Prince George’s County joined the District of Columbia and Montgomery County, MD, when its ban of coal tar pavements went into effect at the beginning of July. This category of thick brown or black liquid is a byproduct of the carbonization of coal that has been used for decades to seal driveways, parking lots, playgrounds and recreational trails to extend the life of asphalt and concrete surfaces.
But mounting evidence shows that these products, to which there are alternatives, contribute toxic chemicals that persist in waterways and harm human and wildlife health. The coal tar products contain high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that are toxic to fish and cause cancer in humans.
A study in the April issue of the journal Environmental Science showed runoff from coal tar-sealed pavement remained deathly toxic to minnows and water fleas (which make up the base of the food chain) in rainwater runoff as long as three months after coal tar sealant was applied.
. . .
Fred Pinkney, toxicologist with the Chesapeake Bay Field Office at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said it’s difficult to know how widely PAHs are used in the Bay watershed. Coal tar sealants are more widely used east of the Mississippi River and less toxic asphalt sealants are largely used in the West, he said.
The U.S. Geological Survey has conducted most of its research on the substances out of Austin, TX, which was one of the first municipalities to ban the sealants. Washington and Minnesota have statewide bans on the coal tar products, and cities in two dozen states have some form of ban or restriction on the products, according to the advocacy group Coal Tar Free America.
Coal tar sealant often requires reapplication every two to five years where tires and snowplows reduce the coating to a fine dust. The dust, which contains high concentrations of PAHs, can be blown, washed or tracked into nearby soil and waterways and can persist for years after application, according to research by the USGS.
According to their research, people living next to coal tar-sealed pavement are 38 times more likely to get cancer during their lifetime and are at a greater risk if they lived there during early childhood.
PAHs are one of the major classes of contaminants associated with urbanization. In addition to coal tar, they are also created by various other forms of combustion, including barbecuing and grilling. There's absolutely no doubt they can be both acutely poisonous and carcinogenic, but as with many poisons, it also has medicinal uses. Coal tar extracts are used in medical and dandruff shampoos (which often smell like hot pavement. Coal tar extract (creosote) is also used to treat wood to make it rot and insect resistant.
While I suspect coal tar driveway sealant has been used on our driveway. I would support a similar ban in my community.
"It is hard to move classified documents into the non-classified system. You couldn't move a document by mistake," said Willes Lee, a former operations officer for the U.S. Army in Europe and former operations officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
State Department spokesman Alec Gerlach confirmed the two systems don't connect. "The classified and unclassified system are separate and you cannot email between the two," Gerlach told Fox News.
The Clinton campaign adamantly denies any emails traversing Clinton's homebrew server were marked classified at the time. The intelligence community inspector general says "potentially hundreds" of classified emails may be in the mix, but acknowledges at least some were not properly marked.
So if the Clinton denial is to be believed, individuals in her inner circle would have simply typed or scanned classified information into a non-classified system without regard for its contents. In this case, emails would have started in, and stayed in, the unclassified system -- albeit improperly, based on the findings of the intelligence inspector general.
But if it turns out emails literally jumped from the classified to the non-classified system -- something the State Department claims cannot happen -- it would seem to point to Clinton's staff going to great lengths to create a work-around to do so.
A government employee doing so would commit numerous felonies, according to Bradford Higgins, who served as assistant secretary of state for resource management and chief financial officer from 2006-2009. "A violation, in addition to criminal charges and potential prosecution, would likely mean that person who committed the breach would never again be given a security clearance," Higgins said.
. . .
"Emails don't change from unclassified to classified. The originator of the email decides the classification before it is sent out based on basic protocols, not subsequent readers," Higgins said. "I believe it would be highly unusual for an unclassified email to later become classified."
Regardless of how it happened, Lee faulted Clinton and her staff.
"It is not as if Hillary Clinton and her staff do not know the rules and the law," he said.
Sure they know the rules and laws; just enough to break them with as much plausible deniability as possible.
Both the law and his oath required Petraeus to mark these books as “top secret” and to store them in a Secured Compartmented Information Facility. He did neither.
Rather, Petraeus allowed his biographer to take possession of the journals in order to use them as source material for his biography.
Importantly, Petraeus was well aware of the classified contents in his journals, saying to his biographer, Paula Broadwell on tape, “I mean, they are highly classified, some of them. They don’t have it on it, but I mean there’s code word stuff in there.”
. . .
In sharp contrast, Clinton is not being investigated for knowingly sending or receiving classified materials improperly.
Indeed, the State Department has confirmed that none of the information that has surfaced on Clinton’s server thus far was classified at the time it was sent or received.
Glossed over, of course, is that numerous other agencies, including DOD and the CIA are disagreeing with that assessment, and they should know, since it was their intelligence she was mishandling, and it was their right and duty to classify it before it was sent to the State Dept.
Additionally, the Justice Department indicated that its inquiry is not a criminal one and that Clinton is not the subject of the inquiry.
Anne M. Tompkins is . . . a donor to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
In the eternal words of Gomer Pyle, "Suprise, Suprise."
Let's check in with the big 2016 news from last week: Jim Gilmore? He gone. From the CNN debate, that is. I expect he'll be formally gone from the race soon and whoever manages to scoop up his support will be in the driver's seat to Cleveland.
I kid, obviously. I'm dead serious, however, when I say that the next few weeks will likely determine the outcome of the Democratic nomination. Because Hillary Clinton is now in the zone of maximum danger.
It's never good when a candidate is being linked to an ongoing FBI investigation, as Clinton is with her private State Department email system. And you can see this in Clinton's poll numbers with Democratic primary voters: She's gone from 63 percent in late July to 49 percent today. She's not just sub-50 percent right now, but at her lowest ebb since a year ago and with a surging Bernie Sanders, who's at 25 percent and climbing. (Remember Barnes' First Law of Politics: All races tighten.) . . .
