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Parents Sue Fortnite For Being as “Addictive as Cocaine”   


Well, it looks like these Canadian parents do not like their children spending hours and hours playing video games. A Canadian law firm has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the parents saying their 10-year-old and 15-year-old are apparently addicted


Faces of the Library: Dee Calderon   


Meet  Dee Calderon. She is one of the most friendly faces you will meet at the Texas Tech School of Law Library. She knows everything and can help you find anything in the library. Please, read her profile here: What are some of the tasks you do for the TTU Law Library? Circulation/ Serial What is your favorite thing about working at the TTU Law Library? Students, Faculty, and Staff What is one thing about the law library that current and prospective students should know? We have the best reference librarians. What is your favorite restaurant in Lubbock? The Plaza Restaurant What hobbies or activities do you like to do outside the law library? I enjoy spending time with my family.    


Therapy dog helping patients and loved ones at OhioHealth's inpatient hospice care center   


Two years ago, Kobacker House welcomed their 2-year-old comfort retriever, Finn. He works 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, walking the halls greeting everyone and spending time in each room with each patient.

He's been coming to OhioHealth's inpatient hospice care center since he was 8 weeks old. He shares his love with people in their final days or with patients just receiving treatment.

For many people, he brings a smile to their faces during a difficult time when it's needed the most.

Finn went through two weeks of training, or what his owner calls "boot camp." One of his most popular commands is when his owner, clinical nurse manager Amanda Dobosh, calls give love.

When he is asked to give love, Finn will put his paws on the side of a patient's bed and let them pet him.

Dobosh said if a patient isn't in a place where they are able to interact with Finn, he'll sit with family members in the room and keep his company.

"You see their grief in their eyes, these families and the patients, and when Finn walks in the entire mood of the room changes," Dobosh said.

The patients and their loved ones aren't the only ones Finn helps, he also provides comfort to the staff at Kobacker as well.

"He's such a de-stressor, you can be in a very emotionally charged situation you walk out and see Finn and poof, he just puts a smile on your face," Deborah DePaso said.

Dobosh said many times the staff will take a few minutes to sit with Finn or lay next to him in her office. However, after those few moments, their focus immediately goes right back to being there for their patients and their families.

"For families to let us in, in those darkest moments is an absolute privilege," Dobosh said.

"Building relationships with them, their trust, being able to comfort during a difficult time is amazing," DePaso said.

Finn was donated to Kobacker by a patient's family. His vet bills, food and anything else he needs in order to do his job is funded by the OhioHealth Foundation.

They are working on getting another dog to provide comfort in the evenings on the weekend.


New Developments in Broadband – October   


Capitol Hill As the year’s legislative calendar winds down, a large new infrastructure spending program with dedicated funding for broadband appears dead.  Attention now is on smaller but important pieces of bi-partisan broadband legislation such as the Secure and Trusted Communications Act, introduced in the House of Representatives on September 24.  The bill would prohibit the use of federal funds to purchase communications equipment or services that pose a national security risk, and appropriates $1 billion for the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) to establish a $1 billion “Secure and Trusted Communications Reimbursement Program” to assist small communications providers in removing and replacing compromised equipment (so-called “rip and replace”).  Broadband mapping also continues to be a focus with a number of bills circulating in both the House and Senate. Congress has…


Roustabout Job Vacancies - 3 Easy, Free Ways to Find a Roustabout Job   


If you are looking for roustabout job vacancies, it can sometimes be very discouraging, especially when oil prices are low or when there is a recession going on. But the world runs on oil. The worldwide oil and gas industry knows this and is spending $400 billion drilling for oil even in the middle of the recession in 2009. Here are three easy and free methods you can use to look for an entry level roustabout job.


IFS: No-deal Brexit would push UK debt to 50-year high - BBC News   


  1. IFS: No-deal Brexit would push UK debt to 50-year high  BBC News
  2. No-deal Brexit would 'push national debt to levels last seen in 60s'  The Guardian
  3. Public spending leaves no room for Budget tax cuts, Johnson warned  Financial Times
  4. The next election: What will the parties promise?  BBC News
  5. No-deal Brexit will send public debt rocketing to levels not seen for nearly 50 years, Institute for Fiscal Studies warns  Evening Standard
  6. View full coverage on Google News


Uganda: Uganda Oil Firms Ready to Resume Operations, Seek Fresh Talks Over Tax Row   


[East African] Ugandan oil companies have caved in to pressure and proposed fresh dialogue to resolve the current standoff with the government, a month after suspending all technical activities in Uganda's budding oil and gas sector.


True or false? We fact check the federal leaders’ debate   


OTTAWA—Six party leaders squared off in a sometimes frenzied, sometimes humorous, sometimes confusing debate in Gatineau, Que. Monday night.

While there was plenty of substantial (and relatively honest) disagreements on policy and politics over the course of the two-hour debate, the Star catalogued a few questionable claims from all six party leaders taking part in Monday’s debate.

Here they are, in the order the leaders’ fielded questions Monday night.

Justin Trudeau, Liberal leader

The claim: Trudeau said the Liberals have brought Canada “three quarters” of the way to its emissions reduction target under the Paris Agreement, which is 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The facts: The latest national tally of emissions is from 2017. It says Canada emitted 716 million tonnes of greenhouse gas that year — just two per cent lower than in 2005. Moreover, the federal government projects that measures in the Liberal climate plan — including the carbon price, methane regulations and more — will reduce emissions to about 592 million tonnes by 2030. That’s only about 20 per cent below 2005 levels, or two thirds of the way to the target. The Liberals claim, however, that future technological improvement and impacts of incoming public transit expansions and more will ensure Canada closes the gap and exceeds the 2030 target.

