Interesting Bits

09/27/2017 4:03

Hollywood Is Lying Again

Cruise plays Barry Seal, a real-life Louisiana TWA pilot-turned-drug smuggler for the Medellin Cartel who got rich in the 1970s and 1980s before he was eventually busted. Desperate, he volunteered to turn informant for the DEA and earned the wrath of the drug lords after photographing some of them with cameras the CIA had installed on his plane . All of this is shown in American Made, but as far as I can tell, most of the rest is fabricated. Seal is, for instance, shown working for the CIA first to conduct spy missions, then becoming a drug trafficker while also delivering CIA rifles to the Contras, and then welcoming the Contras to his Mena, Ark. headquarters for training.

Yet according to the author of what appears to be a well-sourced book on Seal, the pilot was not a CIA employee or asset. That’s awkward: Seal’s supposed CIA gig is the central element of this movie. It’s as if it turned out that Goodfellas narrator Henry Hill wasn’t in the mafia at all but was instead hijacking trucks and burying bodies as a foot soldier for the National Endowment for the Arts.

American Made could have been called American Made-Up




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09/27/2017 8:35

Another Wise Move by the President

President Trump, in just eight months in office, has succeeded in upending U.S. refugee policy, cutting by more than half the 110,000-refugee target that the Obama administration had bequeathed him and dramatically shifting the demographics of who is accepted.

Gone is President Obama’s overwhelming focus on Muslims, and particularly on Syrians fleeing a civil war that his administration facilitated. Under Mr. Trump, the rate of Syrian refugees has been cut by more than 80 percent, and Christians have overtaken Muslims in total refugees resettled.

“It’s impossible to escape the clear message that there’s a new sheriff in town,” said Matthew O'Brien, research director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for stricter refugee controls.

The Trump changes have reverberated around the globe, with the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees drastically cutting the number of refugee candidates it submits to the U.S.

After recommending nearly 35,000 refugee candidates last year, the UNHCR submitted just 3,591 applications from January to July.

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09/27/2017 7:10

ObamaCare Falls in the Polls Again

Democrats — and newly minted health care expert Jimmy Kimmel — cheered. But with repeal more or less off the table, the public's mood about ObamaCare has soured considerably.

A monthly Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that just 46% say they have a favorable view of the law — down from 52% a month ago. ObamaCare's unfavorability rating shot up from 39% in August to 44%.

According to Kaiser, "the decline in favorability is across all groups, including Democrats, independents and Republicans."

The survey was taken after the previous Senate repeal attempt failed, but before the current one collapsed.

What could cause the sudden shift in public opinion? Maybe it's because liberal activists and the media have stopped propagandizing the public about how great ObamaCare is, and now people are starting to once again notice its fatal flaws.

Namely: the lack of choice and the exploding premiums that are pricing millions of middle-class families out of the insurance market.

A HealthPocket survey — also released this week — found a huge affordability gap between what adults say is the most they can afford and what ObamaCare insurance costs.

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09/27/2017 7:01

So Why Are Canadian So Xenophobic?

Canada Says It’s No Safe Haven for Immigrants Losing U.S. Protection.   (Story behind a pay wall)

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09/26/2017 9:31

U.S. Taxpayers Have Spent More Than $80 Billion on ‘Dreamers’

The biggest benefit illegal immigrants in DACA have gotten by far is a K-12 education in American schools, with extra services provided to them for ELL (English Language Learner) programs, and other programs offered through schools that include school lunch, school breakfast, in many places, summer meals, and reduced or free after-care and summer camp. The total school-related benefits amount to the year-round care and feeding of hundreds of thousands of children whose parents are living and working in the country illegally.

According to the Federation for American Immigration Enforcement, the cost to educate ELL students who have limited English-language ability is, on average, 20 percent higher than for regular students. In some school districts, it’s as much as 50 percent higher.

ELL costs nationwide totaled 59.8 billion in 2016.

