Friday, August 31, 2018

A Japanese Editorial about Trump and the Media

A staff member for U.S. President Donald Trump blocks a camera as a photojournalist attempts to take a photo of a protester during a rally in Evansville, Indiana, on Thursday. | AP

Can U.S. media stand up for press freedom?

The Japan Times  by Keiko Tsuyama  Contributing Writer
U.S. President Donald Trump keeps attacking the media, calling journalists and the media the “enemy of the people.”

In its Aug. 16 print edition, the Boston Globe finally launched a counteroffensive by carrying an editorial titled “Journalists are not the enemy.” The same day, more than 350 newspapers across the United States joined in by running similar columns.

Over 400 media outlets, including TV and radio broadcasters, sided with the Globe. The U.S. Senate also unanimously adopted an unusual resolution declaring that the media are not the enemy of the people, throwing its support behind the calls to respect freedom of the press.

In his Twitter messages, Trump almost daily repeats his denunciation of the traditional U.S. media, such as CNN, major TV networks, The New York Times and The Washington Post as “fake news” or “enemy of the people.”

He even tweeted recently of his hatred for the “fake, fake and disgusting media.” What’s more disturbing is that in addition to attacking specific media companies, the president goes on to say that “news is fake” — as if to plant an impression that the very act of news reporting and the news itself are bogus.

The Washington Post reported that Trump in his first year as president repeated false or factually misleading arguments 2,140 times — a pace of nearly six a day. The media has meanwhile responded to the onslaught from Trump and his supporters with excellent news coverage, including scoops on Russia’s alleged intervention in the 2016 campaign. In other words, through pure acts of journalism.

That alone, however, has not been an effective rebuttal against Trump’s tweets — that the media are a public enemy and that the news is fake. Strenuous fact-checking and scoops won’t amount to much unless the stories are read by the people, and several tweets a day of seditious words by the president leaves a stronger impression on the public.

The simultaneous editorial campaign — which can be called some sort of a media counteroffensive — was proposed by the Boston Globe. In early August, its editorial committee told newspapers across the U.S. as well as the American Society of News Editors that it would run an editorial warning against the danger of the Trump administration’s attacks on the media, and called out to other newspapers to carry editorials and columns fighting Trump’s “dirty war” against the media.

The front-page lead article in the Aug. 16 edition of the Globe headlined “Journalists are not the enemy” first cites some data to show what’s happening among U.S. citizens as a consequence of the Trump administration’s assault on the media. It quotes a survey by the Paris-based research and consulting firm Ipsos showing that 26 percent of adult Americans polled agree that “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior,” whereas a majority, 53 percent, do not agree. This indicates that more than a quarter of Americans — even as they live in a democracy — condone a dictator and dictatorship.

In a question asking about the “favorability” of each media outlet, 56 percent of the respondents had a favorable view of The New York Times, but 29 percent said they have an unfavorable opinion of the paper. Given its liberal editorial position, 83 percent of the Democrats chose “favorable,” but among the Republicans only 33 percent did so, outnumbered by the 53 percent who called it “unfavorable.”

The Boston Globe warns that the fact that 26 percent of Americans agree that the president should have the power to shut down news outlets (and 53 percent of Republicans consider The New York Times “unfavorable”) is a direct consequence of Trump repeatedly calling the media the “enemy of the people.”

“A central pillar of President Trump’s politics is a sustained assault on the free press,” writes the Globe. “Trump can’t outlaw the press from doing its job here, of course. But the model of inciting his supporters in their regard is how the 21st-century authoritarians like Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan operate: You don’t need formal censorship to strangle a supply of information.”

The New York Times, in its editorial headlined “A free press needs you,” said Trump’s onslaught against the media “is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy,” and provided a link to the editorials of dozens of fellow U.S. newspapers at the end of its own.

Trump’s supporters, however, welcome his attacks on the media. During the 2016 presidential race, I witnessed the same scene in each of Trump’s campaign rallies that I covered — the candidate pointing to the media section and shouting “They,” and thousands of his supporters following in unison, “are the most dishonest people in the world!” Then the supporters booed as they gave us the finger, and used their smartphones to take videos of the reporters as if they were taking shots of criminals being paraded. The TV camera crews and journalists tapping their laptop computers to write articles pretended they didn’t care. But this author, who couldn’t enter the media section surrounded by a steel fence and was among the crowd, was so frightened that I felt as if my hair was standing on end. I used notebooks for schoolchildren to take notes instead of the kind typically used by journalists.

