Monday, August 3, 2015

Deflection, it's what Democrats do best

Liberal Democrats had the audacity to believe that something as complex as providing health care to millions of citizens could be more effectively administered by government bureaucrats who had no experience or training in administration of this sector of the economy, than by the experienced and trained experts who managed the provision of health care in the private sector.

In Oregon, Governor John Kitzhaber and his administration were confident the state would lead the way, setting the example for many others, in how it would set up its state Obamacare exchange and administer the signs-up for the program. After spending more than $300 million setting up the state’s health care exchange, not a single citizen of the state signed up for Obamacare via the website before it was closed down. The Cover Oregon failure was such a political liability, for a governor in a heated battle for reelection in 2014, that Kitzhaber appointed his chief political advisor and campaign consultant, Patricia McCaig, to lead and carry out the closing of the site to protect the governor’s campaign for reelection.

In the process, they came up with the brilliant idea to deflect attention from their own glaring incompetent and rotten corruption and squandering of about $300 million in Cover Oregon by blaming the whole fiasco on Oracle, the information technology firm they brought to try to fix the doomed health care exchange website. They not only blamed Oracle for their failure to make Cover Oregon work, they filed a lawsuit against the company claiming they were responsible for the failure. Kitzhaber and McCaig not only presided over the failed Cover Oregon, but they further compounded the mess by suing Oracle.

More here

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On the ignorance of the learned

In a crowded train a few days ago I was reading Hazlitt preparatory to writing an essay comparing his Shakespeare criticism with that of Dr Johnson (whom he detested). Which of them was the more acute, the more penetrating? And the essay which I happened to read on the train was On the Ignorance of the Learned, which ends with the famous words:

If we wish to know the force of human genius we should read Shakespeare. If we wish to know the insignificance of human learning we may study his commentators.

As Hazlitt had by then written his book about Shakespeare’s characters, he presumably knew whereof he spoke.

The essay both delighted and irritated me. Delighted irritation is, of course, a very pleasant state of mind, for it combines the enjoyments of moral outrage with those of aesthetic appreciation. In a matter of only a few pages I found myself veering, staggering perhaps, between joyous agreement and the deepest exasperation. This, perhaps, is not surprising because I am one of those strange but by no means uncommon creatures, an anti-intellectual intellectualas, indeed, was Hazlitt.

When I reador rather re-read, for I had read the essay more than once beforethe affirmation that ‘There is no dogma, however fierce or foolish, to which these persons [the learned] have not set their seals, and tried to impose on the understandings of their followers…’ I nodded vigorously and enthusiastically, and let out an explosive little ‘Ha!,’ to the evident discomfort of those sitting next or opposite to me, who thought I might be mad. Or again: ‘They see things not as they are, but as they find them in books, and "wink and shut their apprehensions up," in order that they may discover nothing to interfere with their prejudices or convince them of their absurdity.’ One cannot help but think when reading this passage how apposite it is to all those intellectuals of the twentieth century who lined up to extol regimes such as Stalin’s, Mao’s or even (in fewer cases) Pol Pot’s. One also thinks of Cicero’s remark, nearly two millennia before, that there was nothing so absurd that some philosopher has not said it, and Orwell’s nearly a century and a half later, that there are some things so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them. Nothing changes.

More here

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Quote of the day

Italy’s debt level has risen to 135% of GDP. Some analysts see it as the "next Greece".
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India soon to become most populous nation

India is on track to become the world’s most populous nation in less than a decadeor six years earlier than previously thought, according to the U.N.

With 1.38 billion people compared with India’s 1.31 billion, China is currently the world’s most populous country. Figures for both countries are expected to swell to around 1.4 billion by 2022, at which point India’s population is likely to expand beyond China’s.

At the end of the next decade, in 2030, India is projected to have 1.5 billion people, a figure that’s forecast to balloon to 1.7 billion by 2050. China’s population, on the other hand, is forecast to remain relatively stable until the 2030s, at which point the U.N. says it is likely to "slightly decrease." In a forecast published two years ago, India had been expected to overtake China around the year 2028.

The projections from the population division of the U.N.’s economic and social affairs unit were published in a new report that also forecast an expansion in the world’s overall population to 8.5 billion by 2030. By the middle of the century, there are likely to be as many as 9.7 billion people worldwide, with six of the 10 largest countries India, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and the U.S. expected to have populations exceeding 300 million people.

More here

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The urban heat island effect

Perhaps no other climatic variable receives more attention in the debate over CO2-induced global warming than temperature. Its forecast change over time in response to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations is the typical measure by which climate models are compared. It is also the standard by which the climate model projections tend to be judged; right or wrong, the correctness of global warming theory is most often adjudicated by comparing model projections of temperature against real-world measurements. And in such comparisons, it is critical to have a proper baseline of good data; but that is easier acknowledged than accomplished, as multiple problems and potential inaccuracies have been identified in even the best of temperature datasets.

