March 31, 2015

Republicans in Arkansas Following Indiana with Religious Law

Rep. Warwick Sabin, D-Little Rock (center), leads protesters outside the House chamber at the Arkansas Capitol in Little Rock on Monday.
Rep. Warwick Sabin, D-Little Rock (center), leads protesters outside the House chamber at the Arkansas Capitol in Little Rock on Monday.
Danny Johnston/AP
Despite criticism and protests, Arkansas legislators passed a religious freedom bill on Tuesday that is similar to the one passed by Indiana.
"Protesters gathered outside the governor's mansion in Little Rock on Tuesday morning. A final vote in the state House could come later in the day.
"The Indiana law, enacted last week, and the proposed Arkansas law were presented as ways to keep government from infringing on religion. But opponents say they could be used as cover for discrimination, allowing businesses to refuse to serve gay and lesbian customers."
The Arkansas Times reports that Gov. Asa Hutchinson had previously vowed to sign the bill into law, but all the controversy in Indiana may affect his decision.
Citing unnamed state Capitol sources, the paper reports that "particularly with the increasing volume of media coverage and corporate backlash around the similar law in Indiana, the governor has real concerns about the law's impact on economic development, sources say."
As we reported, as criticism and threats of boycotts of the state mounted, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence stuck by the law but said legislators would clarify the legislation.
"We'll fix this and we'll move forward," Pence said at a press conference.
The New York Times reports that attempts to bar discrimination against gays and lesbians in the Arkansas bill failed. The Times reports:
" 'If you start shaving out exemptions in laws, next thing you know, you'll gut the law because everyone will want an exemption,' said State Senator Bart Hester, an Arkansas Republican and one of the bill's lead supporters.
"The attention turns to Governor Hutchinson, a moderate Republican who ran on a jobs platform and managed to extend a tailored form of Medicaid expansion in this Republican-controlled state."
Update at 7:10 p.m. ET. Walmart Asks Governor To Veto Bill: 
In a statement, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon asked Gov. Hutchinson to veto the religious freedom bill passed today. 
"Every day in our stores, we see firsthand the benefits diversity and inclusion have on our associates, customers and communities we serve," he said. "It all starts with our core basic belief of respect for the individual. Today’s passage of HB1228 threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion present throughout the state of Arkansas and does not reflect the values we proudly uphold."
NPR

Do You Think the Us is LiberaL? Not by a long shot ! How About UK Politics?


Why the UK ? Because they are the most similar to us and are the closet and longest ally we had through the last 100 years. They are closest to us even when you take our nearest ally the Canadians. They are much too conservative in comparison and have not had the same impact for better or worse to us than the British have had. Now You will be surprised about UK politics because most people think they are the ‘stiff upper lip’ more conservative than us. Read on and learn or review your knowledge of a people that are clearly our parents as nations go. True we grew up and married outside of the family but blood is thicker than water as families go even family of nations.

                                                                        

The U.K. general election campaign, which kicks off in earnest Monday, will focus on many issues, especially the ones that voters say are most important. But beneath how the parties propose to address them are several long-standing political disagreements that fit into three broad categories: left-right politics, U.K. national politics and European Union membership politics.
Some of these will matter to voters more than others, but they all inform how and where the parties will campaign. They’ll also shape which parties might be willing to work together and what kinds of bargains will be struck after an election that appears highly unlikely to give any single party a governing majority.
This election is difficult to forecast, though we’re going to try with our general election predictions on FiveThirtyEight. Understanding these three dimensions of political conflict can help put the numbers in context.
                                                                           

