File under "You Can't Make This Stuff Up." Somehow, it actually seems like a farcical April Fools…
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April Fools' Day Four Days Late? Google Objects to OpenAI Using YouTube to Train Its Own Generator

File under "You Can't Make This Stuff Up."

Somehow, it actually seems like a farcical April Fools' Day headline, in fact.  Google, with its deep history of scraping and scanning other sources' substantive content for its own uses, now objects to OpenAI using YouTube content to train its text-to-video generator:

The use of YouTube videos to train OpenAI’s text-to-video generator would be an infraction of the platform's terms of service, YouTube Chief Executive Officer Neal Mohan said."

Optimists might hope that Google is finally recognizing and preparing to correct its wayward course, while realists and cynics will roll their eyes at what they'll label naivete.  As the old adage goes, however, "every saint has a past, every sinner has a future," so we'll maintain hope.…[more]

April 05, 2024 • 05:09 PM

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ObamaCare’s Fault: IRS Overworked, Understaffed Going into Tax Season Print
By Ashton Ellis
Thursday, March 26 2015
The target of the IRS Commissioner's ire is misplaced.

If the Obama administration thought that canceling millions of individual insurance plans ahead of ObamaCare’s first enrollment period threatened to kill the controversial health law, wait until taxpayers get to experience paying penalties to a dysfunctional IRS.

By now, most Americans are aware that ObamaCare tasks the Internal Revenue Service with collecting the individual mandate tax from people who did not have health insurance during 2014. This year, that means people in violation pay the greater of $95 or 1 percent of their personal income. The amounts rise quickly every year.

A lesser known feature of ObamaCare requires the IRS to “clawback” portions of the federal insurance a person or family receives, if the amount exceeds the law’s eligibility cut-off. For example, if the head of a household gets a raise or changes jobs for more money, the family will have to reimburse the federal government to offset the increased income. Anticipated tax refunds could instead become thousands of dollars in penalties to be paid.

Add to these unfriendly encounters the pleas from tax preparation companies and individual filers for guidance about the changes. Final rules governing reporting requirements weren’t issued until March of 2014 – four years after ObamaCare was signed into law. But the rules don’t matter as much as the interpretation the IRS gives them, making access to agency call centers crucial in order to avoid making costly mistakes. 

But the IRS is in a staffing crunch. Since 2010, the IRS budget has lost $1 billion in non-inflation-adjusted dollars. This caused a reduction in staff totaling more than 11,000 full-time staff over the same period. Tax filers are feeling the effects.

As of February 21, “just 40 percent of taxpayers who called the IRS reached a representative, and those who got through waited an average 26 minutes on hold – the worst level of service since the agency adopted its current performance measures in 2001,” reports the Chicago Tribune. According to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, the wait time should be less than five minutes.

Koskinen blames Congress. “I remain deeply concerned that the significant reductions in the IRS budget will degrade the agency’s ability to continue to deliver on its mission during filing season and beyond,” he told a U.S. Senate committee.

The target of the IRS Commissioner’s ire is misplaced. The culprits aren't all the current members of Congress.  They are the drafters and supporters of ObamaCare – some of whom still hold seats in the House and Senate – that created a raft of oversight responsibilities, assigned them to the IRS and then refused to pay for them. 

Lest we forget, in the six years Harry Reid (D-NV) ran the Senate, Congress never passed a normal budget. Because Reid wanted to protect his Democratic colleagues from taking politically unpopular votes to pay for President Barack Obama’s liberal agenda, Congress repeatedly passed continuing resolutions to fund the federal government at its previous level. While the deficit grew, Democrats could claim they never voted for a tax increase, all the while violating their pledge to “pay-as-you-go” when they raised spending.

Essentially the same tactic was used with ObamaCare. One of the lies to pass the bill claimed that creating a massive new entitlement would somehow be deficit neutral. Part of the trick was to leave implementation funding for future Congresses to deal with, while liberals claimed credit for covering millions of uninsured people. When Republicans retook the House of Representatives in 2010, the game was over and the IRS was left without enough money to comply with its mandate.

At the very least, the IRS now can empathize with the plight of millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet under a law that’s been anything but affordable. 

Notable Quote   
"Battleground state swing voters overwhelmingly believe stopping President Biden's border invasion is more important than bankrolling Ukraine's forever war with Russia, a newly released poll found.Conducted for the Heritage Foundation by RMG Research Inc., the survey of 1,000 likely swing-state voters found strong support for stopping the invasion at the U.S. southern border and little appetite for…[more]
— Shawn Fleetwood, The Federalist
Liberty Poll   

Given dramatically escalating premiums for homeowner and vehicle insurance, do you believe that your state insurance officials are conscientiously regulating those inescapable costs?