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[VIDEO] REWIND: Milton Friedman on the Immorality of Socialism

Milton Friedman is no fan of socialism. And he walks us through his reasoning. Socialism is force he says. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Hitler he reminds us only instituted socialism with the oppression and force agains many people who were disadvantaged. Milton Friedman was an American economist who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

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China Is Building a Robot Army of Model Workers

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Can China reboot its manufacturing industry—and the global economy—by replacing millions of workers with machines?

Will Knight writes: Inside a large, windowless room in an electronics factory in south Shanghai, about 15 workers are eyeing a small robot arm with frustration. Near the end of the production line where optical networking equipment is being packed into boxes for shipping, the robot sits motionless.

“The system is down,” explains Nie Juan, a woman in her early 20s who is responsible for quality control. Her team has been testing the robot for the past week. The machine is meant to place stickers on the boxes containing new routers, and it seemed to have mastered the task quite nicely. But then it suddenly stoppedworking. “The robot does save labor,” Nie tells me, her brow furrowed, “but it is difficult to maintain.”

The hitch reflects a much bigger technological challenge facing China’s manufacturers today. Wages in Shanghai have more than doubled in the past seven years, and the company that owns the factory, Cambridge Industries Group, faces fierce competition from increasingly high-tech operations in Germany, Japan, and the United States. To address both of these problems, CIG wants to replace two-thirds of its 3,000 workers with machines this year. Within a few more years, it wants the operation to be almost entirely automated, creating a so-called “dark factory.” The idea is that with so few people around, you could switch the lights off and leave the place to the machines.

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But as the idle robot arm on CIG’s packaging line suggests, replacing humans with machines is not an easy task. Most industrial robots have to be extensively programmed, and they will perform a job properly only if everything is positioned just so. Much of the production work done in Chinese factories requires dexterity, flexibility, and common sense. If a box comes down the line at an odd angle, for instance, a worker has to adjust his or her hand before affixing the label. A few hours later, the same worker might be tasked with affixing a new label to a different kind of box. And the following day he or she might be moved to another part of the line entirely.

Despite the huge challenges, countless manufacturers in China are planning to transform their production processes using robotics and automation at an unprecedented scale. In some ways, they don’t really have a choice. Human labor in China is no longer as cheap as it once was, especially compared with labor in rival manufacturing hubs growing quickly in Asia. In Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia, factory wages can be less than a third of what they are in the urban centers of China. One solution, many manufacturers—and government officials—believe, is to replace human workers with machines

Gerald Wong, CEO of CIG, is developing an automated electronics factory.

The results of this effort will be felt globally. Almost a quarter of the world’s products are made in China today. If China can use robots and other advanced technologies to retool types of production never before automated, that might turn the country, now the world’s sweatshop, into a hub of high-tech innovation. Less clear, however, is how that would affect the millions of workers recruited to China’s booming factories.

[Read the full story here, at technologyreview.com]

There are still plenty of workers around now as I tour CIG’s factory with the company’s CEO, Gerald Wong, a compact man who earned degrees from MIT in the 1980s. We watch a team of people performing delicate soldering on circuit boards, and another group clicking circuit boards into plastic casings. Wong stops to demonstrate a task that is proving especially hard to automate: attaching a flexible wire to a circuit board. “It’s always curled differently,” he says with annoyance.

But there are some impressive examples of automation creeping through Wong’s factory, too. As we walk by a row of machines that stamp chips into circuit boards, a wheeled robot roughly the size of a mini-fridge rolls by ferrying components in the other direction. Wong steps in front of the machine to show me how it will detect him and stop. In another part of the factory, we watch a robot arm grab finished circuit boards from a conveyor belt and place them into a machine that automatically checks their software. Wong explains that his company is testing a robot that does the soldering work we saw earlier more quickly and reliably than a person.

After we finish the tour, he says, “It is very clear in China: people will either go into automation or they will go out of the manufacturing business.”

Automate or bust

China’s economic miracle is directly attributable to its manufacturing industry. Approximately 100 million people are employed in manufacturing in China (in the U.S., the number is around 12 million), and the sector accounts for almost 36 percent of China’s gross domestic product. During the last few decades, manufacturing empires were forged around the Yangtze River Delta, Bohai Bay outside Beijing, and the Pearl River Delta in the south. Millions of low-skilled migrant workers found employment in gigantic factories, producing an unimaginable range of products, from socks to servers. China accounted for just 3 percent of global manufacturing output in 1990. Today it produces almost a quarter, including 80 percent of all air conditioners, 71 percent of all mobile phones, and 63 percent of the world’s shoes. For consumers around the world, this manufacturing boom has meant many low-cost products, from affordable iPhones to flat-screen televisions.

Workers at CIG retrieve items from one of several mobile robots that ferry materials around the facility.

In recent years, though, China’s manufacturing engine has started to stall. Wages have increased at a crippling 12 percent per year on average since 2001. Chinese exports fell last year for the first time since the financial crisis of 2009. And toward the end of 2015 the Caixin Purchasing Managers’ Index, a widely used indicator of manufacturing activity, showed that the sector had contracted for the 10th month in a row. Just as China’s manufacturing boom fed the global economy, the prospect of its decline has already started to spook the world’s financial markets.

Automation appears to offer an enticing technological solution. China already imports a huge number of industrial robots, but the country lags far behind competitors in the ratio of robots to workers. In South Korea, for instance, there are 478 robots per 10,000 workers; in Japan the figure is 315; in Germany, 292; in the United States it is 164. In China that number is only 36. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Climate Change: What Do Scientists Say? 

Climate change is an urgent topic of discussion among politicians, journalists and celebrities…but what do scientists say about climate change? Does the data validate those who say humans are causing the earth to catastrophically warm? Richard Lindzen, an MIT atmospheric physicist and one of the world’s leading climatologists, summarizes the science behind climate change.


