From Brown to Newsom, California to see new style, substance
By KATHLEEN RONAYNE
Monday, January 7
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — When Gov. Jerry Brown cedes power to Gavin Newsom, it will be the first time since 1887 that California has had consecutive Democratic governors. But California isn’t getting a carbon copy in substance or style.
Newsom becomes governor Monday, concluding the 80-year-old Brown’s four terms leading the nation’s most populous state. The handoff reflects Democrats’ dominance in California politics — the party holds every statewide office and huge majorities in the Legislature. And it is the next act in a history between the Newsom and Brown families that spans eight decades.
The new governor will stay Brown’s course in some areas but is likely to push more ambitious and expensive policies related to health care and education. And he’ll be “a little more of a flashy governor than Brown,” said Eric Schickler, a political science professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
Newsom enters office with a strong economy and nearly $30 billion in reserves left from Brown, although a slowing of the national economy could drastically shift the course of Newsom’s governorship.
For now, though, “he comes in in a pretty enviable spot,” Schickler said.
Newsom, 51, is a tailored-suit politician with a mega-watt smile and perfectly coiffed hair. Where Brown kept the media at arm’s length, Newsom courts the spotlight.
The generational change he brings to the governor’s mansion is reflected in the musical headliners for a wildfire victims benefit concert Newsom will host on Sunday — hip-hop artists Pitbull and Common.
Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, already has created a change in Sacramento political traditions with her preference for the title “first partner” rather than “first lady,” which she said is more inclusive. It’s also reflective of her professional experience as an actress and filmmaker focused on gender politics and inequality.
The Newsom and Brown families have been intertwined since the 1940s, when Newsom’s grandfather helped lead Brown’s father’s campaign for San Francisco district attorney. Pat Brown went on to be governor from 1959-1967.
Newsom’s father, William Newsom III, once dated one of Pat Brown’s daughters, and Jerry Brown appointed him to two judgeships. The two remained friends until the elder Newsom’s death in last month.
The long history between the families hasn’t always produced warm feelings between the outgoing and incoming governor.
When Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor, wanted to run for governor in 2010 it was Brown’s entrance into the race that foiled his bid, forcing him to settle for lieutenant governor, a job with little power.
During Brown’s first term, the two butted heads when Brown ignored Newsom’s suggestions for reviving the state’s economy following the Great Recession and declined to appoint members to an economic development commission chaired by the lieutenant governor. The two also overlapped in their mayoral tenures, when Newsom led San Francisco and Brown ran nearby Oakland.
“There was a bit of rivalry,” said Jerry Hallisey, a San Francisco lawyer and longtime friend of Brown and Newsom. He described their relationship now as “cordial.”
Hallisey, said he expects Newsom to pull more expertise from the private sector into his administration than Brown did. Newsom launched a winery in 1992 that grew into the Plump Jack Group, a network of wineries and hospitality businesses that made him a millionaire. He’s placing his controlling interests into a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest.
Brown has in the past batted away questions about his relationship with Newsom, saying the lieutenant governor has a limited role by design and that he talked to Newsom as much as any governor would his lieutenant. The day after the November election, he said Newsom’s time as mayor gave him executive experience to lead the state, although he’s warned Newsom may have a difficult time controlling Democratic lawmakers’ appetites for more spending.
“He has a lot of skill, he’s got a lot of experience, he’s a smart guy,” Brown said. But, “It’s going to be a challenging four years.”
On his campaign bus in October, Newsom said he’ll always be “the kid” in Brown’s eyes and that their relationship has been rocky in part because “it’s too familiar.”
But, he said, that’s all wrapped in reverence and “deep respect” for Brown.
“It’s built into who I am because it’s part of my 50 years,” Newsom said of the Browns. “My narrative has been their narrative.”
Newsom will work to chart his own course with more expansive policies on health care and education. His Monday inaugural address will offer a first glimpse at his priorities. He’s expected to talk about making California more affordable and ensuring the “California dream” can be reached by everyone.
Three days later, he’ll introduce his first state budget. Among the new initiatives he’ll propose: A nearly $2 billion investment in early childhood education and child care and $40 million more for the state’s community college system.
It’s unclear how much focus he’ll put on government-run health care in his first term. He backed a 2017 bill that ultimately died in the Legislature, but said it remains a priority.
Associated Press writers Don Thompson and Jonathan J. Cooper in Sacramento contributed to this report.
Do We Really Need Billionaires?
By Lawrence Wittner
According to numerous reports, the world’s billionaires keep increasing in number and, especially, in wealth.
