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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 13,365

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A historic oil platform off Santa Barbara turns into a rusty ghost ship

The morning swell off the Santa Barbara coast is running high as the crew boat churns away from the pier west of Haskell’s Beach toward Platform Holly.

Nearly a dozen lawyers and engineers, dressed in fire-retardant coveralls, hard hats and fat, orange life jackets, crowd the aft deck. Almost two years ago, Holly — one of 27 oil platforms along the California coast from Huntington Beach to Point Arguello — became property of the state after its owner, Venoco, filed for bankruptcy.

The future of the platform is in question, but all drilling has ceased and the wells will be sealed. The work, estimated to cost around $350 million, is expected to be completed no sooner than 2021.

Out on the water, the air is cool. Fog drifts up against the Santa Ynez Mountains, and filtered sunlight sparkles off the ocean. The Channel Islands begin to emerge from the haze.


Trump rages as fresh signs of his weakness emerge

There is probably no better way to demonstrate one’s manly strength and control than firing off a tweet in capital letters. So it is that, when a dozen GOP senators defied President Trump’s orders and voted to terminate his declaration of a national emergency, his powerful Twitter thumbs sprang into action: “VETO!”

The thrilling message to his supporters: Trump’s got this. He’s totally in command of the situation.

But we are now learning new details about just how personally involved Trump was in trying to prevent defections among GOP senators. It turns out Trump aggressively sought to make this vote all about himself — frequently warning that he would unleash the cult-like wrath of his voters if the Senate didn’t do his bidding — and raged as that effort failed.

What makes this so odd is that even though the Senate and House have now voted to terminate Trump’s national emergency, he actually can veto the measure, and his emergency will proceed. So why the histrionics? One possible answer is that, for Trump, even this interim loss represented an unacceptable display of weakness — with ominous portents for the future.


Christian conservatives in Trump administration build global anti-abortion coalition

Valerie Huber, a top Health and Human Services Department official, was the special guest at a New York City event Tuesday that included representatives of dozens of nations in town for a key women’s rights conference.

The gathering featured a screening of the film “Strings Attached,” which takes aim at the West’s “ideological colonization” of Africa through interviews with women who experienced side effects from contraception or who regretted having abortions, according to two attendees. Huber used her spotlight to emphasize the Trump administration’s commitment to “protecting life” in global health assistance.

Huber’s appearance at the event — sponsored by C-Fam, a think tank with Catholic ties whose mission is “to defend life and family at international institutions,” and Nigeria, which generally supports comprehensive family planning — is part of a bold new effort by the Trump administration to build an international coalition to restrict access to abortion and promote traditional values about the family.

Over the past few months, Huber and other U.S. officials have traveled the world inviting other nations to join the cause. In meetings, according to people privy to the discussions who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations, Huber, who previously founded an abstinence-only sex education group, has explained that “health and rights mean different things to different people.”


Deripaska Sues to Block U.S. Sanctions, Citing $7.5 Billion Loss

Source: Bloomberg News

Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska sued the U.S. Treasury Department and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, seeking a U.S. court order lifting sanctions against him.

Deripaska is “the latest victim” of “political infighting and ongoing reaction to Russia’s purported interference” with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to the complaint filed Friday. He’s been unfairly and illegally targeted by Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, and his net worth has dropped by $7.5 billion due to the sanctions, according to the suit.

Spokesmen for the Treasury Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Deripaska, the billionaire founder of En+ Group and United Co. Rusal, was among the most prominent tycoons penalized with sanctions by President Donald Trump’s administration. The move followed passage of a law to retaliate against Moscow for meddling in the election. The Treasury slapped sanctions on Deripaska, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and six other Russian oligarchs in April 2018 in response to the Kremlin’s “malign activity around the globe.”

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-15/deripaska-sues-u-s-treasury-to-block-sanctions-against-him

This takes a lot of chutzpah.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk reveals Model Y electric SUV: 'It will ride like a sports car'

Source: USA Today

Tesla unveiled the Model Y SUV late Thursday in the Los Angeles area, marking the debut of a long-awaited electric vehicle that CEO Elon Musk predicted will be the company's best seller.

A two-row version with battery range of 300 miles and a starting price of $47,000 will arrive in fall 2020, he said. It will go 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds.

A performance model starting at $60,000 will also be available in that time frame, Tesla said. A three-row version will also be offered.

A base model with battery range of 230 miles and a starting price of $39,000 will arrive "sometime in 2021," Musk said. It will go 0 to 60 in 5.9 seconds. Tesla later pegged the base version's arrival at spring 2021.

Read more: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2019/03/14/tesla-model-y-revealed-elon-musk/3170798002/

3 ways people may save for retirement in the future

The vast majority of Americans who save for retirement do so through a plan provided by their employer — typically a 401(k). But we may have reached the limit of what our employer-sponsored system can do to support a secure retirement. Today, only about half of private sector businesses offer retirement benefits. And while about 140 million people participate in retirement plans, the proportion of the employed workforce covered by these plans has never gone above 70 percent.

