April 2, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 3:52 PM

Posted by orrinj at 3:07 PM


Kushner's privileged status stokes resentment in White House (JOSH DAWSEY, KENNETH P. VOGEL and ALEX ISENSTADT, 04/01/17, Politico)

[K]ushner's status as the big-issue guru has stoked resentment among his colleagues, who question whether Kushner is capable of following through on his various commitments. And some colleagues complain that his dabbling in myriad issues and his tendency to walk in and out of meetings have complicated efforts to instill more order and organization into the chaotic administration. These people also say Kushner can be a shrewd self promoter, knowing how to take credit -- and shirk blame -- whenever it suits him.

"He's saving the government and the Middle East at the same time," one senior administration official quipped. [...]

The creation of the office added to a perception around the White House that Kushner's portfolio is almost impossibly ambitious, and that he prefers big-picture discussions to the sometimes mundane and detail-oriented work involved in carrying out policy changes.

On Wednesday, White House staffers and outside allies passed around a story from the parody website The Onion indicating that Kushner had "quietly moved the task 'solve Middle East crisis' to his to-do list for next week" because "there was simply too much on his plate right now to bring stability to the fractious region by end of day Friday."

Posted by orrinj at 2:53 PM


White House social media director misused official position by going after GOP lawmaker, ethics experts say (Matea Gold April 2, 2017,  Washington Post)

A tweet by White House social media director Dan Scavino Jr. urging supporters of President Trump to challenge a GOP lawmaker may have violated a federal law that prohibits officials from using their positions for political activity, ethics experts said.

On Saturday, Scavino went after Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, calling him "a big liability" in a tweet from his personal account. "#TrumpTrain, defeat him in primary," he added. [...]

"You can't just load up your personal Twitter page with a lot of official stuff," Painter said. "This is way over the top. It's not a personal page. It's chock full of official stuff."

Painter said he thinks Scavino's tweet violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits the use of one's office for political purposes.

"We would have fired him" in the Bush White House, he said. "This is use of official position for a partisan election."

...but, more importantly, it's moronic:

Amash beats Ellis, demands apology (KENDALL BREITMAN, 08/06/14, Politico)

Rep. Justin Amash may have won the Republican primary for Michigan's 3rd Congressional District but the fight is not over, as he took his victory speech as an opportunity to call one fellow Republican a "disgrace" and to demand an apology from another.

"To Brian Ellis, you owe my family and this community an apology for your disgusting, despicable smear campaign," Amash said on Tuesday after winning the GOP primary. "You had the audacity to try to call me today, after running a campaign that was called the nastiest in the country."

Amash claimed a victory on Tuesday night against Ellis, taking 57.4 percent of the votes, compared to Ellis' 42.6 percent. The results came after campaign ads, such as one that called Amash "Al Qaeda's best friend in Congress," drew national attention.

Posted by orrinj at 10:15 AM


A judge rules Trump may have incited violence ... and Trump again has his own mouth to blame (Aaron Blake, April 2, 2017, Washington Post)

The courts keep taking Donald Trump both seriously and literally. And the president's word choices are proving to be a real headache.

A federal judge in Kentucky is the latest to take Trump at his word when he says something controversial. Judge David J. Hale ruled against efforts by Trump's attorneys to throw out a lawsuit accusing him of inciting violence against protesters at a March 2016 campaign rally in Louisville.

At the rally, Trump repeatedly said "get 'em out" and "get 'em the hell out of here" before, according to the protesters, they were shoved and punched by his supporters. Trump's attorneys sought to have the case dismissed on free speech grounds, arguing that he didn't intend for his supporters to use force. But Hale noted that speech inciting violence is not protected by the First Amendment and ruled that there is plenty of evidence that the protesters' injuries were a "direct and proximate result" of Trump's words.

"It is plausible that Trump's direction to 'get 'em out of here' advocated the use of force," Hale wrote. "It was an order, an instruction, a command."

It's merely the latest example of Trump's team arguing that his controversial words shouldn't be taken literally. 

