Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Weinstein Controversy Not Selling Well in Italy

Actress Flees Italy as ‘Sophisticated’ Europeans Side With Harvey Weinstein
Our “allies” are so thoughtful and enlightened:
Italian movie actress and director Asia Argento is facing pushback in her home country after speaking out about an alleged rape at the hands of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. While Argento’s courage in speaking about what happened to her was praised in Hollywood, and helped encourage at least 40 women to speak out about their own experiences of assault at the hands of Weinstein, public opinion in Italy has sided more with Weinstein than with Argento, according to Quartz’s Annalisa Merelli.
 Asia was apparently sent in wired to tape Harvey in mid-harassment by Ronan Farrow.
Merelli points out that the opinion writers have been remarkably bold in their condemnation of Argento and other actresses speaking out against sexual assault — former journalist and MP Renato Farina, for instance, has suggested that the assaults described by actresses are “prostitution, not rape.” Vittorio Feltri, editor in chief of Libero, a right wing populist newspaper, said that since Weinstein didn’t physically harm Argento that the sex must have been consensual — and that, if anything, Argento should be thankful to Weinstein for forcibly performing oral sex on her. Politician Vittorio Sgarbi went still further, arguing that Weinstein “was actually assaulted by her.”
Prominent Italian women have targeted Argento as well, questioning why she didn’t speak out earlier about the rape or claiming that she deserved what happened to her since she willingly visited Weinstein in his hotel room.

In wake of the public outcry against her, Argento has said that she is leaving Italy for Germany to escape the “climate of tension” and “victim blaming.”
“Italy,” Argento said, “is far behind the rest of the world in its view of women.”
(Hat-tip: Instapundit.) Every American woman I’ve known who has traveled in Europe has talked about how different attitudes are there. Especially in France and Italy, women report that the cat-calling is horrific. In fact, if you pay attention to complaints about cat-calling in America, you’ll notice that the problem has an ethnic aspect. When a video of a woman being harassed on the streets of New York went viral in 2014, nearly all the harassers were black or Latino. This resulted in a discussion among feminists of whether complaining about cat-calling is racist. This is how “intersectionality” works: Only white men are to blame for sexism — and only American white men, because every American liberal believes Europe is better than America.
I'm a little less harsh on Italy than Stacy. It seems to me that the Italians understand and tolerate the transactional nature of sex among the elites more than we in the United States, witness Silvio Berlusconi and his various women, and Cicciolina, pornstar and parliamentarian.  I suspect the idea of Asia Argento carrying out a sting on a fellow filmmaker.

Although I had no personal experiences in Italy (being a 65 year old man apparently made me immune), the two young women on our tour did report that Italian men were almost laughably forward in their advances, but took rebuffs as if it happened a lot.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Politicos Beg for the Bay Journal

From the Bay Journal itself: MD senators call on EPA to reverse Bay Journal decision
Warning that its decision to cut grant funding for the Bay Journal sets a “dangerous nationwide precedent,” Maryland’s two U.S. senators asked Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to reverse his agency’s action in a letter Wednesday.

Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen said the Bay Journal has “done a sterling job of delivering returns on investments,” and that there was “no legitimate cause to deprive the residents of the Chesapeake Bay watershed of such a vital source of information.”

In the letter, the two Democratic senators said that “we are aware of no other examples of high-performing grantees having their EPA funding revoked under similar circumstances, meaning that this action sets a dangerous nationwide precedent.”

On Aug. 23, the EPA unexpectedly notified Bay Journal Media, the nonprofit organization that publishes the Bay Journal, of its intent to revoke a six-year award after only two years of funding because of an unexplained “shift in priorities.”
This could be "Reason #5753 That Trump Was Elected"
The senators said any notion that Congress has shifted its priorities regarding the Chesapeake Bay “could not be further from the truth.” While the White House has proposed eliminating funding for EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, the senators noted that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this summer voted to reauthorize the Bay Program at $90 million — the highest amount ever approved.

The senators noted that the Bay Journal supports the mission of state-federal agreements signed by state governors and previous EPA administrators in 2000 and 2014 which — like federal statutes establishing the Bay Program — call for promoting public information, education and stewardship as part of the Bay restoration effort.

“The mission of Bay Journal Media is directly in line with the priorities of the Congress and other elected officials throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed,” the letter stated.

They noted that the EPA’s most recent grant review praised the Bay Journal for “continued outstanding work.”
Although I use it quite a lot, the Bay Journal has always irritated me because it acts as a paid mouthpiece for the EPA and NOAA in the Bay region. From their "About us":
Publication is made possible through grants from the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office, the Campbell Foundation for the Environment, the Town Creek Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Chesapeake Bay Office, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and by donations from individuals.
Although they add:  "Views expressed in the Bay Journal do not necessarily reflect those of any governmental or grant-making organization." it's rare indeed when they differ significantly from their master's voice.

So there are private sources they could tap? Go for it!

Reason #5752 That Trump Was Elected

The first action in question was Trump's Sept. 5 announcement that he would withdraw Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gave immigrants brought to the United States illegally when they were children protection from deportation.

Obama acted despite his initial explanation that the president only has the authority to faithfully execute laws, not to make them. So DACA was dressed up with a fig leaf argument that he was only exercising the kind of discretion prosecutors employ when they choose to bring one case and not another.

A nearly identical argument was rejected by federal courts considering the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program -- which extended protection to undocumented immigrants with kids who are U.S. citizens -- decisions left in place by the Supreme Court last year. So both DAPA and DACA looked like dead ducks legally anyway.

The second of Trump's actions was his Oct. 12 statement that he would suspend cost-sharing reduction payments to health insurance companies. The Obama administration had been making CSR payments since 2014 even though Obamacare's Section 1401 does not appropriate the money for the payments authorized in Section 1402.

