Monday, September 30, 2013

The Associated Press Goes to Bat For the Democratic Party
Why do Republicans never seem to come out ahead politically when they go toe-to-toe with the Democrats? Part of the reason, at least, is that the press, to a greater extent than at any time in our history, is monolithically Democrat. The most important news organ is the Associated Press, whose articles appear in hundreds, or possibly thousands, of newspapers around the country. The AP pretends to be a neutral, just-the-facts information source, but it is nothing of the kind. While there are some good reporters at the AP, the overwhelming majority function, as to issues that are politically controversial, as advocates for the Democratic Party....
Chart of Consumer Price Index, 1800-2005
The Consumer price index shows the average change of prices over time in a market basket of goods and services. This measures the rate of inflation. Note: An estimate for 2005 is based on the change in the CPI from first quarter 2004 to first quarter 2005.

Notice how the peaks in inflation over the last 200 years have coincided with major wars.

Also note that the USA went off the gold standard in 1933.
IRS scandal means bad news for Obama
So last week, while most of the country was talking about football or fears of a government shutdown, Rasmussen released a poll that should worry everyone -- but especially incumbent Democrats in Congress. According to Rasmussen's survey, most Americans think the IRS broke the law by targeting Tea Party groups for harassment, but few expect it to be punished. Fifty-three percent think the IRS broke the law by targeting the Tea Party and other conservative groups like the voter-integrity outfit True The Vote; only 24% disagreed. But only 17% think it is even somewhat likely that anyone will be charged, while 74% think that criminal charges are unlikely....

...Beyond that, the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto has begun calling President Obama "President Asterisk," saying that IRS efforts to weaken his opposition in the run-up to the 2012 election devalue Obama's victory the way illegal steroid use devalues an athlete's record-book standing. Taranto writes that this puts Obama in a situation that is in some ways worse than Nixon after Watergate: "We now know that government corruption -- namely IRS persecution of dissenters -- was a factor in Obama's re-election.

To be sure, Obama himself has not, at least so far, been implicated in the IRS wrongdoing as Nixon ultimately was in Watergate. On the other hand, Nixon's re-election victory was so overwhelming that no one could plausibly argue Watergate was a necessary condition for it. The idea that Obama could not have won without an abusive IRS is entirely plausible."...
Middle school sorry for showing video of celebs professing slavish Obama devotion
School district officials in Hudson, Wis. have apologized for using a bizarre 2009 “I Pledge” video for a local middle school’s Peace One Day event last week, reports nearby Fox affiliate KMSP.

The 2009 video, produced by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, features Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore and several C- and D-list celebs fawning over and promising to serve President Barack Obama....

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rand Paul: If He Loves It So Much, Why Doesn't The President Take Obamacare?
Why doesn't the president voluntarily take Obamacare? I mean, it's his baby. He loves it so much, why doesn't the president take it? He could voluntarily go on the exchanges. In fact, I’m sure they'd welcome him at the D.C. exchanges. I really think that ought to be a question they ought to ask him at the press briefing today. Mr. President, are you willing to take Obamacare? If you don't want it, why are we stuck with it?

So, if the president can't take it, if Chief Justice Roberts doesn't want it, here's the thing. You want to see a rebellion? We should ask federal employees to take Obamacare. That’s what my amendment says, not just Congress. I’m willing to take it. I don't want it. I absolutely don't want it. And I’ve been frank about it. I’m not a hypocrite. I didn't vote for it. I think the whole thing is a mess and I don't want it. But the thing is if I’ve got to take it, I think the president ought to get it, get a full dose of his own medicine. I think Justice Roberts should get it. I think he contorted and twisted and found new meaning in the constitution that isn't there. And if he wants it so much, if he thinks it's justified and if he's going to take that intellectual leap to justify Obamacare, he ought to get it.

There’s millions of federal employees. They don't want it. But guess who they vote for usually? I think it is a partisan question. I think if we were to put it forward and say, Obamacare is such a wonderful thing for everybody, let's give it to the federal employees; my guess is we wouldn't get a single vote from the opposition party on this. But we won't even get a chance because they don't want to talk about it. Obamacare is good. We’re going to shove it down the rest of America’s throat. We’ll exempt ourselves.

I have a constitutional amendment. I frankly think that Congress should never pass any law that they're exempted from. I think there's an equal protection argument for how it would be unconstitutional for us to do so, and yet we've done it repeatedly. But my question to you is: What you think? Do you think maybe we should ask the president to come down today and sign up for Obamacare? I think we should ask him that today, every day, and henceforth. Mr. President, such a good idea, why don't you get it?

Why should Congress get special exemption under Obamacare?
...ack in 2009, when Democrats were writing the massive new national health care scheme, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley offered an amendment. Obamacare created exchanges through which millions of Americans would purchase "affordable" health coverage. Grassley's amendment simply required lawmakers, staff, and some in the executive branch to get their insurance through the exchanges, too.

To every Republican's amazement, Democrats accepted the amendment. It's never been fully clear why; the best theory is they intended to take the provision out in conference committee, but couldn't do so because they lost their filibuster-proof 60-vote majority. In any event, Obamacare --- the law of the land, as supporters like to say --- now requires Congress to buy its health care coverage through the exchanges....

...But that's the law. It could be amended, but Democrats, who voted unanimously for Obamacare, couldn't very well expect much help from Republicans, who voted unanimously against it. So over the summer Democrats asked President Obama to simply create an Obamacare exception for Capitol Hill.

Not long after --- presto! --- the Office of Personnel Management unveiled a proposed rule to allow members of Congress, their staff, and some executive branch employees to continue receiving their generous federal subsidy even as they purchase coverage on the exchanges. No ordinary American would be allowed such an advantage....

Even More Delays For Obamacare
...In yet another sign of the difficulty federal and state governments are having with the law's technical implementation, online enrollment for some of the law’s small business health exchanges will be delayed, according to Politico. Both the small business exchanges and the individual exchanges were scheduled to begin enrollment next Tuesday. Small businesses will still be able to enroll via a paper form.

It’s the second significant Obamacare delay announced already today. The District of Columbia, which along with a minority of states is running its own exchange, announced this morning that it would not begin online enrollment next week as originally planned.

The reason is that the enrollment technology designed to judge eligibility for subsidies or Medicaid isn’t working correctly yet....

Labor Unions: Obamacare Will 'Shatter' Our Health Benefits, Cause 'Nightmare Scenarios'
Labor unions are among the key institutions responsible for the passage of Obamacare. They spent tons of money electing Democrats to Congress in 2006 and 2008, and fought hard to push the health law through the legislature in 2009 and 2010. But now, unions are waking up to the fact that Obamacare is heavily disruptive to the health benefits of their members.

Last Thursday, representatives of three of the nation’s largest unions fired off a letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, warning that Obamacare would “shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

The letter was penned by James P. Hoffa, general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Joseph Hansen, international president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union; and Donald “D.” Taylor, president of UNITE-HERE, a union representing hotel, airport, food service, gaming, and textile workers.

“When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act,” they begin, “you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat…We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision. Now this vision has come back to haunt us.”...

SEIU unionists strike over Obamacare-related cuts
Members of the Chicago-based Service Employees International Union Local 1 have gone on strike over recent job cuts by a janitorial company called Professional Maintenance.

The reason for the cuts? The employer says it is because of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. This is ironic since SEIU is a major supporter of the law.

Tyler French, Local 1's organizing director, told Mediatrackers Ohio the company claimed it had to cut its employees' hours due to Obamacare mandates....

Ten states where Obamacare wipes out existing health care plans
President Barack Obama famously promised, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” He later got even more specific.

“If you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have,” Obama said.

But as Obamacare’s rollout approaches, we have learned this is not true. Here are the ten states where consumers may like their health care plans, but they won’t be able to keep them....
My experience of the world has taught me that the average wine-bibber is a far better fellow than the average prohibitionist, and that the average rogue is better company than the average poor drudge, and that the worst white-slave trader of my acquaintance is a decenter man than the best vice crusader. In the same way I am convinced that the average woman, whatever her deficiencies, is greatly superior to the average man. The very ease with which she defies and swindles him in several capital situations of life is the clearest of proofs of her general superiority. She did not obtain her present high immunities as a gift from the gods, but only after a long and often bitter fight, and in that fight she exhibited forensic and tactical talents of a truly admirable order. There was no weakness of man that she did not penetrate and take advantage of. There was no trick that she did not put to effective use. There was no device so bold and inordinate that it daunted her.
-— H.L. Mencken, In Defense of Women (1922)

The present public prosperity of the ex-suffragettes is chiefly due to the fact that the old-time male politicians, being naturally very stupid, mistake them for spokesmen for the whole body of women, and so show them politeness. But soon or late — and probably disconcertingly soon — the great mass of sensible and agnostic women will turn upon them and depose them, and thereafter the woman vote will be no longer at the disposal of bogus Great Thinkers and messiahs. If the suffragettes continue to fill the newspapers with nonsense, once that change has been effected, it will be only as a minority sect of tolerated idiots, like the Swedenborgians, Christian Scientists, Seventh Day Adventists and other such fanatics of today.
-— H.L. Mencken, In Defense of Women (1922)
NSA Internet Spying Sparks Race to Create Offshore Havens for Data Privacy
...Three of Germany's largest email providers, including partly state-owned Deutsche Telekom AG, DTE.XE -0.28% teamed up to offer a new service, Email Made in Germany. The companies promise that by encrypting email through German servers and hewing to the country's strict privacy laws, U.S. authorities won't easily be able to pry inside. More than a hundred thousand Germans have flocked to the service since it was rolled out in August.

