Sunday, February 26, 2017


The Chinese government has found an alien laboratory. 

No, seriously, this is real. 

After finding the remains of what the government deemed to be the extraterrestrial science lab, the Chinese government immediately cracked down on the discovery. 

The communist regime wants to keep this recent phenomenon hidden from the world, with good reason. 

The Chinese people have been repressed for almost eighty years by their government and to introduce this latest finding, would cause an uproar domestically for the Chinese government.

What is even more astounding is the fact that the common Chinese citizens had no idea what was truly going on in today's day and age. 

Of course, this notion is also easily understood. 

Again, this goes back to the repressive nature of the communists in control. 

The Chinese people cannot educate themselves on issues that the communists deem to be inappropriate or detrimental to the Chinese state. 

This would include all of the matters that concern the possibility of life beyond our earth.

After all, is said and done, this raises multiple questions for the average outsiders with regards to this news report. 

First and foremost, is this an elaborate attempt to undermine the Chinese government? 

Perhaps, this just a ruse to undermine the officials' intelligence and prank the Chinese government, a jester's protest, of sorts. 

Second, what do the Chinese Communist officials think about this situation? 

Major issues within China are dealt with in a shroud of secrecy from the common citizens of the longest-tenured communist government. 

The third and perhaps the most important question, does extraterrestrial life exist? 

With findings such as this laboratory, it's hard to argue against the concrete truth that intelligent life does not exist and does not have an interest in exploring our earth, just as we have the interest in exploring the outer reaches of the cosmos.


Major Announcement Habitable New Solar System Discovered. 

For decades mankind has pondered what lied beyond our own solar system.

We knew that the universe was larger than what we were able to see at one time through even the best of telescopes. 

Well, as time went on and technology advanced so did the equipment used to span the galaxy, and finally the barrier of our solar system was broke through advanced telescopes and space probes that we found what lied beyond. 

For years now we have heard of the possibility of another planet identical to earth being found outside of our solar system. 

Then a group of scientists in Belgium in 2016 announced that they had discovered three planets outside our own part of the galaxy. 

But a stunning announcement by NASA has now proven that this was just the beginning of what was found.

Turns out not three but seven planets have been found. 

Of these seven NASA has also determined that five of these exoplanets, as they are being called are identical to earth's size and have an atmosphere that can sustain life. 

Yes, it would appear that NASA has discovered what could be classified as yet another solar system outside of our own, with planets that can sustain life as we know it. 

NASA made the announcement of their discovery at a press conference, that took place after much hype was circulating from the space agency about a discovery beyond our solar system. 

At the press conference, an official from NASA explained how their advance Spitzer Telescope first discovered the planets. 

Then using the Hubble telescope to examine the planets more closely the team discovered that five of them were habitable for life.

The planets seem to rotate around a star known as TRAPPIST-1. 

Apparently, this star has a similar gravitational pull and gives off the same heat as our own star that we commonly refer to as the sun. 

Another similarity the closer the planet is to this star the hotter the atmosphere. 

It was determined that the temperatures on these planets seem to range from 0 and 100°C. 

Research scientists are still studying this amazing discovery as somethings are still not answered such as how long does it take each planet to rotate around TRAPPIST-1. 

In the meantime, we are left to ponder what all of this truly means. 

Again, we know that our universe is a huge place with so many mysteries left to be discovered within.

Democrats pick Perez to lead party against Trump

U.S. Democrats elected former Labor Secretary Tom Perez as chairman on Saturday, choosing a veteran of the Obama administration to lead the daunting task of rebuilding the party and heading the opposition to Republican President Donald Trump.

Members of the Democratic National Committee, the administrative and fundraising arm of the party, picked Perez on the second round of voting over U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, a liberal from Minnesota.

Following one of the most crowded and competitive party leadership elections in decades, Perez faces a challenge in unifying and rejuvenating a party still reeling from the Nov. 8 loss of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. 

He immediately made Ellison his deputy.

After losing the presidency and failing to recapture majorities in Congress, party leaders are anxious to channel the growing grassroots resistance to Trump into political support for Democrats at all levels of government across the country.

"We are suffering from a crisis of confidence, a crisis of relevance," Perez, a favorite of former Obama administration officials, told DNC members. 

He promised to lead the fight against Trump and change the DNC's culture to make it a more grassroots operation.

Perez, the son of Dominican immigrants who was considered a potential running mate for Clinton, overcame a strong challenge from Ellison and prevailed on a 235-200 second-round vote. 

Ellison, who is the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, was backed by liberal leader U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The showdown between candidates backed by the establishment and progressive wings of the party echoed the bitter 2016 primary between Clinton and Sanders, a rift Democrats will try to put behind them as they turn their focus to fighting Trump.

