So your exhausting search for the ideal Christmas present for that hard-to-shop-for friend has taken you to the package store. You browse the aisles looking for the perfect bottle — something that reflects good taste at the best price — when suddenly you’ve found what you’re looking for.
Not so fast. A new Consumer Reports poll has found that a quarter of Americans surveyed see hard liquor as the least desirable holiday gift.
One in four Americans surveyed cited whiskey, vodka, brandy, rum, and other spirits as the least desirable gift to receive; 23 percent identified flowers and plants as the biggest buzzkill, while 13 percent singled out candles, picture frames, and other home décor items as the most unwanted presents. Even socks would be a better choice.
The same poll showed that consumers are much more comfortable with the idea of receiving wine as a present.
Wine, however, proved a different story. It was far more acceptable—and desirable. Only 6 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t want to receive a bottle for the holidays.
Just outside of Charleston, SC, the assistant manager of package store Bottles says she doesn’t see the aversion to the giving of booze that the poll reflects.
“I was like, ‘hmm, I guess they’re not in South Carolina’,” Sara Capparelli says of her initial reaction to the finding. “We’re selling out of gift sets.”
…liquor remains popular with Christmas shoppers in Charleston. More than 100 gift givers this weekend attended a bottle-engraving that Capparelli called the most successful such event in the Mt. Pleasant store’s three-year history.
However, Capparelli says she does understand why many people might prefer wine to liquor as a gift.
The gulf between wine and liquor makes sense to Capparelli, who points out that most Cabernet drinkers could probably be coaxed into trying Merlot. But it’s significantly harder to persuade a whiskey drinker to sip vodka, no matter how nicely the bottle is wrapped. Additionally, Capparelli says, wine offers a better value for the gift giver.
“You don’t want to give someone a $5 bottle of value liquor,” she says, whereas many well-made wines are relatively inexpensive.
So the bottom line is this: unless you really need to buy the liquor for yourself, put it back and walk over to the wine section for a better gift-giving experience.
This article contains an image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Larry Elder at Real Clear Politics breathes essential statistical insight into the ongoing fight over whether or not white cops have a predilection for shooting black men:
In 2012, according to the CDC, 140 blacks were killed by police. That same year 386 whites were killed by police. Over the 13-year period from 1999 to 2011, the CDC reports that 2,151 whites were killed by cops — and 1,130 blacks were killed by cops.
Police shootings, nationwide, are down dramatically from what they were 20 or 30 years ago. The CDC reported that in 1968, shootings by law enforcement — called “legal intervention” by the CDC — was the cause of death for 8.6 out of every million blacks. For whites the rate was was .9 deaths per million.
By 2011, law enforcement shootings caused 2.74 deaths for every million blacks, and 1.28 deaths for every million whites. While the death-by-cop rate for whites has held pretty steady over these last 45 years, hovering just above or below the one-in-a-million level, the rate for blacks has fallen. In 1981, black deaths by cop stood at four in a million, but since 2000 has remained just above or below two in a million.
So what’s driving this notion that there is now an “epidemic” of white cops shooting blacks when in the last several decades the numbers of blacks killed by cops are down nearly 75 percent?
As Elder points out, there was no mention of race or racial motivation in the cases of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, or Michael Brown. When questioned about the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman verdict, “several jurors later said that during jury deliberations ‘race never came up.’” Elder asserts
This white-cop-out-to-get-black-civilian narrative advances the interest of many. The media loves what Tom Wolfe called the “Great White Defendant” — a bad white guy everybody can agree to dislike. For the Democrats, it furthers their assertion that race remains a major problem in America, that Republicans/tea partiers/black conservatives are out to get them, and you must vote for us. For “activists” like the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and local wannabes, it gives them continued relevance.
In reality, the facts provide a startling lack of evidence in support of the theory of racial motivation. At the same time, they do provide solid evidence that both the media and so-called community activists like the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson need to promulgate the myth of ghetto culture in order to maintain power over an audience and presumed authority over an entire segment of the American population.
Carly Fiorina is laying the groundwork for what one ally says is an “imminent” presidential campaign—one that could launch as early as next month.
The former Hewlett-Packard CEO, who raised her political profile with a failed run against Sen. Barbara Boxer of California in 2010, has frequently been mentioned as a long-shot contender to seek the Republican presidential nomination. The speculation is driven by equal parts novelty and activity: Fiorina, who paid several high-profile visits to early-nominating states in 2014, acknowledged that she would likely be the only woman in the GOP field.
“Look, I think it would be great if we had female candidates—or candidate,” Fiorina told National Journal earlier this year.
Fiorina is now poised to become that candidate. According to three sources with direct knowledge of the situation, she has authorized members of her inner circle to seek out and interview candidates for two key positions on her presidential campaign: political director and communications director. Notably, the sources said, her associates are aiming to fill both positions with women.
Look, she’s a more sane option than Jeb Bush to consider this far out. Then again, I’m a better idea than Jeb Bush. Ebola is a better idea than Jeb Bush.
Are we clear on the fact that I don’t like Jeb Bush?
Kidding aside though, I’ve talked to several people in the past year who have heard Fiorina speak at different events and each one was extremely impressed. She is apparently much better with crowds now and one colleague told me that she wasn’t even on his radar for 2016 and now he’s taking her seriously for at least the VP slot.
And she’s not Jeb Bush.
A bushy-haired and bearded Dzhokhar Tsarnaev made his first public appearance in more than 17 months as a throng of conspiracy theorists massed outside a Boston federal courthouse to show support for the terrorist suspect as he prepares for trial early next year.
