Thursday, April 30, 2015

Michelle Keegan World's Sexiest Woman 2015

At FHM UK, on Twitter, "Video proof that Michelle Keegan (@MichKeegan) deserves the #100Sexiest crown."

Also at ABC News, "Michelle Keegan: FHM's Sexiest Woman in the World."

Ta-Nehisi Coates: Black People in Baltimore Are Subjected to Violence All the Time

He's an extremely talented writer. Sure, he overstates his case most of the time, but he pushes all the right buttons with eloquence. That's why he's god-like on the radical left.

At the Atlantic, "The Clock Didn't Start With the Riots":
When I was going to school, I thought about every little article that I wore when I walked out the house. I thought about who I was walking with. I thought about how many of them there were. I thought about what neighborhoods they were from. I thought about which route I was going to take to school. Once I got to school I thought about what I was going to do during the lunch hour—was I actually going to have lunch or was I going to go sit in the library. When school was dismissed I thought about what time I was going to leave school. I thought about whether I should stay after-school for class. I thought about whether I should take the bus up to my grandmother’s house. I thought about which way I should go home if I was going to go home. Every one of those choices was about the avoidance of violence, about the protection of my body. And so I don’t want to come off as if I’m sympathizing or saying that it is necessarily okay, to inflict violence just out of anger, no matter how legitimate that anger is.
Smart kid.

Keep reading (via Memeorandum).

New Information Released by Baltimore Police: Additional Stop Made by Paddy Wagon Transporting #FreddieGray

Watch, at CNN, "Police: Van carrying Gray made additional stop."

Bill O'Reilly: 'The truth is, we don't know what happened' to #FreddieGray

A righteous Talking Points Memo, via Nice Deb, "O'Reilly Gets it Right: Baltimore Rioting is Leading to Madness (Video)."

Are Cops Racist?

Buy Heather Mac Donald's book at Amazon, Are Cops Racist?

Also, Shop Mother's Day Savings in Amazon Exclusives .

I'm teaching all day.

More blogging tonight.

Baltimore in Flames

From Heather Mac Donald, at City Journal, "While the city burns, liberals place blame everywhere but where it belongs: on criminality and on family breakdown":
The apologetics began almost as soon as the fires were lit in Baltimore yesterday, heralding a night of violence and looting that would leave 24 police officers injured and 19 buildings torched, including a $16 million senior center providing affordable housing and a CVS drugstore providing crucial medications for elderly customers. Society “refuses to help [young blacks] in a serious fashion,” Michael Eric Dyson announced on MSNBC. “We’re only there when they riot.” Mika Brzezinski observed on Morning Joe: “This was an extremely, desperately poor city. This was bound to happen.” We were seeing an “uprising of young people against the police,” the result of a “combination of anger and disparity,” said professional talking head Wes Moore. Neill Franklin, a former Baltimore police officer and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, blamed the drug laws.

In other words, the looters and arsonists were pushed to the breaking point by racism, poverty, and police brutality, the latter exemplified by the still unexplained death of Freddie Gray in police custody. The rioters’ means may have been regrettable, but they were engaged in a profound, if fiery, cri de coeur against the social injustice in which we all play a part.

Bunk. What happened last evening in Baltimore was simply a larger and better-covered version of the flash mobs that have beset American cities for the last half-decade, in which black youths gather via social media to steal from stores and assault whites. In May 2012, for example, students from Mervo High School in Northeast Baltimore crammed into a 7-Eleven store that was offering free Slurpees as a promotion. The teens grabbed all the merchandise they could get their hands on—$6,000 worth in total—and fled from the store. The manager tried to close the door to prevent the thieves from escaping and was viciously beaten. On St. Patrick’s Day that same year, a flash mob converged on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The Baltimore Sun reported that by the time the rampage ended, “one youth had been stabbed, a tourist had been robbed, beaten and stripped of his clothes, and others had been forced to take refuge inside a hotel lobby to escape an angry mob.” Last April, a bicyclist in Baltimore was attacked by a group of black teens who knocked him off his bike and pummeled him.

Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Washington D.C., among other cities, have all grappled with similar violence. None of it deserves a righteous political gloss. Nor does the violence last night, which began with an invitation sent out over social media to convene at a local mall and “purge” it.

Perhaps if the media had not shrunk from reporting on the flash mob phenomenon and the related “knockout game”—in which teenagers tried to knock out unsuspecting bystanders with a single sucker punch—we might have made a modicum of progress in addressing or at least acknowledging the real cause of black violence: the breakdown of the family. A widely circulated video from yesterday’s mayhem shows a furious mother whacking her hoodie-encased son to prevent him from joining the mob. This tiger mom may well have the capacity to rein in her would-be vandal son. But the odds are against her. Try as they might, single mothers are generally overmatched in raising males. Boys need their fathers. But over 72 percent of black children are born to single-mother households today, three times the black illegitimacy rate when Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote his prescient analysis of black family breakdown in 1965.

Baltimore councilman Brandon Scott came closest to the truth last night in a city news conference when he angrily called on adults to “get out there and stand up for your neighborhood . . . . Adults have to step up and be adults and control our future.” True enough. But primary responsibility lies with children’s own two parents. Pace Dyson, “we” have spent trillions of dollars since the 1960s trying to help black youth. A social worker and a government check are no substitute for a father and mother, however.
Still more.

From Rodney King to Freddie Gray

From Jonathan Capehart, at WaPo, "Two riots, 23 years apart: From Rodney King to Freddie Gray":

On this day, 23 years — April 29, 1992 — the City of Angels erupted in what would be six days of rioting after four police officers were acquitted of charges of assault and excessive force against Rodney King.

In March 1991, King was in a car with two other men on a Los Angeles freeway when they were stopped by police. But they then led the cops on a high-speed chase that ended with King being viciously beaten by five white police officers. What made the attack a national story was that it was captured on videotape. For the first time, we saw with our own eyes what African Americans had been protesting for decades: excessive force by police.

And still, those officers were set free, which proved too much for the community to take. Fifty-three people died and as many as 2,000 people were injured during the Rodney King Riots, including Reginald Denny whose vicious bearing after being pulled from his truck was caught on camera. There was an estimated $1 billion in property damage. Thank God that was not the fate of Baltimore on Monday. But there is a straight line that connects Los Angeles 1992 to Baltimore 2015.

The sense of oppression and injustice at the hands of police that sparked the Rodney King riots are at the root of the Freddie Gray riot. Gray died on April 19, one week after suffering a nearly severed spine while in police custody. How it happened remains unexplained. An investigation is underway, but the excesses of the Baltimore Police Department are well-known. That’s why Gray’s mysterious death was a spark that ignited kindling that had piled up for years. Nothing excuses the violence that happened in Baltimore, but knowing this history certainly explains the anger that fueled the riot and the peaceful protests that preceded it...
Whatever pervasive injustice blacks face in America (real or imagined), it never justifies the kind of anarchy and evil wanton violence that inevitably accompanies the rioting. Just ask Reginald Denny.


U.S. Growth Nearly Stalls Out

At WSJ, "U.S. Economic Growth Nearly Stalls Out: Businesses slash investment, exports tumble and consumers show caution as GDP expands at 0.2% pace":
WASHINGTON—The U.S. economy slowed to a crawl at the start of the year as businesses slashed investment, exports tumbled and consumers showed signs of caution, marking a return to the uneven growth that has been a hallmark of the nearly six-year economic expansion.

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, expanded at a 0.2% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The economy advanced at a 2.2% pace in the fourth quarter and 5% in the third.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected growth of 1% in the first three months of this year, though many were braced for a surprise to the downside.

