Daily Archives: February 15, 2014

We wuz robbed

after-the-blizzard-no-watermarkThe “snowstorm” has come and already gone, leaving barely an inch behind. Perhaps I should rethink my resistance to the global warming theory – something must have caused this disappointment.

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Using the courts to accomplish what the legislature won’t

Out out out

Out out out

That’s an old liberal tactic, but now it’s being employed by California conservatives to eliminate tenure for public school teachers. 

How well certain teachers educated Ms. Vergara and her fellow plaintiffs is at the heart of the closely watched case. Research has pointed to teacher quality as the biggest in-school determinant of student performance, and in recent years many states have moved to simplify dismissal procedures for ineffective teachers and encourage districts to consider teacher performance in layoff decisions rather than conducting reductions in force based only on seniority.

But efforts in California have failed in the Legislature, so advocates took their case to court—a novel way to test the long-standing state policies. If successful, the tactic could set an example for those looking to push through similar changes in other states.

Vergara v. California argues that state law regarding tenure, dismissal and layoff procedures for teachers serve to “entrench” bad teachers in public schools and prevent districts “from providing an effective education to all of their students, as guaranteed by the California Constitution.”

The suit asks that the state tenure laws be declared unconstitutional, and that the court prohibit their enforcement and bar the defendants from implementing them in any other way, such as in a contract. The suit argues the laws deny administrators the flexibility “to make teacher employment decisions driven by the needs of their students.”

 

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Buy my healthcare or I’ll drown these kittens

Obama has yet another ploy to entice the Pajama Kid crowd to sign up for ObamaCare: adorable, cute kittens!

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 7.09.22 PM

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Stamford short sale lawyer heads off to the pokey

Why is this man smiling?

Why is this man smiling?

One Christopher Brecciano  – I don’t know the guy, but there’s been an awful lot of this going on, particularly outside of Greenwich. I’m sure it’s going on in Greenwich, too, but most of the tales I hear of originate in Stamford and parts north and east.

Brecciano waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty Wednesday, Feb. 12, in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. The conspiracy defrauded financial institutions through an extensive mortgage fraud scheme that involved dozens of properties in Fairfield County, the U.S. attorney said.

Brecciano, 35, acted as a closing attorney for at least 50 mortgage loan transactions from 2006 to 2010 in which materially false information was provided to mortgage lenders by Brecciano or his co-conspirators, the U.S. attorney said.

The conspiracy involved the purchase of many single and multi-family properties, primarily in Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford.

The fraudulent information included false verifications of down payments for real estate transactions, false deeds, and false HUD-1 Forms.

In many of the transactions, Brecciano knew that the borrower was a “straw buyer,” and that other individuals intended to control the property and collect rent from it, the U.S. attorney said.  In many transactions, he distributed mortgage loan funds to the straw buyer and other co-conspirators at the closing.

Many of these properties ended up in foreclosure, or in short sale transactions. Through this scheme, lenders sustained losses of more than $7 million.

In pleading guilty, he admitted that he was also involved in many short sale transactions in which  he knew that the buyer and seller were working together to retain control of the property while representing to the lender that the sale was an arm’s length transaction.

By pleading guilty, Brecciano faces a maximum of 30 years in prison. He will be sentenced on May 7.

He’s got a linked in page up – apparently he’s left his old employer as of January and now runs a solo practice. If you want to use his services, you’d better hurry.

UPDATE: Former Milford First Selectman candidate Genevieve Salvatore, another lawyer, pled guilty last November to the same sort of thing and she, too will be heading off to jail. I met her a couple of times and she seemed like a very nice woman, but there you have it; short sales offered all sorts of possibilities for fraud, and a fair number of people involved in them succumbed to temptation.

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That’s the same percentage that believe in global warming, but far less than those who think astrology is a science

And yet it moves; now go back to watching your TV

And yet it moves; now go back to watching your TV

Survey: 25% of adult Americans don’t know that the earth revolves around the sun.

Meanwhile, about 90% of respondents were enthusiastic about science, and 1 in 3 thought it should get more government funding.

We’re doomed.