One particular issue in this regard is the urban heat island effect, a phenomenon by which urban structures artificially warm background air temperatures above what they normally would be in a non-urbanized environment. The urban influence on a given station’s temperature record can be quite profound. In large cities, for example, urban-induced heating can be as great as Tokyo’s 10°C, making it all the more difficult to detect and discern a CO2-induced global warming signal in the temperature record, especially since the putative warming of non-urbanized areas of the planet over the past century is believed to be less than 1°C. Yet, because nearly all long-term temperature records have been obtained from sensors initially located in towns and cities that have experienced significant growth over the past century, it is extremely important that urbanization-induced warming which can be a full order of magnitude greater than the background trend being sought be removed from the original temperature records when attempting to accurately assess the true warming (or cooling!) of the natural non-urban environment. A new study by Founda et al. (2015) suggests this may not be so simple or straightforward a task.

More here

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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Not everyone likes multiculturism

A Finnish member of parliament has come under fire for a comment he made over the weekend decrying the "nightmare called multiculturalism" and rallying his compatriots to fight for "one true Finnish nation."

The MP, Olli Immonen, is a member of the populist and nationalist Finns Party, which is part of the country’s governing coalition. In a posting on his Facebook page late Friday night, Immonen said he is "dreaming of a strong, brave nation that will defeat this nightmare called multiculturalism. This ugly bubble that our enemies live in, will soon enough burst into a million little pieces."

"Our lives are entwined in a very harsh times [sic]," Immonen said. "These are the days, that will forever leave a mark on our nations [sic] future. I have strong belief in my fellow fighters. We will fight until the end for our homeland and one true Finnish nation. The victory will be ours."

The Finns Party scored 17.7 percent of the vote in Finland’s election in April, making it the second biggest party in the Finnish parliament and earning it a place as a partner in the country’s governing coalition. The party has a strong anti-immigration stance.

More here

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Terrorism and ricin

Shocking pictures show how a computer geek attempted to stash a batch of ‘deadly ricin poison’ capable of killing 1,400 people inside a toy Lamborghini.

Mohammed Ali, 31, attempted to purchase the chemical weapon over the ‘dark web’ from his home in Liverpool.

But the software programmer didn’t realise that his supplier was an FBI agent who tipped off police in the UK and sent him harmless powder.

Under the username Weirdos 0000, Ali struck a deal with a supplier on the internet black market to buy 500mg of powder for £320 enough to kill 1,400 people.

The dad-of-two took delivery of the powder stashed inside five vials hidden inside a battery compartment Police then swooped on his home and arrested him under anti-terror laws.

More here

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Trump and illegals

Donald Trump’s blunt and clumsy comments about illegal immigration sparked the usual firestorm of criticism from the well heeled of both parties. Particularly vocal were those Republicans who think that an amorphous, make-believe category comprising "Hispanics" or "Latinos" will vote Republican if only Republican meanies like Trump would stop insulting them by complaining about illegal aliens. As usual, willful ignorance or blindness about the costs of illegal immigration underwrites these dubious ideas.

Trump’s comments about crimes committed by illegal aliens, for example, were attacked by the usual denial and obfuscation. Various statistics, some mixing illegal and legal immigrants, were touted as showing illegal criminal activity was proportionately less than that of the native-born. But as Brietbart reported, while illegal aliens are 3.5% of the population, based on federal sentencing data they represent 12% of murder convictions. Add state crime data, and according to an analysis at American Thinker illegals commit 10 times more murders than do citizens.

Murder obviously gets the most attention, especially after a five-time deported illegal alien felon in San Francisco gunned down Kate Steinle in broad daylight. Yet the champions of the "path to citizenship" typically ignore the less spectacular disorderly behavior of the sort rife in regions with large concentrations of illegal aliens like the San Joaquin Valley. Driving under the influence or while intoxicated, driving without insurance, perpetrating hit-and-run accidents, discarding garbage and trash along roads, disregarding laws and codes covering construction, animal control, restaurants, and sanitation, breaking into homes and cars, stealing copper wire from farm pumps––all these quality of life infractions have increased as more illegal aliens have settled in the Valley.

More here

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Trump's increasing popularity

Why has the Donald Trump candidacywhich so many professionals and pundits at first dismissed as a jokeflared this summer? In the first week of July, 15 percent of Republicans supported Trump for president in a YouGov poll. By the third week, that support had almost doubled, to 28 percentwith another 10 percent listing him as their second choice.

Something happened in July to send Trump’s numbers soaring. That something may have been the murder of Kathryn Steinle.

On July 5, the 32-year-old Steinle posed with her father for a photograph on a San Francisco pier at 6:30 on a Wednesday evening. Suddenly there was a pop. Steinle crumpled. She died in hospital two hours later.

The stunningly random killing left behind a devastated familyand a confessed killer: Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who had been convicted of seven previous felonies and five times been ordered deported from the United States.

More here

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Education, race to the bottom

Recent controversies over Common Core standards have intensified the debate over high-stakes K-12 academic testing that became a national issue with President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act.

Holding schools accountable for children’s academic performance is simple common sense. A child who struggles to read in fourth grade is four times more likely to drop out of school; if he cannot comprehend his textbooks he cannot learn science, civics, and history. The student falls further and further behind.

Likewise, a student with an understanding of numbers in the early grades will not be prepared for algebra in later grades. Success in algebra is a key indicator of success in post-secondary education.