Who is scariest, President Biden, Warren or Sanders?
In 2013, in a little-heralded case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected the Obama Labor Department's attempt to punish voluntary retirement plan service providers. The DOL, under the direction of the controversial, radical leftist Tom Perez, had tried to force providers of 401(k), 403(b), IRA, and related services to adopt a massive new set of regulations known as "fiduciary" responsibilities.
The Seventh Circuit slammed the door shut on Labor and the Supreme Court thereafter declined to hear the appeal, which meant that the Obama administration had lost in the highest court in the land.
Of course for the "most transparent administration ever", that step simply meant that the court's opinion was to be rejected and that Obama would use his infamous pen to rule by executive fiat. After all, the ends justify the means, correct?
On August 24th, Perez and the Labor Department confirmed they are moving forward with new regulations that would repudiate the court's opinion. Even Obama's SEC Commissioner issued an ominous warning that the Labor Department's new regulations would unleash havoc and create "a mess."
The Obama administration appears to have dropped all pretense of playing by the rules. They think they're owed that money, and they mean to have it.
The Obama administration has its sights set on an incredible amount of your money. By some estimates, Americans are holding well over $10 trillion in private retirement accounts.
For a country with debt that is clearly "unsustainable" (source: the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office), flashing that kind of figure to a Democrat politician is akin to showing a kilo of heroin to a desperate junkie.
One of the first steps the Obama administration took to signal its direction was to unveil its wildly unsuccessful "MyRA" program. This takes participants' funds and invests them in "ultra-safe", government-issued debt.
You can be sure that the future of the retirement services business will be to extend "fiduciary" responsibilities to require advisors to leverage federal debt instruments in their clients' portfolios.
Women who walk around drunk and provocatively dressed should expect to be sexually assaulted, Chrissie Hynde, the lead singer of the Pretenders, has suggested.
The former chart topper claimed in a Sunday newspaper interview that scantily clad women were likely to “entice a rapist” and that it is their “fault” if they are attacked.
Oh, the feminists are going to be all over her case.
The book details an incident when she was 21 when she was picked up by a motorcycle gang who promised to take her to a party but instead took her to an empty house and sexually assaulted her.
But she said: “If I'm walking around in my underwear and I'm drunk? Who else's fault can it be? – Er, the guy who attacks you?
“Oh, come on! That's just silly.
“If I'm walking around and I'm very modestly dressed and I'm keeping to myself and someone attacks me, then I'd say that's his fault
Not being a binary kind of believer, I'm willing to grant blame to both. Whether or not women dress provocatively, they have a right to live without sexual assault. Any male who assaults a woman regardless of dress must be held accountable. However, by dressing like a slut and going into bad situations (drunk, dressed in underwear in a biker bar, say for example), the chances of being assaulted rise to damn near 100%. If someone leaves their car unlocked with the key in it, or their front door wide open, you can still blame the guy who rips them off, but you still have to shake your head and wonder what they were thinking.
Melody Patterson, a winsome actress best known for playing Wrangler Jane on the sitcom “F Troop” in the 1960s, died on Aug. 21 in Hollister, Mo. She was 66.
Ms. Patterson died after a long illness, said Jason Bradley of Cremations of the Ozarks,which is handling her funeral arrangements.
66 is too young. When I see "long illness" I assume it was cancer.
On “F Troop,” a comedy set in the Old West that ran on ABC from 1965 to 1967, Ms. Patterson played a feisty postmistress and storekeeper for a squadron of scheming incompetents at Fort Courage, a fictional Army outpost. Her character was also the love interest of the fort’s captain, Wilton Parmenter, played by Ken Berry. “F Troop” also starred Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch as bumbling officers.
Wait a minute. Larry Storch may have been a "bumbling" non-com, but Forrest Tucker played a world wise and mildly corrupt senior sergeant, not real officers at all. Layers of fact checkers. You could even consult Wikipedia or IMDB.
In a 2001 interview with The Asbury Park Press, Ms. Patterson said she did not mind the innuendo between her character and Mr. Berry’s, even though she was a teenager at the time. “It wasn’t raunchy,” she said. “It was an innocent sexy.”
You can do the math, and see that she was 16 when F Troop began shooting. I agree; it was mildly suggestive in a girl chases boy kind of way, but never over the line, even for a teenager to play.
After “F Troop” ended, Ms. Patterson appeared on “The Monkees,” “Green Acres” and other shows. She met the actor James MacArthur after both were cast in the 1968 movie “The Angry Breed,” and they later married.
McArthur was the "Dano" in the original Hawaii Five-0.
She largely stopped acting after that, although she did appear in a few episodes of the CBS crime drama “Hawaii Five-0,” on which Mr. MacArthur played a detective, Danny Williams.
In true Hollywood style, she went through two husbands and died on the third.
If they exist. Believe it or not, the IRS has been holding out on whether the White House asked them for confidential tax payer information on the grounds that it would endanger taxpayer tax information:
A federal judge Friday ordered the IRS to turn over the records of any requests from the White House seeking taxpayers’ private information from the tax agency, delivering a victory to a group that for two years has been trying to pry the data loose.
It’s not clear that there were any such requests — but Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the IRS cannot just refuse to say so by citing taxpayer confidentiality laws, known as section 6103 of the tax code.
. . .
Cause of Action sued in 2013 to get a look at whatever requests the White House, or other federal agencies, had made.
The IRS refused, saying even the existence of those requests would be protected by confidentiality laws and couldn’t be released, so there was no reason to make the search.
The judge said Friday, however, that the agency couldn’t use the privacy protection “to shield the very misconduct it was enacted to prohibit.”
The IRS, or at least important parts of it, have become a weaponized, government fund attack arm of the Democratic party. Republicans need to expose and attack that arm of the organization, if necessary defunding it.
I'm sure that Obama can stretch this past the next election with some creative obstructionism, and then hope his chosen heir declines to root out the malefactors, or hope Republicans are unable to get continued support in the courts.
