Thursday, December 14, 2017

Less is Moore

In Moore ways than one:

"Senators forge deal for tax overhaul" by Jim Tankersley and Thomas Kaplan New York Times  December 14, 2017

WASHINGTON — The day after suffering a political blow in the Alabama special Senate election, congressional Republicans sped forward with the most sweeping tax rewrite in decades, announcing an agreement on a final bill that would cut taxes for businesses and individuals and mark the party’s first major legislative achievement since assuming political control this year.

Party leaders in the House and Senate agreed in principle to bridge the yawning gaps between their competing versions of the $1.5 trillion tax bill, keeping Republicans on track for final votes next week with the aim of delivering a bill to President Trump’s desk by Christmas.....


Meanwhile, on the mound....

The bigot in the stands, and other stories

Time to boycott the ballparks and arenas? Where are the sexual harassment stories from those offices?


"This time, Alabama sent Trump a different message. Will he listen?" by Matt Viser and Astead W. Herndon Globe Staff  December 14, 2017

WASHINGTON — When some 30,000 supporters packed a football stadium in Mobile, Ala., just weeks after Donald Trump kicked off his campaign in 2015, it showed he had tapped into something big. Trump’s improbable campaign had touched a national nerve.

But Alabama sent President Trump the opposite message Tuesday night by electing Democrat Doug Jones in a special Senate election: Your agenda is at risk, your political instincts are amiss, and the backlash against you is both strong and growing.

Alabama showed Trump the path to victory early in his campaign. A year into his presidency, Alabama warned of looming failures.

This was a watershed off-year election that could reshape the Republican governing agenda, trigger Republican governors and senators to further distance themselves from Trump, and foreshadow a possible Democratic wave next year that could cost Republicans control of Congress.

One of the most conservative states in the country — one that Trump carried by 28 points a year ago — elected a Democrat for the first time in a quarter century. The losing candidate, Republican Roy Moore, served as a proxy, a mini-Trump, a model of Steve Bannon’s insurgent tactics, unabashedly railing against the Republican establishment. He employed messages of racial demagoguery and was slapped with allegations of sexual misconduct.

Moore’s loss in a state as conservative as Alabama proves the limits of Trump’s style of politics. His brash and bullying tactics have not worn well.

It also reveals the dangers for the White House of the current #MeToo movement, which has led to numerous disclosures of sexual misconduct by men in power. The tactics of denial, shaming victims, and blaming the media may slow, but they may not stop, a political reckoning over Trump’s own alleged sexual misconduct.

They are crawling out of the woodwork, and the jury awaits him.

Many leading Republican senators distanced themselves from Moore during the campaign, and, paradoxically, the prevailing sentiment on Capitol Hill Wednesday was one of grudging relief as they gave up a seat to the Democrats. GOP Senate leaders averted the crisis of having an accused sexual predator join their caucus. The flashing warning lights remain for the GOP, however.

Exit polls in Alabama Tuesday night showed young voters picking the Democrat by large numbers and black voters — who were motivated by President Obama in 2008 and 2012 but were unmoved by Hillary Clinton in 2016 — coming out in droves.

The loss also widened the rift in the Republican Party. Trump’s former top adviser, Bannon, and the president himself, after backing a primary opponent, were whole-heartedly supporting Moore.

“After Alabama disaster GOP must do right thing and DUMP Steve Bannon,” Representative Peter King, a Republican from New York, wrote on Twitter. “If we are to Make America Great Again for all Americans, Bannon must go!”

They are gunning for you, Steve.

Trump may have harbored some sympathy for Moore, alluding earlier in the special Senate election to the way he also felt falsely accused and unfairly maligned by female accusers. On Wednesday Trump avoided any in-depth reflection on the race.

“Wish we would have gotten the seat. A lot of Republicans feel differently; they’re very happy with the way it turned out,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday. “But I would have — as the leader of the party — I would have liked to have had the seat.”

Some Republicans, even though Alabama came on the heels of a GOP loss in the Virginia governor’s contest, tried to discourage anyone from drawing broad conclusions from Alabama.

Not the first time.

“The situation in Alabama was a complete aberration — a one-off,” Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, said in an interview. “Those were unbelievably unusual circumstances, and I don’t expect that to be repeated.”

It was a "miracle." 

Or was it?

But Democrats have newfound confidence, with talk that they could even win Senate races in Tennessee, Arizona, and Nevada next fall.

They have already pulled out of Ohio because Minnesota is now in play (she praised Al Franken?).

In the Capitol, the Republicans’ sweeping tax bill will not likely be affected by the result in Alabama. A vote on the legislation is planned next week before Alabama results are certified, about two weeksbefore Jones is scheduled to be sworn into office, but other aspects of the Republican agenda could become harder to pass.

