Thursday, February 23, 2017

Chew on this: Siberian Tigers joint animal Resistance, take down drone

Joffrey Ballet Gamechangers preview

Facing reelection, GOP Omaha mayor flipflops on LGBT employment rights; Stothert dragged feet on insurance for married gays

Above: Sen. Adam Morfeld, last year, during a lunch rally in support of
LB586, his equal opportunity LGBT employment bill, which was defeated.
He's trying again this year with LB173. You can listen to this year's press
conference on the website of the Nebraska Radio Network
Lincoln state senator Adam Morfeld has reintroduced his employment LGBT anti­discrimination measure (this year, it's called LB173) and held hearings yesterday.
     Omaha's mayor, who is up for reelection seems to have changed her tune, according to the Omaha World-Herald:
     In a letter to the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, Stothert called the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to protected categories under state law “important and necessary.”
     “I support LB 173 and the fair, uniform application of civil rights to all persons who live and work in the State of Nebraska,” she said.
     Omaha five years ago passed a similar ordinance to protect gay and transgender people from discrimination. But Stothert, then a member of the City Council, voted against it.
     Former State Sen. Heath Mello, who is challenging Stothert in this year’s race for Omaha mayor, issued a statement Wednesday hailing the bill and saying he doesn’t “wait until election years to support anti-discrimination measures.”
In 2012, Stothert adamantly opposed adding LGBTs as a protected class in Omaha employment to the city's charter:

     Only in 2015 did Stothert finally reverse her stance of refusing health insurance benefits to gay spouses of city employees.
     She had previously maintained that they should bring up the issue during contract negotiations.
     The World-Herald noted that she was one of the last local holdouts on the issue, finally following the lead of La Vista, Bellevue, Douglas County, Sarpy County, OPS, Creighton University, The University of Nebraska, the VA Medical Center, Methodist Health System and Alegent-Creighton/CHI.
     We suspect she was only worried about the city being sued in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's DOMA/Windsor decision.
     In the Unicameral yesterday, the usual suspects showed up to oppose LB173, including the Nebraska Catholic Conference and the Lincoln-based "Nebraska Family Alliance."
     Here's how the Catholic church torpedoed equal employment rights for LGBTs last session:

KETV, World-Herald burn Don Bacon over broken campaign promises to hold town halls

Many GOP lawmakers have stopped holding town halls altogether or are opting for pre-screened substitutes that shield them from angry constituents. In a recent editorial, the Omaha World-Herald bluntly opined, "Let the rabble rouse. There’s a chance proceedings will be disrupted."
     The paper didn't stop there; in a piece by Matthew Hansen, it explained how Don Bacon is stiff-arming unhappy voters:
     “So I commit that once elected that I will be doing town halls in every part of this district ... north Omaha, South Omaha, the west, Valley, Waterloo, Gretna, Papillion, you name it. We’re going to be accessible and available. You shouldn’t be just in your office.”
     Asked to explain that seeming contradiction on Tuesday, Bacon said he is doing in-person sessions at companies and civic groups around Omaha, as well as telephone Q&As. He defines these as town halls, and thus contends that he is living up to his promise to host town halls across the Omaha metro area, though he conceded that they wouldn’t be “total open invite.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Aftermath of a carjacking

It started as a home invasion and ended with a helicopter pursuit and a three-car crash on Ames right outside North High Magnet School. Click on photos to enlarge.
Correction: contrary to some early reports, the hijacking did not start as a home invasion, but as an assault in a Goodwill parking lot on Ames. KETV interviewed the victim here.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Publishers Weekly: Simon and Schuster spikes Milo Yiannopoulos book

From Publisher's Weekly:
     A brief statement released by the company read: “After careful consideration, Simon & Schuster and its Threshold Editions imprint have cancelled publication of Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos.”
     Dangerous had originally been set to be released in March, but last week Yiannopoulos posted on Facebook that he was delaying publication until June to include the events that took place at the University of California’s Berkeley campus when violent protests forced him to cancel an appearance.
     The Daily Mail says Yiannopoulos lost his "$250,000" book deal. (The $250,000 was an advance, according to The Hollywood Reporter.)

