsters asked whether the U.S should do more to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine, only 17 percent of likely voters said yes. Another 34 percent said America should be less involved, while 31 percent backed the Obama administration’s current approach. (The poll was taken before the jet was shot down.)

What about Syria, which shattered President Obama’s “red line” by using chemical weapons and has been suppressing a rebellion for years. Some 42 percent of likely voters want less U.S. involvement, while 15 percent want more and 26 percent back our limited level of involvement.

And then there are the two wars that have roiled American politics since 9/11. An overwhelming 77 percent support Obama’s plan to pull all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, with 23 percent in opposition.

And in Iraq, where tremendous gains by ISIS sparked a fierce debate over whether Obama should have left some troops in the country, 44 percent want less involvement and 19 percent favor more involvement, with 23 percent supporting the current level of engagement.

These are staggering figures that reveal a chasm between most politicians and a majority of voters. Many Americans are understandably focused on the problems in their daily lives and not terribly worried about what happens in Donetsk or Aleppo.

Have we become a nation of wimps? Or, has the Washington set been operating under a false dichotomy between restraint and strength?

An opportunity seems to be presented here for a new kind of foreign policy posture, one focused on quick and decisive victory against objective threats to American lives, but otherwise reluctant to intervene in wholly foreign affairs. Will Rand Paul fill that void? Many Republicans won’t trust him to recognize objective threats. Yet, his seems to be the only voice deviating from the bipartisan Washington choir. Who else might thread the needle between isolationism and military adventurism by articulating a vigorous defense that nonetheless minds our own business?

(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 10:01 minutes long; 9.68 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

GAO “Secret Shopper” Investigation Finds Fraud in Obamacare Exchanges [The PJ Tatler]

On Tuesday, Republicans released preliminary results of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) undercover examination of enrollment in the Obamacare exchanges.

Using fake information during an undercover “secret shopper” investigation, the GAO created 18 fictitious identities through the federal exchange by telephone, online, and in-person.  In 17 of 18 attempts the GAO was able to obtain premium subsidies and health insurance with fake information through telephone and online applications. According to the report, 11 out of 12 fake applications for the federal exchanges were approved, with credits totaling $2500 per month ($30,000 per year).

During the investigation, fake shoppers provided fake documents, such as Social Security numbers and proof of income and citizenship. They found that “Federal contractors made no effort to authenticate documents applicants provided” and the fake ID and income information proved to be no impediment to enrollment.  According to the report, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is not required to authenticate documentation. “The contractor told us it does not seek to detect fraud and accepts documents as authentic unless there are obvious alterations,” the GAO said.

As of July 2014 the fake enrollees continue to receive subsidized coverage for the 11 applications, including 3 applications where GAO did not provide any requested supporting documents.

When the GAO made attempts to sign up for federal subsidies in person, they were unable to obtain assistance in five of six attempts. “One navigator said assistance was not available because HealthCare.gov was down and another [declined] to provide assistance,” the preliminary report said, noting that navigaors have received tens of millions of dollars in federal grants to provide assistance to those in need of healthcare.

The report also pointed out that CMS officials still do not have the electronic capability to identify enrollees who have “put their policies in force” by paying their premiums. “As a result, CMS must rely on health insurance issuers to self-report enrollment data used to determine how much CMS owes the issuers for the income-based subsidies,” the GAO report said. “Work is underway to implement such a system, according to CMS, but the agency does not have a timeline for completing and deploying it.”

Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) said, “We are seeing a trend with ObamaCare information systems: under every rock, there is incompetence, waste, and the potential for fraud.” Camp said, “Now, we learn that in many cases, the exchange is unable to screen out fake identities or documents.”

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) said, “Fictitious people have used fictitious documents to gain tens of thousands of dollars in real subsidies.  Yet, before subsidies were paid in January, the former secretary ‘certified’ the proper controls were in place to prevent these kinds of improper payments.” Coburn added that such incompetence and gross mismanagement is unacceptable and deeply troubling.  ”At a time when we’re facing a $17 trillion debt, it is imperative that DHS take the necessary steps to address the problems identified in GAO’s report.”

According to GAO, over 2.6 million application inconsistencies have been found for people who have signed up for health plans in the exchange. The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning with the GAO to discuss the findings of its report.

Ted Cruz Sorry/Not Sorry About Losing the Vampire Vote [The PJ Tatler]

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Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) responded on Facebook to a True Blood episode that featured a storyline with a massacre at a fundraiser for Ted Cruz at the George W. Bush Presidential Library. In the episode, a pair of  left-leaning vampires show up at the Republican fundraiser to search for the parents of their enemy. Pam, the female vampire, catches a glimpse of herself in a mirror with a sparkly dress and big hair and exclaims, “I’m a Republican!” Except instead of “Republican” she invents a sexually crude word that’s not worth repeating here because it’s juvenile and debauched. After Pam recovers from her shock at looking like a Republican, a bloody massacre ensues at the gala.

On his personal Facebook page, Cruz said he never expected to turn up on the “misogynist and profanity-ridden” show. “I’m sorry to have lost the vampire vote,” Cruz wrote, “but am astonished (and amused) that HBO is suggesting that hard-core leftists are blood-sucking fiends.”

But in retrospect, Cruz acknowledged that he probably never had a chance with the hard-core leftist blood suckers:



Cruz’s senior communications advisor (and frequent tag-team Twitter partner) Amanda Carpenter agreed:



On tenure, after three years on the tenure track [Information Wants To Be Free]


Way back in 2005, I wrote a post about tenure for librarians in which I argued against it. Since then, I’ve spent six years as a librarian with faculty rank and no tenure and three years as a librarian on the tenure track, and I can say that my feelings against tenure status for librarians has only grown stronger.

When I told one of my colleagues that I was leaving for Portland Community College, she said “are you sad you’re not going to be doing scholarship anymore?” Why wouldn’t I? Portland Community College already has 3 Library Journal Movers and Shakers (I’ll be #4!) and faculty who’ve published and presented some really thought-provoking work. I wrote a book and a bunch of articles and presented a ton when I wasn’t on the tenure track. I did plenty of it on my own time and some of it while at work. As a tenure-track librarian, I do plenty of scholarship on my own time and some of it while at work. I know at some places, librarians are told that they can take x% of their time for scholarship or that they can take one day/week for it. At most places, that isn’t the case. You try to fit it into your work week while you’re doing your “real work” and are expected to take it home with you because it’s how you’re going to keep your job. And expectations around time for research change with different library administrations, which can be stressful (says the woman on her third UL and AUL for public services in 3 years).

For me, doing scholarship is actually fun. I’ve enjoyed the articles I’ve written and the research I’ve done. I may not have done all of it had I not been tenure-track, but this kind of stuff is fun for me. However, there are lots of people for whom the idea of research, writing, and presenting at conferences is horrifying. There are even more people who just have no interest in doing it. And this is why we have a literature with a small number of gems amongst a whole lot of of mediocrity. There are many studies that are so poorly designed that they do more to obfuscate knowledge than to advance it. I recently read an article that concluded that an one method of instruction was no more effective than another. The authors had a tiny sample size (one class with each methodology — 2 classes total), had a person teach the class who’d never used one of the chosen methods before, and based effectiveness on recall (using a poorly-designed quiz) rather than the students’ ability to actually do research or satisfaction with the session. In the end, the authors didn’t even seem to have confidence in their own findings. What can anyone actually learn from this??? And yet this was published in one of our profession’s top journals. There are so many articles out there in the library literature exactly like this. Librarians get little education in research design and then are told they must do research to keep their jobs. If we can barely find the time to do our scholarship, is it any wonder that we don’t have time to become good researchers? I would argue that the library literature would be much better (though smaller) if not for the tenure track and that many of those who have published the gems would have done so with or without a mandate to do so.

The idea that librarians need tenure to be on faculty-level committees seems like a red herring to me, because there are so many institutions at which librarians who are not tenure-track (and even not faculty) serve on these committees. I chaired an academic committee of disciplinary faculty members at Norwich and served on another faculty senate committee, all while being “staff with faculty rank.” I wasn’t thought of as less than, but as different. Then again, I’m also ok with being seen as different from disciplinary faculty, which some librarians seem uncomfortable with. I know we are different. I think librarians are much more effective when they show what unique value they bring to a collaboration with faculty than when they try to show how they’re just like disciplinary faculty. We’re just not.

I’ve come to find that we have a lot more in common with some student affairs units than we do with disciplinary faculty. Units like the writing center, the learning/tutoring center, and the career center provide a mix of point-of-need and course-integrated instruction as well as significant outreach. Some even teach credit courses (our College Success classes are taught by student life faculty). The staff or faculty in these units are not tenure-track, yet they often serve on faculty senate committees because they have a valuable POV. The Director of PSU’s Learning Center shares knowledge and presents at conferences. She’s very involved in assessment. I kind of wish more academic librarians would see themselves as having a kinship with student affairs (and vice versa) because there are some valuable collaborations that can happen between those units. We really do share the same goals.

One of the biggest arguments for tenure is academic freedom, but I have felt less free to write and say what I think over the past three years than I did at any other point in my career. I don’t think it has to be this way, but tenure can push people to take the safe route, which Nicole Pagowsky alluded to in her most recent post. I think the tenure process can silence librarians early in their careers when they’re most likely to want to challenge the status quo. By the time a librarian has achieved tenure, he or she has a specific scholarly agenda and most will not likely make a radical u-turn in what they research and write/speak about. Also, over time, it’s easier to become complacent about things that would have fired you up five or six years before.

I thought I’d have no problem sailing through the tenure process since I give a lot of talks and have no problem writing a lot (as you’ve probably noticed), but then I learned that it wasn’t just about having x# of presentations and peer-reviewed publications (in fact, I got dinged for giving too many presentations in my first year). It was about doing it all the “right way.” And figuring out what the “right way” is can be just about impossible, because what’s right is in the eye of the beholder. One person may value being on certain committees more than scholarship. Someone else may feel entirely opposite. For some it’s about national service and for others it’s local/state service. In some cases it may be about how well-liked you are. For me, having a blog with a national audience was more of an albatross than an asset. I’m ashamed to admit that I considered shuttering this blog after my last promotion and tenure review, because the feedback I received was so vague that it wasn’t clear to me what specifically I’d done wrong and how I could fix it. I felt paralyzed.

At Norwich, I did write one or two things on my blog that got me into trouble. My Director was a great protector of intellectual freedom, so she didn’t sell me down the river when a vendor rep called her to complain about a blog post I’d written about them. But when I did write something my Director or a colleague didn’t like or felt was inappropriate, they discussed it with me directly and was able to talk it out and apologize for anything that might have been inappropriate or hurtful. And I learned from those experiences how to be more politic in writing about work. I still don’t know specifically what I wrote over the past three years that was wrong and who was bothered by it. I wish I did because I’d gladly apologize to them and improve based on their feedback.

I believe that academic freedom can be protected contractually. If it’s in your contract, it’s law. At PSU, we’re union-represented and if something is done that violates the union contract (which includes academic freedom), we can file a grievance. Even without a union, a contract is a contract. And let’s not forget that tenure seems to be no guarantee of full academic freedom (see Kansas, the University of Saskatchewan, etc.). Also, what good is academic freedom when it only protects a small percentage of the workforce? Oh, I deserve academic freedom, but my fixed-term and adjunct faculty colleagues don’t?

It can be exceedingly difficult to do things on the tenure track that are daring or controversial or that run counter to what is valued in your library. At my current job, lower-division instruction is greatly undervalued. While these are the students with the greatest needs and at the greatest risk of leaving college, focusing on liaison instruction to upper-division undergrads and graduate students and outreach to disciplinary faculty is far more valued.  As the person who coordinates our lower-division instruction and also has four disciplinary liaison areas, I constantly felt pulled in two directions by what I knew was right and what I knew was valued. I tried to find a balance between things like outreach to get my faculty to deposit their work into PDXScholar (our repository) and providing outreach to our college success classes, but I often found myself thinking about what will look good to my colleagues and I can’t say it never swayed my decisions.

I also find it strange that in the tenure process, you’re often evaluated by a group of people who may not supervise you, report to you, or have much of anything to do with your work. My direct reports were never on my P&T committee because they were not tenure-track faculty (they were fixed-term), nor were they asked for their opinions on my performance as a manager. I’ve heard horror stories from other institutions about people using the promotion and tenure process as a weapon against people they don’t like. It’s certainly a process ripe for abuse by those who are passive-aggressive or grudge-holders because so much of it is essentially about one’s personal feelings about a person and their body of work. I know there is great variety in how the tenure process is structured at different institutions, but I’ve heard too many negative things to believe it worth whatever minor gains in status we may (or may not) get from it.

From talking to people about my impending job change, I get the sense that a few people see it as a step down from what I’m currently doing. One person looked at me quizzically and said “and are you happy about this change?” Moving away from the tenure-track is not a step down in any way. In fact, I feel a freedom I haven’t felt in a long time to focus more fully on student success. I feel the same thing with the move to a community college. When you’re at a former college that is trying to become a world-class research university, you don’t have the library staffing to focus enough on either the research mission or the teaching mission. I’m so excited to be going to a place where the priority is clear. This is why I went into librarianship; not to do research or be thought of as faculty, but to teach, support teaching, and support student success. I’ve worked at a small private rural teaching university and a large public urban research university and I feel like a large urban community college combines all of the things I loved most about each of those settings.


Photo credit: Carrot And Stick by Allan on Flickr

How a Netflix subscriber used VPN to thwart Verizon's streaming slowdown [PCWorld]

That's what one tech-savvy Netflix subscriber did when performance lagged on Verizon's network. The result? A 10x boost in his streaming speed.

Mobile ads help Facebook report a big sales jump [PCWorld]

Facebook’s quarterly sales rose 61 percent on the strength of mobile advertising, the company said Wednesday.

Sales for the second quarter, which ended June 30, were $2.91 billion the company reported, beating financial analysts’ estimates of $2.81 billion, as polled by Thomson Reuters.

Revenue from advertising, which makes up the bulk of Facebook’s sales, was $2.68 billion, up 67 percent from the same period last year. Of that, 62 percent, or $1.67 billion, came from ads on mobile devices, a 41 percent jump from 2013.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

SSD prices for hybrids, ultrathin laptops to flatten next year [PCWorld]

A shortage of solid-state drives for ultrathin laptops and hybrids will cause prices to flatten next year after dropping for the last several years, with lower prices coming again in 2016, according to a market analysis.

Although SSD prices may be flat into next year, the cost-per-gigabyte will go down as storage capacity of drives continues to increase on a yearly basis, said Fang Zhang, storage analyst at IHS.