This was blatantly unconstitutional. "No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law," states Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution. The House of Representatives sued, and in May 2016, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled that the billions paid in subsidies were illegal.

Administration lawyers made complex, sophisticated arguments that Obama's clearly illegal actions were actually legal. I'm a graduate of Yale Law School; I know how this is done. Many Americans suspect that condescending elite law school graduates are contemptuous of them and their naive belief that words mean what they say. My experience is that those suspicions are well-founded.

So what to do now about DACA recipients ("dreamers") and insurance companies denied their CSRs?

Trump has made clear that he would sign a DACA-like bill together with some 70 other immigration law changes, including mandatory E-Verify for job applicants, creation of the "southern border wall," hiring more immigration judges and replacing extended-family "chain migration" with a skills-based point system.

Democrats are bridling at these demands, and mainstream media quickly declared any deal impossible. But polls show that most are highly popular, and Democrats can't pass legislation by themselves.
It's almost like they don't really believe in the Constitution or something.

Headed Home

Sorry about the lack of content. We're headed home, and I thought I'd share this shot of the fall color from the top of the Appalachians as we cross back to Slower Maryland.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Reason #5751 That Trump Was Elected

Melania Trump is embracing a more active and public schedule as first lady – but she still runs one of the leanest East Wing operations in recent history.

According to a Fox News analysis of White House personnel reports, Melania Trump has significantly reduced the number of aides on the first lady's office payroll in comparison to her predecessor, Michelle Obama.

During then-President Barack Obama’s first year in office, 16 people were listed working for Michelle Obama, earning a combined $1.24 million a year.

This year, just four people were listed working for Melania Trump as of June. Their salaries totaled $486,700.
Plus, she probably doesn't trust them not to be moles for the press.

Rule 5 Saturday - Kim Basinger

I was reminded of Kim Basinger when I posted the video of Tom Petty's "Last Dance with "Mary Jane's Last Dance" when he died. Best dead girl ever!
Kimila Ann "Kim" Basinger (/ˈbeɪsɪŋər/ BAY-sing-ər; born December 8, 1953) is an American actress, singer and former fashion model. Following a successful modeling career in New York during the 1970s, Basinger moved to Los Angeles where she began her acting career on television in 1976. She starred in several made-for-TV films, including a remake of From Here to Eternity (1979), before making her feature debut in the 1981 drama Hard Country. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Lynn Bracken in the 1997 film L.A. Confidential.
Shoot, she's almost as old as I am!
Basinger came to prominence playing Bond girl Domino Petachi in the 1983 film Never Say Never Again, opposite Sean Connery, and went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Memo Paris in The Natural (1984). She starred as Elizabeth in the controversial erotic romantic drama 9½ Weeks (1986) with Mickey Rourke, and as Vicki Vale in Tim Burton's blockbuster Batman (1989), which remains the highest-grossing film of her career. For her role in L.A. Confidential, she also won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and the SAG Award for Best Supporting Actress.

. . .  Basinger met her second husband, Alec Baldwin, in 1990 when they played lovers in The Marrying Man, and they married on August 19, 1993. They appeared together in the remake of The Getaway (1994) and played themselves in a 1998 episode of The Simpsons, in which Basinger corrected Homer Simpson on the pronunciation of her last name and polished her Oscar statuette. Basinger and Baldwin have a daughter, Ireland Eliesse Baldwin (born October 23, 1995). They separated on December 5, 2000,  and divorced on February 3, 2002. In 2008, Baldwin wrote a book which dealt with the contentious custody battle with Basinger over their daughter.
The ancient Yiddish proverb: Too soon old, too late smart.
In 1981, Basinger posed for a famous nude pictorial for Playboy, which didn't appear for two years, until she used it to promote her breakthrough role as the Bond girl Domino Petachi in Never Say Never Again (1983), where she starred opposite Sean Connery. In his review of the film, Gary Arnold of The Washington Post said Basinger "looks like a voluptuous sibling of Liv Ullmann and has a certain something." Basinger said her subsequent Playboy appearance led to further opportunities, such as Barry Levinson's The Natural (1984), co-starring Robert Redford, for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination as Best Supporting Actress.
 A few NSFW pics from the good old days.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Teeth (and More) at the Beach

What wonderful weather! Mid October and it's 75 and sunny!
A couple of really nice shark's teeth today. Georgia found the big Snaggletooth lower on the top right, and I was feeling kind of jealous. Then I found the Mako lower (center) 10 steps away. I just picked up the Tiger (contortus) close by. 12 teeth total for the day.
Now a few pics from yesterday. A baby Chain Pickerel hiding in the rip rap at Flag Harbor. Do you see it? Excellent camouflage.
Someone using the flat water near the shore to practice touch and go landings.

I have no clue what this ship is doing. Servicing the CBOS buoys? I forgot to look on Marinetraffic.com to see what it was yesterday.

This Might Be Overstating It Just a Little

A Hard Shore Is a Dead Shore
The land beneath Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States, is sinking. Couple that with climate change, and the sea level is rising twice as fast as the global average, chewing away at shorelines and drowning islands. Private landowners, who occupy about 85 percent of the shoreline, have responded with walls, rocks, and barriers, which have helped slow the losses. But evidence is growing that this coastal hardening may be insufficient at holding back future seas, and is doing serious damage to more than a dozen fish and crustacean species. Now, planners and landowners are hoping engineered living shorelines can solve both problems at once.

A hardened shore makes life more difficult for trout, perch, crab, and other species that need a natural shoreline to thrive, says Matthew Kornis, who recently published a paper evaluating the effect of shoreline hardening on these species.