The latest reading on the economy came hours before Federal Reserve officials released their policy statement, in which they said slower growth reflected, in part, “transitory factors.” The Fed gave no new explicit clues on the timing of interest-rate increases, but the slower growth made the timing a bit more uncertain.

The first-quarter figures repeat a common pattern in recent years: one or two strong readings followed by a sharp slowdown. First-quarter GDP growth had averaged 0.6% since 2010 and 2.9% for all other quarters. That has worked out to moderate overall expansion but no growth breakout.

“This is another quarterly number which confirms the long-term slow-growth thesis, but there are good odds we get a bit of a bounce later in the year from stabilized business spending and the housing markets, which are setting up quite promising,” Guy LeBas, chief fixed-income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott, said in a note to clients.

Last year, economists pinned much of the blame for a bad first quarter—GDP shrank 2.1%—on unusually harsh weather. This year, multiple factors appear to be at work, including another bout of blizzards, disruptions at West Coast ports, the stronger dollar’s effect on exports and the impact of cheaper oil.

Better weather, a return to normal at port terminals and steadying investment could boost growth later this year.

“We expect the economy will rebound in [the second quarter] and beyond, similar to last year,” said Michelle Girard, economist at RBS Securities.

But not all the factors behind the slowdown appear temporary. A stronger dollar and cheaper oil could persist, keeping exports and energy-sector investment at bay.

As well, rising inventories kept the U.S. economy out of recession, contributing 0.74 percentage point to GDP in the first quarter. A second-quarter repeat is unlikely.

Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, said producers probably will allow inventory positions to run off rather than building them up even more. “This tells us that current-quarter growth is likely to run around 2.5%, not the 4% snapback we had previously been anticipating,” he said.

U.S. households will have to pick up spending to help the economy grow. Wednesday’s report showed consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of economic output, decelerated to a 1.9% pace in the first quarter, down from 4.4% growth in the fourth quarter.

Rather than using savings from cheaper gasoline to buy more goods and services, Americans have been setting money aside for a rainy day. The personal saving rate at 5.5% in the first quarter was the highest since 2012. The figure was 4.6% in the fourth quarter.

Another key driver of the economy, business spending, also has faltered of late. Nonresidential fixed investment—which reflects spending on software, research and development, equipment and structures—retreated at a 3.4% rate, compared with a 4.7% rise in the fourth quarter.

Energy companies in particular are feeling the effects of cheaper oil. Business investment in structures fell 23.1%, led by a 48.7% contraction for mining sector spending on shafts and wells, Commerce said.

A stronger dollar, meanwhile, has made domestically produced goods more expensive overseas and foreign products cheaper inside the U.S. Combined with disruptions at West Coast ports, trade was constrained. In the first quarter, exports fell at a 7.2% rate, compared with 4.5% growth in the fourth quarter. Imports rose 1.8%, compared with 10.4% in the fourth quarter...
Also at Gateway Pundit, "OBAMA vs. REAGAN on GDP GROWTH — NOT EVEN CLOSE."

Two-Headed Calf Born to Cow at Florida Farm



Freddie Gray Was 'Trying to Injure Himself...'

At WaPo, "Prisoner in van said Freddie Gray was ‘trying to injure himself,’ document says":

BALTIMORE — A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.

The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate’s safety.

The document, written by a Baltimore police investigator, offers the first glimpse of what might have happened inside the van. It is not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner’s version, which is just one piece of a much larger probe.

Gray was found unconscious in the wagon when it arrived at a police station on April 12. The 25-year-old had suffered a spinal injury and died a week later, touching off waves of protests across Baltimore, capped by a riot Monday in which hundreds of angry residents torched buildings, looted stores and pelted police officers with rocks.

Police have said they do not know whether Gray was injured during the arrest or during his 30-minute ride in the van. Local police and the U.S. Justice Department both have launched investigations of Gray’s death...

Also at Twitchy, "Rick Leventhal also heard that Freddie Gray threw himself into walls of van," and Instapundit, "FIFTY SHADES OF FREDDIE GRAY: The Washington Post reports that a prisoner sharing a Baltimore police transport van with Freddie Gray could hear Gray “banging his head” against the van walls and believes Gray was “intentionally trying to injure himself”."

New York Protesters March for Freddie Gray

A live blog, at the Guardian UK, "Freddie Gray protests sweep US from Baltimore to New York – live updates."

And at the New York Times, "Hundreds March in Manhattan to Protest the Death of Freddie Gray":
Freddie Gray, Michael Brown. Shut it down, shut it down...”

VIDEO: Baltimore Restaurant Owner Fights Off Looters

Via Truth Revolt:

Iran Seizes Marshall Islands-Flagged Cargo Ship

At the New York Times, "U.S. Sends Destroyer After Iran Detains Ship":

WASHINGTON — The United States Navy sent a destroyer toward the Persian Gulf on Tuesday after Iran took control of a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship it accused of trespassing in territorial waters, American military officials said.

The ship, the Maersk Tigris, with 24 crew members, was intercepted by Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boats on Tuesday morning while traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, a Pentagon official said. The Iranian forces fired shots across the ship’s bow, the official said, after its captain declined an order by the forces to divert farther into Iranian waters.

The official said the ship was traveling through “an internationally recognized maritime route.” After being fired on, it issued a distress call, prompting the United States Navy to direct a destroyer, the Farragut, to the area and to put aircraft on standby to monitor the situation.

The episode threatened fragile negotiations over reining in Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but American officials were quick to play down its significance, correcting initial reports out of Iran that it had seized a United States ship. The Marshall Islands, in the Pacific, have been independent of the United States since 1986 but have a “free association” relationship with the country.

Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said the ship was traveling through Iranian territorial waters that are, by international agreement, open to foreign ships making an innocent passage. He said it was “inappropriate” for Iran to have fired warning shots, but he added that it was too early to know whether Iran’s intervention was a violation of international navigation freedom. Iran has in the past threatened to block the strait, a route for much of the world’s oil.

An American military official said Tuesday that the Farragut was about 60 miles away from the site of the episode, and that as of the afternoon there had been no communication between the United States Navy and Iran.

A Maersk spokesman said that the ship was a charter vessel, not a Maersk-crewed ship. A spokesman for the charter company, Rickmers Shipmanagement, said that the crew members were all Eastern European or Asian, and that the ship had been headed to a port near Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, from Jidda, Saudi Arabia. It was carrying general cargo, “anything from food to machinery to electronics,” he said.

The Rickmers spokesman, Cor Radings, said the captain had said that the ship did not stray into Iranian waters outside the international maritime route. “She was stopped by the Iranians and instructed to go to a rendezvous point in Iranian waters,” he said. “Since then we’ve lost contact with the ship.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Supreme Court Justices View Homosexual Marriage with Doubt

Well, oral arguments aren't a particularly good predictor of how the Court will rule.

And Justice Anthony Kennedy's the flaming leftist who wrote the majority opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, which many observers claimed foreshadowed a Court ruling establishing a right to same-sex nuptials.

So, while I take this with some skepticism, it's nevertheless pretty ticklish how the homosexual rights attorneys got all beat up during the arguments yesterday. It's good to keep the leftist ghouls guessing. They've been freakin' aggressive with entitlement this last few years. Damn.

At the Los Angeles Times, "Supreme Court weighs gay marriage; Justice Kennedy unexpectedly expresses doubt":
Gay rights lawyers went to the Supreme Court hoping to find a majority of justices ready to support a historic ruling that would declare same-sex couples had an equal right to marry nationwide.

Instead during Tuesday’s arguments, they heard words of hesitation that suggested the outcome is less certain than many expected.

The most important and surprising doubts came almost immediately from Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who openly wondered whether the court should intervene in an institution so deeply rooted in history and religion.