The 21-year-old looked a bit different Thursday than the clean-cut photo that appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine months after the April 15, 2013, Boston Marathon bombing that left three dead and more than 260 injured.
His supporters, who claim Tsarnaev was set up and is actually innocent, massed outside the court building armed with provocative signs. Two women caught the eye of marathon bombing survivor Marc Fucarile, who limped by with a cane needed after he lost his right leg in the carnage.
“That’s trickery?” Fucarile fumed as he lifted his prosthetic leg to show the damage Tsarnaev is accused of doing to score of innocents.
“We’re talking about the prosecution,” one woman shot back as Fucarile shook his head and continued in. “You should care that they get the right guy!”
How long before this little terrorist scum becomes a liberal cause célèbre? I mean, Mumia Abu-Jamal is getting a little long in the tooth and doesn’t have the wow factor for insane liberal conspiracy idiots he once did. Is there any doubt that’s exactly what Rolling Stone was trying to do for Tsarnaev with its cover profile last year?
What Kimmy doesn’t want you to see.
We might as well all pack up and go home, because at the moment the bad-guys are winning. The repercussions of Sony’s hacking are now starting to be felt around the movie industry, as New Regency has announced that work on Steve Carell’s potential new film set in North Korea had now been stopped.
At the time of its cancellation, the project was being developed for Gore Verbinski to direct with Steve Carell was going to play the lead. Steve Conrad, who has previously written The Weather Man, The Pursuit Of Happyness and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, had scribed what’s been described as a paranoid thriller. In fact, production had already been pencilled in for March. But the recent hacking of Sony and the consequent threats to any screening of The Interview has led New Regency to decide that there wasn’t any point in making the movie. According to Deadline, insiders from the studio explained to the website, “it just makes no sense to move forward.” This all apparently began internally, with the folks at Fox saying that they wouldn’t be distributing the film. Thus, the plug was pulled.
The plug might also impact a number of other Gore Verbinski films set to be released by the same studio, despite the fact that they have nothing to do whatsoever with North Korea.
Studios are now going to think twice about creating any movie that could lead to them being targeted. Now big, serious questions need to be asked. Why was Sony able to be hacked so easily? Where does cinema go from here? At the moment it feels like the movie industry is about to cave in on itself. Who would have thought that it would be all be because of a Seth Rogen movie?
In related news, the Kim Jong-un death scene (shown above) has been leaked:
Defamer first previewed the clip on Monday, but removed it shortly thereafter. They also explored the leaked emails between Rogen and Sony execs, in which the co-director and actor became exasperated with the studio’s repeated demands for a less graphic death scene.
And so this is the final product. The death scene that was apparently seen by the State Department and has effectively led to the movie being shelved altogether for fear of terrorism.
If Hollywood had any sense of history, they’d be asking WWCCD: What Would Charlie Chaplin Do? For those of you too young to get the joke, try this question: What would Hitler have done if he had the Internet? At least one Texas theater chain is fighting back against one of the most blatant violations of freedom of speech this side of the Pacific.
*Updated*: Another upload of video via Daily Caller.
[VIDEO] Jay Thomas Tells CNN That Getting Killed by NoKo Would Be a ‘Great End’ to Careers of Rogen and Franco
Yes, he was kidding. Maybe. Jay Thomas isn’t exactly known for holding back so CNN knew what they were getting into here. I can hardly wait for the demands for an apology and Thomas flatly refusing them.
Rodents such as squirrels and beavers are contributing far more to global warming than previously thought, forcing climate scientists to alter the models they use to chart how the world is warming up.
Arctic ground squirrels churn up and warm soil in the Tundra, releasing carbon dioxide, while methane released by beavers contributes 200 times more methane than they did 100 years ago, according to scientists from the American Geophysical Union.
Faeces and urine produced by rodents are speeding up the release of carbon from the permafrost, the vast store of greenhouses spanning the Arctic Circle, researchers found.
Dr Sue Natali, from the AGU, said “We know wildlife impacts vegetation, and we know vegetation impacts thaw and soil carbon.
“It certainly has a bigger impact than we’ve considered and it’s something we will be considering more and more going into the future.”
It is probably a safe bet to say that there are a lot of factors like this that the AGW witch hunters have overlooked when developing computer models. After all, Fuzzy McBeaverton isn’t exactly the face of climate change that is going to sell the public on the tripling of their utility bills, is it?
This also serves to illustrate just how dangerous it can be to legislate based on computer models about climate change when the accuracy of those models depend entirely on the data used to create them.
If you’re wondering whether the data might be “massaged” a bit to have a given model allow its creator adhere to Climate Church orthodoxy, the answer is: definitely.
There’s big money in Big Green.
It’s been 43 days since Election Day, and Republican Martha McSally has finally and officially been declared the winner in a very close Congressional race.
McSally has won by 167 votes, a Superior Court judge announced this morning.
The original vote count was so close that a recount was required. The original tally showed McSally winning by 161 votes.
McSally ousted incumbent Ron Barber, a Democrat who served one full term and one partial term after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords resigned to recover from injuries from a mass shooting in Tucson in 2011.
Giffords was a fairly centrist Democrat (and former Republican) so the GOP had hoped to maybe pick this seat off in 2012 but they ran an absolutely horrible candidate. This is my hometown, which has been moving very leftward for decades so this pickup is significant, even by such a slim margin.
