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Can Trump defund Planned Parenthood through executive action?

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Despite continuous promises to the pro-life cause, Republican budgets still fund Planned Parenthood to the tune of over $500 million each year. Efforts to decertify the nation’s largest abortion-mill chain ran into stiff opposition during the ObamaCare repeal effort from Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, and Democrats torpedoed an attempt to include it in the budget agreement. The legislative path seems all but dead unless Republicans can win enough Senate seats to overcome a filibuster as well as hold onto the House in November — an outcome with odds on the order of having the Cleveland Browns win the next Super Bowl.

But does another path exist without congressional approval? The Hill says … maaaaybeeeeDonald Trump may take a page out of Ronald Reagan’s playbook:

Opponents of abortion have launched an all-out campaign urging the administration to bring back Reagan-era abortion restrictions on federal family planning dollars that would target Planned Parenthood.

The regulations would ban organizations that receive family planning dollars under the Title X Family Planning Program, which funds organizations providing services like birth control to low-income women and men, from promoting abortion or referring patients for abortions.

Former President Reagan first issued the regulations, which Democrats describe as a “domestic gag rule,” in 1988. They also require a physical and financial separation of Title X funding recipients from abortion providers.

The Supreme Court upheld Reagan’s action in Rust v Sullivan in 1991, but by that time it was moot. Reagan’s term had ended, and subsequent administrations have either not wanted to press the issue (the Bushes) or were openly hostile to the policy (Clinton and Obama). With legislative options exhausted — at least for now — pro-life activists are now pressing Trump to use his executive authority to shut down the funding stream to Planned Parenthood.

One argument in favor of this is sheer electoral politics:

Republicans see the action as a way to motivate the GOP base ahead of the midterm elections, where the party’s majorities in the House and Senate are in play.

“The life issue is a huge motivator for the right. Getting a win on the pro-life side, even if it’s regulatory rather than legislative, would be huge, and encourage people to come out and vote for the members who pushed for action on this,” said Kelly Marcum, a legislative assistant for the conservative Family Research Council, which has been pushing for the changes.

I’m in favor of the policy, but am skeptical of this argument for it. Using executive power to resolve this issue actually removes it from concern for at least the next couple of years. It might make for an effective strategy for 2020 — If you don’t vote for Trump, you’re voting to give Planned Parenthood $500 million a year! — but an EO or regulatory change puts this completely outside the context of legislative elections. It might work better as it is now to hammer Democrats for continuing to fund abortion mills with taxpayer dollars.

If Trump decides to go forward with this strategy, it’ll be a long time before the dollars get cut off. The Supreme Court may have finally blessed Reagan’s action in 1991, but that won’t keep Planned Parenthood and its defenders from filing lawsuits in multiple jurisdictions to force it back into the courts. It might be three or more years again before courts stop imposing temporary injunctions on the Trump administration to suspend any new “gag rule.”

That doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile choice, but it does demonstrate that it’s still best to work though the legislature where possible to enact changes in policy. Failing that, though, it may be the only option to deal with the issue. As Yuval Levin and Ben Domenech wrote three years ago, Planned Parenthood and its supporters engage in a bit of a bait-and-switch when it comes to that funding:

“The instinct to respond to the tapes by forcing a shutdown over the federal funds that Planned Parenthood clinics can get through Title X and Medicaid is understandable and appropriate. Title X is not supposed to make funds available to abortion providers, but Planned Parenthood gets around the legal prohibition by formally separating its abortion clinics and its other family planning services, even when those are located in the same facility and essentially funded jointly. When states have tried to limit Planned Parenthood’s access to Medicaid funds, meanwhile, the Obama administration has told them they can’t, even though federal law prohibits federal Medicaid dollars from funding abortion. In both cases, federal dollars are being spent in ways that contravene the intent and spirit of the legal prohibitions on federal funding of abortion provision, and the biggest beneficiary by far is Planned Parenthood (which has been for many years, for instance, the largest single recipient of Title X money).”

The point is that by drawing an artificial line between its abortion practices and its abortion promoting practices, Planned Parenthood has been circumventing the intent of the legal funding prohibitions for decades in order to access Title X funds. They have an arm funded by the taxpayers which is in the business of promoting abortion, and then another arm that profits from those abortions (in ways, we are finding, that are much more macabre than we assumed). But the Supreme Court has already vindicated Ronald Reagan’s rule on the matter, meaning that the next president could lawfully adopt the same approach to determining how these funds are distributed and in one act dramatically undercut Planned Parenthood.

In other words, it might be worth trying just for all the clarity such an action would provide.

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Previously Deported Illegal Alien Charged with Brutal Murder of Shakopee, MN Woman

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Minnesota officials charged Fraider Diaz-Carbajal from Mexico with the brutal murder of his former girlfriend in Shakopee, Minnesota earlier this month.

Fraider Diaz-Carbajal had been previously deported but told the court he has lived in the are for 18 years.
Fraider does not speak English and needed a translator.

He stabbed his former girlfriend several times before cutting his own neck.

SW News Media reported:

A 27-year-old woman who was killed in Shakopee on Aug. 12 has been identified as Enedelia Perez Garcia, 27, and today prosecutors charged Fraider Diaz-Carbajal, 35, 1279 Taylor St. Unit 6, with second-degree murder (not premeditated) in her death. Police say he was in the country illegally after being deported in 2014.