"We can say that we protect the email inbox according to German law," says Jorg Fries-Lammers, a spokesman for one of the German companies, 1&1 Internet AG. "It's definitely a unique selling point."...

...It is too soon to tell if a major shift is under way. But the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation estimates that fallout from revelations about NSA activities could cost Silicon Valley up to $35 billion in annual revenue, much of it from lost overseas business. A survey conducted this summer by the Cloud Security Alliance, an industry group, found that 56% of non-U.S. members said security concerns made it less likely that they would use U.S.-based cloud services. Ten percent said they had canceled a contract.

"We talk to our sales leaders, who talk to customers every day, and this has the potential to significantly erode the trust of customers around the world," says John Frank, a deputy general counsel at Microsoft....
Is The Patriarchy Dead?
...So where is this dreaded American patriarchy Rosin is covering up? Some critiques of her argument boil down to “it’s only affluent white women who are doing well” (and poor minority men are presumably basking in privilege). A gentleman critic, fellow author Matthew Yglesias, cites men’s numerical dominance in corporate America—as if Rosin might be unaware of these statistics. (One figure he omits: women control 60 percent of the wealth in the United States.) ...

...Gender-based biases are not a one-way street. If women are still stigmatized more for sleeping around, men are stigmatized more for not having enough sex—even by some feminists whose choice insult for sexist men is to imply sexual deprivation. Women may experience more disapproval for delegating child care; men, for failing to be providers. We can endlessly debate whether these norms are rooted in nature or culture and whether they are valuable or harmful (or some mix of both). The fact remains that such double standards are not only perpetuated by men and women alike but, in this day and age, at least as likely to be favorable to women as to men....

...Ultimately, the examples of patriarchy at work offered in responses to Rosin prove her point. They consist of complex issues oversimplified into a war on women (such as proposed abortion limits, which women in some cases support more than men);...
Feds Steal $35K From Small Grocer's Bank Account Despite Finding "No Violations" To Justify the Grab
...So you have to report deposits of over $10,000, but keeping deposits under $10,000 is considered suspicious, even if your insurance company insists on the practice. Get it?

Under the circumstances, IRS agents dropped by for a friendly chat in 2010, and then again in 2012. After the second visit, the feds sent the Dehkos a letter saying that “no violations [of banking laws] were identified.”

And then, nine months later, the IRS emptied the Dehkos' bank acount of $35,000 without warning.

In the Dehkos' case, the IRS used civil asset forfeiture, which requires no criminal action or proof of guilt on the part of a property owner to seize that property—technically, it's a legal action against the property itself. Not surprisingly, it's a hugely lucrative practice for government agencies and a hugely controversial one for everybody else. Last year, Pennsylvania Judge Dan Pellegrini called the practice “state-sanctioned theft.” Shelby County, Texas, was forced to return money and property that its officers essentially stole from motorists just passing through. Amidst much screaming from mugged constituents, Washington, D.C.'s city council is considering reforming (thought not abandoning) the practice. Some Tennessee lawmakers want to dump it altogether.

But the use of asset forfeiture, both civil and criminal, soared at the federal level under the current administration, growing from $500 million in 2003, to $1.8 billion in 2011.

The Dehkos have been charged with no crime, and still await a chance to ask a judge to force the IRS to return the money....
New York Times Op-Ed: It Was a Mistake to Believe the Hockey Stick
As for the recent plateau, I predicted it, back in 2004. Well, not exactly. In an essay published online then at MIT Technology Review, I worried that the famous “hockey stick” graph plotted by three American climatologists in the late 1990s portrayed the global warming curve with too much certainty and inappropriate simplicity. The graph shows a long, relatively unwavering line of temperatures across the last millennium (the stick), followed by a sharp, upward turn of warming over the last century (the blade). The upward turn implied that greenhouse gases had become so dominant that future temperatures would rise well above their variability and closely track carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere....

Now They Tell Us: New York Times Editorial Announces It Was A Mistake to Take the Mann Hockey Stick "Seriously"
...“Suppose... future measurements in the years 2005-2015 show a clear and distinct global cooling trend. (It could happen.) If we mistakenly took the hockey stick seriously — that is, if we believed that natural fluctuations in climate are small — then we might conclude (mistakenly) that the cooling could not be just a random fluctuation on top of a long-term warming trend, since according to the hockey stick, such fluctuations are negligible. And that might lead in turn to the mistaken conclusion that global warming predictions are a lot of hooey. If, on the other hand, we reject the hockey stick, and recognize that natural fluctuations can be large, then we will not be misled by a few years of random cooling.”...

...O.K., I didn’t actually predict a pause in the warming but a possible period of cooling. But that’s close enough....

Climate change is on ice: UN scientists reveal the world's barely got any hotter in the last 15 years - but say they are now 95% certain man is to blame for global warming
UN scientists said today they are '95 per cent' certain that climate change is man made, but still could not explain why the world has barely got any hotter in the last 15 years.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that sea levels have risen by 19cm since 1901 and are expected to rise a further 26-82cm by the end of the century.

It added that concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have increased to levels that are unprecedented in at least 800,000 years.

But the landmark report conceded that world temperatures have barely risen in the past 15 years, despite growing amounts of greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere....
NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander slams 'sensationalized' reporting
The leader of the embattled National Security Agency doubled down Wednesday against calls from Capitol Hill to restrict U.S. government surveillance programs — a campaign he attributed to “sensationalized” reporting and “media leaks.”...

...Speaking at a cybersecurity conference in Washington, Alexander also commended companies for cooperating with the federal government, and he made a plea for more power — particularly to thwart terrorists who have elevated their activities to cyberspace....

...“We look at what’s going on with media leaks, and what’s happened to industry as a consequence of that,” he continued. “And now we need industry to work with us on cyber legislation.”
Milgram experiment
...Charles Sheridan and Richard King hypothesized that some of Milgram's subjects may have suspected that the victim was faking, so they repeated the experiment with a real victim: a "cute, fluffy puppy" who was given real, albeit apparently harmless, electric shocks. They found similar findings to Milgram: half of the male subjects and all of the females obeyed to the end. Many subjects showed high levels of distress during the experiment and some openly wept. In addition, Sheridan and King found that the duration for which the shock button was pressed decreased as the shocks got higher, meaning that for higher shock levels, subjects showed more hesitance towards delivering the shocks....
Univ. of Colorado asks, Is human extinction nigh?
...In a sprawling “Climate-change summary” on his website, McPherson claims President Obama conceals his knowledge of impending extinction and that the Central Intelligence Agency “runs the United States and controls presidential power.”

“The response of politicians, heads of non-governmental organizations, and corporate leaders remains the same. They’re mired in the dank Swamp of Nothingness,” he writes.

Despite these claims, he says, “I’m not implying conspiracy.”...
Report: Social connections of U.S. citizens collected by NSA
The National Security Agency has been gathering the social connections of Americans since 2010, according to a New York Times report Saturday.

By allowing the analysis of every email and phone number for foreign intelligence purposes since 2010, James Risen and Berlin-based freelancer Laura Poitras report, the NSA has been able to create sophisticated graphs about people’s social connections on a massive scale.

Checking for a target’s “foreignness” was also not a requirement, and the agency would not say how many Americans were caught up in the effort....
MSNBC’s Alex Wagner to marry Obama’s White House kitchen guy
...Wagner, 35, is engaged to 33-year old former White House chef Sam Kass, even though we only read in the Washington Post in August that they were even dating!

When not using his Andre Agassi brand head razors, Kass serves as executive director of the first lady’s Let’s Move! healthy eating campaign. Despite starting in the White House kitchen, Kass is now a senior White House policy advisor for nutrition policy....
IRS Documents Reveal Agency Flagged Groups for 'Anti-Obama Rhetoric,' Big Three Refuse to Report
ABC, CBS and NBC have so far refused to report the latest bombshell in the IRS scandal - a newly released list from the agency that showed it flagged political groups for "anti-Obama rhetoric." On September 18 USA Today, in a front page story, reported the following: "Newly uncovered IRS documents show the agency flagged political groups based on the content of their literature, raising concerns specifically about 'anti-Obama rhetoric,' inflammatory language and 'emotional' statements made by non-profits seeking tax-exempt status."