Most thin-and-light laptops typically use SSDs that are closely bolted to the motherboards, much like in the MacBook Air. That differs from the SSDs in mainstream laptops, which can be plugged into bays and are easily upgradeable.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

The Halbig and King Decisions Highlight the FUBAR that is Obamacare [Wizbang]

Yesterday, a The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit issued a ruling in the case of Halbig v. Burwell.  The plaintiff, Jacqueline Halbig, was the senior policy adviser to the Department of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush.  In her lawsuit, Halbig contended that under the Patient Protection and Affordable […]

Just Who is Paying the $10K Coyote Fees for Illegals to Get Here? [Wizbang]

A recent interview with the human traffickers known as “coyotes” reveals that they charge from between $5,000 to $10,000 US per individual to be guided from Central America to our border only leave the illegal immigrants to their own devices to stream across the border to take advantage of Obama’s amnesty policies. But, are we […]

Tweet of the Day [Ed Driscoll]

As one person writes on Twitter, “Netanyahu’s expression in this photo with John Kerry speaks for all sane human beings who see through the bullsh**.”

Related: “Kerry to Mother of Fallen IDF Soldier: ‘How’s Your Day?’”

Dispatches from Airstrip One [Ed Driscoll]

“Did I Hear This Correctly? (From the BBC Files),” a Ricochet poster asks:

Was just watching BBC World News which I do when seeking the Global Left line on the news.  According to the BBC, the “International Community” (who are those guys?) have two demands:

1.  Ukrainian separatists must stop launching missiles which threaten commercial aircraft and the Russians must stop supplying such missiles.

2.  Israel must stop attacking those who are launching missiles which threaten commercial aircraft.  No mention as to what those who are supplying such missiles should do.

It’s not at all a coincidence that Orwell was inspired to create the “Ministry of Truth” and Room 101 from his days at the BBC.

Or that the BBC views 1984 as a how-to guide:

No Undocumented Immigrant Left Behind at the Alcohol Replacement Facility [Ed Driscoll]

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

● “Univision anchor: No government should be in the business of deporting children.”

—Headline, Hot Air.com, yesterday.

“‘No business should ever have to turn away customers’: Nathan Fielder reveals how liquor stores can sell alcohol to minors LEGALLY.”

—Headline, the London Daily Mail today, linking to a Comedy Central skit.

Obviously, one of these headlines is a cable TV star playing a TV anchor befuddled by reality as the rest of the world knows it — the other is a headline that was sponsored by Comedy Central.

In any case, the advice proffered by future Senator John Blutarsky seems highly apropos right now given the state of the country and its media overlords.

Video: Trey Gowdy Eats IRS Commissioner’s Lunch [Ed Driscoll]

“It’s a genuine pleasure to watch Trey Gowdy work,” Jim Treacher writes. “Why should he bother to hide his contempt for someone who holds such obvious contempt for the truth, and for United States taxpayers?”

Meanwhile,  Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings — who doesn’t know the names of the Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee –  “calls for end to ‘public harassment’ of IRS chief John Koskinen,” Glenn Reynolds notes, adding that “Naming and shaming is all we’ve got, when the machinery of government has been totally politicized.”

American Flight Ban to Israel a Prize for Hamas [Ed Driscoll]

Yesterday’s flight ban to Israel by the FAA (read: the Obama administration) “was the most destructive action that the US has taken towards Israel since the Truman administration imposed an arms embargo during the War of Independence. It encourages Hamas to keep firing rockets when the Obama administration supposedly is working for a ceasefire,” David P. Goldman writes in his Spengler column at PJM today.

David quotes Eugene Kontorovich of Commentary, who adds, “Whatever the intent, the administration has cornered Israel in a booby-trapped tunnel, with Hamas on one side, and economic perdition on the other,” along with Israel officials who “denounced the decision as a ‘prize for Hamas’ and completely unjustified.”

Responding to Goldman, Michael Walsh, with video assists from Brando’s Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now and Sean Connery’s tough Irish cop in The Untouchables asks, “Can Israel Finish the Job Now?”

David Gregory to Leave Meet the Press After Midterms? [Ed Driscoll]


Is the beleaguered scofflaw David Gregory finally running out of ammo?  “Gregory’s time is nearly up at Meet the Press, sources told [the New York Post's "Page Six column"], and he could be replaced as moderator of the nation’s longest-running TV show soon after the November midterm elections:”

While NBC News President Deborah Turness has publicly supported the embattled Gregory, there are serious concerns about the losing battle to turn around the show’s sinking ratings.

Viewership is down a whopping 43 percent compared to when Gregory ascended to the moderator’s chair in December 2008, after the death of Tim Russert. The show finished in third place behind CBS’s “Face the Nation” and ABC’s “This Week” in the second quarter of 2014.

An NBC source said, “The discussion is whether to make a change before or after the midterm elections. Just after the midterms would give the new moderator time to settle in.”

According to insiders, NBC political director and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd is the rightful heir to Gregory, but he has not been officially offered the job.

P.J. Gladnick of NewsBusters is understandably not very confident about Gregory’s possible replacements:

Chuck Todd is every bit as predictably liberal as Gregory who recently sounded like he was auditioning for Jay Carney’s old spot as White House flack. A laughable example of Todd’s liberalism was him wondering aloud if there were any real victims of the IRS scandal.

And if Todd is unavailable, not to worry. NBC is chock full of liberals who are unreluctant to display their bias who could also be tapped for the Meet The Press slot. One of them is Savannah Gutherie:

Other names said to be in the frame include “Today” anchor Savannah Guthrie, who comes from a political background but is unlikely to be released from the flagship morning show where she’s hugely popular.

Guthrie  is so reliably liberal that she recently blamed Congress but not Obama for the immigration crises at the border.

So all those liberals out there need not worry. An utterly predictable liberal Meet The Press host is sure to be replaced by another predictable Meet The Press host. No matter how much that show’s ratings continue to tumble, that losing formula will be strictly adhered to by NBC no matter the cost.

Really, any NBC “news” program should be properly titled “Meet the Democrat Operatives.”

One Man, One Vote [VodkaPundit]


Because that’s how things are done in a constitutional republic with strict separation of powers.

Broncs Bowlen Steps Down Due to Alzheimer’s [VodkaPundit]

The headline pretty much says it all, but here’s more:

Pat Bowlen, the Denver Broncos owner who won two Super Bowls and oversaw one of the NFL’s most consistently competitive franchises, is giving up control of the team after acknowledging to The Denver Post that he has Alzheimer’s disease.

“As many in the Denver community and around the National Football League have speculated, my husband, Pat, has very bravely and quietly battled Alzheimer’s disease for the last few years,” Annabel Bowlen said in a statement to the Post. “He has elected to keep his condition private because he has strongly believed, and often said, ‘It’s not about me.’

“Pat has always wanted the focus to be solely on the Denver Broncos and the great fans who have supported this team with such passion during his 30 years as owner. My family is deeply saddened that Pat’s health no longer allows him to oversee the Broncos, which has led to this public acknowledgment of such a personal health condition.”

Thoughts and prayers for Bowlen and his family. That’s a terrible disease, perhaps most terrible for those who have to witness it.

That’s Why They Call it Terrorism [VodkaPundit]

Israeli forces injured and captured a 16-year-old fighter in a Gaza tunnel:

The teenager was captured after emerging from a tunnel dug from Gaza into southern Israel along with several other terrorists. In the pre-dawn attack, two groups of Hamas terrorists emerged from two tunnel exits, one inside the Israeli border near Kibbutz Nir Am, and the other near Erez, also on Israeli territory, several kilometers northeast of the Gaza city of Beit Hanoun.

It is unclear which squad the teen belonged to.

A second Hamas terrorist is also in an Israeli hospital, Beersheba’s Soroka Hospital, the report says.

The report adds that IDF soldiers being treated in Israeli hospitals for injuries sustained while fighting in Gaza said they encountered 13- and 14-year-old Palestinian children running at them wearing explosives-laden suicide-bomber belts.

I’ve said before that one of the many reasons using nuclear weapons on Japan was the right thing to do, is that it spared our Army and Marines from having to shoot and kill the young girls being trained to kill them with sharpened spears — better a single aircrew drop a single bomb and rip the core out of an enemy city, than to turn thousands of our fighting men into killers of schoolgirls.

The Israelis of course don’t “enjoy” that kind of swift end to their fighting, and Hamas is even more ruthless with its own youth than Japan’s military government.

(HT, Evan Pokroy in Israel.)

Headline of the Day [VodkaPundit]


Gee, what could have made things so bad in Gaza that Hamas just had to start launching missiles from behind human shields? For that let’s go to the NYT:

Hamas had been struggling. The turmoil in the region meant it lost one of its main sponsors, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, whom it broke with over his brutal fight against a Sunni Muslim-led insurgency, and weakened its alliance with Iran. It lost support in Egypt when the Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted and replaced with a military-backed government hostile to Hamas.

Unemployment in Gaza is around 50 percent, having risen steeply since Israel pulled out its troops and settlers in 2005 and severely tightened border restrictions.

Hamas appeared powerless to end the near-blockade of its border by Israel and more recently Egypt. It could not even pay its 40,000 government workers their salaries.

Israel pulled out its settlements — some forcefully — to gain peace. When none came, Israel sealed the border. Hamas was so brutal (not to mention corrupt) that Egypt sealed its side of the border. Hamas keeps its people in a permanent state of poverty on purpose, because resentful people will do things like make themselves human shields for missile launchers.

You’d think that might be news. But no. It’s all the fault of the Egyptian military and those damn Jews.

Next Phase, New Wave, Dance Craze, Anyways… [VodkaPundit]


Big honor for Billy Joel, set to become only the sixth recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Details:

“Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billlington said in a statement.

“There is an intimacy to his song writing that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music.”

Joel, whose career has spanned 50 years, is one of the most popular recording artists and has had 33 top-40 hits. His multiple Grammy wins include song and album of the year in 1978 for “Just the Way You Are.”

I’m an unabashed fan of Joel’s, the overplayed (and overwritten) “Piano Man” aside. The five slick studio albums — and one intriguing concert album — he put out between 1977 and 1983 showed that video had not yet killed the radio star.

After ’83 things were… not so good.

An Innocent Man was an instant classic. But we had to wait two long years until ’85 for the inevitable Greatest Hits collection, and its pair of underwhelming new singles tacked on at the end like an embarrassing afterthought. He still generated a couple hits from 1986′s The Bridge, which was so godawful he fired longtime producer Phil Ramone, then teamed up with Foreigner’s Mick Jones for Storm Front in 1989 with mixed results. His last album of new popular music, River of Dreams, was released 21 years ago. I gave it a full listen for the first time in years, and while it’s far from his best material, it’s aged better than the previous two albums. Sadly, it’s been a long time since I even gave up waiting for a new album.

His pre-Stranger albums were all fine, but definitely the work of a talented singer-songwriter who was still finding his voice.

But the middle period from 1977 to 1983… wow.

While the album covers all read “Billy Joel,” they might as well have had “The Billy Joel Band” printed on them. The band’s lineup during this period, touring and studio, was remarkably static. Liberty DeVitto on drums (has there ever been a better name for a drummer? Other than the Muppets’ Animal, I mean), Doug Stegmeyer on bass guitar, Richie Cannata on sax, and a small rotation of acoustic and electric guitar players, including Steve Khan, Hugh McKracken, and Russell Javors. And of course Joel on piano and keys. The biggest change in the lineup came in 1983, when Cannata was unceremoniously replaced by Mark Rivera. I heard a rumor years ago that Cannata was fired due to a drug problem, but can’t confirm that.

The albums were all solid creations, each with a sound all its own.

The Stranger was just a fine collection of pop ballads and twisted love songs, with a little rock’n'roll on the side. It’s one of those you can still listen to front to back, even though it’s been decades since we had to flip any vinyl. His followup, 1978′s jazz-infused 52nd Street, is so slickly produced that it’s easy to forget it’s actually a concept album, written from the point of view of a struggling young New York City musician. In 1980 Joel went pure New Wave with Glass Houses, the title of which was a rebuke to critics who considered him to be just a balladeer. That was followed in ’81 by a very unusual concert album, Songs In The Attic — a collection of songs he loved to perform but which had never been hits. The next year we got The Nylon Curtain, combining Beatlesque sounds with Talking Heads-like Cold War neuroses. Then his magnum opus, An Innocent Man, a tribute to the rock’n'roll of the late ’50s and early ’60s, with a sound that was still pure Billy Joel.

That’s a fine body of work for any writer of popular music, and Joel deeply deserves this award.

NYT: Senator John Walsh of Montana plagiarized his senior thesis. [Moe Lane]

And I will give the Old Grey Lady this: They didn’t play NAME! THAT! PARTY! with the title.

Montana Democrat’s Thesis Presented Others’ Work as His Own
Senator John Walsh of Montana Confronts Questions of Plagiarism

…Shocking, isn’t it?  And, here: let me give my readers an idea of just how serious this is.

The master’s degree in strategic studies from the War College [the degree that triggered Walsh's plagiarism] has benefited Mr. Walsh’s career: In a military evaluation the year after Mr. Walsh received it, his commander praised him for it, writing that he “leads his peers and sets example in maintaining continuous military education and training subjects pertinent to today’s leadership challenges.”

In September 2008, Mr. Walsh, a recipient of the Bronze Star, was appointed adjutant general of Montana’s National Guard by the governor. A subsequent military evaluation said his prospects for the post had been “bolstered” in part by his degree from the War College.

Located in Carlisle, Pa., the Army War College is a coveted career stop for ambitious officers, and its graduates since its 1901 founding include Dwight D. Eisenhower, George Patton and Norman Schwarzkopf. As with most military institutes, the War College emphasizes honor and integrity: Its current student handbook states that plagiarism will result in disenrollment and that discoveries of academic violations have led to degrees being rescinded and names being scraped off the bronze plaques honoring graduates on campus.

You think this is going to be an issue in the Montana Senate race? …Because I think that this is going to be an issue in the Montana Senate race.  As well it should be.  I mean, sure, Joe Biden got elected Vice President twice despite the fact that he himself is a serial plagiarist; but then, Joe Biden never won in Montana.

Moe Lane

PS: Steve Daines for US Senate.

PPS: Do your oppo, people.  Do it particularly on your own people.

Andrew Cuomo staffers implicated in stonewalling New York corruption commission. [Moe Lane]

Oh, my.

Oh my, oh my, oh my.

With Albany rocked by a seemingly endless barrage of scandals and arrests, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo set up a high-powered commission last summer to root out corruption in state politics. It was barely two months old when its investigators, hunting for violations of campaign-finance laws, issued a subpoena to a media-buying firm that had placed millions of dollars’ worth of advertisements for the New York State Democratic Party.

The investigators did not realize that the firm, Buying Time, also counted Mr. Cuomo among its clients, having bought the airtime for his campaign when he ran for governor in 2010.

…the New York Times maybe-possibly-glumly goes on at that point; I’ll give the summary, for people who don’t want to click through.  Basically, the governor’s office quashed the subpoena, which was part of a general rule of quietly killing any corruption-related investigation that might have a chance of a possibility of a potential to make Gov. Andrew Cuomo look bad.  And the excuse offered by Gov. Cuomo’s office? “While [Gov. Cuomo] allowed the commission the independence to investigate whatever it wanted, the governor’s office said, it would have been a conflict for a panel he created to investigate his own administration.”

