Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Well, she asked for it, didn't she?

Last week I suggested that Houston pastors should deliver their sermons directly (and verbally and on television) to the Mayor and City Council of Houston, in response to the Mayor's demand (and subpoena) that they hand them over (in clear violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution).

Mike Huckabee went one better.  He suggested that pastors all across America send their sermons to the Mayor (because "obviously she could use a few"), and asked the viewers of his TV program to send her Bibles as well.  The call's been taken up by others, with interesting results.

Fresh off the stunning attack on religious liberty down in Houston ... there is now an effort underway by pastors across America to VOLUNTARILY send Bibles and their sermons to the mayor of Houston.

Mike Huckabee called for it and so has influential Christian author Eric Metaxas. Metaxas tells The Brody File, "Never in our history has religious freedom been so brazenly defied. A bold red line has been crossed. The Houston mayor's inexcusable demand to see the sermons of pastors is an outrageous and shocking affront to all Americans and to liberty itself. If the American church does not rise up and stand against this, there is no American church."

. . .

Sources [say] that pastors from Canada, Australia and Germany are also sending the Houston mayor Bibles and sermons. There are also big events planned around what happened in Houston. On November 2nd, The Family Research council is hosting a huge simulcast event in Houston at a big church.

There's more at the link.

This looks set fair to become an energizing get-out-the-vote issue all across the nation for Americans with strong religious beliefs . . . doubtless to the dismay of those not holding such beliefs.  I suspect the latter are presently cursing Houston's Mayor for daring to touch the subject at all.

Here's some reading that Mayor Annise Parker might find useful.

(And yes, even though I'm a retired pastor rather than in active ministry, I'll be sending a printout of a few sermons and a Bible to Her [dis]Honor!  I invite all clergy among my readers to do the same.  Let's enjoy the schadenfreude while we may . . . )


Are battery-powered chainsaws worth the money?

I've written here and there about chainsaws, and found them useful during the cleanup after hurricanes in Louisiana, where I lived for more than a decade.  However, these have all been gas-fueled models, big, powerful - and noisy.  Regular "homeowner" models have never been able to handle entire fallen tree trunks, either.  They've coped with smaller trees and de-limbing larger ones, but the big stuff has always had to await the arrival of professionals with really big, powerful saws to get through the trunks and thick branches.

I've had a query from one of my correspondents asking about the utility of smaller, lighter battery-powered chainsaws.  She's partly disabled, like me, and I came into contact with her through my efforts to teach disabled people how to shoot in order to defend themselves if necessary.  She says she can't handle a big, heavy chainsaw, but that the smaller, lighter battery-powered models are manageable.  However, she doesn't know if they're worth buying to cut firewood or clean up smaller limbs after a storm.

I did a bit of research, and found this Popular Mechanics article comparing half a dozen models.  It speaks highly of the Stihl MSA 160 C-BQ, as does Gizmodo's review.  The Stihl's an expensive choice, particularly if you get an extra battery or two, but I guess that's what you pay for that level of performance (at least at present).  There's also the MSA 200 C-BQ model, with a standard 14" bar, which is listed by Stihl under "Farm and Ranch Saws" rather than "Homeowner Saws" like the 160.  The latter is listed as taking a 10"-14" bar, but appears to be usually sold with a 12" option, so the 200 is probably designed for slightly tougher, harder jobs.  Here's a composite picture of both models, taken from Stihl's Web site.

I'd like to ask whether any of my readers have tried an electric chainsaw, particularly one of the Stihl models mentioned above.  If so, how well did it perform?  Was it worth the money?  In particular, was it easier to use than a heavier, more unwieldy gas-fueled chainsaw?  Do you think a partly disabled person, with limited physical strength and mobility, would be able to use it more easily than a standard model?  For emergency use (e.g. post-storm cleanup), if the power's out, I'm thinking that a generator could recharge a battery-powered saw with no trouble at all (their lithium-ion batteries recharge in an hour or so), and probably use less gas overall than a gas-powered chainsaw would need (since the generator would be powering other things at the same time).  That might make a saw like that, with a spare battery, a very serviceable option, but only if it does the job it's supposed to do.