Not only have ABC, CBS and NBC not reported this story they've flat out stopped covering the IRS scandal on their evening and morning shows. It's been 85 days since ABC last touched the story on June 26. NBC hasn't done a report for 84 days and CBS last mentioned the IRS scandal 56 days ago on July 24....

Friday, September 27, 2013

Models of misinformation -- climate reports melt under scrutiny
...German climatologist Hans von Storch has found that IPCC climate models project warming trends as low as actual recorded observations only 2% of the time.

The monthly journal Nature Climate Change reports that over 20 years (1993-2012), the warming trend computed from 117 climate model simulations (0.3°C per decade) is more than twice the observed trend (0.14°C/decade). Over the most recent 15 years (1998-2012), the computer-simulated trend (0.21°C/decade) is more than four times the observed trend (0.05°C/decade)—a trend that is pretty close to a flat line....

Climate Models vs. Observations: Picture Worth a Thousand Words
...Compared to the actual temperature rise since 1980, the average of 32 top climate models (the so-called CIMP5) overestimates it by 71-159%. A new Nature Climate Change study shows that the prevailing climate models produced estimates that overshot the temperature rise of the last 15 years by more than 300%....

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Time’s Stengel latest in long line of reporters who jumped to jobs in Obama administration
...The latest hire: Richard Stengel, Time magazine’s managing editor (and Carney’s former boss). Obama nominated Stengel last week to be the State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, a top communications post. Stengel will succeed Tara Sonenshine, another journalist (ABC News, Newsweek) who became part of the government she once covered.

At State, Stengel can swap newsroom stories with Samantha Power, a former journalist (U.S. News, the Boston Globe, the New Republic) who is now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. His staff will include Desson Thomson, a former Washington Post movie critic who became a speechwriter for Hillary Rodham Clinton when she served as secretary of state. Other colleagues will include two recent additions to Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s staff: Glen Johnson, a longtime political reporter and editor at the Boston Globe, and Douglas Frantz, a reporter and editor who has worked for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and, most recently, The Post. Frantz was also briefly an investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Kerry, then a senator from Massachusetts....
Have Professional Women Created a Worse World for Their Working Class Peers?
In her new book, The XX Factor: How the Rise of Working Women Has Created a Far Less Equal World, British economist Alison Wolf argues that as the gap between genders has narrowed for the affluent, the gap between rich and poor women has broadened. The former’s professional success is made possible by “the return of the servant classes”—almost uniformly female housekeepers and nannies who free their employers to pull farther ahead. “Until now, all women’s lives, whether rich or poor, have been dominated by the same experiences and pressures,” she writes. “Today, elite and highly educated women have become a class apart." I interviewed Wolf this week about her provocative argument and how it has been received....
School official tells students Trayvon Martin case proved it is 'legal to hunt' children
An email sent to students by a University of Maryland official that cites the Trayvon Martin shooting as evidence "it is legal to hunt down and kill American children in Florida" is being blasted as the latest evidence of a left-wing bias on campus.

The email, from William Dorland, director of the school's Honors College, starts by welcoming students back to campus, but then quickly veers into politics.

"This year, we learned that it is legal to hunt down and kill American children in Florida," it reads, in a reference to the trial of George Zimmerman, who was cleared of all charges in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The email went out to all students in the Honors College.

The political language continued:

"This year, the most activist Supreme Court in the history of the United States and radical factions of gun owners, gun manufacturers, and marijuana users are challenging the very fabric of the nation..."

Dorland then invites students to attend a lecture by former NAACP chairman Julian Bond....
Theft of US weapons in Libya involved hundreds of guns, sources say
EXCLUSIVE: The recent theft of massive amounts of highly sensitive U.S. military equipment from Libya is far worse than previously thought, Fox News has learned, with raiders swiping hundreds of weapons that are now in the hands of militia groups aligned with terror organizations and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The equipment, as Fox News previously reported, was used for training in Libya by U.S. Special Forces. The training team, which was funded by the Pentagon, has since been pulled, partly in response to the overnight raids last August.

According to State Department and military sources, dozens of highly armored vehicles called GMV's, provided by the United States, are now missing. The vehicles feature GPS navigation as well as various sets of weapon mounts and can be outfitted with smoke-grenade launchers. U.S. Special Forces undergo significant training to operate these vehicles. Fox News is told the vehicles provided to the Libyans are now gone.

Along with the GMV's, hundreds of weapons are now missing, including roughly 100 Glock pistols and more than 100 M4 rifles. More disturbing, according to the sources, is that it seems almost every set of night-vision goggles has also been taken. This is advanced technology that gives very few war fighters an advantage on the battlefield. ...
The Homage Statism Pays to Liberty
...Government controls me by controlling my trading partners. Government doesn't tell me to pay sales taxes; it just forces every business in Virginia to collect sales taxes as a condition of sale. Government doesn't tell me who I can and can't hire; it just tells every business I deal with who they can and can't hire. Government doesn't even tell me I have to contribute to Social Security; it just requires my employer to make contributions on my behalf as a condition of employing me.

Why is government coercion so predominantly indirect? ...

...Governments rely on indirect coercion because direct coercion seems brutal, unfair, and wrong. If the typical American saw the police bust down a stranger's door to arrest an undocumented nanny and the parents who hired her, the typical American would morally side with the strangers. If the typical American saw regulators confiscate a stranger's expired milk, he'd side with the strangers. If the typical American found out his neighbor narced on a stranger for failing to pay use tax on an out-of-state Internet purchase, he'd damn his neighbor, not the stranger. Why? Because each of these cases activates the common-sense moral intuition that people have a duty to leave nonviolent people alone.

Switching to indirect coercion is a shrewd way for government to sedate our moral intuition. When government forces CostCo to collect Social Security taxes, the typical American doesn't see some people violating their duty to leave other people alone. Why? Because they picture CostCo as an inhuman "organization," not a very human "bunch of people working together." Government's trick, in short, is to redirect its coercion toward crucial dehumanized actors like business (and foreigners, but don't get me started). Then government can coerce business into denying individuals a vast array of peaceful options, without looking like a bully or a busy-body....
DC delays key pieces of ObamaCare exchange
The ObamaCare exchange serving Washington, D.C. is delaying important parts of its operations less than a week before it is scheduled to open for enrollment.

Washington's exchange said Wednesday that it will not be ready on Oct. 1 to calculate the tax subsidies people can receive to help purchase private insurance.

The D.C. exchange also will not immediately be able to determine eligibility for Medicaid....
New report undercuts global warming alarmists
...The religious analogy is appropriate because belief in global warming has taken on the trappings of traditional religion.

Alarmists like to say the science is settled — which is nonsense, since science is a series of theories that can be tested by observations. When Einstein presented his theory of relativity he showed how it could be tested during astronomical events in the next decade. The theory passed.

Saying the science is settled is demanding what religions demand, that you have faith.

Religion has ritual. Global warming alarmism has recycling and Earth Day celebrations.

Some religions persecute heretics. Some global warming alarmists identify “denialists” and liken them to Holocaust deniers.

Religions build grand places of worship. Global warming alarmists promote the construction of windmills and solar farms that produce uneconomic and intermittent electricity.

Global warming alarmism even has indulgences like the ones Martin Luther protested. You can buy carbon offsets to gain forgiveness for travel on carbon-emitting private jet aircraft.

Some religions ban vulgar pleasures, like the New England Puritan sumptuary laws banning luxuries. Some global warming alarmists want to force most Americans out of big-lawn suburbs into high-rise apartments clustered around mass transit stations....
IRS Watchdog: $67 Million Missing from Obamacare Slush Fund
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The IRS is unable to account for $67 million spent from a slush fund established for Obamacare implementation, according to a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report released today. ...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Double Down: Obamacare Will Increase Avg. Individual-Market Insurance Premiums By 99% For Men, 62% For Women
...Based on a Manhattan Institute analysis of the HHS numbers, Obamacare will increase underlying insurance rates for younger men by an average of 97 to 99 percent, and for younger women by an average of 55 to 62 percent. Worst off is North Carolina, which will see individual-market rates triple for women, and quadruple for men....

...The Obama administration knows this, which is why its 15-page report makes no mention of premiums for insurance available on today’s market. Silence, they say, speaks louder than words. HHS’ silence on the difference between Obamacare’s insurance premiums and those available today tell you everything you need to know. Rates are going higher. And if you’re healthy, or you’re young, the Obama administration expects you to do your duty and pay up.

Obama’s Health-Law Premiums Test Limits of Affordability
Health insurance under Obamacare will cost individuals at least $2,988 a year on average, a price that Republican opponents may target as out-of-reach for many Americans who don’t qualify for U.S. subsidies.

