Friday, April 28, 2017

Trump Turns on NAFTA

He was speaking metaphorically during the campaign....

"Trump’s gyrations on NAFTA cause a flurry of head-scratching" by Paul Wiseman and Josh Boak Associated Press  April 27, 2017

WASHINGTON — So far, his trade policy has produced mostly confusion and division. At stake may be the president’s credibility.

It's already gone.

The latest puzzler broke out Wednesday over the prospect that the Trump administration would simply abandon the North American Free Trade Agreement rather than start to renegotiate it. The White House leaked that possibility to reporters, rattling investors and drawing protests from business groups and Republican lawmakers.

Trail balloon that was quickly deflated?

Hours later, Trump said he would instead seek to revamp the trade pact with Canada and Mexico and pull out only if he couldn’t secure a favorable deal.

The shift followed a reversal on his trade stance on China. Trump this month broke a campaign promise to label China a ‘‘currency manipulator.’’ He had decided, he said, to instead reward Beijing for helping deal with a belligerent North Korea.

Actually, on that one, I'm rather happy about it. If it's a move away from war, that's good (more later).

Nor has he followed up on vows to punish American companies that move jobs overseas or on threats to tax Chinese and Mexican imports. 

Hey, I didn't say he was perfect or that I was enthused about him. The truth is the $y$tem is bigger than him.

‘‘Unquestionably, he’s not delivered on his campaign promises,’’ says Lori Wallach, a critic of NAFTA and other trade deals and director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

Well, he did block the TPP, didn't he?

The president’s gyrations over NAFTA have been especially puzzling. On the campaign trail, Trump called the trade deal a job-killing ‘‘disaster’’ that had encouraged US companies to move factories to Mexico to take advantage of cheap labor. If he couldn’t get Canada and Mexico to make concessions, he said, he’d pull America out of the deal.

Then, in March, the administration sent a draft letter to Congress spelling out plans to renegotiate NAFTA. The plan kept much of the existing agreement. Many critics of the pact said they were deeply disappointed.

So it came as a surprise Wednesday when word leaked that Trump was again taking a harsh stance: Aides said the president was considering a draft executive order to pull out of NAFTA within days. The Mexican peso fell against the US dollar. American farm groups, which credit NAFTA with lifting US agricultural exports to Mexico, howled.

Mostly corn farmers, and that reminds me: notice how the Russia rigged our elections and Obama spying on the Trump campaign have gone away?

RelatedFlynn was warned not to accept foreign government payments

That's all they have now?

Many businesses complain that pulling out would disrupt the cross-border supply chain companies have built since the agreement took effect 23 years ago.

‘‘The whole NAFTA structure is interwoven in our economy in a very close and important way,’’ said Josh Bolten, former chief of staff for President George W. Bush and now head of the Business Roundtable, a trade association for CEOs.

That's why we didn't want it in the first place.

Then Trump announced that the leaders of Mexico and Canada had reached out to him Wednesday and that he would honor their request to try to fix NAFTA through negotiations before abandoning it.

Oh, the pre$$ure came from them, too. Also in corporate pocket.

‘‘I decided, rather than terminating NAFTA, which would be a pretty big, you know, shock to the system, we will renegotiate,’’ Trump said. ‘‘Now, if I’m unable to make a fair deal, if I’m unable to make a fair deal for the United States, meaning a fair deal for our workers and our companies, I will terminate NAFTA. But we’re going to give renegotiation a good, strong shot.’’

Wow.


Mexico’s top diplomat said the country learned only through media reports that the Trump administration was considering a draft executive order to withdraw from NAFTA.

Little bit of a diplomatic faux pas, but what do you want? It's an empty building over there.

Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray said Mexican officials reached out to their counterparts in Washington to discuss the reports. At the end of the day Wednesday, President Enrique Pena Nieto called Trump, and the two leaders spoke for about 20 minutes.

Some analysts say the confusion reflects divisions within the administration between those who support Trump’s tough campaign rhetoric and those who take a more traditional Republican view favoring trade pacts.

It's the Bannon/Kushner thing, and you see who is winning every battle.

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"Trump’s legislative promises for the first 100 days? He’s about to go 0-4" by Amber Phillips Washington Post  April 27, 2017

Trump has about exhausted his unilateral power. The rest of his agenda needs Congress to get it done.

So much for all the Hitler hype.

No president — no matter how much of a dealmaker — can force Congress to pass bills. But Trump set himself up for failure in a way past presidents never have. He promised to get his priorities through Congress in a matter of months.

That was an amateur move, according to pretty much anyone who knows anything about Congress. Major legislation doesn’t happen in increments of weeks or months. It happens in years: Medicare, gun reform, Obamacare. These things took years, if not decades.

Kushner.

The fact Trump would make promises like that also suggests he doesn’t have a lot of people around him who understand Congress. And that’s to Trump’s disadvantage on any day of his administration.

Look at the WaPo getting in their licks.

Congress has always been tricky for presidents to navigate, but this Congress is especially so. Republicans have a majority in both the House and the Senate, but it’s an ideologically divided majority. Making his life harder, Democrats are almost entirely unified behind one goal: to give Trump as many losses as they can.

Like McConnell and Obama!

Yes, the 100-day marker that’s the premise for writing this entire story is arbitrary. But it’s also the standard Trump set for himself. Yet even if he hadn’t said anything about the 100 days, it would be a fair marker to judge him by, especially when it comes to his relationship with Congress.

Hey, we are used it! Paper is full of them every day!

No one expected him to get tax reform, health care, a border wall, and infrastructure reform done in his first four months. No one except Trump....

And his supporters.

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Make that 1 for 5.

RelatedTrump’s 100 days: Credit due for his flip-flops, moved goalposts, and bluffs

Yes, he has only himself to blame. 

And by comparison:

"How Trump’s first 100 days compares to past presidents" by James Pindell Globe Staff  April 27, 2017

No president has had such a low job approval rating at this point, but the knives have been out for White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus since the beginning. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appears marginalized. Adviser Kellyanne Conway and press secretary Sean Spicer have earned their own “Saturday Night Live” characters. And then there’s the big battle between advisers Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon.

Tillerson marginalized?

This level of internal conflict may seem unprecedented — and in some ways, it is — but Reagan had similar issues during in his first 100 days. He came into the White House as a Hollywood celebrity, employing a handful of equally powerful advisers at the top — namely Edwin Meese, James Baker III, and Michael Deaver. There was significant infighting among them, as well as among the Cabinet members.

Much of this infighting was instigated by Reagan’s secretary of state, Alexander Haig, who took on not just Vice President George H.W. Bush, but also the budget director over foreign aid, the transportation secretary on Japanese auto imports, and the agriculture secretary over Soviet grain imports. Reagan staffers also had to contend with a very powerful family member: first lady Nancy Reagan.