Each state determines proficiency standards for reading and math, and each state measures whether students are meeting them on annual tests. This means that, including the District of Columbia, we have 51 different markers for proficiency. The question then becomes whether each state is setting the bar high enough. In other words, when a student achieves a proficient score on a state test, is he in fact really proficient in the subject? Or was the test too easy or the passing score set too low in order to inflate results?

The answer can be found by comparing results on state tests with results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). NAEP is widely recognized as the gold standard for measuring academic progress in the states. Every two years, a representative sample of students from each state is administered the same high-quality assessments in reading and math, and all are graded by the same objective standard. NAEP sets the bar for proficiency at in-depth, working knowledge of the subject.

More here

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Texas likes to sue the U.S. government

Texas' Republican leaders have not been shy in citing the state's lawsuits against the Obama administration 34 in total as a point of pride.

Most of the lawsuits were filed by former attorney general and now-Gov. Greg Abbott. His successor, Ken Paxton, has mounted three legal challenges since taking office in January, and more could come.

The attorney general’s office has provided cost estimates for 31 of the cases against the Obama administration, which as of July totaled about $4.8 million.

So what did Texans get for their money?

Based on court rulings, Texas has definitively won six of those cases. In 10 cases, the courts ruled against the state. Eleven cases are still pending, and the AG's office withdrew the remaining seven.

More here

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Organic food not so "organic"

While organic crops supposedly aren’t treated with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, a recent report suggests that isn’t always true. The author cites a 2012 USDA study that found while few of the nearly 600 sample studied for synthetic pesticides had levels that exceeded the EPA/USDA safety levels, many had such ‘contamination’ below those levels. When they were added up, over 40 percent of the samples had at least traces of synthetic pesticides. While this means nothing for health or safety, it does mean that those touting the supposed ‘purity’ of organic foods are leading their followers astray. How does this happen? Is it fraudulent practices by farmers, or is it drift from nearby non-organic fields?

While neither of these possibilities can be completely ruled out, a former USDA organic farm inspector, Mischa Popoff, says neither of these is likely to account for all the contamination seen. Instead, he points to inspectors’ lack of ability to test crops in the field, which they can’t do now. He points out that without such testing while planting and growing are in process, an inspector can’t say whether the farmer is cheating or if prohibited substances are simply drifting from conventionally-grown fields in the vicinity.

Further, apparently the USDA doesn’t actually require much testing for organic certification at any point in the production process. Rules promulgated in 2013 require that organic certifiers test samples from at least 5 percent of the operations they oversee that doesn’t really translate into much oversight.

"This whole matter is nothing more than a tempest in a teapot," says ACSH Senior Nutrition Fellow Dr. Ruth Kava. "Our position has always been that organic foods are no better than conventionally-produced ones in terms of either safety or health. Thus the finding of this so-called contamination by traces of synthetic chemicals will not affect either one. The only issue here is whether or not supposedly organic foods are being fraudulently marketed as such and that’s a legal, not a scientific issue."

Source

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Undocumented Democrats say...


Friday, July 31, 2015

Surveillance masquerading as cybersecurity

One of the things that civil liberties activists like to lament about is that the general public seems to care more about Google and Facebook using their personal data to target advertising than the government using it to target drone strikes.

The reality is that both types of abuse are dangerous, and they work hand in hand.

It’s hard to find a more perfect example of this collusion than in a bill that’s headed for a vote soon in the U.S. Senate: the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA.

CISA is an out and out surveillance bill masquerading as a cybersecurity bill. It won’t stop hackers. Instead, it essentially legalizes all forms of government and corporate spying.

Here’s how it works. Companies would be given new authority to monitor their users -- on their own systems as well as those of any other entity -- and then, in order to get immunity from virtually all existing surveillance laws, they would be encouraged to share vaguely defined "cyber threat indicators" with the government. This could be anything from email content, to passwords, IP addresses, or personal information associated with an account. The language of the bill is written to encourage companies to share liberally and include as many personal details as possible.

That information could then be used to further exploit a loophole in surveillance laws that gives the government legal authority for their holy grail -- "upstream" collection of domestic data directly from the cables and switches that make up the Internet.

More here
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Quote of the day

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." --H.L.Mencken

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Giant sucking sound

As even the casual observer of the effects from the corporatist model for economic commerce knows, permanence in a developing prosperity is transient at best. What becomes the rush to ratchet up industrial production ends up in a piercing disappointment for long term stability. China is the latest example of a corporatist model in serious trouble. And who will suffer the most? Those dependent on export manufacturing are clearly poised for a very bumpy ride. While the oligarchs play global chess with their foreign companies, the enterprise of creating a rise in world-wide wealth suffers.

Examine the context of what Steven Yates writes in CONVERGING ON TECHNO-FEUDALISM.

"Trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) began to decimate the U.S. manufacturing base. NAFTA went into effect on Jan. 1, 1994. The "giant sucking sound" predicted by Ross Perot began. Plants closed, releasing workers who had earned $15 - $20 an hour. Operations went to Mexico, for labor that cost the owners perhaps $1 an hour (these figures aren’t exact, but you get the idea). NAFTA wasn’t the first. The original General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) dates from the 1940s, during the wave of fascination with global governance which also gave us the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, and Bretton Woods. With GATT II put in place the year after NAFTA and the newly created World Trade Organization overseeing things, manufacturing went to China for still cheaper labor."