...that he should never be taken seriously.
Posted by orrinj at 10:11 AM


Out of the Park Baseball 18, an Official Licensee of MLB.com, MLBPA, and MiLB.com,

Now Available Worldwide

Follow-up to Metacritic's 2016 PC Game of the Year features a new Challenge Mode, Online Profiles and Leaderboards, real 2017 major and minor league rosters, historic Negro League teams, improved 3D mode, new tournaments, and much more

Out of the Park Developments, an official licensee of MLB.com, the MLBPA, and MiLB.com, today announced that Out of the Park Baseball 18 is now available worldwide. The follow-up to the acclaimed Metacritic 2016 PC Game of the Year includes several exciting new features and a treasure trove of deep improvements to its award-winning gameplay.

Out of the Park Baseball 18 sells for $39.99 and is available on Steam and through the company's website at these links:



For the first time, Out of the Park Baseball 18 introduces an all-new Challenge Mode. This allows series newcomers to enjoy a powerful way to learn the intricacies of this deep strategy title, while driving community engagement for all users via the creation of online profiles to share accomplishments on new leaderboards. The Challenge Mode is just the beginning of an all-new, long-term expansion of OOTP's online platform -- more will be unveiled during the course of the 2017 baseball season.

Out of the Park Baseball 18 also includes:

  • 2017 roster sets with all Opening Day MLB rosters, as well as the complete minor league system from Triple-A down to rookie leagues and the Arizona Fall League. All major league (and over a thousand minor league) player ratings are based on the popular ZiPS player projection system. The 8 international leagues, as well as independent minor leagues in the US, also return this year with accurate rosters.

  • Historical Negro League clubs, thanks to a partnership with OOTP's acclaimed historical database experts and Seamheads.com. This feature allows baseball fans to explore the rich history of a bygone era, create compelling what-if scenarios, pit major league clubs against their Negro League counterparts, and much more.

  • Improvements to 3D mode, including: Even more ballpark detail; better on-field player models and enhanced on-field decisions; and the ability to save all 3D highlights and watch a highlight reel, whether the game was played out or simulated.

  • Custom and real world tournaments for all the teams included in the game. National and international tournaments are a breeze to create, as is the ability to import historical teams.

  • Extensive AI improvements, including roster management, trades, and in-game decision-making.

  • A redesigned injury system that features detailed injury histories for all players, little nagging long-term injuries, and more.

  • Many more improvements, including:

    • A beautiful new interface

    • Improved game recaps

    • An upgraded player morale/team chemistry system

    • Enhanced play-by-play text and league news

    • A sophisticated system for team relegation and promotion between leagues

    • The ability to retain player salaries in trades

    • The incorporation of many 2017 CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) rule changes

    • Faster import speeds of historical minor league seasons

OOTP 18 runs on PC/Mac/Linux and, like last year, it features the American League and National League logos, the World Series trophy, official logos and jerseys for all 30 MLB teams, over 150 Minor League Baseball league and team logos, and historical MLB logos.

"Fans have been overwhelmingly positive about Out of the Park Baseball 18 since it was announced in January," said lead developer, lifelong baseball fan, and Out of the Park Developments CEO Markus Heinsohn. "We're thrilled to deliver a game that will allow us to dramatically expand our online community and delight a new generation of fans."

"Out of the Park Baseball has been setting the bar high for sports management games over the past 18 years, and this year's edition is no different," said Out of the Park Developments CMO Richard Grisham. "Every time I think they can't top last year's version, they do it again. I tip my cap to the hardest-working development team in video games."

