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Archive for July 12th, 2014

‘Knuckleheads’ Smoke Heroin in Chuck E. Cheese

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 12th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

‘Knuckleheads’ Smoke Heroin in Chuck E. Cheese
Two men were arrested on suspicion of smoking heroin inside a Chuck E. Cheese bathroom in Costa Mesa, California, earlier this week. Police arrested Colin Zborowski, 28, and Daniel Lubach, 27, Tuesday night after another patron called police and reported that two men may be inside the restroom doing drugs, according to Costa Mesa police. When officers arrived, they found Zborowski and Lubach inside a stall smoking, officials said. The pair were “a couple of knuckleheads,” who, for some reason, chose to meet with their heroin dealer at Chuck E. Cheese and opted to smoke it in the restaurant’s bathroom, said Sgt. Patrick Wessel.

FAA Approves SpaceX Spaceport in Texas
SpaceX just got approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to build a 56.5-acre spaceport along the Gulf of Mexico on the Texas-Mexico border — a huge step toward actually making the spaceport a reality. Wednesday, the FAA, which handles all commercial space launch permitting in the United States, issued what’s known as a “Record of Decision” that suggests the agency would grant launch licenses to the company to operate out of a location about 17 miles east of Brownsville. The FAA says it would likely approve any requests from SpaceX to launch as many as 10 Falcon 9 rockets and two Falcon Heavy rockets per year out of the spaceport, through at least 2025.


Back to reality for Nicole Richie in new TV show

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 12th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Back to reality for Nicole Richie in new TV show
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Nicole Richie is going back to reality.

Kerry: Afghan candidates agree to audit results
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was meeting with rival Afghan presidential candidates for a second day as the United States struggles to find a path out of the crisis enveloping the nation’s elections.


LeBron James’s departure becomes campaign fodder in Florida

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 12th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

LeBron James’s departure becomes campaign fodder in Florida
Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign draws a negative comparison between the basketball player and Democrat Charlie Crist

Lawmakers at odds over deportation rules for Central American kids
Sen. McCain says the U.S. should deport the kids as quickly as possible, but the Hispanic Congress says they deserve a day in court


WSJ ‘s Noonan’s Conspiracy Theory: Obama Deliberately Brought On Child Migrant Crisis To Pass Immigration Reform

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 12th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

WSJ ‘s Noonan’s Conspiracy Theory: Obama Deliberately Brought On Child Migrant Crisis To Pass Immigration Reform

immigration

Wall Street Journal‘s Peggy Noonan baselessly accused President Obama of “us[ing] children” as “pawns” by deliberately allowing the humanitarian immigration crisis on the border to build in order to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

An escalating surge of child migrants fleeing violence in Central America have been crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, overwhelming existing detention facilities and deportation procedures. 

In her June 11 Journal column, Noonan described President Obama’s handling of the humanitarian immigration crisis on the border as a politically motivated step in a calculated game to “put the heat on Republicans and make them pass his idea of good immigration reform.” Noonan wrote that the migrant children are “pawns in a larger game,” concluding, “How cold do you have to be to use children in this way?”:

Meanwhile some in the conservative press call the president incapable, unable to handle the situation. But he is not so stupid he doesn’t know this is a crisis. He knows his poll numbers are going to go even lower next month because of it. He scrambled Wednesday to hold a news conference to control a little of the damage, but said nothing new.

There is every sign he let the crisis on the border build to put heat on Republicans and make them pass his idea of good immigration reform. It would be “comprehensive,” meaning huge, impenetrable and probably full of mischief. His base wants it. It would no doubt benefit the Democratic Party in the long term.


Congressional Medal Awarded to Holocaust Hero Wallenberg

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 12th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Congressional Medal Awarded to Holocaust Hero Wallenberg
Christina Breitbeil, RealClearPolitics
Congress posthumously awarded Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, known for saving the lives of an estimated 100,000 Jews during the Holocaust, with a Congressional Gold Medal — the highest congressional civilian award — in a ceremony Wednesday. “The descendants of those whose lives were spared because of his courage and conviction number like the stars,” said Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer. Hoyer and other lawmakers lauded Wallenberg not only as a World War II martyr whose heroism shines through the horrors of the Holocaust, but also as a reminder of the tremendous impact one…

An Overriding Need for Reform Now
Eugene Robinson, RealClearPolitics
WASHINGTON — There’s no objective need for President Obama to visit the Texas-Mexico border and see the immigration crisis first-hand, but he shouldn’t have claimed that “I’m not interested in photo ops.” The line about photo ops was so absurd that it’s a good thing he wasn’t under oath. Every president since Abraham Lincoln has been interested in photo ops. Posing for the cameras amid artfully chosen people and props is something presidents do every day. Obama is very good at it, and there are times when he actually gives the impression that he enjoys it. Not all photo ops are created…

