February 28, 2014

Maple Syrup and unknown callers

Maple syrup aficionados buy Grade B syrup for its more intense maple flavor.  I buy it at Trader Joe's.

But now Vermont is pushing for a uniform grading system where every syrup will be Grade A.  The WSJ has the Sweet Dilemma story that has some producers resisting the new system.

"I'm not changing," said Edward Merrow, the owner of Blow Hill Maple Products in Danby, Vt., who has resigned from one local maple association that supported the new standard and has aligned himself with the Rutland County Maple Producers, some of whose members spoke against it at public hearings. "What are they going to do, put me in jail?"

FYI  Under the new system: "Syrup will be differentiated by a "descriptor" based on color, clarity and taste: Golden/Delicate Taste; Amber/Rich Taste; Dark/Robust Taste; and Very Dark/Strong Taste" which likely describes my beloved Grade B syrup

My favorite tip of the week:

 Blood Everywhere

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:06 AM | Permalink

Quotes of Note

"In 100 years we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching Remedial English in college" Joseph Sobran

"When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination," Thomas Sowell

"Addiction is a matter of persistence, not fate," Theodore Dalrymple

"Macho television executives are now more afraid of gay guys armed with hairdryers and laptops than they are of men garbed in cameo armed with loaded shotguns"  Doug Mainwaring.

"The habit of taking everything for granted, never wondering about anything, is one of the worst fates that can befall a man .. To walk in a world devoid of mystery is to embark on a voyage that is as tedious as it will appear long," Theodore Dalrymple

"According to political correctness, a savage beating a hollow log with a bone is of equal value to Mozart at his most majestic — or rather of lesser value, because Mozart was white and therefore presumably a racist,"  Dave Blount

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe," Albert Einstein

"Twenty-five years ago, President Reagan, paraphrasing Education Secretary William Bennett, said: “If you serve a child a rotten hamburger in America, federal, state and local agencies will investigate you, summon you, close you down, whatever. But if you provide a child with a rotten education, nothing happens, except that you’re liable to be given more money to do it with.” George Will

"One reason for the epidemic of self-destructiveness that has struck British, if not the whole of Western, society, is the avoidance of boredom. For people who have no transcendent purpose to their lives and cannot invent one through contributing to a cultural tradition (for example), in other words who have no religious belief and no intellectual interests to stimulate them, self-destruction and the creation of crises in their life is one way of warding off meaninglessness. I have noticed, for example, that women who frequent bad men - that is to say men who are obviously unreliable, drunken, drug-addicted, criminal, or violent, or all of them together, have often had experience of decent men who treat them well, with respect, and so forth: they are the ones with whom their relationships lasted the shortest time, because they were bored by decency. Without religion or culture (and here I mean high, or high-ish, culture) evil is very attractive. It is not boring," Theodore Dalrymple

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:09 AM | Permalink

“Most of the people my age is dead. You could look it up”

In the New Yorker, Roger Angell on Life in the Nineties

“Most of the people my age is dead. You could look it up” was the way Casey Stengel put it. He was seventy-five at the time, and contemporary social scientists might prefer Casey’s line delivered at eighty-five now, for accuracy, but the point remains. We geezers carry about a bulging directory of dead husbands or wives, children, parents, lovers, brothers and sisters, dentists and shrinks, office sidekicks, summer neighbors, classmates, and bosses, all once entirely familiar to us and seen as part of the safe landscape of the day. It’s no wonder we’re a bit bent. The surprise, for me, is that the accruing weight of these departures doesn’t bury us, and that even the pain of an almost unbearable loss gives way quite quickly to something more distant but still stubbornly gleaming. The dead have departed, but gestures and glances and tones of voice of theirs, even scraps of clothing—that pale-yellow Saks scarf—reappear unexpectedly, along with accompanying touches of sweetness or irritation.

Our dead are almost beyond counting and we want to herd them along, pen them up somewhere in order to keep them straight….

My list of names is banal but astounding, and it’s barely a fraction, the ones that slip into view in the first minute or two. Anyone over sixty knows this; my list is only longer. I don’t go there often, but, once I start, the battalion of the dead is on duty, alertly waiting. Why do they sustain me so, cheer me up, remind me of life? I don’t understand this. Why am I not endlessly grieving?
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Getting old is the second-biggest surprise of my life, but the first, by a mile, is our unceasing need for deep attachment and intimate love.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:08 AM | Permalink

When love makes you vulnerable

Just as the Pew Research Center released a survey showing Americans would give up TV before they would give up the Internet.

53 percent of US Internet users would find it "very hard" to give up Web access, up from 38 percent in 2006….
35 percent of all US adults television would be very hard to give up, compared with 44 percent in 2006…..

Using the Web -- browsing it, searching it, sharing on it -- has become the main activity for hundreds of millions of people around the globe," Pew said.

Comes this news of the "'mind boggling' stash of 360 million stolen web site credentials for sale online in what could be biggest breach in history

A cybersecurity firm has uncovered stolen credentials from 360 million accounts that are available for sale on cyber black markets…they warn the discovery could represent more of a risk to consumers and companies than stolen credit card data because of the chance the sets of user names and passwords could open the door to online bank accounts, corporate networks, health records and virtually any other type of computer system….'The sheer volume is overwhelming.'….

Alex Holden, chief information security officer of Hold Security LLC….believes the 360 million records were obtained in separate attacks, including one that yielded some 105 million records, which would make it the largest single credential breaches known to date.

He said he believes the credentials were stolen in breaches that have yet to be publicly reported.  The companies attacked may remain unaware until they are notified by third parties who find evidence of the hacking, he said.
'We have staff working around the clock to identify the victims,' he said.

Do you think this will change anyone's mind? 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:06 AM | Permalink

When the Dalai Lama went skiing

A charming story about what Douglas Preston learned in the slush with His Holiness, The Dalai Lama's Ski Trip

 Dalai-Lama Skiing

“At ski area, you keep eye open always!” he said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:02 AM | Permalink

February 25, 2014

Destroying veterans requests for exams to clear out the backlog

Your government at work and trying to look good

Department of Veterans Affairs employees destroyed veterans’ medical records to cancel backlogged exam requests

Employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) destroyed veterans’ medical files in a systematic attempt to eliminate backlogged veteran medical exam requests, a former VA employee told The Daily Caller.
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Oliver Mitchell, a Marine veteran and former patient services assistant in the VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center

We just didn’t have the resources to conduct all of those exams. Basically we would get about 3,000 requests a month for [medical] exams, but in a 30-day period we only had the resources to do about 800. That rolls over to the next month and creates a backlog,” Mitchell said. ”It’s a numbers thing. The waiting list counts against the hospitals efficiency. The longer the veteran waits for an exam that counts against the hospital as far as productivity is concerned.”

By 2008, some patients were “waiting six to nine months for an exam” and VA “didn’t know how to address the issue,” Mitchell said.

VA Greater Los Angeles Radiology department chief Dr. Suzie El-Saden initiated an “ongoing discussion in the department” to cancel exam requests and destroy veterans’ medical files so that no record of the exam requests would exist, thus reducing the backlog, Mitchell said.
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El-Saden, according to Mitchell, was “the person who said destroy the records.” And her plan was actually carried out during the Obama administration’s management of VA.

“That actually happened,” Mitchell said. “We had that discussion in November 2008 and then in March 2009 they started to delete the exams. Once you cancel or delete an order it automatically cancels out that record” so that no record of the exam requests remained.

Mitchell tried to blow the whistle on the scheme and ended up being transferred out of his department and eventually losing his job.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:43 PM | Permalink

State of American Well-Being

Via Miss Cellania at Neatorama in The States of Happiness  comes this gorgeous and informative chart from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index,

For the sixth consecutive year, global well-being improvement leader Healthways and world-leading management consulting firm Gallup have released their analysis of the state of well-being across the United States.

More than 178,000 interviews nationwide fueled the 2013 analysis, which examined Americans’ perceptions on topics such as physical and emotional health, healthy behaviors, work environment, social and community factors, financial security, and access to necessities such as food, shelter and healthcare to create a composite well-being rank for each state.

 Chart States Of Happiness
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:23 AM | Permalink

February 24, 2014

"One day Mrs. Blackwood had the health insurance plan she had paid for for two decades. Then, “because our lawmakers and president thought they could do better, she had nothing.”

Stephen Blackwood writes in the WSJ,  ObamaCare and My Mother's Cancer Medicine
The news was dumbfounding. She used to have a policy that covered the drug that kept her alive. Now she's on her own.

Though I'm no expert on ObamaCare (at 10,000 pages, who could be?), I understand that the intention—or at least the rhetorical justification—of this legislation was to provide coverage for those who didn't have it. But there is something deeply and incontestably perverse about a law that so distorts and undermines the free activity of individuals that they can no longer buy and sell the goods and services that keep them alive. ObamaCare made my mother's old plan illegal, and it forced her to buy a new plan that would accelerate her disease and death. She awaits an appeal with her insurer.
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The "Affordable" Care Act is a brutal, Procrustean disaster. In principle, it violates the irreducible particularity of human life, and in practice it will cause many individuals to suffer and die. We can do better, and we must.

Roger Kimball The human face of Obamacare

In some ways Stephen Blackwood’s case is typical. His mother, who had been diagnosed with a particularly nasty form of cancer in 2005 when she was only 49 had been receiving treatment through her insurer. She had had the Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan for nearly 20 years.  It was expensive, but so was her treatment. “It gave her access to any specialist or surgeon, and to the Sandostatin and other medications that were keeping her alive.” Then came November. She, like millions of other Americans, woke up one day and found out that her plan was cancelled. ….

The story Stephen Blackwood tells is like something out of Kafka—or, perhaps a closer analogy, like something out a totalitarian satrap, for there is nothing fictional about this nightmare. The mind-numbing bureaucracy. The stunning incompetence. The casual, unthinking brutality. It’s all there, coming to a shattered life near you. One day Mrs. Blackwood had the health insurance plan she had paid for for two decades. Then, “because our lawmakers and president thought they could do better, she had nothing.” Nothing. Nada. Nichts. Rien…..

So here you have it: Mrs. Blackwood “had an affordable health plan that covered her condition. Our lawmakers weren’t happy with that because . . . they wanted plans that were affordable and covered her condition. So they gave her a new one. It doesn’t cover her condition and it’s completely unaffordable.”  Got that?

This is no abstract political bargaining chip. It is the life of your mother, your child, your spouse. …

You won’t find chilly, insulated elites like Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama admitting it, but the blood of Mrs. Blackwood and millions of other Americans harmed by their thoughtless legislation is on their heads. Obamacare is a totalitarian scheme masquerading as a humanitarian enterprise.  Its human cost is incalculable, but already, just a few months in, we’re beginning to get a sense of the suffering it will cause.  When your treatment for cancer is disallowed, when your daughter cannot get the medicine she needs, when your mother’s insurance is cancelled, will you still go gently into that good night of liberal sanctimony? Or will you finally realize that when Barack Obama promised to “fundamentally transform the United States of America,” this might not have been the beneficent program The New York Times and other such outlets led you to believe?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:25 PM | Permalink

Plastic bodies, plastic souls

The deeper implications of gay marriage and assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) are explored in The Brave New World of Same-Sex Marriage by Michael Hanby

To accept same-sex unions as ‘marriage’ is thus to commit officially to the proposition that there is no meaningful difference between a married man and woman conceiving a child naturally, two women conceiving a child with the aid of donor semen and IVF, or two men employing a surrogate to have a child together, though in the latter cases only one of the legally recognized parents can (presently) contribute to the child’s hereditary endowment and hope for a family resemblance. By recognizing same-sex ‘marriages’ the state also determines once and for all that ARTs are not merely a remedy for infertility but a normative form of reproduction equivalent to natural procreation, and indeed it has been suggested in some cases that ARTs are an improvement upon nature. Yet if this is true, it follows that no great weight attaches to natural motherhood and fatherhood and that being born to a father and mother is inessential to what it means to be human, or even to the meaning of childhood and family. These are not fundamentally ‘natural’ phenomena integral to human identity and social welfare but mere accidents of biology overlaid with social conventions that can be replaced by ‘functionally equivalent’ roles without loss.
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Underlying the technological conquest of human biology, whether in its gay or feminist form, is a dualism which bi-furcates the person into a meaningless mechanical body made of malleable ‘stuff’ and the affective or technological will that presides over it. The person as an integrated whole falls through the chasm. This is the foundation of the now orthodox distinction between ‘sex’ which is ‘merely biological’ and ‘gender’ which is socially constructed, as well as the increasingly pervasive (and relentlessly promoted) idea that freedom means our self-creation of both. Technological dominance over procreation imposes this bi-furcated anthropology upon parents and children alike, and codifying it implicitly makes this anthropology the law of the land.
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The technological dominance of procreation asserts, contrary to the child’s true nature and to his parents’ unquestionable love for him, that a child is essentially a product of human making, an assemblage of parts outside of parts that are the parts of no real whole, whose meaning and purpose, as with all artifacts, reside not in itself but in the designs of its maker.
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Huxley…and C.S. … saw that the plastic body emptied of its dignity through eugenics had as its necessary counterpart the plastic soul deprived of its human inheritance and emptied of its capacity for truly human thoughts, feeling, and experiences. This process too, which is even harder to see than it is to understand, is already well underway.
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A culture that accepts such deep violence at the origins of life will have every incentive not to think about the profound questions of human existence that for so long animated Western culture—they cut too close to the heart—and so education, even now scarcely distinguishable from ignorance, will largely consist in learning not to ask them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:16 PM | Permalink

Stem cells instead of root canals and Clean teeth to hold off arthritis

On the horizon, stem cells to repair teeth.  A novel "regenerative" technique to repair infected teeth -- claimed to be painless and cheaper than the traditional root canal treatment -- has been developed by doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.