Hiding in plain sight: lost Walt Whitman novella discovered in Library of Congress digital archives

Walt Whitman at 35, from an
1854 steel engraving
A University of Houston grad student found it with his laptop.
     There on his screen, he saw a small ad in an 1852 newspaper. The ad promised "A Rich Revelation": A six-installment piece of fiction called "Life and Adventures of Jack Engle" was coming soon to the Sunday Dispatch, a three-penny weekly published in Manhattan...
     The novel is also being published, in book form, by the University of Iowa Press...
     "Jack Engle," the story of an orphan's adventures, can be classified as sentimentalism, Turpin said. The serial appeared "unsigned, practically unheralded and riddled with typographical errors" — and then, he said, "it sank like a stone." The story received little response. It was never reprinted or reviewed. And Whitman never mentioned it again...
     The discovery of new work by Whitman is a major find, said Stephen Enniss, director of the Harry Ransom Center, a massive arts and humanities archive at the University of Texas at Austin...

VA house sends antiLGBT freedom-to-discriminate bill to Dem Gov., who vows veto; here's every Rep. and Sen. who voted against LGBTs

From HRC:
     HB 2025 could allow taxpayer-funded organizations, like homeless shelters and adoption agencies, to refuse service to same-sex couples, transgender people, and anyone suspected of having intimate relationships outside of a heterosexual marriage (such as single mothers or a cohabiting straight couple) without losing taxpayer funding, contracts, licensing, or other forms of state recognition...
     “Let’s be clear, HB 2025 is nothing more than a thinly veiled legislative assault on LGBTQ Virginians and visitors to the state,” said HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “The measure has nothing to do with the right to practice one’s religion -- which is already firmly protected in the U.S. Constitution -- and everything to do with enshrining taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBTQ people into law. Just as we saw in North Carolina, HB 2025 would no doubt inflict profound harm on Virginia’s people, reputation, and economy. Governor McAuliffe must follow through on his promise to veto this repulsive proposal.”
Virginians: here are links to lists of every legislator who passed antiLGBT bill in the Senate. The House vote, when broken down by representative, will be linked to here.

In the mean time, here is a raw tabulation of today's antiLGBT House vote, without party affiliation information:

YEAS--Adams, Albo, Anderson, Austin, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Bloxom, Byron, Campbell, Cline, Cole, Collins, Cox, Dudenhefer, Farrell, Freitas, Garrett, Gilbert, Greason, Habeeb, Head, Helsel, Hodges, Hugo, Ingram, Jones, Kilgore, Knight, Landes, LaRock, Leftwich, LeMunyon, Lingamfelter, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Massie, Miller, Miyares, O'Bannon, O'Quinn, Orrock, Peace, Pillion, Pogge, Poindexter, Ransone, Robinson, Rush, Ware, Webert, Wilt, Wright, Yancey, Mr. Speaker--54.

NAYS--Aird, Bagby, Bell, John J., Bourne, Boysko, Bulova, Carr, Davis, Edmunds, Filler-Corn, Hayes, Heretick, Herring, Hester, Holcomb, Hope, James, Keam, Krizek, Levine, Lindsey, Lopez, McQuinn, Mullin, Murphy, Plum, Price, Rasoul, Sickles, Simon, Stolle, Sullivan, Torian, Toscano, Tyler, Villanueva, Watts, Yost--38.

John Oliver: We have no idea what Trump is talking about either, Sweden; also: Jessica Fletcher is a serial killer!

