April 11, 2014

Positivity: Pro-life congressman, wife honored with Notre Dame award

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:00 am

From South Bend, Indiana:

Apr 9, 2014 / 02:22 am

In an April 5 ceremony, Notre Dame University honored prominent U.S. pro-life congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), and his wife, Marie, who is also a pro-life advocate, with its 2014 Evangelium Vitae Medal.

In a speech thanking the university for the recognition, Rep. Smith said that pro-life individuals have the responsibility to “speak truth to power, no matter the sacrifice or cost.”

Real change “will only be achieved by persevering prayer, fasting and hard work,” he said. “It falls to us to promote and establish a sustainable culture of life both here and overseas.”

Since 2011, the Evangelium Vitae Medal has been awarded annually by Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture. The medal was inspired by Bl. Pope John Paul II’s papal encyclical, “Evangelium Vitae.”

The award is given to those who have worked to help build a culture of life and respect for the sanctity of life from its earliest stages. Previous recipients have included the Sisters of Life, George Mason University law professor Helen M. Alvaré, and the U.S. bishops’ conference associate director of pro-life activities, Richard Doerflinger.

The 2014 award was given to the Smiths at an April 5 dinner and Mass, celebrated at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame by Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit.

“In their work and in their persons, Congressman Chris and Marie Smith are extraordinary witnesses to the inalienable dignity and matchless worth of every member of the human family, born and unborn,” said Carter Snead, director of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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Thrown Overboard

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:46 am

Goodbye, Kathleen Sebelius.

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April 10, 2014

Initial Unemployment Claims (041014): 300K SA; Raw Claims Edge Up 1.3% From Previous Week, Which Was Itself Revised Up

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:26 am

Predictions:

Seasonal Adjustment Factors:

  • Week ended April 5, 2014 — 99.3
  • Week ended April 6, 2013 — 102.7

Raw Claims:

  • Week ended March 29, 2014 — 294,862, revised up from 289,535 initially reported last week, leading to an upward revision to 332,000 of last week’s original 326,000 seasonally adjusted figure.
  • Week ended April 6, 2013 — 356,935

That’s a pretty big upward revision to last week’s numbers.

For today’s prediction to end up accurate, raw claims will need to be 318,000 or below (318K divided by .993 is 320K, rounded). That should happen. If it doesn’t, we have a problem. To be worry-free, today’s the seasonally adjusted number really should come in at 300,000 or below (Update: AND stay there next week), which would mean that raw claims barely moved up from last week’s adjusted figure.

This is especially true because last week’s raw claims, after revision, were 7.6 percent higher than the previous week (all weeks involved are “clean” weeks involving no holidays).  We really can’t afford to see them head up much further.

8:30 a.m.: DOL has announced 300,000 at its home page.

8:33 a.m.: The report is out (permanent link — DOL has gone to presenting these weekly reports in PDF format from here on out; also notice some additional verbiage, which may or may not be legitimate enhancements):

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending April 5, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 300,000, a decrease of 32,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The last time initial claims were this low was May 12, 2007 when they were 297,000. The previous week’s level was revised up by 6,000 from 326,000 to 332,000. The 4-week moving average was 316,250, a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 1,500 from 319,500 to 321,000.

There were no special factors impacting this week’s initial claims.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 298,393 in the week ending April 5, an increase of 3,531 (or 1.2 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 34,865 (or 11.8 percent) from the previous week. There were 356,935 initial claims in the comparable week in 2013.

“The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 34,865 (or 11.8 percent) from the previous week.” Excuse me, but what does THAT mean? (I intend to find out, just not immediately. Update: See below.)

A year-over-year comparison of raw claims is meaningless because last year’s comparable week was Easter Week.

While the press will sing hosannahs over the 300K seasonally adjusted number. The truth is that raw claims basically held steady (up by about 1.3%). That of course is better than seeing them zoom up. But given last week’s big upward revision, we really should see if today’s raw claims figure holds in next week’s report.

____________________________________

UPDATE: As to the comparative language (“lowest since May 2007″), let’s see if DOL continues to provide it when seasonally adjusted claims go up.

UDPATE 2: What the statement “The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 34,865 (or 11.8 percent) from the previous week” really means is “For seasonally adjusted claims to come the same as or better than last week, raw claims needed to be 329,727 or lower.”

294,862 (last week’s revised raw claims) plus the 34,865 just cited is 329,727 raw claims.

329,727 divided by .992 (this week’s seasonal adjustment factor) is 332,000 (last week’s revised seasonally adjusted claims, rounded).