Termed as "SealBio", the technique uses body's own stem cells and eliminates the need for cumbersome root canal fillings.

Instead of filling the root canal with artificial materials that may pose bio-compatibility problems, it makes use of regenerative potential of stem cells and growth factors available at the root of the teeth. Stem cells act as a repair system for the body capable of replenishing adult tissues.
In case of this technique, the stem cells at the root of the decayed teeth are stimulated to induce regeneration and deposition of a natural tissue barrier (seal) to fill up the root canal in just one sitting.

In other words, a "biological seal" is achieved at the root canal rather than attempting to seal it with artificial filling materials with all its drawbacks, the doctors say.  The root canal is restored to health by gradual build up of tissue by stem cells over a period, extending from a few weeks to some months.

Another reason to floss.  Clean teeth can hold off arthritis: Scientists discover link between gum disease bacteria and early onset of the condition

Researchers found a link between the bacterium responsible for gum disease and earlier onset of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as faster progression and greater severity of the condition.

The bacterium produces an enzyme which reacts with the residue of certain proteins.  The body recognizes these proteins as intruders, leading to an immune attack, the researchers from the University of Louisville’s School of Dentistry in Kentucky said.
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Studies indicate that compared to the general population, people with periodontal disease have an increased prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease is at least two times more prevalent in rheumatoid arthritis patients.  Other research has shown that a P. gingivatis infection in the mouth will precede rheumatoid arthritis and the bacterium is the likely culprit for onset and continuation of the autoimmune inflammatory responses that occur in the disease.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:14 PM | Permalink

Plastic bodies, plastic souls

The Brave New World of Same-Sex Marriage by Michael Hanby

To accept same-sex unions as ‘marriage’ is thus to commit officially to the proposition that there is no meaningful difference between a married man and woman conceiving a child naturally, two women conceiving a child with the aid of donor semen and IVF, or two men employing a surrogate to have a child together, though in the latter cases only one of the legally recognized parents can (presently) contribute to the child’s hereditary endowment and hope for a family resemblance. By recognizing same-sex ‘marriages’ the state also determines once and for all that ARTs are not merely a remedy for infertility but a normative form of reproduction equivalent to natural procreation, and indeed it has been suggested in some cases that ARTs are an improvement upon nature. Yet if this is true, it follows that no great weight attaches to natural motherhood and fatherhood and that being born to a father and mother is inessential to what it means to be human, or even to the meaning of childhood and family. These are not fundamentally ‘natural’ phenomena integral to human identity and social welfare but mere accidents of biology overlaid with social conventions that can be replaced by ‘functionally equivalent’ roles without loss.
--
Underlying the technological conquest of human biology, whether in its gay or feminist form, is a dualism which bi-furcates the person into a meaningless mechanical body made of malleable ‘stuff’ and the affective or technological will that presides over it. The person as an integrated whole falls through the chasm. This is the foundation of the now orthodox distinction between ‘sex’ which is ‘merely biological’ and ‘gender’ which is socially constructed, as well as the increasingly pervasive (and relentlessly promoted) idea that freedom means our self-creation of both. Technological dominance over procreation imposes this bi-furcated anthropology upon parents and children alike, and codifying it implicitly makes this anthropology the law of the land.
---
The technological dominance of procreation asserts, contrary to the child’s true nature and to his parents’ unquestionable love for him, that a child is essentially a product of human making, an assemblage of parts outside of parts that are the parts of no real whole, whose meaning and purpose, as with all artifacts, reside not in itself but in the designs of its maker.
--
Huxley…and C.S. … saw that the plastic body emptied of its dignity through eugenics had as its necessary counterpart the plastic soul deprived of its human inheritance and emptied of its capacity for truly human thoughts, feeling, and experiences. This process too, which is even harder to see than it is to understand, is already well underway.
---
A culture that accepts such deep violence at the origins of life will have every incentive not to think about the profound questions of human existence that for so long animated Western culture—they cut too close to the heart—and so education, even now scarcely distinguishable from ignorance, will largely consist in learning not to ask them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:24 PM | Permalink

February 20, 2014

People to emulate

Tony Tolbert.   An entertainment lawyer in LA whose selfless 'miracle act sparked a chain reaction of good will.

He lent his fully  fully furnished home to a poor family for one year. Now, 12 months later, Tolbert’s gesture has sparked a chain reaction of goodwill.

Felicia Dukes, a mother of four who had been sharing a single room at the shelter with three of her young children; her older son was over 18 and not eligible to stay with his mom and siblings.

So Tolbert offered up the opportunity of a lifetime: one year rent-free at his home so that Dukes could get her life back on track.

Dukes said that the experience of living in Tolbert’s home gave her both “freedom” and “stability,” calling it a “miracle.” She recorded her blessings in a “gratitude journal.”  She has also able to save money so that she will no longer need to live paycheck to paycheck.

Erik Fitzgerald  Widower forges friendship with man in crash that killed his wife and unborn baby

Early one morning in Dacula, Ga., Matt Swatzell was driving home from a 24-hour shift as a firefighter and EMS and had only 30 minutes of sleep. He was less than four miles from his home on October 2, 2006 when he suddenly heard what he calls “the most God awful sound I’ve ever heard.”

Swatzell, then 20, realized he had fallen asleep at the wheel and crashed. When he got out of the car, he saw the car of 30-year old June Fitzgerald. She was pregnant and with her then 19-month-old daughter Faith. Faith survived the crash but her mother and unborn sibling passed away.
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Fitzgerald's forgiveness has created a friendship now six years strong. The men stayed connected by meeting at least once every two weeks, attending church together and eating meals at the Waffle House and other restaurants, just the two of them.
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To start, Fitzgerald extended his forgiveness to Swatzell's sentencing: As a county officer, he was facing a felony and harsh time. But Fitzgerald pleaded for a lesser sentence.  “I didn’t see why this accident and tragedy needed to ruin any more lives,” said Fitzgerald. Swatzell paid a fine and did community service.
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The day before the two-year anniversary of the accident, Swatzell was in the parking lot of a grocery store after buying a greeting card to send to Fitzgerald. Just about to turn on his engine, he saw Fitzgerald walking into the same grocery store.

After an introduction, Fitzgerald told Swatzell, “I have a desire to want to be in your life.”  Part of the tug I felt and draw to Matthew was he was a good guy. He wasn’t a convict or on drugs. He was just a guy who got off a shift,” said Fitzgerald. “I felt it was my responsibility to encourage him and see the big picture.”

“I can honestly say that without this friendship I don’t know where I’d be,” said Swatzell, now 27.

Fitzgerald has watched Swatzell become a family man and helped him raise himself from the abyss of guilt….. Fitzgerald believes he has gotten just as much out the friendship as Swatzell has.  “This has been just as healing for me too,” said Fitzgerald. “I’ve taught on forgiveness and I know that forgiveness is not so much for the other person but for yourself.”

And everyone in the DC neighborhood that rallied to save Frager's Hardware and Eastern Market, all without government help.  It Takes a Certain Kind of Village D.C. neighbors show what real community looks like.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:30 PM | Permalink

For long-range weather forecasts, depend on the Farmers Almanac

If you want to know what the long-term weather report is, you're far better off reading the Farmers Almanac then listening to the government.
Farmers do and I do too.

Report: Farmers’ Almanac more accurate than government climate scientists

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) predicted temperatures would be “above normal from November through January across much of the lower 48 states.”  This, however, was dead wrong.
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The Farmers Almanac . the nearly 200-year old publication, hit newsstands last summer and predicted that “a winter storm will hit the Northeast around the time the Super Bowl is played at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands in New Jersey,” and also predicted “a colder-than-normal winter for two-thirds of the country and heavy snowfall in the Midwest, Great Lakes and New England.”

“We’re using a very strong four-letter word to describe this winter, which is C-O-L-D. It’s going to be very cold.
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The Farmers’ Almanac makes predictions based on planetary positions, sunspots and lunar cycles — a prediction system that has remained largely unchanged since its first publication in 1818. While modern scientists don’t put much stock in the almanac’s way of doing things, the book says it’s accurate about 80 percent of the time.

From The Farmers Almanac blog

Unlike local meteorologists, who are able to change their predictions minute-by-minute, we are willing to go out on a limb and provide long-range forecasts that are set in stone from the day we publish.

People use our forecasts in ways that aren’t possible with a daily, or even 10-day, forecast. We get calls from municipalities trying to decide how much salt to buy for the roads, and from brides-to-be hoping to pick a sunny date for their big day.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:55 PM | Permalink

Moral and Cultural Inequality

In First Things, R.R. Reno on Inequality and Agency.  Moral and Cultural Inequality, Not Income Inequality, Are the Real Problems Facing Society.

What is inequality? It’s the unbalanced distribution of power and control over wealth and innovation, government and culture, society and neighborhoods—over our lives. That distribution is changing in our society. We can all feel it. At this point the conversation is focused on income inequality. But that’s too narrow. The economic top 20 percent has gained a near monopoly on social capital. This moral and cultural inequality is a deeper problem, and more explosive.
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For most of American history, the Bible and the Judeo-Christian ethic had currency. In addition, we shared a common patriotic vocabulary anchored in our founding documents: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” This shared moral and civic vision empowered ordinary people to participate in the great conversation about how we should shape our common life. Martin Luther King Jr. challenged his racist adversaries with a two-pronged weapon: the Declaration of Independence and the teachings of Scripture, both of which the common man could engage, understand, and respond to.

In the past, elites did their part to sustain this civic, moral, and religious consensus. Predominantly liberal, the newsmen of the 1950s and 1960s nevertheless expressed their moral passion in the same classic, high-minded public vocabulary King used. They operated within our encompassing civil religion even as they took critical stances.

The effect was to include a wide range of people in the public conversation and promote an equality of moral imagination. Religion, morality, and civic myths: These are not the opiates of the masses, nor the mystifications the powerful use to ensure their dominion. On the contrary, they provide us with an inclusive common language of duty, responsibility, and accountability.
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To an unpre­cedented degree, our secular elites have a monopoly on culture that cannot be challenged by ordinary people. The same people who are falling behind in the global economy also find themselves culturally disempowered. That’s why Fox News can build a brand around populist resentment.

The relentless critiques of traditional moral wisdom have led to a personal loss of agency as well, one that gives rise to today’s most profound inequality: marriage inequality. As David and Amber Lapp painfully detailed in the last issue (“Alone in the New America”), stable marriage is desired by many young working-class people but seems inaccessible…..

The editors of the New York Times intuit the deepest basis of their power. They are willing to pay higher taxes—or at least volunteer others to pay them. But a redistribution of cultural power? Not a chance. The same goes for faculty at universities. They’ll rally round the call for greater economic equality, but God forbid that a social or religious conservative should receive an appointment. That tells us a great deal about the inequalities and equalities that matter.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:39 PM | Permalink

"Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game."

Administration to investigate news rooms and how they select news stories

The purpose of the proposed Federal Communications Commission study is to “identify and understand the critical information needs of the American public, with special emphasis on vulnerable-disadvantaged populations,” according to the agency.
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“The FCC seems unable to keep its hands off the news media for any extended period of time,” Jeffrey Eisenach, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told FoxNews.com.  “It’s the same generic concern of needing a news nanny to make sure we’re all well informed,” he added. “The same people who are concerned about the NSA spying on Americans ought to be concerned about this.”

The FCC Wades Into the Newsroom by Ajit Pai.  Why is the agency studying 'perceived station bias' and asking about coverage choices?

News organizations often disagree about what Americans need to know. MSNBC, for example, apparently believes that traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., is the crisis of our time. Fox News, on the other hand, chooses to cover the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi more heavily than other networks. The American people, for their part, disagree about what they want to watch.

But everyone should agree on this: The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.

Unfortunately, the Federal Communications Commission, where I am a commissioner, does not agree. Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its "Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs," or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run.  A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.

The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about "the process by which stories are selected" and how often stations cover "critical information needs," along with "perceived station bias" and "perceived responsiveness to underserved populations."
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Participation in the Critical Information Needs study is voluntary—in theory. Unlike the opinion surveys that Americans see on a daily basis and either answer or not, as they wish, the FCC's queries may be hard for the broadcasters to ignore. They would be out of business without an FCC license, which must be renewed every eight years.