Left-right politics

If you are watching from the U.S., keep in mind that the U.K. political system’s center of gravity is substantially to the left of yours. The political positions espoused by the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats would both fall within those of the Democratic Party in the U.S. And while the Conservatives may seem more aligned with U.S. Republicans, they’re substantially to the left on issues like same-sex marriage, how health care should be provided, and what rates of taxation are appropriate.
Disagreements about the scope of government underlie the classic divide between the Conservatives and the Labour Party on most issues, including taxation, benefits, pensions, education and health care provision. These issues will be very much at the center of the campaign, not least because the Conservatives and Labour will be doing their best to remind voters that they have traditionally voted for one of those two parties because of their stances on them:
  • On taxes, Labour wants to increase the top tax rate to 50 percent, where it was before the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government reduced it to 45 percent in 2012. The Liberal Democrats themselves agree that the rate should return to 50 percent.
  • On education, the Conservatives are proposing to create more “free schools” (charter schools in U.S. terminology), but the kind of voucher program popular among Republicans in the U.S. would be a political nonstarter here.
  • On health care, no one challenges the basic premise that it should be free and universal, but there are differences on exactly how to administer the National Health Service. Indeed, Labour recently attacked Conservative budget cuts just by saying those cuts might at some point in the future require some charges for health services, a claim that Conservatives deny.

U.K. national politics

The U.K. is far more politically centralized than the United States. Parliament in Westminster has the power to legislate on all issues or to devolve (or grant) powers to lower-level governments as it sees fit. Some powers are devolved to local governments (councils) across the U.K., but the House of Commons could rescind these powers at any time if it chose to do so. In the past two decades, the Commons has also devolved powers to national assemblies in the non-English nations of the U.K.: Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland has an entirely separate party system from the rest of the U.K., divided along sectarian lines. None of the parties from the rest of the U.K. will have competitive candidates in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein, an Irish Republican party that advocates that Northern Ireland exit the U.K. and join the Republic of Ireland, abstains from taking up the (currently five) seats it wins in Westminster because its members refuse to take an oath of allegiance to the queen. Two of the other Irish parties, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP, currently eight seats) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP, currently three seats) could help form a government if one party is just short of a majority. These parties are likely to primarily push for financial support for Northern Ireland if they are in a position to negotiate with the major parties. The DUP is viewed as a more natural partner for the Conservatives and the SDLP for Labour, although the DUP could work with Labour as well. The DUP is primarily concerned with Unionism (Northern Ireland remaining in the U.K.) and consequently is more flexible in its alliances.
Scotland: Since a referendum in 1998, Scotland has had its own devolved parliament with power over all areas not explicitly reserved for Westminster, including agriculture, education, health and justice. The Scottish National Party (SNP) has led the Scottish government since 2007, winning a narrow electoral victory that year and a much larger victory in 2011. The SNP, which currently holds only six seats in the U.K. Parliament, appears poised to win many of the 59 Scottish seats in Westminster; that would mark the end of Labour Party dominance of Scottish politics going back to the time of Margaret Thatcher. If it finds itself in a position to negotiate with the major parties, the SNP will be pushing for additional devolved powers for the Scottish Parliament. The SNP presents itself as further to the left than Labour, and party leader Nicola Sturgeon has indicated that while the SNP would not join a formal coalition with Labour, it would provide needed votes to support a minority Labour government on an issue-by-issue basis so long as Labour was implementing progressive policies. The SNP has ruled outsupporting a Conservative government in any form.
Wales: Wales also has a devolved parliament, with somewhat more limited powers than Scotland’s. Wales has a national party as well, the Plaid Cymru, but it is unlikely to win many more than the three seats it currently holds. Welsh nationalism has not developed into the political force that Scottish nationalism has, perhaps because of Wales’s longer shared history with England. If the ability to form a government were to come down to a very small margin, the Plaid would support Labour rather than the Conservatives.
England: England has no equivalent national assembly, so the House of Commons determines all policy for England. This creates an asymmetry because the entire Parliament (including members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) votes on issues related to England. The scope of further devolution and the rights of non-English MPs to vote on legislation that affects only England are both lurking issues in the coming election, especially with further Scottish devolution on the horizon. The Conservatives have sometimes argued for a principle of “English votes for English laws” in Westminster, an argument that has been simmering since devolution for Scotland was proposed in the 1970s. Labour is strongly opposed, in part because Labour wins more seats than the Conservatives in Scotland and Wales. 
EU membership politics                       