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09/26/2017 8:28

Nielsen: Football ratings off 11 percent this year

 Through three weeks, viewership for national telecasts of NFL games is down 11 percent this season compared to 2016, the Nielsen company said on Tuesday.

Nielsen said the games averaged 17.63 million viewers for the first three weeks of last season, and have dipped to 15.65 million this year. The Nielsen figures don’t include many of the Sunday afternoon games that are shown to a regional audience, but not a national one.

The NFL ratings are in focus because of President Donald Trump’s suggestion that viewers are turned off by a protest against police brutality that began with quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the national anthem. The protests spread rapidly this past weekend following the president’s criticism of people involved.

Next week’s ratings will be even more closely watched, since conservative groups and Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity have called for people angered by the protests to boycott this weekend’s games.

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09/26/2017 12:21

Want to See the Future of California

As the economic and political crisis deepens in Venezuela, so do the levels of hunger.

A survey by a top university found the average Venezuelan has lost nine kilogrammes in the past year.

Many families are now forced to scavenge for food in what was once South America's richest country.

At a soup kitchen run by the Catholic Church in Caracas, there are rarely any leftovers. It only serves 100 children every day, so the kitchen, which runs on donations, is forced to turn people away.

"Every day, more children come. Our crisis is such that, as they say, shame has been forgotten," Judith Arcia, a cook at the soup kitchen told Al Jazeera.

"People would rather beg for a plate of food for their children, than watch them go hungry."

Venezuela's prolonged and acute economic crisis - characterised by food shortages and hyperinflation - has seen infant mortality rise to almost 35 percent and maternal mortality to 65 percent in just the last year. Anemia is rampant.

The oil-rich country is now leading Latin America in what is called acute malnutrition, defined by experts as a rapid decline of nutrition that puts a child's life at risk.

The Catholic Church and opposition leaders have called for the government to open a humanitarian corridor. But Constituent Assembly President Delsy Rodriguez flatly rejects such a plan.

(This was once the richest nation in South America. Now children and parents are begging for food. The result of Socialism)

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09/26/2017 6:48

Hard Data, Hollow Protests

The FBI released its official crime tally for 2016 today, and the data flies in the face of the rhetoric that professional athletes rehearsed in revived Black Lives Matter protests over the weekend.  Nearly 900 additional blacks were killed in 2016 compared with 2015, bringing the black homicide-victim total to 7,881. Those 7,881 “black bodies,” in the parlance of Ta-Nehisi Coates, are 1,305 more than the number of white victims (which in this case includes most Hispanics) for the same period, though blacks are only 13 percent of the nation’s population. The increase in black homicide deaths last year comes on top of a previous 900-victim increase between 2014 and 2015.

Who is killing these black victims? Not whites, and not the police, but other blacks.

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09/25/2017 7:54

Marriott Refuses to Cancel Convention for Anti-Sharia Group

Marriott International has no intention of acquiescing to a demand from Muslim activists that an October convention of the ACT for America organization at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Arlington, Va., be canceled.

“We are a hospitality company that provides public accommodations and function space,” a Marriott spokesman told PJM. “Acceptance of business does not indicate support or endorsement of any group or individual.”

“Marriott clearly and proudly states on its website that ‘diversity and inclusion is fundamental to our core values and strategic business goals,’” Muslim Advocates public advocacy director Scott Simpson wrote to Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International.

“We believe that hosting this anti-Muslim convention is antithetical to this otherwise clear commitment,” Simpson added.''

(Good)

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09/25/2017 7:05

Sales Of Villanueva’s Football Jersey Skyrocket

Alejandro Villanueva, the lone football player on the Pittsburgh Steelers who stood during the national anthem Sunday while the rest of his team remained in the locker room, has become more popular than ever as sales of his jersey have skyrocketed.

Sales of the former Army Ranger’s jersey on Fanatics.com shot up to the highest-seller among Pittsburgh Steelers jersey as of just 10 PM Eastern time

Additionally, Villanueva’s jersey sales rocketed into the top sellers in the entire league as of 7:45 PM EST behind only Marshawn LynchDerek CarrCarson WentzBrown, and Aaron Rodgers247 Sports reported.

