VodkaPundit

VodkaPundit

What Happens When You Drop a GoPro from 10,000 Feet?

April 7th, 2015 - 11:02 am

This. And I want to know what brand of memory card survived the fall.

CAUTION: May induce severe ooginess.

Required Reading

April 7th, 2015 - 9:51 am
Top White House negotiator Lando Calrissian meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (Not an AP photo)

Top White House negotiator Lando Calrissian meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (Not an AP photo)

Fred Fleitz performs a line-by-line vivisection of Administration claims about the “framework” deal with Iran, and here are the two that caught my eye:

There will be robust and intrusive inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Misleading. IAEA inspectors will only have access to declared nuclear sites associated with peaceful nuclear activities. Although Obama officials claim Iran will allow intrusive inspections of suspected covert and military nuclear sites, Tehran has long resisted permitting this and refused to comply with a November 2013 agreement with the IAEA to answer questions about 12 areas of possible nuclear weapons-related work. While Obama officials have asserted that Iran will be required to permit inspections of possible military-related nuclear sites under an agreement known as the IAEA additional, Tehran has refused to honor this agreement since the nation signed it in 2003. Moreover, according to a joint EU/Iran statement on the framework agreement, Iran has only agreed to “provisional application” of the Additional Protocol.

Iran also reportedly has rejected snap inspections of nuclear sites which means it could delay inspections of these sites until it removed evidence of possible nuclear related activity.

The Arak heavy water reactor will be re-designed so it will not produce weapons-grade plutonium.

False. It is impossible to operate a heavy-water reactor without producing plutonium. Although this reactor might produce less plutonium by redesigning it, the only way to prevent plutonium production is to convert this reactor it into a light-water reactor, an option that the U.S. and European states proposed but Iran rejected.

Iran disagrees with the Obama administration’s claim that the Arak reactors’ core will be removed so it produces less plutonium. An Iranian statement on the framework says this plant “will remain” and will “be updated and modernized.”

This deal keeps getting worse all the time — and it started out bad.

Yesterday Roger L. Simon asked “Munich, Anyone?” but at least Neville Chamberlain meant well.

US Gas Supplies Soar

April 7th, 2015 - 8:42 am

GAS

Wow:

They’re enjoying the best margins in two years as they finish seasonal maintenance of their plants before the summer driving season. They’ll increase output to meet consumer demand and they’ve added more than 100,000 barrels a day of capacity since last summer, when they processed the most oil on record.

Booming crude production expanded inventories this year by 86 million barrels to 471 million, the highest level since 1930. Analysts from Bank of America Corp. to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have said storage space may run out. What looks like an oversupply to banks is turning into an all-you-can-eat buffet for those making gasoline and diesel fuel.

“A lot of the excess crude we’ve been sitting on is going to get chewed up quickly,” Sam Davis, an analyst for energy consulting company Wood Mackenzie Ltd., said in Houston April 2. “We’re going to move from a stock build to a stock draw.”

It’s tempting now to trade in the V-6 SUV for something with a seriously stupid engine.

Wrongly Accused, Wrongly Convicted

April 7th, 2015 - 7:28 am
Pat Turner, left, hugs Anthony Ray Hinton as he leaves the Jefferson County jail, Friday, April 3, 2015, in Birmingham, Ala. Hinton spent nearly 30 years on Alabama's death row, and was set free Friday after prosecutors told a judge they won't re-try him for the 1985 slayings of two fast-food managers. (AP Photo/Hal Yeager)

Pat Turner, left, hugs Anthony Ray Hinton as he leaves the Jefferson County jail, Friday, April 3, 2015, in Birmingham, Ala. Hinton spent nearly 30 years on Alabama’s death row, and was set free Friday after prosecutors told a judge they won’t re-try him for the 1985 slayings of two fast-food managers. (AP Photo/Hal Yeager)

An Alabama death row inmate will go free after spending 30 years awaiting the ultimate punishment — which fortunately never came:

Anthony Ray Hinton, who was on death row for nearly 30 years, had been charged and convicted in the 1985 murders of two Birmingham area fast-food managers.

Managers John Davidson and Thomas Wayne Vason were fatally shot in two separate fast-food robberies in 1985. While there were no witnesses to the murder or fingerprints found at the scene, Hinton was arrested after another employee identified him in a photo lineup, according to his lawyers.

Hinton was convicted on the claim that a revolver taken from his mother’s home was the weapon used in both murders, Hinton’s attorneys, with the non-profit Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), said in a statement Thursday.

The case’s dismissal comes 13 years after Hinton’s attorneys presented testimony from ballistics experts that determined the revolver from his mother’s home could not be matched to the crimes, according to the statement.

That’s an adult lifetime stolen by a bad prosecution and a bad verdict based on bad evidence.

Tanks for the Memories

April 7th, 2015 - 6:03 am

ARMATA

Meet Russia’s newest — and possibly most lethal and survivable — main battle tank, the T-14 Armata:

By 2020, Uralvagonzavod (UVZ), the largest main battle tank manufacturer in the world, plans to produce 2,300 T-14 Armata models. According to media reports, large deliveries of the tank (around 500 per year) will start in 2017. In total, the Russian Land Forces are scheduled to receive a batch of 32 Armata main battle tanks this year.

