March 9, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 10:53 PM


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie calls Navy veteran an 'idiot'  (NINA MANDELL, 3/09/12, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Christie began to explain the plan, when Brown shouted "what about my son? What about my neighbors? What about my friends?"

That's when Christie became slightly agitated, but continued his explanation. When Brown, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for the State Assembly last year, interrupted again, the governor became irate.

Eventually, Brown was escorted from the meeting by police.

"Let me tell you something, after you graduate from law school, you conduct yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end is going to be thrown in jail, idiot," Christie shouted as Brown was led away.

Posted by orrinj at 6:32 AM


Spanish-Language TV Dramas Heat Up Miami (AMY CHOZICK, 3/08/12, NY Times)

Although telenovelas were long churned out in Mexico, the two dominant Spanish-language networks in the United States, Univision and Telemundo, are increasing production in South Florida, attracted by American marketing opportunities, tax breaks and the growing Hispanic audience in the United States.

Telenovelas imported from Mexico can still bring big ratings on American networks, but increasingly Hispanics in the United States want to watch stories that resonate with their lives here, network executives said.

Actors, producers and writers from Latin America have descended on the city, turning Miami into a telenovela Tinseltown. The design district and its luxury stores and restaurants like Michael's Genuine Food & Drink have become a hub for paparazzi from Spanish-language publications on the lookout for stars like Ms. Soto, who plays Camila on Univision's telenovela "El Talismán."

"We joke that the best thing about Miami is that it's so close to the United States," said Luis Balaguer, founder and chief executive of Latin World Entertainment, a talent management and production company.

What does immigration give us besides culture, economic growth and human capital?
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Posted by orrinj at 6:26 AM


John Carter: Michael Chabon interview - Goodbye, cool world: How on earth did witty Pulitzer-winning novelist Michael Chabon find himself writing a monster movie set on Mars? By channelling his inner 11-year-old, he tells Tim Martin. (Tim Martin, 3/09/12, The Telegraph)

When the 11-year-old Michael Chabon, deliriously steeped in the Martian fictions of Edgar Rice Burroughs, doodled a title page in his notebook that advertised the "Literary Masterpieces" of "Mike 'Burroughs' Chabon", he can't possibly have imagined that 37 years later the first big-budget film adaptation of the novels would have his name on the credits.

But the involvement of Chabon - who is now, at 48, a novelist with the unique distinction of having won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Hugo Award, literary fiction and science fiction's top accolades -- is just one of several surprising things about John Carter that you might not guess from the trailer. It also represents the live-action debut of Andrew Stanton, co-writer of Toy Story and writer-director of the animated masterpieces Finding Nemo and Wall-E, and the first faithful adaptation of a series of books whose tendrils of influence stretch through a century of science fiction. Perhaps most arresting, though, is that beneath John Carter's sci-fi trappings and lavish special effects beats the heart of a thrillingly old-fashioned character drama, rather as though a Michael Curtiz swashbuckler had been dragged into the modern age and loaded up with four-armed green monsters, mechanical walking cities and insect-winged flying battleships.

John Carter is the kind of film that so easily could have felt assembled by committee: instead it feels built with love, by a set of writers - Stanton, his Toy Story colleague Mark Andrews and Chabon - who are all dedicatedly channelling their inner 11 year-olds.

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Posted by orrinj at 6:10 AM


'Responsibility to protect': the moral imperative to intervene in Syria: The moral imperative of the international 'responsibility to protect' doctrine, also known as R2P, compels the world to react and respond to the widespread persecution and killings in Syria. (James. P. Rudolph / March 8, 2012, CS Monitor)

R2P's current incarnation appeared in the Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, a committee created in 2001 under the auspices of the Canadian government but involving other members of the UN General Assembly. The central dilemma involved, on the one hand, the deeply rooted notion of sovereignty (a right that trumps nearly all others) and, on the other, the almost knee-jerk impulse to intervene on behalf of a besieged community.