Villanueva, who played football at West Point Military Academy, later went on to become an Army Ranger and served three tours in Afghanistan. He also was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor. Prior to playing for the Steelers, he played for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014.


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09/25/2017 6:51

How True.

Boston columnist Howie Carr reminds his readers that until yesterday liberals and progressives hated the NFL.

he NFL’s run of terrible press is over — when President Trump attacked the league Friday night in Alabama, 99.99 percent of the alt-left media reflexively fell into line in defense of a sport they were denouncing as barbaric as late as Friday afternoon.

You know that torrent of negative news the fellow travelers has been spewing out about pro football — the epidemics of CTE and spousal abuse, the league’s plummeting TV ratings, the half-empty stadiums in California, the $6 tickets going begging, etc., etc.?

 

Now that Trump has slammed the NFL, it is once again ... America’s Pastime!

All it took was 90 or so seconds of the president fantasizing aloud about an NFL owner — like his buddy Bob Kraft, maybe, or his ambassador to the Court of St. James, Woody Johnson — reacting to the latest pampered prima donna to take a knee during the national anthem.

“Get that son of a bitch off the field right now!” the president imagined one of his fellow billionaires bellowing. “Out! He’s fired! He’s fired!”

Which would be the owner’s right, obviously. And surely a huge percentage of what used to be the NFL fan base is fed up with the endless PC posturing, both on the field and in the ESPN studios and on the sports pages.

The NFL’s appeal has faded, but not just among the deplor­ables.


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09/25/2017 6:48

NFL Broadcasting Stocks Slump As Protests Rise And TV Ratings Fall

During the past month the overall stock market is up more than 2% but shares of companies that broadcast NFL games--Comcast, Walt Disney, Fox, CBS--are all down between 1% to 8%.

The NFL is now a hotbed of protests--a carry over from last year that began when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting during the National Anthem, to protests this year by those who feel Kaepernick, who is without a team, is being unfairly treated by by the league, to a stronger push by some players for an increase in NFL social activism.

Towards the end of last season some felt the NFL's ratings dip would be temporary and therefore would not ultimately hurt the networks by forcing them to reimburse advertisers. Instead, the opposite has happened.

Ratings for the the NFL have been worse this season and attendance for some games has also been disappointing. The networks will pay over $5 billion this season to televise the NFL and were already facing unflattering margins on advertising profits. An article in The Hollywood Reporter reckons the drop in NFL ratings could trim the broadcaster's earnings by $200 million. Disney's ESPN, meanwhile, also continues to get hammered by cord-cutting.

(The NFL took sides in the culture wars and now should pay the price)

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09/24/2017 7:12

You Gio, Guys

Several NASCAR team owners said Sunday they would not condone racers protesting during the national anthem, amid protests by sports players at football and baseball games. 

There were no protests reported during “The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in New Hampshire, according to The Associated Press.

Former NASCAR champion Richard Petty told the AP that any member of his team would be fired if they chose to protest the national anthem. Petty now owns Richard Petty Motorsports.

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09/24/2017 7:34

Farewell to the NFL

Players like Kaepernick and Hernandez give the league a bad name, so it's hardly surprising that the NFL's ratings are down again this season. Explanations and excuses offered include the weather (hurricanes!), low quality of play and shortening attention spans -- although who actually watches an NFL broadcast intently between trips to the fridge and visits to the john?

 

CBS has suffered early. Per Anthony Crupi of  Ad Age, through the first two weeks of the season, CBS's Sunday NFL windows had averaged 13.9 million viewers, down 10% versus 15.2 million last year. Sports Media Watch said CBS’s 8.4 rating for its Week 2 single header lineup was the lowest for a Week 2 single-header since at least 1998.