Please let us know your thoughts in Comments.  Thanks.


"Magnet ass" - electrical version

I think the term "magnet ass" dates back to World War II, when airmen whose planes were frequently hit or shot down by the enemy were labeled as such (here's one example).  There's a modern variation on the theme, too.

Wirecutter put up a blog post about someone who was hit by lightning three times - and after his death, his gravestone was hit by lightning as well.  He might be considered a "magnet ass" for lightning, I suppose.  However, that pales into insignificance behind the man who was struck no less than seven times - and possibly an eighth, but because he couldn't prove beyond doubt that it happened, he didn't claim it.  Wikipedia reports:

Roy Cleveland Sullivan (February 7, 1912 – September 28, 1983) was a United States park ranger in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Between 1942 and 1977, Sullivan was hit by lightning on seven different occasions and survived all of them. For this reason, he gained a nickname "Human Lightning Conductor" or "Human Lightning Rod". Sullivan is recognized by Guinness World Records as the person struck by lightning more recorded times than any other human being.

. . .

He was avoided by people later in life because of their fear of being hit by lightning, and this saddened him. He once recalled "For instance, I was walking with the Chief Ranger one day when lightning struck way off (in the distance). The Chief said, 'I'll see you later'."

. . .

All seven strikes were documented by the superintendent of Shenandoah National Park, R. Taylor Hoskins, and were verified by doctors. Sullivan himself recalled that the first time he was struck by lightning was not in 1942 but much earlier. When he was a child, he was helping his father to cut wheat in a field, when a thunderbolt struck the blade of his scythe without injuring him. But because he could not prove the fact later, he never claimed it.

Sullivan's wife was also struck once, when a storm suddenly arrived as she was out hanging clothes in their back yard. Her husband was helping her at the time, but escaped unharmed.

There's more at the link, including details of the seven strikes Sullivan survived.

Y'know, by about the third or fourth strike I'd have considered changing locations - or my religion!


Sad news for sax lovers

Raphael Ravenscroft, the well-known saxophone player and session musician, has died.  He recorded for many of the top groups and performers in the world, including Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye, Mike Oldfield, Robert Plant and Bonnie Tyler, but is probably best known for his alto sax riff in Gerry Rafferty's 1978 song 'Baker Street', which became a hit around the world.

There's a persistent 'urban legend' that Rafferty originally intended the riff to be sung or played on guitar (as it was towards the end of the song).  Ravenscroft was apparently in the studio to record another piece, and is said to have suggested he play the riff on alto saxophone.  Whatever the truth, the result became music history and led to a surge in the popularity, use and sales of the saxophone (as well as vaulting Ravenscroft himself to prominence).


Monday, October 20, 2014

This simply HAS to have been deliberate!

I'm still chortling over this BBC report.

Scientists believe they have discovered the origin of copulation.

An international team of researchers says a fish ... is the first-known animal to stop reproducing by spawning and instead mate by having sex.

The primitive bony fish, which was about 8cm long, lived in ancient lakes about 385 million years ago in what is now Scotland.

Lead author Prof John Long, from Flinders University in Australia, said: "We have defined the very point in evolution where the origin of internal fertilisation in all animals began.

"That is a really big step."

Prof Long added that the discovery was made as he was looking through a box of ancient fish fossils.

He noticed that one of the ... specimens had an odd L-shaped appendage. Further investigation revealed that this was the male fish's genitals.

. . .

Constrained by their anatomy, the fish probably had to mate side by side.

"They couldn't have done it in a 'missionary position'," said Prof Long. "The very first act of copulation was done sideways, square-dance style."

There's more at the link.

That's all well and good;  but then one reads the scientific name of the fish concerned.  It's . . . wait for it . . . Microbrachius dicki.