Kornis, a fish biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, studied hundreds of sites in and around Chesapeake Bay, from natural beaches and marshlands, to shores lined with riprap (cages of loose rock) and bulkheads (walls, often wooden). The harder the shoreline, he found, the harder hit the species. This was true even for riprap, which is often considered more environmentally friendly than sheer walls.

Kornis says natural shorelines offer things hardened shorelines don’t: juvenile fish live in the nooks and crannies of rocky shorelines, for instance, and these environments serve as nurseries. Fish also feed within beds of seaweed and seagrass. Hardening decimates these complex habitats, leaving nothing to eat and nowhere to hide.

Hardening isn’t unique to Chesapeake Bay. Estimates suggest that about 14 percent of the United States’ coast had been hardened, and the shorelines of Europe and China are also heavily armored. While the motivations for reinforcement vary (development, industry, sea level rise), most Chesapeake Bay residents are trying to protect their property from rampant erosion. Sea level rise is a relatively new problem for many coasts, but land subsidence means it’s been the norm in the Chesapeake for a long time.

“Erosion has been happening for centuries,” says Zoe Johnson, climate change coordinator with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Chesapeake Bay. Tide gauge data shows the water rose nearly a third of a meter in the past century. Similarly, the sea moved inland by roughly half a meter a year on average. But these rates are accelerating as climate change adds a rising sea to sinking land. “The influence of global factors will outpace the land subsidence,” she says.

In the early 2000s, Maryland convened a climate change task force, including Johnson, to study how to better adapt to these future seas. They identified one promising method that seemed to stand up to the sea: living shorelines.

Designs vary widely, but most living shorelines start with a barrier, such as a rock wall, oyster reef, or log, placed several meters out in the water. The barrier is then backfilled with plants and soil to make a marshy buffer zone. In 2008, Maryland passed the Living Shorelines Protection Act, which Johnson says requires owners to prove that a living shoreline will not work in their location before they can get a permit to construct a wall.

Along with erosion control, living shorelines have other benefits. Researchers in North Carolina showed that living shorelines can act as nurseries for fish and crustaceans, the way natural shorelines do.

Bhaskar Subramanian, the shoreline conservation section chief for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, says his job now is to teach people about living shorelines, which he speaks of with infectious zeal. He sets up information sessions for planners and residents, talks to marine contractors and engineers about how to build living shorelines, and consults with homeowners about what would work on their properties.
I was present at the conception of the project that lead to this study. It was clear at the outset that NOAA and the rest of the management  agencies involved were aching for studies to justify their taking further control over the shoreline. One state regulator (not named in the article) got up and gave an impassioned speech about how we needed to disabuse land owners of their property rights.

But I'm sure much of what he says is true. The biota in Chesapeake Bay are adapted to soft shorelines, and many don't thrive around hard ones. And yet, some of my best fishing spots are along rip rap walls, which seem to attract a variety of animals, and predator fish that prey on them. I wonder how, if they are dead.

Reason #5750 That Trump Was Elected

Poll: Plurality Of Voters Believe News Media Fabricate Stories About Trump
A plurality of voters believe that major news organizations fabricate stories about President Trump, according to a new Morning Consult poll.

Forty-six percent of the 1,991 registered voters surveyed said they think members of the media make up stories about the president, while 37 percent believe news organizations do not make up stories about Trump or his administration.
. . .
The survey’s findings are not surprising, given that many major news outlets, including CNN, Vox, MSNBC, BuzzFeed, Slate, The Daily Beast, The Week, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and others have all reported numerous news items about Trump and his administration that turned out to be partially or completely false.

Remember when Politico reported that Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin kicked a little old lady out of her home over 27 cents? As it turns out, that story was full of glaring errors.

There was also that time when The Daily Mail claimed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch founded a student group called “Fascism Forever.” After the story was picked up by numerous outlets, it was debunked and deemed to be totally false. A Time reporter also claimed the Trump administration removed the Martin Luther King Jr. bust from the Oval Office, a claim that was untrue. It’s no wonder only six percent of Americans say they trust the news media.
Donald Trump's entry into politics has caused the plaster to flake off  the facade journolistic integrity faster than ever before. There's not a lot left showing.

Fish Pic Friday - Pike

This week's fish are Pike, several species worth:
Esox is a genus of freshwater fish, the only living genus in the family Esocidae—the esocids which were endemic to North America and Eurasia during the Paleogene through present.

The species of this genus are known as pike and pickerel. The type species is E. lucius, the northern pike.

The big pike species are native to the Palearctic and Nearctic ecozones, ranging across northern North America and from Western Europe to Siberia in Eurasia.

Pikes have the elongated, torpedo-like form of predatory fishes, with sharply pointed heads and sharp teeth. Their coloration is typically grey-green with a mottled or spotted appearance with stripes along their backs, providing camouflage among weeds. Individual pike marking patterns are unique, like fingerprints. Pike can grow to a maximum recorded length of 1.83 m (6 ft), reaching a maximum recorded weight of 35 kg (77 lb)

Currently, seven recognized species are placed in this genus:

Esox aquitanicus Denys, Dettai, Persat, Hautecœur & Keith, 2014 (Aquitanian pike)
Esox americanus J. F. Gmelin, 1789 (American pickerel)
Esox cisalpinus Bianco & Delmastro, 2011 (Southern pike)
Esox lucius Linnaeus, 1758 (Northern pike)
Esox masquinongy Mitchill, 1824 (Muskellunge)
Esox niger Lesueur, 1818 (Chain pickerel)
Esox reichertii Dybowski, 1869 (Amur pike)
Esox masquinongy X Esox lucius  Dybowski, 1869 (Tiger Musskellunge)
Chain Pickerel are somewhat tolerant of salt water, and are found in slightly brackish waters in Chesapeake Bay. In fact, I saw some today hanging around in Flag Harbor. I have caught a few, and once got a follow from a huge Musky (in Canada).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Chick Takes On the Chief

Russia gets new candidate for president: The daughter of Putin’s political mentor
 Ksenia Sobchak — the socialite, journalist, former opposition figure and daughter of Vladimir Putin’s political mentor — announced her candidacy for president Wednesday, courting a protest vote in a presidential bid that appeared to get official approval from the Kremlin.

