April 7, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 12:37 PM

THE CULTURE WARS ARE A ROUT (profanity alert):

Why Are So Many Bisexuals On TV Also Sociopaths?: Villanelle in Killing Eve is the latest in a long line of bisexual characters for whom lust and bloodlust go hand in hand. (Hannah Harris Green, April 5, 2019, Buzzfeed)

Amoral, deeply disturbed bisexual characters have become so common that GLAAD has repeatedly noted the trope in its "Where We Are on TV" surveys. Other leading bisexual characters who are way too comfortable with manipulation and murder include Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), who does both these things to gain the presidency on Netflix's House of Cards, and Annalise Keating (Viola Davis), who goes far beyond her duties as a defense lawyer when it comes to protecting known killers on ABC's How to Get Away With Murder. All three characters are obsessed with control; they are pathological liars, they are unfaithful, and, without giving away too much, they're all at best blasé if their "loved" ones end up dead. Given the growing -- but still small -- number of bisexual characters onscreen, viewers might not be able to avoid internalizing the idea that bisexual lust and bloodlust go hand in hand.

Annalise, Frank, and Villanelle not only embody these characteristics to a T they are such well-known and prominent characters that they have the potential to become iconic. Together they create a kind of new archetype for sociopathic bisexual characters. Their sexuality is explicit, not implied -- setting them apart from many queer villains past. Not only are they amoral but they arrogantly prescribe different sets of rules for themselves -- think of Frank Underwood justifying puppy murder to the camera in the first scene of House of Cards. They are unable to control their appetite -- for food (Villanelle is obsessed with sweets, Annalise drinks vodka and can't get enough ice cream, Frank eats ribs for breakfast), sex, or control.

Posted by orrinj at 8:36 AM


New NAFTA deal 'in trouble', bruised by elections, tariff rows (Dave Graham, David Ljunggren, 4/07/19, Reuters) 

More than six months after the United States, Mexico and Canada agreed a new deal to govern more than $1 trillion in regional trade, the chances of the countries ratifying the pact this year are receding.

The Trump presidency barely exists.

Posted by orrinj at 8:06 AM


The Jones Act: A Drag on America's Economy (GEORGE WILL, April 7, 2019, National Review)

Using national security as an excuse for economic foolishness, in the service of cupidity, is nothing new. What is novel nowadays is a legislator standing athwart foolishness, yelling "Stop!" Although it is impossible to imagine Senator Mike Lee yelling.

The Utah Republican, he of the white shirts, blue suits, subdued ties, and measured words softly spoken in stately cadences, lacks the demeanor of a brawler spoiling for a fight. He has, however, just picked one concerning a small sliver of something vast -- crony capitalism disguised as patriotism.

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, a.k.a. the Jones Act, was passed after one war and supposedly in anticipation of others. Its purported purpose was to encourage the development of a merchant marine sufficient for war or other "national emergency." Ninety-nine years later, the nation is in a "national emergency" (presidential disappointment regarding his wall); emergencies and national-security crises multiply as the ease of declaring them increases. Never mind. The Jones Act has failed to achieve its stated aims while inflicting substantial unanticipated costs, enriching a few businesses and unions, and pleasing the 16 congressional committees and six federal agencies that have oversight jurisdiction under the act.

Lee's Open America's Waters Act of 2019 would repeal the Jones Act's requirements that cargo transported by water between U.S. ports must travel in ships that are U.S.-built, U.S.-owned, U.S.-registered and U.S.-crewed. Colin Grabow, Inu Manak, and Daniel Ikenson of Washington's Cato Institute demonstrate that under -- and largely because of -- the Jones Act, the following has happened:

One of the nation's geographic advantages -- tens of thousands of miles of coastline and inland waterways -- has been minimized by making it off-limits to foreign competition in transportation. This increases transportation costs, which ripple through the production process as a significant portion of the costs of goods. Because of the Jones Act's costly mandates, less cargo is shipped by water, merchant mariners have fewer jobs, and more cargo is carried by truck, rail, and air, which are more environmentally damaging than water transportation. Two of America's most congested highways, I-95 and I-5, are along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, respectively. Yet the amount of cargo shipped by water along the coasts and on the Great Lakes is about half the volume of 1960. Since then, railroad freight volume has increased about 50 percent, and volume by intercity trucks -- responsible for 75 percent of federal highway-maintenance costs -- has increased more than 200 percent.

A hog farmer in North Carolina purchases corn feed from Canada rather than Iowa because delivery costs make the Iowa corn uncompetitive. A Hawaiian rancher flies cattle to West Coast feedlots and slaughterhouses to avoid Jones Act shipping costs. Although the United States is the world's second largest producer of rock salt, Maryland and Virginia buy theirs for winter use from Chile because of Jones Act shipping costs.

As for military considerations: Troops get to today's wars by aircraft. And the antiquated maritime fleet carried just 6.3 percent of the cargo in the 2002-03 buildup for the Iraq War.

