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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 48
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 15,246

Journal Archives

Further proof that home-buying is increasingly for the wealthy

A recent trend in home construction points to growing polarization in the market, as more new homes come with three-car garages than ever before.

Twenty-four percent of homes built last year had garages for three or more cars, according to an analysis of Census data by Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders. That is up from 16 percent of homes in 2010, and 11 percent in 1992.

But it’s not so much that Americans want larger garages across the board. Instead, Dietz says homebuilders are increasing constructing houses for older, more monied residents, many of whom have teenage drivers and value three-, four-car garage homes.

“We’re seeing a substantial change in the mix of buyers that builders are catering to,” Dietz said. “The key point is that there has been a significant amount of weakness for entry-level, first-time buyers.”


A $72-million apartment project. Top politicians. Unlikely donors. Who wrote the checks?

No one is registered to vote at the run-down house on 223rd Street. The living room window has been broken for months. A grit-covered pickup sits in the dirt front yard with a flat tire.

Yet dozens of donations to local politicians — totaling more than $40,000 — have come from four of the people who have lived there over the last eight years.

Victor Blanco, a repairman originally from El Salvador, gave the most: 22 donations totaling $20,300 since 2008, according to contribution reports. More than half that money went to U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Los Angeles) while she was pursuing local, state and federal office, according to contribution reports.

Asked about those donations, Blanco could not explain why he gave Hahn so much money.


I smell a scandal brewing.

In the motions of distant solar system objects, astronomers find hints of Planet Nine

The case for Planet Nine is growing. Two new findings presented at a planetary science meeting in Pasadena have uncovered hints for the existence of this distant, mysterious world in the motions of known solar system objects.

The results could help astronomers home in on their otherworldly target, which — if it really is out there — could fundamentally alter our understanding of the solar system.

The hunt for Planet Nine (also known as Planet X) began in earnest in 2014 after astronomers Scott Sheppard and Chadwick Trujillo found 2012 VP113, a planetoid nicknamed “Biden,” after the vice president. Its closest point to the sun in its orbit is 80 astronomical units — that is, 80 times the Earth-Sun distance of 93 million miles.

Objects like 2012 VP113 exist far beyond the typical denizens of the Kuiper belt, the icy ring of debris that stretches from Neptune’s orbit at 30 AU out to 50 AU (and whose largest member is distant Pluto, sitting around 49 AU).


Once again, Apple's new design won't accommodate your old cords

Not everyone was happy when Apple removed the headphone jack from its new line of iPhones, forcing customers to go wireless or use an adapter.

And, unsurprisingly, not everyone was happy Thursday when owners of Apple’s new iPhones realized they won’t be able to charge them using the latest MacBook Pro models without using a different adapter.

The revelation came as the tech giant unveiled new MacBook Pro laptops featuring a touch-sensitive bar atop the keyboard. But it was the USB ports — or lack thereof — that were the center of attention for some users.

The iPhone 7 will no longer plug directly into Apple’s premier laptops because the smartphone comes with a Lightning cable that fits into a standard USB port. The new laptops use different USB-C ports — and they don’t ship with cords that match an iPhone.


Ancient Battle Left 'Sea Monster' With Tooth Stuck in Its Face

About 75 million years ago, a mosasaur — a dolphin-like, predatory, marine reptile that lived during the dinosaur age — bit another mosasaur so hard that it left its tooth behind, embedded in its foe's face, new research finds.

Now, paleontologists are studying the remains of the victim, a creature that sustained not one, but two attacks on its face, likely from different adversaries, said paleontologist Takuya Konishi, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati.

"The specimen represents the first direct, unequivocal evidence of nonlethal biting, and not predation, between mosasaurs," Konishi told Live Science, here at the 76th annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

A mining company discovered the 21-foot-long (6.5 meters) specimen in southern Alberta, Canada, in 2012, and promptly shared the news with the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. Museum researchers spent two years preparing the fossil, "during which [time] the specimen's unique scientific significance became clear: It had a tooth from another mosasaur embedded in its lower jaw," Konishi said. "We were all thrilled, and began working on it."