These Disposable, 3-D Printed Robots Are The Revolution We’ve Been Waiting For

A team of researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory just published their technique on simultaneously printing both rigid and soft materials in hydraulic robotic parts. What can we do with this? If you’re thinking about soft, flexible robots, the possibilities are endless

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Source: Applied Technotopia


Living Cells ‘Hacked’ and Hijacked by MIT 

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Sarah Knapton reports: Scientists at MIT have proven they can ‘hack’ living cells and programme them to carry out new tasks.

In the same way that computer language tells a machine how to operate, researchers have shown it is possible to write DNA ‘code’ and insert it into bacteria to alter how they function.

“You use a text-based language, just like you’re programming a computer. Then you take that text and you compile it and it turns it into a DNA sequence that you put into the cell, and the circuit runs inside the cell.”

They hope that one day cells could be programmed so they could release cancer drugs on encountering a tumour, or allow plants to fight back with insecticide when a pest comes near. Read the rest of this entry »


Tony Stark, Global Taxation Advocate: Elon Musk Just Demanded a Carbon Tax in Paris

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Matthew DeBord reports: Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gave a speech in Paris on Wednesday at the Sorbonne, and he called in no uncertain terms for a carbon tax.

“Musk isn’t a newcomer to the idea of a carbon tax. He’s been calling for one for years. But the evolution of his businesses and the advent of Tesla Energy, his power-storage undertaking, appear to have sharpened his pitch.”

“We have to fix the unpriced externality,” he told the audience, shifting into the wonky quasi-academic mode that he actually appears to enjoy indulging in, when he isn’t running two companies and serving as the Chairman of a third, Solar City.

[Also see – Elon Musk says the refugee crisis is ‘just a glimpse of what’s to come if we ignore climate change‘]

[Musk has never just been about building cars, or going to Mars, or applying solar power more widely]

His entire speech hinged on this simple observation: that the addition of carbon to the atmosphere is effectively a worldwide subsidy that’s contributing to global warming and preventing humanity from freeing itself from the fossil fuel era.

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[Read the full story here, at Business Insider]

Musk called this a “hidden carbon subsidy of $5.3 trillion per year,” citing the IMF. In response to questions after his speech, he said that a good outcome of the current UN Climate Summit (COP21) taking place in France would be that governments “put their foot down” and use a revenue neutral, gradually applied carbon tax to accelerate the shift from an economy driven by fossil fuels to one driven by sustainable energy.

Musk in Paris

ScreenshotThe “untaxed negative externality” is the right to put carbon into the atmosphere for free.

Musk is convinced that the current fossil fuel era will end — it’s just a question of when. In his analysis, the transition will occur simply because we’ll run out of carbon-based stuff that we can dig out of the ground and burn. But the existing carbon subsidy, in his estimation, is slowing down progress. Read the rest of this entry »


40% of Millennials Say Government Should Prevent Offensive Speech Toward Minorities 

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Kerry Picket reports: A new Pew Research Center poll shows that 40 percent of American Millennials (ages 18-34) are likely to support government prevention of public statements offensive to minorities.

It should be noted that vastly different numbers resulted for older generations in the Pew poll on the issue of offensive speech and the government’s role.

Around 27 percent of Generation X’ers (ages 35-50) support such an idea, while 24 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 51-69) agree that censoring offensive speech about minorities should be a government issue. Only 12 percent of the Silent Generation (ages 70-87) thinks that government should prevent offensive speech toward minorities.

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The poll comes at a time when college activists, such as the group “Black Lives Matter,” are making demands in the name of racial and ethnic equality at over 20 universities across the nation.

[Read the full story here, at The Daily Caller]

Some of the demands include restrictions on offensive Halloween costumes at Yale University to the deletion of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s image and name at Princeton University to “anti-oppression training” for employees at Brown University.

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“Woodrow Wilson obviously … had a very ill-informed and ignorant view of race,” 1968 Princeton graduate Eric Chase told Reuters. “But he is a big piece of Princeton history and he should stay a big piece,” noting that it’s a push to “erase history and whitewash it and put something else in its place.” Read the rest of this entry »


Body Count: Nearly 90 People Have Been Shot in Military ‘Gun Free Zones’ in the Last 6 Years

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From The LA Times:

…The attack is the third act of domestic terrorism carried out on U.S. military facilities since 2009. A fourth attack not considered an act of terrorism, in which 12 people were killed and three wounded at the Washington Navy Yard, occurred just two years ago.

In June 2009, Muslim convert Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad killed one soldier and wounded another at a recruiting center in Little Rock, Ark. In November of that year, Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan carried out an attack at Ft. Hood, Texas, that left 13 dead and 32 wounded.

Last year, another shooter at Ft. Hood killed three people and wounded 16.

These combined attacks at military facilities bring the casualty count to 33 dead and 55 wounded by gunfire since 2009.

…One of the easiest safeguards would be for the Obama administration to revise the gun rule that has made military targets such easy prey to armed attackers.

Every military recruit has had basic weapons training, and many officers and non-commissioned officers are trained and regularly qualify to use the military’s standard-issue handguns….(read more)

This dream of military members being able to protect themselves might become a reality very soon. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] White House ‘Wasn’t Forthcoming’ on Gruber’s Obamacare Role: Mark Halperin: ‘They were right. The Republicans were right’

Emails show Jonathan Gruber, the economist who said Obamacare was written deceptively in order to pass the attention of stupid American voters, played a far wider role in the law’s instrumentation than the White House previously said.

