Monday, December 25, 2017

Trump Pick For Lifetime Judgeship Can’t Answer Basic Court Questions


President Trump’s judicial nominees were grilled by Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy about basic courtroom skills as well as more obscure areas of law.
Matthew Spencer Petersen was asked to serve a lifetime appointments at federal courts.
When asked: ‘Have any of you not tried a case to verdict in a courtroom?’ When Petersen answered in the negative, Kennedy drilled him about his legal background.
‘Have you ever tried a jury trial?’
‘I have not,’ Pet  nedy asked, in his low-key drawl. Petersen had not.
‘Criminal?’ Kennedy asked. ‘No,’ Petersen said.
The Republican’s grilling was so brutal that Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat, tweeted out ‘Hoo-boy.’
Two days after the White House said it was pulling back from two other nominations after Republican Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley spoke to the administration about them. he nominations ‘will not be moving forward in the U.S. Senate,’ the White House said.
Brett Talley, one of those nominees, was reported as having posted online sympathetic comments about the early history of the Ku Klux Klan and he failed to disclose his wife works in the White House Counsel’s office, which oversees judicial nominations, and reports to White House Counsel Don McGahn.
Jeff Mateer, to a federal judgeship in Texas, ran into when he made a speech in 2015 where he referred to transgender children as being part of ‘Satan’s plans.’
The brutal testimony went viral after Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island tweeted it
Even when he learned of Petersen’s lack of court experience, Sen. Kennedy, who practiced law in Baton Rouge before entering politics, did not let up.
‘As a trial judge, you’re obviously going to have witnesses. Can you tell me what the Daubert standard is?’ he asked, in reference to expert witness testimony.
‘Sen. Kennedy, I don’t have that readily at my disposal but I would be happy to take a closer look at that. That is not something I’ve had to contend with,’ he responded.
Kennedy then asked him: ‘Do you know what a motion in limine is?’
Petersen served as an associate at a prominent law firm out of law school before joining the Federal Elections Commission, responded: ‘Yes… I haven’t, I’m, again, my background is not in litigation as when I was replying to Chairman Grassley, I haven’t had to um, again, do a deep dive,’ he said.
‘A “motion in limine” — that’s just a basic, that’s the meat and potatoes of what a trial judge does,’ Dane Ciolino, a Loyola University in New Orleans law professor told the Baton Rouge Advocate, regarding a way to exclude evidence from proceedings. ‘That’s like a surgeon not knowing what a scalpel is, it’s that basic.’
At a loss to answer the questions, Petersen doesn’t have fluff on his resume. He did attend the University of Virginia School of Law, like some of the attorneys grilling him. He served as counsel to the Senate Rules Committee as well as chaired the Federal Elections Commission.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Japanese funeral home creates "drive-thru" 

TOKYO, Dec. 18 (ANSA) - A funeral home in Japan has made headlines around the world by offering a curious service. Aishoden set up wake-up drive-thru, where people can pay their last respects without leaving the car. The funeral drive-thru is due to open on Sunday in Nagano. He was thinking, first of all, of attending senior citizens or seniors who have reduced mobility and are unable to attend funeral ceremonies. However, the idea has begun to attract interests of the normal public. According to the president of the funeral home, Masao Ogiwara, passengers from inside their vehicles will be able to access a digital screen and send condolences or light incense. In addition, there will be options for gifting the deceased's relatives or donating money - a common practice in Japanese culture. Funerals in Japan vary by region, but about 90% of the population is a Shinto or Buddhist. In 98% of cases, the body is cremated.

Amanda Knox to Present Program on 'Demonic Women'



NEW YORK, Dec. 19 (ANSA) - Amanda Knox, who has been acquitted in Italy of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, will host a talk show featuring women "humiliated" or "demonized by the press."   
The attraction will be called "Scarlet Letter Reports" and will be broadcast via Facebook, with production from Vice Media, publisher of "Vice Magazine". At age 30, Knox will interview a number of women who have been "sexed, scrutinized and demonized by the press." In addition, you will discuss how these people rebuilt their lives.   
"While I was behind bars because of a murder I did not commit, the prosecution described me as a 'sexually obsessive woman' with a magical power to control men," she said in a statement.   
Knox was accused of murdering Meredith Kercher on Nov. 1, 2007, in the Italian city of Perugia, where they both studied and shared a house. The body of the Briton was found in the residence of the beheaded, half-naked and with a series of wounds.   
The case soon drew attention to the circumstances surrounding him.   
Knox and his then boyfriend, the Italian Raffaele Sollecito, were accused of killing Kercher in the midst of discussions about housekeeping and sexual games that ran out of control - a hypothesis later dismissed .   
The beauty of the American was also another gimmick for the homicide. In Italy, she became known as "the angel-faced devil." The ex-couple was later sentenced after Knox's DNA was found on a knife with the victim's blood and was stuck in Italy until 2011, when the Court of Cassation, the country's supreme court, overturned the suit for faults in the skill .   
The same day she was released, the American returned to her family's home in Seattle. At the end of 2013, the same court ordered the reopening of the case, since her innocence and Sollecito's innocence had not been proven, culminating in a conviction of the Court of Appeal in Florence in January of the following year. However the decision was again overturned by the Court of Cassation, which saw no evidence of Knox and Sollecito's participation in the murder and acquitted them definitively. Guede was condemned for having invaded the house and killed Kercher, but he claims that he knew the British and that he was in the residence at her invitation. According to his version, the murder occurred while he was in the bathroom after an argument between Kercher and Knox. 