Dicki?  For the first copulating fish?  Yeah, go on;  tell me that name's just coincidental . . .


Mental health, guns, and violence

A headline in the Toledo Blade read 'Mental Issues Put 34,500 on New York No-Guns List'.  That's apparently the (current) number of people deemed too 'disturbed', mentally speaking, to be trusted to own or have access to a firearm in New York state.

An e-mail today put that in perspective:

"...what's to stop any of them from getting an axe, a car, or a dollar's worth of gasoline?"

My correspondent had a point. It's as if the powers that be breathe a sigh of relief when they stop a 'disturbed' person from (legally) obtaining a firearm. They ignore the reality that getting one's hands on a gun illegally isn't particularly difficult (like this convicted felon did, for example); or, if one doesn't want to go to that trouble, there are any number of other potentially lethal instruments and methods open to abuse.  Follow the links in the cited passage above to see how much carnage three 'disturbed' people caused with nary a gun in sight.

Laws won't make us safe, because lawbreakers will (by definition) not obey them.  That's the way it is.  That's the way it's always been.  If we rely on laws (or the police) to keep us safe, we're living in cloud cuckoo land.  Given their current ill-advised mishmash of gun control efforts, the authorities in New York state seem to have taken up residence there for the duration . . .


Pure musical fun!

Lindsey Stirling does it again!

Original, witty and captivating.  What's not to like?


Doofus Of The Day #793

Today's award goes, with a snort of derision, to the politically-correct idiots in charge of young children's education in Victoria, Australia.

Baa, Baa Black Sheep could be the latest nursery rhyme to bite the dust because of political correctness.

Staff at childcare centres and kindergartens in Victoria have been changing the lyrics because of the concerns over the racial connotations of the word “black”, the Herald Sun reports.

A kindergarten in Melbourne’s east was also considering changing the line “one for the little boy who lives down the lane” lest it be viewed as sexist.

At Malvern East’s Central Park Child Care children were still allowed to use the word “black” if they wanted to, co-ordinator Celine Pieterse said.

“We try to introduce a variety of sheep,” she said.

There's more at the link.

Really?  Really?  Well, if they insist, here are a few more politically correct nursery rhyme suggestions:

  • Humpty Dumpty can no longer have "all the King's horses and all the King's men" try to put him together again.  That's sexist.
  • The three blind mice are now to be described as "visually challenged".
  • "Hickory Dickory Dock" will have to change.  You can't discriminate against other hardwoods by referring to hickory alone.  That's tree-ist.

I invite readers to contribute their own suggestions for PC nursery rhyme revisions in Comments.

Oy gevalt . . .


Sunday, October 19, 2014

A (literal) blast from the past

Reader Sherman W. drew my attention to this article.

Seven decades after thousands of "balloon bombs" were let loose by the Imperial Japanese Army to wreak havoc on their enemies across the Pacific, two forestry workers found one half-buried in the mountains of eastern British Columbia.

A navy bomb disposal team was called and arrived at the site Friday in the Monashee Mountains near Lumby, B.C.

"They confirmed without a doubt that it is a Japanese balloon bomb," said RCMP Cpl. Henry Proce.

"This thing has been in the dirt for 70 years .... There was still some metal debris in the area (but) nothing left of the balloon itself."

The forestry workers found the device Wednesday and reported it to RCMP on Thursday.

Proce, a bit of a history buff himself, accompanied the men to the remote area and agreed that the piece appeared to be a military relic.

The area was cordoned off and police contacted the bomb disposal unit at Maritime Forces Pacific.

It was a big bomb, Proce said. A half-metre of metal casing was under the dirt in addition to approximately 15 to 20 centimetres sticking out of the ground.

"It would have been far too dangerous to move it," Proce said. "They put some C4 on either side of this thing and they blew it to smithereens."

There's more at the link.