As a member of the European Union, the U.K. is bound to abide by some EU policies that have attracted significant opposition among the public. In fact, in some polls support for leaving the EU altogether approaches a majority.
The most salient issue tied up with EU membership is migration. The U.K. has seen high levels of immigration in recent years from elsewhere in the EU but is not allowed to place any restrictions on that immigration. An entire party, the U.K. Independence Party, is nominally organized around the goal of “independence” (exit) from the EU, although UKIP also has elements of specifically English nationalism and more general right-wing populism. UKIP could support a Conservative government. However, the party is generally viewed as unreliable and is unlikely to have enough seats to be a major player even though it will probably finish third or fourth in vote share.
The Conservatives have substantial internal disagreement about continued membership in the EU, and David Cameron — the current Conservative prime minister — has promised a referendum on exit to finesse these intraparty disagreements. Labour and the Liberal Democrats are generally in favor of remaining in the EU. The SNP is in favor of staying in the European Union.
The big challenge for making sense of the election is that these political disagreements — about left-right politics, U.K. national politics, and EU membership politics — are not all equally important everywhere in the U.K. Exactly which parties are competitive, and the issues that are important to voters, varies substantially depending on where you are.
Labour and the Conservatives face challenges from different political directions in different areas. Marginal constituencies that come down to Labour versus Conservative tend to cluster around the edges of English cities, the kinds of suburban seats that have always decided U.K. elections. But in much of southeastern England, the Conservatives will face UKIP challenges. In seats across southwestern England, the current coalition partners, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, will face off in one of the latter’s traditional strongholds. In Scotland, the SNP will face off against Labour in most constituencies. And we have not even mentioned the Green Party, another left party that has recently been polling at nearly the same level as the Liberal Democrats across the U.K., but without sufficient concentration of support to be a threat in more than a handful of constituencies.1
At the level of individual seats, there are relatively few where more than two parties have a chance. The U.K. does not have just one two-party system; it has lots of different two-party competitions in different parts of the country. This is a big part of the challenge of forecasting the election.

3D Animation of Doomed Germanwings Flight








Tim Cook calls the Indiana Religious law “Dangerous”


                                                                          
Demonstrators gather in downtown Indianapolis Saturday to protest the controversial religious freedom law.(Reuters)

 — Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook toughed his criticism of Indiana’s new “religious freedom” law, calling it “very dangerous” and said Apple would opposite such legislation wherever it emerges. 
Similar legislation has been introduced in more than two dozen other states, including Arkansas and Georgia. Critics say the law could be used to sanction discrimination against gays and lesbians.
In addition to Apple AAPL, -0.07%  , several other business leaders, including Salesforce.com Inc. CRM, +0.45%  CEO Marc Benioff, have publicly opposed the law. Eli Lilly & Co. LLY, +0.14%  , the largest publicly traded company in the state, said the law was “bad for Indiana and for business.”
“There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country,” Cook wrote in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post this weekend, after tweeting against the law on Friday. 
Bills similar to the Indiana law, which was signed into law on Thursday, and a measure being considered in Texas that would allow the state to strip salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas’ marriage ban later this year, will “rationalize injustice,” Cook said. 
“America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business,” he wrote. “I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges. I’m writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement.” 
Despite the backlash, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence continued to defend the law this weekend, and state Republicans planned a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time to clarify the law. 
State Democrats will take center stage at 10 a.m. to respond to calls for legislative action in response to the law, according to the Associated Press.
(MarketWatch)

RahmRambo Says He is a “Jerk" and "He knows it” but not sorry for his 4 years of Accomplishments


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has built his political career on his unapologetically confrontational approach to, well, everything. But now, amid a surprisingly competitive runoff race for a second term, Emanuel is confessing that his brash personality isn't always such a good thing.
 