For the last several decades China was conducting the bulk of manufactured business because the globalist corporatist model was meant to bankrupt Western economies. As production ramped up, the former middle class in Europe and North America saw a sharp decline in their living standards. Chinese cheap labor was the magic ingredient that attracted the mass exodus of U.S. business from our shores.

More here

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Get out white boy!

Nobody is immune to bigotry. Blacks are just as capable of being prejudiced as whites and acting on it.

Just ask a white male named Christopher Lyons.

Lyons claims in an explosive but little noticed federal lawsuit that he was fired as a District of Columbia Department of Public Works supervisor because black employees did not want to work for a "honkey," as they repeatedly called him. Lyons says he was ousted for blowing the whistle on on fraud and waste at the DPW.

Lyons’ complaint against the DPW, which handles trash collection and enforces parking regulations in the District, includes a two page chart describing all the racial harassment he allegedly endured from black workersas the DPW’s director, also black, looked the other way.

Lyons finally got the boot after just eight months on the job without explanation. But one employee certainly wished him a bon voyage. The day he was fired somebody posted a sign on Lyons’ door that said, "Get out white boy."

More here

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Organic food = hoax

Consumers of organic foods are getting both more and less than they bargained for. On both counts, it’s not good.

Many people who pay the huge premiumoften more than a hundred percentfor organic foods do so because they’re afraid of pesticides. If that’s their rationale, they misunderstand the nuances of organic agriculture. Although it’s true that synthetic chemical pesticides are generally prohibited, there is a lengthy list of exceptions listed in the Organic Foods Production Act, while most "natural" ones are permitted. However, "organic" pesticides can be toxic. As evolutionary biologist Christie Wilcox explained in a 2012 Scientific American article ("Are lower pesticide residues a good reason to buy organic? Probably not."): "Organic pesticides pose the same health risks as non-organic ones."

Another poorly recognized aspect of this issue is that the vast majority of pesticidal substances that we consume are in our diets "naturally" and are present in organic foods as well as non-organic ones. In a classic study, UC Berkeley biochemist Bruce Ames and his colleagues found that "99.99 percent (by weight) of the pesticides in the American diet are chemicals that plants produce to defend themselves." Moreover, "natural and synthetic chemicals are equally likely to be positive in animal cancer tests." Thus, consumers who buy organic to avoid pesticide exposure are focusing their attention on just one-hundredth of one percent of the pesticides they consume.

More here

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A bit of history...

History is teleology. We view all historical events as inevitably leading us to the here and now. The meaning of the past is derived from our end of the timeline looking backwards, as if our past selves were eternally future-oriented. When we examine the historical record we are not simply asking the innocent question of what happened, rather are making a hypothesis about how what might have happened led to this our world, our cultures, our peculiar kind of consciousness. We may sneer at Creationists for suggesting the world is only 6000 years old, and that dinosaur fossils were placed in the ground by a trickster god to test our faith, but the argument is no less solidly teleological than any other historical proposition. We have spent all the time since the 4th Millennium B.C., when societal complexity outpaced memory, cherry-picking the written records of our forefathers in an effort to explain why today is not like yesterday, and denigrating oral traditions and half-remembered visions of the past as folklore, mythology, and anecdote. History is not forgotten, rather history is molded and smoothed, shaped to fit comfortably into the ideologies which they are circularly said to offer the justification for.

Anatomically modern humans have been loitering about the planet for about 200,000 years, and the last common ancestor for chimpanzees and humans is believed to have existed somewhere between two and ten million years ago, and the last common ancestor of Homo sapiens and Homo erectus (our direct genetic predecessors) seems to have appeared about a million years ago, with Neanderthals diverging from the genetic tree some mere 500,000 years ago and purportedly extinct by about 30,000 years ago (a lot of theories have us opening up a can of whoop-ass on the poor brutes). Obviously, this means that for roughly a million years, critters that were not us, but more similar to us than to chimpanzees were running around, until we brought our evolutionary A-Game and outcompeted the whole kit and caboodle. Our modern hubris about our big brains and lack of occipital bun (which if you tune in to any 24 hour news channel is somewhat overstated) maintains that critters that were like us, but not us, spent 800,000 years digging for grubs and generally exhibiting poor manners and worse hygiene, while we evolved into the superior beings that you see on the highway today. It took us 6000 years to go from scratching cuneiform on clay tablets to landing men on the moon, suggesting that the pathway from picking at fleas to civilization might just not be the arduous toil that our teleological interpretation of our own awesomeness holds it to be.

More here

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War on women?


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Burn everything down !

In rarely seen angle on the Black Lives Matter mob takeover of a NetRoots Nation Presidential Town Hall last weekend in Phoenix, Arizona, activists from the group scream explicit calls for violence and chaos, using an Occupy Wall Street style call-and-response technique to advocate "burn everything down," "shut this shit down," and "rise the fuck up."

The shouted manifesto lays bare the theory behind the burning, looting, and rioting that have transpired in recent months in Baltimore and Ferguson, and it also lays out the group’s agenda on current news events like immigration reform, transgender activism, and the fables about the death of convicted criminal Sandra Bland that the group is spreading through the media.

