Friday, July 31, 2015
Union officials in Los Angeles are fighting to be excluded from minimum wage rules that they have lobbied to put in place.
Los Angeles city council is set to vote on a union-backed clause to its $15-an-hour minimum wage bill that would exempt workers covered by a collective bargaining contract. The debate is expected to start later this week when the council returns from summer recess.
In May, the Los Angeles city council voted in favor of raising minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. As the council prepared for a final vote on the legislation, the Los Angeles Times reported local union leaders had suggested an exemption that was common for such laws: to make companies with unionized workforces exempt from such wage increase.
The proposal was made by Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer at the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. Hicks has been a leading voice for raising the minimum wage. He declined to comment for this story, referring the Guardian to previously released statements when he first introduced the proposal for the exemption clause.
Hicks has previously argued that in collective bargaining agreements, business owners and employees can “prioritize what is important to them”.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
There's no way William A. Cozzano can lose the upcoming presidential election. He's a likable midwestern governor with one insidious advantage—an advantage provided by a shadowy group of backers. A biochip implanted in his head hardwires him to a computerized polling system. The mood of the electorate is channeled directly into his brain. Forget issues. Forget policy. Cozzano is more than the perfect candidate. He's a special effect.
Gekapella at Space Coast Nerd Fest 2015.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
When an asteroid packed with about $5 trillion worth of platinum zoomed past Earth this month scientists were ready, capturing the space rock on radar as it sailed safely by our planet.
The asteroid 2011 UW158 missed Earth by about 1.5 million miles (2.4 million kilometers) — a little more than six times the distance between the planet and the moon — during its flyby on July 19. There was never a chance of a collision during the flyby, researchers said. But it was close enough for NASA scientists to create a video of the asteroid from radar observations.
The near-Earth asteroid is an intriguing candidate for mining, said representatives of the company Planetary Resources, which is hoping to begin these activities in the coming decades. (On July 16, Planetary Resources’ Arkyd 3 Reflight spacecraft was deployed from the International Space Station to test software, control systems and avionics that could be used for asteroid hunting.)
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
A collection of statements Congressman Ron Paul has made over the past 30 years dealing with foreign policy from the date he was first elected to Congress. Ron Paul provides a history of economic policy in the United States and uses this history to argue that the same free market principals applied to U.S. domestic policy should be applied to U.S. foreign policy
Michael Winslow, man of 10,000 sound effects and star of the Police Academy movies and Spaceballs, at the 2015 Space Coast Nerd Fest.
Monday, July 27, 2015
It has been 13 years since the final episode of “The X-Files” aired on Fox, but David Duchovny’s Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson’s Dana Scully will return to the small screen early next year for a limited run. And while they’re only shooting six episodes, series creator Chris Carter said that filming the miniseries is still an arduous task.
But why did he put himself back on the grind again?
“The central reason is the esprit de corps. That is the reason to come back and do it again,” the 57-year-old screenwriter told the U.K. publication. “When you have a group of people working together, who all contribute to make it better, that is something. If you have never experienced it, that is somewhat miraculous. It is stepping into new shoes. That is not to say that the new shoes fit on arrival.”
Fans last saw Mulder and Scully in the 2008 feature film “The X-Files: I Want To Believe” which Carter directed. And while the film didn’t sit well with the critics, not to mention its disappointing box-office receipts, Carter believes that the revival can once again capture the interests of viewers. And if the limited run will be well received by fans, it’s likely that there will be further installments.
A stunning silhouette of Pluto taken by Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft after it shot past the icy orb last week show an extensive layer of atmospheric haze, while close-up pictures of the ground reveal flows of nitrogen ice, scientists said.
New Horizons became the first spacecraft to visit Pluto and its entourage of moons and so far has returned about 5 percent of the pictures and science data collected in the days leading up to, during and immediately following the July 14 flyby.
The latest batch of images includes a backlit view of Pluto with sun, located more than 3 billion miles away, shining around and through the planet’s atmosphere.
Analysis shows distinct layers of haze in Pluto’s nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane atmosphere. The haze extends at least 100 miles (161km) off the surface.
“This is our first peek at weather in Pluto’s atmosphere,” New Horizons scientist Michael Summers, with George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, told reporters during a teleconferenced press briefing.
As the tiny particles fall to the ground, they may trigger chemical reactions that give Pluto its reddish hue, he added.
The haze layer, which extends five times farther than predicted by computer models, was not the only surprise. Pressure measurements show the total mass of Pluto’s atmosphere has halved in two years.
“That’s pretty astonishing, at least to an atmospheric scientist. That tells you something is happening,” Summers said.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Sunday that the latest questions surrounding Hillary Clinton’s email habits while serving as secretary of state show that “the Clintons think they live above the law.”