In an interview with People magazine, Michelle Obama gets serious about “the impact of stereotypes” in the “wake” of the Brown and Garner incidents:
“Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs,” Mrs. Obama said in the Dec. 10 interview appearing in the new issue of PEOPLE.
“I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.”
Word to the wise: The next time someone asks you to help them with an item on a shelf, they’re obviously racist. Michelle probably wanted to reply, “Can’t you see I’m the first lady?!” but instead checked her privilege. I’m sure she rewarded herself for that at Bergdorf’s later.
The president also chimed in:
Atlanta police have charged 34-year-old Aeman Presley with a September murder days after charging him in three deaths that rocked the city over Thanksgiving and the week after.
Authorities had already charged Presley in conjunction with the shooting deaths of two homeless men while they slept on the streets of Atlanta, as well as with the murder of a popular hairstylist in Decatur, a suburb just east of the city.
Presley is accused of firing multiple times — “overkill,” police say — while the two homeless men were wrapped in blankets, sleeping on the sidewalk in Atlanta. Dorian Jenkins, 42, was killed Nov. 23, followed by Tommy Mims, 68, on Nov. 26.
Additionally, Presley now faces charges in the September shooting of a mentally ill man who police believe was homeless at the time of his murder.
Presley, 34, shot Calvin Gholston, 53, to death Sept. 27 at a shopping center outside Atlanta, police said. They believe Gholston was homeless and was shot multiple times as he slept — like two of the other victims, though his death came about a month earlier.
The woman who found Gholston’s body told officers he had been living in an alleyway near the shopping center for at least two months, according to a police report.
Police officers for MARTA, Atlanta’s transit system, apprehended Presley when he entered an entry gate without paying the fare. They found a loaded gun with more ammunition on Presley when they searched him, and a weapons expert with MARTA noted that the ammunition matched photos of the bullets police believed the gunman used in the November murders.
By putting out the information on the weapons, “I compromised all of my evidence, knowing that if we could just save one more homeless person” it would be worth it, Atlanta police Detective David Quinn said.
Police declined to give many details from Presley’s interviews with investigators but called him cooperative and forthcoming.
“I wouldn’t even say it was an interrogation. It was a conversation,” Quinn said. He later added: “After the interview, we had enough evidence to charge these four murders, I’ll put it that way.”
Police consider Presley a serial killer.
The term “serial killings” means a series of three or more killings, having common characteristics such as to suggest the reasonable possibility that the crimes were committed by the same actor or actors, according to the FBI.
Image provided by Fulton County Jail.
The ongoing collapse of mainstream journalism into a politically correct, agenda-driven sinkhole of literally unbelievable crap continues apace. The most recent sanctioned hoax, about the stock-picking abilities of a high school kid named Mohammed Islam, turned out to be complete codswallop. At least New York magazine has issued an apology:
In the most recent edition of New York, its annual Reasons to Love New York issue, the magazine published a story about a Stuyvesant High School senior named Mohammed Islam, who was rumored to have made $72 million trading stocks. Islam said his net worth was in the “high eight figures.” As part of the research process, the magazine sent a fact-checker to Stuyvesant, where Islam produced a document that appeared to be a Chase bank statement attesting to an eight-figure bank account.
After the story’s publication, people questioned the $72 million figure in the headline, which was written by editors based on the rumored figure. The headline was amended. But in an interview with the New York Observer last night, Islam now says his entire story was made up. A source close to the Islam family told the Washington Post that the statements were falsified. We were duped. Our fact-checking process was obviously inadequate; we take full responsibility and we should have known better. New York apologizes to our readers.
“Who was rumored to have made $72 million…” Maybe that word, “rumor,” should have been a tipoff of some sort. Remember, if it’s too good to check — as this story was, as the Rolling Stone “rape” story obviously was — then it’s also too good to be true. Somewhere, the ghost of Clay Felker is weeping.
Apparently Kim Jong-un isn’t into Seth Rogen’s brand of humor.
We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.
Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.
The world will be full of fear.
Remember the 11th of September 2001.
We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.
(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)
Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
All the world will denounce the SONY.
It has been widely suspected that North Korea is involved in the recent hacker attack on Sony performed by the “Guardians of Peace.” This email seems to confirm that suspicion:
The threat was included alongside the release of another set of emails, this time said to be those of Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. Because the hackers post this information anonymously and are contacting reporters through reusable email addresses, it is possible that a separate party is behind this threat. However, that seems unlikely. The communications have been consistent, and it should be clear soon whether the leaked emails are genuine, confirming the authenticity of this note.
While Seth Rogen reportedly doesn’t regret making the film about two American TV boobs sent on a secret mission to assassinate the North Korean dictator, he and his co-star James Franco have cancelled all upcoming press appearances to promote the film. Meanwhile, the New York City police are busy ramping up for the now scaled-back screening.
The Interview is due out in theaters across the country on Christmas day.
Here’s a big bowl of Ouch Flakes for Her Inevitable Madameship’s breakfast this morning. My PJTV colleague John Phillips and I have speculated on several occasions that the press will eventually turn on Hillary, we just didn’t think it would be this soon.
Another bogus story in what used to be the legitimate media, this one featuring a stock-picking boy wonder named Mohammed Islam at New York’s Stuyvesant High. Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up. Or, then again, maybe you have to in order to get a story in a newspaper or magazine these days:
It’s been a tough month for factchecking. After the Rolling Stone campus rape story unraveled, readers of all publications can be forgiven for questioning the process by which Americans get our news. And now it turns out that another blockbuster story is —to quote its subject in an exclusive Observer interview—”not true.”