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Longtime political journalist and pundit Mark Halperin says he owes his Republican sources “an apology” after apparently doubting their claims that MIT economist Jonathan Gruber played a major role in crafting ObamaCare.

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Halperin, Bloomberg Politics managing editor, addressed the controversy on MSNBC‘s “Morning Joe” on Monday, after a Wall Street Journal report first revealed emails showing Gruber playing a deeper role than previously thought.

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“I owe all my Republican sources an apology because they kept telling me he was hugely involved, and the White House played it down,” Halperin said. “They were right. The Republicans were right.”  Read the rest of this entry »


Contrary To White House Denials, Jonathan Gruber Was ‘Integral’ To Obamacare

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Gruber’s role may help decide the King v. Burwellcase that is now before the Supreme Court, the one that will shape Obamacare’s implementation for years to come

Avik Royavik-roy writes: Last fall, videos emerged showing MIT economist Jonathan Gruber—the architect of Obamacare—mocking “the stupidity of the American voter” for not perceiving the ways in which the controversial health law concealed its true costs. At the time, President Obama and others went through great lengths to deny Gruber’s centrality to Obamacare.

[DISCLOSURE: I am an adviser to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, but the opinions in this post are mine, and do not necessarily correspond to those of Gov. Perry.]

But 20,000 pages of new emails, obtained from MIT by the House Oversight Committee, appear to prove Gruber’s critical role. And Gruber’s role may help decide the King v. Burwellcase that is now before the Supreme Court, the one that will shape Obamacare’s implementation for years to come.

[Read the full text here, at Forbes]

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Gruber, the ‘independent expert’

In October 2009, as the debate over Obamacare crested in Congress, PriceWaterhouseCoopers published a prescient analysis projecting that, under Obamacare, health insurance premiums would increase by 47 percent in 2016 for people who bought coverage on their own: the “individual” or “non-group” market in jonathan-gruber-affordable-care-acthealth insurance parlance.

[Stephanie Armour of the Wall Street Journal first reported the existence of the new email trove]

If anything, PwC understated Obamacare’s impact on individual-market premiums. But the report directly contradicted President Obama’s wild claim that Obamacare would “lower your premiums by up to $2,500 per family per year.”

[Also see – Yes, Jonathan Gruber Is an Obamacare Architect – by Veronique De Rugy]

Democrats understood how much the report threatened the passage of Obamacare, and rolled out Jonathan Gruber—an “independent expert”—to assure senators that the “Affordable Care Act” would live up to its name.

Gruber scored an interview with Ezra Klein, then blogging at the Washington Post, in which Gruber said that “what we know for sure the bill will do is that it will lower the cost of buying non-group health insurance.” (Emphasis added.) Read the rest of this entry »


MIT Economist Jonathan Gruber Had Bigger Role in Health Law, Emails Show

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Adviser whose comments on Affordable Care Act touched off a furor worked more closely than previously known with White House

Stephanie Armour writes: Jonathan Gruber, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist whose comments about the health-care law touched off a political furor, worked more closely than previously known with the White House and top federal officials to shape the law, previously unreleased emails show.

“His proximity to HHS and the White House was a whole lot tighter than they admitted. There’s no doubt he was a much more integral part of this than they’ve said. He put up this facade he was an arm’s length away. It was a farce.”

— Rep. Jason Chaffetz, (R. Utah), chairman of the House oversight committee

The emails provided by the House Oversight Committee to The Wall Street Journal cover messages Mr. Gruber sent from January 2009 through March 2010. Committee staffers said they worked with MIT to obtain the 20,000 pages of emails.

They depict frequent consultations between Mr. Gruber and top Obama administration staffers and advisers in the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services on the Affordable Care Act. They show he informed HHS about interviews with reporters and discussions with lawmakers, and that he consulted with HHS about how to publicly describe his role.

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The administration has sought to distance itself from the MIT economist in the wake of his controversial statements in a 2013 video where he said the health law passed because of the “huge political advantage” of the legislation’s lacking transparency. He also referred to the “stupidity of the American voter.”

Republicans seized on the comments as evidence that supporters of the law purposely misled the public about its costs. Mr. Gruber received nearly $400,000 from HHS for his work focusing on health-policy computer models, according to public records.

The White House has described Mr. Gruber as having a limited role in crafting the law. President Barack Obama in 2014 said Mr. Gruber was “some adviser who never worked on our staff.” In testimony last year before Congress, Mr. Gruber disagreed with the widespread characterization of his role as the “architect” of Mr. Obama’s health-care plan.

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“His proximity to HHS and the White House was a whole lot tighter than they admitted,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, (R. Utah), chairman of the House oversight committee. “There’s no doubt he was a much more integral part of this than they’ve said. He put up this facade he was an arm’s length away. It was a farce.”

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Mr. Chaffetz on Sunday sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwellrequesting information justifying the department’s sole source contract with Mr. Gruber for his work on the health law.

Mr. Gruber declined to comment. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] MIT: 7 Finger Robot

Researchers at MIT have developed a robot that enhances the grasping motion of the human hand. Learn more…


BREAKING: BOSTON BOMBER VERDICT: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Gets Death Penalty

FILE: Boston Marathon bombings suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Indicted FBI Release Images Of Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sentenced to death today by a jury in a Boston federal courthouse.

Tsarnaev was convicted by the same jury of seven women and five men last month of all 30 counts related to the deadly April 15, 2013 bombing. Three people were killed, including an 8-year-old boy, and another 260 were injured when Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, detonated twin explosive devices near the finish line of the marathon. Three days later, the brothers murdered MIT police officer Sean Collier.

