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Socialism: Humanity’s Most Tragic Experiment

Hollande

Socialism’s Sad Estate 

Tom Rogan  writes:  For all its varying faces — from the totalitarianism of North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela to the social democracies of Europe — the truth shows forth in absolute clarity.

Earlier this week, we learned that in 2013, foreign investment in France declinedby 77 percent.

That’s 77 percent.

That figure isn’t just bad, it’s unambiguously catastrophic. But the costs of President François Hollande’s failure aren’t simply economic. They’re also societal. Galvanized by popular disenchantment with the establishment, the French far Right hopes to win major victories in forthcoming local elections.

In short, the Fifth Republic isn’t looking so great.

Read the rest of this entry »


Crackpot Climate Scientist’s Defamation Suit Against Combative Mark Steyn, National Review a Go, Says Judge

mark-steyn

Good summary, except the Washington Times buried the lead. Here it is:

“Mr. Steyn is representing himself after firing the magazine’s legal team over a dispute related to how the judge was handling the case.”

Often not the most advisable way to go, in court. But, who knows. Maybe he’s a better advocate than his former legal team. Steyn’s been around the block with frivolous lawsuits and harassment. We wish Mr. Steyn luck. I hope National Review turns around and sues the snot out of Michael Mann. See the Washington Times for the full article, but here’s a sample:

A climate change scientist’s defamation suit against National Review writer and frequent Rush Limbaugh fill-in Mark Steyn will proceed, a judge decided earlier this week, ruling against the magazine’s attempt to dismiss the case.

The case stems from Mr. Steyn’s written reference to Michael Mann’s climate change data as fraudulent, according to news website Raw Story.

Of especial ire to Mr. Mann was that Mr. Steyn quoted Competitive Enterprise Institution analyst Rand Simberg, who compared Mr. Mann to convicted Penn State child molester Jerry Sandusky.

Mr. Simberg called Mr. Mann 

“the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data.”

Mr. Mann then launched the lawsuit against National Review and Mr. Steyn, claiming defamation. Mr. Simberg and the Competitive Enterprise Institution are also named in the suit.

At the time of the suit, several months ago, National Review editor Rich Lowry didn’t appear too worried.

“My advice to poor Michael is to go away and bother someone else” 

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The Day The Guardian Destroyed Snowden Hard Drives, Observed by GCHQ

Jokingly referred to as the “Secret Ceremony”

gchq-logoOn Saturday 20 July 2013, in the basement of the Guardian’s office in Kings Cross, London, watched by two GCHQ technicians, Guardian editors destroyed hard drives and memory cards on which encrypted files leaked by Edward Snowden had been stored. This is the first time footage of the event has been released.

guardian-offices

Read the story of how the hard drives were destroyed

Read the rest of this entry »


FIGHT The Powers that BE! With the Government Series II Les Paul

Having actually been the victim of politically-motivated regulatory harassment, and arbitrary abuse by jack-booted Feds, it’s amazing that Gibson Guitars, of Nashville Tennessee, emerges with a product inspired by the political harrassment (and Gibson’s endurance, and ultimate victory) with style and humor.

Celebrating an Infamous Moment in Gibson History

BodyNeckGreat Gibson electric guitars have long been a means of fighting the establishment, so when the powers that be confiscated stocks of tonewoods from the Gibson factory in Nashville—only to return them once there was a resolution and the investigation ended—it was an event worth celebrating. Introducing the Government Series II Les Paul, a striking new guitar from Gibson USA for 2014 that suitably marks this infamous time in Gibson’s history. 

From its solid mahogany body with modern weight relief Pickupsfor enhance resonance and playing comfort, to its carved maple top, the Government Series II Les Paul follows the tradition of the great Les Paul Standards—but also makes a superb statement with its unique appointments. A distinctive vintage-gloss Government Tan finish, complemented by black-chrome hardware and black plastics and trim, is topped by a pickguard that’s hot-stamped in gold with the Government Series graphic—a bald eagle hoisting a Gibson guitar neck. Each Government Series II Les Paul also includes a genuine piece of Gibson USA history in its solid rosewood fingerboard, which is made from wood returned to Gibson by the US government after the resolution. 

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More on “The Increasingly Libertarian Milton Friedman”

  writes:  In the journalistic/academic circle of life, Milton Friedman biographer Lanny Ebenstein in a new article available at Economic Journal Watch riffs (at least partially) off a Reason review written by me of Ebenstein’s own edited collection of Friedman rarities, The Indispensable Milton Friedman.

Ebenstein’s new journal article, like my review, is called “The Increasingly Libertarian Milton Friedman.”

[See The Indispensable Milton Friedman: Essays on Politics and Economics (2012) at Amazon]

It does a very thorough job demonstrating that as Friedman’s career and knowledge went on–and especially when he shifted from a professional active academic to a professional public intellectual activist–he became more and more libertarian in his views.

Read the rest of this entry »


Vintage Comic Panel of the Day: The Martian Problem

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 Retrogasm


[BOOKS] The Extraordinary Life of William S. Burroughs

THE OUTLAW

“Naked Lunch” brought to social notice themes of drug use, homosexuality, hyperbolic violence, and anti-authoritarian paranoia. Photograph by Richard Avedon.

“Naked Lunch” brought to social notice themes of drug use, homosexuality, hyperbolic violence, and anti-authoritarian paranoia. Photograph by Richard Avedon.

“I can feel the heat closing in, feel them out there making their moves.”