Huh. I didn't know Haig took him on. Just gained new respect for him.

The biggest difference between Reagan and Trump, at least so far, is that Reagan found one big issue — his tax cut package — and focused on it almost exclusively in his first 100 days. Trump has seized on a new issue nearly every day (or every hour, if you count the tweets).

They tried to do health care because they needed that pot of money for tax cuts, but hasn't worked out so far.

In many ways, this makes Trump’s first 100 days in office more comparable to Clinton’s.

The irony.

George W. Bush also started with a chip on his shoulder

When the second Bush took the White House, he did so by losing the popular vote and having the US Supreme Court essentially declare him the winner a month before taking office. Trump won the Electoral College outright, but he lost the popular vote.

I think the popular vote was jiggered to be used as a lever against Trump. Starts him off as illegitimate, something Bush certainly was.

Both began their first 100 days trying to reassert their power in office against the backdrop of a politically divided nation. Bush signed only seven pieces of legislation in his first 100 days. Trump has technically signed 28 pieces of legislation into law, but none has been considered a major triumph. 

The big thing for Bush was what happened 8 months into his presidency. It's been a horror show ever since.

Any 100 days comparison to Obama might be unfair

The easiest comparison for Trump is Obama’s first 100 days, but this history really isn’t a fair guide.

Yes, Obama was able to pass big legislative items like a stimulus plan, an auto bailout bill, and a fair pay act. But Obama had something that Trump doesn’t have: a national financial crisis. In the throes of the Great Recession, legislators knew the price of doing nothing would be much greater than passing bills, however imperfect.

Could soon.

This year? The economy is strong, albeit uneven. And compared to Obama’s time, at least, there is no immediate financial crisis. So far, many in Congress would rather cool their heels while they size up their new president....

They are always behind the curve anyway. Congre$$ wants $tatu$ quo because then their lavish lifestyles at taxpayer expense are not under scrutiny.


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Trump's first promise was a wall, Obama's was to close Guantanamo -- and it remains open today.

$izing up the la$t president:

"Warren ‘troubled’ by $400,000 Wall Street speaking fee for Obama" by Victoria McGrane Globe Staff  April 27, 2017

WASHINGTON — Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren gently criticized former president Barack Obama Thursday for his decision to accept $400,000 from a Wall Street firm to speak at a health care conference this fall.

OMG! 

The guy was such a fraud in every way, shape, and form.

Warren was asked about the controversy during an interview about her new book on the SiriusXM radio show, “Alter Family Politics.”

“I was troubled by that,” she said.

That's it? No stern rhetoric or screeching criticism?

That was the extent of her comments aimed directly at Obama. She quickly launched into a broader discussion of her views of the corrupting influence of money in Washington.

“I describe it as a snake that slithers through Washington. And that it shows up in so many different ways here in Washington,” she said, referencing her just-published book.

C'MON!

“The influence of dollars on this place is what scares me,” she continued. “I think it ultimately threatens democracy.”

Already gone.

While Warren’s critique was a far cry from the withering criticism some on the left have leveled at Obama, it’s rougher than anything she said during the 2016 campaign about former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s acceptance of hefty speaking fees from Wall Street firms.

Unlike Obama, Clinton was considering running for office when she gave her controversial speeches, while the former president’s days in elected public office are behind him.

So what are they implying, she is racist?

In the SiriusXM interview, Warren said one of her reasons for writing the book is that she wanted to talk about how liberals can fight back against the money and power wielded by the rich and powerful.

“There are more of us than there are of them. And we’ve got to use our voices and our votes and fight back,” she said.

News leaked earlier this week that Obama had agreed to a $400,000 speaking gig, with the check being written by investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald. The decision to accept such a large payday from one of the very establishments of the “fat cat bankers” Obama derided in office sparked chatter in Washington. (The sum is also nearly twice as large as the fees commanded by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton when she spoke to Wall Street audiences.) 

Oh, chatter in Wa$hington. Pfffffft!

Obama’s spokesman Eric Schultz defended the former president in a statement Wednesday.

“With regard to this or any speech involving Wall Street sponsors, I’d just point out that in 2008, Barack Obama raised more money from Wall Street than any candidate in history — and still went on to successfully pass and implement the toughest reforms on Wall Street since FDR,” Schultz said....

Those are rules they never finished writing and that are now being discarded. 

Strange defen$e there.

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Also see:

John Kasich keeps his options open

It's another Globe book promotion, sigh!

They will even do your taxes for you. 

And lest you think I'm being unfair, I APPLAUD this NEXT REVERSAL:

"US admiral says N. Korea crisis is at worst point he’s seen" Associated Press  April 27, 2017

WASHINGTON — A preemptive attack isn’t likely, US officials have said, and the administration is pursuing a strategy of putting pressure on Pyongyang with assistance from China, North Korea’s main trading partner and the country’s economic lifeline.

With international support, the Trump administration said Thursday it wants to exert a ‘‘burst’’ of economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea that yields results within months to push the communist government to change course from developing nuclear weapons.

Susan Thornton, the acting top US diplomat for East Asia, said there’s debate about whether Pyongyang is willing to give up its weapons programs. She said the United States wants ‘‘to test that hypothesis to the maximum extent we can’’ for a peaceful resolution.

At that point I'm thinking Xi Jinping must have called Trump's bluff (which is what some have argued this has been all along. A big distraction). Or maybe the Senators and House weren't to keen on any action.

Then the web made me feel uneasy again:

But signaling that military action remains possible, Thornton told an event hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies — a Washington think tank that has advocated tougher US policies on Iran and North Korea — that the administration treats North Korea as its primary security challenge and is serious that ‘‘all options are on the table.’’ 

That's a neocon war tank.

‘‘We are not seeking regime change and our preference is to resolve this problem peacefully,’’ Thornton said, ‘‘but we are not leaving anything off the table.’’

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My feeling on this whole matter -- if the report is true and an imminent false flag not in the works -- is disaster averted. The Korean kid just has to sit there now and he knows it. He doesn't have to do a thing and this should all simmer down and blow over.

Meanwhile, in this hemisphere:

"President Trump called the situation in Venezuela “a mess” and “very sad,” when he met with his Argentine counterpart Mauricio Macri Thursday...."

The former president of Argentina made certain people angry.

Does Trump know it is likely his intelligence agency is at least partly responsible for fomenting unrest in a nation where the U.S. has not liked the leadership in a long time? One that has got a lot of oil?