In March 2018, Forbes reported that it had identified 2,208 billionaires from 72 countries and territories. Collectively, this group was worth $9.1 trillion, an increase in wealth of 18 percent since the preceding year. Americans led the way with a record 585 billionaires, followed by mainland China which, despite its professed commitment to Communism, had a record 373. According to a Yahoo Finance report in late November 2018, the wealth of U.S. billionaires increased by 12 percent during 2017, while that of Chinese billionaires grew by 39 percent.
These vast fortunes were created much like those amassed by the Robber Barons of the late nineteenth century. The Walton family’s $163 billion fortune grew rapidly because its giant business, Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States, paid its workers poverty-level wages. Jeff Bezos (whose fortune jumped by $78.5 billion in one year to $160 billion, making him the richest man in the world), paid pathetically low wages at Amazon for years until forced by strikes and public pressure to raise them. In mid-2017, Warren Buffett ($75 billion), then the world’s second richest man, noted that “the real problem” with the U.S. economy was that it was “disproportionately rewarding to the people on top.”
The situation is much the same elsewhere. Since the 1980s, the share of national income going to workers has been dropping significantly around the globe, thereby exacerbating inequality in wealth. “The billionaire boom is … a symptom of a failing economic system,” remarked Winnie Byanyima, executive director of the development charity, Oxfam International. “The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited.”
As a result, the further concentration of wealth has produced rising levels of economic inequality around the globe. According to a January 2018 report by Oxfam, during the preceding year some 3.7 billion people—about half the world’s population—experienced no increase in their wealth. Instead, 82 percent of the global wealth generated in 2017 went to the wealthiest one percent. In the United States, economic inequality continued to grow, with the share of the national income drawn by the poorest half of the population steadily declining. The situation was even starker in the country with the second largest economy, China. Here, despite two decades of spectacular economic growth, economic inequality rose at the fastest pace in the world, leaving China as one of the most unequal countries on the planet. In its global survey,Oxfam reported that 42 billionaires possessed as much wealth as half the world’s population.
Upon reflection, it’s hard to understand why billionaires think they need to possess such vast amounts of money and to acquire even more. After all, they can eat and drink only so much, just as they surely have all the mansions, yachts, diamonds, furs, and private jets they can possibly use. What more can they desire?
When it comes to desires, the answer is: plenty! That’s why they drive $4 million Lamborghini Venenos, acquire megamansions for their horses, take $80,000 “safaris” in private jets, purchase gold toothpicks, create megaclosets the size of homes, reside in $15,000 a night penthouse hotel suites, install luxury showers for their dogs, cover their staircases in gold, and build luxury survival bunkers. Donald Trump maintains a penthouse apartment in Trump Tower that is reportedly worth $57 million and is marbled in gold. Among his many other possessions are two private airplanes, three helicopters, five private residences, and 17 golf courses across the United States, Scotland, Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates.
In addition, billionaires devote enormous energy and money to controlling governments. ”They don’t put their wealth underneath their mattresses,” observed U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders; “they use that wealth to perpetuate their power. So you have the Koch brothers and a handful of billionaires who pour hundreds of millions of dollars into elections.” During the 2018 midterm elections in the United States, America’s billionaires lavished vast amounts of money on electoral politics, becoming the dominant funders of numerous candidates. Sheldon Adelson alone poured over $113 million into the federal elections.
This kind of big money has a major impact on American politics. Three billionaire families—the Kochs, the Mercers, and the Adelsons—played a central role in bankrolling the Republican Party’s shift to the far Right and its takeover of federal and state offices. Thus, although polls indicate that most Americans favor raising taxes on the rich, regulating corporations, fighting climate change, and supporting labor unions, the Republican-dominated White House, Congress, Supreme Court, and regulatory agencies have moved in exactly the opposite direction, backing the priorities of the wealthy.
With so much at stake, billionaires even took direct command of the world’s three major powers. Donald Trump became the first billionaire to capture the U.S. presidency, joining Russia’s president, Vladmir Putin (reputed to have amassed wealth of at least $70 billion), and China’s president, Xi Jinping (estimated to have a net worth of $1.51 billion). The three oligarchs quickly developed a cozy relationship and shared a number of policy positions, including the encouragement of wealth acquisition and the discouragement of human rights.
Admittedly, some billionaires have signed a Giving Pledge, promising to devote most of their wealth to philanthropy. Nevertheless, plutocratic philanthropy means that the priorities of the super-rich (for example, the funding of private schools), rather than the priorities of the general public (such as the funding of public schools), get implemented. Moreover, these same billionaires are accumulating wealth much faster than they donate it. Philanthropist Bill Gates was worth $54 billion in 2010, the year their pledge was announced, and his wealth stands at $90 billion today.
