Flying taxis could be here in 2026

evtol air taxi

Completely electric flying taxis called eVTOLs (for electric vertical take-off and landing) could be in use in the United States by 2026. United Airlines has already advance purchased 200 of them to air-taxi folks above LA traffic to the airport and has also investigated a significant amount of money for developing the technology that flies them.

Depending on your perspective, the air taxis look like large drones, or small helicopters. They will be piloted on rollout but pilot-free flying is under consideration for future operations. eVTOL technology is being developed by Brazilian company Eve Air Mobility. read more

NJ Sen. Loretta Weinberg hailed as champion of a free press and gov’t transparency

Press freedom via
Press Freedom source:

Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg received the National Newspaper Association Open Government Award for her legislative advocacy to promote government transparency and accountability. The award was presented to the senator Thursday by NNA President Matt Paxton during the 2017 Community Newspaper Leadership Summit at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“Whether at the state or national level, an attack on the media is an attack on our democracy. Particularly during these uncertain times, we have to stand in support of a free and independent press. I am committed to continuing the fight for government transparency and accountability and am honored to receive this award from the National Newspaper Association,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “I am also dedicated to continuing the work that I’ve done over the last several years to reform the state’s open government laws to make government more accessible to the public. A strong press and transparent government are the best safeguards for truth in our state and our country.”

Senator Weinberg led the fight against legislation that would have eliminated the requirement that public notices are published in newspapers, and was successful in blocking the bill from advancing late last year. The senator has also championed reforms to New Jersey’s open government laws, the Open Public Records Act and the Open Public Meetings Act, that would update and modernize the state’s decades-old laws.

Established in 1885, the National Newspaper Association (NNA) is a not-for-profit trade association representing the owners, publishers and editors of America’s community newspapers. NNA’s mission is to protect, promote and enhance America’s community newspapers. Today, NNA’s 2,200 members make it the largest national newspaper association.

In addition to Senator Weinberg, those speaking at the event included Martin “Marty” Baron, executive editor of the Washington Post, who previously served as editor of The Boston Globe which, under his leadership, won a Pulitzer Prize for its investigation into clergy sex abuse and was the basis for the movie Spotlight.

Trump shut down NPS for climate change tweets but can’t block new unofficial Twitter account

Over at the Palmer Report, Bill Palmer tells us the way National Park employees found to stand up to Trump, who is blocking federal employees from commenting on climate change to the extent that he has issued a gag order to prevent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from mentioning it and has deleted tweets made by the National Park Service (NPS) and even suspended the Twitter account of one park account that tweeted about climate change. An anonymous group of individuals has created an unofficial Twitter account for park and climate change news that Trump can’t touch.

The anonymous Park Service account is @AltNatParkSer, which bills itself as The Unofficial “Resistance” team of U.S. National Park Service. Not taxpayer subsidised!

Here are the details of what happened:

In his first days in office, Donald Trump has made a point of censoring and restricting what the National Park Service can and cannot say on its various official Twitter accounts. After the NPS tweeted photos of Trump’s small inauguration crowd, he temporarily suspended its Twitter privileges. And when the Badlands tweeted about climate change today, those tweets were then deleted. But now some unnamed individuals within the National Park Service have created an unofficial Twitter account that Trump can’t touch.

Trump doesn’t have the ability to shut down a Twitter account, or to suspend it from being usable; only Twitter the company would be able to do that. Instead he’s been sabotaging the National Park Service Twitter accounts by presumably threatening to fire people if they dare to tweet things he doesn’t like, or if they tweet during times when he’s put them in the penalty box. But he can only do that if he knows who’s tweeting. read more

Trevor Noah talks about his book on growing up in apartheid South Africa and inviting Tomi Lahren to The Daily Show

Trevor Noah on The Breakfast Club
Source: The Breakfast Club via YouTube

Trevor Noah speaks on The Breakfast Club about his autobiographical book on growing up knowing his birth – as a biracial child – was a crime in apartheid South Africa … a place where his mother had to dress as his nanny in order to be able to walk down the street with him.

Noah shares his questions and opinions on Donald Trump and speaks about his decision to invite Tomi Lahren to be his guest on The Daily Show. One reason for doing it was to have the chance to be heard by her audience, who otherwise would never learn anything about him.

Noah is a confirmed supporter of women, and women’s rights. He took fans who spoke crudely about Tomi after her show appearance. Noah told them, you can’t do that: you can’t pretend to be a defender of people rights when you turn around and make misogynistic statements about a woman.

The Breakfast Club interview is almost 50 minutes long, but well worth a listen, or a watch.

