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Zorro

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 10,287

Journal Archives

Here is the Pentagon's list of construction projects that could be cut to fund a border wall

The Pentagon has released its list of military construction projects that could be cut to fund President Donald Trump’s requested border wall. The bottom line: basically every state has a project that could be delayed in order to get construction underway, but only a very specific set could actually be cut.

To tally up $6.8 billion for wall construction, the Pentagon has proposed culling unobligated spending from approved construction projects. From the list, only funds from projects that had a projected award date after Oct. 1, 2019, are eligible to be used, and it can not include military barracks.

The list released by the Pentagon includes all unobligated projects — not all of which would be eligible to be used, based on their criteria.

For example, under the rules the Pentagon has established, $5.2 million for Anniston Army Depot in Alabama to build a weapons maintenance shop that was due to be awarded in March 2020 could be cut. On the other hand, $77 million for a vehicle maintenance shop at Fort Carson that was due to be awarded in June 2019 could not be cut.

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2019/03/18/border-wall-milcon-cuts-list-is-in-is-your-base-on-it/

See the full list of projects here. https://partner-mco-archive.s3.amazonaws.com/client_files/1552944776.pdf

Why are Venezuelans seeking refuge in crypto-currencies?

Venezuela has seen its currency rendered practically valueless after suffering one of the worst periods of hyperinflation since World War Two.

A cup of coffee now costs 2,800 bolivars (21p; 28 cents), up from 0.75 bolivars 12 months ago - an increase of 373,233%, according to Bloomberg data. And that's after a 2018 devaluation that knocked five zeros off the currency.

More than three million Venezuelans have left the country, as essential goods such as toilet paper and medicine have become unaffordable and crime has soared.

As a result, many are turning to digital assets such as Bitcoin as an alternative to the Venezuelan bolivar.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-47553048

AT&T raises DirecTV Now prices, making chumps of those who backed Time Warner merger

From the day in 2016 when AT&T announced its $85.4-billion merger with Time Warner, through three years of antitrust wrangling over the deal, the big telecommunications company promised that it would mean lower prices and more choices for consumers.

Now AT&T has a message for everyone who believed the pitch: Suckers!

That’s the best conclusion to be drawn from the company’s recent price increase of $10 a month for its DirecTV Now non-satellite online streaming service. The change, announced to subscribers earlier this month, will raise the monthly fee for the service’s existing packages to as much as $85.

New customers can choose from a package of more than 40 channels for $50 a month, or one with more sports programming for $70. That’s a pared-down offering from what’s been available for existing customers, who could choose from five packages of as many as 125 channels. (The company says existing subscribers can keep their packages but will be charged the additional $10 monthly fee.)

https://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-att-price-rise-20190318-story.html

Venezuela's Maduro plans 'deep restructuring' of government: VP

Source: Reuters

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is planning a "deep restructuring" of his government, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said on Sunday, as the country recovers from a prolonged blackout amid a power struggle with the opposition.

"President @NicolasMaduro has asked the entire executive Cabinet to put their roles up for review in a deep restructuring of the methods and functions of the Bolivarian government, to protect the fatherland of Bolivar and Chavez from any threat," Rodriguez wrote on Twitter, referring to independence leader Simon Bolivar and former President Hugo Chavez.

The possible reshuffling comes on the heels of a nearly weeklong blackout that paralyzed the OPEC nation, which had already been experiencing a hyperinflationary economic collapse, shortages of food and medicine and the emigration of millions of citizens.

Maduro has blamed the blackout on a cyber attack perpetrated by the United States and sabotage by the domestic opposition, but local electrical engineers told Reuters it was the result of years of underinvestment and lack of maintenance of the country's power plants and electricity grid.

Read more: https://news.yahoo.com/venezuelas-maduro-plans-deep-restructuring-government-vp-205443038.html

Rupert Murdoch, scrappy Fox mogul who transformed media, begins his Hollywood goodbye

Thirty-four years ago, Rupert Murdoch showed up in Hollywood with $250 million, buying a stake in the 20th Century Fox film studio — even though he had little interest in making movies.

The scrappy Australian newsman, then known for his clamorous tabloids, was viewed with suspicion. Skeptics assumed he was a corporate raider intent on stripping value from the studio. Instead, Murdoch rescued a threadbare operation from financial ruin and turned it into the centerpiece of a growing empire that has reshaped the entertainment industry.

Now, Murdoch is dismantling his life’s work: a kingdom worth more than $100 billion. On Tuesday, his largest company, 21st Century Fox, will be broken apart. Walt Disney Co. will absorb Fox’s legendary movie and television production studios, with their deep trove of titles that includes “Avatar,” “Deadpool,” “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons.” The Murdoch family will create a new entity, simply known as Fox, that will include Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network, national Fox Sports channels, TV stations and the 50-acre Fox studio lot in Century City.

The landmark sale seemed unthinkable to many. But the 88-year-old mogul was never enamored of the clubby movie business. He wanted the film studio to support his global push into television, where he has left a more indelible mark. Along the way, he has relished his influence and his image as an outsider, a rascal who took big swings and thumbed his nose at the establishment.

https://www.latimes.com/business/hollywood/la-fi-ct-rupert-murdoch-hollywood-exit-20190317-story.html

Ilhan Omar: We must apply our universal values to all nations. Only then will we achieve peace.

