If you’ve spent most of your life giving away other peoples money …

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Paris, protesting the new economic reforms put forward by Francois Hollande’s center-left government. The policy-change followed a local election drubbing.

Limited blogging for the next few days.


Make sure to check below because I should have some internet access but, with any luck at all, I have more ‘relax in the canyons’ access.

Update 6: Headed home to Galt’s Gulch today.


The problem is not with the preparers.

The problem is with the tax code.

Top Republicans are showing no interest in agreeing to the IRS’s request to give the agency more power to regulate tax preparers.

John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, told lawmakers this week that Congress needed to act to help taxpayers, after a federal court threw out the agency’s plan to license and educate preparers.

But that idea’s a tough sell to the GOP lawmakers who have the IRS in their sights after last year’s Tea Party controversy, even though some have sounded open to tougher rules against unscrupulous preparers.

What is going on in Quebec?

The head of the youth protection agency in Quebec that first gained access to the Jewish sect Lev Tahor is frustrated that children’s services in Ontario have not acted on Quebec court orders for more than 100 children in that community, CBC’s the fifth estate has learned.

While an Ontario judge has upheld a Quebec court order to place 13 Lev Tahor children in temporary foster care, Denis Baraby, the director of Quebec’s youth protection services Laurentian branch, told the fifth estate that his agency is concerned for more than just those children.

Gillian Findlay’s story on Lev Tahor is part of the fifth estate’s documentary After the Cameras Went Away. It airs Friday at 9:00 pm on CBC-TV, 9:30 in Newfoundland.

Britain’s first female genital mutilation trial provokes national controversy

When a young doctor delivered a baby in a north London public hospital in 2012, he couldn’t have known the procedure would sweep him into a national controversy.

His patient was bleeding after the birth and needed stitches. Like tens of thousands of women in the UK, she had also been subjected to female genital mutilation, or FGM, years earlier.

Now the doctor, 31-year-old Dhanoun Dharmasena, is set to appear before a London court next week on charges that he committed the same crime himself.

So who was the primary share holder during these years?

It never gets mentioned.

But an email contained among 700 pages of internal G.M. documents released on Friday by the same House committee raises questions of whether she knew more about safety problems with the Cobalt.

The correspondence shows that as a G.M. vice president in 2011, Ms. Barra was alerted to widening problems with power steering in the Cobalt and other models, an indication that she was made aware of safety problems in those cars earlier than she had suggested.

The documents, released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, detail years of deliberations inside G.M. over a dangerous flaw in the ignition switch of small cars that the company did not disclose to the public until this year.

Too many graduates with a master’s in unemployment

Two reports published last week have delivered a damning appraisal of the Danish higher education system.

Denmark, which spends more than any other country on education but scores below the OECD average on young people’s basic competences, tops the list for dropouts because it is producing the wrong kinds of graduates….

…Alarming trend
The most striking finding of both reports is an apparent incongruity between how young people are being educated and the economy and job market at large.

Produktivitetskommissionen found that in recent years the number of graduates has grown most in the subjects leading to the lowest pay and the highest rates of unemployment.

Humanities surplus
For example, in the period from 1991-2011, the number of humanities graduates tripled despite average unemployment in the field being up to 5 percent higher than other disciplines.

The commission also noted that graduates of many shorter social science and technical educations achieve higher earnings than humanities graduates.

Follow the money.

The G20 pressed the United States Friday to ratify crucial IMF reforms after four years of waiting, suggesting they would find an alternative if Washington does not deliver by year-end. …

… The reforms, which include a funding increase and expansion of emerging economies’ roles in the IMF, were originally strongly backed by the United States, the Fund’s largest shareholder.

But implementation, which must have U.S. support, has been held up by political battles in the U.S. Congress, which needs to ratify the reforms.

Senators from President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party tried to push through reforms by attaching them last month to an aid bill for Ukraine, but backed down faced with opposition from the rival Republican Party.

