Posted on

Sunisa Lee Is ‘On Top Of The World’ In Celebration Video That Sums Up Tokyo Olympics

Olympic champion gymnast Sunisa Lee celebrated her historic victory in the individual all-around event in Tokyo on Thursday in a video that could sum up the coronavirus pandemic-delayed games.

“On top of the world rn,” the Minnesota native captioned the video that’s garnered almost 17 million views on TikTok.

Lee is the first Hmong American to win gold at the Summer Games.

Posted on

Simone Biles Shows Worrying Video That Proves She Isn’t Over The Twisties At Olympics

The mental and orientation problems that prompted gymnast Simone Biles to withdraw from the team and all-around events at the Tokyo Olympics are not over.

The four-time gold medalist on Friday shared video proof of her continued bout with the so-called twisties, in which gymnasts can get lost in the air during acrobatic maneuvers.

In a clip of her practicing a twisting dismount on the uneven parallel bars, Biles lands flat on her back.

She noted to fans on her Instagram story that, thankfully, the mat was cushy.

“I don’t think you realize how dangerous this is on hard, competitive surface,” she said with the video.

Biles told fans that her “mind and body are simply not in sync” and that the problem emerged randomly after the qualifying round.

Biles said she cannot tell up from down and the issue is persisting. “Sometimes I can’t even fathom twisting. I seriously cannot comprehend how to twist. Strangest and weirdest thing.”

Biles, who hasn’t said whether she’ll compete in the apparatus finals after teammate Sunisa Lee captured the all-around gold, revisited the awkward vault that precipitated her pullout in the team event. She aborted a more difficult move after getting confused in the air, and shot back at trolls who say she quit.

“I simply got so lost my safety was at risk as well as a team medal,” she wrote.

Posted on

NYC Is More Addicted To Fossil Fuels Than Ever. Now It May Make Solar Harder To Build.

Still traumatized by 2012’s deadly Superstorm Sandy, New York City has in recent years sued oil giants, divested its pension funds of coal stocks, and outlined lofty plans to protect the coastal metropolis from rising seas and extreme weather

Yet this year the nation’s largest city became more dependent on fossil fuels for its electricity as the nuclear plant that provided most of its zero-carbon electricity shut down and a plan to build a transmission line to carry hydropower down to the Hudson River from dams in Canada, first proposed in 2008, continued to flounder.

With limited space to build renewables and political power over its own infrastructure, glazing rooftops across the five boroughs with solar panels is widely seen as the easiest and most affordable way to generate renewable power within city limits ― and a source of jobs and training for an industry set for exponential growth if the U.S. fulfills its climate goals.

But two looming policy changes threaten to make rooftop solar harder and more expensive to build.

The state program that financed solar projects on the roofs of some of the poorest and most pollution-plagued New Yorkers is poised to run out of money as early as the end of summer, in part because a loophole allowed fossil fuel infrastructure to use up a giant chunk of the funding. 

And the city’s fire department advanced new codes that could significantly shrink the amount of roof space available for solar equipment and create costly new requirements for building owners looking to add panels. 

“There’s no pot at the end of the rainbow for people building and installing solar in New York City,” said Shyam Mehta, the executive director of the New York Solar Energy Industries Association. “It’s very difficult already. These policy issues make it more so.”

Fossil Fuels Drink Solar’s Milkshake

New York state created its community solar program in 2015 to subsidize the construction of panels to which renters, barred from building atop roofs they don’t own, could subscribe and lower their bills. It took a few years to get off the ground in New York City and its northern suburb of Westchester County, the area served by the private utility monopoly Consolidated Edison. In 2018, the program produced 3 megawatts of panels within the ConEd service area. 

The sun sets on the Empire State Building as it sits behind smoke stacks of a ConEdison power plant.

A year later, that number swelled more than sevenfold to 22 megawatts. 

In 2020, however, that number soared to 89 megawatts, making community solar by far the fastest-growing segment of the city’s solar sector. 

