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The Next Age of Invention

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For City JournalJoel Mokyr writes:  The statement “everything that could be invented has been invented” is frequently misattributed to the late-nineteenth-century American patent commissioner Charles Holland Duell. The Economistonce credited him with the remark, and sites such as “kool kwotes” still reproduce it. In fact, Duell believed the opposite. “In my opinion,” he wrote at the turn of the century, “all previous advances in the various lines of invention will appear totally insignificant when compared with those which the present century will witness. I almost wish that I might live my life over again to see the wonders which are at the threshold.” While this prediction turned out to be on the money, the belief that “the end of invention” is near is very much alive in our age, despite ample evidence of accelerating technological progress.

“Most states today realize that peaceful interstate competition in the marketplace requires staying current with the most advanced technology—but terrorists and rogue states want to stay current, too, for very different reasons…”

Pessimism is most prevalent among economists such as Northwestern University professor Robert J. Gordon, who expects growth to slow to a small fraction of what it was in the past. Gordon predicts that the disposable income of the bottom 99 percent of Americans will grow at just 0.2 percent per year—one-tenth the average rate of U.S. economic growth in the twentieth century. Innovation, he maintains, will not be enough to offset the headwinds that will buffet Western industrialized economies in the next half-century—aging populations, declining educational achievement, and rising inequality. And he is not alone in this dismal view. In The End of Science, published in 1996, journalist John Horgan declared that “the modern era of rapid scientific and technological progress appears to be not a permanent feature of reality, but an aberration, a fluke. . . . Science is unlikely to make any significant additions to the knowledge it has already generated. There will be no revelations in the future comparable to those bestowed upon us by Darwin or Einstein or Watson and Crick.”

“The argument that “if we don’t do this, someone else will” should prove more powerful than the concerns of groups that regard a new technology with suspicion.”

Certainly, it is difficult to know exactly in which direction technological change will move and how significant it will be. Much as in evolutionary biology, all we know is history. Yet something can be learned from the past, and it tells us that such pessimism is mistaken. The future of technology is likely to be bright. Read the rest of this entry »

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Vintage Atomic Photo of the Day: How Isotopes Are Made

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Click for full-sized image

 

 

 

 


A Promise The White House Will Keep: Declaring ‘Victory’ Regardless of What Obamacare’s Real Enrollment Numbers Are

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In the coming days look for a spike in words and phrases like “surge”, “signature legislation,” “domestic policy achievement”. 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – David Morgan writes: The federal website for U.S. consumers to enroll in private health insurance under Obamacare ran into problems twice on Monday because of a surge of people trying to access the site hours before a midnight deadline to sign up for coverage.

Technical issues that barred access to HealthCare.gov for several hours throughout the day underscored the frantic last-minute pace of an enrollment process that could determine the ultimate success or failure of the healthcare law that represents President Barack Obama’s domestic policy achievement.

obamacare-fail

More than 6 million people had signed up for private health coverage through the new Obamacare insurance markets by last week, surpassing a target set after a disastrous October rollout called the enrollment process into question. With daily volumes continuing to surge, analysts believe the final tally could approach or even exceed an original goal of 7 million.

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[VIDEO] Gun-Trafficking Senator Update: Leland Yee Appears in Court, Bail Kept at $500,000, Plans to Plead Not Guilty

leland-yee-horiz

SAN FRANCISCO — Suspended State Sen. Leland Yee appeared briefly in federal court in San Francisco Monday and was told that his bail will remain at $500,000 while he awaits a trial on corruption and gun trafficking charges.

“Yee is also accused of a seventh charge of trafficking in firearms without a license, in connection with an alleged proposal to ship guns to a Muslim rebel group in the Philippines. The alleged plan was discussed with an undercover agent who was posing a Mafia member.”

Yee, 65, wearing a dark gray business suit and white shirt, said nothing during the appearance before U.S. Magistrate Nathaniel Cousins.

Taiwanese Animators do their worst, in this YouTube video

Cousins ordered him to return to court on April 8 for either an arraignment on a possible grand jury indictment or, if no indictment is issued, a preliminary hearing on a criminal complaint filed by federal prosecutors last week.

Outside of court, Yee’s attorney, Paul DeMeester, said he expects an indictment and said Yee will plead not guilty.

Read the rest of this entry »


How a 20-Year-Old British Sniper Killed Six Taliban Insurgents With a Single Bullet — From Half a Mile Away

A sniper serving in Afghanistan on Operation Herrick 10 with the Sniper Platoon, D (Fire Support) Company, 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment, with his .338mm L115 A3 sniper rifle. ORG XMIT: MOD Crown Copyright   PHOTO CREDIT: UK MINISTRY OF DEFENCE (link: http://www.defenceimagery.mod.uk/fotoweb/ )/pws

A sniper serving in Afghanistan on Operation Herrick 10 with the Sniper Platoon, D (Fire Support) Company, 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment, with his .338mm L115 A3 sniper rifle. PHOTO: UK MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

For The Telegraph, Holly Watt reports:  A British sniper in Afghanistan killed six insurgents with a single bullet after hitting the trigger switch of a suicide bomber whose device then exploded, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

L115A3 Sniper RifleThe 20-year-old marksman, a lance corporal in the Coldstream Guards, hit his target from 850 metres, killing the suicide bomber and five others around him caught in the blast.