About Out of the Park Developments

Out of the Park Developments is the developer of the award-winning OOTP and MLB Manager series of baseball management simulations, Franchise Hockey Manager, and Beyond the Sideline Football. German-based OOTP Developments was founded by Markus Heinsohn and Andreas Raht in 1999. OOTP Developments has consistently produced games that have met with critical acclaim, including winning Metacritic's coveted "PC Game of the Year" for the 2016 version of OOTP and "Game of the Year" for the 2007 edition of OOTP, which remains the second highest-rated PC game on Metacritic of all time. Further information on the company and its games is available from the OOTP Developments website, http://www.ootpdevelopments.com



OOTP 18 Media Assets: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/19p1wujyyjz5sxp/AADnuXXYlCyq62_PDB8ArRola?dl=0

OOTP 18 Trailer: https://youtu.be/AkCiK1EGcVE

Posted by orrinj at 10:04 AM


White House pulled out of meet and greet with 'conservatives' favorite Russian' over suspected mob ties (Michael Isikoff, 4/02/17, Yahoo News)

The White House abruptly canceled a scheduled meeting in February between President Trump and a high-level Russian central banker after a national security aide discovered the official had been named by Spanish police as a suspected "godfather" of an organized crime and money-laundering ring, according to an administration official and four other sources familiar with the event.

The event had been planned as a meet and greet with President Trump and Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, in a waiting room at the Washington Hilton before the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 2. Torshin, a top official in his country's central bank, headed a Russian delegation to the annual event and was among a small number of guests who had been invited by Prayer Breakfast leaders to meet with Trump before it began.

But while reviewing the list of guests, a White House national security aide responsible for European affairs noticed Torshin's name and flagged him as a figure who had "baggage," a reference to his suspected ties to organized crime, an administration official told Yahoo News. 

Posted by orrinj at 9:54 AM


Haley Says Russia Was 'Certainly' Involved in U.S. Election (Ros Krasny, April 2, 2017, Bloomberg)

The U.S. envoy to the United Nations says she's maintaining a hard line against Russia, even as her boss -- President Donald Trump -- continues to dismiss reported Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. election as fake news.

"Certainly I think Russia was involved in the election. There's no question about that," Nikki Haley said in an interview with ABC's "This Week" broadcast on Sunday, according to a transcript provided by the network.

Posted by orrinj at 8:40 AM


Opening Day always comes at perfect time : Statcast adding new dimension as 2017 season begins (Joe Posnanski, 4/02/17, MLB.com)

But baseball's Opening Day comes at the perfect time, as the days stretch out, as coats and scarves get buried in the backs of closets, as the dreams of graduations and summer vacations and days at the swimming pool begin to feel real. Only a handful of people walk through the Baseball Hall of Fame in the winter. Now, more and more, they begin to come.

"Are you ready for Opening Day?" the greeter asks each of them. Of course they are.

They come for many things, of course: to see the plaques of the all-time greats, to get goosebumps watching the video of George Brett charging the umpire after the pine-tar home run, to see Wonderboy, the bat Roy Hobbs used in "The Natural," or the hear Abbott and Costello do their "Who's on First?" routine one more time.

People come to Cooperstown to be immersed in the language of baseball again, after a long winter without the game. We barely realize that so many of the things that we say in baseball make no literal sense now. We say that ballplayers dress in a clubhouse, not a locker room. Why? Because baseball began with actual clubs, amateur players who got together in a clubhouse, smoked cigars, talked about business or the weather or their feelings about Ulysses S. Grant, and then went out and played baseball.

We talk about a ball getting hit "through the box." There is no box on the pitcher's mound ... but there used to be, long ago, back when the rules demanded that pitchers throw underhand.

And for that matter, that's why they're still called "pitchers." They used to pitch the ball, the way we still pitch horseshoes. The idea was to let the hitter hit, like in slow-pitch softball. A few mid-19th-century pitchers, like Jim Creighton and Asa Brainard (some believe the term for a pitching "ace" comes from Asa), bent the rule, started trying to mix in a few spins, some extra speed in order make it harder for the hitter. Pitchers kept bending the rule, then breaking it, adding pitch types, curveballs, spitballs, and the game developed into something else. The pitcher title remained.