The nascent Black Lives Matter movement cannot claim that these statements were made by a few fringe members: the entire rant was orchestrated by Black Lives Matter Founder Patrisee Cullors, who can be seen in the video enthusiastically pumping her fist and shouting along with every incendiary statement.

Nor is Black Lives Matter a fringe group; they have been embraced and given fealty by the highest levels of the Democratic power structure. Cullors told a British interviewer, "We’re going into halls of power now. Many of us are meeting with mayors or meeting with local government. Some of us have met with President Obama himself to talk about the demands."

More here
 
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Judge threatening to hold IRS director and DOJ attorneys in contempt

U.S District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan today threatened to hold the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department attorneys in contempt of court after the IRS failed to produce status reports and newly recovered emails of Lois Lerner, former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the IRS, as he had ordered on July 1, 2015.

During the a status hearing today, Sullivan warned that the failure to follow his order was serious and the IRS and Justice Department’s excuses for not following his July 1 order were "indefensible, ridiculous, and absurd." He asked the IRS’ Justice Department lawyer Geoffrey Klimas, "Why didn’t the IRS comply" with his court order and "why shouldn’t the Court hold the Commissioner of the IRS in contempt." Judge Sullivan referenced his contempt findings against Justice Department prosecutors in the prosecution of late Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and reminded the Justice Department attorney he had the ability to detain him for contempt. Warning he would tolerate no further disregard of his orders, Judge Sullivan said, "I will haul into court the IRS Commissioner to hold him personally into contempt."

More here

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Virginia turning blue

The birthplace and final resting place of George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jeffersonand once one of the most reliably-red of red statesis being rapidly turned into a progressive stronghold.

These changes are not the result of an inside agency, or a natural evolution in political thinking, but rather the result of one of the most impactful yet least-discussed policies of the federal government.

Each year the federal government prints millions of visas and distributes these admission tickets to the poorest and least-developed nations in the world.

A middle-aged person living in parts of Virginia today will have witnessed more demographic change in the span of her life than many societies have experienced in millennia.

A census study entitled "Immigrants in Virginia," released by University of Virginia (UVA) researchers, documented the phenomenon: "Until 1970, only 1 in 100 Virginians was born outside of the United States; by 2012, 1 in every 9 Virginians is foreign-born."

More here

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Breakdown of immigration law enforcement

A decorated Arizona sheriff says the Obama administration is to blame for the breakdown of immigration law enforcement in the United States which he believes has led to the murders of innocent Americans at the hands of illegal aliens.

Paul Babeuthe sheriff of Pinal County who was voted America’s 2011 "Sheriff of the Year,"told Bill Tucker, guest host of "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV that tragedies like the recent fatal shooting of a young woman by a five-time deported illegal immigrant in San Francisco are proof.

"He had seven felony convictions. This guy had no right, no business being in this country . . . He’s an example for all of what’s wrong with immigration in America," Babeu said.

"President [Barack] Obama, [former Attorney General] Eric Holder, the current AG [Loretta Lynch] and [Homeland Security Secretary] Jeh Johnson . . . have gutted our immigration law to the point that [illegal immigrants] have far stronger rights."

"[That includes] the criminals, the most serious offenders of criminals who don’t even have standing, legitimate standing in our country[they] commit murder, rape, kidnappingand what happens to these guys? They’re released back into not the streets of the country they came from."

And Babeu said he doesn’t see the problem being solved anytime soon.

More here

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Suing the EPA

Twenty-nine states, more than half the stars on the American flag, have filed lawsuits against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for redefining the "Waters of the United States," or WOTUS. EPA rewrote the law, erasing "navigable" and usurping states’ rights by including local seasonal streams, farm irrigation ponds, roadside ditches, and even "connective" dry lands placed under authority of the Clean Water Act.

The WOTUS rule, published the morning of June 29, potentially subjects every food, energy, transportation and manufacturing industry in the nation to high-handed regulation by one of the most reviled and least trusted federal agencies, dreaded for its cadre of "revolving door" officials hired from anti-industry green groups.

The astonishing response began on the afternoon of June 29: states teamed up in clusters to file their lawsuits in U.S. District Courts. Utah and eight others filed with Georgia in Augusta’s U.S. District Court; Alaska and eleven others filed with North Dakota in Bismarck. Days later, Mississippi and Louisiana filed with Texas in Galveston; Michigan filed with Ohio in Columbus; Oklahoma filed alone in Oklahoma City.

Each state lawsuit asked a federal judge to declare the WOTUS rule illegal and issue an injunction to prevent the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, co-administrators of the rule, from enforcing it. Each state also asked the judge to order both agencies to draft a new rule that complies with the law and honors state authority.

More here

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Chicago

Barack Obama is the first American president from Chicago. That fact will be the trailblazing Obama’s most lasting legacy.

Chicago has long been stereotyped as a city where any-means-necessary politics have ruled, and where excess is preferable to moderation. Convicted felon Tony Rezko, leftist extremists Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Father Michael Pfleger, radical Bill Ayers, Saul Alinsky’s take-no-prisoners Rules for Radicals, felon and former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich all these were part of Barack Obama’s Chicago tutelage. Chicagoan Rahm Emanuel’s infamous adage "You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that, it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before" was the unofficial motto of the Obama administration’s efforts to grow government, up-regulate, and borrow immense sums measures impossible without a climate of induced panic and fear.

