June 20, 2016

Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (062016)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 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: Marine vet’s quick actions saved dozens of lives during Orlando nightclub shooting

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Orlando:

2:57 PM. EDT June 15, 2016

A Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan is being hailed as a hero for helping scores of people escape from an Orlando nightclub targeted by a terrorist.

When Imran Yousuf, a bouncer at the Pulse nightclub, heard the gunfire break out early Sunday morning, he told CBS News that recognized it immediately.

“You could just tell it was a high caliber,” said Yousuf, a former sergeant who just left the Marine Corps last month. That’s when his Marine Corps training kicked in, he said. He ran toward a locked door that people had huddled around, too terrified to move.

“I’m screaming ‘Open the door! Open the door!’” Yousuf told CBS. “And no one is moving because they are scared.

“There was only one choice — either we all stay there and we all die, or I could take the chance, and I jumped over to open that latch and we got everyone that we can out of there.”

By creating the exit, Yousuf estimated that about 70 people were able to get out of the nightclub safely. Forty-nine people were killed inside the nightclub and another 53 were injured. It was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, and was carried out by a man who reportedly called 911 to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State group.

“I wish I could’ve saved more,” he told CBS. “…There’s a lot of people that are dead.”

Yousuf served as an engineer equipment electrical systems technician in the Marine Corps from June 2010 to May 2016, according to service officials. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2011.

He was last assigned to 3rd Marine Logistics Group. His military awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Korean Defense Service Medal and Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

Yousuf was not immediately available to comment on Tuesday morning. He posted a message on his Facebook page saying he “just reacted.”

“There are a lot of people naming me a hero and as a former Marine and Afghan veteran I honestly believe I reacted by instinct,” he wrote on Monday. “I have lost a few of my friends that night which I am just finding out about right now and while it might seem that my actions are heroic I decided that the others around me needed to be saved as well and so I just reacted.”

While he appreciates the support he has received, Yousuf stressed that people should focus on the victims’ families, not him, he wrote. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

June 19, 2016

Lynch’s Release of Partial Mateen Transcripts Will Censor His ISIS Pledge

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced on NBC’s Meet the Press and the other Sunday morning TV talk shows that on Monday, the Department of Justice will release “partial” transcripts of phone conversations between law enforcement and Omar Mateen on June 12 during his terrorist massacre in Orlando, Florida.

Asked why the transcripts would only be partial, Lynch told MTP host Chuck Todd that “What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this individual’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups and further his propaganda.” Note that Lynch would not name ISIS and made no reference to protecting the integrity of law enforcement’s investigation, which would appear to be the only genuine justification for not releasing the full transcripts. Todd then said, “All right,” implicitly accepting the government’s apparently politically driven decision — after all, Lynch herself told U.S. Muslims on Dana Bash’s CNN Sunday cable show that “you are under our protection” — to censor information.



Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (061916)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 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: They died for the faith — 115 Spanish Catholics recognized as martyrs

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Vatican City:

un 15, 2016 / 12:35 am

Pope Francis has officially recognized 115 Catholics who were killed during the Spanish Civil War out of hatred of the faith.

The newest martyrs are Servants of God José Álvarez Benavides y de la Torre, Spanish dean of the Cathedral Chapter of Almería, and his 114 companions. They were killed between 1936 and 1938 during Spain’s brutal civil war.

The June 14 recognition means that they are considered “Blesseds” in the eyes of the Church, one grade below saints. The decree came from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

In addition, Pope Francis also recognized the heroic virtues of seven Catholics who will now be known by the title “Venerable.”

These are Anton Cyril Stojan (1851-1923), the Archbishop of Olomuc in what is now the Czech Republic; Vicente Garrido Pastor (1896-1975), the Spanish diocesan priest who founded the Secular Institute of Workers of the Cross; Mexican priest Pablo María Guzmán Figuero (1897-1967), a member of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit and founder of the Eucharistic Missionaries of the Holy Trinity; Luigi Lo Verde (1910-1932), an Italian professed cleric of the Friars Minor Conventual; Bernardo of the Annunciation (1902-1932), a Portuguese professed cleric of the Order of St. Benedict; María Elisea Oliver Molina (1869-1931), the Spanish founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Virgin of Mount Carmel; and Mary of the Merciful Love of Jesus (1899-1973), the Mexican founder of the Guadalupan Handmaids of Christ the Priest.