The incident in Kakaran in southern Afghanistan happened in December but has only now been disclosed as Britain moves towards the withdrawal of all combat soldiers by the end of the year.

Lt Col Richard Slack, commanding officer of 9/12 Royal Lancers, said the unnamed sharpshooter prevented a major attack by the Taliban, as a second suicide vest packed with 20 kg of explosives was found nearby.

The same sniper, with his first shot on the tour of duty, killed a Taliban machine-gunner from 1,340 metres.

“I think I’ve just shot a suicide bomber”

Several hundred British and Afghan soldiers were carrying out an operation in December when they were engaged in a gun battle with 15 to 20 insurgents.

“The guy was wearing a vest. He was identified by the sniper moving down a tree line and coming up over a ditch,” said Lt Col Slack. “He had a shawl on. It rose up and the sniper saw he had a machine gun.

“They were in contact and he was moving to a firing position. The sniper engaged him and the guy exploded. There was a pause on the radio and the sniper said, ‘I think I’ve just shot a suicide bomber.’ The rest of them were killed in the blast.”

UK MINISTRY OF DEFENCEThe L115A3 sniper rifle.

It is understood the lance corporal was using an L115A3 gun, the Army’s most powerful sniper weapon.

The Armed Forces are gradually decreasing their presence in Helmand, handing over security of the country to the Afghan armed forces. Last month, three major bases were closed or handed over to Afghan control. At the height of the campaign, there were 137 bases across Helmand – now there is only one base outside Camp Bastion, Sterga 2, which is staffed by a company from 4 Scots and the 9/12 Royal Lancers. Read the rest of this entry »


The Quest for Immortality: We May Already Know How We Will Cure Death. Should We?

Aubrey de Grey is head of a Silicon Valley-based research team bent on reversing aging just in time for de Grey to live forever. David Alvarado & Jason Sussberg

Aubrey de Grey is head of a Silicon Valley-based research team bent on reversing aging just in time for de Grey to live forever. David Alvarado & Jason Sussberg

Christopher Mims writes:  A pair of advocates—they do legitimate research too, but their ardor is so intense, it’s hard to call them scientists—believe that they will, within their lifetimes, make ours the first generation of humans to live forever.

“Once we are really truly repairing things as fast as they go wrong, game over. We will have the ability to live indefinitely.”

— Aubrey de Grey

Their quest is elegantly laid out in The Immortalists, a new documentary making its way around the film festival circuit. The Immortalists follows the triumphs and tragedies of three years in the lives of William H. Andrews and Aubrey de Grey, two men who prove just as interesting as the work they’re doing. The Immortalists is really a film about death, not life, which is what makes it so fascinating.

Here’s the trailer:

The goal of Andrews and de Grey is not merely to extend life, but to actually reverse the aging process. “Once we are really truly repairing things as fast as they go wrong, game over,” de Grey says in the film. “We will have the ability to live indefinitely.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Vintage Sci-Fi Illustration of the Day

future-city

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Reality Check: Obamacare Real Enrollment: Just 1.7% of Uninsured Covered

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Breitbart.com‘s Wynton Hall reports: Obamacare, the plan purportedly created to provide health coverage for the uninsured, has enrolled just 1.7% of America’s 48.6 million uninsured.

News of the disastrous numbers comes as nervous Democrats and President Barack Obama, ahead of the November midterm elections, did their best on Monday’s enrollment deadline to put a positive spin on the deeply unpopular Obamacare program. The latest Associated Press poll finds that Obamacare has now hit an all-time low approval rating of just 26 percent.

 “…the official HHS numbers still include duplicate enrollments.” 

— Washington Post columnist Ed Rogers

The White House now claims an Obamacare enrollment figure of six million people. However, according to The New York Times, at least 20% of those never paid their premiums to activate coverage, leaving them uninsured. That drops the number down to 4.8 million.

Americans head to the polls in 218 days.

Next, as Washington Post columnist Ed Rogers notes, “the official HHS numbers still include duplicate enrollments.” No one knows how many duplicate enrollments are in the stack; the White House refuses to say. However, given the disastrous Obamacare website failures, it is reasonable to imagine that the pile is riddled with numerous “false start” applications.

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Oops! Obama Admin Released Tens of Thousands of Illegal Immigrant Criminals

California Prisons Layoffs

President Obama’s Department of Homeland Security caught then released 68,000 aliens who had previously been convicted of a crime, a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies shows.

“The preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that immigration enforcement in America has collapsed…”

— Senator Jeff Sessions

The report, provided to Breitbart News ahead of its late Sunday evening release, reviews internal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) metrics to conclude that the Obama administration released 35 percent—or 68,000—convicted criminal aliens back into the U.S. general population when they could have been deported. “The criminal alien releases typically occur without formal notice to local law enforcement agencies and victims,” CIS’s Jessica Vaughan, the report’s author, added.