The word that keeps coming back to me is millennia,” Kennedy said in the opening minutes of a 2 1/2-hour argument, prompting looks of concern from gay rights attorneys.

Kennedy’s apparent struggle over what is perhaps the court’s most important civil rights question in a generation was welcomed by state attorneys opposing gay marriage and by his four fellow conservative justices. They emphasized that marriage has been limited throughout American history to a man and a woman, and that the issue is better left to voters at the state level, rather than to federal judges.

Despite his comments, Kennedy — who will probably have the deciding vote — may still rule in favor of marriage rights for same-sex couples when the court announces its decision in June. Kennedy in the past had similarly voiced doubts during an argument, only to discard them when the time came to make a decision.

More important, Kennedy has written the court’s three important rulings in favor of gay rights, including an opinion two years ago that spoke glowingly of the “equal dignity” of same-sex couples who had married. It was that decision that led to a string of rulings by federal courts over the last year that invalidated states’ same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional.

To the relief of gay rights advocates, Kennedy later in Tuesday’s argument returned to some of his more familiar themes about equality and at one point chided a Michigan state lawyer for insisting that marriage was chiefly about biology and procreation, and not recognizing the dignity derived from being in a committed couple.

“Same-sex couples say, 'Of course, we understand the nobility and sacredness of the marriage. We know we can’t procreate, but we want the other attributes of it in order to show that we too have a dignity that can be fulfilled,’” Kennedy said.

With an estimated 250,000 children that are being raised by same-sex couples across the nation, Kennedy also questioned the harm same-sex marriage bans have on such families.

Kennedy’s colleagues seemed less ambivalent about the question before them.

The court’s four most conservative justices, including Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., left little doubt they would vote to uphold the state bans on same-sex marriage. Roberts said gay rights proponents were seeking to redefine marriage.

“You're not seeking to join the institution,” he told attorney Mary L. Bonauto, who is representing two Michigan nurses who have been unable to marry and jointly adopt the four abandoned foster children they are raising. “You're seeking to change what the institution is.”

Roberts also warned that a ruling from the high court at this time would prematurely shut down the national debate over the issue.

But Bonauto emphasized that the rights of gays and lesbians were being compromised in many states and that it was unfair to tell gay couples to “wait and see.”

The four liberal justices said they saw no valid legal justification to deny marriage to same-sex couples, questioning how such recognition would harm heterosexual marriage.

“We are not taking anyone’s liberty away” by allowing gay couples to marry, said Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

They attacked the argument that marriage is intended chiefly to encourage child-rearing, and noted that many heterosexual spouses do not have children and a growing number of same-sex couples do, either through adoption or surrogacy.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said the court had repeatedly ruled that Americans have a fundamental right to marry, and he questioned whether “purely religious reasons” can justify a ban on same-sex marriage.

“There is one group of people whom [some states] won't open marriage to,” Breyer said. “So they have no possibility to participate in that fundamental liberty. That is people of the same sex who wish to marry. And so we ask, why? And the answer we get is, ‘Well, people have always done it.’ You know, you could have answered that one the same way we talk about racial segregation.”

Latest Updates on Baltimore Riots

At the Baltimore Sun, "Latest updates on Baltimore unrest and Freddie Gray case Live."

Baltimore 'Hero Mom' Berates Son for Participating in Riots

And wouldn't you know it, but far-left extremist Joan Walsh goes ballistic over the media's praise for the woman.

At Salon, "The hideous white hypocrisy behind the Baltimore “Hero Mom” hype: How clueless media applause excuses police brutality."

Walsh is a terrible human being.

The mom, on the other hand, deserves the accolades.

More here.

I Thought Gisele Bundchen Retired?

I saw this earlier, "Gisele Bundchen retires from the runway."

But now here's this, at Egotastic!, "Gisele Bundchen bares it all for Vogue Brazil."

Tailgating Camaro Driver Causes Huge Crash on New York Tollway

Almost unreal. Almost.

At Jalopnik, "Jackass Uses Road Rage and Idiocy to Cause Two-Car-Plus-Truck Wreck."

Baltimore Shows How Progressivism Has Failed Urban America

A phenomenal editorial, at WSJ, "The Blue-City Model":
You’re not supposed to say this in polite company, but what went up in flames in Baltimore Monday night was not merely a senior center, small businesses and police cars. Burning down was also the blue-city model of urban governance.

Nothing excuses the violence of rampaging students or the failure of city officials to stop it before Maryland’s Governor called in the National Guard. But as order starts to return to the streets, and the usual political suspects lament the lack of economic prospects for the young men who rioted, let’s not forget who has run Baltimore and Maryland for nearly all of the last 40 years.

The men and women in charge have been Democrats, and their governing ideas are “progressive.” This model, with its reliance on government and public unions, has dominated urban America as once-vibrant cities such as Baltimore became shells of their former selves. In 1960 Baltimore was America’s sixth largest city with 940,000 people. It has since shed nearly a third of its population and today isn’t in the top 25.

The dysfunctions of the blue-city model are many, but the main failures are three: high crime, low economic growth and failing public schools that serve primarily as jobs programs for teachers and administrators rather than places of learning.

Let’s take them in order...
Keep reading.

Hope Fades on Finding More #NepalEarthquake Survivors


At the Los Angeles Times, "Hope of finding more Nepal quake survivors fades as toll tops 5,200":
Hope of finding survivors in rubble was fading fast Wednesday as the death toll from last weekend’s earthquake in Nepal surpassed 5,200. But after days of complaints about the shortage of aid, a somewhat stronger presence of foreign search-and-rescue teams and assistance convoys was evident in the capital and outlying districts.

A logjam of airplane traffic and passengers began to clear at Katmandu’s airport, where authorities said they had picked up 1.5 tons of trash from the overrun facility. Banks, restaurants and even souvenir shops began to reopen in the capital.

Thousands of people, though, continued to look for ways out of the Katmandu Valley, hitching rides on crowded buses and taxis. Many were returning home to remote villages to assess the effects of the disaster. State-run Radio Nepal said 200,000 people had already left the valley as of late Tuesday and another 200,000 may leave in the coming days.

That exodus could crimp the ability of private businesses and government offices to function. Government authorities ordered civil servants to return to work Thursday, though schools and many other institutions remained closed indefinitely.

Indian, Russian, French, Chinese and Nepalese search-and-rescue teams were working across the capital, trying to find survivors amid collapsed buildings. But four days after the magnitude 7.8 quake, chances of finding anyone alive were slim.

As the sun began to set, Deepak Damai stood on the edge of the Sobhavagbati Bridge in Katmandu, clutching a photo of his 5-year-old son and explaining his agony to a reporter from an Indian TV station. The boy and his mother were in their apartment on the third floor of a seven-story building that collapsed during Saturday’s quake.

Damai, who had been working in Dubai at the time, flew home Monday to search for his wife and son. He watched with despair as Nepalese rescue workers drilled through the layers of concrete, pulling out four bodies. “Those people also lived on the third floor,” he said, his lip trembling.

Rescue workers had dug out 27 bodies so far and still had three more levels to drill through. A police officer said they expected to find a large number of bodies on the lowest level, which had housed an athletic club.

About half a mile away, Indian, Russian and Nepalese teams were using dogs and listening devices to try to locate survivors from three collapsed buildings, including a church where 50 people had been worshiping at the time of the quake.

Subrate Charkrabortui, an Indian physician on the scene, was downbeat. One body had been pulled out Wednesday, he said.