 

NBC had a particularly ugly night with the Packers-Falcons. The game drew 20.2 million, well down from last year’s Week 2 game (Packers-Vikings, 22.8 million) and the Seahawks-Packers in 2015 (26.4 million). It was the least-watched Week 2 Sunday Night Football game since 2008. Crupi reported NBC’s three primetime games so far had averaged 22.1 million viewers, down 7% from 2016.

 

But if you ask this former fan, the rot runs deeper. Football, which is practically the state religion in Texas and across the South, used to be closely tied up with patriotism and love of country. The militaristic component of the sport, which was presented as akin to war, appealed especially to red-state dwellers. But sportscasters and sportswriters are overwhelmingly leftist in their outlook, and their eagerness to turn Kaepernick into a civil-rights icon has repelled a sizable section of football's core audience -- and one that, by the current evidence, is growing.

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09/23/2017 4:05

Trump's NFLComments Explain Why He Is President

He takes a commonly held sentiment — most people don’t like the NFL protests — and states it in an inflammatory way guaranteed to get everyone’s attention and generate outrage among his critics. When those critics lash back at him, Trump is put in the position of getting attacked for a fairly commonsensical view.

Of course, NFL owners firing players on the spot for protesting isn’t necessarily common sense, but this is where “seriously, not literally” comes in. Since everyone knows that owners aren’t going to do this, Trump’s statement registers for his supporters merely as forceful opposition to the protests, not as a specific plan of action.

His advocacy for a Mexico-funded border wall and for the Muslim ban played in a roughly similar way (although The Wall was taken more literally, hence Trump’s exertions to make a colorable case that it is being built). Finally, when Trump is criticized and doesn’t back down it is taken by his supporters as a sign of strength. If a political consultant came up with this strategy, he’d deserve a huge raise. But it’s just Trump himself operating on instinct.

(He is, as he did with  his UN speech, standing up and advocating for the average, American taxpayer)


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09/23/2017 10:27

Putin Didn't Hack the Election, Obama Did

The all-smoke-no-fire Russia investigation looks increasingly like a smoke screen aimed to put out a very different fire. Rather than an investigation into malfeasance by the Trump campaign, does the Robert Mueller inquiry serve as a clean-up operation to justify Obama administration malfeasance? The bugging of the opposition party’s presidential campaign, at least when done by Republicans, ranks not only as criminal but as the biggest political scandal in American history.

Richard Nixon’s henchmen wore surgical gloves to avoid leaving clues for law enforcement. Barack Obama’s henchmen were law enforcement. This makes Obama worse, not better, than Nixon. At least Nixon’s plumbers possessed the decency to leave their skullduggery to lock pickers and burglars. Obama used law enforcement for opposition research. In Banana Republics, the cops double as the criminals. The unprecedented use of the Justice Department to commit injustice marks a sad moment for the republic. It is Watergate on steroids.

Accusations that hit the mark, rather wild ones wide of the target, provoke fierce denunciations, outcry, and Joe Welch, have-you-no-sense-of-decency moralizing. The category-5 storm that engulfed the president after he tweeted about government surveillance on his campaign indicated that he uncovered an inconvenient truth, not that he told an ignoble lie. No one flips out when a critic makes a fool of himself with his own words. People do so when the words threaten to make a fool of them.

The Obama administration using the considerable powers of the federal government to spy on a hated critic’s campaign sets a dangerous precedent. It provides future administrations a means to infiltrate the innermost circle of the opposition party’s presidential campaign. This merely requires the pretext of wrongdoing to engage in wrongdoing.

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09/23/2017 8:57

Trump’s Job Approval Rises To Highest Level In Four Months

He hadn’t seen 41.1 percent in the RCP poll average since May 14th. That’s not … ideal as a four-month polling high, shall we say, but it’s in the right direction. And most of the latest polls tracked by RCP have him a few points north of that. YouGov, Rasmussen, and NBC all put him at 43 percent now and Monmouth has him just six points underwater at 42/48.

