jlgg's Blog

Happy coding

Joel McHale calls out Bill Cosby during ESPYs monologue

Joel McHale called out Bill Cosby during his opening monologue at Wednesday’s ESPYs Award Ceremony. While introducing the show, he shouted out celebrities and athletes, before singling out women’s UFC champion Ronda Rousey, who took home the Best Fighter ESPY ahead of the show’s telecast. “She’s knocked out more women than Bill Cosby,” McHale said.

He also took digs at Justin Bieber, ABC’s The Bachelor and Brett Favre’s “mom jeans,” but his Cosby dig was particularly timely. President Obama responded to questions about the allegations against Cosby during a press conference that afternoon, and last week a 2005 deposition revealed that Cosby obtained Quaaludes with the intent of drugging women in order to have sex.

Friend Link: Beats By Dre Headphones Sale

Gadget Fairphone wants to put an end to blood gadgets

 Fairphone wants to reduce the number of "blood gadgets" in the market. To do that, it has designed a smartphone with some conflict-free minerals. It produces the phone in factories that commit to treating their workers fairly. And it has found a way reduce the amount of hazardous waste their phones produce when they're discarded.

The Netherlands-based company has already sold 60,000 of its first generation smartphone. Fairphone's second-generation device, the Fairphone 2, will go on sale in Europe later this week.

Here's a look at how the Fairphone makes the Fairphone 2:


Somewhere between 30 and 40 minerals are used in the production of the Fairphone. Of those materials, gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum tend to be mined from conflict zones.

The Fairphone's tin and tantalum come from conflict-free mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Tantalum, used to make capacitors in printed circuit boards, is taken from a mineral called coltan.

According to Fairphone, 80% of the world's coltan supply comes from the Congo, where rebels extort money from many miners. Fairphone says it works with Solutions for Hope to obtain conflict-free tantalum.

Fairphone's soldering paste uses tin, which is sourced from the South Kivu province. The company partners with the Conflict-Free Tin Initiative to trace, certify and support fair mining conditions. (Apple (AAPL, Tech30), Blackberry (BBRY, Tech30), Nokia and Motorola use the same program.)

Fairphone says it's working to source gold and tungsten from more responsible mines now.

"Making a really fair phone is, we believe, impossible because fairness means different things to everyone," Fairphone's Daria Koreniushkina told CNNMoney. "The supply chain is very complex. It's not a 100% fair phone...But we can always make fairer and fairer and fairer products, so we'd love to compete with others on the fairness of the phone."


Fairphone says its production factories must ensure they provide quality manufacturing, fair wages, safe working conditions, and the ability for workers to unionize.

The company also created a special bonus pool for some of its supply chain workers, which are tied to the number of smartphones produced and sold. For each sale of its first device, Fairphone added $2.50 to the fund, which the factory matched dollar for dollar.

Reuse and recycling

When possible, Fairphone incorporates recycled materials and plastics in its parts. The company contributes money from sales to support programs that properly dispose of e-waste. It also partners with nonprofits such as Closing the Loop, which provides unwanted used phones to people in Africa and Asia.

Design and product longevity

The Fairphone 2 is modular, which means you can take easily it apart and fix it. In the future, you may be able to upgrade memory and other components to extend its life. Fairphone hopes this will help people keep their phones for longer, reducing the amount of e-waste that enters landfills.
fairphone disassembled a

The phone has medium-range specs comparable to last year's Moto X. It costs €525, including tax (about $575).

Related: T-Mobile offers free phone upgrades whenever you want

Friend Link:New Beats Studio

Related: This is the perfect smartphone

Obama scolds reporter for Iran question: 'You should know better'

 The reporter who rankled Obama was Major Garrett, the chief White House correspondent for CBS News.

"As you well know, there are four Americans in Iran, three held on trumped-up charges, according to your administration, one whereabouts unknown," Garrett began his question. "Can you tell the country, sir, why you are content with all the fanfare around this deal to leave the conscience of this nation, the strength of this nation unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans?"

One of those Americans is Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian who is in the midst of a secret trial in Iran.

Related: Trial of US reporter Jason Rezaian resumes in Iran
major garrett

Garrett, a longtime White House reporter whose career has included stops at CNN, Fox News and National Journal, squeezed in one more question.

