Sunday, August 31, 2014

Paradigms and Demographics: Evening Edition

Agriculture

by Entomology Today Using specialized digital photography methods, USDA scientists are producing high-resolution images of members of the wasp superfamily Platygastroidea. According to Elijah Talamas, a postdoctoral scientist with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the photographic process begins with positioning a wasp specimen under a specialized camera with a single-column lens attached to a vertical joist, and…… 
 
Economics
 
Disappointment awaits Democrats who hope public outrage will help kill Burger King's tax-avoiding move to Canada.  The latest and highest-profile corporate "inversion," which involves one of America's best-known brands, has failed to stoke a backlash. Republicans on Capitol Hill are feeling no pressure to thwart those whom Democrats label corporate "deserters."  “We’ve been down this road before," said Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the top tax writer in the GOP-led House, "and we know companies will continue to do this as long as our tax rates remain the highest in the world.”  Burger King's escape vehicle is a merger with a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain called Tim Hortons.  Camp called for tax reform to fix America’s “dysfunctional” tax code. At 35 percent, the United States' corporate tax rate is the highest among developed nations ranked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and is one of the only developed countries to tax businesses on income earned in other countries.
 
Burger King's announcement that it will purchase a Canadian company, and in doing so transfer its headquarters to Canada, has given President Obama an opportunity, increasingly rare these days, to score political points on a domestic issue.  He wants Congress to pass a law penalizing corporate inversions, by which companies leave the U.S. to avoid paying high tax rates on income earned in other countries.  Congress is unlikely to pass any legislation. But Obama got a leg up in the debate Tuesday, when Bloomberg News reported recent investment transactions by two of Capitol Hill's most important Republican tax policymakers. Both House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., made money in June by selling the stock of Covidien PLC, a company that Minnesota-based Medtronic Inc. wants to buy as part of an inversion that would transfer its official nationality to Ireland…… If Obama wants to stop corporations from inverting, he should start by asking why they're so eager to get out of the United States in the first place. He and Congress can fix that problem by slashing corporate tax rates, ending taxation of foreign earnings and removing distortions from the tax code that encourage the irrational business practices, such as “stripping," related to inversions.

Obama'ssegue from constructive tax proposals to low-grade demagoguery, By
“The tax system should be simplified and work for all Americans with lower individual and corporate tax rates and fewer brackets.” That’s from the Obama administration’s 2009 proposals for tax reform, straight from whitehouse.gov. “Because our corporate tax system is so riddled with special interest loopholes,” the document goes on, “our system has one of the highest statutory rates among developed countries to generate about the same amount of corporate tax revenue as our developed country partners as a share of our economy.” That is still accurate except that, now that Japan has lowered its corporate tax rate, the U.S. is not “among the highest” but is the highest among developed countries.
One of the issues Congress must resolve in the 10 weeks before Election Day is what to do with the Export-Import Bank.

How Dow Chemical's league-leading lobbying against freetrade illuminates the folly of export subsidies, By Timothy Carney  
Usually General Electric, Exxon Mobil, Comcast or Northrop Grumman lead the U.S. in federal lobbying. So far this year, though, Dow Chemical is the King of K Street.

Delta's good fight on Export-Import Bank marred by supportfor crony capitalism, By Timothy Carney  
It's rare to find big business lobbying for free enterprise against corporate welfare. So it's pretty depressing to find it lobbying for corporate welfare in other instance……

Ignoring the U.S. debt problem won't wash it away, By Philip Klein
There are few characteristics of human nature that are more immutable than the tendency to be focused on the short term. And just like a heart patient straying from his diet as time passes after his heart attack, the political class has collectively decided to tune out the federal debt as an issue. Between 2009 and 2012, the federal government ran deficits exceeding $1 trillion per year, for a total of $5.1 trillion over four years. During this time, the issue of deficits and debt became a prominent part of the national political conversation. In contrast, a Congressional Budget Office report released Wednesday projected that the deficit for fiscal 2014 would narrow to $506 billion. Given that the annual deficit is now projected to be a substantially lower and there is no longer a scary-sounding “trillion dollar deficit” talking point, the debt has receded as an issue 
 
Education
In his suit, Jindal says the new program violates the 10th Amendment by subverting state sovereignty as the administration pressured states to adopt the standards.
 
