As Americans are rejoicing over falling gasoline prices, the Senate is preparing to introduce a gas tax hike. The increase would serve to eliminate the deficit in the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which pays for bridges and roads around the country.
Although some GOP senators are opposed to a tax hike, some are leading the charge to move forward. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) along with Chris Dodd (D-CT) have proposed a 12 cent gas tax hike over two years. In order to make the hike more agreeable to anti-tax senators, they promise to lower other taxes.
Currently, there is an 18.4 cent tax on gasoline — last raised in 1993. Revenue from that tax isn’t cutting it anymore as cars are becoming increasingly fuel efficient. Meanwhile, stopgap funding for the Federal Highway Trust Fund is running out and projects are being held up. The fund will be short more than $160 billion over the next ten years.
Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) , chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said the gas tax could not be ruled out. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, also agreed.
Corker said he is looking for a permanent fix to the fund’s deficit. “We’re open to all kinds of ways in dealing with this,” Corker said. “But one thing I will lay in the railroad tracks over is any kind of short-term, kick-the-can-down-the-road (approach).”
Speaker of the House John Boehner is opposed to a gas tax hike and said Thursday: “There are a lot of people with a lot of ideas. We’ve got to find a way to deal with America’s crumbling infrastructure and we need to do it in a long-term program that is in fact funded.”
Russia has released new road safety regulations that ban people with “sexual disorders from driving.” Among this group are transexuals and transvestites, and the AP writes this is ” ostensibly for medical reasons.”
The regulations have been criticized by human rights activists.
“The new Russian rules banning people from driving because of their gender identity are ridiculous and unlawful,” Nils Muiznieks, human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, said in a message posted Friday on Facebook. He urged Russia “to immediately amend the rules to remove this ban.”
The government resolution was signed on December 29, 2014, by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and lists certain medical conditions including people with “mental and behavioral disorders” defined by World Health Organizations that the Russian government thinks should disqualify someone from driving.
WHO is not amused: “That is certainly not the intent of WHO’s classifications,” said Shekhar Saxena, director of WHO’s mental health department. He said they were meant to lead to more reliable diagnosis, so “for example, when someone is diagnosed with a disease in Germany, they would get the same diagnosis in France.”
Human Rights First called the new rules an “alarming violation” of the rights of the transgender community. Shawn Gaylord of Human Rights First said in a statement that the new rule “leaves the door open for increased harassment, persecution and discrimination of transgender people by Russian authorities.”
Speaking in Phoeniz, Arizona, yesterday, President Obama told his audience not to go out and buy a gas guzzling car just because gas prices are low right now.
“Gas prices aren’t going to be low forever, so don’t start suddenly saying you don’t have to worry about fuel efficiency,” Obama told a crowd in Phoenix on Thursday.
“If you’re going out shopping for a new car, don’t think it’s always going to be this low, because then you’ll be surprised and you’ll be mad at me later … and I’ll be able to say, ‘I told you don’t get a gas guzzler because gas is going to go back up.’
“But while it’s low, enjoy it. And feel free to spend some of that money on local businesses, who then will hire more people and put more folks back to work.”
A California newspaper office was vandalized late Wednesday night or Thursday morning with the message “The border is illegal, not the people who cross it.”
The front office of Santa Barbara News-Press had that message spray painted with red paint across the wall, according to the paper’s director of operations Donald Katich. “The attack came amid wider objections to a News-Press headline that used the word ‘illegals’ alongside a story on California granting driver’s licenses to people in the country illegally.”
“The vandalism and the damage speak for itself, as well as the motivation behind it,” Santa Barbara Police Officer Mitch Jan said. “At this point in time, I don’t really have any suspect information. Without cameras or an eyewitness, we really don’t know who would be responsible.”
There was also graffiti on the walkway through Storke Plaza and the sidewalk near Santa Barbara City Hall “espousing a no-borders mentality.” Protests were expected later this week.
The newspaper released a statement saying it will not stop using the term illegal immigrants.
“It has been the practice for nearly 10 years at the Santa Barbara News-Press to describe people living in this country illegally as ‘illegals’ regardless of their country of origin,” the statement read.
“It is an appropriate term in describing someone as ‘illegal’ if they are in this country illegally,” the statement added.
Some newspapers have stopped using the term. In 2013, the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times banned the phrase, saying it “lacked precision.” On the other hand, the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal all use the term.