Verdict: Misleading.

Jagmeet Singh, NDP leader

The claim: Singh accused Trudeau’s Liberals of giving away $14 billion to big corporations so they could buy jets and limousines.

The facts: Last November, the Liberals announced in their fall economic update that they would spend $14 billion on a slew of tax measures for Canadian businesses. These measures allowed companies that invest in “clean energy” to immediately write off spending on new equipment and machinery, while other businesses could now write off capital spending more quickly. These changes were explicitly designed, the Liberals said, to boost manufacturing and clean energy production. The NDP has attacked the measures as irresponsible corporate giveaways ever since, claiming it would help big businesses buy more jets and limos.

Verdict: Misleading.

Andrew Scheer, Conservative leader

The claim: “We’re going to pay for those (tax cuts and credits) by cutting corporate welfare and reducing Canada foreign aid budget by 25 per cent.”

The facts: Scheer has proposed cutting foreign aid and reviewing “corporate welfare” to find $3 billion in savings per year. But Conservatives have already announced spending that exceeds those savings, according to independent costing of their promises by the Parliamentary Budget Office.

Verdict: Misleading. The two cuts Scheer mentions, if fully implemented, would go some of the way to paying for their spending — but wouldn’t cover the whole bill.

Elizabeth May, Green leader

The claim: May defended her party’s “fully costed” election platform, and said it was approved as responsible by former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page.

The facts: Initially, Page and his team at the University of Ottawa’s Institute for Fiscal Studies and Democracy gave the Greens a failing grade in all three categories of assessment: transparency, “realistic economic and fiscal assumption,” and “responsible fiscal management.” Days later, after receiving more information about their assumptions from the party, Page revised his assessment to give the party a passing grade. However, the institute still found the party failed on fiscal responsibility, because of the uncertainty surrounding the dramatic changes the party is proposing in the short term.

Verdict: Misleading without context.

Yves-François Blanchet, Bloc Québécois leader

The claim: Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet accused the Conservatives of speaking against Quebec’s secularism law, Bill 21, in English Canada but saying they would “protect” the law in Quebec.

The facts: For his part, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has consistently said — in English and French — that a Conservative government would not intervene in court challenges against the law. Scheer’s Quebec lieutenant, Alain Reyes, told reporters Sunday that electing a Conservative government would “impede Justin Trudeau from contesting Bill 21.”

Verdict: Misleading. The Conservatives’ position has been relatively clear on Bill 21 — they would not intervene.

Maxime Bernier, People’s Party of Canada leader

The claim: “Canada receives more immigrants per capita than any other Western country.”

The facts: According to 2015 figures from the World Economic Forum, Canada does have a higher percentage of immigrants compared to other Western countries — but not the most. Australia (28.2 per cent) had a higher percentage than Canada (21 per cent). But in terms of absolute numbers, Canada ranks below a number of countries in the number of immigrants.

Verdict: Misleading.

Alex Boutilier is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @alexboutilier

Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga


Chantal Hébert: With no knockouts, federal leaders’ debate makes a minority government more likely   


If Monday night’s election debate — the first and last English-language encounter of the current campaign to find its main protagonists on the same stage — results in anything, it may be to have made the possibility of a minority government more probable.

At the very least expectations the debate would break the Liberal/Conservative deadlock in the battle for government will likely not pan out.

With six leaders on stage — a record in a Canadian federal election — and almost as many moderators, the opportunities to size up the two men most likely to become prime minister as a result of the Oct. 21 vote were, to put it mildly, too few and far between to really set the stage for a decisive match.

Overall, viewers were treated to a cacophony that saw the various leaders spend more time speaking over each other than articulating coherent ideas. Substance was sacrificed to a cumbersome format.

Given the time constraints they were operating under, all six strove for clean clips liable to endure beyond the evening’s broadcast. They all worked hard to make their rivals’ comments unintelligible by interrupting them every step of the way.

Here are some notes on how each of the main leaders did:

Justin Trudeau: It is a rare debate that sees the incumbent emerge as the hands-down winner and Monday night’s exercise was no exception. The Liberal leader neither dominated the exchanges nor did he spend the evening on the ropes as a result of the sustained attacks of the other leaders.

If the Liberal objective was for Trudeau to avoid walking off the set wounded, it was achieved. But if the goal was to finally put distance between the Liberal leader and the rest of the pack, it probably missed the mark.

Andrew Scheer: To watch the Conservative leader in action over the course of his maiden campaign debates has been to be reminded that he did not get much advance practice at defending policies. Having never served in cabinet under Stephen Harper, Scheer never had to endure opposition fire in question period.

That was obvious last week when the Conservative leader emerged as the consensus loser of the French-language debate hosted by Quebec’s TVA network. He truly had a bad night last Wednesday.

A repeat of that performance in English on Monday would likely have sealed his party’s fate on Oct. 21 and, potentially, ensured the re-election of a majority Liberal government.

But Scheer limited the potential damage by spending much of the evening in his opposition comfort zone, in full-attack mode.

By comparison to last week’s French-language debate, he is unlikely to bleed support as a result of his performance on Monday.

Jagmeet Singh: As in the case of the Maclean’s and the TVA debates, the NDP leader had a good night. He was on message and took the few openings he did get to distinguish his positions from those of his rivals. So far, Singh has benefited from every debate he has participated in and Monday’s will likely be no exception.

It is unlikely to turn what has so far been a two-way battle for government into a three-way fight, but his performance is bound to shore up the morale of his troops and keep them fighting until the votes are counted. That was not a given when the election was called.