Extensive studies done after Katrina verified what lifelong residents of southeastern Louisiana already knew: Unless the rapidly disappearing wetlands are made healthy again, restoring the natural defense, New Orleans will soon lay naked against the sea (see satellite image, below).
So, how does one reengineer the entire Mississippi River delta—one of the largest in the world—on which New Orleans lies?
Three international engineering and design teams have reached a startling answer: leave the mouth of the Mississippi River to die. Let the badly failing wetlands there completely wither away, becoming open water, so that the upper parts of the delta closer to the city can be saved. The teams, winners of the Changing Course Design Competition, revealed their detailed plans on August 20. Graphics from each plan are below. . .
The river should be cut off (north of the number 5) to better
save wetlands closer to the city (red “Sustainable” line), and the rest
must be left to wither away, becoming open water (brown “Historic” line).
The modern Mississippi Delta passed its "use by" date many years ago. The river wants to take a shortcut down the Atchafalaya waterway (6 on the map), and bypass the old crows foot delta, thereby robbing the delta of it's sediment source, and dooming New Orleans to becoming a sinking bywater. The switching of the river has happened many times over in geologic history. The only reason to prevent it is because of New Orlean's importance as a seaport. This may well be another example of the "sunk costs fallacy."
An FBI "A-team" is leading the "extremely serious" investigation into Hillary Clinton's server and the focus includes a provision of the law pertaining to "gathering, transmitting or losing defense information," an intelligence source told Fox News.
A separate source, who also was not authorized to speak on the record, said the FBI will further determine whether Clinton should have known, based on the quality and detail of the material, that emails passing through her server contained classified information regardless of the markings. The campaign's standard defense and that of Clinton is that she "never sent nor received any email that was marked classified" at the time.
However, given the speed and transparency with which the FBI has investigated other scandals in the Obama administration, the IRS targeting of conservatives by Lois Lerner et al to name but one, I look forward to the FBI report exonerating Ms. Clinton along about 2030.
A thumb drive containing Hillary Clinton’s State Department emails was not secured in a specially designated safe until over a month after it was publicly confirmed that her server contained classified information, according to a timeline laid out in a letter by her attorney this week.
In the letter, first reported by Politico, an attorney working for Clinton, David Kendall, indicated that he had copies of the emails as early as December 2014, raising concerns from congressional investigators and intelligence officials that they may have been stored in an unsecured manner for months.
While officials said in May that Clinton’s emails contained “now-classified” information, Kendall said the thumb drive was not moved to an officially secured safe in his office until July 8.
That was over a week after department officials “report[ed] discovering hundreds of potentially classified emails within the collection” according to a June 29 memo from the State Department and Intelligence Community inspectors general.
It was a bit like closing the barn door after the horse escaped anyway, since we can be reasonably sure that various foreign intelligence agencies and hacking groups were reading her yoga routines and the plan for Chelsea's wedding in real time. Why break into an office to steal a thumb drive when you can safely read the same thing from Moscow or Beijing?
Hillary Clinton’s classified emails contain discussions of conversations with foreign diplomats, issues with embassy security and relations with countries from Russia to China.
The broad range of information that was deemed classified by the State Department — just within the emails published by the agency to date —underscores concerns that sensitive material was routinely mishandled on Clinton’s private email server.
For example, Huma Abedin, Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff, forwarded a summary of a high-level Sept. 2009 meeting to Clinton in which she detailed the “embassy security issues” that were discussed.
The issues had been raised by Eric Boswell, a diplomatic security official who was later forced to resign in the wake of the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi.
Abedin was frequently involved in the transmission of classified information to Clinton, emails show. Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s former chief of staff, and Jake Sullivan, former director of policy planning, also routinely sent or received classified emails from the secretary of state.
The Washington Post published a column Thursday night by David Ignatius that purports to clear leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton of wrongdoing in exclusively using a home brew server kept in her home that held top secret classified information during her four year tenure as secretary of state. The column is entitled The Hillary Clinton e-mail ‘scandal’ that isn’t.
Ignatius’ lead defense witness for Clinton is one Jeffrey Smith who is given four paragraphs of quotes defending Clinton. Ignatius identifies Smith as “a former CIA general counsel who’s now a partner at Arnold & Porter, where he often represents defendants suspected of misusing classified information.”
Smith is the only named source in Ignatius’ column.
Ignatius and The Post failed to disclose that Smith served as a ‘close’ national security adviser for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and that Smith has a history with the Clintons going back to at least President Bill Clinton’s election in 1992.
Transparency: for thee but not for me. But then I don't expect much from David Ignatius.
Clinton’s very careful and legalistic phrasing raises suspicions. She refers to “classified material,” which could be code for documents, leaving open the possibility of “classified information” having been received. She also says she “did not receive any material that was marked or designated classified,” which of course leaves open the possibility of receiving classified information that was not correctly marked.
The Miliband e-mail is now labeled by the State Department to contain classified information, unfit for public disclosure. That holds true for other information that Clinton and her aides routinely exchanged over an unsecure network. The question thus turns on whether Clinton should have at the time recognized that this information could be deemed as classified and should have taken better steps to protect it.
At The Fact Checker, we judge statements through the perspective of an ordinary citizen. The classification rules are complex but, legal technicalities aside, the question is whether classified information was exchanged over her private e-mail system. Never mind the IG’s concerns. According to the State Department redactions of the released e-mails, the answer is yes. Clinton earns Two Pinocchios for excessively technical wordsmithing.
This week's Rule 5 winner is Elsa Hosk, one of the new crop of models:
Elsa Anna Sofie Hosk (born 7 November 1988) is a Swedish model, who has worked for a number of leading brands . . . She modeled for Victoria's Secret, appearing in the brand's annual fashion show in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.She has also appeared in many of the brand's campaigns, especially for the sub-division PINK In 2015, she was announced as one of 10 new Victoria's Secret Angels.
