Assemblywoman says California’s Drought is due to Abortions


Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, June 27, 2013, in Sacramento, Calif.

Scientists are still exploring the causes of California’s historic drought, but one local lawmaker thinks it might all come down to one thing: God’s wrath over abortion.

While speaking at the California ProLife Legislative Banquet last week, California Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R) suggested a theory that the state’s worst drought in 1,200 years may be divine retribution for California providing women with access to abortions, RH Reality Check reported.

“Texas was in a long period of drought until Governor Perry signed the fetal pain bill,” she told the audience. “It rained that night. Now God has his hold on California.”

Grove was likely referring to House Bill 2, RH Reality Check noted, a Texas abortion bill banning abortions 20 weeks after fertilization, four weeks earlier than the standard set by Roe v. Wade.

Grove did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation that she made the statement at the event, but she elaborated on her theory in a Facebook comment.

“I believe –and most Americans believe –that God’s hand is in the affairs of man, and certainly was in the formation of this country,” she wrote. “Is this drought caused by God? Nobody knows. But biblical history shows a consequence to man’s actions.”

Pro-life activists in Kern County, the district Grove represents, didn’t stand behind Grove’s idea.

“We are huge fans of Shannon Grove and all her efforts in Sacramento on behalf of life,” Marylee Shrider, executive director of Right to Life of Kern County, told The Bakersfield Californian. “That being said, we have not made a connection between the drought and abortion here in California.”

Pro-Choice Kern County called her comments “absolute lunacy” and made this mock-up of a T-shirt.

California is suffering through its fourth year of unrelenting drought, and a snowpack measure in the Sierra Nevada mountains in April revealed levels at a record low of 6 percent of the long-term average for that time of year.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last year that“natural oceanic and atmospheric patterns” are likely the primary causes of the drought, while others in the science community say man-made climate change has exacerbated the conditions.

 

And these people continue to be elected

U.S. Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in East Europe

In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries, American and allied officials say.

The proposal, if approved, would represent the first time since the end of the Cold War that the United States has stationed heavy military equipment in the newer NATO member nations in Eastern Europe that had once been part of the Soviet sphere of influence. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine have caused alarm and prompted new military planning in NATO capitals.

It would be the most prominent of a series of moves the United States and NATO have taken to bolster forces in the region and send a clear message of resolve to allies and to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, that the United States would defend the alliance’s members closest to the Russian frontier.

After the expansion of NATO to include the Baltic nations in 2004, the United States and its allies avoided the permanent stationing of equipment or troops in the east as they sought varying forms of partnership with Russia.

“This is a very meaningful shift in policy,” said James G. Stavridis, a retired admiral and the former supreme allied commander of NATO, who is now dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. “It provides a reasonable level of reassurance to jittery allies, although nothing is as good as troops stationed full-time on the ground, of course.”

The amount of equipment included in the planning is small compared with what Russia could bring to bear against the NATO nations on or near its borders, but it would serve as a credible sign of American commitment, acting as a deterrent the way that the Berlin Brigade did after the Berlin Wall crisis in 1961.

“It’s like taking NATO back to the future,” said Julianne Smith, a former defense and White House official who is now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a vice president at the consulting firm Beacon Global Strategies.

The “prepositioned” stocks — to be stored on allied bases and enough to equip a brigade of 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers — also would be similar to what the United States maintained in Kuwait for more than a decade after Iraq invaded it in 1990 and was expelled by American and allied forces early the next year.

The Pentagon’s proposal still requires approval by Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and the White House. And political hurdles remain, as the significance of the potential step has stirred concern among some NATO allies about Russia’s reaction to a buildup of equipment.

Here we go again- Cold War all over again

Why Can’t Obama Get Along With Congress?

Friday’s trade vote in the House was more than just an embarrassment for President Obama, more than just a setback for his trade agenda, and more than just a message to the rest of the world that he is a president who is having trouble delivering on a key portion of his foreign policy. It is all that.