“…American citizens have a legal and moral right to the protections our immigration laws afford – at the border, the interior and the workplace…”

By “criminal,” ICE means people who have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony that is not a traffic violation. For instance, traffic violations like Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or even vehicular manslaughter do not count toward this description of “criminal alien.” As for the definition of “alien,” ICE mostly means illegal aliens, though some are legal aliens when they are considered deportable legal aliens—which is possible for legal immigrants who have committed a serious crime, like a felony.

“…The administration has stripped these protections and adopted a government policy that encourages new arrivals to enter illegally or overstay visas by advertising immunity from future enforcement. “

The documents also show ICE only deported a small fraction of the aliens they encountered overall.

Read the rest of this entry »


Kathleen Sebelius: Insulated, Arrogant, Disinterested, Declines to Respond to Reporter in Bizarre On-Air Silence

Sebelius Has No Comment After Hearing Oklahoma’s Opposition To ObamaCare (March 31, 2014)


California Obamacare Exchange Mails Couple Voter-Registration Form with Democratic Party Checked Already

Covered CA Voter Registration

A couple from La Mesa, Calif., received a voter-registration form from Covered California, the state’s Obamacare campaign, with an “x” already put next to the Democratic-party box.

The couple called their local 10News station to say they had received the voter-registration form — the couple have always been registered Republicans and are confused as to why such a form would be sent to their home.

Read the rest of this entry »


Rachael Ray’s Horrifying Descent into Cannibalism: Cooks, Eats Joe Biden’s Skin

biden-head2ABC’s Rachael Ray hosted Vice President Joe Biden for a pre-taped interview which was planned to be aired on Monday March 31. In what was meant to be a cheerful televised interview to help promote Obamacare, Ray shocked the studio audience by announcing that she was going to cook and eat Joe Biden, because his skin looked so perfect, and delicious.

“…The most glowing, perfect skin of any person I’ve ever seen…”

Law enforcement officials have seized the tape of the broadcast, and are holding it for evidence. The FBI, the Justice Department, and the Secret Service are all declining to comment. Joe Biden’s family has also declined to comment, pending the investigation. Details of what happened are unclear, but this much is known, according to witnesses who were in the studio:

Ray began the segment by beaming that Biden had “The most glowing, perfect skin of any person I’ve ever seen” before telling the Vice President “I really want to know what moisturizer you use. I love moisturizers, my husband is a moisturizer as well. Would you tell me what moisturizer you use?”

Then she shocked her studio audience by calling for two bodyguards, who restrained Biden, moved him into the middle of the studio, opened a panel on the floor, then violently threw the Vice President into a deep well.

Ray then began taunting Biden, as he tried helplessly to claw his way out of the hole. Many horrified audience members headed for the exits, trying to get out of the studio, only to find the doors locked. Ray laughed, and lowered a basket of skin care products into the well.

“It puts lotion on its skin…”

Ray said, then instructed Biden to strip naked and apply the moisturizing lotion to his entire body. The Vice President’s screams were were so upsetting to audience members, Rachel Ray and her staff rushed to proceed with the cooking project she had planned.

Read the rest of this entry »


How Did Harry Reid Get Rich? How Did Harry’s Family Get Rich?

 writes: Another man might have assumed, correctly, that launching a campaign of insult and insinuation against two billionaires would result in renewed attention to his own finances. Not Harry Reid. The Senate Democratic leader since 2005, and the Senate majority leader since 2007, is not one to reflect before speaking. His mouth runs far ahead of his brain.

“Reid and his family appear to work within the confines of the law, which should not be surprising, because Reid writes that law…”

In recent years Reid has declared an American war “lost” while our troops still fought overseas; praised President Obama for his “light” skin and “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one”; asserted falsely and without evidence thatMitt Romney had not paid any taxes for a decade; and said “Why would we want to do that?” when asked if he would fund cancer research during the government shutdown.

“What Reid did not explain was that the bill promised a cavalcade of benefits to real estate developers, corporations, and local institutions that were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying fees to his sons’ and son-in-law’s firms.”

Now, with his majority in danger, his president unpopular, his floor agenda obstructed by members of his own caucus, Reid thrashes about uncontrollably. He calls Obamacare horror stories “untrue.” He says Obamacare numbers are not as high as projected because Americans “are not educated on how to use the Internet.” His Senate Majority PAC launches a $3 million ad campaign tying Republican candidates to two men most Americans have never heard of, two men who, funnily enough, are more popular than Reid.

Harry

“…the Washington Post in 2012 ‘uncovered nearly 50 members who helped direct millions of dollars in earmarks to projects that either held the potential to enhance the surroundings of a lawmaker’s own property, or aided entities connected to their immediate family,’ and one of those members was Reid.”

From the floor of the Senate Reid says these two men, Charles and David Koch, are “un-American,” are trying “to buy America.” Without the terrible specter of the Koch brothers Harry Reid would be disarmed. He has no issue for his Democratic Senators to run on; the minimum wage and climate change are not enough. Nor has he another means of inspiring donors to open their checkbooks. He only has fear, fear of the Kochs, fear of extractive industry, fear of the portion of the elite that favors economic freedom. The Koch brothers, Reid says, “rig the system to benefit themselves.” He should know.