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Warrantless NSA spying on lawyers and their clients

And Dianne Feinstein cheers

And Dianne Feinstein cheers

While that may sound like a good idea, on reflection, most citizens might not want their conversations with their lawyers intercepted and disseminated to third parties, as was done here. This particular incident, reported in the NYT, involved listening in to a major American law firm’s communications with its client, the Indonesian government, as trade talks between Indonesia and the United States were conducted, and offering the information so gleaned to U.S. negotiators.

Next week, it’s a government employee selling your corporate information to one of your business competitors. The late novelist Vince Flynn suggested exactly this is already going on, but until a year ago, most of us might have dismissed it as fiction. No longer.

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They probably looked under the sofa cushion

 

Meal Ready to Eat

Meal Ready to Eat

Military develops pizza that lasts for years

Researchers at a US military lab in Massachusetts are closing in on a recipe that doesn’t require any refrigeration or freezing.

“You can basically take the pizza, leave it on the counter, packaged, for three years and it’d still be edible,” said Michelle Richardson, a food scientist at the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

I think I’ll extend my deferment a couple more years until they have a chance to work the bugs out.

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Just saying …

 

It's not always rainbows and butterflies

It’s not always rainbows and butterflies

Homeowners forced to install solar panels, electric bills increase up to 220 per cent.

Residents who were forced to have solar panels fitted to their homes under a green scheme are now being charged £1,000 more for heating.

The householders were given a £38,000 taxpayer-funded grant and were told the panels would generate spare electricity that they could sell back to the National Grid. They would be saving hundreds of pounds on their energy bills and helping the environment, they were told.

But the panels were incorrectly installed and, as a result, some people have seen their bills rise by up to 220 per cent. Sixty residents have signed a petition stating that many have been pushed into fuel poverty. Experts blame ‘inherent design issues’ for the problems, including panels fitted on the wrong sides of houses.

A total of 175 householders in Longtown, Cumbria, received the new system from Warmer Energy Services, financed by Riverside Housing Association.

The £38,000 grant came from a government-backed scheme called Cert (Carbon Emissions Reduction Target). One man has now turned off his boiler altogether. James Rob, 42, a window cleaner, who lives in a two-bedroom flat, used to pay £25 a week for heating.

He said: ‘Any saving would have been fine, but now I’m paying £80 a week. I can’t afford it so I only heat one room with an electric heater.

A Riverside spokesman said: ‘Generally the feedback from  tenants about the improvements has been very positive.

‘We are a non-profit organisation and use the income generated, by selling energy back to the National Grid, to improve homes and provide better services to tenants.

Well, if their intentions were good, never mind.

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Aww, you shouldn’t have

Paul Muno breaks the ice

Paul Muni breaks the ice

Inmate breaks out of jail to have a Valentine’s Day dinner date with girlfriend, recaptured before even the first canapé is served.

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No wonder Walt’s so enthusiastic about Olympic hockey

Overtime specialist T. J. Oshie, who was brought over to Russia in case his help was needed (it was, he did), has a  girlfriend, Lauren Cosgrove. Hmmm.

lauren cosgrove

tumblr_muhlpeRq4p1sznyklo1_1280

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More global warming idiocy

We're doomed, I tell you, we're doomed!!

We’re doomed, I tell you, we’re doomed!!

A “science reporter” (cough cough) named Dina Spector writes in Business Insider today that global warming has ruined the earth.

Almost all scientists now agree that global climate change is caused by humans. A steadily-warming planet impacts the environment in many different ways.

Rising global temperatures, largely due to man-made greenhouse gases, are the source of widely-discussed observable changes to the Earth like melting glaciers, rising sea levels, warming oceans, and more extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, droughts, forest fires, and floods.

Miss Spector, an English major from Syracuse University and former copy editor, just last month falsely claimed that a new breed of shark was proof of global warming, a story that was retracted by her editors at Business Insider. Now they’ve let her loose again, and she’s made the unfortunate mistake of illustrating her “everyone knows global warming is ruining the earth” screed with before and after shots of the Matterhorn, showing it snowier in 1960 that it is today. While it’s true that the young lady was in nursery school in 2005 and thus would have no memory of events of that time,   even the least bit of research would have turned up news articles from then describing the reemergence of the Swiss Alps and the revelation of a warmer climate, all predating the past 50 years.