The Russian military intends to replace 70 percent of its tank corps with the new tracked vehicle, replacing the older T-72 and T-90 main battle tanks – both of which were also produced by UVZ.

Wikipedia reports that the first 20 T-14s have already been delivered to the Russian Army, presumably for testing, training, and evaluation.

The idea behind the Armata platform is to reduce development, production, and maintenance costs by using a common chassis and drivetrain for a tank, armored personnel carrier, antiaircraft gun, self-propelled artillery, etc. If the Russians manage to pull this off, it will be a disturbing sign that their procurement system is in far less trouble than ours is.

But looking at the T-14, I knew it seemed familiar. 30 years ago, Newsweek ran a report, unfortunately not available online, on what Pentagon analysts were calling the “FST-1,” or “Forward Soviet Tank.” Small and turret-less, it was supposed to be much more difficult for NATO to locate and destroy. Whether the FST-1 was ever a genuine Soviet plan, or just a fevered Pentagon daydream, it never went into production.

With some digging around though, I was able to locate the illustration Newsweek used in its report — on an Italian message board of all places. Here it is:

FST-1

FST-1

The Armata goes with a low-slung turret rather than a no-turret design, but the intention is the same: To pack a lot of firepower into a small, fast, and well-armored package. In this one case, the future looks much like we thought it would.

Here’s more on the T-14:

According to RT, “the tank’s turret will also carry a 30 mm sub-caliber ranging gun to deal with various targets, including low-flying aerial targets, such as attack planes and helicopters. A 12.5 mm turret-mounted heavy machine gun is reportedly capable of taking out incoming projectiles, such as anti-tank missiles. It’s capable of neutralizing shells approaching at speeds of up to 3,000 meters per second.”

What makes Russia’s new main battle tank so special?

First, the active defense system deserves special attention. It is an individual anti-missile and anti-projectile tank defense system, supposedly capable of intercepting any type of anti-tank ammunition.

“It defends the vehicle from strikes, including those from the air. Thus, even the most modern Apache helicopter will not have a 100 percent chance of destroying a T-14 with its missiles. Active defense is situated along the entire perimeter of the turret at various levels, which ensures complete protection of the tank’s most important elements,” according to the FSMO report.

The three-man crew sits outside the turret, in the main body of the armored vehicle. Given that the top of the turret is a weak spot in any tank, a T-14 crew should have better protection from ariel attack.

I’d take the RT (Russia Today) braggadocio with a grain of salt, and we might learn more when and if the T-14 debuts as scheduled next month.

One last thing though. Russia announced intentions to buy 500 T-14s a year for a fleet of 2,300 by 2020. For a country with Russia’s economic troubles, that procurement schedule seems maybe optimistic — at best.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

April 7th, 2015 - 5:12 am
♡bamaCare!!! Profiteer

♡bamaCare!!! Profiteer

National Review’s Joel Gehrke has something of an expose on the Jeb Bush/♡bamaCare!!! connection:

In the more than seven years Bush served on Tenet’s board, the company executed a remarkable turnaround, emerging from the scandal into a period of expansion that returned it to the top of the health-care industry. Bush himself benefited handsomely from the growth. Last year alone, he earned $170,000 in stock awards and $188,000 in fees. He earned over $2 million during the seven years he served on the Tenet board and sold $1.1 million worth of stock in 2013, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Support for Obamacare has driven Tenet’s renewed success. “Early on we push hard to be contracted with as many exchange plans as possible,” CEO Trevor Fetter said on an earnings call last summer, referring to the health-care exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. Tenet also promoted the law’s enrollment drive. “We are confident at least 16,000 people enrolled in exchange-based products and tens of thousands more enrolled in Medicaid as a result of our efforts,” Fetter said.

HillaryCare failed in no small part because it threatened to put the insurance companies out of business — and they acted quickly to defend themselves. The genius of ♡bamaCare!!! is that it brought the insurance companies on board, by giving them a captive market mandated to buy catastrophic plans at Cadillac prices.

But ♡bamaCare!!!’s other genius is how far and wide it spreads its corruption. Jeb Bush — a possible GOP nominee — has been ensnared in it, willingly, from the start. And it’s inconceivable (yes, I keep using that word) that Bush wasn’t imagining himself as a presidential contender at the very same time he was making million-dollar deals off of law despised by the GOP electorate and unloved even by the broader population. How does Bush effectively run against a law he’s profited so handsomely from? Simple: He doesn’t.

As I wrote last week, “There’s absolutely no good reason — short- or longterm, win or lose — for the GOP to nominate Jeb Bush. If nominated, he would likely be a disaster. If elected, he would likely be worse, cementing in the rot at the national party level.”

Truer words…

Time to Head for the Grexit?