At about 4:02 p.m. on Aug. 12, Shakopee police were dispatched to a fight call involving a knife at 1279 Taylor St., No. 6., and while on the way to the Taylor Ridge Towhomes, they were told a male had a knife and a female was possibly dead.

According to the charging documents, officers found a bloody scene in the upstairs bedroom: Diaz-Carbajal was lying with his head resting on the stomach and chest of a woman who was sitting on the floor with her back against the wall and did not appear to be breathing. Diaz-Carbajal’s throat was cut with a 6 to 8-inch-long laceration and there were several stab wounds in his abdomen. He was “taking occasional breaths and moving” and a large, bloody knife was at his left side.

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Can AI produce fine art?

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We don’t normally cover the fine art beat here for obvious reasons, but there was a sale of a painting to a French collector in February which drew some attention. Another work by the same artist is going on sale at Christie’s presently. They works are going for some impressive amounts of money, but that’s not what makes the story interesting. The artist is an Artificial Intelligence program from a company named Obvious. (Time)

Hanging inside a gold frame on a pristine white wall in Christie’s Central London Gallery is a dark, moody portrait of a man in Puritan-style black clothes—the work, it seems, of some Old Master. But scrawled in the bottom right corner, there’s an unexpected signature: a mathematical equation.

This is Edmond de Belamy by French art collective Obvious—or, more accurately, by an algorithm designed by Obvious.

“The whole process is about humans having as little input as possible in the finished piece,” says Gauthier Vernier, one of three 25 year-old French men who started Obvious in April 2017 out of their apartment in Paris. Since then, by teaching a computer about art history and showing it how to make its own work, Obvious have produced 11 artworks with the help of artificial intelligence.

I’m not going to go into great detail about the technical particulars behind this since you can read them all at the article and at the Obvious Art website if you wish. The short version is that they developed an algorithm that scanned a vast number of paintings taken from classical art. It uses something called Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) which randomly generate images meeting certain criteria (a face has two eyes, one nose, one mouth, etc.) and the program “tests” each image itself to see if it can tell whether it’s original art or a computer generation. The results do indeed resemble portraits.

Here’s the real question: Is this art? Allow me to offer the definitive answers (plural) because it works both ways.

First… Yes. This is art.

But that answer comes with a caveat. Anything can be art because art is in the eye of the beholder. You can walk down the beach, find a particularly interesting looking piece of driftwood, take it home, clean it up and mount it on a wooden base. If you find it attractive, if it brings you pleasure, if your friends come over and compliment you on it… it’s art. And that’s only good art I’m talking about. Some of the crap put out by human beings as “modern art” is total garbage. If a crucifix in a jar of urine or three basketballs shoved into a broken fish tank (I actually saw that one in a gallery in New York City some years ago) qualify as art, then anything this robot spits out can certainly bear the name.

Second… No. This is definitely not art.

What they are presenting is a painting. But it didn’t come from an original thought or moment of inspiration in a mind, human or otherwise. They fed a bunch of examples into a program and had it randomly place zeros and ones corresponding to random colors until it generated something which matched certain test criteria that the programmers defined as being “art.” There was no feeling, no intent nor even any knowledge in the “mind” of the program of what it was doing. It was solving a math problem by randomly guessing combinations until it arrived at some solutions which met those design criteria.

It also wasn’t “painted” in any way that requires effort, training or involves risk of messing up a brush stroke. I had to search for a while to find out how the actual, physical paintings are created, but the AI only generates an image file. It’s then fed into a fancy laserjet printer which is set up to print on canvas instead of paper. Then a human being took it out and mounted it in a frame. An artist could never reproduce one of their painting precisely by hand. There would always be at least minute differences. Obvious could crank out the same portrait a thousand times and they would all be the same.

This isn’t even artificial intelligence as near as I can see. And it’s certainly not fine art. You could switch out the canvas for paper and it would be making interesting posters. If some rich collector wants to go to Christie’s and lay out tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for one of these creations, that’s up to them. But save up your money, because Obvious can produce thousands more for you in no time at all.

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President Trump Responds to Manafort Conviction “Nothing to do With Russian Collusion” (VIDEO)

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“NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIAN COLLUSION” – President Trump

President Trump responded Tuesday afternoon after a jury found his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty on 8 felony counts.

The President spoke to the press shortly after he landed in Charleston, West Virginia as he headed to his rally.

“It doesn’t involve me but I still feel really sad…you know it’s a very sad thing that happened. This has nothing to do with Russian collusion. This started as Russian collusion…this has absolutely nothing to do…this is a witch hunt and it’s a disgrace,” Trump said.

President Trump also said that he feels very bad for Paul Manafort. “He worked for Bob Dole, he worked for Ronald Reagan…” Trump continued.

The President didn’t answer any questions about his former lawyer Michael Cohen who just pleaded guilty to 8 counts; his plea deal includes 3-5 years jail time.

VIDEO:


After four days of deliberations, the jury reached a verdict on 8 counts and could not make a decision on 10 counts in the tax evasion and bank fraud case against Paul Manafort.

Judge Ellis declared a mistrial on 10 counts. The jury found Manafort guilty on 8 counts.

Both Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort were hunted down by Mueller and his thugs because of their association with Donald Trump.

We currently have a two-tiered justice system because AG Sessions is AWOL.

One set of laws for Trump and his supporters and another set of laws for Democrats and Clinton-Deep State cronies.

H/T: Zero Hedge

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