"And last week, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said under no circumstances should there be any relief for Iran in terms of ballistic missiles or conventional weapons," Garrett continued. "It is perceived that that was a last-minute capitulation in these negotiations. Many in the Pentagon feel you've left the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff hung out to dry. Would you comment?"

Obama smiled sarcastically as Garrett spoke.

"I've got to give you credit, Major, for how you craft those questions," Obama said, before admonishing the reporter.

"The notion that I'm content as I celebrate with American citizens languishing in Iranian jails, Major, that's nonsense, and you should know better," the president said.

Obama noted that he has met with families of some of the Americans held in Iranian custody, and that his administration is "working diligently to try to get them out."

Obama added that tying the release of the Americans to the nuke deal would have encouraged the Iranians to seek additional concessions.
Jason Rezaian
Jason Rezaian

Garrett stood by his question during an appearance online after the press conference and said that Obama had created a straw man in his response.

"My question did not suggest that he was content with the captivity of those four Americans," Garrett said. "My question was about the contentment, or the satisfaction, or the realization that it was necessary within the context of this deal to leave them unaccounted for. That was the essence of the question."

"Clearly it struck a nerve," he added. "That was my intention."

The other Americans besides Rezaian who Garrett referred to are Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati and Robert Levinson.

The interaction immediately lit up Twitter, where Garrett's name was trending by the time the press conference ended.

Many journalists celebrated Garrett's question, while others condemned the reporter and praised Obama's sharp response.

"There is an art to asking tight questions at a press conference where you may not get a follow up," tweeted veteran political reporter Jon Ralston. "Nobody does it better than [Garrett]."

Oliver Willis, a research fellow at the liberal Media Matters for America, was less impressed, joking that Garrett "still has a lil fox news in him, i see."

Friend Link:Beats ByBeats By Dre Headphones Sale

Why America's workforce is shrinking and Europe's isn't

 The labor force participation rate -- which measures both the employed and those actively looking for work -- has fallen 4.5 percentage points in the U.S. to 72.7% for those age 15 thru 64, according to a recent OECD report that looked at 38 developed countries. And the U.S. is one of only three nations on the list that's contracting.

This trend is emerging despite Europe's economic woes, which have returned to the spotlight amid Greece's troubles. Unemployment and economic malaise is widespread on the continent, with unemployment rates in the double digits in several countries, including France, Spain and Italy.

While the unemployment rate in the United States is on the decline, it's in part for the wrong reasons -- that people are dropping out of the labor market because they've given up on looking for work. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush noted last week that the U.S. labor force participation rate is at its lowest in nearly 40 years.

"Many who have stopped actively searching for new jobs may never return to work," the report said.

So why is the U.S. moving in the wrong direction? Part of it is that America's workforce is aging and the Baby Boomers are retiring, said Paul Swaim, principal economist at the OECD.

But the U.S. rate is also declining because women are leaving the workforce to care for their children.

In most of Europe, women's participation in the labor market is on the rise. Not only do mothers have paid leave in Europe, but many fathers do too, Swaim said. Also, childcare is more affordable there.

"Mothers in the U.S. have a harder time combining career and family, especially when the children are young," Swain said.
Sweetgreen worker savors employment
Sweetgreen worker savors employment

Also, the U.S. has a sizable number of working-age citizens out on disability with chronic health conditions. Few of them return to the workforce. Europe, on the other hand, is doing more to get the disabled employed again.

The OECD isn't the only organization to find the U.S. falling behind its peers.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis last month found the U.S. to be the only country among eight developed nations to be slipping backward. It noted that America once had one of the highest participation rates among women age 25 to 54, but now has one of the lowest.

Also, American men in that age group have the lowest rate of participation, hovering just above 88%. The other nations are in the 90% range. Men in the U.S. have also experienced a steep decline in participation since the Great Recession began in 2007.

Looking at younger workers, the U.S. had the greatest decline -- 11.2 percentage points -- between 1995 and 2013. But this is in large part because these youth are in school.

While more Americans nearing retirement are staying in the workforce, the U.S. had the second smallest increase in participation in this age group ahead of Japan.