Lebanon’s “homegrown” 21-year-old porn star Mia Khalifa is in the middle of a controversy in her home country. Social media in Lebanon is divided “on moral grounds” over Lebanese-American Khalifa, who now lives in Miami’s South Beach and is the most searched-for “actress” on the website PornHub.
It’s a far cry from the country’s other search engine favorite, Amal Alamuddin (Mrs. George Clooney).
In much of Khalifa’s “work,” she appears performing sex acts wearing a hijab.
Some reactions have not been positive.
hijab is something holy, and beautiful, having sex on camera with it is degrading it’s meaning.
— frunc (@phantasmagorix) January 6, 2015
To which Khalifa responded:
“Doesn’t the Middle East have more important things to worry about besides me?”
Some critics were a little harsher.
@miakhalifa This will be so funny when you die and find out there is a God hahahahahaha
— Muhammad Khalaf (@Muhammaad11) January 3, 2015
Juliana Yazbeck, a writer at NOW Lebanon, was concerned about Khalifa’s effect on other Lebanese women. “It never even crossed my mind to think, ‘she doesn’t have the right.’ What did cross my mind was: ‘Really? Of the very few Lebanese women who are making global headlines, it had to be a porn star?’”
But Khalifa has her supporters: Gino Raidy, a Lebanese blogger, wrote, “I think it’s pretty great that at a time when the Lebanese government and authorities are following in the footsteps of our ultra-conservative Arab counterparts and banning porn sites in Lebanon, one of our own topped the charts of the biggest names in online porn.”
Last night, comedian Louis C.K. appeared at Madison Square Garden showing his support for the murder victims at the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The comedian wore “a red T-shirt with the magazine’s name written on it in black ink.”
“The words appeared to be handwritten, although it was unclear whether Louis C.K. himself made the shirt.”
Others public figures demonstrated their support for the satire magazine after 12 people were gunned down and murdered by men screaming “Allahu akbar.”
Salman Rushdie also came out publicly against the attacks, as did Jon Stewart, who said “Comedy shouldn’t be an act of courage.”
— Mike Ivers (@TheMikeIvers) January 8, 2015
On Tuesday, Curt Schilling was denied entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame for the third year in a row and he shared some thoughts about the “snub.” The former pitcher claimed that being a “high-profile” Republican caused some HOF voters to leave him off their ballots.
Schilling speculated in an interview with Boston radio station WEEI yesterday and asserted that new Hall of Famer John Smoltz got the votes because of his Democrat leanings.
“[Smoltz] is a Hall-of-Famer. And I think the other big thing is that I think he’s a Democrat, and so… I know that as a Republican, that there’s some people who really don’t like that,” Schilling said.
(Smoltz donated to Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012.)
The hosts went along with Shilling’s claim, saying: “If you’d just said, ‘vote Kerry,’ you might be in the Hall of Fame right now.” To which Schilling responded, “Absolutely.”
Schilling’s comments raised some ire on Twitter, to which the pitcher responded that he was only joking.
@MoRings42 Listen to the interview, then shut your pie hole. It was said in jest you dink.
— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) January 7, 2015
President Obama tells the United Nations that “the future does not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam” in September 2012.
A new report reveals that six people die each day from alcohol poisoning. The report was released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which estimated that 2,221 people older than 15 died of alcohol poisoning each day during the time between 2010 and 2012. Almost three quarters were men and, surprisingly, 77% were between the ages of 35-64. Only 5% were in the younger cohort of 15-24.
“There’s a lot of binge drinking going on post-college age,” report co-author Robert Brewer says.
Death occurs when alcohol levels in the blood are high enough to shut down brain areas controlling breathing, heart rate and temperature. Warning signs can include confusion, difficulty remaining conscious, vomiting, trouble breathing, a slow heart rate and clammy skin, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
The CDC defines binge drinking as consuming four or more drinks in two hours for women, and five drinks in two hours for men. The CDC says most binge drinkers drink an average of eight drinks at a time.
“Alcohol poisoning is caused by consuming a very large amount of alcohol in a very short amount of time,” says Ileana Arias, the CDC’s deputy principal director. “The more your drink, the more you are at risk.”
But the number of drinks and blood levels of alcohol vary from person to person, according to emergency room physician Ryan Stanton.
“I see some people come in walking around with blood levels that are six or eight times the legal limit for driving,” he says. The legal limit in all states is a blood concentration of 0.08%.
