Lazy Saturday Reads: April the Giraffe Gives Birth (and Other News)

Good Morning!!

Here’s some breaking news that isn’t about war and government corruption. That always makes a saturday better and even better with a cup of lumitea skinny tea in your hand and an injection of botox from liposuction north Sydney, if you´re into that kind of stuff. April the giraffe has finally given birth!

After months of anticipation for one pregnant giraffe and hundreds of thousands of obsessed viewers, April just made good.

“It’s happening!” Animal Adventure Park owner Jordan Patch yelled into a camera from his car about 7:30 Saturday morning. “We are in labor 100 percent!”

There had been false starts before, but not far away in a pen in Upstate New York, two hooves were peeking out of April’s backside.

Then a head.

Then at 9:55 a.m …

An apparently healthy giraffe baby hit the floor in a shower of amniotic fluid and catharsis, as more than 1 million people watched live.

Half an hour later, the not-so-tiny infant took its first wobbly steps across a pen that’s been live-streamed 24 hours a day for nearly two months.

Then it flopped delightfully back to the floor and submitted to a tongue bath from its mother.

We still don’t know if the calf is a boy or girl giraffe. Read more at the WaPo.

Here’s a report from The Upshot at the NYT on research that shows that social programs are good for the economy: Supply-Side Economics, but for Liberals.

Certain social welfare policies, according to an emerging body of research, may actually encourage more people to work and enable them to do so more productively.

That is the conclusion of work that aims to understand in granular detail how different government interventions affect people’s behavior. It amounts to a liberal version of “supply-side economics,” an approach to economics often associated with the conservatives of the Reagan era.

Those conservative supply-siders argued that cutting taxes would lead businesses to invest more, unleashing faster economic growth as the productive capacity of the nation increases. In the emerging liberal version, government programs enable more people to work, and to work in higher-productivity, higher-income jobs. The end result, if the research is correct, is the same: a nation that is capable of growing faster and producing more.

The clearest example of a program that appears to increase labor supply and hence the United States’ economic potential is the earned-income tax credit (E.I.T.C.), first enacted in 1975 and expanded several times since then. It supplements the income of low-income workers, and numerousstudies find that its existence means more Americans work than would in its absence.

For example, there was a major expansion of the program that was passed in 1993 and phased in over the ensuing years. Jeffrey Grogger of the University of Chicago finds that it was a major driver of higher employment among single mothers. By 1999, his researchsuggests, 460,000 more women who headed their household were working than would have been without the E.I.T.C. expansion. That is more, in his estimates, than the number of such women who were pulled into the work force by welfare reforms or a booming economy during that decade.

Child care subsidies appear to work the same way. It’s a pretty straightforward equation that when government intervention makes child care services cheaper than they would otherwise be, people who might otherwise stay home raising their children instead work. More women work in countries that subsidize child care and offer generous parental leave than in those that don’t.

Please go read the whole thing.

All eyes have been on North Korea for the past couple of days as the country celebrates the anniversary of its founding with a huge parade on Saturday.

NBC News: North Korea Parades New Prototype Long-Range Missiles amid Nuclear Tensions: Experts.

North Korea paraded its military might Saturday in a massive public display that experts said showed new capabilities for its long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Kim Jong Un did not speak during the huge event, which celebrates the birthday of North Korea’s founding ruler Kim Il Sung, but another top official, Choe Ryong Hae, warned that the North would stand up to any threat posed by the United States.

Choe said President Donald Trump was guilty of “creating a war situation” on the Korean Peninsula by dispatching U.S. forces to the region.

“We will respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and a nuclear war with our style of a nuclear attack,” Choe added.

The parade, the annual highlight of North Korea’s most important holiday, came amid growing international worries that North Korea may be preparing for its sixth nuclear test or a major missile launch, such as its first flight test of an ICBM capable of reaching U.S. shores.

Reuters: North Korea displays apparently new missiles as U.S. carrier group approaches.

North Korea displayed what appeared to be new long-range and submarine-based missiles on the 105th birth anniversary of its founding father, Kim Il Sung, on Saturday, as a nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier group steamed towards the region.

Missiles appeared to be the main theme of a giant military parade, with Kim’s grandson, leader Kim Jong Un, taking time to greet the commander of the Strategic Forces, the branch that oversees the missile arsenal.

A U.S. Navy attack on a Syrian airfield this month with Tomahawk missiles raised questions about U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans for reclusive North Korea, which has conducted several missile and nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. sanctions, regularly threatening to destroy the United States.