Mark Steyn, All the News That Fits the Government Guidelines

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Government of the United States is increasingly corrupt. Its revenue agency is corrupt and its justice department is corrupt, so it's hardly surprising, in a hyper-regulatory regime where bureaucrats write their own rules and enforce them with their personal SWAT teams, that more peripheral government bodies find the temptation too much to resist. On Fox News today, Shannon Bream has been reporting on the Federal Communications Commission's plans to put government monitors in TV and radio newsrooms to assess their coverage of eight "critical information needs", and "underserved populations".
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I was interested to see what the eight "critical information needs" - or CINs, in the regulatory jargon - actually are. You can find them listed in this report, from something called "Social Solutions International" of Silver Spring, Maryland:
Social Solutions has been tasked with the development of a research design that can be used to identify and understand the critical information needs (CINs) of the American public (with special emphasis on vulnerable/disadvantaged populations).
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The state has no business determining which news stories have priorities over others, and certainly no business sending monitors into newsrooms to ensure compliance - because the essence of a functioning press is not what the state decrees the citizen has a "critical need" to know but what it doesn't think he needs to know. Why should "Social Solutions International" get to determine "the critical information needs of the American public"? And why should the government get to enforce them?…..

A quote from Salman Rushdie: "Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game." Because without free speech you can never be quite sure whether the ball game is even real
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:39 AM | Permalink

"Orchards with trees lying on their sides, as if shot."

"The farms in and around Mendota are dying of thirst. The signs are everywhere. Orchards with trees lying on their sides, as if shot. Former farm fields given over to tumbleweeds. Land and cattle for sale, cheap."

15 Reasons Your Food Bill is Set to Soar

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:21 AM | Permalink

February 18, 2014

“The crucial ingredients for nearly all antibiotics, steroids and many other lifesaving drugs are now made exclusively in China,”

The United States is nearly completely reliant on China for it’s supply of lifesaving antibiotics.

“The crucial ingredients for nearly all antibiotics, steroids and many other lifesaving drugs are now made exclusively in China,” The New York Times reported in the 32nd paragraph of a Friday article entitled “Medicines made in India set off safety worries.”

Indeed, 2014 marks the tenth anniversary of Bristol-Myers Squibb — the last American plant that manufactured the key ingredients for penicillin and other drugs — shuttering it’s upstate New York factory.

“Like other manufacturing operations, drug plants have been moving to Asia because labor, construction, regulatory and environmental costs are lower there,” the Times reported in 2009.

What could go wrong?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:51 PM | Permalink

Quotes from a KGB defector, "Russia today is the first intelligence dictatorship in history"

Romanian Lt. Gen. Ion Pacepa  is the highest-ranking Soviet intelligence officer to ever defect, having come to the United States and received asylum from President Carter in 1978. Ever since, Pacepa has been writing in defense of freedom while living undercover due to assassination threats.

In connection with the release of his most-recent title “Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism.”,  here are 11 quotes that will shock and chill you from our interview with the highest-ranking Soviet bloc intel officer to ever defect.

1. The very idea that the Soviet Union was defeated is disinformation in itself. …Russia today is the first intelligence dictatorship in history. It is a brand new form of totalitarianism, which we are not yet familiar with. Now the KGB, rechristened FSB, is openly running Russia.”

2.  The absolutely worst—and often irreparable—damage done to the Free World has been caused by the Kremlin’s disinformation operations designed to change the past…The Kremlin’s repeated lie that Pius XII was Hitler’s Pope has become the “truth”—a lie so firmly established against all evidence to the contrary, that for most educated people who have not looked closely at the subject, there seems nothing to discuss.”

6. The KGB plot to turn the Arab World against the Jews  ”In 1972, during a breakfast in his office, KGB chairman Andropov told me that “our” disinformation machinery should ignite a campaign aimed at transforming Arab anti-Semitism into an anti-American doctrine for the whole Muslim world. The idea was to portray the United States as a war-mongering, Zionist country financed by Jewish money and run by a rapacious “Council of the Elders of Zion” ….The KGB boss described the Muslim world as a waiting petri dish, in which we could nurture a strain of hate-America. The Muslims had a taste for nationalism, jingoism and victimology. We had only to keep repeating, over and over, that the United States was a war-mongering, Zionist country financed by Jewish money, with the goal of taking over the whole world.

8.  On the true meaning of glasnost - Glasnost is an old Russian term for polishing the ruler’s image……Glasnost was a[n]…instrument…to embellish the stature of a leader, not a catchword for openness

9. The Soviet Union devoted more resources to ideological warfare than standard intel-gathering “

11. The KGB flooded the world with copies of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”

From the interview

What would you hope is the primary takeaway for readers from your book?

Pacepa: That Marxism and its earthly Socialism are immense disinformation operations, and that all they have left behind is former Marxist countries that ended up looking like trailer camps hit by a hurricane, and leaders roasting in Dante’s Inferno. That all Marxists who have ever risen to lead a country have ended up in hell—all, from Trotsky to Stalin, Tito to Enver Hoxha to Mátyás Rakosi, Sékou Touré, Nyeree and Hugo Chavez.
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You dedicated a significant part of the book to the connection between the Soviet framing of Pius XII and the current international terrorism. Could you synthesize that part here?

Both the framing of the pope and the threat of international terrorism were born at the Lubyanka, the headquarters of the KGB. Both grew out of the Kremlin’s anti-Semitism and its addiction to framing people and countries. And both were intended to slander and undermine the faith of the Judeo-Christian world, while at the same time driving a wedge between Jews and Christians.  That brings me to the crux of the matter. Anti-Semitism has always generated terrorism.

In your view what is the best way to fight against Leftist disinformation?

Pacepa: By revealing the truthRadio Free Europe has been a lot more important than the armies and the most sophisticated missiles. The ‘missiles’ that destroyed Communism were launched from Radio Free Europe, and this was Washington’s most important investment during the Cold War.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:50 PM | Permalink

Science vs feelings

After a meta analysis of 23 years of research, scientists from Cambridge University confirm that men's and woman's brains
develop differently

Scientists have found that men’s brains are bigger overall than women’s - by up to 13 per cent. But some individual parts of the female brain are denser.  Amber Ruigrok, a Phd student who worked on the study, said: “For the first time we can look across the vast literature and confirm that brain size and structure are different in males and females.
--
Prof John Suckling, who led the research, said: “The sex differences in the limbic system include areas often implicated in psychiatric conditions with biased sex ratios such as autism, schizophrenia, and depression.” “This new study may therefore help us understand not just typical sex differences but also sex-linked psychiatric conditions.

Of course, everyone knows men and woman are different in their biology and that biology extends to the brain. Similar studies confirming the difference between men and women make the headlines every few months like this one from December, 2013, Why Men’s and Women’s Brains Work Differently: It’s All About the Wiring

The latest imaging data reveals gender-based differences in the way brain networks are connected. …..

That pattern, which remained throughout adulthood, showed that the women’s brains were wired to better integrate emotion and reason— while the  men’s brains had stronger links between coordinated action and perception. For men, that translated into brains more highly connected from front to back, so perceptual and action-focused areas enjoyed stronger networks, while women’s brains had more left to right wiring. That matchup strengthened the connections between intuitive and emotional regions with those involved in rationality and planning.

But I'll leave it to How Stuff Works to explain simply what we've learned about the differences between men and women's brains.

So when I saw the headline that Facebook now offers you fifty different genders to choose from to describe yourself, I could only laugh at the absurdity of it all.  It's not based on science, but feelings, about making people feel good about themselves.  That's what Facebook is all about.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:48 PM | Permalink

Snapshots

D.C. No. 1 in broken homes; just 17 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds live with parents

In their “Fourth Annual Index of Family Belonging and Rejection,” the Family Research Council's Marriage and Religion Institute focused on homes of married biological parents. Families in the Northeast are the most intact in the country while those in the South are the least intact.

Utah has the highest “belonging and rejection” index, with 57 percent living in traditional homes. Regionally, the northeast was best at 50 percent, and among races, Asians topped all with 65 percent, with blacks the lowest at 17 percent.

Prof corrects minority students’ capitalization, is accused of racism

From a paper by James Lindgren, Northwestern University School of Law  Who Believes that Astrology is Scientific?

 Table Belief In Astrology

 Table-10-Earth-Around Sun

Poll: 71% of Obama voters, 55% Democrats 'regret' voting for his re-election

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:13 PM | Permalink

Bloody Bible

Michael Coren on The War on Christians in the Middle East describes the power of a bloody bible.

[M]y guest, who had vast experience with the horrors faced by followers of Christ within Muslim majority states, asked me if he could put a Bible on the desk in front of him. I am always reluctant to resemble the host of a Christian television show. I am not criticizing what they do, but it is simply not my mandate and does tend to exclude many potential audience members. I politely told him that I’d rather he didn’t. Gracious and understanding, he said he fully understood. But, he continued, this particular Bible might be of interest to the viewers as he had been given it by an Iraqi Christian who attended Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad. The church had been attacked during the evening Mass on October 31, 2010 by a Sunni Muslim terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq. At least 58 people were murdered and more than 75 injured in that attack.

The large, heavy book being held in front of me was, I realized, almost beyond reading. Its pages were thick and glued together in lumps, soaked and sticky with the blood of the men, women, and children who had been slaughtered that warm evening in a place of peace, in a city where Christians had lived and flourished before Islam even existed. This was not a holy book to be preached from, but a holy book of martyrdom that preached. Its illegible pages spoke entire volumes, its red turned to brown strains cried out to a still largely indifferent or even hostile world.

I felt guilty that day—ashamed, judgmental, and small….

The British Conservative politician Lady Warsi, a long-term campaigner against extremism within her own Muslim faith, gave a speech at Georgetown University. She warned of the extinction of Christianity in the Middle East, with an exodus of a “Biblical scale” taking place.

“There are parts of the world today, where to be a Christian is to put your life in danger. From continent to continent, Christians are facing discrimination, ostracism, torture, even murder, simply for the faith they follow. Christian populations are plummeting and the religion is being driven out of some of its historic heartlands. In Iraq, the Christian community has fallen from 1.2m in 1990 to 200,000 today. In Syria, the horrific bloodshed has masked the hemorrhaging of its Christian population.”

Some headlines from the past week:

Lynching of Christian man by Muslims is sign of chaos in Central African Republic - one of his relatives screamed. “They cut his neck like a cow. They are going to kill all of us.”

In Syria, Muslims Defecate In Church, Cover Christian Man In Gasoline And Light Him On Fire (video)

Two Armenian Christians from Aleppo were kidnapped by Muslim fighters from a bus. When the jihadists returned to the bus, they were carrying a box in which, they said, had cakes. But when the box was opened, the severed heads of the two Christians were found.

"On that day I went to buy rice as it was the birthday of my grandson.  When I came back, the police were there and they were torturing my son.  My son could not run or escape as he is crippled.They also beat my daughter-in-law when she tried to defend him.  They they took everyone to the police station and the whole night they tortured my crippled son"

In India, Muslims Attack Christian Professor, And Cut His Hand Off

Jihadists Slaughter man’s family as he’s working in another Country

“The last time they were seen was at 3pm,” one officer said. After the fierce confrontation, the old man’s sister went to see what happened at her brother’s house. Smoke was coming out of the house. She entered the house to find the remains of her brother and his daughter, her niece, as two burned corpses. The doctor confirmed that the cause of death for both was a bullet to the head, but their bodies had also been set on fire. The aged man didn’t have any weapon whatsoever or any affiliation to any political party. He got killed for religious reasons. He was a Christian and had no other faults to his name. He was burned as a sign of utter contempt for his religion, as burning or dishonoring a corpse in any way is a great disgrace in Islamic tradition.

Muslims stormed the Christian village of Izge in Nigeria, making their cries of “Allahu Akbar!”, killing everyone in sight, and indulging in plunder. According to one resident, the Muslim barbarians butchered 93 Christians in cold blood.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:36 PM | Permalink

Where almost half of the country's lakes were dead and dying, unable to sustain life

If You Think Communism Is Bad For People, Check Out What It Did To The Environment

When the Berlin Wall came down and the Iron Curtain was finally lifted to expose the inner workings of communism to Western eyes, one of the more shocking discoveries was the nightmarish scale of environmental destruction. The statistics for East Germany alone tell a horrific tale: at the time of its reunification with West Germany an estimated 42 percent of moving water and 24 percent of still waters were so polluted that they could not be used to process drinking water, almost half of the country’s lakes were considered dead or dying and unable to sustain fish or other forms of life, and only one-third of industrial sewage along with half of domestic sewage received treatment.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:00 PM | Permalink

February 17, 2014

Priorities

Yearly Climate Spending 10x More Than UN Estimate for Ending World Hunger  Yet UN recommends another $147B be spent on warming.