Director Brian De Palma’s 1987 film The Untouchables rejuvenated Chicago’s reputation for muscle over niceties. The film dramatized Chicago’s institutionalized bribery and corruption during the effort to bring down Roaring Twenties mobster Al Capone. Screenwriter David Mamet famously had characters brag of "the Chicago way." On more than one occasion, a cop advised: "They pull a knife, you pull a gun." Gun-control advocate and Chicagoan Barack Obama made waves in his 2008 presidential run when he echoed the film’s advice to a Philadelphia audience. He joked of what his campaign might do to his rival, John McCain: "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." Obama exemplified the Chicago stereotype of how to get business done when, that same campaign year, he advised his followers to confront their political opponents: "I want you to argue with them and get in their face."

More here

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

J. Philippe Ruston (1943-2012)

Race is a dangerous and difficult topic to broach in academic circles, and there was always a suspicion that Philippe Rushton was attracted to a subject most wise people avoid precisely because of the do-not- enter signs an egalitarian society placed in his path.

"I do enjoy intellectual excitement," he confessed to a colleague, who questioned whether Rushton actively sought the sensationalism that came his way after he unveiled his theories of racial differences at a major American science conference in 1989. They ended up being denounced by Ontario Premier David Peterson, investigated by the Ontario Provincial Police, derided by geneticist David Suzuki in a public debate, and booed as a guest on the Geraldo tabloid-TV show.

But for the studiously formal and emotionally controlled psychology professor at Western University, who has died of cancer at the age of 68, the motivation for ranking racial groups by methods that presented blacks as intellectually inferior and sexually unrestrained came from the purer intentions of science: to take the evidence of research to its most logical and unavoidable conclusion.

"If the differences between groups are not just cultural but somehow hooked up to biological factors," says Danish researcher Helmuth Nyborg, a long-time friend, "then we are talking against nature if we say everybody’s equal. It tried his patience to see people arguing against Darwinism by means of ideology that’s not a fair match, he would say."

More here

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Anti-immigrant feelings increasing in Sweden

Every July, thousands of politicians, lobbyists and journalists desert Stockholm in a seasonal exodus of the well-connected. Their destination is Gotland, Sweden’s largest island, for a festival of politics that showcases the consensual virtues associated with Scandinavia. During Almedalen week, named after the park in the main town of Visby, Social Democrats rub along with Liberals, Conservatives, Socialists and Greens in the narrow medieval streets, competing for bar space, television interview slots and seats at myriad fringe meetings held throughout the day.

The mood is normally convivial, as befits a political elite at play before the summer break begins. But this year there was a palpable edge. On the Wednesday evening, bodyguards in dark suits and sunglasses were prowling around a main stage, on which a sniffer dog was searching. Police vans lined a nearby road.

The crowd that began to gather was notably different from the habitual Almedalen setpoorer, older and less fashionably dressed. Middle-aged couples from the south mingled with pensioners and the occasional skinhead. This was another Sweden, overwhelmingly provincial and, in these monied surroundings, somewhat self-conscious. It had assembled to listen to Jimmie Ã…kesson, the latest Scandinavian leader to take his party from the far-right fringes of politics to the mainstream.

Ostracised within the Swedish parliament, the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats are the country’s fastest-growing political force. Before last September’s general election, one of their candidates had to withdraw when photographs appeared of her wearing a swastika armband. Such reminders of the party’s neo-fascist roots are a regular occurrence, but a substantial swathe of the Swedish electorate does not seem to care. The SD gained 12.9% of the vote at the election, more than doubling its share and making it Sweden’s third-largest political movement. Latest opinion polls put the party above 18%, snapping at the heels of the Social Democrats, who run an enfeebled minority government.

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Even assassins get statues nowadays

A statue of a Bosnian Serb nationalist whose assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand 101 years ago sparked World War I, and who is seen here as an icon of Serb patriotism, was inaugurated here Sunday.

The two-meter (6.6-foot) high bronze statue of Gavrilo Princip was unveiled in a park in downtown Belgrade and the event was attended by several hundred people, according to an AFP photographer.

"Princip was a hero, a symbol of ideas of liberty.... Others may think what they want," said Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, who attended the event.

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, whose entity gave the statue to Belgrade as a gift, was also present. The statue by a local sculptor is the same as the one unveiled in Bosnia's Serb-run Sarajevo suburb last year.

Princip, who was just 19 when he shot the archduke in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, remains a controversial figure in the Balkans, where the scars of ethnic wars in the 1990s are still fresh.

While some see him as a fervent Serb nationalist who sought to liberate Slavs from their Austro-Hungarian occupiers, others regard him as a terrorist who unleashed horrific bloodshed on the world.

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Life is cheap in Mexico

The search for 43 missing college students in the southern state of Guerrero has turned up at least 60 clandestine graves and 129 bodies over the last 10 months, Mexico’s attorney general’s office says.

None of the remains has been connected to the youths who disappeared after a clash with police in the city of Iguala on Sept. 26, and authorities do not believe any will be. Prosecutors say the students were turned over to a drug gang that killed them and incinerated their bodies in a case that has put attention on the huge number of people who have gone missing in Guerrero and other Mexican states where drug violence is widespread.

