Journey drummer Deen Castronovo’s recent arrest has taken a turn for the worse. The musician was booked with assault, coercion and menacing after he got into a domestic dispute at his home with his wife.

The District Attorney has now added new charges including rape, sexual abuse, and unlawful use of a weapon.

After the 50-year-old’s arrest, Journey booted Castronovo from the band’s tour. current tour. He’s currently being held without bail.

Castronovo's attorney Jeffrey Jones said his client was high on meth and hallucinating when he was arrested two weeks ago and accused of misdemeanor assault and menacing,

"He has no prior criminal history, no prior arrests. He's actually a pretty good part of the community, a contributing member," Jones said.

Jones asked Marion County Circuit Judge Channing Bennett to set Castronovo's bail at $50,000, but the request was denied.

"My finding is he has no regard for the court's order. I do find he is a danger to the victim," Bennett said.

The Obama administration's latest bright idea is to nearly double the threshold for which salaried workers are eligible for overtime pay. The new rule would raise the threshold for time-and-a-half to $50,440 a year from $23,660.

"We've got to keep making sure hard work is rewarded. Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve. That's partly because we've failed to update overtime regulations for years -- and an exemption meant for highly paid, white collar employees now leaves out workers making as little as $23,660 a year -- no matter how many hours they work.

"This week, I'll head to Wisconsin to discuss my plan to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016, covering all salaried workers making up to about $50,400 next year. That's good for workers who want fair pay, and it's good for business owners who are already paying their employees what they deserve -- since those who are doing right by their employees are undercut by competitors who aren't.

"That's how America should do business. In this country, a hard day's work deserves a fair day's pay. That's at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America," President Obama wrote in an op-ed for The Huffington Post. 

Let's imagine for a moment that we live in fantasy la-la Obama land and people don't get laid off or hours cut when he forces increased wages and rates. With the increase glut in the money supply, inflation would rise and that new wage rate would be worth the same amount as before. However, in real life, people will be fired, entrepreneurship will be stifled, and prices for basic commodities will increase as costs do.

This type of stupidity highlights Democrat ignorance about economics. The simple truth is this: every time government enacts a rule, market participants immediately begin innovating around it.

The assumption of the rule-makers is that companies and citizens will placidly do what policy-makers want them to do. That might work if people were sheep, but they're not.

Here are some of the predictable outcomes of this rule: workers will be reclassified as salaried; hours will drop to avoid overtime; two part-time workers will be hired to replace one full-time worker; automation will replace people.

Yes, of course this is an idiotic ruling, which flies in the face of logic, and is another blatant display of the farcical nature of Obama's economic wherewithal.

But does he care?  Do the Democrats care? Do the mainstream media care? Of course they don't!  Obama doesn't make these kind of moves based on whether they're good or bad for the economy.  He doesn't make economic decisions after considering long-term consequences. Why should he?

For Obama it's all politics, and nothing but politics, all the time.  As far as he's concerned, that's what he's there for.

There will be very few employees who will see additional take home pay after this change. That's really not the intention. The term "exempt" means exempt from age and hour rules and it also means exempt from collective bargaining rights.

A large proportion of salaried exempt managers are in the fast food and other relatively low paid hospitality and retail businesses.  (An hourly worker being paid $12 per hour is happy to be promoted to a manager position paying $30,000-$40,000.  It means a guaranteed monthly income, even when overtime is not available.

An employer is not going to give a $35,000 employee a $15,000 pay raise, he's going to put the employee back on the clock.  But when he makes that employee non-exempt, that employee can join a union already in place and becomes a target for unionization.  Obama knows this is not going to raise anyone's pay, but it is going to increase the number of employees who can potentially be organized, even though they are management.

At the end of the day, no business is going to pay you more than the value of what you are adding. If someone is new to the labor market, has no skills and no education then it is very hard for a business to justify a position for them with the ever increasing labor wage requirements set forth by Federal, state and local governments.

Raising government mandated employment costs only increases the economic output per employee required to justify it, In other words, you are increasing the minimum skill and education required to enter the workforce. It is therefore no surprise that those without these skills and education are increasingly left out of the workforce.

The death toll appears to be closer to about 100 after recent events. Another 100 were reportedly killed by Egyptian security forces in retaliation Wednesday into Thursday. The deaths came after 15 coordinated attacks on the Egyptian military.

The army said five checkpoints were attacked by about 70 militants and that soldiers had destroyed three landcruisers fitted with anti-aircraft guns.
The acquisition of anti-aircraft guns makes the situation more complex, especially if the materiel came from Libya.

Preceding the horrible attacks in the Sinai today, Egypt's top prosecutor was killed in a bomb attack this week. Hisham Barakat was killed in a Cairo suburb after leading much of the charge against Islamist radicals over the last two years.

Monday's assassination of the 65-year-old Barakat came on the eve of the second anniversary of the mass demonstrations against Morsi that led to his ouster.

The Hillary Clinton email story continues to get more disturbing. This latest development certainly explains quite a bit of things.

 Catherine Duval, the lawyer who was previously in charge of producing Lois Lerner’s IRS emails, is now overseeing the State Department’s release of Hillary Clinton’s emails and Libya documents to the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

“The person in charge of document production at two different places on two different scandals has not been completely straightforward with us.

"She was at the IRS when there was a preservation order and subpoena — and documents were destroyed. She is now at the State Department, where we were supposed to get [certain] information, and we know that some of the emails were not given," Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said.