Most deaths from alcohol poisoning do not come from alcoholics, people physically addicted to alcohol. “Fewer than one-third of the deaths happen in alcoholics, people who are physically addicted to alcohol, the CDC says. Most binge drinkers are not alcoholics, recent research shows.”
Fraternal Order of Police President Chuck Canterbury sent letters to both the Obama administration and Congressional leadership arguing if targeting “race, color, creed, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability” results in higher criminal penalties so should targeting the law enforcement community.
“Now Americans who choose to be law enforcement officers, who choose to serve their communities and put their lives on the line for their fellow citizens, find themselves hunted and targeted just because of the uniform they wear,” Canterbury said in the letter.
Canterbury issued a statement on Monday but the letters to Obama and Congress were dated Tuesday and were characterized by Buzzfeed Politics as “a formal call for action.”
“My thoughts and prayers over the past few weeks have been with the families of officers who were, with malice and forethought, gunned down just because they served as police officers,” Canterbury said in his statement Monday. “Enough is enough! It’s time for Congress to do something to protect the men and women who protect us.”
The letter explains that 47 law enforcement officers were killed by gunfire in 2014, including 9 which were “ambush killings.”
“We do not accept that our uniforms alone make us targets because someone was driven to rage over a perceived injustice or desires to strike a blow against our civil government,” the letter said.
Tomorrow, President Obama will begin a three-day, three-city tour highlighting the proposals he will discuss in his State of Union speech later this month. One stop on the president’s visit will be the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, “where he is expected to tout the resurgence of the domestic auto industry.”
The plant, however, will be closed according to the Detroit News “because of lagging demand for its small gasoline-powered and hybrid cars.”
The White House released the site of Wednesday’s visit late Monday night. The Detroit Free Press describes: “the president will deliver remarks recognizing the growth in the American auto and manufacturing sectors and ‘highlighting the decision to save the auto industry and the over one million jobs that went with it.’”
The plant’s workers are still getting paid, despite the temporary closing. Falling gas prices are doing no favors for retailers manufacturing hybrid automobiles. “Autoworkers on temporary layoff get most of their pay. Oil prices fell Monday below $50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange for the first time since April 2009, while Michigan gasoline averaged $1.91 a gallon Monday, according to AAA Michigan.”
The plant is traditionally closed during Christmas but had added an extra week to manage “capacity,” according to Ford Spokeswoman Kristina Adamski.
The Obama administration has provided over $80B in “bridge financing” that was credited with helping both Chrysler and General Motors. Ford, not so much.
After Detroit, where Obama is expected to spend about two hours, he will head to Phoenix to talk about the housing industry.
That’s a high-brow way of saying “selfie.”
The class runs about $200 and promises students will “improve your critical understanding of the photographic self portrait, on this introductory course.”
The class will teach students to transcend the ubiquitous “mirror selfie” as it requires its students (narcissists?) to bring a DSLR camera and possess a basic knowledge of more advanced camera functions like ISO, aperture and white balance.
The class also promises students will “develop ideas towards the creation of a coherent body of work” which we here in America call a Facebook feed of selfies.
The course curriculum includes “lectures and presentations, seminars, discussion and group work. Critiques of students’ work will form an important role in the learning process from the second week forward.”
If you can’t participate in the London class, there’s always the “selfie stick” to add a little variety to your selfie repertoire.
General Motors announced yesterday a recall of more than 92,000 additional vehicles over an ignition switch problem responsible for 42 deaths.
The taxpayer bailed-out auto company has already recalled millions of cars on account of the defect, which can switch off a car’s power steering and airbags while it is in motion.
GM is already facing investigations by regulators, US Congress and the Justice Department about why it waited more than 10 years after uncovering the ignition switch problem before issue a recall of vehicles.
The latest recall affects some 83,572 trucks in the United States from the 2011-2012 model year, as well as vehicles from 2007 to 2014 that were repaired with faulty parts.
Including vehicles in Canada and Mexico, the total number of recalls comes to 92,221.
Models affected include the Chevrolet Silverado, Avalanche, Tahoe, and Suburban, as well as the Cadillac Escalade and the GMC Sierra and Yukon.
Fewer than 500 vehicles are expected to have the defect, GM said in a statement, adding that, as of December 10, 2014, the company did not know of any accidents in the named models related to the problem.
The company has a special fund set up for victims of the defect. There are plans to pay $1M per fatality and $300,000 to each surviving spouse and beneficiary.