A Common-Sense Approach to Common Core, Part II: Third-Grade Fractions, Barry Garelick
On top of so-called neutrality, throw in Common Core’s Standards for Mathematical Practice, which require students to explain and understand and the perfect storm exists to institutionalize the problems. In exchange, we get some expectations of procedural fluency that will not be defined until we see the actual tests. People have also asked: If reform math techniques are being followed (and enforced) and the test-makers are essentially testing to the teach (my phrase, not the readers), why then would anyone want to follow the alternative approaches you have been writing about here? It’s a valid question.

 
Environment
 
When Oregon regulators killed plans for Columbia River coal export docks Aug. 18, Big Green redirected its minions and money northward to the decisive battlefield: Cherry Point, Wash., and the proposed $600 million Pacific Gateway Terminal for shipping 48 million tons of Powder River Basin coal annually from Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota to Asia.  It will be a different fight.  Washington Gov. Jay Inslee early last year joined with Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber in asking President Obama to review the climate-change consequences of “letting U.S. corporations feed China’s coal-burning power plants.” Obama ignored their request.  Both states then performed their own much-ballyhooed permit reviews that factored global climate impacts into a local decision, a move of questionable legality…….

Academics Must Take Skeptics Seriously, Joseph Bast
An article published in the September, 2014 issue of Geoforum, a peer-reviewed academic journal published by Elsevier, reports 90.79% of source citations in the first volume of Heartland’s Climate Change Reconsidered series were to peer-reviewed journals, a higher percentage than was the case with the United Nations IPCC Third and Fourth Assessment Reports. This is a dramatic vindication of our efforts…..

Government Incompetence

Uncle Sam gave $34.8 million in contracts and another $32.2 million in grants through the Bureau of African Affairs but failed to watch where the money went after that, according to the State Department's inspector general…..
 
Paul Ryan: Big government has U.S. at ‘tipping point’
It is no longer a question of how much government Americans want. The only question is how much government Americans can afford. And the former Republican vice presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the answer is becoming clear. “I talk about this in the book,” Ryan told Watchdog Radio Monday. “About very progressive policies. About the outcomes they produce, and how they bankrupt governments.”….
 
Government Corruption
 
Holder’s Bank of America Heist Funds Left’s Community-Organizer Shock Troops, By Andrew C. McCarthy
Government coercion of the financial sector to make irresponsible loans was the primary driver of the 2007-08 financial meltdown. Yet, as we’ve previously observed here, “Washington has searched every place but within for a scapegoat” – with the Obama Justice Department pursuing politically motivated investigations, prosecutions, and civil lawsuits against banks and credit rating agencies in order to concoct a history that blames predatory lending rather than statist policy.  Now we learn that Eric Holder, the Tom Hagen of this racketeering enterprise of an administration, is using the vig that DOJ muscle is extorting from the banks to pour tens of millions of dollars into the coffers of the radical Left’s top rabble-rousers – in addition to diverting what should be public funds to pay off delinquent debts in cities that Democrats have destroyed…..

‘Retaliation’: Docs show state prosecutors launched mini-NSA probe of WI conservatives, By M.D. Kittle
Conservative targets of a Democrat-launched John Doe investigation have described the secret probe as a witch hunt.  That might not be a big enough descriptor, based on records released Friday by a federal appeals court as part of a massive document dumpAttorneys for conservative activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth point to subpoenas requested by John Doe prosecutors that sought records from “at least eight phone companies” believed to serve the targets of the investigation. O’Keefe and the club have filed a civil rights lawsuit against John Doe prosecutors, alleging they violated conservatives’ First Amendment rights……
 
Government Medical Care
 
Lianna "Lili" Ovsepian, of Tujunga, Calif., was sentenced Monday to eight years in federal prison... It was a scheme that involved more than $20 million using anti-psychotic drugs, the black market and repeated fraudulent billings of the government.  From September 2009 through October 2011, Medicare and Medi-Cal, the Golden State's Medicaid program, were falsely billed for more than $20 million worth of prescriptions for the costly medicines……

California government forces Catholic colleges andinsurers to cover elective abortion, By Timothy Carney

California state board reverses past ruling and requires all employer-sponsored insurance plans to cover elective abortions. Two Catholic colleges announced that the insurance plan they were providing their employees would not cover elective abortion. (I infer from the news stories that they would cover abortion needed to save the life of the mother.) The state's Department of Managed Health Care had given the OK to these insurance plans. But now the department has reversed its position, the AP reports. California requires employer-sponsored plans to cover all "medically necessary" care, and the DMHC has decided that elective abortion is a medical necessity…..