Business Insider claims to want to become a reliable reporter of business information – spewing hysterical, sophomoric reporting like that of Miss Spector works against that goal.

As glaciers melt, Swiss villages and evidence of warmer climes from 2,000 B.C. emerge.

All this the archaeologists owe to the retreat the glacier in the upper Bernese country, which continues for decades and was accelerated by the particularly hot summer of 2003. However it was still hotter in the third millennium BC. At that time the temperatures in the Swiss Alps were up to two degrees [centigrade] over today’s. The timber line had climbed substantially, the glacier zone began only at 2700 meters. In the outgoing Stone Age and the early Bronze Age, the inhabitants of central Switzerland used the later completely forgotten Schnidepass, in order to come directly into the Rhonetal.

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Two nations

Air Force II arrives in Aspen

Air Force II arrives in Aspen

While millions of middle class workers toiled shoveling their driveways to get to work, President “End Income Disparity” Barry Obama has flown to California to lecture us on carbon footprints and then spend the weekend playing golf. Using another taxpayer jet, the President’s Queen and daughters have landed in Aspen for a three-day ski holiday. That the Aspen airport was shut down to prepare for Miss Privilege’s arrival seems the least of it.

For two people who have never worked a real job in their lives, the First Couple have really gotten into the swing of living rich.

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The headlines say six more inches, the fine print says two

 

British children sledding, 2014

British children sledding, 2014

Snowmageddon!

Whatever. Remember, as of the year 2000, according to the British Independent, “Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past”

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T’was always thus and always thus will be

South Bronx, 1975

South Bronx, 1975

Richard Fernandez on the collapse of Venezuela, and our cities

…. Welcome to Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, a country with the fifth largest oil reserves in the world and absolutely broke. It’s a remarkable achievement for Chavismo. A just-wow moment. Socialism is useless at everything except for smashing things in record time. There it excels. It’s hard to imagine that as late as the 1980s Venezuela had the highest standard of living in Latin America. But then in 1960 Detroit was the richest city in the world in per capita income. Now it’s well … Detroit.

[snip] 

The real damage was internal. A society can survive the loss of things, but it cannot survive without institutions or the destruction of culture. Culture is to nations what an immune system is to people. Nations under siege fall back on some atavistic condition. Thus, occupied Poland becomes more Catholic, as does Ireland, and as Egypt perhaps becomes more Muslim. They fall back on the known and the comforting. City Hall might collapse and the factory temporarily closed but if culture and identity survive these things can be reopened again.

[snip]

The genius of the Left — Chavez’s for example — is that it destroys things from the inside out.  They pervert religion, collapse the mores, abolish the family, shred the constitution and gradually expropriate the property. The differences from one day to the next are apparently imperceptible, but it is harder and harder to go back until finally there is no reversal of ‘progressive gains’ possible at all.  The public is finally faced with the stark choice between chaos or authoritarianism.  And most people will chose the Boss over the Mob.

The problem with Venezuela is that Chavismo has left people with nowhere else to go. It’s burned the bridges. There’s no reopening the car plants or restarting the factories, or even repairing the power plants. The engineers have all emigrated to Alberta, Canada. The same can be said of Syria. Who wants to open a store in Homs? In ten years nobody left in Homs will even remember how to do it. A whole generation of children is now growing up who know nothing other than war.

One reason why Japan recovered relatively quickly after the Second World War was while the massive aerial assault leveled Japan’s cities it did not destroy the cultural and social institutions of Japan. When the smoke cleared the Japanese were still there and they rebuilt. By contrast destroying culture is so much more lethal. Detroit was untouched by the war. Not a bomb fell on it. But years of public education worked their magic. It dismantled the culture and social institutions which once built its factories. Time reports Detroit had posted the lowest math scores in the history of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

“These numbers are only slightly better than what one would expect by chance as if the kids had never gone to school and simply guessed at the answers,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Washington-based Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban school districts. “These numbers … are shocking and appalling and should not be allowed to stand.”

Not only will they be allowed to stand but improved upon in every negative way, thus proving that union education is arguably more destructive than the Atomic Bomb, only less obviously so. The reason why collapse, especially that caused by socialism, is so utterly complete is that the damage remains hidden for so long. The design margin is used up; savings are depleted; the institutions are hollowed out; public morality becomes perverted and education becomes nothing but a credential — and it all happens out of the public eye. Only when everything is used up, as in Venezuela, when the whole edifice implodes, as if by magic, does the cumulative effect become manifest.