Peter Schjeldahl writes:  So starts “Naked Lunch,” the touchstone novel by William S. Burroughs. That hardboiled riff, spoken by a junkie on the run, introduces a mélange of “episodes, misfortunes, and adventures,” which, the author said, have “no real plot, no beginning, no end.” It is worth recalling on the occasion of “Call Me Burroughs” (Twelve), a biography by Barry Miles, an English author of books on popular culture, including several on the Beats. “I can feel the heat” sounded a new, jolting note in American letters, like Allen Ginsberg’s “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,” or, for that matter, like T. S. Eliot’s “April is the cruellest month.” (Ginsberg was a close friend; Eliot hailed from Burroughs’s home town of St. Louis and his poetry influenced Burroughs’s style.) In Burroughs’s case, that note was the voice of an outlaw revelling in wickedness. It bragged of occult power: “I can feel,” rather than “I feel.” He always wrote in tones of spooky authority—a comic effect, given that most of his characters are, in addition to being gaudily depraved, more or less conspicuously insane.

[Check out a collection of books by William S. Burroughs at Amazon]

“Naked Lunch” is less a novel than a grab bag of friskily obscene comedy routines—least forgettably, an operating-room Grand Guignol conducted by an insouciant quack, Dr. Benway. “Well, it’s all in a day’s work,” Benway says, with a sigh, after a patient fails to survive heart massage with a toilet plunger. Some early reviewers spluttered in horror. Charles Poore, in the Times, calmed down just enough to be forthright in his closing line: “I advise avoiding the book.” “Naked Lunch” was five years in the writing and editing, mostly in Tangier, and aided by friends, including Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. It first appeared in 1959, in Paris, as “The Naked Lunch” (with the definite article), in an Olympia Press paperback edition, in company with “Lolita,” “The Ginger Man,” and “Sexus.” Its plain green-and-black cover, like the covers of those books, bore the alluring caveat “Not to be sold in U.S.A. or U.K.” (A first edition can be yours, from one online bookseller, for twenty thousand dollars.) The same year, Big Table, a Chicago literary magazine, printed an excerpt, and was barred from the mails by the U.S. Postal Service. Fears of suppression delayed a stateside publication of the book until 1962, when Grove Press brought out an expanded and revised edition. It sold so well that Grove didn’t issue a paperback until 1966.

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[VIDEO] 2012 Post-Election Time Capsule: Jonah Goldberg and John O’Sullivan at the End of the World, on Uncommon Knowledge

photoFrom Uncommon Knowledge, days after the 2012 election, discussing the GOP’s future, interviewer Peter Robinson begins with the question: Are we, or are we not, doomed?

I meant to only watch a few minutes of this, but got sucked in and watched the whole thing.

It’s as relevant now as the day it was recorded. Goldberg and O’Sullivan are relaxed, reflective, unusually lucid (while Peter Robinson makes a valiant effort to keep up) insightful, and in good spirits, considering it was only days after during a disastrous national election. Perhaps it’s the location? It was conducted on National Review‘s Post-Election Cruise, aboard The New Amsterdam, in the Caribbean, December 4th 2012. So, that helps.

A Jonah money quote:

“…it’s been a 100 year project of American progressives, to diminish and delegitimize the authority and the sovereignty of the family, to clear away the mediating institutions in society [until] all is left is the individual and the Sate…as Woodrow Wilson put it, ‘the point of progressivism is to have the individual marry his interests to the State…’”

45 minutes long, it’s engaging stuff. It’s especially relevant, on the eve of the upcoming mid-term elections.

Many of you know Jonah from NRO’s The Corner, and appearances as a guest political analyst on Fox News. He’s an AEI scholar and NRO’s founding editor. Jonah Goldberg‘s book “The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas” is available at Amazon.

National Review‘s editor-at-large John O’Sullivan served in the 1980s as special advisor and speechwriter to Margaret Thatcher, looks like he should be wearing a tie, and not enjoying himself so much. He is the author of “The President, the Pope, And the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World“, also available at Amazon.

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Double Life: Seattle Seahawks cheerleader is First Lieutenant in United States Air Force

seagal-ASAF

From Andy Nesbit, Fox Sports: During her free time, Alicia Quaco, 25, is a member of the “Sea Gals,” the cheerleading squad for the Seattle Seahawks.

What’s her full-time gig? First lieutenant in the US Air Force.

The New York Post has the details:

Rookie “Sea Gal” Alicia Quaco, 25, works long days as a contract manager for the Air Force before rushing to evening cheerleading practice… taking on the demanding double life, she first had to convince her military higher-ups in a formal presentation to let her moonlight as a Sea Gal after trying out for the squad last year, she said.

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[VIDEO] 20,000 Years Under the Sea: Underwater Pyramid Found Near Portugal

Pyramid

Portuguese news reported the discovery of a very large under water pyramid first discovered by Diocleciano Silva between the islands of São Miguel and Terceira in the Azores of Portugal.

According to claims, the structure is said to be perfectly squared and oriented by the cardinalpoints. Current estimates obtained using GPS digital technology put the height at 60 meters with a base of 8000 square meters. The Portuguese Hydrographic Institute of the Navy currently has the job of analyzing the data to determine whether or not the structure is man-made.

“The pyramid is perfectly shaped and apparently oriented by the cardinal points” 

The pyramid was found in an area of the mid-Atlantic that has been underwater for about 20,000 years. Considering this is around the time of the last ice age where glaciation was melting from its peak 2000 years prior, whatever civilization, human or not, that was around before the ice age, could be responsible for building the pyramid.

Here is the Portuguese news report with English subtitles for those who wish to look into the authenticity of the claims.

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Reality Check: Going By the Actual Data, It Turns Out Conservatives Are MORE Likely to be Part of a Mixed Race Family

If You Thought Trolls Thought Rep. Huelskamp Was Racist Before He Posted a Picture of His Family, Wait 'Till You See Them Wig Out After

If You Thought Trolls Thought Rep. Huelskamp Was Racist Before He Posted a Picture of His Family, Wait ‘Till You See Them Wig Out After…

Re: Volokh Conspiracy,  Ace writes: Now, let me clarify on that: The difference is statistically insignificant. 10% of liberals hail from mixed race families, and 11% of conservatives. You can’t make anything of that difference (though MSNBC would, were the numbers to run in the opposite direction).