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The jury today found death the penalty was “appropriate” for six of the 17 death penalty eligible counts against Dzhkohar Tsarnaev. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police four days after the explosions….(read more)

ABC News


Boston Bombing Victim Rebekah Gregory Crosses Finish Line at the Boston Marathon


BREAKING: Boston Bombing Case: Jury Reaches Verdict in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Trial

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BOSTON — The jury has reached a verdict in the Boston Marathon bombing trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after two days of deliberations, the U.S. attorney’s office announced Wednesday.

The statement, posted on Twitter by the federal prosecutor’s office, did not indicate when the jury would announce the results.

“Seventeen of the counts carry the death penalty. Fifteen of the counts contain a series of subclause questions that jurors must take up one by one and try to answer unanimously.”

Federal Judge George O’Toole met earlier with attorneys for both sides for about 30 minutes to address the questions raised by the seven-woman, five-man jury, which deliberated for more than seven hours Tuesday before ending the day without a verdict.

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“The jury’s last question sought clarification on the difference between aiding and abetting. Twenty-five of the 30 counts charge Tsarnaev with aiding and abetting, sometimes in conjunction with a broader charge.”

The charges against Tsarnaev — totaling 30 counts — fall into four main categories. Twelve pertain to two pressure-cooker bombs used at the marathon on April 15, 2013, when three people died and more than 260 were injured. Three other charges deal with conspiracy; another three cover the fatal shooting on April 18, 2013, of MIT security officer Sean Collier.

The final 12 address what happened after Collier’s murder, including a carjacking, robbery and use of improvised explosives against Watertown, Mass., police officers.

Seventeen of the counts carry the death penalty. Fifteen of the counts contain a series of subclause questions that jurors must take up one by one and try to answer unanimously.

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“Can a conspiracy pertain to a sequence of events over multiple days or a distinct event?”

If Tsarnaev is found guilty, the second phase of the trial will consider whether he should be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.

O’Toole began Wednesday’s proceedings by reading the jurors’ questions, one of which had two parts, and delivering his answers.

“Can a conspiracy pertain to a sequence of events over multiple days or a distinct event?” was the first question.

“Duration is a question of fact for you to determine,” O’Toole told the jury. It could be limited to one event or apply to more than one. Tsarnaev is charged with conspiracy in three counts, all of which name four victims who were killed during the week of April 15, 2013.

Jurors also asked whether they need to consider all the subclauses in each count, or if reaching unanimity on the overall question of guilt for that count is sufficient.

O’Toole said they must consider every subclause only if they determine Tsarnaev is guilty on that charge. Read the rest of this entry »


Protesters Stage Anti-Robot Rally at SXSW

“I say robot, you say no-bot!”

Jon Swartz reports: The chant reverberated through the air near the entrance to the SXSW tech and entertainment festival here.

About two dozen protesters, led by a computer engineer, echoed that sentiment in their movement against artificial intelligence.

“Machines have already taken over. If you drive a car, much of what it does is technology-driven.”

— Ben Medlock, co-founder of mobile-communications company SwiftKey

“This is is about morality in computing,” said Adam Mason, 23, who organized the protest.

Signs at the scene reflected the mood. “Stop the Robots.” “Humans are the future.”

The mini-rally drew a crowd of gawkers, drawn by the sight of a rare protest here.

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The dangers of more developed artificial intelligence, which is still in its early stages, has created some debate in the scientific community. Tesla founder Elon Musk donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institute because of his fears.

Stephen Hawking and others have added to the proverbial wave of AI paranoia with dire predictions of its risk to humanity.

“I am amazed at the movement. I has changed life in ways as dramatic as the Industrial Revolution.”

— Stephen Wolfram, a British computer scientist, entrepreneur and former physicist known for his contributions to theoretical physics

The topic is an undercurrent in Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, a documentary about the fabled Apple co-founder. The paradoxical dynamic between people and tech products is a “double-edged sword,” said its Academy Award-winning director, Alex Gibney. “There are so many benefits — and yet we can descend into our smartphone.”

As non-plussed witnesses wandered by, another chant went up. “A-I, say goodbye.”

Several of the students were from the University of Texas, which is known for a strong engineering program. But they are deeply concerned about the implications of a society where technology runs too deep. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Gruber Refuses to Tell Congress Amount Government Paid Him for Obamacare

“Would you agree to supplement your Exhibit B, so that we would have . . . your state revenue that you would’ve also received, since ultimately it’s Affordable Care Act-related?”

Fresh from The CornerBrendan Bordelon reports: Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber repeatedly refused to answer how much money the government paid him for advice on crafting and explaining the Affordable Care Act — prompting incredulous responses from Republican lawmakers, who reminded the professor he was under oath.

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“I’m sure my counsel would be happy to take that up with you.”

— Jonathan Gruber

GOP Oversight chairman Darrel Issa informed Gruber that due to a misfiled form, the committee did not receive the complete compensation data for his work on Obamacare.

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“Actually I was asking would you agree to provide it.”

— Oversight chairman Darrel Issa

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“Why doesn’t he just tell us? How much money did you get from the state taxpayers and the federal taxpayers? He’s under oath, why doesn’t he tell us how much he got paid by the taxpayers? We don’t have to wait for him to send something to us, he should just be able to tell us.”

— Ohio Republican Jim Jordan

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 “As I said, the committee could take that up with my counsel.”

— Jonathan Gruber

 National Review Online


Gruber Agrees to Testify Before Congress

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Brendan Bordelon writes: Jonathan Gruber, the MIT professor and Obamacare architect behind a series of revealing and offensive comments on the health-care law, has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee next month.

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Gruber became notorious earlier this month after a series of videos surfaced showing him explaining how Obamacare was deliberately designed to be deceptive — and belittling the intelligence of American voters in the process. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Who’s The Man? Former Obama Adviser: Gruber Was the Man on Obamacare

“I remember that when I was in the White House, he was certainly viewed as an important figure in helping put Obamacare together.”