Posted by orrinj at 7:55 AM


Posted by orrinj at 7:53 AM


Posted by orrinj at 7:40 AM


In Speech to Republican Jews, Trump Refers to Netanyahu as "Your Prime Minister" (DANIEL POLITI, APRIL 06, 2019, Slate)

President Donald Trump spoke to members of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas Saturday and seemed to suggest that Jews and Israelis are one and the same. "I stood with your prime minister at the White House to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights," Trump said referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Posted by orrinj at 7:28 AM


Former Maldives president makes comeback from exile with landslide win (SBS, 4/07/19)

Mohamed Nasheed, 51, made a dramatic return to the top of the national parliament, with his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) headed for a two-thirds majority in the 87-member assembly.

Mr Nasheed promised to use his party's mandate to usher in a new era of stability and democracy in the Indian Ocean archipelago as it emerges from years of strongman rule, political crises and corruption scandals miring the government and judiciary.

"Our foremost duty is to bring peace to the government", Mr Nasheed told supporters in the capital Male on Sunday. 

The comprehensive victory was another rebuke for Mr Nasheed's arch-rival and autocratic former president Abdulla Yameen, who was dumped in a shock election defeat in September under a cloud of corruption and embezzlement allegations.

Mr Yameen did not run, but his party - the Progressive Party of Maldives - ended with a poor showing and is projected to only secure four seats in the People's Majlis, or parliament.

Posted by orrinj at 7:25 AM


How Far-Right Extremists Abroad Have Adopted Trump's Symbols As Their Own (Nick Robins-Early, 4/06/19, HuffPost)

Alexandre Bissonette wore the hat. 

A Canadian, Bissonette hadn't voted for Donald Trump. He lived in a French-speaking province, far from the U.S. president's campaign rallies and "America first" appeals. But some of the first photos to emerge of the 27-year-old after he stormed a Quebec City mosque and killed six Muslim men in January 2017 showed him wide-eyed with a slight smirk and a red "Make America Great Again" cap casting a shadow over his pallid face.

"Make America Great Again" has become more than a U.S. political slogan. For Bissonette and other white nationalist, radical right and anti-immigrant extremists all over the world, it's a symbol; a kind of political messaging that transcends the specifics of country and language. 

"The hat and the MAGA acronym have really become shorthand for this white nationalist movement," said Barbara Perry, a professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and an expert on the far right.

Searching for MAGA symbolism is one of the easiest ways to notice online extremists and members of hate groups, Perry and other researchers have found -- a game of "Where's Waldo?" for racists. A 2018 study by extremism researcher J.M. Berger that analyzed tens of thousands of alt-right Twitter accounts found the most common word in their profiles was "MAGA" and the most frequent pairing of words was "Trump supporter."

And this embrace of pro-Trump symbols isn't limited to social media. MAGA hats and slogans have shown up in Britain at rallies supporting anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson, on banners in Australia following the terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, and as an accessory for prominent European white nationalists who wear it to troll their fellow citizens.

Posted by orrinj at 7:10 AM


Impossible Burger becoming a reality (PATRICK MAY, 4/06/19, The Mercury News)

1) The meaty flavor of the Impossible Burger comes from a soy ingredient called leghemoglobin, which Impossible Foods says "is a protein found in plants that carries heme, an iron-containing molecule that is essential for life. Heme is found in every living being -- both plants and animals. And although heme has been consumed every day for hundreds of thousands of years, Impossible Foods discovered that it's what makes meat taste like meat. We make the Impossible Burger using heme from soy plants -- identical to the heme from animals -- which is what gives it its uniquely meaty flavor." [...]

4) Last January, Impossible Foods introduced a new version of its signature burger. Called Impossible Burger 2.0, the latest iteration, said the company, is "tastier, juicier and more nutritious -- featuring 30 percent less sodium and 40 percent less saturated fat than our current recipe and just as much protein as 80/20 ground beef from cows." It's also gluten-free, replacing wheat with soy protein.

5) During the January launch, Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown told The Spoon Newsletter that there's more innovation where that came from: "R&D has been going at a blazing pace since Day One," said Brown, adding that his team was now working on producing "whole cuts of beef," including steak. "(Steak) has huge symbolic value," Brown told the blog. "If we can make an awesomely delicious world-class steak ... that will be very disruptive not just to the beef industry, but to other sectors of the meat industry."

6) The company says it plans to release a "raw" version of the burger in grocery stores by the end of the year and claims it will be cost about the same as USDA premium ground beef.

Posted by orrinj at 6:57 AM


NATURAL JUSTICE (Annabel Murphy, 7th April 2019, Daily Sun)

A POACHER hunting rhinos in the Kruger National Park met a gruesome end after being trampled to death by an elephant and then eaten by a pride of hungry lions.

Four other poachers who fled the game reserve in South Africa in terror were picked up by police and explained how a member of their gang had been killed.

They described how an angry elephant surprised them as they stalked endangered rhino and stamped their friend to death giving them a chance to run for safety.

Kruger Park Rangers immediately set out for the area known as Crocodile Bridge and sent up their airwing helicopter in a bid to find the dead man's remains before it got dark.

KNP ranger Don English led the team out again at first light on Wednesday to recover the body.

But with no luck the police officers in the case re-interviewed the captured poachers to try and get more detail as to where the elephant attacked and killed their friend.

This sends out a powerful message to poachers that you will not always be the winner

They found what was left of the poacher on Thursday but it appeared he had been eaten by a lion pride.

All that was left to bring back to the camp was the poacher's bloodied head some clothes.