Related: Turns out Americans work really hard...but some want to work harder

Related: 71% of the world's population lives on less than $10 a day

Related: The Greek crisis in 2 minutes

Friend Link:New Beats Studio

Stocks tumble to slash $30 billion from China's growth

 Then the bottom fell out of the market, at one point wiping away more than $3 trillion in value. Analysts expect GDP, a comprehensive measure of economic health, to suffer as a result.

"The stock market accounted for a disproportionate share of growth during the first quarter due to high trading volumes," said IHS Global Insight China economist Brian Jackson. "If those volumes evaporate, it could bring growth to below 6.5%."

Jackson estimates that market volatility will knock 195 billion yuan ($31.4 billion) or over half a percentage point off GDP growth. The loss could result in a significant slowdown from the 7% expansion posted so far this year.

Related: Economists are very worried about China's stock market

Economists say that sluggish growth will force the government to launch additional stimulus measures in the coming months to support the economy -- especially if Beijing wants to meet its annual growth target of 7%.

Market volatility has been keeping experts awake at night -- fifty percent of economists who took part in a recent CNNMoney survey said that stock market turmoil is a major risk to China's economy. That marks a shift from earlier surveys, which showed economists were most worried about the property sector.

The National Bureau of Statistics announced Wednesday that China's GDP grew by 7% in the second quarter, compared to the same period last year.

Related: China hits bull's-eye again with 7% GDP growth

Friend Link:Dre Headphones Online

Fake enrollees keep getting Obamacare subsidies

 An update to the probe found that all 11 enrollees had their coverage automatically extended for 2015. Republican lawmakers released the new information Wednesday ahead of a Congressional hearing on Obamacare controls.

Six policyholders had their coverage terminated a few months later because they did not submit the necessary documentation. But GAO investigators were able to get five enrollees reinstated after talking to Healthcare.gov phone representatives. The representatives also increased the enrollees' subsidies by a total of $1,000 for the year. The application of the sixth policyholder is still pending.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which runs the federal exchange, has "limited ability to respond to attempts at fraud," according to prepared remarks by Seto Bagdoyan, director of the GAO's forensic audits and investigative service. Also, CMS officials told the GAO they must balance program integrity with allowing consumers to "effectively and efficiently" sign up for coverage.

CMS said the federal exchange has multiple layers of verification and continues to improve its process for confirming applicants' identity and eligibility. The agency noted that it ended the coverage of 226,000 consumers at the end of March because failed to provide sufficient documentation of their citizenship or immigration status.

Some 7.3 million Americans enrolled in coverage for 2015 through Healthcare.gov, according to the latest federal statistics.

Related: 6.4 million keep their Obamacare subsidies. Thanks Supreme Court!

Related: 10.2 million people are actually paying for Obamacare

Related: Obamacare sticker shock: Big rate hikes proposed for 2016
CNNMoney (New York) July 15, 2015: 6:54 PM ET

Friend Link:New Beats Studio

Uber use surges among business travelers

"There's also a decrease in rental car usage, and it's at the benefit of Uber," said Bob Neveu, CEO of Certify, a travel and expense firm.

Certify looked at $8 million in transactions across North America from April through June.

Uber accounted for 55% of all rides, up from 18% just one year ago. Cabs came in second (43%) and Lyft rides made up just 1%. The largest shares of Uber customers are in San Francisco, Dallas and Los Angeles.

According to Neveu, the fact that business travelers are adopting new services is partly a result of companies changing their policies. In the past, many had prohibited private services like Uber and Airbnb -- but that's starting to change.

"They're seeing [sharing economy services] as a viable option -- and potentially a cost-saver," he said. "A lot of times, companies are more interested in the dollar amount."

The report found that taxi rides were more expensive than both Uber and Lyft -- an average $34.48 compared to $30.03 and $22.51, respectively.

Airbnb rentals still account for a small number of bookings, but they're growing -- up 143% from last quarter. Business travelers are also happier when they stay at an Airbnb property. Certify asks customers to rate their stays: Airbnb earns an average of 4.72 stars out of 5, compared to 4.04 for hotels.