At The Corner,  Brendan Bordelon writes: Former Obama adviser Steve Rattner lamented the White House’s response to the series of revealing comments made by Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, saying their attempt to deny any association with the MIT professor is hard to take seriously.

BONUS VIDEO: #Grubergate in Two Minutes

“The problem is not that Gruber helped them put Obamacare together, because he was the man. The problem is what he’s said in the last two weeks, and how the White House has handled it.”

Rattner led a White House auto-industry task force in 2009 — the same year that Gruber helped the administration craft what would eventually become Obamacare…(read more)

National Review Online


[VIDEO] Obama in 2006: ‘I Have Stolen Ideas Liberally’ From Jonathan Gruber

At The Corner, Brendan Bordelon writes: This weekend, President Obama dismissed MIT professor Jonathan Gruber as “some adviser who never worked on our staff.” But back in 2006, the president struck a much more laudatory tone while addressing the future architect of Obamacare.

At a Brookings Institution meeting in 2006, Obama praised the policy accomplishments…(read more)

National Review Online


Philip Klein: Obamacare Repeal is More Likely, and Now GOP Needs an Alternative

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Philip Klein writes:  This month, two developments have shaken the conventional wisdom that repealing President Obama’s healthcare law is an impossibility.

First, Republicans scored a historic election victory, not only taking control of the Senate but likely winning the most House seats since 1928 — the year before Ernest Hemingway published A Farewell to Arms.

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Second, the Supreme Court took up another case on Obamacare, and if the justices rule against the administration, it would force a re-opening of the law.

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“Benson’s fear is that if the Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration, whatever the merits of the decision, liberal media would portray it as a right-wing court ripping health insurance away from millions over a silly typo out of animosity for the poor. And if Republicans didn’t pass a simple fix to change the wording, they’d be accused of mass murder.”

This doesn’t even account for the recently released videos of one of Obamacare’s main architects, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, conceding that Democrats misled the public to get the legislation passed, benefiting from “the stupidity of the American voter.”

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“The problem for Republicans — which I tried to convey to Benson in a spirited exchange that followed — is that going along with such a “fix” would be rightly seen as a complete surrender by Republicans that would alienate conservatives and enshrine Obamacare forever.”

The prospects of repealing Obamacare can now be better described, in the words of Rocco Lampone in The Godfather Part II, as “difficult, not impossible.”

But the hope of repealing Obamacare, however remote, is all the more reason for Republicans to begin coalescing around a real alternative to the law.

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“That is why conservatives should push Republicans to have an alternative plan ready to pass should the Supreme Court strike down the federal subsidies — a decision that should come by late June. “

Due to their suspicions of Republicans, whenever anybody utters the phrases “Obamacare alternative” or “repeal and replace,” many conservatives tend to hear “Obamacare lite.”

However, not every alternative to Obamacare needs to be a watered-down version of the healthcare law. And in fact, it’s always worth keeping in mind that even before Obamacare, the United States did not have a free market healthcare system. Read the rest of this entry »


Kurtz: Media Blackout Shields ObamaCare Architect Who Bet on Public Stupidity

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: I’ve been trying to figure out why the mainstream media has all but decided to ignore one of ObamaCare’s chief architects saying the administration played on the public’s stupidity in passing the law.

The New York Times' editorial page is not exactly beloved by staffers, according to a New York Observer report. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

After all, the press usually loves when hidden video surfaces, as it did this week with MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, and we get unvarnished comments showing what someone really and truly believes.

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And yet there hasn’t been a mention on the network evening newscasts. CNN’s Jake Tapper, to his credit, played the clip twice, asked two senators about it and wrote an online column on the subject, but that was about it for the network. Nothing in the Washington Post but for a couple of online items.

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(Update: The Washington Post finally got around to covering the controversy today, three days after it broke.) Not a word in the New York Times, which in 2012 ran a puffy profile of Gruber (“It is his research that convinced the Obama administration that health care reform could not work without requiring everyone to buy insurance”).

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This is utterly inexplicable, except as a matter of bias. No matter what you think of ObamaCare, on what planet is this not news? Maybe on that comet where the spaceship just landed.

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I tried to think of the possible excuses. Too busy covering other stories? Hey, nobody in America has Ebola anymore! The only real competition is a big winter storm and Eminem disgustingly dropping F-bombs at HBO’s Veterans Day concert.

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Was Gruber’s point about health care taxes and mandates too complicated? Then explain it. Besides, it isn’t that this argument never came up before; it’s that Gruber fesses up to the attempt at deception. Read the rest of this entry »


Exposed: Jonathan Gruber’s Impressive Record of White House Endorsements

I-Disagree-gruber-DC

“The fact that some adviser who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is no  reflection on the actual process that was run.”


[VIDEO] REWIND: Harry Reid’s Glowing Praise for Obamacare Designer Jon Gruber

In 2009, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., heaped praise on Jonathan Gruber, one of the chief architects of the Affordable Care Act, calling the MIT health economist “one of the most respected” in his field of expertise.

“Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Jonathan Gruber, who is one of the most respected economists in the world, said in today’s Washington Post: ‘Here’s a bill that reduces the deficit, covers 30 million people and has the promise of lowering premiums.’ Pretty good statement.”

“The Congressional Budget Office said yesterday the majority of American families who buy insurance in the new marketplace we will create — what we call health insurance exchanges — what they will see is their premiums go down,” Reid said from the floor of the U.S. Senate…(read more)

WashingtonExaminer.com


[VIDEO] HHS Secretary Tries to Distance Admin from Gruber Comments

When asked if Gruber will be welcomed back by the administration for consultation on the law, Burwell refused to answer, twice dodging Todd’s questions

At The CornerAndrew Johnson writes:

Health and Human Service secretary Sylvia Burwell disavowed the series of comments by MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber that surfaced throughout the week, in which he mocked the intelligence of American voters and told an audience that the law passed due to a lack of transparency(read more)

Big Brother Bonus: see next post.