Monday’s edition of New York magazine includes an irresistible story about a Stuyvesant High senior named Mohammed Islam who had made a fortune investing in the stock market. Reporter Jessica Pressler wrote regarding the precise number, “Though he is shy about the $72 million number, he confirmed his net worth is in the “’high eight figures.’” The New York Post followed up with a story of its own, with the fat figure playing a key role in the headline: “High school student scores $72M playing the stock market.”
And now it turns out, the real number is … zero.
Journalism always gets thing wrong. Lying at the top levels of officialdom too often goes unchallenged. But never in more than forty years in this business have I seen such abject credulity on the part of reporters. Some stories, it seems, really are too good to check. But, hey, it’s all fun and games until somebody loses his reputation or worse.
The saddest quote from the New York Observer piece, debunking the New York Magazine piece:
Mohammed, you’re from Queens and you go to this elite public high school. Is this a hobby of your parents as well or would you be the first person in your family to pursue high finance?
Mohammed Islam: In my immediate family, just me.
So what did your parents think when they’re reading that you’ve got $72 million?
Mohammed Islam: Honestly, my dad wanted to disown me. My mom basically said she’d never talk to me. Their morals are that if I lie about it and don’t own up to it then they can no longer trust me. … They knew it was false and they basically wanted to kill me and I haven’t spoken to them since.
Nice work, New York. The original story is here.
Millennials are “increasingly more pro-life and supportive of restrictions on abortion” than their Boomer and Gen-X parents.
“There’s a window into the womb with ultrasound. Just having the look into the womb you can see, even in the first trimester, the early development of the child — you can see the humanity of the child,” Rose said. “Now that we have that imagery and it’s more prevalent, people are having that personal encounter with the child, so it’s easier to recognize their human rights.”
…”Years ago, it was the case that advocates for abortion would talk about the ‘thing’ growing in a woman’s womb as a lifeless blob of tissue,” Monahan explained. “And I think our advances in sonography and ultrasounds, and even our understanding of fetal development has dispelled those myths.”
She continued: “We know that, from the moment of conception, a baby has all of its DNA that it needs for the rest of its life. It has everything inherent that it will need for later on. Really, the only difference [between the preborn and adults] is in size and development.”
When most millennials were in the womb, ultrasound technology was still relatively new to pregnancy. Mothers of Gen-X/millennial crossovers most likely only had an ultrasound if there were suspected complications with the pregnancy. Today, however, those crossovers and their fellow millennials will have an ultrasound as early as 8 weeks to confirm pregnancy, including fetal heartbeat. One-dimensional sonograms will continue throughout the pregnancy. Parents will also have the option to have a 3-D or 4-D ultrasound done so that they may see their smiling baby in the womb.
Abortion is at an all-time low in the United States. And while abortion advocates are quick to note that the majority of women who are required to view sonograms before their abortions will choose to proceed with the abortion, the reality is that the majority of abortions in America are being performed before an 8 week ultrasound can be done. The women who abort after the ultrasound are in the minority that is growing smaller by the year.
From The Daily Star in Lebanon:
BEIRUT: Syrian jihadi and rebel militias overran a sprawling government military base in Idlib province Monday, achieving the year’s biggest victory against the regime of President Bashar Assad.
The Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, along with the powerful Ahrar al-Sham militia and other allies, seized the Wadi Deif base after a fierce, two-day push that sent hundreds of regime troops fleeing the area, as regime warplanes pounded the area in a bid to secure their retreat.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-regime monitoring group based in Britain, said 31 government troops were killed in the assault on the base, along with a dozen fighters from the Nusra Front and its allies, although some pro-Nusra social media outlets said nearly 80 rebels had been killed.
A military commander from Ahrar al-Sham claimed in a video statement that around 200 regime troops were killed in the offensive, while several hundred were wounded.
That’s always been the tricky part of dealing with the never-ending turmoil in this part of the world-it’s often a “lesser of two evils but, wow, they’re both really evil” proposition (see: Egypt). One bad actor will just step in and take the place of another, and whatever ill the new bad guys sow will be blamed on the United States for either being too proactive or too inactive.
If there is a solution to what the West can do to “help” in Syria, it has yet to be discovered, probably because almost every foreseeable outcome with the current players is so unpalatable.
North Korea on Monday asked the United Nations Security Council to add the issue of torture by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to its agenda and to establish an investigation to ensure those responsible are held to account for human rights abuses.
The request by Pyongyang came as two-thirds of the 15-member council push for the human rights situation in North Korea to be added to the agenda. A U.N. report in February detailed abuses in North Korea that it said were comparable to Nazi-era atrocities.
Once an issue is on the Security Council agenda, it can be discussed by the body at any time.
Wow, who would have thought that this Democrat hit piece designed as a “Senate report” would just give ammunition to various low-life global actors?
Oh yeah, everyone.
The NoKos were busy reveling in all the havoc they wrought at Sony last week so they took longer to respond. The UN is the Devil’s Playground for the the most horrific regimes on the planet and, if I am not mistaken, now exists solely as an oversized water cooler for the international community to gather and complain about the United States and then ask the US to pick up the check.
Why are we still there again?
The Supreme Court on Monday turned down Arizona’s bid to limit how doctors prescribe drugs that are commonly used in early abortions.
The justices in an unsigned order dismissed an appeal from Arizona state lawyers and let stand a lower court ruling that blocked the abortion regulation from taking effect.