She has also played professional basketball in Sweden.
A model and professional athelete? That's different.
After playing professional basketball for two years, she began receiving many job offers and soon moved to New York City to begin modeling full-time. Some writers have speculated that her work with Victoria's Secret was what brought her into the top tier fashion world, but Hosk also identifies her work with photographer Ellen von Unwerth in campaigns for Guess.
She is ranked 15th on the Top Sexiest Models list by models.com.
A new study finds that people who took 75 to 150 milligrams of aspirin every day for at least five years were 27% less likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer than people who didn’t. (A tablet of regular Bayer aspirin, for instance, contains 325 mg of aspirin. The low-dose version designed to reduce the risk of a recurrent heart attack of stroke contain 81 mg of aspirin.)
Other types of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, appeared to reduce the risk even more. People who took non-aspirin NSAIDs for at least five years were 30% to 45% less likely to have colorectal cancer than those who didn’t take the painkillers. Ibuprofen (the active ingredient in Advil and Motrin, among others) and naproxen (the active ingredient in Aleve) are two examples of this type of NSAIDs.
My bold. The part about other NSAIDs is new to me at least, and good news, since I take naproxen regularly for mild arthritis.
It appears that inflammation is an important cause of cancer, and that things that prevent inflammation can often prevent cancer.
Susan Cox (@Blasfemmey) writes for Feminist Current:
More male violence against women; reporter Alison Parker killed during live broadcast Virginia TV reporter, Alison Parker, was shot dead during a live broadcast by a man who formerly worked at the same news station. Also killed was camera man Adam Ward. There are no words for this ever-increasing death toll of women killed by men who felt entitled to take their lives.
Previously, Ms. Cox wrote on Twitter:
“This crime is no doubt linked to the misogyny for female reporters of men trying to silence them.” . . .
When all you are is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Vester Flannagan was a small, angry man, a failure who knew deep down that his failure was caused by affirmative action getting him into a position he was not suited to fulfill, and further enraged by agitiation from the gay rights and black lives matter movements. While gay, animus to women in general was not his issue.
Many Bay tributaries saw their weakest shad runs in years — perhaps ever — this spring as the silvery fish continues to struggle to make a comeback around the Chesapeake and along the East Coast.
Data show the James, York and Susquehanna rivers had their worst American shad spawning runs in recent history.
Biologists say the cold winter, cool spring and sudden warmup in the middle of the spawning run may have contributed to the poor spawning run.
Note the "may have."
“Catches, in general, were extremely low,” said Brian Watkins, a biologist with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, which annually surveys the state’s major rivers. “What we kept hearing all up and down the coast was the same thing — poor. It wasn’t just a Chesapeake Bay thing.”
There were some exceptions. The shad population on the Potomac River continued its upward trajectory. And shad numbers in the adjacent Rappahannock River also showed hints of recovery.
If the weather is to blame, why do the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers show recovery? I think they're just making shit up, and weather is what we usually blame when fish do something unexpected.
But on the Susquehanna River — once the largest shad spawning river on the East Coast — the 8,341 shad lifted over the Conowingo Dam were the fewest since the multimillion dollar fish elevator began operating in 1997. That continued a steady decline in shad numbers since it reached a peak of 193,574 in 2001.
“It is like we are continuing to find a new bottom here,” said Josh Tryninewski, of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s anadromous fish restoration unit. “It is concerning to say the least.”
To say the least. . .
The James and York rivers had their lowest catch indices since 1998, when VIMS researchers began monitoring.
The preliminary James index, which estimates relative shad abundance, was 1.33 this year, well below the average of 6.4. The preliminary York index was 1.93 compared with the average of 5.74.
Let me get this straight. Striped Bass are down, and Bluefish haven't really replaced them as they have in the past. Blue Crabs are down, Croakers have gone way down from past years, Flounder in the Bay are all but gone, and Speckled Trout and Redfish didn't make much of an appearance at all this year, and the managers tell us the Bay Restoration is going gang busters? If this is success . . .
A federal judge in North Dakota acted late on Thursday to block the Obama administration’s controversial water pollution rule, hours before it was due to take effect.
Judge Ralph Erickson of the District Court for the District of North Dakota found that the 13 states suing to block the rule met the conditions necessary for a preliminary injunction, including that they would likely be harmed if courts didn't act and that they are likely to succeed when their underlying lawsuit against the rule is decided.
The decision is a major roadblock for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers, who were planning on Friday to begin enforcing the Waters of the United States rule, expanding federal jurisdiction over small waterways, like streams and wetlands.
I call this proposal a land grab because that's ultimately what it will become. You may have title to the property, but ultimately EPA seeks to control everything that you do or build on the property on with justification that if it rain, water will run off that property into streams.
EPA and the Obama will not let a little thing like a federal court keep them from pushing this agenda:
But the Obama administration says it will largely enforce the regulation as planned, arguing that the Thursday decision only applies to the 13 states that requested the injunction. . .n a statement shortly after the ruling, the EPA was defiant and said that the injunction only applies in the 13 states that filed for it: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Last winter, CoOpportunity Health, one of the 23 health care co-ops created by the ACA, went under after it could no longer afford to pay for the care of its customers, who turned out to be sicker than the co-op expected them to be. The co-op was one of the only insurers offering ACA plans in Iowa, and its collapse was a victory for big insurers. In the wake of its demise, it remains uncertain whether the company will be able to pay back federal loans of $147 million.
It now appears that CoOpportunity Health is not alone in the predicament it found itself. In case you missed it, the New York Times recently picked up on an audit released last month of the 23 co-ops created under the law. The story does not paint a pretty picture: 22 out of 23 co-ops lost money last year, and many could find it hard to repay the 2.4 billion that the federal government spent overall on the co-ops.