[VIDEO] SIXTH Gruber Video Emerges: ‘Mislabeling’ Helped Us Get Rid of Tax Breaks

jonathan-gruber

Jake Tapper reports:  In a 2011 conversation about the Affordable Care Act, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the law more commonly known as Obamacare, talked about how the bill would get rid of all tax credits for employer-based health insurance through “mislabeling” what the tax is and who it would hit.

“What that means is the tax that starts out hitting only 8% of the insurance plans essentially amounts over the next 20 years essentially getting rid of the exclusion for employer sponsored plans. This was the only political way we were ever going to take on one of the worst public policies in America.”

In recent days, the past comments of Gruber — who in a 2010 speech noted that he “helped write the federal bill” and “was a paid consultant to the Obama administration to help develop the technical details as well” — have been given renewed attention.

jonathan-gruber-ap

In previously posted but only recently noticed speeches, Gruber discusses how those pushing the bill took part in an “exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter,” taking advantage of voters’ “stupidity” to create a law that would ultimately be good for them.

14UP-Gruber-articleLarge

The issue at hand in this sixth video is known as the “Cadillac tax,” which was represented as a tax on employers’ expensive health insurance plans…(read more)

“Economists have called for 40 years to get rid of the regressive, inefficient and expensive tax subsidy provided for employer provider health insurance.”

Gruber said at the Pioneer Institute for public policy research in Boston.

“It turns out politically it’s really hard to get rid of. And the only way we could get rid of it was first by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people when we all know it’s a tax on people who hold those insurance plans.”

(The White House press secretary said at a press briefing in 2010: “I would disagree with your notion that it is a tax on an individual since the proposal is written as a tax on an insurance company that offers a plan.”

jonathan-gruber-affordable-care-act

The second way was have the tax kick in “late, starting in 2018. But by starting it late, we were able to tie the cap for Cadillac Tax to CPI, not medical inflation,” Gruber said. CPI is the consumer price index, which is lower than medical inflation.

Gruber explains that by drafting the bill this way, they were able to pass something that would initially only impact some employer plans though it would eventually hit almost every employer plan….(read more)

Gruber’s are at about the 30:38 mark here.

Former White House press secretary Jay Carney told CNN that Gruber’s remarks in general were “very harmful politically to the president.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] SMOKING GUN: Gruber Admits Obama Was in Room During Planning of ‘Cadillac’ Tax Bait-and-Switch

June 13, 2012, Gruber interviews with Frontline and tells them that the Cadillac tax issue was addressed. Obama knew it was going to be a problem, and they all agreed to lie about it.


[VIDEO] Yet Another Video Emerges Of Gruber Calling Americans Stupid

Alex Griswold reports: Yet another video has emerged of MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber calling Americans “stupid,” and bragging about how the Affordable Care Act’s drafters had to deceive the public in order to pass the law.

“…the American people are too stupid to understand the difference.”

Fox NewsMegyn Kelly was the first to air the video on her program, “The Kelly File.” Kelly played the video of Gruber appearing on MSNBC’s “Ronan Farrow Daily” apologizing for his earlier remarks. “I was speaking off the cuff and I spoke inappropriately, and I regret making those comments,” he said.

“But now tonight,” Kelly reported, ” more video has surfaced showing this was not the first time Mr. Gruber called the American people stupid in an ‘off-the-cuff’ remark. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Gruber may believe that American voters are stupid, but he was the one who was dumb enough to say all this on camera’

 writes: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Jonathan Gruber was, by most accounts, one of the key figures in constructing the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare….(read more)

Here’s the full quote:

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO [Congressional Budget Office] scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that.  In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass….Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

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This validates much of what critics have said about the health care law, and the tactics used to pass it, for years.

For one thing, it is an explicit admission that the law was designed in such a way to avoid a CBO score that would have tanked the bill. Basically, the Democrats who wrote the bill knowingly gamed the CBO process.

[Also see Of Course Jonathan Gruber Said That by Charles C. W. Cooke]

It’s also an admission that the law’s authors understood that one of the effects of the bill would be to make healthy people pay for the sick, but declined to say this for fear that it would kill the bill’s chances. In other words, the law’s supporters believed the public would not like some of the bill’s consequences, and knowingly attempted to hide those consequences from the public. Read the rest of this entry »


The New Campus Sex Puritans

neo-puritans

The neo-puritans want to bureaucratize your sex life, and criminalize incorrect behavior. Will the progressive left have any better luck regulating sexual behaviour than the puritanical right did? 

2014-wente-headMargaret Wente writes: Sixty years ago, sexual behaviour among the young caused deep alarm among the puritanical religious right. Today, it causes deep alarm among the puritanical progressive left. Like their forebears, they are doing their best to restrict and regulate it.

This weekend, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that makes universities redefine consensual sex. From now on, students must effectively obtain the “affirmative consent” of their partners, which must be “ongoing” every step of the way.

puritan_family

“Sexual violence is anything that makes someone feel unsafe; it could be catcalls, peer pressure to act a certain way in a situation, verbal harassment and unwanted touching. Many of these things occur daily without anyone giving a second thought to them.”

— Jami Coughler, program co-ordinator of the sexual violence support centre at Ontario’s Brock University

Those accused of violating the consent rule will be judged on the puritan-girlpreponderance of the evidence. Perpetrators face suspension or expulsion, and universities face heavy penalties for failure to enforce.