Seasonal adjustment factors are abstract things which don’t “expect” anything.

If DOL is going to try to do something comparative to the prior week, my language is vastly better, but I’m not convinced that it’s worth it to even bother with the narrative. It’s giving the seasonal factors too much presumptive credit for somehow being precise. They’re anything but that.

It will also be interesting to see how this narrative changes during weeks when raw claims come in higher than the seasonal factors might supposedly indicate.

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Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (041014)

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

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow. Other topics are also fair game.

_______________________________________

It was a year ago, it but deserves notice: On March 23, 2013, 46 Senators, including 44 Democrats and the two “Independent” leftists, voted AGAINST a Senate resolution “To uphold Second Amendment rights and prevent the United States from entering into the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.” One of the “No” votes was Ohio’s own Sherrod Brown.

In September, the U.S. “became the 91st country to sign when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry put pen to paper.” The treaty would still need to be ratified by the Senate to be valid under the Constitution, assuming anyone pays attention to that any more.

Despite reassurances to the contrary, there is every reason to believe that the U.N. treaty, if ever ratified, would be a wedge the world body would use to usurp national sovereignty.

We’re supposed to be reassured that the Obama administration negotiated the following language into the treaty before signing it: ”non-intervention in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction.” Sorry, guys. No sale, because it all depends on what “essentially” means; that word wouldn’t be there if they were truly serious.

_______________________________________

The incident involved happened in 2012, but the conditions creating such incidents have only gotten worse — “Car With ‘Co-Exist’ Bumper Sticker Runs Over Pro-Life Display”

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Positivity: More young women choosing health over birth control

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Rome:

Apr 8, 2014 / 02:01 am

Brianna Heldt was 20 years-old when she first started taking the birth control pill. As an Evangelical Protestant, she believed in saving sex for marriage, but the young college student was planning her wedding and wanted to delay having children for a few years.

Like many young women, Heldt visited her college’s campus health clinic and got a prescription.

What followed was an unexpected and “horribly difficult” time for Heldt and her husband.

“From the time I began taking it I had severe headaches,” she recounted. “I was constantly bloated and hungry, and worst of all, I became an emotional wreck. Things that would never have bothered me before made me cry uncontrollably. Kevin (my husband) and I had always gotten along so well but we began arguing, and I was perpetually frustrated with him.”

“Intercourse was painful,” she added. “I even saw an OB/GYN about this problem who never once connected those dots for me, and just tried to tell me that it was some sort of psychological problem. But it was not.”

It turns out that Heldt’s experience was not unique. This January, 90s talk show host Ricki Lake opted to make a documentary exploring the dangers of hormonal contraceptives.

Based on Holly Grigg-Spall’s book, “Sweetening The Pill: or How We Became Hooked On Hormonal Birth Control,” the full-length film will consider the dangers of the birth control pill, as well as other contraceptives such as Yaz and Nuvaring.

“In the 50 years since its release, the pill has become synonymous with women’s liberation and has been thought of as some sort of miracle drug,” said Lake and her co-producer, Abby Epstein. “But now it’s making women sick and so our goal with this film is to wake women up to the unexposed side effects of these powerful medications and the unforeseen consequences of repressing women’s natural cycles.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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Ron Fournier Thinks Harry Reid’s ‘Lying’ Ads Will Cause Dems to ‘Pay a High Price’; On What Basis?

The National Journal’s Ron Fournier appeared on Greta Van Susteren’s Fox News show on Tuesday and blasted Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for “making facts up” and “lying” in his non-stop campaign against the eeeeevil Koch Brothers.

Bless his naive little heart, Fournier even actually said: “Shame on us if we in the media let him get away with this.” “If”? What’s all of a sudden going to prevent that from happening, Ron? If anything, the already slim chances that the press will cover Reid’s fairy tales have decreased, given strong evidence that Washington Post reporters completely invented a story about the Koch Brothers’ lease holdings in shale oil-rich Canada — a story which “just so happened” to end up being the basis for a letter to Koch Industries’ President demanding answers sent by a Democratic senator and congressman. The video segment, including Van Susteren’s explanation as to why Reid can legally get away with being so reckless (HT National Review’s The Corner; bolds and paragraph breaks are mine), follows the jump:

(more…)

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April 9, 2014

AP Keeps Lois Lerner’s Name Out of Headline and Opening Paragraph in Two Reports

I suspect that many readers who do their best to keep up with the news at a detailed level have a hard time understanding how many of their friends, acquaintances and neighbors — even many who they know put some effort into keeping up with current events — can be so unaware of many objectively important news developments.

