February 28, 2015

Classless and Spiteful: Jezebel’s ‘Update’ to False Walker Sexual Assault Reporting Story

As noted this morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Jezebel’s Natasha Vargas-Cooper wrote a Friday morning hit piece directed at Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s Republican Governor, calling him a “conservative werewolf” for including a provision in the Badger State’s latest proposed budget to elminate the requirement that universities report campus sexual assault statistics to the state.

Vargas-Cooper took this to mean that all such sexual assault reporting would end. Hardly. Hours later, an unbylined Associated Press story carried at USA Today (but still not carried at its national site) made it clear that a) the University of Wisconsin system had requested the provision, and b) such statistics would continue to be reported to the federal government. Jezebel’s “correction” and Vargas-Cooper’s spiteful tweeted reaction follow the jump.


AP’s Crutsinger Provides Four (Not Five) Weak Reasons Why Lowered 4th Quarter GDP Isn’t a Problem

After yesterday’s government report on economic growth reduced the fourth quarter’s originally estimated increase in gross domestic product from an annualized 2.6 percent to 2.2 percent, you just knew that the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, would try to ride to the rescue.

Late Friday afternoon, the AP’s Martin Crutsinger gamely tried to concoct five reasons why we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads over a growth figure which confirms that the worst post-World War II recovery on record continues to be the worst post-World War II recovery on record. He only came up with four highly questionable reasons, while pretending he still had five (bolds and numbered tags are mine; I also numbered the reporter’s reasons):


Jezebel Writer Falsely Accuses Walker of Wanting to Stop Reporting of Campus Sexual Assaults

On Friday morning at Jezebel, a Gawker-affiliated web site, Natasha Vargas-Cooper thought she had Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by the — well, you know.

In a post tellingly tagged “Conservative Werewolves,” Vargas-Cooper was absolutely sure — so certain that she apparently felt no need to check any further — that Walker’s proposed budget would allow its colleges to “to stop reporting sexual assaults.” Vicious vitriol ensued (bolds are mine throughout this post):


Positivity: Indians rise up to defend Mother Teresa’s legacy after attack by Hindu leader

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:14 am

From New Delhi:

Feb 26, 2015 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Indians from all walks of life and religions have joined to condemn allegations made against Bl. Teresa of Calcutta by a fundamentalist Hindu leader charging that her sole objective in helping the poor was converting them to Christianity.

Mohan Bhagwat, head of the Hindu nationalist organization RSS, said Feb. 23 in India’s Rajasthan state that “Mother Teresa’s service would have been good. But it used to have one objective, to convert the person, who was being served, into a Christian.”

Bhagwat was speaking at the inauguration of an orphanage and women’s home run by a local NGO, and said, “here we will not provide service like that rendered by Mother Teresa. It is possible that her kind of work was good, but there was a motive behind that service.”

His comments have evoked fierce reactions over social media, as well as protests. In the national upper house of parliament, the Rajya Sabha opposition parties staged protests which led to adjournment of the sitting. They demanded statements from the ruling government and from prime minister Narendra Modi, whose BJP party is closely aligned with RSS.

Bishop Thomas Dabre of Poona told CNA Feb. 26 that “Mother Teresa’s services reflected the teachings of Jesus Christ – ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ – and so her serving others was unconditional, unselfish to lepers, the sick, the abandoned and the suffering, and for people of all religions.”

“Hundreds of thousands of people whom she served were people of different religions, and they remained in their religion till the end and she did not deny services to them, because they did not convert and left them to practice their faith.”

Bishop Dabre rebuffed Bhagwat’s comments saying that “scores of people of various religions joined Mother in serving the needy and the suffering, and among them were Hindus, so facts prove Mr. Bhagwat wrong.”

Gaja Nayak, a Hindu lawyer, told CNA that “Vindictive criticisms are like parasites, for they prey on other people’s work or achievement; some tend to be constructive, while many others are merchants of money, power and hate infiltrators … Mother Teresa spread love and kindness, and that makes the difference.”

“Perhaps people today have forgotten the historical past of the great famine of Bengal in 1943 and the pre- and post-Independence era of partitions and war, during which Mother Teresa offered her life and soul in helping the marginalized and downtrodden people.”

Nayak concluded saying that caste systems, women’s inequality, and oppression of the poor are scars that remain on India’s conscience.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of India also have slammed the allegations, expressing its concern and distress upon “casting aspersion” on the saintly persona of Mother Teresa. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (022815)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

February 27, 2015

AP Report on Wisconsin Right to Work Move Presents Union Side Only

A couple of thousand protesters have showed up to rail against the Wisconsin Legislature’s move to pass right to work legislation this week.