Those divisions persisted through the months-long race for chair, as many in the party's liberal wing were suspicious of Perez's ties to the establishment and some Democrats raised questions about possible anti-Semitism in Ellison's past.

Some Ellison supporters chanted "Not big money, party for the people" after the result was announced.

But both Perez and Ellison moved quickly to bring the rival factions together. 

At Perez's urging, the DNC suspended the rules after the vote and appointed Ellison the deputy chairman of the party.

"I am asking you to give everything you've got to support Chairman Perez," Ellison told DNC members after the vote. 

"We don't have the luxury, folks, to walk out of this room divided."


Perez said the party would come together.

"We are one family, and I know we will leave here united today," Perez said. 

"A united Democratic Party is not only our best hope, it is Donald Trump's nightmare."

Trump took a dig at Perez and Democrats in a tweet offering his congratulations on the election.

"I could not be happier for him, or for the Republican Party!" Trump said.

Perez and Ellison wore each other's campaign buttons and stood shoulder-to-shoulder at a news conference after the vote. 

Perez said the two had talked "for some time" about teaming up, and Ellison said they had "good synergy."

"We need to do more to collaborate with our partners in the progressive movement," Perez said, adding he and Ellison would look for ways to "channel this incredible momentum" in the protests against Trump and against Republican efforts to repeal President Barack Obama's healthcare plan.

Sanders issued a statement congratulating Perez and urging changes at the DNC.

"It is imperative that Tom understands that the same-old, same-old is not working," Sanders said. 

"We must open the doors of the party to working people and young people in a way that has never been done before."

The election offered the DNC a fresh start after last year's forced resignation of chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who stepped aside when the release of hacked emails appeared to show DNC officials trying to help Clinton defeat Sanders in the primaries.

Both Perez and Ellison have pledged to focus on a bottom-up reconstruction of the party, which has lost hundreds of statehouse seats under Obama and faces an uphill task in trying to reclaim majorities in Congress in next year's midterm elections.

Perez said he would redefine the role of the DNC to make it work not just to elect Democrats to the White House but in races ranging from local school boards to the U.S. Senate, pledging to "organize, organize, organize."

"I recognize I have a lot of work to do," he said. "I will be out there listening and learning in the weeks ahead."

Perez fell one vote short of the simple majority of 214.5 votes needed for election in the first round of voting, getting 213.5 votes to Ellison's 200. 

Also on the first ballot were four other candidates -- Idaho Democratic Party Executive Director Sally Boynton Brown, election lawyer Peter Peckarsky, and activists Jehmu Greene and Sam Ronan.

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, withdrew just before the voting, while Brown, Greene and Ronan dropped out after the first round.

Wary of Trump unpredictability, China ramps up naval abilities

The PLA Navy is likely to secure significant new funding in China's upcoming defense budget as Beijing seeks to check U.S. dominance of the high seas and step up its own projection of power around the globe.

China's navy has been taking an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and new Chinese warships popping up in far-flung places.

Now, with President Donald Trump promising a U.S. shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.

"It's opportunity in crisis," said a Beijing-based Asian diplomat, of China's recent naval moves. "China fears Trump will turn on them eventually as he's so unpredictable and it's getting ready."

Beijing does not give a breakdown for how much it spends on the navy, and the overall official defense spending figures it gives - 954.35 billion yuan ($139 billion) for 2016 - likely understates its investment, according to diplomats.

China unveils the defense budget for this year at next month's annual meeting of parliament, a closely watched figure around the region and in Washington, for clues to China's intentions.

China surprised last year with its lowest increase in six years, 7.6 percent, the first single-digit rise since 2010, following a nearly unbroken two-decade run of double-digit jumps.

"Certainly, the PLA Navy has really been the beneficiary of a lot of this new spending in the past 15 years," said Richard Bitzinger, Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the Military Transformations Programme at the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

"We don't how much they spend on the navy, but simply extrapolating from the quantity and the quality of things that are coming out of their shipyards, it's pretty amazing."


The Chinese navy, once generally limited to coastal operations, has developed rapidly under President Xi Jinping's ambitious military modernization.

It commissioned 18 ships in 2016, including missile destroyers, corvettes and guided missile frigates, according to state media.

Barely a week goes by without an announcement of some new piece of equipment, including an electronic reconnaissance ship put into service in January.

Still, the PLA Navy significantly lags the United States, which operates 10 aircraft carriers to China's one, the Soviet-era Liaoning.

Xu Guangyu, a retired major general in the People's Liberation Army now senior adviser to the government-run China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, said China was keenly aware of the U.S. ability to project power at sea.

"It's like a marathon and we're falling behind. We need to step on the gas," Xu said.

Trump has vowed to increase the U.S. Navy to 350 ships from the current 290 as part of "one of the "greatest military buildups in American history", a move aides say is needed to counter China's rise as a military power.