Rahm Emanuel: 'I can rub people the wrong way'(0:31)
Chicago mayoral candidate and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel ran this ad, in which he says, "I can rub people the wrong way, I can talk when I should listen. I own that, but I’m driven to make a difference." (Rahm Emanuel via YouTube)
The 30-second ad, which began running on Tuesday in Chicago, shows a very different side of Emanuel -- all soft-spokenness and humility. "I can rub people the wrong way. Or talk when I should listen," Emanuel acknowledges in the spot. "I own that." Later, he admits: "I'm not going to always get it right."
What would make the man who embraced the nickname "Rahmbo" so contrite, so suddenly? Maybe the prospect of losing a race that prior to the Feb. 24 primary no one thought he could lose. Or post-primary polling that suggests Jesus "Chuy" Garcia has a genuine chance of pulling what would have to be considered a massive upset.
Emanuel is trying to make a simple argument in this ad: I may be a jerk (and I know I am one and I'm sorry), but I'm your jerk. And don't let my abrasiveness get in the way of the accomplishments I have racked up in my first four years.
Will it work? Who knows. But that Emanuel is trying it speaks to just how worried he is.
 who writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.

Apple’s CEO Warn About Discrimination Sweeping the World




A local television station captured an awkward moment afterward between Cook and the Republican governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, who audibly took umbrage at Cook’s comments. Don Logan, an Alabamian who is a former CEO of Time Inc. (Fortune’s owner), was in the audience at the state capitol in Montgomery. “Tim is a very courageous guy,” says Logan, a fellow Auburn University alum, who notes that the state legislature had only recently passed a bill to not allow gay marriage. “He knew he was speaking into the wind and that most people in the room didn’t agree with him.”
A few days later Cook announced publicly, in an essay in Bloomberg Businessweek, that he is gay. With no further comment from him or Apple, the disclosure set off a media frenzy, most of it favorable. Looking back, he says that he primarily acted out of concern for kids who were bullied at school, some to the point of suicide, and because of the many states that still allow employers to fire workers over their sexual orientation. Also, whereas U.S. courts were moving surprisingly quickly on the issue, “I didn’t feel like business was exactly leading the way in the executive suite.”

Tim Cook, Apple CEO photographed in Cupertino, CA. March 2015
“I’m not running for office. I don’t need your vote. I have to feel myself doing what’s right. If I’m the arbiter of that,” says Cook, rather than worrying about what critics say about his decisions, “then I think that’s a much better way to live.”Courtesy of Apple

