Interesting Bits

10/08/2017 4:42

ISIS Fighters surrender in Mass

More than a thousand prisoners determined to be Islamic State fighters passed through that room last week after they fled their crumbling Iraqi stronghold of Hawija. Instead of the martyrdom they had boasted was their only acceptable fate, they had voluntarily ended up here in the interrogation center of the Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq.

For an extremist group that has made its reputation on its ferociousness, with fighters who would always choose suicide over surrender, the fall of Hawija has been a notable turning point. The group has suffered a string of humiliating defeats in Iraq and Syria, but the number of its shock troops who turned themselves in at the center in Dibis was unusually large, more than 1,000 since last Sunday, according to Kurdish intelligence officials.

The fight for Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, took nine months, and by comparison, relatively few Islamic State fighters surrendered. Tal Afarfell next, and more quickly, in only 11 days. Some 500 fighters surrendered there.

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10/07/2017 9:04

Late Night Ratings are Plummeting

While America was laughing at Twitter and watching YouTube videos, late night was slipping. Writing in the Transom, Ben Domenech of The Federalist points out that the late-night viewership of ABC, CBS, plus NBC this week barely broke 8 million viewers. Not long ago retired NBC funnyman Jay Leno was bringing in 6 million viewers all on his own.

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10/07/2017 9:46

Really Bad New for the NFL

Over just one month of player, coach and owner protests of the flag and National Anthem, the National Football League has gone from America's sport to the least liked of top professional and college sports, according to a new poll.

From the end of August to the end of September, the favorable ratings for the NFL have dropped from 57 percent to 44 percent, and it has the highest unfavorable rating -- 40 percent -- of any big sport, according to the Winston Group survey provided exclusively to Secrets.

Worse for football, which was already seeing lower TV ratings and empty stadium seats, the month of protests and complaints about them from President Trump drove core fans, men 34-54, away, the most significant indicator that NFL brass aren't in touch with their base

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10/07/2017 8:54

Springtime for Stalin

the New York Times "Red Century" series defies imagination, common sense and human decency, Here's some of Jonah Goldberg's take on it:

The Times has been running a series on Communism called “The Red Century.” It’s really, really weird. At times, it feels like the greatest high-brow trolling effort in recorded history. Some of the headlines read like they were plucked from the reject pile at The Onion. I particularly enjoyed “Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism.” One wonders what all the women who had to service their prison guards for a crust of bread would think about that. With the exception of one essay by Harvey Klehr, the upshot seems to be an effort to rehabilitate Communism for a certain kind of New York Times liberal who desperately needs to cling to the belief that he was on the right side of an argument he lost.

...This is amusing for a bunch of reasons, but the relevant one brings us back to the Times’ Red Century stuff. It is absolutely true that many dedicated American Communists and Communist sympathizers cared sincerely and passionately about civil rights. And that cause was indeed good and noble. But what gets left out of the picture is that Soviet support for their cause was not good and noble. It was, simply, evil and cynical. First of all, the notion that a totalitarian dictatorship that murdered and enslaved its own people actually cared about civil rights for Americans shouldn’t have passed the laugh test.

(Totally gag-worthy.)




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10/06/2017 7:18

Some Good Economic News

The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday said the labor force participation rate of 63.1 percent reached a high for the year in September, up two-tenths of a point from August.

The number of employed Americans reached 154,345,000 in September, setting a sixth record since January. As the number of employed Americans reached an all-time high, the number of unemployed Americans in September -- 6,801,000 -- hasn't been this low since May 2007.

The already low unemployment rate dropped another two-tenths of a point to 4.2 percent last month That is the lowest since early 2001.

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10/06/2017 7:01

A Clinton Friend

Harvey Weinstein Harassment Claims Put Obamas, Clintons in Tough Spot (that's the headline but it's not really true. The Obama, and Clinton friends in the media will cover for them. It appears Winstein's behavior was well known but he was useful to the Democrats so it was ignored.

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10/05/2017 11:48

Any Humor is Strictly Unintentional

A new media company aimed at millennials and featuring multiple former members of the Obama administration — including Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer and Ben Rhodes, along with former New Republic senior editor Brian Beutler — is expanding.

Crooked.com has been in existence since January, but Wednesday's announcement indicates the site will grow to add written commentary and video as well.

The site features a popular podcast called "Pod Save America," hosted by Favreau, Vietor, Lovett and Pfeiffer. 

Popular liberal writers including Ana Marie Cox, recently a MTV News correspondent; Black Lives Matter organizer DeRay Mckesson; former MTV News and Daily Beast writer Ira Madison; immigrant rights advocate Julissa Arce and comedian Akilah Hughes will be featured on the site via podcasts, videos and columns.

Rhodes, who will also write and host podcasts and videos, served as as deputy national security adviser for strategic communications under President Obama and also served as his foreign policy speechwriter. 

Pfeiffer is a former campaign aide who also served as a senior White House adviser. Favreau was Obama’s head speech writer.


