Friday, March 31, 2017

But Are They Red?

Scientists have a powerful new tool to help them “see” fish in the Chesapeake Bay’s murky tributaries, and it’s yielding some surprisingly good news about two of the estuary’s most troubled species.

“Imaging sonar” uses sound to help them view, and count, passing fish in dark or cloudy water. For the past few years, scientists with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center have been deploying one of these underwater sound cameras in some of the Bay’s rivers to monitor spawning runs of alewife and blueback herring, collectively known as river herring.
 The capabilities of the new electronics are revolutionizing science
One of the top catches in the Chesapeake Bay in the 1930s, river herring spawning runs have dwindled in most places, prompting serious concern that they may be disappearing across much of their range, which covers virtually the entire Atlantic Coast. Though their commercial importance has faded, alewives and blueback herring are still considered important forage for larger fish, including striped bass and bluefish. So, their demise could have a ripple effect on other species.
One of the reasons large numbers of Striped Bass show up well before the spawning season in Chesapeake Bay is chasing the herring and shad that return and spawn at lower temperatures.
No one knows for sure how many river herring are in the Bay, as fisheries managers lack the staff and resources to do a comprehensive assessment. But a SERC-led team of scientists deployed an imaging sonar device in the Choptank River in 2014 that captured images of the fish as they swam by. Based on the rate at which scientists saw the shadowy blips cross their computer screens, they estimated that as many as 1.3 million river herring swam upriver that spring to spawn.

That’s more than expected, and way more than state biologists had figured were there in the early 1970s, the last time anyone looked intensively at the Choptank’s herring runs.

“It was very good news that we saw as many herring as we did,” said Matthew Ogburn, a Smithsonian biologist leading the team that’s been studying the species’ spawning runs. They published their findings in November in the journal Transactions of the American Fisheries Society.

Indeed, the scientists said their estimates of 581,000 alewives in the river and 726,000 blueback herring suggest that the Choptank’s river herring run is on par with relatively healthy spawning migrations still seen in some major Northeast rivers.

That’s very good news for the Choptank, if verified and sustained. But it doesn’t mean the rest of the Bay’s river herring are out of trouble.
I hope this is really a change for the better, and not just a revelation that the herring run in the Choptank was never as bad as they thought.

The decline of the anadromous  fish of Chesapeake Bay has been one of the greatest mysteries of the decline of Chesapeake Bay. Dams kept them out of some potential spawning grounds, for sure. But did water quality, or other pollution also affect them?

I found this especially interesting:
One of the big issues with all types of sampling, Ogburn said, is that if not frequently checked, they can miss a big chunk of the spawning run. Fish tend to move in spurts, prompted by weather conditions and water flows. During a 2013 survey, for instance, he said, the sonar detected 100,000 fish surging upriver in a single four-hour period, and a similar pulse the next night. Other sampling methods might have missed those fluxes.
We see the same "spottiness" with Striped Bass at the power plant this time of year. Here in huge numbers one day, and all but gone the next. Is it because they're following large schools of bait that are moving in waves like this?

More Obamacare Schadenfreude Fallout

I'll get to this before it builds up to an unmanageable pile, or else! Good thing it's rainy today or I'd have to work in the yard or go fishing!

Republicans Claim That Obamacare Repeal Is Still On The Table, Don’t Believe Them
All of this suggests that when it comes health care reform, what we’re seeing right now is a lot of talk, but there’s not likely to be any real action because the Republicans on Capitol Hill simply can’t come to an agreement. That appears to be Mitch McConnell’s opinon as well:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) shot down the idea that Republicans would be able to revive their Obamacare repeal effort, after a House replacement bill was pulled from the floor Friday.
McConnell’s remarks Tuesday afternoon threw cold water on optimism coming from the House GOP earlier in the day that lawmakers would be able to come to a deal on the bill.
“I think where we are on Obamacare, regretfully at the moment, is where the Democrats wanted us to be, which is the status quo,” McConnell said a press conference on Capitol Hill when asked if the Senate would be able to pass major health care legislation this year without 60 votes.
“It’s pretty obvious we were not able, in the House, to pass a replacement. Our Democratic friends ought to be pretty happy about that because we have the existing law in place and I think we are just going to have to see how that works out,” McConnell said. “We believe it will not work out well, but we’ll see. They’ll have an opportunity now to have the status quo, regretfully.”
I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like McConnell admitting that the PPACA is here to stay and that health care reform is unlikely during this current session of Congress, and likely through the 2018 midterms as well.
The Republicans agree they hate Obamacare, but there is too much division on what do next for them to put together a plan. Let it burn! Tom Emmer (R - Minn) blames the moderates: Congressman: No, Conservatives Didn't Bring Down AHCA
... actually, it was the moderates ultimately that brought the bill down. There were probably ten to fifteen members of the Freedom Caucus that were still a no. Keep in mind that [the Freedom Caucus] reported their [total] numbers as close to forty. So you had the vast majority of the Freedom Caucus that was already a yes. And then you had probably the same number, ten to fifteen, of the Tuesday group -- which are called the moderates. They were also a no. So, really, I think we were within a handful of votes. But it was pretty evenly split between the most conservative side of our caucus and the most liberal side of our caucus. And it just wasn't being reported that way.
Trump reopens Obamacare fight by declaring war on conservatives. After Trump threatened to go seek democrats help with health careRyan Opposes Trump Working With Democrats On Obamacare. I do too!
In an interview with "CBS This Morning" that will air on Thursday and which was previewed by Reuters, Ryan said he fears the Republican Party, which failed last week to come together and agree on a healthcare overhaul, is pushing the president to the other side of the aisle so he can make good on campaign promises to redo Obamacare.

"I don't want that to happen," Ryan said, referring to Trump's offer to work with Democrats.

Carrying out those reforms with Democrats is "hardly a conservative thing," Ryan said, according to released interview excerpts. "I don’t want government running health care. The government shouldn’t tell you what you must do with your life, with your healthcare," he said.
Via Wombat-socho's  "in The Mailbox: 03.29.17", the usually sensible Megan McArdle opines: We Don't Know Whether Obamacare Was a Net Gain
There's a new paper out looking at how the Affordable Care Act has transformed health-care access, and in turn, what that has done for health. The authors' first answer probably won’t surprise you: when millions more people became insured, more got checkups and primary care doctors. But it’s not obvious that these people got any healthier. As the paper puts it: “No statistically significant effects on risky behaviors or self-assessed health emerge for the full sample.”