For residents of New York City’s sprawling public housing complexes, the program brought hope to places that most often offer examples of what happens when a super-rich metropolis fails to protect its poorest residents: Mold and pest infestations, lead-poisoned babies, grandparents left to freeze in winter without heat and roast in summer without air conditioning. 

In the meantime, the program has created nearly two dozen temporary jobs, with the majority of workers finding work in solar after installations were completed.

Lugging cinder blocks across the roof of a public housing development in south Brooklyn in March, Sarah Bellow, a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) resident who lost her job during the pandemic, said getting hired to install solar panels offered reprieve from the “mental effect of not working.” 

“I love it,” Bellow told NY1 of the job. “I love every aspect of it.”

Kelvin Casimiro, a 22-year-old NYCHA resident, similarly struggled to find work after he was laid off last year until a nonprofit working with the community solar program recruited him to build panels atop the Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing complex in North America.

“I have applied for solar jobs before but have not received any positive answers because I had no prior experience in solar installations,” Casimiro said in an official NYCHA newsletter last month. “It is a great opportunity, because solar jobs are on the rise. Everyone is interested.”

Yet as the solar projects ramped up, a loophole allowed natural gas-fired fuel cells to eat up more than 160 megawatts’ worth of funding in the community solar program. By the time state regulators closed the loophole in 2019, the fossil fuel equipment used up about half the funding available for the New York City service area. 

Most solar projects will become uneconomically viable overnight.
Shyam Mehta, New York Solar Energy Industries Association

In March, the city government, NYCHA, and a handful of solar nonprofits filed a petition with the state Public Service Commission requesting the state extend the program, which was set to run out of funding. At the very least, they asked that the state replace the funding the fossil fuel projects used up so they could go to solar projects instead. Roughly 40 megawatts of funding remain in the program, said Mehta, who estimated those will run out in, at most, three months. 

Without an extension, Mehta said “most solar projects will become uneconomically viable overnight.”

The commission did not respond to a request for comment. But the body meets once per month, meaning it likely has no more than two sessions to address the issue before the program suffers a funding shortfall. 

In a statement, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said it was urging the commission to expand the program “given the acute need to transition away from fossil fuels.” 

While advocates and solar installers wait nervously, analysts say the state is likely to keep the program going.

“Speculatively, I would not be surprised if they extend it because it’s clearly been clearly effective,” said Pol Lezcano, a solar analyst at the energy consultancy BloombergNEF. 

Firefighters Propose ‘A Hard Pill To Swallow’

The New York City Fire Department’s proposed new codes could affect virtually all new rooftop solar projects in the city. 

The department called on the city to revise the fire code to leave six-feet-wide openings around roof drains and on the perimeters of smaller buildings, and make expensive upgrades to parapet walls. 

The most challenging measure proposed in the codes was a requirement for building owners to keep 30% of the rooftop facing the rear or any side of the building with windows completely clear of any panels so firefighters can easily traverse the space. Doing so, the Solar Energy Industries Association calculated, would reduce the available area for panels by roughly 40%, and in some cases more.  

The proposed revisions also include mandates to reinforce parapets on buildings, a requirement solar installers said could make rooftop panels even more expensive. 

“It’s well understood that New York City’s fire code, as it exists right now, already places more restrictions on rooftop solar construction than any other fire code in the nation,” Mehta said. “Without demonstrating the necessity of these restrictions for firefighters or public safety, it’s a really hard pill to swallow.” 

In an email to HuffPost, the fire department said it planned to withdraw the 30% proposal and limit “its perimeter access proposal to newly-constructed buildings” over the solar industry’s concerns. 

“The Department will continue to work with the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Sustainability to address any concerns expressed by clean energy stakeholders,” deputy commissioner Frank Dwyer, the spokesman, said. 

The last remaining reactor at the Indian Point nuclear power plant, north of the city, shut down in April. 

The last remaining reactor at the Indian Point nuclear power plant, north of the city, shut down in April. 

Lezcano said the existing fire code has “prevented a lot of installers from even looking at the city as a potential new market.” 

“Unless you’re a city installer and you’re able to afford the time to navigate the bureaucracy and administrative permitting, there’s very little reason for you to be in the city,” he said. “I know of multiple installers who have decided not to expand to New York City because of all the additional work it would require in terms of having people with boots on the ground just to deal with the regulatory aspects.” 