"We’ve known this is a 15-20 year project and every year they get closer to being a blue-water navy with global aspirations," said a U.S. administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

"What you have seen this last year and what I think you will see with the new budget is that they are moving ahead with the short-term goal of being the premier naval force in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, with the mid-term goal, of extending all the way to the Indian Ocean."

In January, China appointed new navy chief, Shen Jinlong, to lead that push.

Shen has enjoyed a meteoric rise and is close to Xi, diplomatic and leadership sources say.

"The navy has gotten very lucky with Shen," said a Chinese official close to the military, speaking on condition of anonymity. 

"Now they know for certain their support goes all the way to the top."

Recent PLA Navy missions have included visits to Gulf states, where the United States has traditionally protected sea lanes, and to the South China Sea, Indian Ocean and Western Pacific, in what the state-run website StrongChina called Shen's "first show of force against the United States, Japan and Taiwan".

Last month, a Chinese submarine docked at a port in Malaysia's Sabah state, which lies on the South China Sea, only the second confirmed visit of a Chinese submarine to a foreign port, according to state media.

The submarine had come from supporting anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, where China has been learning valuable lessons about overseas naval operations since 2008.

Chinese warships have also been calling at ports in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, unnerving regional rival India.

"It's power projection," said a Beijing-based Western diplomat, of China's navy.

South Carolina Republican's town hall starts rowdy, ends peaceably

U.S. Senator Tim Scott faced a quandary on Saturday in hosting his town hall: he promised to meet with his South Carolina constituents, but he wanted to avoid the kind of adversarial free-for-all so many Republicans encountered this week.

Scott decided to ban placards from his North Charlestown meeting in hopes of averting the raucousness that erupted at dozens of town halls during the first congressional recess of Donald Trump's month-old presidency.

The senator also required the crowd submit questions in writing ahead of time after other Republican lawmakers faced a wave of anger on issues ranging from Trump's immigration and healthcare policies to the president's ties to Russia.

Despite Scott's precautions, arguments broke out and constituents told one another to shut up, though many in the audience - mostly white and over the age of 50 - said the senator remained respectful and sincere. 

And it never degenerated into an all-out shouting match.

Scott, the only African-American Republican in the U.S. Senate, began his town hall by pulling slips of paper from a box and reading the questions aloud. 

But the overflow audience of 300, evenly divided between Trump opponents and supporters, reacted with loud boos and cheers, even before he could begin to answer.

To a question about a rise in hate crimes, Scott said the trend predates the president's campaign.

"We can blame Trump for a lot of things but I don't think we can blame him for this one," he said, following a pattern of distancing himself from Trump without directly criticizing him.

"Some people have come to the conclusion that this president has already failed," Scott said. "I hope that most of us, whether you voted for him or not, hope that he succeeds."

When asked about Trump's repeated denunciations of the media, Scott said he believed the press was more biased than in the past. Even so, he said, "I do not believe the press is an enemy to the American people," a phrase coined by the president.

Still, the meeting's format started to break down almost from the outset, with the audience shouting asides, while others tried to silence them. 

Scott answered some of the comments, but if he was interrupted, he tried to talk over the offender.


The confrontational tone of this week's town halls is part of a tide of anti-Trump protests, marches and rallies that show little sign of abating just over a month into the new administration.

The anti-Trump energy has prompted talk of a liberal-style Tea Party movement, in reference to the protests in 2009 that helped reshape the Republican Party and arguably laid the groundwork for Trump's surprise electoral victory last year.

  At Scott's town hall, the senator did allow a mother to stand up and tell her story. 

She said one of her two premature children died and the other was 6 years old with medical bills totaling more than $2 million, she said tearfully.

"The Affordable Care Act is imperfect but it is a good law. 

It saved my family," she said to a standing ovation, referring to the health care program known as Obamacare.

"That's a heartbreaking story," Scott said, pointing out that he chose ACA coverage for himself and his staff. Even so, "Obamacare is not sustainable."

The session almost broke down when a man stood up and faced the crowd as audience members were peppering Scott with loud comments. 

"Let the man answer the question," the man said on the senator's behalf. "Sit down and shut up."

Two men who wore red "Make America Great Again" hats clapped loudly. Arguments broke out in the crowd.

Eventually, Scott threatened to walk out.

"I know we prefer to blame Trump for our incivility," he said. "Let me ask, if we want to continue this conversation, that we do so in a way that no one feels threatened."

His admonitions appeared to work. Order was eventually restored, and Scott gave up on picking questions from the box and started calling on audience members if they raised their hands. 

The session ended on a relatively civil note.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Drunken driver injures 28 at New Orleans Mardi Gras parade

A pickup truck driven by a man who appeared to be "highly intoxicated" plowed into a crowd of spectators watching the main Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans on Saturday, sending more than 20 people to the hospital, police said.