So let’s take the percentages as equal. (Except, not really.) Does MSNBC care about the facts, or just spouting off ignorantly with some make-’em-up blogger provocation?

Spoiler Alert: It’s the last one.

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Pentagon: USA Has No Counter to Chinese Hypersonic Missile

chinese-missle

Pentagon intelligence official says Chinese hypersonic weapon poses major challenge

 reports:  China’s testing of a new ultra-high-speed maneuvering warhead represents a major threat to U.S. military forces, a Pentagon intelligence official said on Thursday.

Lee Fuell, a technical intelligence specialist with the Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center, said during a congressional China commission hearing that the recent test of what the Pentagon has called the WU-14 hypersonic glide vehicle “represents a considerable challenge.

“It is very difficult to defend against,” Fuell told the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission during a hearing on China’s military buildup. He noted that the weapon is “an area of great concern.”

Unknown

The Washington Free Beacon first disclosed the test of an experimental hypersonic glide vehicle on Jan. 9. The vehicle appears to be an unpowered maneuvering vehicle that is lofted to near space and then is guided to its target at speeds of up to Mach 10 or nearly 8,000 miles per hour.

Chinese military commentators said the vehicle is planned for use in potential attacks against aircraft carriers at sea.

Fuell’s comments expressing concerns about the hypersonic threat contrast with those of Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, who said last week that he was not particularly concerned by the Chinese hypersonic weapon. Locklear later acknowledged to reporters that the high-speed weapon would be a factor in “the calculation of how we’re going to maintain a peaceful security environment in the future.”

hypersonic4Commission member Larry Wortzel, who asked Fuell about the hypersonic weapon, said China is developing the high-speed vehicle as an outgrowth of its anti-ship ballistic missile, the DF-21D.

“It’s a big deal,” Wortzel said in an interview.

Wortzel said that unless the U.S. military develops directed energy weapons, including lasers and pulsed rail guns “we don’t have a counter” to the hypersonic missile threat.

“It really forces us further away from China’s coasts,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


Sell Your Kid into Slavery, Buy a TV

Best. Amazon. Review. Ever. From this morning’s G-File, Jonah Goldberg‘s browser history is a lot funnier than mine. This is an actual Amazon review. Hit the more button for more.

[Amazon.com: Samsung 85-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D Smart LED UHDTV ]

awesomeHDTV

“My wife and I bought this after selling our daughter Amanda into white slavery. We actually got a refurbished. It’s missing the remote, but oh well– for $10K off, I can afford a universal, right? The picture is amazing. I’ve never seen the world with such clarity.

Amanda, if you’re reading this, hang in there, honey! We’ll see you in a year.”

[you know you want to buy this TV, as a bonus, it’ll really, really help support this site]

I just wanted to add an addendum to my review. Since posting it, we have received a flood of responses. People have said some pretty hurtful things–even questioning our values. Let me assure you, this was not an easy decision to make, and we made it as a family. Obviously, it’s very personal. But in light of all the second-guessing, I wanted to explain our thinking.

First and foremost, screen size. I really think you can’t go too big. 85″ may seem huge, but you get used to it fast. Second, resolution. Is 4K overkill? Please, that’s what they said about 1080P! More dots = better. Period. And as far as this being a $40,000 “dumb” TV, people need to re-read my initial post: WE BOUGHT IT REFURBISHED. It was only $30,000…

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Poll: Percentage Who Think Gun Control Too Strict Triples in One Year

Gun rights activist Holly Cusumano, 18, waves a flag during a rally for the 2nd Amendment at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Another timely item from Brietbart.com that I almost missed. AWR Hawkins reports:  A new poll finds the percentage of Americans who think gun control too strict is at its highest point since 2001 and triple what it was in 2013.

The Gallup poll shows that “55 percent of Americans… are dissatisfied overall with American gun laws and policies.” Among the dissatisfied, 16 percent are Americans who believe gun control laws should be rolled back.

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NASA Honors Fallen Astronauts with ‘Day of Remembrance’ Friday

nasa-day-of-remembrance-2014

Miriam Kramer writes:  NASA will pay homage to its fallen astronauts Friday (Jan. 31) with an agency-wide “Day of Remembrance,” a ceremony that comes amid a somber week of spaceflight disasters for the space agency.

[NASA’s Fallen Astronauts: A Photo Memorial]

This week marks the anniversaries of three fatal NASA tragedies: the Apollo 1 fire of 1967, the space shuttle Challenger disaster of 1986 and the Columbia shuttle disaster of  2003. NASA chief Charlie Bolden — a former space shuttle commander — and other officials will pay respect to those lost in the accidents during a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery Friday morning.

[See Amazon’s collection of books about Apollo Missions]

“NASA’s Day of Remembrance honors members of the NASA family who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery,” NASA officials wrote in a statement.

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The Hammer: ‘If a Republican Had Done What Obama Has, He’d Be Impeached’

“You can have executive orders that implement already existing laws, but what Obama has done in the DREAM Act . . . is unbelievably unconstitutional,” Charles Krauthammer said on Special Report last night.

“He’s done that over and over again on immigration, drug laws, climate change, and, of course, on Obamacare, which he has unilaterally altered lawlessly at least 15 times”

While Republicans met today at a retreat in Maryland and debated immigration  reform — with many worrying that, no matter what Republicans pass, President Obama will not enforce it faithfully — Krauthammer looked back on the times the president has failed to faithfully uphold the law.