In other words… no, the commission did not have ‘the independence to investigate whatever it wanted.’  It in fact had the independence to investigate whatever Andrew Cuomo wanted, because Governor Andrew Cuomo knows of course that every single member of his administration is a saint upon Earth to rival St. Francis of Assisi, or possibly one of those old-school Eastern Orthodox Stylites. The whole thing is fascinating reading, not least because the whole thing is emblematic of just how much a politician’s own staff can hobble him or her when it comes to policy implementation.  Reading the article, you could argue that Andrew Cuomo wasn’t really aware that his staff was busily spiking the wheels of every corruption investigation that merely could be linked to the governor’s office.  It’s a stretch, but weirder things have happened.  The problem, though, is that the whole thing just simply looks bad – and worse, hypocritical to a remarkable degree.  How bad? This bad:

Maybe, maybe not – but here I thought that it was Andrew Cuomo’s moral peccadilloes that were going to scupper his future Presidential bid. Apparently not; probably because people will forgive a live-in girlfriend far more quickly than they’d forgive a governor who used his office to squash corruption investigations. But certainly Republican candidate for New York Governor Rob Astorino will be hitting this issue with all due speed…

Moe Lane (crosspost)

Reminder: Israel has a right to defend itself. And no obligation to be a fool about it, either. [Moe Lane]

This conversation between Sally Kohn and Guy Benson on the possibly meritorious aspects of violence – specifically, this particular exchange:

…reminds me of, all things, a Harry Turtledove story called “The Last Article.” Basically, it’s an alternate history story where the Nazis won World War II and took over India from the British. (Spoiler warning) The Nazis then encounter Gandhi, who promptly starts up a nonviolent resistance to the occupation: the Nazis just as promptly take Gandhi out back and kills him. End of story, have a nice day. Because that’s what happens when Evil faces off Good and Good refuses to defend itself. Evil shoots Good in the head and goes on to have a delicious lunch*.

I should also note that one of the themes of this particular story – and, really, recent Middle Eastern history – is that you can only use tactics incorporating shame and appeals to better nature to people and entities willing to admit to either. Hamas clearly feels no shame or remorse about routinely violating the laws of war, not least because the group knows that there are any number of ethically deprived idiots in the West that are willing to excuse any of Hamas’s excesses. And until the aforementioned idiots either wise up or (more likely) treated the way by civilized society in the same way that we treat avowed Nazis, Hamas will continue to feel neither shame nor remorse. This is an obvious thing.  So is the fact that Israel feels no particular obligation to commit suicide simply because the antiwar Left would quite like it to.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Of particular interest in that story was when the Nazi Governor-General delays Gandhi’s execution briefly to thank Gandhi for advocating that the Jews of Europe embrace nonviolence to the point of massacre (something that actually happened in our own history), on the grounds that it probably helped slightly the Nazis’ goal of exterminating all the Jews that they could find.  …Gandhi was very lucky that he had monster-killers as opponents in his political struggle, and not the monsters themselves.

The Unicode section of our style guide [Perlsphere]

Most software companies will have a list of code conventions. Our one is based on Perl Best Practices by Damien Conway, with some modifications.

Unicode is one area that Conway’s book doesn’t delve in to much. Unicode in Perl can be quite a jumble of knots to the uninitiated, but a few well-chosen conventions can solve the most common problems. With them in place, it’s easier to feel confident about implementing internationalisation correctly, rather than shying away from even attempting it.

Our Unicode style guide is deliberately much shorter than Tom Christiansen’s infamous StackOverflow post on Perl and Unicode. At Nestoria, we only have to deal with Latin-like languages (so far), and for the most part, we just need to avoid mojibake. The fewer rules there are, the less intimidating, and the more likely they’ll get understood and followed.

So without much further ado, here it is!

Perl Unicode style guide, by Lokku:

The Unicode style guide consists of two parts:

  1. Definitions
  2. Rules and conventions


It’s important that we use terms like “character” and “string” consistently throughout our codebase to avoid confusion. In the wild, programmers can use quite different meanings for these terms, so we need to define them here.


A string in Perl is an ordered sequence of string elements. Each element has an ordinal value, which is always a positive integer (possibly zero).

To split a string into an array of its elements, call the built-in subroutine split, passing it an empty regex as its first parameter.

my $string = "\x{00}\x{01}\x{10}\x{266A}";

my @elements = split //, $string;

say scalar(@elements);
# prints 4

say join(", ", map { ord($_) } @elements);
# prints 0, 1, 16, 9834

say join(", ", map { sprintf("%02x", ord($_)) } @elements);
# prints 00, 01, 10, 266a

An octet string is a sequence of string elements, where each element represents an octet (an 8-bit byte). As a consequence of this, the ordinal value of each string element is between 0 and 255 inclusive.

Here’s an example of obtaining an octet string:

open my $fh, "<:raw", $image_filename or die $!;
my $octet_line = readline($fh);
close $fh or die $!;

A character string is a sequence of string elements, where each element represents a Unicode code point. As a result of this, the ordinal value of each string element can range from 0 to in the millions.

Here’s an example of a character string:

my $character_string = "I\x{2661}U"; # I♡U

my @elements = split //, $character_string;
say scalar(@elements);
# prints 3

say join(", ", map { uc(sprintf("U+%04x", ord($_))) } @elements);
# prints U+0049, U+2661, U+0075

To differentiate between octet strings and character strings, name octet string variables with the suffix or prefix octet. For character strings, do not add a suffix or a prefix.

my $line_octet; # the name indicates that this is an octet string

my $line; # the name indicates that this variable is a character string,
          # but check to see if the style guide was followed.


The Lokku convention is to define the term character so that it corresponds exactly to the term Unicode code point.

For example, this string:


contains three characters or code points: U+0049, U+2661 and U+0075.

Unicode has the concept of combining characters, which when combined with other normal characters, form a single glyph:

my $string = "\x{61}\x{0300}\x{0320}";

# This is three Unicode characters, but it is displayed as single glyph:
# à̠

So it’s important to understand the difference between octets, characters, and glyphs.

Other codebases may use differing definitions for the word character. It is common for C programs to refer to octets as characters for example, or for graphic designers to refer to glyphs as characters.

Wide character:

A wide character is a character whose code point is greater than U+00FF.

Character repertoire:

A character repertoire is a defined set of characters. For example, you could define a character repertoire “X1” as being the Unicode characters U+0030 to U+0039 (which are the digits 0 to 9).

Other people also use the term “character set” to describe this. (Sadly, some people (and specs) mistakenly use the term “character set” to mean “character encoding”, so repertoire is the unambiguous term to be used.)

Character encoding:

A character encoding is an algorithm that translates characters into octets, and vice-versa. Some encodings support all the characters defined by the Unicode standard, some only support a specific character repertoire.

An example of a well-known character encoding is ASCII. It only supports the Unicode characters U+0000 to U+007F, and each character is encoded to exactly one corresponding octet.

Another example of a well-known character encoding is UTF-8. It supports all the Unicode characters, and each character is encoded using one, two or more octets.

When you are in the position to choose which character encoding to use, choose UTF-8.

The internal UTF-8 flag on a Perl string:

In Perl’s C implementation behind the scenes, Perl may store each string in memory using one of two encodings: iso-8859-1, or UTF-8.

The change is only visible to a Perl program by accessing a string’s UTF-8 flag, or by using special hackery like Devel::Peek.

It’s important to realise that a string’s internal UTF-8 flag does not necessarily imply whether that string is an octet string or a character string. Only the way a string is used can determine whether it is an octet string or a character string.

However, many libraries do incorrectly use the internal UTF-8 flag to indicate whether the string is meant to be a character string or an octet string. Because of this, Perl programmers need to know what the UTF-8 flag is and how to handle it.

Because of the limitations of iso-8859-1, it’s simply impossible to store an element whose ordinal value is greater than 255 in a Perl string while keeping its flag off. Perl strings with the UTF-8 flag on can contain elements of any ordinal value.

# This returns whether the $string has the UTF-8 flag turned on:
# (Note that "use utf8" is not required to run "utf8::is_utf8")

$string = "caf\x{e9}";

# The result of the following operation is that $string's UTF-8 flag is on,
# and the string elements remain the same. If the flag was on already, this
# line is a no-op. If it was off, then Perl internally converts the bytes
# stored in memory, and sets the flag to true.
utf8::upgrade $string;

say join(", ", map { ord($_) } split(//, $string));
# prints 99, 97, 102, 233

say length($string);
# prints 4

# The result of the following operation is that $string's UTF-8 flag is
# off, and the elements remain the same (or it throws an exception). If the
# flag was already off, this operation would be a no-op. Since it was on,
# Perl internally converts the bytes stored in memory, and it sets the flag
# to true. Had the string contained an element whose ordinal value was
# greater than 255, this operation would have died:
utf8::downgrade $string; 

# As you can see, the string's internal UTF-8 flag does not affect the
# sequence of elements visible to the Perl script:
say join(", ", map { ord($_) } split //, $string)
# prints 99, 97, 102, 233

say length($string);
# prints 4

To check whether a string scalar has the internal UTF-8 flag set, call utf8::is_utf8. You do not need to include use utf8; for this to work, which is important because including use utf8; does have a side-effect (it declares that the source code is encoded in UTF-8).

Rules and conventions:

  • When naming octet string variables, use the prefix or the suffix octet.

    open my $fh, "<:raw", $filename or die $!;
    my $octet_line = readline($fh);
  • When encoding a character string into an octet string in UTF-8, use Encode::encode with the FB_CROAK and the LEAVE_SRC flags set. The first argument should be "UTF-8", not "utf8", because the latter’s behaviour is problematic.

    my $octet_string = Encode::encode(
        "UTF-8", $character_string, Encode::FB_CROAK | Encode::LEAVE_SRC
  • When decoding an octet string encoded in UTF-8 to a character string, use Encode::decode with the FB_CROAK and the LEAVE_SRC flags set. The first argument should be "UTF-8", not "utf8", because the latter’s behaviour is problematic.

    my $character_string = Encode::decode(
        "UTF-8", $octet_string, Encode::FB_CROAK | Encode::LEAVE_SRC
  • For textual data, use character strings, not octet strings.

  • When reading and writing octets to a file, use the :raw I/O layer, which is preferable to the default layer, as it doesn’t treat newlines specially.

    use autodie;
    open my $fh_write, ">:raw", $filename;
    print $fh_write $octet_string;
    close $fh_write;
  • When reading and writing text to a UTF-8 encoded file, take advantage of the :encoding(UTF-8) I/O layer, which is faster than calling Encode's subroutines manually.

    use autodie;
    open my $fh_read, "<:encoding(UTF-8)", $filename;
    while my ($line = readline($fh_read) { ... }
    close $fh_read;
    open my $fh_write, ">:encoding(UTF-8)", $filename;
    print $fh_write $character_string;
    close $fh_write;
  • Do not use the default I/O layer, but always specify one (such as :raw or :encoding(UTF-8) or even :encoding(ASCII):crlf).

  • Never use the :utf8 I/O layer, but always use the :encoding(UTF-8) I/O layer instead. This Perl Critic policy enforces this rule, and its POD contains a good explanation for the reasons why.

    # Good:
    open my $fh, "<:encoding(UTF-8)", $filename or die $!;
    # Bad:
    open my $fh, "<:utf8", $filename or die $!;
  • When uppercasing, lowercasing, or performing a regex on a character string, make sure use feature "unicode_strings" pragma is enabled.

    use feature "unicode_strings";
    $character_string = lc($character_string);
    $character_string = uc($character_string);
    $character_string =~ s/\w//;

    Note: In older versions of Perl (prior to v5.16), this pragma was only partially effective, and you would have to use a work-around. This is known as the “Unicode bug” in Perl’s documentation.

  • When dumping a data structure to an evalable string, always turn on $Data::Dumper::Useqq.

    my $string = "caf\x{e9}"; # café
    # Bad:
    print Dumper($string);
    # prints $VAR1 = "café", which could cause bugs when being evaled.
    # Good:
    local $Data::Dumper::Useqq = 1;
    print Dumper($string);
    # prints $VAR1 = "caf\351", which is always evaled correctly.
  • When evaluating a character string, always enable use feature "unicode_eval" (available from Perl 5.16). If you don’t, you could cause Perl to crash in the right circumstances.

    use feature "unicode_eval";
    eval $character_string;
  • When evaluating an octet string, always use the evalbytes function (available from Perl 5.16), not eval.

    use feature "evalbytes";
    evalbytes $octet_string;
  • Never use Encode::encode_utf8 and Encode::decode_utf8. Use, Encode::encode("UTF-8",...) and Encode::decode("UTF-8",...) instead.

  • Never use Encode::_utf8_on or Encode::_utf8_off. You might be looking for utf8::upgrade or utf8::downgrade instead.

  • When creating new text files, make sure they are encoded in UTF-8, unless you have a good reason not to.

  • When creating a new Perl file, always add use utf8; to the top of the file. This indicates that the source code should be interpreted as UTF-8, not Latin-1, which is good since it’s most text editors default encoding.

    use utf8;
  • When creating a new Perl script, add the following at the top. This will encode strings automatically using UTF-8 before printing to STDOUT and STDERR, which is what most terminals expect nowadays. (Make sure you’re printing character strings, not octet strings, though.)

    use utf8; # see previous rule
    binmode STDOUT, ":encoding(UTF-8)";
    binmode STDERR, ":encoding(UTF-8)";
  • When creating a new test, add the following at the top. This will encode test messages in UTF-8 automatically. You can get Test::Kit to do this automatically.

    use utf8; # see previous rule
    binmode Test::More->builder->output, ":encoding(UTF-8)";
    binmode Test::More->builder->failure_output, ":encoding(UTF-8)"; 
    binmode Test::More->builder->todo_output, ":encoding(UTF-8)";
  • Always pass UTF-8 to the Encode module, not utf8. As a rule of thumb, always prefer capitalising the term UTF-8, and including the dash. It’s the proper name for the encoding, and every time the difference matters, experience has shown that this spelling is best.

  • When including special characters in the source code of a file, always escape them using the \x{..} notation. Control characters and U+0070 and above are all considered special characters. Using the \x{..} notation ensures the same behaviour regardless of whether use utf8 was specified. If this rule is followed, then the use utf8 rule is just a safeguard.

    # Good:
    my $message = "I\x{2661}U"; # I♡U
    # Bad:
    my $message = "I♡U";
  • When creating an HTML file, make sure that the encoding of the HTML file is specified.

    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" />
  • When serving an HTTP request, make sure that the charset specified in the Content-Type header specifies the correct encoding, hopefully UTF-8. The default charset is not UTF-8, so do specify it for both HTML and JSON responses.

  • Make sure your terminal is configured to use UTF-8.

    $ locale
  • Include special characters in the data for your tests.