April 6th, 2015 - 3:16 pm
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gestures as he speaks at the Health ministry, in Athens, on Thursday, April 2, 2015. Greece and its international creditors are still struggling to agree on a list of economic reforms that are deemed necessary for the country to unlock emergency funds and stay afloat. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gestures as he speaks at the Health ministry, in Athens, on Thursday, April 2, 2015. Greece and its international creditors are still struggling to agree on a list of economic reforms that are deemed necessary for the country to unlock emergency funds and stay afloat. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Andy Langenkamp has an excellent summary of where the eurocrisis currently stands, but this bit stood out for me:

Tsipras can no longer hesitate; he has to choose. Will he seek to please the technocrats and politicians of the eurozone, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, or will he instead acquiesce to the real radical-left elements in his Syriza party (not to mention his coalition partner, the rightwing-nationalist Independent Greeks)? He has so far played for time, putting off the moment of truth. Unfortunately for him, time and money have run out.

From the creditors’ perspective, many are convinced that the eurozone would be able to cope with a Grexit economically, especially having fortified the eurozone architecture with measures such as the banking union. However, political considerations will get the upper hand – these are national-electoral, and they are geopolitical. There are numerous European elections coming up, and politicians would prefer relative stability in the eurozone so as not play into the hands of populist parties. Moreover, with the Ukraine crisis, and volatility in countries neighboring the European Union, geopolitics has regained a prominent place in the minds of European leaders. If they were to decide to cut Greece loose, Athens could turn to Russia and China for help. Nobody wants that.

The only question seems to be whether Europe will hang separately or whether Europe will hang together, but it’s the gallows either way.

Turkey Blocks Social Media

April 6th, 2015 - 2:04 pm

Failwhale

It’s exactly what the headline says:

Turkey has blocked access to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube after the sites published photos last week of a prosecutor who had been taken hostage with a gun to his head, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported on Monday.

Am official confirmed to Hurriyet that the country’s leading Internet service providers had implemented the ban on the social media sites.

It’s difficult to believe that such an oppressive and increasingly Islamist country is still a NATO member in good standing. Ankara also seems likely to follow Tehran, and then Riyadh, down the nuclear path.

Rahm Plays the “Jewish Card”

April 6th, 2015 - 1:32 pm
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

I don’t know why it took nearly a week for this story to get written up, but it was worth the wait:

At their final debate, held on Tuesday, March 31, Emanuel pulled out the Jewish card by characterizing Garcia as “Hanukkah Harry” for offering a list of expensive proposals without explaining how he would find the necessary revenue. “Such a deal!” Emanuel blurted our. And the Chicago Reader has bolstered Emanuel’s Jewish street cred when it turned up a five-second appearance by the 18-year-old Emanuel protesting during a 1978 city-approved neo-Nazi rally captured in the short documentary “Marquette Park II,” by Tom Palazzolo and Mark Rance, about one of the city’s historically white ethnic neighborhoods.

For the city’s Jewish population the choice is not about being a Jewish voter but about whether Emanuel represents Jewish-style politics — despite his years as a congressman, and chief of staff to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, respectively, with a two-and-a-half-year stint in between as an investment banker.

Even some Jews who support Emanuel say they simply don’t like him.

Rahm’s only real religion is power, which might explain that last line, but the Mayor has also been making appeals to the city’s few Republican voters. I’d be tempted to go the other way and vote for Chuy Garcia, just to help give Chicago voters what they’ve really wanted all these years.

And they’ll finally get it, too, if Rahm can’t manage to buy this election.

Such a deal!

Hola, Mexijeb!

April 6th, 2015 - 12:03 pm

Speaking of Jeb Bush, as it seems we must all too often this year, you’ll never believe what he did the last time he registered to vote:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush once identified himself as Hispanic on a voter registration form, according to a news report.

On a 2009 Miami-Dade County voter registration form, the Sunshine State Republican and likely 2016 presidential contender, who is white, selected “Hispanic” in the “race/ethnicity” field, The New York Times reported Monday.

Over his political career, Bush has repeatedly emphasized his ties to the Latino community. The former governor is fluent in Spanish; lived in in Venezuela for two years; and his wife, Columba Bush, is from Mexico.

But Jeb Bush, the son of George H.W. Bush and the brother of George W. Bush, is white.

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt — maybe he’s one of those elusive White Hispanics.

India’s Strategic Reach

April 6th, 2015 - 11:11 am
Agni-V on parade. (AP photo)

Agni-V on parade.
(AP photo)

India is getting serious about building an ICBM

On Sunday, S.K. Salwan, the chairman of the Armament Research Board at India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), confirmed a subject of long-term speculation — that India is capable of developing an ICBM capable of striking targets beyond the 10,000 km range.

The Agni V, India’s has a range of 5,000 km which allows it cover the entirety of Asia, parts of North Africa, Eastern Europe, and Russia.

It is currently India’s longest range ICBM that has been successfully tested and is capable of delivering a 1,000 kg payload.

“India has successfully test fired nuclear capable Agni V missile recently which has a range of 5,000 kms. But we are capable of developing ICBM that can hit targets beyond the range of 10,000 kilometers,” Salwan told a conference in Vadodara, Gujarat.