Days after referendum is defeated Colombian citizens demonstrate and president wins Nobel Peace Prize

Colombians march for peace
Source: AFP News Agency clip via YouTube

Colombians turned out en masse to demonstrate for peace after a ballot referendum was narrowly defeated on Sunday 02 October 2016 50.2% to 49.8%. The deal would have brought to an end Colombia’s half century of civil war. Former Pres. Alvaro Uribe led the “no” vote campaign surge by stirring up support among voters for his claim that FARC opposition forces deserve neither amnesty from criminal prosecution or government support to assist with transitioning back into civil society, both of which were provided for under the terms of the peace agreement.

Despite the defeat of the referendum, Pres. Juan Manuel Santos has pledged to continue working for peace and to continue the cease-fire with FARC. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded on October 7 to Pres. Santos to recognize his role in and dedication to the process of peace for the country of Colombia and its people. The committee issued this statement:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50 year old civil war to an end. A war that has cost the lives of at least 220,000 Colombians and displaced close to 6 Million people. The award should also be seen as a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace and to all the parties who have contributed to this peace process. This tribute is paid not least to the representatives of the countless victims of the civil war. read more

Uber won’t wait – rolls out driverless vehicles in Pittsburgh this month

Uber self-driving car
Source: Uber

For whatever its reasons: to be seen as a innovation leader … due to bad press when a driver ran a little girl down and her family paid the funeral expenses because neither the driver nor Uber agreed to assume liability … Because the math shows that drivers make a lot less money than they thought they would after car expenses, wear and tear and time are calculated … or because Google and Tesla are hard on the heels of driverless technology revolution …

Whatever the reasons are, Uber is not waiting five years – or even one – to roll out driverless vehicles. Instead, the rollout launches this month in Pittsburgh, PA, with stand-by technicians at the wheels of cars and others taking notes but none} of them are supposed to interact with customers nor drive. Bloomberg provides details:

They’re trained engineers who sit with their hands on the wheel, prepared to take over if something unexpected happens. A copilot will assist from the passenger seat, taking notes, and everything is recorded by cameras inside and outside the vehicle. There’s also a tablet in the backseat telling passengers what’s going on, and urging them to pretend the other humans aren’t there.

“The goal is to wean us off of having drivers in the car, so we don’t want the public talking to our safety drivers,” Raffi Krikorian, the company’s engineering director, told Bloomberg.

Trips will be totally free at first, instead of $1.30 per mile, the local rate for Uber in Pittsburgh. Eventually, prices will fall so much that the cost of a driverless ride will be a lot cheaper than one in a private car, Kalanick says. As for why the company picked Pittsburgh — it’s where Uber has been working with robotics experts at Carnegie Mellon University. read more

Court ruling: New Jersey police must turn over dashcam video on request

Source: Wikipedia

The New Jersey Law Journal reports on dashcam ruling handed down 30 June 2016. It’s a win for justice and respectful police conduct:

New Jersey appeals court on June 30 ruled that police video recordings taken from dashboard cameras are documents that must be released under the state’s Open Public Records Act.

Hurrah! I’m happy with this news. NJLJ reports that court case was filed by “open-government activist John Paff.” Thanks for the great work, John.

What Bernie & followers face now: thoughtful reporters take a 360º look

candidate didn't win
Source: Suffolk University/USA Today poll

Record reporters Herb Jackson & Christopher Maag take a look at the choices facing Bernie Sanders and his supporters following big end of primary season losses in delegate-heavy states California and New Jersey. I’m quoted in the article:

But some Sanders supporters in New Jersey say they are sticking with him.

“I’ve been a loyal Democrat all my life, but at this point, I’ll tell you the truth, I may resign from the Democratic Party after this election,” said Kim Wei of Fair Lawn, who with her son, Ivan, was on the ballot as a Sanders delegate.

Clinton beat Sanders by 26 percentage points in New Jersey, winning every county but Sussex and Warren, which are home to just 2 percent of the Democratic votes cast statewide. Trump, whose only opposition was from a handful of supporters of Ted Cruz and John Kasich calling for a protest vote, won every county, and 81 percent of the vote statewide.

Wei said she was turned off by stories during this year’s primary season of polling places being closed by Democratic officials to suppress the Sanders vote , and she accused Clinton supporters of gaming the system. read more

This year’s NJ Urban Mayor’s Conf on 5/5 features Urban Ag – public is invited to attend, free

Urban Ag Mayor's Conf bannerThe NJ Urban Mayors Association (NJUMA) will convene the 2016 Urban Agriculture as an Economic Development Tool Conference in Trenton, NJ this coming Thursday on May 5. The event is open to the public and is free, but we ask that you register.