Thousands of Catholics were killed during Spain’s civil war, and hundreds have been recognized as martyrs. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

June 18, 2016

LA Dodgers’ Broadcaster Vin Scully Delivers Searing 20-Second Venezuela Tutorial

On May 1, the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl warned: “We ignore Venezuela’s imminent implosion at our peril,” noting that the South American nation of 30 million “has descended into a dystopia where food, medicine, water and electric power are critically scarce.” Given the dire humanitarian crisis which has enveloped that country, broadcast media coverage during the ensuing seven weeks, particularly on the Big Three networks, has been sparse to non-existent.

Yesterday, as Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers faced the Milwaukee Brewers in LA, legendary Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, in a 20-second monologue between pitches, did more to substantively educate his audience about the tragic reality in Venezuela than most of the U.S. press has done in months (HT Twitchy):



Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (061816)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 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: Adam Levine Will Pay Funeral Expenses For Slain Voice Star Christina Grimmie

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

Via Daryn Kagan:

June 14, 2016

Maroon 5 lead singer And “The Voice” Coach Adam Levine would love to be able to turn back time before this weekend.

Before the crazed gunman opened fire in an Orlando nightclub.

And the day before that when another murderer killed up and coming singer Christina Grimmie.

The two have been connected since Levine mentored Grimmie on The Voice two years ago.

She made it onto the show after developing a huge YouTube following.  Her online popularity has only grown since then.

Grimmie was shot and killed while greeting fans after a show in Orlando Friday night.

She was 22-years-old.

USA Today says motive for the shooting hasn’t been determined.

Authorities say she apparently had no personal connection to the man who shot her. The gunman fatally shot himself after being tackled by her brother.

Marcus Grimmie shared the news of Levine’s offer on his Facebook page, along with news that fans are donating even more money through a GoFundMe account. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

June 17, 2016

Jaw Drop: New York Times Writer Unsure ‘If’ Huge Philly Soda Tax Will Be Passed on to Consumers

At the New York Times, Margot Sanger-Katz is the paper’s “domestic correspondent” who “writes about health care” for its “The Upshot” blog. That blog in turn is supposed to cover “politics, economics and everyday life.”

In heralding the passage of a 1.5-cent per ounce tax on soda in Philadelphia yesterday as some sort of historic “watershed” accomplishment, Sanger-Katz betrayed an incredible level of ignorance of both economics and everyday life. Incredibly (well, almost), she treated the matter of whether sugary soda drinkers will see price increases at the cash register because of the new tax as something that is in doubt: “If passed on to consumers, the increase is expected to substantially reduce sales of sweetened drinks.” “If”?



Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (061716)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 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: What Catholics are doing to help victims of the Orlando shooting

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Orlando:

Jun 15, 2016 / 02:57 pm

Following the mass shooting that claimed the lives of 49 in Orlando, Catholics have tried to be the hands and feet of Christ in showing mercy to victims and their families and loved ones.

“We’re in the Jubilee Year of Mercy. And here we have individuals who are in tremendous need of mercy – the repose of the souls of those who are deceased, the family members, the friends, the tremendous shock that has occurred personally,” Gary Tester, executive of Catholic Charities Central Florida, told CNA on Wednesday.

The Diocese of Orlando’s response to the tragedy, he added, follows the words of Pope Francis, who “has called us to remember how important it is to simply love our neighbor.”

Early Sunday morning, 29-year-old Omar Mateen opened fire at a gay Orlando nightclub and began taking hostages. He killed 49 people and injured 53 more before he himself was killed by SWAT officers responding to the scene.

Authorities are still piecing together background information on Mateen, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a 911 call made inside the nightclub. Mateen’s ex-wife and one of his ex-coworkers have said they believe he was mentally unstable, while others have suggested that he was gay and had both used gay dating apps and frequented the gay nightclub socially before the attack.

Amidst the ensuing “great deal of chaos” on Sunday, the Diocese of Orlando offered prompt assistance to the victims’ families and loved ones, Tester said, including “grief support,” scheduling funeral Masses and burials, and financial aid.