Um… why?

India’s immediate threats are mostly of the homegrown terror variety — mostly Islamists in the west and Communists in the East. Its only strategic threats are Pakistan and China, both of which are easily in range of India’s existing missiles.

So the question remains: Why?

Required Reading

April 6th, 2015 - 10:01 am

Al Hunt says that gay rights will continue to split the GOP:

Social conservatives are determined to keep this issue alive, reasoning that the environment that produced changes in the laws last week will become more favorable after they have had time to stir up the grassroots. That will pose problems for Republicans in a general election; the politics have changed dramatically compared with a decade ago, when Republican political guru Karl Rove used the issue against Democrats.

Crucial elements of the Republican base haven’t changed. Most, not all, evangelical/born-again white Christians are troubled by gay rights. This group accounts for more than 40 percent of the Republicans nationally and for more than 50 percent of the vote in the important early Iowa and South Carolina Republican presidential tests. That guarantees Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee will make these issues uncomfortable for Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.

Read the whole thing.

Hunt is right for a very obvious reason — it splits the party because there’s a big split in the party on the issue. And also because the Permanent Democrat Outrage Machine excels at finding local non-issues like that Indiana bakery, and turning them into national political opportunities.

Meanwhile, the GOP plays defense instead of looking for wedge issues to put the squeeze on the Democrats.

News You Can Use

April 6th, 2015 - 8:51 am
For external use only.

For external use only.

There’s no good way to intro today’s New You Can Use report, so let’s just get to it:

A kinky Argentinian man croaked while having sex with a scarecrow that he dressed in lipstick and a wig — and strapped a sex toy on, according to reports.

Jose Alberto, 58, was found dead in his San Jose de Balcare home, lying next to the straw doll, the Irish Mirror reported.

“There were no signs of violence, and we are working on the assumption that the man died during sex with the scarecrow,” police spokesman Rodolfo Moure told the publication.

The depraved sex fiend, who tended to sheep, had puffed up the scarecrow with clothes and tied a 6-inch strap-on penis to it, reports said.

You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?

Sign “O” the Times

April 6th, 2015 - 7:43 am

I spent a good (?) part of the weekend trying to figure out if Friday’s lousy jobs report was due to ♡bamaCare!!!, the weather, the crushing burdens of our Re-regulatory State, Evil White Businessmen, or what have you. But then I came across a little something:

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has reported that its forecast for U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) growth dropped to zero on April 1 and ticked back up to 0.1% on April 2. The bank uses a unique model called GDPNow to prepare its forecasts, and the model typically estimates growth well below the rate projected by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

On February 2, the GDPNow model forecast GDP growth of 1.9%. At that time the change in net exports was forecast to be down $15 billion. By March 12, that total had dropped to a $40 billion negative change. Nonresidential construction spending was initially forecast to drop by 1.5% and is now forecast to be down 22.5%.

GDP growth may not actually reach zero in the first quarter of 2015, but there does not appear to be much question that it will end up well below where initial forecasts put it.

Growth is so last year, darling.

Anyway, I’m sure Evil White Businessmen are behind it all. They probably hate gays, too.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

April 6th, 2015 - 6:37 am

PROTEST

Hey, remember when we were told how dazzling efficient our tax system is? Why, it feels like it was only last Friday…

So keep that warm fuzzy memory in the front of your mind while reading this:

ObamaCare customers who received the wrong tax form from the federal government this spring will not face penalties if they miss the April 15 deadline, officials announced Friday.

Anyone who have not yet been sent corrected tax forms and are “unable to file an accurate tax return” now have until Oct. 15 to file — as long as they request an extension.

The government did not say how many people will be given extra time, though officials said in late March that 80,000 people were still waiting on their corrected tax forms. A total of 800,000 people had mailed the wrong forms.

“If a taxpayer receives their Form 1095-A before April 15 and is able to file using the form before the deadline, they should do so,” according to a statement from the Treasury Department released late Friday.

They’ve had five years to get this stuff straight.

About That Jobs Report…

April 6th, 2015 - 5:22 am

LFP

The headline number was… not good. The underlying numbers were… worse. Tyler Durden explains:

So much for yet another “above consensus” recovery, and what’s worse it is, well, about to get even worse, because while the Fed keeps baning some illusory drum that slack in the economy is almost non-existent, the reality is that in March the number of people who dropped out of the labor force rose by yet another 277K, up 2.1 million in the past year, and has reached a record 93.175 million.

Indicatively, this means that the labor force participation rate dropped once more, from 62.8% to 62.7%, a level seen back in February 1978, even as the BLS reported that the entire labor force actually declined for the second consecutive month, down almost 100K in March to 156,906.

Three decades of labor force participation growth thrown out the window since 2007 — and the trend line hasn’t shown one sign of improvement since the “recovery” began in June, 2009. And, no, it isn’t all due to Baby Boomer retirees leaving the workforce is droves, because the proportion of older workers has grown during this period.