Conservative Republicans have charged that the IMF reforms increase the U.S. contribution while weakening its role.

In the U.S. we first try to determine how they’ll vote.

The EU must help Italy to deal with a dramatic upsurge in migrants and refugees, the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) has warned.

The UNHCR said as many as 6,000 migrants had been rescued by Italian authorities in the past four days.

The agency wants the EU to help to process arrivals, provide more reception facilities and find “durable solutions” for the migrants.

Italy has repeatedly called for more support for the EU.

The latest influx of migrants were making their way in about 40 boats from Libya.

The UN said they had come from Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, Nigeria, Gambia, Mali and Senegal.

They included many women, children and newborns.

Playing with your mind …

Merely changing the face of a model in an ad increases the number of potential purchasers by as much as 15% (8% on average), according to a study being published by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).

Reefs still in trouble.

A number of years ago I worked on a reef study on Roatan Island. Because of sewage release from the island, the reefs were in deep trouble.

It is barely possible to see the parasitic worm Amakusaplana acroporae when it sits on its favourite hosts, the staghorn coral Acropora, thanks to its excellent camouflage. However, the researchers found that the small flatworm could cause significant damage to coral reefs.

We have a saying in the arid west …

More men have been killed over water than have ever been killed over women or gold.

The killing is more expensive now.

On this day in history.

On this day in 1945, the American Third Army liberates the Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, Germany, a camp that will be judged second only to Auschwitz in the horrors it imposed on its prisoners.

The Charts Obama Doesn’t Want You to See

Heritage’s newly updated Obamacare in Pictures has 15 charts that show the law’s effects on Americans—from canceled insurance policies to new taxes, Medicare cuts, reduced choice for plans, and more.

Cleaning up the ranks.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) joined the leader of the state party in calling for Rep. Vince McAllister (R-La.) to resign on Thursday, after a video surfaced earlier this week showing him kissing a married staffer.

“Congressman McAllister’s behavior is an embarrassment and he should resign,” Jindal said in a statement. “He says he wants privacy to work on his issues with his family. The best way to get privacy and work on putting his family back together is to resign from Congress.”

Louisiana GOP Chairman Roger Villere issued a similar request earlier Thursday, also declaring that he “embarrassed our party, our state and the institution of Congress.”

How many of you are old enough …

… to remember the movement ‘bust the trust fund’ when it had so much extra money that it was a target?

Five ways to fix the Highway Trust Fund

I’ve always thought that something like this was the answer.

Using a person’s own immune system to fight cancer: Phase I clinical trial of new immunotherapy beginning

Moffitt Cancer Center has initiated a phase I clinical trial for a new immunotherapy drug, ID-G305, made by Immune Design. Immunotherapy is a treatment option that uses a person’s own immune system to fight cancer. It has several advantages over standard cancer therapies, including fewer side effects and an overall better tolerability. It tends to be most effective in patients who have smaller, localized tumors that have not spread to distant sites.

Lightening fast.

The millimeter-wave band (58-63GHz) is seen as a perfect candidate for short-range gigabit wireless communications. These networks are envisaged to satisfy the demands of future data-rate hungry applications but few studies have analysed the potential of frequency reuse at 60GHz.

96 times.

“I’m sorry, we are no longer accepting that kind of insurance. I apologize for the confusion; Dr. [insert name] is only willing to see existing patients at this time.”

As a proud new beneficiary of the Affordable Health Care Act, I’d like to report that I am doctorless. Ninety-six. Ninety-six is the number of soul crushing rejections that greeted me as I attempted to find one. It’s the number of physicians whose secretaries feigned empathy while rehearsing the “I’m so sorry” line before curtly hanging up. You see, when the rush of the formerly uninsured came knocking, doctors in my New Jersey town began closing their doors and promptly telling insurance companies that they had no room for new patients.

Time, once again, to update passwords.

How To Create Super-Strong Passwords To Protect Yourself From The ‘Heartbleed’ Bug

It would have to be very abundant and very cheap.

“We have discovered the first metal catalyst that can produce appreciable amounts of ethanol from carbon monoxide at room temperature and pressure – a notoriously difficult electrochemical reaction,” said Matthew Kanan, an assistant professor of chemistry at Stanford and coauthor of the Nature study.

Most ethanol today is produced at high-temperature fermentation facilities that chemically convert corn, sugarcane and other plants into liquid fuel. But growing crops for biofuel requires thousands of acres of land and vast quantities of fertilizer and water. In some parts of the United States, it takes more than 800 gallons of water to grow a bushel of corn, which, in turn, yields about 3 gallons of ethanol.

Good idea.

Navy researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Materials Science and Technology Division, demonstrate proof-of-concept of novel NRL technologies developed for the recovery of carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2) from seawater and conversion to a liquid hydrocarbon fuel.

Fueled by a liquid hydrocarbon — a component of NRL’s novel gas-to-liquid (GTL) process that uses CO2 and H2 as feedstock — the research team demonstrated sustained flight of a radio-controlled (RC) P-51 replica of the legendary Red Tail Squadron, powered by an off-the-shelf (OTS) and unmodified two-stroke internal combustion engine.
Using an innovative and proprietary NRL electrolytic cation exchange module (E-CEM), both dissolved and bound CO2 are removed from seawater at 92 percent efficiency by re-equilibrating carbonate and bicarbonate to CO2 and simultaneously producing H2. The gases are then converted to liquid hydrocarbons by a metal catalyst in a reactor system.
“In close collaboration with the Office of Naval Research P38 Naval Reserve program, NRL has developed a game changing technology for extracting, simultaneously, CO2 and H2 from seawater,” said Dr. Heather Willauer, NRL research chemist. “This is the first time technology of this nature has been demonstrated with the potential for transition, from the laboratory, to full-scale commercial implementation.”

And they are tasty.

Oyster aquaculture in the Potomac River estuary could result in significant improvements to water quality, according to a new study. All of the nitrogen currently polluting the Potomac River estuary could be removed if 40 percent of its river bed were used for shellfish cultivation, according to the joint study. The researchers determined that a combination of aquaculture and restored oyster reefs may provide even larger overall ecosystem benefits. Oysters, who feed by filtering, can clean an enormous volume of water of algae which can cause poor water quality.

This may be the answer:

And here:

I’m not sure that this is a good idea.

Joseph Moore, a PhD. candidate at MIT, is working on an impressive robotic system that enables drones to perch on power lines (just like birds) and recharge their batteries.

When the FAA’s regulations catch up with the interest for commercial drone use, this system could make it possible for drones to travel an effectively unlimited distance — when their batteries are nearing zero, they could engage the system to perch on a power line, charge up, and go off again to their destinations.

As you read this remember that Canada has a higher home ownership rate than the U.S. …

… and they don’t have a home mortgage deduction or a Fannie/Freddie.

The Johnson-Crapo bill adds to another attempt by Sens. Bob Corker (R–Tenn.) and Mark Warner (D–Va.) to create a new federal regulator.

“Between these Senate bills and the Dodd–Frank Act, the federal government is close to completely taking over the housing finance market,” said Heritage’s Michel and John Ligon. “Taxpayers—and consumers—deserve much better.”
Other lawmakers are intent on getting government out of the mortgage-backing business.

In an interview with Foundry Senior Contributor Genevieve Wood, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) talked about sponsoring legislation that would phase out Fannie and Freddie.

“They represent the single largest bailout in America’s history, almost $200 billion coming out of the pockets of working men and women in America,” Hensarling said. He added that the government’s “virtual monopoly on housing finance” means that “Washington elites now control who can receive a mortgage and who can’t.”

“You shouldn’t have a government-induced system that puts people into homes that, ultimately, they cannot afford to keep,” Hensarling said. “That’s not good for anybody.”