At the same time, the language of baseball changes constantly. Relief pitchers become firemen become closers. Newer advanced statistics like FIP and WAR and OPS and BABIP begin to capture the imagination. This Opening Day is particularly exciting, because this year we baseball fans will start hearing more and more about barrels and five-star catches and pop time.
These words are part of the language of Statcastâ„¢, a whole new way to measure and look at the game. The technology of Statcastâ„¢ -- which uses cameras and radar technology to track everything that moves on a baseball field -- is pretty baffling. But the insights are incredible. There are now ways to see the game and to tell stories about the game that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago.

Posted by orrinj at 8:02 AM

Posted by orrinj at 7:57 AM


In Trump Country, Shock at Trump Budget Cuts, but Still Loyalty (Nicholas Kristof, 4/01/17, NY Times)

Moreno was sitting at a table with his boss, Rocky Payton, the factory's general manager, and Amy Saum, the human resources manager. All said they had voted for Trump, and all were bewildered that he wanted to cut funds that channel people into good manufacturing jobs.

"There's a lot of wasteful spending, so cut other places," Moreno said.

Payton suggested that if the government wants to cut budgets, it should target "Obama phones" provided to low-income Americans. (In fact, the program predates President Barack Obama and is financed by telecom companies rather than by taxpayers.)


Posted by orrinj at 7:52 AM


Co-op Members Discuss 2016's Loss, Look Ahead (Matt Hongoltz-Hetling, 4/02/17, Valley News)

Hanover Co-op leaders celebrated the ethical achievements of their business model during an annual meeting Saturday, and also fielded questions about the finances of the entity, which posted its first loss in several years in 2016. [...]

The organization remains financially healthy, said Paul Guidone, director of finance, but the loss puts pressure on its ability to make progress on other goals, such as a push to increase the minimum wage of the Co-op workforce from what Roisin describes as about $13.

The event also marked the beginning of a 30-day voting period for the store's 25,000 members on amendments to the bylaws and new members for the organization's board.

Board member Elizabeth Blum, one of five candidates running for five open seats on the board, said upping the minimum wage is important to her.

"I also have been committed to a livable wage for a number of years and I would like to get the Co-op to a minimum wage of $15," she said.

In response to a question from the audience, Guidone said the change would bump the organization's overall labor costs by 15 to 20 percent, a difference of between $2 million and $2.5 million. "To be able to pay for that all at once, we'd need another seven million in sales," he said. "To do it all at once is almost impossible. But we have a desire to do it, a strong desire."

Automate the work.

Posted by orrinj at 7:29 AM


Marvel Exec Claims Forced 'Diversity,' Female-Led Comics Responsible for Slump (Emily Zanotti, April 2, 2017, Heat Street)

David Gabriel, Marvel's Senior Vice President of sales and marketing told icv2.com that Marvel has been struggling to sell comics because, while feminists and progressive activists pushed for more diversity in comics, minority and female heroes, Marvel's core fan base just weren't interested.

"What we heard was that people didn't want any more diversity...that's what we saw in sales," Gabriel said. "We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against."

Posted by orrinj at 7:20 AM


"Field of Dreams": Baseball, the Prodigal, and Paradise (Stephen Turley, 4/01/17, Imaginative Conservative)

As I reflect on this film, I am struck by how beautifully it portrays in a contemporary idiom the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but even more so, the grand cosmic drama to which that Parable points: that of Paradise lost and Paradise regained. The baseball park is a paragon of geometrical perfection, carpeted with grass glowing as parrot green, cool as mint, soft as a cashmere blanket, framed by the breezy movement of cornstalks, backgrounded by the eternity of the stretched-out canopy of a fathomless blue sky; a garden of aesthetic delights that awaken the senses and cultivate the imagination. Shoeless Joe in fact says as much; he tells Ray when they first meet that after he was banned from baseball, he would wake up at night with the smell of the ballpark in his nose and the cool of the grass on his feet. "Oh man, I did love this game," he says longingly; "the game, the sounds, the smells."

But for Ray and Shoeless Joe, the baseball field involved an additional dimension: it was a place where they both knew life before innocence was lost. For Ray in particular, the baseball field was a place where he could commune with his father, who appeared larger than life through childlike eyes, but whose stature faded as those eyes began to change. The baseball field was perceived progressively as a prison, and freedom was found away from home.

