Sunday, December 4, 2016

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Announces Resignation (VIDEO)

That's major!

At WSJ, "Italy Rejects Reforms, Matteo Renzi Announces Resignation":

ROME—Italian voters on Sunday rejected constitutional changes backed by the government, prompting Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to announce his resignation and handing populists a victory in the heartland of Europe.

With 91% of votes counted, 59.7% of voters delivered a stinging rebuke to Mr. Renzi’s plan to overhaul Italy’s legislature to make it easier to pass laws, including measures meant to make the country more competitive.

Mr. Renzi said he would go to Italian President Sergio Mattarella Monday afternoon to tender his resignation.

“I take full responsibility for the defeat,” Mr. Renzi said in an address from Palazzo Chigi, the premier’s residence. The Italian people “have spoken in a clear and unequivocal way...we leave with no regrets,” he added.

The result means uncertainty in Italy, the European Union’s fourth-largest economy, as the bloc struggles to revive growth and define its future. Mr. Renzi’s resignation could clear the way for the formation of a caretaker government and, possibly, new parliamentary elections next year.

Among the biggest winners from Italy’s vote is the antiestablishment 5 Star Movement, which campaigned against Mr. Renzi and his agenda, saying more radical change is needed. The party has called for a nonbinding referendum on Italy’s euro membership. It also wants to abandon EU budget strictures and has said it might favor printing a parallel currency.

Public-opinion surveys indicate that roughly 30% of Italians would back 5 Star candidates if parliamentary elections were held now. That puts it neck-and-neck with Mr. Renzi’s Democratic Party and means it will have an influential voice and could even end up in power—an outcome that could ultimately threaten the integrity of the eurozone and its common currency.

Giampaolo Brunelli, a 43-year-old supporter of the 5 Star Movement, voted against the reform Sunday morning. “Renzi hasn’t done much to change this country—just like all the other politicians before him,” he said after voting in Rome.

Europe is facing a prolonged period of political upheaval, with elections also slated for 2017 in Germany, France and the Netherlands, all countries where economic anxiety, opposition to the EU and a surge in migration have fed growing support for populist parties.

Such sentiments were also at play in Austria on Sunday, when center-left candidate Alexander Van der Bellen defeated Norbert Hofer in Austria’s presidential race by 53.3% to 46.7%, according to a final count of votes case on Sunday and a projection of mail-in ballot results.

The vote ended Mr. Hofer’s bid to become the first right-wing populist president in postwar Western Europe, but the election brought to light widespread discontent with the country’s political establishment. Like the other populists across the continent, Mr. Hofer wanted to roll back the power of the European Union, toughen border controls, crack down on the flow of refugees and migrants to Europe and improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin...

I like how WSJ identifies Hofer's party as "right-wing populist" and not "far-right" like almost all of the pathetic leftist outlets always do.

More at Telegraph U.K., "Live — Matteo Renzi concedes defeat in Italian referendum and steps down as prime minister."

USC to Play Penn State in Rose Bowl 2017

I pulled my USC Rose Bowl post yesterday because I got confused about the process. (My apologies.)

But it's all clarified now.

USC will play Penn State on January 2nd in Pasadena.

Both teams have huge winning streaks. USC's got an 8-game winning streak since starting 1-3 on the season. Penn State's currently running a 9-game winning streak, so the Rose Bowl match-up promises to be one of the most exciting of the New Year's "Big 6."

See the USC Trojans sports page, "No. 9 USC Football To Play No. 5 Penn State In 2017 Rose Bowl."

And at LAT, "USC earns Rose Bowl berth, capping dramatic turnaround":

The return to the Rose Bowl culminates a stunning turnaround for USC, which lost 52-6 to Alabama in the season opener, then dropped games on the road to Stanford and Utah. The Trojans finished the season with a 9-3 record.

During that stretch, pundits speculated about Clay Helton’s job security in his first season as full-time coach, and Helton changed quarterbacks, entrusting the offense to Sam Darnold. The redshirt freshman quarterback dropped his first start to Utah on a late comeback, but he has not lost since, becoming one of the most effective quarterbacks in the nation.

USC dominated its last eight games, winning by an average margin of almost 20 points. It played in only one close game late, against Colorado, when USC turned the ball over four times. But USC still would’ve won that game by two scores if not for a late knee by JuJu Smith-Schuster, who opted to end the game rather than score an unnecessary touchdown.

USC and Penn State first met in the Rose Bowl in 1923, resulting in a 14-3 USC win. They didn't meet again until 2009 for a 38-24 USC win.

Neither team has been back to Rose Bowl since. In the interim, each team was rocked by some of the most crippling NCAA sanctions in the organization’s history — USC for its student-athletes accepting impermissible benefits, Penn State for its wide-ranging child sexual abuse scandal.