The White House Keeps Lying About Donald Trump’s Taxes

For the last time, the president can release his tax returns even if he’s under audit.



 White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reiterated on Tuesday the falsehood that President Donald Trump can’t release his tax returns — and thus settle ongoing questions about his financial situation — because he is under audit by the Internal Revenue Service.
Briefing reporters shortly after House Republicans passed their sweeping tax legislation, which independent analysts say would primarily benefit wealthy people and corporations, Sanders would not confirm whether Trump would personally benefit.
Instead, she pivoted to talking points about how “all Americans,” especially the middle class, would gain from the bill.
“On the personal side, the president will likely take a big hit,” she claimed several times without evidence. She acknowledged that Trump’s privately owned businesses would likely receive major tax cuts
“There are a number of provisions that would negatively impact the president personally,” Sanders said again, after more questions, and again without elaboration.
The American public cannot determine exactly how Trump would benefit from the tax bill because of his ongoing refusal to release his tax returns. Sanders brought out the same old dodge on Tuesday, saying that he can’t disclose his financial information because “the president’s taxes are still under audit.”
This is false. The IRS has affirmed that “nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information.”
In January, President-elect Trump also claimed that “the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters.”

House Republicans Pass Sweeping Tax Cuts For The Rich

Passing a deeply unpopular bill is apparently the “win” Republicans have been looking for.




 After years of false starts and failed promises, House Republicans passed a final tax proposal that is expected to clear the Senate later Tuesday on a party-line vote and then head to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.
The House passed the bill 227-203, with 12 Republicans voting no.
The bill is, without a doubt, Trump and the GOP Congress’ most significant legislative achievement since Republicans gained control of the House, Senate and White House.
But the “win” may end up costing Republicans. This bill is far from the congressional victory Republicans had sought to run on during next year’s midterm elections: It’s deeply unpopular, with approval ratings that were already significantly underwater and grew worse over the past few weeks as the legislation neared final passage.
A CNN poll in November showed 31 percent of voters viewing the tax bill favorably, with 45 percent opposing it. A poll conducted in the past week showed 33 percent supporting the bill, but 55 percent now against it.
hen Senate Republicans passed their initial version of the measure just a few weeks ago, many Republicans didn’t care that the bill wasn’t popular. Republicans simply believed the lack of support was due to bad polling and voters not fully understanding the proposal.
Likewise, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters Tuesday morning that he had “no concerns whatsoever.”
“I got to say, if people are out there on TV telling mistruths, disguising the facts of this thing, that’s going to make it unpopular,” Ryan said, adding that taxpayers will be happy when they see changes in their pay next year ― both from adjustments to taxes withheld from their paychecks and higher pay from booming business conditions.
But the facts of this bill are what make it unpopular. For one, the bill repeals the individual mandate in Obamacare, which would result in higher prices for people relying on Obamacare for health insurance. And far from a “middle-class tax cut,” as Trump and other Republicans promised, the measure is truly a massive corporate tax cut ― the top rate goes down from 35 percent to 21 percent ― and a smaller tax cut for individuals in the seven individual income brackets.
Independent analysts have said wealthy taxpayers would benefit the most, in large part because they pay more taxes from the start. But households at every income level would see a tax cut next year, according to an analysis of the conference bill from the Joint Committee on Taxation, which scores tax legislation for Congress.
Starting in 2021, however, some income groups would start seeing slightly higher rates. And because the proposal sets most individual cuts to expire in eight years ― a budget gimmick to reduce the bill’s cost in a 10-year budget window ― all households earning less than $75,000 would see higher taxes in 2027 (due in large part to the bill including an unfavorable permanent change to the way tax brackets are indexed to inflation)
Republicans have waved off concerns about the sunsetting tax cuts by saying a future Congress won’t let them expire. That’s a change from Ryan’s position earlier this year, when he insisted the cuts be permanent. In the end, Ryan got half his way ― the corporate tax cuts are permanent, but the individual reductions are not.
Republicans finance these cuts, in part, by raising taxes on some people. The bill ends much of the state and local tax deduction, which lets filers write off the cost of their local taxes. As a compromise to some of the high-tax states most affected, the bill allows filers to deduct up to $10,000 of their local taxes by some combination of their choice. But that won’t be enough for many high-income people in states like New Jersey, New York and California.
As with an earlier version of the bill, a number of Republicans from New Jersey and New York voted against the legislation, though most California Republicans still got onboard.
Republicans chose a policy approach that came with a built-in political headache: They have been unable to guarantee that no household would face higher taxes under the plan even as it piles on all that debt.
If their bill simply cut tax rates, everybody would benefit. But because of the way the bill lowers rates while eliminating deductions ― thereby exposing more income to taxation in some cases ― Republicans have been unable guarantee a tax cut for everybody. So even though mosthouseholds would be better off under the changes next year, some will be worse off.
Still, the majority of the bill is “paid for” by increasing deficits. The measure would add $1.4 trillion to the national debt, the Joint Committee on Taxation said. Republicans have claimed that increased economic growth would boost business receipts and offset the revenue loss, though no credible economic analysis has shown that.
Republicans have largely ignored those criticisms by just focusing on how the tax cuts would boost the economy. They’ve also largely looked past the effects on housing, charitable giving and state budgets.
Those effects flow from a simplification of the tax code. The legislation would increase the standard deduction from $12,700 to $24,000 for a married couple (an increase Republicans have falsely characterized as “doubling” the deduction). Currently, only about 30 percent of households find it worthwhile to “itemize” for expenses such as mortgage interest, charitable donations and local taxes. With the bigger standard deduction, experts say only 5 percent would.
While their tax filing process would be simpler, for many households, the tax incentive to take out a bigger mortgage or donate to charity would be smaller, which could squeeze housing markets and the nonprofit sector. And a new cap on the amount of local taxes that can be deducted would put pressure on state lawmakers to either reduce those taxes ― resulting in less revenue for priorities like public education ― or shift them to other sources that are still deductible, such as business payrolls.  

UK's Most Expensive Aircraft Carrier Needs Repair

HMS Queen Elizabeth has less than one month of use


Less than a month after entering service, the new British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is leaking and will need repairs.
The failure of the largest and most expensive ship ever built by the UK was discovered during some tests at sea, British newspaper The Sun reported.
The 65,000-tonne and 280-meter ship was letting about 200 liters of water leak every hour, and its repair cost millions of pounds.
"The repair is already underway in Portsmouth, but it does not prevent the ship from sailing again and this will have no impact on its missions," a Navy spokesman said.
The aircraft carrier cost the British coffers 3.1 billion pounds (about $ 13.6 billion) and took eight years to complete. The ship began operations on December 7 and will undergo several tests.
Even though the warship is the most advanced in the country, it is receiving a number of criticisms. One is because some computers in the control center of the vessel are using the Windows XP operating system

Train derailed in the US was running way above speed

Data from the black box showed that the locomotive was at 128.7 kilometers per hour when it should be at maximum 48 kilometers per hour


The train, which derailed Monday at DuPont and crashed onto a road in Washington state in the northwestern United States , was traveling at 128.7 kilometers per hour in an area where it was expected to reach 48.2 kilometers per hour, according to official data released on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), T. Bella Dinh-Zar, told a news conference that the data was taken from the black box of the train's locomotive. At least three people were killed and more than 100 injured in the crash. According to the  Seattle Times,  there were signs signaling the speed limit a mile from where the derailment occurred.
The train was making its maiden voyage between Seattle and Portland when thirteen of the fourteen 501 train wagons derailed and crashed into Interstate 5, which was rush hour.
The accident happened outside the town of DuPont , located 80 kilometers south of Seattle and one of the cars was suspended between the bridge and the road. Several cars crashed after the derailment, which caused injuries between the drivers and passengers of the cars, but no mortal victim. All the fatal victims were transient on the train.
The Amtrak rail service reported that on train 501, which left at 6 am Seattle, 77 passengers and seven employees of the transport company were traveling. The new route is part of a program to improve and accelerate communications in the area that together cost $ 800 million, according to data provided by the Washington State Department of Transportation


Sunday, December 17, 2017

There is no life without wi-fi

Nomophobia, the fear of being left without a smartphone, and FoMO, the fear of losing something, are the new facets of anxiety.


No insects, snakes, airplanes or elevators. What the contemporary human being fears, even, is staying away from his companion at all times: the smartphone. If more and more research on the subject is right, you are likely to suffer from the so-called nomophobia (abbreviation for no-mobile-phone-phobia, or phobia of running out of the cell).

About two-thirds of Americans and a similar percentage among Britons consider themselves to be homophobic. The name is strange, but the situation is familiar. You may have felt anxious about forgetting your phone at home or keeping your battery powered up without a charger nearby. If the phobias described by psychiatry are irrational fears, nomophobia is not difficult to understand. The smartphone has become the Swiss Army knife of contemporary life: the tool with which we face the challenges of everyday life. It is our agenda of contacts and commitments. Our watch. Our entertainment center. Our camera and our photo album. It is, in addition to all this, our main instrument of communication with people and with the world.
Being away from the cell phone is like being disoriented and disconnected from reality. And that causes anxiety. When analyzing data from one of the most profound research on nomophobia, researchers at the University of Iowa have concluded that the anguish is triggered by at least four components: not being able to communicate with people, losing the connection in general, not have access to information and for convenience. The health consequences, however, have not yet been so clear.
"For the time being, we do not have longitudinal scientific studies to be able to assess the prevalence of homophobia and the problems arising from it over the years, because it is relatively recent and has changed its characteristics," says Sylvia van Enck Meira, Program Psychologist Technological Dependencies of the Institute of Psychiatry of the Hospital das Clínicas of São Paulo. "If access to the games by desktop computers was already something that worried, the issue of access to social networks through smartphones is even more intense and alarming."
In the 2000s, reporting on technology dependency had a typical character. They were kids and teenagers addicted to games, that friend of yours (or yourself) who slept at dawn playing at home or in the houses. Now social networks are like a game that everyone plays and the biggest opponent is yourself, your anxiety and the things you fail to do to accumulate updates and likes, which activate areas responsible for pleasure in the brain - in fact, the same points activated when we eat a candy or make money. And we got hooked on that feeling.

Fear of being left out

One explanation in vogue is that our exaggerated connection to the networks is just an irrational fear of being left out. The phenomenon has a name: FOMO, or fear of missing out. Since 2013, the term is part of the Oxford Dictionary. I guarantee you've heard ... right? How did you lose that?
Joking aside, FoMO is serious - it's been touted as one of the driving forces of social networking addiction. Is that the web bombards us with so much information about parties, news, memes trips that we feel that there is always something incredible that our radar did not get there.
The phenomenon is especially troubling in adolescence, where status and relationships go hand in hand with self-esteem, and the fear of being the only one who does not know gives a thrashing in the will to pay attention in class, for example. But FoMO is also behind dangerous behaviors of older people, such as accessing social networks and driving at the same time. For fear of being out, many people check social networks on waking up at dawn, or have delusions that the phone vibrated announcing a new message when there is nothing.
Despite the current examples, FoMO is not a new phenomenon, but a reflection of our own condition. "What sets the human apart from other animals is that we have the ability to understand time. And time is ruled by the idea of death: that things last, change, and end. Knowing that you will not live forever, you have to make choices. And, when you choose, you are losing other things that you will not have, "says psychologist Ana Luiza Mano, a professor of extension courses at PUC-SP.
Creator of the term, the British experimental psychologist Andrew Przybylski of the Oxford Internet Institute, led research on the psychological traits that can make people more vulnerable. "Our current understanding is that depriving the basic psychological needs of competence, autonomy and a sense of belonging can contribute to the feelings of FoMO," Przybylski told SUPER.
The impression of always letting something pass creates anguish. Fear of being left out is pathological when, "because you can not get information about everything, you feel bad, you try to make it happen and you always get frustrated," says Ana Luiza. People who are more difficult to give up control over choices and the future are more likely to experience anxiety.
Are you dependent?
The criteria for internet addiction are similar to that of anxiety disorders and substance dependence: they take into account the suffering and harm that the user brings to people's lives. If you have five of the criteria below, get help.
1. Excessive preoccupation with your image on the internet
2. Need to increase connected time to have the same satisfaction
3. Display too large efforts to decrease internet usage time
4. Show irritability and/or depression
5. When internet use is restricted, you waver in humor
6. Staying more connected than scheduled
7. Overuse puts work and family and social relationships at risk
8. Lying to others about the amount of hours connected 



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