Trump would love to be able to parade military equipment through the streets of Washington DC, as we learned from leaks about his inauguration plans. I have no doubt he’d love to be a dictator like Kim Jong-Un or Vladimir Putin.

The Washington Post: Trump delights in watching the U.S. military display its strength.

Amid the often jarring inconsistency of President Trump’s foreign policy, one thing has always been crystal clear: He loves a big show of American military force.

“You gotta knock the hell out of them — Boom! Boom! Boom!” Trump said of Islamic State terrorists at a January 2016 rally in Iowa, punctuating each “boom” with a punch of his fist.

That same impulse has been apparent over the past 10 days as Trump pummeled a Syrian air base with cruise missiles, threatened military action against North Korea over its nuclear weapons program and praised the U.S. military’s first-ever use of a massive 11-ton bomb, nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” to kill Islamic State militants in Afghanistan.

“So incredible. It’s brilliant. It’s genius,” Trump said Tuesday of the missile strike in Syria. “Our technology, our equipment is better than anybody by a factor of five.”

As he searches for a coherent foreign policy during his first months in office, Trump has celebrated but often inflated the effect of military actions. The massive shows of strength, at times, have seemed to be a strategy unto themselves.

Remember during the campaign, when Trump kept telling us our military was “depleted?” Suddenly it’s the greatest show on earth, according to the man who took 5 draft deferments during the Vietnam war.

Meanwhile sane people are just hoping Trump doesn’t start World War III.

The Atlantic: North Korea and the Risks of Miscalculation.

Not long after the United States Navy dispatched a carrier strike group in the direction of the Korean peninsula following a North Korean missile test last week, Pyongyang vowed to counter “the reckless act of aggression” and hinted at “catastrophic consequences.” The remarks came amid rising tension in the region as satellite images seem to indicate that North Korea is preparing for a possible sixth nuclear test, and as U.S. President Donald Trump warns that North Korean President Kim Jong Un is “doing the wrong thing” and that “we have the best military people on earth.”

There’s nothing particularly unusual about this sort of creative, bellicose rhetoric from the North Korean regime, which routinely threatens to do things like turn Seoul into a “sea of fire” or fire “nuclear-armed missiles at the White House and the Pentagon—the sources of all evil.” North Korea needs to be taken seriously as a hostile regime in artillery range of a close U.S. ally, and potentially in missile range of another. But its leadership lobs threats so promiscuously and outlandishly that one can build in a discount factor—there’s a long track record of unrealized North Korean threats to judge by. In that context, the probability that any given one will be realized is quite small….

What’s different now is Donald Trump. Whereas many of his predecessors steered sedulously clear of escalatory rhetoric, preferring to treat various North Korean leaders as recalcitrant children at worst or distasteful but nevertheless semi-rational negotiating partners at best, Trump has threatened North Korea via Twitter, declaring that the regime is “looking for trouble.” As my colleague Uri Friedman pointed out Thursday, three successive presidents prior to Trump, since the Clinton administration considered military action against the North’s then-nascent nuclear program, have opted for trying negotiations rather than risk a strike. It’s apparent that none succeeded in halting the nuclear program’s progress. But it’s equally apparent that the kind of massive conflagration on the Korean peninsula that world leaders are now warning against has been avoided since 1953.

For allies, enemies, and observers alike, though, Trump appears to be a wild card,and self-avowedly so. Even foreign-policy positions that are “predictable” for an American president—condemning the use of chemical weapons in war, say, or not deriding NATO as obsolete—were unanticipated reversals from this particular president. Trump himself has said that America needs to be more “unpredictable;” as Kevin Sullivan and Karen Tumulty reported in The Washington Post this week, he has made it so, leaving diplomats to ask what exactly the White House intends to do on issues ranging from border-adjustment taxes to Russia. (Russians are themselves confused: A foreign ministry spokeswoman told my colleague Julia Ioffe and other journalists this week: “We don’t understand what they’re going to do in Syria, and not only there. … No one understands what they’re going to do with Iran, no one understands what they’re going to do with Afghanistan. Excuse me, and I still haven’t said anything about Iraq.”)

Read more at The Atlantic link.

One more important foreign policy read from Anne Applebaum at the WaPo: Yes, Rex Tillerson, U.S. taxpayers should care about Ukraine. Here’s why.

“Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” That was the question that Rex Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state, was heard to ask at a meeting of the Group of Seven foreign ministers, America’s closest allies, a day before his visit to Moscow this week. We don’t know what he meant by that question, or in what context it was asked. When queried, the State Department replied that it was a “rhetorical device,” seeking neither to defend nor retract it.