Other studies have found substantial effects on self-assessed health, but on the harder markers of health -- like blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure -- the famous Oregon Medicaid Study found no significant improvement when government gave people health care.
All that money for no net observable effect? Who else but the Democrats?

From Pirate's Cove: Surprise: Some People Liked Their Pre-Obamacare Insurance
You know, the plans that Obama and the Dems promised repeatedly that they could keep. Somehow, this story made it into publication by CNN

Before Obamacare, some liked their health care plans better
Stacey and Eddie Albert lead pretty healthy lives. She’s a nutritionist. He’s a personal trainer. They rarely go to the doctor, other than their annual physicals.
For years, they were covered by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. In 2013, they paid about $360 a month for a plan that met their needs.
That all changed the following year, when Obamacare took effect. Their premium shot up to around $650 a month for a policy that came with pediatric dental coverage and maternity services — benefits they didn’t use or want since they don’t have kids. They ended up dropping the plan after several months and even went a year without coverage for the first time in the decade they’ve been together, exactly the opposite of what Obamacare was supposed to do.
And this is what happened to millions and millions of people
Insurance so good they had to point a gun at you to force you to buy it.

By way of Wombat-socho's "In The Mailbox: 03.30.17" Don Surber tell us We will still Trump Obamacare
Actually, Washington faces the steep learning curve.

President Trump walked away strategically.

But the same people who wrote him off after Iowa, after Wisconsin, after the convention, after the Billy Bush tape, and after noon wrote him off again.

Folks, this is fun. I am having the time of my life.

And from Wombat-socho's "in The Mailbox: 03.31.17" Don Surber also has "The Art of the Health Deal"
Oh how the press chortled last week when President Trump called for a House voted on Ryancare, which humiliated House Speaker Paul Ryan -- who had to call off the vote because he lacked the votes.

President Trump is about to get the last laugh.
We'll see.

Oregon, My Oregon!

Great state for natural beauty, but full of fruits and nuts, mostly from California: Oregon Seeks To Regulate ‘Dangerous, Preventable’ Cow Farts
The state of Oregon is considering legislation to regulate farting. Cow farts, that is. Advocates of the bill argue that government regulation of cow farts, or “dairy emissions” as they call them, is a commonsense measure to prevent global warming and the safety of the public.

Citing the dangers of bovine flatulence, a spokesperson for Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility stated that cow farts are dangerously unregulated and preventable. According to a letter sent to the Senate Committee on Environmental and Natural Resources, in addition to smelling bad and causing global warming, cow farts can irritate your eyes, cause memory loss, and even death. These are all good things to keep in mind the next time you find yourself eye-level with the business end of a cow. You won’t even remember what killed you.

What else can you expect from a state that makes it illegal to pump your own gas or whistle underwater (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it)? Senate Bill 197 is in response to the construction of new industrial dairy operations that would house 30,000 cows, produce 210,000 gallons of milk daily, employee up to 150 people in an economically disadvantaged area, and be the second largest dairy operation in the state. In a county where the average yearly income is just around $20,000, this dairy operation would invest $50 million into the local economy every year. . . 

Universities Demand Liberal Loyalty Oath

‘Diversity’ Requirement for College Faculty Enables Political Discrimination
It should be obvious to anyone who has paid attention to academia that conservatives are not welcome on our nation’s university campuses, either as students or as faculty. America’s higher education system is controlled by partisan Democrats, and Republicans are not eligible for employment. Nearly 100% of campaign contributions from liberal arts faculty go to Democrats. At Cornell University, for example, 97% of contributions from faculty went to Democrats. At Georgetown University, 96% of faculty donations went to Democrats. To maintain this ideological conformity, applicants for employment at many universities are now required to submit a “diversity statement,” George Leef explains:
The diversity statement has a purpose. That purpose, writes the paper’s author, Professor Bruce Gilley of Portland State University, is to weed out non-leftist scholars.
At many universities, he explains, there is an unspoken ideology that “emphasizes group identity, an assumption of group victimization, and a claim for group based entitlements.” On the other hand, “Classical liberal approaches that emphasize the pluralism of a free society, the universalism of human experience, and the importance of equality before the law have been regarded as invalid.”
Scholars who don’t demonstrate enough zeal for the former or any sympathy for the latter are put under a great disadvantage. The ideological purists who often dominate in hiring and promotion decisions don’t want dissidents in their schools if they can be kept out.
You can read the whole thing. It is worth recalling that the modern conservative movement in America more or less began in 1951 when a recent Yale University graduate named William F. Buckley Jr. published God and Man at Yale, an exposé of the liberal biases that were evident at what was then considered to be a conservative institution. Buckley’s book is still worth reading today, because the problem he identified — America’s intellectual elite had ceased to believe in the American value system — has proven to be so insoluble. There are now more Marxists on the Yale faculty than there are Christians. Indeed, there are probably more Marxists at Yale than in Pyongyang.
To be fair, there probably aren't many true believers in Marxism left in Pynongyang. They've seen what Marxism is. A very small class reap the benefits at the expense of a large population they keep in poverty, who they claim to be helping:

Reason #5497 That Trump Was Elected

'Large Burly Man' Lurking in Disney Ladies' Room Should Make Everyone Stop and Think
It's all fun and games until there's a burly guy in your bathroom peering through that one-inch gap in the stalls when you've got your panties around your ankles. What we all said would happen has happened, and at Disneyland no less. When the transgendered came out swinging for the right to use whatever bathroom they want to, some of us said this is not a good idea. And our reasons weren't that we don't want men who live as women to feel comfortable or safe but because we knew (those of us who were born women and live with the very real threat of male violence every day) that predators would take advantage of this new "anything goes" policy and waltz into our safe spaces to violate us and no one would be able to do anything about it.