While the $249 monthly payment is intended to be discounted through tax credits, less than half of people now buying insurance on their own may get that help. ...
Boys punished for airsoft guns in yard
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - Three Virginia Beach seventh graders learned their fates Tuesday morning when they were suspended for shooting airsoft guns on private property.

During a hearing with a disciplinary committee Tuesday morning, Aidan Clark, Khalid Caraballo and a third friend were given long-term suspensions in a unanimous vote. The suspensions will last until June, but a hearing will be held January 27 to determine if they will be allowed back in school sooner.

The students' parents initially told WAVY News' Andy Fox their children were expelled, but when Fox looked at the official letter from the school, he found they were long-term suspensions and not expulsions, as was recommended by the school's principal. Their parents still feel as though their children were expelled.

“I’m more than angry … it’s like an expulsion-suspension,” said Tim Clark, Aidan's father....

... In a Twitter post Tuesday evening , Virginia Beach School Board Chairman Daniel Edwards attached a letter defending the school's disciplinary actions against the boys: "Yet somehow student safety has taken a back seat in the intense media coverage of this case. This is not an example of a public educator overreaching. This was not zero tolerance at all. This was a measured response to a threat to student safety."...
Wikipedia's climate doctor
...But the UN's official verdict that the Medieval Warm Period had not existed did not erase the countless schoolbooks, encyclopedias, and other scholarly sources that claimed it had. Rewriting those would take decades, time that the band members didn't have if they were to save the globe from warming.

Instead, the band members turned to their friends in the media and to the blogosphere, creating a website called"The idea is that we working climate scientists should have a place where we can mount a rapid response to supposedly 'bombshell' papers that are doing the rounds" in aid of "combating dis-information," one email explained, referring to criticisms of the hockey stick and anything else suggesting that temperatures today were not the hottest in recorded time. One person in the nine-member Realclimate.orgteam -- U.K. scientist and Green Party activist William Connolley -- would take on particularly crucial duties. Connolley took control of all things climate in the most used information source the world has ever known -Wikipedia. Starting in February 2003, just when opposition to the claims of the band members were beginning to gel, Connolley set to work on the Wikipedia site. He rewrote Wikipedia's articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling. On Feb. 14, he began to erase the Little Ice Age; on Aug. 11, the Medieval Warm Period. In October, he turned his attention to the hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the band. Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer, two of the world's most distinguished climate scientists, were among his early targets, followed by others that the band especially hated, such as Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, authorities on the Medieval Warm Period.

All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn't like the subject of a certain article, he removed it -- more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred -- over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. Acolytes whose writing conformed to Connolley's global warming views, in contrast, were rewarded with Wikipedia's blessings. In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement....
The DEA Thinks You Have “No Constitutionally Protected Privacy Interest” in Your Confidential Prescription Records
The Drug Enforcement Administration thinks people have “no constitutionally protected privacy interest” in their confidential prescription records, according to a brief filed last month in federal court. That disconcerting statement comes in response to an ACLU lawsuit challenging the DEA’s practice of obtaining private medical information without a warrant. The ACLU has just filed its response brief, explaining to the court why the DEA’s position is both startling and wrong....

...In its latest brief, the DEA ignores these points and instead argues that the mere fact that our clients’ prescription records are held in a database maintained by a third party—the State of Oregon—means that they have somehow given up their privacy interest in the records. Courts have found that no warrant is required for information contained in some kinds of business records like electricity consumption records held by a power company or room registration information held by a motel. This is because, in theory, people have voluntarily given up their privacy interest in information when they turn it over to a third party. We disagree with that principle, called the “third party doctrine,” in many situations, because when people provide sensitive information to a third party for a specific purpose, they typically do not intend for law enforcement to have unfettered access to it. The principle is particularly offensive in this case....
Ban the evil of horse riding now!
...I am talking of course about horse riding or, as drugs expert Professor David Nutt memorably described it, ‘equine addiction syndrome’ or ‘equasy’. According to the BBC, horse riding kills at least 10 people per year in Britain, causes at least 100 traffic accidents per year (harming innocent people!) and is the cause of three per cent of all spinal injuries in the UK. It is 20 times more dangerous than riding a motorcycle. But, alas, Britain’s horse culture is here to stay. The horse lobby has many friends in Parliament. You might say ‘the neighs have it’. Why talk about horses? Because the emotive and remarkably ignorant response, particularly by ban-happy Brits, to the Navy Yard shooting on Monday - in which technical contractor and former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis killed 12 people before being shot by police - makes no more sense than a campaign against horse riding....

...Well, Piers, imagine if I had been going around in public forums declaring that horses bit 24 people to death in the United States last year, but it turned out that it was dogs that caused all that carnage. It’s an easy mistake to make; horses and dogs both have four legs, right? Does it really matter to the victims whether it was dogs, donkeys, horses or combine harvesters? Obviously, the answer is to BAN HORSE RIDING NOW...

...Perhaps you should do some maths, Piers. Even if Mother Jones was a little reticent about the total casualties, I calculated that there have been 509 deaths in mass shootings in the United States since 1982. That averages 16.4 deaths per year. Taking into account America’s much larger population, that’s a lower rate than horses kill in Britain....
Global warming and the chilling of politics
...For critics - variously described by climate-change advocates as ‘sceptics’ or even ‘deniers’ - the IPCC’s problems, and the palpable interference of governments in what is often presented as a purely science-led process, shows that the science is not really as scientific as is made out. Rather, say the critics, the science has been compromised by politics: it has been politicised....

...But there’s a bigger problem here than the IPCC’s consistently dodgy science, underpinned by behind-the-scenes politicking. Because while it’s partially right to say that the IPCC has always been a thoroughly politicised institution, rather than a purely scientific one, that isn’t the main issue. The important thing to grasp is that the IPCC has acquired this role, this supreme policy-determining function, in the absence of politics proper. The science of climate change has, over the past two decades, become a substitute for political argument, a means to justify and legitimate policies and politicians. Whereas once a political vision, an idea of the good life, might have guided a set of policies, now it is The Science, and a modelled idea of the not-so-good life, which determines policies. Climate-change science is therefore called upon to fill in the big ideas-shaped hole at the heart of contemporary public and political life. It is there to tell us, and our rulers, what to do. The IPCC exists because of a profound political need for it to. ...
PopSci: Why We're Shutting Off Our Comments
...If you carry out those results to their logical end--commenters shape public opinion; public opinion shapes public policy; public policy shapes how and whether and what research gets funded--you start to see why we feel compelled to hit the "off" switch. Even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader's perception of a story.

A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to "debate" on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science....

Welcome to the Age of Denial
...Meanwhile, climate deniers, taking pages from the creationists’ PR playbook, have manufactured doubt about fundamental issues in climate science that were decided scientifically decades ago. And anti-vaccine campaigners brandish a few long-discredited studies to make unproven claims about links between autism and vaccination.

The list goes on. North Carolina has banned state planners from using climate data in their projections of future sea levels. So many Oregon parents have refused vaccination that the state is revising its school entry policies. And all of this is happening in a culture that is less engaged with science and technology as intellectual pursuits than at any point I can remember.

Thus, even as our day-to-day experiences have become dependent on technological progress, many of our leaders have abandoned the postwar bargain in favor of what the scientist Michael Mann calls the “scientization of politics.”...

The Scientization of Politics
The politicization of science—or, as Michael Mann calls it, the scientization of politics—is a familiar reality for Americans concerned about climate change. Instead of focusing on how to address the problem, we've spent years debating whether there's scientific consensus that there is one (the answer is yes). That's the result of a dedicated campaign by corporate interests to spread doubt and discredit scientists.

Michael Mann has more experience with the process than most. Mann is a climatologist, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, and author of the books Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming and The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines. In this talk, he discusses how to approach climate science in a politicized world....

Republicans Block Proposal For National Science Laureate, Fearing Science
...The proposal should have passed easily. But last week, Larry Hart, a former Republican congressional aide and current representative of the American Conservative Union (the country's oldest politically conservative lobbying group), sent a letter to House Republicans claiming that this position is far from benign. Hart writes that the laureate, appointed by President Obama, "will share his view that science should serve political ends, on such issues as climate change and regulation of greenhouse gases."...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Boys suspended for airsoft guns in yard
...Khalid's mother, Solangel Caraballo, thinks it is ridiculous the Virginia Beach City Public School System suspended her 13-year-old son and Aidan because they were firing a spring-driven airsoft gun on the Caraballo's posted private property. "My son is my private property. He does not become the school's property until he goes to the bus stop, gets on the bus, and goes to school."

The bus stop in question is 70 yards from the Caraballo's front yard.

Solangel Caraballo was not at home when this incident occurred. She was taking her young son to a Head Start class. She left her 16-year -old daughter in charge.

Khalid and Aiden aren't only suspended, they were recommended to be expelled for a year for "possession, handling and use of a firearm."

This story that addresses Zero Tolerance extending to private property began on September 9 with a 911 call from a concerned citizen....