We have dependency crowding out productivity and age crowding out youth — that’s a recipe for even worse growth in the future, as young people have fewer incentives and opportunities to gain the skills they’ll need.

But they’ll keep voting Democrat until we find away around “War on…” nonsense.

Friday Night Videos

April 3rd, 2015 - 10:07 pm

It’s the “One of these things is not like the other!” edition of FNV.

Enjoy the dancefloor bounciness of New Order’s music while reading the bitter, bitter lyric:

And I still find it so hard
To say what I need to say
But I’m quite sure that you’ll tell me
Just how I should feel today

I see a ship in the harbor
I can and shall obey
But if it wasn’t for your misfortunes
I’d be a heavenly person today

And I thought I was mistaken
And I thought I heard you speak
Tell me how do I feel?
Tell me now, how should I feel?

Forget the video, which is just classic low-budget mid-’80s cheesiness. The song worked, and works still, because of the total mismatch between the music and the lyric.

Or maybe it’s just that this particular mix came out at a very dance club-oriented period of my life. And by “dance club-oriented” of course I actually mean “mostly nocturnal and often illicit.”

The Audacity of Bureaucracy

April 3rd, 2015 - 11:06 am

Doyle McManus opines that the IRS is a model of efficiency:

Believe it or not, the IRS is becoming something of a model of efficiency among Washington’s bureaucracies. It collects more taxes every year than ever before, at lower cost per dollar collected than anytime since 1980. It does fewer face-to-face audits, too; most of its enforcement is done by checking electronic data and sending out letters. By the end of this year, its payroll will be about 14% smaller than five years ago, shortened by about 13,000 people. Its technologists have proposed new enforcement projects that would collect $8 to $13 for every dollar spent.

“That’s a return on investment that private businesses would kill for,” notes John Hudak, who studies the management of federal bureaucracies for the Brookings Institution.

“Efficiency” is anathema to our federal government, as envisioned by James Madison. The idea that a government agency could slip money away from the citizenry before they even held it in their hands… well, the Founders fought and won a revolutionary war over less.

And pardon my language, but screw John Hudak and screw the Brookings Institution. If a business could take money from our paychecks before they were even written, in exchange for nebulous and overpriced services, then I’m sure that company would be a model of efficiency, too.

To compare free market virtues of most American businesses to the predations of the IRS to the is nothing short of lies in the service of evil.

A Line in the Water

April 3rd, 2015 - 10:21 am

China has been busy, busy, busy building island in the contested waters of the South China Sea — islands with military purposes:

Admiral Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, sounded the alarm in a speech in Australia on Wednesday, calling the Chinese project “unprecedented” and saying that the construction is part of a larger campaign of provocative actions against smaller Asian states.

“China is creating a ‘Great Wall of Sand’ with dredges and bulldozers over the course of months,” he warned, adding that it raised “serious questions about Chinese intentions.”

For example, satellite photos taken by Airbus Defence and Space and published by Jane’s in February, show that over the past year China has built an 800,000-square-foot island on top of Hughes Reef in the Spratly Islands, where no island existed before. China also began a reclamation and construction project at nearby Gavin’s Reef. Both islands now have helipads and anti-aircraft towers.

As I’ve noted before regarding China’s naval expansion plan, building aircraft carriers is hard. Training up the crews and establishing doctrine is even harder — not to mention expensive in money, material, manpower, and sometimes in lives. It’s worth it of course to have the ability to take airpower out to sea.

But then of course occasionally the ships get sunk by the other side, taking all that money and time and manpower with them. Not to mention the loss of power projection.

Building islands where none were before is also expensive, but it’s not all that difficult — and it’s really, really hard for the other side to sink an island.

Whereabouts unknown.

Whereabouts unknown.

First Godzilla turns out to be totally fake, and now this:

According to the AFP, [Lawmaker/Celebrity Wrestler Antonio] Inoki queried Defense Minister Gen Nakatani whether Japanese fighter jets had ever intercepted extraterrestrial objects and if “studies were going on” to determine their existence.

“When the Air Self Defense Force detects indications of an unidentified flying object that could violate our country’s airspace, it scrambles fighter jets if necessary and makes visual observation,” Nakatani responded earnestly.

“They sometimes find birds or flying objects other than aircraft but I don’t know of a case of finding an unidentified flying object believed to have come over from anywhere other than Earth,” he said.

Good to know.

News You Can Use

April 3rd, 2015 - 8:55 am

KELM

Florida Woman strikes again! Her latest exploit:

A woman whose blood-alcohol content was three times the legal limit – and who was wearing only a bra and panties – made an early-morning pit stop at a Florida fast food drive-through but refused to budge, police said.

Employees at a Leesburg McDonald’s called the cops after Lydia Kelm, 23, allegedly drove up to the drive-through intercom at 3 a.m. Monday and revved her engine but refused to pull up to the window, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

She “seemed to be confused, lethargic” and “had slurred speech,” police said.

You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?

The next bit is classic, where Kelm told police she’d only had three beers, but blew a .247 on the breathalyzer.