Where Goes Jazz as the Greats Move On?
Froma Harrop, RealClearPolitics
A jazz great died this month. Though revered by fans around the world, Horace Silver is not a household name in his own country, where the popular taste tends more toward rock and country than it does toward jazz. Silver’s most widely recognizable tune, “Song for My Father,” is recognizable mainly because the rock band Steely Dan used it in the opening riff of one of their biggest hits, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.” No mention of that was made at Silver’s memorial service at St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. I attended with an older friend, who knew…


Scotland could house UK spaceport

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 12th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Scotland could house UK spaceport
The UK government is set to include Scotland as a potential location for a new spaceport to be operational by 2018.

Presiding officer to retire as AM
Assembly presiding officer and Newport West AM Dame Rosemary Butler will not stand for election in 2016, she confirms.

Butler-Sloss criticism rejected
The retired judge chosen to head an inquiry into child abuse is “beyond reproach”, the Home Office says, as it rejects one victim’s call for her to step down.


News Analysis: What Is the Role of U.N. Peacekeepers?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 12th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

News Analysis: What Is the Role of U.N. Peacekeepers?
Tensions over the role and pay of United Nations peacekeepers have recently escalated, with deeper grievances just below the surface.

Sports of The Times: World Cup 2014: Injuries to Mascherano and Neymar Demonstrate Poor Medical Care
Soccer’s world governing body is apparently indifferent to player safety, especially when it comes to head injuries.

Civilians Pay a Price for Gains of Ukraine Forces
A disputed attack in Marinka, a farming village southeast of Donetsk, killed five civilians and caused anger among residents.



As Israel Hits Mosque and Clinic, Air Campaign’s Risks Come Home
Israel struck a mosque, a center for the disabled and the house of a police commander in Gaza on Saturday. At least 20 people were killed in the strikes, bringing the total number of dead to at least 140, Palestinian officials said.



Iraqi Militants Kill 26 in Raid on Baghdad Building
Gunmen stormed an apartment complex known for prostitution and killed at least 20 women and six men, according to the Interior Ministry.




Gas Export Terminal Draws Opposition From Marylanders, Faith Groups

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 12th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Gas Export Terminal Draws Opposition From Marylanders, Faith Groups

Exporting liquefied natural gas could lead to higher domestic prices, more methane leakage, higher safety risks, and lower economic activity.

The post Gas Export Terminal Draws Opposition From Marylanders, Faith Groups appeared first on ThinkProgress.

This photo taken June 12, 2014 shows a half-a-mile long, the Dominion Energy's Cove Point LNG Terminal's offshore loading platform, a mile offshore seen from the facilities nature preserve which surround the plant in Lusby, Md.

This photo taken June 12, 2014 shows a half-a-mile long, the Dominion Energy’s Cove Point LNG Terminal’s offshore loading platform, a mile offshore seen from the facilities nature preserve which surround the plant in Lusby, Md.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Cliff Owen

The shale gas boom in the U.S. has used unconventional drilling practices like fracking to lower natural gas prices, to increase supply, and to soon transform America into a net gas exporter. This last development has elicited a huge controversy, and ground zero could be the small town of Lusby on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.

That’s the home of a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal called Cove Point. Dominion Energy has received conditional approval to convert the site’s existing import facility into an export terminal from the Department of Energy, FERC, and a key state regulatory body. But local opposition to the proposed project is mounting.

On Sunday, July 13, there will be a rally on the Mall in Washington, D.C., organized by a host of green groups, billed as the “first national rally to stop fracked gas exports at Cove Point.” They want FERC to decide not to give the project final approval. Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said in May that the risk of a fire or explosion at the facility to nearby houses was too great: “if anything goes off site … homes are going to be incinerated. They’re just too close.”

A report commissioned by nearby residents and Tidwell’s group highlights the risks posed by the plant to homes within 0.8 miles from its borders. Though the LNG industry has a very safe track record, the consequences of an accident at an LNG facility would be dire. A 2004 Energy Department study suggested that a catastrophic leak and ignition at an LNG plant would cause a fireball hot enough to melt steel at 1,200 feet and give second-degree burns a mile away.

It’s not just environmentalists that oppose Cove Point. “Maryland’s religious communities are heartbroken by the harm climate change is already causing to our neighbors, close to home and around the world,” says Joelle Novey, Director of Interfaith Power & Light, a network of religious institutions which engages congregations in responding to climate change. “And we’re praying that FERC won’t let a Goliath corporation stomp into Maryland and make a mockery of our good work to protect our air, our water, and our climate.”