The story notes that not all the news is bad: Some of the co-ops are doing better than others, and some quoted by the Times predict that the co-ops’ financial situations will improve over time. Even there, however, the news is mixed, for one way some of these co-ops may become solvent, and thus able to pay back their federal loans, is by raising premiums . . .
Most still remember the president’s famous words, “if you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor.” But for many, that’s turned out to be another unfulfilled Obamacare promise. Now, insurance companies are preparing to gouge consumers with massive premium increases. Estimates for 2016 show that insurance companies around the country are seeking premium rate increases of 20 percent to 40 percent or more, saying their new customers under Obamacare turned out to be sicker than expected.
Not only are insurance companies shifting more costs onto patients, but across the country, insurers are restricting access to care and choice by limiting the number of doctors and hospitals they provide in a coverage network. Insurance plans on government-run Obamacare exchanges on average have 34 percent fewer hospitals and doctors — including specialists — in their provider networks than health policies sold outside those exchanges or offered by employers. . .
Meanwhile, as Americans are suffering from rising costs and less access to quality health care, the biggest winners from the passage of Obamacare are the insurance giants. In the aftermath of the government health care takeover, there has been an explosion of health insurance company profits, windfalls and megamergers. As “stock market darlings,” health insurance company profits have skyrocketed to all-time highs and stocks have split even thanks to the health care law.
Reports show the so-called “Big Five” health insurers – UnitedHealth, Aetna, Cigna, Humana, and Anthem – have all outperformed the broader stock market by a wide margin since Obamacare was signed into law in March 2010. That’s why America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s main trade group, filed an amicus brief to defend the Obama administration in the recent Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell. And when the law was upheld, it was no surprise that there was a boost in health insurance company stocks.
OK, strictly speaking it also could be fairly called a ‘husband tax’ or a ‘spouse tax.’ You may also quibble on the ‘tax’ bit, largely because this is being done to avoid a tax. But, hey: no Republican voted for this monstrosity, remember? So I’m admittedly a little indifferent to any Democratic pain over the nomenclature.
To avoid the Affordable Care Act’s so-called “Cadillac tax” on rich benefit plans, companies are adding surcharges of $100 a month or more to wives and husbands of workers, hoping spouses will seek coverage elsewhere, new employer data shows.
The idea behind the so-called “spousal surcharge” employers are implementing is to reduce the number of people an employer covers so the company can save money and avoid triggering the special excise tax for plans with high cost benefits.
Basically, if you have a high-end plan – and thanks to inflation, the definition of ‘high-end’ will get broader and broader every single year – then the company that you work for will want to get your spouse off of your insurance plan whenever possible. If making you pay a hundred bucks a month will do so, then that’s what an increasing number of them will do. To be fair, many companies don’t really want to, because people get cranky on the subject, but again: no Republican voted for this monstrosity. “Tell your troubles to Jesus: the chaplain’s gone over the hill.”
The next fight over the Affordable Care Act may center on one of its most powerful provisions to contain health care costs — the "Cadillac tax" on the most generous health insurance plans.
A new analysis released this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that just over a quarter of employers that offer health plans would pay the 40 percent tax in 2018 on at least one plan if they don't make changes. The National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit association of large employers, found that half of its members reported that at least one of their health plans would trigger the tax in 2018. Both groups predicted that the proportion of employers affected would go up significantly over time.
That means many employers are scrambling to find ways to avoid the tax. Ultimately, that will probably mean a combination of paring benefits and shifting cost to employees through high deductible plans, capping or eliminating flexible savings accounts, and offering less generous plans that, for example, limit access to a narrower networks of doctors and hospitals.
This, of course as noted by Moe Lane above, was long foreseen by conservatives, who observed that the terms of the "Cadillac wife tax" were not indexed to inflation, and were thus designed to bite more people every year. But it least affect straight and gay marriages equally.
. . . via Mary Katharine Ham, rounding up the new outrages of the day (Oh no -- someone's going to play dress-up as Caitlyn Jenner, who isn't actually Caitlyn Jenner), she drops this amazing story of how loathsomely stupid our society is:
It turns out that dressing as Bruce Caitlyn Jenner for Halloween is a violation of his her civil rights. Who knew?
A tasteless joke by an inept comic in Amy Poehler's Hulu series -- a joke designed to demonstrate the character's incompetence -- instead has redounded against Poehler, and brought out the Twitter tomato-tossers.
This is complicated, so pay attention: Poehler has a new series on Hulu called Difficult People, which has gotten some good reviews...
I might have to check that out, but it sounds like the humor may be above my pay grade. Too much knowledge of current celebs, and not enough slapstick:
The main character, played by a Julie Klausner (Poehler produces but does not appear in the show), writes a twitter joke about how she can't wait until "Blue Ivy" (Beyonce's kid) grows up to be old enough to be peed on by R. Kelly (a rapper who got arrested due to his enjoyment of urinating on underage girls).
Now that's got to be a PC violation
See, I wouldn't have gotten the joke because I not only don't know who Blue Ivy is, I have never heard of R. Kelly and his unusual predilection for water sports.
The joke is not presented as funny in the show -- no one but the Klausner character thinks it's funny -- and she catches grief for it on Twitter. Her boyfriend or husband (not clear) gives her only an awkward silence as she tells the joke.
But, America now having a lower rationality level than primitive people who are still burning "witches" at the stake, of course morons have to attack the show and Poehler for the joke.
I'm of two minds on this. I hate the ever increasing attempts to control the conversation and force SJW conventions on the world, but at the same time, Poehler (NSFW link) is certainly one of the liberal elite whose media dominance have made this possible, and I do love a little blue on blue action.
The Ivory Tower Outrage Brigades are once again picking up the cudgel of political correctness and are salivating at the thought of beating some poor miscreant over the head with it.