And now it's happened. Kristen Quintrall Lavin at The Get Real Mom recounted her terrible experience.
I was off to the side waiting with the two boys, when I noticed a man walk into the restroom. My first thought was “Oh shit, he’s walked in the wrong restroom by mistake. lol” He took a few more steps, at which point he would’ve definitely noticed all the women lined up and still kept walking. My next thought was, “Maybe he’s looking for his wife…or child and they’ve been in here a while.” But he didn’t call out any names or look around. He just stood off to the side and leaned up against the wall. At this point I’m like, “WTF? Ok there is definitely a very large, burly man in a Lakers jersey who just walked in here. Am I the only one seeing this?" I surveyed the room and saw roughly 12 women, children in tow, staring at him with the exact same look on their faces. Everyone was visibly uncomfortable. We were all trading looks and motioning our eyes over to him…like "What is he doing in here?” Yet every single one of us was silent. And this is the reason I wrote this blog.

If this had been 5 years ago, you bet your ass every woman in there would’ve been like, “Ummm what are you doing in here?”, but in 2017? The mood has shifted. We had been culturally bullied into silenced. Women were mid-changing their baby’s diapers on the changing tables and I could see them shifting to block his view. But they remained silent. I stayed silent. We all did. Every woman who exited a stall and immediately zeroed right in on him...said nothing. And why? B/c I and I’m sure all the others were scared of that “what if”. What if I say something and he says he "identifies as a woman" and then I come off as the intolerant asshole at the happiest place on earth? So we all stood there, shifting in our uncomfortableness…trading looks. I saw two women leave the line with their children. Still nothing was said. An older lady said to me out loud, “What is he doing in here?” I’m ashamed to admit I silently shrugged and mouthed, “I don’t know." She immediately walked out, from a bathroom she had every right to use without fear.

And this is why pushing for laws to allow anyone to use whatever bathroom they identify with (this week) is absurd and dangerous. Before 2017 we shared the ladies' room with transgendered people and we either didn't know or never said anything because we knew we weren't in danger. It's something you don't talk about. You just pee and leave. But by making a capital case out of it and literally inviting anyone into female safe spaces, the government has put women and children at risk from peeping toms, rapists, pedophiles, drunks, and vagrants. Predators already capitalize and count on women's reluctance to fight back or speak out. Now it's even worse because if you do speak up, you will be labeled transphobic and predators know it.
I wonder if the "trans" guy, if that is indeed what he was, was fishing to get kicked out the restroom so he could sue Disney for bias, for his mental distress, and to make his point about the freedom of trans to do their business where they want to as their moods suit them, much like the gays vs. bakery case. I would expect such a move soon.

But, ladies, you're on your own. I'm tired of fighting the rear guard action. If hairy burly men want to pee sitting down in your bathroom stalls, it's up to you to take a stand. I promise not to complain, and try not to laugh if men with vaginas try to use the urinals in ours. Vote in somebody who cares, over and over. I will.

Fish Pic Friday - It's All About That Bass

Brooke Thomas with a pair
But she pronounces it wrong.
The largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) is a freshwater gamefish in the sunfish family, a species of black bass native to North America. It is known by a variety of regional names, such as the widemouth bass, bigmouth bass, black bass, bucketmouth, Potter's fish, Florida bass, Florida largemouth, green bass, green trout, gilsdorf bass, Oswego bass, southern largemouth and (paradoxically) northern largemouth. The largemouth bass is the state fish of Georgia, Mississippi, and Indiana, the state freshwater fish of Florida and Alabama, and the state sport fish of Tennessee.
I wonder when Darcsizzle caught this one

The largemouth bass is an olive-green fish, in the North East right after ice-out, it most often has a gray color, marked by a series of dark, sometimes black, blotches forming a jagged horizontal stripe along each flank. The upper jaw (maxilla) of a largemouth bass extends beyond the rear margin of the orbit.In comparison to age, a female bass is larger than a male. The largemouth is the largest of the black basses, reaching a maximum recorded overall length of 29.5 in (75 cm) and a maximum unofficial weight of 25 pounds 1 ounce (11.4 kg). The fish lives 16 years on average.
Luiza's cheating on this picture
Ask me how I know. . .
Depending on what you mean by average.
Largemouth bass are keenly sought after by anglers and are noted for the excitement of their fight. The fish will often become airborne in their effort to throw the hook, but many say that their cousin species, the smallmouth bass, can beat them pound for pound. Anglers most often fish for largemouth bass with lures such as plastic worms (and other plastic baits), jigs, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. A recent trend is the use of large swimbaits to target trophy bass that often forage on juvenile rainbow trout in California. Fly fishing for largemouth bass may be done using both topwater and worm imitations tied with natural or synthetic materials. Live bait, such as nightcrawlers, minnows, frogs, or crawfish can also be productive. In fact, large golden shiners are a popular live bait used to catch trophy bass, especially when they are sluggish in the heat of summer or in the cold of winter. Largemouth bass usually hang around big patches of weeds and other shallow water cover. These fish are very capable of surviving in a wide variety of climates and waters. They are perhaps, one of North America's most tolerant fish.
Probably the most common large sport fish in the United States. Although I mostly fish for Striped Bass (not a particularly close relative), I have been known to slum and fish for Largemouth.

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Monday: Baseball Babes" up and running at The Other McCain.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Maryland to Ban Fracking

In a historic vote Monday night, Maryland's Senate passed a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — expected to be signed into law by the state's Republican governor — making the state the third in the U.S. to reject the controversial technique. The 35–10 Senate vote came shortly after the state's House of Delegates approved the ban in a 97–40 vote.

Crucially, the state's governor, Republican Larry Hogan, recently announced that he was no longer convinced that fracking could be done safely if properly regulated and that a ban was necessary. Hogan said he will suuport (sic) the ban, making his state the first state with shale gas reserves to enact a fracking ban through legislation.

New York banned fracking in 2015, after a seven year review concluded the risks were too great and could not be adequately avoided, though that decision was made under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive branch authority, not through the legislature. Vermont's fracking ban was signed into law in 2012, but was mostly seen as symbolic as the state generally lacks shale gas reserves.