There are two answers to that question. One is that the establishment press very often doesn’t cover important matters at all; all one has to do is recall the empty media chairs at the trial of pre-born and newborn baby butcher Kermit Gosnell. The other is that when they do cover a story, journalists and their news outlets often do all they can to keep key names and facts out of their headlines and opening paragraph. Thanks to the fact that many people now consume news using computers, tablets, and smartphones, this stalling tactic may be even more effective now than it was in the print-only days. A pair of Associated Press reports by Stephen Ohlemacher, one from earlier today and another from last Thursday, both concerning developments relating to retired IRS employee Lois Lerner, exemplify the tactic’s use:

(more…)

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Hmm …

Filed under: Activism,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:23 pm

I heard a John Boehner radio ad today on a music station, and saw a TV ad on a sports station.

Though I haven’t necessarily been on the lookout for it in the past, I don’t recall Boehner ever advertising during a primary.

Is it really possible that Boehner is nervous about his primary opposition?

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Malkin Schools Common Core Apologist Asking for ‘Corrections’

Filed under: Activism,Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:46 am

Bad idea of the day: Asking Michelle Malkin, America’s unofficial Common Core town crier, for “corrections” when you don’t have the facts on your side.

Chad Colby, Director of Strategic Communications & Outreach at “Achieve, Inc.,” made that mistake last week.

Malkin took Colby to school, administering a good old-fashioned verbal whipping in her syndicated column (links are in original; bolds are mine):

“I wanted to take a moment to highlight two points that were incorrect regarding Achieve,” Colby complained. “Contrary to Ms. Malkin’s assertion, Achieve employs no lobbyists and we never have.”

No? Never? Someone didn’t do his homework. Mr. Colby, meet Patricia Sullivan. She’s the founding executive director of Achieve and a career lobbyist who has bounced around D.C. for the past quarter-century …

… And let me introduce Mr. Colby to Ronn Robinson, a founding senior vice president of Achieve and veteran Democratic and corporate education lobbyist for former Washington Gov. Booth Gardner and Boeing. According to The Hill newspaper’s column titled, ahem, “Lobbying World,” Not-a-Lobbyist Robinson left Achieve several years ago to lobby for the D.C.-based National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE).

NCEE is the multimillion-dollar Gates Foundation-funded advocacy (read: “lobbying”) group founded by Marc Tucker, the godfather of Common Core-style schemes and top-down control masquerading as “reform.” He has dominated the D.C. education-lobbying scene since before Bill Clinton was in office.

… After the Clintons moved into the White House, Tucker sent a now-infamous letter to Mrs. Clinton outlining a radical progressive plan “to remold the entire American system” through a centralized national-standards Trojan Horse.

… Tucker’s proposal represented “a new approach to government” by elitist bureaucrats to “create a seamless web” that “literally extends from cradle to grave.” The Clinton White House soon after delivered federal Goals 2000 and School-to-Work laws. Tucker has explicitly advocated that the United States “largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.”

Colby (also) protested that “Achieve is no longer affiliated with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)” and that its “contract ended with them in December of last year.” Clean break? Hah. Achieve and PARCC are inextricably intertwined.

Don’t take my word for it. Take PARCC’s. Though the contract with Achieve “ended” last year, a PARCC letter to Arizona education officials explains that no one’s really going anywhere:

“The Achieve staff members that have conducted the work of PARCC over the last several years are transitioning to PARCC, Inc. so that they can continue to maintain the leadership and programmatic expertise that will see the project through the end of the development period.

Since the web traffic gurus tell us we need to include graphics in our posts, I thought I’d provide a visual depiction of Chad Colby’s credibility once Michelle Malkin got finished with him:

ShatteredGlass

Common Core is statist cronyism gone wild at the expense of the nation’s schoolchildren — and, ultimately, the nation as a whole.

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Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (040914)

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

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow. Other topics are also fair game.

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Positivity: Our lives should have the flavor of the Gospel, Pope observes

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City:

Apr 9, 2014 / 04:14 am

During his general audience Pope Francis began a new catechesis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, drawing specific attention to wisdom and noting that it illuminates our actions and draws us closer to God.

“We need to ask ourselves if our lives have the flavor of the Gospel; if others perceive that we are men and women of God; if it is the Holy Spirit that moves our lives,” the Pope insisted in his April 5 General Audience address.

Speaking to the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square to hear the weekly discourse, the pontiff announced initially that “Today we begin a series of catechesis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

Observing how “The Spirit is himself the ‘gift of God,’” the Pope emphasized that he is also “the presence of God’s love in the Church and in our hearts.”