“We could do much more if we had better equipment," he said. "But it is difficult to airlift all the heavy equipment necessary to lift buildings like this.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

As Baltimore Residents Clean Up, National Guard Steps In

At WSJ, "Hundreds of troops fan out over city following a night of unrest in wake of Freddie Gray funeral":
BALTIMORE—Maryland National Guard troops fanned out here Tuesday and residents began to repair neighborhoods as the city’s mayor defended the response to a previous night of riots and looting fueled by the recent death of a black man in police custody.

As a 10 p.m. curfew came and went Tuesday, a line of police behind riot shields used pepper balls and smoke grenades to disperse a crowd of about 200 at North and Pennsylvania avenues. Protesters tossed bottles at police, but no immediate arrests or serious injuries were reported before the crowd quickly dispersed.

On Monday night, upheaval roiled the city when roaming groups of youths faced off with police just hours after the funeral for Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died earlier this month after police arrested him.

City officials said fires consumed 19 buildings and 144 vehicles, while at least 20 police officers were injured and 235 people arrested. On Tuesday, shop owners covered storefronts with plywood, and many residents swept debris from streets. The acrid smell of charred vehicles and buildings hung in the air.

Government offices, schools and businesses closed or scaled back hours of operation.Johns Hopkins University canceled classes in the city.

In an unusual move, the Baltimore Orioles announced the team would play a scheduled game at its Camden Yards stadium in Baltimore on Wednesday but close it to the public. A three-game series starting Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays was moved to Florida.

Baltimore officials focused Tuesday on containing the immediate threat of additional lawlessness, beginning a weeklong, citywide 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. Schools were set to reopen Wednesday.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake defended her administration’s decision not to crack down heavily on a crowd of young people that clashed with police Monday afternoon before the confrontation spiraled into widespread mayhem that overwhelmed the city police force.

She said officers have to maintain safety while trying not to escalate tensions. “We worked very swiftly, and it’s a very delicate balancing act,” Ms. Rawlings-Blake said.

Gov. Larry Hogan said an influx of up to 2,000 Maryland National Guard troops, more than 400 state troopers and officers from other states would help ensure that chaos didn’t return to the city’s streets.

A person familiar with the governor’s thinking said Mr. Hogan believed Ms. Rawlings-Blake should have asked him to mobilize the National Guard earlier on Monday. The violence began at about 3 p.m. on Monday.

“Finally I believe around 6 o’clock, the mayor requested us to bring in the National Guard and declare a state of emergency,” Mr. Hogan said. “We did so immediately.”
Keep reading.

Also, "'This is our home. Now it's destroyed.' CVS employees in Baltimore react to their store being torched by looters..."

Weeklong Baltimore Curfew Takes Effect After #FreddieGray Riots

At the Baltimore Sun, "Weeklong Baltimore curfew takes effect after Freddie Gray protests":

Amid continued protests over the death of Freddie Gray, Baltimore readied Tuesday for the start of a citywide curfew.

The curfew — which will be in effect for at least seven days, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. — applies to everyone in the city, though exceptions are in place for emergency personnel, students traveling for classes and people commuting to or from work for essential functions.

Individuals may be stopped by authorities and asked to provide documentation to avoid arrest, according to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's administration. Violating the curfew is a misdemeanor.

The mayor's office said that "non-essential business operations" should be suspended during the hours the curfew is in effect. Restaurants, entertainment venues and bars should be closed between those hours, and patrons should plan enough time to travel before the curfew takes effect.

Employees traveling to or from work during the curfew should have a valid photo ID and a document from their employer stating their need to work during curfew hours, along with the dates and employee hours, according to the administration.

At the end of the week, Rawlings-Blake will determine whether the curfew should be extended.

The city already has a curfew that requires children younger than 14 to be indoors by 9 p.m. on school nights. Those older than 14 may stay out until 10 p.m. on school nights and 11 p.m. on weekends and over the summer.

Mayoral spokesman Kevin Harris said the citywide curfew — announced Monday — was set to take effect Tuesday night so police had time to ramp up enforcement efforts. Harris also said people needed reasonable notice before a curfew is enforced.

Riots on Monday followed a week of mostly peaceful protests over the death of the 25-year-old Gray in police custody. The protests boiled into violence Saturday, and it worsened Monday after Gray's funeral.
Also, "Critics question delay in calling out the Guard":
As the Maryland National Guard patrolled Baltimore streets for the first time in more than 45 years, some critics questioned why it took so long to deploy them.

Among those airing concern: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake did not return his repeated phone calls for more than two hours Monday as rioting spread across the city. He felt he couldn't call out the Guard without her.

Rawlings-Blake would not directly respond to his complaint, saying she would not engage in "political football."
Keep reading.

Mother's Day Technology Gifts

Enjoy shopping today, and stay safe, Shop Amazon - Mother's Day Gifts for the Techie.

Also, Shop Amazon Gift Cards - Last Minute Gift for Mom.

Have a beautiful day. I'll be teaching.

Blessings to you and your family, and thanks for using my Amazon links for shopping.

Stop Racism! Stop Treating Blacks Differently. Stop Giving Free Pass to Riots and Looting

Here's Chloe Valdary, for Prager University.

Filmmaker Who Survived #NepalEarthquake Recounts Terrifying Moments at Mount Everest

At Telegraph UK, "Survivor recounts terrifying moments of Mount Everest avalanche."

Also at LAT, "Nepal's government ill-equipped to handle earthquake disaster."

Rachel Williams — the Girl Who Broke the Internet — Makes Her Sexy Return!

Well, I don't know if she "broke the Internet," although she definitely set many male hearts aflutter.

At Zoo Today.

PREVIOUSLY: "Rachel Williams: Zoo's Great British Babe Search Winner 2013," and "Rachel Williams Awesome in Undies!"

U.S. and Japan Tighten Alliance in Face of Surging Threat from China

This is fascinating, although Japan's not a political pygmy, and folks should stop treating the Japanese as such.

Japan's a powerful country that could deploy a nuclear arsenal at virtually a moment's notice. Time to cut the cord, if anything.

In any case, at LAT, "Japan's Shinzo Abe visits U.S. to discuss new threat: China":
When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rises to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, it will represent a diplomatic sea change so great that it may seem incomprehensible to the lingering members of the "Greatest Generation."

To those who lived through World War II, Japan was once seen as such a menacing enemy that upon the emperor's surrender in 1945, America imposed a severely pacifist constitution to ensure that the Asian nation would never again become a world power.

Today, that world has turned upside down. And the U.S. and Japan are finding it necessary to draw even closer to confront a shared threat.

China, a battered and enfeebled American ally during the war, has become a juggernaut that increasingly asserts its economic and military power across Asia and beyond.

Consequently, Abe's unprecedented speech to Congress is expected to focus on the once-unimaginable idea of increasing Japan's military strength with an eye toward putting muscle behind the two countries' vision of an American-led order in Asia.

The 60-year-old prime minister will also urge support for a Pacific Rim free-trade deal led by the U.S. and Japan, the world's No. 1 and No. 3 economies, respectively. The 12-nation pact, which would bring together a number of China's large trading partners but not China, is seen as a form of economic containment aimed at the world's No. 2 economy.

Though the trade deal faces stiff resistance from America's trade unions and many Democratic lawmakers, the Republican-led Congress is moving to give President Obama greater power to resolve final sticking points with Japan. Administration officials said Friday that "substantial progress" has been made in negotiations, but that there won't be an agreement announced on the Trans-Pacific Partnership during Abe's visit.

At the center of the trip will be the first speech by a Japanese prime minister to a joint session of Congress. Abe's weeklong visit also includes a meeting with Obama and stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles, where Abe studied public policy at USC.

Timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Abe's trip will no doubt rekindle painful memories for some Americans and key allies.

