Daily News and Web Roundup for December 16th, 2014
1. The Keystone XL Pipeline Might Not Get Built Any Time Soon
With gasoline prices currently mercifully low (13 states are selling 87 for under $2 a gallon), some industry analysts are saying that building the Keystone XL pipeline, a source of great contention, no longer makes economic sense. From the LA Times:
By some estimates, the price of oil already has dropped below what investors in Keystone would need to break even, and some analysts believe further drops are in store.
“The recent decline in [oil] prices has to give the sponsors some pause,” said Chris Lafakis, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics.
However, oil is a resource that is, by definition, always in decline. While the price may be around $60 a barrel now, it won’t always be. Still, it would be interesting to see if the project was begun immediately if the pipeline got approved or whether it was put off until oil prices could once again directly justify the capital investment.
2. Tennessee City Bans Negative Online Comments
In a bold move that every writer would secretly like to see implemented across the board and immediately, the town of South Pittsburgh in Tennessee has decreed that no longer will city employees and elected officials be allowed to vent their spleens online.
At its December meeting, the South Pittsburg City Commission voted 4-1 to approve an “all-inclusive” social networking policy.
It applies to all city elected representatives, appointed board members, employees, volunteers, vendors, contractors and anyone associated with the town in an official capacity who uses social networks. The policy says those persons can’t post anything negative about the city, its employees or other associates.
Examples include posted videos, blogs, online forum discussions, Facebook and Twitter, Commissioner Jeff Powers said.
While some seem to believe this is repressing free speech, I’m not so sure. I’m pretty certain that if I went on Facebook and started talking shit about Thought Catalog’s business practices and insulting its employees I would simply get kicked to the curb. A ban on city employees spreading FUD actually seems pretty tame.
3. Appeals Court Rules That Porn Actors Now Required to Wear Condoms in Los Angeles
Fearing that porn watchers will react negatively to visible condoms in their movies, some in the adult film industry have fought the requirement however a federal appeals court has ruled that condoms are now a requirement in pornography made in Los Angeles county.
The industry has argued that the requirement infringes on freedom of expression but the courts rejected that argument. From Reuters:
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the requirement on Monday, saying it was narrowly tailored to achieve the County’s interest of reducing the rate of sexually transmitted infections while also leaving open “adequate alternative means of expression.”
The panel said it agreed with the lower court that, whatever “unique message” the film makers might hope to convey by depicting condomless sex, it was unlikely that viewers of adult films would understand that message.
It seems the court is saying that not liking condoms doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have to wear one.
This has been repeatedly blamed on Obamacare but that’s a fallacy. Many people make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to actually afford insurance for their children which means that some parents are able to afford insurance for themselves through Obamacare but are unable to afford insurance the entire family.
This has been touted by some as a shortcoming of Obamacare but it’s not. It’s a direct result of 21 states thus far declining to expand Medicaid to include children whose families can’t afford whole family health insurance. To be sure, if Obamacare did not exist then millions more wouldn’t have insurance.
Still, it brings attention to two issues one of which is that Obamacare isn’t universal insurance and the second of which is that some state governors are willing to let lots of poor people go without insurance so that they can continue to oppose Obamacare which is silly since governors, by definition, can’t vote on the formation of federal law.
5. Families of Newtown Massacre Victims Sue Bushmaster for Making Guns that People Buy
Bushmaster, one of dozens of makers of the AR-15 model semi-automatic rifle, is being sued by the families of those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012 since a Bushmaster was used in the shootings. They are also suing the business that sold the weapon to Adam Lanza’s mother in 2010. Via Yahoo via the Associated Press:
The complaint says the gun allows shooters to inflict “unparalleled civilian carnage.”
“In order to continue profiting from the sale of AR-15s, defendants chose to disregard the unreasonable risks the rifle posed outside of specialized, highly regulated institutions like the armed forces and law enforcement,” the plaintiffs wrote in the complaint.
Of course the gun is legal and there’s no law against profiting off the sale of a legal product.
Bill Sherlach, whose wife, Mary, was killed in the shooting, said he believes in the Second Amendment but also that the gun industry needs to be held to “standard business practices” when it comes to assuming the risk for producing, making and selling a product.
It is no way a standard business practice to assume risk for individuals who use products in an illegal fashion. This is a terrible lawsuit no matter where you come down on the gun issue.
6. Pointless Video: Here’s Larry Bird Dropping 60 Points on Dominique Wilkins’ Atlanta Hawks in 1985
This was the bomb.