In this case at Old Dominion College, the party started even before classes began. The Eta Chi chapter of the Sigma Nu fraternity decided to live up to the reputation of frat boys everywhere and hung some banners welcoming freshmen girls to the school:
Meanwhile, at Old Dominion University, the Sigma Nu chapter’s expression of phallocentric humor was not appreciated:
ODU officials . . . say they are investigating. . . .
“Messages like the ones displayed yesterday by a few students on the balcony of their private residence are not and will not be tolerated. The moment University staff became aware of these banners, they worked to have them removed. At ODU, we foster a community of respect and dignity and these messages sickened us. They are not representative of our 3,000 faculty and staff, 25,000 students and our 130,000 alumni. . . .Any student found to have violated the code of conduct will be subject to disciplinary action.”
College boys want to have sex with college girls? And actually make jokes about their heterosexual intentions? Outrage!
Cities are well known hot spots – literally. The urban heat island effect has long been observed to raise the temperature of big cities by 1 to 3°C (1.8 to 5.4°F), a rise that is due to the presence of asphalt, concrete, buildings, and other so-called impervious surfaces disrupting the natural cooling effect provided by vegetation. According to a new NASA study that makes the first assessment of urbanization impacts for the entire continental United States, the presence of vegetation is an essential factor in limiting urban heating.
Impervious surfaces’ biggest effect is causing a difference in surface temperature between an urban area and surrounding vegetation. The researchers, who used multiple satellites’ observations of urban areas and their surroundings combined into a model, found that averaged over the continental United States, areas covered in part by impervious surfaces, be they downtowns, suburbs, or interstate roads, had a summer temperature 1.9°C higher than surrounding rural areas. In winter, the temperature difference was 1.5 °C higher in urban areas.
“This has nothing to do with greenhouse gas emissions. It’s in addition to the greenhouse gas effect. This is the land use component only,” said Lahouari Bounoua, research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study.
So where have we seen a map like that before? Oh yes, the 2012 election map.
So clearly, liberals are responsible for global warming. The science is settled.
A few differences. The Upper Peninsula of Minnesota is liberal with out being warm (I blame the Canadians). The large liberal area in the Southwest that's not warm? It turns out there's actually a scientific explanation for that:
In cities like Phoenix built in the desert, the urban area actually has a cooling effect because of irrigated lawns and trees that wouldn’t be there without the city.
Maryland oyster farmers have long said that growing the shellfish is the easy part of their job. The hard part: all of the bureaucratic red tape they have to wade through to obtain their leases in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The stories are legendary. Calvert County oyster farmer Jon Farrington waited more than a year for a permit to grow oysters. It would have taken the same amount of time, he said, had he decided to build an oil derrick. Patrick Hudson, who farms oysters about 30 miles south of Farrington in St. Mary’s County, had to completely reapply for his farm’s leases, even though they had already been used by the oyster farmer from whom he took over the oyster grounds. The state and the federal government had to come and remeasure and resurvey all of the ground, costing him close to two years of growing time. Perhaps no one has endured more oyster bureaucracy than Donald Marsh, a former banker who has been trying to grow oysters in Chincoteague Bay since 2007. Marsh is still negotiating his permit with the Corps.
Tuesday, Sen. Benjamin Cardin invited a few oyster farmers to Horn Point Laboratory near Cambridge for a discussion on how he could help ease those permitting problems. Sitting next to him was the man whom many oyster farmers and policy makers hope will make it happen: Col. Edward P. Chamberlayne, the new commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Baltimore district.
So is this the Federal government fault? Partly, but not entirely. Maryland has more onerous regulations than Virginia.
Shockley has long urged regulators to emulate the process in Virginia, where the Corps and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission work closely and seamlessly. A Virginia oyster farmer generally receives his permit in three months. In Maryland, it rarely takes less than six months, oyster farmers say, and often takes closer to two years.
In Virginia, the Corps doesn’t weigh in unless there’s a problem, whereas in Maryland, the agency has its own approval process. One example of a delay: Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources will hold a public meeting on a lease as part of the agency’s due diligence. Two months later, the Corps will hold a public meeting for the same reason.
And why is that? Could an oyster farmer sue for lack of equal treatment by the Feds?
When asked for specific examples of the delays, Hudson pointed to a two-month waiting period for a study to be conducted on sea turtles and sturgeon. Shockley pointed out that, in a lifetime of working the Chesapeake, he rarely saw either. And crab pots, which are far more likely to entangle such creatures, require no such studies before watermen deploy them in the Bay.
I've seen exactly one live sea turtle in the bay, and zero sturgeon. When sturgeon are caught, it's generally in pound nets, which are far more damaging to a large number of bay critters than oyster farms.
That’s the finding of a new report from the Stockholm Environment Institute, which investigated carbon credits used to offset greenhouse gas emissions under a UN scheme. As one of the co-authors of the report put it, issuing these credits “was like printing money.” The BBC reports:
As a result of political horse trading at UN negotiations on climate change, countries like Russia and the Ukraine were allowed to create carbon credits from activities like curbing coal waste fires, or restricting gas emissions from petroleum production. Under the UN scheme, called Joint Implementation, they then were able to sell those credits to the European Union’s carbon market. Companies bought the offsets rather than making their own more expensive, emissions cuts.
But this study, from the Stockholm Environment Institute, says the vast majority of Russian and Ukrainian credits were in fact, “hot air” – no actual emissions were reduced.
The SEI sampled 60 random projects and found a whopping 80 percent of them to be of questionable green merit. The majority of these bogus Russian and Ukrainian offsets were used by the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (the EU ETS), a program already bogged down with problems pricing carbon. “[T]he poor overall quality of [Joint Implementation] projects may have undermined the EU’s emission reduction target by some 400 million tons of CO2,” said Anja Kollmuss, one of the leaders of the study.