Abe is expected to address Japan's history of military aggressions, a particularly sensitive subject for Beijing and Seoul.

Chinese and South Koreans have repeatedly criticized Japan for what they see as a glossing-over of wartime atrocities in Japanese textbooks, the honoring of war criminals at Japanese military shrines and the failure to adequately compensate so-called comfort women from Korea, China and other Asian countries forced into sexual servitude for Japanese troops.

Foreshadowing what he might say on his visit, Abe expressed "feelings of deep remorse over the past war" at a conference in Bandung, Indonesia, last week.

Korean American civic groups and others that oppose the congressional invitation to Abe will want to hear much more than that, and are planning protests on both coasts. But eager to focus on the future alliance, U.S. officials are not expected to dwell on the issue.

"As long as he says something regarding the past that seems sincere and contrite, people will take that and say it's enough," said Jeffrey Kingston, a professor of Asian studies and history at Temple University's Japan Campus. "Chinese and Koreans will be scrutinizing every comma, dot and word. He knows no matter what he says, he can't satisfy them. What he wants to do is say enough to satisfy Washington. And the mood coming out of Washington is quite positive."

To understand why, it helps to consider another Asian leader's speech last week to a different foreign legislature.
Keep reading.

Tech Expansion Overruns Silicon Valley

Those poor babies.

Silicon Valley's getting maxed out, with a burst of NIMBYism. Ain't it a shame. I'm sure the rest of California feels just terrible. Terrible!

At WSJ, "Tech Expansion Overruns Cities in California’s Silicon Valley":
Water isn’t California’s only scarce resource.

Room to grow is evaporating in Silicon Valley as technology giants’ appetites for expansion are running up against residents weary of clogged streets and cramped classrooms brought about by the boom of recent years.

Some communities are already saying they have reached their limits of development, while others signal that day is near, raising questions about the ability of the tech sector to keep expanding in what has long been its home base.

“The economy has outgrown the place,” said Gabriel Metcalf, chief executive of the Bay Area regional-planning-focused nonprofit SPUR. “The speed of economic change is much faster than the speed of community change.”

Front and center is Mountain View, Calif., a onetime bastion of flower farms and apricot orchards now home to Google Inc. The city in late February received proposals from tech companies Google and LinkedIn Corp., as well as private developers, to add 5.7 million square feet of office space—more than the size of two Empire State Buildings—for an area where the city has planned to allow just 2.2 million square feet of additional growth in the next two decades.

While some city officials say they could be flexible about the 2.2 million-square-feet cap, much more would be a nonstarter without changes to the city’s infrastructure.

There are commuters “backing up on to our city streets that are causing tremendous inconveniences for our residents,” said Randy Tsuda, Mountain View’s director of community development. “It’s now compromising general livability.”

“Silicon Valley is really straining to deal with traffic and transportation,” he said.

Just to the northwest in Palo Alto, long an epicenter of venture capital and top startups, tensions are running higher. The City Council in late March approved a plan that would cap annual office development at just 50,000 square feet in three main commercial areas of the city.

The move was opposed by multiple tech companies, which said it was overly restrictive. Hewlett-Packard Co. wrote in a letter to the council that under such a policy, it “would have been impossible for a company like H-P to grow to our current size.”

But residents and city officials say the rapid increase in office workers has overloaded the small city, filling its streets with traffic and making parking a chore.

The growth “puts special burdens on the infrastructure for cities with populations that are not that big,” said Greg Schmid, Palo Alto’s vice mayor.

Similar issues are being faced in cities like Cupertino, home of Apple Inc., and San Francisco, which is fast approaching its 875,000 square foot annual cap of office development. Until recently, the city had been using up unused development rights from years past, but with millions of square feet in the pipeline, a crunch is looming.

Real-estate developers and tech companies, fearful such resistance could hinder growth around their headquarters, have been offering numerous benefits with proposed developments in an attempt to offset the added strains they bring. To help clear the way for development in Mountain View, for instance, the firms have offered a variety of givebacks ranging from added parks to transportation improvements, some of which were requested by the city.

The region has a long history of allowing growth, developers and tech firms say. And if the employers find enough ways to mitigate the effects of growth, they believe the communities will benefit from the economic expansion.

“It’s not impossible, it’s not going to ruin their lives—it’s going to require some change,” said Timothy Tosta, a San Francisco-based land-use attorney who represents numerous large tech companies and developers. “There is all kinds of room—you just have to adapt your thinking.”
 Keep reading.

Los Angeles Bumble Bee Worker Cooked to Death in Tuna Oven

Tuna's not my favorite, in any case.

At ABC News Los Angeles:

Dr. Alveda King on Baltimore Riots: MLK Jr. Would 'Be Heartbroken'

Sad but true.

At Big Government.

California Flushes Millions of Gallons of Water to Protect a Three-Inch Fish

From Allysia Finley, at WSJ, "Forget the Missing Rainfall, California. Where's the Delta Smelt?":
In California, it takes about 1.1 gallons of water to grow an almond; 1.28 gallons to flush a toilet; and 34 gallons to produce an ounce of marijuana. But how many gallons are needed to save a three-inch delta smelt, the cause célèbre of environmentalists and bête noire of parched farmers?

To protect smelt from water pumps, government regulators have flushed 1.4 trillion gallons of water into the San Francisco Bay since 2008. That would have been enough to sustain 6.4 million Californians for six years. Yet a survey of young adult smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta last fall yielded just eight fish, the lowest level since 1967. An annual spring survey by state biologists turned up six smelt in March and one this month. In 2014 the fall-spring counts were 88 and 36. While the surveys are a sampling and not intended to suggest the full population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service warns that “the delta smelt is now in danger of extinction.”

The agency acknowledges that its “existing regulatory mechanisms have not proven adequate” to arrest the fish’s decline since its listing under the Endangered Species Act in 1993 and that “we are unable to determine with certainty which threats or combinations of threats are directly responsible.”

Herein is a parable of imperious regulators who subordinate science to a green political agenda. While imposing huge societal costs, government policies have failed to achieve their stated environmental purpose....
Keep reading.

How Long Does America Have?

From Robert Wargas, at PJ Media, "Every week this country is consumed in a new distended orgy of polarized, mutual hatred, set against the backdrop of outrage mobs, race riots, shuttered businesses, scandals, Twitter-induced career ruination, gleeful smear parties, and partisan hackery."

It's interesting how the left's homosexual culture war is always indicated in the anarchic breakdown of the inner cities. It's like there's a common thread or something. See, "There Is a 'Real Case' Against Homosexual Marriage. But Nowadays Very Few Are Willing to Make It."

Monday, April 27, 2015

Praying for Peace in America

From Alyssa Lafage, on Twitter:

Baltimore Rioters Cut Water Hose Used by Firefighters to Extinguish Fire

At CNN, "Rioters cut water hose trying to put out fire."

And at London's Daily Mail:

Baltimore Rioting: 'Visual Analogy of the Obama Presidency'

From the incomparable Pamela Geller, on Twitter:

Plus, the Baltimore Sun has pulled its subscription gate in the public interest. See, "Riots erupt across West Baltimore, downtown."

Also, "Latest updates on the Baltimore riots and Freddie Gray case Live."

There Is a 'Real Case' Against Homosexual Marriage. But Nowadays Very Few Are Willing to Make It

I don't think anyone seriously doubts that the Supreme Court is on the verge of announcing a national constitutional right to homosexual marriage. Oral arguments begin this week, so there's a lot of new commentary coming out.

But as readers of this blog will recall, I've basically thrown in the towel on this fight --- at least in its current iteration.