“…sexual violence includes such offences as ‘criticizing the partner sexually’ and ‘withholding sex and affection’ – things that in my day were known as ‘being in a bad relationship.'”

The new measure is designed to stem a tidal wave of rape on campus that, in fact, does not exist. (Violent crime, including sexual assault, has been in decline for 20 years.) Even so, universities across North America have set up vast new administrative apparatuses to deal with the crisis. Many of them have also expanded the meaning of “sexual violence” to include anything that makes you feel bad. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Self-Folding Robots

A team of engineers at Harvard and MIT have designed and built a flat-packed robot that assembles itself and walks away. Learn more at http://hvrd.me/A2mM9

YouTube


[VIDEO] Oh Yes He Did: Obamacare’s Architect Agreed That Only State Exchanges Could Offer Subsidies

gruber-halbig“What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credit.”

Jonathan Gruber, on the record explaining that Obamacare subsidies are limited to state exchanges

NRO‘s Veronique de Rugy has the best summary of this breaking story, from last night. Follow the links to see more from the sources, and here to see the full text of this one at The Corner. Reason’s Peter Suderman published an interesting revelation about the history of the decision reached this week by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, that Obamacare subsidies couldn’t be distributed unless it happened through a state exchange.

Is there video? Oh yeah, there’s video:

[See Peter Suderman’s revelation at Reason]clip_image002_0073

[See Dueling Rulings Hasten Obamacare’s Almost Certain Path Back to the Supreme Court]

[Also see Ed Morrissey’s comments at Hot Air]

It turns out that one of the key minds behind Obamacare, MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, entirely agreed with Michael Cannon and Jonathan Adler, the scholars behind the legal theory that backed up the Halbig plaintiffs who triumphed this week.  He’s on the record explaining that Obamacare subsidies are limited to state exchanges.

UPDATE: Wait, there’s more video? Yes, there’s more video. The White House takes a flailing spin:

Back to Veronique de Rugy‘s Corner item, quoting from Reason‘s Suderman bombshell Suderman writes:

Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who helped design the Massachusetts health law that was the model for Obamacare, was a key influence on the creation of the law. He was widely quoted in the media. During the crafting of the law, the Obama administration brought him on for his expertise. He was paid almost $400,000 to consult with the administration on the law. And he has claimed to have written part of the legislation, the section dealing with small business tax credits. Read the rest of this entry »


This Day in History: Eastman Makes First Motion Picture Film

george-eastman John Kirshon writes:  One-hundred and twenty-six years ago, on March 26, 1885, the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company of RochesterNew York, manufactured the first commercial motion picture film.

The company was co-founded by George Eastman, an American inventor and philanthropist who in his lifetime transformed photography from an expensive hobby into an inexpensive, popular pastime.

Born in Waterville, New York in 1854, the self-educated Eastman patented the first practical film in roll form in 1884, and perfected the Kodak camera, the first camera designed for roll film, four years later.

He founded the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester in 1892. One of the first firms to mass-produce standardized photography equipment, it also made the flexible, transparent film, invented by Eastman in 1889, that was vital in the development of the movie business.

Read the rest of this entry »


How Technology Is Destroying Jobs

tech-job-killDavid Rotman writes:  Given his calm and reasoned academic demeanor, it is easy to miss just how provocative Erik Brynjolfsson’s contention really is. ­Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and his collaborator and coauthor Andrew McAfee have been arguing for the last year and a half that impressive advances in computer technology—from improved industrial robotics to automated translation services—are largely behind the sluggish employment growth of the last 10 to 15 years. Even more ominous for workers, the MIT academics foresee dismal prospects for many types of jobs as these powerful new technologies are increasingly adopted not only in manufacturing, clerical, and retail work but in professions such as law, financial services, education, and medicine.

Economic theory and government policy will have to be rethought if technology is indeed destroying jobs faster than it is creating new ones.

That robots, automation, and software can replace people might seem obvious to anyone who’s worked in automotive manufacturing or as a travel agent. But Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s claim is more troubling and controversial. They believe that rapid technological change has been destroying jobs faster than it is creating them, contributing to the stagnation of median income and the growth of inequality in the United States. And, they suspect, something similar is happening in other technologically advanced countries.

Read the rest of this entry »


New Drugs May Help Heal Old Psychological Traumas

Image Credit: Cell, Gräff et al.

Image Credit: Cell, Gräff et al.

Annie Sneed reports:  The U.S. has sent thousands of soldiers into combat over the past decade or so, and a good number of them have returned home with deep psychological scars. Up to 20 percent of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, according to some expert estimates. Now researchers at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found a class of drugs that show promise for helping to heal traumatic memories.

Psychologists often treat PTSD using behavioral therapy, a method that encourages patients to confront stressful memories and then replace those recollections with new, nontraumatic ones. But the technique is not always effective. Li-Huei Tsai and her colleagues tested drugs that they predicted might make a patient’s memories more responsive to therapy. The researchers targeted old and new traumatic memories in mice with drugs called histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors, which increase the plasticity of the brain’s learning and memory areas. They found that HDAC, in combination with behavioral therapy, eased the burden of both recent and old stressful memories in mice, whereas behavioral therapy alone only helped mice suffering from recent trauma.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Real Gender War is Against Boys

It's time to stop the grievance competition between the sexes and ensure all the nation's children get what they need to grow into productive citizens. (Photo: Thinkstock)

It’s time to stop the grievance competition between the sexes and ensure all the nation’s children get what they need to grow into productive citizens. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Lost in all the noise about helping girls achieve their potential is a growing body of evidence that boys are in trouble. It’s the real “gender gap.” Consider this: A recent study by two MIT economists found that men, not women, are less likely to graduate from high school and finish college. As a result, the study said, “over the last three decades, the labor market trajectory of males in the U.S. has turned downward along four dimensions: skills acquisition, employment rates, occupational stature and real wage levels.”