Read the rest of this entry »


Vintage Pulp Fiction Book Cover of the Day: ‘The Case of the Shoplifter’s Shoe’

perry-mason-mystery


Democrats Unveil New Campaign Message: ‘There’s No Such Thing as Obamacare’

Supporters of Obamacare are no longer just distancing themselves from the president’s controversial health-care law — they’re now denying it even really exists.

“There’s no such thing as Obamacare”

— Senator Angus King I., Maine

I always imagined it was a matter of time before a prominent Democrat dropped some LSD, went on national TV, and vocalized internal auditory hallucinations.

Perhaps Senator King is expressing an understandable longing for the relative safety of the pre-Obama era. I hope someone tells him the nightmare of Obama is unfortunately quite real, and offers him a comfortable place lay down until the hallucinations subside. 

read more…

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Vintage War Machine: Bazooka Vespa

vespa_militaire_tap

You’ll never think of the Vespa quite the same way

By guest writer Scott of Pipeburn.

Many times I’ve wished I had a Bazooka attached to my bike, usually after almost being killed by someone who didn’t check their side mirrors. Luckily for them, all I had to unload was my middle finger. So when I first saw this Vespa, I knew most motorcyclists would love the concept—even if it was made for a different purpose. It is named the Vespa 150 TAP (Troupes Aéro Portées) and it’s an Italian Vespa scooter modified by creating a hole in the legshield to carry a M20 75 mm recoilless rifle. The recoil or ‘kick’ from the rifle was counter balanced by venting propellant gases out the rear of the weapon; this eliminated the need for heavy mounts, and enabled the weapon to be fired from the Vespa frame.

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‘Environmentalism Has Become a Religion’ Says James Lovelock, Father of The Modern Green Movement

lovelockJames Delingpole writes:  Environmentalism has become a “religion” – and “religions don’t worry too much about facts” says scientist James Lovelock, father of the modern green movement.

Interviewed in the Guardian on the day of the IPCC’s latest report, Lovelock also praises nuclear power as “an extraordinary gift to humans” and dismisses criticisms of it as “propaganda”:

“I’m a scientist and an inventor, and it is absurd to reject nuclear energy,” he says. “It all comes from the religious side. They feel guilty about dropping atom bombs on people. Here was this extraordinary gift given to humans – a safe, cheap source of power – and it gets horribly abused right at the start.

We’re still playing out the guilt feelings about it. But it’s sad because we in Britain could now be having cheap energy if we’d gone on building [nuclear power stations].”

Nuclear waste? “It isn’t a problem,” he insists. “Sandy and I were invited to France, and we stood on 25 years of nuclear waste at La Hague. I had my own handheld monitor to check whether they were bullshitting me about it, and it was showing about the same reading as I was getting in this room. It was completely safe. Read the rest of this entry »


Sacré Bleu! Marxist Die-Hards Rejoice: Paris Gets its First Female Mayor, Socialist Candidate Anne Hidalgo Wins Election

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Socialist Anne Hidalgo to be first female mayor of Paris

Paris (AFP) – Anne Hidalgo, a Spanish-born Socialist, will be the first female mayor of Paris after an unexpectedly comfortable win in municipal elections on Sunday.

Hidalgo, 54, had been expected to be run extremely close by her centre-right rival, former government minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, on a night when the Socialists took a beating from voters across the country because of the unpopularity of President Francois Hollande’s government.

But Hidalgo emerged with 54.5 percent of second round votes in the capital, comfortably seeing off Kosciusko-Morizet’s challenge, according to exit polls.

An old school feminist socialist, Hidalgo has spent the last 13 years as a low-profile deputy to current mayor Bertrand Delanoe.

She will now join an exclusive club of women who have taken charge of major cities around the world.

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[VIDEO] Late Night Music Workshop: Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen Deconstructs ‘PEG’

aja“Aja” was a great album, wasn’t it? Everyone’s got their own memories associated with it — I won’t bore you with mine, but I have a lot of affection for the song “Peg”, and a lot of respect for the artistry of the whole album — like all great pop-rock albums, they become embedded in our memories, the soundtracks of our wasted youth. Released during a time when Steely Dan was at the peak of their craft, Aja was probably Steely Dan’s last fully-developed album before they disbanded. Deacon Blues, too, is a great song, great lyrics.

Listen as Donald Fagen discusses and plays the Steely Dan hit “Peg” with Warren Bernhardt.

I bet this makes you want to pull out the album and listen to the original Peg. Unless of course you don’t have it. In which case, you’re in luck,

[Steely Dan’s classic 1977 album “Aja” is available at Amazon]

Or you can probably download just the song Peg, via iTunes or Amazon or one of the instant-play services. Or you can enjoy it on YouTube right here.