“We have often felt outmatched in this struggle, but we can only do what David did — this weekend, we’ll stand up faithfully for clean energy that doesn’t frack our water or protects our climate.”

Natural gas is a funny product in that when a driller wants to transport it to market, it relies on a pipeline system because it’s a gas. Unlike crude oil or potatoes or Snuggies, it can’t be poured into a tank or thrown on the back of a truck — it just floats away if it’s not in a pipeline or container. In the middle of last century, the industry began experimenting with the practice of liquefying natural gas by cooling it to -259°F. This made it 600 times smaller than normal room-temperature gas, and allowed you to pump it into an unpressurized super-cold tank on land or on a special ship and keep it for later, or send it to market almost anywhere in the world. It was expensive to do, and expensive to build the import and export facilities, but in some places it was worth the cost. Qatar, for instance, became one of the largest gas exporters in the world after ExxonMobil built several liquefaction facilities there, and other countries followed suit.

As American traditional gas reserves dwindled, it started to import natural gas, building a half-dozen import terminals, but as the market oscillated back and forth, those terminals were mothballed, seemingly for good as the shale boom transformed the industry. Yet with the fracking boom, U.S. domestic gas supply has grown enough that energy companies want to export their product abroad. That means more gas liquefaction facilities — export terminals.

The Energy Department has given conditional approval to six LNG export terminals, and final approval to one export facility in Louisiana. In May, however, the Department proposed a rule that would ensure it could no longer conditionally approve LNG export terminals without first doing an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Christopher Smith, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, said that the move would streamline the process, while critics of the administration said that it would “unilaterally slow” gas exports.

In May, the Maryland Public Service Commission gave Dominion Energy approval to build the power plant that would fuel the export terminal. The project had to satisfy 179 conditions because it concluded the project would not provide a net benefit to Maryland residents. Those conditions include millions in clean energy investment, aid to low-income Marylanders, and various pollution protection measures.

Congress is likely to support any expansion of LNG exports, with bipartisan support evident from recent hearings and even climate advocates like Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) pushing legislation that would speed up Energy Department approvals for LNG export facilities. President Obama has all but committed to natural gas production as a climate-friendly way to fuel switch from coal, the Goliath that Novey mentioned has allies at the federal level. But so does the David.

The Energy Information Administration released a report earlier this year showing how natural gas exports would lead to a lot more fracking. More fracking, as the Sierra Club noted in a recent report, leads to increased environmental risks across the country.

The Energy Department said in a May report that the benefits of using cleaner-burning natural gas is largely offset by the methane leaks prevalent in gas extraction and LNG exports. The report used the optimistic estimates of methane leakage, which are unrealistically low.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) noted that the Energy Department warned that approving a sixth LNG export terminal would lead to U.S. domestic prices rising 54 percent, or $62 billion a year in additional energy costs. A recent study from Charles River Associates found that under a high export scenario, U.S. gas prices would triple by 2030. Using the gas domestically rather than abroad translates to more jobs and lower prices. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) asked why Americans should want to give up the current advantage of cheap natural gas prices. And as LCV’s Dan Weiss (formerly of the Center for American Progress) noted in congressional testimony, increasing gas exports will mean more methane leakage, which is something that the Energy Department must assess when considering LNG export terminals.

Since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine intensified earlier this year, many people have advocated exporting LNG to Ukraine as a way to loosen Russia’s hold. The problem is that even if the U.S. exports a significant amount of gas to the region, Russia will maintain its dominant position in the European market because Europe is unlikely to build adequate import infrastructure when it could easily turn into a bad investment. Russian gas will also still be cheaper because it’s delivered via pipeline. LNG is expensive because of all the effort used to liquefy, export, transport, import, and distribute it.

The bottom line is that shipping more natural gas abroad will increase production here in the U.S., and likely decrease supply — which would lead to higher prices. The increased production would lock us in to more fossil fuel production because the investors in a $400 million LND terminal are going to want to reap the value of their investment. This means a continued reliance on natural gas, which, while it burns cleaner than coal, comes with enough methane leakage to override much of the benefit of lower emissions when we burn it. That message will be spoken loud and clear on the National Mall on Sunday by residents who stand to lose most from the approval of the Cove Point LNG terminal.

The post Gas Export Terminal Draws Opposition From Marylanders, Faith Groups appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Why China Just Labeled The iPhone A National Security Threat

The iPhone’s location tracking capabilities have come under scrutiny.

The post Why China Just Labeled The iPhone A National Security Threat appeared first on ThinkProgress.

iphone 3x2

CREDIT: Shutterstock

A Chinese broadcaster has labeled Apple’s iPhone a national security threat because of the device’s location tracking abilities.

