June 25, 2014

"Our hands are stained with ink and paint, not blood" "

Terry Teachout's remarks on accepting the Bradley prize.  Freedom and the Role of the Artist

….But what am I? Not long ago I was introduced to an audience as an "intellectual." To me, an intellectual is a person who is primarily interested in ideas. What I am is an aesthete, a person who is primarily interested in beauty. That's why I write about art. What's more, I think there's much to be said for my preference. All history, and most especially the history of the 20th century, argues against placing ideas in the saddle and allowing them to ride mankind. Too often they end up riding individual men and women into mass graves.

That's one of the reasons why I choose not to call myself an intellectual. …. Aesthetes have it all over intellectuals in one very important respect: You'll rarely catch us hustling anyone off to the nearest guillotine. We're too busy trying to make the world more beautiful. Our hands are stained with ink and paint, not blood.
…. the artist must first of all be able to tell the truth as he sees it about the world he sees around him. That task can only be pursued to the fullest degree under the aspect of freedom. Where there is no freedom, there is no art, save at the risk of the artist's neck. And this freedom includes, among many other things, freedom from the paralyzing obligation to persuade.

The artist whose chief goal is not to make everything more beautiful but to enlist his audience in a cause—no matter what that cause may be—is rarely if ever prepared to tell the whole truth and nothing but. He replaces the true complexity of the world with the false simplicity of the ideologue. He alters reality not to make everything more beautiful, but to stack the deck.
Great art doesn't tell—it shows. And this act of showing is itself a moral act, a commitment to reality.

A man who thought otherwise said, "Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it." But Karl Marx, as usual, got it wrong. The greatest philosophers and the greatest artists seek not to change the world, but to see the world as it is, then show it to the rest of us with the transforming clarity that is beauty. That is a supreme act of freedom. It's what Shakespeare and Mark Twain and Flannery O'Connor did. What Rembrandt and Sargent and Edward Hopper did. What Mozart and Aaron Copland and Louis Armstrong did. They looked, they saw, they showed—and we understood.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:13 AM | Permalink

June 24, 2014

We went through all of that for this?

The numbers are in.

Obamacare Exchanges Are ‘Disappointing’ With Fewer Than 4 Million Newly Insured. The Government Hoped for 26 Million.

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 43 percent of those who purchased insurance through the marketplace already had insurance; 57 percent are newly insured.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:20 PM | Permalink

“The problems at the VA are worse than anyone imagined,”

“The problems at the VA are worse than anyone imagined,” Mr. Coburn said. “Over the past decade, more than 1,000 veterans may have died as a result of VA’s misconduct and the VA has paid out nearly $1 billion to veterans and their families for its medical malpractice.”

Poor care at VA hospitals cost 1,000 veterans their lives, report says

The problems at Veterans Affairs extend well beyond long wait lists, with a report Tuesday showing the department is plagued with poor care that has cost up to 1,000 veterans their lives and left taxpayers on the hook for nearly $1 billion in malpractice settlements since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Some of the problems detailed in the report by Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma are downright ghoulish. They include the case of a former security chief at a New York Veterans Affairs medical center whom the FBI arrested on charges of plotting to kidnap, rape and murder women and children.

More standard is the nightmarish bureaucratic bungling that shows a department in disarray and a culture more concerned with punishing whistleblowers than with fixing the problems they pointed out, said Mr. Coburn,
But Mr. Coburn traced the problem to bad management and lax working standards, not to lack of money. In one finding, he said VA doctors average about half the workload that private-practice primary care physicians do, suggesting there is room for them to take more patients.
Among his other findings:
Female patients received unnecessary pelvic and breast exams from a sex offender.
• Delays are endemic. In addition to care waiting lists, the VA is behind on processing disability claims and constructing facilities.
Some VA health care providers have lost their medical licenses, but the VA hides that information from patients.
The federal government has paid out $845 million for VA medical malpractice settlements since 2001.

AUDIT: Veteran Waited 8 YEARS for PTSD Treatment From VA

Patient Admitted To VA Hospital For Mental Problems Went 8 Years Before First Psychiatric Evaluation.

The other unidentified patient, although he was classified as 100 percent mentally disabled due to his military service, had only a single “psychiatric note” placed in his medical file between 2005 and 2013.

VA deaths covered up to make statistics look better, whistle-blower says

Records of dead veterans were changed or physically altered, some even in recent weeks, to hide how many people died while waiting for care at the Phoenix VA hospital, a whistle-blower told CNN
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:19 PM | Permalink

June 23, 2014

How NOAA has manipulated the truth

Yet another scandal in yet another government agency: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA, has been falsifying temperature data.  They changed the real, observable temperatures to theoretical ones based on computer models to better suit the 'narrative' of global warming.  And they call themselves scientists.

Christopher Booker elucidates in The scandal of fiddled global warming data The US has actually been cooling since the Thirties, the hottest decade on record

Steven Goddard’s US blog Real Science, showing how shamelessly manipulated has been one of the world’s most influential climate records….Goddard shows how, in recent years, NOAA’s US Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) has been “adjusting” its record by replacing real temperatures with data “fabricated” by computer models. The effect of this has been to downgrade earlier temperatures and to exaggerate those from recent decades, to give the impression that the Earth has been warming up much more than is justified by the actual data.

In several posts headed “Data tampering at USHCN/GISS”, Goddard compares the currently published temperature graphs with those based only on temperatures measured at the time. These show that the US has actually been cooling since the Thirties, the hottest decade on record; whereas the latest graph, nearly half of it based on “fabricated” data, shows it to have been warming at a rate equivalent to more than 3 degrees centigrade per century.
Any theory needing to rely so consistently on fudging the evidence, I concluded, must be looked on not as science at all, but as simply a rather alarming case study in the aberrations of group psychology.

From Steve Goddard's Real Science blog

NOAA/NASA Dramatically Altered US Temperatures After The Year 2000

Using Thermometer Data Is Now Considering Data Tampering

NOAA And NASA Data Alterations Are Global 

Thirty-nine percent of USHCN data is now fabricated, meaning that there is now 39% more monthly temperature data reported than measured, compared to less than 5% in 1990.

IPCC Models Can’t Produce Anything To Worry About
Even if you pile crazy assumption upon crazy assumption, you cannot even manage to make climate change cause minor damage

The debate over climate change is horribly polarized. From the way it is conducted, you would think that only two positions are possible: that the whole thing is a hoax or that catastrophe is inevitable. In fact there is room for lots of intermediate positions, including the view I hold, which is that man-made climate change is real but not likely to do much harm, let alone prove to be the greatest crisis facing humankind this century

That's my position too.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:37 AM | Permalink

June 20, 2014

"It is believed he will retire to private life"

20th December 1924: “Hitler Tamed By Prison”  via American Digest


Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:24 PM | Permalink

" Veterans have become incidental to the process at the VA"

Phoenix VA hospital gave $10 million in bonuses to administrators who covered up wait times for vets that likely led to the deaths of former soldiers

Documents from the VA indicate than 2,100 employees got bonuses over the course of a three-year period.  The VA paid $2.5 million in 2011, $3.5 million in 2012 and $3.9 million last year. The merit-based bonuses were doled out to nearly 650 employees each of those years. The employees included doctors, nurses, administrators, secretaries and cleaning staff.

Green Energy for Dead Vets Sultan Knish

While vets were dying, Obama and Shinseki had turned their attention to something truly important; seeing to it that all the cemeteries where they were being buried had wind or solar power. The Massachusetts National Cemetery was getting a wind turbine so that the dead veterans would have all the sustainable energy they needed.

A VA press release about the cemetery turbine boasted ….VA is transitioning into a 21st century organization that better serves America’s Veterans."  Shinseki arrived in person at the dedication ceremony to flip the switch on the cemetery wind turbine.
The cemetery turbine had cost $533,000. Veterans were dying to save the VA a few hundred dollars.  Shinseki had made his order of priorities clear. Green energy boondoggles came first. Improving veteran care came last.

When the VA wasn't installing a wind turbine at a cemetery, it was installing solar panels at cemeteries to better serve the dead veterans that it was killing.  The Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery’s solar panels cost $787,308. According to the press release, the solar panels in the cemetery would "reduce greenhouse gas emissions".    $742,034 worth of solar panels was put in at the Calverton National Cemetery.  The San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery got an $800,000 solar panel setup. The Riverside National Cemetery got a $1.3 million solar system.

Vets might be dying at VA facilities, but they would have solar panels and wind turbines over their graves so that Shineski could provide Obama with a leading example of “greenness”.

David French The Rot Runs Deep: Thousands of Bureaucrats Need to Go

I point to the VA public affairs office not as proof by itself that thousands of federal workers are incompetent or corrupt enough to be fired but simply as an example: Examine virtually any portion of the sprawling federal bureaucracy, and you’ll find the kind of conduct Taranto describes — bureaucrats either failing to do their job entirely, failing at their job, or simply abusing the power of their office. And it’s no wonder — our Orwellian-named “merit” system for federal employees offers extreme levels of job protection. How extreme? Here’s USA Today:..

Federal employees’ job security is so great that workers in many agencies are more likely to die of natural causes than get laid off or fired . . . The federal government fired 0.55% of its workers in the budget year that ended Sept. 30 — 11,668 employees in its 2.1 million workforce. Research shows that the private sector fires about 3% of workers annually for poor performance
No one is saying that all 350,000 employees are bad. But thousands are, and their continued employment and — even worse — continued protection from the top-down of a dysfunctional bureaucracy harms the government, harms the employees that work with them each day, and — most important – harms the American people they’re supposed to serve.

Lie, Delay, Deny A cry for help from the abyss of Veterans Affairs

This former Special Forces soldier and medic served his country for 25 years. He worked in the health-care field managing military field medical clinics. “I know how health care is supposed to run, even in austere or low-budget environments,” he says. And in his nightmarish, ongoing experience, the VA is an epic, deadly, monstrous failure. He minces no words: “They’re getting billions of dollars, and they treat veterans like s***. There’s no accountability, no buy-in, among civilian unionized employees. We mean nothing to them. It’s like going to the DMV for your health care.”
Again, the vet refuses to candy-coat the roots of the festering VA scandal: “The problem is not just waiting lists. It is utter fraudulent expenditure of enormous budgets, not on veterans, but on overpaid lazy, surly civilian employees that often make it clear that a) they do not like veterans and b) that the veteran is actually a nuisance. The problem is endemic, at every level, in the VA. The unfortunate fact of the matter is this: Veterans have become incidental to the process at the VA.”  The system is “an enormous cash cow, warehousing tens of thousands of overpaid employees” who “keep the gravy train rolling.”

Of the Bureaucrats, by the Bureaucrats, for the Bureaucrats.  The naked self-interest of the government-worker class .
From the Commenters

The reality is that - except for a few technical, professional, or executive positions - government employees typically earn more and have better benefits than comparable private-sector workers, not to mention much better job security.
Government unions have corrupted our political processes. They have turned the Democratic party into a wholly-owned subsidiary.
The USA's power and politics are no longer really defined by Democrat vs. Republican - rather these is defined by the recently emergent Government Party (the state's interests, its workers, its cronies, its beneficiaries) vs. everyone else.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:14 PM | Permalink

Advisors to the President

For a stunning look at some at some of the President's closest advisors, read All the President’s Muses: Obama and Prosecutorial Misconduct.  The author Sidney Powell worked in the Department of Justice for 10 years and was lead counsel in more than 500 federal appeals.