Donald Fagen talks about PEG pt 1 – YouTube


What Happens When The Facts Don’t Fit The Progressive Script?

pipeline-img

The Founders’ epistemic humility and progressives’ epistemic arrogance is a lesson for all time.

For The Federalist write: From the “climate change” debate to policy disputes over early childhood intervention programs and the minimum wage, the American Left prides itself on following the facts: what they posit and describe is there for everyone’s eyes to see. When the unrepentant blind demur, Progressives can claim at least a moral right to shut down debate–after all, there is no reason to pretend that those who ignore the facts have any real standing to dispute Progressive findings.

“The American founders’ humility led them to propose less comprehensive solutions for the social and political problems of their day. But even more important, it made them tolerant of differences even on important questions and magnanimous toward those whose judgment led them to very different conclusions.”

What, then, is to be done when the facts don’t follow the Progressive script?

Consider a couple recent fact-based reports:

Nancy Pelosi on the minimum wage report: “The C.B.O. made it absolutely clear: raising the minimum wage would lift almost one million Americans out of poverty, increase the pay of low-income workers by $31 billion and help build an economy that works for everyone.” In other words, pay no attention to the 500,000 people behind the curtain.

“Progressive overconfidence shows itself most obviously in their serial efforts to remake American society, but most ominously in their lack of tolerance for those who endanger their deepest commitments.”

Susan Casey-Lefkowitz of the National Resources Defense Council on the pipeline report: “We’re taking the inclusion of that scenario as good news” – referring to the hypothetical case, considered by the State Department, where future demand for oil is too low to encourage the development of the Canadian oil fields absent the pipeline. In other words, imagine a world where the facts fit one’s pre-determined values.

Read the rest of this entry »


Sacré Bleu! A wave of Tea Party libertarianism is sweeping…France? Je T’Aime, Ron Paul

french-ron-paul

Photo Illustration: Ed Johnson/FP

 Libertarianism is sweeping France and upending Europe’s socialist stronghold

Robert Zaretsky writes:  France and Texas go way back. In 1839, as the handsome wood mansion in Austin that housed the French Legation still reminds us, France was one of the few nations to recognize Texas during its short life as a republic. (Although, relations weren’t always cordial, and during the famous “Pig War” of 1841 the French chargé d’affaires had his valet shoot a number of porcine marauders that had invaded his residence.) A few decades later, a motley crew of Provençal poets, enamored of “le wild west,” dressed up as cowboys and Indians, transforming the Camargue, a stretch of swampy land in southern France, into a Mediterranean Texas, replete with bulls and ranches. A few years after that, in 1984, French audiences and the Cannes jury hailed Wim Wenders stunning film “Paris, Texas” — an equally romanticized, though somewhat grimmer, French riff on the Lone Star state.

“Whether it reflected widespread apathy or hostility, France’s unprecedented abstention rate benefitted the conservative opposition’s base…”

Is it possible that France is now importing the brand of conservative politics peculiar to Texas? Following their first round of local elections last Sunday, the French, at least at first glance, seem intent on doing so. Though a second round of voting will take place this Sunday, French voters have already spoken. What they had to say echoes what Texas conservatives, in particular the Tea Party stalwarts, have been saying for some time: Less federal government (whether D.C. or Brussels), more traditional values, and please, no more immigrants trying to change things around here.

“…voter abstention is the ruling Socialist Party’s greatest fear. And the problem has only gotten worse as the approval ratings of national leaders have plummeted. “

Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Promised His Administration Would Be Transparent, But Recent Events Suggest Otherwise

White-House-Dusk

Our government is always hiding something

For USA Today, Betty Medsger writes: The Obama administration has used the Freedom of Information Act to increase rather than decrease government secrecy. In 2013, it increased use of exemptions to bar release of requested files by 22% over the previous year, according an analysis by the Associated Press. The government fully denied or redacted large portions of files in 36% of the 704,394 requests submitted

obamafromcar

There also was a substantial increase in citing national security concerns as reason for withholding information. The administration did so 8,496 times in 2013 – more than double the rate in President Obama’s first year in office. The National Security Agency censored records or denied FOIA requests 98% of the time in 2013.

This growing disregard for openness is especially disappointing from a president who, on his first full day in office, announced he would have the most transparent administration in history. It is evident not only in the administration’s handling of FOIA requests, but also in the recent CIA dispute with the Senate Intelligence Oversight Committee over the committee’s report on the government’s use of torture in the aftermath of 9/11 and in the scope and nature of mass surveillance by the NSA, known because of files made public by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

[Betty Medsger’s book, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI is available at Amazon]

The need to reverse this trend is evident in the critical role the FOIA has played in revealing secrets that, once public, led to major reforms. The revelation of COINTELPRO, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s secret illegal operations, is an example of the fundamental importance of the FOIA.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Former U.S. Ambassador McFaul on Whether Sanctions Have Weakened Putin: ‘No’

From this morning’s media roundup at The Corner: When asked this morning whether he thought the first round of American sanctions on top Russian officials has helped bring Putin to the negotiating table, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia had a blunt answer: “No.”

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“Black” Aircraft Sighting — The Real Deal?