In a campaign statement in the Russian daily Vedomosti that barely mentioned Putin and focused instead on public dissatisfaction with Russian politics, she said that she was “outside of ideology” and not a fan of Russia’s annexation of Crimea (though she denied being against it).

“I am ‘against all,’ ” she wrote, announcing her candidacy. “You are not for Sobchak, you are voting against all — against Yavlinsky, Zyuganov, and Putin.” The first two refer to opposition candidates Grigory Yavlinsky and Gennady Zyuganov. Putin, who has not announced his candidacy despite the elections being less than six months off, has been president or prime minister of Russia since 1999.

In the past six months, Russia has seen a rise in protest sentiment among young people in high school and college, and the government is looking to channel that anger into a safe political movement. Those young protesters were largely inspired by the anti-corruption whistleblower and protest leader Alexei Navalny, who has been disqualified from running by multiple felony charges that he claims are politically motivated.

Sobchak announced her candidacy on the independent TV Rain channel. Half an hour earlier, Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s personal spokesman, told the channel that her candidacy was seen as legitimate by the Kremlin.

“If I understand correctly, Ksenia fully falls under the provision of our Constitution,” he said. “She is a Russian citizen who, according to the Constitution, may run for president, naturally, after the completion of all necessary procedures and formalities, which are also spelt out in our laws.”

Sobchak is the daughter of Anatoly Sobchak, the former St. Petersburg mayor who hired a young Putin as his deputy mayor in the tumultuous 1990s. It has been rumored, though never confirmed, that Ksenia Sobchak is Putin’s goddaughter.

Sobchak’s father died in 2000. Her mother, Lydumila Narusova, is a former member of Russia’s upper house of parliament. Sobchak, who is not backed by a political party, must collect 300,000 signatures to register as an independent candidate. She has an Instagram account with 5.2 million followers and is a regular guest at black-tie events.

Putin has not said that he plans to step down. He has been in power since New Year’s Eve 1999, when President Boris Yeltsin announced he was stepping down. Putin, who has shuffled between the presidency and the role of prime minister, has been in power for more than 6,630 days, a month longer than former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev’s 6,601 days in office.
They could do worse, and probably will.

Linked by Evi L. Bloggerlady in "Eleanor Tomlinson."

Reason #5749 That Trump Was Elected

Nine months after President Trump promised to defeat ISIS "quickly and effectively," U.S.-backed forces captured Raqqa, which until Tuesday had served as the ISIS capital. The battle now is over who deserves credit: Trump or President Obama.

Trump, not surprisingly, claims it for himself: "It had to do with the people I put in and it had to do with rules of engagement," Trump said in a radio interview.

Before dismissing this as typical Trump self-aggrandizement, consider that for several years Obama insisted that a quick and decisive victory against ISIS was all but impossible.

After belittling ISIS as a "JV" team and then being surprised by its advances, Obama finally got around to announcing a strategy to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the militant Islamic group.

As his strategy dragged on and seemed to go nowhere, Obama kept telling the country that this was just the nature of the beast. "It will take time to eradicate a cancer like (ISIS). It will take time to root them out."

"This is a long-term and extremely complex challenge."

"This will not be quick."

"There will be setbacks and there will be successes."

"We must be patient and flexible in our efforts; this is a multiyear fight and there will be challenges along the way."

And he kept insisting that winning the war against ISIS has as much to do with public relations as it did weapons. "This broader challenge of countering extremism is not simply a military effort. Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they are defeated by better ideas."

What Obama didn't say is that reason defeating ISIS was taking so long was of how he was fighting it.

A former senior military commander in the region told the Washington Examiner that the Obama White House was micromanaging the war "to the degree that it was just as bad, if not worse, than during the Johnson administration." Johnson, you will recall, once bragged that "they can't bomb an outhouse in Vietnam without my permission."

Contrast this with Trump. Rather than talk endlessly about how long and hard the fight would be, Trump said during his campaign that, if elected, he would convene his "top generals and give them a simple instruction. They will have 30 days to submit to the Oval Office a plan for soundly and quickly defeating ISIS." . . .
Turns out that to win a war you actually have to hate the enemy, and try to kill him, deny them land and materials.

For as long as there have been men, there has been war, big or small, and the scheme is pretty simple. Attack and kill the enemy, take over their territory and their means of subsistence, until they give up.

Somewhere along the line progressives, as they usually do, decided that that was all wrong. Coddle the enemy, and give them safe space to flourish. It worked so well in Vietnam, they decided to use it a general principle.

Midnite Music - "Johann Sebastian Bach, Sonata II BWV 1003, Fuga"

Tatyana Ryzhkova
I don’t practice at the day of the concert. It’s too late. I mean, if you cannot play this one or that one difficult passage two days before, it doesn’t help you if you’ll play it the whole day until your entrance on the stage. The only thing that could help you at this moment is to relax and pray.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Reason #5748 That Trump Was Elected

“The days of regulation through litigation are over,” – EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt​
WASHINGTON (October 16, 2017) – In fulfilling his promise to end the practice of regulation through litigation that has harmed the American public, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued an Agency-wide directive today designed to end “sue and settle” practices within the Agency, providing an unprecedented level of public participation and transparency in EPA consent decrees and settlement agreements.