 President's Advisors Prosecutorial Miscondut

            Left to right: Kathryn Ruemmler, the President,  Lisa Monaco, and Susan E. Rice

Kathryn Ruemmler
Disturbingly, evidence has surfaced that the President Obama’s close friend and senior advisor violated her oath “to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” the rules of legal ethics, not to mention the law. s a senior member of the Enron Task Force, Ms. Ruemmler prosecuted four Merrill Lynch executives and sent them to prison on an indictment that was “fatally flawed.” The conduct the prosecutors alleged was not criminal. At the same time, she deliberately hid exculpatory evidence—that is, evidence she was constitutionally compelled to hand over to the defense. Indeed, the prosecutors not only acknowledge the evidence as exculpatory, they yellow-highlighted it as such—then buried it.

Not only did Ms. Ruemmler hide the evidence she had identified as crucial to the defense, but she signed the false and misleading “disclosure letter” to defense counsel. Ms. Ruemmler then elicited hearsay testimony from witnesses that was directly contradicted by the first-hand evidence she and her Task Force hid. She capitalized on and compounded the injustice, repeatedly telling the court and jury “facts” that were directly refuted by the evidence she hid.

Lisa Monaco
Ms. Monaco was implicated in the prosecutorial misconduct that infected the Enron Broadband case prosecution. Houston Judge Vanessa Gilmore was irate with the prosecutors. They elicited false testimony from a government witness, threatened witnesses for the defense with indictment if they testified, and used evidence already ruled inadmissible.
It leaves one to wonder why the former Enron Task Force cabal dominates the president’s inner circle? All of their trials were tainted with Supreme Court and appellate reversals, outrageous abuses of government power, a plethora of prosecutorial misconduct, and even guilty pleas had to be withdrawn because of their over-reaching.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:21 AM | Permalink

June 19, 2014

Stunning Financial Illiteracy

Most Americans can’t answer these 3 basic financial questions correctly

Investment advisor regulator Finra has a financial literacy quiz that includes the following three basic questions:

1. Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the interest rate was 2% per year. After 5 years, how much do you think you would have in the account if you left the money to grow?
a) More than $102
b) Exactly $102
c) Less than $102
2. Imagine that the interest rate on your savings account was 1% per year and inflation was 2% per year. After 1 year, would you be able to buy more than, exactly the same as, or less than today with the money in this account?

a) More than today
b) Exactly the same as today
c) Less than today
3. Do you think that the following statement is true or false? ‘Buying a single company stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund.’
a) T
b) F
c) Do not know
Among Americans, only one-third of respondents could answer all three of these questions correctly (a, c, b).

Financial literacy has proven a very tough nut to crack - no programs or approaches seems to be working very well.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:01 PM | Permalink

More on the IRS scandal and coverup UPDATED

This is the agency and the people entrusted with your most personal financial information and soon your medical records.

Mark Steyn: We Don't Need No Stinkin' Emails

They're openly sneering at us now….

Benghazi and Baghdad are far away, but the most powerful revenue agency on the planet is in your home, in your bank, in your credit card statements. If the IRS is corrupt, it wouldn't matter if every other federal agency were squeaky clean, which they certainly aren't. But it's beyond that: the IRS is systemically corrupt, and they're getting away with it. Which means that they'll keep doing it, and worse.

At Neocon, You know things have completely degenerated,  writes

…. Lois Lerner and the IRS Six’s disappeared e-mails? Just this:  it is a demonstration of the power to crush enemies as well as a demonstration that there will be no accountability and no redress. Perhaps it was meant to be audacious and outrageous, unbelievable and frightening."

She quotes a commenter

Destroy the evidence and plead the fifth…what are they going to do…contact the DOJ? Hahahahahahahaha.

Who are they going to call, the FBI? LOLOLOLOLOL!

Maybe have the Harry Reid Senate investigate? ROTFLMAO!!!!

Have the media do an in-depth investigation? Hohohohohohoho!!!

Impeach me? GUFFFFAWWWW!!!!

Please have the appropriate agencies erase all evidence of this email.

Peace and Love,


House report claims Obama influenced IRS to target conservative groups

A House committee says that President Obama's "political rhetoric" was critical in the IRS' decision to target Tea Party, pro-family, and other groups that had politically conservative leanings.

In a 77-page report released on Monday, the House Oversight Committee said, "President Obama's bully pulpit led to the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative tax-exempt applicants." The report also places blame on "congressional Democrats," "Senior White House officials," "and other left-wing political figures and commentators."

Doesn't anyone want to be the new Woodward or Bernstein? Lost IRS Emails Point to An Abuse of Power and Cover-Up

Washington Post: Democrats should want a special prosecutor for the IRS scandal

How can the Democrats defend these “lost” e-mails? Who in a competitive 2014 race can keep a straight face and say they believe this president’s claims? If I were a Democrat, I would take Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp’s (R-Mich.) good advice and support a special prosecutor.  It is the only way for Democrats to put distance between themselves and this grotesque violation of the public trust.

USA Today: Lost IRS e-mails shake trust in government

UPDATE:  Daniel Henninger in the WSJ

The IRS tea-party audit story isn't Watergate; it's worse than Watergate.

The Watergate break-in was the professionals of the party in power going after the party professionals of the party out of power. The IRS scandal is the party in power going after the most average Americans imaginable.

And Ace:

IRS: Hey Sorry You Can't Have Lois Lerner's Emails; Her Hard Drive Crashed
GOP: Okay Please Send Us the Hard Drive
IRS: Boy, You're Not Going to Believe This, But We Already Destroyed That Hard Drive
GOP: …
IRS: This Just Isn't Your Day
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:49 PM | Permalink


Vintage postcards of New York City from the Boston Public Library.

 Vintage New-York-Postcard

One of my very favorite writers Bill Bryson is absolutely right when he says the great failure in education is a lack of excitement

Throughout the talk, Bryson demonstrated, through personal experience, how excitement in a subject can propel continued learning, and how embracing curiosity – a trait that he argues is “undervalued” – can stimulate this initial excitement…..

So how do you keep that curiosity alive in children; an apt question put to Bryson by one teacher in the Q&A session at the end of the lecture, which Bryson – boldly, in my opinion – agreed to take part in.
“I suppose the main thing,” he laughs, “is to do your very best to be interesting. But also to remind kids – as I was trying to do with my talk – that even the most obvious things, if you stop and think about them, are amazing."

He practices what he preaches.  I've read many of his books and have been captivated by how interesting he makes everything.  A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail:  A classic and laugh-out-loud funny.  In a Sunburned Country:  "Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out"  His guide to Australia is a "deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiosity."    A Short History of Nearly Everything : "Sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining."    At Home: A Short History of Private Life: "Bryson has one of the liveliest, most inquisitive minds on the planet, and his sheer prose fluency makes At Home one of the most entertaining books ever written about private life"

22 Masterful Body Paintings That Disguise Humans As Animals

 Humans Disquised As Animals

James Henry writes Big Bills: How Western central bankers and Treasury Secretaries cater to illicit drug syndicates, money-launderers, racketeers, and kleptocrats.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:30 PM | Permalink

Health roundup: Rapeseed oil, autism reversed in mice, Alzheimers and 'natural cannabis', stress and synapses, selfie diagnosis

RAPESEED oil could be even more effective than statins in helping to lower cholesterol and protect the heart.

The oil – extracted from the bright yellow crop which covers much of the British countryside – has also proved to be particularly effective against type 2 diabetes.  It has the same cholesterol reducing effect as 20mg of statins, double a standard daily dose, and cuts the risk of heart problems by seven per cent, scientists say…..The researchers were led by Professor Dr David Jenkins of St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, the man who created the now famous glycaemic index, a scale showing which foods raise or lower blood sugar levels.

Century-old drug reverses signs of autism in mice

A single dose of a century-old drug has eliminated autism symptoms in adult mice with an experimental form of the disorder. Originally developed to treat African sleeping sickness, the compound, called suramin, quells a heightened stress response in neurons that researchers believe may underlie some traits of autism. The finding raises the hope that some hallmarks of the disorder may not be permanent, but could be correctable even in adulthood.

That hope is bolstered by reports from parents who describe their autistic children as being caught behind a veil. "Sometimes the veil parts, and the children are able to speak and play more normally and use words that didn't seem to be there before, if only for a short time during a fever or other stress" says Robert Naviaux, a geneticist at the University of California, San Diego, who specializes in metabolic disorders.
Naviaux cautions that mice aren’t people, and therapies that are promising in rodents have a track record of not panning out in humans. He also says that prolonged treatment with suramin is not an option for children, because it can have side effects such as anemia with long-term use. He notes that there are 19 different kinds of purinergic receptors; if suramin does prove to be helpful in humans, newer drugs could be developed that would target only one or a few key receptors. The researchers are beginning a small clinical trial in humans of a single dose of suramin that they hope will be completed by the end of the year.

Could a loss of 'natural cannabis' in the brain be the reason we get Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer’s disease might partly develop because of the suppression of ‘natural cannabis’ molecules in the brain, scientists believe.
U.S. researchers linked early symptoms of the disease to losing the beneficial effects of these molecules, which are called endocannabinoids. These signalling molecules are natural versions of psychoactive chemicals in cannabis.

A rogue protein called amyloid-beta, suspected of playing a key role in Alzheimer’s, is believed to block endocannabinoids in the brain in the earliest stages of the disease. Endocannabinoids are part of the process that allows important signals in the brain to shine through while unwanted signals are shut out. Blocking them results in the brain becoming too inhibited, leading to impaired learning and memory loss.

The scientists from Stanford University in California, who reported their findings in the journal Neuron, warned that simply smoking marijuana was not a solution to Alzheimer’s. Senior author Dr Daniel Madison said: ‘Endocannabinoids in the brain are very transient and act only when important inputs come in. Exposure to marijuana over minutes or hours is different - more like enhancing everything indiscriminately, so you lose the filtering effect…It’s like listening to five radio stations at once.’ Flooding the brain with external cannabinoids also ran the risk of inducing tolerance and impeding the ability of natural endocannabinoids to do their job, he said.

Always stressed? Beware - it’ll affect your short-term memory in old age

A study at the University of Iowa found link between high levels of stress hormone cortisol and lapses in short-term memory in old age.  Jason Radley, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Iowa, said: 'Stress hormones are one mechanism that we believe leads to weathering of the brain.

Scientists linked the raised levels of cortisol to the gradual loss of synapses in the prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain that houses short-term memory. Synapses are the connections that help the brain process, store and recall information. As a person ages, repeated and long-term exposure to cortisol, can cause synapses to shrink and disappear.

But researchers warned that it is important to remember that stress hormones are only one of a host of factors which affect mental decline and memory loss as a person ages.

Du'h Don't lie to your kids! Children are more likely to be dishonest if they discover their parents don't tell the truth 
Children who are lied to are more likely to lie themselves, research claims in study  carried out at the UCal San Diego. 

In the U.K. Crohn’s disease in teens jumps 300 per cent in 10 years
Four times as many teenagers being treated for Crohn's disease compared to 10 years ago with experts blaming increased use of antibiotics and junk food.

 Stroke Selfie Woman diagnosed with stroke from 'selfie' video after doctors claimed she was just stressed

Stacey Yepes, 49, couldn't believe it when doctors said her numbness and facial paralysis was due to stress.  So when it happened again, she took out her camera to record the proof.  Doctors at a different hospital agreed she had suffered a series of mini strokes and learned that she had a blood clot. She is now undergoing treatment and is being monitored by doctors
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:22 PM | Permalink

Wouldn't this be better than common core?