“From our standpoint, we don’t discriminate in our services,” he said. “We simply serve God’s children in whatever way we’re called to do. And in this case, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy are very evident.”

In the hours after the shooting, for those who wanted an update on the victims’ conditions but could not receive one, an “aid center” was designated adjacent to the primary hospital.

Clergy “began to minister as best they could to people without much information,” Tester stated. Since some family members, friends, or loved ones were not “next-of-kin” and thus could not receive the information they wanted, “we had deacons and priests and clergy listening to folks but not able to verify anything, just really offering a consoling shoulder,” he said.

Many of the victims were Latino, and bilingual deacons and priests listened to their families and loved ones at the aid center. Bilingual staff from Catholic Charities helped some priests ask questions and receive answers. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

June 16, 2016

AP’s Bauder Creates Historical Fantasy While Bemoaning ‘Intellectual News Ghettos’

In the course of presenting what is apparently one story in a series of several on a “Divided America,” David Bauder at the Associated Press portrayed two Americans with largely different news consumption habits.

Though the theme of Bauder’s Thursday morning report was about how Americans are “retreat(ing) into tribes of like-minded people who get news filtered through particular world views,” the two people he presented “don’t rely exclusively on partisan media,” and go elsewhere “to hear opposing viewpoints.” This essentially contradicted his attempted primary point, which is that Americans are supposedly, as his story’s headline reads, “Constructing our own intellectual ghettos.” Later, Bauder’s deliberate miscasting of media history told us which “ghetto” he lives in and apparently hardly ever leaves (HT to a NewsBusters moderator; bolds are mine):



Business Wires Downplay Length and Severity of 18-Month Production Decline

Yesterday, one of the monthly reports which has consistently made a mockery of the Obama administration’s claims that the economy has been and continues to be fine delivered yet another disappointment. The Federal Reserve reported that industrial production fell 0.4 percent in May, worse than “market expectations” of -0.1 percent.

Far more relevant, U.S. industrial production has fallen in seven of the past nine months and 14 of the past 18. During that time, it has declined by a cumulative 2.9 percent. If the average news viewer, listener of reader knew these dreadful facts, their take on the economy would be far more negative than it currently is. The desire to keep that from happening likely explains why yesterday’s business wire stories predominantly dealt with the past two months. While claiming in their respective opening paragraphs that May’s report was only potentially troubling, they made sure to note later that May’s decline followed April’s increase, even though April’s uptick was the first in eight previous months.



Still Looking …

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:48 am

… for evidence of meaningful movement in real wages:


Every month for the past several months on the ADP conference call, max Hillary Clinton for President campaign contributor Mark Zandi has been telling us that significant wage growth is happening:

  • March 30 — “ADP data indicates that wage growth has picked up significantly.”
  • May 4 — “Improvement in wage growth is evident across the board.”
  • June 2 — “ADP wage data is showing definitive broad-based wage increases across the country.”

The government data above, however, show that the longer-term trend is clearly towards deceleration in real wage growth, which has fallen to 1.4 percent during the past 12 months compared to 2.3 percent in the preceding 12, with the most recent three months showing an advance of just 0.1 percent (i.e., 0.4 percent annualized).


Industrial Production: Ninth Month in Row of Year-Over-Year Declines

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:12 am

The Federal Reserve’s report on May Industrial Production was more bad news:

Industrial production decreased 0.4 percent in May after increasing 0.6 percent in April. Declines in the indexes for manufacturing and utilities in May were slightly offset by a small gain for mining. The output of manufacturing moved down 0.4 percent, led by a large step-down in the production of motor vehicles and parts; factory output aside from motor vehicles and parts edged down 0.1 percent. The index for utilities fell 1.0 percent, as a drop in the output of electric utilities was partly offset by a gain for natural gas utilities. After eight straight monthly declines, the production at mines moved up 0.2 percent. At 103.6 percent of its 2012 average, total industrial production in May was 1.4 percent below its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector decreased 0.4 percentage point in May to 74.9 percent, a rate that is 5.1 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2015) average.

Both March and April were revised downward by a tenth of a point.

May’s overall industrial production decline was the seventh in the past nine months and 14th in the past 18. Now we have nine consecutive months of year-over-year declines:


How GDP can remain positive is a mystery.