Author Archives: Billy Zane

Gaza in Arizona: How Israeli High-Tech Firms Will Up-Armor the US-Mexico Border

Mother Jones

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This story first appeared on the TomDispatch website.

It was October 2012. Roei Elkabetz, a brigadier general for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), was explaining his country’s border policing strategies. In his PowerPoint presentation, a photo of the enclosure wall that isolates the Gaza Strip from Israel clicked onscreen. “We have learned lots from Gaza,” he told the audience. “It’s a great laboratory.”

Elkabetz was speaking at a border technology conference and fair surrounded by a dazzling display of technology—the components of his boundary-building lab. There were surveillance balloons with high-powered cameras floating over a desert-camouflaged armored vehicle made by Lockheed Martin. There were seismic sensor systems used to detect the movement of people and other wonders of the modern border-policing world. Around Elkabetz, you could see vivid examples of where the future of such policing was heading, as imagined not by a dystopian science fiction writer but by some of the top corporate techno-innovators on the planet.

Swimming in a sea of border security, the brigadier general was, however, not surrounded by the Mediterranean but by a parched West Texas landscape. He was in El Paso, a 10-minute walk from the wall that separates the United States from Mexico.

Just a few more minutes on foot and Elkabetz could have watched green-striped US Border Patrol vehicles inching along the trickling Rio Grande in front of Ciudad Juarez, one of Mexico’s largest cities filled with US factories and the dead of that country’s drug wars. The Border Patrol agents whom the general might have spotted were then being up-armored with a lethal combination of surveillance technologies, military hardware, assault rifles, helicopters, and drones. This once-peaceful place was being transformed into what Timothy Dunn, in his book The Militarization of the US Mexico Border, terms a state of “low-intensity warfare.”

The Border Surge

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a series of executive actions on immigration reform. Addressing the American people, he referred to bipartisan immigration legislation passed by the Senate in June 2013 that would, among other things, further up-armor the same landscape in what’s been termed—in language adopted from recent US war zones—a “border surge.” The president bemoaned the fact that the bill had been stalled in the House of Representatives, hailing it as a “compromise” that “reflected common sense.” It would, he pointed out, “have doubled the number of Border Patrol agents, while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship.”

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Gaza in Arizona: How Israeli High-Tech Firms Will Up-Armor the US-Mexico Border

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Kate Winslet’s “Divergent” Character Is Like a Brainy, Science-Driven Hitler

Mother Jones

The people who made Divergent desperately want it to be the next The Hunger Games, with all the piles of money that come with a franchise of the kind. The new sci-fi movie (released on Friday) is based on the Veronica Roth young-adult novel of the same name, set in an isolated, dystopian Chicago. Much like The Hunger Games books and movies, Divergent depicts young, good-looking people fighting totalitarianism in a war-ravaged future. (In Divergent, the youthful heroine is Beatrice “Tris” Prior, played by the talented Shailene Woodley.)

There is plenty wrong with Divergent, including that it’s a drowsy action flick (first in a planned trilogy) that reeks of studio executives’ cynical attempts to cash in on the international commercial success of a similarly themed series. Whereas the villains in The Hunger Games make up a totalitarian regime that resembles North Korea but with superior reality TV, the bad guys in Divergent resemble grown-up college nerds who are black-out drunk on political power.

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Kate Winslet’s “Divergent” Character Is Like a Brainy, Science-Driven Hitler

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How Democrats Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Citizens United

Mother Jones

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Four years ago, in his inaugural State of the Union address, President Obama famously shamed the Supreme Court’s five conservative justices for their decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The court, Obama said, “reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests—including foreign corporations—to spend without limit in our elections.” Democratic lawmakers, activists, operatives, and donors piled on, condemning the ruling as “scandalous,” a “disaster,” and “bad for American democracy.” When a subsequent court decision, nodding to Citizens United, opened the door to super-PACs, a new breed of political committee that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash, Obama branded them “a threat to our democracy.”

The Obama of 2010 might not recognize the Democratic Party of 2014.