Balloon bomb gondola on display, showing sandbag ballast

Japan launched over 9,000 balloon bombs against North America during World War II.  Some 300 made it across the Pacific to land all along the coast from Canada to Mexico.  Only one caused fatalities, on May 5th, 1945.  Their payload was mainly incendiary rather than high explosive bombs, designed to cause fires in America's forests.

Here's a World War II US training film describing the bombs, with actual footage of them.

It's amazing that one was found almost intact some 70-odd years after being launched.  A tip o' the hat to Sherman W. for providing the link.


No, it's NOT a First Amendment violation

Several readers have contacted me, indignant over a decision by Coeur d'Alene officials that a Christian-oriented wedding chapel must offer its services to gay couples.  They believe this violates the First Amendment to the US Constitution, specifically the 'separation of church and state' doctrine.

Unfortunately, it's not quite that simple.

  1. The wedding chapel is precisely that:  a for-profit venue for weddings.  Despite its explicitly Christian orientation, it's not a church and has no congregation.  That makes it a business in the eyes of the law, as far as I'm aware;  and, also as far as I'm aware, it's registered and pays taxes as a regular business rather than a non-profit religious corporation.
  2. The lawsuit filed on behalf of the chapel claims that the state can't force ordained ministers to act in violation of their faith or beliefs.  I agree - when they're acting in their capacity as ordained ministers.  If they're operating a for-profit wedding chapel as a business concern, explicitly offering its services to the general public, they're doing so as businesspeople rather than ministers of religion.  Throughout the USA laws prevent any business from discriminating against customers and employees on the grounds of race, sex, religious orientation, etc.  Religious establishments - churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, etc. - have certain exemptions from such ordinances, but this isn't a religious establishment.

I have real sympathy for the conundrum facing the proprietors of the wedding chapel, but they've just run headlong into the problems faced by any business offering services to the general public.  If you want to claim religious exemption from the law, you need to restrict your services to members of a particular faith or a particular congregation, all of whom understand and voluntarily accept your doctrines.  If you offer your services on a cash basis to all comers, I'm afraid the situation has changed.  It's precisely the same as the Colorado bakery that refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.  The owners' position was perfectly in order for a religious establishment, but not for a civil one.  They couldn't see the difference, but a judge could - and did.

Unfortunately, in the USA too many churches and religious individuals have assumed for decades - centuries! - that since public morality and our laws generally conformed to the dictates of their religious beliefs, they could impose the same restrictions on their customers in the business world.  That was never legally valid - merely a happy coincidence (for them, at any rate).  The world has changed.  Unfortunately for people of faith, that means we have to adapt ourselves to the society in which we live.  If certain religious principles are so important to us that we can't betray them at any cost, then we need to withdraw from commercial activities where those principles will bring us into conflict with the law.  If we try to impose our principles on others who don't share our beliefs, we have no recourse when others of different faiths insist we offer them the same accommodation - for example, a dhabihah (ritual slaughter) facility that may not meet regulatory standards and norms, or loudspeakers broadcasting a call to prayer (in competition with our church bells) . . . or even a gay pride parade rolling down the (public) street outside our churches.

We live in a post-Christian society.  As we used to say in Africa, "There's no use farting against thunder".  Our task is not to throw up our hands in despair and abandon our faith:  rather we must find ways in which to remain faithful to our principles whilst respecting those of others who don't agree with us.  We may not dictate to them, just as they may not dictate to us.  It's going to be a long and difficult process for both sides to work out an accommodation.

Part of that accommodation for Christians will have to include acknowledging Jesus' words:  "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s".  In the Coeur d'Alene case, the modern equivalent of Caesar makes the business laws.



I was astonished to read, not only that organizers held the Beijing Marathon today in severely polluted conditions, but that tens of thousands of runners actually took part regardless!  Conditions were so bad as to pose a real danger to health.