Venezuelan oppositions vows to keep up pressure on Maduro
Journalist with Boston ties detained in Venezuela, relatives say
With Venezuela, the US needs more talk and less fighting
Venezuela’s VP shrugs off drug sanctions as US weighs policy

I'm sure awarding Putin a peace prize didn't help. Store shelves are full, but the effort to stage a coup, 'er, recall and its suspension came as a shock to many Venezuelans who are now crossing the border into Colombia.

I wonder what we are going to do this coming winter.

WTF Friday

I've been matching up print and web all week, so why should I be surprised that it does not match yet again?

Taking it from the top:

"Brigham and Women’s offers buyouts to 1,600 workers" by Priyanka Dayal McCluskey Globe Staff  April 27, 2017

Brigham and Women’s Hospital, one of Boston’s largest employers, said Thursday that it is offering voluntary buyouts to 1,600 workers to rein in costs, a sign of financial stress in one of the region’s bedrock business sectors.

The hospital is profitable, Brigham officials said, but is being squeezed as payments from insurers and the government flatten while labor and other costs grow. Brigham also is burdened by debt from two big projects: a new $510 million building that opened last year, and a $335 million patient health record system that rolled out in 2015.

The buyouts — offered to almost 9 percent of the total workforce — are the largest in memory at Brigham, and underscore that even Boston’s highly regarded hospitals aren’t immune to the forces buffeting the health care industry. Hospitals, long a source of good jobs for workers up and down the income ladder, are under increasing pressure from private and government insurers to control expenses while doing more to keep patients healthy.

Our health care $y$tem, is about to go from $h**ty to rationed disgrace. I'm so glad we are a sanctuary state!

The situation creates a particular bind for the area’s premier hospitals, such as those owned by Partners HealthCare, the parent of Brigham and Massachusetts General Hospital. That’s because their reputations for medical excellence come with a high cost for services.

The big elephant in the room, price-gouging Partners. Several studies done over the last ten years, but the raw political and lobbying power keeps things the way they are as authority rings its hands.

Other hospitals will likely follow Brigham in trimming or restructuring their payrolls, said Nancy Kane, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“The biggest chunk of cost in the health system is labor,” she said. “I think there’s going to be some big dislocations, and this is just the beginning of a lot of changes in how many people work in health care and where they work and what their job is.”

At this point I note that the healthcare field -- according to televised ads all day long -- is allegedly one of the drivers of jobs, future jobs, etc, etc. (It's about getting you to incur debt, isn't it? That's all higher education is.

The song and dance has been so played and the emperor has no clothes. That's my diagnosis anyone regarding whatever spew comes from ma$$ media. Sorry.

A 2012 state law sets a target of containing overall growth in medical spending to 3.6 percent a year, and beginning in 2018, that will drop to 3.1 percent.

Meanwhile, more people in Massachusetts have been joining the state Medicaid program, called MassHealth, while the share of residents paying premiums for commercial health insurance is falling. That is concerning for hospitals because MassHealth pays them less than private insurers pay for the same services.

Since the election of President Trump, hospitals also have been bracing for potential changes to the Affordable Care Act, which Trump and Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal....

This is leading to nowhere.

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Related:

"Partners HealthCare System and one of its hospitals, Brigham and Women’s, agreed to pay $10 million to resolve allegations that a stem cell research lab there fraudulently obtained federal grant money, the US attorney’s office in Boston said Thursday. The government said that the lab, run by well-known researcher Dr. Piero Anversa, included false scientific information in applications to the National Institutes of Health...." 

Don't you dare question received $cience though! 

I wonder if that had anything to do with the buyout.

Despite United’s apology and settlement, don’t expect air travel to get any smoother

Isn't stressing me out at all.

This UMass Boston program faces uncertain future

Think I'll cut class today, same as the Globe, and go to a soccer game instead.

"They pined for the old days of Democratic hegemony, and forked over checks for another former colleague. The scene was the latest in a series of Deval Patrick alumni reunions. Except now, more than two years after he left the governor’s office, the old gang is splintering. Perhaps worse still, some Democratic donors have cozied up to the Republican. Others are waiting on the sidelines. The scattered Patrick disciples will probably unite behind whichever candidate secures the party nomination, but whether the Patrick magic, which ended 16 years of GOP governors, remains is an open question...." 

I'll answer it for you: it doesn't. Eight years of agenda-pushing, do-nothing failure and corruption. That's his "magical" legacy.

So what time is the Sox game today?

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You can do the comparisons for yourself (one click down).... 

"Thursday's tensions were another example of how Berkeley has emerged as a flashpoint for extreme left and right forces amid the debate over free speech in a place where the 1960s U.S. free speech movement began before spreading to college campuses across the nation...."

Yes, it's a ‘‘shame that someone can’t speak in the home of the free speech movement,’’ but that's the 21st-century. Everything you ever knew has been turned inside out and on its head. Only correct speech is to be allowed.  Ironic that the birthplace of free speech is the same place as its grave.

Globe censorship(?):

Cassini just sent back images from its first-ever dive through Saturn’s rings
Death toll, damages rise as storms move across Deep South
Slain trooper’s young sons in court as killer gets death

That was at the bottom of the page.


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A3

Same sh**, different section:

"Two US troops die battling Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan" by Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Missy Ryan Washington Post  April 28, 2017

A Taliban resurgence across Afghanistan has meant that the government in Kabul controls only slightly more than half the country’s territory, according to a US government watchdog, and that the United States has been forced to return forces to areas pacified at great cost under President Barack Obama’s 2009-2011 troop surge.

At the same time, local forces are struggling to contain an array of militant groups along the country’s border with Pakistan, including the Islamic State.

Faced with those challenges, the Trump administration is reevaluating its strategy for Afghanistan and considering sending additional US troops to support local forces. Nicholson has called for thousands of extra service members to help train and support the Afghan military.

Who didn't see this coming, 'eh? 

You ready for a draft after the next horrific false flag?

Navy Lieutenant Chris Donlon, a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, confirmed that Wednesday’s raid happened close to Achin and near where US aircraft dropped the GBU-43 munition two weeks ago.

That bomb targeted a sprawling Islamic State tunnel complex, and although Afghan officials said between 36 and about 100 Islamic State fighters were killed in the strike, the US military has not announced what exactly the bombing accomplished.

An Afghan military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss current operations, confirmed that there had been a joint US-Afghan operation in a village near Achin district Wednesday, said he was not aware of any casualties. He said it had been a long day of fighting.

It's been 16 years.

The Afghan branch of the Islamic State, mainly composed of militants pulled from other groups, has emerged as an increasing counterterrorism focus for United States in Afghanistan.

