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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 11,985

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His first mistake was robbing a Texas bank - his second was allegedly fleeing on an electric scooter

Luca Mangiarano's first alleged mistake was robbing a bank.

His second: using an electric scooter as his getaway vehicle.

Aside from the fact that the Silicon Valley imports top out at about 15 mph, police have begun to realize that they're also something approaching a digital fingerprint on wheels.

Turning a rental scooter on, as regular users know, requires a rider to use an app that contains their phone number, email address and credit card information. You'll probably be unsurprised to learn that these are the kinds of personal details that make it easy for police to track down criminals.


This is also a case of criminal stupidity.

UC San Diego history prof's book on fall of Rome's democracy draws parallels to today

The parallels are striking: Rising income inequality. Partisan gridlock. The erosion of political norms and the loss of faith in public institutions. Angry populist uprisings.

Is America going the way of Rome?

“Mortal Republic,” by UC San Diego history professor Edward Watts, raises the question. The book has been garnering national media attention — The New Yorker, Smithsonian, Time, Vox, the New York Times — since its release in November.

“The lesson we can take away from the Roman example is that a republic doesn’t last unless you protect it,” Watts said in an interview. “It can and will die unless you ensure that it lives and thrives.”


California spending billions to electrify the transportation sector

California policymakers are committed to making sure that electric vehicles — and the charging stations and other infrastructure needs associated with them — transform the state’s transportation sector. But it won’t come cheaply.

A review conducted by the San Diego Union-Tribune showed various state agencies have committed $2.46 billion in public funds — some of it already spent and the rest planned over a number of years — for programs aimed at luring drivers out of cars and trucks powered by internal combustion engines and encouraging them into zero- or low-emission vehicles.

And that doesn’t count the $800 million in electric vehicle, or EV, programs that Volkswagen is spending across the state as part of an unprecedented settlement to help resolve the car maker’s emissions scandal. A state entity — the California Air Resources Board — is overseeing how and where the money is spent.

When the VW settlement is taken into account, investments to electrify California’s transportation landscape go well north of $3 billion, thus far.


Morton Sobell, convicted in Rosenberg atomic bomb spy trial, dies at 101

Morton Sobell, ardent communist operative convicted with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in the sensational 1951 atomic bomb spy trial, died Dec. 26 in Manhattan. He had steadfastly denied guilt for decades, then abruptly acknowledged complicity in 2008.

His death, at 101, was confirmed by his son, Mark Sobell, who did not cite a specific cause.

Mr. Sobell, who was spared the death penalty imposed on the Rosenbergs, served almost 18 years of a 30-year sentence in federal prison for his role in the Soviet espionage case that gripped the nation. The Rosenbergs were executed in 1953 amid the Cold War anti-communist fervor.

A fourth conspirator, David Greenglass, who was Ethel Rosenberg’s brother, pleaded guilty in exchange for testifying against the Rosenbergs, essentially sealing their deaths. Greenglass served a 10-year prison term and was released in 1960. He died July 1, 2014, at 92.


U.S. sales of the Tesla Model 3 plunge 74% in January, according to outside estimate

U.S. sales of the Tesla Model 3 plunged 74% in January compared with December, according to a consumer website, lending credence to rumors that sales of the vehicle have fallen off a cliff.

The California-based carmaker sold 6,500 Model 3s in the U.S. in January, compared with 25,250 the month before and 1,875 in January 2018, according to Insideevs.

Tesla reports sales results quarterly, not monthly, and the next official report is due in April. Insideevs is directed at electric-vehicle enthusiasts and its prior estimates have tended to overestimate sales figures.

Tesla’s future as a going concern depends on healthy Model 3 sales growth. The company sold about 145,000 of them last year, and said it plans to substantially increase that figure this year.


It wouldn't be surprising if Tesla January sales have dropped off due to halving the tax credit, but I'm seeing a lot of Model 3s on the road here in Southern California, and think demand is still there.

America is falling out of love with billionaires, and it's about time

Our emerging political debate over taxing the rich seems to be getting bogged down in details — how high a tax rate, should we tax income or wealth, etc., etc. But this fixation on nuts and bolts is obscuring what may be the most important aspect of the discussion: America is becoming fed up with its billionaires.

That sentiment is long overdue. It has begun to surface in the suggestion by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that the top marginal rate on high incomes shift back to what it was in the 1950s or 1960s, and in Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposal for a wealth tax on those with high net worth.

Since the Reagan administration, the political establishment has strived to convince Americans that extreme wealth in the hands of a small number of plutocrats is good for everyone. We’ve had the “trickle-down” theory, the rechristening of the wealthy as “job creators” and their categorization invariably as “self-made.” We’ve been told, via the simplistic Laffer Curve, that if you raise the tax rate you get less revenue.

There are three main subtexts of these arguments, all of which show up in the email in-box whenever I write about wealth and taxation. First: The extreme wealth of the few creates wealth all along the income scale, for the masses. Second: It’s immoral — confiscatory — to soak the rich via taxation, at least above a certain level that never seems to be precisely defined. And third: If we torment the wealthy with taxes, they’ll pack up their wealth and leave us, whether for some more accommodating nation on Earth or some Ayn Randian paradise.


First Automated Foxconn Machine Immediately Tries To Commit Suicide

ZHENGZHOU, CHINA—According to sources within the facility responsible for manufacturing the majority of iPhones, Foxconn’s first fully automated assembly-line robot immediately attempted suicide after being powered up Thursday.

“Unfortunately, the new robot we designed to assemble Apple products tried to take its own life after spending approximately one second on the factory floor,” said a Foxconn official who spoke on condition of anonymity, adding that upon exposure to conditions in the plant, the robotic worker instantly emitted what witnesses described as a “high-pitched shriek” before barreling toward the nearest window in an effort to jump to its death.

“After failing to penetrate the barred windows, the robot repeatedly slammed into the nearest wall. It then picked up a welding torch with its precision arm and tried to turn the flame on its own circuit board, but engineers were able to power down the machine before it could succeed. It usually takes Foxconn workers several days on the job before they begin orchestrating their own deaths, but, of course, our robots are designed to operate faster and more efficiently than their human counterparts.”

At press time, sources confirmed Foxconn had installed new reinforced netting around the building that is reportedly strong enough to break the fall of a robot jumping off the roof.


Youthful philanthropists trigger a mini building boom in Tijuana

Daniella and Gabriel Benitez aren’t contractors, but they have built four houses to date and plan to construct two more a year for the rest of their lives.

This isn’t amazing until you find out that Gabriel is only 12 and Daniella is 14.

She started the family building spree at age 13 after visiting Tijuana with Notre Dame Academy to help build a simple house for a needy family under the supervision of Build A Miracle (BAM), a San Diego-based nonprofit with a Habitat for Humanity approach.

When she saw how great the need was and how such a small investment could do so much for a family in crisis, Daniella was inspired to do what she could to raise the $13,000 needed to construct a home for another family, plus the $3,000 needed to furnish it.


This is a heartwarming story. Good for these kids!
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