William Logan gives us his ideal elementary-school curriculum which would require all children to learn:

(1) the times tables up to, say, 25;
(2) a foreign language, preferably obscure;
(3) the geography of a foreign land, like New Jersey;
(4) how to use basic hand tools and cook a cassoulet;
(5) how to raise a bird or lizard (if the child is vegetarian, then a potato);
(6) poems by heart, say one per week;
(7) how to find the way home from a town at least 10 miles away;
(8) singing;
(9) somersaults.

With all that out of the way by age 12, there’s no telling what children might do.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:19 PM | Permalink

Quote of the Day

"We cannot let a minority of people -- and that's what it is, it is a minority of people -- hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people."

Hillary Clinton at CNN's Town Hall  on June 17, 2014


Whoa! That's the line I was looking for. Read it again and see how shocking it is. Not only did Hillary completely turn her back on "balanc[ing] competing values" and "more thoughtful conversation," she doesn't want to allow the people on one side of the conversation even to believe what they believe. Those who care about gun rights and reject new gun regulations should be stopped from holding their viewpoint. Now, it isn't possible to forcibly prevent people from holding a viewpoint. Our beliefs reside inside our head. And in our system of free speech rights, the government cannot censor the expression of a viewpoint. But the question is Hillary Clinton's fitness for the highest office, and her statement reveals a grandiose and profoundly repressive mindset.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:43 PM | Permalink

What's beneath our feet

Scientists See Earth's Most Abundant Mineral For The First Time Ever

Earth's most abundant mineral lies deep in the planet's interior, sealed off from human eyes.  Now, scientists for the first time have gotten a glimpse of the material in nature, enclosed inside a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite. The result: They have characterized and named the elusive mineral,formerly known by its chemical components and crystal structure — silicate-perovskite as bridgmanite, after Percy Bridgman, a 1946 Nobel Prize-winning physicist

The mineral likely resides beneath Earth's surface in an area called the lower mantle, between the transition zone in the mantle and the core-mantle boundary, or between the depths of416 and 1,802 miles scientists said.
Researchers found the bridgmanite in a meteorite that had fallen to Earth near the Tenham station in western Queensland, Australia, in 1879.

 Bridgmanite-Mineral-Vein Bridgemante found in vein of meteor found in Australia

Earth may have underground 'ocean' three times that on surface

After decades of searching scientists have discovered that a vast reservoir of water, enough to fill the Earth’s oceans three times over, may be trapped hundreds of miles beneath the surface, potentially transforming our understanding of how the planet was formed.

The water is locked up in a mineral called ringwoodite about 400 miles beneath the crust of the Earth, researchers say. Geophysicist Steve Jacobsen from Northwestern University in the US co-authored the study published in the journal Science and said the discovery suggested Earth’s water may have come from within, driven to the surface by geological activity, rather than being deposited by icy comets hitting the forming planet as held by the prevailing theories.

Jacobsen and his colleagues are the first to provide direct evidence that there may be water in an area of the Earth’s mantle known as the transition zone. They based their findings on a study of a vast underground region extending across most of the interior of the US.
Jacobsen told the New Scientist that the hidden water might also act as a buffer for the oceans on the surface, explaining why they have stayed the same size for millions of years. "If [the stored water] wasn't there, it would be on the surface of the Earth, and mountaintops would be the only land poking out," he said.
Ringwoodite acts like a sponge due to a crystal structure that makes it attract hydrogen and trap water.

If just 1% of the weight of mantle rock located in the transition zone was water it would be equivalent to nearly three times the amount of water in our oceans, Jacobsen said.

 Ringwooditediamond A battered diamond that survived a trip from "hell" confirms a long-held theory: Earth's mantle is soaked.

"It's actually the confirmation that there is a very, very large amount of water that's trapped in a really distinct layer in the deep Earth," said Graham Pearson, lead study author and a geochemist at the University of Alberta in Canada. The findings were published on March 12 in the journal Nature.

The worthless-looking diamond encloses a tiny piece of an olivine mineral called ringwoodite, and it's the first time the mineral has been found on Earth's surface in anything other than meteorites or laboratories.

 Beneath Our Feet

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:18 AM | Permalink

June 18, 2014

People are leaving the U.S. and so are companies

Expatriate Americans Break Up With Uncle Sam to Escape Tax Rules
Record Numbers Living Abroad Renounce U.S. Citizenship over IRS Reporting Requirements

Unlike other developed nations, the U.S. government taxes citizens on income they earn anywhere in the world. ...U.S. tax liabilities also cover children born to Americans abroad, extending the reach of the IRS across generations, as well as oceans.

…Helping boost the exodus, experts say, is a five-year-old U.S. campaign to hunt for undeclared accounts held by Americans abroad…..The tax dragnet has also swept up many middle-income Americans living abroad, prompting some to give up their U.S. citizenship. While people who renounce aren't freed of taxes due for past years, they don't want to risk sizable taxes and penalties for them and their children in the years ahead, experts say.

Obama's Corporate Exodus

What kind of country does this to itself? With Medtronic's  planned acquisition of Covidien  and the announcement that the combined company will be domiciled in Ireland, U.S. tax policy has encouraged one more business to spend its money overseas.  Medtronic, famous for its high-tech cardiac and spinal devices, will pay $42.9 billion for Dublin-based Covidien, which makes surgical tools and other medical supplies.
Shareholders of all companies—including employees who care about where economic growth will occur in the future—should know that America's federal corporate tax rate is 35%, which when combined with state and local levies rises to an average of nearly 40%. Ireland, where politicians evidently care about economic growth and as far as we know don't seek to stifle free speech on the topic, has a corporate tax rate of 12.5%.
Almost alone among civilized nations, Washington also demands to be paid on a company's world-wide earnings, rather than on money earned in the U.S. This tax is due whenever a company's overseas earnings are returned to America. Medtronic has about $14 billion overseas and rather than bringing it home and triggering the tax, the company will use the money to fund most of the cash portion of its $42.9 billion purchase.
The near-40% U.S. average rate is almost double the 21% average in the European Union, or the 22% in Asia, according to KPMG. As we noted recently, about the only place outside of captive Marxist countries with a higher corporate tax rate than the U.S. is the United Arab Emirates. But its top rate of 55% is generally applied only to foreign oil companies.

A big reason why the U.S. economy isn't growing as fast as it used to is that politicians not only don't want economic growth at the top of the agenda. They don't even want anyone to talk about it.

American families need a tax cut too and three charts show why

1.) Incomes have been going nowhere:  “The April 2014 median income was 7.0 percent lower than the median of $56,941 in January 2000.”…
2.) Higher education, the path to upward mobility, is an increasingly heavy burden:...
Middle-income families now paying 25 to 40 percent of their annual incomes to attend college. Remember, this is after accounting for any grants and scholarships that students receive.
3.) And then there's the rising cost of health care.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:20 PM | Permalink

Miscellany of links

Why I am very wary of the Internet of Things  The Nightmare on Connected Home Street  in Wired.

If you don't get Why Benghazi Matters, Bill Whittle explains in 10 minutes.

At Demilked 17 Flowers Masterfully Disguised As Something Else


Meet the 11-year-old inventor of the 'unbreakable cup'

When Parkinson's caused her grandfather to spill his drinks, Lily Born decided to do something about it. So she came up with the revolutionary 3-legged Kangaroo Cup and raised money via Kickstarter.
 Kangaroo Cup Proto

Flight of the tiny robo-fly: World's smallest drone weighs less than a gram and navigates using light-sensitive 'eyes'

 RoboflyThe Robo-fly has a carbon fibre body weighing 106mg - a fraction of a gram; Its pair of flapping wings is powered by electronic ‘muscles’ and it balances thanks to a pyramid shaped light sensor on top of its ‘head .  The drone is powered and controlled through a lightweight tether wire and can perform the agile maneuvres of the ubiquitous insects. The robofly could be used in search and rescue operations, to squeeze through collapsed rubble, monitor environmental conditions, and pollinate crops

Now they tell us Don't wash raw chicken, health experts warn

Washing chicken can spread a type of bacteria around the kitchen through the splashing of water droplets which causes food poisoning

A better way to cut cake revealed by London mathematician who explains it all in a YouTube video

The method involves cutting parallel lines rather than wedges.  This allows the cake to be sealed with icing around it, keeping it fresh

Want whiter teeth? Munch on dark chocolate, cheese and strawberries, says leading dentist

Dr Harold Katz says dark chocolate helps harden the enamel surface of teeth.  He says green tea contains tannins which stop bacteria sticking to teeth.  And, he says strawberries contain malic acid which removes stains. Cheese, he says, makes the mouth less acidic so tooth erosion is reduced.

Can music lessons as a child boost your brainpower for life? Researchers find young musicians develop better problem solving skills

Could boost calls for more music training in schools and help the elderly or those with ADHD.  The research team  defined musically trained children as having played an instrument for at least two years.

The controlled study using functional MRI brain imaging was undertaken by researchers at Boston Children's Hospital.
'Since executive functioning is a strong predictor of academic achievement, even more than IQ, we think our findings have strong educational implications,' said Nadine Gaab, who led the research.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:00 PM | Permalink

Quote of the Day

Was it only 10 months ago that President Obama capitulated on Syria? And eight months ago that we learned he had no idea the U.S. eavesdropped on Angela Merkel ? And seven months ago that his administration struck its disastrous interim nuclear deal with Tehran? And four months ago that Chuck Hagel announced that the United States Army would be cut to numbers not seen since the 1930s? And three months ago that Russia seized Crimea? And two months ago that John Kerry's Israeli-Palestinian peace effort sputtered into the void? And last month that Mr. Obama announced a timetable for total withdrawal from Afghanistan—a strategy whose predictable effects can now be seen in Iraq?

Even the Bergdahl deal of yesterweek is starting to feel like ancient history. Like geese, Americans are being forced to swallow foreign-policy fiascoes at a rate faster than we can possibly chew, much less digest.

Bret Stephens on The Pace of Obama's Disasters

To me, it feels more like whiplash, over and over again. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:50 AM | Permalink

June 17, 2014

Shameless coverup of brazen misconduct at the IRS

IRS has lost more emails

It’s not just Lois Lerner’s e-mails. The Internal Revenue Service says it can’t produce e-mails from six more employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups, according to two Republicans investigating the scandal.

The IRS told Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp and subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany that computer crashes resulted in additional lost e-mails, including from Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the targeting scandal.

David French, No Wonder the IRS Is ‘Losing’ E-mails: It Was Trying to Throw Innocent Conservatives in Jail

….In other words, rather than asking the DOJ whether it possessed any evidence of wrongdoing by American citizens engaged in constitutionally protected activities ,two senior officials in the Obama IRS (including one, Lois Lerner, who “joked” about wanting to work for Organizing For Action, also known as BarackObama.com) pushed forward the effort to launch a multi-agency criminal probe, involving even the FEC. Oh, and keep in mind that this e-mail exchange occurred literally years after the IRS claimed it had ended all tea-party targeting.

And in the last few days we learn the IRS has “lost” e-mails from — among others — Lois Lerner and Nikole Flax. What a remarkable coincidence.
The scale of the wrongdoing is staggering. Targeting Americans for criminal investigation without evidence, attempting to enlist multiple federal agencies in the effort, selective audits, selective disclosures of confidential documents, selective questioning and delays of nonprofit applicants — all in the service of suppressing dissent. At the ACLJ, I’m one of the attorneys in our litigation — on behalf of 41 conservative groups in 22 states — against the IRS and key IRS officials.
The administration’s misconduct and its cover-up are so brazen, so contemptuous of common sense and the truth, that they will — once and for all — put the media and the Left to the test: When it comes to this administration, does the rule of law matter at all? Does the truth matter at all? Or is it all about ideology now?