Yesterday, the exorbitant 75% payroll tax was killed off quietly by the French government.
In a shock to no one with any sense, the tax failed to raise “significant revenue” and was accused of driving people who earn large incomes away from France.
The tax raised only €420 million ($505.8 million) in 2013 and 2014 combined, less than 0.5% of France’s current budget deficit. It expires at the end of this month and won’t be renewed, as the government tries to take a more business-friendly approach.
Although French President Francios Hollande campaigned in 2012 on the 75% tax rate, earlier last year he “reshuffled” his cabinet as part of a new pro-business drive.
The French economy is in deep trouble. France’s major statistical agency is projecting growth at just 0.3% in the first half of the year. This level of slow growth indicates that unemployment levels will not be dropping anytime soon. France’s unemployment rate recently rose to 10.4%.
The AP reports that America’s piano stores are shutting their doors, as children are taking up other recreational activities. “Fewer people take up the instrument and those who do often opt for a less expensive electronic keyboard or a used piano. Some blame computers and others note the high cost of new pianos, but what’s clear is that a long-term decline in sales has accelerated.”
They hey day of the new piano was in 1909, when more than 364K new pianos were sold. That figures has dropped to the 30,000-40,000 range currently.
Larry Fine, a Boston-based piano technician, consultant and author, said it’s an indication of a changing society.
“Computer technology has just changed everything about what kids are interested in,” said Fine, who also publishes a website offering consumer information on new and used pianos. “People are interested in things that don’t take much effort, so the idea of sitting and playing an hour a day to learn piano is not what kids want to do.”
“Children these days are being recruited for so many other activities, whether it’s soccer, gymnastics, or swimming,” said Robin Walenta, CEO of West Music, a music retailer with a chain of stores in Iowa and Illinois.
Many stores began including digital pianos with electronics to keep interest up. “On a digital piano they can practice with a harpsichord sound or a trumpet sound. It makes it more fun,” she said. “Kids these days need that kind of interaction to be interested.”
Likewise, retailers selling new pianos were competing with themselves, as their merchandise would hit the market as a “used” item at a fraction of the cost.
A well-maintained piano can last between 50 to 70 years, according to Peter Stumpf, a piano technician with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. But Stumpf is optimistic about the piano’s relevance: “Having all the notes laid out in front of you spatially is really an important way to learn music,” he said. “It’s why it’s one of the most important instruments for people to begin on. That’s not going to change.”
Americans’ obsession with themselves continues to manifest, as Bloomberg reports that the “selfie stick” is a retail hit. More than 100,000 have been purchased during the month of December alone.
If you aren’t one of the many Americans who love to take photos of themselves and post them all over social media, a selfie stick is a stick you can attach to your cell phone which enables you to take a picture of yourself at a higher angle. Perhaps the people you inflict your selfie photos on are tired of the standard “arms length” angle and are looking for something new. If so, the selfie stick is for you.
Here is a photo of people using one:
Nordstrom is “scrambling” to restock the stick, selling out twice before Christmas. It is currently sold out of the “selfie on a stick” model, in case you were in the market for one.
“It was one of the most popular Christmas gifts this year,” Andy Brennan, an analyst at IBISWorld, told Bloomberg. “Every retailer I spoke with about selfie sticks sold out and had to resupply.”
Never fear, if your vanity is compelling you to procure one of these awful devices, they are available for purchase at Walmart, Best Buy and Amazon.
The Guardian reported over the weekend that Pope Francis will issue an encyclical asking Catholics to ask for action on climate change. The pope’s directive will “coincide” with the Lima Agreement that seeks to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Although the Vatican has not confirmed that the document is in the works, the article quotes several authorities by name, and they speak as if it is a done deal. The document would be in keeping with the Pope’s messages on environmental stewardship; the article quotes Francis as telling an audience in Latin America, “Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness.” It’s also consistent with his general high regard for scientific findings.
Not everyone is on the same page. The Guardian points out in a smug, derisive tone that Cardinal George Pell has publicly questioned the understanding of climate:
In a speech he gave to a UK think tank that questions the reality of anthropogenic climate change, he raised many of the tired, already-answered arguments that are features of the self-labelled “skeptic” community. (He also quotes some of the least reliable sources of climate information out there.)