The court’s action is the latest showing the justices are skeptical of strict new state regulations on abortion, or at least unwilling to confront the issue now.
In October, the court blocked Texas from enforcing part of a new abortion law that would have required all abortion clinics to meet the standards of an ambulatory surgical center. Lawyers for the clinics said this rule, if enforced, would have closed most of the state’s remaining abortion facilities.
While this is certainly unwelcome news for those of us who are pro-life, it does serve to illustrate just how full of it the pro-abortion lobby is. Since the election in November, dire warnings of end times for convenient abortions have been ringing throughout the left media (Google “abortion rights Republican majority”). The story goes that the states are asserting their rights (in America? Quelle horreur!) and rolling back “a woman’s right to chose” to the point that it’s nigh on impossible to get an abortion.
Some states have tried to make the procedure safer (Texas), which shouldn’t even be debatable after the Gosnell horrors were revealed. Others have tried to make abortion a bit more difficult to get than, say, gum at 7-Eleven. Of course, any restrictions are seen as onerous to the abortion lobby.
In the fevered minds of the professional abortion mongers, one state’s actions will somehow countermand Roe vs Wade overnight.
If there is anything we’ve learned from Jonathan Gruber, it’s that they know they’re playing to a stupid constituency.
Gosh, it’s stunning to think that this would pop into her head after weeks of relentless bashing of law enforcement by the media and elected officials.
Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen was prepared for the worst and that was pretty much what he got from the House. With just weeks remaining before the new tax season opens, the House walloped the embattled agency with $350 million in budget cuts. That’s in addition to earlier slashes to the IRS budget of more than $1 billion since 2010, resulting in nearly 13,000 employee layoffs. More cuts, the Commissioner had warned previously, would make upcoming tax season “miserable,” a sentiment echoed by the National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson.
Representatives touted the cuts as much needed but it looks like something else: revenge. Many in Congress are still fuming about the tax-exempt organization scandal and those missing Lerner emails. Others are angry about reports of wasteful spending. And still others see this as a great opportunity to keep IRS from properly implementing pieces of the Affordable Care Act – yes, the same Act that Congress pushed through a few years ago, tasking IRS with related administrative responsibilities.
For some very odd reason, the Forbes contributor who wrote this post is sympathetic to the supposed financial plight of the IRS.
Cutting funds to an agency that has been going rogue at the request of the president isn’t revenge, it’s good business. There isn’t a bureaucratic agency in existence that couldn’t use some fat-trimming, but when one is caught deliberately misusing funds it should be given a budget with no extra money to misspend again.
U.S. lawmakers were expected on Friday to approve new sanctions on Russian weapons companies and investors in the country’s high-tech oil projects, putting more U.S. pressure on President Vladimir Putin for interference in eastern Ukraine.
Late on Thursday, the Senate and House of Representatives unanimously passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act. A House panel made a small change and sent the bill back to the Senate for a last vote expected as soon as late Friday.
President Barack Obama has said he opposes further sanctions on Russia unless Europe is on board.
The bill, which will be sent to Obama to sign, requires him to apply sanctions on Russian state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport and other defense companies Congress says contribute to instability in Ukraine, Georgia and Syria.
It requires Obama to penalize global companies that make large investments in crude oil drilling projects in deep waters and the Arctic.
The penalties go beyond U.S. and EU sanctions imposed in September on the world’s largest oil companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp and BP Plc.
Whether President Obama is willing to sign this is still up in the air — he’s in his typical “lead from behind” mode and is awaiting approval from European allies to do anything else. The bipartisan support for new sanctions should put pressure on him to be bolder. Then again, he isn’t exactly known for being respectful of the legislative branch’s wishes or responsibilities.
The Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial may have been in progress since September, but this week it has taken some bizarre twists and turns that more resemble a soap opera than a courtroom trial.
This week alone, we’ve learned of teachers who continued changing answers on standardized tests because no one explicitly told them that their actions were wrong, along with teachers who threatened and insulted students when it came to the test cheating.
On Monday, one teacher testified that she and other teachers erased answers on the Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) in order to elevate scores for their school:
Former Dunbar Elementary School second-grade teacher Rose Neal testified that she saw second-grade teacher Diane Buckner-Webb and first-grade teachers Pamela Cleveland and Shani Robinson cheat on Georgia’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests in the spring of 2009. Neal said she too cheated.
Buckner-Webb, Cleveland and Robinson all face charges of racketeering and making false statements. A statewide analysis found an abnormally high number of wrong-to-right erasures on standardized tests taken by their students in 2009.
No one in the room — including former Dunbar testing coordinator Lera Middlebrooks — suggested cheating was wrong or that they should stop, Neal said in response to a prosecutor’s question.
“I wish they had, but no,” she said.
On Wednesday, another school system employee testified that certain teachers insulted their students’ intelligence while those same students went on to perform too well the CRCT:
Certain fourth-grade teachers at Dobbs Elementary School told their students things like “You all just dumb. You can’t learn anything,” former Dobbs teaching coach Lori Revere-Paulk testified in the Atlanta test-cheating trial Wednesday.
But many of those students went on to ace state tests, even though results from other tests suggested they would fall short, Revere-Paulk said.
On Thursday, students testified that teachers threatened them when they witnessed or reported cheating:
“If I lose my job, I’m ’a beat your ass,” former Dobbs Elementary School teacher Derrick Broadwater told one fifth-grader after the boy reported possible cheating to a school employee, according to the student’s account, which Broadwater disputes.
Then Broadwater came closer to the child and shared another message.