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Reality Check: More Children Killed by Fire, Drowning Than by Firearms

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AWRHawkins reports:  According to the 2010 Death and Mortality numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more children under the age of ten are unintentionally killed in fire or water-related incidents than are killed in accidental gun deaths.

Gun scholar John Lott pulled together various CDC tables showing that thirty-six children under the age of ten were killed in firearm-related accidents in 2010.

The number of children under the age of ten killed in “unintentional fire/burn deaths” was 262, and the number killed in “unintentional drowning” incidents was 609.

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The Italian judicial system, Amanda Knox, Rafael Solecitto, and Rudy Guede

knox-walking-uw4

Ace is among the few notable bloggers who’s read not just the news reports on the Knox trials, but has devoured books and court documents about it, including the Hellman-Zanetti Report (the official report of the court of appeals that freed Knox and Solecitto) Here’s some highlights of Ace’s commentary after yesterday’s verdict:

…However, Rafael Solecitto — every bit as innocent — is an Italian citizen, and they’re determined to jail Amanda Knox, but they can’t, so they’ll jail the guy no one cares about, Rafael.

[I have (but haven’t read yet) the ebook edition of Knox’s book Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir, you can get it at Amazon]

The Italian judicial system has a quirk unlike ours. When a trial court pronounces you culpable, you’re not actually convicted of the crime — not yet. The actual conviction only occurs when a court, sitting in review, confirms the conviction…

Thus, Rafael is in this odd twilight, again, where he stands to be convicted of murder, and yet is not actually convicted of murderer, while the actual murderer, a drifter and repeat burglar named Rudy Guede, whose DNA was found all over the crime scene (and yet none of Rafael’s or Amanda’s– the prosecutors wisely explained that they had cleaned the crime scene of their own DNA, while managing to leave behind a great deal of Guede’s; the prosecutors have never explained what type of bleach could permit this selective removal of genetic material), remains in jail, but with a reduced sentence in exchange for implicating Knox and Solecitto, because all he did was burglarize, sexually violate, and then slaughter Meredith Kercher, whereas Rafael Solecitto and especially Amanda Knox provided the inspiration and stage direction for this crime, even though they weren’t even there, but who cares, it’s Italy, and she’s a Foreign Whore, and Foreign Whores must pay…

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Keystone Pipeline Review Likely to Show Little Climate Risk

Protesters against the proposed Keystone pipeline hold placards across the street from where U.S. President Barack Obama was to hold a Democratic Party fundraiser, in San Francisco November 25, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Protesters against the proposed Keystone pipeline hold placards across the street from where U.S. President Barack Obama was to hold a Democratic Party fundraiser, in San Francisco November 25, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

The U.S. State Department is poised to issue an environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline that will likely say the project will not appreciably increase carbon emissions, sources said late Thursday, forcing President Barack Obama closer to a tough decision.

“We’re expecting to hear the same conclusion that we’ve heard four times before: no significant impact on the environment”

Rumors swept through Washington late Thursday that the long-delayed review of the 1,179-mile (1,900-km) pipeline to bring oil from Canada to Nebraska would finally be released as soon as Friday.

“The Environmental Impact Statement is in the final stages of preparation and we anticipate a release of the document soon,” a senior State Department official said late on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The comment gives a clearer insight into where the long-awaited assessment stands. One government official said the overdue report, part of a process lasting more than five years that has strained relations with Ottawa, would be released on Friday.

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Alan Dershowitz Rises to the Defense of Dinesh D’Souza

D&D

Paul A. Rahe  writes:  Not much attention has been paid in the mainstream press to the arrest and indictment of Dinesh D’Souza for supposedly breaking the campaign finance laws by reimbursing those whose money he collected in his role as a bundler for Wendy Long‘s run for the Senate in New York in 2012.

But then the same mainstream press has been notably reluctant to look into the charges that the IRS persecuted Tea-Party groups and that Erich Holder’s Department of Justice whitewashed the affair.

This administration’s partisan use of prosecutorial discretion to harass conservatives and Republicans more generally is one of the great scandals of our time. But, to be fair to the Obama administration, so is the partisan bias of the mainstream press.

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China and U.S. amazed that North Korea landed on the Sun

China Daily Mail

Having been briefed by top security advisers about North Korea’s success in landing an astronaut on the Sun, President Obama today announced his decisive response. China has also bowed to North Korea’s superior technology.

On January 21st, a satirical postappeared at the Waterford Whisper News…” mimicking typical North Korean propaganda; it proclaimed:

The State News Agency of North Korea has confirmed today that the country has become the first in the world to ever land a man on the sun.

It reported that astronaut Hung Il Gong left for the sun on a specially designed rocket ship at approximately 3 am this morning.

Hung, who traveled alone, reached his destination some four hours later, landing his craft on the far side of the lonely star.

“We are very delighted to announce a successful mission to put a man on the sun.” a North Korean central news anchor man said…

View original post 1,022 more words


NBC, MSNBC Crash to Bottom of Public Trust

nbc-crash-reagan-gold-buck

NBC News and sister cable network MSNBC rank at the bottom of media outlets Americans trust most for news, with Fox News leading the way, according to a new poll from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

In its fifth trust poll, 35 percent said they trusted Fox news more than any other outlet, followed by PBS at 14 percent, ABC at 11 percent, CNN at 10 percent, CBS at 9 percent, 6 percent for MSNBC and Comedy Central, and just 3 percent for NBC.

The pollster said Fox won because Republicans are devoted to it. “It leads the way because of its continuing near total support among Republicans as the place to go for news- 69 percent of Republicans say it’s their most trusted source with nothing else polling above 7 percent,” said PPP.