...The caller also knew the gun wasn't real and said so, "This is not a real one, but it makes people uncomfortable. I know that it makes me (uncomfortable), as a mom, to see a boy pointing a gun," she told the 911 dispatcher....
Climate change inaction is like Aids denial, says scientist
Professor Nilay Shah, of Imperial College London, predicted that those who argue against a rapid cut in emissions would be judged similarly to those who had disputed the medical evidence on Aids in the past.

Prof Shah was speaking as he launched a report advocating global spending of $2 trillion a year by 2050, or 1 per cent of GDP, to limit global warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels.

He said: "There's an interesting parallel with South Africa in the 90s, where political capital was being made out of HIV denial.

“Those people must now regret what they did. I suspect that some of the politicians [now arguing against rapid cuts in emissions] will still be around in the mid-2030s and will reflect that they didn't do enough on climate change."

While comparing climate scepticism with Aids denial "might be a bit flippant", it involved the same issue of ignoring overwhelming scientific evidence, he added. ...
Social Good Summit turns to hatefest – Al Gore likens skeptics to racists, homophobes and violent alcoholics
Then Tim Wirth had this to say during the live video feed: “Skeptics are ‘truly evil people”

Al Gore: ‘There needs to be a political price' for climate 'denial’
...Gore noted how racism and later homophobia have become increasingly unacceptable.

He pointed to news accounts of an instance in which two gay men were subjected to anti-gay insults by another customer in line at an Ohio pizza spot.

The other people in line and the employees uniformly condemned the insult, according to reports. ...

Warmists say they won’t disbelieve models unless ‘pause’ lasts another 20 years!
...Still unclear is what causes the variation or determines its duration. “We know that this kind of episode, of a decadal length or thereabouts, can occur once or twice a century,” said Terray.

“If it (the present one) continues for two more decades, we may start to think that the computer models are underestimating internal variability.”...

Warming Plateau? Climatologists Face Inconvenient Truth
...Despite resistance from many researchers, the German ministries insist that it is important not to detract from the effectiveness of climate change warnings by discussing the past 15 years' lack of global warming. Doing so, they say, would result in a loss of the support necessary for pursuing rigorous climate policies. "Climate policy needs the element of fear," Ott openly admits. "Otherwise, no politician would take on this topic."

Germany's Federal Ministry of Research would prefer to leave any discussion of the global warming hiatus entirely out of the new IPCC report summary. "In climate research, changes don't count until they've been observed on a timescale of 30 years," claims one delegate participating in the negotiations on behalf of German Research Minister Johanna Wanka of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The Ministry for the Environment's identical stance: "Climate fluctuations that don't last very long are not scientifically relevant."...

...The researchers' problem: Their climate models should have been able to predict the sudden flattening in the temperature curve. Offering explanations after the fact for why temperatures haven't increased in so long only serves to raise doubts as to how reliable the forecasts really are.

Despite this, most Germans have not yet lost their faith in climate research. According to the SPIEGEL survey, 67 percent of Germans still consider the predictions reliable....

...Environmental policymakers within the IPCC fear, though, that climate skeptics and industry lobbyists could exploit these scientific uncertainties for their own purposes. The IPCC's response has been to circle the wagons. To ensure it remains the sole authority on climate predictions, the panel plans not to publish the complete report for some time after the release of the summary and not even release transcripts from the negotiations in Stockholm....

NYTimes: Obama should destroy coal industry to set good international example
...But the news from the rest of the world — steadily increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, rising sea levels, more violent weather events, persistent droughts — is not encouraging. The burden on the United States to set a positive example is as heavy as ever.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Chicago Alderman Holds Toilet Paper Drive For Cash-Strapped Schools
In some cash-strapped Chicago schools, no resource can be taken for granted -- not even toilet paper.

Nicholas Sposato, alderman of Chicago’s 36th ward, recently held a toilet paper drive for the schools in his community. Amid recent Chicago Public School budget cuts, paying for basic resources has become a burden on some schools, especially since these resources come out of the same budget as teachers’ salaries. ...

Facing shortages, Venezuela takes over toilet paper factory
...On Saturday, Vice President Jorge Arreaza announced the "temporary occupation" of the Paper Manufacturing Company's plant in the state of Aragua. The aim, he explained, is to review the "production, marketing and distribution (of) toilet paper."

"The ... People's Defense from the Economy will not allow hoarding or failures in the production and distribution of essential commodities," the vice president said....
'Family glitch' in health law could be painful
WASHINGTON — A so-called "family glitch" in the 2010 health care law threatens to cost some families thousands of dollars in health insurance costs and leave up to 500,000 children without coverage, insurance and health care analysts say.

That's unless Congress fixes the problem, which seems unlikely given the House's latest move Friday to strip funding from the law, which is also called the Affordable Care Act.

Congress defined "affordable" as 9.5% or less of an employee's wages, mostly to make sure people did not leave their workplace plans for subsidized coverage through the exchanges. But the "error" was that it only applies to the employee — and not his or her family. So, if an employer offers a woman affordable insurance, but doesn't provide it for her family, they cannot get subsidized help through the state health exchanges....
Ted Turner: Men Should Be Barred From Political Office For 100 Years
...I guess Turner was unaware that the House of Representatives led by Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) didn’t pass a budget for the fiscal years of 2010 or 2011....
Revealed: Obama came up with ObamaCare because he needed a throwaway applause line in a campaign speech
...Soon-to-be-candidate Obama, then an Illinois senator, was thinking about turning down an invitation to speak at a big health care conference sponsored by the progressive group Families USA [in January 2007], when two aides, Robert Gibbs and Jon Favreau, hit on an idea that would make him appear more prepared and committed than he actually was at the moment.

Why not just announce his intention to pass universal health care by the end of his first term?…

“We needed something to say,” recalled one of the advisers involved in the discussion. “I can’t tell you how little thought was given to that thought other than it sounded good. So they just kind of hatched it on their own. It just happened. It wasn’t like a deep strategic conversation.”…

The candidate jumped at it. He probably wasn’t going to get elected anyway, the team concluded. Why not go big?...
Downloading Is Mean! Content Industry Drafts Anti-Piracy Curriculum for Elementary Schools
Listen up children: Cheating on your homework or cribbing notes from another student is bad, but not as bad as sharing a music track with a friend, or otherwise depriving the content-industry of its well-earned profits.

That’s one of the messages in a new-school curriculum being developed with the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America and the nation’s top ISPs, in a pilot project to be tested in California elementary schools later this year.

A near-final draft of the curriculum, obtained by WIRED, shows that it comes in different flavors for every grade from kindergarten through sixth, to keep pace with your developing child’s ability to understand that copying is theft, period.

“This thinly disguised corporate propaganda is inaccurate and inappropriate,” says Mitch Stoltz, an intellectual property attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who reviewed the material at WIRED’s request....
Report: Obamacare provision will allow 'forced' home inspections by gov't agents
Citing the Heath and Human Services website, a report posted Wednesday at the Freedom Outpost says that under Obamacare, government agents can engage in "home health visits" for those in certain “high-risk” categories.

Those categories include:

• Families where mom is not yet 21;
• Families where someone is a tobacco user;
• Families where children have low student achievement, developmental delays, or disabilities, and
• Families with individuals who are serving or formerly served in the armed forces, including such families that have members of the armed forces who have had multiple deployments outside the United States....

Obamacare Will Increase Health Spending By $7,450 For A Typical Family of Four
It was one of candidate Obama’s most vivid and concrete campaign promises. Forget about high minded (some might say high sounding) but gauzy promises of hope and change. This candidate solemnly pledged on June 5, 2008: “In an Obama administration, we’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year….. We’ll do it by the end of my first term as President of the United States.” Unfortunately, the experts working for Medicare’s actuary have (yet again[1]) reported that in its first 10 years, Obamacare will boost health spending by “roughly $621 billion” above the amounts Americans would have spent without this misguided law....
Harvard study shows gun control doesn't save Lives
Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy has just released a study of the relative effects of stringent gun laws. They found that a country like Luxenbourg, which bans all guns has a murder rate that is 9 times higher than Germany, where there are 30,000 guns per 100,000 people. They also cited a study by the U.S.National Academy of Sciences, which studied 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, and it failed to find one gun control initiative that worked.

In fact, in many cases it found that violence is very often lower, where guns are more readily available. The report points to a myth that guns are more easily obtained in the United States than in Europe. That is factually incorrect.

Austria has the lowest murder rate of any industrialized country, with .8 murders per 100,000 people, yet they have 17,000 guns per 100,000 people. Norway is second with .81 murders and 36,000 guns. Germany is third with .93 murders and 36,000 guns. The United states has a murder rate of 10.1 murders per 100,00 people. But Luxembourg, which does not allow gun ownership at all has a rating of 9.01. ...