'Plot lines in Hollywood are more believable': IRS 'lost' Lois Lerner's emails and those of SIX other officials and kept it secret for MONTHS

The IRS 'lost' the emails of six other agency officials associated with a scheme to target conservative organizations – in addition to those of former official Lois Lerner – and kept it a secret for months, the House Ways and Means committee learned on Tuesday.
The news prompted the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to issue broad subpoenas on Tuesday afternoon for hard drives, thumb drives and other backups that Lerner and the tax authorities may have used to archive her messages.

Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp and Rep. Charles Boustany, who chairs the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee, said that the IRS has known as far back as February that it no longer had email correspondence for Lerner and other key players implicated in the tea party targeting scandal and failed to share that information with Congress.

'It looks like the American people were lied to and the IRS tried to cover-up the fact it conveniently lost key documents in this investigation,' the duo said in a press release.
'Plot lines in Hollywood are more believable than what we are getting from this White House and the IRS.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:55 PM | Permalink

The Jammer Cloak of Invisibility

'Cloak of Invisibility' lets you hide from Google: Padded coat blocks radio waves to stop firms accessing your phone's data

Data collection has become a growing concern for many users of smart technology, which can record numerous personal details, some of which is collected without their knowledge.  With that in mind Coop Himmelb(l)au, an Austrian architecture company, created the Jammer Coat to protect the wearer from unwanted data collection. The Jammer Coat is a padded cloak that contains metallic fibres designed to block radio waves, shielding the wearer from tracking devices.

All signals are designed to be blocked from reaching devices once they are stored inside the coat, meaning vital information from important items such as credit cards is protected from those looking to obtain it. This also means it is blocked from WI-Fi networks, mobile providers and more.  And with numerous pockets of different sizes the coat can accommodate smartphones, tablets and a range of other devices. The white coat is also patterned with black spots, which have been designed to mask the wearer’s true body shape.

'The CHBL Jammer Coat is a piece of clothing that enables its user to disappear: Google cannot find you anymore,' said a spokesperson for Coop Himmelb(l)au.  The piece is made of metallised fabrics, which are blocking radio waves and shielding the wearer against tracking devices.  You are no longer reachable on your mobile phone and no information from your credit card can be captured.

 Jammer-Invisibility Cloak

Even though it looks like duvet,  I rather like it, but then I've always liked the elegance of desert robes, especially  their coolness in the summer heat. 

  Lawrence Of Arabia

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:20 PM | Permalink

Quote of the Day

From the Tax Prof Blog,  the IRS Scandal, Day 404 quotes Peggy Noonan and Tale of Two Scandals

But the IRS scandal is different, because if it isn’t stopped—if it isn’t fully uncovered, exposed, and its instigators held accountable—it will suggest an acceptance of the politicization of the IRS, and an expected and assumed partisanship within its future actions. That will be terrible not only for citizens but for the government itself.

The IRS scandal will also have disfigured government in a new and killing way. IRS scandals in the past were about the powerful (Richard Nixon) abusing the powerful (Edward Bennett Williams). This scandal is about the powerful (Lois Lerner, et a.) abusing the not-powerful (normal, on-the-ground Americans such as rural tea-party groups). If it comes to be understood that this kind of thing is how the government now does business, it will be terrible for the spirit and reality of the country.

So many of those who decide what is news cannot, on this issue, see the good faith and honest concern of the many who make this warning. And really, that is tragic.

What are the implications of this claim? It means no one can see any emails Lerner sent to or received from other agencies and individuals, including the White House and members of Congress.

And what is amazing—not surprising, but amazing—is that if my experience of normal human conversation the past few days is any guide, very few people are talking about it and almost no one cares.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:57 AM | Permalink

"As GM goes, so goes the nation," Charles Wilson

GM made $22.6 billion. We lost $10.6 billion

After filing for bankruptcy five years ago, General Motors is now one of the most profitable companies in the world.
GM has earned a stunning $22.6 billion since the dark days of the financial crisis, when the automaker was bailed out by the U.S. government. Taxpayers didn't fare nearly as well. They'd lost $10.6 billion by the time the U.S. Treasury department closed the books on the $49.5 billion bailout in December.

Make that We Lost $ 11.2 biillion.  Taxpayer losses on GM bailout higher than first reported

Taxpayers lost $11.2 billion on the GM bailout, up from $10.3 billion the Treasury Department estimated when it sold its last GM shares on Dec. 9.  A Treasury Department auditor said the government had written off an $826-million “administrative claim” tied to the GM bailout on March 20.

Goodness knows what the “administrative claim” consists of, but it was worth just south of a billion dollars.  And if I had to bet, I’d probably bet this isn’t the last write-off.

GM cars sold: 12 million. Recalled: 13.8 million.

GM has issued more recalls this year than ever before. There have been 29 separate recalls covering 13.8 million U.S. cars and trucks, and 15.8 million vehicles worldwide.
So far GM has agreed to pay the maximum fine of $35 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the delay in the ignition recall. And it will be subject to closer oversight by the regulator.

Whoops, another recall. GM to recall further 3.4 million vehicles over ignition problems as drivers are warned to remove key chains until fault is fixed

General Motors says it needs to change or replace the keys for about 3.4 million cars because they could cause the ignition switch to move out of position if they are carrying too much weight.  In a statement released Monday, GM said that the switches can rotate out of 'run' if the key has excess weight and the car 'experiences some jarring event', such as hitting a pothole or crossing a railroad track.
That can shut off the engines and disable power steering, causing drivers to lose control. Also, the air bags won't work. The recall affects seven cars with model years ranging from 2000 to 2014.
GM is already recalling 2.6 million older small cars, mostly in the U.S., for a similar problem where the ignition switch slips out of 'run' and causes an engine stall. In that case, the problem is with the mechanics of the switch. In this latest recall, GM says the problem is with the design of the key. GM began reviewing ignition switches across its line-up after initiating the earlier recall. GM links that switch problem to 13 deaths.
The ignition switches can unexpectedly slip from the 'run' to 'accessory' position, shutting off the engine. That shuts off the power steering and power brakes, making cars harder to control. It also disables the air bags, which won't inflate in a crash.  GM said that this problem had caused at least 54 crashes and 13 deaths, but trial lawyers suing GM say the death toll is more than 60.

GM has acknowledged knowing about the problem for more than a decade, yet the cars weren't recalled until this year.  Its chief executive, Mary Barra, will testify in front of a House subcommittee about the matter for a second time on Wednesday.

In 2014 GM Has Recalled More Cars Than It Sold In 2013 And 2012

GM Seeks Immunity From Lawsuits Due To Bankruptcy

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:56 AM | Permalink

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's 'pathetic bow' to Political Correctness

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Scraps Employee Ratings To Avoid ‘Discrimination’

The CFPB, which oversees transactions in the financial sector for the federal government, decided to no longer conduct employee reviews because there were just too many apparent “significant disparities” between the races, ages, and locations of its employees.

According to American Banker, this new policy is set to cost over $5 million dollars, as it will now pay employees as if they received the highest evaluation score.

The Daily Mail tells the story better.  Everyone gets a perfect score! Federal financial agency ditches employee performance ratings after union members and minorities consistently perform worse

The annual performance reviews award scores on a scale from 1 to 5 and are closely tied to salary raises, bonuses and career advancement….'Hard-working, conscientious workers (and, yes, the federal government does have those) deserve to be treated better and paid more than workers who, say, persistently show up late and turn in shoddy work,' he added.

'Instead, in its pathetic bow to political correctness, the slackers are being rewarded.'

Hey, it's not their money.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:48 AM | Permalink

"Without the family, the pyramid scheme of the state faces a demographic collapse" "

Sultan Knish writes in Twilight of the Family of the horrifying future when the state takes over the functions of the family

Governments have come to serve as undying guardians of human society, ushering new life into the world and ushering old life out of it. New parents are as likely to turn to the government for help as they are to their extended family. When their child is old enough to look around for a career, it is the government that they expect to provide the education and the jobs. And when they grow old, the child can keep on working at his government job and paying off his student loans knowing that the government will be there to make all the difficult and expensive decisions about their care.
The family has been displaced and replaced. In some places it is even repressed. Like an old station wagon, it idles by the side of the road, while its former owners drive away in their new sleek electric government compact car built for two or a micro-car built for one into a wonderful childless future of unfunded pensions, social collapse and death panels.
Modern society has made the price of children extremely expensive and many couples have found it easier to end the family with their own deaths.  The future of the West has been aborted or never conceived. It has been broken up, divorced and never married.

The state gave its citizens the impression that it could fulfill all the functions of a family far better than the real thing. Its appeal was the power of bigness, the stability of a system too big to fail and rooms full of experts working night and day to improve on the fallible family. With its vast industrial social services bureaucracy, the state would be able to provide a more stable social safety net, save everyone money on health care, educate their children, care for their elders, perpetuate their values, protect their income, safeguard their way of life and usher in a bright new future.
Unfortunately the state is more like an actual pyramid scheme …And nowhere has the pyramid scheme of the social state schemer proven more disastrous than in the collapse of the family. The state has usurped the family, but it depends on the family to crank out industrious little taxpayers, small men and women who will work the shops and factories, toiling night and day, paying their fines and fees dutifully while raising the next generation of taxpayers. Without the family, the pyramid scheme of the state faces a demographic collapse.
The spectre of Communism is no longer haunting Europe. It has come and gone. Under Socialism, it is the spectre of demographics that haunts Europe. It is the dead children, no longer killed in factories or protests, but in clinics and for convenience's sake, that float aimlessly through the streets of Munich, London and Paris. Europe is no longer haunted by its dead, but by those who were never born.
Socialism has left behind a terrible bill and there is no one left to pay it. The population is crashing in every Western country. The elderly are losing their generous benefits, the men and women of middle age worry for the future and the youth no longer believe in the future at all.

The future is rapidly approaching.  In Scotland, they are racing to undermine parents with a sinister 'Named Person" scheme

Children  have all been assigned a 'Named Person' to oversee their welfare, supervise their upbringing and intervene where they deem it to be appropriate, even when this conflicts with the will of the parents.
Holyrood has effectively passed a bill which nullifies parental rights and endows the state with higher baby-sitting authority: Scotland has become the progenitor and guardian of all her children - not ultimately or in extremis, but right from the beginning. …parents will be reported to the state for trivial family incidents, such as forgetting a child’s doctor's or hospital appointment.

Parents are not allowed to know who the 'named person' for each of their children is.  Nor is the 'named person' available for consultation or discussion.

At the same time, a proposed "Cinderella Law"  in the U.K.  would make it a crime to deliberately harm a child’s ‘intellectual, emotional, social or behavioral development’ and sits alongside the physical or sexual abuse of children. Its definition of abuse includes “controlling or coercive behavior” which would “encompass but is not limited to physical, financial, sexual, psychological or emotional abuse”

Those found guilty would face up to ten years in jail. The change will update existing laws in England and Wales.  Currently, adults responsible for a child can only be prosecuted if they have deliberately assaulted, abandoned or exposed a youngster to suffering or injury to their health.

This may be a well-intentioned law, but it will be a disaster in its implementation.  It is vague, overbroad and underspecific,  How will religious families trying to pass on their traditions far ?  Just what is 'controlling or coercive behavior' anyway?  Already parents have been arrested because their child was too fat.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:43 AM | Permalink

VA silences whistleblowers, stonewalls investigation and more

FBI opens criminal probe of VA after scandal  The investigation's goal is to determine whether hospital administrators knowingly lied about wait times for veterans in order to receive performance bonuses.

