.@SkyNews journo rifles through #MH17 luggage, network apologizes after backlash

Posted by: ST on July 21, 2014 at 10:01 am

Unreal. A new low in modern journalism – via the WaPo:

A Sky News reporter drew criticism over the weekend when he rummaged on camera through a bag belonging to a victim of the MH17 air crash in Ukraine, even as he said he “probably shouldn’t be doing this, I suppose.”

It appeared to be a momentary lapse and the reporter, Colin Brazier, quickly put an item back in the bag after picking it up to display to viewers. Coming as foreign leaders were criticizing Ukraine separatists for piling up bodies of victims and going through personal belongings, the footage was not well received.

According to the Guardian, Sky News later apologized:

Huffington Post has documented the widespread outrage from both journalists and non-journos alike. Twitchy Team has more.

Here’s an image from the “news” segment, which you can watch at YouTube. I didn’t feel comfortable posting the video here.

Sky News

Sky News journalist Colin Brazier sifts through the luggage of dead MH-17 passenger.

Just an incredible, stunning lack of judgement, basic sensitivity and common decency, not to mention a total disregard for the feelings of the families of those killed in the crash. As the WaPo noted, even Brazier realized as he was doing it that it was wrong – but really, the whole segment was about sifting through the personal effects of dead passengers. Highly unseemly, to say the least.

I’m sure Sky News has heard quite an earful about this – if you haven’t let them know your thoughts, tag their Twitter account and let them know. And please rise above and express your thoughts respectfully, as hard as it may be to lash out over the completely inappropriate on-scene reporting of Brazier.

 

Surprising no one, California loses another business to Texas

Posted by: Phineas on July 20, 2014 at 8:03 pm

**Posted by Phineas

Moving

This time, Perry’s Poachers have snagged Omnitracs LLC of San Diego, a fleet management firm that will be moving to Dallas and taking 450 jobs with it:

Fleet management software company Omnitracs LLC will relocate it headquarters to Dallas from San Diego, creating 450 jobs and $10 million in capital investment, Gov. Rick Perry’s office announced Friday.

The company will move into KPMG Centre downtown.

Omnitracs is the latest in a wave of California relocations to North Texas announced this spring and summer.
The Texas Enterprise Fund is providing a $3.9 million incentive to attract Omnitracs. The new headquarters will house jobs in a variety of high-paying fields, including engineering, research and development and finance.

Omnitracs provides fleet management solutions for the trucking industry. Its services include software applications, GPS fleet tracking, platforms and information services.

Omnitracs is just the latest in a long line of businesses that have fled or are about to flee the once-Golden State. The article lists others, including Toyota, and mentions Vista Equity Partners, a California firm that specializes in buying firms and moving them to Texas.

Yes, the one business that California can keep is one that helps others get the heck out.

Well, we bloody well deserve it, with a business climate that’s designed to drive people away, not bring them here. I’m old enough to remember when California was a place to people rushed to, in order to build a future.

Now, thanks to 40 years of progressive misrule, they rush to get out, in order to save what future they have left.

via Stephen Frank

RELATED: Victor Davis Hanson, a fellow Californian, on our frivolous legislature. Must reading.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

 

#IRS under oath: Lerner’s hard drive destroyed to ‘protect taxpayer info’

Posted by: ST on July 20, 2014 at 1:54 pm

IRS

Oh yes - they went there (hat tip):

The IRS said under oath Friday that former agency official Lois Lerner’s hard drive was destroyed and recycled, echoing earlier testimony from its commissioner.

In its most extensive comments yet on Lerner’s hard drive, the agency said in court filings Friday that the hard drive was destroyed in 2011 to protect confidential taxpayer information.

Before that, the IRS said, the hard drive underwent a process designed to permanently erase stored data. That process occurred after a series of IRS technical officers examined Lerner’s hard drive, and found that it couldn’t be restored after a crash.

The IRS’s court filings came as part of a lawsuit filed against the agency by True the Vote, a conservative activist group.

A week ago, Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court in Washington imposed a Friday deadline for the IRS to tell the court what happened to Lerner’s hard drive, among other questions.

The IRS said last month that Lerner’s hard drive crashed in 2011, leaving a chunk of her emails for the previous two-plus years missing.

That admission reignited the investigations into the IRS’s improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt groups. Lerner kicked off that controversy in May 2013 by apologizing for the IRS’s behavior, and has since become the central figure in the inquiry.

[...]

 

[GOP] skeptics, along with Judge Walton, also sought the serial number to Lerner’s hard drive.

In its court filing, the IRS said that it got the hard drive’s serial number from an outside contractor who sold the agency Lerner’s laptop computer. The IRS added that it only puts bar codes on larger pieces of equipment, like laptop or desktop computers.

The IRS said that it was standard practice for hard drives to be shredded before any of their parts were recycled. Because of its tracking system, the IRS said that it’s now impossible to say what happened to any of the parts of Lerner’s hard drive that might have been put back into use.

Stewart Baker at the Volokh Conspiracy legal blog quips:

Why? According to The Hill, “the agency said in court filings Friday that the hard drive was destroyed in 2011 to protect confidential taxpayer information.”

I’m sure the IRS feels it’s a little ungrateful of Tea Party groups to complain about the agency’s heroic efforts to protect them.

Indeed. The irony, and much more importantly, the bull sh*t IRS excuses are so thick you could cut them with a knife.  I know it’s just a fantasy that will never in reality happen but I’d love every one of these sad excuses for “public servants” be carted off to prison to serve some serious time for what they’ve done.  It’s absolutely sickening – and rest assured, if this happened under the Bush administration those involved would have already done the perp walk, and then some.

 

Moral clarity in Gaza: Israel vs. Hamas

Posted by: Phineas on July 18, 2014 at 3:47 pm

**Posted by Phineas

Hamas uses civilians to protect its weapons

(Source: Israel MFA)

Leave it to Charles Krauthammer to clear away the nonsense and lay bare the key difference between democratic Israel and the Hamas dictatorship in Gaza:

“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.

Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza.

And what happened after the Israelis left Gaza? Did the residents take the numerous greenhouses the Israelis left behind to grow food for their own people? Did they build roads and schools and a reasonable social safety net? Did they attract foreign investment to provide their people with productive jobs and a better life?

Oh, heavens no. That would be to imitate the Jews next door, and we can’t have that!

No, Hamas and their supporters destroyed the greenhouses and used all the aid and money the world (including Israel) gave them to instead dig tunnels, tunnels in which they hid weapons (and their leaders, for those times when Israel has had enough). They spent those millions buying rockets to fire at Israeli civilians (and at a nuclear reactor!), out of a religious need to fight and kill Jews.

Not “Zionists.” Jews. Because Allah tells them to.

And Hamas turns their own civilians into human shields not just to protect their precious missiles, but in the hope of getting some of their own civilians killed, because they want gory photos to wave before the world while shouting “See what those awful Jews did to us!” As for Gazans who get killed, well, it was Allah’s will and Allah will welcome them as martyrs. Whether they wanted to be one, or not.

That is the so-bright-it’s-almost-blinding difference the jihad-terror group Hamas, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the State of Israel, and any attempt to draw any equivalence between them is obscene.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

PS: Israel has launched a ground offensive into Gaza, and I hope they go all the way and destroy Hamas. I think this time they could do it, because Egypt, under President al-Sisi, who loathes the Muslim Brotherhood (along with many Egyptians), will do nothing to protect its Gazan branch.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

 

Will the #Obamacare employer mandate be delayed again?

Posted by: ST on July 18, 2014 at 9:41 am

Obamacare

The Hill reports that the pressure is on for the White House on whether or not to delay the employer mandate for the third time:

The White House needs to make a decision soon on whether ObamaCare’s controversial employer mandate will take effect in 2015.

With the mandate set to take effect in January, businesses are awaiting final world from the administration on whether they will be required to track and report how many of their employees are receiving coverage.

Federal officials are late in delivering the final forms and technical guidance necessary for firms to comply, raising suspicions that the mandate could once again be delayed.

The mandate has been pushed back twice before, both times in late summer.

The delays to the mandate have angered House Republicans, who are now taking President Obama to court for what they say is his refusal to follow the letter of the law.

Another delay to the mandate would be sure to create a political firestorm and draw charges that the administration is playing politics with ObamaCare ahead of the midterm elections.

But support for the mandate on the left has begun to soften in recent months, with influential figures and former Obama administration officials questioning whether it’s needed to make the law work.

Seven business lobbyists interviewed by The Hill said it is unlikely the administration will defer the employer mandate wholesale one more time, given the intense political pressure from Republicans.

But many groups are expecting partial relief to be announced prior to November, perhaps in the form of looser reporting requirements that would be easier to follow.

“I’d be shocked if they did another [full] delay … but it wouldn’t surprise me if something else came out before the election,” said one source who requested anonymity in order to speak freely.

I wouldn’t be shocked one bit, considering their past history of delaying the more controversial parts of this bill they know will hurt them more in the voting booth than any other.  But, as they say, stay tuned.

 

Malaysian jetliner carrying 295 reportedly “shot down” in Ukraine, near Russian border

Posted by: ST on July 17, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Breaking news

Still too early to know exactly what has happened but here’s an initial report from Fox News:

A Malaysian Airlines passenger plane with 295 aboard was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in Ukraine near the Russian border, according to multiple reports.

The airline, the same one whose plane disappeared over the Indian Ocean in March, confirmed only that “an incident” had occurred involving the Boeing 777, which was en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.

“Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam,” read a tweet from the airline. “The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow,” read a tweet from Malaysia Airlines’ account.

Multiple reports said the plane was shot down at cruising altitude. Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister told The Associated press that the plane, carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew people onboard, was shot down.

Gerashenko says on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit Thursday by a missile fired from a Buk launcher. A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.

The adviser also told Russian news agency Interfax that all onboard have been killed.

Prayers to the families of those hurt or killed, of course.

To keep up to date on the latest developments, all the major nets are all over this story. And, of course, there is the Twitter machine

 

(Video) The Middle East problem explained

Posted by: Phineas on July 16, 2014 at 2:31 pm

**Posted by Phineas

Radio host Dennis Prager cuts to the heart of the issue in this short lesson for his Prager University: the root of the Mideast problem is that one side wants the other side dead.

The one quibble I have with Prager’s lesson is that he leaves begging the question of why Arab Muslims want Israel destroyed. Why do they teach hatred of Jews in their media and their schools — even on children’s TV?

The answer is straightforward: Islam defines Jews as the mortal and eternal enemies of the Muslims. The Qur’an, Islam’s sacred book, is rife with antisemitism. And, indeed, a hadith in one of the most revered collections of the sayings and deeds of Muhammad informs the Muslims that Judgment Day cannot come until the Muslims fight and kill the Jews:

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.
–Sahih Muslim, Book 41, #6985

So, the root of the “Middle East problem” is that one side wants the other dead, and the reason for that is simple: Allah commands it. Think about it for a moment, and Hamas’ seemingly insane actions make perfect sense.

Thus I ask again: How can anyone be expected to negotiate with another party, when that other party’s is on a mission from God to kill the first party?

hat tip: JCinQC

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

 

Diane Ravitch launches sexist attack on Campbell Brown over teacher tenure

Posted by: ST on July 15, 2014 at 8:52 pm
Liberal academic bias

(Image via the Washington Times)

Why? Oh, because Brown just happens to be a proponent of teacher tenure reform. And for that, Ravitch suggests the former CNN host is – essentially – just another pretty face:

Brown, 46, has become an articulate voice and recognizable face opposing tenure, the century-old system of laws and contractual guarantees giving public-school teachers due-process rights in layoffs and terminations. Brown argues that tenure makes it difficult and expensive for school systems to remove underperforming teachers, and it protects their jobs at the expense of their students.

“I’m a mom, and my view of public education begins and ends with the fundamental question: Is this good for children?” Brown says by phone from New York, where she lives. “In a situation where it’s the child or the adult, I’m going with the child. .?.?. Tenure is permanent lifetime employment. There’s no reason why anyone’s job should become untouchable for the rest of their life.”

Campbell the journalist might interrupt an interview subject to take exception to that kind of generalization. Teachers unions and their advocates say tenure — instituted to prevent widespread abuses of a female-dominated workforce — doesn’t guarantee much beyond a fair hearing. Tenured teachers deemed ineffective or negligent, after hearings and evaluations, are fired, they point out.

[...]

“I have trouble with this issue because it’s so totally illogical,” says Diane Ravitch, an education historian. “It’s hard to understand why anyone thinks taking away teachers’ due-process rights will lead to great teachers in every classroom.”

As for Brown, Ravitch is dismissive: “She is a good media figure because of her looks, but she doesn’t seem to know or understand anything about teaching and why tenure matters. .?.?. I know it sounds sexist to say that she is pretty, but that makes her telegenic, even if what she has to say is total nonsense.”

Far be it from me to stoop to the level this so-called “education historian” did by snidely boiling down Brown’s popularity and smarts to her looks, but I have no idea – none at all – why the woman would come across as jealous of another woman’s looks. None whatsoever.

Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch

Continuing on, I don’t know her political leanings but Ravitch displays the typical behavior of a left wing feminist educrat know it all who thinks not only do they know best how to educate children and young adults, but that anyone who disagrees with them must be dismissed as “extreme” or “all hat no substance” — as a person whose opinions are not worthy of serious consideration.   By doing that, self-important elitists like Ravitch can therefore summarily without a second thought dismiss a person’s arguments without taking the time to read and/or hear them and later provide a reasonable analysis after careful consideration.  

Jon Chait, no friend to conservative education reformers by any stretch nevertheless slammed Ravitch here on a multitude of levels:

Why, yes, that does sound rather sexist. Now, Ravitch suggests here that Brown’s analysis is so transparently illogical that perhaps only her looks can account for her views. Why, Ravitch wonders, would the elimination of a job protection help attract better teachers? Let me reveal, via the power of logic, how this can work.

The basic problem is that some proportion of American teachers is terrible at their job and immune to improvement, yet removing them is a practical impossibility. (A good overview of the research on chronically ineffective teachers can be found here. Standard caveat: The author is my wife.) Under some conditions, loosening tenure laws can lead directly to more effective teachers in the classroom. For instance, when the Great Recession drove states to lay off teachers in order to balance their budgets, last-in, first-out hiring rules led them to fire teachers regardless of quality, thus removing highly effective (yet unprotected) teachers from classrooms.

[...]

In most fields, your pay is based on your perceived value rather than on the number of years you have spent on the job. Value-based pay does not work perfectly in any field. It certainly doesn’t work perfectly in my field, which explains, for instance, Howard Kurtz’s rumored extravagant wealth. Yet if we stopped paying journalists on the basis of their perceived value and started paying them on the basis of time served, I’d argue it would reduce the quality of journalism.

Opponents of reform relentlessly pick apart the various performance pay measures that are being implemented by reformers, and it’s true that none of those measures is perfect, either. But nearly all of them work better than paying people on the basis of how long they’ve held a job and making it functionally impossible to fire them for being terrible at their job. In places like Washington, D.C., education reformers have given teachers a chance to forfeit their tenure in return for the possibility of much higher pay.

Whatever side of this issue a person is on is irrelevant to how the debate over it is conducted.  Ravitch’s sneers and condescending attitude towards disagreement in any form are beneath contempt and, frankly, are not worthy of the children for who she claims to be fighting. Time to grow up, ma’am. As many in your circle have often said in the past, this is not about you. It’s about the children.  So stop acting like one.

 

Why Obama will do nothing about the border crisis

Posted by: Phineas on July 15, 2014 at 7:39 pm

**Posted by Phineas

"Y'all come!"

“Y’all come!”

Per Bryon York:

First, because Republicans want him to do something:

Who is pushing Obama to get tough? Mostly, it’s the Republicans whose wishes Obama has ignored for years. And now, since his well-publicized decision to abandon hopes of making a deal with GOP lawmakers on immigration, Obama needs them even less. It’s to his political benefit to oppose them, not to do their bidding.

Second, because Democrats back him:

…the Democrats, who don’t strongly oppose action on the border but want the president to go forward only if Republicans will agree to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Without a grand bargain, these Democrats are not terribly bothered by Obama’s handling of the crisis. While a few border state Democrats like Reps. Henry Cuellar and Ron Barber express reservations about Obama’s performance, most won’t give the president any trouble.

Third, because the progressive media is cheering him on:

Next is the liberal commentariat, which supports Obama so strongly in this matter that it is actually pushing back against the idea that the border crisis is a crisis at all. “The besieged border is a myth,” the New York Times editorial page declared on Sunday. “Republicans are … stoking panic about a border under assault.”

And, finally, because Obama himself is simpatico with immigration “activists:”

Finally, there are the immigration activists who don’t want Obama to do anything that involves returning the immigrants to their home countries. “We’re in the midst of a humanitarian crisis affecting kids fleeing gang violence, extortion and rape,” Frank Sharry, of the immigration group America’s Voice, said recently. It is Obama’s responsibility, Sherry added, to find a way to settle “thousands of child refugees.”