“Based on a messianic prophecy of Isaiah, the Church has traditionally distinguished seven gifts of the Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord,” he continued, noting that “the first of these is wisdom.”

Highlighting how “This is not the fruit of knowledge and human experience,” the Roman Pontiff explained that it “consists of an interior light that only the Holy Spirit can give and that enables us to recognize the imprint of God in our lives and history.”

It is a grace, he said, “enabling us to contemplate all things with the eyes of God and a heart docile to the promptings of the Spirit.”

Born out of “intimacy with God” and a closeness to him “in prayer and loving communion,” this gift “makes a Christian contemplative” and “helps us to recognize with joyful gratitude his providential plan for all things,” the Pope went on to say.

“Everything speaks of God and everything is seen as a sign of his love and a reason to give thanks.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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April 8, 2014

CNN.com Finally Get to the Leland Yee Story — 13 Days Late

Let it be noted that at 7:17 p.m. on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, CNN.com finally broke down and posted a story on the alleged criminal behavior of California State Senator Leland Yee. The headline at the story by Matt Smith and Jason Carroll (“Feds: Calif. pol Leland Yee schemed to trade arms for campaign cash”) gets to the heart of the matter — unlike the headline (“LAWMAKER YEE PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO FEDERAL CHARGES”) at the Associated Press’s most recent story on Yee. But Smith and Carroll waited until the fourth paragraph to tag Yee as a Democrat (the AP story at least got there at Paragraph 3).

CNN’s story arrives 13 days after Yee’s initial arrest, and 11 days, 9 hours and 58 minutes after a snippy person at the “CNN.com Writers” Twitter account — apparently one Eliott McLaughlin, according to the account’s home page — claimed that its non-coverage of the Yee story was “in line with us covering state senators & state secretary of state races just about never.” Yours truly disproved that assertion in about three minutes on March 29.

(more…)

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NewsBusted (040814)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 6:50 am

Here we go:

Topics:
– Obamacare
– Unemployment
– Healthcare.gov
– Ft. Hood Shooting
– David Letterman Retires
– Stephen Colbert
– Ted Cruz
– Major League Baseball

Best Line: Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz just signed a $1.5 million deal to write a book. … and the New York Times just gave it a bad review.”

Worst Line (actually, a good one; it just stings): “The 2014 Major League Baseball season is finally under way. So better luck next year, Cubs fans.”

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Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (040814)

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

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow. Other topics are also fair game.

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Positivity: US Navy ‘game-changer’ — converting seawater into fuel

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Washington:

The US Navy believes it has finally worked out the solution to a problem that has intrigued scientists for decades: how to take seawater and use it as fuel.

The development of a liquid hydrocarbon fuel is being hailed as “a game-changer” because it would signficantly shorten the supply chain, a weak link that makes any force easier to attack.

The US has a fleet of 15 military oil tankers, and only aircraft carriers and some submarines are equipped with nuclear propulsion.

All other vessels must frequently abandon their mission for a few hours to navigate in parallel with the tanker, a delicate operation, especially in bad weather.

The ultimate goal is to eventually get away from the dependence on oil altogether, which would also mean the navy is no longer hostage to potential shortages of oil or fluctuations in its cost.

Vice Admiral Philip Cullom declared: “It’s a huge milestone for us.”

View galleryDr. Heather Willauer explains how scientists at the …
Dr. Heather Willauer explains how scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC can …
“We are in very challenging times where we really do have to think in pretty innovative ways to look at how we create energy, how we value energy and how we consume it.

“We need to challenge the results of the assumptions that are the result of the last six decades of constant access to cheap, unlimited amounts of fuel,” added Cullom.

“Basically, we’ve treated energy like air, something that’s always there and that we don’t worry about too much. But the reality is that we do have to worry about it.”

US experts have found out how to extract carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas from seawater.

Then, using a catalytic converter, they transformed them into a fuel by a gas-to-liquids process. They hope the fuel will not only be able to power ships, but also planes.

View galleryThis April 2, 2014 US Navy handout image shows a beaker …
This April 2, 2014 US Navy handout image shows a beaker of fuel(right) made from seawater by scienti …
That means instead of relying on tankers, ships will be able to produce fuel at sea.

- ‘Game-changing’ technology -

The predicted cost of jet fuel using the technology is in the range of three to six dollars per gallon, say experts at the US Naval Research Laboratory, who have already flown a model airplane with fuel produced from seawater. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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