“The days of regulation through litigation are over,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “We will no longer go behind closed doors and use consent decrees and settlement agreements to resolve lawsuits filed against the Agency by special interest groups where doing so would circumvent the regulatory process set forth by Congress. Additionally, gone are the days of routinely paying tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees to these groups with which we swiftly settle.”

Over the years, outside the regulatory process, special interest groups have used lawsuits that seek to force federal agencies – especially EPA – to issue regulations that advance their interests and priorities, on their specified timeframe. EPA gets sued by an outside party that is asking the court to compel the Agency to take certain steps, either through change in a statutory duty or enforcing timelines set by the law, and then EPA will acquiesce through a consent decree or settlement agreement, affecting the Agency’s obligations under the statute.

More specifically, EPA either commits to taking an action that is not a mandatory requirement under its governing statutes or agrees to a specific, unreasonable timeline to act. Oftentimes, these agreements are reached with little to no public input or transparency. That is regulation through litigation, and it is inconsistent with the authority that Congress has granted and the responsibility to operate in an open and fair manner.

“Sue and settle” cases establish Agency obligations without participation by states and/or the regulated community; foreclose meaningful public participation in rulemaking; effectively force the Agency to reach certain regulatory outcomes; and, cost the American taxpayer millions of dollars.

With today’s directive, Administrator Pruitt is ensuring the Agency increase transparency, improve public engagement, and provide accountability to the American public when considering a settlement agreement or consent decree by:

Publishing any notices of intent to sue the Agency within 15 days of receiving the notice;

Publishing any complaints or petitions for review in regard to an environmental law, regulation, or rule in which the Agency is a defendant or respondent in federal court within 15 days of receipt;

Reaching out to and including any states and/or regulated entities affected by potential settlements or consent decrees;

Publishing a list of consent decrees and settlement agreements that govern Agency actions within 30 days, along with any attorney fees paid, and update it within 15 days of any new consent decree or settlement agreement;

Expressly forbidding the practice of entering into any consent decrees that exceed the authority of the courts;

Excluding attorney’s fees and litigation costs when settling with those suing the Agency;

Providing sufficient time to issue or modify proposed and final rules, take and consider public comment; and

Publishing any proposed or modified consent decrees and settlements for 30-day public comment, and providing a public hearing on a proposed consent decree or settlement when requested.
In many cases EPA actually encouraged various NGOs to sue them so they could "settle" on a policy beyond what the law actually required. They went so far as to hold classes on how to sue EPA.

WaPo reports:
But his push also is part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to limit federal funding to outside groups as part of litigation. In June, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo to block payments to third-party, not-for-profit groups as part of environmental settlements. Instead of allowing defendants to fund environmental measures as a way of meeting their obligations for violating the law, Sessions said, such penalties should go directly to the U.S. treasury.

The attorney general is “keenly interested and supportive of what we’re doing,” Pruitt said, adding that “other agencies are taking notice as well.”

Environmentalists on Monday questioned Pruitt’s motivations.

“There’s a general hostility to citizen enforcement of environmental laws, and it reflects the fact that Pruitt doesn’t want these laws enforced,” said Pat Gallagher, legal director for the Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club and government watchdog groups question whether Pruitt’s directive — inspired by a memorandum that Attorney General Edwin Meese issued in 1986 and that in 1991 was codified in the Code of Regulations — will have much direct impact. The Clean Air Act and other environmental laws provide citizens and outside groups broad latitude to sue the EPA when it is failing to meet statutory deadlines, and the judge handling such cases typically determines the amount of legal fees the government must pay as part of any consent decree.

“That’s not his decision to make,” John Walke, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Clean Air Project, said in an interview Monday. “A judge can impose attorney fees when an agency violates the law and citizens file suit to hold the government accountable.”
You can tell he hit the target from the pigs squealing.

But What About Polanski?

So Emma, after that blast against Weinstein, why DID you once sign a petition to help child rapist Polanski?
Among the many actresses who have in recent days revealed their unwanted sexual mauling at the hands of the film producer Harvey Weinstein is the Casino Royale star, Eva Green.

She revealed how ‘shocked and disgusted’ she had been at the time.

In reporting this yesterday, Sky News showed stock footage of Green posing at a film awards ceremony alongside... Roman Polanski.

I’m sure the broadcaster was not trying to make a point. But I will: how credible is Hollywood’s decision to strip Weinstein of his membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (which awards the Oscars), when it continues to treat the film director Polanski as a deity?
Emma Thompson
Well, it is a little different when it's you.
Unlike Weinstein, who has yet to be charged with a crime, let alone convicted, Polanski pleaded guilty to ‘unlawful sex’ in an American court in 1977 — a plea bargain after he had drugged, raped and sodomised 13-year-old Samantha Galley, a would-be model. He then fled the country before sentence could be passed.

Ever since, as a fugitive from the Feds, he has not been able to work in the U.S.

But the Academy awarded him an Oscar in 2003 — and the first person captured by the cameras leaping to her feet to applaud was Meryl Streep. The very woman who last week said the revelations of Weinstein’s decades-long abuse of her fellow actresses came as an appalling surprise — which makes Streep about the only person in the business who didn’t know about his predatory practices.
The article goes on to call out Emma Thompson, a popular older British actress, for signing a petition to keep Polanski free from extradition. But Eva Green is a lot more photogenic.
And that’s the other Hollywood deal: the artist is above the law. Weinstein made this clear himself when, in 2009, he led the industry’s protests and petitions after Roman Polanski was arrested by Swiss police following a request by the U.S. Justice Department (still trying to get the director to do his time).

The Independent newspaper published an article by Weinstein telling readers how ‘Roman Polanski is a man who cares deeply about his art and its place in the world’. And the rape and sodomising of a 13-year-old? Weinstein dismissed it as ‘a so-called crime’.