By passing the fracking ban, Maryland lawmakers rejected a proposal to simply extend the state's moratorium on fracked well permits, scheduled to expire in October, by another two years.

“Science has spoken,” State Delegate Kumar P. Barve, head of the House environmental committee, told the Washington Post earlier this month, “and we should terminate this practice here in Maryland.”
Obama's EPA kept looking for excuses to ban fracking and really couldn't find any, only a few "buwaddifs."  Having Maryland not fracking is not going to save the world; at best it will only slightly increase the market for fracked natural gas in nearby states. It pisses me off the Hogan has bought the anti-fracking nonsense and thus denied its economic benefit to the western, rural side of the state that provided much of his support in his election. But it probably won't get him enough enviro-votes on the next election to save him.

MD Legislature Blocks Rape of Oyster Sanctuaries

MD Assembly votes to block opening oyster sanctuaries to harvest
Maryland lawmakers voted Tuesday to temporarily block any changes to the state’s oyster sanctuaries, effectively halting a move by the Hogan administration to open some of them to commercial harvest next fall.

By a vote of 32 to 14, the Senate gave final approval to a bill barring adjustments to sanctuary boundaries until the Department of Natural Resources finishes an assessment of the state’s oyster population, expected late next year.

The same measure passed the House two weeks ago, 102-39, so it now goes to Gov. Larry Hogan. Once it reaches his desk, he has six days to sign or veto it, or let it become law without his signature. Though his administration opposed the bill, it received enough votes in each chamber to override his veto.

Environmentalists hailed the vote, saying it headed off what they considered a premature move to open sanctuaries before state fisheries managers have figured out how much harvest pressure Maryland’s oyster population can handle.

Alison Prost, Maryland director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, called it “a very important step for oyster recovery in the Bay.” Oysters, she said, are the state’s only fishery without a stock assessment or a full management plan to ensure it is sustainable. Over watermen’s objections, the General Assembly last year directed the DNR to assess the status of the state’s oyster population and determine a sustainable harvest level, which would be due by Dec. 1, 2018.

“This bill makes sure we have that before we make any changes to our protective policy for the sanctuaries,” Prost said.

But Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton issued a statement saying he was disappointed that lawmakers had acted on behalf of “special interest groups” to “upend” the work of the 24-member Oyster Advisory Commission he had appointed last year. That group, about half of its members representing or sympathetic to the oyster industry, has been meeting since July and discussing possible changes to the state’s management of its sanctuaries, its public fishery and restoration efforts.
Maryland has a long history of hiring the foxes to guard the hen houses.

Remember Fritz's Oyster Recovery Plan. Ban all commercial fishing on wild oysters for 5 or more years to find out if they are able to recover without any fishing pressure and without restoration (planting spat). If they show signs of decent recovery on their own, then reevaluate, and decide how long to protect them before allowing the harvest of natural oysters. In the meantime, encourage watermen (and waterwomen) to take up oyster aquaculture.

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Monday: Baseball Babes" up and running at The Other McCain.

Reason #5496 That Trump Was Elected

Trump signs order to end ‘crushing attack’ of Obama climate legacy
President Donald Trump ordered his administration to begin dismantling his predecessor’s climate change policies on Tuesday with a sweeping directive to end what he called a "crushing attack" on the U.S. economy — by halting efforts to reduce the carbon pollution of electric utilities, oil and gas drillers and coal miners.

The executive order Trump signed represents his biggest blow yet to former President Barack Obama’s climate legacy. But it does not go as far as some conservatives would like to dismantle the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases, nor will it begin to separate the U.S. from a landmark international climate accord — two areas of intense disagreement within the administration.

“My administration is putting an end to the war on coal," Trump told an audience at the EPA headquarters signing, where he was joined by a group of coal miners whom he promised would be put back to work quickly.

“We’re going to have clean coal. Really clean coal,” Trump added. “Together we will create millions of good American jobs, also so many energy jobs, and really lead to unbelievable prosperity.”
While I agree with Trump critics who complain that Trump will not likely be able drastically increase coal production, because of fracking and cheap natural gas, it's past time to let coal and coal miners compete. It's not like they're in favor of fracking either. It's still the largest source the electrical power in the US, though almost tied with natural gas.

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Monday: Baseball Babes" up and running at The Other McCain.

Company Makes Clothes to Take Off

This Brand’s Crazy Fashion Campaign Features Real Couples Actually Having Sex
If sex sells, then fashion brand Eckhaus Latta’s sales are about to go through the ROOF.

(Beware: That link is super NSFW, but so is this one, so you obviously don’t seem to care about that.)

Why, you ask? Well, the ad campaign for their spring 2017 line features nothing but a bunch of pictures of models of all sorts of genders and races doing the dirty in expensive designer clothes.

They announced the launch of the raunchy new campaign with the Instagram post below of a girl lying spread eagle in bed as her partner simultaneously finger-blasts her and kisses her neck.
And it only gets raunchier from there.
Yep, they're pretty determined to make sure all possible combinations of colors and genders are represented doing almost everything you could imagine.

Well, sex does sell.

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Monday: Baseball Babes" up and running at The Other McCain.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Obamacare Schadenfreude Schadenfreude

I'm a few day late here; fishing was pretty good, and the dog needed walking. But as I'm sure you've heard by now, the GOP failed to make good on it's promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, as Paul Ryan's bill starved to death from lack of support from the "Freedom Caucus" as well as some moderate Republican, who apparently thought . . . well, who knows what they really thought, but they need votes in districts that Hillary won. That's politics. GOP moderates blame Freedom Caucus for tanking the terrible Trump/Ryan health-care bill.  Freedom Caucus Founder: Bad Process at Core of Healthcare Bill Failure. Kurt Schlicter: We’re Doing Grant, Not Patton, But Neither One Had A Goof Like Ryan Screwing Things Up As Paul Ryan remarked: Affordable Care Act remains ‘law of the land,’ but Trump vows to explode it. That shouldn't be too hard. Obamacare gave a lot of authority to the Sec of HHS, which is now in the hands of Dr. Carson. So expect Obamacare to slowly burn away, as more and more of it fails. Seven Ways the Trump Administration Could Make Obamacare ‘Explode’

Inside the Trumpcare meltdown
It's hard to overstate the magnitude of the Day 64 defeat. President Trump, who made repeal-and-replace a central theme of his campaign, and House Republicans, who made it the central theme of every campaign since 2010, lost in a publicly humiliating way despite controlling every branch of government and enjoying margins in the House rarely seen in the past century.