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How Democrats Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Citizens United

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ENDA Set to Pass Senate and Then Die in House

Mother Jones

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ENDA, a bill that would bar employer discrimination against gays and transsexuals, got 61 votes in the Senate this afternoon. That’s enough to overcome a filibuster, so presumably it will pass sometime in the next few days. This is great news, but it’s not clear to me why it matters in any substantive kind of way:

Because of opposition in the Republican-controlled House, passage there seems unlikely. Speaker John A. Boehner reiterated his objections to the bill on Monday, releasing a statement that said he believed it would invite too many lawsuits.

Elsewhere in the House on Monday, however, there was an encouraging development for supporters of gay rights. Representative Michael H. Michaud, Democrat of Maine, said that he is gay, becoming the seventh member of Congress to be openly gay, lesbian or bisexual.

As encouraging developments go, that’s unfortunately kind of lame. It’s certainly not going to do anything to change the minds of the tea partiers who are dead set against this legislation.

So….am I missing something? Or is this pretty much just a symbolic victory?

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ENDA Set to Pass Senate and Then Die in House

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Why Do These Democrats Keep Voting for the GOP’s Shutdown Gimmicks?

Mother Jones

Republicans in the House of Representatives have had a consistent strategy during the government shutdown: Go small. In a rare display of unity from a fractured caucus, GOPers have passed a series of small bills that would fund agencies like the National Park Service and National Institutes of Health, while continuing to oppose any larger continuing resolution to fund the federal government. The idea was simple: Give Democrats the choice of either splitting ranks, or casting votes against popular (and emotionally resonant) programs.

“I say to Harry Reid in the Senate, bring this up for a vote!” said Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) at a press conference touting the House’s bill to fund NIH cancer clinics. “Don’t take hope away from those families! Don’t take hope away from those moms!”

But House Republicans have had company. Some two dozen Democrats have voted for all or most of the nine Republican continuing resolutions, joining their colleagues to support sequestration-level funding for the NIH, National Park Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, District of Columbia, National Guard, veterans benefits, nutrition assistance, Food and Drug Administration, and Head Start.

In some cases, the reasons for doing so seem straightforward. Fifteen of those Democrats crossover votes are included in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Frontline’ list of the seats it will focus on defending in 2014, and eight serve in districts carried by Mitt Romney in 2012. (Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is the only Democrat from a red district to toe the party line completely on the continuing resolution votes.) That’s the best explanation for the votes of Reps. Cheri Bustos (Ill.), Brad Schneider (Ill.), Joe Garcia (Fla.), Scott Peters (Calif.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Ami Bera (Calif.), Raul Ruiz (Calif.), Ron Barber (Ariz.), Patrick Murphy (Fla.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Suzan DelBene (Wash.), Sean Maloney (N.Y.), Pete Gallego (Texas), and John Barrow (Ga.).

And two Democratic congressmen—Reps. Bruce Braley of Iowa and Gary Peters of Michigan—represent otherwise blue districts but have entered competitive Senate races.

That leaves six Democrats—Reps. Jared Polis (Colo.), Stephen Lynch (Mass.), Bill Foster (Ill.), Dan Lipinski (Ill.), Dave Loebsack (Iowa), and John Garamendi (Calif.)—from relatively safe districts, all of which Obama carried by double digits in both 2008 and 2012, who crossed party lines to support Republicans’ gimmick funding plan. So what gives?

Polis supports Democratic efforts for a clean continuing resolution, spokesman Brian Branton says, “but until that happens, he will work to make sure that our government is funded and our agencies reopen. Jared is proud to have supported a bipartisan bill that would reopen our National Parks so that the many jobs that revolve around tourism and Rocky Mountain National Park, in areas like Estes Park in Colorado, are safe.” Megan Jacobs, Foster’s spokeswoman, struck a similar note, emphasizing that while Foster opposed a piecemeal approach, “he believes if we have the opportunity to get some people back to work and services back on track, we should.” Garamendi, who voted for six mini-funding bills, released a statement on Thursday calling on Boehner to knock it off: “This is embarrassing for our country and makes our international partners nervous.”

If public opinion is any indication, though, things are looking up for the Democratic defectors. Public opinion polls have swung wildly against Republicans since the shutdown began. And on Thursday, there were signs of growing momentum for a bipartisan plan to restart the federal government, led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). Maybe House Democrats really can have it all.