The Justice Department confirmed Friday it had received a request to investigate Clinton’s email account after a report by the inspectors general of the State Department and the Intelligence Community found that her private email account “hundreds of potentially classified emails” in it.
In an interview on “Face the Nation” Sunday, Paul said, “This isn’t a bunch of Republicans making a political point, this is President Obama’s government saying she may have released classified information.”
In response to the allegations, Clinton said Saturday, “I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received. And what I think you’re seeing here is a very typical kind of discussion, to some extent disagreement, among various parts of the government over what should or should not be publicly released.”
The news has reignited a debate about the former secretary of state’s email habits, which included using a private server to host her messages on a non-government account. Many Republicans on Capitol Hill have called on Clinton to hand over the server.
Paul said that Clinton actually put herself and those who protect her at risk if she was sending or receiving emails that detailed her schedule.
“They did this because they’re Clintons. And the Clintons think they live above the law, and they think they can live differently than all the rest of America. And I think this is going to come back to bite her and already is,” Paul said.
Friday, July 24, 2015
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Cobb County is telling a Kennesaw family to apply for permission to park their kids’ cars in their own driveway.
The Oviedo family got a notice of violation for having four cars in the driveway. The family has relatives visiting and two kids home from college.
“I am angry. I am beyond angry. I don’t see how the government can tell me whose cars I can park in my own driveway,” said Kim Oviedo.
They got a visit Friday from code enforcement, acting on an anonymous complaint. The neighborhood is zoned an Open Space Community. A recent rule changed, and enacted a limit of two cars parked in the drive.
“The fact that my kid’s home from college and now I’m a law breaker I guess,” said neighbor Mark Talley, who has three cars for the summer too.
“I love Cobb County. I love living here and generally I’m a fan of what we do, but it seems to not make a whole lot of sense.”
After Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland got the county on the phone, officials decided to let the issue slide this summer, but put the family on notice next summer would require a permit to park four cars in the driveway.
having to pay to park on a property that I already pay tax on,” said Oviedo.
In brazen defiance of the enumerated powers listed in the U.S. Constitution that all lawmakers swore an oath to uphold, both houses of Congress passed massive “education” bills packed with attacks on real education, local control of schools, student and family privacy, and the rights of parents. Despite false campaign promises by Republicans to rein in the Obama administration, the legislation passed by the GOP majority purports to reauthorize a dizzying array of unconstitutional federal “education” schemes — including draconian tools Obama has lawlessly used to nationalize education through the hugely unpopular Common Core standards. The White House has already indicated that it supports the legislation and will sign it, but critics are up in arms.
Perhaps the most important element of the legislation is that it reauthorizes the anti-constitutional Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 — the primary mechanism used by Washington, D.C., to usurp control over education from parents and communities. In essence, the measure opened the floodgates of federal funding for government schools, and with those funds, which come with “strings” attached, D.C. politicians and bureaucrats formally launched their plan to federalize public schools. The ESEA scheme was amended and made even more draconian by the almost universally reviled “No Child Left Behind” Act, implemented by a coalition including Ted Kennedy and George W. Bush. That program was crucial in forcing states to impose a radical testing regime that was ultimately used to federalize what is taught in schools.
Legal authorization for No Child Left Behind actually ended in 2008, yet Congress continues to appropriate funds for it. Just as importantly, the Obama administration continues to exploit the non-existent authority to usurp even more control over schools and the minds of children — offering “waivers” from the “mandates,” along with bribes, to state governments that agree to impose the Obama-backed Common Core regime.
In Ronald Reagan’s day, abolishing the federal role in education was the Republican position. By contrast, the GOP majority in Congress today seems determined to expand that giant D.C. boot print, as is shown clearly by the “education” bills, which further empower Obama. The latest bills even purport to legitimize the White House’s previous usurpations of power in violation of the law.
Ironically, much of the present Republican establishment’s rhetoric focused on pretending that the legislation would “give” states authorities and “flexibility” on education — powers the states already had and still have under the U.S. Constitution and the 10th Amendment, and powers that are not the federal government’s to “give” in the first place
Anthony Hervey — a 49-year-old black activist known for being a vocal proponent of the Confederate flag — died Sunday in a car crash caused by a car-full of black hecklers who chased and verbally attacked Hervey, driving his vehicle off the Mississippi highway.
Hervey was driving home from a rally to preserve the Linn Park Confederate Monument in Birmingham, Alabama, the Daily Mail reports. The memorial is soon to be removed from the park pursuant to a recent vote by Birmingham political leaders.
Hervey was a well-known black activist for preserving the Confederate flag who’s advocacy dates back to more than two decades ago.
In his efforts to oppose movements to change or remove the flag, Hervey often protested by sporting Rebel soldier attire and waving the Confederate flag in Oxford Square, Mississippi.
His reasoning? To honor and raise awareness about the black soldiers who served in the Confederate army during the Civil War.