The United Nations estimates it would cost $30 billion a year to end world hunger. That sounds like a lot, but the world spent more than ten times that amount in 2012 on global warming mitigation, according to a recent Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) study.
--
According to the Reuters analysis of the Summary for Policymakers of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, due to be released this April, the UN is calling on the world to invest an extra $147 billion a year in wind, solar, and nuclear power from 2010 to 2029. If we add that figure to CPI’s measure, the UN wants us to spend approximately $506 billion a year to mitigate global warming,

According to the UN, this amount would end world hunger for nearly 20 years.

So it will get a little hotter or a little colder in the future.  Whatever happens we can adapt.  But people who are starving suffer and die.  They can't adapt.

Food and clean water  - that's where our money should go.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:21 PM | Permalink

Who gives what to whom to influence politics

I never even heard of ActBlue before yet it is the top all time donor from 1989-2014 to political candidates and parties.

OpenSecrets.org has the list of the Heavy Hitters: Top All-Time Donors, 1989-2014 based on material released by the Federal Election Commission.

The top 16 donors give to the Democrat party except for 4 who give equally to both.  Twelve of the top 16 donors are unions.  Koch Industries, the bete noir of many leftists, ranks only 59th.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:20 PM | Permalink

Americans are becoming increas­ingly ignorant of how the modern world was made

How the West Won—but “Western Civ” Lost.  Rodney Stark writes in the Intercollegiate Review

It’s remarkably unfashionable to study—or even talk about—the West these days.
--
Forty years ago the most important and popular freshman course at the best American colleges and universities was “Western Civilization.” It not only covered the general history of the West but also included historical surveys of art, music, literature, philosophy, science, and other matters. But this course has long since disappeared from most college catalogues on grounds that Western civilization is but one of many civilizations and it is ethnocentric and arrogant to study ours.

To the extent that this policy pre­vails, Americans will become increas­ingly ignorant of how the modern world came to be. Worse yet, they are in danger of being badly misled by a flood of absurd, politically correct fabrications, all of them popular on college campuses: That the Greeks copied their whole culture from black Egyptians. That European science originated in Islam. That Western affluence was stolen from non-West­ern societies. That Western modernity was really produced in China, and not so very long ago.

The truth is that, although the West wisely adopted bits and pieces of technology from Asia, modernity is entirely the product of West­ern civilization.

I use the term modernity to identify that fundamental store of scientific knowledge and procedures, powerful technologies, artistic achievements, political freedoms, economic arrangements, moral sensibilities, and improved standards of living that characterize Western nations and are now revolutionizing life in the rest of the world. For there is another truth: to the extent that other cultures have failed to adopt at least major aspects of Western ways, they remain backward and impoverished.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:12 PM | Permalink

On the Exorcism beat

Local Psychologist A Former Skeptic, Now Trains Priests In Exorcisms 

Once he was a skeptic, but after assisting in nearly 100 exorcisms, his experiences have made him a believer.  Adam Blai studied psychology at Penn State, and studied the most violent criminals, but even in serial killers and rapists, he found at least some humanity – not so with the possessed…
.
Your mind rebels against really believing that this is really real, even after you’ve seen some things,” he says. “But eventually, the evidence piles up, and the pile becomes so large that you really have to accept it.”…..

Demonic Possession: Real or Mental Illness?

While some psychologists would argue that the vast majority of these cases involve psychiatric disorder – schizophrenia or Tourette’s syndrome – the Diocese relies on Blai, who holds a Master’s degree in psychology, to make the determination.

Blai says true cases of possessions have clear characteristic, such as a man in rural Pennsylvania with a high school education who spoke in languages he did not know -“French, German, Latin and Lithuanian.”…There is also the reaction to religious artifacts like crosses or holy water, the knowledge of hidden things and superhuman strength, which does not diminish hour after hour of restraining a person.

Above all, when he comes face to face with evil , Blai says he knows it.  “Their heart is so black and lacking of any hesitation or compassion that you know they would tear you apart and be smiling the entire time,” he says. “There’s a sense of evil with a demon that is so far beyond any human I’ve ever met it’s impossible to convey it to you in words.”

"When it comes to fighting vampires and performing exorcisms, the Roman Catholic Church has the heavy artillery. Your other religions are good for everyday theological tasks, like steering their members into heaven, but when the undead lunge up out of their graves, you want a priest on the case. As a product of Catholic schools, I take a certain pride in this pre-eminence,"    Roger Ebert.
 

It was the most bizarre situation in 30 years of his priesthood. Father Michael Maginot  was asked to save an Indiana family who appeared to be afflicted by demonic possession in 2012.  He discusses his role as exorcist.

The best is this story on a Zen exorcist, Ghosts of the Tsunami by Richard Lloyd Parry in the London Review of Books.

I met a priest in the north of Japan who exorcised the spirits of people who had drowned in the tsunami. The ghosts did not appear in large numbers until later in the year, but Reverend Kaneda’s first case of possession came to him after less than a fortnight. He was chief priest at a Zen temple in the inland town of Kurihara. The earthquake on 11 March 2011 was the most violent that he, or anyone he knew, had ever experienced. The great wooden beams of the temple’s halls had flexed and groaned with the strain. Power, water and telephone lines were fractured for days; deprived of electricity, people in Kurihara, thirty miles from the coast, had a dimmer idea of what was going on there than television viewers on the other side of the world. But it became clear enough, when first a handful of families, and then a mass of them, began arriving at Kaneda’s temple with corpses to bury.

Nearly twenty thousand people had died at a stroke. In the space of a month, Kaneda performed funeral services for two hundred of them. More appalling than the scale of death was the spectacle of the bereaved survivors. ‘They didn’t cry,’ Kaneda said to me a year later. ‘There was no emotion at all. The loss was so profound and death had come so suddenly. They understood the facts of their situation individually – that they had lost their homes, lost their livelihoods and lost their families. They understood each piece, but they couldn’t see it as a whole, and they couldn’t understand what they should do, or sometimes even where they were. I couldn’t really talk to them, to be honest….

Amid this numbness and horror, Kaneda received a visit from a man he knew, a local builder whom I will call Takeshi Ono….‘Ono told me that he’d walked along the beach in that devastated area, eating an ice cream,’ the priest said. ‘He even put up a sign in the car in the windscreen saying ‘disaster relief’, so that no one would stop him. He went there flippantly, without giving it any thought at all. I told him: “You fool. If you go to a place where many people have died, you must go with a feeling of respect. That’s common sense. You have suffered a kind of punishment for what you did. Something got hold of you, perhaps the dead who cannot accept yet that they are dead. They have been trying to express their regret and their resentment through you.”’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:06 PM | Permalink

February 13, 2014

Blacklisting, lies and political correctness

Andrew Cuomo is a blacklister—in the moral, if not literal, sense of the term writes George Weigel.

Blacklisting is obviously bad business. What’s worth noting today, though, is that the ugly habit of blacklisting has migrated on the political spectrum. Ask a lot of people the first thing they think of when they hear “blacklist,” and the response will likely be “Joe McCarthy” or “HUAC.” The proper response would be “Andrew Cuomo.”
--
….turning to his own Empire State, he announced that such extremists, among whom he listed “right-to-life” people, “have no place in the state of New York.”

Cuomo defined “extreme conservatism” as being “anti-gay” by opposing same-sex marriage rights, opposed to abortion rights and favoring legalization of assault weapons.

Angelo M. Codevilla in Live Not by Lies

Being human, politicians lie. Even in the best regimes. The distinguishing feature of totalitarian regimes however, is that they are built on words that the rulers know to be false, and on somehow constraining the people to speak and act as if the lies were true. Thus the people hold up the regime by partnering in its lies. Thus, when we use language that is “politically correct” – when we speak words acceptable to the regime even if unfaithful to reality – or when we don’t call out politicians who lie to our faces, we take part in degrading America.

Solzhenitsyn showed that totalitarianism works by leading people to take part in the regime’s lies, and that it does so mostly by a host of petty incentives. Then he wrote: “the simplest and most accessible key to our self-neglected liberation lies right here: Personal non-participation in lies. Though lies conceal everything, though lies embrace everything, but not with any help from me.” The lies that hold up corrupt regimes, he noted, like infections, “can exist only in a living organism.” Hence whoever will live in freedom “will immediately walk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if he hears a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.”

Abraham Lincoln wrote in a  Letter to Erastus Corning and Others (12 June 1863)

The man who stands by and says nothing, when the peril of his government is discussed,
can not be misunderstood. If not hindered, he is sure to help the enemy.

Among the definition of politically correct in The Urban Dictionary

1. The laws of moral and ethical relativism; all systems of cultures and thought are equal in value, stemming from a perceived guilt from white liberals who believe that the Western Civilization is the root of all evil to the exclusion of all else.
2. A powerful form of censorship.

I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism.
~ P.D. James.

I got a feeling about political correctness. I hate it. It causes us to lie silently instead of saying what we think.
~ Hal Holbrook.

My objection to political correctness, as a Christian, is that it is diabolic; as a conservative, that it is Marxist; as a philosopher,  that it is not merely untruthful but openly nihilistic and irrational; as a practical man, that it makes rational conversation about any controversial topic all but impossible; as a gentleman that is substitutes political fashion for true courtesy; but as a writer my objection is that Political Correctness lacks drama.
  John C. Wright

The origins of political correctness - Political Correctness is cultural Marxism.

"Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to."

Theodore Dalrymple

Whether you call it linguistic fascism, cultural Marxism or communist propaganda, political correctness is totalitarianism internalized.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:11 PM | Permalink

Shades of Lysenko in the Trial of the Century:

Mann vs. Steyn: The Trial of the Century by Robert Tracinski

Trofim Lysenko was the Soviet scientist who ingratiated himself to Joseph Stalin and got his crackpot theories on genetics installed as official dogma, effectively killing the study of biology in the Soviet Union. Under Lysenko, the state had an established and official scientific doctrine, and you risked persecution if you questioned it. Mann's libel suit is an attempt to establish that same principle here.
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Mann has recently declared himself to be both a scientist and a political activist. But in attempting to intimidate his critics and suppress free debate on global warming, he is violating the fundamental rules of both science and politics. If it is a sin to doubt, then there is no science. If it is a crime to dissent, then there is no politics.

Mann vs. Steyn may be the trial of the century. It may determine, not merely whether the environmentalists can shut down industrial civilization, but whether they can shut down the independent thinking of skeptical dissidents.

From Wikipedia

Lysenkoism was the centralized political control exercised over genetics and agriculture by Trofim Lysenko and his followers. Lysenko was the director of the Soviet Union's Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Lysenkoism began in the late 1920s and formally ended in 1964.

Lysenkoism was built on theories of the heritability of acquired characteristics that Lysenko named "Michurinism". These theories depart from accepted evolutionary theory and Mendelian inheritance.

Lysenkoism is used metaphorically to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:18 PM | Permalink

What's a Precariat?

David Brooks on The American Precariat

the Precariat is the growing class of people living with short-term and part-time work with precarious living standards and “without a narrative of occupational development.” They live with multiple forms of insecurity and are liable to join protest movements across the political spectrum.

The American Precariat seems more hunkered down, insecure, risk averse, relying on friends and family but without faith in American possibilities. This fatalism is historically uncharacteristic of America.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:07 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Sugar and heart disease and cancer, the pillcam, Vit C, baldness, cocaine and exercise as best bet for osteoarthritis

Added Sugar May Boost Risk of Heart Disease, Death

Between 2005 and 2010, about 71 percent of Americans consumed 10 percent or more of their daily calories from added sugar, according to the study. The World Health Organization recommends limiting calories from added sugar to less than 10 percent of your daily total.

What's more, people who consumed between 17 and 21 percent of their daily calories from added sugar were nearly 40 percent more likely to die from cardiovascular disease over a 14-year period than those who consumed about 8 percent of their daily calories from added sugar, the study found.

What does cancer eat? Sugar, mostly, and other lessons from my dinner with a professor of pathology by Jane Macdougall

Just one can  of soda a day raised heart risk by a third.

Scientists have discovered an alarming link between excessive consumption of sugar found in fizzy drinks or processed food and heart-related deaths.  They found that even one fizzy drink a day was enough to increase the chances of dying from cardiovascular disease (CVD) by almost a third.  And for those consuming a quarter of their daily calories from sugar, the risk of heart-related death doubled.  Added sugar is that which is introduced to the processing of food products, rather than coming from natural sources such as fruit. .

Colonoscopies to be replaced by camera that comes in a PILL as FDA green lights revolutionary treatment

The PillCam, an ingestible camera that takes high-speed photographs as it works its way through the digestive system and helps doctors spot polyps and other early signs of colon cancer was just cleared by the Food and Drug Administration.
The device is designed for patients who have had trouble with the cringe-inducing colonoscopy procedure, which involves probing the large intestine with a tiny camera embedded in a four-foot long, flexible tube.