“He was going to kill me,” the student testified.
The boy, now a broad-shouldered 17-year-old in his Atlanta high school’s ROTC program, said he was too scared to report the threats until recently.
Two other former Dobbs students testified that [teacher Angela] Williamson told them and other students the answers on fourth-grade state tests.
But the girls didn’t tell anyone about the cheating at the time. Williamson told them not to, they said.
“If you tell anyone, it’ll be the last person you tell, I promise you that,” Williamson told the class, one of the girls testified.
The cheating scandal came to light when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution questioned unusually high scores on the CRCT between 2002 and 2009 at certain Atlanta schools. Indictments went all the way to the top, including to former superintendent Beverly Hall, who will not testify because she is gravely ill with cancer.
Stay tuned as we bring you more unusual details from the trial as they unfold.
China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that the United States has no right to confront other countries on their human rights records when it faces problems with racism and mistreatment of prisoners at home.
Both U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. ambassador to China Max Baucus issued statements on Wednesday to mark International Human Rights Day in which they mentioned cases such as the imprisoned Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said it was hypocritical of the United States to do this considering its own poor record, in apparent reference to recent protests over the killings of unarmed black men and a U.S. Senate report on the torture of detainees after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Thank you, Dianne Feinstein. Now the diseased communists minds of Chinese officials are equating interrogation techniques used to combat an enemy with the institutionalized atrocities they commit on their citizens.
Were John Kerry bright (pause for giggles), he would point out that the Chinese don’t really televise their incidents of civil unrest, what with the making dissidents immediately disappear forever and all.
Given the track record of this administration, they’ll probably send China an apology and a fruit basket.
The party of youth, diversity and the middle class is prepping a rich white grandmother for 2016 and that is resonating with a decidedly un-Occupy demographic.
Artist Credit: Sabo
Breitbart pursued. Barry One threatened to sue. After days of media silence, Random House, the publisher of Not That Kind of Girl, issued a statement that was essentially a load of bull, claiming no wrongdoing but instead “regretting confusion” and offering to pay Barry One’s legal fees to date. Here’s the kicker:
Our offer will allow Mr. Minc and his client to donate all of the crowd-funding raised to not-for-profit organizations assisting survivors of rape and sexual assault.
Vomit. Go ahead. I did in my head. But wait until after you read Lena Dunham’s barf-worthy “woe is me” comment issued after days of media silence (and Olivia Pope-worthy legal strategics, no doubt):
Speaking out was never about exposing the man who assaulted me. Rather, it was about exposing my shame, letting it dry out in the sun. I did not wish to be contacted by him or to open a criminal investigation. I am in a loving and peaceful place in my life and I am not willing to sacrifice any more of it for this person I do not know, aside from one night I will never forget. That is my choice.
…[Rape survivors] have the right to tell their stories, to take back control after the ultimate loss of control. There is no right way to survive rape and there is no right way to be a victim. What survivors need more than anything is to be supported, whether they choose to pursue a criminal investigation or to rebuild their world on their own terms.
Even if those terms include, well, lying about who raped you and then loudly crying victim before the entirety of the alleged rape incident could be publicly questioned. Hey, if UVA chicks can do it, why can’t “feminism is a brand” Dunham?
For the first time in over 20 years, Americans support gun rights more than gun control.
In a Pew Research poll released Wednesday, 52 percent are in support of the protection of gun rights and 46 percent support gun control. This is the first time in two decades that Pew has found more support for gun rights than gun control.
Backing for gun rights has been on the rise since January 2013, when it had 45 percent supporting protections. During that time period, support for gun control also fell from 51 percent to its current standing.
So…support for gun rights has been on the rise despite a full-court press from President Obama, the MSM, and gun-control Democrats throughout America in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Let us also not forget that Michael Bloomberg has been throwing money all over the place to gut the Second Amendment.
Now, state legislators have formed an anti-gun coalition to keep alive the liberal fantasy that Americans want comprehensive gun-control legislation.
The American people have no interest in onerous, comprehensive gun bills and they never will. The civil unrest we are seeing in the past few weeks isn’t going to change that. It will more than likely make law-abiding citizens even more steadfast about their rights to protect themselves.
The only people who want Americans to have restricted access to firearms are the same people giving tacit or overt approval to the lawless mobs who have been dominating the news lately.
Good luck with that.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said today that Detroit’s bankruptcy, the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, will end at 12:01 a.m. ET on Thursday.
“The financial emergency in the city of Detroit will be defined as wrapping up today,” Snyder said at a news conference in Detroit.
He said paperwork to officially end the bankruptcy would be approved later today. The move comes a month after a federal judge approved a strategy for the city to exit bankruptcy.
Kevyn Orr, the city’s emergency manager, said he would step down following today’s announcement. Snyder tapped Orr for the job in March 2013 soon after the governor said Detroit was in a financial emergency.
It was less than two years ago that members of the Detroit city council and others were screaming that Snyder was a racist for taking control away from the mayor and council and giving emergency powers to Orr (they never did, however, adequately explain how putting a black man in charge was “racist”).
Cynical observers (“Present.”) believed for a long time that municipal authorities were merely biding time and hoping for a federal bailout of the city. That cynicism proved to be on point when a member of the council called for the president to do just that soon after the 2012 election.
What Gov. Snyder did was proactive, difficult and necessary. It has now proven to be successful.
If the same people who got Detroit into dire financial straits don’t screw it up, that is.
