Two Thumbs Up For California’s Bare Hand Ban Repeal

Foodies of California, rejoice:
The state senate just passed a bill to ensure that bartenders,
sushi chefs, and others can legally prepare food like normal
people. That is, without wearing gloves.

The Associated Press
reports
that
A.B. 2130
this afternoon “passed its final legislative hurdle…
with a 32-0 vote” and is “now heading to the California governor’s
office” to be signed into law.

Why was this little piece of legislation necessary? Last year
California’s very same public servants, in both the senate and
assembly,
unanimously voted in favor
of a
“glove law”
to require those who handle ready-to-eat foods to
wear gloves or use tongs – or else face misdemeanor charges. The
new law, which instead simply requires people to “minimize bare
hand and arm contact with nonprepackaged food” will be
implemented on July 1, the same day the old one was supposed to
take full effect.

Like so many other regulations, the glove law seemed perfectly
reasonable until closely inspected.

“This law, which seems to be really focused on the Subways and
Chipotles of the market, now affects your most well-trained and
experienced chefs who have mastered their craft and have never had
any issue,” Jordan Bernstein, a Los Angeles-based attorney at
Michelman and Robinson who represents some of California’s top
chefs and eateries
told
Reason TV earlier this year. “They’ve been using their
hands for 30 years and now this really throws them for a loop.”
Likewise, bartenders would have had to wear the goofy gloves just
to garnish a bloody mary.

The glove law had
loopholes
, but created a regulatory headache to obtain the
proper approval to make food without some latex in the
way. 

“We want laws that promote public health, not a deterrent for
business. … I am committed to working with the restaurant
community to roll back the glove law so we can move [toward]
meaningful conversation on food safety,”
said
Assemblyman Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), who introduced the
repeal.

Watch Reason TV’s coverage of the glove law mess here:

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Obama Asks For $500 Million To Equip Syrian Rebels As The ISIS Juggernaut In Iraq Spreads

It is going from bad to worse for the Iraqi government, whose armed forces according to at least one unconfirmed media report, have suffered major losses.

Perhaps confirming this, is the report from Reuters that overnight ISIS continued it southern creep toward Baghdad, and has now reached a town that is just an hour from Baghdad which is home to four natural gas fields on Thursday, “another gain by Sunni insurgents who have swiftly taken large areas to the north and west of the Iraqi capital.”

The overnight offensive included Mansouriyat al-Jabal, home to the gas fields where foreign companies operate, security forces said. The fighting threatens to rupture the country two and a half years after the end of U.S. occupation.

Meanwhile, the Jihadists continue to consolidate their territories not only in the middle of the country but key transit points to Syria where as we reported yesterday, al-Qaeda forces in the two countries merged after ISIS forces and troops from the al Nusra front combined in at least one city. ISIS now control several border posts with Syria and have stolen U.S.-made weapons from Iraqi forces.

Iraq, however, has not been completely paralyzed in light of the oncoming juggernaut and overnight Iraqi forces launched an airborne assault on rebel-held Tikrit on Thursday, landing three helicopters with commandos in a stadium for what appeared to be their boldest counter-attack yet against Sunni insurgents who have rampaged through the north.

Eyewitnesses said battles were raging in the city, hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein, which fell to Sunni Islamist fighters two weeks ago on the third day of a lightning offensive that has given them control of most majority Sunni regions.

 

The helicopters were shot at as they flew low over the city and landed in a stadium at the city’s university, a security source at the scene said. The government did not immediately respond to requests for comment and by evening the assault was still not being reported on state media.

 

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said fierce clashes ensued, centered around the university compound.

 

Ahmed al-Jubbour, professor at the university’s college of agriculture, described clashes taking place inside the colleges of agriculture and sports education.

 

“I saw one of the helicopters land opposite the university with my own eyes and I saw clashes between dozens of militants and government forces,” he said.

Perhaps the reason why the air force merely used helicopters and not airplanes is because as we also reported previously, the Iraqi air force “has only two modified Cessna aircraft.

Regardless, for now Baghdad appears to be safe unless of course ISIS manages to run over the Haditha Dam, which as we explained yesterday, is the second largest in Iraq and a critical source of drinking water for the capital. Should the Jihadists hold it hostage, or worse, release the contained water, the flood, or merely the lack of bearable living conditions in Baghdad, will promptly force the local population to evacuate thus opening up the path to the critical energ-rich areas in the south.

We will cross that bridge once we get to it. For now the far bigger focus appears to be on Syria whose eastern portions, as the following AFP map shows, is effectively ISIS territory with the al Qaeda group now controlling all the key border crossings on the Iraqi side.

Which perhaps explains why, literally seconds ago, and likely attempting to pivot from the disastrous events in Iraq, Obama is once again focusing on Syria. According to AP, President Barack Obama is asking Congress for $500 million to train and arm vetted members of the Syrian opposition.

The military training program would deepen the Obama administration’s involvement in the more than four-year conflict between rebels and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. If approved by Congress, the program would supplement a covert train-and-assistance program run by U.S. intelligence agencies.The Senate Armed Services Committee has already approved a version of the sweeping defense policy bill authorizing the Defense Department to provide “equipment, supplies, training and defense services” to elements of the Syrian opposition that have been screened. The Senate could act on the bill before the August recess.

 

The president hinted at the increased support for the opposition forces during a commencement address at West Point last month.

 

“In helping those who fight for the right of all Syrians to choose their own future, we also push back against the growing number of extremists who find safe haven in the chaos,” Obama told the graduating cadets.

But wait, didn’t Obama do just this a year ago only to find that the arms were going into the hands of Al Qaeda extremists – essentially the same ones the US will be waging war against any minute in Iraq?  Well yes. But this time Obama has a fail safe plan.

  • U.S. FUNDS FOR MODERATE SYRIAN REBELS REQUESTED FROM CONGRESS

Oh, it’s just the “moderate” terrorists Obama will be arming. Not the more radical types. But how Obama will make the distinction? Well, that’s what polling is all about. To wit: “Excuse me, would you describe yourself as a moderate or extreme al-Qaeda jihadist. Answering affirmatively to the former assures you your own US-made Humvee and a few thousand bullets to shoot at US soldiers across the border in Iraq.

While we wish we were joking, this sadly describes the current all too real state of US diplomacy in the middle east.




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President Obama Answers “The Peoples” Questions – Live Feed

Not like there is much to discuss but President Obama is hosting a Town Hall meeting in Minneapolis where “the people” will be allowed to ask questions of his ‘little-less-than-omnipotent’ self. As he said in his introduction…he’s feeling loose and will  “make it up as he goes along.”

 




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Meddling House Republican Tries to Stop “Irresponsible” Local DC Marijuana Decriminalization Law

An amendment that would make it impossible for the District of
Columbia to lessen penalties for marijuana possession — and
possibly to legalize the drug — passed in the House Committee on
Appropriations.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), who proposed the amendment in
committee, said that his background in medicine motivated his
efforts to block the District law.

“As a physician, I have read study after study on the
devastating effects of marijuana use, especially on developing
brains of teenagers,” Harris, who is an anesthesiologist, said in a
statement. “Congress has the authority to stop irresponsible
actions by local officials, and I am glad we did for the health and
safety of children throughout the District.”


Read the full story here

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Why Financial Reporters Are Clueless: They Copy And Paste Keynesian/Wall Street Propaganda

Submitted by David Stockman of Contra Corner blog,

This morning’s Q1 GDP revision might have been a wake-up call. After all, clocking in a -2.9%—-cold winter or no—it was the worst number posted since the dark days of Q1 2009. Well, actually, it was the fourth worst quarterly GDP shrinkage since Ronald Reagan declared it was morning again in American 30 years ago.

Stated differently, 116 of the 120 quarterly GDP prints since that time have been better. Even when you adjust for the Q1 inventory “payback” for the bloated GDP figures late last year, real GDP still contracted at a -1.2% annually rate.

Still, within minutes of the 8:30AM release, the Wall Street Journal’s news update did not fail to trot out the “do not be troubled” mantra. Not only did “…early second-quarter data indicates the economy has improved this spring as warmer weather helped release some pent-up demand” , but the reader was also advised in a declarative sentence that the US economy’s real growth capacity is far higher, implying that Q1 results were some kind of freakish aberration:

…growth over the first six months of the year likely fell below….. the U.S. economy’s longer term growth rate of just over 3%.

Well, here’s real GDP since the turn of the century. The average real growth rate is about 1.8%—-barely half the cited figure.  So where does the 3% growth rate for “potential GDP” come from, then?  The answer is that its Keynesian writ, and the pretext for the Fed’s endless monetary “accommodation” .

 

 

But doesn’t an actual 14-year trend trump theories that have become self-evidently irrelevant and macro-models that have been chronically wrong?  In fact, the 3% potential GDP growth narrative is mocked by the fundamental arithmetic of true economic growth—-which is to say, labor hour gains and capital investment.

During 2013 the private business economy generated 194 billion labor hours—the same figure as 1998.  Likewise, real investment in productive plant and equipment assets since 2000 has barely inched forward at a 0.8% annual rate—-or by less than 30% of its pre-2000 trend rate. In light of these virtually zero growth fundamentals, how could the Keynesian 3% potential GDP expansion model be presented as an axiomatic given?

So too with the winter weather bugaboo.

Residential investment …..fell by a 4.2% pace in the first quarter, revised from the previous estimate of a 5% fall. The housing market rebound, an important growth driver earlier in the recovery, was derailed in late 2013 by cold winter weather and rising mortgage rates.