Bill Sweetman at Aviation Week covers the recent sighting — and photographs — of an unidentified aircraft over north Texas.  You can see the pics here and here.

I’ve been a black aircraft enthusiast all my life (and that goes back to the days when the SR-71 was still “secret”).  Sweetman is one of the best aerospace/defense/mil-tech journalists around, although he’s been accused of being willing to run with a story a little too soon.  I personally feel like he does sometimes report on rumors and informed speculation, but is careful to identify them as such.

At least as far as the available information on this one goes, I feel like this is a solid lead.  The photos do not look photoshopped at all (there is a history of shopped pics among back plane chasers), and the aircraft does fit into a niche that many have wondered about — the US lacks a large, high-altitude, stealthy ISR platform and, as Sweetman points out, sat photos of Groom Lake (Area 51) show way more capability than can be accounted for with known programs.

So I put this one in the “definitely possible, maybe even probable” category.


How Left and Right Flipped on Religious Freedom

birth controlW. James Antle III writes:  Was contraception illegal in 2010? Were people unable to purchase birth-control pills without the consent of their employers?

The answer to these questions is no, despite the repeated insistences that the Supreme Court would bring about this state of affairs by ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby and against the Obamacare contraception mandate.

In fact, Hobby Lobby’s owners only object to being required to cover four of the twenty mandated contraceptives. They argue that they do not wish to be complicit in providing abortion-inducing drugs. But the same people who want to “ban bossy” now speak as if accommodating a religious for-profit employer necessitates overturning Griswold v. Connecticut.

Liberals have come a long way since 1993, when they helped pass—and Bill Clinton signed—the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Back then, they were willing to endorse the principle that the government must have a compelling interest in making a person act contrary to her religious conscience—and even then, government must use the least coercive means to further that interest.

[W. James Antle III’s book, Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? is available at Amazon]

Whatever the First Amendment implications of the Hobby Lobby case, it is impossible to argue the contraception mandate meets that test. Large swathes of the American public are already exempt from the mandate, so how compelling could the government interest be? Second, there are ways to make birth control more accessible to women without making religious people pay for it.
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Australia denies Chinese journalists access to plane search media briefings

China Daily Mail

"This wouldn't even happen in China": George Yang. Photo: Andrew Meares “This wouldn’t even happen in China”: George Yang. Photo: Andrew Meares

Chinese journalists covering the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 from Canberra are furious at what they see as Australian government control of the media.

On Sunday, two Chinese crews decided to chase Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss into a car park at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority after being denied access to an AMSA briefing attended by Australian media.

The crews held an impromptu interview with Mr Truss but have complained at being ”locked out” of any chance to put questions to AMSA boss John Young. On Monday, AMSA posted a security guard at the front of its headquarters.

George Yang, the chief correspondent for Hong Kong’sPhoenix Satellite Television, said he had been asked to prove his credentials while he prepared to do a cross from public land. ”This wouldn’t even happen in China,” Yang said.

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CNN: Blowing Smoke

Jeff Zucker Named New Chief Executive At CNN

Shameless. Breitbart has coverage:

CNN dismissed complaints that the network was not covering last week’s shocking arrest of Democrat Leland Yee, the California state senator who was arrested for alleged arms trafficking and bribery, and falsely asserted that it does not give attention to state senators.

That standard did not apply to Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, whom CNN covered relentlessly. This was long before she even considered a gubernatorial run after filibustering a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks and make those conducted before then safer.

Viewers and readers on Friday complained that the network, just like Politico, was not reporting or discussing Yee’s scandal online, and the official and verified @CNNWriters account tweeted to one critic that ignoring Yee’s arrest was standard practice. (read more here)

Read the rest of this entry »


Vintage Toy Gun of the Day: ‘Space Pilot X Ray’

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Space Pilot X Ray

Gun 
Yoshiya/Taiyo (Japan) 
1970s

fortunecookied

 


[VIDEO] Father & Son: RNC Spokesman Raffi Williams and Juan Williams Discuss Ebony Magazine Editor’s Twitter Slander

Via Hot Air: Daily Caller founder Tucker Carlson hosted [a discussion] on the lack of tolerance for diversity of thought demonstrated again this week, this time by a senior editor for Ebony Magazine.

The two squared off — or actually supported one another as son and father, respectively and respectfully. RNC deputy press secretary Raffi Williams joined his father Juan Williams to blast the pervasive notions that ideology has to be linked to ethnicity, and Juan urged everyone to open their minds to new ideas rather than dismiss people out of hand…(read more here)

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Vintage Illustration of the Day: Potato Pete & Doctor Carrot

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Retrogasm


Inside the Chinatown Gang That Lured Leland Yee into Arms Trafficking

Chow-Tub-apAWR Hawkins reports: California state Senator Leland Yee (D), who was indicted on charges of arms trafficking and public corruption, was allegedly lured into these crimes by a gang led by Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, described as “the dragonhead” for “one of the most powerful Asian gangs in America.”