And yet, while Ray may have fallen away from his childhood paradise, the ballpark never seems to leave him. Indeed, we see this 'hound of heaven' motif with all the characters throughout the film, uniting them in a symphony of redemption that is able to transcend time. One commentator writes: "Baseball is rhythm without time, the lack of clock rendering the events immortal instead of static. There's no running out the clock... A baseball game lasts exactly as long as it needs to, like a life time.... Baseball is the way our hearts wish time worked."

Terence Mann draws from this "time outside of time" when he informs Ray that he will not have to sell his farm or the baseball field that he built, because it will be a field of dreams for more people than he could ever imagine. In an eloquent soliloquy, Terence proclaims:

People will come, Ray.... And they'll walk off to the bleachers and sit in their short sleeves on a perfect afternoon. And find they have reserved seats somewhere along the baselines where they sat when they were children... And they'll watch the game, and it'll be as they'd dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they'll have to brush them away from their faces... This field, this game... reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. [...]

It's the beginning of springtime as I write; that time of year my two young boys take to the diamond-shaped field of the Little League gateway into the dawn of summer. I often sit on decaying wooden slabs across rickety stands, watching these once toddlers turn into young men. Sitting there, gazing over that field illuminated by the late afternoon sun, my boys are transfigured into what, in many respects, we were always meant to be: delighted dwellers in a timeless garden, that place where our humanity flourishes. And it is there, when my sons look for and catch my fatherly eye surveying their immersion in this field of dreams, that I am truly reminded of all that once was good, and that could be again.

We smile at one another. Paradise regained.

Posted by orrinj at 7:07 AM


WHERE DID THE "BILLY GRAHAM RULE" COME FROM? (Justin Taylor, March 30, 2017, Gospel Coalition)

[W]e made a series of resolutions or commitment among ourselves that would guide us in our future evangelistic work. In reality, it was more of an informal understanding among ourselves--a shared commitment to do all we could do to uphold the Bible's standard of absolute integrity and purity for evangelists.

[1. Money]

The first point on our combined list was money. Nearly all evangelists at that time--including us--were supported by love offerings taken at the meetings. The temptation to wring as much money as possible out of an audience, often with strong emotional appeals, was too great for some evangelists. In addition, there was little or no accountability for finances. It was a system that was easy to abuse--and led to the charge that evangelists were in it only for the money.

I had been drawing a salary from YFC (Youth for Christ) and turning all offerings from YFC meetings over to YFC committees, but my new independent efforts in citywide campaigns required separate finances. In Modesto we determined to do all we could to avoid financial abuses and to downplay the offering and depend as much as possible on money raised by the local committee in advance.

[2. Sexual Immorality]

The second item on the list was the danger of sexual immorality. We all knew of evangelists who had fallen into immorality while separated from their families by travel. We pledged among ourselves to avoid any situation that would have even the appearance of compromise or suspicion. From that day on, I did not travel, meet or eat alone with a woman other than my wife. We determined that the Apostle Paul's mandate to the young pastor Timothy would be ours as well: "Flee . . . youthful lusts" (2 Timothy 1:22, KJV).

[3. Attitude Against the Local Church]

Our third concern was the tendency of many evangelists to carry on their work apart from the local church, even to criticize local pastors and churches openly and scathingly. We were convinced, however, that this was not only counterproductive but also wrong from the Bible's standpoint. We determined to cooperate with all who would cooperate with us in the public proclamation of the Gospel, and to avoid an antichurch or anticlergy attitude.

[4. Publicity]

The fourth and final issue was publicity. The tendency among some evangelists was to exaggerate their successes or to claim higher attendance numbers than they really had. This likewise discredited evangelism and brought the whole enterprise under suspicion. It often made the press so suspicious of evangelists that they refused to take notice of their work. In Modesto we committed ourselves to integrity in our publicity and our reporting.