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Libertarian Republican Sen. Jeff Flake Will Not Run for Re-Election (UPDATED)

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Jeff FlakeRepublican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, known for his libertarian leanings and more recently for his critique of President Donald Trump's behavior, announced today he will not be running for re-election next year.

He will serve out the rest of his term, but he told the Arizona Republic, "there may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate or the current Republican Party."

He explained further that he simply could not toe the line with the president's restrictionist attitudes on trade and immigration:

"Here's the bottom line: The path that I would have to travel to get the Republican nomination is a path I'm not willing to take, and that I can't in good conscience take," Flake told The Republic in a telephone interview. "It would require me to believe in positions I don't hold on such issues as trade and immigration and it would require me to condone behavior that I cannot condone."

He's giving speech on the Senate floor this afternoon (at the time of this blog post, actually). The Arizona Republic got a copy of his prepared statement:

"We must never regard as 'normal' the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals," Flake says in his remarks as prepared for delivery. "We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country — the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have all been elected to serve.

UPDATE: Here is the full text of Flake's remarks

UPDATE II: CNN has posted the video of the Senate speech online:

There will be more to come on the fallout and consequences of Flake's decisions (plus whatever Trump tweets). In the meantime, watch Flake speak at a Reason's 40th anniversary gala in 2008 below:

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bscherrer
1098 days ago
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Now, we're in trouble. The sob's are driving out the few good guys. Damnit.
San Diego, California
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California State Senator Doesn't Want You to Think His Brothers Running a Taxi Company Influences His Bottling up Bills that Would Make Things Easier for Uber Drivers

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Uber and other companies in its ridehail space have learned, as I've written, that to be is to lobby.

But lobbying your state legislature can get tricky when important committee leaders have family members in the very businesses you are busy out-competing.

The Los Angeles Timesreports today about how two bills that would make life easier for Uber drivers are being held up in Senate committee by Sen. Ben Hueso, chair of the Senate's Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee.

Hueso's brothers Alfredo and Jose Hueso just happen to run a cab company, USA Cabs, in San Diego who have sued to force Uber drivers to do something that one of the bills would exempt them from doing: register for commercial license plates.

The other bill Hueso is blocking from going for a vote, after passing the Assembly with almost no opposition (a single "no" vote between the two bills), "would allow rideshare companies to carpool, picking up multiple passengers with different destinations at the same time."

Sen. Hueso has long seemed to have an interest in legislating for his family's interests:

Three years ago while in the Assembly, Hueso introduced a billto classify taxi drivers as independent contractors instead of employees of cab companies. The distinction matters because companies generally have to give their employees more generous wages, provide more insurance and meal breaks and allow for easier attempts to unionize among many other work rules.

Hueso has saidhis bill was motivated by a multi-year lawsuit against his brothers by drivers who argued they should have been treated as employees, not contractors. The bill never went anywhere.

While supporters of the bills in and out of the state legislature are frustrated Hueso won't even let a vote happen, Hueso wants you all to know that it's really not what you think: think"

“If you’re going to write a story saying I’m doing this for my brother,” he said, “it’s going to be wrong.”

Well, we'll never know what really goes on in a senator's heart, I suppose.

Steven Greenhut wrote earlier today on California attempts to pass laws that would allow Uber's contractors to unionize.

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bscherrer
1690 days ago
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San Diegans: let's remove corrupt pols at the first opportunity, eh?
San Diego, California
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Advanced Reactor Nuclear Power Resurgence in the U.S.

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NuclearRenaissance"I was not always pro-nuclear power," former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carol Browner declared Wednesday at the Advanced Nuclear Summit and Showcase in Washington, D.C. She changed her mind 12 years ago, because she "couldn't be responsible about my views on climate change and carbon pollution without taking this clean energy source seriously." Now Browner has joined the Nuclear Matters' Leadership Council, which seeks to make sure America's 99 operating nuclear power plants—which currently supply nearly 20 percent of the country's electricity and two thirds of its no-carbon electric power—are not unnecessarily and prematurely shut down.

The Summit, organized by the self-described centrist think tank Third Way, featured panel discussions on advanced power plant designs, how the private sector was financing new plants, and what the federal government could do help jumpstart a nuclear era. Like Browner, many participants argued that ramping up nuclear power is necessary to help avoid the climate change produced by burning fossil fuels. Ross Koningstein, who headed up an energy supply study for Google, asserted that in the best-case scenario renewables like solar and wind could cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by around 50 percent. If climate change is a problem, they argued, then nuclear power must be part of the solution.