According to the Associated Press, Chow’s gang allegedly “lured state Sen. Leland Yee into its clutches through money and campaign contributions in exchange for legislative help.” The offers of money came at a time when Yee sought to amass the finances necessary to launch a campaign to become California’s secretary of state.

“…he ran prostitution rings, smuggled drugs, and extorted thousands of dollars from business owners in the 1980s.”

Chow was born in Hong Kong in 1960. He moved to the United States at age 16, dropped out of high school, and “rose within the ranks of the local Hop Sing Tong after he and his crew survived a 1977 shooting at a Chinatown restaurant that left five dead and about a dozen injured.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Joanne Milne’s Implants are Turned On and She Hears for the First Time

For those who haven’t seen this yet, it’s an amazing moment, captured.

Birmingham Mail reports:

This video shows the touching moment a 40-year-old woman hears for the first time thanks to medics at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Joanne Milne – who suffers from the rare condition Usher Syndrome – was filmed by her mother as her life-changing cochlear implants were switched on by doctors.

The 39-year-old, from Gateshead in the North East, became overwhelmed with emotion and burst into tears after the audiology specialist at QEHB recited the days of the week.

Joanne Milne who can now hear after a cochlear implant from medics at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Joanne Milne who can now hear after a cochlear implant from medics at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Joanne, who also lost her sight to the condition in her mid-20s, had to wait several weeks following the operation before her implants were switched on.

The video capturing the switch-on shows Joanne breaking down as she becomes overwhelmed with emotion has received almost 10,000 hits. Read the rest of this entry »


Mainstream Media Runs Away from Democratic Chinatown Gangster/Gun-Controller Story

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Was it Andrew Breitbart who coined “Democrat Media Complex“? [See James Taranto’s October 2009 article] When I first heard it I thought it was funny in a combative, mock-paranoid, anti-establishment, new media champion sort of way. Now I realize, it wasn’t meant to be funny. Jonah Goldberg’s column is about the lack of coverage (see below)  We promise to cover Leland Lee abundantly in the coming weeks.

Alec Torres has an item at The Corner:

Leland Yee should be making national headlines…arrested on Wednesday by the Justice Department for wire fraud, corruption, and his alleged involvement in illegal gun deal between Chinatown gangsters and Islamist militants.

“Being a Democrat — even (or perhaps especially) a disgraced Democrat — comes with a lot of perks.”

And while he has been trying to put automatic weapons and shoulder-fired missile launchers into the hands of criminals, Yee was also an extremely vocal gun-control advocate whose mission was to take guns away from law-abiding citizens.

“The New York Times offered only one blurb of less than 200 words on Yee’s corruption charges.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Obama’s Anti-Gun Surgeon General Choice Has Some Questionable Credentials

REUTERS/Jason Reed

Half of the specialists at Obama Surgeon General pick’s own hospital finished residency before him

The Daily CallerPatrick Howley reports: President Obama’s pick to become the next U.S. Surgeon General might have to explain his credentials a bit. Half of the doctors who work in his specialty at his own hospital finished residency before him.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, 36, was nominated by President Obama for the Surgeon General post last November, but Democrats are backing off from his nomination reportedly due to his well-documented anti-gun advocacy. But his relative lack of medical experience might also come up in a confirmation hearing.

Murthy is listed as a Hospitalist and Hospitalist Service specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, having completed his residency in internal medicine there in 2006. Of the 42 listed Hospitalist Service specialists at Brigham and Women’s, 21 doctors finished residency before Murthy. Read the rest of this entry »


Christian Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy in Pakistan

People gather after Friday congregational prayers to protest for the release of Mumtaz Qadri, one of the elite police guard who killed Punjab governor Salman Taseer in 2011

People gather after Friday congregational prayers to protest for the release of Mumtaz Qadri, one of the elite police guard who killed Punjab governor Salman Taseer in 2011

Arrest of Sawan Masih after drunken row last year prompted Muslim mob to burn hundreds of homes in eastern city of Lahore

The Telegraph‘sRob Crilly reports: A Christian man has been sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan, according to his lawyer, following an incident last year that prompted a Muslim mob to torch hundreds of homes.

It is the latest in a string of convictions prompting calls from religious minorities for the law to be reformed.

“The blasphemy laws in Pakistan are used to settle personal vendettas.”

— Xavier William, president of the Christian pressure group Life for All Pakistan

Naeem Shakir said his client, Sawan Masih, was convicted during a hearing held in jail for fear of violent protests.

Masih, a cleaner, was accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed during a conversation with a Muslim friend in the eastern city of Lahore. Within hours, about 3000 protesters had set light to Christian homes and churches in an area known as Joseph Colony.

Read the rest of this entry »


Shocker: MSNBC’s Chris Matthews the Least Likable News Anchor

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Breitbart.com’s John Sexton reports: A ranking of 24 news personalities found CBS’ Scott Pelley the most likable anchor while MSNBC‘s Chris Matthews ran dead last just behind fellow MSNBC host Alex Wagner.