The left's culture warriors have won on same-sex marriage. Perhaps there'll be a period of experimentation on the issue, and it's possible that the Court could craft a decision that includes some element of federalism, but mostly we're simply past the moral turning point. In the popular culture, and among the younger demographics, traditional values hold no sway. Frankly, a lot of ignorance and rank stupidity do hold sway, but most leftist arguments aren't intellectual, in any case. They're emotional. And with polls showing that Americans have warmed to the idea of expanding the definition of what's a "civil right," it's simply a fact that "marriage" as it's been understood for millennia will no longer exist. As long as people are programmed to do as they please, with allegedly no individual or social consequences, marriage as the biological regenerative basis of societal reproduction simply can't compete. Again, time will tell if the damaging effects of such change force a cultural reaction to literally save society as we know it, but either way, it ain't gonna be pretty.

In any case, Politico's got a piece up from far-left law professor John Culhane, "There's No Real Case Against Gay Marriage" (at Memeorandum). Culhane, who's a regular columnist at Slate, argues that conservatives are fighting a rear-guard action, designed to fear-monger the Court, warning against the epic damage to come if the justices grant a national right to homosexual licentiousness. Culhane flippantly brushes away these arguments, claiming them to be repudiated and "eviscerated." Actually, they have not been, because the left uniformly brings its own favorable research to bear while simultaneously ignoring or dismissing ideologically conflicting findings as "methodologically unsound." What Culhane does not mention, of course, is that the left's homosexual marriage steamroller has explicitly sought to destroy any and all opponents of the same-sex agenda by any means necessary. It's been an all-out cultural war since Proposition 8 passed in California, for sure. The left has used fascist intimidation, lies and deception, judicial misconduct, and simple political realpolitik opportunism to bring the debate to the critical mass of public approval of moral degeneracy.

Think back over the past few years of cultural conflict. In 2008, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton claimed that marriage was an historic institution embedded in the sacred union of one man and one woman for the moral rebirth of the family. Nowadays, not so much. And California's majority vote in 2008 to secure the traditional standing of marriage in the state constitution? Swept away by the federal courts and homosexual judges with massive conflicts of interest, ethics or standards be damned. Popular culture? "Duck Dynasty" is still going strong, having beaten back a vicious jihad by the left's culture warriors, and for what? The depraved Hollywood hedonist culture keeps marching on. Chick-fil-A? The company's stronger than ever. But the leftist Obama-enabling state media continues to demonize those who stand for old-fashioned values. The list goes on. In short, traditional culture has been affirmed again and again as the ugly fascist homosexual left revealed its true diabolical agenda. Screw families. If your kid is traditional he or she will be kicked out of school. Screw religion. Biblical teachings have been redefined as "hate speech." Screw science. You're not down with transgender "women" using public restrooms with your pre-teen little girl? Hater!

I've made the case against homosexual marriage for years. (Check the archives. Try various searches.) These days, I rarely see very many new arguments under the sun. The fact is America has abandoned God-given moral standards. The left has destroyed the fundamental idea of right and wrong in the name of touchy-feely political correctness that's turned the country into a barren wasteland of abomination. And that's just what the regressive left wants. Leftists seek to destroy traditional America and bring about the Gramscian Marxist collective of the wretched and deranged. They're succeeding. And society's becoming more polarized by the day. Regular Americans --- the silent majority --- will increasingly abandon statist conceptions of the public good and retreat into family and small communities to escape the tyranny of the leftist regime foisted by the Democrats and the Washington political class. We'll see a growing "Hunger Games" politics with increasing resistance in the states (the "districts"), and ultimately a revolution of values that will rend the country along lines so divisive the import will be tantamount to a new civil war. And even then, there'll be no guarantee of change or improvement. Perhaps enough traditionalists who decide to "go Galt" will force an apocalyptic moment on the political class. Maybe we'll see a constitutional revolution, with perpetual demands for an Article 5 convention. Perhaps we'll have a "double-dip" recession to make 2008-2010 look like the good old days. No doubt regular folks will proudly announce they're clinging to their guns and religion, and they'll proclaim they're willing to die for their God-given rights. Rioting will further become a permanent feature of Obama's America, and those of his Democrat Party successors. This is the future that's coming, thanks to the destructive politics of the radical left hordes and their take-no-prisoners social war that's now reached a head this week.

In any case, Culhane cites and dismisses the "amicus brief of 100 scholars of marriage," but it seems clear that should conservative forces lose this year, a cataclysmic moment will have been reached. Get in, sit down, and shut up. We're in for a ride.

And see the Public Discourse, "Redefining Marriage Would Put Kids of Heterosexuals at Risk":
The metamorphosis of marriage from a gendered to a genderless institution would send the message that society no longer needs men to bond to women to form well-functioning families or to raise happy, well-adjusted children. That would be bad news for children of heterosexuals on the margins: the poor, the relatively uneducated, the irreligious, and others who are susceptible to cultural messages promoting casual or uncommitted sex.


Marriage is a complex social institution that, like all social institutions, regulates and encourages certain human behaviors. Without effective social institutions, no amount of law and law enforcement can make a society function properly. Marriage reinforces particular values and actions that benefit society, both broadly and individually. As Professor Amy Wax has observed: “Marriage’s long track record as a building block for families and a foundation for beneficial relations between the sexes suggests that ordinary people desperately need the anchor of clear expectations, and that they respond to them.” Or, as the Sixth Circuit put it, at least some citizens “may well need the government’s encouragement to create and maintain stable relationships within which children may flourish.”

That is why states have traditionally supported man-woman marriage, an institution that has historically and universally been linked to procreation, marking the boundaries where sexual reproduction is socially commended. This underlying message helps achieve a principal purpose of marriage: any children born will have a known mother and father who have the responsibility to care for them. Even ancient Greek and Roman societies understood this. Despite encouraging same-sex intimate relations, they limited marriage to man-woman unions.

Of course, marriage provides benefits to adults as well. But these are secondary to the main purpose of an institution that, in the words of revered psychologist Bronislaw Malinowski, is “primarily designed by the needs of offspring, by the dependence of the children upon their parents.” Indeed, as the religious skeptic Bertrand Russell candidly observed, “But for children, there would be no need for any institution concerned with sex.”

From this purpose—ensuring the care of any children born to man-woman unions—flow several specific secular norms, norms that are “taught” and reinforced by the man-woman definition and understanding of marriage:
1. Biological Bonding and Support: Where possible, every child has a right to be reared by and to bond with her biological father and mother. And every child has a right, whenever possible, to be supported financially by the man and woman who brought the child into the world.

2. Gender Diversity: Where possible, a child should be raised by a mother and a father who are committed to each other and to the child, even where he cannot be raised by both biological parents.

3. Postponement: Men and women should postpone procreation until they are within the committed, long-term relationship of marriage. This is alternatively called the “responsible creation” or “channeling” norm.

4. Valuing Procreation/Child-Rearing: Within the protection and stability of marriage, the creation and rearing of children are socially valuable.

5. Exclusivity: For the sake of their children, men and women should limit themselves to a single procreative partner.
All of these specific norms are grounded in and support the more general norm of child-centricity: Parents and prospective parents should give the interests of their children—present and future—equal if not higher priority than their own.

Common sense and social science show that these norms provide immense benefits to children, their parents and society. In short, children generally do best emotionally, socially, intellectually, and economically when reared in an intact home by both biological parents. More specifically, as the brief documents in detail, compared to any other family structure, children raised by their biological, married parents are less likely to commit crimes, experience teen pregnancy, have multiple abortions, engage in substance abuse, suffer from mental illness, or do poorly in school. They are also more likely to support themselves and their own children in the future. No other parenting arrangement comes close (on average) to that of a child’s biological, married mother and father.