Municipalities and partners across the state will be introduced to the economic possibilities that exist through urban agriculture. Participants will gather and demonstrate their commitment to the shared goals of creating jobs, growing our economy and improving our quality of life.

This conference is intentionally designed to attract and facilitate interaction, learning, and information exchange among a diverse group of stakeholders in New Jersey’s urban and rural economic development future.

Urban Agriculture as an Eco-Dev Tool Conference:
Sponsored by The NJ Urban Mayors Association
Thurs 05 May 2016 8a-5p
The War Memorial
1 Memorial Drive, Trenton, NJ 08608
Cost: free

Register, see the agenda and get other information here.

Kimi Wei and Ivan Wei have had the pleasure of helping to plan this conference and The Wei will be an event tabler.

UBER begins operating in Newark legally – and will pay $10M for airport access

Newark Penn Station 2015
Newark Penn Station Source: Wikipedia

Newark, NJ on 27 April 2016 – Mayor Ras J. Baraka, UBER NJ General Manager Ana Mahony and taxi owner/drivers revealed additional details of the preliminary Newark/UBER agreement which was announced last week and signed on Tuesday, 26 April. The enhanced plan assures rider safety, provides revenue to Newark and protects the taxi industry.

This is the first agreement UBER has made with any major city in New Jersey and consists of:

  • UBER drivers may not stand in areas set aside for taxi waiting and will wait at an off-airport dispatch location to receive calls through the UBER app.
  • UBER drivers are prohibited from staying at Newark terminals to receive dispatches.
  • The City of Newark can receive a $3 Million up-front payment as part of the previously announced $10 Million permit fee to be paid by UBER over 10 years specifically for operating at Newark Liberty International Airport.
  • Even if a state-wide law is passed regulating UBER, UBER will remain obligated to pay the $10 million.
  • Newark may audit UBER’s compliance with this agreement annually.
  • UBER will provide $1.5M of commercial liability insurance coverage for all drivers operating on the platform.
  • UBER will conduct background checks on all drivers through a nationally-accredited, third-party provider. These checks will examine county, state and federal records, as well as motor vehicle records, sex offender registries and terror watch lists.
  • UBER will enforce a zero tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use by drivers using the UBER app.
  • read more

    Clever, informative and interactive election results by The Guardian

    Washington state election results
    Source: The Guardian election results 2016

    The Guardian has created my favorite election results page, which is both cute and informative. It displays up to date information refreshed often and results show all the important information: a map of districts and a bar graph which displays the percent of districts reporting; total number of districts per county and statewide; number and percentage of votes for both districts and state … and what’s more, the whole shebang is interactive! You can see results for any district by mousing over it on the map.

    Plus, the winning primary candidate (today that’s Bernie Sanders) moves around and sporadically makes entertaining statements about his campaign positions and accomplishments.

    See the pledged delegates each Dem candidate has won by state here.

    All graphics screenshot from Guardian Election Results page

    23 yo is handcuffed, shot, sat on by police until he becomes late

    Sad day for the United States as a young Los Angeles man is shamefully murdered by two police who shoot him repeatedly after handcuffing him, then sit on him while he writhes in pain crying for help until he ascends to meet his ancestors. In his lust to kill 23 year old Noel Aguilar, one of the policeman shoots his partner.

    A bystander captured the whole episode on video but be warned: it is graphic, sad and extremely disturbing.

    May the blessings of God cover us all in holy light and peace. Please Lord, bring comfort to the soul and family of Noel and enfold them in your loving embrace. With God’s help, let us act to end the violence raging out of control in the beautiful world that is His gift to us.

    Sign the National Action Against Police Brutality Petition started by Danette Chavis of New York

    Danette Chavis
    Dec 21, 2015 — WARNING!! HORRIFIC POLICE MURDER CAUGHT ON VIDEO!! Noel Aguilar was only 23 and he was murdered by police who had knocked him off his bike for wearing ear phones. Then suddenly, he is on the ground and police threaten to to “kill him”. He is handcuffed and an officer yells, “I’ve been shot”. The young man is heard saying, “I didn’t shoot any one”. Again an officer says, “I’ve been shot”. The young man is then asking why a gun is being pointed at him and he is then shot in the stomach. 3 more shots are fired at him this time in the back. He struggles, and is telling police he dying. The officer sit on back holding him down by his weight until he dies. These officers murdered a young man of 23 for NOTHING!! The LA Sheriffs department and the media both reported it as a “shoot out with police” in which an officer was shot! An officer was SHOT but NOT by the VICTIM but by his partner! The cop shot his own partner while trying to shoot the victim – then murdered the victim!! At the time of this murder NOBODY knew about this video. Not police, not the media, nor the public! Now they do… read more