I don’t know how this guys snuck onto a CBS news show but he’s certainly not in line with the prevailing MSM narrative.
The defeat of Mary Landrieu, Louisiana’s newly lame-ducked senator, over the weekend led the news cycle. But the untold story of Louisiana’s election day came from St. Bernard Parish, just east of New Orleans, where voters rejected measures for over $6 million in property taxes.
Voters struck down most of the proposed renewals Saturday by at least 60 percent, a percentage that Parish Council Chairman Guy McInnis McInnis called “a serious message to government.”
“We have to seriously look at the budget, and we need to look at cutting the budget,” McInnis said. “Regardless of whether we put them on the ballot again, we have to prepare ourselves for not having that money because they may fail again.”
And the tax rejection came as the costs of maintaining services rise for the parish’s smaller post-Hurricane Katrina population.
There are roughly a third less people, homes and jobs in St. Bernard now than before Katrina, and those who returned are paying about 30 percent more in taxes, including 35 new mills added to the tax rolls in 2013 for firefighting and the policing.
This isn’t the first time voters in the parish have spoken up — in April, 80% of voters rejected a $9 million tax increase to benefit the county’s hospital.
Residents blame an unusually large levee tax proposal for spearheading the anti-tax sentiment, while others claim the timing of the vote – just after property tax bills arrived in the mail – for fanning the flames. One local educator coined a phrase that hits the nail on the head.
Ron Chapman, a Nunez Community College history professor, said he blamed the “administration and the council for not educating voters.”
“If you don’t know what something is, you vote against it,” Chapman said.
He also said there is post-Katrina tax fatigue in the parish.
“We have a real problem here. We are stuck having to pay for infrastructure that is too big for the people in it,” he said. “It’s like old people who own a large home and then their children move out and it is just too big for them to maintain.
Chapman added, “The parish really should have shrunk its footprint after the storm. Because, how are we going to pay for it? We are finding out now that we can’t.”
The leftist media is fond of resurrecting figures that were central to narratives that they have created to destroy Republicans in the past. Anita Hill is dusted off every so often so they can stomp their feet and remind us that they hate Clarence Thomas for being a black man who isn’t liberal. Now it’s Valerie Plame’s turn. The woman who was so deeply undercover that she had a parking space at Langley was MSNBC’s “former covert operative” expert today for a segment on the CIA torture report, as if her administrative track career gave her some keen insight into enhanced interrogation techniques.
It was Ms. Plame who was supposed to bring down Karl Rove for good. Lo these many years later, Mr. Rove is doing quite well (for better or worse) and Ms. Plame is presumably on her way back to media mothballs.
As was noted here yesterday, it’s the least wonderful time of the year for those who aren’t members of the Church of Climate Hysteria.
Like all things United Nations, this dog and melting pony show is designed primarily to give lesser countries a public forum to pretend to be superior to the United States.
Washington is on track to meet its targets for reducing emissions in heat-trapping greenhouse gases despite an uptick last year, U.S. officials insisted at climate talks Monday.
Quizzed by rich and poor countries about its efforts against global warming, President Barack Obama’s envoys sought to explain how exactly the U.S. plans to cut emissions 17 percent by 2020 based on 2005 levels.
Emissions were down about 10 percent but rose slightly last year and in early 2014 due to an “extraordinarily cold winter” that required high energy consumption, deputy U.S. climate adviser Rick Duke said in response to a question from China. He said emissions are projected to be down next year.
For the most part, China has been given a free pass on emissions standards by the international community, so the mere fact that its envoys get to even speak at this conference are an indication of what a sham it is.
Note also the reference to an “extraordinarily cold winter” as a factor for the uptick in emissions. That’s right, we didn’t meet some arbitrary numbers because we are a civilized country that tries to keep its citizens from freezing to death in the winter.
Those of us who are more than cynical about the U.N. motives may wonder if there is something to be gained by making American officials feel guilty.
Remember kids, our current president is eager for the United States to be treated this way.
On Monday’s episode of the Fightin Words podcast, I interviewed Craig Westover, a retired journalist and former communications director of the Republican Party of Minnesota, regarding a piece he wrote calling on the party to take a stand on the #BlackLivesMatter protests which have erupted around the nation. While Westover confessed to “having a dog in the fight,” he stressed that it was important for some sort of stand to be taken no matter what it is.
[These protests] are big news. This is front page news. And yet, as a Republican, if I’m talking to somebody in the inner city and I’m trying to say, “Well, the Republican position on this is—” I don’t know where to go from there.… When you’re trying to build an image of the Republican Party, and they don’t have a stance… you’ve got to know that if you’re going to try an be a Republican activist and get a message out that says this is what our party stands for, this is what you can expect from Republicans.
Nationally, Westover pointed to Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who has taken a distinct stand on the legal environment which has spawned the current protests. Particularly, Paul has criticized the law against selling individual cigarettes which cops enforced in their fatal confrontation with Eric Garner.
In an op-ed published last week in the Chicago Tribune, law professor Stephen L. Carter takes Paul’s point to the next level:
The problem is actually broader. It’s not just cigarette tax laws that can lead to the death of those the police seek to arrest. It’s every law. Libertarians argue that we have far too many laws, and the Garner case offers evidence that they’re right. I often tell my students that there will never be a perfect technology of law enforcement, and therefore it is unavoidable that there will be situations where police err on the side of too much violence rather than too little. Better training won’t lead to perfection. But fewer laws would mean fewer opportunities for official violence to get out of hand.
