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How Did I Miss That? Gamblers Forced to Return Winnings; GOP Cruz Control

Yahoo Finance reported that 14 gamblers who were ordered to return $1.5 million they won at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City have asked the judge to change her mind, signaling they will probably appeal. The casino bought decks of pre-shuffled cards for use in mini-baccarat shoes. However, the cards had not in fact been shuffled.

Some players noticed the pattern and changed their betting from $10 a hand to $5,000. They won 41 straight hands before the casino caught on. The judge held that the gamblers owed the money back because games with unshuffled cards were illegal under state regulations.

Not telling another judge how to decide a case, but it seems to me that the casino has been given a bird’s nest on the ground. The Nugget sued the seller of the cards, who was the one at fault for failure to shuffle. That case was settled, but with a confidentiality agreement, so letting the casino recover against the gamblers allows at least partial double dipping.

Clawing back the winnings gives the Golden Nugget something of a black eye in public opinion, according to my informal poll. Futile watching for patterns in random events is what makes money for casinos. In this case, the marks found a pattern faster than the casino did. Neither the casino nor the gamblers was at fault in creating the pattern, but if you have to allocate risk to a professional or an amateur, what’s fair?

This is not like the famous case of Kirk Erickson, who had to render back unto Caesar’s Palace in Nevada a million dollar slot jackpot because he was 19 and the lawful gambling age is 21. If he could read, Erickson knew he was too young to be there, a baby by law no matter what he thought of himself. My cousin Ray Sixkiller insisted that I give the name of the slot machine: “Million Dollar Baby.”

Last June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made an administrative ruling that all gay employees of the UN who were married or in registered domestic partnerships could have the same benefits as straight employees, ending the veto power each state had over same sex benefits to its nationals since 2004. This month Russia demanded that the UN rescind marital benefits for same-sex couples. The primary backers of the Russian position are the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Vatican.

On this side of the pond, The New York Times reported on a project with Gallup survey data to determine the U.S. metro areas with the largest and smallest gay populations by percentage of overall population.

Top three largest: San Francisco; Portland, Oregon; and Austin. Surprises to me on the largest list: Salt Lake City (7) and Louisville (11).

Bottom three smallest: Birmingham, Pittsburgh, and Memphis. Surprises to me on the smallest list: San Jose (6) and Minneapolis-St. Paul (15). And especially Houston (7), which has knowingly elected gay people to offices, including Mayor Annise Parker.

DefenseNews reported that “defense” spending in the UK is on track to dip below the 2 percent of GDP recommended by NATO, hitting 1.6 percent by 2020. According to the World Bank, the U.S. spends 3.8 percent, down from 4.2 percent before the sequester that nobody intended to kick in kicked in. Russia is still at our pre-sequester level.

Other countries of interest, with the caveat that the numbers do not include civil defense or veterans’ benefits: Afghanistan 6.4 percent, Iraq 3.4 percent, Saudi Arabia 9 percent, Israel 5.6 percent. Iran has not reported since 2012, when they spent 2.1 percent of GDP, exactly the same as China.

Cousin Ray was puzzled. “All of this spending on ‘defense.’ Who are they defending against?”

New York journalist Philip Bump must have had too much time on his hands when he set out to investigate how many U.S. presidents’ lives overlapped. Writing in The Washington Post, he noted, “America is only four presidents’ lives old.” The lineage from the present to the Founders goes Obama, Hoover, Andrew Johnson, and John Adams. Rutherford B. Hayes can almost make the link by himself, since his life overlapped John Adams and Dwight Eisenhower.

We’ll probably never know anything about 28-year-old Farkhunda, except that an angry mob beat and burned her alive for allegedly burning the Qur’an. According to the Los Angeles Times, officials determined that the charred papers that led to her lynching were in a Persian language. The Qur’an is in Arabic. This happened in Kabul, the center of power for the Afghan government, the one for which our GIs shed their blood.

This mob may have gone too far even for Afghanistan. CNN reported later that a mullah started shouting falsely that Farkhunda had burned the Qur’an when he got in a dispute with her and the mob took it from there. The government claims 26 people have been arrested and 11 police officers “suspended” for failing to come to her aid.

BloombergBusiness reported that Baltimore Raven John Urschel, who is by profession part of the offensive line protecting quarterback Joe Flacco, has published a paper in the Journal of Computational Mathematics. Urschel was drafted out of Penn State, where he carried a 4.0 grade point average. Neither Cousin Ray nor I have much to say, since neither one of us can understand the title, "A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians." 

Urschel expressed some envy for Chris Borland, who was smart enough to get out of football at age 24 even though he had to give the San Francisco 49ers part of his signing bonus back, citing the virtual certainty of brain injury. Urschel admitted, "Playing a hitting position in the NFL can’t possibly help your long-term mental health," but went on to say he is “addicted.”

The first hat just landed in the ring for the 2016 presidential election. Probably a very large hat size, since it belongs to the junior senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, a Cuban-American born in Canada. It’s hilarious to notice how many Obama birthers have discovered that a foreign birth to an American mother means that the baby is a U.S. citizen, whether it’s George Romney (Mexico), John McCain (Panama Canal Zone), Ted Cruz or Barack Obama (many birthers did not understand Hawaii is in the U.S.). Cousin Ray didn’t think I heard him, but he mumbled, “All hat and no cattle.”

Sen. Cruz made his announcement to a packed auditorium at Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell, also known for founding the Moral Majority political movement. The auditorium was packed because all students were required to attend. Before he had finished speaking, Twitter lit up with suggestions for a campaign slogan:

*It’s RINO season!

*Unemployment down; stocks up; fewer uninsured? Time for a change!

*Yes, children, the world is on fire!

*The fire started from the flames on my pants.

*No one should infringe on your right to infringe on the rights of others!

*So anti-immigrant I’ll deport myself!

*You think Michele Bachmann is crazy?

*No straight white male left behind!

*Let’s take America back…50 years.

Most of the commentary on Sen. Cruz’s announcement speech focused on his channeling of John Lennon’s Imagine as a rhetorical device. Lennon spins in his grave.

Cruz left no doubt what he is against: Obamacare, the IRS, Common Core.

Foreign Policy reported on the Cruz three-point plan to defeat ISIS: (1) secure the Mexican border, (2) strip Americans who join ISIS of their citizenship, (3) bomb them “back to the Stone Age.” Cruz can be more inventive, as in his move to strip United Nations funding by tying it to Chinese abortion policy.

The Donald Trump, threatening again to enter the clown car, has plenty to say about the Cruz candidacy. According to Bloomberg News, Trump is transferring his birther complaints from Obama to Cruz in spite of what the legal experts say. He also complained that Cruz stole his line, “Make America great again.” I thought his line was, “You’re fired!”

After the Cruz speech and the Trump reaction, I approached Cousin Ray for comment but he was online ordering a big supply of popcorn.

The Wall Street Journal broke the news that Israel spied on the closed-door nuclear talks between the U.S. and Iran. President Obama had no time to comment because he was trying to keep up with the transcripts from Angela Merkel’s cell phone calls, but Cousin Ray said something about geese and ganders.

Indianz.com reported that the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians cut its rolls in half after opening the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino. So, the half that are still enrolled are choppin’ tall cotton, right?

Wrong. The casino has been closed since October 2014 as a result of factional disputes among “leaders.” Cousin Ray observed that the news this week was full of geese, dead geese, “and the one that laid the Chukchansi golden egg is on life support.”