But it also is a sad validation of the most enduring criticism of his presidency: Even after six years, five months, and 23 days in office, he still hasn’t mastered how to deal with Congress.

Almost nothing annoys Obama loyalists more than the recurring criticism of how only the third sitting senator in American history to become president interacts with his former colleagues. To them, the critics are living in a different age when schmoozing was king and presidents drank bourbon and branch water and swapped tall tales with members of Congress after hours.

That will never be Obama’s style. To the White House, the critics are mired in the last century and have missed the way partisanship has altered the dynamic along Pennsylvania Avenue. More immediately, the president’s aides don’t want to admit that what happened in the House on Friday was a lasting defeat and certainly don’t see it as something to be blamed on their approach.

Shortly after the vote, press secretary Josh Earnest dismissed the lopsided defeat of trade assistance as “a procedural snafu” similar to the first vote on trade in the Senate. Earnest preferred instead to hail the fact that there were 219 votes for Trade Promotion Authority and that 28 of those 219 votes came from Democrats. “TPA has passed,” he said. “That was supposed to be the hard one.”

Earnest may turn out to be right. It is very possible that the House next week will have the votes for TAA and that TPA could land on the president’s desk. That would leave Friday’s vote as a mere legislative hiccup. But even such a rebound will not assuage the hard feelings of so many House Democrats. Nor will it erase the memory of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi voting against the president only a few hours after he personally appealed to her.

At the heart of the discontent is the belief by many of the members of the House and the Senate that the president is unmindful of the most basic rule of executive-congressional relations: “Don’t wait to call members until you need them.” Nothing aggravates senators and House members more than being taken for granted by a president whom they never hear from except when there is a tough vote facing them. In their view, that is how Obama too often operates. So when the president tried a late flurry of personal activity, it looked both panicky and ineffective. Attending one inning of a congressional baseball game, as he did Thursday night, and trekking to Capitol Hill for a one-hour meeting, as he did on Friday, were too little and too late.

Earnest strongly disputed that, mocking the notion that anyone in the White House thought going to the baseball game would change votes. He said he would agree with the broader criticism only “if that were all the president did.” Unknown to reporters, he said, the president held “dozens of conversations” with members on the TPA in recent months. And he insisted the president takes the concerns of members “much more seriously” than most people understand.

No one really accuses the president of not taking those concerns seriously. But there are members who believe that a president who can be enormously charming seemed to lose his touch when he sat down with members of the Democratic caucus on Friday.

According to reports from some Democrats, he made few converts and may even have lost votes by seeming to challenge the motivations of many Democrats and refusing to take any questions. Obama was a senator long enough to know that could be counterproductive.

This is not a setback that can be blamed on staff. While this has not been the case throughout his time in office, Obama currently has a highly regarded and effective head of congressional liaison in Katie Beirne Fallon. On an issue as high-profile as trade, and in a political environment that Earnest called “toxic,” the closer has to be the president himself. He has until next week to persuade more than 80 Democrats in the House to flip their votes.

 

Why cannot he get along with congress? Early on in his presidency he went unto the congressional floor and told them he was going to do what he wanted with or without their help. And that egotistical attitude is now alienating members of his own party and they are bailing out on him.


Smartphone thefts are way down

Phone theft used to be a growth industry. The snatch-and-run stealing of iPhones even had its own clever moniker: Apple picking. But such thefts might be in decline. Last year, 2.1 million Americans had phones stolen, according to a nationally representative survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. (Another 3.1 million smartphones were lost.) In 2013, about 3.1 million phones were stolen, according to our previous survey.

The two Consumer Reports surveys employed slightly different methodology, which could account for some of the drop, but there is other evidence of a decline—and the trend might accelerate now that Android devices seem poised to embrace kill switches, which allow you to deactivate your stolen or lost phone.

Smartphones have allowed users to remotely wipe their data for years. But in 2013 prosecutors across the country started calling for technologies that disable, or “brick,” stolen phones to deter thieves from stealing them for resale overseas. Minnesota and California both passed laws requiring manufacturers to make progress on installing anti-theft features by July 1, 2015.

