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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
September 13, 2019

A penthouse, limousines and private jets:Inside the globe-trotting life of Bishop Michael Bransfield

It was billed as a holy journey, a pilgrimage with West Virginia Bishop Michael J. Bransfield to “pray, sing and worship” at the National Shrine in Washington. Catholics from remote areas of one of the nation’s poorest states paid up to $190 for hotel rooms and overnight bus rides to the nation’s capital.

Unknown to the worshipers, Bransfield traveled another way. He hired a private jet and, after a 33-minute flight, took a limousine from the airport. The church picked up his $6,769 travel bill.

That trip in September 2017 was emblematic of the secret history of Bransfield’s lavish travel. He spent millions of dollars from his diocese on trips in the United States and abroad, records show, while many of his parishioners struggled to find work, feed their families and educate their children.

Pope Francis has said bishops should live modestly. During his 13 years as the leader of ­the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Bransfield took nearly 150 trips on private jets and some 200 limousine rides, a Washington Post investigation found. He stayed at exclusive hotels in Washington, Rome, Paris, London and the Caribbean.


September 13, 2019

Queen Trains Corgis to Attack Boris Johnson If He Ever Comes to Palace Again

LONDON (The Borowitz Report)—Queen Elizabeth II has trained her corgis to attack the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, if he ever comes to Buckingham Palace again, palace sources have confirmed.

For Johnson, who recently suffered another setback involving a dog, the news that the Queen was prepping her beloved canines to eviscerate him was just the latest indication of his precipitous fall.

The Queen reportedly supervised the corgis’ training herself, instructing them to lunge at Prince Charles, who wore a shaggy yellow wig for the exercise. “When the corgis tore into Charles’s trousers, the terror in his eyes was palpable,” one observer said. “The Queen looked very happy.”

Although the Queen has been publicly tight-lipped on the subject of Johnson, a royal source indicated that she was heard muttering “that lying bastard” when the embattled Prime Minister appeared on television this week.

“There’s only room for one unelected ruler in this country,” she reportedly added.


September 13, 2019

The Last Kingdom on Netflix

Just finished bingeing on all 3 seasons. Excellent series, better than GoT IMHO. Feels more authentic without all the dragons and White Walkers and sorcery stuff. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...)

Highly recommended.

September 12, 2019

Exclusive: Falwell blasted Liberty student as 'retarded,' police chief as 'half-wit' in emails

Source: Reuters

In emails to his colleagues over the years, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr has denigrated students and staff at the Christian university he runs, referring to one student as "emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded" and calling the school's police chief a "half-wit."

The barbed comments, contained in email exchanges reviewed by Reuters, emerge as the evangelical political leader is seeking to stem a rash of news reports about his stewardship of the Virginia-based university.

Falwell said this week he has asked U.S. federal authorities to investigate whether former board members and employees at the nonprofit university may have broken the law and divulged internal school documents to journalists. The request came after recent reports by Reuters and Politico describing how Falwell has managed Liberty.

Falwell told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he had contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and that the email disclosures constituted an "attempted coup" aimed at securing his ouster from Liberty, where he has served as president since 2008. The FBI declined to comment.

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-falwell-emails-exclusive-idUSKCN1VX1QJ

A chip off the ol' block. Junior is just as nasty as was his POS daddy.
September 12, 2019

Let Trump Destroy Trump

The person most capable of defeating Donald Trump is Donald Trump. If Democrats are smart, they will let him do the job.

President Trump thrives on outrage and resentment. He seethes with it, stirs it in others and mines it for his own political profit. His political project relies on driving Americans to their cultural and ideological corners. He is Pavlov. We are the dogs.

Mr. Trump’s serial assaults on the decency and the decorum upon which civil society depends are enraging — and meant to be. It is only natural to respond to his every provocation with righteous indignation.

My advice to the Democratic nominee next year is: Donʼt play.


September 12, 2019

S.U.V. vs. Sedan, and Detroit vs. the World, in a Fight for the Future

The humble family sedan was once inseparable from American culture, the prime mover of suburban commutes and summer road trips. But most Detroit automakers are ridding their lineups of sedans and diverting investment to S.U.V.s and crossovers, not to mention electric vehicles and self-driving tech.

Detroit’s Asian and European rivals see things differently. They’re continuing to invest in smaller cars, in part as a hedge against changing consumer tastes or soaring fuel prices. The outcome of these bets could help determine the competitive fates of automakers in America.