“Who is Kate Duval — because I think I’ve heard that name before.

"I know where she is now: She’s at the Department of State in charge of their email productions," Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy said.

The State Department defended Duval's work.

“Kate Duval is a professional of the finest kind. She continues to do exactly what the Secretary has asked this Department to do — cooperate fully with the Select Committee.

"No one at the Department should, in addition to this burden, have her integrity or her excellent work ethic impugned,” the State Department said in a statement.

Gowdy: “I want to ask you about another name. Have you ever heard of the name Kate Duval?”

Camus: “Yes sir.”

Gowdy: “Who is Kate Duval? Because I think I’ve heard that name before too."

Camus: “Kate Duval is the chief counsel representative, the IRS’ counselor concerning the production issues to Congress.

“She was a lawyer in charge of making sure the counsel made production to Congress.” (The Senate Finance Committee also lists Kate Duval in its timeline of IRS communications with Congress.)

Gowdy: “So she’s in charge of making sure that emails and other matters get produced.”

Camus: "Yes sir.”

Gowdy: “Is she still with the IRS?”

Camus: “She is not, I don’t recall the date that she left, but she’s no longer.”

Gowdy: “Do you know where she is now?”

Camus: “I can get that information for you.”

Gowdy: “No, I know where she is now. She’s at the Department of State, in charge of their email productions. Wow.”

What exactly does President Obama and Hillary Clinton not want the public to see in these emails?

The State Department acknowledged on Wednesday that it is withholding a small number of Hillary Clinton's emails from the Benghazi House Committee for executive privilege purposes.

QUESTION: Admiral Kirby, can you talk a little bit about Secretary Clinton’s emails? The State Department has now told the House Select Committee on Benghazi that you’re withholding a small number of documents from investigators because of what is called in a letter “important executive branch institutional interests.” Is the State Department invoking executive privilege?

MR KIRBY: There is – what we’re doing, Ed, is there are a small number that are being withheld for executive privilege purposes. That is not uncommon. It’s not atypical. And I would hasten to add that you need to keep it in perspective compared to the wide swath, just an amazing amount of material that’s already been provided to the select committee – 50,000 pages or more of documents, more than 23 witnesses, and we’ll continue to provide documents.

QUESTION: But the White House has very rarely invoked executive privilege. You’re right that you’ve turned over a lot of documents in this investigation, but executive privilege is very rarely invoked. So I just want to be clear: So you’re saying that executive privilege has been invoked now with respect to the Benghazi committee?

MR KIRBY: A small number of responsive documents are not included in this production because they implicate executive branch institutional interests.

QUESTION: Okay. And how – when you say “small number,” under 10, under five --

MR KIRBY: I don’t have a number for you, Ed.
On Wednesday, Nathan Collier of Billings, Montana applied for a marriage license so he can legally marry his second wife. Collier said the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage has inspired him to force the acceptance of polygamous marriages.

"It's about marriage equality. You can't have this without polygamy," Collier said.

Collier married his first wife, Victoria, in 2000. He and his second wife, Christine, had a religious wedding ceremony in 2007 but didn’t sign a marriage license. You may recognize the three after recently appearing on the reality cable television show “Sister Wives.”

Officials in Yellowstone County denied Collier's application on Tuesday.

"So, are you legally married, you didn't get divorced?" asked one clerk.

"We'll have to deny that, let me go grab the other supervisor real quick so I can get confirmation but as far as I'm aware you can't be married to two people at the same time," said another clerk.

However, Yellowstone County has since decided to consult with the county attorney before giving Collier a final answer after he threatened to sue if his marriage application is denied.

When asked by Pundit Press about Collier's marriage application, the Montana Attorney General's office cited two sections of Montana law, stating polygamy is illegal.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years.

"We just want to add legal legitimacy to an already happy, strong, loving family.

"All we want is legal legitimacy. We aren't asking anybody for anything else. We just want to give our marriage and our family the legitimacy that it deserves," Nathan said.

President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. and Cuba will reopen their embassies in Havana and Washington, heralding a "new chapter" in relations after a half-century of hostility.

"This is a historic step forward in our efforts to normalize relations with the Cuban government and people and begin a new chapter with our neighbors in the Americas.

“As part of that effort, President Raul Castro and I directed our teams to negotiate the reestablishment of embassies.

“Since then our State Department has worked hard with our Cuban counterparts to achieve that goal and later this summer Secretary (John) Kerry will travel to Havana formally to proudly raise the American flag over our embassy once more,” President Obama said.

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley has written to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew demanding that there be an investigation concerning Bill and Hillary Clinton's ties to a shady uranium deal.

"On April 23, The New York Times reported on details regarding the Clinton Foundation’s ties to a number of investors involved in a business transaction that resulted in the acquisition of Uranium One, owner of U.S. based uranium assets, by Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ), a subsidiary of Rosatom, a Russian government owned company.

"The transaction raised a number of national security concerns because it effectively ceded 20% of U.S. uranium production capacity to the Russian government.

"Due to that foreign involvement, a review of the transaction was conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), whose membership includes the Secretary of State and of which Treasury is the chair.

"In addition, during critical stages of the acquisition approval, interested parties made large donations – some in the millions of dollars – to the Clinton Foundation while Ms. Hillary Clinton held the position of Secretary of State.

"When millions of dollars flow to decision makers who have substantial discretion to provide support for or against approval of controversial transactions, public confidence in the integrity of the process requires a commitment to transparency and responsiveness to oversight inquiries," Grassley wrote.