Trump’s repeated “enemy of the people” message has been effective in worsening his supporters’ hatred of the media. Jim Acosta, the chief White House correspondent for CNN, one of the members of the media who continues to confront Trump head on, showed a horrific video image in his July 31 tweet. It depicted dozens of Trump supporters at a rally in Florida yelling at journalists as they walked by the steel fence surrounding the media seats. Unlike during the 2016 campaign, when Trump himself led the chant, the attack on the media is taking place spontaneously among his supporters — and escalating. They were shouting at the journalists to stop telling lies and speak the truth, and booing and sticking up their middle finger as they appeared to be threatening to tear down the fence.

The Boston Globe said in emails to its workers that on the day after it ran the editorial, it received several phone calls alleging that bombs had been planted in its building. The case is being investigated by the Boston police and the FBI. Concerned that such threats might spread to other media outlets, the Globe issued a statement saying that “journalistic outlets have had threats throughout time, but it’s the president’s rhetoric that gives us the most concern.” On Twitter, many users expressed concern that the threats against the Globe may have been triggered by Trump’s tweet on the morning of Aug. 16: “THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country. … BUT WE ARE WINNING!”

The FBI announced this week that they arrested a California man who threatened to shoot and kill Boston Globe employees in a series of phone calls in which he called them the “enemy of the people.”

So, how much impact has the newspapers’ coordinated series of editorials had? While the editorials were run only on one day and covered in subsequent TV news programs, Trump’s Twitter assaults on the media continue almost daily. He keeps up the attacks on the media in his rallies. In other words, the media is losing out to the president in terms of the frequency of their message.

The “recommend” functions in news apps are further deepening the divide among voters by guiding readers to only the stories they like — either conservative or liberal. Trump supporters won’t read the Boston Globe’s editorial the moment they see the title “Journalists are not the enemy.”

Amid this deep divide lacking in mutual dialogue, not only guarding freedom of the press but preventing racism, misogyny or attempts to treat immigrants as criminals will be a serious challenge.

The media in the United States are now confronted with perhaps their biggest crisis since the nation’s founding. It seems that the crisis won’t be overcome merely by the media preaching the importance of freedom of the press to protect democracy and saying that journalists are a trustworthy presence.

Keiko Tsuyama is a journalist based in New York. She has interviewed Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, and Kevin Systrom, founder of Instagram, for Japanese magazines.

A Raptor that Eats Butterflies

 Pied Falconet Family - Kant Liang

Members of the genus Microhierax are the smallest of falcons. (spanwidth min.: 35 cm  spanwidth max.: 37 cm  size min.: 18 cm
size max.: 20 cm)  Their wings are pointed, the tail rounded and of medium length. The bill tends to be heavy with a well-developed tooth. Considering the size of the birds, they have very heavy feet and sharp, well curved talons. They are mostly boldly patterned and are often glossy black on the back. Immatures are not very different. The genus is closely related to the other falconets Polihierax and Spiziapteryx. There are five species distributed from India to the Philippines.  (source)

Pied Falconet

Jan Dolphijn Sep 11, 2011 IBC Vicky Cheng 1 min. 17 sec.

Pied Falconet w Butterfly - Michelle and Peter Wong 
 Pied Falconet (Microhierax melanoleucos) photo - Rick Chan

Pied Falconet - Khalid Sharif 
 Pied Falconet with Oriental Magpie-Robin   photo uncredited (from Pinterest)

Pied Falconets - Roger Theo Timmermann

For more information on the Pied Falconet, go HERE

Thursday, August 30, 2018

What About Burning Man?

How Burning Man Has Evolved Over Three Decades

Evening falling at Burning Man in 2006 in Black Rock Desert, Nev.CreditCreditHeidi Schumann for The New York Times
The New York Times  by Laura M. Holson 

A dust storm overwhelmed the road to Burning Man this week. Clouds of billowing white dust obscured the caravan of cars snaking through the barren Nevada desert, according to recent news reports. Travelers parked in ditches and covered their faces with kerchiefs until the squall passed.