The State vs. The City

New York City’s efforts to curb its greenhouse gas emissions have long been dogged by the state’s unwillingness or inability to deliver on them. 

The city could not, for example, enact new congestion pricing tolls to limit vehicle traffic into Manhattan without legislation passed by the state. Any changes and investments in the subway and system most New Yorkers rely on must also run through Albany, since the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is under state control. 

Even the city’s landmark 2019 climate law ― a mandate for big buildings, the largest energy users in the five boroughs, to install energy efficiency retrofits ― has faced pushback from the state, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) proposed new carve-outs for landlords that critics say would defang the legislation.  

New York state officials say they want the state to rapidly eliminate carbon from its electricity grid. But as the state charges ahead with implementing its 100% by 2040 clean power law, some fear its eponymous city could become an afterthought. That’s because the state can largely hit some of its early renewable electricity targets with big solar farms in the state’s sparsely populated northern regions, where open space and looser regulations make energy development cheaper.  

Two projects in or near the city could balance that regional disparity. The first, a proposal to close the notorious jail on Rikers Island and replace it with solar panels and batteries, could create a central hub for some clean electricity production, conveniently near the 500-acre electrical utility complex in northwest Queens. The second, already underway, is an array of offshore wind turbines expected to come online off the coast of Long Island and New Jersey sometime in the next three to four years. 

In the meantime, however, a different proposal has consumed the attention of pro-renewable lawmakers and environmentalists in the city: a plan to build new gas-fired generators in Queens and Brooklyn. 

“The city has to come up with a plan to help us mitigate the situation,” said Charles Callaway, the director of organizing at We Act for Environmental Justice, a Harlem-based advocacy group. “We can help our community put solar on top of buildings in a way that we can reduce the amount of emissions and continue to protect firemen.”

Posted on

Jake Gyllenhaal’s Love Of ‘The Great British Baking Show’ And Prue Leith Is As Pure As The Show Itself

Just when we finally got our heads around Margot Robbie stanning “Love Island,” another Hollywood A-lister has come out as a huge fan of another iconic British TV show.

Yeah, those are eight words we never thought we’d see, either.

The “Donnie Darko” actor made the unexpected revelation to the PA news agency.

Jake Gyllenhaal 

“I have always cooked and I’ve always loved to cook, and there are many things that I have hoped and wished that I would be able to do, that I had always deemed in my mind to be impossible,” Gyllenhaal said. “And then I made them and it’s opened my entire world. Things like, literally no joke, a black and white cookie. I’ve searched the world for the perfect black and white cookie and never found it. And so now I get to try and make the perfect one for myself.”

Asked if he would ever take part in a baking show, he said: “In my mind, there’s literally nothing that can beat ‘The Great British Baking Show’ (the U.S. title for ‘The Great British Bake Off’). So no, the answer to that is no.”

Prue Leith

Prue Leith

Gyllenhaal then revealed he is a huge fan of a certain judge (if you’re reading this Paul Hollywood, you might want to look away now).

“Prue is my favorite,” Gyllenhaal said. “I’m mesmerized by her spectacles. Her coats or spectacles change and it’s almost as if they change every shot. Or do they change every show? I can’t figure it out. And I just adore her. Prue’s fantastic. I do really love Mr. Hollywood, but you know, she’s amazing.”

Posted on

Georgia Republicans Make Move Toward Fulton County Election Takeover

Georgia state Republicans have inched toward a possible takeover of elections in Fulton County after laying the groundwork for a process that could give the state GOP more power over elections in a county overwhelmingly Democratic.

Two dozen senators in the GOP-controlled General Assembly called for a performance review of Fulton County elections chief Richard Barron in a letter submitted Tuesday by state Sen. Butch Miller, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported. 

“We do so as a measure of last resort, having failed to adequately assuage the concern that we, as elected officials, have regarding the integrity of the Fulton County elections process,” Miller wrote, according to a copy of the letter published by the Journal-Constitution.