This is true because of the power of the norms stemming from man-woman marriage. For instance, biological bonds between parents and their child deepen their investments in their relationships with each other and with the child. Further, having both a mother and a father provides crucial gender diversity for a child’s social and emotional development. As famed anthropologist (and atheist) Margaret Mead noted: “One of the most important learnings for every human child is how to be a full member of its own sex and at the same time fully relate to the opposite sex. This is not an easy learning; it requires the continuing presence of a father and a mother.”

Vibrant child-centricity and biological support norms lead to less physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and divorce. And parents who embrace the procreative exclusivity norm are unlikely to have children with multiple partners—a phenomenon that leads to social, emotional and financial difficulties for children and their mothers. Similarly, people who embrace the postponement norm are less likely to have children without a second, committed parent—another well-established predictor of psychological, emotional and financial heartache.

On the other hand, a culture that largely rejects the social value of creating and rearing children jeopardizes a society’s ability to reproduce itself. It is thus not surprising that some courts have deemed man-woman marriage “the fundamental unit of the political order … [for] the very survival of the political order depends upon the procreative potential embodied in traditional marriage.”
More at the link.

And check for updates at Memeorandum.

Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism

I'm reminded of Joshua Muravchik's classic book on socialism, what, with all the Millennial Marxist agitation these days.

At Amazon,  Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism.

Joshua Muravchik photo 11027512_10206895307724209_2329422968043885564_n_zpsq2n09twr.jpg

The Tax Burden Rises

At WSJ, "The share of income paid by workers keeps rising":
Your government hopes you haven’t noticed, but if you live in a developed country there’s a good chance your taxes have gone up over the past four years. That’s the conclusion from the OECD’s latest “Taxing Wages” report, which finds the average worker paid a higher proportion of income in tax in 2014 than in 2010.

The average total “tax wedge” is the difference between the gross cost to a company of employing one person and what that worker takes home after income tax and employee and employer social insurance taxes. The OECD finds that this wedge stood at 36% in 2014, up 0.1 percentage points from 2013 for its 32 member countries. The average tax burden was 35% in 2010. The burden increased in 23 OECD member countries in 2014, though no country increased marginal tax rates.

Governments were able to make this tax grab on the sly thanks in part to bracket creep. As nominal income rises, a taxpayer can find himself in a higher tax bracket even if inflation means his purchasing power hasn’t increased at the same pace. Rising nominal incomes also diminish the relative value of personal allowances and deductions that generally don’t keep up with inflation, and in some cases were reduced.

As a result, an increase of only 0.3% in inflation-adjusted earnings was enough to increase the average Finn’s tax wedge by 0.84 percentage points to 43.9%. Japanese workers were even worse off as modest nominal wage increases pushed them into higher tax brackets while faster inflation left them with less purchasing power: Inflation-adjusted earnings fell by 1.9% but the average tax wedge rose 0.29 percentage points to 31.9%, ranking 21st on the list. Belgium’s 55.6% tax wedge puts it at the top of the rankings, with Chile’s 7% wedge is at the bottom.

The OECD provides a useful public service by including social-insurance taxes on workers and employers in these rankings. These contributed significantly to the bigger tax wedges in countries such as Canada, where social charges amounted to nearly half of the 0.52 percentage point increase to 31.5%, tying America at 22nd. Politicians like to present these levies as “contributions,” but the sooner voters recognize them for the income taxes they are, the better.

Americans saw their inflation-adjusted wages increase 1%, and their tax wedge increased 0.11 percentage points to 31.5% last year. This is still lower than most of Europe. Americans also don’t pay the steep value-added taxes that European welfare states use to finance themselves, and which aren’t included in this study.

But American taxes on labor already are edging higher without statutory rate increases since 2013, even before the full burden of ObamaCare’s subsidies arrives. Only Britain, Ireland and Switzerland have tax wedges lower than America’s among OECD countries, and most European countries tax labor at 40% or above...
Still more.

These statist incursions never seem to abate, do they?

Kate Bock, Über Canadian

This lady's hardcore!

Soft-on-Crime Leftists Lobby Against Efforts to Roll Back Proposition 47

Pretty soon no one will be put behind bars.


At LAT, "Different kind of crime-victim group lobbies against rolling back Prop. 47":
Albania Morales stood behind the coffin-shaped placard that bore her dead husband's face, practically eclipsed by her political prop. Ricardo Avelar-Lara died last November in Los Angeles, shot by sheriff's deputies.

I am a crime victim, Morales said: I saw the officers kill him.

Morales was taking part this week in a rally with a twist: She and other self-described crime victims were not backed by the usual law enforcement groups. And the last thing they wanted was for California to get tougher on crime.

Morales was joined by former inmates, families of people in prison, those who had lost loved ones to murder. The participation of traditional crime-victim groups that for 26 years occupied the Capitol lawn for this annual event had been called off.

Organizers of this week's activities say theirs is a truer reflection of what a victim is, their goals a more accurate representation of what crime victims want and need. Last fall, the group masterminded Proposition 47, the law that removed most felony penalties for drug use and minor theft.

They are now lobbying against efforts to roll back portions of the law and in support of redirecting corrections spending toward trauma services for victims and alternatives to incarceration for criminals.

Criminal justice experts say that agenda is part of a national shift in the public safety debate, one that focuses more on conflicts between communities of color and the criminal justice system, including abuses of force by police and lengthy prison sentences.

"That static idea of a victim of crime as somebody attacked by a stranger, and as somebody who is white … is becoming an obsolete thought," said Mai Fernandez, executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime in Washington, D.C.

"The reality is a lot of crime in the United States happens in communities of color," she said. "A person can be a victim at one point, and they turn around and perpetrate a crime."

Representatives of traditional crime-victim groups are appalled by the blurring of lines between victim and criminal.

"To use the term 'victim' so freely is kind of offensive to me," said San Bernardino County Dist. Atty. Michael Ramos, who is planning to run for state attorney general.

Ramos drew a distinction between the family members of murder victims he had consoled on the morning before the rally and some of those recruited to the event. He accused the organizers of co-opting the definition of crime victim for political purposes.

The rally was held by Californians for Safety and Justice, a group spawned by foundations that include the Ford Foundation and the California Endowment, and by New York hedge fund mogul George Soros. The group began recruiting people to speak out as crime victims shortly after it was formed, to help press for new criminal justice policies.

The effort focused on reducing penalties for drug use and other nonviolent crimes, and the foundations directed $14 million in grants to community groups that then campaigned for or otherwise supported Proposition 47. Law enforcement associations and traditional crime-victim groups opposed the measure.

Beginning in 2013, the organization assembled advocates to provide an alternative to views voiced for more than two decades at the Capitol rallies held by Crime Victims United of California. The annual event was hosted by the state's prison guard union, and often the governor attended.

Harriet Salerno, the mother of a murder victim and founder of Crime Victims United, canceled this year's gathering out of concern that it would be marked by confrontation. At the past two rallies, she said, those showing support for police were harassed.

"I don't need to be abused," Salerno said.

She also bridled at criticism from leaders of Californians for Safety and Justice that the previous rallies gave little voice to minority victims with complicated stories of crime and violence.

The speakers for Californians for Safety and Justice this week included Dionne Wilson, the wife of a slain police officer who now regrets advocating for the death penalty against her husband's killer and became the lead voice for crime victims supporting Proposition 47.

Other speakers were a woman pushed into prostitution as a child and a rape victim who said most prison inmates are themselves victims of crimes.

In a series of Sacramento workshops over the last year, they have urged people to lobby for changes in the justice system, including reduced spending on prisons. The motto of this week's rally was "Remember. Recover. Reform."