If Tillerson were a different person and this were a different historical moment, we could forget about this odd dropped comment and move on. But Tillerson has an unusual background for a secretary of state. Unlike everyone who has held the job for at least the past century, he has no experience in diplomacy, politics or the military; instead he has spent his life extracting oil and selling it for profit. At that he was successful. But no one knows whether he can change his value system to focus instead on the very different task of selling something intangible — American values — to maximize something even more intangible: American influence.

So what’s Applebaum’s answer to Tillerson’s question?

It’s an explanation that cannot be boiled down to bullet points or a chart, or even reflected in numbers at all. I’m not even sure it can be done in a few paragraphs, but here goes. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea in 2014 were an open attack on the principle of border security in Europe. The principle of border security, in turn, is what turned Europe, once a continent wracked by bloody conflicts, into a safe and peaceful trading alliance in the second half of the 20th century. Europe’s collective decision to abandon aggressive nationalism, open its internal borders and drop its territorial ambitions made Europe rich, as well as peaceful.

It also made the United States rich, as well as powerful. U.S. companies do billions of dollars of business in Europe; U.S. leaders have long been able to count on European support all over the world, in matters economic, political, scientific and more. It’s not a perfect alliance but it is an unusual alliance, one that is held together by shared values as well as common interests. If Ukraine, a country of about 43 million people, were permanently affiliated with Europe, it too might become part of this zone of peace, trade and commerce.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, an aggressive, emboldened Russia increasingly threatens European security and prosperity, as well as Europe’s alliance with the United States. Russia supports anti-American, anti-NATO and indeed anti-democratic political candidates all across the continent; Russia seeks business and political allies who will help promote its companies and turn a blind eye to its corrupt practices. Over the long term, these policies threaten U.S. business interests and U.S. political interests all across the continent and around the world.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. If you’re celebrating, I hope you have a wonderful day. It’s also a long weekend here in Boston, because Monday is Patriot’s Day and the running of the Boston Marathon. I plan to relax and enjoy what I hope will be peace and quiet. I’m still getting used to the traffic noise and police sirens in my new apartment. (My old neighborhood was quiet every weekend and dead on long weekends.)

Have a great weekend Sky Dancers!

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37 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: April the Giraffe Gives Birth (and Other News)”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    There will be tax day protests around the country today.

    The Week: Nationwide Tax Day protests demand President Trump release his tax returns.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    I haven’t heard if the White House is going to be ready for the Easter Egg Roll. Of course Trump couldn’t care less about kids and families having fun, so he is down at his high priced Palm Beach club for the weekend.

    the LA Times: Trump touts Easter Egg Roll amid reports his White House is unprepared.

    President Trump retweeted a message from his wife, Melania, promoting the White House Easter Egg Roll scheduled for Monday.

    Traditionally hosted by the first lady, the White House Easter Egg Roll has taken place each year since the 1870s.

    This year’s event came under scrutiny after the vendor that traditionally supplies commemorative wooden eggs as party favors sent a tweet warning the White House that manufacturing deadlines were fast approaching.

    The New York Times then found that multiple organizations that usually receive tickets to the Easter Egg Roll hadn’t yet been contacted, and that overall plans for the event were still evolving just a week before it was set to take place.

    • dakinikat says:

      Melania only signed on to be eye candy and go shopping. I think she really doesn’t want that job at all. I understand she hasn’t hired the person that’s in charge of those kinds of things yet. It speaks tons that the Obamas relished every event in the White House with chidren and the Trumps just go to the rich ranch and flaunt their persian whore house life style. I bet there are not happy children planting veggies in Michelle’s garden either.

      • Enheduanna says:

        Dak! I almost split my side….”the Trumps just go to the rich ranch and flaunt their persian whore house life style” – hahahahahahaha

        Don’t forget they refused to accept the offer of the playground set the Obama’s had for their girls. I thought that was sort of rude.

      • Fannie says:

        Well put. She wants to be left alone, and have nothing to do with the White House, or Trump

    • dakinikat says:

    • quixote says:

      Part of me thinks it’s about time the US stopped expecting free labor from First Ladies. If she’s got an actual job (and obviously, she does), pay her a salary.

      Another part of me thinks, How much proof do we need that this administration couldn’t administer a hamster on a wheel? The White House does have a social secretary or the like. Task her (somehow, I’m sure it’s “her”) with hiring the people to make it happen. Hell, he could probably just tell the Chief of Staff, old Rinse Prewash from whom we’ve heard little, to take care of it. Would take 30 seconds.

      Anyway, yes, it all just adds to the Mt Everest of Stupids.