“[Defending the Confederate flag] is not racism,” Hervey said in 2001 interview reported by Daily Mail. “This is my heritage. [It’s] standing up for home.”
In the car with Hervey was another black Confederate flag supporter, Arlene Barnum, who survived the crash.
Barnum said that the 2005 Ford Explorer crashed when Hervey swerved to avoid another vehicle that pulled up beside them containing about four or five young black men who were shouting angrily at the Confederate flag activists.
It’s easy to assume racism when watching the video footage of Sandra Bland’s arrest. Admittedly, the first question that entered this writer’s mind when watching it was, “Would a white woman have been treated this way during a routine traffic stop?”
I believe the answer is “yes,” if the white woman committed the cardinal sin Sandra Bland committed. It wasn’t her being black that started the tragic chain of events. It was refusing to follow a police officer’s orders.
At some point between ratification of the Fourth Amendment and the death of Sandra Bland, the entire principle underpinning that constitutional protection has been lost. The Fourth Amendment assumes armed agents of the state can’t be trusted to issue their own orders. That’s why we have warrants in the first place. They are permitted only to enforce the orders of an impartial judge, who authorizes them to apprehend suspects upon the judge’s determination of probable cause.
That’s not to say many or most officers aren’t well-intentioned or trustworthy. But their job is to use force. That role must be separated from the issuance of orders.
Had Sandra Bland been a murder suspect and arresting officer Brian Encinia serving a warrant for her arrest, no one would have questioned Encinia’s conduct in ordering her out of her car. One might even find room to excuse his order to stop smoking, if she were assumed to be someone who had already killed another human being.
But Bland wasn’t a murder suspect. As she quite rationally protested, she was ordered out of her car over a “failure to signal.” She had complied with the traffic stop. I seriously doubt there is a law or ordinance requiring her to stop smoking while being issued a citation for a traffic violation.
Encinia didn’t even phrase his initial request as an order. His exact words were, “You mind putting out your cigarette, please, if you don’t mind?” It was Bland’s refusal to comply with this non-order that incited Encinia’s indignation and subsequent order to exit her car.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Among the many colorful supporting characters on “The X-Files,” few received quite the same level of attention as The Lone Gunmen who, having appeared in all nine seasons of the show’s original run, also had their own single season spinoff series. A trio of conspiracy theory driven “hacktivists,” the group consisted of Langly (Dean Haglund), Frohike (Tom Braidwood) and Byers (Bruce Harwood), all of whom were killed off in one of the final “X-Files” episodes, “Jump the Shark”. Now, 13 years after that episode aired, Haglund confirms to Televised Revolution that the Lone Gunmen will return.
“Today they contacted us,” Haglund announced to a crowd in Sydney, Australia. “We’re shooting July 28. The Gunmen are in the final six!”
New York Times bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett makes Death a central character in Mort, his fourth sojourn to Discworld, the fantasy cosmos where even the angel of darkness needs some assistance.
When inept, but well-intentioned Mort gets only one offer for an apprenticeship—with Death—he can’t exactly turn it down. But Mort finds that being Death’s right-hand man isn’t as bad as it seems—until he falls back to his old, bumbling ways.
With more than 80 million books sold worldwide, Pratchett has solidified his place next to Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and Douglas Adams as one of the top satirists of all time. Mort offers readers an unlikely set of heroes and a comical, yet poignant look at life through the lens of its antithesis.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Extending his idea of philanthropy beyond the Earth and even the human species, Yuri Milner, the Russian Internet entrepreneur and founder of science giveaways like the annual $3 million Fundamental Physics Prizes, announced in London on Monday that he would spend at least $100 million in the next decade to search for signals from alien civilizations.
The money for Breakthrough Listen, as Mr. Milner calls the effort, is one of the biggest chunks of cash ever proffered for the so far fruitless quest for cosmic companionship known as the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI. It will allow astronomers to see the kinds of radar used for air traffic control from any of the closest 1,000 stars, and to detect a laser with the power output of a common 100-watt light bulb from the distance of the nearest stars, some four light-years away, according to Mr. Milner’s team.
It also guarantees bounteous observing time on some of the world’s biggest radio telescopes — a rarity for SETI astronomers who are used to getting one night a year.
“It’s just a miracle,” said Frank Drake, an emeritus professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who joined Mr. Milner and others, including the cosmologist Stephen Hawking, in a news conference Monday at the Royal Society in London.
Dan Werthimer, a longtime SETI researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, said, “This is beyond my wildest dreams.”
In a prepared statement at the announcement, Dr. Hawking said atoms and the forces of nature and the dance of galaxies could explain the lights in the sky, but not the lights on Earth. “In an infinite universe there must be other occurrences of life,” he said. “Or do our lights wander a lifeless universe? Either way, there is no bigger question.”