A host of directors and actors followed Weinstein, signing the petition for Polanski, including Natalie Portman, Tilda Swinton and Emma Thompson.
You do sort of wonder how all the ones who knew about Weinstein (essentially all of them) managed to wrap their minds around that.
Yes, Emma Thompson, who last week appeared on the BBC to add her voice to those denouncing Weinstein’s alleged sexual abuse. When Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis raised the Polanski petition with Thompson, she said she had signed ‘without really thinking about it . . . I had been absolutely bamboozled by my respect for his art’.
. . .
Thompson said that she had later asked for her name to be removed from the petition, after it had been pointed out to her by ‘young feminists at my son’s university’ that Polanski was ‘a rapist’.
Yes, the tolerance of Polanski drugging, seducing and sodomizing young actresses, while publicly denouncing Weinstein's more extensive, but probably less horrifying acts is bit of a puzzle.

In part, this may have to do with the difference between the director and the producer of movies. Directors are "artists" whose vision is directly transmitted to the actors and actresses. The producer, while he has many roles, is primarily the business man behind the movie. In Hollywood's eyes, the businessman is generally evil, and so once things started to go bad for Harvey, the anti-businessman bias began to kick in. The spell was broken, and they were free to express it. But as noted above, they still have sympathy for the "artist."

Polanski is a figure romanticized by the film industry; sympathetic for losing his wife, Sharon Tate to the Manson family attack, European (bonus points for being foreign from the reflexively anti-American members of the Academy), and a small and physically unimposing  man. Any sexual act had to be consensual, right?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Chill Hits the Beach

It was in the low 50's and breezy when Skye dragged us off to the beach.
 Even the GBH on the posing post . . .
 looked a bit wind blown.
There's always something new new. See that dark line of little black dots washed up along the edge of the surf? Literally millions of little bugs. They look like a leaf hopper of some sort, and given the wind direction, I would guess they blew across the bay from the salt marshes.
A few other things mixed in. We have been in the midst of the Monarch butterfly migration. This one didn't make it.
 Joined by a Clouded Sulpur.
"What's taking you so long?"

Corruption Update on Clinton.com

Clinton Corruption Update for October 17, 2017
Remember the Russian uranium sale scandal? It’s back!
Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.
Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.
They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.
The racketeering scheme was conducted “with the consent of higher level officials” in Russia who “shared the proceeds” from the kickbacks, one agent declared in an affidavit years later.
Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefitting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.
The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.
When this sale was used by Trump on the campaign trail last year, Hillary Clinton’s spokesman said she was not involved in the committee review and noted the State Department official who handled it said she “never intervened … on any [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] matter.”
In 2011, the administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. Before then, Tenex had been limited to selling U.S. nuclear power plants reprocessed uranium recovered from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons under the 1990s Megatons to Megawatts peace program.
“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.
The Obama administration’s decision to approve Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One has been a source of political controversy since 2015.
That’s when conservative author Peter Schweitzer and The New York Times documented how Bill Clinton collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in Russian speaking fees and his charitable foundation collected millions in donations from parties interested in the deal while Hillary Clinton presided on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
The Obama administration and the Clintons defended their actions at the time, insisting there was no evidence that any Russians or donors engaged in wrongdoing and there was no national security reason for any member of the committee to oppose the Uranium One deal.
But FBI, Energy Department and court documents reviewed by The Hill show the FBI in fact had gathered substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.
So the Obama Administration knew Russia was illegally bribing American officials in relation to the uranium deal, including the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, and did nothing. (Read the whole thing for more details on Russia’s kickbacks and bribery schemes.)
In general, when the Democrats accuse the Republicans of anything at all, it's a safe bet that they are neck deep in it, and they're hoping to transfer attention to the alleged Republican crimes, while delaying investigation into, denying, and covering up their own. That's the "Russian collaboration" issue in a nutshell.
Surprise, surprise, surprise! Judicial Watch managed to unearth yet another treasure trove of emails Hillary Clinton sent from her illegal homebrew serve:
Judicial Watch today released 1,617 new pages of documents from the U.S. Department of State revealing numerous additional examples of classified information being transmitted through the unsecure, non-state.gov account of Huma Abedin, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, as well as many instances of Hillary Clinton donors receiving special favors from the State Department.
The documents included 97 email exchanges with Clinton not previously turned over to the State Department, bringing the known total to date to at least 627 emails that were not part of the 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton turned over, and further contradicting a statement by Clinton that, “as far as she knew,” all of her government emails had been turned over to department.
Speaking of Judicial Watch, they also forced the discovery of “30 pages of documents related to the June 27, 2016, tarmac meeting between former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton.” You know, notes the FBI swore didn’t exist. Judicial Watch said they want copies of the docs no later than late November.
After a few days of poll testing different responses, Hillary finally denounced her old friend, and partner in crime, Harvey Weinstein.
So how much of Harvey Weinstein’s money will the Clinton Foundation be returning? Let me do a quick little calculation here…add it all up…carry the one…and the answer is…zero. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
She probably can't even count it.

Gov. Hogan Named "Champion of the Chesapeake"

Last night, Chesapeake Conservancy celebrated the 2017 Champions of the Chesapeake at an awards ceremony honoring Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association and Microsoft Corporation. The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association hosted the cocktail reception and awards ceremony for the Chesapeake Conservancy at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
How dare they celebrate at a slave owner's plantation! /sarcoff
“Each year, Chesapeake Conservancy recognizes extraordinary leaders from across the Chesapeake for their significant and exemplary accomplishments that protect and restore our natural systems and cultural resources,” Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn said. “The honorees and their work highlights how the Chesapeake is a bipartisan, multi-generational, multi-cultural priority – for its beauty, for our economy, for our health and for our history – and that everybody has a role to play in its conservation.”

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan was honored for his commitment and leadership in fighting to protect federal bay funding; fully funding the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund; and supporting and signing legislation that will lead to the full funding of Program Open Space next fiscal year. In almost three years, Governor Hogan has invested $3 billion in Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction and related programs.
Considering that Maryland has approximately 6 million inhabitants, that's about $500 for each man woman and child in Maryland. That's not trivial. I hope our share is being spent wisely. I have my doubts.
“Our entire administration has been about bipartisanship and trying to figure out common sense bipartisan solutions—working across the aisle. In this case, we have worked across state lines as well. We have a great relationship with Governor McAuliffe. Although we’re from different parties I think we both understand the importance of the Chesapeake Bay,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said. “One of the things I admire about the Chesapeake Conservancy is that they are a small organization that accomplishes really big things. It’s a very effective organization that does tremendous things for the Chesapeake Bay.”
When you are a Republican governor in a heavily democratic state, you really need work with the other side.

Reason #5747 That Trump Was Elected

'We tried nice guys': And they still called Mitt Romney a Nazi
Trump may be an unlikely favorite of the religious right but last November exit polls said he won 81% of white evangelicals – more than George W Bush, John McCain or Mitt Romney. Michele Bachmann, a former congresswoman from Minnesota and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, called Trump’s victory “proof positive of what the Lord did”.

“He knows he is the president of United States today because evangelical Christians came out and supported him,” she said in her address.

In hallways after Trump’s speech, attendees buzzed with excitement.

“It’s like a cloud has lifted,” said Pat Flynn, who came with a group of women from Catholics for Freedom of Religion. “When Obama was in, everything was sad. Nothing was good. Now look – look at the smiling faces. Look at people getting jobs again.”

She said she had a conversation with a nun earlier who wished Trump would speak – and tweet – less. But Flynn believed that his“gift of gab” and “wiseguy” bravado was exactly why he was elected.

“We tried nice guys,” she said. “We had John McCain. Mitt Romney. They were nice, smiling at everybody, but they couldn’t beat out Hillary. Romney, I mean come on. The only thing people remember about him is that he tied a dog to his roof.”
A lot of the heroes of the bible were less than perfect. But they fought. Trump fights.

Midnite Music - "When I Get Low, I Get High"

The Speakeasy Three

Monday, October 16, 2017

Striped Bass YOY Comes in Slightly Above Average

And MDDNR is selling it like a landslide: Striped Bass Survey Shows Healthy Population Growth
Results of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources 2017 young-of-year striped bass survey in the Chesapeake Bay shows the fish is reproducing in strong numbers. The annual survey’s index is 13.2, above the 64-year average of 11.7.

I managed to find a graph with all the data except 2017, but you get the idea. The inter-annual variation is huge, and while an average year is OK, it's not really a big deal. The population is made or broken with the really good years, which produce many times the "average."
Striped bass, popularly known as rockfish, is Maryland’s state fish. The fish spawns in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries each spring. The survey is conducted annually to track the reproductive success of this important species and help predict future abundance.

The index represents the average number of young-of-year striped bass – those less than 1 year old – captured in 132 samples.

“Strong reproduction in three of the past seven years is an encouraging sign for the coastal population and future fishing opportunities,” Fishing and Boating Services Director Dave Blazer said.

During this year’s survey, department biologists collected more than 33,000 fish of 62 species, including 1,741 young-of-year striped bass. The most productive area surveyed for rockfish was the upper Chesapeake Bay, their largest spawning area.

Results of this year’s survey also showed high white perch reproduction in the upper bay and Nanticoke River. Additionally, the survey found American shad reproduction was above average, primarily due to its success in the Potomac River.
So shad in the mainstem tributaries and Susquehanna are still failing.

Judge Gives Baltimore 13 Years . . .

Longer to pollute the Bay: Judge approves disputed plan to fix Baltimore’s sewage overflows
Brushing aside an environmental group’s objection, a federal judge has given the city of Baltimore another 13 years to eliminate the chronic sewage overflows that frequently render local streams and the harbor unsafe for recreation.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz approved a consent decree on Thursday spelling out a new plan for overhauling Baltimore’s aged, leaky sewer system. It modifies the initial agreement reached in 2002 with federal and state regulators, which had given the city until January 2016 to fix its problems. Despite spending nearly $1 billion on repairs over that time, by city officials’ estimates, the overflows continue.

The revised plan, which was originally unveiled in June 2016, drew criticism from local residents and environmental groups. It was revised after closed-door talks and resubmitted in late August, with provisions added to address sewage backups in homes and to provide more information to the public.

Under the new agreement, the city pledges to carry out a series of upgrades that it projects should reduce overflows by 80 percent after four years, with further improvements to be completed by the end of 2030. The projected cost of the new work is $1.6 billion, with much of that to be borne by local residents and businesses, though federal and state funds have been offered to lighten the burden on ratepayers.

The bulk of the overflows should be remedied, city officials say, by fixing a major misalignment in the “headworks” of the city’s Back River wastewater treatment plant. That causes a 10-mile backup of sewage beneath Baltimore and significantly reduces the capacity of the system to handle additional flows during heavy rains.
I guess they'll have to buy a few more pardons.

Reason #5746 That Trump Was Elected

Sometimes the Brits say things our own press is loathe to admit. From the Daily Mail: Trump and the dismantling of Obama's legacy
Brick by brick, the demolition job has begun: since taking office less than a year ago, Donald Trump has launched an all-out assault on the legacy of Barack Obama.

Climate, free trade, health care, immigration, foreign policy -- the 45th US president has set about undoing just about everything done by the 44th.

All new presidents, of course, break with their predecessor once in the Oval Office, especially if they come from a rival political party.