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10/05/2017 8:01

Puerto Rico’s has had decades of corruption and collapse

To be fair, Clinton and Sanders are not alone in having ignored Puerto Rico’s problems. Legislators on both sides of the aisle have stood idly by, hoping the territory’s unpayable debts would miraculously disappear. Now that the island’s dysfunction has morphed from dangerous to fatal, and Puerto Rico is blaming Hurricane Maria and Donald Trump for its misfortunes, Americans are taking a hard look at just how badly the Commonwealth has been mismanaged. They’re discovering that the damage wrought by recent storms, and the inadequate emergency response, was inevitable.

The federal oversight board claimed in its filings that the local government is “unable to provide its citizens effective services.”   A year ago, the New York Times wrote that the territory’s towering debt burden had “crowded out other governmental spending in Puerto Rico, leaving a wake of devastation: closed schools, fewer hospital beds, homeless people squatting in abandoned houses.”  These conditions were devastating; Hurricane Maria made them life-threatening.

As disastrous as Puerto Rico’s overall finances have become, the management of the territory’s now-bankrupt power system – the source of much of today’s distress – has been even worse.  The utility, called Prepa, has for decades sent free power to “78 municipalities, many government endeavors, and even to for-profit businesses,” as the Times reports, leading to high bills for private citizens and declining service.   The system long relied on imported oil; the management has been accused of improper use of substandard fuel and of profiteering.  

(And Trump is not responsible for the island's problems)

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10/05/2017 6:39

CEO Is Screwing up Disney

Disney CEO Decided Not to Suspend Jemele Hill Over Trump Insults Because Her Feelings Were Hurt.  (Guess that trumps she's an incompetent and a liar)

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10/05/2017 6:36

About That Dem Corruption Trial

According to her testimony, Sebelius had tried avoiding Melgen. She told the jury that he was the only provider to her knowledge trying to claim multiple dosage payments off single vials, the dispute Menendez wanted settled in Melgen’s favor. Her staff had advised her to ignore Menendez’ calls and let lower-level staff rebuff those requests, presumably so she wouldn’t have to sit in a federal court explaining her actions.

In any event, the meeting was a bust, Sebelius testified. Without mentioning Melgen’s name, Menendez tried arguing that the CMS policy wasted medicine, an argument that Sebelius didn’t buy. Menendez did most of the talking, Sebelius said, but “we came in with a dispute and left with the same dispute after about 30 minutes.

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10/05/2017 6:33

Maybe He Wasn't a Long Wolf

Rouse said, in reference to the Las Vegas shooting Sunday, “There’s going to be questions, I’m sure you’re going to have questions about people we’ve been talking to, maybe people outside of the United States. The fundamental trust of the American people and the FBI is based upon our discretion–and how good would that discretion be if we were to provide information that they provided to us in confidence?”

“This is about informing on an investigation, this is about resolving an investigation, so specifics regarding any individual contact cannot be answered. You need us, you trust us, and the way we have that trust is by using good discretion about what we share. Additionally, we have multiple leads across the United States and all across the world for our legal industries determining the whereabouts of the panel of the people involved in this investigation, and that leads grows. A lot of these leads will go nowhere but we have to follow them, and that’s going to take some time,” Rouse said.

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10/04/2017 4:09

they Often Turn on Thier Supporters

Students affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement crashed an event at the College of William & Mary, rushed the stage, and prevented the invited guest—the American Civil Liberties Union's Claire Gastañaga, a W & M alum—from speaking.

Ironically, Gastañaga had intended to speak on the subject, "Students and the First Amendment."

The disruption was livestreamed on BLM at W&M's Facebook page. Students took to the stage just a few moments after Gastañaga began her remarks. At first, she attempted to spin the demonstration as a welcome example of the kind of thing she had come to campus to discuss, commenting "Good, I like this," as they lined up and raised their signs. "I'm going to talk to you about knowing your rights, and protests and demonstrations, which this illustrates very well. Then I'm going to respond to questions from the moderators, and then questions from the audience."

This went on for nearly 20 minutes. Eventually, according to the campus's Flat Hat News, one of the college's co-organizers of the event handed a microphone to the protest's leader, who delivered a prepared statement. The disruption was apparently payback for the ACLU's principled First Amendment defense of the Charlottesville alt-right's civil liberties.

Organizers then canceled the event; some members of the audience approached the podium in an attempt to speak with Gastañaga, but the protesters would not permit it. They surrounded Gastañaga, raised their voices even louder, and drove everybody else away.

The college released what can only be described as an incredibly tepid statement:

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10/04/2017 10:49

If Phones Were Not Already Irritating....

In 2014, Apple technicians developed a way to stream audio over the low energy Bluetooth format used by wearables such as FitBits. Now, tiny devices like hearing aids – and Apple’s Airpods — can stream audio signals for up to a week on a battery the size of an aspirin.