Mr. Milner also announced a $1 million competition, called Breakthrough Message, to create messages that could be sent if we knew there was anybody out there to receive them.
These could be propitious times for ET. The relentless improvement of electronics and computing power have made it possible to build receivers 50 times as sensitive as before, relieving astronomers of the need to guess what channels an extraterrestrial being might broadcast on. The astronomers can listen to all of them at once.
NASA’s Kepler spacecraft and other hunters of planets circling distant stars have determined that there are billions of possible habitats for other beings in our galaxy.
Dr. Drake started it all in 1960 when he pointed a radio telescope at a pair of sunlike stars hoping to hear a “hello.” He heard nothing, which has pretty much characterized the effort ever since.
No amount of cosmic silence, however, has been able to discourage astronomers who theorize that radio signals can bridge the gulfs between stars more cheaply than spacecraft, allowing distant species to communicate by a sort of cosmic ham radio or galactic Internet. And, they note, only a few thousand of the Milky Way’s 200 billion stars have been sampled, on only a few of the billions of possible radio channels — a minuscule piece of what they call the “cosmic haystack.”
A simple squeal or squawk, or an incomprehensible stream of numbers by a radio antenna pointed at one of those stars, would change history.
“We have a responsibility to not stop searching,” Mr. Milner said in an interview. “It should always be happening in the background. This is the biggest question. We should be listening.”
Mr. Milner has recruited a small coterie of scientists to run the project. Among them are Martin Rees of Cambridge University, Britain’s astronomer royal, who will lead an advisory group; Peter Worden, former director of the NASA Ames Research Laboratory, home of the Kepler effort; Geoffrey Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley, a renowned exoplanet hunter; Dr. Werthimer; Andrew Siemion, also of Berkeley; and Ann Druyan, a co-author of both “Cosmos” television series and widow of the astronomer Carl Sagan.
According to Dr. Werthimer, about a third of Mr. Milner’s money will go toward building new receiving equipment, and about a third will go toward hiring students and other astronomers.
The rest will be used to secure observing time. For now, that effort will include two of the largest radio telescopes in the world: the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Csiro Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia.
Both have had financial troubles in an era of flat budgets, and have been seeking partners to help keep the observatories running. Mr. Milner has agreed to underwrite 20 percent of the cost in return for 20 percent of the observing time.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Last week the Greek government imposed capital controls to prevent cash from escaping from the Greek banking system, which is on the brink of collapse. These repressive financial measures, which were invented by “Hitler’s banker” Hjalmar Schacht in the 1930s, include the closing of banks, limiting cash withdrawals from ATMs to 60 euros ($67) per day, and the banning of all money transfers via credit and debit cards to accounts held in foreign countries. Despite these Draconian controls, Greek banks continue to hemorrhage cash and, after yesterday’s referendum, it is probable that the daily limit on withdrawals from ATMs will be tightened. Worse yet, the reeling Greek public suffered another shock yesterday when Deputy Finance Minister Nadia Valavani revealed to Greek television that the government and banks had already agreed that people would also not be allowed to withdraw cash from safe deposit boxes for as long as the controls were in place. This may be part of a fallback plan if the ECB ends its bailout of the Greek banks. The government with the banks’ connivance would seize the cash euros stored in these boxes and compensate their lessees by crediting an equal sum of euros to their increasingly inaccessible checking deposits.
Friday, July 17, 2015
Thursday, July 16, 2015
In this terrifying tale of humanity’s desperate stand against a robot uprising, Daniel H. Wilson has written the most entertaining sci-fi thriller in years.
Not far into our future, the dazzling technology that runs our world turns against us. Controlled by a childlike—yet massively powerful—artificial intelligence known as Archos, the global network of machines on which our world has grown dependent suddenly becomes an implacable, deadly foe. At Zero Hour—the moment the robots attack—the human race is almost annihilated, but as its scattered remnants regroup, humanity for the first time unites in a determined effort to fight back. This is the oral history of that conflict, told by an international cast of survivors who experienced this long and bloody confrontation with the machines. Brilliantly conceived and amazingly detailed, Robopocalypse is an action-packed epic with chilling implications about the real technology that surrounds us.
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen urged lawmakers to tread lightly when it comes to overhauling the central bank, warning that proposed changes could undermine its ability to support the economy.
In prepared testimony, Yellen will tout the Fed’s own efforts to boost its transparency as a way to discourage lawmakers from pushing their own proposals to bring the Fed under stricter oversight.
“Efforts to further increase transparency, no matter how well intentioned, must avoid unintended consequences that could undermine the Federal Reserve’s ability to make policy in the long-run best interest of American families and businesses,” she said.
Yellen’s testimony Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee will come one day after that panel held a hearing in which Republicans blasted the Fed as being unaccountable.