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Why Do These Democrats Keep Voting for the GOP’s Shutdown Gimmicks?

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Crops can be made self-fertilizing with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, making artificial fertilizer unnecessary


Inside of a Dog – Alexandra Horowitz

The bestselling book that asks what dogs know and how they think, now in paperback. The answers will surprise and delight you as Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist, explains how dogs perceive their daily worlds, each other, and that other quirky animal, the human. Horowitz introduces the reader to dogs’ perceptual and cognitive abilities and then draw […]

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Black Legion – A Codex: Chaos Space Marines Supplement – Games Workshop

The Black Legion are among the most hated foes of the Imperium, vile traitors and fearsome warriors responsible for ten thousand years of terror and murder. About this Book: This Codex: Chaos Space Marines Supplement charts the history of the Legion, along with their Warmaster Abaddon, who stands poised to lead them to victory over the Imperium. Also inside […]

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Index Astartes: Death Company – Games Workshop

When a Blood Angel Space Marine succumbs to the Black Rage, tormented by the memories of his murdered Primarch, he joins the Death Company. In battle the Death Company are sent against the deadliest foes so they might find absolution and glory in death. About this Series: The Adeptus Astartes are genetically engineered warriors, created by the Emperor […]

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Munitorum: Chainswords – Games Workshop

Vicious close combat weapons, chainswords employ sawing blades of adamantium teeth that literally crew through flesh and bone with equal ease. In the hands of a skilled warrior these weapons can easily lop off limbs and heads in a spray of torn meat. About this series Weapons are the tools of war and with them soldiers ply their bloody trade on countless wor […]

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Dogtripping – David Rosenfelt

David Rosenfelt’s Dogtripping is moving and funny account of a cross-country move from California to Maine, and the beginnings of a dog rescue foundation When mystery writer David Rosenfelt and his family moved from Southern California to Maine, he thought he had prepared for everything. They had mapped the route, brought three […]

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Warlords of the Dark Millennium: Belial – Games Workshop

Belial Belial is the Grand Master of the Deathwing and bearer of the sacred Sword of Silence. A masterful tactician and fearsome warrior, Belial has won countless victories and honours for the Dark Angels, earning the enduring respect and admiration of his peers. As leader of the Chapter’s 1st Company he is always where the fighting is at its thickest, leadi […]

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Merle’s Door – Ted Kerasote

Now including a wonderful new photo insert chronicling Merle’s life, this national bestseller explores the relationship between humans and dogs. How would dogs live if they were free? Would they stay with their human friends? Merle and Ted found each other in the Utah desert— Merle was living wild and Ted was looking for a pup to keep him company. As their b […]

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How to Raise the Perfect Dog – Cesar Millan & Melissa Jo Peltier

From the bestselling author and star of National Geographic Channel’s Dog Whisperer , the only resource you’ll need for raising a happy, healthy dog. For the millions of people every year who consider bringing a puppy into their lives–as well as those who have already brought a dog home–Cesar Millan, the preeminent dog behavior expert, says, “Yes, […]

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Paracord Fusion Ties – Volume 1 – J.D. Lenzen

J.D. Lenzen is the creator of the highly acclaimed YouTube channel “Tying It All Together”, and the producer of over 200 instructional videos. He’s been formally recognized by the International Guild of Knot Tyers (IGKT) for his contributions to knotting, and is the originator of fusion knotting-innovative knots created through the merging of […]

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The Art of Raising a Puppy (Revised Edition) – Monks of New Skete

For more than thirty years the Monks of New Skete have been among America’s most trusted authorities on dog training, canine behavior, and the animal/human bond. In their two now-classic bestsellers, How to be Your Dog’s Best Friend and The Art of Raising a Puppy, the Monks draw on their experience as long-time breeders of German shepherds and as t […]

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Crops can be made self-fertilizing with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, making artificial fertilizer unnecessary

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Here’s How To Find A Good Solar Panel Contractor When You Are In A Hurry

Your remodeling project is important to you, but with work and family, it is hard to find the time you need to finish the job. Finding a good solar panel installation contractor takes time and effort, too, but with the help of these great suggestions, you can have the help you need quickly!