There is a small cost – the audio signal is highly compressed, and can sound much flatter than sounds from typical Bluetooth headsets. That’s unlikely to be a problem for cochlear implant users, as these devices can only stimulate a limited number of frequencies in the ear anyway — because of this low sound quality, cochlear implants are reserved for those with profound hearing loss.

However, the technology behind the new audio streaming models is likely to be adopted by consumer audio devices. Technology giants are betting heavily on audio interfaces becoming the norm in the future, all the better to further integrate voice-activated assistants such as Siri, OK Google, Cortana and Alexa into our daily routines.

It’s likely that in the future most of us will wear discreet, “transparent” ear buds that allow us to hear the world around us while also allowing us to field calls, texts, emails, and hear updates and directions directly from our phone

(Not sure abut the future...)

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10/04/2017 7:29

Toxic Masculinity?

Kristin Bolinger was severely injured during the Las Vegas mass shooting, but up until Tuesday her family didn't even know if she was alive.

Thanks to two brave men, who risked their own lives, she's still fighting. One of her rescuers died, another survived.

Bolinger, 21, was born and raised in Hagerstown, Maryland which is about 70 miles outside of DC.

(More toxic masculinity?)

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10/04/2017 7:06

High Optimism about Economy

The public's views on the economy continue to cruise at lofty levels but the optimism does not appear to be lifting the president's approval rating.

The third-quarter CNBC All-America Economic Survey found 43 percent of the public believes the economy is excellent or good, a record high in the 10-year history of the survey. Thirty-six percent believes the economy will get better, down a couple of points from last quarter, but just 23 percent say it will get worse, down 6 points.

The four-quarter average for every major economic metric in the poll --- the outlook for the economy, housing, wages and the stock market --- is at a record 10-year high. Those four quarters cover the time span since President Donald Trump's election.

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10/04/2017 6:18

Wouldn't Change a Word

Cheers go out today to a David Karner of Novato, Calif. When the LA Times invited readers to rewrite the Second Amendment, he wrote. "I wouldn't change a word."

(Actually liberal judges have been rewriting the Constitution for years.)

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10/03/2017 7:20

Little Blogging Today

Probably no blogging today. Have three writing projects going. No time today.  

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10/02/2017 7:07

When You Politicalize Shootings

There are generally two kinds of social media reactions to heart-wrenching events like yesterday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas: one is to offer prayers and sympathy to the victims and their families, and the other is to reflexively lash out in anger at those who don’t share your political agenda. Although emotionally satisfying, one of these responses makes it nearly impossible for the country to engage in any kind of useful discussion moving forward.

No doubt, there is immense frustration after a mass shooting, and this looks to be the most deadly in American history. The unstated reality is that many of these murders probably can’t be stopped. Attempting to preemptively discern which of our neighbors are ideologically driven or mentally capable of committing mass murder is no more feasible than trying to keep every one of the 350 million guns in the country away from them. Most often, even the relatives seem to be at a complete loss as to why it happens. “We’re lost. I don’t understand this,” the Vegas shooter’s brother told the media. They never do

 

.Maybe Paddock evaded or abused some gun law. Maybe it can be tightened. But those who reflexively call for more restrictive gun laws without even knowing how or why Paddock got his hands on guns — or what kind of firearms he used — give themselves away. Those who conflate automatic and semi-automatic guns also give themselves away.

Those in the press who mislead the public on all these issues give themselves away, as well. They are interested not merely in stopping mass shootings, but limiting gun ownership. This kind of reaction hardens the resolve of Second Amendment advocates and creates an environment that makes any realistic options moot. Rather than specifically pointing to areas of achievable compromise, the reaction of most gun-control advocates seems to be a declaration of partisan war.

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10/02/2017 10:45

CBS Exec: No Sympathy for Country Music Fans

A top legal executive at CBS, Hayley Geftman-Gold, said she “is not even sympathetic” for the victims of the shooting at a country music festival at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas Sunday night.

“If they wouldn’t do anything when children were murdered I have no hope that Repugs will ever do the right thing,” wrote Geftman-Gold on Facebook, perhaps referring to Sandy Hook. “I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans often are Republican gun toters.”

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10/02/2017 10:37

Slow Death of the NFL

Since I wasn’t a rabid fan the NFL won’t really notice that I’m gone. But I’m not alone. Through my radio showsocial media, and life I have heard from scores of people who are diehard fans, and they’re done too.

More importantly for the NFL and the players, they’re beyond angry. Lifelong fans feel betrayed. Anger fades with time, but the sting of betrayal lingers.

This was a foreseeable eventuality, akin to being hit by a train because you were playing on the tracks and refused to move.

The damage to the NFL began when Commissioner Roger Goodell chose to side with left-wing activists over the game in the hope of placating them and absolving himself from his failures to properly address domestic violence by some players.

Activist groups were vocal critics of slaps on the wrists for players abusing their wives or girlfriends. But left-wing activist groups don’t stop, ever. Even when something is (eventually) made right and harsher penalties were handed out. Because they can fundraise off of it and, equally as important to them, they hate professional sports.

 

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