    Here are three good test strings:

    $test_string1 = "D\x{c9}COR NA\x{cf}VE"; # DÉCOR NAÏVE
    utf8::upgrade $test_string1;
    $test_string2 = $test_string1;
    utf8::downgrade $test_string2;
    # The two previous strings don't contain wide characters, and are good
    # for exposing weird behaviour, including what MySQL means by latin1.
    # It's important to check that the code's behaviour does not change
    # depending on whether the internal UTF-8 flag is set.
    $test_string3 = "I\x{2661}U"; # I♡U
    # $test_string3 does contain a wide character. (Consequently, its
    # internal UTF-8 flag is set.)
  • Always use ASCII for identifiers, variable names and URLs under your control.

  • Don’t rely on the documentation of CPAN’s modules when it comes to Unicode. The documentation is often wrong, or uses different definitions of words that what you might expect. Create a test for the module to find out exactly what happens.

Russ Allbery: WebAuth 4.6.1 [Planet Debian]

This is a bug-fix release of the WebAuth site-wide web authentication system. As is typical, I accumulated a variety of minor bug fixes and improvements that I wanted to get into a release before starting larger work (in this case, adding JSON support for the user information service protocol).

The most severe bug fix is something that only folks at Stanford would notice: support for AuthType StanfordAuth was broken in the 4.6.0 release. This is for legacy compatibility with WebAuth 2.5. It has been fixed in this release.

In other, more minor bug fixes, build issues when remctl support is disabled have been fixed, expiring password warnings are shown in WebLogin after any POST-based authentication, the confirmation page is forced if authorization identity switching is available, the username field is verified before multifactor authentication to avoid subsequent warnings, newlines and tabs are allowed in the XML sent from the WebKDC for user messages, empty RT and ST parameters are correctly diagnosed, and there are some documentation improvements.

The main new feature in this release is support for using FAST armor during password authentication in mod_webkdc. A new WebKdcFastArmorCache directive can be set to point at a Kerberos ticket cache to use for FAST armor. If set, FAST is required, so the KDC must support it as well. This provides better wire security for the initial password authentication to protect against brute-force dictionary attacks against the password by a passive eavesdropper.

This release also adds a couple of new factor types, mp (mobile push) and v (voice), that Stanford will use as part of its Duo Security integration.

Note that, for the FAST armor feature, there is also an SONAME bump in the shared library in this release. Normally, I wouldn't bump the SONAME in a minor release, but in this case the feature was fairly minor and most people will not notice the change, so it didn't feel like it warranted a major release. I'm still of two minds about that, but oh well, it's done and built now. (At least I noticed that the SONAME bump was required prior to the release.)

You can get the latest release from the official WebAuth distribution site or from my WebAuth distribution pages.

Lior Kaplan: Testing PHPNG on Debian/Ubuntu [Planet Debian]

We (at Zend) want to help people get more involved in testing PHPNG (PHP next generation), so we’re started to provide binaries for it, although it’s still a branch on top of PHP’s master branch. See more details about PHPNG on Zeev Suraski’s blog post.

The binaries (64bit) are compatible with Debian testing/unstable and Ubuntu Trusty (14.04) and up. The mod_php is built for Apache 2.4 which all three flavors have.

The repository is at http://repos.zend.com/zend-server/early-access/phpng/

Installation instructions:

# wget http://repos.zend.com/zend.key -O- 2> /dev/null | apt-key add -
# echo “deb http://repos.zend.com/zend-server/early-access/phpng/ trusty zend” > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/phpng.list
# apt-get update
# apt-get install php5

For the task of providing these binaries, I had a pleasure of combining my experience as a member of the Debian PHP team and a Debian Developer with stuff more internal to the PHP development process. Using the already existing Debian packaging enabled me to test more builds scenarios easily (and report problems accoredingly). Hopefully this could also be translated back into providing more experimental packages for Debian and making sure Debian packages are ready for the PHP released after PHP 5.6.

Filed under: Debian GNU/Linux, PHP

Petter Reinholdtsen: 98.6 percent done with the Norwegian draft translation of Free Culture [Planet Debian]

This summer I finally had time to continue working on the Norwegian docbook version of the 2004 book Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig, to get a Norwegian text explaining the problems with todays copyright law. Yesterday, I finally completed translated the book text. There are still some foot/end notes left to translate, the colophon page need to be rewritten, and a few words and phrases still need to be translated, but the Norwegian text is ready for the first proof reading. :) More spell checking is needed, and several illustrations need to be cleaned up. The work stopped up because I had to give priority to other projects the last year, and the progress graph of the translation show this very well:

If you want to read the result, check out the github project pages and the PDF, EPUB and HTML version available in the archive directory.

Please report typos, bugs and improvements to the github project if you find any.

Michael Prokop: Book Review: The Docker Book [Planet Debian]

Docker is an open-source project that automates the deployment of applications inside software containers. I’m responsible for a docker setup with Jenkins integration and a private docker-registry setup at a customer and pre-ordered James Turnbull’s “The Docker Book” a few months ago.

Recently James – he’s working for Docker Inc – released the first version of the book and thanks to being on holidays I already had a few hours to read it AND blog about it. :) (Note: I’ve read the Kindle version 1.0.0 and all the issues I found and reported to James have been fixed in the current version already, jey.)

The book is very well written and covers all the basics to get familiar with Docker and in my opinion it does a better job at that than the official user guide because of the way the book is structured. The book is also a more approachable way for learning some best practices and commonly used command lines than going through the official reference (but reading the reference after reading the book is still worth it).

I like James’ approach with “ENV REFRESHED_AT $TIMESTAMP” for better controlling the cache behaviour and definitely consider using this in my own setups as well. What I wasn’t aware is that you can directly invoke “docker build $git_repos_url” and further noted a few command line switches I should get more comfortable with. I also plan to check out the Automated Builds on Docker Hub.

There are some references to further online resources, which is relevant especially for the more advanced use cases, so I’d recommend to have network access available while reading the book.

What I’m missing in the book are best practices for running a private docker-registry in a production environment (high availability, scaling options,…). The provided Jenkins use cases are also very basic and nothing I personally would use. I’d also love to see how other folks are using the Docker plugin, the Docker build step plugin or the Docker build publish plugin in production (the plugins aren’t covered in the book at all). But I’m aware that this are fast moving parts and specialised used cases – upcoming versions of the book are already supposed to cover orchestration with libswarm, developing Docker plugins and more advanced topics, so I’m looking forward to further updates of the book (which you get for free as existing customer, being another plus).

Conclusion: I enjoyed reading the Docker book and can recommend it, especially if you’re either new to Docker or want to get further ideas and inspirations what folks from Docker Inc consider best practices.

Tanguy Ortolo: GNU/Linux graphic sessions: suspending your computer [Planet Debian]

Major desktop environments such as Xfce or KDE have a built-in computer suspend feature, but when you use a lighter alternative, things are a bit more complicated, because basically: only root can suspend the computer. There used to be a standard solution to that, using a D-Bus call to a running daemon upowerd. With recent updates, that solution first stopped working for obscure reasons, but it could still be configured back to be usable. With newer updates, it stopped working again, but this time it seems it is gone for good:

$ dbus-send --system --print-reply \
            --dest='org.freedesktop.UPower' \
            /org/freedesktop/UPower org.freedesktop.UPower.Suspend
Error org.freedesktop.DBus.Error.UnknownMethod: Method "Suspend" with
signature "" on interface "org.freedesktop.UPower" doesn't exist

The reason seems to be that upowerd is not running, because it no longer provides an init script, only a systemd service. So, if you do not use systemd, you are left with one simple and stable solution: defining a sudo rule to start the suspend or hibernation process as root. In /etc/sudoers.d/power:

%powerdev ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/sbin/pm-suspend, \
                        /usr/sbin/pm-suspend-hybrid, \

That allows members of the powderdev group to run sudo pm-suspend, sudo pm-suspend-hybrid and sudo pm-hibernate, which can be used with a key binding manager such as your window manager's or xbindkeys. Simple, efficient, and contrary to all that ever-changing GizmoKit and whatsitd stuff, it has worked and will keep working for years.

Francesca Ciceri: Adventures in Mozillaland #3 [Planet Debian]

Yet another update from my internship at Mozilla, as part of the OPW.

A brief one, this time, sorry.

Bugs, Bugs, Bugs, Bacon and Bugs

I've continued with my triaging/verifying work and I feel now pretty confident when working on a bug.
On the other hand, I think I've learned more or less what was to be learned here, so I must think (and ask my mentor) where to go from now on.
Maybe focus on a specific Component?
Or steadily work on a specific channel for both triaging/poking and verifying?
Or try my hand at patches?
Not sure, yet.

Also, I'd like to point out that, while working on bug triaging, the developer's answers on the bug report are really important.
Comments like this help me as a triager to learn something new, and be a better triager for that component.
I do realize that developers cannot always take the time to put in comments basic information on how to better debug their component/product, but trust me: this will make you happy on the long run.
A wiki page with basic information on how debug problems for your component is also a good idea, as long as that page is easy to find ;).

So, big shout-out for MattN for a very useful comment!


After much delaying, we finally managed to pick a date for the Bug Triage Workshop: it will be on July 25th. The workshop will be an online session focused on what is triaging, why is important, how to reproduce bugs and what information ask to the reporter to make a bug report the most complete and useful possible.
We will do it in two different time slots, to accomodate various timezones, and it will be held on #testday on irc.mozilla.org.
Take a look at the official announcement and subscribe on the event's etherpad!

See you on Friday! :)

Steinar H. Gunderson: The sad state of Linux Wi-Fi [Planet Debian]

I've been using 802.11 on Linux now for over a decade, and to be honest, it's still a pretty sad experience. It works well enough that I mostly don't care... but when I care, and try to dig deeper, it always ends up in the answer “this is just crap”.

I can't say exactly why this is; between the Intel cards I've always been using, the Linux drivers, the firmware, the mac80211 layer, wpa_supplicant and NetworkManager, I have no idea who are supposed to get all these things right, and I have no idea how hard or easy they actually are to pull off. But there are still things annoying me frequently that we should really have gotten right after ten years or more:

  • Why does my Intel card consistently pick 2.4 GHz over 5 GHz? The 5 GHz signal is just as strong, and it gives a less crowded 40 MHz channel (twice the bandwidth, yay!) instead of the busy 20 MHz channel the 2.4 GHz one has to share. The worst part is, if I use an access point with band-select (essentially forcing the initial connection to be to 5 GHz—this is of course extra fun when the driver sees ten APs and tries to connect to all of them over 2.4 in turn before trying 5 GHz), the driver still swaps onto 2.4 GHz a few minutes later!
  • Rate selection. I can sit literally right next to an AP and get a connection on the lowest basic rate (which I've set to 11 Mbit/sec for the occasion). OK, maybe I shouldn't trust the output of iwconfig too much, since rate is selected per-packet, but then again, when Linux supposedly has a really good rate selection algorithm (minstrel), why are so many drivers using their own instead? (Yes, hello “iwl-agn-rs”, I'm looking at you.)
  • Connection time. I dislike OS X pretty deeply and think that many of its technical merits are way overblown, but it's got one thing going for it; it connects to an AP fast. RFC4436 describes some of the tricks they're using, but Linux uses none of them. In any case, even the WPA2 setup is slow for some reason, it's not just DHCP.
  • Scanning/roaming seems to be pretty random; I have no idea how much thought really went into this, and I know it is a hard problem, but it's not unusual at all to be stuck at some low-speed AP when a higher-speed one is available. (See also 2.4 vs. 5 above.) I'd love to get proper support for CCX (Cisco Client Extensions) here, which makes this tons better in a larger Wi-Fi setting (since the access point can give the client a lot of information that's useful for roaming, e.g. “there's an access point on thannel 52 that sends its beacons every 100 ms with offset 54 from mine”, which means you only need to swap channel for a few milliseconds to listen instead of a full beacon period), but I suppose that's covered by licensing or patents or something. Who knows.

With now a billion mobile devices running Linux and using Wi-Fi all the time, maybe we should have solved this a while ago. But alas. Instead we get access points trying to layer hacks upon hacks to try to force clients into making the right decisions. And separate ESSIDs for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.


Andrew Pollock: [tech] Going solar [Planet Debian]

With electricity prices in Australia seeming to be only going up, and solar being surprisingly cheap, I decided it was a no-brainer to invest in a solar installation to reduce my ongoing electricity bills. It also paves the way for getting an electric car in the future. I'm also a greenie, so having some renewable energy happening gives me the warm and fuzzies.

So today I got solar installed. I've gone for a 2 kWh system, consisting of 8 250 watt Seraphim panels (I'm not entirely sure which model) and an Aurora UNO-2.0-I-OUTD inverter.

It was totally a case of decision fatigue when it came to shopping around. Everyone claims the particular panels they want to sell at the best. It's pretty much impossible to make a decent assessment of their claims. In the end, I went with the Seraphim panels because they scored well on the PHOTON tests. That said, I've had other solar companies tell me the PHOTON tests aren't indicative of Australian conditions. It's hard to know who to believe. In the end, I chose Seraphim because of the PHOTON test results, and they're also apparently one of the few panels that pass the Thresher test, which tests for durability.

The harder choice was the inverter. I'm told that yield varies wildly by inverter, and narrowed it down to Aurora or SunnyBoy. Jason's got a SunnyBoy, and the appeal with it was that it supported Bluetooth for data gathering, although I don't much care for the aesthetics of it. Then I learned that there was a WiFi card coming out soon for the Aurora inverter, and that struck me as better than Bluetooth, so I went with the Aurora inverter. I discovered at the eleventh hour that the model of Aurora inverter that was going to be supplied wasn't supported by the WiFi card, but was able to switch models to the one that was. I'm glad I did, because the newer model looks really nice on the wall.

The whole system was up at running just in time to catch the setting sun, so I'm looking forward to seeing it in action tomorrow.

Apparently the next step is Energex has to come out to replace my analog power meter with a digital one.

I'm grateful that I was able to get Body Corporate approval to use some of the roof. Being on the top floor helped make the installation more feasible too, I think.

Matthew Palmer: Per-repo update hooks with gitolite [Planet Debian]

Gitolite is a popular way to manage collections of git repositories entirely from the command line – it’s configured using configuration stored in a git repo, which is nicely self-referential. Providing per-branch access control and a wide range of addons, it’s quite a valuable system.

In recent versions (3.6), it added support for configuring per-repository git hooks from within the gitolite-admin repo itself – something which previously required directly jiggering around with the repo metadata on the filesystem. It allows you to “chain” multiple hooks together, too, which is a nice touch. You can, for example, define hooks for “validate style guidelines”, “submit patch to code review” and “push to the CI server”. Then for each repo you can pick which of those hooks to execute. It’s neat.

There’s one glaring problem, though – you can only use these chained, per-repo hooks on the pre-receive, post-receive, and post-update hooks. The update hook is special, and gitolite wants to make sure you never, ever forget it. You can hook into the update processing chain by using something called a “virtual ref”; they’re stored in a separate configuration directory, use a different syntax in the config file, and if you’re trying to learn what they do, you’ll spend a fair bit of time on them. The documentation describes VREFs as “a mechanism to add additional constraints to a push”. The association between that and the update hook is one you get to make for yourself.

The interesting thing is that there’s no need for this gratuitous difference in configuration methods between the different hooks. I wrote a very small and simple patch that makes the update hook configurable in exactly the same way as the other server-side hooks, with no loss of existing functionality.

The reason I’m posting it here is that I tried to submit it to the primary gitolite developer, and was told “I’m not touching the update hook […] I’m not discussing this […] take it or leave it”. So instead, I’m publicising this patch for anyone who wants to locally patch their gitolite installation to have a consistent per-repo hook UI. Share and enjoy!

Jonathan McCrohan: Git remote helpers [Planet Debian]

If you follow upstream Git development closely, you may have noticed that the Mercurial and Bazaar remote helpers (use git to interact with hg and bzr repos) no longer live in the main Git tree. They have been split out into their own repositories, here and here.

git-remote-bzr had been packaged (as git-bzr) for Debian since March 2013, but was removed in May 2014 when the remote helpers were removed upstream. There had been a wishlist bug report open since Mar 2013 to get git-remote-hg packaged, and I had submitted a patch, but it was never applied.

Splitting out of these remote helpers upstream has allowed Vagrant Cascadian and myself to pick up these packages and both are now available in Debian.

apt-get install git-remote-hg git-remote-bzr

Hideki Yamane: GeoIP support for installer is really nice [Planet Debian]

RHEL7 installation note says "The new graphical installer also generates automatic default settings where applicable. For example, if the installer detects a network connection, the user's general location is determined with GeoIP and sane suggestions are made for the default keyboard layout, language and timezone." but CentOS7 doesn't work as expected ;-)

 GeoIP support in Fedora20 Installer works well and it's pretty nice. Boot from live media and it shows "Try Fedora" and "Install to Hard Drive" menu.

Then, select "Install" and...Boom! it shows in Japanese without any configuration automagically!

I want same feature for d-i, too.

Matthew Helmke: Open Source Resources Sale [Planet Ubuntu]

I don’t usually post sales links, but this sale by InformIT involves my two Ubuntu books along with several others that I know my friends in the open source world would be interested in.

Save 40% on recommend titles in the InformIT OpenSource Resource Center. The sale ends August 8th.

Michael Hall: Why do you contribute to open source? [Planet Ubuntu]

It seems a fairly common, straight forward question.  You’ve probably been asked it before. We all have reasons why we hack, why we code, why we write or draw. If you ask somebody this question, you’ll hear things like “scratching an itch” or “making something beautiful” or “learning something new”.  These are all excellent reasons for creating or improving something.  But contributing isn’t just about creating, it’s about giving that creation away. Usually giving it away for free, with no or very few strings attached.  When I ask “Why do you contribute to open source”, I’m asking why you give it away.

takemyworkThis question is harder to answer, and the answers are often far more complex than the ones given for why people simply create something. What makes it worthwhile to spend your time, effort, and often money working on something, and then turn around and give it away? People often have different intentions or goals in mind when the contribute, from benevolent giving to a community they care about to personal pride in knowing that something they did is being used in something important or by somebody important. But when you strip away the details of the situation, these all hinge on one thing: Recognition.

If you read books or articles about community, one consistent theme you will find in almost all of them is the importance of recognizing  the contributions that people make. In fact, if you look at a wide variety of successful communities, you would find that one common thing they all offer in exchange for contribution is recognition. It is the fuel that communities run on.  It’s what connects the contributor to their goal, both selfish and selfless. In fact, with open source, the only way a contribution can actually stolen is by now allowing that recognition to happen.  Even the most permissive licenses require attribution, something that tells everybody who made it.

Now let’s flip that question around:  Why do people contribute to your project? If their contribution hinges on recognition, are you prepared to give it?  I don’t mean your intent, I’ll assume that you want to recognize contributions, I mean do you have the processes and people in place to give it?

We’ve gotten very good about building tools to make contribution easier, faster, and more efficient, often by removing the human bottlenecks from the process.  But human recognition is still what matters most.  Silently merging someone’s patch or branch, even if their name is in the commit log, isn’t the same as thanking them for it yourself or posting about their contribution on social media. Letting them know you appreciate their work is important, letting other people know you appreciate it is even more important.

If you the owner or a leader in a project with a community, you need to be aware of how recognition is flowing out just as much as how contributions are flowing in. Too often communities are successful almost by accident, because the people in them are good at making sure contributions are recognized and that people know it simply because that’s their nature. But it’s just as possible for communities to fail because the personalities involved didn’t have this natural tendency, not because of any lack of appreciation for the contributions, just a quirk of their personality. It doesn’t have to be this way, if we are aware of the importance of recognition in a community we can be deliberate in our approaches to making sure it flows freely in exchange for contributions.

Serge Hallyn: rsync.net feature: subuids [Planet Ubuntu]

The problem: Some time ago, I had a server “in the wild” from which I
wanted some data backed up to my rsync.net account. I didn’t want to
put sensitive credentials on this server in case it got compromised.

The awesome admins at rsync.net pointed out their subuid feature. For
no extra charge, they’ll give you another uid, which can have its own
ssh keys, whose home directory is symbolically linked under your main
uid’s home directory. So the server can rsync backups to the subuid,
and if it is compromised, attackers cannot get at any info which didn’t
originate from that server anyway.

Very nice.

I hope you’ll all forgive my continued absence [protein wisdom]

My wife is on a business trip and in order to secure an absolutely freaking killer deal on some stone mosaic floor tile yesterday (normally $18 a sq. foot, I got it at about $0.77 from my buddy’s store — they had excess they were trying to move) I had to run down to his shop and pick it up before some jerk removed the “hold” sign and tried to steal it out from under me.

So with the two boys in tow I made the trek and then loaded up a thousand or so pounds of the stuff.  Then I came home an unloaded it when I found out I’d loaded it on top of our wrestling bags just as I was about to take Satch in for open mat.


[note: it looks far more slate-like in person]

I’m sore, I’ve been under constant assault for the last two days from putative “conservatives”, and apparently some trucker (and maybe a “RINO Hunter”, too) from Twitter is going to come to my house to beat me up.  I asked him for 30 minutes lead time so I can get a camera set up.  I haven’t been working out much with the house stuff going on — about a month off now, I figure, since I got all swole for my reunion — but I’m pretty sure having just sparred with a few mil spec ops guys and in the process shown them the force of a top wrist lock, to great acclaim; and having also recently sparred with a BJJ-trained friend half my age (he choked me from behind as a joke and wound up on his back with my elbow on his throat after his triangle choke failed to hold my arm) — I’m set, despite not being at my strongest.

At any rate, I’m checking in, and I’d like to thank you all for keeping the site going.  I’ll try to post a bit today if I get the chance, but Tanner woke me up at 5 AM and right now I feel like I’m living in a world that’s had all the air removed and replaced with jello.  Plus, I have to pick out some fans.  These are awesome.  Thinking about putting a 10′ orange one in our living room to accentuate the 22′ ceilings.  And yes, I’m now fascinated by fans, including this one that is going into the master bedroom and, as a coordinated pair, on the covered patio.  Also, I’m into spray foam.  And silent garage door openers.   And garbage disposers.

I don’t know what’s happening to me.  I need help.  Although admit it:  you want one of these, too.

Thanks to those of you who came to my defense last night.  Most people just think it better to stay out of those kinds of things; me, I think it important to drag these fauxcons out into the light where we can see just how ugly they really are.  But I often have to do it alone, at great personal expense.  So do know that I appreciate the kind words and help.

I’m like human flypaper to the sicknesses in man.  Regardless of putative political affiliations.  Which would be a cool superpower if it didn’t absolutely suck so much.



Alberta family gets beavers to do its landscaping [CBC | Technology News]


After years of trying unsuccessfully to build a pond on their property, an Alberta family decided to call in some experts – beavers.

Boat passengers in 'amazing' encounter with shark in N.B. take vivid video [CBC | Technology News]

Great White Shark

Whale watchers departing the charming harbour of St. Andrews, N.B., were shocked and thrilled to encounter a great white shark, and it was all captured in photos and video.

Apple iPhone sales soar, but iPad sales slump [CBC | Technology News]

APTOPIX Apple Conference

Quarterly results released Tuesday highlight the importance of a breakthrough new product for Apple, which has plenty of room to grow in emerging markets but needs to reinforce its reputation for innovation in the developed world.

Moose spit fights toxic fungus in plants [CBC | Technology News]

Moose in Algonquin Park

Researchers at York University have discovered that moose saliva may help the animal control a potential dangerous toxin found in the grass they frequently eat.

10 arrested after StubHub accounts targeted by international cybercrime ring [CBC | Technology News]


Six people were indicted in New York Tuesday for involvement in a global cybercrime ring that took over more than 1,600 accounts of eBay's StubHub online ticket reselling service, according to a statement released by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance.

'Optical fibre' made out of thin air [CBC | Technology News]

Air waveguide

Scientists say they have turned thin air into an 'optical fibre' that can transmit and amplify light signals without the need for any cables.

Black bear breaks into elderly woman's home in North Vancouver [CBC | Technology News]


A B.C. woman got a shock on Tuesday when she discovered a black bear in her kitchen - the latest in a string of unusual encounters between humans and bears in British Columbia.

Parks Canada clothing brands the Canadian wilderness [CBC | Technology News]

Roger Edwards Cotton Candy

Parks Canada has launched a premium line of clothing that it hopes will speak to visitors about their memories of Gros Morne or Banff National Park and help a little with the bottom line.

Shortwave Radio Recordings: Pirate Joe via WBCQ [The SWLing Post]


For your listening pleasure: one hour of Pirate Joe.

My good friend–and SWLing Post reader–Mike Hansgen recently apprised me that WHVW’s Pirate Joe show is being relayed on WBCQ here in North America in the afternoons. Last week I recorded Pirate Joe starting at 3:00 PM (EDT). Propagation was not in our favor, so the signal strength is low, but the program is still enjoyable.

If you’d like more info about Pirate Joe, follow this link.

Click here to download as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

Surprise! The Progressives and Their Media Have No Shame. [The DiploMad 2.0]

Making my bags as I prepare another trip. Will be off the grid or only briefly on it for the next several days. Wife and I are sneaking off to get away. Hope she likes her birthday present which will be waiting for her in the garage when we get back.

Anyhow, I saw that finally some politicians are coming out and calling foul on the Obama misadministration and its reprehensible media allies in the ongoing criminal alien invasion. I note that these politicians seem concentrated in Texas, holder of one of the last pools of sanity left in the Western world. Senator Cruz has been onto the scam from the start; Gov. Perry seems willing to use his executive powers to send the Texas National Guard to the Mexico border; and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, in an interview,  has noted what this blog also noted before that the VAST majority of those coming across the border in the great Summer surge are NOT unaccompanied children. They are adults, many of them with criminal records.

I will comment further as I get the chance.

Two Ukrainian fighter jets shot down near crash site, Kiev says [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Pro-Russian rebels shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets on Wednesday, not far from where a Malaysian airliner was brought down last week in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers on board.

A spokesman for Ukraine’s military operations said the planes were downed near Savur Mogila, a burial mound in the Shaktersky region where a memorial marks ambushes by the Soviet army on occupying Nazis during the Second World War.

He said he did not have any information about the pilots.

Igor Strelkov, who is now in charge of the rebel ranks in the eastern city of Donetsk, said the separatists had brought down one plane and that the pilot had ejected. He gave no further details.

Fierce fighting raged near the rebels’ two main centers in Donetsk and nearby Lugansk, where they have been pushed back by Ukrainian government forces, who have taken control of villages and suburbs around the cities.

Full story.

Corrupt Cuomo Scuttles Investigation Into Corrupt Democrats [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Imagine that, a shady Democrat putting the kibosh on a corruption investigation that was getting too close to the guy who called for a corruption investigation, just as he ramps up for re-election. It’s almost as if these Democrats think they’re above the law.

With Albany rocked by a seemingly endless barrage of scandals and arrests, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo set up a high-powered commission last summer to root out corruption in state politics. It was barely two months old when its investigators, hunting for violations of campaign-finance laws, issued a subpoena to a media-buying firm that had placed millions of dollars’ worth of advertisements for the New York State Democratic Party.

The investigators did not realize that the firm, Buying Time, also counted Mr. Cuomo among its clients, having bought the airtime for his campaign when he ran for governor in 2010.

Whoops. Not that it matters since this thug will likely coast to re-election. He knows this will largely be buried after today.

Word that the subpoena had been served quickly reached Mr. Cuomo’s most senior aide, Lawrence S. Schwartz. He called one of the commission’s three co-chairs, William J. Fitzpatrick, the district attorney in Syracuse.

“This is wrong,” Mr. Schwartz said, according to Mr. Fitzpatrick, whose account was corroborated by three other people told about the call at the time. He said the firm worked for the governor, and issued a simple directive:

“Pull it back.”

The subpoena was swiftly withdrawn. The panel’s chief investigator explained why in an email to the two other co-chairs later that afternoon.

“They apparently produced ads for the governor,” she wrote.

Move along, nothing to see here.

The pulled-back subpoena was the most flagrant example of how the commission, established with great ceremony by Mr. Cuomo in July 2013, was hobbled almost from the outset by demands from the governor’s office.

While the governor now maintains he had every right to monitor and direct the work of a commission he had created, many commissioners and investigators saw the demands as politically motivated interference that hamstrung an undertaking that the governor had publicly vowed would be independent.

Props to the NY Times for actually reporting this, not that it will make any difference in cleaning up the corrupt cesspool that is New York State.

Fake applicants finding it easy to sign up for ObamaCare, investigators say [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Investigators from the Government Accountability Office have been able to register fake applicants with fictitious identifying documents for health plans and federal subsidies through ObamaCare, according to a published report.

The Washington Post reports that investigators were able to obtain subsidized health coverage for eleven of twelve fictitious applicants online or over the phone. The investigators used invalid or missing Social Security numbers or inaccurate citizenship information in applying for coverage. In one of the eleven approved instances, the paper reported that the application was denied, but later approved at the second attempt.

The Post also reported that six attempts were made to sign up false applicants via in-person representatives. In five of those cases, the representative did not know that the applicant’s income was too high to receive a subsidy in the first place.

GAO officials will testify about the findings before a House Ways and Means subcommittee Wednesday. The office is expected to continue the investigation before reaching final conclusions sometime next year.

Full story.

Errands, hearing aids, trying to connect a Kindle Fire HD to a PC; Governing an Iraq Province [Chaos Manor - Jerry Pournelle]

View 834 Tuesday, July 22, 2014

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009


It has been a long day, utterly devoured by locusts. I have mislaid the controller for my Costco Hearing Aids, and I need one; after fruitless searching of everything I can remember wearing since I got back from Hilton Head Island – I know I have had and used it here since then, but I don’t remember just when – I decided I’d better buy a second one, even if it only becomes a spare.

