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Member since: Fri Jul 1, 2016, 03:42 PM
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California bows to beverage industry, blocks soda taxes

A new push by the beverage industry is slowing the expansion of soda taxes in California and elsewhere. California cities pioneered soda taxes as a way to combat obesity, diabetes and heart disease, but the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday bowed to pressure from beverage companies and reluctantly banned local taxes on soda for the next 12 years.

It follows similar bans recently passed in Arizona and Michigan. Voters in Oregon will decide on a statewide ban in November. The American Beverage Association, which represents Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and others, has backed the moves after several cities passed taxes on sugary drinks in recent years.

California’s ban is part of a last-minute maneuver to block a beverage industry-backed ballot measure that would make it much harder for cities and counties to raise taxes of any kind. The ABA said in a statement the legislation is about keeping groceries, including drinks, affordable. Lawmakers approved the proposal despite deep reluctance.

“This industry is aiming a nuclear weapon at government in California and saying, ‘If you don’t do what we want we are going to pull the trigger and you are not going to be able to fund basic government services,’” said Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, which has a soda tax.


AMLO, Mexico's answer to Donald Trump

THESE days Mexicans agree on two things. Their football team’s victory over Germany on June 17th was magnificent. And the elections on July 1st will be the most important in decades. The front-runner for the presidency, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, leads a coalition called “Juntos haremos historia” (“Together we will make history”). His opponents fear that he will achieve just that, in a bad way.

Mr López Obrador, who has run for the presidency twice before, has a folksy air of incorruptibility that enchants many Mexicans. He promises a “radical revolution”. Some hear that as a threat. Mr López Obrador has at times opposed the measures earlier governments have taken to modernise the economy. His critics liken him to Hugo Chávez, whose “Bolivarian revolution” has brought ruin to Venezuela. The nationalist populism he offers is unlike anything Mexico has seen since the early 1980s. And if the polls are right, he will win.

With that, Latin America’s second-biggest country will join a clutch of democracies where electorates have rebelled against the established order. What is about to happen in Mexico feels akin to the election of Donald Trump in America, Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and Italy’s turn towards populism. It may be repeated in Brazil, where the front-runner to win the presidency in October is Jair Bolsonaro, who speaks viciously about gay people but warmly of military rule.

The causes of popular anger vary. In Latin America, as elsewhere, voters are furious at elites they regard as corrupt, ineffectual and condescending. Just as American populists decry the “swamp” in Washington and Brazilians are aghast at the filth of their political class, Mr López Obrador fulminates against the “mafia of power” that he claims controls Mexico.


US Lawmakers Approve CREEPER Act To Ban Child Sex Robots

Lawmakers in the US have taken a step towards banning particularly creepy sex robots and dolls. The CREEPER act made it through the US House of Representatives on Wednesday. Officially known as the “Curbing Realistic Exploitative Electronic Pedophilic Robots Act of 2017”, the proposed legislation will now go to the Senate. The law they are hoping to pass will specifically ban dolls that are made to look like children. Congressman Dan Donovan, who created the legislation, said the bill will help protect children from predators.

In a statement, the congressman warned that anatomically correct dolls were being shipped in from China, Hong Kong, and Japan by potential abusers. The dolls come with accessories such as false eyelashes and wigs, as well as warming devices and cleaning tools. They can also be made to have "lifelike" facial expressions, including sadness and fear. Last year, 128 of these dolls were seized in the UK alone. Unsurprisingly, 85 percent of the men who imported the creepy lifelike dolls were also found to be in possession of child pornography.

Some advocates have said that sex robots and dolls could prevent abuse, with potential abusers "channeling" their behavior towards the dolls instead. However, researchers are unconvinced. A few weeks ago, experts warned that the rise of sex robots could be dangerous for society as a whole, saying that there was no evidence that these dolls would take away this urge, and could end up encouraging abuse instead.

“There are worries about blurred boundaries to consent and permission for enacted violence when sexbot ‘personalities’ can be selected that simulate non-consensual sex – that is, rape,” the researchers wrote in an editorial in BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health earlier this month. t's a position the House of Representatives agree with, having just approved Congressman Donovan's legislation. "Right now, a few clicks on a computer can allow a predator to order a vile child sex doll," Congressman Donovan said in the statement. "This is not only disturbing – but also endangers the most innocent among us.

"Once an abuser tires of practicing on a doll, it’s a small step to move on to a child. My bill takes necessary steps to stop these sickening dolls from reaching our communities. We must protect children from those who wish them harm. I thank Chairman Goodlatte and House leadership for bringing this important legislation to the floor, and I implore the Senate to swiftly move it forward.”


How exactly should Russia/Putin be dealt with in the future?

I was rewatching the Obama/Romney debate from 2012 and this clip is particularly hard to watch.

Russia's capabilities in propaganda manipulation and their determination to twist US politics to their own ends was really underestimated. Even if Trump gets voted out in 2020, russians are still going to keep meddling in our affairs so what can we really do against them?
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