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Let Them Eat (Chocolate Malted) Cake: France-U.S. State Dinner Menu Released

Via Politico:

[. . .] Highlighting food from across the country, menu items include a first course of American Osetra Caviar from Illinois, quail eggs from Pennsylvania and 12 varieties of potatoes from farms in New York, Idaho and California. For the salad course, the White House details a Winter Garden Salad that “pays tribute to The First Lady’s White House Kitchen Garden.”

The main course is a dry-aged rib eye beef from a family-owned farm in Colorado that will be served with Jasper Hill Farm Blue Cheese crisp from Vermont.

Finishing the meal are a selection of sweets. There will be a chocolate malted cake that combines bittersweet chocolate from Hawaii and tangerines from Florida and will be served with vanilla ice cream from Pennsylvania. Additionally, the menu boasts fudge made from Vermont maple syrup, lavender shortbread cookies and cotton candy dusted with orange zest.

selection of wines priced between $30 to $65 will be offered from California, Washington and Monticello, Va., which both Obama and Hollande visited Monday.

Mmmmm. Caviar from Illinois? Sounds delicious. - Greg Pollowitz

Map of Obama Bundlers Who are Now Ambassadors

Via Washington Post/Slate:

Every president rewards some major campaign contributors by appointing them as ambassadors, but it’s not a practice that’s considered very beneficial for U.S. foreign policy. So when President Obama put up campaign bundler George Tsunis to become the U.S. ambassador to Norway — even though Tsunis himself conceded at confirmation hearings that he has little idea how Norway’s government functions or even the names of its major political parties — former diplomat and Lehigh University international relations professor Henri Barkey had had enough.

“President Obama does a disservice to Norwegians, to himself and, above all, to the people of the United States by sending such an unqualified person to represent him and us in the capital of a long-standing NATO ally,” Barkey wrote in a Washington Post op-ed, calling the appointment a “taxpayer-funded three-year junket to enjoy the fjords.”

George Tsunis will have lots of company: 23 current U.S. ambassadors or ambassadorial nominees are political appointees who were also major campaign-donation bundlers. As a way of seeing just how pervasive this practice is, Slate and the Center for Public Integrity put together this excellent interactive map showing them all (in green), as well as a selection of other political appointees (in red) and actual career diplomats (in blue). Here is a static grab of the map:

[. . .]

Hope and change, delayed. - Greg Pollowitz
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Rubio Dodges if he Ever Used Marijuana

Via Local 10 Ft. Louder dale:

. . .Rubio, recognizing the recent talk of legalizing marijuana in Florida and the audience before him, refused to answer if he’s ever smoked marijuana himself.

“You know why I never answer that question? If I tell you that I haven’t, you won’t believe me, and if I tell you that I did, kids will look at me and say, ‘I can smoke ‘MJ’ because he (Rubio) made it.”

That's the best answer he can come up with? - Greg Pollowitz

8-10 Florida Men Rob Girl Scouts

Via Local 10 Ft. Lauderdale:

A group of Girl Scouts was robbed Sunday while selling cookies outside a Winn Dixie on Davie Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

A witness told Local 10 News that a group of 8 to 10 men approached a table where two women and their two daughters were selling cookies.

The group left and then two came back. The men allegedly snatched a cell phone belonging to a 10-year-old girl.

One of the women it all happened very fast and they aren’t sure whether the men made off with boxes of cookies as well.

“Everyone was turned around, except for my mom, and then the big one reached over and grabbed the phone,” said Girl Scout Daley Eisenmann. . .

It took 8-10 men to scout out their 10-year-old victim and then the two bravest came back and stole a phone? And they didn't steal any cookies? - Greg Pollowitz

Oops: Iraqi Bomb Maker Accidentally Blows Up His Students

Via AP:

An instructor teaching his militant recruits how to make car bombs accidentally set off explosives in his demonstration Monday, killing 21 of them in a huge blast that alerted authorities to the existence of the rural training camp in an orchard north of Baghdad. Nearly two dozen people were arrested, including wounded insurgents trying to hobble away from the scene. . .

It's a good thing some of these terrorists are so dumb. - Greg Pollowitz
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Obama Delays the Employer Mandate -- Again

Via :

The Obama administration announced further delays Monday in Obamacare’s employer mandate—which has already been pushed back a full year.

Administration officials said the latest delays are designed to give businesses more flexibility and a longer transition period to begin offering health insurance to their workers.