Carter offers a good principle for evaluating legal prohibitions:
On the opening day of law school at Yale, I always counsel my first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce. Usually they greet this advice with something between skepticism and puzzlement, until I remind them that the police go armed to enforce the will of the state, and if you resist, they might kill you.
If there were to be a definitive GOP stance in answer to the #BlackLivesMatter protests, Carter’s principle stands as a worthy candidate. Let’s push for fewer laws and ensure those which remain are worth killing someone to enforce.
(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here.)
Today the timing of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s declassified executive summary on enhanced interrogation techniques used by the Bush Administration raises an intriguing list of political questions. One is even about movies and another has huge implications for the 2016 presidential race.
Now that Senate Committee’s torture report is bedside reading for our enemies, when is ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban going to release their torture reports so we can all compare techniques?
With Republicans taking control of the Senate on January 3, 2015, why did the Democrats insist on releasing this controversial report today?
Today was scheduled to be “Gruber Day” when controversial MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber testified before the House Oversight Committee. As predicted, Gruber generated headlines embarrassing to President Obama and the Democrats.
There is no doubt that Gruber’s testimony would have been the lead story in the next 24-hour news cycle. But now, due to the torture report, Gruber’s apologetic, yet pathetic testimony will not get the media attention it deserves. (Gruber refused to tell the committee how much he was paid even though it was been widely reported that he pocketed over $2 million of your tax dollars.)
This leads one to ask, Was Gruber Day and the torture report release merely a news day coincidence?
Now let’s ask a Hollywood question.
The Senate Intelligence Committee report says that no useful intelligence was gained by these enhanced interrogation techniques.
Therefore, was the movie Zero Dark Thirty showing how these techniques gleaned information leading our SEALS to Osama bin Laden’s hiding place, just for the sake of Hollywood action? (Didn’t the Pentagon and CIA cooperate in the making of Zero Dark Thirty?) I am confused!
Finally, let’s think about the effect of the torture report on 2016 politics.
The Senate Intelligence Committee report has been condemned by the CIA and Republicans as PJ Media’s Bridget Johnson reported. It is also a five-year $40 million one-sided exercise in Bush-bashing, detailing how the Bush Administration’s reacted to the War on Terror covering the years 2001 – 2009.
As everyone knows, there is a potential Republican presidential candidate named Jeb Bush who just happens to be the brother of the president at the center of the report. Jeb is supposed to make his decision about whether to run for the 2016 GOP nomination early next year.
As a result of this report, will Jeb Bush decide against entering the race?
Think about it like this — in order for Jeb to run for president his family name needed to be somewhat restored. Thus today, with negative headlines around the world tied to the Bush Administration — coupled with the report’s gruesome details, the Bush family name is toxic once again.
These circumstances make Jeb’s potential candidacy highly unlikely. (His campaign trail safety too.) And that sets off an entire chain of 2016 political jockeying better left for another day.
Steve McNamara, the general secretary for The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) has spoken out against Uber, accusing the taxi-booking app of using immigrant drivers who have not been screened properly due to the fact they come from “third world countries”, and saying they are “more dangerous” than black cabs.
Uber rankles feathers everywhere because it challenges government-regulated monopolies. More correctly, it challenges what bureaucrats thought would be government-regulated monopolies. While these power-hungry bureaucrats all have the same endgame, it’s interesting to see that across the pond they’re actually able to publicly lament improper documentation when it comes to immigrants and jobs.
Here’s to empowering citizens to create jobs by ignoring the red tape that exists mainly to financially bleed the citizens and stifle innovation.
The GOP was outraged last year after Reid and Democrats used a procedural move known as the “nuclear option” to unilaterally change the Senate’s rules to deprive the minority from being able to block most of President Obama’s nominations.
“I think it’s rank hypocrisy if we don’t,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said when asked about reversing the rule change.
“If we don’t, then disregard every bit of complaint that we made, not only after they did it but also during the campaign,” he added. “I’m stunned that some people want to keep it.”
Senators changing opinions on procedural gimmicks is nothing new. If they favor your side at the moment it’s, “Yay team!” Once the rules no longer do so, a resounding chorus of boos can be heard. So it’s not really hypocrisy, it’s pretty much business as usual.
The GOP could stake some consistent high ground (or what is perceived as such) by reversing Reid’s decision, but the reality is that you sometimes have to fight in the mud once your opponent has dragged you down into it.
Senior Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee see little tactical advantage in restoring the 60-vote threshold for nominees when they control the agenda next year.
They argue that if Obama nominates officials and judges who are too extreme, the Senate Judiciary could simply not report them to the floor, or incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could decide not to schedule them for votes.
They assert that reversing the nuclear option would not benefit them in the long term because Democrats would likely trigger it once again if they reclaimed the majority while their party controlled the White House.
And if a Republican wins the presidency in 2016, they want that officeholder to be able to shape his or her administration and the judicial branch with as free a hand as Obama has enjoyed during the final three years of his term.
“An immediate return to the prior nominations standard under Republican control would only reward Democrats for their misdeed and — since they have reaped the benefits but borne none of the costs — Democrats would have further incentive to engage in procedural abuses,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a former Judiciary Committee chairman, wrote in a Monday op-ed for Politico.
Now you have Hatch disagreeing with the two-headed McCain/Graham monster, which is a conundrum, as they generally march in lock step.
Since the passage of Obamacare, procedural trickery has been the closest friend of the Democrats, and Hatch is correct in assuming that they will institute it as the norm as soon as they are in control again — so why not fight the fight in the arena they created?