Safe bet: You won't see anything like this NZ bank ad from First National Omaha or TD Ameritrade anytime soon

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Adults-only Mac and Cheese

You won't believe, until you try it, that a dish with just four ingredients and this easy to make can taste so rich and full bodied!
  • 1 1/4 cups of elbow macaroni (it cooks fast and holds thin sauce better)
  • 2 oz. plain goat cheese (1/2 of a small log, or crumbled. It'll be melted, so who cares?)
  • 4 oz. of a dry, crisp white wine, like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or Unoaked Chardonnay
  • 16 medium, peeled shrimp, cut into quarters
While boiling the macaroni to desired firmness, melt the goat cheese in the wine in a small saucepan. Cook long enough to boil off the alcohol. When pasta is finished, pour it into a large bowl and thoroughly mix in the shrimp. Distribute contents to 2-4 serving bowls and add sauce. Eat with a spoon like the kid you used to be, as the thin sauce collects at the bottom.

That one time Dick Cavett walked off his own show but returned when audience chanted 'We Want Dick!'

There were warning rumblings from the Nebraska talk show host that he had had enough, like "This is the reason I didn't join a fraternity." His unruly guests, Peter Falk, John Cassavetes and Ben Gazzara denied it when Cavett asked if they were all smashed.
     Just before the host finally took a hike from his own set, he announced: "You've seen three guys fall down, right? Wanna see something else?"

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Bill Maher calls Milo Yiannopoulos an 'impish British fag'; Larry Wilmore twice tells him to go fuck himself

Milo Whachamacallit*, a professional insult-comic troller and alt-right dahlink now banned from Twitter, confronted the panel on Bill Maher and was told to fuck off, or variations thereof (bottom video) twice by Larry Wilmore and once by ex-spook Malcolm Nance, who replaced Intercept cofounder Jeremy Scahill, who refused to appear on Maher's show with Milos.
     We think Maher was being overly diplomatic when he referred to Milo as an "impish British fag (top video.)
We can't spell Yiannopoulos. Is it OK if we call him Tallulah Lunkhead?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Trump's looming trade war could wreck the one bright spot in U.S. balance of payments: ag exports

Photo: StevanBaird via Flickr
Politico has a very illuminating piece on how Trump's looming trade war could claim as collateral damage the one bright spot in America's balance of trade: the huge trade surplus that farmers have been running since the 1960s. Last year it was $16 billion, and this year it is expected to be $21.5 billion. Contrast that with the $86 billion balance of trade deficit in manufactured goods.

The Trump administration has come out of the gate seemingly gearing up for a trade war -- withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, threatening to pull out of NAFTA and rattling relations with Mexican President Peña Nieto with talk of paying for a wall along the southern border by imposing taxes on imports. The goal is to restore U.S. manufacturing jobs in languishing industries like steel, and help the Rust Belt factory workers who turned out to vote Trump. But farmers and ranchers have a lot to lose, and they’re are starting to worry their entire industry will be collateral damage in Trump’s trade experiment.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sorry, pedophiles. This Man Boy Scouts video probably isn't what you were expecting

The server ate Betsy Devos's homework!

It's Betsy Devos's first miracle! And it started when George Takei tweeted to his 2 moolsillion plus followers that her Dept. of Education removed web pages (She works fast, doesn't she?) that contained information on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Many cherry-picking, for-profit charter schools hate the pesky law that costs them a lot of money, especially when informed parents insist on accommodations for special needs kids).

After that, tweet was retweeted FOURTEEN THOUSAND TIMES. and after THAT, people noticed that the information had MAGICALLY REAPPEARED somewhere else with a different web address — and a WRITTEN EXCUSE! (Click graphic below to enlarge it enough to read Devos's alibi, highlighted in yellow.

Friday, February 10, 2017

More Nebraskans identify as LGBT than in any surrounding state except one

Gallup's operations center, in Omaha.
Gallup's newest national LGBT survey, and why the polling giant thinks the percentage of people who self-identify as LGBT is increasing, here.