While startups are changing how people travel and sleep, they're still relying on chain restaurants for their meals. Starbucks (SBUX), McDonald's, Subway, Panera Bread and Dunkin' Donuts make up the top five most expensed restaurants.

Friend Link:Dre Headphones Online,

Caitlyn Jenner accepts ESPY award, urges respect for transgender people

 It was a moment several months in the making: her first major public appearance since undergoing facial feminization surgery. She joked about the pressure of picking out an outfit -- a white Versace wrap gown -- but focused the rest of her speech on the serious challenges that transgender youth face.

Speaking in prime time on the ABC television network, Jenner acknowledged her own privileges and celebrity status, saying, "If you want to call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead. Because the reality is, I can take it. But for the thousands of kids out there coming to terms with being true to who they are, they shouldn't have to take it."

She said her message was fundamentally about acceptance, emphasizing that transgender individuals "deserve your respect."

"It's not just about one person," she said. "It's about thousands of people. It's not just about me. It's about all of us accepting one another. We're all different. That's not a bad thing. That's a good thing."

The Olympian turned reality TV star thanked her children and stepchildren, who were seated in the audience at the Los Angeles ceremony, and her mother Esther.

Looking at Esther, Jenner said, "I always thought that I got my courage and my determination from my dad, who landed on Omaha Beach; fought all the way through World War II; but you know what, I'm realizing now, mom, I think I got all those qualities from you."

Jenner received repeated standing ovations from the crowd after being presented with the award by Abby Wambach, the famed soccer player. Wambach called Jenner "courageous and stunning."

Related: Abby Wambach to present courage award to Caitlyn Jenner

Jenner said her gender transition and the public attention that has accompanied it "has been harder on me than anything I could have imagined."

Jenner, formerly Bruce, spoke about being transgender for the first time in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer that was televised in late April.

In early June, she shared the new name she had chosen -- Caitlyn -- and appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine.

Friend Link: Beats By Dre Headphones Sale,

Housing activists urge city to investigate Airbnb rentals at Hollywood site

In the latest skirmish in Los Angeles' expanding war over the sharing economy, housing and labor activists are demanding the city investigate a Hollywood apartment building that they claim "skirted" rent control regulations by offering apartments for short stays through the Airbnb website.

At a news conference Wednesday outside the 1920s building a short distance from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the activists argued that Airbnb rentals at the Cherokee Avenue location have taken needed housing off the market and turned it into more lucrative night-to-night rentals to tourists.
L.A. proposal would block Airbnb hosts from creating 'rogue hotels'
L.A. proposal would block Airbnb hosts from creating 'rogue hotels'

They shared screenshots of Airbnb listings, since removed, advertising multiple units at the building and noted the apartments are regulated by the city's rent stabilization ordinance, which restricts how much landlords can raise rents on tenants.

"This hemorrhaging of rental housing stock in Hollywood is a real and present danger to the welfare of thousands of individuals and families who live, work and have made Hollywood their home," said Chancee Martorell, executive director of the Thai Community Development Center.

Renting out homes or apartments for fewer than 30 days is prohibited in many residential areas of Los Angeles. But such rentals can be legal under certain circumstances, depending on zoning and permits. Planning officials said Wednesday they could not immediately determine whether short-term rentals were legal at the Hollywood building.
Airbnb cuts ties with vacation-rental firms in Los Angeles

    Airbnb cuts ties with vacation-rental firms in Los Angeles

See all related

Even if short-term rentals in the building are legal, "there's not enough housing in Hollywood, and taking these off the market exacerbates that problem," said Roy Samaan, a research and policy analyst at the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, an advocacy group focused on labor and environmental issues.

Thomas Nitti, an attorney representing the company that owns the building, said that any vacation rentals there were being phased out to avoid problems with the city. Airbnb listings for units in the building have been removed. An Airbnb spokeswoman said the host renting out the units would no longer be allowed to accept bookings on the company's website, but provided few details on the reason for the change.

    Short-term rentals have existed for over 100 years. The problem is Airbnb has destroyed what use to be a good business for some people (and travelers). It has convinced host that anyone can do this type of businesses. There are so many companies that have no-lockbox policies, no-noise violation...
    at 12:00 AM July 16, 2015

Add a comment See all comments

"We routinely review our platform to ensure our hosts are delivering the kinds of experiences our guests expect and deserve," spokeswoman Alison Schumer said in an emailed statement.

