Thursday, December 18, 2014
WASHINGTON — Two senior Islamic State group leaders were killed in U.S. and coalition airstrikes in northern Iraq over the last week, U.S. officials said Thursday, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel approved new orders for several hundred troops to deploy to Iraq to train Iraqi forces.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Justice Department is now interpreting federal law to explicitly prohibit workplace discrimination against transgender people, according to a memo released Thursday by Attorney General Eric Holder.
And that goes for all you people hiring nannies, too. I'm too old to need a nanny. Actually, I think it's just state and federal employees.
It is not often that you are obliged to proclaim a much-loved genius wrong, but in his alarming prediction on artificial intelligence and the future of humankind, I believe Stephen Hawking has erred. To be precise, and in keeping with physics – in an echo of Schrödinger's cat – he is simultaneously wrong and right.
Last week more than 300 former Obama staffers signed an open letter urging the famous Harvard Law School professor to run in 2016. Days earlier, two big progressive groups, MoveOn.org and Democracy for America, also pressed the first-term Massachusetts senator to seek the party’s presidential nomination.
The implicit logic of the Draft Warren movement is that after eight years of the Obama presidency, the American people want to move . . . further left.
However intriguing that proposition, the real problem for the political pros behind Draft Warren or even the Ready for Hillary super PAC is that the Democratic left’s high-publicity wing insists on doing stupid things in public that turn off more voters than they turn on.
But my empathy for Sony ended abruptly last night when news broke that its executives announced they were cancelling the theatrical release of “The Interview,” which had been scheduled for Christmas Day. The suits who run the big film studios aren’t exactly known for exemplifying physical courage or political fortitude, but even by the most forgiving standards this capitulation is an unbridled act of gutlessness.
You can't make this stuff up. In a limited defense of Sony, however, I doubt seeing The Interview is worth one life. It's probably not even worth $9.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Adding creative insult to corporate injury in the wake of the massive hacking of Sony's computer files, the film that may have triggered the incident, The Interview, is an intensely sophomoric and rampantly uneven comic takedown of an easy but worrisomely unpredictable target, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. In the relatively sparse annals of irreverent major studio comedies that pissed off foreign nations, for big laughs this one doesn't rate anywhere near Borat or Team America: World Police; the latter prominently included the present North Korean boss man's father, Kim Jong-il, among its many targets.
Since you won't get to see it on the big screen.
Man left with plane ticket to travel the globe after girlfriend dumped him finds woman to use the ticket | abc7chicago.com
Remember Jordan Axani? He was the man left with an extra ticket for an around-the-world adventure when his girlfriend broke up with him. Undeterred from taking the trip, he set out to find another woman named Elizabeth Gallagher to use his ex's ticket. Fast forward a month...Axani has found his new Elizabeth Gallagher.
They should show up the old girlfriend too so we can see if he got an upgrade. But the new one is pretty cute.
“I hate Republicans,” communications department chairwoman and professor Susan J. Douglas boldly declares in the opening of the piece. “I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal ‘personhood.’”
And it's ok to hate chairpersons of Communications Departments.
Now, with Jeb Bush’s announcement on Tuesday, a third Bush seems to be preparing to face the demanding voters of the first two states in the presidential selection process, with uncertain expectations. But a chorus of top Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire said that the former Florida governor may be a more formidable contender in the critical early voting states than is widely assumed.
U.S. officials have concluded North Korea is behind the hacking attack on Sony Pictures, elevating the issue from a question of corporate security to national security, according to people familiar with the investigation.
And a pretty spectacular hack it was, too.
The historic plan announced by President Obama on Wednesday to normalize relations with Cuba was met with heavy bipartisan resistance on Capitol Hill, raising questions of whether Congress will even consider easing a more than 50-year trade embargo against the communist state -- let alone end it.
Harvard Law student’s disastrous argument for delayed exams due to emotional trauma blows up « Hot Air
Establishing ties with Cuba has been on President Obama’s bucket list for some time. Health care -- done. Amnesty for illegal immigrants -- done. Cuba -- next. This last one also has the added bonus point that it puts him right with the international left, which lionizes Castro.
So now we get to see what Congress is made of.
Krauthammer's Cuba Take: 'Is There No Tyrant in the World Obama Will Not Appease For Nothing?' | National Review Online
Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer lamented the Obama administration’s decision to open formal relations with Cuba on Wednesday, pegging it as part of a broader trend and wondering whether there’s any tyrannical or anti-American regime to whom he won’t grant one-sided concessions.
“We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public,” it continues. “We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”
North Korea 1, Sony 0.
Next year’s Congress just got a whole lot more interesting.
In announcing historic plans to normalize relations with Cuba, President Obama spoke about establishing a U.S. embassy in Havana and working with Congress to lift the decades-old embargo of the communist country located 90 miles from Miami.
Report: ’7th Heaven’ dad Stephen Collins admits to sexually abusing three underage girls - The Washington Post
Actor Stephen Collins, beset by allegations in recent months that he sexually abused young girls over a period of decades, has reportedly admitted for the first time, in an essay, that there were three victims.