Most people are spurred into resistance by a crisis. But they remain lulled into complacency while the crisis remains imperceptible. Progressive tyranny benefits from image management, and takes great pains to keep crisis from view. The most insidious thing about a secret police is its very secrecy, because the mayhem it wreaks is upon the intangibles, among things we call legitimacy. So it goes until only a facade is left. Until the day of death the victim is largely asymptomatic, except for a gradual weakening. When the onset comes he discovers that his immune system is completely gone and the end is sudden.

That’s how disaster sneaks up on a world determined never to see it coming.


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VW workers vote to keep their jobs

 

GM plant - at least it was unionized, til the very end

GM plant – at least it was unionized, til the very end

Reject UAW in Tennessee.

VW itself encouraged the union because it wants to set up a worker/management board at the plant similar to those it has in every other country, but under U.S. labor law, those are illegal unless there’s a union.

Volkswagen said it was neutral on the vote, but opponents of the union had also criticized the company for being too welcoming of the union organizing effort.

Volkswagen wants to establish a so-called “works council” at the plant, in which management and hourly workers together come up with ways to make the plant’s operations more efficient.

The automaker has works councils at virtually every plant it operates around the world. But there were doubts about whether the council could be set up under U.S. labor law without a union being in place.

If a “works council” is a good idea, and VW obviously thinks it is, maybe we should change our labor laws to permit them. Never happen.

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If only it had been our former Vice President

We have ignition

We have ignition

Woman badly burned when toilet explodes from under her after methane gas build-up.

Our own EPA is all over this, at least in so far as it applies to animal bovines, and issued a stern warning after a barn blew up from cow farts.

Yes, farts are funny, especially cow farts, but they’re also a big problem for the environment. Methane from livestock’s natural body processes accounted for about 23 percent of all human-related methane emissions in the United States in 2011, according to a report from the Environmental Protection Agency. “Of all domestic animal types,” the report states, “beef and dairy cattle were by far the largest emitters” of methane, accounting for 96 percent of methane emitted by livestock.

Al Gore is a waddling time bomb.

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There ought to be a licensing requirement for parents

Sacrificial lambie

Sacrificial lambie

British couple raising their one-year-old to be a boy,girl, homo, “whatever”. It will grievously disappoint these idiots that they can dress the boy in tutus and frocks all they want, if he’s a boy he’ll be a boy; a very confused one, alas, but still a boy.

Max, who turns two later this month and lives in Walsall, is being raised according to a radical technique known as ‘gender-neutral parenting’.

It means Lisa and her husband, Martin, 34, encourage him to wear both boys’ and girls’ clothes, and to play with conventionally female – as well as male – toys.

Rather than being worried if he decides not to play football, and asks instead for someone to paint his fingernails with glittery polish,  they instead see it as a form of cute self-expression.

‘If Max wants to wear a pink tutu and fairy wings, then he can wear it,’ says Lisa. ‘He’s just expressing himself. I don’t want to put him in a certain box and treat him that way. I want to teach him to be whatever he wants to be. He can pick his own clothes and, as long as they’re warm enough for the winter, I’ll get him whatever he wants.’

Lisa, a full-time housewife, took the decision to allow Max to identify as either a girl or a boy 12 months ago, after seeing high-profile rape cases being discussed on parenting websites. ‘Gender stereotypes can be so damaging.‘They teach little boys to be aggressive and dominant over women,’ she argues. ‘There’s research out there saying that the whole “boys will be boys” thing basically teaches lads that it’s OK to be a certain way, because it’s in their nature to be aggressive. It’s detrimental for them and for females.’

The decision was fully supported by Martin, an unemployed courier. ‘I think my husband is more of a feminist than I am,’ she says. ‘His biggest concern about the whole thing is usually “does Max have the right shoes to go with that dress!”’

In New York, they’re keeping schools open during blizzards to feed children whose mothers are too stoned out, lazy and/or stupid to feed them; I’m sure “gender-neutral parenting” will be the next affliction imposed on their wealthier peers.

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