The number of bodies and graves found from October to May could possibly be higher than in its report, the attorney general’s office said, because its response to a freedom of information request from The Associated Press covers only those instances in which its mass grave specialists got involved.

Federal authorities began turning up unmarked graves after beginning an investigation into the disappearance of the 43 young men following the confrontation between students and police that resulted in six confirmed deaths in Iguala, a municipality of 120,000 people 200 kilometers (160 miles) south of Mexico City.

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Ice-free Arctic by 2014?

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Amundsen, assigned to a global warming research mission in the Arctic, was called away from duty last week to help commercial ships navigate the unusually heavy ice in the Hudson Bay a far cry from the scenario envisioned by Al Gore’s 2009 prediction of an ice-free Arctic by 2014.

The episode brings to mind the ill-fated voyage of the Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy that became stuck in unexpectedly heavy Antarctic ice in December 2013 while on a research mission to the South Pole.

It seems Mother Nature is simply not cooperating with the ever-more dire global warming forecasts.

A study reported last week that the amount of Arctic sea ice had rebounded by one-third after the cool summer of 2013, erasing the prior three years of sea ice melt. Global sea ice level is on a zero trend for the decade, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Pendulum clocks

Almost 350 years ago, Dutch inventor and scientist Christiaan Huygens observed that two pendulum clocks hanging from a wall would synchronise their swing over time.

What causes the phenomenon has led to much scientific head-scratching over the centuries, but no consensus to date.

On Thursday, a study in the Nature journal Scientific Reports proposed a solution: the pendulums transfer energy to one another through sound pulses.

A pair of Portuguese scientists hypothesised that these pulses might move from clock to clock, perturbing the swing of the pendulums and eventually causing them to synchronise.

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Temperature fraud


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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The tax man

Shortly before leaving office in January, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley found himself speaking on the phone to a utility-company employee about setting up an account for his family’s new private residence. Asked how he spelled his last name, O’Malley, a Democrat, responded: "Like the outgoing governor." The woman on the other end of the line quipped, "Ah, yes. The tax man."

O’Malley himself tells this story, perhaps to burnish his left-of-Hillary credentials for a 2016 presidential run. But the tax-happy reputation he gained in Marylandby one estimate, he hiked taxes and fees 40 times during his two termsprobably cost his party the governorship last November. Republican challenger Larry Hogan, founder of the antitax group Change Maryland, defeated the Democratic candidate, thenlieutenant governor Anthony Brown, in a state that Gallup recently declared America’s second-most Democratic. Hogan wasn’t the only 2014 GOP gubernatorial candidate to win in deep Blue territory. Republicans also captured the governor’s mansion in Massachusetts (the country’s most Democratic state, according to Gallup) and in Illinois (the ninth-most). Republicans picked up a governor’s seat in GOP-leaning Arkansas, too, with Asa Hutchinson succeeding term-limited Mike Beebe. The Democrats, by contrast, took only one governorship from Republicans, in Blue-tinted Pennsylvania.

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Jews to leave France?

Has the time come for Jews to say au revoir to France? In an article for the forthcoming edition of Vanity Fair, Marie Brenner examines the causes of and justifications for the exodus of France’s Jewish population.

Brenner weaves a narrative that includes testimony from police and government officials, activists, fellow journalists, Jewish watchdog groups, a posh luxury goods executive, witnesses from a wide variety of anti-Semitic incidents and assaults throughout France, a Parisian Imam, and an eighteen-year-old, well-heeled, university-bound high school senior who is heartened at the idea that, in America, she could outwardly display her Judaism and live unmolested.

Among the key subjects is Sammy Ghozlan, a former police chief who, in retirement, established and still oversees a civilian advocacy group whose "purpose is nothing less than to protect the Jews of France."

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Quote of the day


Implosion coming?

Republicans fear a repeat of 1992, with a squishy Bush at the head of the ticket watching helplessly as some populist businessman/novelty act hands the election to a Clinton. But Democrats should fear the far more likely repeat of 1968.

Ah, the 1968 convention … just thinking of it brings a smile to the face of every normal American. Let’s start with hordes of Chicago cops kicking the psychedelia out of dirty hippies. Footage of all-American flatfoots clocking VC-flag waving pinkos with nightsticks is more erotic than a hundred "Fifty Shades" books. Just thinking about it makes me want to light up a Marlboro and cuddle.

Then there was the fun and games inside the convention hall nothing like blue stater on blue stater fratricide to quicken the pulse and put a spring in your step. That glorious intramural warfare led to a Republican president. It may well again in 2016.

Back in 1968, the Democrat Party was divided between liberals who loved America and liberals who hated everything about it. The situation is a little different now, with today’s Democrat Party divided between liberals who hate everything about America and liberals who really, really hate everything about it.

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Vocal fry

Patriarchy is inventive. The minute a generation of women has figured out how to not be enslaved by Ideology A, some new cultural pressure arises in the form of Internalisation B, making sure they don’t get too far too fast. The latest example: the most empowered generation of women ever today’s twentysomethings in North America and Britain is being hobbled in some important ways by something as basic as a new fashion in how they use their voices.