But perhaps worst of all are the perverse incentives the SEI report alleges these credit swaps have created for actually increasing emissions. According to a study released in the journal Nature Climate Change, plants in Russia “increased waste gas generation to unprecedented levels once they could generate credits from producing more waste gas,” resulting in an increase in emissions as large as 600 million tons of carbon dioxide—roughly half the amount the EU’s ETS intends to reduce from 2013 to 2030.
Are you shocked? I'm not. As near as I can tell the whole global warming agenda is about putting control of production of anything under the thumb of big governments anywhere (dare I call it socialism?), while putting money into the hands of the politically connected. It may be the only point of commonality between Russia and Ukraine.
. . . But then, in response to one question from Scarborough, Mukasey went a step further and said that Clinton may have disqualified herself from elected office if the allegations prove to be true. . . . But when the former AG was pressed on the question, he informed the panel that he was speaking specifically of federal statute. Joking that it was a common subject around his family’s breakfast table, he said, “Title 18. Section 2071.”
Let’s take a look at what he’s talking about. The statute starts out like this in paragraph (a):
Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
That’s along the same lines as things we’ve been discussing all along. But the big news is in paragraph (b). (Emphasis added)
Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States. . . .
Wouldn’t wiping classified records (assuming that’s proven by the FBI) from your private server, or directing others to do that to the server while it’s sitting in a bathroom in Colorado, qualify as removing, obliterating or destroying said records?
But Charles Cooke suggested to me that would be hard to "litigate" in court. In fact, actually, I think it might be too easy to litigate -- and dispose of. The Supreme Court has ruled the qualifications listed in the Constitution (age, natural born citizen) are the exclusive qualifications that may be imposed on a candidate, and may not be added to by a mere act of Congress no more than they can be set aside by an act of Congress. It would take an Amendment to add to, or subtract from, those constitutional qualifications, and thus this law would be ruled, I think, to not apply in the case of La Hillary.*
Which actually you can see the sense of -- otherwise an Obama-type president, with a Holder-type AG, might attempt to make mischief by making up and prosecuting the opposing party's best candidates for laws which claim to "disqualify" people from US office, should such laws be claimed to have been violated.
Oh well; it might be fun to litigate anyway. Hillary's defense would have to be that only the constitution can make being a corrupt, dirtball who played fast and loose with national security ineligible for office and it hasn't.
ISIS has proven itself adept enough at information technology that a successful hack of Hillary Clinton’s server at her Chappaqua mansion cannot be ruled out, no matter how many Secret Service members stood guard. Apparently unbeknownst to the former secretary of state who boasted of the server’s security because of the guards outside, it is so easy to hack a garden variety server set up by a mom-and-pop operation that an ISIS (and Russian intelligence and Chinese and Romanian and many other agencies) hack is well within the realm of possibility.
Now consider what the New York Post reported yesterday, six paragraphs into a story. Paul Sperry writes:
US intelligence officials so far have determined that at least four — and as many as 305 — of the more than 30,000 e-mails Clinton and her aides have printed out and turned over to investigators were classified at the time they were written.
They include a 2011 message from Clinton’s top aides that contains military intelligence from United States Africa Command gleaned from satellite images of troop movements in Libya, along with the travel and protection plans for Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was later killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. Another staff e-mail sent to Clinton in 2012 contained investigative data about Benghazi terrorist suspects wanted by the FBI. (emphasis added)
I think we can safely assume that anything on the Clinton.com servers was read by multiple foreign intelligence agencies. Was it passed on to ISIS? I wouldn't put it past Putin. My guess is that we'll never know for sure, unless we waterboard a few top ISIS operatives. And even then, I doubt a Democratic administration would cop to it.
In a “serious risk” to national security, Hillary Clinton gave her State Department emails containing Top Secret and other classified information to her lawyer, who lacked sufficient clearances to possess it and who kept it for as long as eight months, the Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee charged Tuesday.
In a letter to her successor Secretary of State John Kerry, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said when she turned over thumb drives containing her official emails to her lawyer, “it appears Secretary Clinton sent (Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information) to an unauthorized person.”
Grassley, who has sent multiple demanding letters in the controversy over Clinton’s use of a private email server, said: “The transmission of classified material to an individual unauthorized to possess it is a serious national security risk (and) it raises legitimate questions as to whether the information was properly secured from foreign governments and other entities.”
David Kendall, the prominent Washington attorney who has represented Clinton for 20 years or more, had written Grassley just a day earlier that when Clinton turned over her 30,490 official emails to the State Department on Dec. 5, 2014, “none of those emails was classified.”
These are the 30,000 work related emails that Hillary admits to having sent and received on a private, unsecured server, and which she turned over to the State Department (as printed copies, to make indexing and searching as hard as possible) and not the other 30,000 she determined too dangerous personal to turn over to the government, and had destroyed (although a back up may exist, and the FBI might be able to resurrect some of the files from the wiped server).
We know, of course, that Kendall is lying wrong. At least 300 of the emails (out of the first 6000 checked) contained classified information.
The President is enough of a cold-blooded politician to know that a considerable part of his legacy will depend on whether a Democrat succeeds him in the Oval Office. Above personal feelings, he wants a Democratic nominee who can win in 2016.
Mr. Biden ran for President in 1988 and 2008 and lost, so why would he be a better candidate now? The Veep would be starting late, and most Democratic officeholders and donors are already committed to Hillary and Bill. Mr. Biden might figure he can run as a more authentic tribune of the middle class, but Bernie Sanders has a head start running as the economic populist. On paper at least, Mr. Biden would still be a long shot to defeat the Clinton machine.
Which leads us to wonder what Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama know about Mrs. Clinton’s mishandling of classified information on her personal email server while running the State Department. The FBI is now investigating, and it’s hard to believe the White House wouldn’t have some inkling about the seriousness of that probe.
Senior staff at the U.S. Embassy to Japan, including Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, have used personal email accounts for official business, an internal watchdog said in a report Tuesday. Some emails contained sensitive information.