Housing activists also alleged at the news conference that Lance Robbins, who lost his state license as a real estate broker a decade ago after being repeatedly convicted for city building code violations, had business ties to the building. A group of apartments that includes the Hollywood building is among the "other projects" listed on the website of Urban Smart Growth, a real estate development and management company that identifies Robbins as its principal and manager.

Robbins, an attorney, said in a phone interview that it had been many years since he had faced the charges cited by activists, which he called "politically motivated." He said he did not own the Cherokee Avenue building, but declined to say whether he had a connection to the company listed as the owner or to the building management.

"I am bound by my ethical obligations to my client not to discuss it," Robbins said.

Robbins added that the position of his client, whom he declined to identify, is that "the activities at that building are lawful."

A recent report by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy estimated that more than 7,000 homes and apartments have been taken off the market for use as short-term rentals.

Airbnb argues that such analyses, which scrape data from the Airbnb website, are flawed. The company says the vast majority of its L.A. hosts rent out space in their own homes. The firm issued its own report this year stating that the number of vacant housing units in San Francisco — another major Airbnb destination — remained "essentially unchanged" between 2005 and 2013 and that Airbnb had "no material impact on housing availability" in the city.

A Los Angeles city report this year found such rentals do not remove units from rent control because a vacant unit rented out for brief stays would still fall under the city rules, whether rented for long or short periods. But Samaan said that because Airbnb rentals can generate more income, the practical result is that less rent-controlled housing is ultimately available to ordinary tenants.

City Councilman Mike Bonin has proposed rules that would prohibit Angelenos from offering such rentals at any home or apartment covered by rent control. They would also be barred from offering short stays at a location that was not their main residence, a rule meant to stop housing from being bought up and operated like hotels.

The Los Angeles Short Term Rental Alliance, which represents vacation rental hosts, said in light of the housing shortage facing the city, rent-controlled units should not be used for tourist stays. "We don't want to be part of the problem," said Robert St.Genis, its director of operations.

Follow @LATimesEmily for breaking news from L.A. City Hall.

Friend Link: New Beats Studio

Former President George H.W. Bush falls, breaks a neck bone

ormer President George H.W. Bush fell and broke a bone in his neck Wednesday, but "he is fine," according to his spokesman.
Jimmy Carter falls ill in Guyana, returns to U.S. early

Nation Now
    Jimmy Carter falls ill in Guyana, returns to U.S. early

See all related

Bush, who turned 91 last month, took a spill at his home in Kennebunkport, Maine, longtime spokesman Jim McGrath said on Twitter.

"His condition is stable -- he is fine -- but he'll be in a neck brace," McGrath said.
Bush brothers have a complex relationship, marked by fierce rivalry, wounded feelings
Bush brothers have a complex relationship, marked by fierce rivalry, wounded feelings

McGrath did not immediately respond to emails asking whether the nation's 41st president was hospitalized or had returned home.

Bush, the nation's oldest living former president, is the father of former President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Last week, he and his wife, Barbara, hosted an event for top donors to son Jeb's presidential campaign.

Bush has been hospitalized at least twice in recent years.

    @Andre-Leonard : youngest American fighter pilot during WWII. First baseman for his Yale team that played for the college championship. He's quite a man whether we like his politics or not.
    at 12:47 AM July 16, 2015

Add a comment See all comments

In December, he stayed in a Houston hospital for nearly a week after experiencing shortness of breath.

In November 2012, Bush went to the hospital with a persistent cough. He developed a fever and stayed for nearly two months.

Former President Jimmy Carter, 90, cut short a trip to Guyana in May after feeling unwell.

For more news, follow @raablauren and @TheRyanParker on Twitter.
Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

8:07 p.m.: The story was updated to add that Bush co-hosted an event last week.

7:51 p.m.: The story was updated with background information about former President Carter.

7:46 p.m.: The story was updated with additional background information about former President George H.W. Bush.

The first version of this story was published at 7:38 p.m.

Friend Link:Beats By Dre Headphones Online