House Chairman: VA Instructed Employees To Stonewall Investigation

Officials in the Obama administration’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) appear to have illegally instructed VA employees to stonewall a congressional investigation into the department’s scandals, according to House Committee on Veterans Affairs chairman Rep. Jeff Miller.

At least 175 Veterans Administration whistleblowers targeted for retribution

Emails, audits, and personal statements reveal a systematic silencing of whistleblowers working inside the agency. The NYT reports that the Office of Special Counsel, the federal agency dedicated to probing whistle-blowing cases, is investigating 37 cases in 19 states in which VA employees were punished for speaking out about the fraud in the system. The Project on Government Oversight, a private organization, reports even more cases: 175 former or current employees have come to them confidentially to detail the abuse at the VA.

Why hasn't anyone been fired yet? 

The past five years shows a substantial difference at the VA. From 2008-2013, the VA fired executives at a rate one-fourth the firing rate for government overall, according to the OPM data….The 0.47% federal rate is roughly a third of that for the private sector, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Because the idea of dismissing employees or withholding bonuses is "a bunch of crap" according to Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson

Acting Veterans Administration Secretary Sloan Gibson angrily ruled out firing VA workers en masse for the massive healthcare backlog accused of killing veterans, calling the idea of dismissing employees or withholding bonuses “a bunch of crap".
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:40 AM | Permalink

750 couches and a 700" TV

I've never understood why most of the world goes crazy about the World Cup while Americans by and large ignore it.  Some of the craziness is funny.

Stadium in Berlin Gets Turned Into Giant Living Room with 750 Couches and 700″ TV

For the duration of this year’s World Cup, Berlin’s Stadion An der Alten Forsterei (home to FC Union Berlin) will be transformed into a gigantic living room. The field will be outfitted with 750 couches (brought in by fans), complete with side tables and lamps for each along with a massive 700″ TV surrounded by cheesy wallpaper.  Admission is free and the giant living room, known as WM Wohnzimmer will offer a capacity up to 12,000 people. Couch seats are assigned by application/lottery.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:29 AM | Permalink

June 16, 2014

"Huge cost and utter pointlessness"

Yet another total waste of taxpayer money that could be far better spent in countless other way,.

The Horrific Cost and Utter Pointlessness of Obama's War on Carbon Dioxide

Here is the Obama administration's green strategy reduced to one damning equation:
19 million jobs lost plus $4.335 trillion spent = a reduction in global mean temperature of 0.018 degrees C.

Yes. Horrifying but true. These are the costs to the US economy, by 2100, of the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory war on carbon dioxide, whereby all states must reduce emissions from coal-fired electricity generating plants by 30 per cent below 2005 levels.
A U.S. Chamber of Commerce study calculates that the new regulations will cost our economy another $51 billion annually, result in 224,000 more lost jobs every year, and cost every American household $3,400 per year in higher prices for energy, food and other necessities.
….Climatologists "Chip" Knappenberger and Pat Michaels: Using a simple, publically-available, climate model emulator called MAGICC that was in part developed through support of the EPA, we ran the numbers as to how much future temperature rise would be averted by a complete adoption and adherence to the EPA’s new carbon dioxide restrictions*.  The answer? Less than two one-hundredths of a degree Celsius by the year 2100.  0.018°C to be exact.

Notice how the EPA never talks about water vapor which accounts for 95% of all greenhouse gases.


Water Vapor Rules the Greenhouse System

Water vapor is 99.999% of natural origin. Other atmospheric greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and miscellaneous other gases (CFC's, etc.), are also mostly of natural origin (except for the latter, which is mostly anthropogenic).

Human activites contribute slightly to greenhouse gas concentrations through farming, manufacturing, power generation, and transportation. However, these emissions are so dwarfed in comparison to emissions from natural sources we can do nothing about, that even the most costly efforts to limit human emissions would have a very small-- perhaps undetectable-- effect on global climate.

To Save the Planet, Defeat the Greens

There is one thing and one thing only that made the switch away from coal possible: fracking. Without the huge new supplies of natural gas, one of the lowest-emitting fossil fuels, the U.S. would have no feasible way to escape its dependence on King Coal.  In other words, for greens to win on coal they have to lose on fracking.

Your typical environmentalist has a deeply ingrained impulse to fight any kind of extractive process aimed at producing any imaginable fossil fuel, and that bias makes it difficult to see the fracking boom for what it really is: an environmental triumph on a scale solar and wind can only dream of.  This uncomfortable truth isn’t unusual. For greens to really bend the carbon curve, they will have to lose their war on nuclear power, an effectively zero-emissions energy source.
Too many greens take their science a la carte. Where scientific research tells greens things they like to hear, greens get all self righteous about “science deniers.” But whenever some poor scientist somewhere attacks a cherished green shibboleth, hordes of vicious and bitter green activists hurl angry accusations about the corruption of the scientific process by corporate interests.

We need solutions grounded in our best understanding of science, and we need to put those into practice. We need fracking, just like we need nuclear, just like we need GMOs. And we need an environmental movement that is realistic, balanced, and committed to the needs of human beings.

So: to save the planet, beat the greens. That is the paradoxical situation green anti-science bigotry puts us in: for green goals to be met, the green movement must often fail.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:19 PM | Permalink

June 14, 2014

Thanks Dads

"His heritage to his children wasn't words or possessions, but an unspoken treasure, the treasure of his example as a man and father."
- Will Rogers Jr.

How Dads Affect Their Daughters into Adulthood - Daughters of good fathers show superior academic performance, career success and financial well-being, more intimate and fulfilling relationships with men  and are better equipped to deal with stress.

Roughhousing Lessons From Dad Fathers Teach Risk-Taking, Boundary-Setting; Learning From 'Sock Wrestling' -Fathers who spend time with their children instill self-control and social skills in their offspring. 

Some of the Best Advice a Dad Can Give

The Transformative Power of Fatherhood.  An interview with Brad Wilcox on how dads make a difference to their children and communities

….what’s fascinating about the new science on fatherhood… is that we’re learning more about the ways in which men are transformed physically, socially, and emotionally by parenthood….for instance, that men’s testosterone drops after they become parents. The figure below shows that Filipino men who got partnered and then had children experienced the largest drops in testosterone over time. This pattern suggests that men are being prepared by Mother Nature, provided they live with the mother of their kids, to settle down and become more attentive to their family. ….

After kids come along, men are more likely to be engaged civically in their communities in activities ranging from youth soccer to church. Furthermore, they typically work harder and earn more money after they become dads, provided that they live with the mother of their children…..

Dads tend to take on a distinctive role when it comes to providing for, playing with, and challenging their children to confront life’s difficulties and opportunities…..Dads also help to engender a sense of self-control in their children.

--, both at the individual and neighborhood level, dads seem to help create a safer social environment. Indeed, Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson has found that one of the better predictors of violence at the neighborhood level is the presence of large numbers of fatherless homes…

Children are significantly less likely to be physically and sexually abused when they live with their own married father, especially compared to children living with their mother and an unrelated male boyfriend. Clearly, biological, married fathers tend to be more invested in the welfare of their own children than men who are not tied to kids by marriage or blood.
Mothers tend to mother their children better when dad is in the home. Married mothers are more involved, more affectionate, and more likely to monitor their kids, on average, than are single mothers. They also enjoy closer relationships with their kids. We’re talking here about averages, of course, because many single moms do a great job and enjoy great relationships with their kids. It’s just that, on average, married moms enjoy closer relationships with their children.

It matters a lot for dads, especially in a society where fathers are often belittled or minimized in the popular culture, to have their sacrifices and love recognized and appreciated.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:35 PM | Permalink

IRS Lies and Stonewalls; NYT ignores

How convenient.

According to the House Ways and Means Committee, the IRS has “lost” two years of emails belonging to former head of tax exempt organizations Lois Lerner. The IRS doesn’t have a record of her emails from January 2009 through April 2011, conveniently encompassing some of the same time when tea party groups were being targeted for extra scrutiny and possible criminal prosecution. The IRS says the loss of emails is due to a “computer crash” and claims emails from or to Lerner from the White House, Democratic members of Congress, the Treasury Department and Department of Justice cannot be located.  They do however have emails belonging to Lerner that she sent to other IRS employees.
Emails belonging to Lerner that were not "lost" have shown that she was in contact with Democratic members of Congress and the Department of Justice about prosecuting tea party groups. Just this week, emails surfaced showing Lerner sent confidential tax information belonging to conservative groups to the FBI for investigation just before the 2010 midterm elections.

IRS Now Claims It Has ‘Lost’ Lois Lerner’s Emails

Yet we’re to believe that it just lost two years’ of emails to and from the central figure in the agency’s worst scandal? The way to bet on this is that the administration stalled on turning over those emails long enough to locate them all and all copies of them and destroy all of them. If that’s what happened, that’s destruction of evidence.

The total hypocrisy of the New York Times  18 ½ minutes vs. 2 years: which is worse?  asks Roger Kimball.

When the Nixon White House found that 18 ½ minutes of audio tape missing as the Watergate scandal unfolded around the President,  …Day after day, week after week, month after month, the front pages and editorials pages of our former Paper of Record were full of stern admonitions about that egregious abuse of executive power. You could not look at the paper without a synesthetic shudder: Reading it, you could almost hear them licking their chops as their prey—the dastardly Richard Nixon—came ever closer to his doom.

So how does The New York Times handle this extraordinary loss of two years’ worth of Lois Lerner’s emails?  (“Really, they were here just a minute ago. We were just about to hand them over to Congress when, gosh darn, they just vanished.  Damndest thing.”)

This will amaze you, I know, but it is true: The New York Times  today devotes zero words to the story. Take a look at the front page here:  Nothing….. .What about the missing emails?  Nary a word on the front page. Or the next page. Or the next or the next. 
….. But about the missing emails in one of the most disgusting political scandals in recent times, the deployment of the IRS with its virtually unlimited powers, against political opponents of the administration? Nothing. Nada. Rien.

But here we have a former senior official from the IRS who deliberately harassed hundreds of conservatives groups.  She has taken the 5th Amendment—why? What sort of self-incrimination is she worried about?  A look through her emails would have the answer. But those emails are, according to the IRS, unavailable because of a hard disk failure. Do you believe that? Do you believe that that the agency charged with tax gathering for the United States does not have multiple back ups of its business correspondence? Do you? Imagine what the IRS would have to say to a (conservative) business it decided to audit if a response for electronic records was met with, “Gosh darn, we had a hard disk failure, and they’re just plum gone.”  Imagine.  And why have there not been instant calls for the data recovery folks to get involved? Why?  The public, I’d wager, would find all this keenly interesting—if only the people charged with reporting the news would tell them about it.

Byron York tweets Readers with IT backgrounds not buying the Lois Lerner IRS 'lost' emails story.

Ace: Liar! Liar! Pants on fire

Rep. Jason Chaffetz: posts video of IRS commissioner  testifying  that Lois Lerner’s emails were archived.  Here's the video

Let a Special Prosecutor Find Them writes Ron Fournier in the National Journal.

Blaze: IRS Rules Say Lerner Was Required to Keep Printed Copies of Those Supposedly ‘Lost’ Emails

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:17 PM | Permalink

June 13, 2014

Our ever-increasing surveillance state - Updates

New federal database will track Americans' credit ratings, other financial information

As many as 227 million Americans may be compelled to disclose intimate details of their families and financial lives -- including their Social Security numbers -- in a new national database being assembled by two federal agencies.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau posted an April 16 Federal Register notice of an expansion of their joint National Mortgage Database Program to include personally identifiable information that reveals actual users, a reversal of previously stated policy.
FHFA will manage the database and share it with CFPB. A CFPB internal planning document for 2013-17 describes the bureau as monitoring 95 percent of all mortgage transactions.  FHFA officials claim the database is essential to conducting a monthly mortgage survey required by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and to help it prepare an annual report for Congress.