This virtually guarantees no substantive legislative achievements in the first 100 days. And it creates rifts and suspicions and second-guessing that make governing much harder.
I don't see what so magical about 100 days. It seems to me the failure lies in Congress, not in the administration, which is doing fine with appointments, and pulling back Obama era overreach. The Republicans need to get together and pass the things they do agree on, like tax reform. Republicans wonder whether Trump's heart was in healthcare fight. He does have a few other things going on. As Ann Althouse notes: "The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it... That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you're dead." Wrote Trump in "The Art of the Deal." Also: "Know when to walk away from the table." But the Washington Post: Trump’s path forward only gets tougher after health-care fiasco. Even Sen. Tom Cotton on Health Insurance: ‘We Have to Revisit It.’

What Should Be the Next Step on Repealing ObamaCare? Ted Cruz Has the Answer
First, begin with the 2015 repeal language. . . . Virtually every Republican in Congress voted for that language, and the parliamentarian has already ruled it as permissible. We should begin with that previously approved repeal language as the baseline. . .

Third, we should change the tax laws to make health insurance portable, so that if you lose you[r] job you don’t lose your health insurance. You don’t lose your car insurance or life insurance or house insurance if you lose your job; you shouldn’t lose your health insurance either. And that would go a long way to[wards] addressing the problem of pre-existing conditions, since much of that problem stems from people losing their jobs and then not being able to get new coverage on the individual market.

Fourth, we should protect continuous coverage. If you have coverage, and you get sick or injured, your health insurance company shouldn’t be able to cancel your policy or jack up your premiums. That’s the whole point of health insurance.
Via Wombat-scocho's "In The Mailbox: 03.27.17" The sensible Megan McArdle: The Republican Health Plan's Quick Death Spiral
I certainly can't advance a rational explanation of why Republicans are so committed to pushing through a hastily drafted bill that no one likes. The initial draft was scored by the Congressional Budget Office as causing 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance -- which is more than would lose care if the Republicans simply repealed Obamacare without replacing it. Still, Republicans planned to vote on the bill on Thursday, the seventh anniversary of the passage of Obamacare.
Just remember, it was coverage so good they had to make it a law to take it. Which brings us to  Rep. Mo Brooks files a one sentence bill to repeal Obamacare:
"Effective as of Dec. 31, 2017, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted,"
Then start fresh.  What Now for Obamacare?

"The Democrats will make a deal with me on healthcare as soon as ObamaCare folds — not long. Do not worry, we are in very good shape!" Tweets Trump. Well, maybe.

But It's Not "Fake News" When We Do It!

NY Times Admits Fake News
A correction published Sunday by the New York Times:
An article on March 5 about the Department of Justice included outdated statistics. It is not the case that non-Muslim extremists have killed nearly twice as many Americans as radical Muslims since Sept. 11, 2001, according to the New America Foundation. That was true until the mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., and Orlando, Fla. Radical Muslims have now killed nearly twice as many Americans as non-Muslim extremists.
John Hinderaker at Powerline points out that the false statistic appeared in an article in which a “prominent theme is that Republicans don’t care about truth” — but the online version of the article has now been “airbrushed,” so that you can’t tell where the change was made.
Anybody can be wrong and all of us are some time or another, but it takes somebody more honest than the NYT staff to admit publishing wishful thinking instead of the facts.

Reason #5495 That Trump Was Elected

In the wake of Attorney General Jeff Sessions announcement of his intention to withhold Justice Department money from "Sanctuary Cities", L.A. Mayor Vows Nullification to Defend City’s Sanctuary Policy for Illegal Aliens
What would John C. Calhoun say?
Responding to the latest warnings by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that Department of Justice funds will be withheld from sanctuary cities, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday he will fight efforts by the Trump administration to take away federal funding needed for law enforcement in Los Angeles.
Garcetti said that such actions would be unconstitutional, adding that the city’s policies are “designed to keep our residents safe.”
“Slashing funds for first-responders, for our port and airport, for counterterrorism, crime-fighting and community-building serves no one — not this city, not the federal government, not the American people,” he said. “We will fight to protect the safety and dignity of all Angelenos, and we will work closely with our representatives in Congress to make sure that Los Angeles does not go without federal resources that help protect millions of people every day.”
Among the Justice Department grants received by the city of Los Angeles in recent years include $1.8?million from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, which goes to the city’s initiative for reducing criminal gang activity.
The city also was awarded $1 million last year from the Justice Department to be put toward a $69 million program to equip all police officers in the field with body cameras. . . .
Question: If the “safety and dignity” of Los Angeles residents would be so imperiled by “slashing funds” from Washington, isn’t this helpless condition of federal dependency the underlying source of their problem?
. . .
Roughly $10 billion of federal taxpayer money a year goes to subsidize law enforcement in cities that refuse to enforce U.S. immigration law. There’s a word for this policy, and that word is, insane.
Live by the federal dollar, die by the federal dollar. Majority Do Not Want To Live In A Sanctuary City
There should be a law that every Democrat who supports illegal aliens must live in a sanctuary city
(The Blaze) The majority of Americans oppose having their city declared a “sanctuary city” to protect illegal immigrants, a new poll reveals.
According to a new Rasmussen Reports poll, only 35 percent of likely U.S. voters favor living in a “sanctuary city,” while 52 percent said they oppose their local officials declaring their town a “sanctuary city,” nearly a 20 point spread. Fourteen percent told Rasmussen they are undecided.
Most people also said that “sanctuary cities” are “less safe,” according to the survey. Forty percent said they are “less safe,” while only 17 percent said they are “more safe.” Thirty-five percent of respondents said the safety level is about the same.
As Rasmussen points out, this poll is based on the issue in Rockville, Maryland, where two immigrants, for which at least one is known to be an illegal, brutally raped a 14 year old girl in a school bathroom (a story which has been virtually embargoed by the major media). The city itself is considering whether to declare itself a sanctuary city in the midst of this.
I wonder how many Democrats want to live in sanctuary cities? Good news, the poll answers the question
Respondents were highly divided among partisan lines. Republicans were mostly likely to say they feared living in “sanctuary city” while a “plurality” of Democrats — 48 percent — said they favor it.
So, even 52% of Democrats do not want to live in conditions their beliefs create. Surprise!
But to be fair, a pretty large number of people didn't want to live in cities like L.A. or San Francisco before their "sanctuary for illegal alien" status , although that has certainly contributed to the urban problems that keep us away.