While Yellen will argue in her testimony that Fed tweaks could subject the central bank to political pressure and make it less effective, GOP lawmakers have argued the Fed holds up its political independence as a way to avoid scrutiny.
“The Fed’s clamor for independence is its underpinning for circumventing any sort of congressional accountability,” said Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) on Tuesday.
The relationship between the Fed and Republicans has been touchy ever since the Fed embarked on an unprecedented run of monetary stimulus following the recession. But the dynamic took a turn for the worse recently, as the Fed has refused to comply with demands for documents lawmakers seek in conjunction with a probe into a 2012 leak of sensitive Fed information.
The Financial Services panel went so far as to issue subpoenas for some documents, at which point the Fed refused to provide them, citing an ongoing criminal probe into the matter by the Department of Justice.
Lawmakers have pushed a number of ideas to overhaul the Fed, from reworking its structure, requiring additional top-ranking Fed spots to be confirmed by the Senate or even requiring the Fed to set monetary policy based on an explicit rule.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Retro games are making a resurgence with gamers who either want to revisit the games of their childhood or relive the old arcade games that paved the way to what gaming has become today.
One of the pioneers in arcade and video games was Atari. However, in 1984, following its role in the so-called “video game crash of 1983″ (known as the “Atari Shock” in Japan), Atari Inc. was split.
But the fall of Atari left behind many unpublished, unfinished and canceled games, which had many wondering what exactly was hidden away in its vaults.
One of those games will now be unveiled on July 18 and 19 at the annual Classic Arcade Games Show at California Extreme 2015.
Originally a popular arcade game, Xevious for the Atari 2600 is one of the many titles thought lost and unfinished in the crash of the video game market. The Digital Game Museum will present the game from a cartridge, which holds a version of the game far more complete and playable than anyone had imagined. According to reports, previous prototypes of the game lacked elements such as sound and titles.
Icy mountains on Pluto and a new, crisp view of its largest moon, Charon, are among the several discoveries announced Wednesday by NASA’s New Horizons team, just one day after the spacecraft’s first ever Pluto flyby.
“Pluto New Horizons is a true mission of exploration showing us why basic scientific research is so important,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “The mission has had nine years to build expectations about what we would see during closest approach to Pluto and Charon. Today, we get the first sampling of the scientific treasure collected during those critical moments, and I can tell you it dramatically surpasses those high expectations.”
“Home run!” said Alan Stern, principal investigator for New Horizons at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. “New Horizons is returning amazing results already. The data look absolutely gorgeous, and Pluto and Charon are just mind blowing.”
A new close-up image of an equatorial region near the base of Pluto’s bright heart-shaped feature shows a mountain range with peaks jutting as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) above the surface of the icy body.
The mountains on Pluto likely formed no more than 100 million years ago — mere youngsters in a 4.56-billion-year-old solar system. This suggests the close-up region, which covers about one percent of Pluto’s surface, may still be geologically active today.
“This is one of the youngest surfaces we’ve ever seen in the solar system,” said Jeff Moore of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team (GGI) at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.
Unlike the icy moons of giant planets, Pluto cannot be heated by gravitational interactions with a much larger planetary body. Some other process must be generating the mountainous landscape.
“This may cause us to rethink what powers geological activity on many other icy worlds,” says GGI deputy team leader John Spencer at SwRI.
The new view of Charon reveals a youthful and varied terrain. Scientists are surprised by the apparent lack of craters. A swath of cliffs and troughs stretching about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) suggests widespread fracturing of Charon’s crust, likely the result of internal geological processes. The image also shows a canyon estimated to be 4 to 6 miles (7 to 9 kilometers) deep. In Charon’s north polar region, the dark surface markings have a diffuse boundary, suggesting a thin deposit or stain on the surface.
New Horizons also observed the smaller members of the Pluto system, which includes four other moons: Nix, Hydra, Styx and Kerberos. A new sneak-peak image of Hydra is the first to reveal its apparent irregular shape and its size, estimated to be about 27 by 20 miles (43 by 33 kilometers).
Jeremy Bulloch and Temuera Morrison at Star Wars Weekends 2006 at Disney MGM (now Hollywood Studios) in Orlando, Florida. Hosted by Warwick Davis.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Accidents are up at the intersections with red light cameras in Hollywood, Florida, but American Traffic Solutions (ATS) is desperate to keep the troubled system alive. City commissioners last week unanimously approved an ordinance to dump the controversial devices, only to back away from the resolution after ATS proposed a last-minute deal. The company will, in effect, pay the council to ignore the city police chief’s warning about the impact of automated ticketing since January 2011.
“Just so we’re clear, we looked at empirical data, we did a lot of thorough research on accidents and fatalities,” Chief Tomas Sanchez said on Wednesday. “We have also seen a dramatic increase in most intersections of twice as much rear end accidents occur after the red light camera implementation [compared] to before the red light camera implementation. As a whole, there have been more accidents at each intersection.”