For Detroit companies especially, the PowerPoint is on the wall: For years, their car lineups have consistently lost money, with sport utility vehicles and pickups delivering virtually all their profits.

That situation was already bad in the recessionary depths of 2009, when cars outsold so-called light trucks — S.U.V.s, pickups and minivans — for the last time. Since then, Americans have gone even more crazy for S.U.V.s and pickups.


September 12, 2019

Dia de Muertos Barbie: Respectful Tribute, or 'Obviously Cultural Appropriation'?

In Mexican culture, the Día de Muertos — or Day of the Dead — is when the gateway between the living and the dead is said to open, a holiday during which the living honor and pay respects to loved ones who have died.

A new Día de Muertos Barbie, released on Thursday, was intended less as a portal into the realm of the dead and more as a gateway into Mexican culture. At least that is what Mattel is hoping for.

“We often look at different ways to continue to engage girls and families to gain knowledge and celebrate other cultures and other parts of the world,” Michelle Chidoni, a spokeswoman for the company, said. “Our hope is for this Día de Muertos Barbie to honor the holiday for the millions that celebrate and to introduce people not familiar with the tradition to the rich meaning.”

The doll, which will retail at $75, has a black mermaid-style dress decorated with monarch butterflies, marigolds and roses. Her face is adorned with Calavera Catrina makeup and her head is embellished with a crown of marigolds.

September 12, 2019

You Call It the Gig Economy. California Calls It 'Feudalism.'

Labor leaders cheered in the balcony and lawmakers embraced on the floor of the California Senate on Tuesday as it passed a landmark measure that defines employees, a move that could increase wages and benefits for hundreds of thousands of struggling workers.

But the bill is as much a starting point as an endgame: It will drive a national debate over how to reshape labor laws fashioned in the industrial era of the 1930s to fit a 21st-century service and knowledge economy.

With the measure, which Gov. Gavin Newsom says he will sign, California will lead in a shift that will likely redefine the roles of governments, unions and worker organizations. Just as federal labor laws were promulgated to help the country recover from the Depression, the imperative to extend basic guarantees like a minimum wage stems from the staggering income inequality in California, the state with the highest poverty rate in the country.

The new paradigms will need to fit not the relatively stable industrial work force of the last century but a gig economy in which workers are increasingly likely to hold multiple jobs or report to no workplace at all. California lawmakers took a major step in constructing the foundation of such a model with the new measure, which presumes workers are employees, entitled to all concomitant protections and benefits, unless they meet strict criteria as truly independent contractors.


September 12, 2019

Tropical storm Humberto likely to form near Florida, but final destination uncertain

Source: Washington Post

The tropics have been relatively quiet for the past week, but they’re not going to stay that way for long. A tropical storm — which would be dubbed Humberto — is likely to form between the Bahamas and Florida’s east coast and could affect parts of the southeastern United States in the coming days. In addition, an area much farther east in the tropical Atlantic also bears watching.

A disturbance over the central and southeastern Bahamas has become better organized but is a very challenging system to forecast. Its ragged, sloppy structure right now makes it difficult for computer models to project its future path.

We do know it’s favored to develop. In fact, the National Hurricane Center gives it a 70 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours and an 80 percent chance in the next five days. A Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate the system Thursday afternoon, and the Hurricane Center may begin issuing regular advisories later today.

The most immediate concern is that, according to the Hurricane Center, the disturbance will bring heavy rains (1 to 3 inches or so) and gusty winds in portions of the northwestern Bahamas that were hammered by Hurricane Dorian.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/09/12/tropical-storm-humberto-likely-form-near-florida-final-destination-uncertain/

Oughtta ask Trump where the storm is heading.
September 12, 2019

Trump administration to finalize rollback of Obama's clean water protections

Source: LA Times

The Trump administration plans to revoke an Obama-era regulation that provided federal protection to many U.S. wetlands and streams, according to two Environmental Protection Agency officials with knowledge of the plan.

The rule defined which waterways are subject to federal regulation. The administration plans to replace it with its own version, according to the officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the decision and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James scheduled a news conference for later Thursday.

The action is the latest in a series of Trump administration moves to roll back environmental protections put into place under President Obama.

Read more: https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2019-09-12/epa-water-protection-trump-obama-rule-rollback

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