Vitamin C shows promise as cancer therapy

Intravenous vitamin C – combined with conventional chemotherapy – can kill cancer cells, the University of Kansas Medical Center reported.

Bald? Now there's a jab to make hair grow back

Scientists may soon be able to grow new hair on balding scalps, avoiding the need for a hair transplant. Researchers have succeeded in creating new human hair in the laboratory using tiny cells  called dermal papillae that fuel its growth.

Snorting cocaine increases the risk of a stroke by 700% in the 24 hours after use.

Snorting cocaine massively increases the risk of a stroke in young adults, a new study has warned.
Within a day of snorting the drug, users are six to seven times more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke, researchers found...Cocaine is thought to thicken the blood, thereby increasing the risk of a clot.

In 2012, Australian researchers dubbed cocaine the 'perfect heart attack drug' with users at much greater risk of suffering cardiac arrest than people who do not take it.  University of Sydney researchers found recreational cocaine users have higher blood pressure, stiffer arteries and thicker heart muscle walls than non-users – all of which can cause a heart attack.

Exercise is the best treatment for those suffering osteoarthritis say health chiefs dismissing the view it is 'just part of the aging process'   National Institute for Health and Care Excellence say exercise should be the 'principal treatment' for osteoarthritis.  'Physical exertion can ease pain.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 AM | Permalink

February 12, 2014

Abraham Lincoln

 Abraham Lincoln November 1863

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.

Second Inaugural Address

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:09 PM | Permalink

The Bible

Christina Odone wrote in the Telegraph that the Bible has disappeared from our children's lives

Almost a third of children do not know their Adam from their Noah or that David slew Goliath. The Good Samaritan is a stranger and the Nativity just a Christmas play.

The latest Bible Society findings prove that the West has erased its Christian heritage from public life. I'm not surprised – only saddened that No God Zone, my e-book on the subject, has been vindicated. After decades of concerted efforts by secularist zealots, the Bible is a truly alien subject. Future generations will look on "the greatest story ever told" and think it is a 1965 movie starring Charlton Heston and Max von Sydow.

Even Richard Dawkins, our God-hater-in-chief, thinks this a pity. In a very amicable exchange three years ago, we agreed that the Bible represents a precious part of our legacy. I agreed with Prof Dawkins that you don't have to be a believer to delight in its literary merits and recognise its historical value. A few faith schools still teach "the Good Book"; but they are under fire from the atheist brigade, and many feel that they will only survive if they promote a multicultural syllabus that stars Gandhi and Mandela rather than Abraham and Jesus.

The extraordinary, subversive book, with its lessons on charity, compassion and respect for others inspired generations to rebel against tyrannies of all kinds – dictators, addictions, vices. Men and women dedicated their lives to its teachings – and were ready to die for it. But today it seems that a host of martyrs lost their lives in vain: the Bible is just another book that sold more than the Hunger Games trilogy at some point.

The recent poll by the Bible Society in the U.K. revealed that more than half of the adults who responded believe “The Hunger Games” are biblical and one in three say “Harry Potter” could be a storyline from the sacred text.

“While these statistics may appear surprising at first glance, they are symptomatic of the fact that many children indicate they have never read, seen or even heard these stories.” ….. Of the parents questioned, 46 percent did not recognize that the account of Noah’s Ark comes from the Bible, according to the results of the January survey of 800 children ages eight to 15 and 1,000 parents.

The survey was taken in preparation for the launch of the organization’s “Pass It On” campaign which is intended to raise the level of knowledge about the Bible.

More from the poll

  • more than 43 percent of parents feel it is important for kids to have read, heard or seen Bible stories.
  • three in 10 secondary school pupils, aged 12 to 15, did not realize the Nativity was from the Bible
  • one-third of the parents “were unsure or did not recognize the stories of David and Goliath and Adam and Eve as being from the Bible.
  • 27 percent thought the storyline from “Superman” was or could be in the Bible.

“It is impossible to mentally or socially enslave a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom,” wrote Horace Greeley (1811-1872), publisher and journalist

“A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th President of the United States

“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”  George Washington (1732-1799), first President of the United States

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:01 PM | Permalink

"America is too sensitive about race"

'Northern liberal elites treated me worse than the segregated South':

America is too sensitive about race says Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas who spend his childhood in a a place and time in which businesses and government services were legally segregated.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told a group of college students on Tuesday that race and gender relations are worse now than when he was a kid.  Speaking at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida, Thomas, the second black justice to serve on the court, lamented what he considers a society that is more 'conscious' of racial differences than it was when he grew up in segregated Georgia in the days before — and during — the civil rights era.

The conservative justice who, among other things, has written opinions supporting limits on Affirmative Action, added that 'the worst things that have been done to me, the worst things that have been said about me, by northern liberal elites, not by the people of Savannah, Georgia.'
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Now, name a day it doesn’t come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody doesn’t look at you right, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive. If I had been as sensitive as that in the 1960s, I’d still be in Savannah. Every person in this room has endured a slight. Every person. Somebody has said something that has hurt their feelings or did something to them — left them out.'  'That’s a part of the deal,' he added.

More people need Insensitivity training.

The Onion: Conservative Acquaintance Annoyingly Not Racist

“It would be so much easier if I could just write him off as a bigot, but as far as I can tell he harbors no resentment or disdain toward people of color. For God’s sake, we argued every issue from states’ rights to income disparity but nope, he didn’t say anything even tacitly racist. Not once.” Hardwick later concluded that her acquaintance’s opposition to most of President Obama’s policies meant he was probably “close enough” to count as a racist.

Me, I want to live in a post-racial world like the one Naomi Schaefer Riley describes:

it would be filled with people like Jerry Seinfeld, going about their business, doing what they do best, without the slightest concern for the color of another person’s skin. It would be filled with people who walk into offices, schools and social events without doing a racial headcount to make sure every group was proportionately represented.

“If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.”
Thomas Sowell

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:45 PM | Permalink

February 11, 2014

Some practical tips

How to fold a fitted sheet

Google has changed its terms of service and will start using your face and name and profile details in its ads in what Google call 'shared endorsements'.    If you find this outrageous, you can opt out at this link

How strangers could soon be invading your inbox Gmail about to get even less private with update that allows people to send you emails without having your address.  How to Disable Gmail's New Feature that Let Google+ Users Email You

Students who take notes in longhand rather than on a laptop do significantly better in later tests on both factual learning and conceptual learning,  Longhand notes not only lead to higher quality learning in the first place; they are also a superior strategy for storing new learning for later study.

The unlikely new medicine… pickled cabbage: New research reveals it may help with allergies, coughs, colds and more

FYI: An inch of rain on an acre of land weighs 113.31 tons.

10 Amazing Life Hacks

Use a kettle to make boiling water for teas and coffees.
Cover hard and slippery wooden floors with a rug or carpet.
Use a newspaper to keep abreast of current affairs and opinion.
Prolong the shelf life of food by storing perishable items in a fridge or freezer.
Find your books easily by storing them with the spine facing outwards.
Consume and digest food to keep yourself alive for longer.
Repurpose old ice into an amazing, refreshing water drink.

Pay Kids for Chores with Screen Time Tokens

How to Find Your Way Without a Smartphone or GPS

Boy scouts always asked us why they had to learn to use a map — we told them because maps work with bullet holes in them

 Want Wifi Password?

Boy scouts always asked us why they had to learn to use a map — we told them because maps work with bullet holes in them

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:33 PM | Permalink

February 10, 2014

"Most identity theft in the United States is medical-related" ; New Credit Cards for Everyone

Medical Identity Theft and Obamacare

  1. Most identity theft in the United States is medical-related, according to a recent report from the Identity Theft Resource Center…..In 2012 alone, medical identity theft increased by nearly 25 percent, affecting 1.85 million Americans
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Michael Ollove, a reporter for Stateline, noted that 43 percent of identity-theft incidents in the United States are medical-related,a far greater chunk than identity thefts involving banking and finance, the government and the military, or education. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that since it started keeping records in 2009, the medical records of between 27.8 million and 6.7 million people have been breached.”

Regardless, as many as 31 states do not conduct background checks on Obamacare navigators, who have access to enrollees’ names, Social Security numbers, financial records, and health information. A recent NR report found that in California, at least 43 navigators approved by the state health exchange had prior convictions, including for forgery and welfare fraud.

All American Credit Cards Will Disappear In 2015 And Be Replaced With This New Tech

Every credit card in the U.S. will be replaced by October 2015 with new cards that contain the chip-and-PIN technology that the rest of the world has had for years, according to the Wall Street Journal.  Both Visa and MasterCard are committed to the switch, which will render extinct the plastic in your wallets and purses right now.

No more black magnetic stripes; no more signing on the dotted line.

Americans who have traveled to Europe in recent years will know that the U.S.'s credit card system is embarrassingly old-fashioned by comparison. It's often difficult to use American credit cards abroad because the Europeans abandoned magnetic stripes and signatures years ago — they were too easily hacked. Credit and debit cards in the U.S. are about 10 years behind the rest of the world.

The new cards contain a microchip and require the owner to enter a PIN into a payment machine at checkout. They are more secure for a couple of reasons.

First, requiring the PIN prevents checkout staff from handling your card — they will simply hand you the point-of-sale device and customers will insert their cards and verify payment themselves.

Second, the chip replaces the magnetic stripe, which is easily copied and therefore vulnerable to hackers, as the Target sting proved. In France, chip-and-PIN allegedly reduced credit-card fraud by 80% (although the sourcing for this number is vague).
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 PM | Permalink

He looked like an elegant pirate and became a figure of legend.

Never yet melted learned about Carton de Wiart via Wikipedia.  What a manly man.

Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO (5 May 1880 – 5 June 1963) was a British Army officer of Belgian and Irish descent.

He served in the Boer War, First World War, and Second World War; was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip, and ear; survived two plane crashes; tunnelled out of a POW camp; and bit off his own fingers when a doctor refused to amputate them. Describing his experiences in World War I, he wrote, “Frankly I had enjoyed the war.” …

 Carton De Wiart

Carton de Wiart was thought to be a model for the character of Brigadier Ben Ritchie Hook in Evelyn Waugh’s trilogy Sword of Honour. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography described him thus: “With his black eyepatch and empty sleeve, Carton de Wiart looked like an elegant pirate, and became a figure of legend.” …

Carton de Wiart was born into an aristocratic family in Brussels, on 5 May 1880, eldest son of Leon Constant Ghislain Carton de Wiart (1854–1915). By his contemporaries, he was widely believed to be an illegitimate son of the King of the Belgians, Leopold II. …

In 1891 his English stepmother sent him to a boarding school in England, the Roman Catholic Oratory School, founded by Cardinal John Henry Newman.  From there he went to Balliol College, Oxford, but left to join the British Army at the time of the Boer War around 1899, where he entered under the false name of “Trooper Carton”, and claimed to be 25 years old.

Carton de Wiart was wounded in the stomach and groin in South Africa early on in the War and invalided home, and his father found out about him leaving college. His father was furious but allowed his son to remain in the army. After another brief period at Oxford, where Aubrey Herbert was among his friends, he was given a commission in the Second Imperial Light Horse. He saw action in South Africa again and on 14 September 1901 was given a regular commission as a second lieutenant in the 4th Dragoon Guards. Carton de Wiart was transferred to India in 1902. He enjoyed sports, especially shooting and pig sticking.

Carton de Wiart’s serious wound in the Boer War instilled in him a strong desire for physical fitness and he ran, jogged, walked, and played sports on a regular basis. In male company he was ‘a delightful character and must hold the world record for bad language.’ …

By 1907, although Carton de Wiart had now served in the British Army for eight years, he had remained a Belgian subject. On 13 September, he took the oath of allegiance to Edward VII and was formally naturalized as a British subject.

He went on to fight in WWI, winning the Victoria Cross, and returned to active military service again in WWII, despite being over 60 years old.

His Victoria Cross was awarded for:

For most conspicuous bravery, coolness and determination during severe operations of a prolonged nature. It was owing in a great measure to his dauntless courage and inspiring example that a serious reverse was averted. He displayed the utmost energy and courage in forcing our attack home. After three other battalion Commanders had become casualties, he controlled their commands, and ensured that the ground won was maintained at all costs. He frequently exposed himself in the organisation of positions and of supplies, passing unflinchingly through fire barrage of the most intense nature. His gallantry was inspiring to all

He retired to Ireland at age 71, where he subsequently devoted his energies to fishing for salmon and shooting snipe.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:22 PM | Permalink

Signs of the Times

Disgruntled worker who is ‘not a female or a male’ sues for $518,682 over PRONOUNS

A person in Oregon named Valeria Jones is suing catering company Bon Appétit Management for $518,682 because coworkers used female names in reference to Jones despite the fact that Jones had continually expressed the desire to be addressed only with gender neutral pronouns.

NPR Worries Out Loud As Bullying Feminists on Twitter Devolve Into 'Revolution-Eats-Its-Own Irony

NPR’s afternoon talk show “Tell Me More” spent 17 minutes on Thursday on a cover story in The Nation entitled “Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars” by Michelle Goldberg, a contributor to The Daily Beast. They called it "Mean Girls Online."