The program has also failed to produce the promised amount of revenue to the city, largely due to state-mandated increases in yellow signal warning times that took effect on May 31, 2013. As most of the tickets were written for minor, split-second violations, the extra time has caused citation revenue to plunge. On top of this, a Florida Court of Appeals decision declared the process ATS used to review citations in Hollywood was illegal, so the city has been unable to collect fines since March.
Tommy Carmellini and Jake Grafton have information that Iran's covert nuclear programme is nearing completion. The Iranian president is planning to hit US and Israeli targets within days and turn Iran into a nation of martyrs, leading the world's Moslems in a holy war against the unbelievers. Carmellini has a secret weapon: a group of Iranian dissidents who will do anything to stop the attack. But will the US government believe him in time to act?
“Fascists,” “Brownshirts,” “jackbooted stormtroopers”—such are the insults typically hurled at conservatives by their liberal opponents. Calling someone a fascist is the fastest way to shut them up, defining their views as beyond the political pale. But who are the real fascists in our midst?
Liberal Fascism offers a startling new perspective on the theories and practices that define fascist politics. Replacing conveniently manufactured myths with surprising and enlightening research, Jonah Goldberg reminds us that the original fascists were really on the left, and that liberals from Woodrow Wilson to FDR to Hillary Clinton have advocated policies and principles remarkably similar to those of Hitler's National Socialism and Mussolini's Fascism.
Contrary to what most people think, the Nazis were ardent socialists (hence the term “National socialism”). They believed in free health care and guaranteed jobs. They confiscated inherited wealth and spent vast sums on public education. They purged the church from public policy, promoted a new form of pagan spirituality, and inserted the authority of the state into every nook and cranny of daily life. The Nazis declared war on smoking, supported abortion, euthanasia, and gun control. They loathed the free market, provided generous pensions for the elderly, and maintained a strict racial quota system in their universities—where campus speech codes were all the rage. The Nazis led the world in organic farming and alternative medicine. Hitler was a strict vegetarian, and Himmler was an animal rights activist.
Do these striking parallels mean that today’s liberals are genocidal maniacs, intent on conquering the world and imposing a new racial order? Not at all. Yet it is hard to deny that modern progressivism and classical fascism shared the same intellectual roots. We often forget, for example, that Mussolini and Hitler had many admirers in the United States. W.E.B. Du Bois was inspired by Hitler's Germany, and Irving Berlin praised Mussolini in song. Many fascist tenets were espoused by American progressives like John Dewey and Woodrow Wilson, and FDR incorporated fascist policies in the New Deal.
Fascism was an international movement that appeared in different forms in different countries, depending on the vagaries of national culture and temperament. In Germany, fascism appeared as genocidal racist nationalism. In America, it took a “friendlier,” more liberal form. The modern heirs of this “friendly fascist” tradition include the New York Times, the Democratic Party, the Ivy League professoriate, and the liberals of Hollywood. The quintessential Liberal Fascist isn't an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.
These assertions may sound strange to modern ears, but that is because we have forgotten what fascism is. In this angry, funny, smart, contentious book, Jonah Goldberg turns our preconceptions inside out and shows us the true meaning of Liberal Fascism.
Monday, July 13, 2015
Panel with Jake Lloyd and Matthew Wood hosted by Warwick Davis at Star Wars Weekends 2006 at Disney MGM (now Hollywood Studios).
Thursday, July 9, 2015
Ever since Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination for president, he has drawn comparisons to a similarly disheveled, longtime politician with a cult-like following and a strong independent streak: former Congressman Ron Paul, who ran for the Republican nomination in 2008 and 2012. It’s true that Sanders and Paul have a lot in common: They both have rabid fan bases, don’t hold their tongues, and embrace ideologies that are rejected by the establishment of their respective parties. And like Paul, Sanders could challenge his party’s frontrunner early on, but doesn’t stand much of a chance of winning the nomination. As Slate’s Jamelle Bouie wrote this week:
Sanders won’t be the Democratic nominee. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be important. Here, it’s useful to think of Ron Paul … He helped bridge the divide between libertarians and the Republican right, and he inspired a new group of conservative and libertarian activists who have made a mark in the GOP through Paul’s son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. If Sanders can sustain and capture the left-wing enthusiasm for his campaign, he could do the same for progressives.
I disagree; Sanders’s campaign isn’t simply one that will put “democratic socialist” ideas on stage against a more mainstream Democratic view, as Paul sought to do with his libertarian ideas. Rather, his candidacy represents a wing of the Democratic Party whose influence on the establishment is increasing with each election, as moderate Democrats (and their Republican counterparts) become extinct.