Although military officials say the group is far smaller than it was at its height in 2015, an estimated 600 to 800 militants, located mainly in remote mountainous areas, have proven to be a deadly adversary.

HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA! 

Whatever!

Fighting has been fierce as US and Afghan Special Operations forces, backed by hundreds of airstrikes, have sought to advance against militant strongholds in recent months.

The deaths mark the third time this year that a member of the US military has died in combat in Afghanistan. They come just days after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited Afghanistan to assess the security situation and advance deliberations about the Trump administration’s approach to a war that has largely been overshadowed by events in Iraq and Syria....

--more--"

Reminds me of Yemen the other day

Below that was a photograph (last one in series) of what looks like a crisis drill gone live outside the British parliament. Coming at you once a week, regular over there.


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They did want you to see this:

"Syria blames Israel for attack on Damascus airport" by Ian Fisher New York Times   April 27, 2017

Israel seemed to acknowledge it because “our enemies must know we will use our power to protect our interests by ourselves.” 

Got it, knew it.

JERUSALEM — Last month, Israel took the rare step of confirming that it had carried out several strikes in central Syria, also against what it said were efforts to transfer weapons to Hezbollah. The Shiite group is aligned with Iran and is fighting in Syria alongside forces loyal to President Bashar Assad. 

Do your timeline here: Syria shoots down an Israeli plane, then the chemical weapons false flag, Trump turns around, and now this. It's regime change, folks.

The Syrian government responded by firing anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli jets, but these were in turn shot down by Israel’s new antimissile system, Arrow, which the Israeli news media said had been deployed for the first time.

The reporting was that one was hit. Wow

On Thursday, the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, suggested that his country was likely to agree to any US request to assist in strikes on Syria, possibly without consulting British lawmakers. He added in an interview with the BBC that if Washington proposed action in response to a chemical weapons attack, for instance, Britain would be unlikely to refuse to give support. 

Another government also controlled by Zionists (for a long time now, even before AmeriKa).

Related: 

"Bowing to pressure from the H.R. McMaster, Dina Powell, Gary Cohn coalition, President Donald Trump’s first overseas trip is scheduled to be in Saudi Arabia, multiple sources confirmed after Steve Holland of Reuters first reported rumors of the trip. During the visit Trump will discuss a proposed arms package for the Saudis, [while] behind the scenes McMaster will be seeking Saudi support for a ground war in Syria."

“In my view, and I know it’s also the view of the prime minister, it would be difficult for us to say ‘no,’ ” Johnson said.

Even if Parliament didn't approve and it were illegal?

British participation in such operations is rarely crucial militarily, but it lends political support to the United States. As Britain prepares to leave the European Union, its government is seeking to build closer ties with Washington.

British law does not require the government to seek parliamentary approval before starting a military action, although prime ministers have done so in recent years.

In 2013, the Conservative prime minister at the time, David Cameron, was unable to muster votes in Parliament to approve strikes against the Assad government intended to deter the use of chemical weapons.

Israel has carried out intermittent strikes inside Syria, fearing that Iran is helping Hezbollah build its arsenal amid the chaos of the civil war.

Israel has also struck Hezbollah and Syrian military targets in southern Syria, in what appears to be an effort to prevent the militant group from gaining a foothold along the boundary between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

And thus a huge pool of oil is under their feet.

Israel, which annexed the Golan Heights after seizing them from Syria in the 1967 war, a move not recognized under international law, counts Hezbollah as one of its most potent threats; it fought a monthlong war with the group across the Lebanese-Israeli border in 2006....

Did you see how they left Lebanon last time?

Oh, yeah, they also dumped chemical weapons on them. 

Where is the world outrage, huh?

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And this:

"4,000 Canadian families will soon get paid by Ontario for doing nothing" by Alan Freeman Washington Post  April 27, 2017

OTTAWA — The government of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, is joining the basic-income bandwagon with the launch of a three-year pilot program that will test how paying people an unconditional basic wage works in practice.

‘‘Many people are concerned about what the world is promising their kids,’’ Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said at a Monday news conference announcing the three-year experiment. ‘‘It’s a world of global competition, reduced benefits, more and more part-time employment.’’ 

If any.

Under the plan, Ontario will provide a basic income to as many as 4,000 randomly chosen low-income households in the cities of Hamilton and Thunder Bay and in the rural community of Lindsay. The money will be provided to participants whether they work or not, and welfare recipients and and working poor families will be included.

I hope you win the "lottery!" 

And if you don't?

The idea of a basic income has been around for years in one form or another. It gets surprising support from both the left, which sees it as an extension of the social safety net, and the right, which sees it as a way to escape the intrusive, bureaucratic nature of traditional welfare programs. (The Ontario experiment will compare families receiving the basic income payments to a control group that will receive benefits under the current system.) Finland and the Netherlands are also conducting basic-income experiments, and a much smaller pilot project is underway in Oakland, Calif.

The idea has also been embraced by tech companies, which worry that increasing automation and the advent of artificial intelligence will someday eliminate millions of jobs. The Oakland project is sponsored by Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley start-up incubator.

Related:

"The growing popularity of artificial intelligence technology will likely lead to millions of lost jobs, especially among less-educated workers, and could exacerbate the economic divide between socioeconomic classes in the United States, according to a newly released White House report. But that same technology is also essential to improving the country’s productivity growth, a key measure of how efficiently the economy produces goods. That could ultimately lead to higher average wages and fewer work hours. For that reason, the report concludes, our economy actually needs more artificial intelligence, not less...."

Suicide is looking pretty good, huh? 

It would sure make the elites happy; one less soul to cause trouble.

Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, said he’s sympathetic to the basic-income concept ‘‘but a skeptic’’ when it comes to cost. While he believes the idea would be an improvement on the current social safety net, Tanner estimates that providing a basic income to everyone in the United States would cost a staggering $4 trillion a year. He says the tech industry likes the idea because it fears a political backlash against automation, which could end up leading to ‘‘antitechnology legislation.’’

But Evelyn Forget, an economist at the University of Manitoba who specializes in community health, believes a basic-income program could be affordable, noting that Canada already spends 15 billion Canadian dollars a year on social welfare programs. Forget has studied the effects of an earlier basic-income experiment — a similar pilot program in Manitoba in the 1970s — on the town of Dauphin.

She said there was virtually no change in the number of hours worked by primary earners as a result of the basic-income project, but that the hours worked by teenage boys declined - and she later found that the high school completion rate for boys rose.

Her conclusion was that boys in low-income families who were previously under pressure to quit school and go to work were able to remain in school because of the support that the basic income provided. The Manitoba experiment ended without any follow-up because ‘‘governments changed.’’ But 40 years later, as society is moving increasingly toward a ‘‘gig economy,’’ Forget sees a growing role for a basic income.