...Modest gains, but gains are gains. Wisely, he’s going to try to keep the good nonpartisan vibes going by visiting Puerto Rico soon to see the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. I don’t know that his polling rise is due solely to storm management, though. This number from the new NBC/WSJ poll jumps out, not just because it’s so lopsided but because it’s the only issue of 11 that were mentioned of which a majority approves of how he handled it:

(Still low but gains are gains. And we are spared those MSNBC stories about poll ratings being the lowest in human history)

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09/23/2017 8:07

Time For The Partisan Mueller To Go

Robert Mueller’s sprawling special-counsel investigation is playing hardball. It was not enough to get a search warrant to ransack the Virginia home of Paul Manafort, even as the former Trump campaign chairman was cooperating with congressional investigators. Mueller’s bad-asses persuaded a judge to give them permission to pick the door lock. That way, they could break into the premises in the wee hours, while Manafort and his wife were in bed sleeping. They proceeded to secure the premises — of a man they are reportedly investigating for tax and financial crimes, not gang murders and Mafia hits — by drawing their guns on the stunned couple, apparently to check their pajamas for weapons.

Mueller’s probe more resembles an empire, with 17 prosecutors retained on the public dime. So . . . what exactly is the crime of the century that requires five times the number of lawyers the Justice Department customarily assigns to crimes of the century? No one can say. The growing firm is clearly scorching the earth, scrutinizing over a decade of Manafort’s shady business dealings, determined to pluck out some white-collar felony or another that they can use to squeeze him.

....Why is this worth pointing out? Because someday, maybe, we’ll get around to asking: What would have happened if Hillary Clinton’s very real email scandal — with its mountainous evidence of felony mishandling of classified information and destruction of government records — had been investigated with the no-holds-barred vigor Mueller and his band of Hillary donors are applying to the surmise of Trump collusion in Russian espionage?




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09/22/2017 7:21

Dogs Aren't Faking. They really do love you.

And what did Berns discover? Something that almost every dog owner in the world could have told you: Dogs aren’t faking it when they act like they love you. Because it’s not an act.

Berns and his team confirmed this through a host of tests that looked at different centers of the doggie brain and how they responded to different stimuli. In one test they alternated between giving the pooches hot dogs (the food, not Dachshunds) and offering them praise. Looking at the pleasure centers of the dogs’ brains, the researchers found that nearly all the dogs responded to “Who’s a good boy?! You are!” (or whatever they actually said) with at least as much pleasure as when they got a Hebrew National. A fifth of the dogs actually preferred praise to food. Berns concluded that dogs derive as much pleasure from love as from food. As a somewhat obsessed dog guy, I’m the first to concede that a central tenet of doggie philosophy is to reject the whole love-vs.-food paradigm as a false choice. Dogs are committed to the idea that there is no such thing as too much of a good thing.

But as almost anyone who has come home to their dog after an extended absence will tell you, dogs don’t go bonkers for missing loved ones solely because they think there’s a meal in it for them.



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09/22/2017 7:10

Miami Herald: Cheers for UN Speechk

President Donald Trump deserves credit for talking extensively about the repressive regimes of Venezuela and Cuba in his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly, even if his overall address was music to the ears of dictators around the world.

Unlike former President Barack Obama, who didn’t mention the word “Venezuela” in his last two annual addresses to the U.N. General Assembly, and only mentioned Cuba to refer to opening diplomatic ties with the island, Trump lashed out against the curtailment of basic freedoms in the two Latin American countries during his speech to the U.N. on Tuesday.

Without repeating his disastrous mistake of Aug. 11, when he casually stated that the United States was considering a “military option” in Venezuela and caused many countries to distance themselves from U.S. diplomatic efforts to isolate the Venezuelan regime, Trump said he will pursue “calibrated sanctions on the socialist regime in Venezuela.”

Translation: He threatened to escalate gradual financial sanctions against members of Venezuela’s corrupt “revolutionary” elite and government institutions, and asked other countries to do the same. It was a tacit call for multilateral pressure on the Venezuelan regime, rather than U.S. unilateral actions.

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