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Archive for June, 2013

SCOTUS to Examine Obama “Recess Appointments”

This was inevitable with the collision course the Harry Reid- run Senate and the past two White Houses were on.  Of course, only the Obama Administration was foolish enough to test the Senate’s “pro forma” sessions policy. 

At stake is the Senate’s ability to set its own calendar and the definition of what is a recess appointment.  The Obama Administration, openly believes that if the Senate isn’t in session (pro forma or not), it can appoint whomever they wish during the time-off; even if that time off is only a three-day weekend.

President Obama’s recess appointments to a federal agency– made without Senate confirmation– will be reviewed by the Supreme Court, the court announced Monday. It will mark a major constitutional test of executive power.

At issue is whether three people named to the National Labor Relations Board lack authority because the presidential appointments were made while the Senate was technically in a “pro forma” session during the 2011-12 winter holiday break.

The case sets up a high-stakes Supreme Court fight between the other two branches of government. Oral arguments will be held in public session later this year or early next.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the past have used the “virtual Congress” tactic to block unilateral appointments by the president when the Senate is away.

A federal appeals court in January determined the NLRB “could not lawfully act, as it did not have a quorum.”

Republicans had claimed the appointments to the board created a panel that was overly pro-union, and an eventual high court ruling could invalidate hundreds of findings issued over the past two years.

What the justices decide could also put in jeopardy the recess appointment of Richard Cordray, who heads the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a move also being challenged in a separate lawsuit.

The D.C. Circuit Court earlier ruled that the President has no legal standing in making these recess appointments, since in theory (and under Senate rules), the Senate is in session — even when it is for three minutes of “pro forma” time.

The irony of course in all this, is that Senator Barack Obama was all for this practice while George W. Bush was president.

No word yet if Justice Kagan; who was still in the White House legal office when these appointments were made, will recuse herself or not when hearing the case.

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Last Telegram to be Sent Next Month

And like the Pony Express before it, so goes the very device which sent it the way of the dinosaur.

Goodbye, Mr. Morse’s invention.  You’ve served us well.

The telegram will officially be put to rest this summer, when the last large-scale telegraph system in the world will stop service.

India’s state-run telecommunications company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is shutting down its telegraph service on July 14,the Christian Science Monitor reports. The company says it is making the decision because that part of its business is not commercially viable.

Shamim Akhtar, BSNL’s general manager of telegraph services, told the Monitor the company was losing $23 million a year because of the rising popularity of text messages and smartphones.

BSNL still sends about 5,000 telegrams a day — about 1.8 million per year. At its peak in 1985, the company sent about 60 million telegrams per year.

In the United States, Western Union shut down its telegraph service in 2006. At the time, the company reported that only about 20,000 telegrams were sent in the previous year.

“What hath God wrought?”

Better technology, but it is still impressive that the telegram lasted for nearly 170 years.  That has got to be some sort of record in the world of telecommunications.

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Does Chelsea Clinton Wish Her Grandmother Was Never Born?

Oh the things those crazy liberals must say to be as one with the abortion on demand crowd.

Okay, this is just mind-boggling stupid for anyone, let alone a Stanford alum (the Harvard of the West…) to say given the logic behind it.

From the stage at the recent Women Deliver conference, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea revealed that her much-admired maternal grandmother was the child of unwed teenage parents who “did not have access to services that are so crucial that Planned Parenthood helps provide.”

Chelsea’s grandmother was born of an unintended pregnancy. And new research shows that her family is not alone in treasuring a person who – if Planned Parenthood had been successful – would not have been born.

For those who don’t know the timeline, Dorothy Howell Rodham, the sagely grandmother of Chelsea who passed away in 2011 at the age of 92, was born in 1919 when her mother — Della Murray Howell — was only 17.  Her great-grandfather at the time was 22 and a Chicago-area firefighter.

Planned Parenthood, then called “The American Birth Control League,” wasn’t founded by known (and proud) eugenics advocate Margaret Sanger until 1921.  Sanger’s first clinic was founded in Brooklyn in 1916.  She later opened one in Harlem where most of the staff and the patients were African Americans.

Sanger is well-known for advocating birth control and contraception for the purpose to “assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit.”  So…does Chelsea want to go on record as saying that her own beloved grandmother was “unfit” to live, or does that apply to someone else?  And if so, who and how?

Ironically, Margaret Sanger herself was against abortion, you can actually find writings by her on the subject.  Her work was mostly focused on birth control / sterilization efforts until her death.  It was only after she passed that Planned Parenthood shifted its majority focus towards one of abortion and pregnancy termination.