Alas they have to order it, and it costs $150 plus $13.50 in various taxes; it’s not a medical item, so it’s taxable as any consumer product. That seems unfair, but then the laws are designed to extract as much out of people who can afford things like this as they can squeeze us – squeeze those rich people until the pips squeak, the poor will get them free – and perhaps I am being overly bitter about $13.50. Anyway I’ll get it in a week or two, and have to go back out to have it coupled to my hearing aids.

For those who don’t know, I have COSTCO Kirkland Hearing aids. They have changed my life. I wrote about them not long after I got them .http://www.jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/kirkland-cosco-hearing-aids-change-the-world-for-me/

They were great for a month then I had Sudden Hearing Loss in my left ear. http://www.jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/log-sudden-hearing-loss-steroids-and-blood-sugar-and-a-few-other-matters/ That got drastic treatment and it worked sort of, and over time my left hear continues to improve. I noticed that when I pushed the ear bud in harder I could hear better with the ear I did that with, told Kelly the cheerful technician at Burbank Costco, and she did things to the ear pieces today that have improved things about 10%. But all that took some time. I wandered through Costco, wishing I had brought either a log book or Precious, my new Surface Pro 3, so I could take notes. There’s a lot of new stuff out there. My old internal telephone system is obsolete, and I note there are some wireless systems that might work: what I need is a wireless system with about 5 extensions that I can use as an internal intercom so Roberta can call me from downstairs without having to use a cell phone to call me on the house phone. My old system did that but was wired, and it’s pretty well dead (after 25 years), and I see 5 station portable phone systems that will allow you to connect to cell phones all wireless but I wasn’t able to determine if I could use one of those as an intercom. Something to investigate.

Anyway I wandered around Costco, then stopped at Fry’s on the way home. I bought a USB Cable, standard plug on one end, microplug on the other; Micro is what fits into the Kindle Fire HD. But when I connected the Kindle Fire HD to my Windows 7 desktop the computer reported that the driver installation failed. It’s late and I’ll worry about that in the morning. I remember connecting my first Kindle to my PC without trouble; surely the Kindle Fire can interface with a PC? But not tonight it won’t.

I still don’t have a lot of experience with Precious, but what little I have remains pleasant. She isn’t getting a lot of use from me yet, but the flirtation continues. I made some notes about Fry’s and how a lot has changed out there. The computer section is smaller and there are far fewer sections on programs and games, and lots of signs saying “We meet Internet Prices” — and a lot of sales people with nothing to do. That latter situation can’t last.

Then to PETCO, the one at Burbank and Hollywood Way where the old Orbach’s – a quality outlet that was once one of my favorite stores – used to be. It’s much bigger than the Studio City PETCO, but it has a much smaller staff: there was only one cashier in operation and while she was nice she wasn’t very experienced, and buying my bird seeds took about half an hour. I needed bird seed because I was running out, and I particularly needed unsalted peanuts because that’s what my Blue Jays demand. I’ve had the same family of Blue Jays come to my house since I bought it in 1968. This must be ten generations of Jays that come here demanding peanuts and fighting the squirrels for cracked corn. But eventually I got songbird seed, sunflower seeds, and peanuts, enough to last a couple of months, and off to – well other errands. Lots of errands. Got home and decided to cook dinner because I wasn’t much use for anything else by then. And now it’s bed time.


Now it appears that the BUK Surface to Air Missile we saw going to Russia with a missing missile or two was not a Russian missile but a Ukrainian SAM captured by Russia’s allies in the Ukraine.

Is this the BUK missile system back home in Russia after shooting down flight MH17?

A driver followed this military truck on a main road for two kilometres in a ‘border area’ of Russia before uploading the footage, filmed with a dashboard camera, on the internet.

The cargo had no escort and Ukrainian sources have seized on it, captioning the footage: ‘A Russian blogger filmed the BUK M1 in Russia, the one that shot the Boeing.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2699170/Is-BUK-missile-launcher-shot-MH17-smuggled-Russia-Motorist-captures-military-truck-carrying-BUK-M1-border-town.html#ixzz38Gvspl4u

One has to follow breaking news, but if you do, you have to be prepared for the facts to change like dreams. The speculation by the US seems to have been that the Russians provided their separatists friends with lethal SAM BUK model missiles, and that must mean that they trained the separatists to use them, and thus the Russians are directly responsible for downing the plane and killing all those Dutch citizens, and –

And now no one’s so sure. If this missile system was captured by the separatist rebels from the Ukrainian regulars, it’s quite possible that it was operated by defectors from the Ukrainian regulars, and where’ the Russian responsibility in that? But of course nothing in this is certain. One thing I have noticed is that the pundits are certain these birds are difficult to operate. I doubt that. I would imagine that any high school graduate fluent in the language in which the field manuals for the missiles is written could figure out how to use it to shoot down an airplane – and yet mistake a scheduled airliner for a Ukrainian military aircraft. Which makes a certain amount of sense. Certainly Russia has no interest in shooting down Malaysian passenger planes, nor do the separatists. Of course there remain a few other hypotheses. Don’t forget the Cossacks.


Millions of Americans installing ‘perfect spying device’ in their own living rooms: Amazon Fire TV monitors and records your conversations

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/046009_Amazon_Fire_TV_audio_surveillance_perfect_spying_device.html#ixzz38GzN6LH1

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Tags: Amazon Fire TV, audio surveillance, perfect spying device

(NaturalNews) Amazon.com is building the CIA’s new $600 million data center, reports the Financial Times. (1) At the same time Amazon.com is building this massive cloud computing infrastructure for the CIA, the company is also shipping millions of Fire TV set-top devices to customers who are placing them in their private homes. I have one myself, and it’s a terrific piece of hardware for delivering Prime video content. In fact, in terms of its usability and specs, it’s far superior to Roku or Netflix-capable devices. Fire TV is, hands down, the best set-top video delivery device on the market today.
But there’s something about it that always struck me as odd: it has no power button. There’s no power button on the remote, and there’s no power button on the box. It turns out there’s no way to power the device off except for unplugging it.
This is highly unusual and apparently done by design. "It is not necessary to turn off Amazon Fire TV when you are finished using it," says the Amazon.com website. (2) "Your Amazon Fire TV is designed to go into sleep mode after 30 minutes, while continuing to automatically receive important software updates."
Note carefully that this does not say your Fire TV device WILL go into sleep mode after 30 minutes; only that it is "designed" to go into sleep mode after 30 minutes. As lawyers well know, this is a huge difference.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/046009_Amazon_Fire_TV_audio_surveillance_perfect_spying_device.html#ixzz38Gzd1MHu

I have this from a number of readers, including long time friend JoAnne Dow.  I have no conclusions. On the other hand I don’t have one of those devices.



: Blowing my own horn…


David Couvillon

Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Avoider of Yard Work


8 Things I Learned as an American Governor in Occupied Iraq

By Robert Evans, David Couvillon

Imagine you were suddenly dragged out of your day job and told you had to travel to another country and rule over it for an indeterminate amount of time. Most folks would curl up in a little ball and try to cry out the responsibility; others would cackle maniacally and buy a white cat to stroke during monologues. Lt. Col. David Couvillon did neither of those things. He was a Reserve Marine officer, activated for Operation Iraqi Freedom and eventually tasked with governing the Wasit Province of Iraq immediately after that country’s government retired to a spider hole at the behest of a whole bunch of men with real big guns. Thrown straight into the deep end while holding an anvil, Couvillon quickly discovered …

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_21303_8-things-i-learned-as-american-ruling-iraqi-province.html#ixzz38H7GD8Pe

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_21303_8-things-i-learned-as-american-ruling-iraqi-province.html#ixzz38H76792q


Confucius say Man who does not blow own horn, same will not be tooted….

Well done.





Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




Radio Day by the Bay Returns at New Site in Alameda on July 26 [Radio Survivor]

The California Historical Radio Society (CHRS) is hosting Radio Day by the Bay this Saturday, July 26 from 8am to 3pm in Alameda. Radio fans will get the chance to take a look at the new home for CHRS and for the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame, as some of the events will be […]

The post Radio Day by the Bay Returns at New Site in Alameda on July 26 appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Podcasting News: Anticipated Overcast App Drops [Radio Survivor]

In this week’s podcasting news: Connecticut’s WNPR-FM dedicates an hour to “the culture and design of podcasts”; the anticipated Overcast app is released. WNPR-FM Explores the “Culture and Design of Podcasts.” Public station WNPR-FM dedicated the Tuesday edition of its morning talk show Where We Live to the topic of podcasts this week. Host John […]

The post Podcasting News: Anticipated Overcast App Drops appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Spike Lee’s ‘Radio Raheem’ returns to protest Staten Island man’s death [Radio Survivor]

Filmmaker Spike Lee has revived his iconic cinematic radio figure “Radio Raheem” in protest of the death of Eric Garner. The Staten Island, New York resident perished last Thursday after three police surrounded and locked him in a choke hold. Garner, 43, had five children. Lee took the section of his movie “Do the Right […]

The post Spike Lee’s ‘Radio Raheem’ returns to protest Staten Island man’s death appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Export-Import Bank crony capitalism kills American jobs [RedState]

iron mine

Even though the US Export-Import Bank is in grave political trouble, many political heavyweights are heavily invested in its success. The reason is obvious. The Export-Import Bank represents the worst aspects of crony capitalism and some of its largest benefactors are also major political donors.

The US Chamber of Commerce, a firm ally of such loci of corruption as Thad Cochran and Mitch McConnell is claiming that some 200,000 US jobs are utterly dependent upon taxpayer subsidized loans as the products are so inferior or needlessly expensive that no one would buy them were it not for government subsidies. Though the Chamber touts the Export Import Bank as benefitting small businesses, 93% of all Export-Import Bank loans go to just ten corporations. Boeing, Caterpillar, and General Electric are the top three favored companies.

export import bank loans

Keep the names of  these companies in mind as you read on.

In fact, the Export-Import Bank can cost US jobs while creating jobs in other countries.

Last year, Caterpillar sought Export-Import Bank loans to finance a deal to supply the huge Roy Hill iron project in Australia with equipment. In December, the deal was sealed:

In a decision that will support thousands of U.S. jobs, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has authorized a $694.4 million loan to Roy Hill Holdings of Australia contingent upon the purchase of U.S. mining and rail equipment from Caterpillar Inc., GE, and Atlas Copco.

According to Bank estimates derived from Departments of Commerce and Labor data and methodology, the credit will support 3,400 U.S. jobs across America. Furthermore, an estimated 20 percent of the job support will benefit small-business jobs.

“After a comprehensive review, the Bank determined that this transaction represents a significant opportunity for American exporters to create and sustain American jobs,” said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg. “Our financing positions American companies on a level playing field so they can close the sales and expand their homegrown workforces. Projects this size can be difficult to finance—that’s where Ex-Im comes in. And I am proud that today’s action will support 3,400 jobs across the country, many of them at small businesses.”

Though the largest beneficiary was Caterpillar ($522 million) the next biggest winner was… you guessed it… General Electric which was to supply locomotives and other ancillary equipment.

A large international company based in Cleveland, OH, called Cliffs Natural Resources either owns or has substantial interests in five iron mines in the United States. Cliffs Natural Resources objected to the sale because it, in effect, subsidized Australian iron ore and Asian steel:

It’s not that Minnesota’s congressional delegation doesn’t like Australia, mate. But the idea of a U.S. government bank loaning money to an Australian iron ore mine that will compete with Minnesota taconite?

That’s what they don’t like.

U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, all Minnesota Democrats, are on record opposing a plan in front of the U.S. Export-Import Bank to invest in equipment for the giant Roy Hill iron mine in Australia’s northwestern Outback.

The Export-Import Bank is considering a request for $650 million in long-term financing to aid the export of $522 million of U.S.-made mining equipment to mine and process ore at Roy Hill. The rest of the money could be going to install the U.S. equipment on site at the mine.

Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources, with four mines in Minnesota and Michigan, has led the charge to stop the loan, saying it threatens U.S. mining jobs and, with new Asian steel produced from Australian ore, eventually threatens U.S. steel industry jobs.

Caterpillar makes a counter argument, that at first blush looks plausible:

Caterpillar officials say the Roy Hill mine almost certainly will be built, with or without the U.S. loan. But without the loan, the equipment used in the mine probably would come from Korea or Japan.

“We’re hoping that the mine uses U.S.-produced equipment that is made by U.S. workers from steel made in the U.S., which happens to be made with iron ore from Minnesota and Michigan,” said Bill Lane, director of global government affairs for Caterpillar.

The $650 million contract to provide giant haul trucks, bulldozers, lift shovels and more “is a big deal” for Caterpillar — a huge contract that will spur jobs in places like Decatur, Aurora and East Peoria, Ill., and Milwaukee, and that’s moving Caterpillar to fight back against Cliffs.

Lane said that in coming days, Caterpillar will enlist members of Congress from Illinois and Wisconsin to weigh in in favor of the loan.

“Does the U.S. want Australia to use U.S.-produced products or Asian-produced products? That’s the simple question,” Lane said. “Frankly, we’re befuddled that there’s this opposition. … This (battle) is pitting Minnesota against Illinois and Michigan against Wisconsin, and that’s not good.”

Except, of course, that this argument is totally dishonest. The building of the mine is a non-issue. The source of the equipment is irrelevant. The whining by Caterpillar that they are not competitive without free government money should cause people to avert their eyes to avoid shaming Caterpillar rather than rush to their aid. The real issue is the US government, or one of its entities, determining winners and losers. The issue is the US government deciding that Caterpillar’s and GE’s bottom line and the jobs of their employees are more important than the bottom line of Cliff Natural Resources and the jobs of American iron miners on the Iron Range. In fact, the US government is obligating $650 million to support Caterpillar and GE in order to undercut US iron producers by $1.8 billion. Effectively, this deal costs the US companies $1.1 billion. And we get to pay for the privilege.

The Export-Import Bank is an anachronism that needs to be allowed to go out of business.


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Reminder: The Chamber of Commerce is an Ideological and Political Enemy to Conservatives [RedState]


The Chamber of Commerce has long been thought to be an ally of the GOP, by and large. They have made it clear during the course of the current fight for the soul of the GOP, however, that they are mostly an ally of crony capitalism and corporate welfare and those who enable it, and committed opponents of grassroots conservatives. The Chamber of Commerce pumped massive amounts of money into Mississippi on behalf of the execrable and race baiting pudding enthusiast Thad Cochran, helped Mitch McConnell defeat Matt Bevin, have publicly undermined Ted Cruz at every turn, and are backing Pat Roberts over Milton Wolf in Kansas. The Chamber has clearly indicated that politically, they are most interested in backing candidates who will keep the government spigots for corporate welfare turned ON.

Likewise, the Chamber of Commerce has begun taking issue advocacy positions that are directly contrary to those of grassroots conservatives. The Chamber went completely unhinged on immigration earlier this year, threatening the GOP with total warfare if they did not pass the bad Senate bill. The Chamber of Commerce has also been one of the primary focus in pushing Common Core at both the national and local levels.