Don’t let a solar panel installation contractor pressure you or persuade you into compromising on any aspect of your vision. Saving money is great – we all love it. But building only with the cheapest materials will cost you a lot more in repairs over the life of the project. Aim for standard, common sense materials that are used as an industry standard.

Obtain various different resumes from several different solar panel installation contractors at the beginning of your search. You will want to only proceed throughout the hiring process with a contractor if they don’t send you their resume. A contractor who doesn’t send you a resume may not be entirely qualified for your project.

Share what their key focus will be on a daily routine to guarantee customer or job satisfaction and make sure it is similar to what you are interested in a solar panel installation contractor. Inquire on their strategies to realize quality control and how they will complete the task on time. Let them give you references and contact each to confirm that they are valid and viable.

Take the time to fully research the references, credentials, and background of any solar panel installation contractor that you are looking to hire. This will help prevent a contractor from taking advantage of you and that you get the product that you are looking and paying for.

A professional solar panel installation contractor is one who always has a look at the plans for the project before giving their estimate on the amount of cost. Through this, they will be able to give you a correct estimate and advise you accordingly on what to expect as the outcome of the project. This avoids any delays due to lack of finances.

Your potential solar panel installation contractor should be able to provide you with references who will speak for them about their quality of work, professionalism, and ability to perform on a deadline. If the contractor will not provide you with references, it is best to look somewhere else.

Ask family, friends, co-workers or virtually anyone in your community to see if anyone knows a good solar panel installation contractor who has experience in your type of project. You can get good recommendations by doing this and it will help you in your search.

Always put a clause in your contract that explains how arguments will be handled between you and your solar panel installation contractor. You can include that you want a mediator or attorney to be brought in to help resolve any conflicts. Doing so will prevent both of you from having to deal with costly court incidents.

If you are searching for additional suggestions created by experts, please open your best browser and type in solar hot water heaters tucson. You’ll discover some interesting tips related to solar pool.

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Finding Good Solar Panel Contractors When Everything Is Beyond Repair

What is the scarcest resource? Spare time. Family, work, finances–these are just a few of the sources of strain on our attention. It is no wonder that certain important things fall by the wayside of our concern–your home remodeling project, for example. If you allow a quality solar panel installation contractor to take the reins, not only will he relieve you of undue stress, but he will help jumpstart a renovation that had only been inching forward. Follow the advice below to locate a suitable contractor when you have very little time on your hands.

Check about the warranties with your solar panel installation contractor. If something breaks on your project, it is important to have this warranty available in order to get the problem fixed. Without a warranty you may be stuck taking care of the problem yourself.

Local trade directories can be a good source of information about potential solar panel installation contractors. Trade directories often perform background checks on contractors to ensure that they are legitimate and reputable – and will usually know if a contractor has a spotty record or shady business practices.

Give a newbie a chance. Sometimes it is hard to break into the contracting field. If you give a newbie a chance, there is a high likelihood they will try and produce very good quality work at a good price. Offer a reference as well.

After getting done with the interview process, give all the solar panel installation contractors some days to check if they contact you. It would indicate who is determined to get the project and if he/she comes in contact with you in a professional way. This can ease the process of choosing from contractors who are similar to each other.

A solar panel installation contractor should be experienced in working on projects like yours. Have them talk about past experiences they’ve had working on that type of project. Always discuss what their main priorities are when it comes to working and ave them create a contract ensuring they don’t stray from their plan.

In some cases, it’s illegal for a professional organization or trade association to specifically recommend one solar panel installation contractor. However, they’ll provide you with a list, and from there you can perform your own research, compare bids, check their experience levels and specialties, and make an informed final hiring decision.

When you get a business card from a solar panel installation contractor make sure that you stop by their offices to see if it’s a legitimate solar panel company. Get references and see what hey have to say about the contractor, and make sure you have your contractor in writing before the project undergoes.

Get professional and financial references for the solar panel installation contractors you’re thinking of hiring. Call or e-mail them and ask about the work the contractor performed for them. But be aware that some contractors provide false references to friends who are coached to say good things about them – so double check every contractor with trade associations and thorough online research.

If you are searching for additional ideas created by experts, please go to your best browser and search for solar tucson. You’ll find some interesting ideas related to solar power.

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