Those must’ve been really big beers.

Get Your Phone Out of Your Face

April 3rd, 2015 - 7:18 am

DON'T WATCH

Wired has a “Secret History” of the development of the Apple Watch. It features the usual Apple-type people saying the usual Apple-type things they always say about the latest product — although the details about the awkward, iPhone-based watch prototypes are fascinating, even funny.

But it’s this bit which explains the Watch’s best feature, and (we’ll get to this after the excerpt) why Apple may have trouble marketing that feature:

Along the way, the Apple team landed upon the Watch’s raison d’être. It came down to this: Your phone is ruining your life. Like the rest of us, Ive, Lynch, Dye, and everyone at Apple are subject to the tyranny of the buzz—the constant checking, the long list of nagging notifications. “We’re so connected, kind of ever-presently, with technology now,” Lynch says. “People are carrying their phones with them and looking at the screen so much.” They’ve glared down their noses at those who bury themselves in their phones at the dinner table and then absentmindedly thrust hands into their own pockets at every ding or buzz. “People want that level of engagement,” Lynch says. “But how do we provide it in a way that’s a little more human, a little more in the moment when you’re with somebody?”

Our phones have become invasive. But what if you could engineer a reverse state of being? What if you could make a device that you wouldn’t—couldn’t—use for hours at a time? What if you could create a device that could filter out all the bullshit and instead only serve you truly important information? You could change modern life. And so after three-plus decades of building devices that grab and hold our attention—the longer the better—Apple has decided that the way forward is to fight back.

Now I love — love — the idea of a device, any device, that will get my phone out of my face, and I know I’m not alone in this. Look around at lunch today, and you’ll see tables full of people checking, or sometimes trying so hard not to be checking, their phones. You’ll see the same thing in malls, on sidewalks, in movie theaters. Pretty much everywhere we’re supposed to be paying attention to our surroundings or the people around us, we’re compulsively pulling out our phones.

I’ve tried everything to limit my phone face-time. There are some easy rules to follow, like never at the dinner table and never, ever when my kids are talking to me. In the car, too, but that’s a hard one, especially since the phone is also the music player. One of the first things I did was to put my phone on silent and leave it there — if it’s not buzzing or ringing, it can’t be bothering you, right? Except if you’re anything like me, all that silence does it make you wonder what messages or reminders you’re missing because the damn phone isn’t buzzing or ringing.

So the idea of leaving the phone in my pocket and have a watch for the really important notifications… that’s very appealing.

Does it work? If you don’t mind a spoiler, here’s how the Secret History ends:

A moment later, [Apple VP Kevin Lynch] stands up. He has to leave; he owes Dye and Ive an update on something important. In all the time we’ve been talking, he’s never once looked at his phone.

That right there has me intrigued with this thing in a way I wasn’t before — but how do you sell that? “It’s a device about nothing” just isn’t much of a marketing position. “Leaves you the hell alone!” isn’t something you can easily demo. “Spend $750 and not do things!” isn’t what most feature-loving consumers want to be told. “Don’t look at it!” isn’t a good fit for the purveyor of such good-looking consumer goods.

If I were Apple’s marketing chief [you'd be a lot richer --ed.], I’d sell the fashion and the personalizations and the apps — and let people discover on their own the Watch’s secret, best feature. Word of mouth is how you sell it.

“Hey, is that one of those new Apple Watches?”

“It sure is.”

“What’s it do?”

“It lets me do the stuff I wanted to be doing.”

That’s a crappy TV ad, but it’s one helluva feature.

Thought for the Day

April 3rd, 2015 - 6:06 am

The End of Yemen

April 3rd, 2015 - 5:26 am
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

That Frankenstein creature cobbled together at the mouth of the Red Sea effectively is no more:

Houthi rebels and their allies in Yemen have stormed the presidential palace in Aden following heavy clashes, officials say.

The rebels pushed through to the heart of the port city using tanks and armoured vehicles, despite air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition.

At least 44 people have been killed in the violence, including 18 civilians, according to AFP.

Separately, a Saudi border guard has reportedly been killed by gunfire.
It is the first known Saudi fatality since it began an air campaign against the Houthis last week.

The Saudi government says the aim of its operation in Yemen is to protect President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi’s “legitimate government”. It says it has no plans to deploy ground forces for now.

Aden was President Hadi’s last seat of power before he fled to Saudi Arabia last week, as the Shia rebels advanced on the city.

“There are bodies and wounded in the streets and nobody dares to approach,” said a resident in the central neighbourhood of Crater.

American political tradition demands that at this time, the party not in power demands to know, “Who lost [Country X]?” But the fact of the matter is that Yemen, despite Administration claims that it was a “success story,” was never ours to lose.

Of course, President Obama opened himself up to the “Who lost [Country X]?” question by making such an outrageous, false claim.

Iran Says Obama Lying

April 2nd, 2015 - 4:35 pm
Lying liars who get lied to by lying liars who lie to lying liars.

Lying liars who get lied to by lying liars who lie to lying liars.