With passage of Obamacare, the Democrats not only fulfilled a decades-old liberal dream, but they were sure that at last, the United States could begin to unite under the humanitarian umbrella of health insurance, and ultimately healthcare, for all its citizens.

This Barack Obama led group could now stand arm in arm with FDR's 1930's Social Security Progressives, and LBJ's 1960's caucuses, who pioneered the landmark national welfare programs.

These brave new Progressives had aggressively and skillfully grasped a rare partisan moment to construct the third leg to the social tripod of humanity, and finally this country could indeed become a Great Society. They were so proud.

Now it's clear that instead of saving us, they had stunned us with a massive, crushing wedge, and set in motion a bitter, likely decades-long clash, that ultimately may tear the U.S. economy apart.

The problem with Obamacare is that it is simply unacceptable. Conservatives, snared in prior decades, won't be fooled this time, and will not live with this, ever. Liberals can drive themselves crazy trying to impose on conservatives what apparently seems perfectly logical to them - that the existence of Obamacare is permanent. But Obamacare to anyone who is conservative by nature, is nothing but a smothering shackle, and you can't clamp a shackle around half of the population, and then expect them to just carry on as before.

Obamacare is not a passageway - it's an obstacle. As long as Obamacare exists, negotiations will never be obtainable and issues will never be resolved.

Obamacare may attempt to transform healthcare, but it won't heal anything. It will only continue to inflict pain.
By Eric Boehm | Watchdog.org

Employers who reimburse their workers for health care costs will face massive tax penalties beginning Wednesday.

Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, with its mandate that all Americans purchase insurance and requirement for businesses to offer employees insurance plans, many small companies provided coverage by directly reimbursing medical costs or for the cost of private insurance plans. Businesses do it because that’s a less complicated process than dealing with an official health insurance plan, but continuing to do so after July 1 could cost them hundreds of dollars in fines each day.

Business groups are calling attention to what they say is an obscure part of Obamacare that could crush small businesses who are unaware of it.

“It’s the biggest penalty that no one is talking about,” said Kevin Kuhlman, policy director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, on Tuesday.

The penalties will only affect businesses with less than 50 employees. Those with more than 50 employees are already required to offer a health insurance plan.

The new rule is the result of an Internal Revenue Service interpretation of part of the ACA. It seems intended to force employers to offer a group health insurance plan (or leave their employees to fend for themselves on the health insurance exchanges).

The IRS says those reimbursements — technically known as “employer payment plans” — are “considered to be group health plans subject to the market reforms, including the prohibition on annual limits for essential health benefits and the requirement to provide certain preventive care without cost sharing.”

The end result?

“Such an arrangement fails to satisfy the market reforms and may be subject to a $100/day excise tax per applicable employee (which is $36,500 per year, per employee) under section 4980D of the Internal Revenue Code,” according to the taxmen.

Business groups say the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

Even though the total fine is capped at $500,000 per year, that’s still miles ahead of the $2,000 fine that could be waiting for larger companies (those with more than 50 employees) that fail to comply with the individual mandate part of the ACA.

The NFIB says 14 percent of their members do not provide health insurance plans, but instead offer reimbursement.

Read more....
I have gone back and forth in my own stance on illegal immigration. America is an immigrant nation. We depend on immigrants to refresh and energize our nation.

However: no immigration policy is worth the paper it is printed on without the ability to control and secure our borders. What is lost [intentionally or otherwise] in the whole immigration debate is that most Americans would be very generous with respect to changes in immigration policy if only they could rely on whatever policies agreed on could be, and would be enforced.

Thomas Sowell cogently observed:

“What should American immigration policy be? It doesn’t matter what any of us think that policy should be if the borders are not secure, because whoever wants to come across that border will come across anyway, in defiance of whatever the policy might be.

“If legal benefits are conferred on illegal immigrants before the border is secured, we may as well give up any pretense that we have an immigration policy, because benefits conferred are never going to be taken back, no matter how porous the border remains.”

We all know why the borders are not secure. When the top people in government don’t care to enforce the immigration laws, they are not going to be enforced.

“Open” borders and insecure borders are often conflated as the same, but they are absolutely not the same thing.

I’m an “open borders” guy. I believe that the best thing for any nation is free trade. But, no nation is a nation if it cannot control its borders.

Take the pressure to illegally immigrate away by emplacing robust legal pathways, and the border security problem becomes less daunting. But, we do need a secure border. It’s a fundamental part of having a secure nation.

Imperial fiat doesn’t solve any problems and or nation must have secure borders.
By Alexa Ura, The Texas Tribune

Lisa Moore, an English and women’s and gender studies professor at the University of Texas at Austin, has been waiting 24 years for the university to extend benefits to the same-sex partners of its gay and lesbian employees.

After leaving Cornell University, which offered benefits to same-sex partners, she took her post at UT in 1991 expecting that benefits for same-sex couples were “around the corner.” While waiting for the school to turn that corner, she became a vocal critic of the university’s policy.

“If someone had told me in 1991, ‘You won’t get benefits for 24 years,’ I think I would’ve left,” said Moore, who legally married her longtime partner in 2011 in Canada. “Our joke back in the '90s was ‘Oh, gay marriage will be legal in Texas before UT will give us same-sex partner benefits.’ And that’s actually what came to pass.”