‘‘Basic income plays a nice job in filling in the gaps and in supplementing low wages,’’ she said.

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Seems like a backward idea to me. You really think the greedy bankers are just going to hand us money? I suppose driving governments further into debt is the ultimate goal here.

Related: O Canada!

There is actually a Canadian quartet I trust, and you can see what they are saying about the idea for yourself.

As for Oklahoma....

This is absurd.


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B1

Scientists to study surge in humpback whale deaths

No mention of radiation from Fukushima as the cause. It's either global warming (pfft) or boats.

Boston police charge St. Louis man in connection to 1988 double murder

Frederick Weichel freed on bail after serving more than three decades for 1980 murder

That’s no jackhammer — woodpecker season is upon us

I don't find it annoying at all. In fact, I rather enjoy the melody.

Urban nonprofit celebrates 25 years of giving youths a voice

Awwwww, shaddup!

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B2

Aaron Hernandez’s family demands end to leaks 

I'd settle for not seeing his name in the paper tomorrow.

"A former Newton police chief who was fired in 2012 over allegations that he used vulgar and sexist language with female employees is entitled to back pay that an arbitrator previously awarded him, the Massachusetts Appeals Court has ruled....."

In feminist Ma$$achu$etts?

State plans to shut child psychiatric unit at Westwood Lodge Safety problems [were] discovered during a surprise inspection, [and] the hospital is owned by Arbour Health System, a for-profit company that is part of the largest psychiatric provider in the country, Universal Health Services.

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B3

N.H. House has its own special cast of characters

Who cares?

Boston International High School teacher set for Arctic

Pffft!

No charges over sexual misconduct claims at Conn. boarding school

Wellesley High track coach arrested on child porn charge

Teens arrested for Taunton robbery that left clerk wounded

What do you mean those last three were missing?

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Albert Freedman, 95, producer of rigged 1950s quiz show

Was actually a pretty good film.

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B10

It’s the witching hour for state’s $40b budget

She can't figure out the B$?

CRISPR.com was for sale, and you won’t guess who bought it

Globe didn't tell me.

More driverless cars coming to Mass. roads?

They can't make a left turn in the rain?

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B11

"More Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, but applications remained at a low level that suggests most workers enjoy job security, the Labor Department says....

Labor department one of the U.S. governments lead liars.

Comcast Corp.’s foray into Hollywood is paying off, with box-office hits “Get Out” and “Fifty Shades Darker” boosting first-quarter profits and sending shares to a record. The two films — a sequel to “Fifty Shades of Grey” and a critically acclaimed horror film — drove a 43 percent increase in sales for Comcast’s Universal unit. Comcast is also reversing a trend of cord-cutting. The largest cable operator added pay-TV customers for the fifth time in the past six quarters....

Time to cut the cord?

Amazon’s double-digit revenue growth continues

Customer traffic stalls at Starbucks

Lyft Inc.’s bookings and ridership surged in the first quarter, suggesting the company benefited from user defections and management turmoil at larger rival Uber...."

Time to make a U-Turn.

*******
B13

"Seven large Mass. companies cited in study as paying little or no state taxes" by Beth Healy Globe Staff  April 27, 2017

Over eight years, profitable Fortune 500 companies paid state taxes at a 2.9 percent rate, on average, and some didn’t pay anything at all during individual years.

According to an Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy study of state taxes reported by large corporations, 240 avoided $126 billion in state corporate income taxes between 2008 and 2015.

Despite posting profits, 92 of the 240 firms paid no state income tax in at least one of the eight years, according to the institute, a left-leaning research group based in Washington, D.C. Those included Waltham-based Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., which the group said paid no state taxes in 2015, even though the laboratory supplies giant reported hundreds of millions in profits.

The corporate tax rate in Massachusetts is 8 percent.

That's all? 

Corporate taxes have become a hot subject for policy makers and voters as the Trump administration presses for a tax overhaul that would dramatically lower federal tax rates on businesses. The Institute on Taxation also recently reported that large companies already are paying far less than the top 35 percent corporate tax rate at the federal level.

So we are basically being lied to by big bu$ine$$ when they scream high taxes, 'eh?

RelatedProfitable companies, no taxes: Here’s how they did it

Not only that, did you $ee the amount of tax loot they were given?

AT&T ($38.1 billion)
Wells Fargo ($31.4 billion)
JPMorgan Chase ($22.2 billion)
Verizon ($21.1 billion)
IBM ($17.8 billion)
General Electric ($15.4 billion)
Exxon Mobil ($12.9 billion)
Boeing ($11.9 billion)
Procter & Gamble ($8.5 billion)
Twenty-First Century Fox ($7.6 billion)
Time Warner ($6.7 billion)
Goldman Sachs ($5.5 billion)

Nice haul, huh?

Thermo Fisher disputed the report, saying it paid $15 million in state taxes across the country in places where it had operations in 2015, and paid taxes at a 5.5 percent rate in Massachusetts. Spokesman Ron O’Brien said the company paid more state taxes than were evident in its filing with securities regulators — the records used by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Matt Gardner, a senior fellow at the Institute, said it stands by the study results.

Six other Massachusetts companies were named in the report with regard to 2015 state income taxes, including biotech Biogen Idec, which paid at a 0.7 percent state tax rate, according to the study; office supply retailer Staples Inc., which paid 0.5 percent; and defense contractor Raytheon Co., which paid 1 percent.

 I'm sure there is a metaphor in there somewhere. Makes one wonder why Staples is in trouble, and why Raytheon only paid 1%.

State Street Corp., Eversource Energy, and retailer TJX Cos. also were reported to have paid below the 8 percent rate.

State Street, in a statement, pointed out that it paid the highest rate of state taxes of the group, at 7.2 percent.

Those percentages are all still lower than the nominal tax rate in the state!

“State Street takes its local tax responsibilities seriously, a fact confirmed by this report and State Street’s position on the list of corporate state tax rates,’’ Dennis Ross, the bank’s executive vice president, global tax, said in the statement.

Eversource disputed the study’s numbers, calling them “misleading and flawed.” Staples also disputed the study but did not provide details. The other companies did not respond to requests for comment.

“Corporations benefit from an educated workforce, paved roads, and safe communities,’’ Meg Wiehe, deputy director of the tax institute, said in a prepared statement. “They should contribute their fair share of tax revenue that makes these things possible.”

But then the campaign checks will stop coming.

--more--"

RelatedStocks inch higher, giving Nasdaq a record

Time for me to run.

********
B18

What'$ in a name?