That number is far smaller than what was seen four years ago, when Badger State Governor Scott Walker championed Act 10, a budget repair bill which limited — but please note, contrary to frequent press assertions, did not eliminate — most public-sector unions’ collective bargaining rights. Todd Richmond’s Wednesday evening coverage of the situation in Madison at the Associated Press got plenty of perspectives from union members and others upset with the legislature’s latest move, but predictably failed to get any insights from right to work supporters or those skeptical of protesters’ positions. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbereed tags are mine):


Former WashPost Reporter at the Fiscal Times Falsely Claims Food Stamp Caseload Is Down 11 Percent

The Fiscal Times is a generally strong and informative online publication. That said, it has occasionally exhibits symptoms of what could be seen as either serious leftist bias, quite disappointing ignorance, or both.

One such example arrived in my email box early this morning. It contained the following headline and opening tease for a story concerning the food stamp program:


4Q14 Gross Domestic Product, 1st Revision: An Annualized 2.2 Percent, Down From Original 2.6 Percent Estimate

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:51 am


  • Yahoo.com’s Economic Calendar has a Briefing.com estimate of an annualized 2.0 percent and “Market Expects” prediction of 2.1 percent, down from the 2.6 percent originally reported in late January. We should also recall that forecasts before the first release ranged from 3.0 percent to 3.6 percent.
  • Bloomberg’s writeup tells us that “Household consumption, which is the biggest factor in growth, forecast to hold at the previously reported 4.3 percent pace.” That is “probably owed to strong job growth last year.” I think Zero Hedge has observed that it’s because families have had to spend more on medical care out of their own pockets.
  • The Associated Press isn’t carrying a prediction in its overnight report on the overseas stock markets. The wire service’s coverage of yesterday’s durable goods report had a prediction of 2.1 percent.
  • Though you never know with government reports, I have pointed to Macroeconomic Advisers’ mid-February blog post indicating their estimate that GDP contracted by 0.6 percent in December alone as a reason to believe that today’s number may come in lower than 2.0 percent — perhaps quite a bit lower. If it does, the obvious question should be why the press ignored what the highly respected firm was saying.
  • A mid-February Wall Street Journal blog post carried estimates ranging from 1.7 percent to 2.0 percent.

The report will be here at 8:30.

HERE IT IS (permanent link): Not quite as big of a drop as thought —

Real gross domestic product — the value of the production of goods and services in the United States, adjusted for price changes — increased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 5.0 percent.

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the “advance” estimate issued last month. In the advance estimate, the increase in real GDP was 2.6 percent. With the second estimate for the fourth quarter, private inventory investment increased less than previously estimated, while nonresidential fixed investment increased more (see “Revisions” on page 3).

The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), nonresidential fixed investment, exports, state and local government spending, private inventory investment, and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by a negative contribution from federal government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The deceleration in real GDP growth in the fourth quarter primarily reflected an upturn in imports, a downturn in federal government spending, and decelerations in nonresidential fixed investment and in exports that were partly offset by an acceleration in PCE, an upturn in private inventory investment, and an acceleration in state and local government spending.

Here’s the scoreboard:


Because of other commitments, I won’t have any time to review the revults until this evening, or perhaps even Saturday morning. I’ll try to monitor the blog for comments, and will post any comments as I see as soon as I see them.

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (022715)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

Positivity: Chinese Bible association gathers to make Scripture the heart of Church’s life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Taipei, Taiwan:

Feb 26, 2015 / 02:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The United Chinese Catholic Biblical Association held its tenth World Chinese Biblical Congress last month in Taiwan, drawing participants from 18 countries to reflect on Scripture and its place in the new evangelization.

“The congress was a very touching experience of a new Pentecost with the outpouring of gifts of the Holy Spirit in the company of the Blessed Mother … engendering fresh new inspirations, hope, and vision for all concerned to mark a new page in being biblical missionary disciples in the Church and in the world in creative ways,” said Cecilia Chui, secretary of the UCCBA.

“The UCCBA is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of the Second Vatican Council document Dei Verbum and has resolved to meaningfully live 2015 as a Biblical pastoral ministry year and to dedicate this project to respond to the apostolic exhortations Verbum Domini and Evangelii Gaudium as a humble gift for Pope Francis on the second anniversary of his pontificate,” Chui told CNA Feb 24.