      • bostonboomer says:

        The White House probably doesn’t have a social secretary. Melania would have had to hire that person and she hasn’t hired anyone. Trump froze hiring and hasn’t hired anyone for the WH or any departments except the cabinet. Tillerson doesn’t even have a deputy. There is no one even running the CDC. That’s why we’re screwed if there’s an epidemic. The federal government is an empty shell.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  4. dakinikat says:

    Speaking of the Tacky Two

    http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/trump-demanding-ride-in-queens-gold-carriage-during-buckingham-palace-visit-report/

    President (sic) Donald Trump is creating security concerns over his visit to meet with the Queen of England because he wants to ride in her golden carriage.

    According to the Times of London, the White House has let Buckingham Palace officials know that Trump is very interested in being part of a carriage procession up the Mall during his October visit.

  5. MsMass says:

    I’ve been thinking that november was a turning point- we could have moved forward into a more inclusive,positive position and maintained our status. instead we are headed on the track to hell and the demise of the American dream/empire/supremacy, whatever you want to call it.
    They last about 200 years, right? Hopefully, Trump doesn’t blow us all to kingdom come in the near term.Those dominionists like that kind of shit.

    • dakinikat says:

      The only thing I’m hoping is that we don’t blow the place up and my kids’ generation will undo the damage. I still can’t believe all these idiots my age that voted for that insane ape.

      • Fannie says:

        They didn’t want HER to become president………no woman, period will be allowed to rule USA.

  6. dakinikat says:

    Historic Civil War-era home from where Ulysses S. Grant launched a victorious and pivotal battle is vandalized by thieves who strip it of valuable flooring and support beams
    The 200-year-old Shaifer House in Clairborne County, Mississippi is located on a Civil War battlefield
    Thieves took four wood support beams and ripped off parts of the floor and walls
    A Civil War expert says they were probably taken for some other historic project

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4410302/Civil-War-era-house-vandalized.html#ixzz4eLVYIjIW
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

    • Fannie says:

      That’s a sad state of affairs, ripping off history. I can’t understand what the hell they mean, for some other historic project. Baloney, the probably didn’t know his history, and didn’t care. I mean just the week, I heard the south will rise again!

      He is related to my family via the Root, Simpson, DeLano, Grant family lines.

      • Fannie says:

        Here’s a little story. My gggrandfather went to war with three other brothers, CSA. He wanted to go on the battlefield, but Gen. Hood wouldn’t let him look for his brother. About that time Gen. Ulysses Grant came up on his horse, and heard him saying he needed to look for his brother, and Gen. Grant told him go on, let him go on. And he responded to Grant, if ever he had a son he would named after him, and so it was. The brother is buried in Atlanta, the Old Oakland Civil War Cemetery.

  7. dakinikat says:

    Hey, BB it just occurred to me that we don’t have an ambassador named to South Korea or not and I’m not sure the ones he named for China or Japan or in place yet. How do we do these warship thingies without those ambassadors in place?

  8. dakinikat says:

  9. bostonboomer says:

    The Guardian:

    White House accused of blocking information on bank’s Trump-Russia links

    The White House has been accused of withholding information from Congress about whether Donald Trump or any of his campaign affiliates have ever received loans from a bank in Cyprus that is partly owned by a close ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

    A group of Democratic senators have been waiting for two weeks for Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor who has served as vice-chairman of the Bank of Cyprus since 2014, to answer a series of questions about possible links between the bank, Russian officials, and current and former Trump administration and campaign officials. Ross also received a second letter on Friday from Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey with more detailed questions about possible Russia links.

    Donald Trump’s first 100 days as president – daily updates
    Read more
    But in a speech on Monday night, just before the Senate voted to approve Ross’s nomination as secretary of the commerce department, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida said the White House “has chosen to sit on” a written response by Ross to some of those questions even though Ross told the senator he was eager to release his response.

    Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate commerce committee, said in a speech on the Senate floor that other senators were “troubled and frustrated” by the White House move. Nelson said it had been “verbally reiterated” to him by Ross that the commerce department nominee was not aware of any “loans or interactions” between the Bank of Cyprus and the Trump campaign or Trump Organization.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Sorry, that’s an older article, but still interesting.

      • NW Luna says:

        Hard to keep track! It’s all coming at us so fast, with info being picked up again that had been ignored earlier by most media.

  10. bostonboomer says:

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    • purplefinn says:

      lol Love the creativity!

      Thanks for all of the significant news/insights, BB. Hope you have that relaxing time you’re looking forward to.

  11. NW Luna says:

  12. dakinikat says: