A Shut Down Government Costs Taxpayers More Than an Open One

❝ Sending workers home, not collecting fees and not paying bills on time all come with a cost, which escalates every day President Trump and Congress fail to reach a deal to reopen federal agencies.

❝ A federal government shutdown might seem like a great way to save money: When agencies aren’t open, they aren’t spending tax dollars. But history shows us that closing the government actually costs more than keeping it open.

Shuttered parks can’t collect entrance fees. Furloughed workers will ultimately get paid for not showing up to work. And the government will wind up having to pay interest on missed payments to some contractors.

And it goes on from there. RTFA. Please ignore the lies, distractions and other con games flowing from the Oval Office like urine from a drunken baboon.

Shutdown somehow spares tourist site in Trump hotel


Historic Clock Tower atop Trump Hotel in DCKaren Bleier/Getty

❝ Smithsonian museums are closed. There are no federal staffers to answer tourists’ questions at the Lincoln Memorial. And across the United States, national parks are cluttered with trash. Yet despite the federal government shutdown, a historic clock tower at the Trump International Hotel remained open Friday for its handful of visitors, staffed by green-clad National Park Service rangers…

The Trump administration appears to have gone out of its way to keep the attraction in the federally owned building that houses the Trump hotel open and staffed with National Park Service rangers, even as other federal agencies shut all but the most essential services…

❝ A watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the GSA, seeking documents explaining why the tower was open, how it continues to be funded, and any communications between the agency and the Trump Organization, the president’s company. Trump gave up day-to-day management of the firm in 2017 but continues to receive earnings from its operations.

At the very least, this smells funny.” Said Noah Bookbinder, the group’s executive director.

I wouldn’t call the smell of anything involving our fake president “funny”.

Fake President Brags About Shutting Down the Government

❝ A government shutdown sparked by a fight between President Donald Trump and Democrats over his demand for a border wall would have a smaller impact than others in recent years…

Among those facing a partial shutdown are the Homeland Security Department, though many of the agency’s law enforcement agents will remain on the job because they’re considered essential. National parks would remain open but most employees who maintain them would be sent home. The Securities and Exchange Commission would halt new investigations except where needed “for the protection of property.” The Defense Department is funded and would operate normally…

❝ A shutdown could be averted next week if lawmakers and the president agree to another short-term funding bill — that could last into January — or reach some kind of deal that allows all sides to claim victory…

❝ “I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it,” Trump said as the session turned tense. “And I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck.”

Offhand, I don’t recall any president who ever convinced American voters in general he was anything more than an ego-smitten idiot by shutting down the government. Trump is ready to prove he’s the worst of that lot.

Next really big solar storm could double its effect on U.S. East Coast


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❝ There’s a layer of 300 million-year-old rock under Interstate 95 that’s capable of killing the lights from Washington to Boston and beyond the next time the sun erupts in all its fury.

…A solar storm is now viewed as enough of a risk in fact that grid operators across North America are working on plans to respond to just such a disturbance. And a draft of a soon-to-be-published U.S. Geological Survey report pinpoints the Eastern Seaboard as one of the areas most in danger.

❝ That’s because this Paleozoic-era rock doesn’t let the energy from a major geomagnetic storm — a once-in-a-100-years kind of event — pass through it but instead acts as a backstop that sends the surge back up above the ground for a second shot at causing mayhem…

Through a stroke of bad luck, the worst of these rocks basically traces the path of I-95 from Richmond, Virginia, to Portland, Maine, passing through Washington, New York and Boston along the way.

Yet another reason I should be happy about leaving the Northeast for the Southwest. Though there’s an extinct volcano across the valley that could be pretty scary under the wrong conditions.

The End of Gothamist Is a Terrible Sign for the Future of Local News


Billionaire Class Scumbag

❝ …While on my lunch break, I lost my job as editor in chief at LAist. I’d just finished a bowl of unmemorable office cafeteria chili and was sitting in the lobby of our WeWork when a coworker in New York sent me a three-word text: “Check your inbox.”…there was just a letter from our billionaire owner Joe Ricketts, informing readers that he had made “the difficult decision” to discontinue publishing DNAinfo and Gothamist, our parent site.

…With what appeared to have been the flip of a switch, 116 journalists had lost their jobs, and LAist had been shuttered—along with our four sister sites in New York, Chicago, D.C., and San Francisco, and the DNAinfo sites in New York and Chicago.

❝ The Gothamist and DNAinfo New York newsrooms had formally voted to unionize a week earlier…

❝ Gothamist, LAist, Chicagoist, DCist and SFist each fulfilled critical roles in their cities. Even as our hometown papers faced cuts and layoffs, we continued to cover local and hyperlocal news, find the relevant takeaways in hours-long public meetings, and strive to relay it all in a tone that was frank, compulsively readable, and often funny…There is a much larger loss here, one that should scare everyone (even those who’ve never read an ist site in their lives). At a time when local journalism is more crucial than ever, the closure of our sites effectively amounts to a silencing. There will now be less information for everyone, in each of those five cities.

This wasn’t a case about money. The creep who owned the sites made money on all five. Already a billionaire, Joe Ricketts plays with your money if you invest with TD Ameritrade. And cavort with his favorite politician – our fake president.

Nope. He doesn’t believe that folks who work for a living have the right to bargain collectively, to negotiate income and working conditions – even though that is a right protected by federal law for decades. He’d rather declare the companies he owns to be unprofitable – and close them down.

Not 12 Monkeys – but, a Fouine shuts down the Large Hadron Coillider

Fouine
Click to enlargeAlamy

The world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator has been brought to its knees by a beech marten, a member of the weasel family, that chewed through wiring connected to a 66,000-volt transformer.

The Large Hadron Collider on the outskirts of Geneva was designed to recreate in miniature fireballs similar to the conditions that prevailed at the birth of the universe, but operations of the machine, which occupies a 17-mile tunnel beneath Switzerland, have been placed on hold pending repairs to the unit.

The collider, which discovered the Higgs boson in July 2012, is expected to be out of action for a week while the connections to the transformer are replaced. Any remains of the intruder are likely to be removed at the same time.

In an in-house report on the incident, managers at Cern, the European nuclear physics laboratory that runs the LHC, described the incident at the transformer unit as being caused by a “fouine” – a beech marten native to the region. The report concluded it was “not the best week for the LHC”.

The glitch echoes a similar event in 2009 when the power was cut to one of the LHC’s cooling plants leading to unwelcome temperature rises in the collider’s apparatus. That incident was blamed, at least tentatively, on a bird dropping part of a baguette on a compensating capacitor where the mains supply entered the LHC from the ground.

Fodder for the spookier portions of global nutball culture. My mate in Oz who emailed the link to this article couldn’t resist declaring the fouine was “clearly sent from the future to stop the apocalypse” often predicted by the tinfoil-hat set as a result of the LHC turning Switzerland into a Black Hole.

Thanks, Honeyman

Nutball bigots force school closure over class writing a single sentence in Arabic


A meaningless image in parts of the United States

Schools in Augusta County in Virginia were closed Friday and a weekend holiday concert and athletic events were canceled amid an angry backlash about a school lesson involving the Islamic faith.

Officials said they had not received any specific threats but were alarmed by the volume and tone of the complaints, including some from outside Virginia…In response, additional police were stationed at county schools Thursday.

In a statement, school officials said: “We regret having to take this action, but we are doing so based on the recommendations of law enforcement and the Augusta County school board, out of an abundance of caution.”

Anger over the lesson has escalated since a teacher at Riverheads high school had students in her class complete an assignment one week ago. It involved practicing calligraphy and writing a statement in Arabic.

The statement translated to: “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

At a forum Tuesday, one parent said the assignment promoted a false religious doctrine, while other parents expressed outrage. Some demanded that the teacher be fired…

School officials said the aim of the lesson was to illustrate the complexity of the written Arabic language, not to promote any religious system.

In a statement, district officials said they will use a different example of Arabic in future classes.

The assignment was given by Cheryl LaPorte, a longtime teacher at Augusta County Schools, in a World Geography class at the high school. In the course of learning about different regions around the world, the Staunton News Leader reports, students also study the regions’ culture, which includes its predominant religions.

I have this problem with devotees of religion as a component of patriotism. Using mythic ideology to justify bigotry and ignorance is not an excuse for shutting down education. The fools who forced this are as much of an embarrassment to Americans as individuals as it is to the whole nation.

Supreme Court asked to rule on secret plan to cut cell service?

The Supreme Court was asked in a petition to force the government to disclose the US clandestine plan to disable cell service during emergencies.

The case concerns Standard Operating Procedure 303. A federal appeals court in May said the government did not have to release its full contents because the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows the authorities to withhold records if they would “endanger” public safety.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center told the high court’s justices Tuesday that the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s decision created a new “catchall provision that can be used in any case involving records related to domestic and national security programs.”

The privacy group had demanded the documents from the Department of Homeland Security in 2011 following the shuttering of cell service in the San Francisco Bay Area subway system to quell a protest. The Department of Homeland Security refused to divulge the documents associated with SOP 303, which the appeals court described as a “unified voluntary process for the orderly shut-down and restoration of wireless services during critical emergencies such as the threat of radio-activated improvised explosive devices.”

Under the direction of the so-called National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, SOP 303 allows for the shuttering of wireless networks “within a localized area, such as a tunnel or bridge, and within an entire metropolitan area.”

So, what are the specifics of this regulation? Demonstrations for peace and justice or riots and anarchy in the streets? And who ultimately gets to make the determination to invoke SOP 303? Some New York City precinct commander or a bureaucrat in DHS, faceless or otherwise?

Miley Cyrus, the government shutdown and Michele Bachmann

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Say what you want about Miley Cyrus, but she brought her A-game to Saturday Night Live this week.

Smiler or not, there are a few things to love about this music video about the government shutdown, set to the tune of “We Can’t Stop.”

That’s SNL’s Taran Killam as House Speaker John Boehner, and Miley as Michele Bachmann. And yes, Miley licks an Abraham Lincoln doll at one point.

The original video’s bears are replaced with the GOP elephants, but the fries remain. You’ll have to put up with a commercial, first; but, click through to the article and watch the full video at the bottom.