For a more apt Republican analog to Sanders’ campaign, one must go back to 2000. John McCain, like Sanders, was thought to have little chance to defeat George W. Bush, who, as the son of a former president and governor of a major electoral state, had more money and more party support. But McCain harnessed the anti-establishment sentiment of the time to build a strong online following, at a time when the internet’s infancy as a political tool. He fought a hard campaign against Bush, even winning the New Hampshire primary, before being knocked out of the race in early March.
Apart from the major issue of campaign finance reform, however, he had very little major policy or ideological differences with Bush and the Republican establishment. What set him apart was his press-appointed “maverick” status: He was willing to say things in public that no other candidate would—what David Foster Wallace, in his classic profile of the McCain campaign, called “obvious truths that everyone knows but no recent politician anywhere’s had the stones to say.” (His campaign bus was even called the “Straight Talk Express.”)
Likewise, Sanders refuses to hold his tongue. In June, he opened an interview with HBO’s Bill Maher by saying, “This campaign is about a radical idea: we’re going to tell the truth.” And that message seems to be working with liberals and even disaffected voters. As one New Hampshire resident, a self-described undecided independent voter, told The New Republic recently, “Do I think he can win? No. But I do like the somewhat fresh take of being a straight shooter.”
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Terry Pratchett's profoundly irreverent, bestselling novels have garnered him a revered position in the halls of parody next to the likes of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.
In Equal Rites, a dying wizard tries to pass on his powers to an eighth son of an eighth son, who is just at that moment being born. The fact that the son is actually a daughter is discovered just a little too late.
The stunt show at Disney MGM (now Hollywood Studios) in Orlando, Florida. (2006)
Monday, July 6, 2015
David Hastings is a rare American. This long-time hybrid car owner from Oregon wants to pay higher taxes for roads and bridges and says the current 30 cents per gallon state gas tax barely affects him.
“I’ve been free-loading on the highways for 20 years driving electric cars or hybrid cars, getting at least 40 miles to the gallon. So I haven’t been paying my share,” Hastings said.
Now, Hastings will pay more thanks to OReGO — the first pay-by-the-mile program in the U.S.
Oregon’s Department of Transportation has been working on it for 15 years as a way to eventually replace the gas tax, which has been flat due to an influx of high mileage vehicles and people driving less.
Greece has defaulted on its debt to the International Monetary Fund, the first “developed” country to do so. But is Greece merely a casualty of a flawed eurozone or a canary in the coal mine?
After hobbling along on “emergency” loans for five years, a $1.73 billion payment due Tuesday night went unpaid — the largest missed payment in the international finance organization’s seventy-one-year history. The IMF tellingly refused to call the missed payment what it was: a default, opting instead for “in arrears” (which, for the uninitiated, is a complex, highly-technical financial term that means default). Greece now shares company in this respect with the likes of Sudan, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Haiti, Yugoslavia, and Somalia.
For Greece, the pain has been a long time coming, since it began relying on emergency loans five years ago. And now default — while sending shocks of volatility through global financial markets — has been almost anticlimactic. But the jagged lines on a financial chart tell little of the carnage happening on the ground, or of what is to come.
The problems Greece and the world face now are manifold. For Greeks, capital controls and bank closures have left people without access to the funds in their accounts. ATMs have lines stringing away from them at all hours, even though daily withdrawals are limited to €60. The next weapon in the financial warfare: deposit seizures. While it may be easy to dismiss these afflictions as the result of socialist policy, but that wouldn’t be an accurate characterization of what’s transpired.
No, when Greece resorted to emergency funding, the Troika (the collective pejorative for the European Commission, European Central Bank, and IMF) authorized €110 billion in assistance, in exchange for vague, unquantified promises of “austerity.” The more recent loans were actually diversion of interest payments on Greek debt owed to other eurozone countries, lent back to Greece. Even now, after default, there is little doubt in the financial world what the “solution” to the debt crisis will be — more debt.
Of course, it’s easy to dismiss these presumptions as the misguided naïveté of Keynesian central planners, but doing so ignores the more pervasive threat of sovereign debt. As Greeks are learning, the IMF (like many of the world’s central banks) will not accept default; it never has, and never will. Calling Greece “in arrears” didn’t do it any favors. The message is clear: you will pay. So although for a time Greece was comfortable, living beyond its means, it’s soon time to pay the piper.
Sovereign debt isn’t like a credit card, family budget, or a mortgage, no matter how many folksy analogies politicians make. No, government debt is something altogether more sinister. When a state borrows money, repayment is on the heads of its citizenry, without expiration. At one point in the Hellenic drama Germany’s war reparations were at issue. An infinitesimally small minority of the population could recall the war, and an even smaller subset — if any — was even remotely accountable. But the point is illustrated clearly: public debt is interminable.