The biblical congress drew more than 300 participants to Taipei, the capital of the Republic of China, Jan. 22-26 to reflect on the theme “Bearing Witness to the Word for New Evangelization.”

In addition to Taiwan, participants came from Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Japan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, England, and Canada.

Most were laity, though six bishops were present, including Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong.

Chui pointed out that centering on the directives of Verbum Domini and Evangelii Gaudium, the five-day congress was designed to reflect on “how to make God’s Word ever more fully the heart of the Church’s life and mission in multi-perspectives, and how to discern the signs of the times,” through talks and witnesses by speakers and communities from different locales. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

February 26, 2015

AP’s Dilanian Avoids Clapper’s ‘Worst in 45 Years’ Threat Statement

At the Associated Press late Thursday morning, Ken Dilanian, the wire service’s intelligence writer, did a marvelous job of covering up the essence of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s Worldwide Threat Assessment testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The trouble is that if he were doing his job as our Founders anticipated he would when they gave the nation’s press extraordinary and then unheard-of freedoms, he would have covered the story instead of covering it up.


At AP, a Vague Headline and Weak Coverage of the Halbig Contingency Plan Controversy

The Associated Press’s headline at Alan Fram’s coverage of the controversy over the existence of an Obama administration contingency plan if it loses the Halbig v. Burwell case pending at the Supreme Court may be among the most inchoherent ever: “GOP CLAIMS PAPER SHOWS FED AIDES’ PREPS FOR HEALTH LAW LOSS.”

“Paper”? What is in question is an alleged 100-page contingency plan should the Court declare that subsidies paid by HealthCare.gov, the federal health insurance exchange for over three dozen states, are illegal. “Health law loss”? What does that even mean? The AP seems to be hoping that the story’s lousy headline will cause most potential readers to ignore it. Fram’s actual story also has its share of weaknesses, the most important of which is his failure to identify the administration’s declaration that such a a plan doesn’t exist as a de facto admission of a fundanmental and serious management failure (bolds are mine throughout this post; numbered tags are mine):


MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry: I Hope Trayvon ‘Whooped the Sh**’ Out of Zimmerman

While it’s performing a long overdue housecleaning, MSNBC should point its broom in Melissa Harris-Perry’s direction and sweep her off the network for her anti-democratic, violence-advocating rant earlier this week at Cornell University.

Among other things, Harris-Perry told her audience that George Zimmerman deserved whatever injuries he received at the hands of Trayvon Martin in the violent February 2012 confrontation which began with Martin pommeling Zimmerman and ended in Martin’s death.


Greta Van Susteren Roasts Rice, and the Obama Administration, Over Describing Netanyahu’s Upcoming Congressional Speech as ‘Destructive’

Wednesday night, Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren sharply criticized Susan Rice for her Tuesday comment about Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s impending March 3 speech to Congress, namely that “On both sides, there has now been injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate, but I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship.” To be clear, Rice is not freelancing. Wednesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that “what she said was entirely consistent with what the President said publicly before.”

This was too much for Van Susteren, who needed only 45 seconds of the 90-second clip which follows to rattle off a half-dozen examples of how the Obama administration’s conduct has been “destructive” to the U.S.-Israel relationship.


Initial Unemployment Claims (022615): 313K SA; Raw Claims 10% Below Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:29 am

Predictions: Couldn’t find predictions at Bloomberg or Business Insider, but Yahoo’s Economic Calendar has a Briefing.com forecast of 295,000 seasonally adjusted claims, and a “market expects” figure of 290,000. Both figures are up a bit from last week’s 283K.

The report will be here at 8:30.

HERE IT IS (permanent link), with a pretty big jump:


In the week ending February 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 313,000, an increase of 31,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 1,000 from 283,000 to 282,000. The 4-week moving average was 294,500, an increase of 11,500 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised down by 250 from 283,250 to 283,000.


The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 280,000 in the week ending February 21, an increase of 2,096 (or 0.8 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 25,110 (or -9.0 percent) from the previous week. There were 312,665 initial claims in the comparable week in 2014.

I don’t find today’s result alarming, because the raw claims situation seems to still be under control. The seasonal factor of 89.6 that DOL used in conversion seems to have assumed too much of a raw claims reduction due to the President’s Day holiday.

Last year’s seasonalized 351,000 was also unusually high compared to previous and subsequent weeks, and it was again due in my opinion to an artficially low seasonal conversion factor (89.2).