In a little-noticed CNN interview, John Yoo, a primary author of the torture memos, took a surprising position. Although the former Office of Legal Counsel lawyer isn't sure that the Senate torture report is accurate, he says that if all of the interrogation tactics it describes were really deployed by CIA officers, some of them broke the law and are vulnerable to prosecution. Here's a transcript of the exchange:
Considering that the now-abolished Central Intelligence Agency interrogation program adopted in the wake of 9/11 was intended to protect the U.S. from another deadly attack, it is stunning to hear those now criticizing the program issue the solemn reminder that “we are a nation of laws”—while devoting little attention to what was actually in those laws. Odder still, among the critics those who wrote the laws seem to devote the least attention to them.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
The effectiveness of Lovecraft’s fiction has little to do with its purely literary qualities, which are minimal (Michel Houellebecq claimed that Lovecraft’s work was “not really literary”), but with another feature that’s harder to pinpoint: the ways it casts a spell. Fiction like Lovecraft’s can be brutally hypnotic; the young reader, intellectually undefended and easily shaken, enters the writer’s fear-drenched universe and can’t easily get out of it. The mood of unappeasable, apocalyptic menace gradually overcomes those who are unprepared for it. Though sometimes stagy, the intensity in Lovecraft’s stories does not seem fake. Closing the book, the initiate tries to find other readers who were similarly spellbound. A cult is formed, as if to combat post-traumatic stress. From generation to generation the cult grows.
Russia's ruble plunged to an all-time low against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday, despite the Russian central bank's stunning move to hike interest rates to 17 percent in an effort to support the currency. The affect on global markets was immediate and dramatic, with traders pricing in the increasing possibility of a Russian default.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is filming the next season of the show Amazing America with the most recent episode taking place in Texas. It involved a hunt for feral hogs, with Palin bagging a rather large one. Of course, this was pretty much the end of civilization as we know it.
My objection to feral hogs is that they are probably full of parasites. Otherwise, fine.
The 1,600-page omnibus bill that passed this weekend is no way to run a government, but one of its better provisions raises the campaign contribution limits to political entities like the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee. Individuals have heretofore been limited to donating $32,400 a year to a party committee. The omnibus raises that tenfold to $324,000.
Not sure what I think.
VATICAN CITY (AP) — A sweeping Vatican investigation into Roman Catholic nuns in the United States that began amid fears they had become too feminist and secular ended up praising the sisters Tuesday for their selfless work caring for the poor — a major shift in tone that reflected the social justice mindset of Pope Francis.
It's not like there are many left.
In the wake of the passage of CRomnibus –on the strength of GOP votes – the GOP leadership in Congress and the GOP establishment has been working overtime to rough up Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Utah Senator Mike Lee. A lot of the GOP is miffed that they have to serve alongside men of principle, this produces a Devil-Holy Water effect. They also realize based on the government shutdown… an act I’d contend mobilized the GOP base to come out and deliver a beating to the Democrats in November… and the forced vote on the Constitutionality of the Obama’s executive action on immigration (21 Republican senators agreed with the premise that Obama’s actions were constitutional)… the leadership is panicked about the Hell the next Congress will be for them as they try to feed the pigs at the trough, accommodate the Chamber of Commerce on amnesty, and give Obama whatever he wants all the while trying to convince conservatives that they are actually putting up a fight. This is hard with a caucus moving in lockstep. With a handful of men like Cruz and Lee it becomes nearly impossible.
Inside baseball. I agree mostly with Cruz but he strike my innards wrong. Could be I'm wrong or just getting old.
The scariest words uttered during Jonathan Gruber’s recent appearance before the House Oversight Committee were “positive selection.” They were read aloud by Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, from a 1997 paper the professor co-authored concerning abortion. The opus in question made the Congressman uneasy because of the following passage: “By 1993 all cohorts under the age 19 were born under legalized abortion and we estimate steady state savings of $1.6 billion per year from positive selection.” Rep. Massie asked the professor what was meant by “positive selection.” This question was evidently not anticipated in Gruber’s pre-testimony coaching, so he became evasive.
Gruber evasive? The whole attitude of the Left toward abortion by minority parents is pretty appalling.
The nation’s state legislatures are about to become embroiled in a battle of epic proportions as they line up on either side of the debate over the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
The struggle could define the future of, and indeed the very existence of, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Dozens of congressional Democrats asked federal health officials Monday to take extra steps to protect gay illegal immigrant children from abuse while they’re in custody, including ensuring that transgender children are housed with the sex they identify as.
They identified two distinctly different call sounds that cows make to their calves, depending on whether they are nearby or separated.
They also identified a call calves make to their mothers when they want to start suckling milk.
I thought they were saying, don't eat me, bro.
Despite the rouble slumping - even though Russia hiked interest rates from 10.5% to 17% in a vain attempt to support the currency - global markets ended the day higher. In the UK, investors latched onto the low inflation figures, betting that they made an interest rate rate unlikely in the near future. Weak US manufacturing figures had a similar effect, while positive German confidence figures and reasonable PMI data helped support European markets. There was also some optimism after US secretary of state John Kerry said Russia had made some constructive moves towards possible reducing tensions in Ukraine, the situation which prompted Western sanctions on the country.
Russian in crisis is dangerous.
I came to the conclusion that this is rather Hitler's attempt to reassert his personal political control over the German general staff and the entire Nazi hierarchy. It's a reaction to the von Stauffenberg bomb attempt on his life on the 20th of July, 1944. After that, he hides away. He goes into shock. He doesn't know whom to trust. His health goes downhill. The genesis of Hitler's plans to launch the Bulge is his grappling to retain control of the direction of military affairs and prove to the Third Reich that he's still the man at the top.
LONDON—Last November, a ticket inspector in one of London’s main rail stations spotted Jonathan Burrows, a fund manager at BlackRock Inc., passing through a gate having paid a questionable fare.
And so ended a 20-year career in finance.
This wouldn't happen in the US of A but it should.
When a cold strikes, nose blowing is often the easiest and fastest way to relieve symptoms. But people who blow with hurricane force can prolong their suffering. One expert, Neil Schachter, medical director of the Respiratory Care Department at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, explains how to recognize an improper nose blow.
Cattle hauler Preston Newcomer found lucrative work in recent years moving cows from a quarantine center in Pennsylvania to the Port of Wilmington, Del., for export on floating feedlots to countries such as Russia and Turkey.
But after a string of banner years, U.S. cattle exports have fallen by a third this year. Wilmington’s port has seen an even sharper drop: It expects to end 2014 having moved 24,000 head of cattle, half the 49,000 it averaged each of the three prior years.
“It’s awesome. It’s outstanding,” said Bryan Bishop, founder of OUTVETS, the first openly gay group to be allowed to march in the parade after a two-decade-long controversy. Bishop was credited by Mahoney as having swayed the board.
It probably far from the worst thing that goes on in Southie.
" 'A lot of the children are under the benches,' " a Pakistani Taliban member said, according to Ahmed. " 'Kill them.' "
By the time the hours-long siege at Army Public School and Degree College ended early Tuesday evening, at least 141 people -- 132 children plus nine staffers -- were dead, military spokesman Gen. Asim Bajwa said. More than 100 were injured, many suffering gunshot wounds, according to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani.
But for heaven's sake make sure that you would not use torture to stop this attack.
I am not sorry Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the operational mastermind of 9/11, was waterboarded 183 times. KSM also murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl in 2002. He boasted about it: “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew,” he said after his capture.
I am sorry KSM remains alive nearly 12 years after his capture. He has been let off far too lightly. As for his waterboarding, it never would have happened if he had been truthful with his captors. It stopped as soon as he became cooperative. As far as I’m concerned, he waterboarded himself.
Monday, December 15, 2014
A spaceship powered by nuclear bombs secretly launched in the 1960s. A colony ship on 100-year journey to spread humanity to the stars. These central themes of the SyFy Channel's epic "Ascension" miniseries this week sound like pure science fiction, U.S. scientists actually worked to build such a spaceship in the 1960s.
Mindfulness may be the antidote, say more and more practitioners, and an increasing number of scientific studies. The ages-old practice teaches a person to be more focused on the present moment, rather than caught up in thoughts about the past or worries about the future. The practice has gained popularity in the U.S., and apparently with good reason: Every other week there seems to be a new scientific study showing just how it can change the brain. Corporations and politicians are also jumping on board, and learning how to simply be, in the present moment.
I so sick of articles like this. But it does work.
San Diego officials close off Children's Pool beach in La Jolla for next five months to protect seals | UTSanDiego.com
Luck has become famous for congratulating—sincerely and enthusiastically—any player to hit him hard. Any sack is met with a hearty congratulations, such as ”great job” or “what a hit!” He yells it after hard hits that don’t result in sacks, too. It is, players say, just about the weirdest thing any quarterback does in the NFL.
Sony Pictures Entertainment has demanded that news organizations stop the publishing of private information from what is shaping up to be one of the most devastating corporate hacks of all time.
We hereby undertake not to publish any material stolen from Sony, unless it becomes obvious we could do so without anybody nailing us for it.
I have to say, if this is North Korea, it turns out to be an extremely clever response to the movie "The Interview." Extremely illegal, of course, but that has not bothered North Korea in the past. It's the sort of thing somebody could make a movie about. Among many others who careers are toast as a result of these disclosures, I suspect those who argued fearlessly for the production of The Interview are now reaping the rewards of their fearlessness, which is Hollywood is often not so good.
Why was no big fuss made over Thomas' unjustifiable death?
It was on videotape. It was far more violent than Eric Garner's death. It clearly was not an accident or caused in part by his weight or bad physical health.
Thomas was killed by three men who were either bad cops or poorly trained, or both. But he was the wrong color - white.
That's why there were no sad commentaries from President Obama and no public protests from professional football or basketball players when the three cops who killed Thomas got off.
We have a serious law enforcement problem in America, but it's not about race. It's about bad cops and how we've built our policing system.