Friday, June 27, 2014

Teachers protest money in education

Kids in class

Teachers marched Thursday to protest Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s involvement in K-12 education. They marched from Westlake Park to the Gates Foundation across from the Space Needle. I don’t know if they blocked any traffic, but the city was warning of traffic disruptions.

Gates Foundation is putting a lot of money into K-12. Do they want less money?  But if the Gateses were NOT putting money into education they would be begging  for them to.

And they are shocked that strings are attached to private money. Yes, strings are attached to most money. When the federal government funds K-12 education they are very clear about what must be done; those are strings.

Gates spent a lot of money on writing and implementing the Common Core standards which have been adopted by Washington and 44 other states.  The NEA says 75% of teachers support it/them - NEA. But here they are concerned that Gates supports teacher evaluations being tied to student test scores, though Gates has recently called for a delay of two years while implementation of Common Core progresses.

Seattle Times - This was written before the event.

KING 5 today. The link to the story says “More than 100 teachers, parents and advocates marched…” But the story itself does not include information about the number of protesters.

The photo: Found at Users.sch.gr.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Our economy shrank in Q1

The US economy took a huge drop the first quarter of 2014 of 2.9%. On the first data we were told of a much smaller drop of 1.0%. And that it was external events - cold weather.

But this is very bad. We need growth. Everyone benefits from it.

Zero Hedge

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

IRS Commissioner admits he doesn't know law - and finds no IRS violations of it

When IRS Commissioner Koskinen testified that no IRS employee had broken law law, he was asked what laws he had looked over.

“None.” Koskinen then admitted he didn’t know the applicable law and he had not looked for it:

Gowdy said. "I want you to tell me: What criminal statutes you have evaluated?"

"I have not looked at any," the IRS commissioner admitted.

"Well then how can you possibly tell our fellow citizens that there is no criminal wrongdoing if you don't even know what statutes to look at?" Gowdy followed-up.

"Because I've seen no evidence that anyone consciously --"

"Well how would you know what elements of the crime existed? You don't even know what statutes are in play," Gowdy said, visibly annoyed. "I'm going to ask you again: What statutes have you evaluated?"

"Uh," the IRS commissioner stumbled, "I think you can rely on common sense--"

"Common sense? Instead of the criminal code, you want to rely on common sense? No, Mr. Koskinen, you can shake your head all you want to, commissioner. You have said today that there's no evidence of criminal wrongdoing and I'm asking you what criminal statutes you have reviewed to reach that conclusion."

"I reviewed no criminal statutes," said the IRS commissioner.

Weekly Standard

 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Independent Third Place Books works around Amazon

Third Place Books

Amazon.com is in a battle with large publisher Hachette. While there is no new agreement, Amazon is downgrading the display and marketing of Hachette titles. Even making it hard to find some Hachette title and they took away the “Preorder” button.

Third Place Books is an independent bookstore in a neighborhood mall in Lake Forest Park and a location in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood. Many book sellers are putting an anti-Amazon banner - “I didn’t buy it on Amazon” - on their web pages. But Third Place partner Robert Sindelar looked at this as an opportunity..

Sindelar says “our goal is to connect people to books. The notion that a retailer would obstruct readers from getting to certain books they want completely violates our ethics as retailers. I wondered how we could get that message across to customers."

So Sindelar found a forth-coming hot title and did some creative marketing. How about Little Brown’s “The Silkworm” from Robert Galbraith aka J K Rowling to be released last Thursday! Ordinarily they would get no preorders for a book like that. They featured and discounted it. They even did home delivery of the book! They sold 60 on the first day, when typically they would sell about five.

The Seattle Times reprinted the article by James B Steward, but I can’t find it on their web site. The article goes into considerable detail on the publishing battle.

New York Times

(Third Place Books is our neighborhood treasure. It is within walking distance and I am in there several times a week. It has a common area with Honey Bear Bakery and free live music on Friday and Saturday nights!)

Third Place Commons

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Presbyterians speak with forked tongues

"No. We don’t mean to hurt anyone." SLAM!

The Presbyterian Church is selling all its stock invested in three cruel companies - Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard - for the sin of doing business with Israel in certain areas. Israel must be an especially cruel place.

Let’s see. (1) They allow Arabs to be citizens, vote and be members of the Knesset. Did I miss something? (2) Israel allows gays to practice their life and is the first and only country in Asia to recognize gay marriages that take place elsewhere. Am I getting close? See the Wikipedia article LGBT rights in Israel.

The Presbyterians have conjured up some excuse to punish Israel. I haven’t seen any coherent statement and I am not going to spend my time looking. Oh, they surround their vote of hatred with nice, mushy words. But The Presbyterians intended to damage Israel and they did.

 Seattle Times

Harbor seals!!

I have been watching harbor seals, sea lions and river otters around Puget Sound for about 30 years. I see one here, two there. Sea lions I sometimes see in larger groups. One time from our boat we saw about ten harbor seals on the beach. Then they got in the water and surfaced all around us, with their funny quizzical faces. And I have seen groups that size or so on the Oregon Coast (Newport). But my Puget Sound viewing has usually been in ones and twos.

Seal 6 21 14

But look at this! One a beach in an undisclosed location… The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has webcams for several animals - mostly birds. The photo is a screen capture from Seal Cam. Sometimes this camera sees a lot more that this. I would guess this is at least 50.

They don’t disclose the location. But WDFW publishes a map of harbor seal haul outs. One of the huge ones (over 100 at a time) is Gertrude Island, which is off the north shore of McNeil Island. And it has a long skinny spit like this to the south.

Take a look, but many times none are there or high tide covers the area.

WDFW Seal Cam

Screen capture: June 21, 2014.

Friday, June 20, 2014

GMO golden rice prevents blindness

Golden rice can save the vision of millions of third-world kids. For pennies per kid. Science 20

The author looks at the blow back from the “we hate anything to do with Monsanto” crowd. Science 20

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Most walkable cities

Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution likes London, Paris, Buenos Aires and Barcelona. (When we were in Buenos Aires for five days I heard more than one serious warning about danger walking. We still did it, but avoided the dark. And we would be glad to go back.)

But he see Los Angeles coming up! Tyler again. And LA Times reports on a report from George Washington University. And Seattle rates high - #6.

Dana Milbanks's war on women

From one who took his arrows. Mollie Heminway tells about her experience = the panel she was on at Heritage Foundation and how Milbank completely misrepresented it.

She and the other dared to say that marriage is good for women. It’s one thing for him to disagree with them. But, instead, he misrepresented what they said.

The Federalist

This decision is too important for you

Washington Redskins

When will be the last election for President of the United States? The readers of the Seattle Times are not qualified to have any say in very important decisions… Today it was decided/announced to never, ever again mention the name of the football team in the other Washington in print or online. We can call it “The football team that used to be called the blanks."

Readers can tell the Times whatever they want, but the decision made by the Sports Editor Don Sheldon of the Sea Times will not be influenced by the facts and logic of their uninformed readers, quoting Seattle Times:

"Still, your feedback won’t change our decision. Some things are too important to be put to a vote."

What other decisions are too important to be trusted to their readers. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Even pro-life groups have speech protected by 1st Amendment

Slam dunk. 9-0. The US Supreme Court Monday upheld free speech over an Ohio law restricting it.

In 2010 Susan B. Anthony List took out a billboard saying that a vote for Obamacare was a vote for taxpayer-funded abortions. (We now know that is a true statement. Heritage) The billboard was targeting a Democrate named Steve Driehaus. He sued, claiming it violated Ohio’s law against “false statements” in political campaigns. 

Think about it. Who enforces this Ohio law? The politicians in charge. Will they be objective in their rulings? Very, very unlikely!

The Supreme Court ruled 9 to 0 that the law infringes on our protection of free speech.

Washington Free Beacon

Monday, June 16, 2014

The green light bulb scam

Jeanette Strole Parks aks questions about the light bulbs - CFL, LED - that Congressman Jim McDermott requires us to use.

Plan Washington Catalyst blog

They are killing each other. Let them

It’s huge mess in Iraq. And Iran and Syria.

Mike Konrad describes the factions and suggests: Since our enemies are killing each other, let them!

American Thinker

Saturday, June 14, 2014

AG Eric Holder has a bad idea for your Boy Scout

Boy Scouts

AG Eric Holder now wants to force Boy Scouts to have homosexual leaders. Because… Because they bravely serve in the military. And what is the connection? Homosexuals and 11-year-old boys. What could possibly go wrong.

Does Holder speak for Obama?

CNS News

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Going to filthy Victoria?

Victoria, BC dumps its raw sewage with very little treatment into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. 34 million gallons per day.

BC promised in 1993 that its capital Victoria would stop dumping raw sewage in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Later Washington supported the Vancouver 2010 Olympics bid because BC promised - promised - to install the needed equipment.

BC Premier Christy Clark is moving with the speed of a Seattle focus group to find a location for the needed plant. Today in 2014 Victoria is still pumping 34 million gallons of raw effluent daily into the strait, which connects to Puget Sound.

Are you planning to go to Victoria? Charming, English Victoria? Filthy Victoria.

Seattle Times

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Shrinking Russia

Remember how Vladamir Putin saved Russia? Let’s try to. Foreign direct investment in Russia is expected to drop by 50% this year - in one year! Bloomberg   It’s not working, Mr President-for-life Putin.

He got a lot of respect by hosting the Olympics. At the cost of $50 billion! He paid more than the combined cost of ALL other winter olympic games. Based on what we know about Putin, he paid the big bucks to his buddies. And he followed his Olympics by sending tanks into Ukraine and everyone saw that also.

Everything is going down in Russia = Their stock market is down. Their currency the ruble is down, despite the government spending billions to support it. Putin claims credit for everything. Yes.

American Thinker

But I really wanted to post this cartoon: Arriving at the exclusive G-8 club, he is informed. "Sorry, the club members tell me your appearance doesn’t comply with the dress code.” And sure enough, it really happened:  The other members kicked him out. The exclusive club is again the G-7; he is out and isolated. [Sorry, but I don’t recall the source.]

Putin  G7 dress code

Should those who benefit pay? Student loans

No. They want you to pay. Oh, they don’t say that: they have a jealousy tactic - raise taxes on the high income earners. Second trick: “it will cost the government $51 billion.” But who pays for the government = we do!

Maybe those who benefit from higher education should pay their own bills. Like be responsible for the decisions they made. It’s parting of growing to maturity - taking responsibility for yourself.

Sen. Patty Murray says if I pay for their loans I will benefit. Seattle Times

Murray said it would be to the benefit of taxpayers to boost economic activity even at the cost of forgoing revenue from interest income.

The bill being voted on in the US Senate today would lower interest rates for loans before July 1, 2013 from what the students signed up for to 3.86%.

But are the loans the real issue or something else? Recent graduate Logan Bahr looks beyond the debt:

But the biggest issue is how fast college tuition has increased, Bahr said.

“Debt is not the problem,” he said. “The problem is the cost of education. Debt is after the fact.”

Seattle Times

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The imperial presidency of Obama documented

Andrew McCarthy’s new book has a very provocative title - Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

McCarthy is a very serious and accomplished man. I think he could have chosen a better title. But the book is a major, serious work. Jeffrey Lord does a very thorough review of it. 

American Spectator

Monday, June 09, 2014

Watch the Earth from space - live!

International Space Station (ISS) has new cameras that stream live footage of the view of Earth from space. Live!

Daily Mail UK has a story with the live image. On their linked page the live image is at the top; click to start it. There are four cameras; it shows one at a time, rotating among them. One shows forward; one down and two to the rear, one of which shows a solar array and docking ports.

Next on the page is the world map showing where the satellite is now. Next is the Google Earth view of the ground. The GE view is often more interesting because it seldom shows clouds; the live cameras show whatever weather is now occurring, of course. Below that are photos of the camera unit and installing it.

Two characteristics of Earth lessen the enjoyment of watching: first, so much of Earth’s surface is water. Also about a third of each one hour and thirty minutes trip around the surface of Earth is in darkness. Still, with some patience it is interesting.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Tiananmen remembered in Hong Kong

Over 100,000 people gathered in Hong Kong today, June 4, to remember and to protest the lethal actions by the Communist government June 4, 1989. For the first time the Beijing government organized a pro-government counter protest against the Hong Kong observance.

No remembrance was held in Beijing. It is illegal to mention the Tiananmen massacre in China. It could take place in Hong Kong even though Hong Kong is part of China because Hong Kong has its own legal and political system. [reworded for clarity]

Added: 1989 student leader Wu'er Kaixi now in exile adds: The government may try to erase history but 100 million people took part across China in 1989 and they have not forgotten and won't.

The Communists must be afraid: they detained 48 prominent dissidents in the last few weeks. And the government told journalists to ignore/hide any remembrance activities. Of course we know that the government always censors news content in TV, newspapers and the Internet. And it blocks certain search terms. Censorship is a sign of fear, not strength.

Personal note: my in-laws were in China in June, 1989. On June 3 my brother-in-law called to relay the phone message that they would be traveling to Beijing on June 4. Did not!!

Source: WSJ. But I can't link to it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Headline correction: VP Biden causes bus riders to be stranded

The Seattle Times gives all the blame to nameless Metro Transit management for stranding two buses with about 100 passengers for over an hour. But the root cause for all the changes was Vice President Biden visiting Seattle. The problem was the temporary rerouting and the attempt to return to normal traffic routing.

Headline: Bus, riders stranded on I-90 ramp after agencies screw up

Corrected headline:  VP Biden causes bus riders to be stranded

Seattle Times

Net neutrality never existed

So called net neutrally never existed. Today the proponents of it claim they just want all traffic tread the same. Like a public street where an emergency vehicle never flashes its lights and claims priority. That all data traffic just slogs along at the same speed - routine emails and streamed video.

But that world never existed on the internet. Content providers are paying for speed. Even the one who claim to support net neutrality, like Google and Yahoo.

Huffington Post has the data and a chart that makes the true situation very clear.

Greg Smith calls it "Net Neutrality Fans Aren't Going To Like This Chart” at Huffington Post.

$6.7 billion fraud per year in Medicare. So what?

In 2010 the auditors found $6.7 billion fraud in Medicare. That’s an emergency! Fix it today! But not to Medicare and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

CMS said: Oh, year. We heard about it, but it wasn’t worth the bother. Oh, that’s not what they say. They say it is not cost effective.

$6.7 billion! The Medicare/CMS management doesn’t care enough to do anything about it. Their careers don’t depend on stopping fraud. Fraud in the billions every year.

NPR

Via: The American Interest

And ProPublica did their own study of the data.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Chinese government massacred protesters in 1989

Chinese government attacked student protesters for democracy June 4, 1989 at Tiananmen Square in Beijing with assault rifles and tanks. The protesters were unarmed. The Communist government’s official death toll was 241 = 23 police/soldiers and 218 civilians. But observers say it was at least double that. Is it a defense that most of the deaths took place outside Tiananmen Square in western Beijing?

And the crackdown after was massive and cruel. All ranking Communist Party officials who opposed martial law were removed from office, except one or two who “corrected” their opinions.

We remember the hope of the students gathered and the cost of their sacrifice. In China they are intent on forgetting both. See USA Today

The whole story is at Wikipedia.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Scientist Dag Vongraven admits lying about polar bear populations

We were all convinced that polar bears were being killed off by global warming. We were manipulated by the photos of polar bears appearing to be stranded on small ice flows surrounded by water. But it was a lie.

Scientist Dag Vongraven of Polar Bear Specialist Group now admits that he lied about polar bear populations. Oh, that’s not the term he would use. But he and his organization represented very incomplete data as authoritative.

Now when he has to admit it, he bravely buries his correction in a footnote. Why didn’t he issue a press release to announce his change in the data? He asked a critic, Dr. Crockford, to announce it.

Via American Thinker

Via BarbWire

Polar Bear Science blog has been asking questions. And now got one answer.

Dag Vongraven of Norway is the head of the team guilty of publishing known false numbers. He says he put out the phony numbers because the public was demanding them! “Why would you blame me?” Affiliations: Norwegian Polar Institute and Polar Bear Specialist Group.

My favorite webcams

Anacortes Guemes Channel Trail
My favorite webcams:

Puget Sound: The Space Needle in Seattle
- Seattle Times

Anacortes, WA. Beautiful island city surrounded by water and islands. Cams to south and east; WS ferries and airport.
- Port of Anacortes

Mountains

Mt. St. Helens from Johnston Ridge - Select either standard or high-def, then you see a larger window.
- US Forest Service

Glacier National Park. My favorite is St. Mary. Linking to it doesn't work any more. Find it on this page:
- Glacier NP webcams

Yellowstone live video at Old Faithful Upper Basin. The camera direction changes, because there is a lot to see in this small area.
- YNP 
(Does our NP Service change web page addresses just to break the links of people like me?)

Hawaii Volcanos NP - active, very active volcano. Sometimes it looks amazing at night; sometimes dull.
- HVNP

Grand Canyon, Arizona
- Grand Canyon NP Crater Lake NP, Oregon - NEW Great spot. Our recent visits always got us there at mid-day. But sunrises and sunsets are the best. Chose the first “View webcam” link: - CLNP
Montana
Big Sky Fishing's maintained directory of Montana web cams (and a few others)

Wildlife

Harbor seals in Puget Sound - NEW WA Dept Fish and Wildlife - seals. Also see links for other wildlife cams along the left side.

Arctic

Greenland - Icebergs in fjord at Hotel Arctic
- Hotel Arctic Via Watts Up With That "Good news from Greenland."

 

Tropics

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Villa PeƱasco - Looking down along the beach on Pacific Ocean. Playa Grande resort is the prominent orange complex of buildings. Slow-frame video.
Villa Bellissima - Another view with Pacific beach on the right, Land's End is the last rock. Dated image, but accurate!

Thailand - Time zone difference makes these interesting when most of the others go dark.
Chaweng Beach on Ko Samui Island - Poppies Hotel (but very small image)
Cho Phraya River in Bangkok - Live around the clock.

The image: Map of Anacortes, WA. Six marinas. One great park - Washington Park is the peninsula on the west edge. 

This is for my own daily convenience. Recreated 6/1/2014.