Tom Brady to speak at pricey Tony Robbins ‘wealth summit’

Will he be getting paid?

James Patterson plans true crime book on Aaron Hernandez

Tom Hanks Proves He’s Very Mad About Raiders Leaving Oakland In Lengthy Rant

I'm glad he is using his celebrity to take on the big issues.


She's a Patriot cheerleader.


Can you hear the boos?

WCVB-TV reporters told to ‘move it’ while on camera

It really is all staged and scripted productions!

Teeing Up a Side of Hash Browns

"Wegmans hash browns recalled, may contain golf ball bits" by Megan Woolhouse Globe Staff  April 27, 2017

McCain potato growers and its retail partners, including Wegmans, have issued a major recall after two people found pieces of golf balls in their breakfast hash browns.

That’s right. Golf balls. In hash browns.

[They were] “inadvertently harvested with potatoes” [because the] machines that did not know the difference between a golf ball and a potato....

Makes one feel great about all the AI workers coming on line, 'eh?

--more--"

Related: French Toast Friday

French Toast Friday

First things first....

"In French campaign, a stalemate speaks volumes about both candidates" by John Leicester Associated Press  April 27, 2017

PARIS — When France’s presidential election turned into a political boxing match this week at the gates of an appliance factory threatened with closure, the far-right populist Marine Le Pen showed that she wields a mean right hook. Her centrist rival, Emmanuel Macron, a political neophyte contesting his first election, demonstrated that he can take a solid punch to the chin.

I prefer the wrestling analogy, but either way.... both figureheads with no party.

Besides, Russia already rigged the election, right?

Before the chaotic scenes Wednesday at a Whirlpool clothes-dryer plant in northern France, the election campaign had no single dominant theme. But all that changed when Le Pen, followed closely by Macron, made back-to-back impromptu campaign stops at the plant to woo France’s blue-collar voters.

Against the backdrop of burning tires and angry workers, the diametrically opposed styles and programs of the two candidates in the winner-takes-all second-round vote were laid bare, with crystal-clear clarity.

Le Pen’s closed borders against Macron’s open ones. Le Pen’s France that would pull up the drawbridge with the European Union against a future of ever-closer ties between France and its neighbors. Le Pen’s promised economic protectionism against Macron’s defense of free trade. Le Pen’s selfie-snapping populism against Macron’s refusal to simply tell the workers what they so desperately wanted to hear: that their jobs can be saved as Whirlpool shifts production to Poland.

Unless she does a 180 like Trump.

Related: Flashback: Polish Pollution

And the move could be risky: Poles have a long history of labor solidarity and defiance toward authority.

In her second presidential contest, after placing third in 2012, the 48-year-old Le Pen deployed all her political experience to spring a campaign trap that her 39-year-old rival fell headfirst into, but then managed to extract himself from, with barely a ruffle to his suit and tie. Instead of becoming Macron’s Waterloo, his quick thinking and dogged determination in trying to reason with the disgruntled workers for over an hour turned the match into a stalemate.

A stalemate that spoke volumes about them both.

Having led a largely lackluster campaign before the first-round vote Sunday that propelled her and Macron into round two on May 7, Le Pen has rediscovered her mojo. Bruised by first-round television debates, in which she was savaged by the sharp-tongued far-left populist Jean-Luc Melenchon, now eliminated, she is outsmarting Macron, so far at least, in the use of TV.

Likewise, now rid of Francois Fillon, the conservative whose financial scandals dominated the initial campaign, Le Pen now has a chance to turn the election into a debate about France, its future, and her argument that one of the founding EU nations would be better off freed of the bloc’s constraints.

By popping up at the Whirlpool plant while Macron was across town, meeting with the workers’ union leaders, Le Pen was devastatingly effective. TV news channels switched live to the surprise visit, showing her taking selfies and dispensing hugs and kisses to workers at the factory gates. It gave her a platform to project herself as the candidate of France’s workers in an era of chronic unemployment and to highlight her pledge, repeated Wednesday, that she wouldn’t let the factory close if elected.

Macron, shown simultaneously at his meeting in a nondescript room, looked every inch the aloof technocrat: in the wrong place at just the right time for Le Pen.

‘‘I’m not eating little cakes with a few representatives who, in reality, represent only themselves,’’ she sniffed. Pow! Take that, Macron.

She used television to her advantage again Thursday, getting up before dawn to take a ride aboard a Mediterranean fishing trawler — candidate-in-action images played over and over on morning TV, in the absence of anything fresh from Macron, who didn’t campaign until midafternoon.

Le Pen has said all along that among the 11 first-round candidates, she wanted to face Macron in round two. At Whirlpool’s gates, it became clear why: The former investment banker and economy minister is, for her, the readiest canvas for her black-or-white assertion that the election is a clash between two polar opposites.

Her goal isn’t simply to swing as many Fillon and Melenchon voters as possible to her side but to persuade enough of them not to vote at all on May 7, in hopes that her reservoir of committed voters will outnumber those who’ll back Macron, many reluctantly, simply to keep her extremism from reaching the Elysee Palace.

Outflanked by Le Pen at Whirlpool, Macron faced his toughest campaign test yet. Failure to follow her example and rush from his meeting with union leaders to the factory itself would have made him look uncaring and out of touch — doubly so since the plant is in the town where Macron was born, Amiens.

Going, however, was also a risk. He seized it with both hands.

The snap decision seemed, at first, to have backfired spectacularly when Macron was derisively whistled at and booed. For a few tense minutes, it seemed as though Le Pen had landed a KO. Had Macron retreated to the safety of his car, the campaign front-runner could have crashed and burned on live TV.

But he plowed on.

The workers were a hostile audience for Macron’s arguments that the state can’t stop jobs from moving abroad but can retrain the workers who lose them. By facing their frustration, by patiently, at times passionately, debating them, he at least seemed to win some respect — and without making off-the-cuff campaign promises that later, if installed in the presidential palace, he might regret.

‘‘There is no miracle recipe,’’ he said.

Most important for Macron, his recovery from Le Pen’s punch allows him to fight another day.

And Le Pen still needs a knockout.

Or the judges' decision!

--more--"

They must have used invisible ink because I don't see it, do you?

"French court refuses to extradite Kosovo ex-prime minister" by ANGELA CHARLTON Associated Press  April 27, 2017

PARIS — A French court on Thursday refused to extradite a former Kosovo prime minister to Serbia to face war crimes charges, prompting anger in Serbia and joy in Kosovo in a case that has aggravated tensions between the rival neighbors.

Ramush Haradinaj’s lawyer, Rachel Lindon, said the court ruled against the extradition because he would not have had a fair and balanced trial if sent to Serbia.