Host Michel Martin interviewed four feminist radicals about nasty online fighting along racial lines, and even "transphobic " lines. The uber-feminist actress Martha Plimpton (a star on Fox's sitcom "Raising Hope") hilariously came under attack because promoting a pro-abortion event called "A Night of a Thousand Vaginas" was cruel to "trans men" who don't have vaginas:
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Plimpton was surprised when some offended Internet feminists urged people to stay away, arguing that emphasizing “vaginas” hurts trans men who don’t want their reproductive organs coded as female.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:19 PM | Permalink

What a politicized IRS means

What happens when the IRS becomes a tool for those in power.

You could be hounded like Catherine Engelbrecht

In nearly two decades of running our small business, my husband and I never dealt with any government agency, outside of filing our annual tax returns. We had never been audited, we had never been investigated, but all that changed upon submitting applications for the non-profit statuses of True the Vote and King Street Patriots. Since that filing in 2010, my private businesses, my nonprofit organizations, and family have been subjected to more than 15 instances of audit or inquiry by federal agencies.

* In 2011, my personal and business tax returns were audited by the Internal Revenue Service, each audit going back for a number of years.

* In 2012, my business was subjected to inspection by OSHA, on a select occasion when neither my husband nor I were present, and though the agency wrote that it found nothing serious or significant, it still issued fines in excess of $20,000.

* In 2012 and again in 2013 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms conducted comprehensive audits at my place business.

* Beginning in 2010, the FBI contacted my nonprofit organization on six separate occasions – wanting to cull through membership manifests in conjunction with domestic terrorism cases. They eventually dropped all matters and have now redacted nearly all my files.

You become too scared to work for or donate money to the candidate of your choice.  IRS also  targeted conservative donors

After the revelations of the IRS's targeting of conservative groups came to light, many potential donors to conservative and Tea Party groups said even though they wanted to donate to Tea Party and conservative groups, they did not do so because they were afraid the IRS would find out their identities.

t's just one story, but there's a smidgen of coincidence when six couples donated to Mitt Romney's campaign at a fundraiser in California...

My friends’ tax returns for 2012, both their personal and that of their business, were audited, with the dreaded correspondence originating not in the local IRS office but rather, oddly enough, in Cincinnati.  And in later discussing the matter with the people with whom they attended the fund-raiser, they learned that all six couples had endured the same ordeal.

The rules change in the middle of the game.  Organizations whose purpose is to promote “social welfare” have been given tax-free status since 1959 so long as politics does not become its main purpose. But now the IRS wants to change the game.

The new rules they propose expand the definition of “candidate-related activity” so broadly – to include voter-education campaigns and grassroots lobbying campaigns – and to forbid even the mention of a candidate in any context 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election – that it will make it impossible for these organizations to function.
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IRS officials, whose job it is to collect taxes, have abused their power to harass those whose politics they do not like. And this is what the current attempt to shut down 501©(4) organizations by rewriting long-standing rules by which they operate is about.


You lose trust. 
An attorney with the IRS for 26 reveals the sick and corrupt culture at the IRS

I have personally witnessed improper giveaways of billions of dollars to taxpayers with inside access at the agency, bullying of elderly taxpayers, the cover-up of managerial embezzlement and misappropriation of thousands of dollars in government funds, and a retaliatory audit. I have also heard credible accounts of, among other things, further improper giveaways, blatant sexual harassment, and anti-Semitism. All of these matters have been swept under the rug.

No more fair presidential elections    Very possible IRS targeting impacted 2012 election

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice, said it was "very well possible" that the IRS's targeting and harassment of conservatives and Tea Party groups impacted the 2012 presidential election between President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney

Sekulow said that there is evidence that the "groups being intimidated," even those that did not realize it at the time, had a "significant impact on the election." He said it is "very well possible" that the 2012 election was impacted by an "aggressive, continuous, and systemic intimidation factor by the IRS with applications still pending… for three years."

But if you belong to the right party, you don't have to worry about consequences. "Who is going to jail over this scandal?"

The Commissioner of the IRS lied to Congress in March 2012 when he said there was absolutely no targeting, … "lying to Congress is a crime."

Department of Justice refuses to investigate who it was that was responsible for releasing confidential tax information of Koch Industries…Or who released the National Organization of Marriage's tax return?….. It is a criminal offense to release confidential tax returns.

Barbara Bosserman, an Obama political donor appointed to head Justice Department’s IRS investigation

In the midst of the ongoing criminal investigation, the President himself says there's not even a "smidgen of corruption."
This despite the fact the FBI hasn't even interviewed the victims yet.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:17 PM | Permalink

February 8, 2014

Education roundup:Rigid public schools, rogue colleges, new crackpot regs and Catholic schools

Degrees of Value: Making College Pay Off by Glenn Harlan Reynolds. For Too Many Americans, College Today Isn't Worth It

America's higher education problem calls for both wiser choices by families and better value from schools. For some students, this will mean choosing a major carefully (opting for a more practical area of study, like engineering over the humanities), going to a less expensive community college or skipping college altogether to learn a trade.

But discounts don't address the real problem: high costs. What's really needed in U.S. higher education is major structural change. To remain viable, colleges and universities need to cut expenditures dramatically. For decades, they have ridden the student-loan gravy train, using the proceeds to build palatial buildings, reduce faculty teaching loads and, most notably, hire armies of administrators.

Most of the growth in higher education costs, according to a 2010 study by the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think tank, comes from administrative bloat, with administrative staff growing at more than twice the rate of instructional staff. At the University of Michigan, for example, there are 53% more administrators than faculty, and similar ratios can be found at other institutions.

Under financial pressure, many schools have already farmed out the teaching of classes to low-paid adjuncts who have no job security and often no benefits.
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The economist Herbert Stein once said that if something can't go on forever, it will stop. The pattern of the last few decades, in which higher education costs grew much faster than incomes, with the difference made up by borrowing, can't go on forever. As students and parents begin to apply the brakes, colleges need to find ways to make that stop a smooth one rather than a crash.

Instead Reynolds writes Consider alternative schooling:  Don't fear innovation. Nobody ever got shot or pregnant from online or home schooling.

Last week, I wrote here about zero-tolerance stupidity, suggesting that as schools grow more and more willing to punish and stigmatize kids for reasons of bureaucratic convenience, it might be parental malpractice to put your kids in public schools. But there's another problem with public schools that goes beyond these kinds of problems: Even when they work well, public schools introduce all sorts of costs and rigidities into everyday life.

That's not surprising. Public schools were designed to be rigid. Back in the 19th century, when Massachusetts Board of Education Secretary Horace Mann toured Europe looking for models of public education to import to America, the one he chose came from Prussia. Inflexibility and uniformity were Prussian specialties, and when Mann brought Prussian-style education to America, those characteristics were seen not as a bug but as a feature.

School was practice for working in the factory. Thus, the traditional public school: like a factory, it runs by the bell. Like machines in a factory, desks and students are lined up in orderly rows. When shifts (classes) change, the bell rings again, and students go on to the next class. And within each class, the subjects are the same, the assignments are the same, and the examinations are the same, regardless of the characteristics of individual students.
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Many parents, thus, are embracing alternative education -- like homeschooling or online school -- not only as a way of escaping the often-poor instructional quality and questionable discipline of public schools, but also as a way of escaping the rigidities they bring.

Interview with Glenn, The School of Instapundit

The Outlaw Campus  Victor Davis Hanson writes the university has become a rogue institution in need of root-and-branch reform and he suggests reform in 10 areas:

1. Tenure.
2. Faculty exploitation.
3. Curriculum.
4. Admissions.
5. Administration.
6. The credential.
7. National competency testing.
8. Budget.
9. Publication.
10. Legal exemption.

"We have allowed the university to become a rogue institution, whose protocols are often at odds with normal practice off campus and secretive to a degree unknown elsewhere".

This won't work  Undisciplining Kids Through 'Restorative Justice'  as the IBD editorial points out.

Re-education: Under new federal guidelines for reforming "discriminatory" school discipline, the disruptive will learn quickly that their teachers must now tolerate even more disruptive behavior.

[In January] the Education Department warned the nation's school administrators it's not a good idea to remove unruly kids from the classroom. What about the violent ones? Suspend them only as a "last resort." Think twice about even sending them to the principal, and whatever you do, don't call the cops.

Obama's educrats say minorities bear the brunt of these "draconian" practices. And based on statistics they've cooked up showing racial "disparities" in punishment, they smell school racism on a national scale.

Instead they urge the implementation of a crackpot theory called

Restorative justice, also called reparative justice or distributive justice, is part of a fringe civil rights movement that demands the abolition of prisons. Under this approach to justice, there are no offenders. Just victims. It trivializes crime and has increased recidivism wherever it has been applied…..White staffers are taught to check their "unconscious racial bias" — also known as their "whiteness" — when dealing with minority students who act out. They are told to open their eyes to "white privilege" and have more empathy for black kids who may be lashing out in frustration. They're trained to identify "root causes" of black anger, such as America's legacy of racism. Teachers are advised to avoid "trigger" words, and watch their "tone."
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This is a prescription for disaster. Restorative justice practices already have been tried in Oakland, Calif., Baltimore and Portland, Ore. Students only grew more violent as schools slashed suspensions.

So why do students at Catholic schools always do so much better than those at public school?  William McGurn writes The Catholic school's secret: love.

we focus on more tangible measures of success: how 99 percent of Catholic school students get their high-school diplomas; how a black or Latino child is 2.5 times more likely to graduate from college if he or she has attended a Catholic high school; how Catholic schools manage to do all this at a fraction of the cost of public schools.
Sonia Sotomayor, an alumna of Blessed Sacrament in The Bronx, calls Catholic schools a “pipeline to opportunity” for people like her. That’s true. And it’s true largely because Catholic school students are not just taught, but loved. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:58 PM | Permalink

"They are men as we are, not savages."

There’s Equality, and There’s Equality by Anthony Esolen  "They are men as we are, not savages."

We professors at Providence College have for two years now been working in the midst of invisible men, men who once might have been like Gwilym Morgan, but who in these times are almost as insane and as morally blinkered as the professors they serve.  The men have built a large and handsome Center for the Humanities, out of brick and stone.  They have had to transform a hill and a parking lot to get the project started.  They have turned an old field into a new facility for soccer, field hockey, and track, complete with bleachers and a press house, and eighty foot tall lights for events at night.  They have laid hundreds of yards of concrete pathways.  They have cleared out a useless hill thicketed with scrub trees and made it into a decorative border for the campus.  They have built temporary parking lots and torn them out again and replaced them with sod.  They have dug out stumps and planted trees.  They have worked with jackhammers, drills, chisels, backhoes, saws, scaffolding, trowels, wheelbarrows, sledges, and the indispensable hands, arms, legs, shoulders, and back.  They have done all this while remaining as quiet and unobtrusive as they could be.

They work hard, at work that takes its toll on their bodies, in all seasons and in all but the filthiest weather.  Yet I doubt that the feminist professor – and most professors are feminist – gives them a passing thought. Without men like them, we would have nothing; nothing to eat, no metal for our cars, no bricks, no stone, no wooden planks, no houses, no roads, no public buildings, no clean running water, nothing.  They do work that is more than desirable.  It is absolutely necessary.  I teach English poetry; that is not necessary.  I will not trouble to discuss sociology, feminist or otherwise.
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We are looking for equality as men, so that we can say what Mr. Morgan said.  And the common laborers enjoy no such thing.  ….. Our need for these fathers is total, yet their authority is minuscule even in their own localities, and their influence upon national politics is zero
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:05 PM | Permalink

Women more at risk for stroke then men. UPDATED

Guidelines urge women to monitor stroke risks more closely than men

Women of all ages should pay more attention to the risk of stroke than the average man, watching their blood pressure carefully before they think about taking birth-control pills or getting pregnant, according to a new set of prevention guidelines released Thursday.

Women are also more likely to have risk factors associated with stroke, such as migraines, depression, diabetes and the abnormal heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation.

The guidelines from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association were the first such recommendations aimed at preventing strokes in women. Stroke is the fourth-leading cause of death for all Americans and a leading cause of disability. It’s the third-leading cause of death for women, after heart disease and cancer.

Strokes leave women worse off than men and the difference is worst in old age

Women are more likely to report pain and mobility issues three months after having a stroke than men of the same age
They are also more likely to report anxiety or depression
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The greatest gender difference is seen in those over 75.
One year after having a stroke women are still more likely to have a lower quality of life than men.
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The study showed that marital status was the most important factor separating the quality of life in men and women with those who are single faring less well.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:03 PM | Permalink

You always wondered and know you know it's the popping proteins

Why do your fingers wrinkle in the bath? It's all down to popping proteins, scientists say

Scientists have finally answered one of life's great mysteries - why our fingers get wrinkly in the bath.