The truck, traveling along the side of the street open to traffic along the Mid-City parade route, struck three other vehicles, including a dump truck, before veering onto the median where a crowd of people stood watching the procession, according to New Orleans police.

Five people were being treated at hospital trauma centers, and an investigation is ongoing, police said.

Police immediately apprehended the pickup driver, who according to eyewitnesses interviewed by Fox television affiliate WVEU-TV appeared disheveled, glassy-eyed and under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu in a statement referred to the suspect as a "drunk driver."

Video footage from the scene showed pandemonium immediately following the early evening incident, but the Krewe of Endymion parade, the largest and most popular of numerous Mardi Gras season parades in New Orleans, continued with little or no interruption.

A total of 28 people were injured, 21 of whom were taken to local hospitals, including one police officer. 

Seven others who were hurt declined transport, Police Chief Michael Harrison told a news conference.

Local media reports said 12 people were initially listed as critically injured.

Harrison said police believed the motorist who was arrested was "highly intoxicated" and was being questioned at the police department's drunken-driving office.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation in New Orleans said its agents were "coordinating with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to determine whether a federal violation has occurred."

The Endymion parade incident was not the only one to mar Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans on Saturday. 

Earlier in the day, someone's gun went off accidentally in a portable toilet along the route of another, smaller parade, leaving one person wounded, police said.

Buffett upbeat on American business; Berkshire operating profit down

Warren Buffett on Saturday mounted a forceful and upbeat defense of the prospects for American business, as his Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) reported a higher quarterly profit though operating income fell.

In his annual letter to Berkshire shareholders, Buffett said investors "will almost certainly do well" by staying with the long term with a "collection of large, conservatively financed American businesses."

Buffett puts Berkshire in that category, using the letter to tout the successes of many of his Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate's more than 90 operating units.

These included businesses such as the BNSF railroad and Geico auto insurance that posted weaker results last quarter.

"American business -- and consequently a basket of stocks -- is virtually certain to be worth far more in the years ahead," Buffett wrote. 

"Ever-present naysayers may prosper by marketing their gloomy forecasts. But heaven help them if they act on the nonsense they peddle."

For the fourth quarter, Berkshire's net income rose to $6.29 billion, or $3,823 per Class A share, from $5.48 billion, or $3,333 per share, a year earlier, helped by a $1.1 billion increase in gains from investments and derivatives.

Operating profit fell 6 percent to $4.38 billion, or $2,665 per share, from $4.67 billion, or $2,843 per share.

Analysts on average had forecast operating profit of $2,716.60 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Book value per Class A share, reflecting assets minus liabilities and which Buffett calls a good measure of Berkshire's intrinsic worth, rose 11 percent to $172,108.

For all of 2016, profit was virtually unchanged, dropping to $24.07 billion from $24.08 billion.

Operating profit rose just 1 percent to $17.58 billion, despite January's $32.1 billion purchase of aircraft parts maker Precision Castparts Corp, Berkshire's largest acquisition.

The company also owns dozens of stocks including Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Coca-Cola Co (KO.N), Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) and the four biggest U.S. airlines, and more than one-fourth of Kraft Heinz Co (KHC.O).

Buffett said Berkshire still has about $86 billion of cash and equivalents, despite recent heavy spending on Apple and airline stocks.


Quarterly profit from insurance operations rose 7 percent to $1.44 billion, as underwriting gains at the Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group more than offset a loss at auto insurer Geico, where claims for losses have been rising.

The reinsurance business is run by Ajit Jain, widely considered a potential successor for Buffett, 86, as Berkshire's chief executive. 

Buffett said Jain has created "tens of billions of dollars of value" since joining Berkshire in 1986.

"If there were ever to be another Ajit and you could swap me for him, don't hesitate," Buffett wrote. "Make the trade!"

The insurance units ended 2016 with $91.6 billion of float, the amount of premiums held before claims are paid, and which Buffett uses to fund acquisitions and other investments.

That sum now tops $100 billion, likely reflecting a giant transaction last month with the insurer American International Group Inc (AIG.N).

Profit at BNSF, Berkshire's largest purchase before Precision Castparts, fell 8 percent to $993 million.

The railroad has been stung by falling coal and industrial volumes, and shed 2,000 jobs, or 4.5 percent, last year.

But Buffett said society "will forever need huge investments" in transportation, and BNSF is well-served by a strong balance sheet, recent capital upgrades, and a growing emphasis on clean technology.

"Charlie and I love our railroad, which was one of our best purchases," Buffett said, referring to longtime Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy, another major business, posted a 2 percent increase in profit, to $432 million.

In Friday trading, Berkshire's Class A shares closed at $255,040, and its Class B shares closed at $170.22. Both were record closing highs.

The shares outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index including dividends by 11.4 percentage points in 2016, after lagging by 13.9 percentage points in 2015.