Tuesday, March 31, 2015

We're from the Massachusetts government and were here to...

Decrease demand for your services...if you're a nanny, housekeeper, or other home servant;
A new law set to take effect this week aims to increase protections for domestic workers in Massachusetts.
 Well that (our bold above) is the politicians' story.
The law requires people who hire nannies, caregivers and other domestic workers in Massachusetts to adhere to established labor standards and other worker protections.
Which, all other things remaining the same, will increase the cost (and decrease the attractiveness) of having domestic workers in the employ of Massachusetts' residents. For instance;
The law sets rules for sleep, meal and rest periods, and required that female domestic workers receive at least eight weeks maternity leave if they are full-time employees.
Which invites government into the household. Great protection for domestic workers.

Let me entertain you

As the Ironman at Political Calculations demonstrates, the average American has had less disposable income to devote to entertainment in recent years, because more has had to go to health insurance premiums. And Obamacare since 2010 has only made the trend worse;
A generic version of this curve [click on the above link to see] is often presented in basic economics textbooks, where it is often referred to as the "Guns and Butter" curve, which is used to illustrate the trade offs that consumers have to make when they have limited resources and are forced to choose how much of two very different goods they can afford to obtain based on their cost.
We bet you never expected the choice to be between health insurance and entertainment! As the chart reveals, consumers in recent years have found themselves in the situation where they are being forced to give up entertainment because of the rising costs of health insurance. Because entertainment is always a voluntary expenditure, which people choose to do in their leisure time as they engage in their preferred activities, anything that negatively impacts their ability to consume entertainment-related goods and services can be considered to be something that negatively affects their quality of life.
In this case, the negative impact upon their quality of life is the result of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which is alternatively known as just the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or more popularly as "Obamacare".
And the younger you are, the more entertainment you'll find yourself deprived.
...because the premiums paid by those consuming the most health care services (the Age 55-64 group), satisfying the Affordable Care Act's community rating mandate requires health insurers to further jack up the costs paid by younger Americans - adding to their increased costs. This is very specifically why U.S. health insurers jacked up the cost of health insurance for the Age 18-24 group as sharply as they did after 2011.
That, and young people have little experience of life beyond entertainment?

...the implementation of Obamacare decreased the quality of life for average Americans by driving up the cost of health insurance. By forcing average American consumers to only be able to choose policies with unnecessary and bloated coverage and by forcing them to subsidize the demographically higher income and the wealthiest consumers of health care services through their premiums or else pay higher income taxes, the ACA is costing tens of millions of Americans hundreds and thousands of dollars each that they can no longer spend how they would rather choose.
Never trust anyone over 30.

The lights didn't go on in Georgia

So the Insurance Journal's headline writer(s);
 Controversial Ridesharing Legislation Makes it Through Georgia Senate
couldn't read the text of their story;
The Georgia Senate has passed a slightly tweaked substitute measure to a House bill that apparently clears the way for Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing companies to keep operating in the state.
The substitute, which makes minor changes to the original bill by Rep. Alan Powell, a Republican from Hartwell, passed last week 48-2.
 That's a controversy in Georgia?

Monday, March 30, 2015

'I vaguely remember that he killed her.'

Amanda Knox, recently absolved by the Italian Supreme Court of having participated in the murder of one of her roommates (Meredith Kercher) on November 1, 2007, once tried to blame that murder on her friend and employer Patrick Lumumba. In a statement to Perugia police, on November 6, 2007, she testified;
I met Patrick soon after [9:00] at the basketball court of Piazza Grimana and we went home. I do not remember if Meredith was already there or if she came later. I find it difficult to remember those moments but Patrick had sex with Meredith with whom he was infatuated but I do not remember well if Meredith had been threatened before. I vaguely remember that he killed her.
Which was the second of Amanda Knox's stories about the death of her flatmate. In the first one, Knox was spending the night of the murder at her boyfriend's home and didn't find out about the murder until the next day. When Italian Postal Police showed up at the shared apartment to investigate the appearance of two cell phones belonging to Ms. Kerchner in a garden of another house some distance away from where the girls lived, she told them not to worry that Meredith's room's door was locked, because she always locked it, even to take a shower.

That was the story told even as she and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were awaiting another Italian police squad to investigate the broken window in the room of yet another roommate of a possible burglary. Until THAT roommate turned up and put all the circumstances together; broken window, her clothing strewn on the floor, police on the scene asking about cell phones found elsewhere, blood in one of the apartment's bathrooms, and a locked door to Meredith's room....

When permission was given to the Postal police to force open that locked door, the body of Meredith Kercher was found. She'd been killed in a knife attack. But not by Patrick Lumumba, who had about 100 alibi witnesses who'd observed him working at the bar he managed, at the time Kercher was killed. Nor was there any DNA evidence putting Lumumba at the scene of the crime.

However, there was DNA evidence of Knox, her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, and a third party, Rude Guede. As well as other physical evidence--bloody footprints of Sollecito in the murdered girl's room, the knife used to kill her in Sollecito's apartment, an obviously staged burglary with glass broken from the inside by a rock, witnesses who'd seen Knox and Sollecito on the streets of Perugia at times they claimed they were inside Sollecito's home--that was adequate for them to be convicted.

In fact, Guede is still in prison for the crime. A murder that the evidence shows he could not have accomplished by himself--someone had to have assisted him in holding Meredith while he stabbed her and sexually assaulted her. Which seems to have escaped the notice of Doug Longhini of CBS News;
The first clue that there was maybe something amiss with the case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito came from stories I'd heard about what can be, at times, one of the most merciless groups around - high school kids.
Then there were the Italian Air National Guard memos he got from Lucy Ramirez?

Hobsbawm's choice

The perpetually indignant comrades at Morning Star: The People's Daily just don't think it fair that a guy can't be a foreign agent without being watched by MI5 (roughly equivalent to the FBI);
COLLABORATION between MI5 and the Gestapo was crucial to surveillance of Communist Party members in Britain including historian Eric Hobsbawm, an explosive new analysis reveals.
Historians yesterday blasted British governments for double standards as they attacked Eastern bloc states over surveillance while using similar tactics on an industrial scale.
The first sections of Mr Hobsbawm’s MI5 file were opened to public access at the National Archives last autumn, and reveal that British security services first took an interest after he corresponded with journalist and International Brigades member Hans Kahle.
Without mentioning--they could have read it in the London Review of Books article they cite--that Kahle was a Soviet agent living in wartime Britain, who defected to East Germany after the end of WWII and became head of the People's Police there;
MI5 had long been pursuing traces on Kahle – a comet’s tail of communist activism in Germany dating back to the 1920s and undimmed since his escape from Berlin at about the same time as Hobsbawm’s. Kahle’s file, PF 47,192, was opened in 1935, but it included close knowledge of his work for the KPD [German Communist Party] before this date, and it’s likely that some of this intelligence product came from MI5’s liaison with the Gestapo.
We love that, 'it's likely that some of this...'
Kahle, we learn, had escaped to Switzerland, but in 1935 he went to Moscow. A year later, he resurfaced in Spain as commander of the 11th International Brigade (he is the model for Hemingway’s General Hans in For Whom the Bell Tolls). He was also, according to information received by MI5, the ‘leader of the OGPU’ – one of the KGB’s predecessors – ‘in Madrid’.
The bit about the Gestapo, being thrown in for its scare value. MI5 was given information about Hobsbawm's political activities in 1933 (by the precursor to the Gestapo) after he fled to Great Britain to escape arrest in a Germany newly governed by Adolf Hitler. MI5 used whatever useful information came to it. From wherever (again from the LRB article);
According to Hobsbawm’s frank admission in [his memoir] Interesting Times, in the 1930s he would have done underground work for the Soviets if asked. His friendship with Kahle had prompted the suspicion at MI5 that he might indeed have been given ‘the touch’ (also known as ‘the hand on the knee’) by a Kremlin-directed agent: that he could be a Soviet courier, a spy even, one of those types who had fallen asleep in Marx’s beard and woken up in Stalin’s pocket.
Unfortunately, MI5 wasn't overly diligent, as they missed quite a few spies operating in Britain for the Soviet Union. Including those like Alan Nunn May and Klaus Fuchs--also a German Communist refugee who had to flee Hitler in 1933--working on the atom bomb, and some of Hobsbawm's friends at Cambridge;
Anthony Blunt, having been refused entrance to the wartime Intelligence Corps after MI5 found traces of his previous communist associations, managed to talk his way into MI5 with the support of influential contacts. He went on to pass a good deal of classified material to his Soviet handlers. When Kim Philby joined the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, fellow officer Hugh Trevor-Roper was ‘astonished’, as he knew him to have been a communist in the 1930s.
No suspicious activity here. Move along.

It's quite the fashion, the Continental

At least it is in China (or so Ford hopes);
Kumar Galhotra, president of the Lincoln division, said the spacious rear seat and luxury amenities were designed specifically for Chinese consumers, who consider riding in the back to be the height of opulence.
He said that focus groups in China were generally impressed by Lincoln’s American heritage and image. “They thought of the brand as very presidential,” Mr. Galhotra said. “That word came up again and again.”
Ford started selling Lincolns in China last fall, and the prestige of introducing a new full-size sedan is expected to help the brand build momentum.
And while Lincoln lacks the cachet of BMW or Mercedes-Benz in the United States, the Chinese market offers the brand a fresh start. “It doesn’t carry any baggage over there,” Mr. Phillippi said.
Poor choice of words, Mr. Phillippi; where will the golf clubs go?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

My Imam done tol' me

That Johnny Mercer was on to something...from Montpelier, France;
“No matter how much good you bestow upon a woman, she will deny it. Her selfishness drives her to deny it.” These were the words of Imam Mohamed Khattabi, delivered during a Friday sermon at the Aicha Mosque in Montpellier, southern France, on March 6, two days before International Women’s Day.
Standing high in the mosque’s minbar (pulpit), Khattabi continued: “This holds true for all women, whether Western, Arab, Muslim, Jewish, or Christian. This is the nature of women.
“If a woman overcomes her nature and acknowledges [the truth] … Allah grants her a higher place in paradise. But if she succumbs to her nature, and refuses to acknowledge the man's rights – or rather, the goodness that man bestows upon her – she is destined to go to [hell]…”