As of Wednesday, public employers including Texas agencies, universities and schools will allow current and retired gay and lesbian employees to enroll their same-sex spouses in the same benefit programs and services available to opposite-sex couples.

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas, the University of Texas System, the Texas A&M University System and the Employees Retirement System — which oversees benefits for state employees and all other public universities and community colleges — changed their policies days after the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry and that states must recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

Prior to the court’s ruling, Texas law prohibited same-sex spouses from being included as an “eligible dependent” on health insurance plans subsidized by the state. (Texas pays 50 percent of the health insurance premiums for state employees.)

It was initially unclear when public employers would extend benefits to spouses of married gay employees. But by Monday, most had revised their policies to accommodate same-sex spouses and announced they would open enrollment Wednesday.

How many employees will sign up their same-sex spouses or dependent children won't be known for months, but representatives with the systems said they've heard from several interested active and retired employees.

Catherine Terrell, director of governmental affairs for the Employees Retirement System, estimated that about 1,500 individuals — who could include same-sex spouses and dependent children of those spouses — would immediately sign up for benefits.

“Of course, people will continue to enroll their spouses throughout the year as they marry,” she added.

Professors at Texas' public universities celebrated the extension of benefits, saying the policy change will offer relief for many gay and lesbian employees and reduce the rate at which they leave Texas institutions in search of schools that accommodate same-sex couples.

Patrick Burkart, a communications professor at Texas A&M University, said extending benefits for same-sex couples will put the university on the “same competitive footing” as other research universities across the country because it will help retain and recruit top faculty and staffers.

“What we’re going to find out is how expensive it’s been to keep a discriminatory policy on the books as we have,” said Burkart, the secretary and treasurer of the A&M chapter of the American Association of University Professors, which has pushed for the benefits for years.

Burkart, who has served on several faculty search committees, indicated that the previous policy denying benefits to same-sex spouses or partners kept potential candidates from applying for posts at the school.

Hundreds of colleges across the country offer benefits to same-sex spouses or same-sex domestic partners.

”I think our university has suffered for it, and now is a great time to catch up and gather our strengths,” Burkart said.

Echoing national and state gay rights leaders, the professors indicated that their fight for equality at Texas institutions was far from over because the state lacks statewide discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

“The Supreme Court’s decision is a seminal piece in realizing full equality, and I am confident that the senate will renew its advocacy,” said Michel Conroy, chairwoman of the Texas State University Faculty Senate, which years ago endorsed spousal benefits for same-sex couples.

Though the professors say there’s much left to do on the discrimination front, they still plan to celebrate the revised benefits policies on Wednesday.

Several LGBT professors and staffers at UT-Austin are planning to meet at the HR office at 4 p.m. to turn in enrollment paperwork at the same time, said Moore, the professor.

“It’s an unequivocal win for us,” she said. “This is something we wanted. It’s something we worked hard for over years, and it’s something we won.”

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University and Texas State University are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.
You may remember that for Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton claimed none of the emails on her private server were classified. However, dozens of Hillary's have now been labels as classified.

"What happened last nigh was actually kind of interesting. The State Department went back and said they classified two dozen of her emails, portions of them, saying that information in them was now classified. They said it wasn't classified at the time but had to be redacted in the emails.

"Now if you recall she has said there was no classified information on the emails, but people at the State Department have said to me that they thought it was hard to believe that of all these 55,000 pages that she had, that she didn't have anything sensitive. And apparently it's sensitive enough now to not be disclosed," Michael Schmidt of the New York Times reported.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama claimed that he’s willing to walk away from a bad nuclear deal with Iran.

“I’ve said from the start I will walk away from the negotiations if in fact it’s a bad deal.

“If the inspections regime, verifications regime is inadequate, then we’re not going to get a deal and we’ve been very clear to the Iranian government about that.

“Given past behavior on the part of Iran, that can’t simply be a declaration by Iran and a few inspectors wandering around every once in a while. That’s going to have to be a serious, rigorous verification mechanism.

"And that, I think, is going to be the test as to whether we get a deal or not.”

“If we can’t verify that, if the inspections regime is inadequate, then we’re not going to get a deal," President Obama said during a joint press briefing with Brazil President Dilma Rousseff.

President Obama also addressed the subject of Americans being held captive Iran.

“With respect to U.S. citizens who were held in Iran, this is something that we continue to push hard on, irrespective of the nuclear deal. It’s a top priority for us to make sure that our people are treated fairly," Obama said.
Greece has submitted a new two-year aid proposal to its creditors, calling for debt restructuring in what seemed like a last-ditch effort by Athens to resolve its impasse with lenders.

Greece could become the first developed nation to not pay its debts to the International Monetary Fund on time, as the country sinks deeper into a financial emergency that has forced it put a nationwide lockdown on money withdrawals.

At this point it is hard to see that handing more money to Greece does anything other than increasing the lenders loss.   There will be suffering with the austerity moves suggested by the EU, but it seems to me that there will be more suffering with the moves suggested by the current Greek administration.

Perhaps the referendum should include a question on whether or not to keep Mr Tsipras in office.

My main interest in this is not about Greece, but rather about what happens when politicians promise too much and the bill comes due.  These politicians are buying their friends with IOU's.

The lessons of socialism are in plain view and have been for decades.  The 20th century is one giant cautionary tale against socialism, and Venezuela is already a 21st century affirmation.

Anyone who does not already see is lying to himself.  Because of that lie, politicians are able to promise unicorns and pixie dust and get elected.