On one level, I get what Chelsea is saying, that we need to avoid teenage pregnancies as best we can.  But that includes a holistic approach to sex education that isn’t just either all about condoms or all about abstinence, but offers a realistic economic cost to what having a child at 16 or 17 is going to do for your future.  Unfortunately, too many hardliners on the Left don’t wish to have that conversation, hiding behind rhetoric of “it’s racist and judgmental to say so,” “kids are going to have sex anyway” or “so what if they become permanent fixtures of the welfare state?”

On the other hand, the former first daughter, really needs to work on her level of context at her speaking engagements.  You’d think the failed experiment which was NBC News using her as a “Special Correspondent” would have taught her that words mean something, depending on how they’re said — hell, her father’s entire presidency should have, don’t you think?

(By the way, it isn’t lost on me how as a pro-life Catholic how much more I know about the history of the pro-choice movement than most people who proclaim themselves as “Pro-Choice.”  Guess I have to blame Sun Tzu for that; you know, the whole “Know thy enemy’ thing and all.)

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Robert Downey Jr. is Still “Iron Man”

At least for the next two “Avengers” films.

After months of speculation as to what Disney would be willing to pay him (the popular rumor is he wants $70M for “Avengers 2” after getting $50M for “Iron Man 3”) and whether he could leverage that into more money for the rest of the “Avengers” cast, Robert Downey Jr. has agreed to be everyone’s favorite “billionaire, genius, playboy philanthropist” once again.

Under the two-picture agreement, Downey will star as Tony Stark/Iron Man in “Marvel’s The Avengers 2” and “Marvel’s The Avengers 3.” Downey is represented at CAA by Bryan Lourd, Jim Toth and Matt Leaf and by his attorneys Tom Hansen and Stewart Brookman of the firm Hansen Jacobson.

Downey, Jr.’s last two Marvel films, 2012’s “Marvel’s The Avengers” and this year’s “Iron Man 3,” rank as two of the top five grossing films of all time, collectively earning over $2.7 billion worldwide to date.

“Marvel’s The Avengers 2” is being written and directed by Joss Whedon. Featuring favorites from the first Avengers film and new Marvel characters never before seen on the big screen, “Marvel’s The Avengers 2” is slated to begin production in March 2014 and open in theaters May 1, 2015.

This announcement also ends speculation what Marvel’s final film in “Phase 3” was going to be.  Now, without a shadow of a doubt, it shall be “Avengers 3.”

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How Google Hires

Anyone who knows me, knows I have little love for people in Human Resources.   I get that they do a great service for a number of companies when dealing with various employee punishments and benefits packages, but when it comes to finding the right candidates for hiring — they’re using out of date models and practices, or have little idea what is needed to fill the positions they are supposed to.

(True story:  One job I landed I only got my first interview for after the actual person who was going to be my boss stormed into HR and demanded to look at all the resumes they had turned away.  He told me later on their HR department had no idea what perimeters and experiences he was looking for in an employee.  All they had, was their scoring models.)

Google’s VP of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, appears to agree with me that there is a better way:

“Years ago, we did a study to determine whether anyone at Google is particularly good at hiring,” Bock says. “We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how that person ultimately performed in their job. We found zero relationship.”

Google found out that HR’s habit of hanging onto things like GPA and test scores doesn’t translate to success at work.

“Academic environments are artificial environments. People who succeed there are sort of finely trained, they’re conditioned to succeed in that environment,” he says.

While in school, people are trained to give specific answers, “it’s much more interesting to solve problems where there isn’t an obvious answer,” Bock says. “You want people who like figuring out stuff where there is no obvious answer.”

What does Google now do?  A lot of what are called “Behavioral interviews,” where the applicant is asked a lot of questions to explain what they did in situation “X” or under stress “Y.”  They tend to replicate more true-to-life scenarios the applicant will be under when they are actually employed by the company.

It’s part of a move to make “Big Data” the cutting edge in hiring and recruiting. Eventually, such a move might even make the resume obsolete.

They are relics of the dark ages of recruiting, where big recruiting firms had the only real databases of potential hires, according to Peter Kazanjy, the CEO of TalentBin, a startup which scours the web for potential technology hires.

“There are a couple of problems with résumés that make them not great,” Kazanjy argues. “One, how the hell do you get access to them? And two, they’re not necessarily as data rich as you might expect.”

Since most people, especially the most in-demand, aren’t actively searching, a big hunk of the recruiting process happens before the résumé enters the equation.

“Résumés are actually curious constructs now, because for the most part, work and our work product is fundamentally digital,” Kazanjy says. “Sometimes you don’t even need [résumés]. The reality of what somebody is and what they do … is already resident on their hard drive or their Evernote or their box.net account or their Dropbox cloud.”

Welcome to the World of 21st Century hiring.

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