The Affordable Care Act requires large employers—those with more than 50 full-time employees—to either provide health insurance to their workers or pay a penalty. The mandate was scheduled to take effect this year, but the Treasury Department previously delayed the deadline until 2015.

Now it’s delaying the coverage requirement even further.

Businesses with 50 to 99 full-time workers—people working at least 30 hours per week—don’t have to comply with the mandate until 2016, under final regulations the Treasury Department released Monday.

Larger employers aren’t getting an outright delay but will have more time to fully comply with the mandate. Employers with more than 100 full-time workers must offer coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees this year, and 95 percent after that, to avoid paying a penalty.

Monday’s regulations also clarify that volunteers—for example, volunteer firefighters—aren’t counted as full-time employees, and they give employers more flexibility when counting workers’ hours. Those steps were designed to “kind of mitigate the way the 30-hour definition works,” a Treasury official said.

Officials said businesses will have to attest that they’re not cutting employees just to qualify for the additional delay but noted that businesses are still free to cut their workforces for economic reasons. . .

- Greg Pollowitz

CNN Source: U.S. Debating Possible Assassination of an American Terrorist Overseas

Via CNN:

The Obama administration is in high-level discussions about staging an operation to kill an American citizen involved with al Qaeda and suspected of plotting attacks against the United States, a senior U.S. official tells CNN.

The official, who declined to disclose any specific information about the target or the country the suspect presides in, was confirming information first reported by The Associated Press.

The debate about whether to undertake a mission is being held with various commanders in the U.S. military, as well as the U.S. national security agencies. The discussion centers on the risk involved and the importance of the target.

Before military force against an American is approved, there must be an imminent danger and no reasonable prospect of capturing the target. Ultimately, the President would need to sign off on the decision. . .

Exit question: Will the DOJ go after the person who leaked this? For something at this level, the number of people discussing it has to be incredibly small. - Greg Pollowitz

R.I.P.: Copenhagen Zoo Kills its ‘Surplus’ Giraffe

Via the Independent U.K.:

Ignoring thousands of pleas for clemency, at least two wildlife parks that wanted to re-home him and an offer of £415,000 from a wealthy benefactor, Copenhagen Zoo went ahead with the killing of Marius the giraffe on Sunday morning.

After a bolt gun to the head, he was dissected publicly in front of a crowd of children then fed to the lions.

It was a bold statement of just how confident the zoo was in its decision to kill a perfectly healthy animal after less than two years of life.

The reason — his genes were too similar to other giraffes in a breeding programme run by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) – failed to convince furious animal rights campaigners and the zoo was deluged with complaints on social media. . .

Marius was dismembered  in front of zoo patrons (kids could attend with a parent's permission!) and then fed to the lions. Literally. Circle of life.

- Greg Pollowitz

Spoiler Alert: Watch a Russian Police Choir Sing ‘Daft Punk’ in Sochi

Via NBC Olympics:

Members of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs choir perform a rousing rendition of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ before Friday’s Opening Ceremony.

Click on the link above for the video. - Greg Pollowitz

Biden: LaGuardia is Like an Airport in “some Third World Country.”

Via New York Post:

Vice President Joe Biden says LaGuardia Airport could use some major improvements — and that’s putting it mildly.

Biden says if he blindfolded someone and took him to LaGuardia he’d think he was in “some Third World country.”

Biden made the comment as part of a comparison with the Hong Kong airport. He says Hong Kong has the type of modern facility travelers would expect to see in the United States.

His remarks came during an event Thursday in Philadelphia in which he stressed the need for infrastructure improvement. . .

Try the Jet Blue terminal -- it's fantastic. Which brings be to the trillion-dollar question: why should taxpayers in other states pay to fix LaGuardia airport? This holds true for most infrastructure projects. - Greg Pollowitz

George Zimmeran vs. DMX Boxing Match?

Via the New York Daily News:

George Zimmerman is not a celebrity.

But Trayvon Martin’s killer has apparently signed on to fight rapper DMX in a “celebrity boxing match,” according to TMZ.

Celebrity boxing promoter Damon Feldman confirmed to the gossip site that the “Party Up” rapper, 43, was picked out of “over 15,000″ applicants to go against Zimmerman, 30.

“I am going to beat the living f–k out him,” DMX said, according to TMZ. “I am breaking every rule in boxing to make sure I f–k him right up.”

But the rapper’s rep told the Daily News that no official deal has been made.