 
Health From the American Council on Science and Health

Are expired medications OK to take?
What does the expiration date on a drug mean? Is it safe to take drugs after this date and would they still work? There are some important things to consider before you decide whether or not to toss a medication in the trash. Read more.
 
The never ending, and losing war on drugs
An article in today's NYTimes has some sobering news about the narcotic addiction problem in this country. There has been a sharp upturn in fatal heroin overdoses in NYC over the past three years. What is going on? It's actually pretty obvious. Read more.
 
No, Virginia, there's still no vaccine-autism link
The myth of a vaccine-autism link is still alive and well on the Internet. But a new scientific analysis demonstrates how fraudulent the "evidence" for this link really is and just how far some folks will go to substantiate a worthless hypothesis. Read more.

The importance of child's play for developing life skills
As children head back to school, we worry that they may have forgotten important lessons learned in the past school year. ACSH friend Lenore Skenazy and Peter Gray argue that summer playtime can be valuable for a child's development. Read more.

Don't believe what you read about dietary supplements treating concussions
Concussions are a major concern among athletes and it's imperative that appropriate medical attention is received. This should not be in the form of a supplement falsely claiming to have the ability to treat or cure a concussion. Read more.

Large study shows significant reduction in new clots among aspirin users
A new study shows significant benefit in prevention of recurrent venous clots among aspirin users. If confirmed by future research, this would be a major additional benefit for the wonder drug: aspirin! Read more.

Fear of parabens compromises safety of certain cosmetic products
Parabens are used in foods and cosmetics as preservatives. The unwarranted fear of parabens and the desire by cosmetics companies to label products as "natural," has resulted in less consumer-friendly and possibly less-safe products. Read more.

Genetic engineering may lead to a cure for Ebola and other life-threatening diseases
In an op-ed in WSJ, Dr. Henry I. Miller provides insight on the benefits "biopharming" can provide in medicine - for example, ZMapp, the possible cure for Ebola - and why current regulations and fears are unnecessary and unreasonable. Read more.

New CDC survey reports that most babies are vaccinated
The 2013 National Immunization Survey (NIS) conducted by the CDC provides some great news - most American babies are receiving vaccinations. However, there is room for improvement. Read more.

Bariatric surgery does more than reduce body weight
Weight loss via bariatric surgery can not only decrease risk of diabetes and heart disease, but can also improve quality of life by ameliorating or eliminating urinary incontinence in severely obese women, a new study reports. Read more.

Lifestyle intervention may prevent excessive weight gain in pregnant, obese women
New study finds obese women who were part of weight management program gained less weight during pregnancy and were less likely to deliver large-for-gestational age babies than women who received only one-time dietary advice. Read more.
 
IRS Scandal
 
A Department of Justice attorney admitted that “lost” emails from Lois Lerner’s hard drive do exist on an emergency backup system, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said today. Fitton made the bombshell declaration during an appearance on Fox News:...

Whether John Koskinen was aware or not, judicial proceedings in a Freedom of Information lawsuit against the IRS have revealed that the federal government backs up all of its computer data, including employee email.
 
Islam
 
The Islamic State's video-dissemination of one of its goons beheading an American is an existential challenge from which we cannot afford to shrink.  Until the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS) did that, it made sense for the U.S. government to help contain it because the Islamic world, which the IS threatens most directly, must destroy it sooner or later.  But internetting that beheading was a gory declaration of America's impotence - a dare-by-deed that is sure to move countless young persons around the globe to get in on killing us, anywhere they can. The longer the Islamic State survives, the more will take up its dare. Either we kill the IS, or we will deserve the wave of terrorism that will engulf us…
 
Obama and Reality!
 
Obama’s Hazy Sense of History, By Victor Davis Hanson
Why do only a handful of such tragedies trigger national outrage?  President Obama doesn’t know much about history.  In his therapeutic 2009 Cairo speech, Obama outlined all sorts of Islamic intellectual and technological pedigrees, several of which were undeserved. He exaggerated Muslim contributions to printing and medicine, for example, and was flat-out wrong about the catalysts for the European Renaissance and Enlightenment.  He also believes history follows some predetermined course, as if things always get better on their own. Obama often praises those he pronounces to be on the “right side of history.” He also chastises others for being on the “wrong side of history” — as if evil is vanished and the good thrives on autopilot.  When in 2009 millions of Iranians took to the streets to protest the thuggish theocracy, they wanted immediate U.S. support. Instead, Obama belatedly offered them banalities suggesting that in the end, they would end up “on the right side of history.” Iranian reformers may indeed end up there, but it will not be because of some righteous inanimate force of history, or the prognostications of Barack Obama……
 