The State Department's Office of Inspector General said that it identified instances where emails labeled "sensitive but unclassified" were sent from or received by personal email accounts. Department policy is that employees generally should not use such accounts for official business, the watchdog's office said.
"Employees are also expected to use approved, secure methods to transmit sensitive but unclassified information when available and practical," says the report.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said that although Kennedy did "infrequently" use private email, there was no indication she violated department policy, which allows its sparing and careful use if the information sent or received is then archived in a government system. He said classified information was not sent by private email, and that Kennedy did not use a personal email server.
I don't find this one an especially big deal. Sometimes using the government mail system is just really inconvenient, and if you need to send something that you run across at home, it makes sense to send it from a home account. It sounds like she stayed within bounds. But it is another example of the entitled mentality of our semi-hereditary ruling class.
The city that never sleeps has good reason to remain sleepless these days. A new terror imperils New York, threatening to destroy all that it — nay, America — holds dear.
No, it’s not a bomb, underground al-Qaeda network, hurricane, alien invasion, asteroid, animatronic Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man or any other favorite bugaboo of the silver screen. Nor is it even the latest stock market panic.
Well yes, Bill de Blasio is a boob.
Yes, boobs. Bare breasts bouncing in the breeze in Times Square, to be specific. New York City has recently lost its mind because a few women have lost their shirts.
In Times Square, a handful of topless women have joined the hordes of buskers, proselytizers, balloon artists and costumed Disney characters hustling for tips. Wearing nothing but thongs, feather headdresses and star-spangled body-paint across their otherwise exposed chests, these women pose for photos with gawking tourists and accept tips given in appreciation for being what they call “entertainers” or “ambassadors” of this great city. They offer a photogenic souvenir tourists can take home, frame and mount on their mantelpieces.
And it doesn't take up any room in your suitcase!
Unorthodox though their wardrobe choices may be, these women are on the right side of the law. More than two decades ago, the state’s highest court ruled that prohibiting women, but not men, from baring their chests in public amounted to discrimination on the basis of sex. Panhandling is likewise legal, and any attempt to shut the desnudas down would likely run into First Amendment problems.
It's New York! Who cares as long as they don't scare the horses!
None of this has stopped a major freakout from the New York Daily News, followed by infuriated comments from Police Commissioner William Bratton. Bratton promised the city was investigating every possible legal avenue to expel the exposed women from Times Square . . . Mayor Bill de Blasio is seriously considering the idea and even commissioned a task force to consider available options. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also expressed his displeasure with Times Square’s painted ladies and has pledged his support in cracking down on such “illegal” activities.
My guess is that they are irritated that most of them are painted like American flags.
Go Topless Day was founded in eight years ago by a man who calls himself Raël, the spiritual leader of the Raëlian Movement, in reaction to the arrest of Phoenix Feeley, a topless activist who was arrested for going topless in New York in 2005. Because toplessness is legal there, Feeley scored a $29,000 settlement from the city for her wrongful arrest. However, she was arrested again in New Jersey for going topless in 2013.
The Go Topless events started out in four cities in 2007, according to Lara Terstenjak, who produces it annually in Venice Beach. It is now held in over 60 cities, and how topless you can go depends on each city. Since women can't go topless in L.A., they must wear pasties or tape over their nipples. It's been legal for women to go topless in New York since 1992, so women there don't bother with the pasties. In San Francisco, being naked is pretty whatever, so only two women actually showed up their event in 2013. And while the breasts are freely bouncing in those cities, a woman was cited in Chicago last year for showing up to the event with only paint covering her nipples.
Manhattan, 2015 Go Topless Day
The eighth annual Go Topless Day is scheduled for Sunday, August 23. Basically, Go Topless Day wants to end that silly rule that men can go shirtless, but women must cover their nipples. We went to the one in Venice Beach last year and found a handful of women with tape over their nipples, a few male supporters wearing bikini tops, a number of male spectators with cameras who we're pretty sure hadn't been assigned to the event by any media outlet, some angry Christians with signs about Hell, and some bored police officers making sure things don't get too wild.
A woman has sparked a controversy after posting a picture on social media showing her breastfeeding a friend’s toddler son – but the boy’s mother says she has nothing but gratitude for the wet-nurse.
Jessica Anne Colletti, from Pennsylvania, shared the photo – which shows her feeding both her own 16-month-old son, Lucian, and her friend Charlie Interrante’s 18-month-old son, Mateo – on a pro-breastfeeding page.
The picture of Mrs Colletti, 26, and the two boys, who she dubs ‘milk siblings’, has divided users on Facebook. . .
This is so 19th century. Back then it was commonplace for wealthy women to hire wet nurses to suckle their infants. It allowed them to have the lovely social life of the upper class without having to run home and feed the little monster. I don't see the issue, but if it's social media, you have to have one.
Hey, me too! Except the pregnant part of course. I'm far too old and wise for that, not to mention, the wrong gender.
'I used to take pride in the fact I didn't have to work out, and then I hit that age where you have to,' she said. 'I want to drink champagne and have hearty dinners, so I would rather work out for an hour and be able to do what I want.. . .I've always had to watch myself. My family is not naturally thin and we put on weight quickly. I find low-carb works for me.'
Chrissy also revealed that she can't wait to have children with John and is excited about the chance to not worry about her weight during pregnancy.
She said: 'I'm waiting for things to slow down, but things don't seem to be slowing down, ever, so I think, "Just have one and deal with it." I'd love to have an excuse to be bigger. People will know as soon as I'm pregnant because I'll stop drinking.'
Chrissy is not the only star to pose for the magazine, with former The Only Way Is Essex star, Lucy Mecklenburgh, also stripping off. Lucy, who is the founder of fitness site Resultswithlucy.com, admitted being on the reality TV show was not good for her figure.
But nudity is not all rainbows, unicorns and cute chicks, sometimes it has a dark side: