Month: July 2015

Once in a ‘blue moon’ happens tonight

Full-moon lovers will get their fill this month, when the earth’s satellite makes its second July appearance on Friday. Dubbed a blue moon — the special occasion happens only about every two-and-a-half years because the lunar year and calendar year don’t quite match up. The last blue moon was in August 2012 and the next won’t be until January 2018. “It’s a rare lunar occurrence,” said Barb Yager, an officer with Miami-based Southern Cross Astronomical Society. “People get excited about it.” The name is deceiving because the moon isn’t actually blue; it appears to have a bluish hue only if there is volcanic ash. In fact, the name has come to mean something that happens only once in a while.

Fun!  Get on out there and see it!   🙂

IRS gets lashing from judge for refusing to release Lerner emails, other documents

A federal judge Wednesday rebuked the Obama administration’s IRS for refusing to divulge documents, including Lois G. Lerner’s emails, and warned that he would hold in contempt those who break his orders. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan called the administration’s defense “nonsensical” and said the IRS must release documents every Monday to Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm that requested the documents under open records laws and then sued after the IRS didn’t comply. “Officers of the court who fail to comply with court orders will be held in contempt,” Judge Sullivan said in a published order. At a July 1 hearing, he ordered the IRS to turn over documents weekly. But after the hearing, the IRS approached Judicial Watch and proposed a new schedule. Judicial Watch said it would accept the schedule but wanted the IRS to make it official with the court — something the IRS refused to do. Judge Sullivan was not pleased. He noted that the government attorneys agreed that his initial instructions were clear but violated them anyway. “The government’s reasoning is nonsensical,” the judge wrote. The warning was issued even as the White House affirmed President Obama’s faith in the leadership of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who top Republicans have said should be ousted for failing to right the troubled agency. Mr. Koskinen “is a man of the highest integrity,” said White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz, who called him “the right person to lead this agency.” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, made his request Monday in a letter to Mr. Obama. He argued that Mr. Koskinen has repeatedly obstructed congressional investigations into the agency’s political targeting of taxpayers, and that the president vowed in 2013 to “work hand-in-hand with Congress to fix the problem.”

Climate change ‘urgent and growing threat’ to national security: Pentagon

A new Pentagon report says that climate change is an “urgent and growing threat to our national security” and blames it for “increased natural disasters” that will require more American troops designated to combat bad weather. Some studies have questioned whether such a trend exists. Says the Pentagon report released Wednesday, “Global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for U.S. national security interests over the foreseeable future because it will aggravate existing problems — such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions — that threaten domestic stability in a number of countries.” The report’s reference to “increased natural disasters” is not backed by several studies. The United Nations‘ latest report on global warming said there was insufficient evidence to say there have been increased storm, flood or drought activity. A climate center in Colorado said its study of decades of weather patterns failed to show any increase in tornadoes, hurricanes or other natural disasters. Still, the Pentagon report, called “National Security Implications of Climate-Related Risks and a Changing Climate,” has tasked U.S. combat commanders around the globe to plan for “persistently recurring conditions such as flooding [and] drought.” It states that “higher temperatures increase the strain on fragile states and vulnerable population by dampening economic activity.” The report also tells commanders there are “more frequent and/or severe extreme weather events that may require substantial involvement of DoD units, personnel and assets in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.” It cites as example Super Storm Sandy in New York and New Jersey in 2012 and flooding in Pakistan in 2010, which it said was the worst in recorded history. The report also cites decreases in Arctic ice cover and sea level increases. Roger Pielke Jr, a professor of environmental studies at the Center for Science and Technology Police Research at the University of Colorado, studies global weather trends and makes conclusions at odds with the Pentagon report. Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century,” he wrote in 2013. “No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.” “In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale.” The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a big advocate of changing human behavior to combat global warming, acknowledged there is little evidence of increased natural disasters. It said last year there is “low confidence” in any long-term increase in cyclone and hurricane activity. It also said there is “low confidence” in increased tornadoes and hailstorms. Global warming skeptics says that temperature models put out over a decade ago have proven to be wildly inaccurate today.

Gee! Imagine that! And that’s because it’s all BS! The only reason that the Pentagon is pushing the issue is because the Joint Chiefs are all politically appointed by the President. So…Bottom line.. Obama is ordering the Pentagon to use its limited resources to further his crazy, extreme, liberal agenda…that has NOTHING to do with national security. We have VERY limited military resources. They need to be used to combat ISIS/ISIL, etc.; NOT to promote so-called global warming and other such silly nonsense. Unreal..

Obama ordered to rewrite pollution rules – Appeals court says policy unfairly affect South, West

President Obama’s environmental agenda suffered another loss in court Tuesday when a federal appeals panel ordered the administration to rewrite rules limiting cross-state pollution. In its ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the Environmental Protection Agency’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, meant to stop upwind states from producing pollution that drifts into neighboring states and pushes them out of compliance with federal standards. But while the court upheld the plan itself, the judges said the EPA’s limits on 13 states, mostly in the South and Midwest, were far too strict and must be redone. The ruling comes a month after the Supreme Court struck down the EPA’s mercury and air toxics standards, meant to limit pollution from power plants. The court found that the agency failed to consider the massive costs associated with complying with the rule. Opponents of the administration also have vowed to file new legal challenges to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which would establish unprecedented limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants, after the final version of the proposal is released next month. In the cross-state case, the judges said the EPA’s mandate went beyond what was necessary to ensure states didn’t flood their neighbors with pollution, essentially finding that the administration had overstepped its bounds. “The rule could lead to over-control of upwind states — that is, emissions reductions beyond those necessary to achieve attainment in downwind states,” Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote. “Second, the rule could require states to reduce even insignificant contributions to pollution in downwind states. Third, the rule did not purport to try to assess each upwind state’s relative contribution to nonattainment in downwind states.” The rule itself already has been upheld by the Supreme Court, which last year said the EPA was within its rights to regulate cross-state pollution but sent questions about the specific limits back to the D.C. Circuit. For states that have spent years battling Mr. Obama’s environmental agenda in court, Tuesday’s ruling represented a key victory. “In Texas we create air quality improvements through science and facts. The EPA’s agenda-driven mandates would have increased energy costs for hard-working Texans and decreased reliability. I’m pleased the court has sent the EPA marching back to the drawing board,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. “We will continue to fight the EPA’s overreach while ensuring Texas can keep our air clean without wreaking havoc on family budgets.”

Exactly!! Excellent ruling!! 🙂

How ‘smart skin’ could revolutionize military vehicles

New “smart skin” for military vehicles could let them “feel” their environment, similar to a human. The skin, for example, could let combat aircraft detect any damage by “feeling” the injury. BAE Systems’ U.K. division is developing the Smart Skin concept, which aims to give machines the ability to ‘feel’ the world around them, sense and process the data like an animal and relay the information to a “brain” within the machine. In future combat, all machines could leverage this mega-smart skin, detecting heat, damage and stress. Combat aircraft, drones, tanks and other land vehicles, as well as naval vessels could covered with the smart skin. Drones operating in air, on land, at sea or underwater could also deploy the technology. Using a skin loaded with a range of sensors, machines could “feel” and sense things like an animal does. The smart skin would cover a combat aircraft — reading, recording and processing the machine’s sensations. The skin would be fully loaded with tiny computers. These very tiny computers work collaboratively to sense and understand the environment the machine moves through. The skin would also have its own power source. Embedded in the skin are hundreds or even tens of thousands of sensors, giving the machines the ability to “sense.” Called motes, some of the sensors are the size of a grain of rice, while others – at less than 1mm squared – are the size of dust particles. The motes were created by BAE Systems Senior Research Scientist Lydia Hyde. Commonly used sensor tech can often be big, cumbersome and expensive. However, smart skin offers, tiny, highly efficient and effective multi-purpose sensors.

How cool is that?!? To read the rest of this story, click on the text above. 🙂

GOP lawmakers introduce bill to give union members say in political donations

Republican lawmakers took a first step Monday toward trying to fundamentally change the way unions operate, introducing legislation that would restrict how they spend campaign money — and could keep cash away from Democratic candidates in 2016. Their complaint: Unions are taking advantage of dues-paying members and sending their money to Democratic candidates whether members like it or not. The Employee Rights Act, introduced Monday by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah., and Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., would allow union members to tell their bosses they don’t want their share of dues going to certain candidates or causes, without fear of retaliation. It also would seek to stop intimidation tactics by requiring secret ballots for employee elections regarding issues like unionizing or striking. Any bid to restrict union political donations could have a big impact on Democrats, who get the lion’s share of union campaign money. According to the Center for Union Facts, unions in 2012 contributed nearly $90 million to Democratic Party and aligned organizations. “Forty percent of the union members are Republicans, yet virtually 100 percent of money that they’ve raised, and it’s considerable money, goes to elect Democrats,” Hatch told Fox News.

Exactly!!! Glad to see someone taking this long-overdue step!

Planned Parenthood ‘sponsors’ deny funding organization amid hidden camera controversy

Planned Parenthood once boasted a list of sponsors that read like a who’s who of the Fortune 100, but now some of the biggest companies say they never gave money to the embattled organization. Coca-Cola, Ford and Xerox are all among the companies listed in a roster of corporate sponsors claimed by Planned Parenthood, but representatives for the companies said they either never donated to the organization or had not in years. Planned Parenthood, which is now reeling from the release of two undercover videos in which top officials alluded to selling fetus parts, had published the company names on the website of its Washington, DC, chapter. The list was part of an appeal to employees who the site said could double their donations with the help of their employers. “Double the size of your gift. Does your employer match charitable contributions? If so, please contact your Human Resources Department for more information about how your gift may be matched,” read a line from the web page. “A partial list of companies with Corporate Matching Gift Programs includes: AT&T, Alcoa, American Express, Avon Products, Black & Decker, Circuit City, Citibank, Clorox, Coca-Cola, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Fidelity Investments, Ford Motor Company, Gannett, James River Corporation, Merck & Company, Microsoft Corporation, Motorola, Phillip Morris, T. Rowe Price, Prudential Insurance, Safeco Corporation, Sun Microsystems, Sunoco, Vanguard Group, Verizon, Washington Post Company, White & Case.” The page was taken down after Coca-Cola, Xerox and Ford Motor Company demanded their names be removed.

Money talks, and everything else walks. And, PP’s stock is seriously taking..

Feds gave low-income housing to millionaires

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gave low-income housing to millionaires, according to a recent audit. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) found over 25,000 families who earned too much to qualify for subsidized apartments, which will cost taxpayers $104.4 million this year. “Public housing authorities provided public housing assistance to as many as 25,226 families whose annual household income exceeded HUD’s 2014 program eligibility income limits,” according to the audit. “Most of these families had earned more than the qualifying amount for more than 1 year, were not participating in programs that would allow them to reside in public housing, and occupied units while many families were waiting for public housing assistance.” “This condition occurred because HUD regulations require families to meet eligibility income limits only when they are admitted to the public housing program,” it said. “The regulations do not limit the length of time that families may reside in public housing.” Of the 25,226 overincome families identified, 47 percent earned at least $10,000 more than the income limit, and 70 percent lived in subsidized housing for more than a year. A millionaire in Oxford, Neb., has been able live in low-income housing since 2010. The monthly rent is $300. “As of April 2014, the single-member household’s annual income was $65,007, while the low-income threshold was $33,500,” the OIG explained. “Also, this tenant had total assets valued at nearly $1.6 million, which included stock valued at $623,685, real estate valued at $470,600, a checking account with a balance of $334,637, and an individual retirement account with a balance of $123,445.”

That’s our tax dollars hard at work for us… Unreal..