Health insurance companies around the country are seeking rate increases of 20 percent to 40 percent or more, saying their new customers under the Affordable Care Act turned out to be sicker than expected. Federal officials say they are determined to see that the requests are scaled back.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans — market leaders in many states — are seeking rate increases that average 23 percent in Illinois, 25 percent in North Carolina, 31 percent in Oklahoma, 36 percent in Tennessee and 54 percent in Minnesota, according to documents posted online by the federal government and state insurance commissioners and interviews with insurance executives.
The Oregon insurance commissioner, Laura N. Cali, has just approved 2016 rate increases for companies that cover more than 220,000 people. Moda Health Plan, which has the largest enrollment in the state, received a 25 percent increase, and the second-largest plan, LifeWise, received a 33 percent increase.
Jesse Ellis O’Brien, a health advocate at the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, said: “Rate increases will be bigger in 2016 than they have been for years and years and will have a profound effect on consumers here. Some may start wondering if insurance is affordable or if it’s worth the money.”
President Obama, on a trip to Tennessee this week, said that consumers should put pressure on state insurance regulators to scrutinize the proposed rate increases. If commissioners do their job and actively review rates, he said, “my expectation is that they’ll come in significantly lower than what’s being requested.”
Thursday, July 2, 2015
Peter Mayhew and Rick McCallum at Sar Wars Weekends 2006 at Disney MGM Studios (Now Hollywood Studios) in Orlando, Florida.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Many think our government is for sale. However, by taking a look at the facts below provided by Open Secrets, it is easy to understand where they are coming from.
Looking back at Friday the 12th, the House voted on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), the controversial bill that gives power to the executive branch to negotiate treaties. TPA limits Congress’ ability to better a trade deal by subjecting members of Congress to 90 days of reviewing the trade agreement, prohibiting any amendments on the implementing legislation, and giving them an up or down vote.
TPA passed with a mere 219-211 vote with only 218 needed to pass. The real shocker comes from the amount of money each Representative received for a yes vote. In total, $197,869,145 was given to Representatives for a yes vote where as $23,065,231 was given in opposition.
John Boehner (R-OH) received $5.3 million for a “yea” vote and was the highest paid legislator.
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) received $2.4 million for his “yea” vote.
Paul Ryan (R-WI) received $2.4 million for a “yea” vote and came in at the third highest paid legislator.
Pat Tiberi (R-OH) follows Paul Ryan, coming in the fourth spot having received $1.6 million for his “yea” vote.
A key section of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement has been leaked to the public. The New York Times has a major story on the contents of the leaked chapter, and it’s as bad as many of us feared.
Now we know why the corporations and the Obama administration want the TPP, a huge “trade” agreement being negotiated between the United States and 11 other countries, kept secret from the public until it’s too late to stop it.
The section of the TPP that has leaked is the “Investment” chapter that includes investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses. WikiLeaks has the text and analysis, and the Times has the story, in “Trans-Pacific Partnership Seen as Door for Foreign Suits Against U.S.”:
An ambitious 12-nation trade accord pushed by President Obama would allow foreign corporations to sue the United States government for actions that undermine their investment “expectations” and hurt their business, according to a classified document.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership — a cornerstone of Mr. Obama’s remaining economic agenda — would grant broad powers to multinational companies operating in North America, South America and Asia. Under the accord, still under negotiation but nearing completion, companies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations.
The WikiLeaks analysis explains that this lets firms “sue” governments to obtain taxpayer compensation for loss of “expected future profits.”
Let that sink in for a moment: “[C]ompanies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals….” And they can collect not just for lost property or seized assets; they can collect if laws or regulations interfere with these giant companies’ ability to collect what they claim are “expected future profits.”
The Times’ report explains that this clause also “giv[es] greater priority to protecting corporate interests than promoting free trade and competition that benefits consumers.”
The tribunals that adjudicate these cases will be made up of private-sector (i.e., corporate) attorneys. These attorneys will rotate between serving on the tribunals and representing corporations that bring cases to be heard by the tribunals.
Sangamon Taylor's a New Age Sam Spade who sports a wet suit instead of a trench coat and prefers Jolt from the can to Scotch on the rocks. He knows about chemical sludge the way he knows about evil -- all too intimately. And the toxic trail he follows leads to some high and foul places. Before long Taylor's house is bombed, his every move followed, he's adopted by reservation Indians, moves onto the FBI's most wanted list, makes up with his girlfriend, and plays a starring role in the near-assassination of a presidential candidate. Closing the case with the aid of his burnout roomate, his tofu-eating comrades, three major networks, and a range of unconventional weaponry, Sangamon Taylor pulls off the most startling caper in Boston Harbor since the Tea Party. As he navigates this ecological thriller with hardboiled wit and the biggest outboard motor he can get his hands on, Taylor reveals himself as one of the last of the white-hatted good guys in a very toxic world.