The rational for such a huge and unprecedented database is weak..  They want it for simple reporting purposes to Congress.  Given what the IRS has done in illegally accessing and transferring personal information of political opponents, this is a step way too far.

The mortgage database is unprecedented and would collect personal mortgage information on every single-family residential first lien loan issued since 1998. Federal officials will continue updating the database into the indefinite future……The Chamber of Commerce said that while Congress did ask for regular reports, it never granted FHFA the authority to create the National Mortgage Database.

Let's not forget the potential of data breaches that have doubled in the past 3 years.

The GAO reported in December that  breaches containing personally identifiable information from federal databases shows unlawful data breaches have doubled, from 15,140 reported incidents in 2009 to 22,156 in 2012.

Even the White House reported in May on the cybersecurity of federal databases and warned, "if unchecked, big data could be a tool that substantially expands government power over citizens.”

 Surveillance3  NSA Intercepts Millions Of Photos For Massive Facial Recognition Database

The National Security Agency intercepts "millions of images per day" for use in a previously undisclosed facial recognition database, James Risen and Laura Poitras report in The New York Times, citing documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Are you on the FBI's Facial Recognition Database

The FBI has begun using a facial-recognition surveillance system that will store millions of mug shots - and could even use driving license pictures.  FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers 'We’re piloting the use of mug shots, along with our fingerprint database, to see if we can find bad guys by matching pictures with mug shots.  Earlier this year the Electronic Frontier Foundation revealed the system is capable of processing 55,000 faces a day - and that it will have 52 million faces by 2015.

US pushing local police departments to keep quiet on cell-phone surveillance technology

The Obama administration has been quietly advising local police not to disclose details about surveillance technology they are using to sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods, The Associated Press has learned.

Interviews, court records and public-records requests show the Obama administration is asking agencies to withhold common information about the equipment, such as how the technology is used and how to turn it on. That pushback has come in the form of FBI affidavits and consultation in local criminal cases.

"These extreme secrecy efforts are in relation to very controversial, local government surveillance practices using highly invasive technology," said Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which has fought for the release of these types of records. "If public participation means anything, people should have the facts about what the government is doing to them."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:46 PM | Permalink

The Sinking of the Lancastria

I had never heard of the sinking of Lancastria on June 17, 1940 which sent at least 4000 people to their deaths and possibly many more.

From Wikipedia:

It is the greatest ever loss of life in the sinking of a single British ship, claiming more lives than the combined losses of the RMS Titanic (1,523 passengers and crew) and RMS Lusitania (1,200 passengers). It had also the highest death toll for UK forces in a single engagement in the whole of World War II.

She was sunk off the French port of St. Nazaire while taking part in Operation Ariel, the evacuation of British nationals and troops from France, two weeks after the Dunkirk evacuation….

By the mid-afternoon of 17 June, she had embarked an unknown number (estimates range from 4,000 up to 9,000[, of civilian refugees (including embassy staff, employees of Fairey Aviation of Belgium), line-of-communication troops (such as Pioneer and RASC soldiers) and RAF personnel. The ship's official capacity was 2,200 including the 375 man crew. Captain Sharp had been instructed by the Royal Navy to "load as many men as possible without regard to the limits set down under international law".
There were 2,477 survivors, of whom about 100 were still alive in 2011. Many families of the dead knew only that they died with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF); the death toll accounted for roughly a third of the total losses of the BEF in France

David Niven told this story about the disaster and the sacrifice of a priest

"David Niven told the engrossing story (I had never heard it) of a single episode in the chaotic flight from France after Dunkirk in 1940.
One motley assembly, ‘Royal Air Force ground personnel who were trapped, Red Cross workers, women, ambulance drivers and, finally, the embassy staff from Paris with their children — by the time they got to St. Nazaire at the mouth of the Loire, there were over three thousand of them and the British government sent an old liner called the Lancastria to come and take them away, with three destroyers to guard her. They were just pulling up the anchor when three dive bombers came.

The destroyers did what they could, but one bomb hit, went down the funnel and blew a huge hole in the side, and she quickly took on a terrible list. In the hold there were several hundred soldiers. Now there was no way they could ever get out because of the list, and she was sinking. And along came my own favorite Good Samaritan, a Roman Catholic priest, a young man in Royal Air Force uniform. He got a rope and lowered himself into the hold to give encouragement and help to those hundreds of men in their last fateful hour.’

‘Knowing he couldn’t get out?’ ‘Knowing he could never get out, nor could they. The ship sank and all in that hold died. The remainder were picked up by the destroyers and came back to England to the regiment I was in, and we had to look after them, and many of them told me that they were giving up even then, in the oil and struggle, and the one thing that kept them going was the sound of the soldiers in the hold singing hymns.’”

Winston Churchill hid the news of the deaths of possibly more than 7,000 men from the public as it might have damaged morale.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:09 PM | Permalink

The Mystery of Resilience

Monster of a mother: A birth control pioneer, she was revered as a parenting guru. But Marie Stopes treated her son, who died this week, with abominable cruelty

Marie Stopes was one of the most influential women of the 20th century: a distinguished fossil expert, brilliant academic and pioneer of birth control. Also a feminist visionary, she opened the first birth control clinic in Britain and her book, Married Love — which argued marriage should be an equal relationship between husband and wife — was an international bestseller.

And yet, in her private life, she was a staggeringly selfish monster.

She was anti-Semitic and believed fervently in eugenics — or “improving” the human population through selective breeding. Though she made her name as a marital expert she publicly humiliated her two husbands.

The greatest irony of all though, was that the woman who wrote another bestseller, Wise Parenthood was an atrocious mother. She treated her only son as a social experiment, dressing him up in girl’s clothes, choosing, and then discarding, adoptive brothers for him, and later cruelly victimizing his wife.

When Marie Stopes died in 1958, at the age of 77, her son found she had cut him out of much of her will, she had remained so angry at his marriage.

That son, Dr Harry Stopes-Roe has just died aged 90. Remarkably, not only did he survive his mother’s wicked treatment, but he flourished as a philosopher and remained happily married to his own wife for nearly 70 years. He even defended his mother against criticism and censure.  His willingness to forgive his horrific parent is all the more extraordinary when you consider the misery of his childhood.

You can read the whole story at the link and wonder at the resilience of Harry who "endeavored to right with his own children all the appalling wrongs of his own wickedly selfish mother."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:56 PM | Permalink

June 9, 2014

20 to 30 cybercrime groups operating on a ‘nation-state level’

Hackers are holding the world to ransom: Cyber attacks cost the global economy more than £328 billion a year, claims report

Failing to protect yourself online is so irresponsible, it could threaten the economy of entire nations.
That's according to a security report by California-based group, McAfee, which suggests cybercrime is now such big business, it is worth more than the wealth of some countries.
As a business, cybercrime would be ranked 27th in the world based on revenue, and the attacks are currently costing the world more than £328 billion ($400 billion) a year.
They claim the big problem remains a lack of understanding among the public about different threats that exist.
As part of the report, Samani revealed there are 20 to 30 cybercrime groups that are operating on a ‘nation-state level’.
This means they are working on an industrial scale, and overcome almost any sort of web defence they face.
‘We want the economy to grow, and it’s being held back by cybercrime.
‘If you’re not taking important measures you’re contributing to criminals, and I mean nasty criminals, making money off you. Not taking action is resulting in people losing their jobs,’ he said.
The report found that more than 200,000 jobs had been lost as a result of cybercrime - through reputation damage or loss of assets.
The news comes in the wake of continued efforts to improve web security before the ‘two-week threat’ elapses, and two viruses that have infected thousands of computers are active again.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security urged users to install anti-virus software on their computer and ensure that the latest operating systems were also installed on their computers.
If systems do not offer automatic updates, people should enable it, the department said.
It also advised changing passwords, as original passwords may have been compromised during the infection.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:32 PM | Permalink

Violent crime down, police militarization up

At a time when violent crime in the US is the lowest in a generation why is there an epidemic of police violence?   Or in the words of John Whitehead, why have so many police search warrants turned into violent death warrants, and why have SWAT teams turned into violent death squads at a time when violent crime is in free-fall?

How many children, old people, and law-abiding citizens have to be injured, terrorized or killed before we call a halt to the growing rash of police violence that is wracking the country? How many family pets have to be gunned down in cold blood by marauding SWAT teams before we declare such tactics off limits? And how many communities have to be transformed into military outposts, complete with heavily armed police, military tanks, and “safety” checkpoints before we draw that line in the sand that says “not in our town”?
The latest incident comes out of Atlanta, Georgia, where a SWAT team, attempting to execute a no-knock drug warrant in the middle of the night, launched a flash bang grenade into the targeted home, only to have it land in a crib where a 19-month-old baby lay sleeping. The grenade exploded in the baby’s face, burning his face, lacerating his chest, and leaving him paralyzed. He is currently in the hospital in a medically induced coma.
each time we as a rational, reasoning, free-minded people fail to be outraged by government wrongdoing—whether it’s the SWAT team raids that go awry, the senseless shootings of unarmed citizens, the stockpiling of military weapons and ammunition by government agencies (including small-town police), the unapologetic misuse of our taxpayer dollars for graft and pork, the incarceration of our fellow citizens in forced labor prisons, etc.—we become accomplices in bringing about our own downfall.
SWAT teams are no longer reserved exclusively for deadly situations. Owing to the militarization of the nation’s police forces, SWAT teams are now increasingly being deployed for relatively routine police matters, with some SWAT teams being sent out as much as five times a day
Meanwhile, the epidemic of police violence continues to escalate while fear of the police increases and the police state, with all its surveillance gear and military weaponry, expands around us.

Throwing a grenade into a house!  At the link, there are some more appalling stories. Outcries have come from all sides of the political spectrum. 

Cops Kill 8 Times More Americans Than Terrorists

Since 9/11, and the subsequent militarization of the police by the Department of Homeland Security, about 5,000 Americans have been killed by US police officers. The civilian death rate is nearly equal to the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq. In fact, you are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist.


The Growing Epidemic of Police Violence: Is It Time to De-Militarize Police Forces?

The problem with all of these incidents, as one reporter rightly concluded, is "not that life has gotten that much more dangerous, it's that authorities have chosen to respond to even innocent situations as if they were in a warzone."

4 shocking examples of police militarization in America’s small towns  Research shows that the number of SWAT teams in municipalities smaller than 50,000 is up more than 300 percent.

Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America

These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.

Scenes from a militarized America: Iowa family ‘terrorized’

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:55 PM | Permalink

Health roundup: 'Jaw-dropping' melanoma breakthrough, regenerating liver, new leukemia drug, colon cancer, COPD, red wine and fasting

Skin cancer drug 'cures' man given months to live: Doctors hail results of 'astonishing' medical trial that could give hope to millions

They say the results of medical trials are ‘jaw-dropping’ and offer hope for victims of other forms of cancer.
The medicine, pembrolizumab, is the latest in a new generation of ‘immunotherapy’ treatments that prevent cancers from shielding themselves from the immune system. Instead it lets the immune system attack the disease, often in conjunction with other conventional drugs.

“Pembrolizumab looks like it has potential to be a paradigm shift for cancer therapy" said Dr David Chao, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust

Advanced skin cancer, which has spread to other parts of the body, has a poor prognosis and currently only one in ten people live for a year after diagnosis…..However some people have lived for two years while receiving the new treatment. The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO 2014), showed three quarters of patients responded to the drug. 