The ranking is based on Q scores, a numerical value based on the familiarity and appeal of brands or, in this case, news personalities. The Wrap, which published the ranking Friday, writes “executive vice president Henry Schafer and his team provides a personality’s name and a brief description to more than 1,800 viewers. The viewers are asked if they recognize the person, and how they feel about him or her.” Read the rest of this entry »


Leland Yee, the Kochs, and the Press

Leland-Yee-Kochs-and-the-Press

Jonah Goldberg writes:  Leland Yee, a Democratic state senator and candidate for secretary of state in California, has been a longtime champion of gun control. This week he was arrested on numerous charges, including conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and conspiracy to illegally transport firearms. Yee, a prominent foe of assault weapons, allegedly took bribes to set up a meeting between an undercover agent and an international arms dealer to broker the sale of automatic weapons and shoulder-fired missiles. A lengthy FBI affidavit also describes Yee’s ties to a Chinese triad and his desire to help out Islamist militants.

In short, the story makes for what journalists call “good copy.”

And yet, so far no reporter has raised the possibility that Yee supported tighter restrictions on guns in order to keep gun prices high and his own services in demand. Economist Bruce Yandle popularized the idea of the “Bootleggers and Baptists” coalition. The apocryphal Baptists want to ban alcohol. Bootleggers don’t make much money when liquor can be bought legally at a grocery store or bar. So the bootleggers bankroll the Baptists’ effort to ban booze.

[Jonah’s latest book, The Tyranny of Cliches, is available at Amazon]

Now I sincerely doubt that Yee was that clever. The more likely explanation is that he believes in gun control and he’s a greedy hypocrite (and maybe not too bright either). The fact that gun-control policies are to his advantage is just a happy coincidence.

What’s interesting — and vexing — to me is that this sort of analysis is all the rage when it comes to conservatives and Republicans, and utterly incomprehensible to most journalists when it comes to liberals and Democrats. Read the rest of this entry »


Why Are Bad Boys the Best in Bed?

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When the man of your dreams turns out to be a big fat jerk, and you want him even more

Some late night trash for your entertainment pleasure.

N.Y.Observer sex columnist Jasmine Lobe writes: Turns out casual encounters at Whynot Coffee are just as efficient for hookups as right swipes on Tinder. It was there that Adam swooped in on me mid-latte.

“But he’s really, really good.”

One week later, he texted me, “I’m pushing you up against the wall, kissing your neck.”

“What are you doing to me?” I’m dizzy with desire but wary since we’ve only been on two dates.

“You’re not ready for the big leagues, are you? Gotta slow down or you’ll freak. I’m like crack.”

“Ego?” I replied.

“Nah. It’s just once I put my tongue inside you, it will cause some problems.”

He was right. Weeks later, I’m an addict and having major withdrawal. My childhood friend Milton, a painter, sits me down for an intervention on the heated patio of the Bowery Hotel. Read the rest of this entry »


Poll: Americans Feel Safer With Gun in Their Home

teacher_gun_training_APAWR Hawkins writes: A poll from YouGov conducted March 22–24 shows that Americans who feel safer with a gun in their home far outnumber those who do not.

According to the poll, when asked, “Do you think you would feel more safe or less safe with a gun in your house?”, respondents said “more safe” by a margin of 42 to 20 percent.

Broken down by gender, 51 percent of males said “more safe” versus 15 percent who said less safe; 33 percent of females said “more safe” versus 25 percent who said “less safe.” Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: 5.1 Earthquake Strikes L.A., Some Flee From Homes

BREA, CA--MARCH 28, 2104: A BMW is damaged from a rock slide in Carbon Canyon after earthquake. There is a hard closure here because of the risk of another aftershock. The police and fire dept have clear out. The local radio is reporting minor injuries. The sound from the open door remains on. Rocks, dirt, and small boulders  are on the road. (Francine Orr/ Lis Angeles Times)

BREA, CA–MARCH 28, 2104: A BMW is damaged from a rock slide in Carbon Canyon after earthquake. There is a hard closure here because of the risk of another aftershock. The police and fire dept have clear out. The local radio is reporting minor injuries. The sound from the open door remains on. Rocks, dirt, and small boulders are on the road. (Francine Orr/ Lis Angeles Times)

Rong-Gong Lin II and Victoria Kim report:  Authorities were tallying damage from a magnitude 5.1 earthquake that struck Southern California Friday evening.

Fullerton police said early Saturday that up to 50 people had been displaced because of home damage.

The quake, centered near La Habra, caused furniture to tumble, pictures to fall off walls and glass to break. Merchandise fell off store shelves, and there were reports of plate glass windows shattered.

“It just would not stop, it was like an eternity”

— La Habra resident.

In Brea, several people suffered minor injuries during a rockslide that overturned their car. Fullerton reported seven water main breaks. Carbon Canyon Road was closed.

quakeLA

Residents across Orange and Los Angeles counties and the Inland Empire reported swinging chandeliers, fireplaces dislodging from walls and lots of rattled nerves. The shake caused a rock slide in Carbon Canyon, causing a car to overturn, according to the Brea Police Department. Fullerton police received reports of water main breaks and windows shattering, but primarily had residents calling about burglar alarms being set off by the quake. Read the rest of this entry »