Whelp. That didn’t take long:

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the Obama administration of misleading the American people and Congress in a fact sheet it released following the culmination of negotiations with the Islamic Republic.

Zarif bragged in an earlier press conference with reporters that the United States had tentatively agreed to let it continue the enrichment of uranium, the key component in a nuclear bomb, as well as key nuclear research.

Zarif additionally said Iran would have all sanctions lifted once a final deal is signed and that the country would not be forced to shut down any of its currently operating nuclear installations.

Following a subsequent press conference by Secretary of State John Kerry—and release of a administration fact sheet on Iranian concessions—Zarif lashed out on Twitter over what he dubbed lies.

Sorry our President lied to you, Zarif. But you get used to it.

The Framework [UPDATES COMING IN]

April 2nd, 2015 - 1:34 pm

The devil is in the details, which right now seem slim, but here’s what President Obama had to say about the framework deal just reached with Iran:

“This framework would cut off every pathway Iran could take to obtain a nuclear weapon,” he said.

More:

A fact-sheet accompanying the announcement outlined dozens of key “parameters” the negotiators had agreed to. Among them, Iran agreed to cut its installed centrifuges by two-thirds, from 19,000 today to 6,104 — with just over 5,000 of them enriching uranium for 10 years.

According to the document, Iran agreed not to enrich uranium at its contentious Fordow facility for at least 15 years, and would not build any new facilities for enrichment for the same time period. The framework would allow international inspectors to have “regular access” to nuclear sites. In exchange, U.S. and European Union sanctions would be suspended after inspectors verify Iran “has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps.” Sanctions, the document said, would “snap back” if Iran breaches the commitments.

“If Iran cheats, the world will know it,” Obama said. He said the “vast majority” of Iran’s enriched uranium stockpiled would be “neutralized.” Further, negotiators said the “breakout time” — or the time it would take for Iran to get enough material for one weapon — would extend from two to three months, to a year.

“Our work is not yet done,” Obama stressed.

Secretary of State John Kerry, earlier, tweeted that all sides would soon get back to work on a “final deal.”

“Big day,” he tweeted.

For whom?

What we don’t know: In what order are sanctions lifted, how quickly are they lifted, and how do they go back into force if Iran is found to be cheating?

Will Obama “allow” the Senate its constitutional say in the matter, or will it forge ahead without little niceties like the mandatory Senate approval?

I see a lot of promises and a lot of carrots, but there’s barely a stick in sight. When dealing with a regime as odious and as aggressive as Iran’s, that’s alarming.

UPDATES BELOW

AEI is worried about how solid the verification regime is:

Here, the case of South Africa is especially instructive. As I had explained over at Commentary Magazine, South Africa gave up its military nuclear program in 1991. In order to make sure all of its nuclear materials were present and accounted for, the IAEA required South Africa to provide records and full access to its program going back 20 years. When it comes to Iran, they start with a blank slate. The problem with a blank slate, however, is that it effectively forgives and removes accountability for decades of deception. That might be a risk worth taking if verification was still possible without inspection into the past, but unfortunately it is not. Nor does Obama explain why, if Iran has really turned a corner, they would ever hesitate to allow full transparency into their past actions.

South Africa was also the last vestiges of a racist white regime, which didn’t want the incoming black government to have nukes — so in this case we could trust the vile racists to do the right thing. The Islamists in charge of Iran have no such incentive.

MORE

Here’s what SecState Kerry says about the sanctions:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stressed that if a final deal is reached with Iran, the removal of any sanctions against Tehran will come in phases. “And if we find out at any point that Iran is not complying with the agreement, the sanctions can snap back into place,” he said.

Can snap back into place, or will snap back into place? That’s not a small distinction, and a very worrisome one. Give this Administration an inch, and they will take a mile.

MORE

From Israel:

Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement after the announcements in Switzerland:

“The smiles in Lausanne are detached from wretched reality in which Iran refuses to make any concessions on the nuclear issue and continues to threaten Israel and all other countries in the Middle East.

“We will continue with our efforts to explain and persuade the world in hopes of preventing a bad (final) agreement.”

I can’t imagine what tensions are like in Jerusalem right now, but I suspect it’s a mix of the dread we felt immediately after 9/11, with a dash of Cuban Missile Crisis.

MORE

At Quartz, Bobby Ghosh looks at the regional picture:

Oh, great: the world can now look forward to two petro-states run by religious extremists with international ambitions for their sectarian agendas—and unlimited resources with which to pursue them. The removal of economic sanctions on Iran, as part of the nuclear agreement announced today, would free the Islamic Republic to seek parity with its hated rival, Saudi Arabia.

You could argue that Iran is already Saudi Arabia’s mirror image—Tehran’s Shia theocracy reflecting Riyadh’s Sunni-fundamentalist visage. But, constrained by economic sanctions, Iran has lacked the resources to match Saudi Arabia’s influence. They may never be equals, but without the economic restraints, the Islamic Republic will have the ability to spread mayhem across the Middle East, more overtly, more effectively, and with more immediate destabilizing consequences, than the kingdom ever has.