The Guardian: American gun use is out of control. Shouldn't the world intervene?
...Half the country is sane and rational while the other half simply doesn't grasp the inconsistencies and historic lunacy of its position, which springs from the second amendment right to keep and bear arms, and is derived from English common law and our 1689 Bill of Rights. We dispensed with these rights long ago, but American gun owners cleave to them with the tenacity that previous generations fought to continue slavery. Astonishingly, when owning a gun is not about ludicrous macho fantasy, it is mostly seen as a matter of personal safety, like the airbag in the new Ford pick-up or avoiding secondary smoke, despite conclusive evidence that people become less safe as gun ownership rises.

Last week, I happened to be in New York for the 9/11 anniversary: it occurs to me now that the city that suffered most dreadfully in the attacks and has the greatest reason for jumpiness is also among the places where you find most sense on the gun issue in America. New Yorkers understand that fear breeds peril and, regardless of tragedies such as Sandy Hook and the DC naval yard, the NRA, the gun manufacturers, conservative-inclined politicians and parts of the media will continue to advocate a right, which, at base, is as archaic as a witch trial.

Talking to American friends, I always sense a kind of despair that the gun lobby is too powerful to challenge and that nothing will ever change. The same resignation was evident in President Obama's rather lifeless reaction to the Washington shooting last week. There is absolutely nothing he can do, which underscores the fact that America is in a jam and that international pressure may be one way of reducing the slaughter over the next generation. This has reached the point where it has ceased to be a domestic issue. The world cannot stand idly by.
Unhinged: UCSF fundraiser wishes death on all Obamacare ‘nonbelievers’; Nick Searcy shreds

UCSF fundraiser advocates withholding health care from Obamacare opponents
On Sunday, Twitchy reported that Stephanie Handler, a "Development Assistant" for the University of California at San Francisco, suggested in a tweet that health care should be withheld from those who do not support Obamacare, essentially consigning them to death.

"At this point we should deny #Obamacare nonbelievers access to care at all. Let them eat their McDonalds, drink 18-oz sodas," she wrote before deleting the tweet....
Rich Man, Poor Woman?
• Boys have a higher infant-mortality rate than girls. Out of 100,000 live-born boys, 699 die before age 1. For girls the figure is 573. That means the infant-mortality rate for boys is approximately 20% higher than for girls.

• Out of 100,000 boys, 1,140 die before age 18. For girls the figure is 867. (These figures include infant deaths.) That means the total mortality rate for minors is 24% higher among boys than among girls.

• Boys are likelier to die than girls at every age except 10 and 11. Those are the ages at which persons of either sex are least likely to die, and the sex differences at those ages are minuscule.

Mortality among infants, children and teens is correlated with poverty for a variety of reasons, including greater exposure to abuse, neglect and crime and poorer quality of nutrition and health care. Boys are at greater risk than girls because they tend to be less robust physically and, as they get older, likelier to get involved in crime and other dangerous behavior. So if there are slightly more impoverished girls than boys, it is likely because poor girls have a better chance of surviving to adulthood than their brothers do.

A similar explanation applies to the elderly. The pattern of men being likelier to die than women applies at every age from 12 through 117, by which point, statistically speaking, everyone is dead. (The aggregate death rate, we hasten to add, is 100% for both sexes. How can that be? By about the mid-80s, a greater number of women are dying each year, but the annual proportion is smaller because so many more women are still alive at that age.)

So the age distribution of the over-65 set is quite disparate, with far more superannuated women and a higher proportion of merely elderly men. That would contribute to female poverty--which, again, is a measure of household income--in several ways. An 85-year-old widow is a lot less likely to work than a 65-year-old man. Having incurred 20 years of ordinary expenses, she (and her late husband) is likely to have spent down a greater portion of her savings. And she's likelier to be in a nursing home or other long-term-care facility, further depleting her wealth (and therefore her income).

Old age is a shipwreck, de Gaulle observed. Like the Titanic, it is one that women are likelier to survive--and that is why old women have a higher poverty rate than old men....

The War on Football
...From concussion doctors pushing “science” that benefits their hidden business interests to lawyers clamoring for billion-dollar settlements in scam litigation, America’s game has become so big that everybody wants a cut. And those chasing the dollars show themselves more than willing to trash a great sport in hot pursuit of a buck.

Everything they say about football is wrong. Football players don’t commit suicide at elevated levels, die younger than their peers, or suffer disproportionately from heart disease. In fact, professional players live longer, healthier lives than American men in general.

More than that, football is America’s most popular sport. It brings us together. It is, and has been, a rite of passage for millions of American boys.

But fear over concussions and other injuries could put football on ice. School districts are already considering doing away with football as too dangerous. Parents who used to see football as character-building now worry that it may be mind-destroying. Even the president has jumped on the pile by fretting that he might prevent a son from playing if he had one.

But as author Daniel J. Flynn reports, football is actually safer than skateboarding, bicycling, or skiing. And in a nation facing an obesity crisis, a little extra running, jumping, and tackling could do us all good....
The True Story Of How The US Almost Detonated A Nuclear Bomb Over North Carolina
A secret document, published in declassified form for the first time by the Guardian today, reveals that the U.S. Air Force came dramatically close to detonating an atom bomb over North Carolina that would have been 260 times more powerful than the device that devastated Hiroshima.

The document, obtained by the investigative journalist Eric Schlosser under the Freedom of Information Act, gives the first conclusive evidence that the U.S. was narrowly spared a disaster of monumental proportions when two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on 23 January, 1961....
House Oversight memo: Washington Post’s tea party coverage inspired IRS to target conservatives
The Washington Post’s anti-tea party coverage inspired IRS officials to improperly target conservative groups, according to a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee memo.

“The IRS first identified and elevated the Tea Party applications due to media attention surrounding the Tea Party…Media attention caused the IRS to treat conservative-oriented tax-exempt applications differently,” according to a September 17 House Oversight memo entitled “Interim update on the Committee’s investigation of the Internal Revenue Service’s inappropriate treatment of tax-exempt applications.”

While the memo acknowledged that President Obama’s and the White House’s anti-Citizens United, campaign finance reform-related rhetoric in early 2010 was not lost on IRS officials, the memo makes clear that the Washington Post’s heavy anti-tea party coverage directly inspired improper IRS targeting.

“When other Tea Party applications were discovered, the cases were classified as ‘sensitive’ due to media attention and two more were transferred to Washington to be processed,” according to the memo, which explains that in February 2010 a Cincinnati-based IRS screener alerted a tea party group’s tax-exempt application to his superior, who brought the concerns to the agency’s Washington office, because “Recent media attention to this type of organization indicates to me that this is a ‘high profile’ case.”

“As the application continued to be elevated, another IRS employee called the application a ‘potentially politically embarrassing case’ and also pointed out the ‘[r]ecent media attention to this type of organization.’ On this basis – ‘the potential for media attention’ – the Washington office accepted the case,” according to the memo....

...In the memo, congressional investigators emphasized the role that the Post’s coverage played in spawning anti-tea party sentiment.

“Washington Post columnists accused Tea Party groups of ‘smoldering with anger’ and practicing a brand of patriotism reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan,” according to the memo. “Another Post columnist opined in late March 2010 that Tea Party rhetoric ‘is calibrated not to inform but to incite.’” The memo was referring to columns by Post op-ed columnists Colbert I. King and Eugene Robinson, the latter of which discussed the subject of Christian militia groups and lumped tea party rallies in with the terrorism work of Timothy McVeigh.

“The potential for media attention continued to be a concern for IRS officials once Washington received additional sample cases in late March 2010… Around the same time that the Washington Post was running columns critical of the Tea Party, she [an IRS employee] added that ‘[t]he Tea Party movement is covered in the Post almost daily. I expect to see more applications,’” according to the memo....

...“Really thinking about possible media attention on a particular case,” Grodnitzky wrote, ordering that the Washington IRS office draft a “sensitive case report” on tea party applications that have the potential for “media attention.”

“Certain media attention involved with those cases, which was the basis for the significant case report,” Washington-based IRS supervisory employee Ronald Shoemaker testified, according to the Oversight Committee. “I was aware of media attention, yes.”......
Global warming 'hiatus' puts climate change scientists on the spot
..."All other things being equal, adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere will have a warming effect on the planet," Curry said. "However, all things are never equal, and what we are seeing is natural climate variability dominating over human impact."

Curry isn't the only one to suggest flaws in established climate models. IPCC vice chair Francis Zwiers, director of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium at the University of Victoria in Canada, co-wrote a paper published in this month's Nature Climate Change that said climate models had "significantly" overestimated global warming over the last 20 years — and especially for the last 15 years, which coincides with the onset of the hiatus.

The models had predicted that the average global surface temperature would increase by 0.21 of a degree Celsius over this period, but they turned out to be off by a factor of four, Zwiers and his colleagues wrote. In reality, the average temperature has edged up only 0.05 of a degree Celsius over that time — which in a statistical sense is not significantly different from zero....