Cook says that he’d come to the decision of coming out “quite some time ago” and that his announcement was viewed internally at Apple, where his sexual orientation was more or less well known, as a “yawner.” Speaking out so publicly was a big step for Cook, though, who has described himself as intensely private and who is rare among big-company CEOs for being genuinely ill at ease talking about himself. “To be honest, if I would not have come to the conclusion that it would likely help other people, I would have never done it,” he says. “There’s no joy in me putting my life in view.” Referencing the often-cited line that “to whom much is given, much is required,” Cook says, “I’ve certainly been given a lot.”
The move made Cook famous for more than being the person running Steve Jobs’ company. Mike Sullivan is a San Francisco lawyer with the global law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman who advises startup technology companies. Like Cook, he views his sexual orientation as a point of pride and affiliation but something that doesn’t define him professionally. “We have 500 CEOs in the Fortune 500 out there, and I can guarantee you some of them are gay,” he says. “The message Tim sent is, ‘It’s okay to be yourself. You don’t have to lead with it. But you don’t have to hide it either.’ ”
Cook has become so ubiquitous that it’s tough to remember when he wasn’t so visible. On an early March trip to Europe he huddled in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and in Brussels with Andrus Ansip, the former Prime Minister of Estonia and now the European Commission’s top regulator on digital issues. He is featured in a new book by the former Fortune journalists Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, who report that Cook offered Jobs a piece of his healthy liver for a transplant. (Jobs turned him down.) In March, Cook even phoned in to a surprised—and delighted—Jim Cramer during a live airing of the 10th anniversary of the broadcaster’s financial shoutfest on CNBC.
Representing their companies publicly is obligatory for CEOs, but Cook takes public stands on issues including stopping the transmission of AIDS, human rights, and immigration reform. He sees them as opportunities for leadership. “You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change,” he says, adding that Apple’s people have long cared about such issues even if they haven’t previously spoken so openly about them. To Cook, changing the world always has been higher on Apple’s agenda than making money. He plans to give away all his wealth, after providing for the college education of his 10-year-old nephew. There should be plenty left over to fund philanthropic projects. Cook’s net worth, based on his holdings of Apple stock, is currently about $120 million. He also holds restricted stock worth $665 million if it were to be fully vested. Cook says that he has already begun donating money quietly, but that he plans to take time to develop a systematic approach to philanthropy rather than simply writing checks.
An irony of Cook’s Apple is that the company is becoming visibly more open under its guarded CEO than it was under the publicity-savvy demigod who ran Apple before him. Whereas Jobs severely restricted interactions between all his employees and the press, Cook has ushered in a period of glasnost with the news media. It is highly unlikely that Jobs would have tolerated, for example, The New Yorker’s recent 16,000-word profile of Jony Ive, Apple’s chief designer. Cook says such exposure is part of his plan. “My objective is to raise the public profile of several of the folks on the executive team, and others as well. Because I think that’s good for Apple at the end of the day.”
The new openness serves two purposes. First, it ensures that the world continues to talk about Apple. Granting a longer leash to executives with healthy egos also is a valuable retention tool. “A true coach is happy with his star players getting media time,” says Gassée, the ex-Apple executive. “Tim Cook is a true impresario who takes care of his prime donne. As long as the box office is good, the impresario will do that.”
Building for the Future
Tim cook is standing atop a giant mountain of dirt. He has come to tour the construction site in Cupertino that by the end of 2016, if all goes as planned, will be Apple’s new corporate campus. The dirt has been excavated from the massive pit below, and the pile is just about eye level with where the rooftop will be over the four-story, ringed building that will soon rise here. The building’s doughnut-shaped design has sparked many comparisons to a spaceship. Looking down as trucks and workers scurry to and fro, Cook begins to talk about one of the subjects that really gets him going: where people work. It always amazes him, he says, how drab workspaces are in metropolitan office skyscrapers. Apple’s new home will not be like that. “It shouldn’t be a place that doesn’t turn on your creative juices,” he says, musing about how future college recruits will feel when they first visit. Visible in the distance are Apple’s existing Cupertino campus, downtown San Jose, and Levi’s Stadium, where the San Francisco 49ers play and which, incidentally, would fit into the 30-acre park that will be at the center of the main spaceship building.

Apple construction, new corporate campus. Cupertino, CA
The building site of what will be Apple’s new corporate campus, photographed March 3, 2015. Cook calls the high-tech complex “the mother of all products.”Courtesy of Apple