Ride 'Em, Cowgirls

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Monday: Baseball Babes" up and running at The Other McCain.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Guess What?

I went fishing again. Ron called while I was down on the beach with Skye, so I cut the walk a little short, and hurried home to meet him at the harbor.
 It was warm today, with the possibility of a thunderstorm.  Fishing was decent, no 30+ inch fish for us, but a fair number of high 20+ inch fish. I snapped this picture of Ron and one of his right after I released it's twin.
The storm materialized. We got a good drenching for 20 minutes or so. The rain gear I brought paid off.
After it passed us, the thunder started, and there was a pretty good lightening show down the bay a few miles.
For most of the afternoon, we alternated drifting the power plant discharge with Walleye Pete, out with his afternoon charter.
Not the most brilliant sunset, but not bad.

Reason #5494 That Trump Was Elected

We're tired of all the politically inspired violence from the left: Black Block Protesters Attack Pro-Trump Rally, Get Asses Kicked
A Trump march and rally at Bolsa Chica State Beach turned violent at some points Saturday afternoon as protesters attended the event. The "Make America Great Again" march started around noon, and police said about 2,000 Trump supporters attended.

About 30 to 40 protesters, some from the Socialist Party USA, headed to the event to have their voices heard.

The march started out peaceful, but violence soon erupted when the protesters and supporters met. At one point, a woman was punched in the face by a man. An anti-Trump protester was then doused with pepper spray and other acts of violence were sparked.

The protesters wore masks and some were tackled, punched and kicked. One man who was beaten ended up jumping over a fence and running toward officers in an effort to get away from the crowd.

One protester, who wore his mask on camera, said it was a dangerous situation for them to be in.

"We're outnumbered one to 100 and these are not nice people we're dealing with. We put our hands behind our backs. We don't engage. We don't use violence. I may have a bruised rib or two," he said.

But Trump supporter Travis Guenther said someone came up to his "100-pound" wife and pepper sprayed her within close range.

"There was no fight. I'm an intellect. I can talk with anybody - no problem. But if you want to come and start a fight, I can fight. That's what that man got," he said.

Tahiti for Tuesday

Rule 5 winner Irina Shayk

Monday, March 27, 2017

Brits Plot California Schism

The 'Bad Boys of Brexit' who led the campaign to break Britain away from the European Union have taken on a new exit challenge: splitting California into two states.

Former UKip leader Nigel Farage and Leave backer Arron Banks have just returned from the United States, where they helped raise $1million (£800,000) for a 'Calexit' campaign, which would split California into two eastern and western regions.

There are several 'Calexit' campaigns competing for a referendum in the United States, with one aiming to remove the state from America entirely as a response to President Donald Trump being elected last year.

Farage and Banks, who led the 'Leave.EU' campaign, appear to be pitting the eastern, more rural side of California against the western 'coastal elite' liberals in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Let's take a look at the map of the propose split:

I'm curious why "East California" contains Orange County and San Diego. While Orange County in the past was a bastion of conservatism, I think those days are long gone. Putting San Diego in the east side, however, does at least secure the border. Let's compare with the results of the 2016 election of Donald Trump by counties:

You see the big chunk in Southern California, which is, no doubt driven by the coastal populations, so if you split the big counties, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino by precinct, you might get something like their map. And hey, we get get Crescent City? (Now what do we do with it?). It looks like they get Fresno, though. Lucky them.

There is some precedent for such a split. At the start of the Civil War in 1861, the mountain counties of Virginia voted to become West Virginia, which stuck when the North won.
If broken apart, the eastern part of California would more likely vote Republican, giving the party two more senators and electoral college votes for a 2020 presidential election.

The Western side of the state would likely continue to vote Democrat in elections.

Farage and Banks' goal is to hold a referendum during the US midterm elections in 2018, according to The Sunday Times.
This strikes me as pretty unlikely, but not as unlikely as California declaring independence from the US.

PRFC Declines to Nix Potomac River Water Grab

Potomac River Fisheries Commission declines to take a position, despite watermen's concerns
After nearly three hours of discussion and debate, the eight-member panel defeated a motion by one of its members, Maryland waterman Billy Rice, which objected to any sanctuary in the mainstem of the river, where the commission regulates fishing.

Watermen have raised an outcry against the proposal by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to designate the first marine sanctuary in the Chesapeake Bay region. If approved, it would protect the remains of nearly 200 historic ships sunk in the Potomac, the bulk of them a “ghost fleet” of wooden-hulled vessels in Mallows Bay that were built to aid the United States’ entry into World War I a century ago. A few wrecks date back to the Civil and even Revolutionary wars.

NOAA announced in January that it favored creating a 52-square-mile sanctuary to safeguard the river’s maritime heritage. But it sought public feedback on four options, including a smaller, 18-square-mile area, a larger, 100-square mile area and doing nothing at all. The deadline for comments is March 31.

Federal officials have said they have no plans to curb fishing in the sanctuary, only to preserve and highlight the historic wrecks. But watermen, leery of NOAA’s role in regulating fisheries elsewhere, have expressed skepticism, noting that under the federal marine sanctuary law, the agency could always change its mind later. A trio of advisory groups to the Potomac fisheries commission urged the panel to oppose the sanctuary, or to recommend it be limited to Mallows Bay and a narrow band of water along the Maryland shoreline.

“Once you turn this (river) over to NOAA, it becomes federal and you never get it back,” warned Robert T. Brown, president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association. “Why would we want to give up our sovereignty?”