That new dynamic could empower more moderate Republican senators such as Senator Susan Collins; John McCain of Arizona; and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. It could also strengthen the hands of others who have been willing to buck Trump, such as Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

She has one last chance to be a hero and not a villain, and why aren't most of them running again?

It’s an open question now whether Republicans will begin further distancing themselves from their unpredictable and erratic leader in the White House, who is embroiled in an inquiry of his campaign’s contacts with Russians.


"Rosenstein’s stance signaled that despite the mounting assault on Mueller by Trump’s supporters, the fundamental dynamic surrounding the special counsel had not changed: If Trump were to try to fire Mueller based on any developments so far, the president would likely first have to fire or force the resignation of Rosenstein and then hunt for a replacement willing to carry out his orders, echoing Richard Nixon’s so-called Saturday Night Massacre during the Watergate scandal....."

You need to Strzok while the iron is hot. 

Also see: "The best part of all this is that if there is any wrongdoing it is all from Obama and Clinton.  I think they resurrected the 'grabees' partly to help in Alabama, but mostly because the #Russiagate line of attack is starting to backfire....." --xymphora

That's because it led to, you know.

Over the past year, his approval ratings have approached 60 percent in Alabama, making it one of the top states for Trump support. But in exit polls among voters on Tuesday, 48 percent said they approve of the job that Trump is doing.

When Jones is sworn in, he could also prove to be an unpredictable vote as he attempts to position himself for reelection in 2020.

He could peel off and vote with Republicans from time to time, or join Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota in forming an alliance of moderate Democrats, something that has become a rare breed in modern Washington.

Whether or not Jones joins Republicans in some votes, Democrats celebrated.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday morning, “The Republican brand, even in deep-red Alabama, is positively toxic.”


"Here’s a new way to fight back attempts to spread fake news: file a police report. That’s what Senator Chuck Schumer’s staff did Tuesday in reporting to the Capitol Police the existence of a fraudulent document that described false allegations against the New York Democrat. The document, which looks like a court filing, suggests that Schumer sexually harassed a staff member. The staff member who was named in the document as the plaintiff, and who no longer works for Schumer, told The New York Times on Wednesday that the harassment claims were “completely false.” The former staff member spoke on condition of anonymity. Schumer’s spokesman, Matt House, said that the document was forged and that the allegations in it are false. Schumer is the top Democrat in the Senate."

Proving Schumer is part of the club and above the perversion and pedophilia charges.

McConnell tried to sidestep the election overall.....


Moore has requested a recount and the message is cleardecency defeats intolerance.

Three schools sever ties with influential musician amid abuse allegations

After the kick in the nuts, the orchestra went quiet.

I'm sorry, what did you say?


"A federal judge in Chicago on Tuesday ordered that Dennis Hastert never be left alone with anyone under 18 unless another adult is present who is aware of the former House speaker’s conviction in a hush-money case that revealed he had sexually abused several high school students. US District Judge Thomas M. Durkin didn’t explain in his brief order why that and other new restrictions on the 75-year-old were called for now, three months into his two-year period of supervised release from prison. Others included barring Hastert from possessing pornography and using ‘‘any sex-related telephone numbers.’’ He also must allow the installation of software that records all his computer activity....."

Denny not dead, and thus he could spill the beans regarding the gay pedophile ring in Congre$$, of which Foley was only the tip of the iceberg. That's why the authorities are keeping a close eye on him.

"New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told a female journalist she was doing ‘‘a disservice to women’’ Wednesday by asking what his administration was doing to confront sexual harassment in state government. Public radio reporter Karen DeWitt asked the Democratic governor whether he was considering new policies in light of the national attention on sexual misconduct, as well as the recent resignation of a state economic development official who was under investigation for harassment. Cuomo did not directly answer her question, and instead asked her and other reporters what they were doing to address harassment in their organizations. ‘‘I think you missed the point,’’ he told DeWitt. ‘‘When you say ‘it’s state government’ you do a disservice to women, with all due respect, even though you’re a woman.’’ Cuomo said he feels that questions about the state response minimize the broader issue of sexual assault, which he said is a problem in all industries and areas of society. ‘‘It’s not government. It’s society,’’ he said."

He just ruined his prospects for 2020.

"Omarosa Manigault Newman, one of the president’s prominent African-American supporters, was not well liked by some White House advisers, including Reince Priebus, the former chief of staff; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser; and John F. Kelly, the current chief of staff, according to multiple White House officials, and several people familiar with Newman’s departure said she had been sending articles to Trump without Kelly’s approval....."

His role as mediator is now being questioned.

No Trump tweets today?


"Researchers say Mass. effort to influence opioid prescribing failed" by Felice J. Freyer Globe Staff  December 13, 2017

It seemed like a good idea.

Last March, the state Department of Public Health sent a confidential letter to every health care provider who prescribes opioids and other controlled substances, showing how each practitioner’s prescribing practices compared with those of his or her peers.

Presumably, those who were writing too many prescriptions would see the error of their ways and scale back, but an article in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine concludes that the letter probably didn’t work. The letters were required by the sweeping state law intended to control opioid use, signed amid fanfare by Governor Charlie Baker in 2016.....

Their demise was tied to the visit from the pharmaceutical lobbyist.


Is it getting darker in here?

"If you’re one of those people who enjoys the 4:11 sunsets, then I’m jealous. And I hate you....."

How SAD for him and the Globe as the sun sets on newspapers in general. 

He obviously must hate children since he would want them on the streets in the early morning when it would be dark.

The reason your ride is taking longer is because of the distance traveled

Sorry to be so brief.


Ginkgo, a startup working on self-fertilizing crops, raises another $275m

Did you know it is the MIC that is behind the eugenics agenda?

I quickly lost interest in this story as the US economy is gathering momentum.

On Net neutrality, it’s time for Congress to act

That guy is back and forth on the issue so I have no idea where he stands.

"Wesson’s case goes to trial just as sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace have become part of the national conversation. Fidelity CEO Abigail Johnson has also had to deal with the fallout from recent departures of two fund managers following allegations of sexual harassment. Meanwhile, another former Fidelity employee who claimed retaliation for being a whistleblower is appealing her case....."

I perceive that her chances of winning are not very good, and Leung is ignoring the sexual harassment in her own offices.

Time to go shopping!

"Walmart, criticized for low wages, will let workers take pay before payday" by Michael Corkery New York Times  December 13, 2017

NEW YORK — For decades, Walmart has attracted attention, and taken heat, for how it treats its workforce, including paying low wages and creating unpredictable schedules.

But their TV ads rock this Christmas!

Now, the giant retailer is teaming up with Silicon Valley to try to ease some of its workers’ financial strain. This week, the nation’s largest private employer will begin providing its more than 1.4 million workers a service that will allow them to receive wages before their next payday.

Instead of waiting two weeks between paychecks, Walmart workers can now use an app to access a portion of wages for hours they have already worked. The goal is to help workers avoid costly payday loans and other debt traps.

“We believe this is the right thing to do, and we are happy to champion it,” Judith McKenna, Walmart’s chief operating officer, said in an interview, but Walmart’s new digital initiative also highlights, albeit unwittingly, the financial struggles of Walmart’s low-wage workforce. Even as the economy strengthens, many retail and service industry workers are not earning enough to make ends meet.

They must not own stock.

The app, which is called Even, also helps workers manage their finances by pinpointing exactly how much they can safely spend before their next paycheck. Walmart pays a fee on behalf of the workers to the technology firm that runs the app.

The minimum starting wage at Walmart is $9 an hour, which is $1.75 higher than the federal minimum wage but lower than the starting wage at retailers like Costco, which pays $13 an hour, and Target, which recently raised its entry-level wage to $11 an hour.

They can get their pay on the same-day.

The average hourly wage for a full-time Walmart worker is $13.85, while the average hourly wage at Costco is about $24.50.

Every Walmart employee can use Even’s financial planning tool, and obtain eight payments, known as instapays, per year free of charge. For most of the workers, the instapays will be deducted from their next paycheck.

It's what they used to call an advance. 

Why do you need an app for that? What could be the rea$on?

Alexis Adderley, who works nights in a Walmart distribution center in Fort Pierce, Fla., has started using the Even app as part of a pilot program.

Adderley, the mother of four boys ages 8, 7, 4, and 2, said she had been pleasantly surprised.

The app, which connects to her bank account, calculates how much she pays for housing, food, and phone bills and tracks when she makes big monthly payments. With that data, Even provides Adderley a real-time estimate of how much she can spend in a given day.

Instead of living paycheck-to-paycheck you can live day to day.

She earns $19.25 an hour, more than the average Walmart employee, and works 30 hours a week. But money is still tight, especially since she was forced to leave her home after Hurricane Irma.....



Scientists link hurricane’s record rains to climate change For years most scientists had said it was extremely difficult to link warming to specific events. That has now changed.

That's what happens when you are pushing an agenda, and the hurricanes are mostly forgotten now.

"A new report commissioned by Rwanda’s government accuses France of supplying weapons and protection to the perpetrators of its 1994 genocide in which over 800,000 people were killed, deepening a feud between the country and its former benefactor. The report by US law firm Cunningham Levy Muse cites evidence that purportedly shows French complicity before, during, and after the genocide by ethnic Hutu extremists against ethnic Tutsi and some Hutu moderates. French officials provided sanctuary to some genocide suspects and have obstructed attempts to bring them to justice, the report says."