  • From the BBC:  "The WHO says daily pollution levels should not exceed an average of 25 micrograms per cubic metre of fine particulate matter.  Yet the US embassy's monitor at one point reported peaks of up to 400 micrograms per cubic metre, which it said would be hazardous if a human was exposed to it over a 24-hour period.  Fine particulate matter, the kind of pollution in smoke, damages the body as it moves deep into the lungs and can even enter the bloodstream."
  • From the Independent:  "Runners were forced to wear face masks as tens of thousands of competitors took part in an international marathon in Beijing under a thick blanket of smog – despite warnings that everyone in the city should avoid outdoor activities.  About 30,000 runners were expected to take part in the event on Sunday morning, with the organising committee making 140,000 sponges available at supply stations along the marathon route so runners could 'clean their skin that is exposed to the air,' the Beijing News reported."

  • From the Telegraph:  "Ying Wei, a 23-year-old runner, admitted his “lung hurt quite badly during and after the race”.  Runners had “made an outstanding contribution towards clearing Beijing’s haze” by breathing in the smog, joked Zhi Ri Gang, a user of Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblog. “They should be known as human air purifiers!”

You can judge the level of air pollution for yourself from this video report.

I simply can't understand the mindset of the runners.  When you know that the particulate levels in the air are up to 16 times more than the maximum recommended limit for health and safety - when the city's own pollution bureau is warning people to stay indoors - how can you possibly justify breathing them deep into your lungs for hours at a time?  What's even worse, the particulates are among the most noxious out there - motor vehicle exhaust, factory chimney pollution, etc.  Knowing that . . . I'm sorry, but I feel as if these runners and I come from different planets.  Have they no conception of reality?  Am I wrong for expecting them to have better sense?  Readers, what say you?


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Talk about "lucky to be alive"!

I missed this report when it came out in July, but ran across it today.

The accident happened on a road in the city of Qingdao when a large lorry carrying the container toppled over, shedding its load on to the car containing the two man and woman.

Emergency services were sure that nobody could have survived the crash and that it was simply going to be a grisly case of recovering crushed bodies from within the wreck.

But as they set about their task, they heard a woman calling for help from within the twisted metal.

A stunning rescue operation involving a 100 tonne crane then got underway, and it was discovered the couple had only 60cm [2 feet] of space remaining inside their crushed car.

. . .

Incredibly the woman was easily pulled out the wreckage with little more than cuts and bruises, although she was subsequently taken to hospital to be treated for shock.

The man travelling with her was in a more serious condition and needed to be cut free from the crushed vehicle, but he too is expected to make a full recovery.

There's more at the link, including many more photographs of the rescue.

I hope both of them bought lottery tickets right away . . . with luck like that, they'd have been sure-fire winners!


A street thug gets bashed. Hilarious!

There's a video on YouTube about a Chilean street thug who learned the hard way not to try to grab a handbag on a bus.  The Mirror reports:

An accomplice held the door open at a stop so Pablo Riquelme Curiqueo, 22, could follow the woman onto the bus and snatch her belongings - but the thief managed to get trapped in the door while making his getaway.

After a second failed attempt to snatch her bag in the Chilean city of Concepcion, the driver seized his opportunity to close the doors and continue on his way.

Chubby opportunist Pablo, a serial thief, was left prisoner on the bus with one hand trapped inside the door, which he had tried to force open when he realised they were closing.

And worse was to come - when the hero driver radioed police and then took out a baseball bat he kept for self defence and started bashing the criminal around the body.

The bag thief, said to have several assault, theft and robbery convictions, tried to wriggle out of arrest by claiming his victim was really an aunt called Maria who lived in the countryside and he had been joking with her.

But the driver told him in slang Chilean: “I’m badder than you” - before reducing him to tears as he continued to whack him.

Police were waiting at the next stop and handcuffed the thief before taking his smartly-dressed victim away so she could make a statement.

There's more at the link.

Here's the video.  I love the wannabe 'bad' guy's reactions, particularly when he starts crying . . . and I'd love to know what other encounters the driver had experienced with bad guys to make him carry around a cudgel like that.

The wannabe thief's screams as the cops handcuffed him were music to my ears (I suspect the bus driver broke his arm when he was whaling on him).  If I'm ever in ConcĂ©pcion, Chile, I'd like to buy that driver a beer.