Overall, then, as wealth is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, most people around the world are clearly the losers.
Dr. Lawrence Wittner, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. He is the author of Confronting the Bomb (Stanford University Press).
3 killed, 4 injured in California bowling alley shooting
By SCOTT FAIN AND SOPHIA ROSENBAUM
Sunday, January 6
TORRANCE, Calif. (AP) — Three men were fatally shot late Friday and four injured when a brawl at a popular Los Angeles-area bowling alley and karaoke bar erupted into gunfire that had terrified patrons, some children, running for their lives.
Police in the coastal city of Torrance responded shortly after midnight to calls of shots fired at the Gable House Bowl. They found seven people with gunshot wounds.
Three men were pronounced dead at the scene and two were taken to a hospital, Sgt. Ronald Harris said. Two other men were struck by gunfire but “opted to seek their own medical attention.”
Authorities have not identified the victims nor suspects or released details about what led to the shooting. Witnesses said it stemmed from a fight between two large groups.
Dwayne Edwards, 60, of Los Angeles, said he received a call from his nephew that his 28-year-old son, Astin Edwards, was one of those killed. His nephew told him his son was attempting to break up a fight when a gunman “just started unloading.”
“I’m thinking this is a dream and I’ll wake up,” Edwards told the Orange County Register. “He was a good kid. I don’t understand it.”
A grieving mother told KABC-7 her 28-year-old son, Robert Meekins, was also trying to break up the fight and that Meekins and Astin Edwards were friends.
“They were friends, so I know he probably jumped in and helped Astin and whoever he was with … but I don’t think my son deserves to die,” Anglean Hubbard said.
“My son was a loving person. He loved life, he loved his son, and he loved his family. Nobody can imagine what I’m going through right now,” Hubbard said.
The third victim was 20-year-old Michael Radford, his sister Latrice Dumas told the Torrance Daily Breeze.
“He was happy. He was always a protector,” Dumas said. “That’s how he got into this, he was trying to protect others.”
Wes Hamad, a 29-year-old Torrance resident, said he was at the bowling alley with his 13-year-old niece and cousin when he saw a “huge fight” break out. Hamad said the brawl, which lasted about five minutes, blocked the entrance and spiraled into “complete chaos.”
“I grabbed my niece and started running toward the far end of the bowling alley,” he said. “As we were running, we heard 15 shots.”
As he was leaving, Hamad said he saw a woman weeping over a man who was had gunshot wounds to his head and neck.
Damone Thomas was in the karaoke section of the bowling alley, a regular stop for him and his friends after work on Fridays, when people ran in saying there was a shooting. The 30-year-old Los Angeles resident said his friend flipped a table to shield them as they heard gunshots.
Thomas said he didn’t feel scared because he was “just trying to survive.” But when he was driving home, he said he realized how traumatic the situation was and said he wasn’t been able to fall asleep.
“Closing my eyes, all I can see is the women against the wall crying, not knowing what to do,” he said.
Thomas and Hamad said they had never witnessed any violence there in the past. But Hamad said he had stopped going for a while because he heard someone with a gun was recently seen there.
“I definitely won’t be going back anymore,” he added.
In a tweet, California U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris said her heart breaks for the victims.
“We must do more to address gun violence,” she said. “Americans should be able to go to a bowling alley and be safe.”
Rosenbaum reported from New York City. Associated Press writer Daisy Nguyen reported from San Francisco.
3D-printed guns may be more dangerous to their users than targets
January 7, 2019
Author: Jeremy Straub, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, North Dakota State University
Disclosure statement: Jeremy Straub is an assistant professor in the NDSU Department of Computer Science and the associate director of the NDSU Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research. He has received support related to 3D printing from the National Science Foundation, the North Dakota Department of Commerce and the University of North Dakota. He has received funding related to cybersecurity from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. National Security Agency and the North Dakota State University. The views presented are his own and do not necessarily represent the views of NDSU or funding agencies. Straub is also a named inventor on a patent related to 3D printing quality assurance.
Despite fears that guns made with 3D printers will let criminals and terrorists easily make untraceable, undetectable plastic weapons at home, my own experience with 3D manufacturing quality control suggests that, at least for now, 3D-printed firearms may pose as much, or maybe even more, of a threat to the people who try to make and use them.