Serbia’s government decided on Thursday to recall its ambassador in France to Belgrade for consultations and lodge a protest note to France, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said after an emergency government session convened over Haradinaj’s release.

‘‘The Republic of Serbia, the government of the Republic of Serbia, believes that the decision is shameful, scandalous, unlawful, absolutely unjust and above all political,’’ Vucic said. Serbia has said in the past that it could abolish an extradition treaty with France if Haradinaj is not handed over.

Thousands of people welcomed and accompanied Haradinaj from the airport, gathering at the main square, Zahir Pajaziti, in the capital, Pristina. Patriotic songs and firecrackers accompanied the celebrating people.

Haradinaj gave a speech stressing that ‘‘Albanians are peaceful people but they cannot be subdued.’’

‘‘Those who have lived with Albanians have never suffered anything. Albanians are an old people, a very respected one. But if someone attacks us, we unite to defend ourselves,’’ he said expressing thanks to the support he has had since his detention in January in France.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci told the AP: ‘‘This is good news for Kosovo. . . . It is Serbia that has committed war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and genocide against Kosovo’s citizens.’’

Haradinaj, a guerrilla fighter in Kosovo’s 1998-1999 war for independence from Serbia, was previously cleared of war crimes charges by a UN tribunal. 

You see, if you fought on the "right" side you don't get charged.

Serbia’s government requested his extradition after French police arrested Haradinaj in January on a Serbian arrest warrant, including new accusations. The arrest raised tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, and Kosovo lawmakers called on the European Union to intervene to secure his release....

--more--"

I'll bet the Serbs are feeling burned.

Related: 

Blocked train triggers a political clash in the Balkans

Bosnian Serbs weigh holiday marking state’s creation

Bosnian prosecutor to examine disputed Bosnian Serb referendum

Heavy rains swell rivers in parts of Balkans

At least they can still fly:

"Serbia set to get Russian fighter jets" Associated Press  February 13, 2017

BELGRADE — Serbia’s defense minister said Sunday the country will be getting a delivery of six Russian fighter jets, which could worsen tensions with neighboring states.

Why? No one says that when the US peddles its killing machines.

In addition to the fighter jets, Serbia has reportedly agreed to purchase 30 tanks and as many armored vehicles from Russia. Also, Belgrade is negotiating another eight MiG-29s and Russian-made antiaircraft systems with Belarus.

Serbia’s arming has triggered alarms in the Balkans, which was engulfed by a bloody war in the 1990s that killed more than 110,000 people and left millions homeless. Croatia, a NATO member, has already announced it is buying jets and other equipment from the West in response to the Serbian buildup.

I'm sure that makes the war manufacturers and banks happy.

Serbia formally has been on the path to joining the European Union, but under pressure from Moscow it has steadily slid toward the Kremlin and its goal of keeping the country out of NATO and other Western institutions.

President Trump’s stand toward NATO, which he has described as an ‘‘obsolete’’ organization, and his warming of relations with President Vladimir Putin of Russia also has worried nations in southeastern Europe. 

They don't have to worry anymore.

A Serbian court last week rejected an extradition request by Montenegro for a suspect in an alleged pro-Russia plot to overthrow Montenegro’s government.

Interesting twist considering the France-Serbia case, 'eh?

Don't be fooled!

Nemanja Ristic’s extradition was rejected Thursday by the Special Court in Belgrade. He appeared in a group photo with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia during his visit to Serbia in December.

The court said Ristic, a supporter of a pro-Russian far-right group in Serbia, cannot be extradited because Montenegro suspects him of committing the alleged crime by acting from the territory of Serbia and not inside Montenegro.

Montenegro also has issued extradition requests for another Serb and two Russians for alleged plans to kill the then-prime minister and take over Parliament on Election Day in October. Another Serbian court ruled last week that the other Serb sought by Montenegro could be handed over after an appeals process.

--more--"

"Thousands protests as EU envoy tries to break deadlock in Macedonia" Associated Press  March 22, 2017

SKOPJE, Macedonia — Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Macedonia’s capital of Skopje on Tuesday to protest a visit by a European Union envoy who is trying to break the political deadlock that has left the country without a government for three months.

Related:

"After two grueling national elections in six months in Spain, and a third vote possible in December, no party has won enough seats or forged the coalition needed to form a government. Spain’s leaders have warned that no government would mean chaos and deprivation. Instead, more than anything, the crisis seems to have offered a glimpse of life if the politicians simply stepped out of the way...."

Looks pretty good. 

Then they went Socialist?

Waving red-and-yellow national flags, the protesters chanted ‘‘Macedonia! Macedonia!’’ as they gathered for a second consecutive day while EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn held talks with political leaders.

Protest organizers said they were holding rallies at 42 sites around the country, and unfurled giant banners along the route taken by Hahn from the airport to the capital. I don't think they want to join, or

Macedonia’s two largest parties do not have enough lawmakers to form a government after a general election in December.

They would need to form a coalition party from the country’s ethnic Albanian minority, which is demanding that Albanian be made the country’s second official language.

The long-governing conservatives rejected the minority demand outright. Conservative President Gjorge Ivanov, however, has refused to hand the rival Social Democrats a mandate to form a government until they do the same thing.

Ivanov, who did not meet with Hahn, argues that the language demand is an attempt to destroy Macedonia’s character.

Some would call it the New World Order.

Ethnic Albanians make up a quarter of Macedonia’s population. Albanian is currently recognized as an official language in minority-dominated areas but not in the country as a whole.

Macedonia has been locked in a major political crisis for the past two years, sparked by a wiretapping scandal and corruption allegations.

How long has it been here, Amerikans? A decade if not longer?

While former prime minister Nikola Gruevski won the December vote, he didn’t have enough votes to form a government.

The ethnic minority has had a rocky relationship with the majority Macedonians since the country gained independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

The country narrowly avoided a civil war in 2001 when militants seeking greater rights for the ethnic Albanians took up arms against government forces. The conflict was quelled after a UN-brokered peace accord and required NATO peacekeepers.

They still there?

--more--"

Also see: Special K For Breakfast

What came out the other end:

"How the pope role-models humility" by Jena McGregor Washington Post  April 27, 2017

In case you missed it, here is the most powerful man in the Catholic Church, humbly asking a bunch of TED conference attendees to keep him in their thoughts, seeking their help as he goes about his work.

Wish I had missed this.

That kind of role-modeling helps underscore his message in a world that still muddles authority with leadership and conflates power with muscle-flexing.

Look at what I'm reading!