Lawmakers called for the review over what they said was a failure after the November 2020 vote to properly perform risk-limiting audits. Risk-limiting audits are a postelection process that checks if equipment and procedures worked accurately to yield the correct outcome.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden received 72.65% of the votes cast in Fulton County, which includes most of Atlanta, in the November election. Then-President Donald Trump carried 26.16% of the vote.

Biden won Georgia, marking the first time in 20 years that a Democrat had won the typically red state. Georgia has since been the subject of ongoing election controversy fueled by Trump’s repeated false claims of massive voter fraud.

Republicans ordered three audits of the November election, none of which found any evidence of such fraud.

While the November vote and a January runoff for two U.S. Senate seats ran smoothly in Fulton County, the region is haunted by a history of poorly run elections. It had a disastrous primary in June 2020, when malfunctioning voting machines caused enormous delays and long lines to vote.

The performance review process for local election officials is a new component of Georgia elections after state Republicans passed a sweeping law in late March that will dramatically limit voting access in the state. It included measures that paved the way for legislators to influence election management, including one that allows for the replacement of county election board members by the state legislature.

Democrats and voting rights experts have raised concerns that Republicans are trying to affect election outcomes by attempting a partisan takeover of election administration.

“After giving themselves unprecedented power under Senate Bill 202, Republicans wasted no time in waging an anti-democratic, partisan power grab, attempting to seize control of elections in Georgia’s largest county, home to the greatest number of voters of color in the state,” Lauren Groh-Wargo, the chief executive of Fair Fight Action, a Democratic voting rights group, told The New York Times.

The Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, and members of the Fulton County House delegation have expressed support for the review.

Posted on

MyPillow Guy Pulls Millions In Ads From Fox News In Spat Over Conspiracy Theories

Fox News viewers may be about to see a big change on the air very soon: no more of the ubiquitous MyPillow ads. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that CEO Mike Lindell is unhappy with the right-wing network for refusing to air his latest ad.

“I am pulling everything!” Lindell told Salon, adding that the boycott begins “immediately.” 

The latest ad isn’t about his pillows. It’s about his coming “cyber symposium,” where he plans to disseminate more of his outlandish and disproved claims of election fraud, the Journal reported.

“Shame on you, Fox News,” he told Salon. “Shame on them!” 

Lindell has previously claimed that the symposium’s evidence will be so strong that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will resign and allow Donald Trump to return, apparently forgetting that such a double resignation would instead elevate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to the Oval Office, since she is next in line in the presidential succession. 

Fox News told The Wrap it was “unfortunate” that Lindell pulled the ads. 

The Journal said Lindell spent $50 million on ads on Fox News last year and has spent $19 million so far this year. 

“Things change, but right now I have no plans to ever advertise on Fox News again,” he told The Daily Beast

Lindell has been a loyal Fox News advertiser. Ads featuring him fluffing up pillows air so frequently that he’s practically one of the cable news network’s personalities.  

And he’s stuck with the network even when other companies did not.

Midway through 2020, The New York Times said MyPillow made up more than a third of the $75 million in ads spent on Tucker Carlson’s show, which has faced several advertiser revolts due to his racist and increasingly extremist rhetoric. 

Posted on

Britney Spears’ Doctors Support Removing Her Dad As Conservator, Court Doc Says

Britney Spears’ medical team is in favor of removing her father as one of her conservators, according to a petition that attorneys for the pop star’s other conservator filed Thursday. 

The petition on behalf of Jodi Montgomery, who has overseen the personal and medical aspects of Spears’ conservatorship since 2019, was filed in support of removing the singer’s father, Jamie Spears, from his role as conservator of her finances ― a demand the star’s legal counsel made earlier this week. 

Jamie Spears acting as his daughter’s conservator is “not in [her] best interest” and the star’s doctors agree, the petition stated. 

“Ms. Montgomery respectfully notes that Ms. Spears’s medical team agrees that it is not in the best interest of the Conservatee for Mr. Spears to remain Conservator,” it sad.