The drive is an August ritual for more than 70,000 attendees who have descended upon Black Rock City for nearly three decades and are gathered this week to build colossal art installations and dance nude in the scorching summer heat. (You can watch it live here.) First came the artist hippies in the 1990s. Insanely rich tech moguls arrived on their private jets two decades later. Models and celebrities followed.

Last year, politics seeped into the parade of whirligigs and hat-festooned cyclists when a group of President Trump impersonators arrived, and booths were set up for voter education. And in what may be a nod to how mainstream the counterculture jubilee has become, sculptures from the festival are on display for the first time at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington.
Praxis is a clothing shop in San Francisco’s Mission District that sews custom clothing. In 2015, the shop was swamped with customers who wanted custom outfits to wear at Burning Man.CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times
Kevin Kelly, a media executive prominent in Silicon Valley, has been attending Burning Man since the mid-1990s. Then, he was one of the few people to bring his young daughters. Now, he said, the playa (as the main square is called) is burbling with scores of youngsters whose parents pay from $425 to $1,200 to attend.

“It has become almost a cliché at this point,” Mr. Kelly said in an interview. Burning Man “is, maybe, aspirational.”

The first event was held in 1986 when the founder, Larry Harvey, gathered a group of friends at Baker Beach in San Francisco, where he torched an eight-foot-tall wooden man. Lore suggests he was commemorating the end of a romantic relationship. Each year, more friends — and even more strangers — showed up to watch. The fire marshals came, too, and demanded Mr. Harvey and his band of merrymakers go away.

The event moved to Black Rock Desert, about 140 miles north of Reno, in 1990. The New York Times Magazine wrote about Burning Man in 1994 when it was a (relatively) low-key three-day event over Labor Day weekend. “1,600 people came to stare into the fire,” The Times wrote. The man-like statue was 40 feet tall and made of wood and neon lights, and the festival was described as a spiritual-mystical experience and “an excuse to party in the desert.”

In 1994, The New York Times Magazine wrote about Burning Man, describing the gathering as a spiritual-mystical experience and “an excuse to party in the desert.”CreditArchives of The New York Times
The festivities had a techno hippie carnival feel (think exhibitionism, drugs and body paint) which later turned into something of a sprawling frat party for the technogentsia (think exhibitionism, drugs and body paint).

At its heart, Burning Man embraced anti-consumerism and an ethos that embraced radical self-expression. “If all your self-worth and esteem is invested in how much you consume, how many likes you get or other quantifiable measures,” Mr. Harvey told The Atlantic in 2014, “the desire to simply possess things trumps our ability or capability to make moral connections with people around us.”

But while the festival is based on the ethos of inclusivity, underrepresentation persists. In Burning Man’s 2017 census, 77 percent of attendees identified as Caucasian, 4.9 as Hispanic, and one percent as black.

A new short documentary, “In Pursuit of Happiness: Black at Burning Man,” explores the disparity, interviewing many black attendees about their range of experiences, some positive, some negative.

In Pursuit of Happiness: Black at Burning Man

G. Levy Aug 23, 2018 10 min. 24 sec.
Just 1% of Burning Man's 70,000 attendees are Black. This video examines racism in America through the lens of Burning Man, exploring why few Black people participate in this annual cultural festival in the Nevada Desert.
Mr. Harvey, the founder, was criticized after an interview with The Guardian in 2015 in which he said, “I don’t think black folks like to camp as much as white folks.” He said then too that the organization had previously hired a diversity consultant, but that it would not set up racial quotas.

By the early 2000s, more than 25,000 people made the trek to Black Rock, many of them from the San Francisco Bay area and Europe. In 2000, Rick Marin, a writer for The Times, went with a group of Silicon Valley friends and described a scene both enthralling and ridiculous.

Their happy-face piñata went missing. They camped on Anal Avenue. He met a Black Rock Ranger, a member of the group that polices the grounds, named “nude Marty.” Mr. Marin was happiest, though, at Space Cowboy, a tented, themed rave where he was welcomed by a group clad in Western gear. “Besides the nudity, the lure of Burning Man is aesthetic,” he wrote.
The New York Times described Burning Man in 1997 as festival where “celebrants dance in painted skin and loincloths and scream in ecstasy.”CreditArchives of The New York Times
Outsiders sought to capitalize on the festival’s carefree-for-all attitude. In 2002, festival organizers sued Voyeur Video, which videotaped nude participants for five years and sold the tapes for $29.95 on a pornographic website. According to a complaint filed in July 2002, people were filmed changing clothes or in their private campsites. Burning Man prevailed and the videos were no longer sold.

Brian Doherty, the author of “This Is Burning Man: The Rise of a New American Underground,” began attending the festival in 1995. He said the experience for Burners, the term for attendees who embrace the 10 principles of communal involvement, had not changed much in the last 20 years. “They really have created an American ritual,” he said. “You will see people dressed in fuzzy sweaters. People will be whimsical. You will see big art.”

An art installation was built in front of the center camp at sunrise on the first official day of Burning Man in 2006.CreditHeidi Schumann for The New York Times
What has changed is that the festival, like an old San Francisco neighborhood, has became gentrified. In 2011, tickets sold out for the first time, according to The Times. Scalped tickets were hawked for exorbitant prices. Then the billionaires showed up.

Burning Man is based on a giving economy, with nothing bought or sold except coffee and ice. But the newest crop of technology millionaires and billionaires to arrive began to overtly flex their financial muscle. They hired sherpas to set up air-conditioned camps, and pack out trash. They brought in chefs to cook elaborate feasts in tricked-out recreational vehicles. Then the models and celebrities arrived. Last year, Paris Hilton was a DJ.

Burners bemoaned the seeming end of Burning Man. In 2016, the Burning Man website posted a funny sendup of all the ways the festival was ruined. Mr. Doherty had this take: The festival evolved. “It is a microcosm of what is happening in society,” he said. “Everyone is as comfortable as they can afford.”

Added Mr. Kelly, “Now it is almost like a huge conference. There is an agenda. There are scheduled seminars.” In the beginning, he said, “it was the individual experience.”

(Representatives from Burning Man’s corporate arm, whose headquarters are in San Francisco, did not respond to an interview request.)

Mr. Harvey died this year, which both Mr. Kelly and Mr. Doherty agree will result in another shift in its culture. Still, they are going this year. As Mr. Doherty packed up his car late Monday night for the drive from Los Angeles to Black Rock City, he seemed almost blasé about the experience.

“After going about 10 times, it’s not that magical anymore,” he said. “You probably don’t need to do that.”
Checking out the Space Bar during Burning Man in 2006.CreditHeidi Schumann for The New York Times

TK630 - A Star Wars Fan Film

8/28/18  More

Marooned on a forest planet, an Imperial scout trooper hunts a lone Jedi, when he discovers an unexpected ally.

Watch it HERE
Directed by: Brendan H. Banks
Written by: Charlie McWade
Edited by: Vincent Welch
Produced by: Sean Dermond

Executive Producers: Brendan H. Banks, Josh Ruben, Paul Lowey, Mike Ritchie
Associate Producer: Kelly Shea

Starring: Josh Ruben & Starla Bolle
With Charlie McWade & Abe Danz

Production Coordinators: Phoebe Tillem & Anni Krueger
Cinematography by: Brendan H. Banks
Camera Operator: Eric Teti
Camera Assistant: Justin Onne
Gaffer: Camilo Chao
Sound Mixer: Jeff Gaumer
Production Designer: Kelly Shea
Costume Designer: Sean Dermond

VFX by: Gloo Studios
VFX Supervisor: Mike Ritchie
VFX Producer: Paul Lowey
VFX Coordinators: Ali Ajmeri & David Cohen
VFX Artists: Aleander Reid, Nicolas Pierson, Nolan Guerriero, Cam Slusar
Colorist: Jenny Montgomery (Company 3)
Sound Designer/Re-Recording Mixer: Michael Suarez
Additional Dialogue Recording: David Wolfe
Special Thanks: Barbara & Arthur Ruben, Creighton DeSimone, Gnarly Bay

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Yes, It’s Possible to Indict a Sitting U.S. President.

Here’s why.

The U.S. isn't a lawless country, so why are sitting presidents immune to prosecution?
As President Trump faces deepening legal problems, the country must confront a vital question: Does the Constitution grant a sitting president immunity from criminal prosecution? According to the conventional wisdom, the Justice Department has decided the issue in the president’s favor. Yet there’s good reason to dispute that conclusion. Supreme Court case law suggests that the president should be denied this special privilege.

But let’s start by considering a troubling example from Israel, where the constitution explicitly gives the president immunity from criminal prosecution.

In 2006, Israeli President Moshe Katsav became embroiled in serious and credible allegations of sexual harassment and rape. But Katsav knew that as president, he couldn’t be indicted, much less criminally prosecuted. Of course, he could always be convicted after leaving office, so as part of a plea deal, he resigned in exchange for having rape charges dropped.

Katsav later rescinded the deal, opting to fight the charges. He was eventually sentenced to prison. But the whole episode had rankled the Israeli public, and regardless of the eventual conviction, the inherent unfairness of the situation was clear: Katsav had leveraged his office to try to lessen his punishment. Because of its grant of presidential immunity, Israel’s constitution made this unjust bargain possible.

Now Michael Cohen’s plea bargain, which implicates Trump in campaign finance violations, is raising the issue again. Will the president be immune from any charges that might be raised against him?

The disagreement about this question goes back to 1787, during the framing of the Constitution. James Wilson, a Pennsylvania delegate to the Constitutional Convention, believed that the president lacked immunity because the Constitution’s text did not grant it explicitly. 

Alexander Hamilton, however, believed that the president’s protection from criminal prosecution was implied by the structure of the Constitution; he wrote that impeachment, never prosecution, was the exclusive way to remove a sitting president.

With no explicit constitutional provision supporting presidential immunity — and no clear consensus from the framers — we need to turn to case law for answers. In the landmark 1974 case U.S. v. Nixon, the Supreme Court required President Richard Nixon to turn over those parts of his secret Oval Office tape recordings that were relevant to the Watergate criminal investigation. Nixon argued that his executive privilege allowed him to refuse. But the Supreme Court disagreed. In a unanimous decision, it determined that “the fundamental demands of due process of law in the fair administration of justice” are more important than shielding the presidency. Although this ruling did not deal with a criminal indictment of Nixon, it did establish an important principle: The president is not above the law.

In the 1997 case Clinton v. Jones, the Supreme Court came a step closer to establishing that presidents could be criminally indicted, ruling that President Bill Clinton could be sued in civil court over sexual advances he allegedly made while governor of Arkansas. 

Clinton’s lawyers argued that the president’s participation in a trial would imperil the executive branch because it would distract him from his complex and numerous responsibilities. But the court decided that this principle was outweighed by the requirement that litigants be able to seek justice when they are wronged. Clinton v. Jones dealt with a civil case, not a criminal one, but the court’s logic can and should extend to criminal cases, where the need to uphold justice and the rule of law is even more critical.

At the same time Clinton v. Jones was decided, independent counsel Ken Starr was investigating other alleged misconduct by Clinton. Although his team ultimately decided to issue a report to Congress instead, Starr did consider indicting Clinton, and his office produced a memo arguing that it was constitutionally permissible. Not surprisingly, the Clinton administration disagreed. In 2000, Clinton’s Office of Legal Counsel wrote a memo that essentially reiterated his legal team’s argument from Clinton v. Jones, now in the context of a criminal case. This argument — although it clashes with the Supreme Court’s rulings in U.S. v. Nixon and Clinton v. Jones — has become de facto Justice Department policy.

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, the supervising attorney in the special counsel’s investigation, could yet decide to allow Mueller to seek an indictment of Trump — and he would have a sound precedent for doing so in the Nixon and Jones cases. A flawed Clinton-era legal memo should not be used to prevent an indictment in this or other investigations. The urgency of the current moment might require bold action by the Justice Department to defend the rule of law.

The oath of office requires the president to “protect and defend” the Constitution and the country’s laws — not to use them to hide from criminal responsibility. Israel learned the hard way about the harsh consequences of granting immunity to its president. The presidential office does not make its occupant too dignified to be subject to criminal indictment. The real indignity comes from allowing a president — whose office should be used to serve others — to commit self-serving crimes that go unpunished. Thankfully, unlike Israel’s, our Constitution does not explicitly spell out a grant of presidential immunity. The American people don’t have to make the same mistake.