The Guardian offers a quote from a U.S. evangelical group saying “the pope should back off” and that the Vatican “has been mislead on the science.” The group making the statement was the Cornwall Group, which the Guardian sneers “is about as well-informed as Cardinal Pell, given that its statement on climate change contains things like ‘We deny that carbon dioxide—essential to all plant growth—is a pollutant.’ ”
According to a new report released today, law enforcement deaths have risen to the highest levels in three years with a 56% increase in the number of police officers killed by gunfire in 2014. “This year, 126 federal, state and local officers have died in the line of duty, according to data compiled and released today by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. That’s up from 102 last year. Fifty were shot, compared with 32 in 2013.”
Tensions between the public and the police are strained following the high profile shooting of Michael Brown, the choking death of Eric Garner, and the subsequent murder of two police officers in Brooklyn. The grand jury refused to indict the police officers involved in the former situations and the latter occurred under the guise of a revenge act against the police for the deaths of civilians during police encounters
“I’m deeply concerned that a growing anti-government sentiment in America is influencing weak-minded individuals to launch violent assaults against the men and women working to enforce our laws and keep our nation safe,” Craig Floyd, the memorial fund’s chairman, said in a telephone interview. “Enough is enough. We need to tone down the rhetoric and rally in support of law enforcement and against lawlessness.”
Not all the deaths involved gunfire: 49 of the 126 deaths involved traffic accidents.
The last time law enforcement deaths hit this kind of high in recent history was in 2011, when police deaths were at 171. After implementing certain policies, the death toll fell to 123 in 2012 and to 102 in 2013. The highest measured level of police deaths in a single year was in 1930, with 300 law enforcement deaths.
Some of the more high profile deaths of law enforcement officers this year include two Las Vegas policemen who were shot to death by a husband wife team. Most recently was the death of two police officers in Brooklyn who were shot “execution style” by a man who left social media messages that he was retaliating for police killings of black men.
The digital research team Echelon has analyzed the Twitter news cycle and found that the most tweeted news story of 2014 was the Ferguson grand jury verdict. The shooting death of 18 year-old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson created more mentions than any other story, both the events surrounding the shooting and the grand jury verdict several months later.
“And between the initial protests that followed Brown’s death and the grand jury decision months later that cleared Officer Wilson of any charges, #Ferguson was far and away the most talked-about event of the year.”
The second most popular news topic was the midterm elections, followed by the State of the Union address.
The firm also broke down Twitter mention by political leaning and found that while conservatives had more to say about Benghazi, guns, Iraq and Ebola, liberals were more likely to talk about Chris Christie, Obamacare, Ferguson/Eric Garner and the midterm elections. But regardless of political persuasion, the most-talked about politician for both sides, by far, was President Barack Obama.
The firm also reported the most re-tweeted tweet of the year, which was entirely apolitical:
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014
Roche Holding has announced that U.S. officials have approved its Ebola test for emergency use.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Roche’s LightMix Ebola Zaire rRT-PCR Test for use on patients with signs and symptoms of Ebola Zaire virus infection, the Swiss drugmaker said in a statement.
The LightMix test can generate results in a little over three hours so that infected patients can begin treatment as soon as possible.
Because the FDA has approved the test with an emergency designation, some laboratories in the U.S. will be authorized to use the test to detect the type of Ebola that has been spreading around West Africa. The test has not been approved for general use.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said the global death toll from Ebola has “risen to 7,588 out of 19,497 confirmed cases recorded.”
Last night, Sony announced that the controversial film <em>The Interview</em> had generated $15M in online revenue. The movie was downloaded or rented more than 2 million times.
9/11 style threats lead Sony to pull the movie from theaters but they later decided to release it in certain online venues on Christmas Eve. The movie can be purchased or rented from Youtube, Google Play, Xbox, and Sony’s site seetheinterview.com.
Apple has also jumped on to the bandwagon, making the movie available on itunes.
The price to buy the movie is $14.99 and $5.99 to rent.
Most of the movie’s business came from Google Play and YouTube. The movie was pirated, however, more than 1.5M times in the first two days, according to torrent freak.
Several independent movie theaters showed <em>The Interview</em>, generating about $3M in revenue.
To put it in perspective, the film cost $100M to make, so it isn’t exactly a box office success.
Sony’s full announcement:
Sony Pictures Entertainment today announced the total number of online rentals and purchases for The Interview through the first four days of the holiday weekend.
Through Saturday, December 27, including all of its online distribution platforms, The Interview has been rented or purchased online more than 2 million times. Total consumer spending through Saturday for The Interview online is over $15 million.