The core solution to Greece's problems is to create more wealth.  This requires two things:  a major revamping of its business laws and regulations in the direction of economic liberty (especially in labor freedom - where Greece ranks very low) and Greeks working more (including  retiring later in life).

Living standards are tied to economic productivity.  The latter will not be fixed by a socialist government, and until Greeks realize that and stop voting for leftists, they're going to continue waiting vainly for the impossible.

On Tuesday, New Jersey governor Chris Christie became the fourteenth Republican to join the 2016 presidential race. Christie made the announcement from during a rally at his high school in Livingston, New Jersey.

“The truth will set us free, everybody.

“If we’re going to lead, we have to stop worrying about being loved and start worrying about being respected again. I’m not running for President of the United States as a surrogate for being elected prom king of America.

“When I stand up on a stage like this in front of all of you there is one thing you will know for sure: I mean what I say and I say what I mean.

"And unlike some people who offer themselves for the presidency in 2016, you’re not going to have to wonder whether I can do it or not.”

"After seven years of a weak and feckless foreign policy run by Obama, we better not turn it over to his second mate, Hillary Clinton.

“Americans are not angry. Americans are filled with anxiety.

“Anxiety can be swept away by strong leadership and decisiveness to lead America again," Christie said.

A long time reader sent me this very interesting comment and question about the federal minimum wage:

“It’s the government’s job is to keep business honest. If business paid a wage that is in line with the cost of living, workers could afford to pay for their housing, healthcare and education without government assistance.

In 1969. the federal minimum wage was in line with the cost of living. “What, in your opinion, has happened since then?” 

First of all, the minimum wage and honesty have nothing in common.

Labor is worth the value it creates less compensation for the risk taken by the business that hired the labor. Think about that for a second before reading any more.

Note: there is no reference in that definition to cost of living.

There are also various floors and ceiling that wrap around that value. Labor can never be worth more than the capital it takes to replace it (would you pay a welder $50K per year if you could buy a welding robot than only costs $25K per year to buy and operate?).

Labor is also impacted by supply and demand. If there are lots of people skilled at a job and only few of these jobs to be had, wages will be depressed. The inverse is true if there are few skilled people and lots of jobs.

Again, no mention of cost of living. These numbers are all “soft”; value is perceived by the buyer (employer).

If $1 of labor creates $10 of profit at an auto plant, then those workers are underpaid. That was the case in the early years of auto manufacturing. They unionized and got more. Good for them.

But if they drive their wages too high, they bring capital alternatives into play and cause jobs to be lost. Even before globalization, this was happening in Detroit because the unions pushed their advantage too far.

Most service jobs pay far less than construction or manufacturing because they add less value, require far less skills to perform, and can be more cheaply replaced by capital. McDonalds could easily get a robot that would be the fries in the oil and take them out when they are done. If it cost them $20 an hour to pay a laborer to do that job, they would go with the robot.

In an era where technology is moving so fast and becoming so cheap, be careful with minimum wage laws. BTW, although I think it is only a small part of the equation, ZIRP also makes capital cheaper than employees; Obamacare makes the cost risk of having employees much higher, so you see the mass exodus to part-time to avoid that risk.
Contributor article by Jessica Kelly

If your Facebook status looks like this, you feel victory. You feel victory because you believe that a human injustice has seen the beginning of the end.

And so, I urge you... only those of you who fly this flag and are "pro-choice." I urge you at this moment to consider.

Consider the hypocrisy to in one breath champion for equal human rights, while in another breath deprive an unborn human person the basic right - the right to life.

Consider that today thousands of abortions will be performed based on sex selection (they are pregnant with a girl, but wanted a boy or vice versa - happens all the time). What happens when people start to abort based on sexual orientation selection? Will you fight for the homo-sexually inclined unborn, or does your rainbow flag fly only for those who have taken their first breath?

If a woman chooses abortion because she fears that her child is going to be a homosexual, what will you call her? Homophobe?

A woman who chooses abortion because her child is biracial? What will you call her? Racist?

If she chooses abortion because her child has a disability, you champion for her right to abort, rather than addressing the lack of affordable and reliable help and healthcare in our country.

If she aborts because she lives in the wealthiest country on earth, but fears she cannot afford a child, you champion for her right to abort, rather than addressing the issue of poverty.

A woman who chooses to abort because she wants to finish school first? She’s too young? Too poor? She was raped? She just doesn’t want a kid yet?

Rather than addressing teenage pregnancy, or promiscuity, or sexual relationships with uncommitted partners, or rape and incest, or ignorance, or under-education, or just the VOID OF LOVE... you champion for the right to abort in all those circumstances, while proudly waving your rainbow flag and screaming VICTORY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS!

There is NO VICTORY for human rights until there is NO ABORTION.

Until we live in a country where abortion is not a thought, where no woman ever feels like she must end the life of her unborn for any reason, ANY REASON, there is no victory.

You want human rights? Fight for those who cannot speak. Fight for those who have yet to even see the sun rise. Fight for those who are hated, before they even have the chance to cry their first tear, or laugh their first laugh.

Fight against poverty, under-education, racism, sex selection, rape, incest. Champion for human rights. Fight against hate, and hate crimes - and the atrocity of the greatest hate crime this nation has ever committed... hate against, and the death sentence of the unborn, underdeveloped, those who are just too little to live on their own just yet.