So what's standing in the way of building innovative new nuclear plants? Regulation. The summiteers danced around this a bit; after all, disrespecting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) bureaucrats in attendance is not a good way to get your project to the head of the administrative queue. More on that below.

terrapowerReactorBut first, the most exciting part of the conference: the showcase of new nuclear technologies being developed by various companies. One of the more intriguing designs is Terrapower's traveling wave reactor, a fast reactor that will use depleted uranium as a fuel source. Depleted uranium is now essentially a waste product leftover from producing fuel for conventional reactors. The company signed a memorandum of understanding last year with the China National Nuclear Corporation with the goal of building a 600-megawatt demonstration plant by 2020.

TransatomicReactorTransatomic is developing a molten salt reactor. The low-enriched uranium is dissolved in lithium fluoride salt that enables the reactor to burn nuclear spent fuel to produce heat to drive the turbines that generate electricity. The company claims that its reactors could convert the current stock of 270,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel into enough energy to power the entire world for 72 years. They also claim that their reactors would be "walk away safe." Unlike conventional light water reactors, Transatomic reactors operate at atmospheric pressure; if the reactor should lose electrical power, the molten contents would dissolve a salt plug and safely drain out into an auxiliary container, where it would cool and freeze in just a few hours.

TerrestrialReactorThe Canadian/U.S. Terrestrial Energy is also developing a molten salt reactor. Terrestrial's Integral Molten Salt Reactor design is fashioned around core units that function for seven years and then are swapped out for new units. The company is seeking regulatory approval for its first plant in Canada, which would begin generating power in the early 2020s. The company makes the remarkable claim that the levelized cost of its electricity—that is, the cost taking capital, fuel, operation, and maintenance into account—would be 4 to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the levelized cost of electricity from natural gas power plants is around 7 to 8 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Oklo, formerly named UPower, aims to create small 2-megawatt reactors that fit inside a shipping container. The reactors would compete with small diesel generators that are often used to generate electricity in remote off-grid locations. (The fact that the company changed its name to the site of an ancient natural nuclear reactor is intriguing.)

ARC100ReactorAdvanced Reactor Concepts is developing a 100-megawatt modular sodium-cooled reactor. The company's chief technology officer, John Sackett, told the audience that "much advanced nuclear technology is ready to go"—given the "right regulatory structure."

But essentially all the panelists agreed that the current regulatory structure is far from "right."

ThorConReactorFor example, Joseph Lassiter of Harvard Business School observed that due to sluggish U.S. regulatory oversight, several innovative American nuclear companies are looking abroad to build their first plants. As noted, Terrapower is working with Chinese partners; Terrestrial Energy will build in Canada; and ThorCon Power has signed a memorandum of understanding with state-owned Indonesian energy companies to develop thorium molten salt reactors.

Naturally, the NRC's representatives pleaded that it was all that the agency could do to oversee the safety of the country's current fleet of reactors, many of which will be coming up for their second relicense renewals soon. If the NRC does not authorize them to operate for an additional 20 years, they may have to be replaced with new power plants that burn carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

One big roadblock to innovation is that under the NRC's enabling legislation, the agency is only able to consider approving a new power plant when its application is complete, noted Jennifer Uhle, head of the Office of New Reactors. Filing a complete application requires doing all of the engineering and legal work in advance. That generally takes a decade for conventional designs financed by giant utility companies. Entrepreneurs pursuing innovative designs don't have the capital to endure this.

Former NRC commissioner Jeffrey Merrifield observed that the agency's licensing framework was developed in 1981, the year that IBM introduced its first PC. He pointedly suggested that it's time that regulatory framework be updated for more nimble iPhone era. Ray Rothrock, partner emeritus of the venture fund Venrock, said the number one issue holding back investment in advanced nuclear projects is financial risk. He added that in the nuclear energy field, financial risk is "just a reflection of regulatory risk." Rothrock called for a risk-based review process where the NRC can give companies step-by-step approval. If the regulatory process were more certain, entrepreneurs could point to their successful approval milestones when soliciting additional funding from investors.

At the summit's conclusion, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) touted his new bill, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act. This would, among other things, establish a joint NRC-Department of Energy National Nuclear Innovation Center to "enable the testing and demonstration of reactor concepts to be proposed and funded, in whole, or in part, by the private sector." The law would also instruct the NRC to devise a regulatory framework under which the agency would be capable of licensing advanced nuclear designs within a period of four years. The Senate passed the bill the day after the summit, on an 87 to 4 vote.