The authors say the declining economic value of men and the rise in women’s achievement contributes to the breakdown of the American family by making marriage less valuable. Then, with more out-of-wedlock births and single-parent households headed by women, the lack of a male role model hurts boys in particular, both economically and academically.

fathers-sonsThis isn’t a new finding: Multiple studies over the past 40 years have shown that boys suffer more than girls from divorcebecause they tend to externalize their reactions and act in ways that make them more likely to cause trouble at school or get arrested. Simply put: Boys need fathers to learn how to become men. And too many of them don’t have one.

The social cost of this is not just the obvious burden from spiraling welfare and prison populations — a 2008 study estimated that family fragmentation cost taxpayers more than $112 billion a year — but in the lost potential as well.

What to do? The first step to solving a problem is recognizing that one exists. And in this case that means ignoring all the political nonsense about a “war on girls” and “war on women,” and taking a serious look at whether the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. The research indicates this is so.

Read the rest of this entry »


Boy Trouble

DE AGOSTINI PICTURE LIBRARY/A. DAGLI ORTI/THE BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY Boys have less self-control, say neuroscientists (and parents).

DE AGOSTINI PICTURE LIBRARY/A. DAGLI ORTI/THE BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY
Boys have less self-control, say neuroscientists (and parents).

Kay S. Hymowitz writes:  When I started following the research on child well-being about two decades ago, the focus was almost always girls’ problems—their low self-esteem, lax ambitions, eating disorders, and, most alarming, high rates of teen pregnancy. Now, though, with teen births down more than 50 percent from their 1991 peak and girls dominating classrooms and graduation ceremonies, boys and men are increasingly the ones under examination. Their high school grades and college attendance rates have remained stalled for decades. Among poor and working-class boys, the chances of climbing out of the low-end labor market—and of becoming reliable husbands and fathers—are looking worse and worse.

Economists have scratched their heads. “The greatest, most astonishing fact that I am aware of in social science right now is that women have been able to hear the labor market screaming out ‘You need more education’ and have been able to respond to that, and men have not,” MIT’s Michael Greenstone told the New York Times. If boys were as rational as their sisters, he implied, they would be staying in school, getting degrees, and going on to buff their Florsheim shoes on weekdays at 7:30 AM. Instead, the rational sex, the proto-homo economicus, is shrugging off school and resigning itself to a life of shelf stocking. Why would that be?

This spring, another MIT economist, David Autor, and coauthor Melanie Wasserman, proposed an answer. The reason for boys’ dismal school performance, they argued, was the growing number of fatherless homes. Boys and young men weren’t behaving rationally, the theory suggested, because their family background left them without the necessary attitudes and skills to adapt to changing social and economic conditions. The paper generated a brief buzz but then vanished. That’s too bad, for the claim that family breakdown has had an especially harsh impact on boys, and therefore men, has considerable psychological and biological research behind it. Anyone interested in the plight of poor and working-class men—and, more broadly, mobility and the American dream—should keep it front and center in public debate.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Google’s Next Frontier: Robots

Boston Dynamics’ four-legged robot named WildCat can gallop at high speeds
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SAN FRANCISCO —   writes:  BigDog, Cheetah, WildCat and Atlas have joined Google’s growing robot menagerie.

Google confirmed on Friday that it had completed the acquisition of Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that has designed mobile research robots for the Pentagon. The company, based in Waltham, Mass., has gained an international reputation for machines that walk with an uncanny sense of balance and even — cheetahlike — run faster than the fastest humans.

It is the eighth robotics company that Google has acquired in the last half-year. Executives at the Internet giant are circumspect about what exactly they plan to do with their robot collection. But Boston Dynamics and its animal kingdom-themed machines bring significant cachet to Google’s robotic efforts, which are being led by Andy Rubin, the Google executive who spearheaded the development of Android, the world’s most widely used smartphone software.

The deal is also the clearest indication yet that Google is intent on building a new class of autonomous systems that might do anything from warehouse work to package delivery and even elder care.

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Nanny of the Month: Banning Doorknobs, Frat Parties…

They make it their business to mind your business. And recently busybodies have made it their business to ban doorknobs in Vancouver (next stop: your town?), and fraternity parties in Boston–if thrown by MIT students (who sometimes jump up and down on plexiglass skylights, fall four stories, and injure their head and genitals).

But this time the busiest bodies of all can be found in Bartow, Florida, where code officials threatened to fine residents who stuck “God Bless America” signs on their lawns. Some residents were outraged by what they regarded as an attack on religion and patriotism. The city says its beef is with temporary lawn signs themselves and not the content of the signs, but many residents were outraged the sign ban exists at all.

Read the rest of this entry »


For Democrats, Obamacare Unfolding Like a Greek Tragedy

death

Photo via Vincenzo Camuccini

Noah Rothman writes: A great tragedy is unfolding within Democratic ranks. The party and their leader, President Barack Obama, are scrambling to mitigate the damage the Affordable Care Act is doing to the Democratic brand. In their rush, they are striking glancing blows against a law which is already teetering on its unsound foundations. In a Euripidean twist, it is Democrats, not Republicans, who are meting out potentially fatal blows to the project which had once represented their greatest hopes.

Passed along party lines by appealing to methods unbecoming of the democratic process, the president secured his signature achievement in 2010. It was all downhill from there. A scandalous number of waivers, carve-outs and bailouts later, the ACA went into effect in October amid the self-flagellating protests of Republicans. Defeated at last, the law’s opponents stepped aside. Without a distraction, the press and the public focused on the effects of the law itself. What they saw was grotesque.

Read the rest of this entry »