If you are pro-abortion, just consider. Why do gay humans deserve rights, and young humans don't?
It’s time to recognize that there is a difference between publicly funded education and public schools. The first represents a commitment to educating our citizenry so that they can contribute to our society and the second is simply one way of delivering the product. It is also demonstrably the least effective means for doing so.

A better solution would be for the state governments to provide vouchers in the amount of that states’ per capital budget for education directly to the parents and let the parents select the service provider. That provider could also be home schooling if the parent so chose.

Certainly metrics would need to be established and the child tested annually to make sure that progress was made. However, that shouldn’t be a problem as we do it today.

The benefits of this approach would be many. Competition always lowers the costs of the product and increases its quality. It is time to move on to a better educational model.

The purpose of providing an educational system itself was to ultimately provide an educated populace, not to provide a public education system per se. At the time our public school system was established people thought that a public school system was the best way to accomplish the task. Today we know it isn’t.

In fact, of the alternatives available–public schools, charter schools, private schools (both religious and secular), and home schooling–our public schools produce the least qualified students and unfortunately, affect the greatest number of children.

Furthermore, education isn’t a federal issue. Until we begin to acknowledge, and we are, that an education is a commodity service just like any other product and that the best solution is the one that provides maximum choice we will continue to receive an inferior product.
By Evan Grossman | Watchdog.org

The Philadelphia City Council gives schools millions in taxpayer dollars, but where does it go?

The council approved up to $70 million in new, recurring funding for public schools — on top of the more than $1.2 billion the district already receives from local taxes.

“We don’t know what the money is for,” Councilman At-Large David Oh (R) told Watchdog. “Where does it go?”

Council President Darrell Clarke raised the same questions.

The council this fall will conduct a joint audit of the School District of Philadelphia with Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. The findings will help shape future school budgets and address the district’s structural deficit.

DePasquale was already scheduled to produce his own regular performance audit of the schools later this year.

Since 2009, the city has thrown more than $357 million in funding increases at the district, yet council members question School Reform Commission spending habits and its lack of transparency.

Each council member was provided three school budget books, including one “that breaks down school budgets by council district,” SDP spokesman Fernando Gallard said.

“In addition, Superintendent Hite met with every available council member to walk them through the budget books and answer any remaining questions regarding the budget,” he said. “These books and guides provide a very detailed and comprehensive view of the overall school district budget and the budgets of each school in our district.”

Watchdog obtained copies of all three documents, which can be found here, here and here.

“I’ve heard people say they know from reading the budget,” Oh said. “Well, no, you don’t know. I read the budget very carefully and I read it with my staff.”

Council President Darrell Clarke’s office failed to return multiple requests for comment.

Oh said he questions the precise spending habits of many city agencies, and he’s called for the creation of a legislative budget office to conduct performance audits. The city staffs a Budget and Program Evaluation unit within the Director of Finance’s office that carries out similar duties.

“That’s a way to see what’s happening to your money,” he said. “You don’t know what that money is for, that is an alarming thing.”

The Council approved a trio of tax hikes to help the district close an $85 million deficit, after a spirited budget hearing process in which council members grilled school officials on things such as spending habits and the lack of cursive writing in the curriculum,

The district was seeking $103 million. Mayor Michael Nutter proposed $105 million in new, recurring funds, but the Council balked at his 9.3 property tax increase. Instead, the district got $70 million — $50 million tied to a 4.5 percent property tax increase, $10 million from a Use and Occupancy tax on businesses and $10 million from a city parking tax bump.

But the council is withholding $25 million — dependent on the district’s plans to outsource substitute teachers and school nurses. Clarke has indicated that money may never make it to schools if public jobs are outsourced to private contractors. Last week, the School Reform Commission approved a $34 million contract with Source4Teachers, a Cherry Hill-based firm that will supply subs.

Read more....
By Rob Nikolewski │ Watchdog.org

Was it a smackdown or just a tweak?

Within hours of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that dealt a defeat to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama administration, energy industry supporters as well as environmental groups pondered the long-term impact.

To review, in a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court ruled EPA’s regulation to limit emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants went too far by not taking the costs of the regulation into effect when the agency made its initial determination.

The case hinged on the meaning of what is “appropriate and necessary” for EPA to order a ruling under the Clean Air Act for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule, nicknamed MATS.

Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said EPA made a mistake by not first conducting a cost-benefit analysis.

“It is not rational, never mind ‘appropriate,’ to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits,” Scalia wrote. “Statutory context supports this reading.”

Even by EPA’s reckoning, it would cost power plants about $10 billion a year to comply, even if the agency insisted it would translate into billions more in health benefits.

“EPA refused to consider whether the costs of its decision outweighed the benefits,” Scalia wrote. “The Agency gave cost no thought at all, because it considered cost irrelevant to its initial decision to regulate.”

The case was brought by 20 states as well as industry groups, who were delighted by Monday’s ruling.

“Thanks to today’s ruling, the EPA will finally have to listen to the nation’s concerns with this poorly constructed, costly rule,” Mike Duncan, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said in a statement.

Environmental groups bemoaned it.

“It is clear that the benefits to public health and the environment this rule would provide dwarf the costs of implementing it, no matter when in the determination those costs are considered,” Joseph O. Minott, executive director and chief counsel of the Clean Air Council, said in a statement.

But the ramifications of the ruling are a bit cloudy.