Corey Brettschneider is a professor of political science at Brown University and visiting professor of law at Fordham Law School. He is author of the forthcoming book, “The Oath and the Office: A Guide to the Constitution for Future Presidents.” 

Pigeon Smashers - Throw the Bums in Prison

Their Racing Pigeons Caught a Bullet Train. Then the Authorities Caught Up.

A homing pigeon race in Zhengzhou, China, in 2012. The pigeons are raised in lofts, then taken hundreds of miles away and released. The first pigeon to fly back to the loft wins.CreditCreditImaginechina, via Associated Press
The New York Times  by Keith Bradsher

BEIJING — If you ever try to cheat in a pigeon race, just remember this: Bullet trains travel much faster than homing pigeons.

Two men who tried to rig a bird race in China — and claim $160,000 in prize money — have learned that lesson the hard way. Both have been convicted of criminal fraud. Their pigeons did not survive.

Homing pigeon races are a sport dating back at least to the 1800s. The pigeons are raised in lofts, then taken hundreds of miles away and released. The first pigeon to fly home to its loft wins.

Pigeons have been clocked at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour for short stretches, and more than 80 miles an hour for hundreds of miles. Their speed and endurance have made it hard for people to cheat, even by smuggling a racing pigeon by car to a finish line.

But China, where pigeon-racing remains popular, has been feverishly building a high-speed rail network, with trains that can travel at nearly 200 miles an hour.

A Shanghai court announced this week that it had convicted two men of using fraud to win the Shanghai Pigeon Association’s annual Grand Prix. The court sentenced each man to three years in prison, but suspended the sentences so that they only have to report to a jail if convicted in another crime.

The case was first reported by the Legal Daily, an official government publication.

The rules of the Grand Prix call for pigeons to be raised in a Shanghai pigeon loft until the age of 1. 

For the race, the yearling birds are released from Shangqiu in Henan Province, which is 462 miles northwest of Shanghai by road, or 405 miles as the pigeon flies.

The two men came up with a scheme almost rivaling Mark Twain’s famous short story of a rigged animal race in Northern California, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” But the pigeon plot did not work.

The essence of the plan involved training the pigeons to believe they had two homes. The birds had been secretly raised not just in Shanghai but also in Shangqiu.

When the race was held in the spring of last year, the Shanghai Pigeon Association took all the entrants from Shanghai to Shangqiu and released them. Most of the pigeons started flying back to Shanghai.

But the four specially raised pigeons flew instead to their second home in Shangqiu. According to the court, the two men caught the birds there and then carried them on a bullet train back to Shanghai, concealed in milk cartons. (China prohibits live animals on bullet trains.)

When the men arrived in Shanghai, they released the pigeons, which quickly fluttered to their Shanghai loft, seemingly winning the race. But then the trouble started.

The men had released the birds too soon, shattering records for the race. Driving from Shangqiu to Shanghai, a distance roughly equal to New York City to Raleigh, N.C., takes nearly eight hours, and racing pigeons usually take almost as long. But the bullet train takes as little as three hours and 18 minutes.

Other pigeon racers cried foul. The result seemed like an avian echo of Rosie Ruiz’s famous victory in the Boston Marathon nearly 40 years ago, which was invalidated after evidence emerged indicating that she had run only part of the race.

Shi Bin, a lawyer at Shanghai Runshen law firm who represented both men, said that the court had shown lenience in suspending the sentences because his clients had turned themselves in and confessed as soon as other pigeon racers challenged the result, and before the police opened a formal investigation.

According to the Shanghai court, the two men destroyed the evidence, smashing the pigeons against the ground to kill them. But then they did make one good decision: They decided not to collect the prize money for the top finishers in the race.

If they had accepted the money, the court said, the fraud would have qualified as a much more serious crime, and both men would have been liable to spend more than a decade in jail.

Tiny Dancers

No Coal

California moves towards 100% carbon-free electricity after landmark vote
  • Legislators vote for complete shift to clean energy by 2045
  • Bill heads to state senate and then to Governor Jerry Brown

California has given fossil fuel-derived energy a hefty shove towards obsolescence after legislators voted to require that 100% of the state’s electricity come from carbon-free sources.