SD GOP killed ethics measure approved by voters; prevented them from passing it again

In November, South Dakota voters approved an anti-corruption referendum, Measure 22, intended to limit the influence of campaign cash and interloping lobbyists. The South Dakota GOP overturned the law with an "emergency clause."
     Voters won't be able to resurrect the referendum.
     Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) claimed the initiative was the work of out of state "scam artists" and that voters were "hoodwinked."
     Pender, Nebraska Native Drey Samuelson, who was instrumental in the advancement of Measure 22, served as former senator Tim Johnson’s (D) chief of staff for 28 years and co-founded, the group that pushed the measure locally with backing from a Massachusetts organization,
     More from the Washington Post:
[State Rep. Larry] Rhoden said lawmakers are considering replacement ethics legislation and added there was no rush to do something: “We are pretty squeaky clean, and I can say that with a great deal of pride in South Dakota; the ethics among the people that serve the state in the legislature, I would call impeccable.”
    The nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity recently ranked South Dakota 47th in the nation for accountability, largely because of its lax lobbying laws. “Little to none of [state legislative and lobbyist interaction] is reported to the public in any detail,” the report said.
     The state has been wracked by two major ethics scandals in the past two years: Investigations into misuse of the federal green card program for wealthy immigrant investors and the theft by a private company of more than $1 million of federal grant money to help Native Americans get ready for college.
     As a grim aside, people implicated in both scandals either committed suicide or murder or both.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bachmann's antigay IA campaign dir. headed to prison; lawyer says he'll 'take it like a man'

On January 17th, after sentencing, Defense attorney F. Montgomery Brown told reporters Sorenson wouldn't appeal the ruling. "He'll take it like a man." Brown said. Two weeks later, Sorensen notified the court he was appealing his sentence to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
     Sorenson got up to 15 months in a federal slammer for violation of federal election law and obstruction of justice; he had copped a plea, ratting out Ron Paul operatives who secretly and illegally funneled $73,000 his way to persuade him to quit Michele Bachmann's campaign and join theirs.)
     U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt called the former Republican lawmaker's crimes "the definition of political corruption. Sorenson's family begged to disagree:
...members of Sorenson's family became visibly upset and angry. "Are you happy now?" one of his sisters said to reporters in the courtroom when Pratt made his ruling. Two women who identified themselves as Sorenson's daughters shouted obscenities at journalists waiting outside the building to speak with their father, and one attempted to block a television camera with her body as Sorenson exited.
     We've posted about Sorenson before, here and here:

Sens. Sasse, Fischer, Grassley cosponsor Joni Ernst's bill to defund ALL Planned Parenthood's services;

From Mother Jones:
...The Hyde Amendment already prohibits federal funds from being used for most abortions, but this legislation would bar low-income women who rely on Medicaid and Title X funding for subsidized care from obtaining other women's health care services at Planned Parenthood...
     The bill text explains that other entities, including "state and county health departments, community health centers, [and] hospitals," will be able to fill women's health care needs, including contraception, STI testing, and cervical and breast cancer screening. Many health experts say other health providers would not be able to absorb Planned Parenthood's patients. An analysis conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, which publishes research on reproductive health, found that in two-thirds of the counties that have a Planned Parenthood center, these centers serve at least half of the women seeking publicly funded contraceptive care. In one-fifth of those counties, Planned Parenthood is the only provider offering subsidized contraceptive care.
     "If passed, these bills will cause a national health care crisis, leaving millions with nowhere to go for basic care," said Dana Singiser, vice president of public policy and government affairs for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement...
Here are all the cosponsors, so far:
Sen. Cornyn, John [R-TX]
Sen. Cruz, Ted [R-TX]
Sen. Blunt, Roy [R-MO]
Sen. Roberts, Pat [R-KS]
Sen. Scott, Tim [R-SC]
Sen. Paul, Rand [R-KY]
Sen. Lankford, James [R-OK]
Sen. Moran, Jerry [R-KS]
Sen. Rubio, Marco [R-FL]
Sen. Daines, Steve [R-MT]
Sen. Hoeven, John [R-ND]
Sen. Sullivan, Dan [R-AK]
Sen. Sasse, Ben [R-NE]
Sen. Fischer, Deb [R-NE]
Sen. Crapo, Mike [R-ID]
Sen. Kennedy, John [R-LA]
Sen. Lee, Mike [R-UT]
Sen. Risch, James E. [R-ID]
Sen. Wicker, Roger F. [R-MS]
Sen. Inhofe, James M. [R-OK]
Sen. Corker, Bob [R-TN]
Sen. Grassley, Chuck [R-IA]
Sen. Graham, Lindsey [R-SC]