In addition to the strong turnout for its limited theatrical release over the holiday weekend, after only four days, The Interview already ranks as Sony Pictures #1 online film of all time.
The Interview was made available online across the United States at 10AM PST on Christmas Eve to rent in HD on Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and the dedicated website www.seetheinterview.com at a price of $5.99. The film was also available for purchase in HD for $14.99. Online distribution was expanded to Canada through Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft’s Xbox Video starting later that afternoon.
A spokesman for the Ferguson Police Department was suspended after describing a memorial to Michael Brown as “trash” to a Washington Post blogger.
The memorial is located near the Canfield Green apartments in the spot where Brown, an African American, was shot and killed by a white police officer, Darren Wilson. A grand jury did not indict Wilson for Brown’s murder.
KMOV-TV reported that Officer Timothy Zoll was placed on unpaid leave after he made the comment to the press. He will face a disciplinary hearing.
On Friday, Zoll was speaking to a blogger for the Washington Post when he was asked about reports in the media that the memorial to Brown had been intentionally destroyed.
KMOV said Zoll told the blogger he didn’t know if a crime had occurred and then added, “But a pile of trash in the middle of the street? The Washington Post is making a call over this?”
Initially, the police officer told his superiors he did not make the comment but later admitted that he did.
“The Ferguson Police Department wants to emphasize that negative remarks about the Michael Brown memorial do not reflect the feelings of the Ferguson Police Department and are in direct contradiction to the efforts of city officials to relocate the memorial to a more secure location,” the department said in a statement, according to KSDK (Channel 5).
Retailing Today reports that Hershey’s has collaborated with 3D Systems to create a 3D chocolate printer for an exhibit at Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, PA. The 3D chocolate exhibit opens today.
Visitors can design, “print” and purchase their own chocolate creations.
People will also be able to see what they look like in 3D chocolate … because who wouldn’t want to see that?
The 3D printing business is projected to become a $13M industry, so it’s no surprise that the chocolate kingpin would want a chocolatey piece of that action.
“This exhibit is a great example of co-creation with consumers. They will be instrumental in shaping the future of commercially available 3-D chocolate printing,” Hershey Co.’s chief research and development officer, Will Papa, said in a news release.
If you can’t make it to Hershey’s in PA anytime soon, you can watch the 3D printer in action:
On Thursday, Nebraska and Oklahoma asked the Supreme Court to overturn Colorado’s law legalizing recreational use of marijuana. The states claim that Colorado’s law violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.
Marijuana is flowing into neighboring states causing a law enforcement hassle.
Nebraska’s Attorney General Job Brunning said the law is creating problems in his states where the drug is still illegal. “Colorado has created a system that legalizes, promotes and facilitates distribution of marijuana,” Mr. Bruning said in a statement. “The illegal products of this system are heavily trafficked into neighboring states, causing an unnecessary burden on the state of Nebraska. Colorado has undermined the United States Constitution, and I hope the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold our constitutional principles.”
Oklahoma’s Attorney General Scott Pruitt is also having a tough time enforcing anti-marijuana laws.
“As the state’s chief legal officer, the attorney general’s office is taking this step to protect the health and safety of Oklahomans,” Mr. Pruitt said in a statement.
Colorado’s top law enforcement official promises to defend Colorado’s law.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers claims the responsibility is with the federal government to enforce federal law.
“Because neighboring states have expressed concern about Colorado-grown marijuana coming into their states, we are not entirely surprised by this action,” Mr. Suthers said. “However, it appears the plaintiffs’ primary grievance stems from non-enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana, as opposed to choices made by the voters of Colorado. We believe this suit is without merit and we will vigorously defend against it in the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper told the Denver Post that he has discussed these issues with Nebraska and Oklahoma, adding “I’m not sure filing a lawsuit is the most constructive way to find a solution to whatever issues there are.”
A new poll conducted by AP-GfK shows Americans are “skeptical that the benefits of the heralded drone revolution will outweigh the risks to privacy and safety.”
However, they do favor using drones for dangerous jobs or in remote areas.
AP reports that “by a 2-1 margin, those who had an opinion opposed using drones for commercial purposes. Only 21 percent favored commercial use of drones, compared with 43 percent opposed. Another 35 percent were in the middle.”