The bill, which will need to be approved by the state senate and Governor Jerry Brown, will require a complete shift to clean energy such as solar and wind by 2045. It would also demand that electric utilities source 60% of their power from renewable sources by 2030, up from the current target of 50%.

California ridding itself entirely of carbon-intensive energy has been a politically vexed proposition for the past two years, with state Republicans arguing it was unfeasible and would drive up electricity prices.

But the state has emerged as a bastion of defiance to the Trump administration on climate change, among other issues, as it has been scorched by record wildfires and a prolonged drought. A report released this week warned that the state is on course for punishing heatwaves, thousands of additional deaths and the erosion of two thirds of its coastline due to rising temperatures, wildfires and sea level rise.

Brown has already set out ambitious goals to expand renewables and the use of electric cars. The state legislature has already passed a law that requires newly built homes to be equipped for solar power. In July, the state announced its greenhouse gas emissions were lower than in 1990, despite a growing economy.

The bill to go 100% renewable energy was authored by state senator Kevin de Leon, who called it a “victory for clean air. It’s a victory to tackle climate change and the devastation that it’s leaving in its wake.”

Brown has yet to confirm he will sign the bill his predecessor as governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, wrote to lawmakers to back the legislation and urge them to be “undeterred by those who wish to stop our progress and move backwards”.

California becomes the second US state, after Hawaii, to call for carbon-free electricity by 2045. The clout of the Californian economy could help spur some other states, such as Massachusetts and New Jersey, to do the same.

Environmentalists hailed the vote as a landmark moment.

“This is a pivotal moment for California, for the country, and the world,” said Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club. 

“California is showing the world that moving to 100% clean energy is within our reach and what bold climate leadership looks like in the face of a Trump administration.”

California currently sources around a third of its electricity from clean sources. Opponents of the 100% renewable bill warned that electricity prices would go up if the state relied too heavily upon intermittent solar and wind before energy storage improves.

Arrested? Really?

California schoolgirl arrested in Trump hat classroom fracas

Getty Images

BBC 8/29/18
A California high school student has been arrested after allegedly throwing a classmate's Make America Great Again hat to the ground.

The student reportedly "verbally berated" the classmate and slapped a teacher's arm, El Dorado County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Authorities have withheld the students' names due to the age of those involved.

A pupil at Union Mine High School told local media she is facing battery charges following the incident. 

The 17-year-old told a CBS affiliate the Maga hats - a staple of President Trump's campaign - are a "racist and hateful symbol."

According to the sheriff's office, the student began verbally attacking her peer on Monday because of the Maga hat, before grabbing and hurling it to the ground. 

When the teacher intervened, holding out his arm to separate the two students, the suspect allegedly slapped his arm.

The student was arrested and taken to El Dorado County Juvenile Hall. She faces two battery charges - against both the boy and teacher.


She has been suspended from school for a week over the English class fracas, report local media.

The teenager told CBS she was venting her political opinion. 

"Maybe just wake people up in some type of way, because it's not cool the environment our classroom is in," she said.

It is not the first time that someone wearing a Trump hat has allegedly been targeted. 

Attacks against Americans wearing Maga merchandise have been reported at least twice, this past summer alone.

Sight-Seeing by Roller-Coaster

SkyCycle, A Pedal Powered Roller Coaster in Japan

Located in Washuzan Highland Amusement Park in Okayama city in Japan, the Sky Cycle is a pedal-powered roller coaster that requires riders to pedal all the way around, rather than just sit back and enjoy. The roller coaster is built over a hilly terrain and consists of a pair of elevated rails. The carts that ride the roller coaster looks like side by side tandem bikes, with baskets in the front for storing belongings, and brakes just like in a real bicycle. While there are no loops and spectacular drops, riding the Sky Cycle will still send your heart racing. The rails are located four stories above the ground. The carts are open and there are no guard rails either. Aside from a simple seat belt, there is little to ensure that riders do not fall off their seat and to certain death below. The view of the Shimotsui-Seto Bridge in the background is spectacular though.

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Source: RocketNews / Tree Hugger