Hopes rise for new cure for liver disease after researchers make cells 'go back in time'

Researchers say it is possible to repair a chronically diseased liver by forcing mature liver cells to 'go back in time' to a stem cell-like state.  Switching off a liver-growth pathway in mature cells generates high levels of dedifferentiation, which means the cells can revert back to an unspecialized state and regenerate a diseased liver.  The breakthrough, published in the journal Cell, could pave the way for liver cell transplants to cure genetic liver disorders. Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists at Boston Children's Hospital made the discovery while investigating whether a biochemical cascade called Hippo, which controls how big the liver grows, also affects cell fate.

Widespread colon cancer screening has saved an estimated 500,000 lives since the mid-70s reports a new study from the Yale School of Medicine using data from the National Cancer Institute.

New leukemia drug boosts survival rate to 90% and could eventually replace invasive chemical treatment

Ibrutinib drug trial showed better rates of survival than chemotherapy. Trial showed higher rate of people entered remission than chemotherapy. Breakthrough alternative for people with resistance to chemotherapy

If you or someone in your family has COPD, try eating grapefruit and bananas.  Could grapefruit beat lung disease? Eating fruit and other foods including cheese and bananas found to help patients suffering one of most common variants

Eating grapefruit, bananas, fish and cheese could help patients suffering one of the most common lung conditions in Britain, say scientists.  Research showed a direct link between the foods and improvements in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Scientists from the US and Europe used diet records for 2,167 COPD sufferers over a three-year period.
Those who had eaten the products within 24 hours showed improvement in a range of measures such as lung function, fitness scores and white blood cell count.  Lead study author Dr Corrine Hanson said patients should now be offered dietary and nutritional counseling as part of their treatment.

Think of it as a reward for flossing.  Red wine is good for your teeth 

New research has revealed that red wine could protect against cavities. Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry revealed grape seed extract also prevents cavities.
Researchers say the discovery could lead to the development of natural products to ward off dental diseases.

By all means be skeptical and consider the source of the information you are asked to accept.  Cynicism, however, carries risks.  Cynics 'face far higher risk of Alzheimer's': Those who mistrust others at greater risk of mental illness, doctors warn

Cynics could be three times more likely to develop dementia, doctors have warned.  The trait has already been linked to heart disease and heart attacks – but now a study suggests that those who mistrust others are at far greater risk of mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.

How a flash of light can delete bad memories: Breakthrough may help dementia patients

The discovery, which has been shown to work in rats, may have huge potential for curing phobia sufferers of their fears, helping soldiers to recover from the horrors of battle or allow accident victims to put their trauma behind them. It might also be used for boosting memories in dementia patients.
Roberto Malinow, professor of neurosciences, said: ‘We can form a memory, erase that memory and we can reactivate it, at will, by applying a stimulus that selectively strengthens or weakens synaptic connections.’….Professor Malinow added:  ‘We have shown that the damaging products that build up in  the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients can weaken synapses in the same way that we weakened synapses to remove a memory. ‘This research could suggest ways to intervene in the process.’

Fasting for three days can regenerate entire immune system, study from the University of Southern California  that starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells which fight off infection.

The researchers say fasting "flips a regenerative switch" which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system.
Prof Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the University of California said, “Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system."
Scientists found that prolonged fasting also reduced the enzyme PKA, which is linked to aging and a hormone which increases cancer risk and tumor growth.
Fasting for 72 hours also protected cancer patients against the toxic impact of chemotherapy.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:38 PM | Permalink

More Idiocies

Her father recently died of skin cancer which runs in the family, so the mother of  a 10 year old girl gave her a bottle of sunscreen and instructed her to reapply it regularly while on a school field trip.  School forbids pupils to bring sunscreen on field trip.  She came home from the field trip badly burned.


Aubrey Chancellor, spokeswoman for the Antonio Texas school district, explained,  "Sunscreen is a toxic substance, and we can't allow toxic things in to be in our schools," said the spokesman for the North East Independent School District in San Antonio. Typically, sunscreen is a toxic substance, and we can't allow toxic things in to be in our schools," …They could possibly have an allergic reaction (or) they could ingest it. It's really a dangerous situation."

Sunscreen is considered a medication, something children need a doctor's note to have at school. Actually the sunscreen must be left in the nurse's office and reapplied there.  So it would be of little use on a field trip.  For children with very fair skin, just a few bad sunburns in childhood greatly increases their chance of developing skin cancer.

A first-grader in Pennsylvania is facing expulsion after turning himself in for accidentally bringing a toy gun to school.

According to 7-year-old Darin Simak's parents, Darin left his backpack at a friend's house and had to be sent to school with a backup. When he discovered the toy in the bag, knowing it was illegal, Darin turned the contraband into his teacher.

"He found the toy gun on the outside pocket," Darin's father Chris Simak told local reporters. "He took it straight to the teacher and said that he wasn't allowed to have it."

Darin's teacher followed protocol and brought the first grader to the principal, where he was immediately suspended pending an expulsion hearing. According to the school charter, the punishment for bringing a toy weapon to school is expulsion for "a period of not less than one (1) year."

Cheeseboarding  via Insty

Old guy in the cell: What are you in for? 

New guy in the cell:  I aged cheese on wooden boards.

A sense of disbelief and distress is quickly rippling through the U.S. artisan cheese community, as the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week announced it will not permit American cheesemakers to age cheese on wooden boards.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:53 PM | Permalink

June 7, 2014

Catching up on the ongoing disaster of Obamacare

More than two million people who signed up for ObamaCare are in limbo due to data discrepancies

In nearly one million of these cases, the discrepancy is related to immigration or citizenship status.
“[T]he inconsistencies point to the possibility that many enrollees obtained coverage or subsidies without being eligible,”
Nearly three million people are still waiting to have their applications processed.

But that's not all.  There is a separate mountain of unprocessed paperwork at Medicaid

At least 2.9 million Americans who signed up for Medicaid coverage as part of the health care overhaul have not had their applications processed, with some paperwork sitting in queues since last fall, according to a 50-state survey by CQ Roll Call.

Those delays — due to technological snags with enrollment websites, bureaucratic tangles at state Medicaid programs and a surge of applicants — betray Barack Obama’s promise to expand access to health care for some of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

Walter Russell Mead CBO: We Can’t Score Obamacare Anymore

A translation for non-bureaucrats: We’re flying blind here.

The ACA is more than just an insurance expansion program; it also contains provisions that affect hospitals, the tax code, and other federal programs. In this footnote, the CBO is now saying that it cannot figure out how those other parts of the law affect the budget—and thus that we don’t know how the law as a whole does either.

Even more importantly, some of the CBO’s uncertainty is caused by Obama Administration decisions to change, delay, or abandon parts of the law during implementation. First came the news that census questions were altered, making it far more difficult for us to determine whether the ACA has reduced the numbers of the uninsured, and now there’s this. As time goes on, we’re becoming less and less capable of answering basic questions about whether the ACA is working.

The Economist on Health Care Fraud -That's Where the Money Is

In America the scale of medical embezzlement is extraordinary. According to Donald Berwick, the ex-boss of Medicare and Medicaid (the public health schemes for the old and poor), America lost between $82 billion and $272 billion in 2011 to medical fraud and abuse (see article). The higher figure is 10% of medical spending and a whopping 1.7% of GDP—as if robbers had made off with the entire output of Tennessee or nearly twice the budget of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).

Crooks love American health care for two reasons. First, as Willie Sutton said of banks, it’s where the money is—no other country spends nearly as much on pills and procedures. Second, unlike a bank, it is barely guarded.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:47 PM | Permalink

Looking for Dad on the Internet: "Are you XYTEX Donor 2035?"

In Crisis The Brave New World of Gestation Surrogacy by Austin Ruse

Gestational surrogacy is a messy business. There are many kinds: gestational surrogacy and egg donation, gestational surrogacy and sperm donation, gestational surrogacy and embryo donation, and others.

Consider this definition of gestational surrogacy and embryo donation: “A surrogate is inseminated using donor embryo. Such embryos may be available when others undergoing IVF have embryos left over, which they opt to donate to others. With this method, the resulting child is genetically unrelated to the intended parents and genetically unrelated to the surrogate.”

That’s right. The closest this lucky kid ever gets to blood relatives is never. And they do this deliberately in order to please adults. No other reason.

Who could object to fulfilling an adult desire to have children? Who could object to giving life to babies? Well, for starters, some of those babies, now grown, object.
The gestational surrogacy industry is massive, generating $3.3 billion per year. No one knows for sure, but estimates range between 30,000 and 60,000 children are born this way each year, by science and not by sex, except for masturbation.

What is largely unknown, ignored or mocked is the effect on donor-conceived children of being deliberately created through an exchange of money, through a marketplace where hair color and athletic prowess are picked from catalogues, and where fathers are unknown, unknowable, gone. Gone, too, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, cousins and all the family that generally comes with being born. What is the effect on such a child when he discovers this?

For the most part, we do not know and most folks don’t really care.
Donor-conceived children point out the industry is a form of slavery since children are bought and sold with genes that promise blond hair and blue eyes going to the highest bidders. They call it the commodification of human life, something the left ought to object to but largely doesn’t.
Many countries have regulations for this sort of thing; limiting the number of eggs that can be fertilized, for instance, or requiring a registry that children may access to find their fathers. But the U.S. is wide open. It is the Wild West. There are no regulations, none, seriously, none. And no way a child can find her father except writing letters and scouring the Internet. One plaintive Internet cry of the heart simply said, “Are you XYTEX Donor 2035?”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:04 AM | Permalink

June 5, 2014

"I don’t want the next generation of women to go through the heartache that my generation has

Kirsty Allsopp is a Brit and a property expert.  What she has to say will either infuriate you or sound like common sense;

'I don’t want the next generation of women to suffer the same heartache’

On her mother's death

We don’t get it right in this country. We don’t get it right by any stretch of the imagination. In fact,” says Allsopp, gathering pace, “we may get it more wrong than any other country in the entire world. And so I think that there is a moment to just do something and say: 'OK, this is how it’s done in Turkey,’ for example. They are buried immediately in the Muslim and Jewish traditions. And then for 30 or 40 days you stay at home, everyone comes round and they all talk about the person who has died. I think you need that.”
Then there’s the funeral, where people either do or don’t come. And then that’s it. It’s over, not discussed. We are supposed to move on, except of course we can’t. It’s a slammed door which you cannot reopen, and it’s a huge door. So we do get it wrong. We don’t have the traditions in place. Whatever the traditions are in other faiths, they’re better.”

On young women

“Women are being let down by the system. We should speak honestly and frankly about fertility and the fact it falls off a cliff when you’re 35. We should talk openly about university and whether going when you’re young, when we live so much longer, is really the way forward.

“At the moment, women have 15 years to go to university, get their career on track, try and buy a home and have a baby. That is a hell of a lot to ask someone. As a passionate feminist, I feel we have not been honest enough with women about this issue.”
“I don’t have a girl, but if I did I’d be saying 'Darling, do you know what? Don’t go to university. Start work straight after school, stay at home, save up your deposit – I’ll help you, let’s get you into a flat. And then we can find you a nice boyfriend and you can have a baby by the time you’re 27.”
You can do your career afterwards. We have to readjust. And men can have fun after they have kids. If everyone started having children when they were 20, they’d be free as a bird by the time they were 45. But how many 45-year-olds do you know who are bogged down?