Jamie Spears filed court documents last month saying he wasn’t familiar with many of the claims his daughter made during her testimony before a judge in June  — including one that she’s been forced to remain on birth control — as he’s merely the conservator of her estate and no longer conservator of her person. 

But it was her father whom Britney Spears singled out in her testimony last month, saying he’d threatened her and forced her to work against her will. He “should be in jail,” the singer said.

Spears’ mother, Lynne Spears, was also quoted in the petition earlier this week accusing Jame Spears of engaging in an “appalling and inexcusable” physical altercation with the singer’s two teenage sons. 

However, the singer has also expressed frustration with Montgomery over the amount of therapy Montgomery has allegedly forced her to attend, saying during her testimony that Montgomery was “starting to kind of take it too far with me.”

Mathew Rosengart, the first legal counsel Spears had permission to select on her own in her conservatorship case, has only sought the removal of her father from the conservatorship. His petition also asks the court to replace Jamie Spears with Jason Rubin, a professional fiduciary and forensic accountant with significant experience as a conservator.

A judge will consider the requests at a hearing scheduled for December.

Posted on

Former Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan’s Longest-Serving Senator, Has Died

DETROIT (AP) — Former Sen. Carl Levin, a powerful voice on military issues in Washington and a staunch supporter of the auto industry back home in Michigan during his record tenure in the U.S. Senate, has died. He was 87.

The Harvard-educated civil rights attorney and former taxi driver, who for decades carried his faded 1953 auto union membership card in his wallet died Thursday, his family announced in a statement.

First elected to the Senate in 1978, Levin represented Michigan longer than any other senator, targeting tax shelters, supporting manufacturing jobs and pushing for military funding. His tenure was a testament to voters’ approval of the slightly rumpled, down-to-earth Detroit native whom Time magazine ranked among the nation’s 10 best senators in 2006.

“He’s just a very decent person,” Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a fellow Senate Armed Services Committee member, said in 2008. “He’s unpretentious, unassuming. He never forgets that what we’re doing is enmeshed with the lives of the people he represents.”

A Washington insider and former prosecutor known for his professorial bearing, Levin took a civil but straightforward approach that allowed him to work effectively with Republicans and fellow Democrats. He was especially astute on defense matters thanks to his years as the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

And he didn’t fear speaking his mind.

He was in the minority — even among his Democratic Senate colleagues — when he voted against sending U.S. troops to Iraq in 2002, and two years later he said President George W. Bush’s administration had “written the book on how to mismanage a war.” He gave a cautious endorsement to President Barack Obama’s 2009 buildup of troops in Afghanistan, but later warned of “the beginnings of fraying” of Democratic support.

He was also critical of President Ronald Reagan’s buildup of nuclear weapons, saying it came at the expense of conventional weapons needed to maintain military readiness.

But, colleagues said, he almost always engendered a feeling of respect.

“We’ve always had a very trusting and respectful relationship,” the late-Republican Sen. John Warner, who worked closely for years with Levin on the Armed Services Committee, once said. “We do not try to pull surprises on each other. The security of the nation and the welfare of the armed services come first.”

Famous for wearing his eyeglasses down on his nose, Levin seemed to be the same candid, hardworking guy wherever he went, whether he was in front of cameras on Capitol Hill, on an overseas fact-finding mission or lost in the crowd of a college football stadium on game day.

“No one would accuse Carl Levin of looking like Hollywood’s version of a U.S. Senator. He’s pudgy, balding and occasionally rumpled, and he constantly wears his glasses at the very tip of his nose,” Time magazine said in its 2006 article ranking the senator among the country’s best. “Still, the Michigan Democrat has gained respect from both parties for his attention to detail and deep knowledge of policy, especially in his role as a vigilant monitor of businesses and federal agencies.”

A foe of fraud and waste, Levin led an investigation in 2002 into Enron Corp., which had declared bankruptcy the previous year amid financial scandals. The probe contributed to a new federal law that requires executives to sign off on financial statements so they could be criminally liable for posting phony numbers.

Levin pushed legislation designed to crack down on offshore tax havens, which he said cost the U.S. government at least $100 billion a year in lost taxes. He also was an advocate for stem cell research and gun control.