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SpaceX Could Give South Texas City A Boost

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft atop rocket Falcon 9 lifts off from Cape Canaveral in Florida in May 2012. The launch made SpaceX the first commercial company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station.  Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft atop rocket Falcon 9 lifts off from Cape Canaveral in Florida in May 2012. The launch made SpaceX the first commercial company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station. Roberto Gonzalez/Getty 

NPR’s John Burnett reports:  SpaceX‘s Dragon spacecraft atop rocket Falcon 9 lifts off from Cape Canaveral in Florida in May 2012. The launch made SpaceX the first commercial company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station.

The space company SpaceX has identified a remote spot on the southern tip of Texas as its finalist for construction of the world’s newest commercial orbital launch site.

“We need to be able to launch eastward, and we want to be close to the equator…If things go as expected, it’s likely we’ll have a launch site in Texas, which would be really cool.”

The 50-acre site really is at the end of the road. Texas Highway 4 abruptly ends at the warm waves of the Gulf surrounded by cactus, Spanish dagger and sand dunes.

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House Republicans Unveil Immigration Reform Principles

photo/politico

photo/politico

From The Corner: House GOP leaders on Thursday released the following one-page document outlining their “standards for immigration reform”:

PREAMBLE

Our nation’s immigration system is broken and our laws are not being enforced. Washington’s failure to fix them is hurting our economy and jeopardizing our national security. The overriding purpose of our immigration system is to promote and further America’s national interests and that is not the case today. The serious problems in our immigration system must be solved, and we are committed to working in a bipartisan manner to solve them. But they cannot be solved with a single, massive piece of legislation that few have read and even fewer understand, and therefore, we will not go to a conference with the Senate’s immigration bill. The problems in our immigration system must be solved through a step-by-step, common-sense approach that starts with securing our country’s borders, enforcing our laws, and implementing robust enforcement measures. These are the principals guiding us in that effort.

Border Security and Interior Enforcement Must Come First

It is the fundamental duty of any government to secure its borders, and the United States is failing in this mission. We must secure our borders now and verify that they are secure. In addition, we must ensure now that when immigration reform is enacted, there will be a zero tolerance policy for those who cross the border illegally or overstay their visas in the future. Faced with a consistent pattern of administrations of both parties only selectively enforcing our nation’s immigration laws, we must enact reform that ensures that a President cannot unilaterally stop immigration enforcement.

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[VIDEO] UPDATE: Knox Retrial Verdict

Developing…

Amanda Knox guilty – YouTube


BREAKING: Amanda Knox Found Guilty

iphone-knox-guilty-verdict

Phoebe Natanson reports: FLORENCE, Italy Jan. 30, 2014 – Amanda Knox was found guilty of murder today by an Italian court, the latest twist in a murder case that goes back to 2007.
SPL_amanda_knox_haircut_tk_140130_16x9_992

The judge sentenced Knox to 28 years in prison. Her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and co-defendant was sentenced to 25 years.

The prison sentence was even stiffer than her first sentence in 2009 when she was given a 24 year prison sentence.

The prosecutor had asked for a 26 year prison term for the murder for Knox and Sollecito, plus another four years for Knox on a related libel conviction.

Read the rest of this entry »


Chart: How the Sequester Devastated the Economy

 


Break Out The Champagne: Iran Can Now Build and Deliver Nukes

An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers, south of Tehran. The conversion facility in Isfahan reprocesses uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, into uranium hexaflouride gas. The gas is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment. (photo credit: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers, south of Tehran. The conversion facility in Isfahan reprocesses uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, into uranium hexaflouride gas. The gas is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment. (photo credit: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Tehran has capacity to break out to bomb if it wishes, intelligence chief James Clapper tells Senate, but would be detected if it tried to do so

Marissa Newman  reports:  Iran now has all the technical infrastructure to produce nuclear weapons should it make the political decision to do, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wrote in a report to a Senate intelligence committee published Wednesday. However, he added, it could not break out to the bomb without being detected.

Obama-tuxedo-Getty-Images

In the “US Intelligence Worldwide Threat Assessment,” delivered to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Clapper reported that Tehran has made significant advances recently in its nuclear program to the point where it could produce and deliver nuclear bombs should it be so inclined.

“Tehran has made technical progress in a number of areas — including uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors, and ballistic missiles — from which it could draw if it decided to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons,” Clapper wrote. “These technical advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so.”

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Obama’s Love of Elites

(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

The president struck a populist note in his speech, but it’s hard to tell he believes it when you look at his administration

  writes:  President Obama drew applause from the House chamber for striking what seemed to be a populist blow against elitism in his State of the Union.

“I believe that here in America, our success should depend not on accident of birth, but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams,” Obama said early in his remarks.

Looking at his administration, however, you would never know he believes that. Yes, as the president pointed out, both he and House Speaker John Boehner come from modest backgrounds. But as a graduate of Harvard Law School, Obama has shown himself more of that stripe, stuffing his administration with like-minded denizens of the Ivy League.

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Movie Title Still of the Day: ‘Dark City’ (1950)

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[Dark City (1950) at Amazon]  More info at Internet Movie Database

Gamblers who “took” an out-of-town sucker in a crooked poker game feel shadowy vengeance closing in on them…

the Movie title stills collection


[VIDEO] Shock-and-Gore ‘Stay in School’ Ad

A new ad encouraging young people to stay in school is generating a lot of buzz on the Internet — and after you watch it, you will immediately understand why.

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The online YouTube PSA, produced by the Learn for Life Foundation of Western Australia, appears to show a group of kids ditch school for what they think is a fun day at the beach. Things, however, end in a very unexpected fashion.

“This is what happens when you slack off,” the video says. “Stay in school.”

Since the video was uploaded Tuesday, it has already achieved nearly half-a-million hits on YouTube.