..."This unpredicted hiatus just reflects the fact that we don't understand things as well as we thought," said Roger Pielke Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado in Boulder and vocal critic of the climate change establishment. "Now the IPCC finds itself in a position that a science group never wants to be in. It's in spin management mode."
Poland Confiscates Half Of Private Pension Funds To "Cut" Sovereign Debt Load
...On Wednesday, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said private funds within the state-guaranteed system would have their bond holdings transferred to a state pension vehicle, but keep their equity holdings. The funds would effectively be left with only the equities portions of their assets, even this would be depleted, and there will be uncertainty about the number of new savers joining.

But why is Poland engaging in behavior that will ultimately be disastrous to future capital allocation in non-public pension funds (the type that can at least on paper generate some returns as opposed to "public" funds which are guaranteed to lose)? After all, this is a last ditch step which no rational person would engage in unless there were no other option. Simple: there were no other option, and the driver is the same reason the world everywhere else is broke too - too much debt.

By shifting some assets from the private funds into ZUS, the government can book those assets on the state balance sheet to offset public debt, giving it more scope to borrow and spend. ...

...End result: "The Polish pension funds' organisation said the changes may be unconstitutional because the government is taking private assets away from them without offering any compensation.... This may lead to the private pension systems shutting down," said Rafal Benecki of ING Bank Slaski." ...
Reaping Profit After Assisting on Health Law
...That means boom times for what might be called an Obamacare cottage industry, providing work for dozens of former administration and mostly Democratic Congressional officials whose immersion in health policy minutiae, and friendships, make them invaluable to private business.

Dr. Dora Hughes, for example, has a medical degree from Vanderbilt and a master’s in public health from Harvard and never envisioned joining a law firm. But Dr. Hughes, a former Obama administration official, has something Washington lawyers and lobbying shops covet: an insider’s understanding of the new health care law.

After nearly four years as counselor to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, she left government last year to work for Sidley Austin, which represents insurers, pharmaceutical companies, device makers and others affected by the law. She is not a registered lobbyist, but rather a “strategic adviser,” although some call that a distinction without a difference. ...

...Liz Fowler, a onetime executive with WellPoint, the insurer, helped draft the legislation as the chief health counsel for the Senate Finance Committee and later joined the administration. Now she runs global health policy for Johnson & Johnson, the medical equipment and pharmaceutical giant, which strongly backed the health bill and stands to benefit from it. ...

Ads urge college students to 'opt out' of Obamacare with 'Creepy Uncle Sam' performing pelvic exam, prostate check
Herman Cain calls them 'must watch' videos, and Buzzfeed has already made its own quasi-newsy animations.So the pair of anti-Obamacare ads unveiled Thursday morning by a conservative millennials' group are clearly making the rounds.

The twin videos show the horrified expressions of a young man and woman after they undress for intimate medical checkups, and find a creepy-looking Uncle Sam character getting ready to examine their nether regions.

The implied message about the Affordable Care Act is unmistakable. 'Don't let government play doctor,' the ads intone...

Lower Health Insurance Premiums to Come at Cost of Fewer Choices
WASHINGTON — Federal officials often say that health insurance will cost consumers less than expected under President Obama’s health care law. But they rarely mention one big reason: many insurers are significantly limiting the choices of doctors and hospitals available to consumers.

From California to Illinois to New Hampshire, and in many states in between, insurers are driving down premiums by restricting the number of providers who will treat patients in their new health plans.

When insurance marketplaces open on Oct. 1, most of those shopping for coverage will be low- and moderate-income people for whom price is paramount. To hold down costs, insurers say, they have created smaller networks of doctors and hospitals than are typically found in commercial insurance. And those health care providers will, in many cases, be paid less than what they have been receiving from commercial insurers. ...
Students At USC: Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize Totally Deserved, But Can’t Explain Why
...In a video interview with Katherine Timpf of Campus Reform, USC students expressed confidence that Obama was still worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize he won just a few months after taking office in 2009.

“I’m a huge Obama fan and yes, I think he does,” said one female student.

But when asked what Obama had done to promote peace, she confessed she couldn’t think of any examples.

Another student said she supported everything that he was doing. His very existence was creating peace, she said.

“I just feel like in general being a good guy, it’s just creating a lot more peace and like, mellow,” she said. “The fact that he is for the people creates peace in and of itself.”...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Climate scientists urged to cover up slow in global warming, it is claimed
The authors of the report, which is seen as the gospel of climate science and is cited to justify fuel taxes and subsidies for renewable energy, are struggling to explain why global warming appears to have slowed down despite rising greenhouse gas emissions.

The leaked documents, obtained by The Associated Press, show political leaders in Belgium, Germany, Hungary and the US have deep concerns over how to address the issue ahead of next week's meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Climate sceptics have used the lull in surface warming since 1998 to cast doubt on the scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming by burning fossil fuels and cutting down CO2-absorbing forests. ...

Row over IPCC report as nations 'try to hide lack of climate change’
...Belgium meanwhile objected to using 1998 as a starting year for any statistics because it claimed it was a particularly warm year.

The row will fuel claims by global warming sceptics that the issue has become too political and that governments are now spending vast sums of money on policies to combat a phenomenon that may not exist and may not be man-made. The effect of those policies, claim sceptics, is to increase global poverty because the policies are expensive to implement.

The draft report states: “It is extremely likely that human activities have caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature since the 1950s.”

It goes on to claim with “high confidence” that the likely increase in surface temperature will “eventually lead to a nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean in late summer”.

The IPCC report will be scrutinised for errors and exaggerations when it is finally released.

The previous report in 2007 - for which the IPCC was controversially awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with former US vice president Al Gore - came in for serious criticism after a number of flaws were uncovered in its analysis, most notably over claims that the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.

The final version will come under serious criticism if it is shown political interference led to changes since the draft versions which have been circulating. ...
Washington Sees Incomes Soar as Most of U.S. Declines
...The income of the typical D.C. household rose 23.3% between 2000 and 2012 to an inflation-adjusted $66,583, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, its most comprehensive snapshot of America’s demographic, social and economic trends. During this period, median household incomes for the nation as a whole dropped 6.6% — from $55,030 to $51,371. The state of Mississippi, which had one of the biggest declines, dropped 15% to $37,095: Nearly one in three people there have an income that is near the poverty line.

The Washington, D.C. metro area — which includes the surrounding suburbs in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia — has it even better, with a median household income of $88,233 that ranks highest among the U.S.’s 25 most populous metro areas. Tampa, Florida’s median income, by contrast, is under $45,000....

Chart of the Day: Median income in DC vs the rest of us
...From the mid-1980s to around 2007, the median household income rise in DC remained pretty closely linked to that of the nation as a whole. Anyone remember what happened in 2007, besides the economic slowdown that would turn into the Great Recession? Democrats took control of Congress and federal spending shot upward ever since. And at least according to the Fed, that disparity is actually accelerating, at least to 2012, with DC median income skyrocketing while the rest of us stagnate....
Navy Yard: Swat team 'stood down' at mass shooting scene
...A tactical response team of the Capitol Police, a force that guards the US Capitol complex, was told to leave the scene by a supervisor instead of aiding municipal officers.

The Capitol Police department has launched a review into the matter.

Aaron Alexis, 34, killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard.

"I don't think it's a far stretch to say that some lives may have been saved if we were allowed to intervene," a Capitol Police source familiar with the incident told the BBC....

...Multiple sources in the Capitol Police department have told the BBC that its highly trained and heavily armed four-man Containment and Emergency Response Team (Cert) was near the Navy Yard when the initial report of an active shooter came in about 8:20 local time.

The officers, wearing full tactical gear and armed with HK-416 assault weapons, arrived outside Building 197 a few minutes later, an official with knowledge of the incident told the BBC.

According to a Capitol Police source, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Washington DC's main municipal force, told the Capitol Cert officers they were the only police on the site equipped with long guns and requested their help stopping the gunman.

When the Capitol Police team radioed their superiors, they were told by a watch commander to leave the scene, the BBC was told....

Navy Yard shooting: Swat team awaits answers
The Capitol Police tactical response team was told by a supervisor to leave the scene instead of aiding municipal officers, sources told the BBC.

Meanwhile, the department has installed a new leader of the elite unit. No reason has been given for the decision.

Gunman Aaron Alexis killed 12 people.

The BBC has also learned that four members of the highly trained team have applied for temporary leave, as they "grapple" with the aftermath of the incident.

The Capitol Police department has not yet granted the request, nor given approval for them to use their own paid time off. ...

...On Thursday, members of the tactical unit, which has several dozen members, were told that it had a new leader, a Capitol Police source said. It is not clear why the command shake-up occurred.