Congress could increase incentives to encourage more employers to sponsor plans, but offering retirement benefits is a voluntary decision by employers who are juggling many priorities and demands. Research by The Pew Charitable Trusts shows that small employers, the least likely to offer retirement benefits, are put off by both plan startup costs and administrative burdens, and it’s not clear a new tax break would overcome these concerns.

In fact, the voluntary nature of the current system and current workforce trends raise the possibility, however undesirable, that existing plan sponsors could stop offering or reduce retirement benefits in large numbers. While no research indicates that employers intend to completely end plan sponsorship, the past 30 years has seen an ongoing shift as they have moved away from offering certain benefits such as traditional pensions and indemnity health insurance plans. The 401(k) plan is generally less expensive to run than a traditional pension, but small plan sponsors typically face plan operating expenses that are, as a percentage of assets, 2 or 3 times higher than costs borne by large plans.

Of course, people without a workplace-based plan could still save for retirement on their own, but less than 15 percent of all American households contribute to an individual retirement account outside of work.


Congress continues to fiddle while ignoring Medicare and Social Security funding issues as the Baby Boomer generation surges toward retirement with inadequate savings. The next 10 years will be even more trying times in this country.

Tucker Carlson says he's the victim of a powerful bully. Meet the 24-year-old who found the tapes.

Madeline Peltz works the night shift at the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America. Given the timing of that particular shift, one of her main responsibilities is watching Tucker Carlson’s 8 p.m. show on Fox News.

And she’s watched a lot of Tucker Carlson.

Carlson has been in the public eye for some 20 years — first as a print journalist, then a television commentator, founder of the conservative site the Daily Caller, and now, Fox News host, with a prime time slot and a salary in the millions. But people have been confused by Carlson’s tone on Fox since he took over for Bill O’Reilly in 2018, noting concern about diversity and demographics in his show.

After many Carlson-watching hours, the 24-year-old researcher developed a working theory, which she outlined on the nonprofit’s website: that Carlson is using his platform on Fox News to introduce white nationalist ideas to the mainstream, making him a uniquely prominent “mouthpiece for white supremacy.”


Tucker Carlson, under fire, tries to turn the conversation back on his accuser, Media Matters

Fox News and Tucker Carlson don’t want to talk about what Tucker Carlson said. They want to talk about his accuser, the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America.

On the air and off, Carlson and Fox News have defended Carlson’s ugly comments on a syndicated radio program a decade or so ago by turning the spotlight back on Media Matters, which released transcripts and audio recordings of Carlson earlier this week.

On his prime-time program on Tuesday, for example, Carlson continued to portray himself and Fox News as the targets of a liberal “outrage machine” whose goal is to shut down the cable network and “dissenting opinions.” He offered no apologies or explanations, nor did he bother to mention why Media Matters had called him out in the first place.

“Media Matters is a George Soros-funded lobbying organization whose sole mission is to punish critics of the Democratic Party,” Carlson said, referring to the liberal billionaire philanthropist and political activist. He went on to accuse the Washington-based organization of violating the terms of its nonprofit status by campaigning on behalf of Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton.


Trump Agrees To Wear Wire To Take Down Roger Stone

WASHINGTON—Vowing to do whatever he could to help Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigate the campaign consultant’s role in 2016 election interference, President Trump reportedly agreed Wednesday to wear a wire to take down Roger Stone.

“I’ve known Roger for years, but it’s time to put my country first and do anything I can to take this guy down,” said Trump as Mueller’s aides taped a wire to his chest, after which he agreed to let the special counsel bug his phone to listen in on future conversations that could provide evidence conclusively tying Stone to contacts from WikiLeaks and Russia who were trying to subvert the election.

“I know I can get Roger to talk—give me an hour alone in a room with him and I’ll have all the damning evidence on tape, and then we can finally get this menace behind bars. I’m an American first and foremost, and if I can help undo any of the damage he’s done to this country, I’ll do it, even if it means recording Stone without his knowledge and lying to his face.”

In addition to his desire to serve his country, Trump was also reportedly convinced to wear a wire by Mueller’s promise that any charges against him would be dropped.


Religious Conservatives Argue Adam & Eve Would Never Have Been Banished From Eden If They'd Had Guns

HOUSTON—In what they described as scriptural evidence of the right to bear arms, leading figures among the religious right gathered Wednesday to issue a statement arguing that Adam and Eve would never have been banished from the Garden of Eden if they had owned guns.

“Just imagine: If Adam and Eve had carried firearms and stood their ground against God, they would have been able to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge in peace, and He could never have forced them to leave paradise,” said Pastor Hugh Peters of Houston’s Second Baptist Church, explaining how the entire course of human history would have been altered for the better if the first man and woman had taken the simple precaution of keeping a semiautomatic weapon at the ready for use during emergencies.

“God was trespassing on their property, pure and simple. He had absolutely no right to force them from their home. Had Eve been able to open-carry a handgun, maybe tying it to her hip with a vine or something, God would have known to back off. This is one of the Bible’s most important lessons.”

Peters later issued an appeal to Jewish conservatives, insisting the Israelites would never have had to flee Egypt if Moses had simply been issued a sidearm with which to kill the pharaoh.

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