“Well, that escalated quickly,” commented one individual.

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‘The president likes to think of himself as an empiricist, a nonideological believer in what works…’

Obamanomics: Missing the Obvious

AVIK ROY: On Inequality, Obama Fails His Own Test.

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During President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address on Tuesday night, one section stood out. “After four years of economic growth,” said the president, “corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled.” But Obama left unstated the most important point of all: Under his watch and thanks to his policies, those at the bottom of the ladder face fewer and fewer opportunities to get ahead. Worse still, most of the policies he proposed during his address would make social and economic mobility even harder.

“Texas ranked 10th nationwide in a measure of states with the lowest costs of living. That is because the state has a predictable and relatively light regulatory regime that drives down the cost of doing business, and thereby the cost of consumer goods and services.”

I just returned from a three-day trip to Austin, Texas. Spend a few days in Austin and you feel as though you are in a different America from the one described by the president.

Sixth Street is Austin's entertainment showpiece. Sixth Street draws an eclectic bunch including endless streams of mostly single UT students and live music fans. Live music of every genre abounds. From jazz, blues, and country to rock, hip-hop, beat, progressive, metal, punk and derivations of these, there's something to whet everyone's musical pallete.

Sixth Street is Austin’s entertainment showpiece.

In the next two years, downtown Austin’s hotel capacity will increase by 57 percent. In the last 20 years, Austin’s population has increased by an astounding 71 percent. The state of Texas hosts four of the 11 largest cities in the country: Houston (4), Dallas-Fort Worth (5), San Antonio (8) and Austin (11). The biggest problem in Austin is not the economy or unemployment — it is the traffic.

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[VIDEO] The Murder Trial That Never Ends: Amanda Knox Remains in Seattle as Italian Court Begins Deliberations

FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — An appeals court in Florence began deliberations Thursday in the third murder trial of U.S. student Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend as the star defendant waited far away on a separate continent.

Amanda Knox’s 2nd Murder Trial 3rd Murder Trial

Knox’s defense team gave their last round of rebuttals, ending four months of arguments in Knox’s and Raffaele Sollecito‘s third trial for the 2007 murder of her British roommate in the Italian university town of Perugia.

FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — An appeals court in Florence began deliberations Thursday in the third murder trial of U.S. student Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend as the star defendant waited far away on a separate continent.  Knox's defense team gave their last round of rebuttals, ending four months of arguments in Knox's and Raffaele Sollecito's third trial for the 2007 murder of her British roommate in the Italian university town of Perugia.  Knox's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova told the court he was "serene" about the verdict because he believes the only conclusion from the files is "the innocence of Amanda Knox."  "It is not possible to convict a person because it is probably that she is guilty," Dalla Vedova said. "The penal code does not foresee probability. It foresees certainty."  Dalla Vedova evoked Dante, noting that the Florentine writer reserved the lower circle of hell for those who betrayed trust, as he asserted that police had done in Knox's case when they held her overnight for questioning without representation and without advising her that she was a suspect in Meredith Kercher's murder.  Presiding Judge Alessandro Nencini said the court would deliberate Thursday for at least seven hours.  Knox, 26, is awaiting the verdict half a world away in Seattle, where she returned after spending several years in jail before being acquitted in 2011 in Kercher's murder. In an email to this court, Knox wrote that she feared a wrongful conviction.  Knox's absence does not formally hurt her case since she was freed by a court and defendants in Italy are not required to appear at their trials. However, Nencini reacted sternly to her emailed statement, noting that defendants have a right to be heard if they appear physically before the panel.  Sollecito, on the other hand, has made frequent court appearances, always in a purple sweater, the color of the local Florentine football club. He was in court again Thursday, accompanied by his father and other relatives.  If convicted, Sollecito, who like Knox spent four years in jail, risks immediate arrest. The situation for Knox remains complicated by her absence. In the case of a guilty verdict, experts have said it is unlikely Italy would seek her extradition until a verdict is finalized, a process that can take a year.  Members of Kercher's family are expected to appear later at court.  Italy's highest court ordered the third trial in a scathing dismissal of the appeals court acquittal, ordering the examination of evidence and testimony it said had been improperly omitted by the Perugia appeals court as well as to redress what it called as lapses in logic.  "Most of all, the court was instructed to evaluate all of the evidence in their complexity," said Vieri Fabiani, one of the lawyers for the Kercher family.  The first trial court found Knox and Sollecito guilty of murder and sexual assault based on DNA evidence, confused alibis and Knox's false accusation against a Congolese bar owner, which resulted in a slander verdict that has been upheld on final appeal. A Perugia appeals court dismantled the guilty verdict two years later, criticizing the "building blocks" of the conviction, including DNA evidence now deemed unreliable by new experts, and the lack of motive.  However, with the dismissal of the acquittal, the Florence deliberations will either confirm or overturn the initial guilty verdict, "as if the acquittal never happened," Fabiani said.  Suspicion fell on Knox and Sollecito within days of the discovery of Kercher's half-naked body on Nov. 2, 2007 in her bedroom in Perugia.  One man has been convicted, Rudy Hermann Guede, a small-time drug dealer originally from Ivory Coast who had been convicted previously of break-ins. He is serving a 16-year sentence for murder that courts have said he did not commit alone.  In the case of Knox and Sollecito, the defense teams are certain to appeal any guilty verdict to Italy's supreme court, which can take a year or more and could, in theory, result in yet another appeals court trial if errors in the Florence trial are found. The prosecutor general, on the other hand, could decide to let an acquittal stand after studying the court's reasoning.  Prosecutor Alessandro Crini, who has demanded 26 years on the murder charge for each of the defendants, has asked the court to take measures to ensure any verdict could be enforced. He also asked the court to raise Knox's sentence on the slander conviction, which has been finalized, from three to four years because he alleges she accused the wrong man to remove suspicion from herself.

FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — An appeals court in Florence began deliberations Thursday in the third murder trial of U.S. student Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend.

Knox’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova told the court he was “serene” about the verdict because he believes the only conclusion from the files is “the innocence of Amanda Knox.”

“It is not possible to convict a person because it is probably that she is guilty,” Dalla Vedova said. “The penal code does not foresee probability. It foresees certainty.”

Dalla Vedova evoked Dante, noting that the Florentine writer reserved the lower circle of hell for those who betrayed trust, as he asserted that police had done in Knox’s case when they held her overnight for questioning without representation and without advising her that she was a suspect in Meredith Kercher’s murder.

Presiding Judge Alessandro Nencini said the court would deliberate Thursday for at least seven hours.

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9 Perish, Including 8 Children, in Kentucky House Fire

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Nine people were killed, including eight children, in a western Kentucky house fire early Thursday morning, News Channel 5 reported.

Greenville Assistant Fire Chief Roger Chandler says 11 people lived at the home in Muhlenberg County, and two were flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., for treatment. Multiple fire crews are at the scene.

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News Channel 5 reported that an adult and child were able to escape from the fire and were transported on LifeFlight.

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Welcome to Old New, New York: NYC Sees 33% Spike in Murders, Fewer Guns Seized

Police tape sections off an area around a crime scene on and around Roosevelt Avenue, Friday, Dec. 2, 2011, in the Queens borough of New York. The crime scene stretched for blocks and restricted all non-official personnel, including residents living on surrounding streets, from reaching homes and businesses. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Police tape sections off an area around a crime scene in Queens, New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Jamie Schram  writes:  As his first month as police commissioner under Mayor de Blasio winds down, Bill Bratton is already facing some sobering news — a 33 percent spike in murders across the city.

According to the latest statistics released Tuesday, there have been 28 homicides so far this year compared to 21 in the same ­period last year.

“This is the residual effect of de Blasio’s backlash against stop-and-frisk’’

That puts the city on course for at least one murder a day.

Last year, the Big Apple racked up 334 homicides in 365 days, the lowest in the city’s recorded history.

“I think Bratton needs to be concerned about the ­homicide numbers, but he’s a field commander at heart,” said a law-enforcement source. “If there’s something egregiously wrong, he will go straight to the source — the precinct or precincts that are problematic — and fix it right away.”

The source blamed de Blasio’s anti-stop-and-frisk push for the uptick in slayings.

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CHOOM DOOM: Obama’s High School Pot Dealer Savagely Beaten to Death With Hammer, Tabloid-Style, By Gay Lover

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Richard Alleyne In Honolulu, Hawaii:  President Obama’s high school pot dealer who he thanked in his yearbook for the ‘good times’ was beaten to death by his lover after a series of fights over flatulence and drugs, MailOnline can reveal today.

Privileged: Devere's current wife Elizabeth suggested that rich people have 'the right tools' to deal with taking drugs, but those like Devere, a former male prostitute, didn't and they 'subtract from the good'

Privileged: Devere’s current wife Elizabeth suggested that rich people have ‘the right tools’ to deal with taking drugs, but those like Devere, a former male prostitute, didn’t and they ‘subtract from the good’

Raymond Boyer, known as ‘Gay Ray’ to Obama and his marijuana smoking ‘Choom Gang’, was bludgeoned to death with a hammer seven years after he sold the future president and his friends drugs.

Party bus: Obama and the Choom Gang used to go to parties in the hills in Ray's surf van (file photo) and get high. Weed was rife in Hawaii during the counter-culture years of the 1970s and often smoked openly

Party bus: Obama and the Choom Gang used to go to parties in the hills in Ray’s surf van (file photo) and get high. Weed was rife in Hawaii during the counter-culture years of the 1970s and often smoked openly

His lover Andrew Devere, a male prostitute, gave police a laundry list of reasons for the killing, including that Boyer, a surfer and unemployed chef, constantly put him down, made him beg for drugs and had a habit of breaking wind in his face.

Good times: Obama thanked Ray in his high school yearbook alongside his family and his Choom Gang buddies

Good times: Obama thanked Ray in his high school yearbook alongside his family and his Choom Gang buddies

Pot head: Obama and his ‘Choom Gang’ of privately-educated friends used to score drugs off Ray. Ray was murdered seven years after the gang left school by his lover for a myriad of bizarre and frankly petty reasons

The sordid end to the life of Boyer at 37 was in direct contrast to the young men he supplied drugs to who all went on to lead successful and productive lives.

Since getting high with Obama and his private school educated friends he lost his job as the manager of a local pizzeria and ended up on welfare living above a car repair shop.

The full extent of Ray’s grisly end and the bizarre reasons for it were set out in mitigation by Devere, who was jailed for life for the murder.

Appeal court documents from 1991, uncovered for the first time by MailOnline, reveal Devere killed Boyer on New Year’s Day 1986 because: Boyer was killing a friend of his by supplying that friend with drugs; Boyer embarrassed Devere and put him down in front of other people; Boyer had developed a habit of farting in Devere’s face; Boyer once attacked Devere with a knife, slicing Devere’s finger;Boyer made Devere beg for drugs.

Experiments: Obama, 18, who was only just beginning to explore his black roots – having been brought up by his white grandparents – was a leading member of a group called the Choom Gang

Experiments: Obama, 18, who was only just beginning to explore his black roots – having been brought up by his white grandparents – was a leading member of a group called the Choom Gang

Finally, the documents say the last straw came on the morning that Devere killed Boyer when the victim had refused to give Devere money to buy medication to soothe the murderer’s sore throat.