“The boxing match between George Zimmerman and DMX is not officially confirmed,” the rep said in a statement.

“DMX has promised to ‘beat his a–’ but no contract or paperwork has been signed or agreed to yet. DMX will release an official statement if and when an agreement is made.”. . .

What a farce. A pox on all houses involved. - Greg Pollowitz

Report: Bill Clinton Cheated on Hillary with Elizabeth Hurley (Update)

Via Daily Mirror:

Extraordinary claims Elizabeth Hurley had a year long affair with President Bill Clinton after he flew her to Washington for sex, have surfaced in the U.S.

During their first secret tryst his wife Hillary was asleep in the next room.

The astonishing claim comes after a tape of the actress’s former boyfriend Tom Sizemore was found describing how he set Hurley, 48, up with the Clinton following a private screening of Saving Private Ryan at the White House in 1998 – scroll down for the audio.

The then President called the actress saying “Elizabeth, this is your Commander-in-Chief. I’m sending a plane to pick you up in three hours. Is that enough time?”. . .

I'd argue that Bill Clinton's comments during the 2008 race hurt Hillary and if she does run in 2016, I have no doubt that his past will continue to haunt her.

Update 3:15: Hurley denies the allegation

- Greg Pollowitz

The CBO Just Nuked Obamacare

Via the WSJ:

The Affordable Care Act is projected to reduce the number of full-time workers by roughly 2.3 million people through 2021 and insure 2 million fewer people this year than previously estimated, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.

The CBO had previously estimated the labor force impact would be around 800,000 people in that time frame. CBO said the jobs figures largely represent Americans who will choose not to work rather than those who will lose their jobs or have their workweeks reduced because of the law.

The new estimates could further complicate the political landscape for many vulnerable Democrats, as Republicans are planning to use the health-care law as a key cudgel in November. The White House has also been working to try and reverse the number of workers who are leaving the labor market, and CBO’s new estimates on this phenomenon could also embolden many in the GOP. . .

Duck and cover, Dems. - Greg Pollowitz

The CBO Just Nuked Obamacare

Via :

The Affordable Care Act is projected to reduce the number of full-time workers by roughly 2.3 million people through 2021 and insure 2 million fewer people this year than previously estimated, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.

The CBO had previously estimated the labor force impact would be around 800,000 people in that time frame. CBO said the jobs figures largely represent Americans who will choose not to work rather than those who will lose their jobs or have their workweeks reduced because of the law.

The new estimates could further complicate the political landscape for many vulnerable Democrats, as Republicans are planning to use the health-care law as a key cudgel in November. The White House has also been working to try and reverse the number of workers who are leaving the labor market, and CBO’s new estimates on this phenomenon could also embolden many in the GOP. . .

Duck and cover, Dems. - Greg Pollowitz

Al Qaeda ‘Disavows’ Syrian Terror Group for being too Terroristy

Via the WSJ:

Al Qaeda’s leader disavowed the most aggressive and brutal jihadist group fighting in Syria, deepening rifts among rebels embroiled in an internal war distracting from their fight against the Damascus regime.

The leader of al Qaeda’s central command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, condemned the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in a posting on jihadist websites Sunday night. He decried the infighting among rebels as “a catastrophe for jihad in Syria.”

ISIS, with an estimated 10,000 fighters, has been one of the most effective rebel groups in claiming territory in the civil war. But rival fighters suspect the group has sought to turn the civil uprising against President Bashar al-Assad into a violent quest to build a cross-border Muslim state ruled by strict Islamic law in the Middle East.

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi affirms loyalty to al Qaeda but has shrugged off previous commands from Mr. Zawahiri to respect the supremacy of al Qaeda’s recognized affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front.

The disavowal marked an attempt to restore al Qaeda’s influence on the Syrian battlefield and to rally jihadist groups fighting there against ISIS. A month-old war within the armed opposition has turned the focus of many rebels toward battling ISIS and away from fighting the regime. Al Qaeda sees ISIS as a renegade band damaging the terror group’s brand through car bombings, mass killings, and torture of fellow Muslims. . .

So al Qaeda is now the moderate wing of the jihadists? Prediction: We'll be conducting drone strikes on both al Qaeda and the ISIS by the summer. - Greg Pollowitz

6 More Years of Liberalism as Bill de Blasio Drops the Groundhog

Via YouTube:

Doofus. - Greg Pollowitz

Meet the Brave Farmers in Mexico Supplying your Avocados

Via WSJ:

Super Bowl Sunday is a big deal in this remote and seemingly peaceful mountain town, whose entrance is marked by a statue of an avocado.