Friday, October 17, 2014

The writing life - with tongue firmly in cheek . . .

I had to laugh at a recent Dork Tower online cartoon.  The publisher has generously given permission for me to reproduce it here.

For my writing friends, you can get copies of the panel (and merchandise printed with it) at Dork Tower's Society6 store.  I'm going to be buying some for use as gifts.  It's a very good summary of the writing life!  (No, they don't pay me commission or anything for advertising them:  I just really like that particular panel.  Dork Tower is one of my regular cartoon reads.)


One of the most fascinating operations of World War II

I note that the last surviving participant in Operation Mincemeat, one of the most fascinating (and successful) intelligence operations of the Second World War, has died.  The Telegraph reports in her obituary:

Patricia Davies, who has died aged 93, was the last surviving member of the clandestine group in Naval Intelligence that in 1943 launched Operation Mincemeat, a brilliant subterfuge that significantly altered the course of the Second World War.

The plan of Operation Mincemeat ... was to drop a dead body in the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain and hope the Nazis would find it. The body was dressed as a Royal Marines officer, and was attached to a briefcase containing a series of official-looking but faked letters indicating an Allied plan to push back against Axis forces in southern Europe by invading Greece and Sardinia — and not, as expected, Sicily.

The Nazis took the bait: believing the false information to be true, they diverted massive forces to Greece, enabling a successful Allied invasion of Sicily.

. . .

Patricia Davies ... worked in the Admiralty, first for Ian Fleming (author of the James Bond novels), who was assistant to the Director, and later in a secret division called 17M, located in a small stuffy room in the basement of the Admiralty building.

. . .

“We were all in on the plot,” Patricia Davies recalled in one of the interviews she gave in later life. “We were enthralled by the whole idea, and did everything we could to elaborate it.”

The Operation Mincemeat team
(Ms. Davies is second from right, rear row)

The required veil of secrecy was never penetrated. “We were all terrified by the Official Secrets Act, and thought we’d end up in the Tower of London if we gave anything away,” she said. Her parents thought she was working as a filing clerk. The secrecy lasted only as long as necessary: a few years after the war ended, Montagu published his own account of Operation Mincemeat and it was made into a film, The Man Who Never Was (1956). “Churchill was kept informed, but he did rather dine out on it, which was another reason the story began to come out,” Patricia Davies recalled.

Her personal contribution to the preparation of Major William Martin was to address, in her fine handwriting, the envelope (to General Sir Harold Alexander, C-in-C, Middle East) containing the false Allied invasion plan.

On April 30 1943 the body of William Martin was deposited in the sea off the east coast of Spain from a naval submarine. It was intercepted by a fisherman, brought to Spanish authorities, and before long Nazi intelligence became interested. After an agonisingly long wait (mainly due to the ineptitude of Nazi spies), the contents of William Martin’s briefcase became known to the Nazi command, even allegedly reaching Hitler’s desk. Eight divisions were diverted to Greece, leaving Sicily barely defended.

. . .

Although for much of her life post-war she talked little about Operation Mincemeat, she was in demand as an interviewee before and after the publication of Macintyre’s book. Asked by a German television interviewer what she did during the war, she replied, with characteristic sharpness: “Well, I tried to ensure that as many of you were killed as possible.”

There's more at the link.

I first read Cdr. Montagu's book during my youth, and remember being enthralled by the cloak-and-dagger operation.  Mincemeat remains one of the most successful intelligence deceptions in any war in recorded history, rivaling the fabled Trojan Horse in its effectiveness, and was a major reason why Allied casualties during the invasion of Sicily were so light.  If you haven't read the book, I highly recommend it.  (The movie's not bad either, but it takes some dramatic liberties with the story.)  Ben Macintyre wrote a more recent book about Operation Mincemeat, updated with newly-declassified information.