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Kevin D. Williamson: ‘Politicians Steer the Economy Like Chimps Fly Rockets’

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Kevin D. Williamson writes: When I was about four years old, I was having dinner with my family and eating spinach. Being a slightly unnatural child, I’d always liked spinach, but developed an odd way of eating it: I’d take a mouthful, chew, lean way over to the left, swallow, take another mouthful, chew, lean way over to the right, swallow, etc. My mother was used to a fair amount of inexplicable behavior from her younger son, but this eventually caught her attention, possibly because she feared I was suffering from vertigo. When she inquired, I responded that spinach is well known as a source of physical strength and muscular development — such was the inescapable influence of Popeye cartoons in the 1970s — and that while gravity could be counted on to deliver spinach-y benefits to my lower extremities, I wanted to make sure plenty got to my arms, thus the leaning. To a four-year-old, that was a perfectly sensible thing to do. My understanding of human anatomy was literally skin-deep — everything deeper was unknown to me.

We only know what we know.

popeye-spinachTwenty-odd years later, I was visiting my mother and making dinner for her: spinach crepes. Being a southern woman, she was incurably suspicious about anybody else operating in her kitchen, and she peeked over my shoulder as I chopped the spinach: “What’s that?” she asked. I told her that it was spinach, and her face went blank for a second — and then I could almost literally see the metaphorical light bulb going on. She’d never seen fresh spinach before. Or, almost certainly, she had — I bought the spinach at the same place she habitually bought her groceries — but her formative marketing experiences had been in the 1940s and 1950s, in small towns in the Texas panhandle, and to her spinach was something that came in a can marked “Del Monte,” as soggy and densely packed as seaweed. She’d probably been walking past fresh spinach stocked next to the iceberg lettuce for years, but it was not part of her mental matrix.

[Note: I’m reading Kevin D. Williamson’s book, The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome, you can get it at Amazon]

We only know what we know.

On Tuesday, the president of these United States called for an end to the “rancorous argument over the proper size of the federal government,” so that he might move forward with his economic agenda uninhibited by “stale political arguments.” It was an interesting moment. The president’s childlike faith in his own ability to direct resources according to his own vision is almost touching in its way, though when the actual costs are accounted for it is terrifying. Read the rest of this entry »


[BOOKS] So Hip It Hurts

Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen Looks Back

Eminent Hipsters, by Donald Fagen (Viking, 176 pp., $26.95)

steely-danIan Penman  writes:  In January 1974, Joni Mitchell released the exquisite, deceptively sunny Court and Spark; two months later, on the penultimate day of March, the Ramones played their first gig. The year obviously had some fine diversions and big surprises in store for the clued-up rock fan. But if you had to identify a dominant trend that year, it was huge stadiums echoing to the roar of monumentally heavy boogie. A lot of endless, finesse-free jamming. A lot of stack-heeled get-down. A job lot of stretched-thin double-live albums. A brutalized 12-bar blues without end.

Donald Fagen and Walter Becker sat uneasily in this world of earnest sentiment and antediluvian riffing. An impassively odd couple with encyclopedic jazz smarts and a glowering, gnomic mien, in some ways they sat exactly midway between Joni and the Ramones: pinup idols of the urbane Los Angeles studio scene but with bags of spiky, shades-after-midnight New York City attitude.

[Check out Fagen’s book Eminent Hipsters at Amazon]

Dorm buddies who met at Bard College in upstate New York, Becker and Fagen started out in a band called the Bad Rock Group, with Chevy Chase, no less, on drums. They were over-literate beatniks with midnight-cafeteria tans and their own hinky, Beat-derived argot. Their second band found its name courtesy of William Burroughs: Steely Dan 111 is a garrulous sex aid, a minor player in the fizzing mind/body loop of Naked Lunch. Musically, the Dan were more jazz-inflected than rock-driven, filled out by a movable feast of session musician pals. For their debut single, they picked “Do It Again,” a baleful lament about finding nothing new under the sun. At a time when sitars played as prettily exotic signifiers of limpid bliss, they amped one up for a biting, nerve-jangled solo. At a time whenRolling Stone ran long, fawning Q & As with addled vocalists and the counterculture was sold on faux revolutionary emblems, Becker and Fagen essayed a light samba to declare that it was all bunk: “A world become one, of salads and sun? Only a fool would say that.”

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Currency Crises Abroad Are Benefiting the U.S.

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If this looks like good news, think again. Being the ‘best looking horse in the glue factory’ isn’t an enviable position to be in.

Christopher Matthews writes:  Analysts are calling them “The Fragile Five,” a catchy sobriquet for five countries–Turkey, Brazil, India, South Africa and Indonesia–that have been experiencing serious turmoil in their economies and currencies in recent weeks.

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Victor Albrow / Getty Images

To one degree or another these five economies have been rocked by foreign investors who are taking their money and parking it in safer and increasingly more lucrative investments in developed countries like the U.S. This capital flight has caused these nations’ currencies to plummet in value, forcing central banks to raise interest rates and possibly weaken economic growth at home. This week, the Turkish Central Bank raised its interest rate a stunning 4.5%, hoping to convince investors to keep their money in Turkey.

So what exactly does a currency crisis in Turkey or India have to do with the U.S.? In recent days, foreign leaders like Brazilian President Dilma Roussef reportedly laid blame for economic troubles in her country at the feet of the United States’Federal Reservesaying ”the withdrawal of the monetary stimulus in developed countries” was fueling “market volatility.” Some analysts have dismissed this as simple scapegoating, but according to Eswar Prasad, a Cornell economist and author of a forthcoming book on the international monetary system, The Dollar Trap,  the analysis is not entirely off the mark. Volatility in places like Brazil “isn’t an indictment of Federal Reserve policy, but it certainly is a side effect,” he says.

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