Four Cert team members wearing full tactical gear and armed with HK-416 assault weapons arrived on scene at Navy Yard at 08:36 (12:36 GMT) on Monday, after reports surfaced of an active gunman at the complex at 08:20.

According to sources, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Washington DC's main municipal force, told the Capitol Cert officers they were the only police on site equipped with long guns, and requested their help stopping the gunman.

When the Capitol Police team radioed their superiors, they were told by a watch commander to leave the scene, the BBC was told.

On Thursday, FBI Director James B Comey Jr told ABC News it took roughly half an hour for armed police to arrive and engage Alexis. All 12 victims were killed within that time.

Capitol Police sources suggest "lives may have been saved" if the Cert team had been allowed to intervene....
Rep. Alan Grayson: Thank goodness for all of the “stealth socialism” going on around here
...How big is the Fed balance sheet, $3 trillion?

[Rep. Alan Grayson] $3.5 trillion. We’ve had a government takeover of the bond market. Stealth socialism’s been created. Government simply ends up owning more and more and more. If government had taken over the steel industry, maybe it would have been more noticeable. They’ve taken over the financing of housing industry as well, with a desired result....
'Soft' sentences for knife crime despite Chris Grayling pledge
Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, has expressed his concern about knife criminals being handed cautions and other non-custodial punishments, but new figures published on Thursday showed repeat offenders are still avoiding jail.

Out of 1,331 offenders convicted of possessing a knife in the year to the end of March - who had at least two previous convictions for the same offence - only 703 went straight to prison.

The rest were handed community sentences or even a “slap on the wrist”, with 25 receiving a caution, 35 an absolute or conditional discharge from court and 29 getting a fine. ...
UN climate panel: Hmm, how can we selectively edit these inconvenient truths to outwit those anti-science denialists?
...Leaked documents obtained by The Associated Press show there are deep concerns among governments over how to address the purported slowdown ahead of next week’s meeting of the IPCC. …

Germany called for the reference to the slowdown to be deleted, saying a time span of 10 to 15 years was misleading in the context of climate change, which is measured over decades and centuries.

The U.S. also urged the authors to include the “leading hypothesis” that the reduction in warming is linked to more heat being transferred to the deep ocean.

Belgium objected to using 1998 as a starting year for any statistics. That year was exceptionally warm, so any graph showing global temperatures starting with 1998 looks flat. Using 1999 or 2000 as a starting year would yield a more upward-pointing curve. In fact, every year after 2000 has been warmer than the year 2000.

Hungary worried the report would provide ammunition for skeptics. …

Jonathan Lynn, a spokesman for the IPCC, declined to comment on the content of the report because it hasn’t been made final, but said it would provide “a comprehensive picture of all the science relevant to climate change.”...

ClimateGate 2.0? Emails Show US Government, Other Governments Lobbied Scientists to Downplay or Delete Evidence That Atmosphere Hasn't Warmed for 15 Years from Upcoming IPCC Report
...AP show the U.S. and other governments pushed scientists preparing a new UN climate report due out next week to omit or downplay evidence that the earth’s atmosphere has stopped warming for the past 15 years.

From the wire - “Germany called for the reference to the slowdown to be deleted, saying a time span of 10 to 15 years was misleading in the context of climate change, which is measured over decades and centuries. The U.S. also urged the authors to include the ‘leading hypothesis’ that the reduction in warming is linked to more heat being transferred to the deep ocean.”...
Spiked: Let’s shine a light on these shady family courts
...Munby is right. The powers of the family courts are truly draconian. The court has a broad range of powers to break up allegedly ‘troubled’ families, often under Kafkaesque conditions. Applications can be made without families being present, judgements can be passed in secret, and injunctions placed on reporting some or all of the court’s proceedings. Munby’s remarks follow a series of judgments this year in which less senior judges in the family courts have been similarly scathing of the veil of secrecy under which they are able to function. ...

...Sadly, the Lib-Con coalition government has chosen a different focus in its reforms of the family courts: speeding up the proceedings for taking children into care. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Justice declared its intention to shorten the average time taken for care cases to be concluded from 56 weeks to 26 weeks. This echoed calls from the children’s charity Barnardo’s, which in 2010 criticised delays in having children taken into care and called for a limit of 30 weeks for the length of proceedings. Rather than seriously rewriting the statute book to create a more open family-court system, the government seems more interested in making it easier to chuck allegedly ‘damaged’ kids into care....

Gender abortions: Cameron voices concerns about failure to prosecute doctors
The Prime Minister said he "shared the concern" of an MP who warned that the failure to prosecute meant that Britain's abortion laws are at risk of becoming "obsolete". He said it was "absolutely right" that the doctors could still be subject to disciplinary action.

The two doctors were exposed after The Daily Telegraph mounted an investigation and published its results in February last year.

Acting on specific information, undercover reporters accompanied pregnant women to nine clinics in different parts of the country.

In two cases doctors were filmed offering to arrange terminations after being told the mother-to-be did not want to go ahead with the pregnancy because of the sex of the unborn child.

Mr Cameron praised The Daily Telegraph for highlighting "this important case" and said it was "absolutely right" that the doctors could face "professional" consequences. ...

..."And do you agree with me, prime minister, that this is very uncomfortable, the fact the 57 Act is now almost obsolete and puts our abortion policy on a par with India and China and a female foetus in the womb today is more vulnerable than she was last week?" ...

You can’t be pro-choice only when you like the choice
Imagine this: a newspaper, with an editorial policy opposing abortion, sends a pregnant woman to see a number of doctors intending to expose that doctors break the abortion law. A reporter sets up video footage of a woman saying she wants an abortion on the grounds she has been raped. The doctor agrees. Our paper, The Yellagraph, triumphantly publishes the footage as evidence that ‘the law has been broken’ because rape is not a legal ground for abortion.

Can you imagine the secretary of state for health ordering inspections of every single abortion clinic in England to investigate whether doctors are approving abortion for rape? Can you imagine it taking the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) more than 18 months to decide whether or not to prosecute the doctor who agreed to the abortion? Can you imagine the shadow attorney general, a Labour MP with a pro-choice reputation, harrying the CPS to prosecute rape-abortion doctors?

No; it would seem crazy. And yet a doctor agreeing to an abortion ‘on grounds of rape’ would be breaking the law no more and no less than a doctor who agrees an abortion on grounds of sex selection....

...That’s why the Daily Telegraph entrapment of sex-selection abortions has been almost universally praised, even by the prime minister, David Cameron, while our imagined Daily Yellagraph entrapment of doctors for rape abortions would seem ludicrous....

Researching the "Rape Culture" of America
...He noticed, for example, that Koss and her colleagues counted as victims of rape any respondent who answered "yes" to the question "Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?" That opened the door wide to regarding as a rape victim anyone who regretted her liaison of the previous night. If your date mixes a pitcher of margaritas and encourages you to drink with him and you accept a drink, have you been "administered" an intoxicant, and has your judgment been impaired? Certainly, if you pass out and are molested, one would call it rape. But if you drink and, while intoxicated, engage in sex that you later come to regret, have you been raped? Koss does not address these questions specifically, she merely counts your date as a rapist and you as a rape statistic if you drank with your date and regret having had sex with him. As Gilbert points out, the question, as Koss posed it, is far too ambiguous...

...Koss also found that 42 percent of those she counted as rape victims went on to have sex with their attackers on a later occasion. For victims of attempted rape, the figure for subsequent sex with reported assailants was 35 percent. Koss is quick to point out that "it is not known if [the subsequent sex] was forced or voluntary" and that most of the relationships "did eventually break up subsequent to the victimization."[24] But of course, most college relationships break up eventually for one reason or another. Yet, instead of taking these young women at their word, Koss casts about for explanations of why so many "raped" women would return to their assailants, implying that they may have been coerced. She ends by treating her subjects' rejection of her findings as evidence that they were confused and sexually naive. There is a more respectful explanation. Since most of those Koss counts as rape victims did not regard themselves as having been raped, why not take this fact and the fact that so many went back to their partners as reasonable indications that they had not been raped to begin with?...

...There is, however, one flaw that affects the significance of Kilpatrick's findings. An affirmative answer to any one of the first three questions does reasonably put one in the category of rape victim. The fourth is problematic, for it includes cases in which a boy penetrated a girl with his finger, against her will, in a heavy petting situation. Certainly the boy behaved badly. But is he a rapist? Probably neither he nor his date would say so. Yet, the survey classifies him as a rapist and her as a rape victim.

I called Dr. Kilpatrick and asked him about the fourth question. "Well," he said, "if a woman is forcibly penetrated by an object such as a broomstick, we would call that rape."

"So would I," I said. "But isn't there a big difference between being violated by a broomstick and being violated by a finger?" Dr. Kilpatrick acknowledged this: "We should have split out fingers versus objects," he said. Still, he assured me that the question did not significantly affect the outcome. But I wondered. The study had found an epidemic of rape among teenagers-just the age group most likely to get into situations like the one I have described....