As I was at Glenn Beck’s We Will Not Conform event in Dallas last night, I was struck by how often the local organizers there said that the main force of organized support for Common Core they faced came from the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber’s support for this massive Federal intrusion into local education decisions is both open and unabashed. The Chamber has funneled millions of dollars into pro-Common Core organizing and propaganda. This is a top down effort for the Chamber as both the national and state charters have joined the pro-Common Core push.

So remember, if you’re a conservative business owner and you’re considering membership in your local Chamber of Commerce, your money will likely not just be used to lobby for pro-business policies, it will also be spent directly in support of big government Republicans, open borders policies, and Common Core propaganda. The Chamber of Commerce is is not an ally to any conservative, but rather is both a political and ideological enemy.

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Andrew Cuomo staffers implicated in stonewalling New York corruption commission. [RedState]

Oh, my.

Oh my, oh my, oh my.

With Albany rocked by a seemingly endless barrage of scandals and arrests, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo set up a high-powered commission last summer to root out corruption in state politics. It was barely two months old when its investigators, hunting for violations of campaign-finance laws, issued a subpoena to a media-buying firm that had placed millions of dollars’ worth of advertisements for the New York State Democratic Party.

The investigators did not realize that the firm, Buying Time, also counted Mr. Cuomo among its clients, having bought the airtime for his campaign when he ran for governor in 2010.

…the New York Times maybe-possibly-glumly goes on at that point; I’ll give the summary, for people who don’t want to click through.  Basically, the governor’s office quashed the subpoena, which was part of a general rule of quietly killing any corruption-related investigation that might have a chance of a possibility of a potential to make Gov. Andrew Cuomo look bad.  And the excuse offered by Gov. Cuomo’s office? “While [Gov. Cuomo] allowed the commission the independence to investigate whatever it wanted, the governor’s office said, it would have been a conflict for a panel he created to investigate his own administration.”

In other words… no, the commission did not have ‘the independence to investigate whatever it wanted.’  It in fact had the independence to investigate whatever Andrew Cuomo wanted, because Governor Andrew Cuomo knows of course that every single member of his administration is a saint upon Earth to rival St. Francis of Assisi, or possibly one of those old-school Eastern Orthodox Stylites. The whole thing is fascinating reading, not least because the whole thing is emblematic of just how much a politician’s own staff can hobble him or her when it comes to policy implementation.  Reading the article, you could argue that Andrew Cuomo wasn’t really aware that his staff was busily spiking the wheels of every corruption investigation that merely could be linked to the governor’s office.  It’s a stretch, but weirder things have happened.  The problem, though, is that the whole thing just simply looks bad – and worse, hypocritical to a remarkable degree.  How bad? This bad:


Maybe, maybe not – but here I thought that it was Andrew Cuomo’s moral peccadilloes that were going to scupper his future Presidential bid. Apparently not; probably because people will forgive a live-in girlfriend far more quickly than they’d forgive a governor who used his office to squash corruption investigations. But certainly Republican candidate for New York Governor Rob Astorino will be hitting this issue with all due speed…

Moe Lane (crosspost)

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Three Questions for Hamas Terrorist Apologists [RedState]

Palestinian members of Hamas' armed wing take part in the funeral of their comrades in Gaza City

Over the last few weeks, Hamas terrorists have renewed their terrorist tactics against Israeli civilians, firing thousands of rockets into the civilian population and even using secret tunnels in an attempt to invade and unleash deadly terrorist attacks in Israel itself.

As this conflict erupted, Hamas terrorist apologists have come out of the woodwork, some Anti-Semitic as we have seen in violent protests in Europe and some woefully naïve, manipulated by less than accurate and honest media coverage or the lack thereof.

Most of us who understand Israel is under attack and has a right to defend itself as a nation have run into these Hamas apologists among acquaintances or on social media.  Here are three simple questions you can pose to cut through the disinformation.  In most cases they will quickly illicit responses that will either show their naivety or intentional misrepresentation of the facts.

Is Hamas a terrorist group?

Many are unaware of this fact because the mainstream media and the Hamas apologists on the Left often omit this fact.

Since 1997, Hamas as been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.  If the designation isn’t enough, here is the summary from the State Department’s annual report to Congress:

Prior to 2005, Hamas conducted numerous anti-Israeli attacks, including suicide bombings, rocket launches, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, and shootings.  Hamas has not directly targeted U.S. interests, although US citizens have died and been injured in the group’s attacks against Israeli targets. . . .

Hamas fought a 23-day war with Israel from late December 2008 to January 2009.  From November 14-21, 2012, Hamas fought another war with Israel during which it claims to have launched more than 1,400 rockets into Israel.  Prior to the confrontation, approximately 750 rockets had been fired into Israel from Hamas-governed Gaza, including one that killed three civilians in Kiryat Malachi.  Despite the Egypt-mediated ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in 2012, operatives from Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad coordinated and carried out a November bus bombing in Tel Aviv that wounded 29 people.  In 2013, the Government of Israel continued to hold Hamas, as the dominant organization in effective control, responsible for the attacks emanating from Gaza; and Israeli officials point to these attacks as additional proof that Hamas has not abandoned terrorism.

Not only has Hamas used terrorist tactics against Israel and constantly advocated for its utter destruction, Hamas’s charter specifically states that the entire purpose for the organization is to eviscerate Israel.

Some of the most poignant passages from the Hamas charter include:

  • Israel will arise and continue to exist until Islam abolishes it, as it abolished what went before.
  • The time [Judgment Day] will not come until Muslims fight the Jews and kill them and until the Jew hides behind the rocks and trees, and [then] the rocks and trees will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew hiding [behind me], come and kill him.
  • Jihad is its [Hamas'] path and death for the sake of Allah is the most exalted wish.
  • [Diplomatic] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences to find a solution to the Palestinian problem, contradict Hamas’ ideological position.

(You can read more of the ACLJ’s analysis of Hamas’s charter here.)

Unfortunately, you won’t see or hear any of this information from Hamas’s apologists on the Left and in the mainstream media.  The evidence is overwhelming that Hamas is a radical Islamic terrorist group.  The current conflict cannot be understood without understanding this uncontroverted (though often ignored) fact.

Is Hamas targeting civilians?

The evidence of Hamas’s intentional targeting of civilians (on both sides) is overwhelming.

First, Hamas has fired more than 2,000 rockets at Israeli civilians in the last two weeks.  In the last week alone Hamas rockets hit an Israeli kindergarten and have been indiscriminately fired into heavily populated civilian areas.  The fact that Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system has (thankfully) blasted a number of these rockets out of the sky does not change the fact that Hamas targeted those rockets at Israeli civilians.

In fact, Hamas rockets have hit near Israel’s Tel Aviv airport, a major civilian transportation hub, forcing the U.S. to shut down all civilian flights into Israel.  The targeting of the airport is especially troublesome this week after a civilian airliner was shot down last week on the border between Russia and Ukraine.  The world’s outrage at that targeting of civilian airliners hasn’t deterred Hamas in any way.  Every civilian target is an open target for these terrorists.

Israel on the other hand takes extreme measures to limit civilian casualties as they attempt to defend their own citizens.  These efforts have been well documented (just not by many in the mainstream media).

One example is how the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) warn civilians before targeting a terrorist hive and even withhold fire where civilian casualties would be too high.

Second, Hamas not only targets civilians in Israel, it uses Palestinian civilians as human shields.  Hamas uses the common terrorist tactic of hiding amongst the civilian population, intentionally using the ensuring civilians casualties as propaganda against Israel.

Hamas intentionally fires rockets at Israeli civilians from civilian areas such as hospitals, mosques, and playgrounds ensuring that any attempt by Israel to neutralize and end the attacks on its civilians will cause civilian casualties.  Here is just one example of some of the Hamas rocket launch sites:

In fact the United Nations (no friend of Israel) has reported that Hamas rockets have been found at two separate U.N. schools.

Each of these terrorist tactics constitutes war crimes committed by Hamas (you can read a full ACLJ legal analysis here).  Yet, if your reading many of the mainstream media accounts you wouldn’t know any of this.

For example, in one Huffington Post Hamas puff piece quoting the New York Times, the reader is led to believe that Israel has absolutely no reason to be engaging in military action in Gaza because there aren’t any rockets being fired by Hamas:

And why did Netanyahu decide to go on another rampage in Gaza? As Nathan Thrall of the International Crisis Group points out [in the New York Times], the real motive is neither vengeance nor a desire to protect Israel from Hamas’ rocket fire, which has been virtually non-existent over the past two years and is largely ineffectual anyway.

Hamas rocket fire has been “virtually non-existent over the past two years”?  In the past two weeks, over 2,000 rockets have been launched into Israel by Hamas terrorists.  That’s not “virtually non-existent.”  That’s the kind of misdirection and lies that are all too common in the mainstream media today.

Does a nation have a legal right to defend its citizens from terrorist rocket attacks on its civilian population?

So if Hamas is a terrorist organization with the stated goal of destroying Israel and the Jewish people and is firing rockets at Israel’s civilians, doesn’t Israel have a right and obligation as a nation to defend its people?

The answer is obviously yes.  Every nation has a right to defend its people from terrorism. Period.

You can read the ACLJ’s legal analysis of Israel’s right of self-defense over the years here, here, and here.

After asking these three questions, the conversation will most likely go in one of three ways: 1) a reasonable person is surprised by these facts and seeks more information about the truth and why they have been lied to; 2) they shut up and walk away with no answers because no rational defense can be made of Hamas; or 3) the argument becomes a clear anti-Semitic rant, blaming Israel for all the ills of the Middle East, ignoring the true intentions of radical Islamists, and attempting to incomprehensibly rehabilitate the plight of the terrorists to the aggrieved party taking the only action they can against Israel, which they will then call the real terrorists.

If they delve into that third category, then at least you know who you are dealing with and how much credibility to give them.

The only weapon we often have against both the naivety and the deception is the truth.  If you stand with Israel in their fight against these radical terrorists, the truth is on your side.

Matthew Clark is Associate Counsel for Government Affairs and Media Advocacy with the ACLJ. A lifelong citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he lives with his wife and three boys in Northern Virginia. Follow Matthew Clark: @_MatthewClark.

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Reminder: Israel has a right to defend itself. And no obligation to be a fool about it, either. [RedState]

This conversation between Sally Kohn and Guy Benson on the possibly meritorious aspects of violence – specifically, this particular exchange:



…reminds me of, all things, a Harry Turtledove story called “The Last Article.” Basically, it’s an alternate history story where the Nazis won World War II and took over India from the British. (Spoiler warning) The Nazis then encounter Gandhi, who promptly starts up a nonviolent resistance to the occupation: the Nazis just as promptly take Gandhi out back and kills him. End of story, have a nice day. Because that’s what happens when Evil faces off Good and Good refuses to defend itself. Evil shoots Good in the head and goes on to have a delicious lunch*.

I should also note that one of the themes of this particular story – and, really, recent Middle Eastern history – is that you can only use tactics incorporating shame and appeals to better nature to people and entities willing to admit to either. Hamas clearly feels no shame or remorse about routinely violating the laws of war, not least because the group knows that there are any number of ethically deprived idiots in the West that are willing to excuse any of Hamas’s excesses. And until the aforementioned idiots either wise up or (more likely) treated the way by civilized society in the same way that we treat avowed Nazis, Hamas will continue to feel neither shame nor remorse. This is an obvious thing.  So is the fact that Israel feels no particular obligation to commit suicide simply because the antiwar Left would quite like it to.

(Image via Shutterstock.)

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Of particular interest in that story was when the Nazi Governor-General delays Gandhi’s execution briefly to thank Gandhi for advocating that the Jews of Europe embrace nonviolence to the point of massacre (something that actually happened in our own history), on the grounds that it probably helped slightly the Nazis’ goal of exterminating all the Jews that they could find.  …Gandhi was very lucky that he had monster-killers as opponents in his political struggle, and not the monsters themselves.

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The Left’s Pre-Emptive SCOTUS Bashing Over Halbig [RedState]


Josh Marshall of TalkingPointsMemo knows almost nothing about the law, as any lawyer who has read his material over the years can attest. He’s not an attorney, has never been one, doesn’t have a law degree, and so far as I know has never even taken a law class. Nor is he an expert or seasoned SCOTUS-watcher of any sort. He has literally no basis of expertise from which to either predict how the Supreme Court will rule on an issue or to provide informed commentary about how the Supreme Court reaches their decisions.

Against this background, Marshall decided yesterday to loose an unhinged screed aimed directly at the legitimacy of the Supreme Court based on a case they have not even ruled on yet. Forget having ruled on it - no one has even petitioned the Supreme Court to grant cert on the case. And yet despite all these facts, Marshall feels fully qualified to sally forth and pronounce with confidence the future course of the Halbig decision, from which he has already concluded – I kid you not – that the Supreme Court is “corrupt.” (In his defense, he completely redefined the word “corrupt” so that he could still call the Supreme Court “corrupt” according to his own definition without the embarrassment of resorting to facts.)

Marshall’s attack is embarrassing from a factual standpoint for a number of reasons. First, I agree that it is more likely than not that the D.C. Circuit, sitting en banc, will overturn the current three-judge panel’s ruling which gutted Obamacare’s exchange program in the majority of the country (and the individual and employer mandates with it). The Democrats have done a magnificent job of packing the D.C. Circuit with Democrat appointees as a result of Harry Reid’s use of the nuclear option. However, this fact mitigates against the Supreme Court ever even granting cert to review this case since that would erase the presence of a circuit split. Furthermore, the idea that anyone can predict what the Supreme Court would do on an issue of this importance has proven a complete fool’s errand. Who, after all, predicted that John Roberts would go solo to save Obamacare by declaring it a tax, an argument that neither side had raised or argued? The idea that Josh Marshall, of all people, can confidently wade where Tom Goldstein dares not to tread and declare who the winner will definitely be is patently absurd (Goldstein, by the way, agrees that SCOTUS will probably take the case, but states that the Administration will probably win at SCOTUS.)

From a polemic standpoint, however, Marshall’s attack is even more troublesome. On what basis should the Supreme Court be called “corrupt” even if they did rule that where a statute says “State” it means “State” and where it says “Federal” it means “Federal”? Argue all you want about the overall intent and structure of the statute, to say nothing of the overarching difficulty of unwinding the subsidy issue at this point if the IRS Rule is struck down, but the D.C. Circuit’s current ruling simply cannot be called unreasonable or facially absurd even if you disagree with the result (at least not by anyone whose partisan interests have trumped their better judgment). And it certainly cannot be said that anyone who agrees with it must necessarily be on the take or ruling from improper or corrupt motives. Marshall’s attack is so baseless and without any factual merit that if he were a member of the Bar, he would be subject to legitimate disciplinary action for violations of Rule of Professional Conduct 8.2.

Moreover, the suggestion that the imaginary course of action taken by the Roberts Court in Marshall’s fevered imagination, would somehow be worse or more “corrupt” than the the decades-long romp of the Warren Court, which fundamentally rewrote wholesale broad swaths of the entire Constitution, inventing “rights” whole cloth out of the imaginations of dedicated partisan liberals and removing hot-button societal issues from the Democratic process forever, beggars the imagination. If Marshall feels comfortable treating the Supreme Court like an illegitimate institution ripe for a spanking over this, will he support the same treatment at the hands of conservatives over judicial abominations of decades past?