If advanced nuclear power is to play a significant role in cutting carbon dioxide emissions, the summiteers concurred that pilot plants must be up and running by the early 2020s in order to be ready to deploy massively by 2030. At the meeting's conclusion, Crapo declared that we are on the verge of "mind-blowing achievements in nuclear science." To judge from the profusion of innovative designs on display at the showcase, the senator may just be right.

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bscherrer
1732 days ago
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Faster, please.
San Diego, California
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Christopher Lee releases heavy metal album inspired by 'Don Quixote'

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Sir Christopher Lee, best known for his roles in such fantasy films series as Dracula, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars, is also an accomplished heavy metal performer. Just in time for his 92nd birthday, the performer released a new seven-track LP titled Metal Knight, inspired by the adventures of Don Quixote.

"As far as I am concerned, Don Quixote is the most metal fictional character that I know," Lee said. "Single handed, he is trying to change the world, regardless of any personal consequences. It is a wonderful character to sing." The tracks for Metal Knight include I, Don Quixote, The Impossible Dream, and The Toreador March, a metal cover of The Toreador Song from the opera Carmen.

Continue reading…

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bscherrer
2344 days ago
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Wait, what? @mahea50
San Diego, California
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3 public comments
mmunley
2345 days ago
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"The Toreador March, a metal cover of The Toreador Song from the opera Carmen."
Chicago
smadin
2345 days ago
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Shared for the headline, haven't even read it.
Boston
TheUnchosenOne
2345 days ago
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Christopher Lee is more metal than whatever metal band is YOUR favorite
Madison, WI

Alec Baldwin Booked by NYPD After Biking in Wrong Direction, Calls City a 'Mismanaged Carnival of Stupidity'

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Alec Baldwin had a run-in with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) today that resulted in some fine frustrated tweeting from the notoriously blunt actor. Baldwin was initially stopped for "riding his bicycle the wrong way" down Fifth Avenue and eventually arrested for disorderly conduct, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"Officer Moreno, badge number 23388, arrested me and handcuffed me for going the wrong way on Fifth Ave," Baldwin tweeted around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"New York City is a mismanaged carnival of stupidity that is desperate for revenue and anxious to criminalize behavior once thought benign."

I wouldn't say that's an unfair characterization. Until For example, until yesterday the city criminalized carrying multiple condoms. Meanwhile, NYPD cops can't seem to stop getting smashed and firing off their guns. And this morning, cops took a man to the police station in handfcuffs for a biking infraction and not having ID on him at all times.

Here's more on Baldwin's morning from the Journal:

Officers approached Mr. Baldwin told him he "was riding his bicycle the wrong way," an NYPD spokeswoman said.

Mr. Baldwin was not able to produce identification and "then he got belligerent and started to argue with the officers," the spokeswoman said.

He was placed in handcuffs. Mr. Baldwin was taken to a local police precinct and was later released, the official said.

His court date is July 24. Good thing NYPD is here to protect from the scourge of celebrities riding bicycles in the wrong direction.

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bscherrer
2358 days ago
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Too good not to share...
San Diego, California
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1 public comment
kazriko
2358 days ago
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Mismanaged carnival of stupidity. Seems an apt description.
Colorado Plateau

3 Books Bound in Human Flesh Discovered at the Harvard Library

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oldbookbindings

Harvard University discovered three books with unusual leather bindings amongst their collection. Turns out they were unusual because all three were bound in human skin.

I repeat, human skin.

inside

A book bound in human skin. (Photo: cloudinary.com)

In fact, one of the books was bound in the flesh of a man who had been flayed alive.

Apparently, wrapping novels in human flesh was a popular practice in the 17th century, sort of like selfies in the 21st century— only this is way more morbid.

The practice was called Anthropodermic bibliopegy. Many medical professionals would take the skin from cadavers they used for research, and repurpose it for their textbooks.

Talk about recycling.

Harvard’s three fleshy books contain Roman poetry, French philosophy and a treatise on medieval Spanish law (this would be the one with the flayed skin.)

It would seem they occasionally bound books in flesh as a sort of memorandum.

Within the Spanish law book is this disturbing inscription:

“The bynding of this book is all that remains of my dear friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King Mbese did give me the book, it being one of poor Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bind it. Requiescat in pace.”

According to Roadtrippers, more flesh-books exist in the world, and we’re going to do our best to stay away from them.

Even Hollywood has warned us of the horrors of these human-bound volumes.

The post 3 Books Bound in Human Flesh Discovered at the Harvard Library appeared first on RYOT News.

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bscherrer
2398 days ago
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@mahea50 Checked your stacks lately?
San Diego, California
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