In the TED talk, his words about power were powerful, yes. He shared a relatable saying from Argentina, that ‘‘power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach. You feel dizzy, you get drunk. You lose your balance.’’ He reminded the people in the room that ‘‘the future of humankind is not exclusively in the power of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold enormous responsibility. But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a ‘you’ and themselves as part of an ‘us.’’’

But by showing his audience what that actually looks like — by asking them as he closed to keep him in their thoughts as he, the world’s most influential Catholic leader, tries to fulfill his task — his words became actions that were even more powerful....

I'm sorry, but his words carry absolutely zero weight with me after the sex abuse scandal that was covered up for centuries. The Church lost any moral authority it may have had then. Sorry.

--more--"

Friday's First Dump

Related: Friday's Feces

"No dump here: Posh public bathroom pops up in New York City" by VERENA DOBNIK Associated Press  April 28, 2017

NEW YORK — In a park amid Manhattan skyscrapers, a gem has emerged: a posh public bathroom that cost nearly $300,000, complete with freshly delivered flowers, imported tiles, classical music and artwork.

The free-of-charge, air-conditioned splendor— inspired by visits to the city’s priciest hotels — is open to everyone, even homeless New Yorkers. More than 1 million people a year are expected to use the facility, park officials said.

Yes, even you can take a VI Poo!

On Thursday, two bathroom attendants held toilet tissue that a park official cut as the inaugural ribbon for the high-tech facility housed in a landmarked Beaux Arts building behind the New York Public Library. The toilets — in 310 square feet divided between the women’s and men’s sides — are reopening after a three-month renovation.

A sh** photo-op -- literally!

The eye-popping, LED-illuminated elegance is unusual in a city where public toilets are scarce and generally grungy.

‘‘I’m really surprised. It’s very clean and the flowers are alive,’’ said Irena Marentic, a tourist from Slovenia, as she left the space whose walls and floors are lined with tiles from Spain and Italy and adorned with art created by Bryant Park’s painters-in-residence.

Reporters waiting outside to ask you how your poo experience went?

The women’s side has three toilet stalls, while the men’s side has two stalls and three urinals — the same number as before the renovation. The facility can’t be expanded because the space surrounding it is landmarked.

Where do the transgenders go?

The public luxury was funded privately by the Bryant Park Corp., a not-for-profit that manages the city-owned park and works to improve business in this neighborhood that includes Fifth Avenue.

‘‘We strive for perfection and only settle for excellence,’’ declared Dan Biederman, the executive director of the Bryant Park Corp. 

Our sh** don't, you know.

The team behind the new posh public bathroom visited the Waldorf and other luxury hotels for inspiration. 

It's a richer's world, and you can get a whiff of it when you poo.

A few out-of-town companies provided donations not included in the facility’s $280,000 cost. The Japanese luxury brand Toto contributed self-flushing, energy-saving toilets and hands-free faucets and wash basins. Brill Hygienic Products Inc., of Delray, Fla., supplied sanitary, electronic seat covers that rotate with each use. 

I don't like the sound of that. Goes down all the way, right? Let me give it another flush to be sure....

Attendants armed with mops keep everything clean from 7 a.m. till midnight, when the bathroom closes along with the park. By park rules, no tips are allowed. 

Might refuse it anyway considering where the hands have been.

The bathroom is most often used by visitors to the leafy, grassy refuge of Bryant Park, which draws them with its seasonal attractions including a skating rink in winter, holiday shops, outdoor movies on summer nights and free-for-all tables and chairs. 

I think I know whom to ask.

The park itself went through a makeover some years ago after decades of urban decay and crime that spilled into the bathroom, which was closed for years and reopened only in the 1990s. 

Good thing there is no longer any drug problem or anything.

Just wait until they start finding dead heroin junkies in the stalls.

With the improvement of the park, the number of visitors has increased. So, too, has the daily use of the toilets — from an average of about 1,800 in 2013 to about 3,300 last year, or 1.2 million a year, according to park officials. On the women’s side, the wait could be as long as 20 minutes

I'm not going to make it!

On Thursday, with the line growing, park workers directed people to the massive library building and more public toilets, though not quite as fancy.

As long as they are quiet.

--more--" 

Took a lot longer than I thought. I'm glad the web Globe provided extra paper!

I'll be back in ten minutes, readers.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sleepless Night

Had nightmares that someone was watching:

"The Restless Quest for a Good Night’s Sleep" by Constance Gustke New York Times   December 29, 2016

NEW YORK — Insomnia and other temporary and recurring sleep disorders affect 50 million to 70 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health, and the effects only worsen as people grow older. Technology, while still nascent, is an alternative for those who do not want to take sleeping pills, which can be highly addictive.

Like many other tech devices that monitor every twitch and turn of the human body, sleep-tracking device Sense uses sensors to collect reams of data. The information is then uploaded to a smartphone app that analyzes sleep cycles. An accelerometer about the size of a quarter attaches to a pillow and tracks tosses and turns. And a bedside hub, shaped like a ball, tracks sounds, light, and temperature in a room. It glows green when sleep conditions are optimal.

“You can fall into bed drunk and it still works,” said James Proud, a self-taught programmer.

Sleep technology products range from the basic app to the esoteric. The Sleep Shepherd headband, invented by a professor whose daughter had a sleep disorder, monitors brain waves while the wearer sleeps. Noise-canceling headphones pipe in sound. Other devices also emit light, some mimicking sunsets. They join hundreds of downloadable apps, including Sleep Cycle and SleepBot, which track every sleep tic.

Meaning the government and telecoms can virtually be in the bed with you like a succubus.

All are trying to solve an age-old problem with new technologies that experts say are still mostly unproven.

“Most of these apps and wearables don’t have good-quality research that shows they improve sleep,” said Dr. Neil Kline, a representative of the American Sleep Association and a sleep specialist. “It takes years to do good research. And a lot of these technologies just came out.” 

Like what is happening with the Fitbit

People just don't like being tracked and spied on, I gue$$.

Yet, experts agree that the market is huge and important. About half the US population will have insomnia on any given night, Kline said....

--more--"

They got their start via the via the Thiel Fellowship, a Kickstarter campaign raised about $2.4 million, and one of the business partners is Arianna Huffington. 

Related: 

Trump tries for positive tone at meeting with tech execs

Did you see who was there?

"Palantir Technologies Inc., a data-mining company cofounded by Peter Thiel, [is] a proven, state-of-the-art system originally developed with financial aid from the Central Intelligence Agency."

Good work if you can get it.

Palantir discriminates against Asians, Labor Department alleges

That's odd, seeing as Thiel is gay.

What Are You Gawking At? 

Just something I Sqrrled away.

Peter Thiel, Trump adviser, has a backup country: New Zealand

Maybe he can meet with the new U.S. ambassador.