But what is striking is how systematic the hammer blows to Obama's legacy have been.

And rather than throw his weight behind new policies or projects, Trump has shown a willful desire to unpick, shred and erase everything his predecessor accomplished.
. . .
The Trans-Pacific Partnership? Within days of taking office, Trump signed an order pulling America out of the free trade accord, the fruit of eight years of negotiations between 12 Asia-Pacific countries, from Chile to Canada and Japan.
. . .
The Paris climate accord? Obama played a leading role in attaining that milestone in the effort to combat global warming. Trump pulled out of the agreement signed by 195 countries, claiming that it "punishes the United States" and declaring: "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris."

What about Obamacare, the signature legislative achievement of Obama's first term? After trying in vain to get Congress to repeal it, Trump is now working to bring about its collapse through the regulatory process.

And the Iranian nuclear accord? The bid to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon in return for a lifting of sanctions more than any other bore came to represent Obama's approach to world affairs. "This deal will have my name on it," the Democratic president said shortly before it was concluded. "Nobody has a bigger personal stake in making sure that it delivers on its promise."

While Trump has stopped short of tearing up the Iran deal, as he threatened on the campaign trail, on Friday he warned he could do so "at any time," raising doubts about the fate of an accord born of years of painstaking diplomacy.
It's what he was elected to do.

But There's No Institutional Bias Against Conservatives at ESPN

Britt McHenry, a former cable host, has admitted that when she worked at Disney-owned sports cable network ESPN, her employers warned her not to engage with conservatives on Twitter or face trouble from her left-wing bosses.

Henry appeared on Fox Business Network this week to reveal that her ESPN bosses said she was not even allowed to “like” conservative tweets on social media platform Twitter, Gateway Pundit revealed.

On Fox Busines Network’s “Varney & Co.,” Henry revealed just how far left ESPN really is behind the scenes.

Maybe she's trying out for a gig at Fox? She's got the right hair color.
Britt McHenry: I can just speak from being conservative a lot of people who felt the way I did were timid to express their opinions… I was told not to even “like” conservative tweets on Twitter.
Stuart Varney:Who told you not to like conservative tweets… Was it ESPN management?
Britt McHenry: Yes. Yes.
Britt was last seen here back in April 2015, when she was seen berating the attendant at a possibly crooked parking operation for impounding her ride.
 Two months later, she tweeted that one of the reasons she was terminated was because she was a conservative.

Two years is enough time in the wilderness.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

What! No Soft Crab?

Swiped from Theo's Pic Dump................

Reason #5745 That Trump Was Elected

From Doug Sosnik, a Democratic political strategist a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 2000: Trump is on track to win reelection. And he's not happy about it. Why?
We have entered a new era in American politics. The 2016 election exposed how economic, social and cultural issues have splintered the country and increasingly divided voters by age, race, education and geography. This isn’t going to change.

What have changed are the political fault lines that have driven the debate since the early 1980s. Until now, the ideological divides between the parties were largely differences around social issues, defense spending and trade, as well as tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. Today, the central issue has become populism as voters have moved away from the two political parties and increasingly self-identified as independents.

In 2016, Trump capitalized on this changing political environment. He consolidated the growing number of angry voters who felt let down by the people and institutions controlling power in the country. Trump’s support from these voters is personal, not ideological. . .

First, Trump knows that gaining the support of a majority of voters in a presidential election is not a requirement; it’s simply an aspiration. In fact, two out of the last three presidents were elected despite losing the popular vote.

Second, the continued decline in support for both political parties works to Trump’s advantage. The lack of voters’ faith in both parties increases the probability that there will be a major third-party candidate on the 2020 ballot. It will also lead to other minor-party candidates joining the presidential race. The multi-candidate field will further divide the anti-Trump vote, making it possible for him to get reelected simply by holding on to his current level of support.

Third, despite dismal poll numbers, Trump enters the contest with a job approval rating that is certainly at least marginally better than what the current national polls would suggest. Throughout the 2016 election, most analysts tracked the national polling, which failed to capture Trump’s strength in key battleground states. Current surveys continue to understate his support.
. . .
Fourth, Trump’s support has largely remained durable with a core group of supporters. These are the voters Trump was referring to when he said that he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and he wouldn’t lose votes. There is another group of Trump followers whose support isn’t unequivocal, but they have stayed with him because they still believe he will blow up the system and bring about real change.

Your Morning Rise and Shine

So how about something new, like a big name liberal Hollywood director being accused of sexual harassment by a then wannabe actress and former Playmate! Former Playboy Playmate Carrie Stevens accuses Oliver Stone of sexual assault after director defends Harvey Weinstein
While Oliver Stone defended Harvey Weinstein amid more than a dozen allegations of sexual harassment and assault, a former Playboy Playmate accused the “Platoon” director of sexual assault.

Carrie Stevens, who was best known as Playboy’s Playmate of the Month in June 1997 but also had several small movie and TV roles, claimed Thursday that Stone had grabbed her breast at a party.

That takes big hands!
The 48-year-old model told the Daily News that she was at a party at producer Ted Field's home in honor of Stone more than 20 years ago when Stone walked up to her standing by the front door.

"He was really cocky, had this big grin on his face like he was going to get away with something," Stevens, who was 22 at the time, told The News.

At that point, Stone "reached out and...honked it like a horn," she said, describing him as "an immature guy in elementary school who snaps your bra."

Well come on, if you're a guy, you know you want to. It's just that us civilized people have been taught better, and don't have the sense of entitlement of a Hollywood director.
Stevens said she was surrounded by other people, but nobody said anything.

"That's what's going on in Hollywood. That's why things have to change. He's Oliver Stone. Nobody's going to say anything," she told The News.