The state-run China Central Television (CCTV) reported Friday that the iPhone’s iOS 7 operating system could give foreign governments valuable insight regarding China’s national intelligence and economic dealings because it logs users’ locations and timestamps of frequently visited areas.

The report called Apple’s trove of location data a “gold mine,” and said that the company would be legally culpable if there was a data breach, according to The Wall Street Journal. While its unclear whether China will impose a policy change regarding Apple products, CCTV’s broadcasts have been known to influence the company’s dealings. In 2013, Apple CEO Tim Cook made a public apology after the news station accused the company of discriminating against Chinese customers in its warranty policies.

Apple also dodged a lawsuit involving the location tracking features CCTV criticized. The lawsuit, which was filed in 2011 and dismissed last year, claimed that storing Wi-Fi tower location data violated Apple’s terms agreement and users’ privacy. For example, the location of any saved or commonly used Wi-Fi networks on an Apple device would get recorded regardless of whether the device’s location services was turned on. The suit also claimed Apple intentionally made it easier to send iPhone users’ personal information to third-party app developers without permission.

U.S.-based tech companies have been working to repair their image in the wake of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) leaks in 2013, where the public learned how Internet companies such as Google gave the agency backdoor access to their databases. The document leaks also showed that the U.S. government could tap iPhones and other Apple devices through its controversial PRISM program. Apple denied the claims.

But China’s suspicions of improper U.S. surveillance cuts both ways. CCTV’s report comes after U.S. Department of Justice charged five Chinese hackers working for the military with espionage. Soon after, China called for an end to the NSA’s “unscrupulous” spying efforts uncovered by former agency contractor Edward Snowden. Moreover, the NSA intercepted and bugged Internet routers headed for China with spyware. China did something similar: Several years ago, Chinese tech firm Huawei was accused of embedding surveillance hardware in Chinese electronics manufactured destined for the United States.

The post Why China Just Labeled The iPhone A National Security Threat appeared first on ThinkProgress.


The Preordained: Why LeBron James Was Always Coming Back to Cleveland

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 12th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

The Preordained: Why LeBron James Was Always Coming Back to Cleveland
From: Dave Zirin

I predicted last year that LeBron James would return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Here is why. 


The Post-Post-Apocalyptic Detroit

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 12th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

The Post-Post-Apocalyptic Detroit
Ben Austen, New York Times Magazine
In downtown Detroit, at the headquarters of the online-mortgage company Quicken Loans, there stands another downtown Detroit in miniature. The diorama, made of laser-cut acrylic and stretching out over 19 feet in length, is a riot of color and light: Every structure belonging to Quicken’s billionaire owner, Dan Gilbert, is topped in orange and illuminated from within, and Gilbert currently owns 60 of them, a lordly nine million square feet of real estate in all.

The Rise of Southern Democrats
Brent Budowsky, The Hill
In the battle of Democrats to keep control of the Senate in 2014 and win a substantial victory in the presidential election 2016, the new rise of Southern Democrats is a very big deal.Throughout the South, a new generation of highly talented Bill Clinton-style political leaders has brought the Democratic Party to a strongly competitive position. I call it the battle between Johnny Cash Democrats, who are big-tent believers in a widely shared dream, and Ted Nugent Republicans, who are small-tent believers waving lists of Americans they consider enemies.

Hillary Clinton’s Lawyerly Past
Ruth Marcus, Washington Post
WASHINGTON — It should not be necessary to write this column.Lawyers represent clients. Criminal defense lawyers represent clients accused of crimes — sometimes horrible, evil clients accused of heinous crimes.It is the ethical and professional responsibility of these lawyers to defend those clients as vigorously as possible.Sometimes such representation results in less than perfectly just results. As Justice Benjamin Cardozo famously put it, the criminal goes free because the constable has blundered. That is the way — the only way — an adversary system of criminal justice can…

LeBron, the Midwest and Coming Home
John Kass, Chicago Tribune
If you’re from the Midwest, you probably hated LeBron James.Who didn’t?Not true hatred, of course. I’m talking about sports hatred.It’s not something you act on. But it’s bitter, and it just sits there on your heart as you watch that other team celebrate or that other player with the rings kissing the trophy, that one athlete who seems to cut your heart out year after year.

Obama’s Understated Foreign Policy Gains
Michael Cohen, NY Times
It’s been a pretty good couple of weeks for American foreign policy. No, seriously.On June 23, the last of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile was loaded onto a Danish freighter to be destroyed. The following day, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia asked his Parliament to rescind the permission that it had given him to send troops into Ukraine. Meanwhile, there is still cautious optimism that a nuclear deal with Iran is within reach.