February 13, 2017

Republican Group Proposes Carbon Tax Replacement For Clean Power Plan

James A. Baker, who served as Secretary of State and Treasury in the Reagan and first Bush administrations is leading a proposal for a tax on carbon emissions. This tax on carbon emissions sounds like a great idea at first, but upon further review reveals parts to it that are detrimental to saving the planet.

The Baker proposal would substitute the carbon tax for the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, a complex set of rules to regulate emissions which President Trump has pledged to repeal and which is tied up in court challenges, as well as other climate regulations. At an initial price of $40 per ton of carbon dioxide produced, the tax would raise an estimated $200 billion to $300 billion a year, with the rate scheduled to rise over time.

Yes, the tax is great in the sense of the immense dollar amount it would raise. However, that money will only be returned to the consumer in the form of a carbon dividend as opposed to being spent on clean energy and combatting the effects of climate change.

Attacks on the plan can be expected from many quarters, even among supporters of a carbon tax in theory. Supporters of the Clean Power Plan are likely to oppose its repeal. Democrats also tend to oppose limitations on the right to sue like those envisioned in the Baker proposal. And the idea of a dividend will no doubt anger those in the environmental movement who would prefer to see the money raised by the tax used to promote renewable energy and other new technologies to reduce emissions.

While the Republicans in this group mean well, their proposal is still mired in a capitalistic swamp. A tax that doesn’t coexist with an emissions cap only means one thing: if you have the money to pay the tax, then you can still pollute as much as you want. The point of a carbon tax isn’t to only deter those from producing so much carbon with a tax but to lawfully limit the amount; a deterrent that doesn’t work if it can just be bought out.

Written By Garrett Garcia Garrett Garcia

College Democrat President Defends Milo Yiannopoulos

The President of the College Democrats of Maryland Matt Teitelbaum wrote an op-ed article in The Huffington Post, defending conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos after he had to cancel his UC Berkely speech because of violent protests that broke out on the campus.

The violent rioters at UC Berkeley are representative of a phenomenon I and other actual liberals call the “regressive left.” The regressive left doesn’t truly stand for liberty. Instead, they stand for the idea that anyone that says anything which offends them or doesn’t fit their narrative can and should be silenced.

This regressive mindset is not only wrong, it is incredibly dangerous. A healthy public debate of ideas never silences anyone who wishes to engage in an open and honest dialogue about important issues.

And while I certainly have a lot of things I disagree with in respect to the beliefs that Milo holds, I also agree with Matt’s opinion that Milo deserves the right to speak his opinion.

Milo is not an oppressor, he’s a messenger. I don’t agree with every aspect of his message. However, I must admit, I agree with some of it. And that’s important. It’s important for people from different sides of the isle to listen to one another. That’s how you find common ground and come to a consensus. It’s how you change minds and strengthen your movement.

So while some may call out Matt as a sellout or someone sympathetic to hatred, I stand with Matt in his defense of the right to speak your opinion. It’s Matt’s dedication to principle rather than situation that I admire most, as he is taking probably the most unpopular position any democrat could take in 2017 as it relates to political discourse. We cannot solve our most difficult problems by silencing those we disagree with, or as Edward Snowden put it:

The answer to bad speech is not censorship, the answer to bad speech is more speech. We have to exercise and spread the idea that critical thinking matters now more than ever.

Written By Anthony Gibson Anthony Gibson
February 10, 2017
Source Axios

Former Twitter CEO Regrets Not Solving Cyberbullying Problem

During the Upfront Summit in Los Angeles on February 1st, former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo shared regret to missed opportunities to end bullying on the social media platform:

I wish I could turn back the clock and go back to 2010 and stop abuse on the platform by creating a very specific bar for how to behave on the platform…I take responsibility for not taking the bull by the horns.

Costolo described that being hired as a CEO rather than beginning with Twitter as a founder hindered his jurisdiction of taking on complex problems such as eliminating cyber-abuse. However, he noted that in order to treat the issue, cyberbullying must be treated like junk mail: made more expensive and timely to the abuser than the abused.

He [Costolo] also believes that dichotomy can extend to the “fake news” situation, and that Twitter should engage in manual curation that highlights authoritative voices rather than just hyperbolic ones.

Nonetheless, Twitter has taken steps to chip away at the plethora of online bullies that inhabit the site. Arguably, their most notable interference occurred last July, when conservative journalist Milo Yiannopoulos was permanently banned for a wave of racist tweets targeting Saturday Night Live member Leslie Jones.

Written By Ryan Prete
February 8, 2017
Source Reuters

Tokyo 2020 Medals Will Be Made From Recycled Metal

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Committee has announced they will use recycled phones and appliances donated by the public to make the medals awarded in the competition:

The move is also part of an effort to promote sustainability and save costs after the budget for the event ballooned to more than 3 trillion yen ($26.5 billion) at one point, though organizers reduced that sum to $16.8 billion late last year.

The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee hopes to gather as much as eight tonnes of metal — 40 kg of gold, 2,920 kg of silver and 2,994 kg of bronze — from outdated mobile phones and small household appliances donated by people across Japan.

This effort, the first of its kind for the Olympics, will ultimately result in two tonnes of metal, enough to make all 5,000 Olympic and Paralympic medals.

It’s likely a small drop in the bucket in relation to actual environmental impact. However, it’s a unique idea and will send a powerful visual message in support of sustainable practices. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a part of their marketing strategy as well.

Written By Anthony Gibson Anthony Gibson
February 7, 2017
Source WIRED

Elon Musk Is Building A Tunnel Under Los Angeles

In December, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted about his interest in building a tunnel under L.A. to ease traffic. Fast forward one month into 2017, he’s already started:

Over the weekend, workers excavated a “test trench” 30 feet wide, 50 feet long, and 15 feet deep on the grounds of SpaceX’s Los Angeles headquarters. Musk calls it the beginning of an experiment. “We’re just going to figure out what it takes to improve tunneling speed by, I think, somewhere between 500 and 1,000 percent,” he said Sunday during a hyperloop design competition at SpaceX. “We have no idea what we’re doing—I want to be clear about that.”

There’s no doubt how serious Musk is about building the tunnel, but the jury is still out on how realistic or effective the project will be:

“Just think about if someone said they’re going to design a new automobile and it’s going to be 1,000 percent more efficient. Would you believe them?” said a tunneling consultant who asked not to be named. “Give me a break. You think someone can take apart a Boeing plane and put it back together, improving it by 500 percent? Elon’s got a very steep learning curve.”

Regardless if he completes the tunnel, any advancements in boring technology could drastically improve construction everywhere – just ask anyone from Seattle how problematic Bertha was.

At the end of the day, this tunnel’s effectiveness will be determined by what runs through it. Will it be an underground superhighway? If so, we already know the impact of adding more roads on traffic – zero. But, if it’s a testing ground for Hyperloop or makes room for more public transit, then that’s something this Angelino can get behind.

Written By Scott Silviera

Divide Within Trump White House Continues To Grow

The first weeks of the Trump Administration began in controversy after a shaky rollout of an executive order on immigration showed the first signs of the weight of federal bureaucracy constraining President Trump’s policy initiatives. One of the most talked about power struggles within the new administration revolves around White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who has been rumored to be one of the few people who worked on the controversial executive order.

A continual set of reporting now paints Bannon’s early influence to be sending shockwaves through even the White House:

According to the Rogin’s sources, Bannon — who has previously indicated that he would like to get rid of all legal immigration — attempted to intervene with Kelly over the issue at some point over the weekend, possibly in addition to the attempts at shaping the implementation of the ban that are reflected in CNN’s reporting. Rogin’s story also ties in with this week’s TIME cover story asserting that Bannon’s contributions to the tumult of the new administration’s first few weeks “has rattled the West Wing and perhaps even dismayed the President,” and that the controversy was leading to a slowing of the pace of the new administration’s agenda.

Though some in the White House have tried, there is virtually no way to spin the disastrous rollout of the travel ban as a success — unless confusion, mass protests, and inner-circle backstabbing was the desired outcome. Several reports have indicated that the travel ban order was hastily and incompetently written, barely reviewed, and implemented and communicated with next to no planning. So far, the blame seems have landed on the Trump administration’s Breitbart wing. And while there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of Bannon or Miller’s influence diminishing, there are at least some indications that other White House cabinet members are pushing to confront them.

Written By Anthony Gibson Anthony Gibson
February 6, 2017
Source Fortune

The Ethical Dilemma Of Self-Driving Cars

One of the most exciting technologies of the near future is the self-driving car, promising safer travel and a consistently reliable designated driver. The technology also has the potential to make a huge improvement to the tens of thousands of traffic fatalities every year.

94% of so-called last actions during an automotive collision are the result of human judgment (read: errors), Gerdes said. “Self-driving cars have this promise of removing the human from that equation,” he said. “That’s not trivial.”

However, one of the greatest challenges of our time will be determining how these autonomous vehicles deal with ethical problems. One of the most common debated by those in the field, is the trolly problem:

The gist: Five people are riding on the trolley car and a pedestrian crosses the tracks in front of it. In an inevitable crash situation, do you choose to let the trolley lose control and potentially kill its five passengers? Or do you throw a switch and almost definitely kill the pedestrian?

The answers to those questions will have to be determined by society as we decide on everything from criminal law to government regulation. Autonomous vehicles create a ethical dilemma that we will inevitably have to deal with.

Written By Anthony Gibson Anthony Gibson
January 31, 2017

Chaotic Behind The Scenes Of Trump Administration’s Executive Order Process

The chaotic rollout of Trump’s recent executive order has placed a temporary ban on refugees and immigration from seven middle eastern countries. The order caused the detention of 120 individuals that were mid-flight to the United States when the order was signed. While parts of the ban were put on a partial stay because of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU remain on a partial stay because of that successful lawsuit. New reporting from the New York Times paints a similarly chaotic scene of how the order was rolled out, from the perspective of newly appointed Secretary of Homeland Security:

Gen. John F. Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, had dialed in from a Coast Guard plane as he headed back to Washington from Miami. Along with other top officials, he needed guidance from the White House, which had not asked his department for a legal review of the order.

Halfway into the briefing, someone on the call looked up at a television in his office. “The president is signing the executive order that we’re discussing,” the official said, stunned.

Mr. Mattis, according to administration officials familiar with the deliberations, was not consulted by the White House during the preparation of the order and was not given an opportunity to provide input while the order was being drafted. Last summer, Mr. Mattis sharply criticized Mr. Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration as a move that was “causing us great damage right now, and it’s sending shock waves through the international system.”

The facts surrounding the actual implications of Trump’s executive order on immigration are blurry for most observers thanks to a nonstop flood of information coming out of media outlets in the first days of the new Presidency. The most concerning part of these first few days however, is the new administration’s use of the executive branch. Trump’s attempts to quietly silence his own agencies and pump out contradicting information from its own press office adds to the hysteria and confusion by mismanaging the governance process.

Written By Anthony Gibson Anthony Gibson
Source NPR

Obama Breaks Short-Lived Silence On Trump’s Immigration Order

Former President Barack Obama broke his silence Friday on President Trump’s weekend immigration Executive Order, which halted travelers from seven countries for 90 days and banned Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. indefinitely.

“Citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake,” Obama spokesperson Kevin Lewis said in a statement.

Further, Lewis stated that Obama was “heartened by the level of engagement” over the weekend in opposition to Trump Executive Order.

In his last press conference Obama highlighted his decision to allot Trump some time in office but that he would not hesitate to speak his mind if:

He believed the country’s “core values may be at stake,” including “systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion.”

Traditionally, former presidents will take a leave of absence from public opinion, normally spanning multiple months. It evidently did not take Obama nearly that long, following his post-exit White House vacation in Palm Springs, Calif.

“With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion,” the statement from Lewis added.

Written By Ryan Prete
Source Politico

WikiLeaks Wants Donald Trump’s Tax Returns

Two of the hottest issues in the 2016 election included Hillary Clinton’s emails and Donald Trump’s tax returns. In an “October surprise,” Wikileaks published some of Clinton’s emails sending her campaign further into the tailspin it would never recover from. Trump on the other hand, was able to delay releasing his tax returns through the election, claiming they were “under audit.” That answer would continue into the transition until this last week when White House counsel Kellyanne Conway updated the press:

We litigated this all through the election. People didn’t care, They voted for him, and let me make this very clear: Most Americans are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like.

That answer didn’t settle well with Wikileaks, who tweeted they wanted to help in publishing those very tax returns:

It was an interesting rebuke from WikiLeaks after Trump has appeared to side with founder Julian Assange in pushing back against U.S. intelligence officials’ conclusion that Russia President Vladimir Putin directed cyberattacks on Democratic targets in the U.S. to try to tilt the election Trump’s way.

This is an odd twist of events in the love/hate relationship between Donald Trump and Wikileaks; having praised the nonprofit organization for their leak of Clinton’s emails during the campaign. What remains to be seen is whether or not the call for Trump’s tax returns will result in a leak, and how President Trump would respond to that.

Written By Anthony Gibson Anthony Gibson