Reason's Damon Root on the Long War for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court

This guy's good, "VIDEO: Should the Supreme Court Allow Us to 'Go to Hell'?"

Homosexual Businessman Who Hosted Ted Cruz Event Grovels in Apology Before Gay Fascist Overlords

At NYT, "Gay Businessman Who Hosted Cruz Event Apologizes."

And ICYMI, "Ted Cruz Is Guest of Two Gay Businessmen."

And at NYDN, "Boycott fires up after gay NYC hoteliers host Sen. Ted Cruz event," and at Bloomberg, "Ted Cruz Campaign Battles 'Intolerant' Boycott of Gay Men Who Hosted Him in New York."

Also, at PuffHo, "Mati Weiderpass And Ian Reisner, Gay Businessmen, Face Controversy Over Hosting Ted Cruz."

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Nepal's Seismic Time Bomb

At LAT, "Katmandu's poorly constructed buildings worsen quake outcome":
An exploding urban population that led to taller and often poorly constructed buildings, along with an unusually hazardous combination of geological conditions, had for years prompted warnings from scientists that the Katmandu Valley of Nepal was a seismic time bomb waiting to go off.

Saturday morning, it did.

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake and a magnitude 6.6 aftershock toppled buildings, set off a destructive avalanche on Mt. Everest and killed at least 1,805 people Saturday afternoon. That number is projected to rise as high as 10,000.

Brian Tucker, president of GeoHazards International, a California-based nonprofit that works with vulnerable communities to reduce the risks of natural disasters, spent much of the 1990s in Nepal. He was assessing what would happen if there was a reoccurrence of the magnitude 8.2 earthquake that struck the area in 1934 and left more than 10,000 dead in the Katmandu Valley. The analysis projected 40,000 deaths if a similar temblor occurred.

Others who have studied quake risks in the area more recently predicted a death toll of 100,000 or more from a large earthquake, including Roger Bilham, a professor of geology at the University of Colorado who studies Himalayan seismic activity. Just days ago, Bilham spoke to seismologists gathered in Pasadena about the risks of a major quake elsewhere in the Himalayan range. Bilham said the area west of Katmandu has been overdue for a temblor of around magnitude 8.

"Unfortunately, now it's happened, and it's a tragedy beyond belief," he said.

The area has a history of frequent seismic activity, although events as large as the one that occurred Saturday happen about once every 80 years, said Ole Kaven, a research geophysicist with U.S. Geological Survey.

Unlike the earthquakes that typically strike California, with two plates sliding past each other horizontally, the earthquake in Nepal was caused by a thrust fault, in which two plates collide. The fault also is shallow, meaning that the shaking occurs near the surface, rather than deep in the earth.

U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones said faults like the one that caused this earthquake are most often found under water and can produce devastating tsunamis. But the Himalayan region is different.

"This is the one place where we have a lot of people living on top of a megathrust," she said...

Also at WSJ, "How the Nepal Earthquake Happened."

Mad Max: Fury Road (Official Trailer)

Thinking back, "The Road Warrior" is my favorite of the Mel Gibson-era "Mad Max" franchise. It's so cool!

I suspect Gibson's a little out of shape for these post-apocalyptic workouts, so I'm looking forward to the new iteration.

Baltimore Erupts Into Violence, Chaos as #BlackLivesMatter Riots Rage

I love that headline, via Big Government, "BALTIMORE, Maryland — Racial protests supposed to be peaceful quickly turned into violent riots on Saturday evening, closing down the city of Baltimore for some time—and creating a panic for thousands of people as just 50 miles away elites in Washington partied with President Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner."

Shock Video: Wheelchair-Bound Woman Under Attack During Baltimore Riot!

God, it's like Road Warrior out there!

You are on your own mofos!

A shocking video of Saturday’s violent riots in Baltimore, Maryland show an individual shielding a handicapped woman caught in the sights of a mob throwing bottles, trash cans, and other objects at random bar patrons.
Watch at the link.

Shocking leftist depravity!

Baltimore Riot Wheelchair-Bound Woman photo baltimore-bullpen-wheelchair-woman-640x640_zpsh7sbeoqm.jpg

Obama's Racial Healing in Baltimore

On Twitter this morning:

And on Twitter November 2014:

Free at last.

The End of Reform in China

Here's a great piece from the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs, from Youwei, "Authoritarian Adaptation Hits a Wall":

Xi Jinping photo Xi_Jinping_in_USA_zpsjt1jnbvq.jpg
Speech is censored, in the press and on the Internet, to prevent the publication of anything deemed “troublesome.” Actions are watched even more closely. Even seemingly nonpolitical actions can be considered dangerous; in 2014, Xu Zhiyong, a legal activist who had led a campaign for equal educational opportunities for the children of rural migrants, was sentenced to four years in prison for “disturbing public order.” Public gatherings are restricted, and even private gatherings can be problematic. In May 2014, several scholars and lawyers were detained after attending a memorial meeting for the 1989 movement in a private home. Even the signing of petitions can bring retribution.

Just as important is the emerging mass line—that is, official public guidance—about China’s critical need to maintain stability. A grid of security management has been put in place across the entire country, including extensive security bureaucracies and an extra-bureaucratic network of patrol forces, traffic assistants, and population monitors. Hundreds of thousands of “security volunteers,” or “security informants,” have been recruited among taxi drivers, sanitation workers, parking-lot attendants, and street peddlers to report on “suspicious people or activity.” One Beijing neighborhood reportedly boasts 2,400 “building unit leaders” who can note any irregularity in minutes, with the going rate for pieces of information set at two yuan (about 30 cents). This system tracks criminal and terrorist threats along with political troublemakers, but dissenters are certainly among its prime targets.

In today’s China, Big Brother is everywhere. The domestic security net is as strong yet as delicate as a spider web, as omnipresent yet as shapeless as water. People smart enough to avoid politics entirely will not even feel it. Should they cross the line, however, the authorities of this shadow world would snap into action quickly. Official overreaction is a virtue, not a vice: “chopping a chicken using the blade for a cow,” as the saying goes, is fully approved, the better to prevent trouble from getting out of hand.

This system is good at maintaining order. But it has reduced the chances of any mature civil society developing in contemporary China, let alone a political one. And so even as grievances proliferate, the balance of power between the state and society leans overwhelmingly toward the former. Social movements, like plants, need space in which to grow. And when such space does not exist, both movements and plants wither.


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Vile Leftist Rania Khalek: Did Israel Learn from #NepalEarthquake 'how to kill better'?

Never a dull moment with the Israel-hating left.

And notice how there's never any pushback from Democrats and progressives. These poeple, Khalek and her disgusting pal Max Blumenthal, are the voice of the party.

At Twitchy, "‘Vile slander’: Rania Khalek wonders if Israel is helping Nepal to ‘learn from the earthquake how to kill better’."

Nepal Warns Earthquake Death Toll Could Reach 10,000 — #NepalEarthquake

At London's Daily Mail, "Faces of the missing: Nepalese officials warn death toll of devastating quake could hit 10,000 as scores of American families are among the thousands searching for those still unaccounted for."

Plus, huge coverage at the Los Angeles Times, "Massive quake hits Nepal."

Caroline Heldman reports that her mountain climbing sister has been found safe:

Thank God.

Sunday Cartoons

At Flopping Aces, "Sunday Funnies."

Branco Cartoon photo Obama-E-Day-600-LI_zpsjkl645rr.jpg

Also at Lonely Con, "Saturday Funnies," and Theo Spark, "Cartoon Round Up..."

And see Reaganite Republican, "Reaganite's SUNDAY FUNNIES."

Cartoon Credit: Legal Insurrection, "Branco Cartoon – Flying Squirrel."