Maduro becomes talk of summit by not showing up

Leaders of Ibero-American nations met Saturday as a political and humanitarian crisis deepened in Venezuela, the summit overshadowed by a guessing game over whether their Venezuelan colleague would show.

He didn't. Reporters even trooped to the airport in this Caribbean city to await Nicolas Maduro.

His attendance had been expected after Peru's president laid down a gauntlet of sorts. Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said he would seek consensus for Venezuela's suspension from the Organization of American States for violating its democratic charter.

And though talk of Venezuela was the main course at the leader's private lunch, they issued no related statement.


Venezuelan president threatens to jail opponents

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro threatened on Friday to jail his political opponents if they follow through on their vow of launching a legislative trial to remove him from power.

Shrugging off a partially-observed strike which the opposition called to raise pressure on him, the socialist president went on the counterattack.

Maduro sharpened the tone in a volatile political and economic crisis that has sparked food shortages and riots in the South American oil producer.

"If they launch a supposed political trial, which is not in our constitution, the state prosecution service must bring legal action in the courts and put in jail anyone who violates the constitution, even if they are members of Congress," Maduro said in a speech Friday.


Tesla unveils residential ‘solar roof’ with updated battery storage system

Tesla will build and sell its own line of solar panels with integrated batteries, the company announced at a press event at Universal Studios in LA, today. The Powerwall 2 will allow residential homeowners to replace their entire roof with solar panels and an updated Powerwall 2 battery system, making it much simpler for homes to be entirely powered by solar power.

The roof is made of a textured glass tile with integrated solar cells. The roofs look "as good or better" than conventional roofs, according to Musk. They look like normal roofing tiles from the ground, but are completely transparent to the sun. The tiles are hydrographically printed, which, Musk says, makes each one a "special snowflake tile," and no two roofs will be the same. "You can take any two roofs that look like that and they will be different — because they are different," said Musk.

There are a number of different versions of solar panels: Textured Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Tuscan Glass Tile, and Smooth Glass Tile. Tesla says its glass tiles are much more durable than conventional roof tile — something that’s important in areas with risk of hail.

The products are a "joint collaboration" between SolarCity and Tesla, according to SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. Tesla is attempting to acquire SolarCity for $2.6 billion and shareholders of both companies will vote on the proposed acquisition in the middle of November.


Watch these products to take off over the next five years.


NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—With thirteen days until his scheduled return to oblivion, many Americans are unsure if they can tolerate that much additional exposure to Rudy Giuliani, a leading psychologist said on Wednesday.

As millions of Americans actively count down the days until Giuliani disappears forever, thirteen more days of him “seems like a lifetime,” Davis Logsdon, a psychologist who has been studying the Giuliani ordeal, said.

“Americans’ traumatic experience of Rudy Giuliani in 2016 has gone through several phases,” Logsdon said. “First, they struggled to remember who he was. Then, once they remembered, they recoiled in horror. Finally, they began actively wishing he would go away forever. That is the phase many people find themselves in today.”

Even as they long for the day when Giuliani resumes his rightful place in obscurity, many Americans are experiencing feelings of anger and disbelief that he was permitted to crawl back into their consciousness to begin with, Logsdon said.


Thousands of California soldiers forced to repay enlistment bonuses a decade after going to war

Short of troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago, the California National Guard enticed thousands of soldiers with bonuses of $15,000 or more to reenlist and go to war.

Now the Pentagon is demanding the money back.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom served multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay large enlistment bonuses — and slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse — after audits revealed widespread overpayments by the California Guard at the height of the wars last decade.

Investigations have determined that lack of oversight allowed for widespread fraud and mismanagement by California Guard officials under pressure to meet enlistment targets.


This is not good.
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