USC will make its record 34th appearance in the bowl game, where it has a 24-9 record. Penn State will make its fourth. It has gone 1-2 all-time.

Sunday Cartoons

At Flopping Aces, "Sunday Funnies."

Branco Cartoon photo Recount-Fund-600-LI_zpsleiaxlzq.jpg

Also at Theo's, "Cartoon Roundup..."

Cartoon Credit: Legal Insurrection, "Branco Cartoon – Money For Nothing."

'Queering God: Feminist and Queer Theology', at Swarthmore College

The campuses will be the craziest places in America for the next four years, at least. They were already crazy, but the coming Donald Trump administration is driving these kooks off the ledge.

At the Other McCain, "Guess What Swarthmore College Will Teach Your Children for $63,550 a Year?":
"We're here, we're queer, for $63,550 a year!"
Well, it helps to have a sense of humor about things, that's for sure.

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High School Romance PSA (VIDEO)

At AdWeek, "Can You Figure Out the Mystery Inside This Remarkable Ad About High School Love?"

Via Hot Air, "Video: The “Evan” high-school romance ad":
All I’ll say is that sometimes you need to tip your cap to Team Blue for an advocacy job well done.
Click through to watch. And watch it before you read the articles. You'll never figure it out ahead of time!

Seriously. Just watch, lol.

Donald Trump Can Remake the Courts

One of the most exciting things for the coming year: what's going to happen at the Supreme Court, to say nothing of the lower federal courts.

I've been attending meetings on campus, and far-leftists in the sociology department are freaking out over the Supreme Court's threat to Roe vs. Wade, "marriage equality" (as if the Court's going to roll back not one but two recent decisions guaranteeing same-sex marriage), and homosexuals ("electroshock conversion therapy").

I mean really, they've gone hysterical. It's a serious problem on my campus, and around the nation as a whole.

In any case, at the Hill, "Trump gets chance to remake the courts":
President-elect Donald Trump has a chance to stack the courts with conservative judges, thrilling Republicans who suddenly have the opportunity to remake the judicial system.

Conservatives watched with dismay as Congress confirmed 327 of President Obama’s judicial nominees, fearing it would further entrench liberal control of the courts.

Now the tables have turned.

Trump could come into office with around 117 judicial vacancies to fill, and unlike Obama in his first term, will need only 51 votes in the Senate to confirm his nominees.

Democrats eliminated filibusters for most federal judicial nominees and executive-office appointments in 2013. Now only a simple majority, rather than 60 votes, is required to advance a nominee.

It was a power play that helped Democrats confirm Obama’s court picks when they held the majority. Now Republicans stand to benefit from the rule change, as there will be little Senate Democrats can do in the minority to stop Trump’s nominees.

“What goes around comes around,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told The Hill this week.

“When you’re short-sighted and you think your majority is going to continue forever then you’re bound to be surprised when voters put you in the minority, so it counsels prudence and a longer view rather than short-term gratification.”

Republicans say Democrats only have Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to thank for the situation they will soon find themselves in.

“Here’s the irony of it: He changed the rules and we don’t want to break the rules to change the rules unlike what he did,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

“He put us in this position, and I’m sure he thought a lot about it before he did it.”

Of the 99 current judicial vacancies, 13 are openings on courts of appeals and 85 are on district courts, according to the Alliance for Justice, which is tracking the data...
Keep reading.

And see, "Trump says he'll announce Supreme Court pick 'very soon'," and "Pence details Trump’s ambitious agenda for first 100 days."

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Austria Dodges a Bullet: Voters Reject Far-Right Candidate Norbert Hofer (VIDEO)

I don't care who Austria elects actually, although Norbert Hofer isn't so much "far-right" as "not-leftist," and that freaks out Europe's open-borders socialists.

I do care about Marine Le Pen's election, though, and don't actually expect her to win. Leftist parties will form a common front if she makes it to the final runoff, and they'll unify and elect an anti-rightist consensus candidate that purportedly rejects the "far-right hatred."

In any case, at Telegraph U.K., "Austria election: Norbert Hofer concedes defeat as independent rival takes clear lead in the polls":

Norbert Hofer, the leader of Austria’s far Right Freedom party, has conceded defeat in the country's presidential elections.

Mr Hofer, who would have been the first far-right leader in the European Union, accepted defeat after exit polls showedMr Van der Bellen, the Green party backed candidate, with 53.6 percent of the vote.

The projection put Mr Hofer on 46.4 percent. Electoral officials said votes left to count would not affect the result, although the margins may change slightly.
Keep reading.

I imagine that margin's a little to close for comfort for a lot of leftists. It's comfortable, but not a blowout. So-called far-rightists will be emboldened to double-up on their efforts, in Austrian and around the E.U.

Chip and Joanna Gaines, The Magnolia Story

Following up, "Boycott BuzzFeed."

And more from AoSHQ, "Religons of the World and What is Acceptable."

As they say, success is the best revenge, and it turns out that Chip and Joanna Gaines have a non-fiction bestseller, at Amazon, The Magnolia Story:
Are you ready to see your fixer upper?

These famous words are now synonymous with the dynamic husband-and-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. As this question fills the airwaves with anticipation, their legions of fans continue to multiply and ask a different series of questions, like—Who are these people?What’s the secret to their success? And is Chip actually that funny in real life? By renovating homes in Waco, Texas, and changing lives in such a winsome and engaging way, Chip and Joanna have become more than just the stars of Fixer Upper, they have become America’s new best friends.

The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today.

They both attended Baylor University in Waco. However, their paths did not cross until Chip checked his car into the local Firestone tire shop where Joanna worked behind the counter. Even back then Chip was a serial entrepreneur who, among other things, ran a lawn care company, sold fireworks, and flipped houses. Soon they were married and living in their first fixer upper. Four children and countless renovations later, Joanna garners the attention of a television producer who notices her work on a blog one day...
Keep reading, at Amazon.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Oakland Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire

Horrific tragedy.

In fact, it's possibly criminal.

At LAT, "Site of deadly Oakland fire is known as the GhostShip."

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Ph.D. Student Allegedly Murders U.S.C. Professor Bosco Tjan, Co-Director of Dornsife Cognitive Neuroimaging Center

Absolutely horrific.

Seems like we get a story like this once a year at least. Remember UCLA had the murder-suicide shooting in June.

In any case, at LAT, "USC PhD student accused of fatally stabbing professor on campus."

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Bowe Bergdahl Asks Obama for Pardon

Just wow.

That takes some gumption, but then, Bergdahl's dad (seen hugging Obama in photos) is an Islamist, so maybe it's not a long shot after all.

At the Washington Examiner, "Bergdahl asks Obama to pardon him before Trump takes office."

Previous Bergdahl blogging here.

Democrats Risk Irrelevance If They Don't Change Their Ways

At U.S. News and World Report, "The Problems With the Left: Democrats risk becoming irrelevant if they don't change their ways":
Democrats have a policy problem too: the left's disconnect with voters on issues that matter is profound. For example, President Obama gave a cover-story interview to Rolling Stone magazine that came out this week on his legacy and the "path forward." Apparently the leader of the Democratic Party didn't think the "path forward" needed to include any discussion of defeating the Islamic State group, a strong national defense or reducing the burden of $20 trillion of national debt on young people. In fact, if you look at Pew Research's list of issues that the majority of voters described the day after the election as "very big problems," almost none of them – terrorism and crime, for starters – are mentioned by him.

On immigration, Obama did admit this: "It's going to be important for Democrats and immigration-rights activists to recognize that for the majority of the American people, borders mean something." For most Americans, Obama talking about border security is a day late and a dollar short. He defended the administration's "big-heartedness" when it came to immigration policy, but added that "we tend to dismiss people's concerns about making sure that immigration is lawful and orderly." What an understatement. Democrats paid dearly on Election Day for that tendency to be dismissive of people's concerns.

Exhibit 2 of the disconnect: "When I turn over the keys to the federal government to the next president of the United States, I can say without any equivocation that the country is a lot better off: The economy is stronger, the federal government works better and our standing in the world is higher," Obama said. But, polls show the American people feel the opposite. During the interview, Obama mentioned the Koch brothers and Fox News more than he mentioned race relations, tax reform or rebuilding infrastructure. At least he didn't get into access to bathrooms or gun control.

Instead, he engaged in long discussions of climate change and legalization of marijuana – Exhibits 3 and 4 – with Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner. I had broken my self-imposed boycott of Rolling Stone to read the interview – as a UVA graduate, I'm still disgusted at the way the magazine promoted the completely false story of a gang rape at the school. So don't get me started on Obama's praise for Rolling Stone's "great work."

Exhibit 5. Democrats should be grateful for Tim Ryan's wake-up call this week. Whether it's candidate recruitment across the United States, new leadership in Washington, or a pivot to issues that really matter to voters, the Democrats have a lot of work to do. If they don't start to change – and fast – they risk going beyond disconnected to irrelevant and insignificant.

Boycott BuzzFeed

At AoSHQ, "Boycott Part 1: Boycott All of Buzzfeed's Advertisers. Note Them, List Them, Write to Them Telling Them You'll Never buy Their Products Again Until They Cut all Ties With Buzzfeed."

Cited there: Paul Szoldra, of Business Insider:

Also at Twitchy, "BuzzFeed’s New Excuse for the HGTV Story Isn’t Fooling Anyone."