A good night for Singh is not necessarily a great night for Green party Leader Elizabeth May. It probably won’t help that while her best hope for bringing more Green MPs to the next Parliament is in B.C., the debate in that province was broadcast, as a result of the time difference with central Canada, in late afternoon — at a time when many voters were still either at work or in traffic.

Monday’s debate also featured People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier’s first appearance on the podium. Many initially questioned the debate commission’s decision to invite him and his contribution to the exchanges is unlikely to have put the doubts to rest.

To sum up: Monday’s debate was one of Scheer’s last best chances to generate the momentum that has so far eluded his Conservative party.

With time running out, he has yet to translate a tie in national voting intentions into winning odds in the seat count.

Absent a clean win, the fact that he was still standing at the end of the debate does not mean he succeeded.

On the heels of last week’s poor debate performance in Quebec, the path to a Conservative victory is increasingly narrow.

Singh on Monday and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet last week both gave debate performances liable to solidify and expand their respective parties’ support. As a result, with less than two weeks to go, Trudeau’s road to a second majority remains muddy.

Chantal Hébert is a columnist based in Ottawa covering politics. Follow her on Twitter: @ChantalHbert


To GIVE and To SERVE: The $6 Billion National Service Boondoggle   


The House passed the "Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act" -- or the GIVE Act -- last week. The Senate took up the companion SERVE Act Tuesday afternoon. According to a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Senate bill (S.277), it would cost "$418 million in 2010 and about $5.7 billion over the 2010-2014 period."

Like most federal programs, these would be sure to grow over time. The bills reauthorize the Clinton-era AmeriCorps boondoggle program and the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973.

The programs have already been allocated $1.1 billion for fiscal year 2009, including $200 million from the porkulus package signed into law last month. In addition to recruiting up to 250,000 enrollees in AmeriCorps, the GIVE/SERVE bills would create new little armies of government volunteers, including a Clean Energy Corps, Education Corps, Healthy Futures Corps, Veterans Service Corps, and an expanded National Civilian Community Corps for disaster relief and energy conservation.

But that's not all. Spending would include new funds for:

-- Foster Grandparent Program ($115 million);

-- Learn and Serve America ($97 million);

-- Retired and Senior Volunteer Program ($70 million);

-- Senior Companion Program ($55 million);

-- $12 million for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014 for "the Silver Scholarships and Encore Fellowships programs";

-- $10 million a year from 2010 through 2014 for a new "Volunteers for Prosperity" program at USAID to "award grants to fund opportunities for volunteering internationally in coordination with eligible organizations"; and

-- Social Innovation Fund and Volunteer Generation Fund -- $50 million in 2010; $60 million in 2011; $70 million in 2012; $80 million in 2013; and $100 million in 2014.

Social Innovation Fund? If that sounds familiar, it should. I reported last fall on the Democratic Party platform's push to fund a "Social Investment Fund Network" that would reward "social entrepreneurs and leading nonprofit organizations" and "support results-oriented innovators." It is essentially a special taxpayer-funded pipeline for radical liberal groups backed by billionaire George Soros that masquerade as public-interest do-gooders.

Especially troublesome to parents' groups concerned about compulsory volunteerism requirements is a provision in the House version directing Congress to explore "whether a workable, fair and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed, and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the Nation and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic and educational backgrounds."

Those who have watched AmeriCorps from its inception are all too familiar with how government volunteerism programs have been used for propaganda and political purposes. AmeriCorps "volunteers" have been put to work lobbying against the voter-approved three-strikes anti-crime initiative in California and protesting Republican political events while working for the already heavily tax-subsidized liberal advocacy group ACORN.

D.C. watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste also documented national service volunteers lobbying for rent control, expanded federal housing subsidies and enrollment of more women in the Women, Infants and Children welfare program. AmeriCorps volunteers have also been paid to shuffle paper at the Department of Justice, the Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Legal Services Corporation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

(Now, imagine Obama's troops being sent overseas -- out of sight and unaccountable -- as part of that $10 million a year USAID/Volunteers for Prosperity program. Egad.)

One vigilant House member, GOP Rep. Virginia Foxx, successfully attached an amendment to the GIVE Act to bar National Service participants from engaging in political lobbying; endorsing or opposing legislation; organizing petitions, protests, boycotts or strikes; providing or promoting abortions or referrals; or influencing union organizing.

Supporters of GIVE/SERVE are now fighting those restrictions tooth and nail, screaming censorship and demanding the provisions be dropped -- which tells you everything you need to know about the true nature of this boondoggle. Taxpayers GIVE their money to SERVE a big government agenda under the guise of helping their fellow man. It's charity at the point of a gun.


Look Beyond the Bogus Bonus Smokescreen   


Taxpayers might be less skeptical of the born-again guardians of fiscal responsibility if these evangelists were actually practicing what they preached. While the Obama administration now issues impassioned calls to stop rewarding failure, they moved Thursday to dump another $5 billion into the failing auto industry. That's on top of Thursday's announcement by the Federal Reserve to print $1 trillion to buy Treasury bonds and mortgage securities sold by the government -- which no one else wants to buy.

Financial blogger Barry Ritholtz tallied up $8.5 trillion in bailout costs by December 2008 between Federal Reserve, FDIC, Treasury and Federal Housing Administration rescues (not including the $5.2 trillion in Fannie and Freddie portfolios that the U.S. taxpayer is now explicitly responsible for). Then there's the (at least) $50 billion proposed by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in February to bail out home owners and lenders who made bad home loan decisions, which would be just a small sliver of the $2.5 trillion he wants to spend on the next big banking bailout, which would draw on the second $350 billion of the TARP package over which an increasing number of Chicken Little lawmakers are having buyer's remorse.