This demographic of women tends to have a distinctive speech pattern. Many commentators have noticed it, often with dismay. Time magazine devoted a column to the mannerism called vocal fry, noting a study that found that this speech pattern makes young women who use it sound less competent, less trustworthy, less educated and less hireable: "Think Britney Spears and the Kardashians."

"Vocal fry" is that guttural growl at the back of the throat, as a Valley girl might sound if she had been shouting herself hoarse at a rave all night. The less charitable refer to it privately as painfully nasal, and to young women in conversation sounding like ducks quacking. "Vocal fry" has joined more traditional young-women voice mannerisms such as run-ons, breathiness and the dreaded question marks in sentences (known by linguists as uptalk) to undermine these women’s authority in newly distinctive ways. Slate notes that older men (ie those in power over young women) find it intensely annoying. One study by a "deeply annoyed" professor, found that young women use "uptalk" to seek to hold the floor. But does cordially hating these speech patterns automatically mean you are anti-feminist?

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Pope Francis popularity dropping

Pope Francis’ election in 2013 to lead the Catholic Church stirred hope among American Catholics that his humble style, reformist plans and new world roots might revive the church’s fortunes in the US.

But more than two years later, Americans and especially conservatives appear to have cooled on the 78-year-old Argentine pontiff ahead of a highly-anticipated September visit.

A new Gallup poll showed that Pope Francis’ favourability rating among Americans has dropped to 59 per cent, from 76 per cent in February 2014. This is below the levels recorded by Pope John Paul II throughout most of his papacy although it is still broadly better than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

The apparent disenchantment follows an escalation in recent months in the Pope’s rhetoric against global capitalism.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Taps

Every day for the past two years, an entire neighborhood pause from whatever they’re doing in their busy lives for about two minutes.

For the past two years now, one musician has made it his mission to play the same 24 notes from his balcony every day, rain or shine. As his way of respectfuly paying tribute to our nation and its troops, this musician humbly feels it’s his sacred duty to play this song for his neighborhood. At the same time, each and on every single day, whenever he begins playing, it feels as though time seems to stop.

Watch the heartwarming video below to see how his neighbors react; it’s obviously a special moment for this tight-knit community. When he begins playing his tribute and neighbors start to come out of their homes to listen, it should swell your heart with pride.

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Hydration

The modern era of our reliance on experts was ushered in with the late, unlamented Benjamin Spock’s mega bestseller The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, first published in 1946. The book’s unctuous opening line, "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do," along with his ridiculous recommendation of a vegan diet after age two (in the seventh edition) fit right in with the prototypical expert’s career progression. His Leftist politics, including being a notorious pro-abortion baby doctor, played well in the news media, and only improved his brand.

With the advent of the Internet, expert adviceoften in video formatis available on every conceivable topic within seconds. The problem now is determining which "expert advice" is actually correct. Inasmuch as science these days is greatly affected by political correctness and manipulation of the bully pulpit, in a world where just about anything can get published in a journal, we exist in a paradox: The more experts there are, the more you must rely on yourself!

Which brings us to the subject of hydration. Before we get to the matter of how much water you should drink per day, let’s cover some basic physiology....

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Quote of the day

Men and women who don't want children aren't finished being children themselves.

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Why are the Dutch so tall?

Insecure about your height? You may want to avoid this tiny country by the North Sea, whose population has gained an impressive 20 centimeters in the past 150 years and is now officially the tallest on the planet. Scientists chalk up most of that increase to rising wealth, a rich diet, and good health care, but a new study suggests something else is going on as well: The Dutch growth spurt may be an example of human evolution in action.

The study, published online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shows that tall Dutch men on average have more children than their shorter counterparts, and that more of their children survive. That suggests genes that help make people tall are becoming more frequent among the Dutch, says behavioral biologist and lead author Gert Stulp of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

"This study drives home the message that the human population is still subject to natural selection," says Stephen Stearns, an evolutionary biologist at Yale University who wasn’t involved in the study. "It strikes at the core of our understanding of human nature, and how malleable it is." It also confirms what Stearns knows from personal experience about the population in the northern Netherlands, where the study took place: "Boy, they are tall."

For many years, the U.S. population was the tallest in the world. In the 18th century, American men were 5 to 8 centimeters taller than those in the Netherlands. Today, Americans are the fattest, but they lost the race for height to northern Europeansincluding Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, and Estonianssometime in the 20th century.

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Race relations not improving

Seven years ago, in the gauzy afterglow of a stirring election night in Chicago, commentators dared ask whether the United States had finally begun to heal its divisions over race and atone for the original sin of slavery by electing its first black president. It has not. Not even close.

A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week reveals that nearly six in 10 Americans, including heavy majorities of both whites and blacks, think race relations are generally bad, and that nearly four in 10 think the situation is getting worse. By comparison, two-thirds of Americans surveyed shortly after President Obama took office said they believed that race relations were generally good.

The swings in attitude have been particularly striking among African-Americans. During Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign, nearly 60 percent of blacks said race relations were generally bad, but that number was cut in half shortly after he won. It has now soared to 68 percent, the highest level of discontent among blacks during the Obama years and close to the numbers recorded in the aftermath of the riots that followed the 1992 acquittal of Los Angeles police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King.

Only a fifth of those surveyed said they thought race relations were improving, while about 40 percent of both blacks and whites said they were staying essentially the same.

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Trump's White House