No more cutting through the bush, 'eh?

"Apple has made its second notable investment this week, the latest into the facial recognition technology company, Finisar. The $390 million investment announced Wednesday comes from Apple’s $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund, created to finance the work of domestic manufacturers and create jobs in the United States. Apple announced the creation of the fund in May and plowed $200 million into Corning Inc., the maker of the Gorilla Glass that is used in Apple’s touchscreens. The Finisar investment will help the company boost production of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, which Apple uses for Face ID, Animoji, and Portrait mode selfies with the iPhone X TrueDepth camera and the proximity-sensing capabilities of AirPods. Finisar will open a manufacturing plant an hour north of Dallas, creating more than 500 jobs. Finisar runs a plant in Allen, just outside of Dallas. On Monday, Apple revealed that it had acquired Shazam. That company makes the song-recognition app that Apple’s digital assistant Siri has already been using to help people identify the music playing on their iPhones." 

Don't look at me, and there sure is plenty of money floating around out there, huh?

"A virtual reality company backed by 21st Century Fox Inc. and Warner Bros. completed a $30 million funding round, about 50 percent more than originally planned. Dreamscape Immersive, which is developing virtual reality arcades for shopping malls, said Wednesday the Series B financing included AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., Viacom Inc.’s Nickelodeon, Dubai billionaire Majid Al Futtaim, VRSense Solutions Ltd., and Image Nation Abu Dhabi. Original investors include Steven Spielberg. The Los Angeles-based company is tapping red-hot Hollywood interest in virtual reality, which is seen as a new medium to tell stories and draw fans. The company announced in September that AMC Entertainment, the largest theater chain, would invest at least $20 million. Dreamscape plans to open up to seven VR centers, including a flagship location at the Westfield Century City mall in Los Angeles early next year. The company has commitments from AMC to finance as many as six Immersive VR Centers at theaters and other locations in North America and the United Kingdom."

Spielberg has avoided the sex scandal net so far and is very likely an untouchable, and physical reality is quite enough, thank you. 

Can't even remember the last time I went to cinema.

"Salma Hayek, who regularly starred in films released by Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax in the 1990s, credited Weinstein with helping her start her career, but when Hayek brought ‘‘Frida,’’ which she was producing, to Miramax to distribute, Weinstein made outrageous demands as payback. Hayek said he insisted on a sex scene with full frontal nudity. The movie went on to gross $56.3 million worldwide and land six Oscar nominations, winning two. Dozens of women have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, and numerous women have said he raped them. Weinstein, who is currently under investigation for sexual assault in four cities, has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex. Representatives for Weinstein didn’t immediately return messages Wednesday. ‘‘Why do so many of us, as female artists, have to go to war to tell our stories?’’ Hayak wrote....."

Now I understand why there is so much nudity in Hollywood films!

Movie associate of Harvey Weinstein accused of sexual harassment

That's when I hit the brakes.


"Facebook Inc. faced a skeptical judge over its second request to get out of a lawsuit alleging its photo scanning technology flouts users’ privacy rights. “The right to say no is a valuable commodity,” US District Judge James Donato said Thursday during a hearing in San Francisco. The case concerns the “most personal aspects of your life: your face, your fingers, who you are to the world.” The owner of the world’s largest social network faces claims that it violated the privacy of millions of users by gathering and storing biometric data without their consent. Alphabet Inc.’s Google is fighting similar claims in federal court in Chicago. If Donato lets the case proceed, Facebook is still potentially on the hook under an Illinois law for fines of $1,000 to $5,000 each time a person’s image is used without permission. A victory for consumers in the class action could lead to new restrictions on Facebook’s use of biometrics in the United States, similar to those in Europe and Canada. A lawyer for Facebook argued Thursday that plaintiffs haven’t shown they were harmed by its practices. An attorney for the consumers contended the mere collection by Facebook of biometric data runs afoul of the Illinois law and that the case should move forward without any showing of harm." 

If you don't have the right to say no, you are not free.

Of course, you can throw away the Constitution as soon as you enter the workplace:

"Office workers who fumble through dialing into conference call numbers could soon have Amazon’s Alexa start the meetings for them. The online retail giant is announcing the new functionality, called Alexa for Business, at its Web services conference in Las Vegas. The service envisions an office technical manager setting up multiple voice-activated smart speakers called Amazon Echo for workers at their desk or in conference rooms. Users can use their voices to access custom-made apps called skills or tap into team schedules created in Google’s G Suite or Microsoft Outlook."

Big Boss -- not Brother -- always listening.