“I don’t want the next generation of women to go through the heartache that my generation has. At the moment we are changing the natural order of things, with grandparents being much older and everyone squeezed in the middle. Don’t think 'my youth should be longer’. Don’t go to university because it’s an 'experience’. No, it’s where you’re supposed to learn something! Do it when you’re 50!”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:16 PM | Permalink

There are two groups of people

The Tranny Wars

That said, the tranny has become the dividing line between two groups of people. One the one hand we have liberal white people who engage in all sorts of magical thinking about the world, including things like biology and physics. They think someone can change their sex if they choose to do it. They think evolution stopped 50,000 years ago and that all humans are exactly the same. They think putting a dumb person in school long enough will make them smart. These things not only contradict accepted science, they contradict objective reality. They disbelieve and curse their lying eyes.

On the other side of the line is another group of believers. These folks believe in conventional religions, nationalism, fraternity and so forth. In the case of religion, they accept it may contradict science, but not in important ways that alter the functioning of society. In the case of nationalism, they know there’s no good reason to feel the way they do when the national anthem is played, but they accept it and relish it. In other words, these folks believe in things because they appear to make life more pleasant, their societies more successful and the future more palatable.

That would be the end of it if the first group of people did not hold the second group in such contempt that they wanted to kill them. The magical thinking crowd has not committed to the actual killing of the latter group, but they do want to kill all the stuff they believe. They want to stamp out Christianity, love of country and all of the things normal people think are important.

The great battle between these two camps of believers is what shapes our times.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:06 PM | Permalink

"Our culture has become a minefield of linguistic taboos"

Tolerance is Dead Nathan Hardin

We are at the dawn of a new age of illiberality in the West. It is not enough, any longer, to simply tolerate the beliefs and lifestyles of others. You must agree to actively participate and even celebrate their lifestyles. Or else they’re coming for blood.

Our culture has become a minefield of linguistic taboos. At all times, someone, somewhere is waiting to be offended. And these taboos are enforced by increasingly frightened media companies who fear boycotts and lawsuits. Liberal activists, emboldened by their success at silencing opposing viewpoints, are growing ever more tyrannical, ever more intolerant, and ever more powerful.

Tolerance is dead in this country, or almost dead. We have allowed a small minority of oppressive victim hustlers to effectively neuter the First Amendment. As a result, freedom of speech is something we Americans, in truth, no longer effectively posses.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:03 PM | Permalink

The Government's Experiment in Manipulating Oxygen to Preemies

Sharyl Attkinson, an Emmy-award winning investigative reporter with CBS news until she resigned in March citing the network's liberal bias and lack of dedication to investigative reporter, is now reporting for a recently-launched news site The Daily Signal.  She starts off with a bang.

The question is whether  parents have to know that a government-funded study would randomly manipulate the oxygen delivered to their extremely pre-mature babies before they consent to a research study?

Did Government’s Experiment on Preemies Hide Risks?    A government-funded experiment put the lives of premature babies at further risk, and some parents say they didn’t know.

It was a national, government-funded experiment on 1,316 extremely premature infants in which their fate may as well have rested with the flip of a coin.
The government-backed study is called SUPPORT, which stands for “Surfactant, Positive Airway Pressure, and Pulse Oximetry Randomized Trial.” The experiment was conducted at 23 academic institutions from 2005 through 2009 under the National Institutes of Health, part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

All three women now say they never would have agreed to take part if they had known the NIH-funded study’s true nature—to randomly manipulate preemie oxygen levels. They discovered that just last year.
The word ‘unethical’ doesn’t even begin to describe the egregious and shocking deficiencies in the informed-consent process for this study,” says Dr. Michael Carome, an internationally recognized expert on research ethics with the Washington, D.C.-based consumer watchdog group Public Citizen.

“Parents of the infants who were enrolled in this study were misled about its purpose,” Carome says. “They were misled to believe everything being done was in the ‘standard of care’ and therefore posed no predictable risk to the babies.”
In some instances, the results proved both disturbing and tragic.

More of the high-oxygen babies ended up with serious vision disorders. The low-oxygen preemies were more likely to die. The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May 2010, sparked ethical questions and complaints. Companion studies being conducted in other countries were halted.

Of learning her baby had been part of an oxygen experiment, Sharrissa Cook says: “That’s more like playing Russian roulette to me. There’s no way I would say you could give my baby whatever you want him to have as opposed to what he needs.”

‘Input’ Stalls Agency’s Ethics Probe in Baby Oxygen Trials

The view of the HHS ethics office, directed by Dr. Jerry Menikoff, is that although medical doctors act in the best interest of individual patients, researchers do not.  Rather, researchers focus on what they consider the greater good. But as a trade-off, researchers must tell study participants about all the risks.
The entire dispute might be little more than an academic debate if it weren’t for one crucial factor: The Office for Human Research Protections, the ethics body within HHS, ruled that the consent process for the study violated federal regulations designed to protect human research subjects.  “The consent was significantly deficient,” Menikoff, director of the ethics office, says.

His office sent a stern letter to SUPPORT researchers on March 7, 2013 stating consent forms signed by parents of the preemies “failed to describe the reasonably foreseeable risks of blindness, neurological damage and death.”

It was a bombshell. One agency within HHS, the ethics office, had slapped another, NIH, with a formal ethics violation. This unleashed a torrent of pushback.  Little more than three months later, the ethics office appeared to back down.  In a follow-up letter, it formally suspended corrective action or punishment.
Lessons of Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

Modern rules for research on humans were forged after the U.S. government’s Tuskegee syphilis experiment on black men in 1932 entitled, “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.” For 40 years, test subjects weren’t told they were part of a study, nor were they treated for their syphilis even after penicillin was determined to be a cure in 1947.

When a series of Associated Press reports exposed the study in 1972, an outcry led to new rules intended to prevent a repeat of the Tuskegee mistakes. Those rules mandate voluntary, informed consent from all human test subjects.

Parents Fault Medical Research Study for Putting Preemies in Harm’s Way

The discussion was academic until the Pratts took the stage—carrying pretty, 6-year-old Dagen, who was wearing a sundress and ponytails but looked fragile and thin in leg braces.

“We were guaranteed that the study wouldn’t hurt Dagen in any way, that it was just gathering information,” Shawn Pratt told the audience academics and research scientists, “and were shocked to learn the care she received was based not on what she needed, but on some protocol.”

Dagen’s father continued: “We want to know, as information comes in, why the risks and intent of the study were not clear. If it were clear, we wouldn’t have taken part in the study.”
At least one of three HHS panelists who moderated the meeting appeared dumbfounded by the Pratts’ personal story after lofty discussions about the greater good.

Attkinson on Preemie Study:' Government Made a Mistake'

According to Attkisson’s report, this resulted in a “government vs. government” dispute. “The federal government funded the study, basically approved the study, [and] oversaw the study,” she said in the interview. “I think it’s clear that the federal government, at the very least, made a mistake.”

The HHS ethics body’s attempts to enforce what it found to be violations of the parental consent process stalled because of “pressure by the research community and by senior officials in the federal government who really didn’t want this to go much further,” Attkisson said. Going forward, she argues, “There needs to be something that’s said at the end of all this. What did the researchers do wrong, what do they need to do to correct this and make sure the same type of thing doesn’t happen again?”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:51 PM | Permalink

June 4, 2014

The Great Loneliness

The Loneliness of American Society  Janice Shaw Crouse writes this modern condition isn't improving. To the contrary.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) reported in its General Social Survey (GSS) that unprecedented numbers of Americans are lonely…More than a quarter of the respondents — one in four — said that they have no one with whom they can talk about their personal troubles or triumphs. If family members are not counted, the number doubles to more than half of Americans who have no one outside their immediate family with whom they can share confidences. Sadly, the researchers noted increases in “social isolation” and “a very significant decrease in social connection to close friends and family.”
Rabbi Daniel Lapin suggests that “we are raising a generation of children who are orphans in time.” He laments that today’s generation of young people is “incapable of integrating their past and their future … [living] instinctively in an almost animal-like fashion only in the present.” He notes that it is virtually impossible, then, to connect time and space in a way that enables them to build their “present.” Thus, they wander aimlessly about without connections — physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
The self-centeredness that results from a culture dominated by the values of radical individualism is not a pretty thing; it does not contribute to the maturing of individuals, the strengthening of family, the growth of friendship, or the development of communities.

This quote from Mother Teresa came to mind.

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:09 PM | Permalink

Greedy socialism

Glenn Reynolds writes the VA scandal exposes greedy socialism

In 2011, Ezra Klein hailed the VA health system as an example of "when socialism works in America": "The thing about the Veteran's (Affairs') health-care system? It's socialized. Not single-payer. Not heavily centralized. Socialized. As in, it employs the doctors and nurses. Owns the hospitals. . …

Now that the VA has erupted in scandals involving phony wait lists, and people dying because of treatment delays, an audit reveals a "systemic lack of integrity" in the system…..In other words, they cooked the books. And what's more, they did it to ensure bigger "performance bonuses." The performance may have been fake, but the bonuses were real.  (One whistle-blower compared the operation to a "crime syndicate.")

….People sometimes think that government or "nonprofit" operations will be run more honestly than for-profit businesses because the businesses operate on the basis of "greed." But, in fact, greed is a human characteristic that is present in any organization made up of humans. …

And, ironically, a for-profit medical system might actually offer employees less room for greed than a government system. That's because VA patients were stuck with the VA. If wait times were long, they just had to wait, or do without care. In a free-market system, a provider whose wait times were too long would lose business, and even if the employees faked up the wait-time numbers, that loss of business would show up on the bottom line. That would lead top managers to act, or lose their jobs…..

contrary to what Klein suggests, that's the problem with socialism. The absence of a bottom line doesn't reduce greed and self-dealing — it removes a constraint on greed and self-dealing.

Ace sums it up perfectly.  "Socialism Doesn't Reduce Greed. It Just Rewards Greedy Socialists Who Are Skilled With Paperwork."
They learn how to game the system to reward themselves and their friends and they are very rarely held accountable for what they do.

Do you know of even one government employee that was fired for anything? 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:05 PM | Permalink

Biological Facts Are Not Subject to Our Feelings

Kevin Williamson wrote Laverne Cox Is Not a Woman to say that biological facts are not subject to our feelings.

As a matter of government, I have little or no desire to police how Cox or any other man or woman conducts his or her personal life. But having a culture organized around the elevation of unreality over reality in the service of Eros, who is a sometimes savage god, is not only irrational but antirational. Cox’s situation gave him an intensely unhappy childhood and led to an eventual suicide attempt, and his story demands our sympathy; times being what they are, we might even offer our indulgence. But neither of those should be allowed to overwhelm the facts, which are not subject to our feelings, however sincere or well intended.

He then wrote about the response to his article in Rage, Rhetoric and Reform

The content of the responses on Twitter and elsewhere was a useful reminder that the Left, including its sexual-liberationist faction, is inarguably totalitarian. Critics suggested not only that I be fired for my views but that I should be prosecuted for them, and that the government should ensure that such views are not published. Live-and-let-live is not the Left’s way, never has been, and never will be. It is not sufficient that transsexuals should be free to act on their delusions — the rest of us are expected to participate in them with unreserved enthusiasm, and the Left is willing to use the state to compel us to do so. To simply believe otherwise and to share those views in print is in the minds of many on the Left not only a social transgression but something that should be a crime. The belief that members of minority political tendencies should be jailed for their views is very much in vogue for the Left at the moment. Democrats in the Senate are seeking to repeal the First Amendment. All of us — conservatives and whatever traditional liberals there still may be on the left side of the spectrum — should fully appreciate the sobering fact that there is a nascent, popular, authoritarian movement among members of the Left that supports everything from censorship to literal, non-metaphorical gulags in which to imprison people for their political beliefs.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:08 PM | Permalink