Phew. We're not done yet: As AIG-bashing lawmakers inveighed against wasted taxpayer funds and lamented the lack of accountability and rush to judgment that led to passage of the porkulus bill that mysteriously protected the bonuses, the Senate quietly passed a $10 billion lands bill stuffed with earmarks and immunized from amendments. GOP Sen. Tom Coburn, fiscal conservative loner, pointed out that none of the provisions for special-interest pork projects -- including $3.5 million in spending for a birthday bash celebrating the city of St. Augustine, Fla. -- was subject to public hearings. That's on top of the pork-stuffed $410 billion spending bill passed two weeks ago.

Oh, and did I mention that the House passed a $6 billion volunteerism bill (the "GIVE Act") on Wednesday to provide yet another pipeline to left-wing advocacy groups under the guise of encouraging national service?

Also coming down the pike: the Obama administration's "cap-and-trade" global warming plan, which Hill staffers learned this week could cost close to $2 trillion (nearly three times the White House's initial estimate) and the administration's universal health care scheme, which health policy experts reported this week could cost about $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

It is no wonder that when earlier this week Vice President Joe Biden told local officials in Washington that he was "serious, absolutely serious" about policing wasteful spending in Washington, he was met with the only rational response his audience could muster: laughter.


"Going Galt": America's Wealth Producers Vs. Wealth Redistributors   


Enough. These "Tea Party" protests spanned the sunny Santa Monica pier to the icy streets of Chicago and Cleveland to rain-drenched Atlanta, overflowing the grounds of the St. Louis Gateway Arch, with massive turnouts in Greenville, S.C., and crowds of several hundred each in New York City and Washington, D.C., and all points in between. Like those who demonstrated before them in Seattle, Denver, Mesa, Ariz., and Overland Park, Kan., two weeks ago, the Tea Party participants held homemade signs that said it all: "Your mortgage is not my problem"; "Liberty: All the stimulus we need"; "No taxation without deliberation."

The speed and scope with which they mobilized were due not to nefarious outside conspiracists, but to social networking websites Facebook and Twitter, where a burgeoning network on Twitter called Top Conservatives became the central clearinghouse for information. Planning for a new wave of demonstrations on April 15 has begun at

Enough. While they take to the streets politically, untold numbers of America's wealth producers are going on strike financially. Dr. Helen Smith, a Tennessee forensic psychologist and political blogger, dubbed the phenomenon "Going Galt" last fall. It's a reference to the famed Ayn Rand novel "Atlas Shrugged," in which protagonist John Galt leads the entrepreneurial class to cease productive activities in order to starve the government of revenue. (Not coincidentally, Rand's novel sales are up and John Galt references punctuated many of the Tea Party demonstrations.) Dr. Smith was inundated with stories like these:

"I have frozen hiring in my firm. ... No investments will be made in taxable accounts -- only 401k/IRAs. I am buying silver and gold instead of CDs or stocks with non-qualified money and savings. I have stopped taking new clients, thus freezing my income. I barter more and more. Spend less. I stopped leveraging assets (don't borrow)."

"I have cut WAY back -- I'm no longer buying retail, driving out of a 10-mile radius, spending money on eating out or putting my money in a savings account. I am using the money to pay off all of our debt. It has made our family closer, more appreciative."

Another blogger wrote: "Last year my family paid nearly $1,000 a month in federal taxes, and we are not by any stretch of the imagination rich. I'm going to make it my business to cut that amount in half, using every legal means possible and reducing my income so there is less to tax."

Enough. Those business owners are not alone. This week, ABC News spotlighted upper-income earners going Galt in response to Obama's proposed tax hikes on families with incomes of $250,000 or more. A Lafayette, La., attorney told the reporter she was cutting back on her business to avoid the tax threshold: "Why kill yourself working if you're going to give it all away to people who aren't working as hard?" Tax hikes have consequences. Incentives matter. Only self-deluded wealth redistributors living in la-la land believe otherwise.

Another business owner, Dr. Sharon Poczatek, explained: "The motivation for a lot of people like me -- dentists, entrepreneurs, lawyers -- is that the more you work the more money you make," said Poczatek. "But if I'm going to be working just to give it back to the government -- it's de-motivating and demoralizing."

The perpetual Borrow-Spend-Panic-Repeat machine in Washington depends on the capitulation of the wealth producers. There's only one monkey wrench that can stop the redistributionist thieves' engine. It's engraved with the word: Enough.


Rebel Yell: Taxpayers Revolt Against Gimme-Mania   


Some wore pig noses. Others waved Old Glory and "Don't Tread on Me" flags. Their handmade signs read: "Say No to Generational Theft"; "Obama'$ Porkulu$ Wear$ Lip$tick"; and "I don't want to pay for the SwindleUs! I'm only 10 years old!" The event was peaceful, save for an unhinged city-dweller who showed his tolerance by barging onto the speakers' stage and giving a Nazi salute.

Carender, a newcomer to political activism, shared advice for other first-timers: "Basically, everyone, you just have to do it. Call up your police station or parks department and ask how you can obtain a permit, and then just start advertising. The word will spread. I am only one person, but with a little hard work this protest has become the efforts of a lot of people."

Why bother? It's for posterity's sake. For the historical record. And hopefully it will spur others to move from the phones and computers to the streets. For Carender, it's just the beginning. She gathered all the attendees' e-mail addresses and will keep up the pressure.

"We need to show that we exist. Second, we need to show support for the Republicans and Democrats that voted against the porkulus. If they think, for one second, that they made a bad choice, we have no chance to fight. Third, it sends a message to Obama and Pelosi that we are awake and we know what's happening and we are not going to take it lying down. It is a message saying, 'Expect more opposition because we're out here.'"

The anti-pork activists turned out in Denver, too. On Tuesday, while Obama cocooned himself at the city's Museum of Nature and Science for the stimulus signing, a crowd of nearly 300 gathered on the Capitol steps on their lunch hour to flame-broil the spending bill and feast on roasted pig (also donated by yours truly). Jim Pfaff of Colorado's fiscal conservative citizens group Americans for Prosperity condemned the "Ponzi scheme, Madoff style" stimulus and led the crowd in chants of "No more pork!" Free-market think-tank head Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute brought oversized checks representing the $30,000 stimulus debt load for American families.

On Wednesday in Mesa, local conservative talk station KFYI spearheaded a third large protest to welcome Obama as he unveiled a $100 billion to $200 billion program to bail out banks and beleaguered borrowers having trouble paying their mortgages. The entitlement theme played well last week in Florida, where Obama played Santa Claus to enraptured supporters shamelessly seeking government presents. But nearly 500 protesters in Mesa came to reject the savior-based economy with signs mocking gimme-mania.

Their posters jeered: "Give me Pelosi's Plane"; "Annual Passes to Disneyland"; "Fund Bikini Wax Now"; "Stimulate the Economy: Give Me a Tummy Tuck"; "Free Beer for My Horses."

And my favorite: "Give me liberty or at least a big-screen TV."

Plans are underway for anti-stimulus-palooza protests in Overland Park, Kan., Nashville and New York -- home of smug Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer. Schumer's derisive comment on the Senate floor about the "chattering classes" who oppose reckless spending has not been forgotten or forgiven. The insult spurred central Kentucky talk show host Leland Conway to organize a pork rind drive. Angry taxpayers bombarded the senator's office with 1,500 bags of cracklins.

Disgraced Democratic Sen. John Edwards was right about one thing: There are two Americas. One America is full of moochers, big and small, corporate and individual, trampling over themselves with their hands out demanding endless bailouts. The other America is full of disgusted, hardworking citizens getting sick of being played for chumps and punished for practicing personal responsibility.

Now is the time for all good taxpayers to turn the tables on free-lunching countrymen and their enablers in Washington. Community organizing helped propel Barack Obama to the White House. It can work for fiscal conservatism, too.


The "Tiny" Trillion-Dollar Turbaconducken You Don't Care About   


If the stimulus plan were a Thanksgiving dinner entree, it would be a Turbaconducken -- the heart attack-inducing dish of roasted chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey, all wrapped in endless slabs of bacon. But according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's fantasyland "fact sheet" released early Thursday afternoon, "there are no earmarks or pet projects" in the final package.

Trust her no further than you could throw a pot-bellied pig. Despite the self-delusional declarations of Pelosi and President Obama that no pet projects exist, Hill staffers spilled the beans on several new set-asides tacked onto the bill.

Thanks to Michigan's Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, General Motors will receive a special tax break worth an estimated $7 billion to cover liabilities incurred when it accepted its $13.4 billion bailout from the Bush administration. The failing automaker has lined up for an addition $4 billion in bailout funds -- at which time they'll no doubt ask for another mega-tax liability waiver. The moochers' cycle never ends.

Then there's Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Railway to Sin City. Appointing yourself a Senate conferee has its perks. Roughly $8 billion in perks.

Reid, you see, needs to stimulate his re-election bid, so he haggled with President Obama to tuck in a teeny, tiny, yes, porky amendment for high-speed rail lines. Reid has his eyes -- and paws -- on a proposed Los Angeles-to-Las Vegas magnetic levitation train. He has already sunk $45 million in previous earmarks into his, yes, pet project. Wasn't it earlier this week that Obama was lecturing companies not to travel to Las Vegas on the taxpayers' dime?

But I digress. Along with these not-earmarks, not-pet projects, there's $2 billion for impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pet FutureGen near-zero emissions power plant project, $300 million for souped-up "green" golf carts for government workers, $30 million for "smart appliances" and $65 million for digital TV coupons. According to Hill Republicans, money for basic highways and bridges was cut by $1 billion from the House-passed level, but:

-- $9 billion for school construction was added back in (originally cut by the Nelson-Collins "compromise");

-- $5 billion was added to the state fiscal stabilization fund (originally cut by Nelson-Collins), making it a grand total of $53.6 billion;

-- $1 billion was added back for Prevention & Wellness Programs, including STD education; and

-- $2 billion for neighborhood stabilization programs.

As I've reported previously, that "neighborhood stabilization" slush fund money will end up in the pockets of left-wing shakedown artists such as ACORN and the Massachusetts-based Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), led by self-proclaimed "bank terrorist" Bruce Marks. There's an additional $3.25 billion in HUD grants and Community Development Block Grants in the bill that will also inevitably find its way into the coffers of these housing-entitlement lobbying groups.

Another egregious not-earmark earmark that survived untouched: $2 billion for the National Parks Service championed by House Democratic conferee and Appropriations Chairman Rep. David Obey. A report by the GOP minority on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee revealed that Obey's son, Craig, lobbied the panel and advocated for the stimulus plan on behalf of the National Parks Conservation Association.

All told -- and safely assuming the major spending provisions become permanently enshrined -- the final price tag of this government hogzilla of all hogzillas over the next 10 years will be a whopping $3.27 trillion with a capital "T."

Not, ahem, that you care.


Kernel Patch Protection aka "PatchGuard"   


Originally posted on:

If anyone has been following this technology closely, there have been a lot of complaints by some of the security vendors regarding PatchGuard. I first heard about this technology at TechEd 2006 in a lot of the Vista sessions.

The recent controversy caused me to do a little more research in to this technology and the issues surrounding it.

The official name for this technology is called Kernel Patch Protection (KPP) and it's purpose is to increase the security and stability of the Windows kernel. KPP was first supported in Windows Server 2003 SP1, Windows XP, and Windows XP Professional Edition. The important thing to understand about this support is that it is for x64 architectures only.

KPP is a direct outgrowth of both customer complaints regarding the security and stability of the Windows kernel and Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative, announced in early 2002.

In order to understand the controversy surrounding KPP, it is important to understand what KPP actually is and what aspects of the Windows operating system it deals with.

What is the Kernel?

The kernel is the "heart" of the operating system and is one of the first pieces of code to load when the operating system starts. Everything in Windows (and almost any operating system, for that matter) runs on a layer that sits on top of the kernel. This makes the kernel the primary factor in the performance, reliability and security of the entire operating system.

Since all other programs and many portions of the operating system itself depend on the kernel, any problems in the kernel can make those programs crash or behave in unexpected ways. The "Blue Screen of Death" (BSoD) in Windows is the result of an error in the kernel or a kernel mode driver that is so severe that the system can't recover.

What is Kernel Patching?

According to Microsoft's KPP FAQ, kernel patching (also known as kernel "hooking") is

the practice of using internal system calls and other unsupported mechanisms to modify or replace code or critical structures in the kernel of the Microsoft Windows operating system with unknown code or data. "Unknown code or data" is any code or data that is not provided by Microsoft as part of the Windows kernel.

What exactly, does that mean? The most common scenario is for programs to patch the kernel by changing a function pointer in the system service table (SST). The SST is an array of function pointers to in-memory system services. For example, if the function pointer to the NtCreateProcess method is changed, anytime the service dispatch invokes NtCreateProcess, it is actually running the third-party code instead of the kernel code. While the third-party code might be attempting to provide a valid extension to the kernel functionality, it could also be malicious.

Even though almost all of the Windows kernels have allowed kernel patching, it has always been an officially unsupported activity.

Kernel patching breaks the integrity of the Windows kernel and can introduce problems in three critical areas:

  • Reliability
    Since patching replaces kernel code with third-party code, this code can be untested. There is no way for the kernel to assess the quality of intent of this new code. Beyond that, kernel code is very complex, so bugs of any sort can have a significant impact on system stability.
  • Performance
    The overall performance of the operating system is largely determined by the performance of the kernel. Poorly designed third-party code can cause significant performance issues and can make performance unpredictable.
  • Security
    Since patching replaces known kernel code with potentially unknown third-party code, the intent of that third-party code is also unknown. This becomes a potential attack surface for malicious code.

Why Kernel Patch Protection?

As I mentioned earlier, the primary purpose of KPP is to protect the integrity of the kernel and improve the reliability, performance, and security of the Windows operating systems. This is becoming increasingly more important with the prevalence of malicious software that is implementing "root kits". A root kit is a specific type of malicious software (although it is usually included as a part of another, larger, piece of software) that uses a variety of techniques to gain access to a computer. Increasingly, root kits are becoming more sophisticated and are attacking the kernel itself. If the rootkit can gain access to the kernel, it can actually hide itself from the file system and even from any anti-malware tools. Root kits are typically used by malicious software, however, they have also been used by large legitimate businesses, including Sony.

While KPP is a good first step at preventing such attacks, it is not a "magic bullet". It does eliminate one way to attack the system...patching kernel images to manipulate kernel functionality. KPP takes the approach that there is no reliable way for the operating system to distinguish between "known good" and "known bad" components, so it prevents anything from patching the kernel. The only official way to disable KPP is by attaching a kernel debugger to the system.

KPP monitors certain key resources used by the kernel to determine if they have been modified. If the operating system detects that one of these resources has been modified it generates a "bug check", which is essentially a BSoD, and shuts down the system. Currently the following actions trigger this behavior:

  • Modifying system service tables.
  • Modifying the interpret descriptor table (IDT).
  • Modifying the global descriptor table (GDT).
  • Using kernel stacks that are not allocated by the kernel.
  • Patching any part of the kernel. This is currently detected only on AMD64-based systems.

Why x64?

At this point, you may begin to wonder why Microsoft chose to implement this on x64 based systems only. Microsoft is again responding to customer complaints in this decision. Implementing KPP will almost certainly impact comparability of many legitimate software, primarily security software such as anti-virus and anti-malware tools, which were built using unsupported kernel patching techniques. This would cause a huge impact on the consumer and also on Microsoft's partners. Since x64-based machines still make up the smaller install base (although they are gaining ground rapidly) and the majority of x64-based software has been rewritten to take advantage of the newer architecture, the impact is considered to be substantially smaller.

So...why the controversy?

Since KPP prevents an application or driver from modifying the kernel, it will, effectively, prevent that application or driver from running. KPP in Vista x64 requires any application drivers be digitally signed, although there are some non-intuitive ways to turn that off. (Turning off signed drivers does prevent certain other aspects of Windows from operating, such as being able to view DRM protected media.) However, all that really means is anyone with a legitimately created company and about $500 per year to spend can get the required digital signature from VeriSign. Unfortunately, even it is a reputable company, it still doesn't provide any guarantees as to the reliability, performance, and security of the kernel.