An ugly accident outside the library near midnight in downtown Omaha

Doh! The library book drop box! We totally forgot to return two borrowed books after shooting our shaky-cam video.

This was an injury accident, but that doesn't completely explain why these two drivers did not exchange insurance cards...

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Senators Grassley (IA) and Fischer (NE) bravely speak out on Trump's ban on Muslims from countries in which he has no hotels

This is from a spreadsheet on the stance of every senator on Trump's legal attack on immigrants, the link to which was tweeted by Will and Grace star Debra Messing. Thanks Deb Messing! Thanks for nothing, Deb Fischer

In Omaha, determination, resentment at Trump and a cowardly GOP over immigration

Today's protest, with maybe a couple hundred, had mostly dissipated by the time AKSARBENT arrived, but we snapped one picture emblematic of the simmering anger, indignation and empathy felt by so many toward Trump and his cowardly mute GOP enablers. (Locally, that would be you, Senator Fischer (@SenatorFischer), Representatives Adrian Smith (@RepAdrianSmith) and DonBacon (@RepDonBacon), and Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert (@Jean_Stothert)

Fred Karger goes after LDS tax exemptions in new ad

Before Comcast agreed to carry the ad, Karger had to change the line which asserted that the Mormon Church has over a trillion bucks in assets. Below is the unedited version of the ad, which has yet to appear. The Mormon Church stopped disclosing complete financial information in the U.S. in 1959.
     In the 70s, a friend of AKSARBENT worked in the stock transfer office of PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric) in San Francisco during an offering made to stockholders. He told us that the ledger card bundle/s with records of LDS holdings in the utility were so thick that the rubber bands kept breaking. Each ledger card held 20 entries on each side and each LDS entry was 100 shares.
     In 2004, the Mormon church owned about 270,000 acres of Nebraska, in five Sandhills counties, second only to the ranch holdings of communications magnate Ted Turner.
     Britain's Daily Mail, a tabloid not particularly renowned for its accuracy, asserts that the church pulls in 76 billion a year.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Bill Maher sums up Trump's first week in office

It's day seven of the war on facts! I asked Siri to give me the news and she said "Are you sitting down?"

ICYMI: Triump, the insult comic dog at Trump's inauguration

This is the funniest skit that puppet has ever emceed. Do not watch this while eating; you'll choke to death but die happy.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Best Camera award at 2017 Consumer Electronics Show wasn't snagged by Nikon or Canon

AKSARBENT wasn't a bit surprised by the winner: the just-announced Panasonic Lumix GH5, latest incarnation of what has become a cult among electronic moviemakers, starting with the eminently hackable GH2. First looks from the reviewers here and here. The thing shoots broadcast quality 4:2:2 video internally, which is a big deal. It also has 5-axis image stabilization built in, so who needs a Steadicam, huh?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Throwback Thursday: When Mary Tyler Moore told David Letterman a dirty joke about her TV costar

America's television sweetheart died Wednesday at 80. She was almost as much fun as is Julie Andrews (who once put a "Mary Poppins is a junkie" bumper sticker on her car.) In the clip below she explains why she would never be seen in a Rob Reiner film (6:36 mark) and then got her friend and costar, Dick Van Dyke, good by telling a wickedly funny (and outrageously false) story about him. (7:55 mark).