German researchers have uncovered the secret of the skin's elasticity, and say it comes down to expandable lattices.
The team now say their research could lead to new treatments for skin complaints and more effective artificial skin.

 Structure Keratin Filaments

The outer layer of our skin absorbs water and swells up, forming ridges – but quickly returns to its old state when dry.
The swelling and absorption of water occur in the outermost skin layer, which is made of dead cells that are stacked in layers like bricks.  These cells are filled with a network of filaments made of the protein keratin.

These keratin strands interlock to form a three-dimensional lattice – which can increase its volume by five times when the strands stretch out, the researchers found.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:59 AM | Permalink

Snipers knocked out 17 giant transformers in 19 minutes at Metcalf substation then disappeared into the night

No one made much of this last year, but Rebecca Smith of the Wall Street Journal put the story together through interviews, PG&E filings, documents and a police video.

Assault on California Power Station Raises Alarm on Potential for Terrorism
April Sniper Attack Knocked Out Metcalf Substation, Raises Concern for Country's Power Grid

SAN JOSE, Calif.—The attack began just before 1 a.m. on April 16 last year, when someone slipped into an underground vault not far from a busy freeway and cut telephone cables.

Within half an hour, snipers opened fire on a nearby electrical substation. Shooting for 19 minutes, they surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley. A minute before a police car arrived, the shooters disappeared into the night.

To avoid a blackout, electric-grid officials rerouted power around the site and asked power plants in Silicon Valley to produce more electricity. But it took utility workers 27 days to make repairs and bring the substation back to life.
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The attack was "the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred" in the U.S., said Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time….Mr. Wellinghoff said a FERC analysis found that if a surprisingly small number of U.S. substations were knocked out at once, that could destabilize the system enough to cause a blackout that could encompass most of the U.S……

"What keeps me awake at night is a physical attack that could take down the grid," he said. "This is a huge problem."

Peggy Noonan wrote America's Power Is Under Threat.  The Metcalf incident is a reminder of our greatest vulnerability.

Welcome to my obsession. It is electricity. It makes everything run—the phone, the web, the TV, the radio, all the ways we talk to each other and receive information. The tools and lights in the operating room—electricity. All our computers in a nation run by them, all our defense structures, installations and communications. The pumps at the gas station, the factories in the food-supply chain, the ATM, the device on which you stream your music—all electricity. The premature infant's ventilator and the sound system at the rock concert—all our essentials and most of our diversions are dependent in some way on this: You plug the device into the wall and it gets electrical power and this makes your life, and the nation's life, work. Without it, darkness descends.
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No one who wishes America ill has to blow up a bomb. …..  if you're clever and you really wanted to half-kill America—to knock it out for a few months or longer and force every one of our material and cultural weaknesses to a crisis stage—you'd take out its electrical grid. The grid is far-flung, interconnected, interdependent, vulnerable….

Those who worry about the grid mostly worry about hackers, and understandably: The grid is under regular hack attack. But the more immediate and larger threat may be physical attacks. In any case, as Ms. Smith suggests, the Metcalf incident appears to lift the discussion beyond the hypothetical.
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You always want to think your government is on it. You want to think they see what you see. But really, they're never on it. They always have to be pushed.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:03 AM | Permalink

February 7, 2014

Five of my favorite new words

Five of my favorite new words from  28 New words to help you expand the boundaries of your reality.

Eunoia.  (n) beautiful thinking; a well mind .  Pronounced U-noy-a with the emphasis on the second syllable.

Sillage (n) the scent that lingers in air, the trail left in water, the impression made in space after something or someone has been and gone; the trace of someone's perfume.

Goya (n) from the Urdu meaning the transporting suspension of disbelief that can occur in good storytelling.

Tsundoku (n) (Japanese) buying books and not reading them; letting books pile up unread on shelves, floors or nightstands.  Pronounced  tsoon-doh-koo.

And my very favorite, kintsukuroi (n) from the Japanese "to repair with gold"; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken,

 Bowl Repaired With-Gold

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:18 PM | Permalink

Importance is Heavy

5 Ways Your Emotions Influence Your World (and Vice Versa)

Love Is Sweet. The sugar explosion around Valentine's Day is no coincidence. Research published in January 2014 finds that being in love makes food and drink — even tasteless distilled water — seem sweeter.

The finding illustrates how some rhetorical flourishes ("sweetheart," for example) have roots in the body. Study researcher Kai Qin Chan, a doctoral candidate at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, suspects that the association between sweetness and love starts early, when babies learn to associate their parents' love with formula or breast milk.

Importance is heavy - Giving someone a heavy clipboard can make them think job candidates are more serious than someone holding a light clipboard, according to a 2010 study. The seriousness-heaviness link works the other way around, too. In research published in January 2011, psychologists told people a book was full of either important information or fluff. When asked to judge the weight of the book, participants thought it was heavier if they'd been told it was full of important writing.

Powerlessness is, too.  Importance isn't the only thing that makes objects feel heavy. Powerlessness does, too.
People induced to feel powerless, either by writing about a vulnerable experience or assuming a weak physical pose, are more likely to feel like objects are heavier than people who don't feel powerless, researchers reported in February 2014 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. The effect may keep powerless people from overextending themselves, given that they don't control resources like a powerful person does, study researcher Eun Hee Lee of the University of Cambridge told Live Science.

Loneliness is cold  "I've been frozen out at work." "She greeted me with warmth." It's clear that English-speakers link social interaction with warmth, and loneliness and isolation with cold. Turns out, people feel it in their very bones.

In research published in 2008, scientists induced loneliness or feelings of acceptance in volunteers by asking them to remember a time they'd been excluded or included. They then asked them to estimate the temperature in the room.
Those induced to feel loneliness estimated the room to be 4 degrees Fahrenheit colder, on average, than those who were feeling accepted. In a follow-up study, researchers found that people excluded from a game were more drawn to warm foods like soup, presumably trying to warm their bodies in compensation for the chill of loneliness.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:01 PM | Permalink

"This is a good place to be an addict and a single mom”

Down and Out in Vermont by Geoffrey Norman in the Weekly Standard

Drive-bys. Dealers dropped in the act of going for a gun. Lawn signs warning the druggies to stay away. It doesn’t seem right—not on these leafy streets in this little city with its splendid views of the mountains a mile or two distant.

“Tell me about it,” Prouty says.
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“They steal anything they can sell. Copper. The catalytic converters out of cars. Electronics, of course. They’ll walk into Walmart and pick up a flat-screen television and just walk out with it.”

He and the rest of Baker’s officers do what they can. They make their presence known. They make arrests. But the numbers are not on their side. The state can lock up only so many and keep them only so long.
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If you live in the state, you feel a certain undeniable pride in the way that they, like Jim Baker and Matt Prouty, are taking on the problem. There is a measure of the old Vermont spirit of yeomanry about it….This heroin invasion, though, is a different kind of fight. The enemy is an alternative sensibility, one that is exactly contrary to that older spirit. Heroin is the agent of total surrender. The drug of demoralization.

“There are so many programs. So much assistance. This is a good place to be an addict and a single mom”….This woman works for the paternalistic government, after all, and her clients are welfare mothers. Her words are spoken out of a deep frustration. And it is shared, around the table, as women nod ….
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The trend is not unique to Vermont, as the example of places where methamphetamine abuse is rampant makes plain. Vermont, so far, has mostly been spared that vector of the plague. But not the idleness, dependency, and demoralization.

Still, the police are willing to stand up to the gangs, and the women at Mandala House are not afraid to tell an addicted mother to hang up her clothes.  So there is hope.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:13 PM | Permalink

February 6, 2014

"I resign the Revolution. I'm joining the Resistance"

A child of the sixties, Gerard Vanderleun reposts Goodbye to the Way We Were from 2006

Lately we seem to be living on a daily drip-feed of despair for our future and estrangement from our past. It's not a new diet in this country, but it is starting to assume the proportions of a runaway fad diet.

He concludes, ""I resign the Revolution. I'm joining the Resistance." 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:44 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Naps, sleep, elastograms, zinc for colds, melanoma risk, vitamin E and testosterone

Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts 20 minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces. - Winston Churchill

Finally, justification for taking a nap! Here is scientific proof that siestas are beneficial…

Sleeping for short periods in the day helps memory and cognitive function.  But napping for 30mins or an hour can leave you with a sleep hangover. This is because you wake yourself during periods of deep sleep.
Instead nap for 10-20mins for a quick refresh or sleep 90 mins for a full sleep cycle, with no grogginess when you wake

Poor sleep quality may accelerate cancer growth, study finds

Poor quality of sleep marked by frequent waking can speed cancer growth and increase the disease’s aggressiveness, according to new research.
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According to study director Dr. David Gozal, poor sleep can significantly alter the immune system. "It's not the tumor, it's the immune system," said Gozal, chairman of pediatrics at the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital. "Fragmented sleep changes how the immune system deals with cancer in ways that make the disease more aggressive."

Pen-like device can detect cirrhosis of the liver

A new diagnostic device based on an instrument used to check the ripeness of cheese can detect cirrhosis of the liver.  It does this earlier and with greater reliability than current tests, potentially saving thousands of lives.
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Cirrhosis can stay hidden for five to 20 years before it shows any symptoms, such as weight loss, fatigue and jaundice.
The new test can spot the disease at a much earlier  stage  when the patient is deemed 'at risk' and before their liver has become badly scarred or hardened.

The non-invasive tool, known as a portable transient elastogram, consists of a pen-like wand and uses pulses of ultrasound to measure the liver's elasticity.
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When tested on 12,000 patients in Nottingham who were considered to be at risk of developing cirrhosis, the new machine picked up 85 to 90 per cent of cases (the traditional blood tests spotted only 30 per cent of cases), increasing the detection rates of cirrhosis by 200 per cent.

Want avoid the office cold? DITCH the Vitamin C: Washing hands and taking zinc is better at preventing infection

Natural remedies, like ginseng and vapor rubs, had unclear benefits.  Antibiotics also ineffective as only work on bacteria from viral infections. Evidence suggests both adults and children would benefit from taking zinc

Researchers found paracetamol [tylenol], ibuprofen and perhaps antihistamine-decongestant combinations are among best treatments for a cold.

Regular alcohol use - 4 drinks a day - can raise the risk of skin cancer by 55 per cent, claims study

Regular drinking could increase by up to half the risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer .

Those who had less than one drink a day had a 10 per cent increased risk of melanoma compared with non-drinkers or those who only drink occasionally, experts found.  Moderate drinkers, who consumed two drinks a day, had an 18 per cent higher chance of melanoma. Heavy drinkers – consuming at least four drinks a day – were at 55 per cent extra risk, according to estimates by an international team of researchers.

The scientists say alcohol causes biological changes that makes skin more sensitive to light and may aggravate the impact of exposure to ultraviolet light….

Vitamin E and other common supplements fuel lung cancer in smokers, researchers fear.

They say that rather than preventing tumors, popular antioxidant pills may speed their growth and spread and hasten death. The experiments were done on mice, but the Swedish researchers believe they are relevant to people.

Testosterone therapy doubles heart risk in older men and nearly triples the risk of younger men with a history of the disease

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:29 PM | Permalink

Troubles in Sochi and the Priceless Response

From the WSJ, Russian Officials Fire Back at Olympic Critics

Rooms without doorknobs, locks or heat, dysfunctional toilets, surprise early-morning fire alarms and a Welcome Wagon of stray dogs: These are the initial images of the 2014 Winter Olympics that foreign journalists have blasted around the world from their officially assigned hotels—and the wave of criticism has rankled Russian officials.

So this is what Dmitry Kozak, the deputy prime minister responsible for the Olympic preparations had to say:

"We have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day," he said. An aide then pulled a reporter away before Mr. Kozak could be questioned further on surveillance in hotel rooms. "We're doing a tour of the media center," the aide said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:14 PM | Permalink

Scary is the word for the cybersecurity at federal agencies

It's not just Healthcare.gov that's  a "honeypot for hackers" where applicants have "no reasonable expectation of privacy"

Senate cybersecurity report finds agencies often fail to take basic preventive measures against even modestly skilled hackers.

The report…paints a broader picture of chronic dysfunction, citing repeated failures by federal officials to perform the unglamorous work of information security. That includes installing security patches, updating anti-virus software, communicating on secure networks and requiring strong passwords. A common password on federal systems, the report found, is “password".

The report levels particularly tough criticism at the Department of Homeland Security, which helps oversee cybersecurity at other federal agencies. The report concluded that the department had failed even to update essential software — “the basic security measure just about any American with a computer has performed.”

Report: 4 in 10 Government Security Breaches Go Undetected  DHS, DOJ, DOD, EPA, NASA, Energy, State routinely hacked

Nearly every agency has been attacked, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Defense, State, Labor, Energy, and Commerce. NASA, the EPA, the FDA, the U.S. Copyright Office, and the National Weather Service have also been hacked or had personal information stolen.