Obama recently met with a group of those advocates. One of them later told the Washington Post that the president said to them, “In another life, I’d be on the other side of the table.” By that Obama meant that in his old days as a community organizer, pressing for the “refugee” rights would be just the sort of thing he would do.

In other words, all the incentives encourage him to ignore national interests and instead be true to his nature. He doesn’t have to worry ever again about reelection, and, if the Democrats are going to take a drubbing in the midterms, anyway, why not make his Leftist base happy?

There are those who argue that Obama’s actions have to be the result of incompetence, that no one would willingly do something so obviously self-destructive to their political fortunes. See, for example, Andrew Klavan’s essay at PJM, “Is Obama just a hapless putz?”, in which he argues that Cloward-Piven is an “idiot’s strategy.”

Perhaps, but one can still be idiotic enough to try it, with all the harmful effects that would follow.

Having read extensively on Obama’s political background, especially Kurtz’s crucial work, “Radical in Chief,” I’m not at all convinced that he cares about the fortunes of the Democratic Party (let alone the nation, or, frankly, those kids on the border), that he isn’t indeed willing to take a political hit in order to achieve what he and his leftist allies hope will be irreversible change. As with Obamacare, so with immigration. Whether Obama and his administration intended for this crisis on the border to occur, they’re quite happy to take advantage of it.

From his point of view, all the incentives work that way.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

 

Obamacare: The pesky issue that won’t go away for #NCsen’s @SenatorHagan

Posted by: ST on July 15, 2014 at 11:52 am
Hagan repeal Obamacare

Tea Party member Judy Carter pickets Sen. Kay Hagan’s local office in Greensboro against Obamacare Photo by Examiner.com’s Matt Maggio.

The Politico has a pretty good write-up this morning on what they call the “disconnect” between North Carolina voters and Obamacare – and how that is not good news for the re-election campaign of vulnerable Democrat Senator Kay Hagan:

The Tar Heel State signed up more than 357,000 people — one-third of those eligible for the new health insurance exchange. Yet President Barack Obama’s health law remains a major liability for Sen. Kay Hagan, who faces one of the toughest reelection races for any Senate Democrat this year, a true toss-up fight against North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis. He misses no chance to tie her to Obama and the Affordable Care Act, forcing her to calibrate both how to defend a law she voted for and how to distance herself from it.

The North Carolina dynamic reflects a national problem for the Obama administration in this midterm election: Despite the solid numbers — 8 million enrolled in Affordable Care Act plans, and 6.7 million signed up for Medicaid — they just can’t move the dial on political support for Obamacare.

The state had the third-highest rate of enrollment among states that decided not to set up their own exchange — only Florida and Maine came out ahead of it.

[...]

Many people who enrolled in North Carolina and elsewhere in the country report mixed feelings about their new Obamacare health plans or the costs. The individual mandate, and the threat of a penalty, drove many sign-ups. A polling report by PerryUndem, an opinion research firm that specializes in health care, found that 40 percent of people in one focus group say they might not have signed up without the mandate. But neither an unpopular mandate nor worries about the expense are a political advantage.

[...]

Hagan was not available for an interview during a reporter’s recent visit here. Her campaign spokeswoman downplayed the controversy over Obamacare, and stressed its more popular benefits.

Of course she wasn’t.  The Senator has become almost infamous for sidestepping questions about a law she once bragged about having helped craft.

To make matters worse forif you like your plan you can keep it Hagan and other red state Democrats who shoved the so-called Affordable Care Act down the throats of the American people is that coming soon - very soon – are health insurance rate hikes, set to be announced for North Carolina sometime next month, which is sure to fuel the fire over Obamacare all over again at a critical time for her campaign.  

I should note that one major issue not mentioned in the Politico piece is how close to 500,000 North Carolinians lost their health insurance plans thanks to Obamacare, far more than the number that signed up for it.  That’s a number her GOP opponent/NC House Speaker Thom Tillis will hammer home from now til November – as he should, and if you’re a resident of North Carolina who is sick of Senator Hagan’s repeated attempts at avoiding responsibility for her vote on this disastrous bill, you should remind people of it, too.