The Madness of 2008, By Victor Davis Hanson
A nation became unhinged by trivialities like “hope and change.” It has now awakened.
America is suddenly angry at the laxity, incompetence, and polarizing politics of the Obama administration, the bad optics of the president putting about in his bright golf clothes while the world burns. Certainly, no recent president has failed on so many fronts — honesty, transparency, truthfulness, the economy, foreign policy, the duties of the commander-in-chief, executive responsibilities, and spiritual leadership.  For those who are “shocked” at the present meltdown, of a magnitude not seen since the annus horribilis of 1979, in their defense: Obama certainly did not campaign on a new health-care plan that would force Americans to give up the doctors they liked and their existing coverage, while raising premiums and deductibles, while giving exemptions for insiders and cronies, and while raising the deficit…..
 
President Obama has shown little rhetorical mercy this summer toward companies that have sought to expatriate themselves to cut their tax bills. In a weekly radio address last month, he even called it “unpatriotic” for corporations to shun their obligations to the U.S. government by changing their nationalities — an issue that exploded this week as Burger King announced plans to relocate its headquarters to Canada.  But politicians should be slower to throw stones. For even as his administration has been measuring the guillotine for the formerly American ground-beef monarch, Obama was himself hatching a plan with the openly stated purpose of moving beyond the confines of U.S. law…….The deeper problem is that Obama's governing strategy — on the use of military force, immigration, education, and, in this case, climate — has devolved into one clever gimmick after another to circumvent the authority of the Congress Americans elected. Voters should ponder this as Election Day approaches.

Obama on ISIS: 'We don't have a strategy yet', Brian Hughes
President Obama on Thursday conceded that the White House doesn't "have a strategy yet” for a broader plan on how to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse, we don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama said in a press conference Thursday of seeking congressional approval for additional airstrikes in the Middle East. Obama has been under pressure to expand U.S. bombings from Iraq to Syria, but his advisers remain divided about the prospect of military intervention there.  For his part, the president seemed to suggest Thursday that he was less interested in using military action in Syria than Iraq. “My priority at this point,” Obama said, “is to make sure the gains that [ISIS] made in Iraq are rolled back.”
 
Politics
 
Montana Democrats needed a savior to help them score an unlikely victory for one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats.  Instead, they chose a radical revolutionary.  Amanda Curtis, a teacher from Butte, enters the U.S. Senate contest with the odds stacked firmly against her. She’s facing a well-funded opponent in Republican Rep. Steve Daines and joined the race about 80 days before the November elections. If those obstacles weren’t enough, quickly released opposition research revealed Curtis boasts a past full of ideas and associations likely too toxic for many Montana voters.  Most troubling could be Curtis’ association with Industrial Workers of the World, an international labor union. Participation in organized labor wouldn’t be so notable, except IWW holds extreme political views…
 
Race
 
Though racial discrimination exists, it is nowhere near the barrier it once was….how much of what we see today can be explained by racial discrimination?….. let's pull up a few historical facts about black Americans.

In 1950, female-headed households were 18 percent of the black population.
Today it's close to 70 percent….19th-century slave families found that in up to three-fourths of the families, all the children lived with the biological mother and father. In 1925 New York City, 85 percent of black households were two-parent households….both during slavery and as late as 1920, a teenage girl raising a child without a man present was rare among blacks…[the] 1880 family structure in Philadelphia found that three-quarters of black families were nuclear families…..given today's arguments that slavery and discrimination decimated the black family structure, is the fact that years ago, there were only slight differences in family structure among racial groups.

Coupled with the dramatic breakdown in the black family structure has been an astonishing growth in the rate of illegitimacy. The black illegitimacy rate in 1940 was about 14 percent; black illegitimacy today is over 70 percent, and in some cities, it is over 80 percent….. Is the reason the black family was far healthier in the late 1800s and 1900s that back then there was far less racial discrimination and there were greater opportunities? Or did what experts call the "legacy of slavery" wait several generations to victimize today's blacks?


Left Bullies Black Reporter To Recant 'No Angel'Description of Michael Brown,
John Eligon, a 31 year-old black New York Times reporter who says that he has been racially profiled by police, was mercilessly bullied by the Left Monday into recanting his description of Michael Brown as "no angel."  The uproar began Monday morning when Eligon's profile of Brown, the 18 year-old man fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, hit the front page of the Times. The "no angel" description wasn't used until the fifth paragraph. Still, leftists who are not used to the Times writing anything that might make them uncomfortable, exploded on Twitter and elsewhere.   By any reasonable standard, Eligon's mostly sympathetic profile of Brown backed up the "no angel" description. Brown dabbled in drugs and was caught on video committing what looks like a strong-armed robbery just minutes before his fatal shooting. Nonetheless, in the online Soviet-style show trial, Eligon was found guilty of an inconvenient truth and recanted:….