Closer to home, Levin promoted policies benefiting the auto industry and supported giving $25 billion in loan guarantees to General Motors and Chrysler. He argued that a vibrant domestic auto industry was crucial to rebuilding the economy after the Great Recession. He also was a member of a task force supporting efforts to fight pollution and other environmental problems affecting the Great Lakes.

“If you’ve ever worn the uniform, worked a shift on an assembly line, or sacrificed to make ends meet, then you’ve had a voice and a vote in Sen. Carl Levin,” Obama said in 2013. “No one has worked harder to bring manufacturing jobs back to our shores, close unfair tax loopholes and ensure that everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

Carl Milton Levin was born in Detroit on June 28, 1934, and he stayed in the Motor City for most of his life. After high school, he spent time as a taxi driver and worked on auto assembly plant lines to help put himself through school.

Always proud of having helped build the DeSoto and Ford trucks at a plant in Highland Park, he held onto his United Auto Workers union membership card for decades. That ended when his wallet was stolen.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Swarthmore College in 1956, and a law degree from Harvard in 1959. He married his wife, Barbara, two years later, and together they raised three daughters.

Levin fell in line with his family’s strong sense of civic duty in 1964, when he was named an assistant state attorney general and the first general counsel for the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. His older brother, former longtime U.S. Rep. Sander “Sandy” Levin, had a liberal voting record on many social issues, while their father served on the Michigan Corrections Commission, a citizens’ group that oversaw prison operations, and their mother volunteered for a Jewish organization.

Carl Levin once said that public service was in his DNA, and politics often was discussed at the dinner table when he was a boy.

He dove into public office when Detroit voters elected him to the City Council in 1969, and he served as its president before ousting a Republican to win the 1978 Senate race. He won the seat five more times but decided against running for a seventh term in 2014.

After his retirement, the Levin Center at Wayne State University’s law school was established to promote fact-based, bipartisan oversight by Congress and state legislatures and to encourage civil dialogue on public policy issues. He chaired the center and co-taught law courses. He also was a partner and distinguished counsel at the Honigman law firm in Detroit.

His memoir, “Getting to the Heart of the Matter: My 36 Years in the Senate,” was published in March. The Navy named a destroyer for him to honor his years of public service.

His nephew, Andy Levin, was reelected in 2020 to his father’s 9th Congressional District seat that represents parts of suburban Detroit.

Carl Levin is survived by his wife, their three adult daughters, Kate, Laura and Erica, and several grandchildren.


Eggert reported from Lansing, Michigan.

Posted on

The Capitol Has Mostly Statues Of Men. A New Bill Proposes 2 Trailblazing Women.

Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor could be honored with statues in the U.S. Capitol if legislation introduced by a bipartisan group of female senators on Thursday goes ahead.

Sculptures in the Capitol commemorate notable historical figures. Of the 266 in the building, 252 are of men and just 14 represent women.

The legislation introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and co-sponsored by 17 others, including nine men, could start to change that.

They seek to add statues of O’Connor and Ginsburg, the first and second women on the Supreme Court. Ginsburg was an international feminist icon and was still serving as a justice when she died last year.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor were trailblazers long before reaching the Supreme Court, opening doors for women at a time when so many insisted on keeping them shut,” Klobuchar said in a statement.

“The Capitol is our most recognizable symbol of Democracy, a place where people from across our country have their voices represented and heard. It is only fitting that we honor their remarkable lives and service to our country by establishing statues in the Capitol.”

Other lawmakers offered similar sentiments and highlighted the women’s efforts in breaking barriers and paving the way for other women as champions of equality and as inspiration for women and girls everywhere.

“From Justice O’Connor’s being the first female justice on the Supreme Court to Justice Ginsburg’s efforts on equal citizenship rights—their leadership has made a difference for women and families for generations to come,” Murkowski said.

The House companion to the legislation was also introduced Thursday by members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus and Bipartisan Women’s Caucus. 

The Bipartisan Women’s Caucus said in a statement that the tribute is “long overdue.”

“Their presence in our Capitol is a reminder that a woman’s place is everywhere,” the group said.