One tough bite: T. rex’s teeth had secret weapon

Secret structures hidden within the serrated teeth of Tyrannosaurus rex and other theropods helped the fearsome dinosaurs tear apart their prey without chipping their pearly whites, a new study finds. Researchers looked at the teeth of theropods — a group of bipedal, largely carnivorous dinosaurs that includes T. rex and Velociraptor — to study the mysterious structures that looked like cracks within each tooth. The investigation showed that these structures weren’t cracks at all, but deep folds within the tooth that strengthened each individual serration and helped prevent breakage when the dinosaur pierced through its prey, said study lead researcher Kirstin Brink, a postdoctoral researcher of biology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. The new study upends one from the early 1990s, Brink said. Researchers first noticed these cryptic cracks on the tooth of a T. rex cousin named Albertosaurus about two decades ago. Initially, the researchers thought the cracks were signs of damage, likely acquired when the dinosaur ate a hearty meal. But the new analysis finds that isn’t the case, Brink said. “I sectioned teeth from eight other theropods besides Albertosaurus, and found that the structure is actually in all theropods, and it’s not actually a crack,” she told Live Science. The study actually began with a Dimetrodon, a Paleozoic animal with serrated teeth that lived before the time of the dinosaurs. When Brink sliced the Dimetrodon tooth in half and compared it with the serrated teeth of dinosaurs, she found they had different internal structures. “They look very similar on the outside,” Brink said. “It’s only when you cut them open [that you see] that they’re completely different.” Curious, she obtained two to three teeth from eight different theropods species, including T. rex, Coelophysis bauri and Carcharodontosaurus saharicus. She also looked at specimens of theropod teeth that had not yet fully matured and erupted past the gum line, meaning, “they had not been used for feeding,” Brink said. An analysis using a scanning electron microscope and a synchrotron (a microscope that helps determine the chemical composition of a substance) showed that each tooth, even the ones that had not yet erupted, had these cracklike structures next to each serration, she said. This debunked the idea that the cracks were artifacts of eating a meaty meal, she said. Furthermore, each structure has a few extra layers of calcified tissue, called dentine, under the tooth’s outer enamel coating, making it tough and hard. “We proposed a developmental hypothesis that these are structures created when the tooth is first forming,” Brink said. “It actually helps to deepen the serration within the tooth and strengthen each serration and the tooth overall.” Serrated teeth help animals pierce through flesh and hold onto chunks of meat. The formations, which the researchers call “deep interdental folds,” strengthen the serrations. In fact, they likely helped theropods survive as top predators for about 165 million years, Brink said. Serrated teeth still exist today in Komodo dragons. However, Komodo dragon teeth don’t have deep interdental folds, nor do they have the extra layers of dentine that would strengthen their bite, Brink added. She called the toothy finding fascinating and “unexpected.”

Fascinating, indeed!! 🙂

Blame it on bureaucracy: Legal delay in arming U.S. military recruiters

Capitol Hill Republicans are pushing to arm service members at recruitment centers in the wake of the deadly Chattanooga, Tennessee, attack, but a “patchwork” of laws may get in the way. While federal law gives the secretaries of the various armed forces the power to arm military employees if there’s a threat to a particular military base, most recruitment centers are located in malls or in public places — not federal land — and it’s unclear if the law applies to recruiters or reservists. In these commercially leased spaces, state and local laws need to be followed, and they may not allow for guns, said Joe Kasper, a spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican. Mr. Hunter and Sen. Steve Daines, Montana Republican, intend to clarify the law to ensure secretaries can grant permission to arm reservists and recruiters with a case-by-case special authorization. “As much as we would like to say you have to arm all these guys, it’s too problematic through the huge patchwork of state and local laws, and that creates a huge patchwork of complications,” Mr. Kasper said. “You’d run into problems, and it would be in their interest to have their authorization from Congress.” Robert Taylor, the founder of Security Services International Associates, said arming the recruiters could make “a soft target into a harder one,” he said. “If I knew I was going to be up against some well-armed and trained guys, [I’d] think of a different tactic,” Mr. Taylor said. “Having a well-trained person counterattack immediately will reduce deaths considerably.” But the bill’s language raised some concern for Mike McLively, an attorney for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. He says the wording requires at least one officer at recruitment centers to be armed instead of giving the secretaries the power to grant arms. The Pentagon has made no comment on specific laws proposed since Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, of Hixson, Tennessee, unleashed a barrage of fire at a recruiting center in Chattanooga, killing four Marines and injuring three others. Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook released a statement Friday saying that changes to the Pentagon’s policies are under advisement. Sen. Jerry Moran, Kansas Republican, has proposed arming all recruiters. “Rather than asking for permission to allow service members to bear arms, Sen. Moran’s bill makes the right of servicemen and -women to carry the default, not the exception,” said Garrette Turner, a spokesperson for Mr. Moran. The Pentagon’s ban on arming servicemen on U.S. bases is largely due to legal issues, such as the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement. U.S. forces don’t routinely carry guns when they are not in combat or on military bases. And Pentagon officials are sensitive to any appearance of armed troops within the United States.

They’re “sensitive” because they don’t want to get sued. But, it’s all ridiculous. Allowing military service members to carry while on active duty, or on a military installation, does NOT equate to carrying out a law enforcement function. The only military component that can do that domestically is the National Guard. THAT is why, from day one here at The Daily Buzz, we’ve called for the Army National Guard to be deployed to our southern border with Mexico to help patrol it. The Guard has the legal authority to do what the active component cannot in such circumstances.