Since I began my first term in Congress, I have sought to speak openly and honestly about the scale of the issues our country faces — whether it is ending the crippling burden of student debt, tackling the existential threat of climate change or making sure no one in one of the richest countries in the world dies from lack of health care. As a survivor of war and a refugee, I have also sought to have an honest conversation about U.S. foreign policy, militarism and our role in the world.

This question of how the United States engages in conflict abroad is deeply personal to me. I fled my home country of Somalia when I was 8 years old from a conflict that the United States later engaged in. I spent the next four years in a refugee camp in Kenya, where I experienced and witnessed unspeakable suffering from those who, like me, had lost everything because of war.

I saw firsthand the devastating toll of war. And I dreamed of one day coming to the United States of America — a land that promised peace and opportunity regardless of one’s faith or ethnicity. But I also saw how America’s image in the world is undermined when we don’t live up to those values. And I witnessed how our continuous involvement in foreign conflicts — even those undertaken with the best of intentions — can damage our own reputation abroad.

I believe in an inclusive foreign policy — one that centers on human rights, justice and peace as the pillars of America’s engagement in the world, one that brings our troops home and truly makes military action a last resort. This is a vision that centers on the experiences of the people directly affected by conflict, that takes into account the long-term effects of U.S. engagement in war and that is sincere about our values regardless of short-term political convenience.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ilhan-omar-we-must-apply-our-universal-values-to-all-nations-only-then-will-we-achieve-peace/2019/03/17/0e2d66fc-4757-11e9-aaf8-4512a6fe3439_story.html

A History of Ancient Egypt: From the First Farmers to the Great Pyramid by John Romer

Just finished this book a couple of weeks back, and about half-way through the second volume of this two book series. John Romer is an accomplished and well-respected archeologist, and has written a number of books ("Testament" -- about the development of the Bible -- is another excellent read) and has several great television documentaries (available for free viewing on Youtube) that are both enlightening and entertaining.

In this first volume Romer covers the pre-history of Egypt, taking care to focus on what the archeology reveals without imposing Western cultural beliefs on social organization (there is no evidence there were "kings" in the Western sense during that era, for example). It is quite interesting to follow the development of symbols used as a bookkeeping method (so many cattle, sheep, etc.) and as makers' marks identifying the home source of clay pottery etc. to the more sophisticated use of hieroglyphics to convey an actual language of thoughts, emotions, and actions.

Romer is a very erudite and witty writer, and is a joy to read. Highly recommended.

The Log of a Cowboy by Andy Adams

From a reference in the "westerns" thread I looked up and read this book online (found it at Gutenberg.org, a really great resource for out-of-print/no longer copyrighted literature). It's about driving 3,000 head of cattle from Brownsville, Texas to Montana, and is peppered with events about encounters with indians, rustlers, rangers, buffalo, and con men along the trail. As I read it I could see how it could easily be the source for every show about trailherding cowboys.

Although fiction it reads like non-fiction, since it was based on the author's real-life experiences as a cowboy. I did not know that Ogallala was considered the "Gomorrah" of the West, or that cowboys on the trail had about a dozen horses each assigned to them, with some preferred for river crossings and others for night watch duty.

Although not exactly PC and with some stilted dialog, it nevertheless conveys an authenticity that made it a compelling read. I enjoyed it.

Snowshoeing in San Diego, a place better known for surf and sand

More than a foot of snow fell on East County, San Diego’s Laguna Mountain in late February, turning the pine-oak forest into a true mile-high winter wonderland. I strapped my snowshoes onto my waterproof hiking boots and adjusted my trekking poles, stepping out from the trail head along the Sunrise Highway a few minutes before 8 a.m.

The temperature was 19 degrees. The sun slowly climbed higher into a crystal clear bluebird sky. Children laughed and played in the powder on the hillside next to the highway.

Seeking solitude, I decided to take the connector trail over to the Old County Road.

The gradual grade was perfect for warming up. Cross-country ski tracks and a set of foot prints laid a day prior broke the snow’s pristine condition, but I did not mind, as it meant less work for me.

https://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-san-diego-snowshoe-mount-laguna-20190316-story.html

San Diego County truly is an enjoyable place to visit or reside. Mountains, beaches, and deserts are all within a short drive, including those in Baja California.

A shadowy group trying to overthrow Kim Jong Un allegedly raided a North Korean embassy

Days before President Trump was set to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam, a mysterious incident in Spain threatened to derail the entire high-stakes nuclear summit.

In broad daylight, masked assailants infiltrated North Korea’s embassy in Madrid, tied up the staff, stole computers and mobile phones, and fled the scene in two luxury vehicles.

The group behind the late February operation is known as Cheollima Civil Defense, a secretive dissident organization committed to overthrowing the Kim dynasty, people familiar with the planning and execution of the mission told The Washington Post.

The group’s alleged role in the attack has not previously been reported, and officials from the governments of North Korea, the United States and Spain declined to comment on it.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/a-shadowy-group-trying-to-overthrow-kim-jong-un-raided-a-north-korean-embassy-in-broad-daylight/2019/03/15/ae4208a4-c451-4886-b608-f5ac1f182d3d_story.html
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