Facts vs. visions By THOMAS SOWELL
The political left has been campaigning against the use of force since at least the 18th century. So it is not surprising that they are now arguing that heavily armed or aggressive police forces only inflame protesters and thus provoke violence.Statisticians have long warned that correlation is not causation, but they have apparently warned in vain. There is no reason to doubt that heavily armed police in riot gear may be more likely to show up where outbreaks of violence are expected. But when violence then breaks out, does that prove that it was the appearance of the police that caused it? I strongly suspect that people who travel with armed guards are more likely to be murdered than people who do not travel with armed guards. After all, they are not paying to have armed guards for no reason.   If so, should we conclude from a higher murder rate among people with armed guards that having armed guards increases your chances of getting murdered? Shall we also conclude from this that we the taxpayers should no longer pay to have Secret Service agents guarding our presidents?
 
Harry Reid is a bigoted Beltway corruptocrat with an interminable case of diarrhea of the mouth. The feeble-minded coot stuck his foot in that mess of a mouth again last week at the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce. But as mortifying as the Senate Majority Leader is, there's an even worse spectacle: Asian-American liberals who keep giving top Democrats and their partisan operatives blanket passes.   Reid clumsily offered his assessment of the success and intelligence of business leaders of Asian descent at the gathering.  "I don't think you're smarter than anybody else, but you've convinced a lot of us you are," he babbled. You put those uppity Asians in their places, Hater Harry!........ National news anchors selectively averted their gazes. The Asian American Journalists Association, so quick to issue sanctimonious guidelines for avoiding ethnic stereotypes, maintained radio silence. And the usual left-wing speech police who read racism into every word uttered by conservatives from "angry" to "Chicago" to "Constitution" to "Obamacare" saw and said nothing……
 
The investigation of Darren Wilson is solely based on his race.  Why has a federal civil-rights murder investigation arisen out of the tumult in a St. Louis exurb? There is only one plausible reason: Eric Holder is guilty of racial profiling.  To be clear, we are not talking here about whether there was justification for the shooting of a young black man, 18-year-old Michael Brown, by a young white police officer, 28-year-old Darren Wilson. Was the shooting a legitimate exercise in self-defense by an officer under attack? Was it an overreaction for which Officer Wilson should suffer serious civil and criminal consequences? Such questions can only be answered by a thorough and fair investigation, the kind of due process owed to both the victim and the subject of the investigation — the kind that, as National Review’s editors point out, will be tough to mete out with political thumbs pressing on the scales......... Remember the similarly tragic Trayvon Martin shooting, when Mr. Holder colluded with the notorious Al Sharpton in raising the specter of a federal civil-rights prosecution, pressuring state officials in Florida to file a specious murder indictment. After a jury swiftly acquitted George Zimmerman, Holder was forced to retreat.  As he had to have known all along, the evidence of intent to deprive Mr. Martin of his civil rights was non-existent — even weaker than the state’s flimsy murder case.  Well, here he goes again…….
 
Taxes 
 
Oklahoma Lawsuit Muddles Tax Hikes, Tax Cuts, Trent England
In 1992, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 640 to add a taxpayer-protection provision to the State Constitution. The constitutional amendment was a direct response from citizens following tax and spending increases enacted prior to SQ 640’s adoption by voters. Everyone “supporters and opponents alike” understood the provision would make it harder to raise taxes. That was the point. That is what a plain reading of the law says. That is what voters approved…
Burger King’s announcement that it will move its headquarters to Canada has put the spotlight on that country's tax system. However, the tax benefits of doing business in Canada, as opposed to doing business in the U.S., are not well-known. First, Canada has a much lower corporate tax rate: 15 percent at the federal level plus another 11 percent on average from provincial corporate taxes. Compare that to the U.S. federal corporate tax rate of 35 percent, plus an average state corporate tax rate of about 4 percent….
 
Voter Fraud
 
Want a real-life example of voter fraud? Fairfax County election officials say they have 17 — and they’re providing names to local, state and federal authorities for prosecution. The 17 voters reportedly cast ballots in both Fairfax County, Va., and the state of Maryland during the 2012 presidential election.