The agency’s supporters expressed optimism that the high court’s ruling is limited. saying it doesn’t eliminate EPA’s ability to restrict mercury and pollutants from power plants. In a narrow sense, they say, it means EPA officials had to take into account the costs of industry earlier in the process.

“The Court’s decision focuses on EPA’s initial finding that it was appropriate and necessary to regulate these emissions and not on the substance of the standards themselves,” EPA Press Secretary Melissa J. Harrison said in a statement.

Related: Will the EPA’s Clean Power Plan save you money or clean your clock?

In addition, while EPA may not have properly assigned costs at the time of the regulation, it has taken so long for the case to wend its way to the high court that the rule had the force of law — as many companies retired or retrofitted their coal-fired plants.

“EPA is disappointed that the Court did not uphold the rule, but this rule was issued more than three years ago, investments have been made and most plants are already well on their way to compliance,” Harrison said.

And the interpretation of what’s “appropriate and necessary” may give the agency plenty of wiggle room.

As Ann Carlson pointed out on the judicial blog LegalPlanet.org, the case will now be remanded to the D.C. Circuit Court Of Appeals that earlier ruled in the EPA’s favor in a 2-1 decision.

“It is quite possible that the panel will leave the rule in effect pending EPA’s complying with the directive to take costs into account,” Carlson wrote Monday.

But Patrick J. Michaels, director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, thinks EPA got a good spanking.

“This in small part is a warning to EPA to not play fast and loose with numbers and not try and hide things under the guise of their agency authority,” Michaels told Watchdog.org.

Backers of the energy industry — coal plants in particular — think Monday’s ruling could have implications on other wide-ranging EPA regulations, such as ozone and the agency’s Clean Power Plan, which have been subject to lawsuits claiming that much tougher requirements would prove prohibitively expensive while providing relatively little environmental benefit.

Like the MATS rule, EPA said it had the authority to institute the Clean Power Plan under its interpretation of the Clean Air Act.

If the Supreme Court rejected EPA on Monday, will the agency proceed with its Clean Power Plan or consider making some changes to avoid a potential loss in court?

Andrew Grossman, litigator the Washington law firm of Baker Hostetler and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, thinks the Obama administration may have shot itself in the foot.

“This is a real big deal,” Grossman told Watchdog.org. Rather than vacating the rule, the court calls for industry to still comply with the current MATS rule until a revision is crafted.

“What that means is when the next big rule comes down the pike — and that’s the Clean Power Plan — there’s a much greater likelihood after this decision that that rule gets stopped in its tracks,” Grossman said.

Read more....
By Julián Aguilar, The Texas Tribune

Immigration and Customs Enforcement will implement new guidelines designed to better protect transgender people in immigration detention facilities, the agency announced Monday.

The announcement comes after 35 congressional Democrats wrote to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson earlier this month asking ICE to change its policies toward those detainees. The lawmakers also asked ICE to collect better data on how many people flee their homelands for fear of persecution because they are gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual.

“We want to make sure our employees have the tools and resources available to learn more about how to interact with transgender individuals and ensure effective standards exist to house and care for them throughout the custody cycle,” Thomas Homan, executive assistant director for ICE’s Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations, said in a statement.

According to the memorandum, ICE will now collect data on how many immigrants in its custody are transgender, and provide training and guidance to ICE officers to keep those detainees safe. ICE will also name of a special coordinator to manage such issues for each of its 24 field offices.

Immigrant rights groups said the proposed changes don’t go far enough, and that the agency must back up its words with deeds.

“A guidance document cannot be expected to change the fact that DHS and ICE have consistently failed at maintaining a minimum of safety and dignity for transgender immigrants,” a coalition of immigrant rights groups, including Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement and the Transgender Law Center, said in a statement. “Transgender immigrants and other vulnerable populations, including mothers with their children and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer detainees, should be released from detention.”

Monday’s announcement comes a day before immigrant rights groups and LGBT supporters are scheduled to rally at the White House to protest the detention of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender immigrants in ICE facilities.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.
In a email to Organizing for Action supporters, President Obama called for more gun control "state by state" and "city by city."

“We’ve had to come together as a nation too many times to mourn after horrific acts of gun violence. And right now, it’s not good enough simply to show sympathy.

"We need to acknowledge that there’s more work to do – that these tragedies have become far too commonplace. This is a conversation that folks need to have, and organizers like you are the ones who will move it forward.”

“People across the country are stepping up, and supporters and volunteers are working to prevent gun violence state by state and city by city – join the fight today.

“As we take the time to heal in the shadow of this most recent tragedy, more needs to be done to prevent gun violence.

“The lack of movement in Congress on this issue is incredibly frustrating. But their refusal to act won’t stop progress. Because of organizers like you, states like Washington and Oregon have introduced successful restrictions on gun purchases, like common-sense background checks.

“No single reform will eliminate violence. But we can’t give up, or act like this is some kind of new normal.

“We have to make progress where we can, and OFA and other groups have a real path forward,” President Obama said.
Isn’t it ironic that the leftist feminist movement, those who demand to be treated equally, to have a seat at the table, and to break through the glass ceiling have fought steadfastly to have the right to absolve responsibility for their actions?

If they are so smart you’d think they would not get pregnant, or if they did, would take responsibility for their actions. Instead, like little girls who have not matured, they want to run away from their actions by aborting their babies.

The vast majority of the 55 million abortions performed have not been done as a result of rape or incest, or for saving the life of the mother. They’ve been done for convenience. Repugnant is not a strong enough word for that.