Americans eat more guacamole for the big game than on any other day of the year, and more of the avocados for the dip are grown in the green hills here than any other place in the world.

But for the past few years, a good chunk of the profits has gone to a violent criminal gang that made millions of dollars extorting avocado farmers and packinghouse operators while strong-arming groves from landowners, said residents and local officials who recently began fighting back.

Four of every five avocados sold in the U.S. originate in Tancítaro’s home state of Michoacán, the only Mexican state certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to export avocados, mostly the creamy, dip-friendly Hass variety that locals here call “oro verde” or green gold.

Michoacán, which last year exported more than 500,000 tons of avocado to the U.S., expects a $1 billion haul in 2014. Tancítaro alone produced 157,000 tons last year, said Jose Ayala, a local agricultural official, “more than any other municipality in the world.”

Some say the fruit was tainted. “They are ‘blood avocados,’ ” said Raul Benitez, a security expert at UNAM, the National Autonomous University of Mexico In Mexico City. “They are the Mexican equivalent of the conflict diamonds that are sold from war-torn parts of Africa.”

Super Bowl XLVIII may herald a change. In November, a band of Tancítaro residents wielding wooden clubs and old hunting rifles joined forces with well-armed vigilantes from nearby towns to run off most members of the Knights Templar, a criminal gang allegedly involved in extortion, kidnapping, rape and homicide throughout the state.

“The people were sick and tired of the situation,” said Mayor Salvador Torres, who is now guarded round-the-clock by federal police because of threats. “A day didn’t go by that one didn’t hear about extortion, a kidnapping, or a violent death taking place in the municipality.”

The Knights Templar grew out of a drug cartel known as La Familia and in the past few years moved from trafficking to extortion, stealing from every facet of this rich agricultural state, local and federal officials said. The gang took a cut of fertilizer and pesticide sales and charged a fee for every box of limes and avocados packed and trucked away. Many towns were forced to turn over 10% of municipal budgets. . .

Keep these guys in your prayers as you're eating your guacamole on Sunday. - Greg Pollowitz

George Zimmerman is Now a Boxer

Via TMZ:

Now’s your chance to kick George Zimmerman’s [a**] with zero legal repercussions — he just agreed to a celebrity boxing match … and he says he’ll fight ANYONE … even black people.

Celebrity boxing promoter Damon Feldman threw down the challenge, offering George money to step in the ring.  Now here’s the kicker … the opponent has NOT been selected.

We’re told George is open to fighting a black person, but the promoter is not discriminating, telling us “We’re not looking at it as a race thing … We haven’t discussed purple, yellow, white, black.”. . .

Stupid celebrity culture in America. - Greg Pollowitz

Henry Waxman to Retire

Via Los Angeles Times:

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, whose legislative record has made him one of the country’s most influential liberal lawmakers for four decades, announced Thursday that he will retire from his Westside seat, the latest in a wave of departures that is remaking the state’s long-stable congressional delegation.

During a congressional career that began when Gerald R. Ford was president, Waxman became one of the Democratic Party’s most prolific and savvy legislators, focusing on issues related to healthcare and the environment. He played a central role — sometimes over opposition within his own party — in passing laws that dramatically cut air pollution, helped reduce smoking, expanded Medicaid coverage for the poor, reduced pesticides in food, made generic drugs more widely available, helped AIDS patients, promoted the development of drugs for rare diseases and improved federal regulation of nursing homes. . .

There's gotta be a conservative in Beverly Hills that can run for his seat, no? - Greg Pollowitz

WH Must Respond to Petition to Deport Justin Bieber

Via New York Daily News:

Justin Bieber better hope Sasha and Malia are Beliebers.

An online petition asking President Obama to deport the “dangerous” and “destructive” Canadian singer has garnered enough support on the WhiteHouse.gov website to earn an official review by the Oval Office.

The petition, started last Thursday just hours after the 19-year-old crooner’s drag racing bust in Miami Beach, quickly amassed the 100,000 digital signatures needed to ensure some type of response from White House staff.

It had 105,978 supporters at 1 p.m. Wednesday. . .

And in other news, Justin Bieber is already back in Canada to face charges of assaulting a limousine driver. Here's hoping he stays there. . .

- Greg Pollowitz

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