Paul “Sammy” Orlando, NOAA's liaison for the proposed sanctuary, acknowledged that the agency could change its management every five years. But he noted that the proposal now spells out that there is no intent to regulate fishing in the Potomac.
It's shocking what can happen when a new President discovers he has a pen and a phone.

Bay Bird Cams!

It's Spring again, and so it's time for the cameras perched to watch the birds do their things. Here is a set from Baltimore, on a Peregrin Falcon Nest, an Osprey nest and a new one, Great Blue Heron nest. A new twist this year, the cams play on YouTube, and are easily embed-able. Let's try with the falcon cam.

Reasons #5492 and #5493 That Trump Was Elected

We're tired of unelected bureaucrats who think they run the country:

A Leftist State Department Official is Publicly Attacking the President on Social Media
Alan Eyre, a high-ranking State Department official known for his pro-Tehran, anti-Israel biases — and a key component of the Iran nuclear deal’s negotiating team— has been using his verified Twitter account to repost articles attacking President Trump, the man who he ultimately answers to.

The postings, shared below, are only a small snapshot of what Eyre has tweeted out over the past month and shared with his 100,000-plus followers. Some mock the president and question his intelligence and integrity (again, Eyre’s boss). Another post calls President Trump’s decisions “senseless” and “heartless.”
FBI Deputy Director Snaps: In Anti-Trump Tirade, McCabe Professes Hatred for U.S. President to FBI Colleagues
Senior intelligence sources said that embattled FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe openly professed his disgust for President Donald Trump at a senior staff meeting while loosing his cool demeanor in the process.

McCabe, the second in charge of the FBI, ranted at a staff meeting a week after Trump’s inauguration (approx Jan 27) about the newly sworn-in president, catching many FBI agents off guard with his anti-GOP vitriol.

At the meeting, when a subject came up dealing with a request of the FBI made by then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn dealing with the National Sheriff’s Association, McCabe told the packed conference room: “I hate Trump.”

Flynn’s request for cooperation from McCabe and the FBI was likewise tabled, sources said. Flynn has since been sacked and was forced to resign largely due to the FBI’s conduct.

These additional troubling revelations about McCabe come a day after True Pundit exposed the deputy director as a partisan FBI agent apparently waging his own liberal-infused domestic political policy and who took part in secret meetings to derail Flynn and Trump.
Curiously, Deputy Director McCabe's wife, Jill McCabe, was closely tied to Clinton through Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe.

If you can't play the game fair, you should be fired.

Sure, It's All About the Dog

Another day, another non-reason for the internet to be outraged. This time, it's Flip Or Flop star Christina El Moussa who is on the receiving end of the internet's flak, and the reason is so, so dumb.

El Moussa, who filed for divorce from husband and Flip Or Flop co-host Tarek El Moussa in January of 2017 following a quiet separation beginning in May 2016, took to Instagram to share a picture of herself and her seven-year-old daughter Tay with the newest member of their family. The "newest member" — whose arrival was celebrated on National Puppy Day, aww! — is a French bulldog named Cashie, but it wasn't just a discussion of how freakin' cute Cashie is that was going down in the comments. Instead, people were more concerned with what Tay and El Moussa are wearing in the photo.
In the photo, El Moussa and Tay rock matching purple bikinis while holding their new pup. (Well, El Moussa holds the pup... Tay holds a donut.) Some people weren't thrilled with the announcement being made while the mother and daughter duo were in swimwear.

Some comments on the photo include:

"It's not about "hating" @christinaelmoussa, like everyone is saying... it's about the fact that she's pretending this is about a dog while she's broadcasting a 7 y.o.'s body all over IG when that child can't give informed consent. She could have taken a picture of the dog and the child fully clothed."

"Weirdest dog announcement ever lol i mean great body but like whats the correlation between the dog, the bathing suits, and the donut lmao"
Yeah, it's a cute dog. Just relax folks, it's a swimsuit. As Instapundit notes:
Informed consent is a medical term. This is a swimsuit picture. Parents consent for their kids, because parents are in charge.
Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Monday: Baseball Babes" up and running at The Other McCain.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Reason #5491 That Trump Was Elected

School apologizes for offending refugees after students wear red, white and blue
Students at Des Moines’ Valley High School recently issued a public apology to nearby North High School after allegations of racism from students wearing red, white, and blue to a basketball game last week.

Allegations surfaced on social media after a game Wednesday that Valley students who waived American flags and donned red, white and blue attire in the stands offended refugee students playing for the more racially diverse North team, Fox News reports.

“Any normal person, any educated person can look at that and think ‘What the hell are these kids thinking?’” North assistant coach Morgan Wheat said.
 Des Moines, Iowa? Seriously?
Commenters on Facebook allege Valley students “were not being patriotic” but rather “rude, racist, and ignorant” by yelling “deport them” and other offensive comments from the stands.

“What they did was AGAINST the flag and what it stand for,” an alleged witness posted, according to Snopes. “Yes, there were kids that were not saying those things … but the majority were.”

Regardless, Valley student leaders issued a formal apology last week, and contend the red, white, and blue theme was not intended to offend anyone.

Rude comments shouted at a high school ball game! This demands a federal investigation!
The students wrote, according to The Des Moines Register:
It has been brought to our attention that the decision by the Valley High School student section to wear U.S. A. apparel at our game last night was offensive to members of your community and fan base. We are deeply sorry if we have offended anyone in any way.
We have traditionally dressed in such a fashion for great games such as the one last night. Everyone here at Valley has immense respect not only for your team and players but for your community as a whole.
Please know that our intent was in no way (meant) to offend or demean – just to support our own team in a way we have done before.
Congratulations on a wonderful season and we wish you nothing but the best of luck in the future.
Valley won the state tournament game, and North assistant coach Wheat commended the team for the hard-fought victory.
My response to "the more racially diverse" North High students would have been that if you don't like the colors of the flag, move somewhere you like the colors better.

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Monday: Baseball Babes" up and running at The Other McCain.

How to Dress for Halo

Wow, the level of detail is fantastic. Props for his level of concentration, under the circumstances.