Thus the report had to find an accommodation. It did so not by turning international law on its head but rather by redefining sovereignty to include the element of responsibility. That is, sovereignty still involves exclusive control and supremacy over a defined territory, but it now includes the primary responsibility of the state to protect its own citizens from so-called mass atrocity crimes - i.e., genocide, crimes against humanity, etc.

If the state cannot or will not live up to this basic responsibility, the traditional doctrine of non-intervention in internal affairs yields, and it is the international community's responsibility to react and respond.

The redefinition goes much deeper than that.  Mass atrocities are not required.  No regime is legitimate unless it governs by the consent of its people. Essentially, governments are required to meet Anglo-American standards or they are fair game.

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Posted by orrinj at 6:06 AM

The Shins In Concert (MPR: The Current, March 7, 2012)

After a five-year hiatus, James Mercer and his band The Shins are back with a new lineup and one of the year's most anticipated new albums, Port of Morrow. Watch the group play old and new songs in an NPR Music Presents show at NYC's Le Poisson Rouge.
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Posted by orrinj at 6:00 AM


Test Drive--2012 Chevrolet Volt and Cruze Eco (Cookie the Dog's Owner, March 08, 2012, Amazon Blogs)

For the most part, driving a Volt is just like driving a Cruze Eco with an automatic. The Volt has better pickup because, as my fellow contributor Chuck noted in his review of the Nissan Leaf, electric motors produce maximum torque at all times. Put your foot down, and every one of the Volt's 273 foot-pounds report for duty right the Hell now! (When I tested this out, Ellen broke radio silence to remind me that speeding tickets were my own responsibility.) The Volt also stops in a shorter distance than the Cruze, thanks to the regenerative braking system. Other than that, it's the same car in terms of how it drives.

On the one hand, this is an impressive accomplishment. GM has managed to build a car with a completely new powertrain technology that uses less fuel (for the most part) but gives almost nothing away in terms of functionality. (The Cruze seats three across in back; the Volt can only seat two because the battery pack intrudes into the passenger compartment, and the cargo area is a bit smaller as well.) The problem with electrics up to now has been limited range and long recharge time, but the Volt, with its onboard generator, can go as long as there's gas in the tank and refuel at the same gas stations as its conventional competitors.

On the other hand, the Volt is a forty-one thousand dollar car. The Cruze Eco, as tested by your humble narrator, comes in at around twenty-one thousand. 

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Posted by orrinj at 5:58 AM


New York's White Roofs Prove They're Cool: A new study quantifies the true beauty of white roofs -- dramatically cooler surfaces that reduce discomfort, cooling costs, and a tad of global warming. (Sam Kornell, 3/08/12, Miller-McCune)

Miller-McCune has in the past reported on the curious phenomenon scientists refer to as the "urban heat island effect," in which cities -- dark jungles of asphalt, metal, and concrete -- turn into heat reservoirs, soaking up the warmth of the sun. By failing to reflect solar radiation back into the atmosphere, they can end up more than 5 degrees warmer than surrounding areas.

Last summer, on the most sweltering day in New York -- July 22, 2011 -- the researchers discovered that a white-surfaced roof was 43 percent cooler than a typical black counterpart (which reached up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit). Not coincidentally, July 22 set a city record for electricity use, as miserable citizens twisted the dials of their air conditioners to "high."

In 2007, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into a law a program to reduce the city's greenhouse emissions by 30 percent by 2030. According to the authors of the study, increasing the city's "albedo" -- the degree to which it reflects solar radiation -- by brightening its surfaces is one of the quickest, cheapest, and most effective ways to achieve significant reductions.

The study compared the benefits of two methods of increasing reflectivity. Professionally installed white membrane coverings, which cost about $15 to $28 per square foot, were found to be more durable, but for 50 cents a square foot, the job could be done with white acrylic paint, with repainting expected every two years. This second, DIY method is being promoted by the city's CoolRoofs program as a highly cost-effective way to cool the city and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by lowering energy demand during hot summer months.
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