Well, winter must have started in October.

 

 

 

When the daily narrative is this lame it is no wonder that our happy talk financial system drifts toward the wall. The Cool-Aid drinkers have simply lost touch with reality.




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My Tour of the LulzBot 3D-Printer Facility: An Introduction to Open Source Hardware

Taz4I have been attending the excellent Liberty on the Rocks (LOTR) events in Denver as of late, which take place on the 1st and 3rd weeks of every month. These informal meetings often have guest speakers, and are filled with liberty-minded thinkers and entrepreneurs. If you live in the area, I strongly suggest you attend.

Last week’s speaker really caught my attention. His name is Harris Kenny, and he is the Communications Manager at Aleph Objects, Inc., the company that makes LulzBot 3D printers. I’ve touched on 3D-Printing on several occasions over the years, since it is one of the key emerging technologies which will facilitate humanity’s transition away from centralized, hierarchic and bureaucratic ways of societal organization into decentralized, networked and voluntary systems. Below are a few of those articles:

continue reading

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Education Dept. Forced to Apologize For Funny Bridesmaids Meme, Because Everything Offends Everyone

Kristen WiigThe U.S. Department of
Education issued an apology after an outcry materialized over an
apparently offensive Tweet.

The Tweet was sent from the Federal Student Aid office of DOE
and contained a picture of a captioned scene from the movie
Bridesmaids that depicts Kristen Wiig’s drunken
character saying, “Help me, I’m poor.” Accompanying the picture was
a message from the office, “If this is you, then you better fill
out your FAFSA.”

FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which
determines students’ eligibility for federal grants, loans, and
scholarships.

The office yanked the Tweet off the internet after a few hours,
but not before tons of people took to social media to lambast the
organization for making fun of poor people. Monroe Community
College President Anne Kross wrote, “Unbelievable. Take this down.
… Everything about this is tone deaf and just wrong.”

DOE agreed, according to
Inside Higher Ed
:

We apologize for this insensitive Twitter post, which flies in
the face of our mission of opening doors of opportunity for every
student,” said Dorie Nolt, [DOE] spokeswoman. “It was an
ill-conceived attempt at reaching students through social media. We
are reviewing our process for approving social media content to
ensure it reflects the high standards we expect at the U.S.
Department of Education.”

But if DOE’s goal is to get as many desperate millennials to
sign up for FAFSA as possible, isn’t this just speaking to them in
their own language? As blogger Liz Gross points out, many college
applicants have used that very same “insensitive” language to
describe themselves. In fact, #helpmeimpoor—an explicit reference
to the same movie—exists in Twitter space and is used by debt-weary
students to both laugh and vent about their situations. As
Gross writes
:

I’m a social media and market research strategist for a student
loan servicer. My target audience is very close to that of
@FAFSA—it’s the same students just a few months or years later,
they’ve gotten their loans and are thinking about paying them back.
I’m very familiar with the conversation that happens online
regarding financial aid and student loans. I’ve considered
sending a similar tweet. 
Here’s why.

The tweet reflects the language of the audience.

#HelpMeImPoor is commonly used by students when they refer to
their struggles paying for college. This exact meme has been used
by students in that context. These are their words. Here’s just one
example.

I have a different take.

The cost of college has spiraled of control, plunging students
into a collective trillion dollars of loan debt. It’s a
self-feeding loop: The federal government launches a dedicated
campaign to persuade desperate students to borrow more and more
money, which in turn empowers universities to
keep raising prices
.

Isn’t the idea that the government has any business
convincing students to fall further into debt—sticking
taxpayers with the bill if anything goes wrong
the
truly offensive notion here?

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Hillary’s Book Sales Crash After 1st Week; Reviews Disastrous

While Piketty’s book was divisive, the reviews of Hillary Clinton’s new book “Hard Choices” are downright one-sided – and terrible. That likely explains why, as AP reports, sales have crashed 44% after an already disappointing first week. “Hard Choices” sold just 48,000 copies in its 2nd week; and following the same dismal path as Greenspan, Cramer, and Geithner; has been discounted 40% on Amazon already.

 

As AP Reports,

Sales for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s “Hard Choices” dropped sharply in its second week of publication, but her memoir remains the country’s most popular adult nonfiction book.

 

According to Nielsen BookScan numbers released Wednesday, “Hard Choices” sold just over 48,000 copies last week, compared to around 85,000 the previous week. The figures do not include e-book sales. Publisher Simon & Schuster, which had announced that total first-week sales exceeded 100,000 copies, declined Wednesday to offer any numbers on the second week.

 

Sales are far behind the pace of her previous memoir, “Living History,” which came out in 2003 and sold around 600,000 copies its first week.