Since 1972, there have been roughly 55 million abortions. Assume that 10% of those abortions have been had by women who’ve had multiples. We know for a fact that only 1% of abortions were the product of rape or incest.

That means that there are about 50 million women who have had an abortion, virtually all of which were by “choice” of self-interest.

Let’s cut the number of abortions to 40 million. Whatever. Every one of these 99% of 40 million women was told that their abortion choice was based on some sort of right . Most if not all of those women were informed that their infant was not a full human.

For us to turn that ghastly lie upside down, we are going to have to believe that 40-50 million post-abortion women will confront their choice. Ain’t gonna happen. That’s why they are so dedicated to the cynical rhetoric of the Democratic Party.

These women will not and cannot engage themselves in second guessing their own morally misled decisions. It is simply too painful, and too easy to stay wrapped in the rhetoric of gender feminism. It is too easy to condemn anyone who discusses abortion with any thoughtfulness as being “sexist” and “anti-woman.”

Out of 55 million, I am sure that some were driven by extreme circumstances. Those were the ones where moral struggle was real and true. But spare us all the conceit that 55 million industrial abortions were of that kind.

Confront, if you have the backbone, the gender feminist doctrine that sexual union should be simply for fun and freedom. Abortion is an elemental piece of that ideology.
By Alexa Ura, The Texas Tribune

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sided with Texas abortion providers and temporarily put on hold a ruling that would have closed about half of the state’s abortion facilities.

There were 19 abortion providers performing the procedure in Texas as of earlier this month.

Abortion restrictions passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013 require Texas' abortion facilities to meet hospital-like standards, including minimum sizes for rooms and doorways, pipelines for anesthesia and other infrastructure. Only a handful of Texas abortion clinics — all in major metropolitan areas — meet those standards.

On June 9, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most provisions of the state's strict abortion law, and then denied a request from abortion providers to delay the implementation of the abortion restrictions until they appealed to the high court. Abortion providers then turned to the Supreme Court, asking it to intervene before the restrictions were set to go into effect on Wednesday.

The appellate court did carve out an exception from most of the ambulatory surgical center standards for the Whole Woman’s Health clinic in McAllen and granted one of the McAllen clinic’s doctors a reprieve from a separate provision of the law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic.

“The justices have preserved Texas women’s few remaining options for safe and legal abortion care for the moment," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of Texas abortion providers. "Now it’s time to put a stop to these clinic shutdown laws once and for all."

The Texas attorney general's office, which is representing the state in court, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The high court voted 5-4 to put the ruling on hold, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito voting against the delay.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.
The lessons of socialism are in plain view and have been for decades.  The 20th century is one giant cautionary tale against socialism, and Venezuela is already a 21st century affirmation.

Anyone who does not already see is lying to himself.  Because of that lie, politicians are able to promise unicorns and pixie dust and get elected.

From Reuters:

Stunned Greeks faced shuttered banks, long supermarket lines and overwhelming uncertainty on Monday as a breakdown in talks with international lenders plunged their country deep into crisis.

With Greece's bailout expiring on June 30 and an IMF payment falling due at the same time, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pleaded in vain by phone with European officials to extend the program until a referendum on July 5 on its future terms.

The frantic efforts to secure Greece's place within the euro zone followed a dramatic weekend. Tsipras's decision, early on Saturday, to put the aid package to a popular vote took the lenders by surprise and sent Greeks rushing to cash machines.

Read more....

The core solution to Greece's problems is to create more wealth.  This requires two things:  a major revamping of its business laws and regulations in the direction of economic liberty (especially in labor freedom - where Greece ranks very low) and Greeks working more (including  retiring later in life).

Living standards are tied to economic productivity.  The latter will not be fixed by a socialist government, and until Greeks realize that and stop voting for leftists, they're going to continue waiting vainly for the impossible.
We continue learning more about the “dark businesses” of Bill and Hillary Clinton, but probably we will never know about the most scandalous operations thanks the “famous” emails that were deleted in the server of the Clinton family.

The pending question is: How many hours of the Hillary’s trips during the time she was U.S. Secretary of State were official activities of the government? It looks like Hillary used part of her trips for private businesses.

By the way, when Clinton resigned as Secretary of State, a political analyst in a PBS-News panel said that Hillary was tireless traveler, but the results of her trips were not much.

We’ve all seen this movie before. Whitewater, The Vince Foster Affair, Travelgate; the Clinton’s are fodder for more yarns than the James Bond Franchise.

They’ve been in politics for decades and their attackers never seem to tire of writing books ‘hinting’ at dark, backroom deals, corruption and murder.

There’s simply no way they can’t be guilty, right? Yet they’re still here. Ever after Ken Starr’s epic fight to bring them down, they’re still standing. They even impeached Bill – but he got off on a technicality; the Republican led Senate failed to convict.

If you’re a Darwinist, we should probably send the Hillary to the White House just because the Clinton’s have survived and proven their political fitness in the process.

The problem with all of the diehard supporters of Hillary is that the Clinton’s mendacity rubs off on anyone blindly defending them. Can anyone honestly say that all the support is not bought and paid for by the foundation? Even if not true, why would anyone cast their own credibility into the pot to mix with such obvious ethical miscreants?

After 6+ years of Obama apologists, misguided sycophants and ideological lemmings, one would think the country is sick and tired of the political shenanigans, the stonewalling and the utter lack of transparency despite protestations to the contrary.