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Monday: Baseball Babes" up and running at The Other McCain.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Light the Lights! It's Earth Hour!

The winner for Earth Hour every year since 2003  – North Korea.
Odds favor them to be the winner again this year.
Stolen from Watts Up With That in entirety: The futility of “Earth Hour” @earthhour
Earth Hour: A Dissent
by Ross McKitrick

Ross McKitrick, Professor of Economics, University of Guelph, Canada.

In 2009 I was asked by a journalist for my thoughts on the importance of Earth Hour.

Here is my response.

I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity.

Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores. Getting children out of menial labour and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading.

Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of hot water.

Many of the world’s poor suffer brutal environmental conditions in their own homes because of the necessity of cooking over indoor fires that burn twigs and dung. This causes local deforestation and the proliferation of smoke- and parasite-related lung diseases.

Anyone who wants to see local conditions improve in the third world should realize the importance of access to cheap electricity from fossil-fuel based power generating stations. After all, that’s how the west developed.

The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity.

Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called “the Earth,” all the while hypocritically retaining the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity.

People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off there too.

I don’t want to go back to nature. Travel to a zone hit by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes to see what it’s like to go back to nature. For humans, living in “nature” meant a short life span marked by violence, disease and ignorance. People who work for the end of poverty and relief from disease are fighting against nature. I hope they leave their lights on.

Here in Ontario, through the use of pollution control technology and advanced engineering, our air quality has dramatically improved since the 1960s, despite the expansion of industry and the power supply.

If, after all this, we are going to take the view that the remaining air emissions outweigh all the benefits of electricity, and that we ought to be shamed into sitting in darkness for an hour, like naughty children who have been caught doing something bad, then we are setting up unspoiled nature as an absolute, transcendent ideal that obliterates all other ethical and humane obligations.

No thanks.

I like visiting nature but I don’t want to live there, and I refuse to accept the idea that civilization with all its tradeoffs is something to be ashamed of.

Ross McKitrick
Professor of Economics
University of Guelph

Dominion on Hook for Arsenic in Coal Ash

A federal judge has ruled that arsenic seeping into the Elizabeth River from ash ponds at Dominion Virginia Power’s now-shuttered Chesapeake Energy Center violates the federal Clean Water Act, but he opted not to impose penalties or dictate how the violation should be addressed.

“The finding of a violation, however, does not end the inquiry, for the court must fashion a remedy in this case,” U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. wrote in his order dated Thursday. Gibney directed the parties “to suggest a remedial plan consistent with the court’s opinion.”

The suit, brought by the Sierra Club and the subject of a bench trial that ended in June, sought to force the utility to excavate the ash and haul it away to a lined landfill.

According to the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represented the Sierra Club, Gibney’s order is the first time a “federal judge has ruled after a full trial that a utility broke the law because of the way it stores coal ash.”

“We’re pleased the court agreed Dominion is breaking the law because its coal ash is polluting the Elizabeth River, but we are disappointed the court did not order a full cleanup,” said Deborah Murray, an SELC attorney. “The law is clear. When someone violates the Clean Water Act, the polluter must stop the violation. Here, that means getting the ash out of the groundwater. It is not a viable option to leave the pollution source in place and allow the pollution to continue.”
Dominion spokesman David Botkins said the company “is pleased that the court has confirmed there has been no threat to health or the environment resulting from the coal ash,” adding that “the safety of the public, the water and the environment is our top priority.”

Botkins also noted Gibney’s determination that the removing the ash would cost hundreds of millions of dollars “for very little return.”
Monitoring wells on the site showed high concentrations of arsenic in groundwater, and evidence during the trial showed that the groundwater at the site was “hydrologically connected” to surface water sources such as Deep Creek and the Elizabeth River, where samples showed “extremely high” arsenic concentrations, the SELC said.
Having some expertise in arsenic chemistry and toxicology, I would like to know what the "extremely high" arsenic concentrations are. However, the article only provides this help:
However, the opinion notes that the judge could not determine how much arsenic goes from the ash site to surrounding waters.

“What the court does know, however, is that the discharge posed no threat to health or the environment,” Gibney wrote, adding that tests around the facility “have been well below the water quality criteria for arsenic.”

Even a large arsenic discharge would “amount to a drop in the bucket,” given the volume of water surrounding the ash ponds.

“This fact does demonstrate the absence of significant environmental harm,” the judge wrote.
I would suppose the relevant water quality standard would the the drinking water standard, on the thought that drinking water wells might be affects. That standard would be 10 ppb, a number routinely exceeded in well waters in many parts of the country from natural causes, although I can't think of one in the Elizabeth River region.

So we have the judge finding that the ash ponds probably leaked water containing arsenic at levels less than the drinking water standard into the region around the ash ponds, and the Sierra Club wants the utility subject to hundreds of millions of dollars in abatement costs for no particular gain.

It's not that they love people or the environment, it's just that they hate industry.

Trump Green Lights Keystone Pipeline

Hmm, I sorta though he already had, but just to make it more official: TransCanada Receives Presidential Permit for Keystone XL
TransCanada Corporation (TSX:TRP) (NYSE:TRP) (TransCanada) today announced that the U.S. Department of State has signed and issued a Presidential Permit to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline.

"This is a significant milestone for the Keystone XL project," said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer. "We greatly appreciate President Trump's Administration for reviewing and approving this important initiative and we look forward to working with them as we continue to invest in and strengthen North America's energy infrastructure."

Keystone XL is an important piece of TransCanada's comprehensive U.S. growth portfolio driving an investment of more than US$15 billion in liquids and natural gas projects that will create thousands of well-paying jobs and generate substantial economic benefits across the U.S.

TransCanada will continue to engage key stakeholders and neighbors throughout Nebraska, Montana and South Dakota to obtain the necessary permits and approvals to advance this project to construction.

In conjunction, TransCanada has discontinued its claim under Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and will end its U.S. Constitutional challenge.
As the Washington Post was quick to point out, this doesn't mean the end of opposition to the pipeline:
The project’s supporters and detractors immediately weighed in, promising to continue the fight over the pipeline on many different fronts.

“This project will not get built,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “We will defeat this pipeline in the courts and in the court of public opinion.”