 

The Amazon Reviews…

 

And the result – a 40% discount already…

 

we suspect the discounts will rise as…

It has been among the most publicized books of the year, with an advance print run of 1 million copies




via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1m1frFj Tyler Durden

About That Creepy Biometric Database, FBI, We’d Like to Know a Bit More

Facial recognitionThe FBI’s
facial recognition database
, into which it wants to put 52
million of our mugs by the end of 2015, is only part of its larger

Next Generation Identification
(NGI) program. The NGI program
is intended to give the feds a full range of means to identify us
according to biometric markers, including facial feature, digitized
fingerprints, photographs of tattoos, scans of the irises of human
eyes…

It’s a lot of data for tagging people, all going into a
centralized system. That has plenty of people worried about misuse,
abuse, and the overall nudge this sort of capability gives us
toward a total surveillance state.

Yesterday, 32 organizations from across the political spectrum,
including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic
Frontier Foundation (EFF), and R Street Institute,
asked Attorney General Eric Holder
to explain just how the
United States government plans to use the system it’s building and
the data contained therein. Specifically, they want the federal
government to perform a formal Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) to
follow up on the last such report,
done in 2008
.

Among other concerns raised, that 2008 PIA conceded that
“Electronic searching of criminal justice images also entails the
risk that the electronic search process may not be sufficiently
reliable to accurately locate other photos of the same identity,
resulting in an unacceptable percentage of misidentifications.”
That concession is underlined by
revelations
by the Electronic Privacy Information Center that
federal specifications on the Next Generation Identification system
facial recognition software allow for tagging “an incorrect
candidate a maximum of 20% of the time.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Jennifer Lynch has also
raised concerns about the sources of some the photos in the
database, which are only vaguely identified. “The FBI does not
define either the ‘Special Population Cognizant’ database or the
‘new repositories’ category,” Lynch
warned
in April.

Maybe Holder can tell us just where those photos are coming
from.

Of course, Privacy Impact Assessments don’t mean that government
agencies won’t proceed with the projects being assessed. They just
give us a better idea of what we’re being subjected to.

The text of the letter is embedded below.

Signatory organizations are: American Civil Liberties Union,
Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), Brennan Center for
Justice, Center for Digital Democracy, Center for Democracy &
Technology, Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights, Center
for National Security Studies, The Constitution Project,
Constitutional Alliance, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of
America, Consumer Watchdog, Council on American-Islamic Relations,
Council for Responsible Genetics, Cyber Privacy Project, Defending
Dissent Foundation, Demand Progress, DownsizeDC.org, Electronic
Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC),
Friends of Privacy USA, Government Accountability Project, Liberty
Coalition, NAACP, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers,
National Urban League, OpenTheGovernment.org, Patient Privacy
Rights, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, PrivacyTimes, R Street
Institute, and the World Privacy Forum.

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1940s Capitalism Cartoon Makes a Comeback

A 1940s capitalism cartoon
is making a comeback with over 7 million views on YouTube. The
cartoon “Make Mine Freedom” was produced by Harding University, a
private university in Arkansas in 1948 extolling the virtues of
free-market capitalism and inveighing against “isms” particularly
communism and statism more generally.

The cartoon mixes humor with serious philsophy as it defines
what freedom means: “America is the freedom to work at the job you
like, freedom of speech and to peacefully assemble, freedom to own
property, security from unlawful search and seizure, the right to a
speedy and public trial, protection against cruel punishments and
excessive fines, the right to vote, and worhip God in your own
way.”

The cartoon shows how freedom fosters entrepeurship giving the
example of a fictional Joe Doakes, just a “regular guy” who some
viewed as “lazy” but liked to “tinker around his barn.” But then
“one day he had an idea, and because he was free to dream and
tinker” he invents a car. However, he needs additional resources to
build more of these cars, so he gets money from people in the
community, making them “capitalists.” With the money, he hires his
unemployed friend Willie to help build the cars, and Willie becomes
a skilled auto expert. Joe’s idea grows into a large company
providing thousands of jobs.

It goes on to warn that internal conflicts, such as tensions
between labor and management, classes, races, and religious groups
often leads individuals to seek statism as their solution.

The cartoon cautions not to drink the “ism” or statism kool-aid
because it will squash their freedom by banning labor strikes,
taking away private property, and rescinding voting rights from
political dissidents. It humorously shows a protestor railing
against the big blue fist symbolizing statism when the fist smashes
him with a “State Propaganda Speaker” forcing him to regurgitate
“Everything is Fine, Everything is Fine.”

The cartoon makes a point to not only explain why freedom should
matter to just the capitalists, but also the laborer and
farmer. 

While clever, the video doesn’t fully speak to today’s context
where the Cold War is over and most generally agree communism and
authoritarian regimes are a bad idea. Today, it needs to be
explained why freedom and free-market capitalism better meet the
needs of people than the soft paternalism of a well-meaning social
democracy.

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