In one example, hackers breached the national Emergency Broadcast System in February 2013 to broadcast “zombie attack warnings” in several midwestern states.
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Even worse, nearly four in 10 intrusions into major civilian agencies go undetected….
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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which contains volumes of information on the nation’s nuclear facilities, “regularly experiences unauthorized disclosures of sensitive information,” according to the report.

The agency has “no official process for reporting” breaches, cannot keep track of how many laptops it has, and kept information on its own cybersecurity programs, and its commissioner’s “passport photo, credit card image, home address, and phone number,” on an unsecure shared drive.
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“Weaknesses in the federal government’s own cybersecurity have put at risk the electrical grid, our financial markets, our emergency response systems, and our citizens’ personal information,” Coburn, ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “While politicians like to propose complex new regulations, massive new programs, and billions in new spending to improve cybersecurity, there are very basic—and critically important—precautions that could protect our infrastructure and our citizens’ private information that we simply aren’t doing.”
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Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:07 AM | Permalink

"Not even a smidgen of corruption" at the IRS

George Will says the IRS targeting scandal is one of the three biggest political scandals in the past years, on par with Watergate and Iran-Contra.

President Obama in his interview with Bill O'Reilly  Not even a smidgen” of corruption,"

He adamantly rejected the suggestion that the IRS was used for political purposes by singling out Tea Party groups seeking tax exemption.  “That’s not what happened,” he said. Rather, he said, IRS officials were confused about how to implement the law governing those kinds of tax-exempt groups.“There were some bone-headed decisions,” Obama conceded.

But when asked whether corruption, or mass corruption, was at play, he responded: “Not even mass corruption -- not even a smidgen of corruption.”

Documents Show IRS Maneuvered To Regulate Tea Party Groups And Keep It “Hidden From The Public”

Email: IRS’s Lerner, Treasury Department secretly drafted new rules to restrict nonprofits

The Treasury Department and Lerner started devising the new rules “off-plan,” meaning that their plans would not be published on the public schedule. They planned the new rules in 2012, while the IRS targeting of conservative groups was in full swing, and not after the scandal broke in order to clarify regulations as the administration has suggested.

IRS planned secret new rules to justify targeting tea party groups two years ago, reveals bombshell email

Investigators still haven't interviewed many conservative groups that were denied tax-exempt status while their liberal counterparts sailed through

Obama's IRS 'Confusion'  New evidence undercuts White House claims about IRS motivation.

Mr. Camp added that everything his committee has discovered contradicts the White House argument that the IRS scandal was caused by legal "confusion." The current rules governing 501©(4)s have existed, unchanged, since 1959. Prior to 2010 the IRS processed and approved tax-exempt applications in fewer than three months with no apparent befuddlement.

The IRS hyper-scrutiny of conservative groups only began in 2010 amid the Obama Administration's larger political attack on political donors like the Koch brothers, and emails show that IRS officials were acutely aware of this political environment. In February 2010, for example, an IRS screener in Cincinnati flagged an application to his superiors noting: "Recent media attention to this type of organization indicates to me that this is a 'high profile' case."

From then on applications were routed through the offices of Mrs. Lerner and Obama-appointed IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, and long approval delays ensued. Extensive interviews and emails show that neither the initial Cincinnati interest, nor the subsequent Washington delay, was in any way driven by "confusion."

Taking the IRS Fifth If everything was kosher, why won't Lois Lerner talk to Congress?

New IRS Head Apologizes to Conservatives for Scandal Obama Doesn’t Think Exists

The new head of the IRS has apologized to those who suffered because of the agency’s targeting of conservative groups, after he testified before a House subcommittee for the first time.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told reporters after the hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee that the singling out of such organizations for special scrutiny would be “intolerable,” and vowed the IRS is not doing so now.

“It won't happen going forward,” Koskinen said. “And to the extent that people suffered accordingly, I apologize for that.”

Embattled IRS plans employee bonuses for 2013 work to ‘boost morale’It’s hard to think of a group of people less deserving of bonuses than IRS employees. Frankly, this is outrageous,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:32 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

'Tired and irrelevant, 'boring and dull'

Reporters from the New York Times finally confess, albeit anonymously, their dissatisfaction with editor Andy Rosenthal and the editorial and op ed pages which they describe as 'tired and irrelevant,' 'boring and dull'.

The Tyranny and Lethargy of the Times Editorial Page Reporters in ‘semi-open revolt’ against Andrew Rosenthal

IT’S WELL KNOWN AMONG THE SMALL WORLD of people who pay attention to such things that the liberal-leaning reporters at The Wall Street Journal resent the conservative-leaning editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. What’s less well known—and about to break into the open, threatening the very fabric of the institution—is how deeply the liberal-leaning reporters at The New York Times resent the liberal-leaning editorial page of The New York Times.
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The blame here, in the eyes of most Times reporters to whom The Observer spoke, belongs to Andrew Rosenthal, who as editorial page editor leads both the paper’s opinion pages and opinion postings online, as well as overseeing the editorial board and the letters, columnists and op-ed departments. Mr. Rosenthal is accused of both tyranny and pettiness, by the majority of the Times staffers interviewed for this story. …

“He runs the show and is lazy as all get-out,” says a current Times writer…

“Andy’s got 14 or 15 people plus a whole bevy of assistants working on these three unsigned editorials every day. They’re completely reflexively liberal, utterly predictable, usually poorly written and totally ineffectual….

“Tom Friedman is an embarrassment. I mean there are multiple blogs and Tumblrs and Twitter feeds that exist solely to make fun of his sort of blowhardy bullshit.” ….

“I think the editorials are viewed by most reporters as largely irrelevant, and there’s not a lot of respect for the editorial page. The editorials are dull, and that’s a cardinal sin. They aren’t getting any less dull….

"The fact of the matter is the Wall Street Journal editorial page just kicks our editorial page’s ass. "

Some of us have known that for years.  That said, some of the NYT reporters are great.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:53 AM | Permalink

February 5, 2014

Stem cells - an incredible discovery

Stem cells' created in less than 30 minutes in 'groundbreaking' discovery

Scientists have turned adult cells back to their embryonic form in under 30 minutes by simply treating them with acid in a breakthough which could revolutionise personalized medicine.

Experts in the field of stem cells have hailed the research as groundbreaking and say, if replicated in humans, it would herald a new ‘age of  personalized medicine.’

Turning cells back to an embryonic – also known as pluripotent – state means they can then be turned into any other type of cell in the body.  Previously that could only be achieved through genetic manipulation which was time consuming and costly.  But scientists at the Riken Centre for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, found that cells taken from newborn mice effectively ‘lose their identity’ within 30 minutes of being exposed to mildly acidic conditions.

Professor Austin Smith of Cambridge University, writing in the Journal Nature said the new cells could be seen as a ‘blank slate’ from which any cell could emerge depending on its environment.  “Remarkably, instead of triggering cell death or tumour growth as might be expected, a new cell state emerges that exhibits and unprecedented potential for differentiation into every possible cell type,” he said.
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Professor Chris Mason, Chair of Regenerative Medicine Bioprocessing, at University College London.
“If it works in man, this could be the game changer that ultimately makes a wide range of cell therapies available using the patient’s own cells as starting material – the age of personalized medicine would have finally arrived.

“Who would have thought that to reprogram adult cells to an embryonic stem cell-like (pluripotent) state just required a small amount of acid for less than half an hour – an incredible discovery.”

I'm sure that tests on humans will start quickly.  How wonderful that this discovery could end the culture wars over the use of embryos to supply stem cells.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:37 PM | Permalink

Sheeple students

How stupid can students be?  Well, what do you think of students who signed a petition to have gun owners executed in concentration camps?

Media analyst Mark Dice has once again documented how many young Americans are completely disconnected from reality, capturing California college students signing a fake petition to imprison all legal gun owners in concentration camps and even to have them executed.

I prefer to think of them as stupid or ignorant,  not evil but sheeple

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:38 AM | Permalink

February 4, 2014

Exciting Discoveries about the Brain including the area that is 'uniquely human'

Ultrathin slices of mouse brains offer a mesmerizing look at how brain cells communicate at the tiniest scale. This research may offer clues about how the dance of our own synapses guides and animates us.  From the National Geographic, Beautiful 3-D Brain Scans Show Every Synapse

   

Scientists have found the region of the brain that makes you feel bad about poor choices

A part of the brain that helps stop humans from making bad decisions and acts as our conscience has been discovered by scientists.

The small ball of neural tissue, named the lateral frontal pole, is vital for pondering the ‘what ifs’ of life, researchers said.  Other parts of the brain keep tabs on how well decisions are working, but this new region thinks over what we might have done instead.

Scientists at Oxford University made the discovery after scanning human brains in two different ways.  Scans from 25 men and women showed that this part of the brain is made up of a dozen smaller sections. The scans were then compared with monkey brains.  The scans showed that there is nothing like it in the brain of the macaque monkey, despite it being one of our closest relatives.

Oxford University scientist Matthew Rushworth said: ‘We’ve identified an area of the brain that appears to be uniquely human.’

The lateral frontal pole prefrontal cortex is found at the very front of the brain – with one just above each eyebrow.  In some people, it is the size of a Brussels sprout; in others, it is as big as a tangerine.

Previous research has shown it is particularly important in multi-tasking. For instance, if we decide to do one thing, it will continue to evaluate the other option – or think about what might have been.  While this might seem odd, it is good preparation for a later change of mind.

The tiny brain region helps us learn from watching others’ mistakes, speeding up the acquisition of new skills.
The study, published in the journal Neuron also revealed the people to have stronger wiring to brain regions involved in hearing – perhaps helping explain our ability to speak.

New region of the brain discovered that controls anxiety

A California team has discovered the region of the brain that controls how anxious we are - and found it wasn't where they had thought.  The team now say it could now be targeted with drugs, leading to far more effective treatments within a decade.
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Previous studies of anxiety in the brain have focused on the amygdala, an area known to play a role in fear.

However, a team of researchers led by biologists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) had a hunch that understanding a different brain area, the lateral septum (LS), could provide more clues into how the brain processes anxiety.  Their instincts paid off—using mouse models, the team has found a neural circuit that connects the LS with other brain structures in a manner that directly influences anxiety.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:31 PM | Permalink

February 1, 2014

"They call it rage. But it feels more like grief"

Peggy Noonan in a must-read piece, Meanwhile, Back in America expresses  what half or more of the country is feeling these days.

All these things—the pushing around of nuns, the limiting of freedoms that were helping kids get a start in life, the targeting of conservative groups—all these things have the effect of breaking bonds of trust between government and the people. They make citizens see Washington as an alien and hostile power.

Washington sees the disaffection. They read the polls, they know.

They call it rage. But it feels more like grief. Like the loss of something you never thought you'd lose, your sense of your country and your place in it, your rights in it.

While In Forbes, Obama's Weaponization of Government

Everyone in the House Chamber knew something that the American people have yet to fully grasp and Republicans have yet to demonstrate an ability to combat – that their government has grown so large, so complex, so involved in virtually every aspect of their lives, that it is now being used as a weapon to by a small segment of the ruling political class.
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There is a dangerous arrogance of power among the President and senior-level Democrats that should concern every American.

Last week a senior United States Senator gave a speech stating that the IRS should be used to target and punish groups that disagree with the Democratic Party’s political agenda.  Sen. Chuck Schumer stated, “…there are many things that can be done administratively by the IRS and other government agencies — we must redouble those efforts immediately.”
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The IRS scandal is well-known and the misuse of the agency by the Democrat Party machine is still apparently going on.  However, the IRS is just one of dozens of other agencies under the control of this White House, many of which go unnoticed by the public and are virtually ignored by elected officials.

There are the new revelations about the Administration intimidating banks to prevent them from doing business with a number of legitimate businesses…..Operation Choke Point….

The Administration is refusing to answer any Congressional inquiries about Operation Choke Point….

Then there’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau… a key cog in the Obama Administration’s effort to regulate industries and personal decision-making.  ..

Unfortunately for Americans, this little-known agency is housed as part of the Federal Reserve so it exists outside of the direct pervue of Congress.  How convenient for the President.

As the Washington Examiner’s Richard Pollack recently reported, “they assume all businesses are predatory,” which allegedly gives them the ability to collect up to 96 separate data points from more than 1 billion credit cards.  That’s right – your government is now keeping tabs on how you spend your money.
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In just the last two weeks more EPA emails showed the coordinated effort between Administration policy-makers and environmental groups over the stalling of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  The Agency’s most recent ridiculous regulatory announcement actually banned the production and sale of 80 percent of the country’s wood-burning stoves.

And on and on

Our system of government is based on checks and balances.  Ever since the beginning of the 20th Century, the Executive has, to one degree or another, been the dominant branch of government in large part due to the explosion of the Federal bureaucracy.  Hundreds of agencies, departments, programs, task forces, and commissions are an arsenal that in the wrong hands can be used against the very freedom the government is supposed to uphold, protect and defend. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:52 AM | Permalink