Steve Jobs spent a considerable amount of the last two years of his life planning the campus, including hiring the British architect Norman Foster to design it. Everything about the site is large scale, and Cook, a numbers man, can recite most of the figures by heart. The main building itself will be 2.8 million square feet and will house 13,000 employees. About 2,000 more workers will fill up adjacent buildings on the site, which will include a 100,000-square-foot fitness and wellness center, a café that will serve 15,000 lunches a day, and more than 8,000 trees, all native to the Santa Clara Valley.
Cook visits the work site periodically
—including twice already with Apple’s board—and he exhibits an engineer’s glee at watching the 22 construction cranes that dot the landscape. He says Apple hasn’t decided yet exactly what it will call “Apple Campus 2,” the current internal designation. Some naming element of the buildings or the entire locale will almost certainly include an homage to Jobs, depending on his family’s wishes, says Cook. 
On a 90-minute tour of the site, Cook dishes out details of the campus, which he calls “the mother of all products.” For instance, Apple is investing in cutting-edge technology to manage tasks as mundane as parking. A system of sensors and apps will play traffic cop for employees as they enter the facility, eliminating the fuel-wasting hunt for a parking place. Just as it has done for its retail stores, Apple has built entire mockups of wings of the building to see how they look—and then torn them down. As to why Apple isn’t building higher than four stories, the same height as its existing campus, Cook says, “When we mocked up five we didn’t like the looks of it.” He is particularly excited about the mostly below-ground, 1,000-seat auditorium in the southeast corner of the campus, which will be the company’s new site for all its public presentations other than its annual developers conference. “No more scheduling months ahead of time around other people’s schedules,” says Cook enthusiastically.
In talking about the new campus, Cook is particularly ornery about one label for it. “I hate the word ‘headquarters,’ ” he says. “There’s real work going on here. It isn’t overhead, and we’re not bureaucrats.” Indeed, among Apple’s employees there is considerable speculation as to which groups will be assigned to the new building—and which will be relegated to the existing real estate. “We’ve decided three times,” says Cook. “And we’ll probably decide it three times more.”
On the drive back to Cook’s current office at 1 Infinite Loop, his Apple Watch emits a chiming sound that sounds like the ding! from a symphonic triangle. Cook is wearing the entry-level Sport version of the watch, with a white plastic wristband. It’s the first time in nearly two hours that he’s received a notification, and he says it’s a text message from his assistant that Al Gore, an Apple board member, would like to speak with him. 
The electronic interruption doesn’t require Cook to extract his iPhone from his pocket, one of the key attributes Apple believes will drive adoption of the watch. It does give him an opportunity to show off some of the watch’s features, including the iconic Mickey Mouse watch face, cleverly updated so that the Disney mascot cheerfully taps his feet at the rate of one per second. A self-described fitness nut, Cook proudly shows off his daily physical activity as measured by the watch. So far he has clocked 50 minutes of exercise and has traveled 8,139 steps, or about four miles. An early riser, he has been on his feet for 12 hours, and it’s not quite 3:30 p.m. His workday, and his job leading Apple, are far from over.
 This story is from the April 1, 2015 issue of Fortune. It originally stated that the Siri product launch occurred days after Steve Jobs died. The event was the day before his death.

March 30, 2015

Car Crashes at gate of NSA 1 person Dead




Authorities investigate the scene of an alleged gate-crashing incident near a National Security Agency gate to Fort Meade on Monday, March 30, 2015.










Authorities investigate the scene of an alleged gate-crashing incident near a National Security Agency gate to Fort Meade on Monday, March 30, 2015. PHOTO: WJLA-TV/ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn’t believe the incident, outside the sprawling Fort Meade military installation, is related to terrorism, a spokeswoman said. The NSA said the incident was contained to the “vehicle control point area” on the edge of the secure campus.
Authorities didn’t discuss a possible motive or release details about the two individuals. The NSA said in a statement that one of the vehicle’s occupants died at the scene; no cause of death has been determined. The other occupant was taken to a hospital for treatment, as was an NSA police officer who was injured.
The incident began shortly before 9 a.m., when the vehicle in which the pair were traveling attempted an unauthorized entry at the NSA gate, according to the NSA statement. When the driver ignored a police officer’s instructions to exit the campus, barriers were deployed.
An aerial view of a Fort Meade gate in the aftermath of what officials called a  gate-crashing incident on March 30, 2015.ENLARGE An aerial view of a Fort Meade gate in the aftermath of what officials called a gate-crashing incident on March 30, 2015. PHOTO: NBC4WASHINGTON/REUTERS
The vehicle then accelerated toward the police vehicle, and police opened fire before the collision occurred, the NSA said. Local television showed two damaged vehicles near a gate and debris in the road.
President Barack Obama was briefed on the incident, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. He referred additional questions to the NSA.
About 14,300 military personnel work at Fort Meade, along with about 37,000 civilian and contract employees, according to the installation, giving it the third-largest workforce among Army installations in the U.S. It says it is Maryland’s largest employer. About 10,000 service members and civilians live there. 
All branches of the military are represented at Fort Meade, along with federal agencies such as the Defense Information Systems Agency, the U.S. Cyber Command and the NSA.

Write to Scott Calvert at scott.calvert@wsj.com

Featured Posts

Human Rights Campaign Testifies Against Judge Neil Gorsuch

LGBTQ groups have come out in strong opposition to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch as U.S. Supreme Court Justice, ar...