It will be interesting to gauge the Saudi reaction. They started bombing Yemen without so much as a “FORE!” to the White House, so clearly Riyadh just doesn’t give a good got-dam about Obama’s opinion anymore.

MORE

Speaking of the Saudis, Angus McDowall reports from Riyadh:

For the kingdom’s Al Saud dynasty, locked for the past decade in a regional tussle with Iran’s revolutionary theocratic rulers, the prospect of Tehran gaining a nuclear bomb, which it denies seeking, is a nightmare scenario.

But it is far from clear whether the Western-allied Al Saud would really risk their country becoming a pariah state by aggressively pursuing a course of action that would bring down demands for sanctions, or whether it is a bluffing.

Top Saudi princes have repeatedly said that Riyadh will push for the same nuclear rights world powers agree with Iran in the talks taking place in Lausanne, but have also hinted that if negotiations fail to stop Tehran acquiring nuclear weapons, they will do the same.

“If Iran possessed a nuclear bomb, Saudi Arabia would have to think very seriously about offsetting that. Saudi Arabia would not sit idly by,” said Abdulaziz al-Sager, head of the Gulf Research Centre based in Jeddah and Geneva.

The White House had better hope its verification scheme is solid — not just for our safety, but to keep the Saudis from doing something crazy.

Required Reading

April 2nd, 2015 - 12:18 pm

Ted Cruz

George Will on Ted Cruz:

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was born in 1970, six years after events refuted a theory on which he is wagering his candidacy. The 1964 theory was that many millions of conservatives abstained from voting because the GOP did not nominate sufficiently deep-dyed conservatives. So if in 1964 the party would choose someone like Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, hitherto dormant conservatives would join the electorate in numbers sufficient for victory.

This theory was slain by a fact — actually, 15,951,378 facts. That was the difference between the 43,129,566 votes President Lyndon Johnson received and the 27,178,188 that Goldwater got in winning six states.

The sensible reason for nominating Goldwater was not because he could win: As Goldwater understood, Americans still recovering from the Kennedy assassination were not going to have a third president in 14 months. The realistic reason was to turn the GOP into a conservative weapon for a future assault on the ramparts of power.

Read the whole thing.

There’s absolutely no good reason — short- or longterm, win or lose — for the GOP to nominate Jeb Bush. If nominated, he would likely be a disaster. If elected, he would likely be worse, cementing in the rot at the national party level.

While I sometimes wonder about Cruz’s tactical political judgement, it’s possible to imagine him as a Goldwater-type party reformer. The party is luck though in that it also has Rubio, Jindal, perhaps Paul, and others who could do the same job — and maybe with better odds of actually winning.

The Return of the Living Dead Cronies

April 2nd, 2015 - 10:57 am

Not even repeated and public failures can keep a bad corporate giveaway down:

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced that its revised loan program has given a preliminary loan commitment for $259 million to Alcoa – the aluminum producer.

The loan, from DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program, is the first being issued after a four year suspension of the program because previous DOE loans resulted in significant tax payer losses from bankruptcies including Solyndra.

The Alcoa loan follows improvements to the program by DOE Secretary Moniz to support the production of light weight vehicles that will use less fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Presumably Alcoa will keep the increased profits it makes from selling improved materials to automakers — so why should we taxpayers have to front them the investment money?

Sign “O” the Times

April 2nd, 2015 - 9:42 am
Not currently available for three-hour tours.

Not currently available for three-hour tours.

These days everybody is hurting so badly that even yacht buyers need relief:

A version of New York’s state budget includes a major sales-tax exemption on yacht purchases. That means those who pony up for boats over $230,000 would only pay taxes on the first $230,000, regardless of how much higher the price of the yacht climbs.

As Capital New York notes, the measure echoes one that appeared in the never-introduced and so-called “budget clean-up” bill that was being discussed last year.

Given that the measure might lubricate the yacht economy, VF.com reached out to both private and New York City docks and marinas to find out whether there are many vacant docks in the city. An employee who answered the phone at the Parks Department said there’s a “five- or six-year waiting list” for permanent docks at Manhattan’s Riverside Park marina.

I hope this measure passes, because I plan on having a field day — many such days, actually — with Albany if it does.

Too Many Punchlines

April 2nd, 2015 - 8:35 am
He'd buy that for a dollar. (AP photo)

He’d buy that for a dollar.
(AP photo)

Our own Bridget Johnson brings you the story that will touch your heart — for an extra 50 bucks:

A brothel that benefited from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) support of the state’s legalized prostitution industry has offered to throw his retirement party.

The open letter from Sheri’s Ranch in Pahrump congratulates Reid on a “long and successful political career” and says they are “sorry to hear that the Silver State’s most tenacious public servant will not seek reelection in 2016, and your plan to retire from politics.”

“Your work over the years has positively affected the lives of the legal prostitutes of Sheri’s Ranch.”

The problem isn’t coming up with a punchline to this report. The problem is choosing.

So I’m opening the floor for everyone to contribute. See you in the comments!