The truth of course, is that Marshall is in fact interested in none of these things, and that something far more venial is in play here. The legitimacy of the court, its processes, or its standing among the American people – these are not things that interest Josh Marshall. What interests him is winning at all costs, and he has heard somewhere that John Roberts allegedly saved Obamacare because of concern about the Court’s reputation. And so Marshall – sure to be followed by other equally ill informed and careless liberal commenters – have decided to send a message, in whatever way they can, that they are prepared to continue the public pressure they believe won them the day last time Obamacare came before the Court.

I hope Marshall, et al, find that their current exercise is worth the candle. If we could somehow wipe out the mischief done by the judiciary over the last 75 years altogether, Marshall would doubtless find that conservatives have long stood on the short end of perceived judicial usurpation of legislative power, and the Court’s alleged swing to the contrary over the last 10 years hasn’t even come close to evening the scales.


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Why Halbig is a Big Deal [RedState]

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On today’s edition of Coffee and Markets, Brad Jackson is joined by Andrew Kloster to discuss the pair of big decisions in cases against Obamacare yesterday, what the Halbig ruling would mean if upheld at SCOTUS and if Chief Justice Roberts could be the swing vote when this case reaches the highest court in the land.

Related Links:

Court Rules That Subsidies in Obamacare’s Federal Exchange are Illegal, Dealing Huge Legal Blow to Health Law
D.C. Appeals Court Overturns Subsidies For Federal Exchange
DC Circuit Court Deals Huge Blow to ObamaCare
Andrew Kloster at the Heritage Foundation

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The hosts and guests of Coffee and Markets speak only for ourselves, not any clients or employers.

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Beretta USA flees Maryland for greener pastures [RedState]


The gunmaker Beretta has announced it will be relocating its manufacturing facility in Prince Georges County, Maryland to a new facility in Gallatin, Tennessee. The move will cost Maryland 160 direct jobs plus an undetermined number of jobs related to the manufacturing jobs.

In the past, companies made this kind of decision based on finances. A manufacturing company fleeing a high-tax, high-regulation, closed-shop state for a low-tax, low-regulation, right-to-work state is hardly news. Beretta USA had been leaning that way for some time. The Gallatin facility represents a $45 million investment by the company and had been slated to house R&D and the manufacture new product lines.

What speeded Beretta USA on its way south was the Maryland legislature. Last year, the Maryland legislature passed a broad gun suppression law. In the words of Jeff Cooper, CEO of Beretta USA:

“During the legislative session in Maryland that resulted in passage of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, the version of the statute that passed the Maryland Senate would have prohibited Beretta U.S.A. from being able to manufacture, store or even import into the state products that we sell to customers throughout the United States and around the world,” Cooper said in today’s news release.

“While we had originally planned to use the Tennessee facility for new equipment and for production of new product lines only, we have decided that it is more prudent from the point of view of our future welfare to move the Maryland production lines in their entirety to the new Tennessee facility,” Cooper said.

The CEO of Beretta’s worldwide holding company, Ugo Gussalli Beretta, was more succinct:

Our business has grown in recent years, and because of that, we needed to expand production in our U.S facility, located in Accokeek, just outside of Washington, D.C., in the Maryland suburbs.

Unfortunately, as we were planning that expansion, Maryland’s governor and legislature voted in favor of new regulations that unfairly attack products we make and that our customers want.

These regulations also demean our law-abiding customers, who must now be fingerprinted like criminals before they can be allowed to purchase one of our products.

We have seen these types of legislative proposals in Maryland before, and they never seem to reduce crime. Maybe this is because the proponents of such legislation blame the product instead of human misconduct.

But in any event, because of these new restrictions and the pattern of harassment aimed at lawful firearm owners we have seen in Maryland over the decades, we decided to expand our facilities in a state that shows more respect for citizens who exercise their Second Amendment rights.

We chose Tennessee for our new facility expansion. Our plans for that location are extensive and long-lasting.

Beretta realized that even though it won concessions from the legislature last time around that would allow its Maryland facility to continue operations, it was just a matter of time until another law was passed. It decided to cut its losses and move.

With this Beretta USA joins a growing list of US firearms manufacturers who are voting with their feet in the face of political hostility. Remington, Kahr, and American Tactical Imports have announced plans to either move from New York or scale back operations there because the SAFE Act increased potential legal problems. Connecticut based gun manufacturers MossbergRuger, ColtStag Arms and PTR Industries have all announced plans to either shift operations or move to more friendly states. This could cost Connecticut 1,768 jobs, $13.5 million in business tax revenue and $450 million in economic activity.  The magazine maker, Magpul Industries has relocated its facilities and 200-plus jobs from Colorado to Texas.

This is not simply pique. Various studies have implied that increasingly Americans are choosing to live in communities that share their political views.

The survey shows that liberals and conservatives have self-segregating preferences, with many explicitly preferring to live around people with similar political views, and others expressing preferences that indirectly lead them toward communities dominated by their fellow partisans.

Twenty-eight percent of Americans say it’s important to live in a place where most people share their political views, including 50 percent of voters with consistently conservative beliefs and 35 percent of consistent liberals.

The move by Beretta USA and other firearms manufacturers shows how this happens. In the case of New York and Connecticut, the executives of those companies have every reason to anticipate being prosecuted by the state at some future time for engaging in commercial activity that would be legal in most of the rest of the United States. For instance:

During an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy had a telling response to criticism of a new state law that bans semiautomatic rifles and 10-round magazines and requires preexisting magazines to be registered.

“What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible — even if they’re deranged, mentally ill, [have] a criminal background, they don’t care,” said Malloy. “They want to sell guns.”

In a radio interview, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was similarly disdainful when asked if his state’s SAFE Act, which was passed just before midnight on January 15, 2013, is a burden to law-abiding gun owners and manufacturers.

“Who are they?” Cuomo asked rhetorically of his opposition. “Are they these extreme conservatives … pro-assault-weapon? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”

The move by Beretta USA is simply a wake-up call. As the progressive dominated states become more and more hostile to all forms of economic activity, firearms manufacturers will be followed by other corporations to states with more economic freedom and they’ll take their jobs with them.




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The Chamber’s Immigration Stance Hurts Their Georgia Pick [RedState]

All the public and private polling I saw, like this for example, had Jack Kingston ahead of David Perdue. All the buzz privately was Kingston ahead of Perdue.

And Kingston lost. I supported him. He’s one of the few candidates I supported in the Georgia runoffs who lost. And I can tell you why Kingston lost.

I have evening drive time on the most listened to talk station in America. Every night for the last month on my show I’ve gotten the same concern on the phones, in emails, on twitter, on Facebook, etc. Kingston had the Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement. The Chamber of Commerce is bad on immigration. Therefore Kingston would be bad on immigration. In fact, his opponent and now the GOP nominee for the Senate in Georgia made a point to tell people that Kingston was the Chamber endorsed candidate. His closing argument in advertising made Kingston own the endorsement.

I tried pointing out that Kingston had consistently opposed amnesty, but it did not matter. After the Mississippi Senate primary, the conservative voters in Georgia were having none of it.

In the last two weeks, David Perdue made hay out of walking out of his meeting with the Chamber. He claimed the Chamber wanted him to vote with them 100% of the time. He would not.

That message resonated. Kingston was the career politician in the pocket of the Chamber and would pass amnesty.

Not now. He lost. And he did so largely because David Perdue made Kingston own his Chamber of Commerce endorsement.

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Interview with Harry Bingham on being a hybrid and the Amazon/Hachette thing [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

Harry Bingham reached out to me last week with a link to an article he published on his blog about the Amazon/Hachette situation. I was intrigued by his point of view and his intentions to become a hybrid author. He kindly agreed to an interview to expand on his views. His candor and openness impressed […]

The post Interview with Harry Bingham on being a hybrid and the Amazon/Hachette thing appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Do you have any non-screen hobbies? [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

There has been a lot of Doompocalypse talk lately about what Amazon/Google/Apple/The Cloud means for authors, readers, publishers and…well, books. And accompanying that has been a moderate spike in the quantity of ‘Blogger abandons Kindle, returns to ‘real’ books and rhapsodizes about the smell of paper’ posts. I don’t think the smell of paper is […]

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Webcomic ‘Help Desk’ takes on e-book DRM [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

If you could use a good chuckle, webcomic “Help Desk” has just started a storyline focusing on e-book DRM. It seems to have been inspired by the letter that Cory Doctorow received from Hachette about DRM. Since some authors publish with Tor in the USA but Hachette in the UK, and Tor went DRM-free two […]

The post Webcomic ‘Help Desk’ takes on e-book DRM appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

UK’s Green Shore outed as product of veteran author scammer [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

A welcome tipoff from a TeleRead reader steered us over to Writer Beware, and a warning about a new Author Solutions-style e-vanity press, the UK’s Green Shore Publishing, the self-styled”best option for success in the European book publishing market.” And astute sleuthing by Writer Beware indicates that Green Shore comes to you courtesy of one […]

The post UK’s Green Shore outed as product of veteran author scammer appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Morning Roundup: Apple patent for iTime. Why Amazon terrifies publishers and more [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

Kindle Unlimited’s Two-Tier System Makes Some Authors Second-Class Citizens (Digital Book World) Whenever I speak about a situation where an entity (retailers or publishers) treat authors poorly the answer is always the same: “because they can.” *** Why Amazon Terrifies Publishers: Let’s Look at Royalty Statements (Forbes) Like many authors, I’ve been struggling to decode […]

The post Morning Roundup: Apple patent for iTime. Why Amazon terrifies publishers and more appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Amazon Prime streaming video app coming soon to Android, Amazon says [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

It might be a bit surprising, but one of our most popular articles here at TeleRead deals not with books but rather with video—in particular, how to use a Flash-enabled web browser to watch Amazon Prime streaming videos on Android devices. Since there’s no native Android player application for the service, the way there are […]

The post Amazon Prime streaming video app coming soon to Android, Amazon says appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Stop begging, startup-land, and start YELLING at Catch of the Day [The Register]

Consumer trust boost from data breach laws would do more for online biz than any subsidy or share scheme

Thank you, Catch of the Day: in taking three years – three years – to own up to a data breach (and by the way doing it late on a Friday afternoon), Australians have had a first-rate demonstration of why we need data breach disclosure laws.…

Comcast bosses: THAT pushy sales rep was only obeying orders [The Register]

But those orders are now being revised

Comcast management has said the staffer who was recorded endlessly haranguing a subscriber over the phone was doing what he trained and paid to do.…

IBM soups up SoftLayer for supers with Infiniband tech [The Register]

Amazon-beating, Google-ganking, Microsoft-muddling high-speed IO lands

IBM wants to make its newly acquired SoftLayer cloud a destination for high-performance computing workloads – so it has rolled out a high-end connectivity option unavailable in other large clouds.…

Chinese chipsters promise 64-bit ARMs for cheap Android slabs [The Register]

Allwinner, Actions Semi pledge parts by late 2014 – but can they outpace Samsung?

Chinese cheap'n'cheerful chip designer Allwinner has boasted that its first 64-bit ARM system-on-chips for tablets will in punters' hands by the end of 2014.…

Tails-hacking Exodus: Here's video proof of our code-injection attack [The Register]

It's not a Tor exploit, but it will hit fully patched systems with default settings, we're told

Exodus Intelligence has revealed what it claims is video evidence of researchers unmasking an anonymous user of the Tails operating system.…

Who should do security clearance checks? Did you say 'chat-bot'? This military slinger hopes so [The Register]

Study finds emotionless code likely to extract dark secrets

A study linked to a military IT contractor has backed the use of chat-bots for screening US government security clearance applicants.…

YouTube radio stream boss 'quits Google' amid outcry from indie labels [The Register]

Out of the frying pan and into the fire some startup

The manager for Google's controversial and yet-to-launch YouTube music streaming service is leaving, the Wall Street Journal claims.…

EMC revenues are up. But, hey Joe, I heard you shot your profits down... [The Register]

Second quarter results: It's good, and it's, er, not so good

EMC sold a record $5.9bn of products and services in its second 2014 quarter, representing a stately five per cent year-on-year increase in sales - and a $400m boost over the first quarter of this year.…

FRIKKIN' LASERS could REPLACE fibre-optic comms cables [The Register]

Fire a laser, make an air tube, do stuff. Simple, innit?

You may think that a waveguide is something issued to junior members of the royal family ahead of their first pomp parade through London. But it's actually a new communications technique that makes the air behave like a fibre-optic cable.…

Speaking in Tech: Microsoft DOES have a stake in Android, y'know [The Register]

Ever been asked to give feedback on enterprise helldesks? Thought not

Google rival BLASTS Almunia 'n' pals for settlement proposals [The Register]

Auctioning off links WILL pay off for Google, insists Foundem

The lead complainant against Google in the ongoing European antitrust case has accused the Competition Commission led by Joaquin Almunia of "misleading" other Commissioners and the European Parliament about the search giant’s proposals to resolve the matter.…

Human Childbirth [Transterrestrial Musings]

A dozen things you probably didn’t know about it. Note the comment about weightless gestation and birth. Probably safe for work, but you might want to avoid if you’re pregnant.

Off To San Jose [Transterrestrial Musings]

I’m driving up to the New Space conference this afternoon, so not much posting until tonight.

The Raw Politics Of Science [Transterrestrial Musings]

Judith Curry, on a neglected field.

“I Want To Get Laid” [Transterrestrial Musings]

…but I’m afraid I’ll be oppressing women. Heh. Heather strikes again.

Hamas [Transterrestrial Musings]

Why Israel needs to finish the job now: Iron Dome can defend successfully against a handful of rockets fired simultaneously in the general direction of Israeli cities. At some point Israel’s enemies will acquire the capability to fire large salvos of precision-guided weapons at key military or civilian targets and overwhelm the existing defenses. GPS-guided […]

How Many Gay People Are There? [Transterrestrial Musings]

A lot fewer than you’d think from watching teevee.

ObamaCare Is Slowly Dying [Transterrestrial Musings]

…from its birth defects. A great analogy. Congress has no authority to grant bureaucrats such discretion either way. It cannot simply hand over its powers to another branch of the government. That is the subject of a recent book by Columbia Law School professor Philip Hamburger, Is Administrative Law Unlawful? Hamburger’s thesis is that federal […]

Romney One, Obama Zero [Transterrestrial Musings]

Remember when Romney made Obama look dangerously foolish? Unfortunately, as Glenn says, the real problem is the dangerous foolishness of the low-infos who elected and re-elected him.

How Thieves Can Hack and Disable Your Home Alarm System [WIRED » Threat Level]

When it comes to the security of the Internet of Things, a lot of the attention has focused on the dangers of the connected toaster, fridge and thermostat. But a more insidious security threat lies with devices that aren’t even on the internet: wireless home alarms. Two researchers say that top-selling home alarm setups can […]


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