Apple is well ahead of the deadline. After the company added a kill switch to its Find My iPhone app in 2013, police departments around the country reported that iPhone thefts dropped. Then, Activation Lock became a default feature last fall with the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Samsung also added a kill switch—called Reactivation Lock—to a few phone models in 2013. But, in general, Android phones haven’t had the technology. To protect their devices, consumers had to download aftermarket security apps.

Many expected Android Lollipop 5.0 to resolve that problem in late 2014, but manufacturers didn’t implement the kill switch, presumably because of performance issues. Now, all eyes are trained on Lollipop 5.1, due to roll out this summer. Given the helter-skelter, one-off approach phone companies take to their mobile operating systems, however, it will be a long time before a kill switch comes to all Android models.

The technology could eventually save U.S. consumers $3.4 billion, according to calculations by William Duckworth, a statistics and data science professor at Creighton University. (His 2014 study included the costs of replacing handsets and a portion of the money consumers spend on phone insurance.)

Kill switches aside, many phone owners do an abysmal job of protecting their mobile devices, the new Consumer Reports survey found. Among survey respondents, only 46 percent set a screen lock using a four-digit PIN or a stronger method such as a lengthy password or fingerprint. Just 33 percent backed up their data, including photos and contacts, to a computer or online service. Built-in security technology can only get a consumer so far—to reap the benefits, you actually have to use it.

Facebook is watching, even when you’re not clicking on stuff

In perhaps the least surprising news of the day, Facebook announced Friday yet another way it pays attention to the minutiae of its users’ behavior.

Whenever you linger on content in your News Feed — that main section of the social network where you see things that your friends have posted — Facebook pays attention, even if you’re not “liking,” commenting on or sharing anything.

“Just because someone didn’t like, comment or share a story in their News Feed doesn’t mean it wasn’t meaningful to them,” software engineers Ansha Yu and Sami Tas wrote in a company blog post.

“Based on this finding, we are updating News Feed’s ranking to factor in a new signal—how much time you spend viewing a story in your News Feed,” they continued.

In other words, when you spend time with content in your News Feed, Facebook will interpret that as a good thing — even if you didn’t click on anything.

“Based on the fact that you didn’t scroll straight past this post and it was on the screen for more time than other posts that were in your News Feed, we infer that it was something you found interesting and we may start to surface more posts like that higher up in your News Feed in the future,” Yu and Tas wrote.

Previously, Facebook learned to show you content it thought was relevant based largely on whether you directly interacted with it through the like, comment and share functions.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the amount of time spent looking at content could be made available to publishers or advertisers.

At first glance, this announcement may seem a bit weird, but it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Facebook already tracks your activity well beyond the confines of the main social network — a fact that has helped land it in hot water in the European Union. And the company has expressed interest in “deep learning” to help it automatically recognize certain traits in its users — if a person looks hammered in a photo they’re trying to post, for example.

Don’t ever forget who else is watching too…………..

Retro of the day: Gordon Lightfoot

If You Could Read My Mind” is a song by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. It reached number one on Canadian music charts and was his first recording to appear on the American music charts, reaching number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in February 1971. Later in the year it reached number 30 in the UK. The song also reached number one for one week on the BillboardEasy Listening chart,[1] and was the first of four Lightfoot releases to reach number one.

This song first appeared on Lightfoot’s 1970 album Sit Down Young Stranger, which was later renamed If You Could Read My Mind following the song’s success.

Lightfoot has cited his divorce for inspiring the lyrics,[2] saying they came to him as he was sitting in a vacant Toronto house one summer.[3]

The song is in A major and uses the subtonic chord

Chart performance

Chart (1970)

Peak
position

Canadian RPM Top Singles

1

Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary

1

U.S. Billboard Easy Listening

1

U.S. Billboard Hot 100

5

New Zealand Singles Chart

19

Australian Go-Set Chart[5]

28

U.K. Singles Chart

30