One firearms expert suggested that even the best 3D-printed guns might only fire “five shots [before] blowing up in your hand.” A weapon with a design or printing defect might blow up or come apart in its user’s hand before firing even a single bullet.
As someone who uses 3D printing in his work and researches quality assurance technologies, I’ve had the opportunity to see numerous printing defects and analyze what causes them. The problem is not with the concept of 3D printing, but with the exact process followed to create a specific item. Consumer 3D printers don’t always create high-quality items, and regular people aren’t likely to engage in rigorous quality assurance testing before using a 3D-printed firearm.
Problems are common at home
Many consumer 3D printers experience a variety of glitches, causing defects in the items they make. At times, an object detaches from the platform it’s on while being made, ending up lopsided, broken or otherwise damaged. Flaws can be much harder to detect when the flow of filament – the melted plastic material the item is being made from – is too hot or cold or too fast or slow, or stops when it shouldn’t. Even with all of the settings right, sometimes 3D-printed objects still have defects.
When a poorly made toy or trinket breaks, it can be hazardous. A child might be left with a part that he or she could choke on, for example. However, when a firearm breaks, the result could be even more serious – even fatal. In 2013, agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tested 3D-printed guns and found that the quality of materials and manufacturing determined whether a gun would fire multiple rounds successfully, or break apart during or after the first shot.
Home printing also risks that nefarious people might tamper with the design files on a website, publish intentionally defective designs or even create a virus that interferes with the operation of a 3D printer itself. Hackers may deliberately target 3D printed guns, for ideological or other reasons, or inadvertently cause defects with more general attacks against 3D printing systems.
Not up to commercial standards
Commercial manufacturers of guns double-check their designs, test models and perform rigorous examinations to ensure their firearms work properly. Defects still happen, but they’re much less likely than with home-printed weapons.
Home printers are not designed to produce the level of consistent quality required for weapon production. They also don’t have systems to detect all of the things that could go wrong and make printed weapons potentially dangerous.
This is not to say that 3D printing itself is unsafe. In fact, many companies use 3D printing to manufacture parts where safety is critical. Printed parts are used in airplanes and for medical devices, patient-specific surgical instruments, customized time-release drugs, prosthetics and hearing aids. Scientists have even proposed printing scaffolding to grow or repair human body parts.
Solutions to defects, but not ready yet
In time, improvements to popularly available 3D printers may allow safe production of reliable parts. For instance, emerging technologies could monitor the process of printing and the filament used. The group I work with and others have developed ways to assess parts, both during printing and afterward.
Other researchers are developing ways to prevent malicious defects from being added to existing printing instructions and secure printing, more generally.
So far, though, these advances are being developed and tested in research laboratories, not incorporated into mass-produced 3D printers. For the moment, most quality control over 3D-printed parts is left to the person operating the printer, or whoever is using the item. Most consumers don’t have the technical skills needed to design or perform the appropriate tests, and likely won’t ever learn them. Until the machines are more sophisticated, whatever is made with them – whether firearms or other items – isn’t guaranteed to be reliable enough to use safely.
Jon Richfield, logged in via Facebook: Well, casualties of this particular hazard strike me as examples of Natural Selection In Action.
If anyone eliminates himself from the gene pool in this manner, I would vote him a funeral with pall bearers who will demonstrate their solidarity (or solid something-or-other anyway) by firing a 21-gun salute over his grave, firing hand-loaded ammo in their own printed weapons.
A cheerful thought is that anyone who tests such a weapon is extremely unlikely to use competent non-destructive testing techniques, so they will never know whether the last test shot is exactly one short of what the weapon will stand before eliminating a hand or a head or an eye.
And such people are likely either to chicken out and use too light a hand-loaded charge and create a blocked barrel that bursts when the next shot is fired, or too heavy a charge and cause a burst immediately.
It would be a generous gesture of faith in the technology, if a major 3D-printer company would sponsor an annual competition for home-printed fully automatic firearms, rocket-propelled vehicles, kinetic glider launches, 2-man submarines, aerobatic aircraft, and similar devices that take skill and courage to use. The prizes would be big and awarded to the the ones that perform most spectacularly and repeatably .
Not only would it advance the industry no end, but every casualty would perform a double service to humanity: improving the technology and improving the gene pool.
Sounds good doesn’t it? Heck, make that a monthly competition… No, Saturday nights! With paying audiences, it should make a bomb! (You should excuse the expression…)
Gabe Ortiz, logged in via Twitter: No one seriously uses a fully printed gun, the issue is 3D printed lower receivers, which are subjected to much less extreme mechanical stress and function fine to thousands and even tens of thousands of rounds.