In order for software (or drivers) to work properly on an operating system that implements KPP, the software must use Microsoft-documented interfaces. If what you are trying to do doesn't have such an interface, then you cannot safely use that functionality. This is what has lead to the controversy. The security vendors are saying that the interfaces they require are not publicly documented by Microsoft (or not yet at any rate) but that Microsoft's own security offerings (Windows OneCare, Windows Defender, and Windows Firewall) are able to work properly and use undocumented interfaces. The security vendors want to "level the playing field".

There are many arguments on both sides of the issue, but it seems that many of them are not thought out completely. Symantec and McAfee have argued that the legitimate security vendors be granted exceptions to KPP using some sort of signing process. (See the TechWeb article.) However, this is fraught with potential problems. As I mentioned earlier, there is currently no reliable way to verify that code is actually from a "known good" source. The closest we can come to that is by digital signing, however, a piece of malicious code can simply include enough pieces from a legitimate "known good" source and hook into the exception.

So lets say, for arguments sake, that Microsoft does relent and is able to come up with some sort of exception mechanism that minimizes (or even removes) the chance of abuse. What happens next? Windows Vista, in particular, already includes an array of new features to provide security vendors ways to work within the KPP guidelines.

The Windows Filtering Platform (WFP) is one such example. WFP enables software to perform network related activities, such as packet inspection and other firewall type activities. In addition to WFP, Vista implements an entirely new TCP stack. This new stack has some fundamentally different behavior than the existing TCP stack on Windows. We also have network cards that implement hardware based stacks to perform what is called "chimney offload", which effectively bypasses large portions of the software based TCP stack. Hooking the network related kernel functions (as a lot of software based firewalls currently do), will miss all of the traffic on a chimney offload based network card. However, hooking in to WFP will catch that traffic.

Should Microsoft stop making technological innovations in the Windows kernel simply because there are a handful of partners and other ISVs that are complaining? The important thing to realize is that KPP is not new in Windows Vista. It has been around since Windows XP 64-bit edition was released. Why is it now that the security vendors are realizing that their products don't work properly on the x64-based operating systems? The main point Microsoft is trying to get across is that most of the functionality required doesn't have to be done in the kernel. Microsoft has been working for the last few years trying to assist their security partners in making their solutions compatible. If there is an interface that isn't documented, or functionality that a vendor believes can only be accomplished by patching the kernel, they can contact their Microsoft representative or email for help finding a documented alternative. According to the KPP FAQ, "if no documented alternative exists...the functionality will not be supported on the relevant Windows operating system version(s) that include patch protection support."

I think the larger controversy is the fact that there are now documented ways to break KPP. This is where Microsoft and it's security partners and other security ISVs should be spending their time and energy. If we are going to have a reliable and secure kernel, we need to focus on locking down the kernel so that no one is able to breach it, including the hackers. This is an almost endless process, as the attackers generally have almost infinite amounts of time to bring their "products" to market and don't really have an quality issues to worry about. Even with the recent introduction by Intel and AMD of hardware based virtualation technology (which essentially creates a virtual mini-core processor that can run a specially created operating system), there is still a long way to go.

What's next?

While it is important to understand the goals of KPP and the potential avenues of attack against it, the most important thing for the security community to focus on is in making sure that the Windows kernel stays safe. The best way to do this is to keep shrinking the attack surface until it is almost non-existent. There will always be an attack surface, however, the smaller that surface becomes the easier it is to protect. Imagine guarding a vault. If there is only one way in and out, and that entrance is only 2-feet wide it is much more easily guarded than a vault that has 2 entrances, each of which are 30-feet wide.

However, as malware technology advances it is important for the security technology that tries to protect against it to advance as well. In fact, the security technology really needs to be ahead of the malware if it is to be successful. PatchGuard has already been hacked, some of the proposed Microsoft APIs for KPP won't be available until sometime in 2008, and the security vendors do have legitimate reasons for needing to access certain portions of the kernel.

Host Intrusion Prevention Systems (HIPS), for instance, uses kernel access to prevent certain types of attacks, such has buffer overflow attacks or process injection attacks, by watching for system functions being called from memory locations where they shouldn't be called. The Code Red Worm would not have been detected if only file-based protection systems were in use.

The bottom line is that the malware vendors are unpredictable and not bound by any legal, moral, or ethical constraints. They are also not bound by customer reviews, deadlines, and code quality. The security vendors and Microsoft need to work together to ensure that the attack surface for the kernel and Windows itself is small and stays small. They can do this by:

  • Establishing a more reliable way to authenticate security vendors and their products that will prevent "spoofing" by the malware vendors.
  • Minimizing the attack surface of the Windows Kernel.
  • Establishing documented APIs to interact with the kernel to perform security related functions, such as firewall activities.
  • Enforcing driver other words, don't allow this mechanism to be turned off. At least don't allow it to be turned off for certain security critical drivers.
  • Enforcing security software digital signatures. If you want your security tool to run, it must be signed. Again, don't allow this mechanism to be turned off.
  • Establishing a more secure way for the security products to hook in to the kernel.
  • Restricting products to patching only specific areas of the kernel. Currently, it is possible to patch almost any portion of the kernel.
  • Enforcing Windows certification testing for any security products.




By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  Trailed by news cameras but no protesters, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter leaves federal court after agreeing to new trial date. Photo by Ken Stone

October 7, 2019 (San Diego) - Rep. Duncan D. Hunter’s criminal trial on campaign spending misconduct was reset Monday for Jan. 22, 2020, at his legal team’s request — an eight-day delay to accommodate a 9th Circuit appeal.