Judging from the last sentence quoted above, Ms. Davies seems to have been an unreconstructed patriot all her life.  I'm sure Churchill would have approved.  May she rest in peace.


Booby prize?

It is to laugh . . .

An advertising campaign showing a woman's breasts has been blamed for more than 500 traffic accidents in one day.

The massive adverts placed on the side of 30 trucks driving around Moscow showed a woman's breasts cupped in her hands with the slogan 'They Attract' across her nipples.

As the trucks trundled around the streets of the Russian capital, they left a trail of carnage as male drivers became so distracted they ploughed straight into each other.

A total of 517 accidents were reported.

The stunt, by an advertising agency specialising in mobile adverts, backfired after police sent out patrols to round up all the vehicles and impound them until the risque images could be removed.

Motorist Ildar Yuriev, 35, said: 'I was on my way to a business meeting when I saw this truck with a huge photo of breasts on its side go by.

'Then I was hit by the car behind who said he had been distracted by the truck. It made me late and left my car in the garage, and although I am insured I am still out of pocket.'

Furious drivers across Moscow have reportedly bombarded the agency with compensation claims.

There's more at the link.

What can I say?  Clearly, distracted drivers are failing to keep abreast of the situation . . .


I call BS on the latest poverty statistics

According to CNN Money:

Over 48 million Americans live in poverty, according to a special report by the Census Bureau Thursday. It provides an alternative look at the worst off people in the nation than the official numbers that come out in September.

Government programs such as food stamps do help some people, especially children, but even so 16% of American children are living in poverty, according to the supplemental report.

. . .

The official poverty line was $23,283 last year for a family of four. Today's Census report -- known as the supplemental poverty measure -- takes into account living costs in different parts of the country as well as what government benefits people receive.

The supplemental poverty line varies between urban and rural America. For example, the poverty level in major metropolitan levels is $30,000 or even higher in some locations because people have to pay more for food, shelter and transportation.

There's more at the link.

I have no hesitation whatsoever in calling this report BS.  It's not about poverty;  it's about what touchy-feely whiny moonbats think of as 'poverty', which in the context of the USA is essentially 'having less than others'.  It's 'comparative poverty' rather than actual poverty.  Anyone in these United States - I repeat, anyone - can get a meal if they need it, from official or charitable sources;  can find a place to sleep in a homeless shelter;  can find clothes at charities such as the Salvation Army;  and can find ways to improve their lot if they're willing to work hard.  Government assistance in the form of welfare payments, food stamps, housing assistance and many other programs is relatively freely available.  I'll be very surprised if the majority of the 48 million people identified as 'living in poverty' don't have a home, furniture, TV's, cellphones, and food in the kitchen.

The Census Bureau's 'poverty line' figure of $23,283 for a family of four comes out to almost $16 per individual per day.  Contrast this with much of the Third World.  According to the World Bank:

  • According to the most recent estimates, in 2011, 17 percent of people in the developing world lived at or below $1.25 a day. That’s down from 43 percent in 1990 and 52 percent in 1981.
  • This means that, in 2011, just over one billion people lived on less than $1.25 a day, compared with 1.91 billion in 1990, and 1.93 billion in 1981.

Even if the current rate of progress is to be maintained, some 1 billion people will still live in extreme poverty in 2015—and progress has been slower at higher poverty lines. In all, 2.2 billion people lived on less than US $2 a day in 2011, the average poverty line in developing countries and another common measurement of deep deprivation.

Again, more at the link.

Now that's poverty.  I've traveled extensively in sub-Saharan Africa and I'm here to tell you, it's ghastly to see people trying to survive under such conditions.  By comparison, the so-called 'poor' in the United States are immeasurably better off.  In fact, I reckon many of the truly poor in Africa, living on $1.25 or less per day, would cheerfully commit mass murder for the opportunity to live on $16 per day in the USA.  They'd regard that as unimaginable riches.  Don't believe me?  Just go over there and make the offer . . . but be prepared to be trampled to death in the resulting stampede.