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is about to broaden the regulations that govern small drone use. Once those go in effect, there could be dones everywhere. Congress also wants the FAA to move on the regulations, as the drone industry is expected to “create 100,000 jobs and $82 billion in economic impact in the first 10 years they’re allowed, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a trade group.”
Women and seniors were least supportive of the drones while white college graduates and wealthier people were most supportive.
Only 1 in 4 people support using drones to deliver small packages and 39% were opposed. There was a similar breakdown on the question of whether drones should be used to take pictures during weddings or private events. Only 23% favor the recreational use of drones.
The civil rights group ColorOfChange has started a petition urging Sony Pictures to fire co-chairman Amy Pascal.
In question are several emails that were hacked and leaked to the public, showing Pascal and Scott Rudin, a producer, joking about what “black” movies they should talk about with President Obama.
“Pascal’s comments are confirmation of the manipulative, exploitative relationship corporations like Sony have with Black folks” the petition reads. “Our genius, our cultural products, and our $1.1 trillion in buying power are not given the respect they deserve, regardless of the massive sums of money they result in for people like Amy Pascal.”
“We must hold Pascal accountable here; not just for her horrendous comments, but also for her role at the helm of a corporate agenda that views Black America as one big, lucrative joke,” reads the ColorOfChange letter.
Pascal has apologized for the comments in her leaked email:
“The content of my emails to Scott were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am,” Pascal said in her apology. “Although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended.”
Here is a copy of the petition:
Dear Sony Pictures Entertainment,
Amy Pascal’s recently-unearthed, racially-charged email exchanges are completely unacceptable.
Her comments — which included speculation about President Obama’s taste in films (“Django,” “12 years,” “Or the butler. Or think like a man?,” “Ride Along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart.”) as well as the assertion that TV deals are “the new Black baby” in Hollywood — seem to confirm a manipulative, exploitative relationship corporations like Sony have with Black folks.
With so many incredible Black entertainers contributing their time and talents to Sony pictures — and Black audiences giving millions of their hard-earned money to your films as well — Pascal’s behavior is a truly intolerable slap in the face.
We demand Amy Pascal be fired from Sony Pictures Entertainment immediately.
A man in a red suit with a white beard robbed a Wells Fargo bank in San Francisco during the SantaCon party last weekend.
CBS San Francisco reports that a man dressed as Santa Claus approached the teller Saturday afternoon with a note demanding money.
The robber is described as 40-50 years old and about 5ft 11 inches. No word if he had elves or reindeer with him.
The devious Claus slipped into the streets filled with other merry Santas celebrating at the SantaCon party.
“The suspect decided to take advantage of this event dressed as a Santa,” said SFPD spokeswoman Grace Gatpandan.
The Alamo Draft House in Texas will show Team America: World Police now that the “controversial” movie The Interview has been pulled from theaters.
FOR THE RECORD: We were still going to show #TheInterviewMovie…
— Alamo Drafthouse DFW (@AlamoDFW) December 17, 2014
But instead the theater will host a huge Team America: World Police party on December 27.
— Alamo Drafthouse DFW (@AlamoDFW) December 17, 2014
In case you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about an American attack on North Korea and the late Kim Jung-Il. And it’s told with puppets.
Watch the trailer:
The U.S. Navy has revealed a new underwater drone named “Ghostswimmer” that looks like a giant blue fin tuna.
“GhostSwimmer will allow the Navy to have success during more types of missions while keeping divers and Sailors safe,” said Michael Rufo, director of Boston Engineering’s Advanced Systems Group. “It swims just like a fish does by oscillating its tail fin back and forth. The unit is a combination of unmanned systems engineering and unique propulsion and control capabilities.”
The spy-fish-drone is 5ft long and weighs 100 lbs. It can swim from 10 inches to 300 feet deep.
“This project and others that we are working on at the CRIC are important because we are harnessing the brainpower and talents of junior Sailors,” said Capt. Jim Loper, department head for Concepts and Innovation, Navy Warfare Development Command. “The opportunity for a young Sailor who has a good idea to get that idea hears, and to get it turned into action, is grater [now]than any other time in our Navy’s history.”
Yesterday, President Obama quietly signed the contentious $1.1 trillion spending bill into law. The bill will keep the government funded for nine more months.
Fox News writes: “The measure retains cuts negotiated in previous budget battles and rolls back some banking regulations. But it also retains spending for Obama’s health care law and pays for the administration’s fight against Ebola.”
The Department of Homeland Security will only be funded until February 27, 2015.