Japan's August household spending rises for ninth month, but wages fall   


Japan's household spending rose for a ninth straight month in August, data showed on Tuesday, offering some relief for the export-dependent economy as it confronts softer global demand and a protracted U.S.-China trade war.


Japan's real wages drop for eighth straight month in August   


Real wages in Japan adjusted for inflation fell for an eighth straight month in August, raising worries about the resilience in consumer spending after an increase in sales tax and weakening global demand.


No-deal Brexit would 'push national debt to levels last seen in 60s'   


IFS says public borrowing will more than double next year whatever the Brexit result

Emergency tax cuts and higher public spending to offset the impact of a no-deal Brexit would send government debt to its highest level in more than half a century, according to Britain’s leading experts on the public finances.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the scale of the government response required to firefight a flatlining economy in the event of a disorderly departure from the EU would come with a hefty price tag for the public purse.

Continue reading...


NHS opens clinic to help child addicts of computer games   


GPs will be able to refer young people, after ‘gaming disorder’ defined as a health problem

The NHS is opening the country’s first specialist clinic to treat children and young adults who are addicted to playing computer games such as Fortnite, Candy Crush and Call of Duty.

Staff will help those aged 13 to 25 whose lives are being debilitated by spending countless hours playing games. From Tuesday GPs and other health professionals in England can refer addicts to the service, with treatment starting next month.

Continue reading...


When good infrastructure attracts risk   


By Denis McClean

DELHI, 7 October, 2019 - It’s comfortable, affordable and carries 2.5 million passengers every day relieving to some degree the pollution and traffic congestion which is the bane of the city’s life.

The Delhi Metro as a stand-alone asset is an example of how to build to last when it comes to quality resilient infrastructure in the heart of one of the world’s most active seismic zones.

The last time Delhi experienced earthquake tremors in 2014, the metro trains came to a halt within minutes as the state-of-the art sensors kicked in.

“It has been built to the highest seismic standards. All this is acknowledged but it has also succeeded in bringing great risk along with it as an unintended consequence,” says Garima Jain, Urban Risk and Resilience Specialist at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, who has carried out an in-depth study of the Delhi Metro.

This risk becomes all too apparent if you take the Yellow Line from the heart of historic old Delhi to the futuristic environment of the new districts which have sprouted up along the rail corridor in recent years. Apartment buildings and office blocks dot the skyline soaring to over 20 stories in height in some cases.

A key element in attracting people to live in these new commercial hubs was to create housing and provide them with parking usually on the ground floor which was enforced by a planning bye-law. The unfortunate outcome which India’s National Disaster Management Authority is now grappling with, is that many of these buildings have what is called a “soft storey.”

“Essentially you only have the columns and no walls at the ground level. Columns not supported by walls means that the whole thing just falls down in an earthquake. This was a big issue in the Nepal earthquake. A lot of buildings that failed had a soft storey built in. They are now going to change the bye-law so that there is no requirement to provide a soft storey for parking,” said Ms. Jain.

She points out that “the behavioral momentum is there now to provide parking in the construction industry. Something else has to be brought in so that people are not required to build their own parking. People should be incentivized to rely less on cars and the Metro needs to increase its capacity.”

Kamal Kishore, Member, India National Disaster Management Authority, agrees that a solution has to be found to reduce the possibility of large scale loss of life and significant economic losses in the event of a major earthquake striking the capital.

“It’s a classic case of the need for systems thinking. Because of the metro line the value of land has increased and there has been a lot of development where soil conditions should not allow it. We cannot look at the asset in isolation. Downstream risk is created in the absence of a systems view.

“The challenge is how do you come up with a planning system that can reconcile the everyday needs with long-term resilience. I see three possibilities. Awareness raising, legislative action and incentives for retrofitting.

“We are working on raising awareness and creating a social demand for strengthening the soft storey. The building stock belongs to upwardly mobile people willing to pay a premium for safety.”

A second possibility is to take strong legislative action and Mr. Kishore cites the example whereby two years ago, the local government closed down the market place in Defence Colony because of commercial activity taking over residential space in the upper stories of the buildings and the consequent risk of fire.

A third possibility under active consideration by the NDMA is creating market incentives through tax rebates as part of soft loan packages, to have vulnerable buildings retrofitted.

“If you calculate the cost of not having resilience over the long-term you clearly see that it’s worth spending 10% extra to avoid the future loss. All these solutions require groundwork, they cannot be done at the flip of a switch. The NDMA has produced guidelines on retrofitting and they are being implemented by some builders but more needs to be done,” he said.


Japan data point to bigger than expected sales tax hit   


Drop in spending adds to pressure on central bank to ease monetary policy


UTA Maintenance Tech Snatched over $450,000 in Fares   


A man who was employed with the Utah Transit Authority has been accused of spending the past few years accumulating over $450,000 by sneaking fares from the collection boxes. On September 10, a person notified the authorities when they thought his neighbor’s behavior seemed suspicious. The caller claimed they spotted what they believed was the […]


Top Benefits of Having a Responsive Website Design   


Having a responsive web design is no longer just an option but a necessity. As more and more people switch to spending more time on their mobile, it has become important for business websites to have a responsive design to adapt to different devices. In fact, having a responsive web design is also crucial for […]

The post Top Benefits of Having a Responsive Website Design appeared first on .


10 Best YouTube Channels To Learn Programming & Coding   


If you love technology then you should do programming.  Well, it’s all upon you. Programming is the era of technology and all the operating system, apps and games are designed and  running on coding or programming. Want to learn programming or coding online without spending a single buck. Today, we’re here with 10 YouTube channels that […]

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