The agreement, negotiated mainly by Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and House and Senate Republican leaders, was the result of a determined effort by House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to avoid a government shutdown like the partial one in 2013 that damaged the GOP’s standing with the public.
Not all Republicans were pleased with the negotiations. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) “chafed” at Republican leadership’s refusal to use the spending bill to challenge Obama’s executive amnesty plan that would “shield more than 4 million immigrants from deportation and make them eligible for work permits.”
On the other hand, liberals were unhappy with a provision “that did away with a requirement that large banks spin off their lucrative derivatives business into separate subsidiaries” and certain changes to campaign finance reform laws.
After hackers threatened a “9/11 style” attack against the The Interview premiere, the movie’s stars have cancelled their press tour.
The movie is a comedy about a pair of journalists who are enlisted by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jung-un.
The duo cancelled appearances on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Watch What Happens Live,” a Yahoo interview, and a Buzzfeed Brews event in New York on Tuesday that was cancelled just a few hours before it was supposed to take place.
“The world will be full of fear,” states the scary message. “Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.”
North Korea is thought to be behind the attack because of the movie’s subject matter, but they have denied any involvement in the attacks but said the hack was “righteous deed.”
More from Adams: ”Whenever [there is a] Republican … traitor like Scott McClellan or Dave Iglesias who used to be at the Justice Department, they are raised to hero status, they’re feted in the media.”
PJ Media’s Legal Editor J. Christian Adams appeared on Fox Business’s Lou Dobbs Tonight to talk about the Obama administration’s attitude about the rule of law and NSA reforms.
(UPDATED: RNC Responds to PJ Media) EXCLUSIVE: RNC Operatives Join Holder’s Campaign Against Texas, Several Other States
RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer is denying the claims made within this article, both via phone and by submitting comments below as “SeanS”.
Additionally, Tom Hofeller, mentioned in this article, claims via email that this article is “unequivocally false.”
PJ Media not only has 100% confidence in the accuracy of the article’s contents, we offered Spicer, via email, three additional questions for the RNC to answer regarding their denial:
1. Does RNC oppose a renewed Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, or is the story accurate that RNC consultants are working on a fix?
2. Does RNC oppose an amended Section 4?
3. Was RNC’s staff involved in the 2006 reauthorization of Section 5 — advocating amendment and higher burdens on states?
We stated that we would wait for their responses and would publish them in this article.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that the Justice Department will seek to recapture Texas and return it to federal oversight for approval of all election law changes such as photo voter identification. Holder’s move comes after the Supreme Court in June freed Texas and other states from the requirement that all state election laws be approved in Washington, D.C. Holder’s move prompted outrage from Texas Senators Ted Cruz, John Cornyn and Governor Rick Perry.
The three should also be angry with the Republican National Committee. PJ Tatler has learned that staff at the RNC have been spending RNC donations plotting to do exactly what Eric Holder is seeking to do – return Texas and other states to federal oversight.
According to RNC sources frustrated with the race-based effort, paid RNC consultant Tom Hofeller (email@example.com) is spending RNC donations to develop race-based criteria to grab Texas and other states and place them back into federal receivership. The sources tell Tatler that nearly all of the members of the actual committee have been kept in the dark about this effort, and no mention is ever made in RNC fundraising efforts — for good reason, because GOP donors would be furious.
Hofeller, a long-time RNC consultant on redistricting, has devised ways to force several states back into federal receivership by amending the Voting Rights Act to grab states and force them to obtain Washington, D.C. approval. He is hopeful that Congressional Republicans will use his RNC-generated ideas to accomplish this goal.
So far, the Republicans in Congress have shown more sense than the Republicans paid by the RNC, and are cool to the idea of returning states to federal receivership.
According to congressional sources, Hofeller has also been misrepresenting the importance of the law struck down by the Supreme Court. Hofeller has told Hill sources the federal election oversight law is essential to elect Republicans, something most Republicans on the Hill no longer believe is true. Hofeller has spread this message while being paid by the RNC.
RNC fundraising is down this year. If the rank and file learn that donations are being used to place states back under Eric Holder’s boot, to attack voter ID, and pay race-obsessed consultants like Hofeller, expect RNC fundraising to suffer further. Why should donors pay the RNC to help Eric Holder attack Texas?
The bigger question: why is the RNC paying anyone like Tom Hofeller one red cent to do something that the overwhelming majority of Republicans oppose?
July 4, 1776
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.