‘The American epic’: Hollywood’s suffering love for the western

While it might not be the box office mainstay it once was, the genre is experiencing a renaissance, something thats telling of the state of America in 2016

Ominous music, reminiscent of a horror movie, plays while a stranded priest waits alone in a dusty landscape. A lone horseman rides up, a scene out of a classic western. But the priest is a drunk and a thief who tries robbing his savior; the hero is actually a killer, though not, he insists while taking the priests bullets and water, a thief. Cue the credit sequence, a full-blown homage to the spaghetti western, A Fistful of Dollars.

In the Valley of Violence, directed by Ti West, packs a lot into its opening moments. It also speaks to the state of westerns today. Despite occasional rumors of its demise and two decades where memorable entries were the exception the western is now surprisingly vibrant, thanks to a flexibility that allows movies and TV series to celebrate the genres traditions, deconstruct its conventions or do both.

The western has always been the American epic, says Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse Universitys Bleier Center for Television & Popular Culture. Its exciting and violent and huge. We dont have a single text like The Iliad or The Odyssey but the western is our story.

Westerns never died off but few were made from 1980 to 2003. They returned with a vengeance after 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. It was a time that sent people into shock and America was longing for a way to figure out what went wrong, who we are, what are values are and where we go in future, says Richard Aquila, author of Wanted Dead or Alive: The American West in Popular Culture.

The story and the archetypes in westerns may be simple, but that allows you to use subtext to tie things in to what is happening now, says West, whose previous credits were mainly within the horror genre. The townsfolk in his movie have become violent and desperate since the mine closed and jobs vanished, which he compares to modern Detroit.

Taylor Sheridan, who wrote the screenplay for this years revelatory modern western, Hell or High Water, wanted to meld the heist, buddy and road movies into the western and then turn all the genres on their ear.

His film, the years highest-grossing indie, stars Chris Pine and Ben Foster as brothers robbing the banks that seduced their late mother into a predatory loan, and Jeff Bridges as the ageing Texas Ranger who hunts them. Bridges was drawn to it by the moral ambiguities of all the characters and the story.

The movie has us re-examining the self-evident truths of America, Thompson says, tackling subjects like povertys multi-generational stranglehold, the lingering impact of domestic violence; casual racism and even the pros and cons of a state loaded with guns. But it does so amid a landscape of bank robberies and getaway cars, stakeouts and shootouts.

Ben Foster and Chris Pine in Hell or High Water. Photograph: Allstar/Film 44

The holy grail is putting ideas into a movie that also entertains, Sheridan says, who loathes movies that preach. The western allows you to put sugar on the capsule to make the ideas go down easy.

The western has been a movie staple since the pioneering 1903 film, The Great Train Robbery. It became the dominant genre, especially after the second world war, creating an image John Wayne of rugged American self-reliance and manliness. From 1910 through 1960, approximately a quarter of all films featured hats and horses and the television landscape was similarly populated with cowboys.

The western will never return to those days but The Magnificent Seven remake reached number one at the box office last month and the past two years have also pushed the boundaries of the western with The Revenant and The Hateful Eight as well as smaller films like Bone Tomahawk and Slow West, HBOs lavish and twisted Westworld blends genres while David Milch says hes three months from shooting his long-awaited conclusion to Deadwood (though I may be kidding myself, he adds), and the network is reportedly developing another western with Deepwater Horizon director Peter Berg; meanwhile, AMC has a sprawling saga, The Son, coming in 2017.

Were reaching some fever pitch right now, looking at the idea of autonomous individualism and the chaos out there, says James Ransone, the Valley of Violence villain, pointing out that new technology like railroads and improved weaponry were essential to our manifest destiny. Todays new technological frontiers have film-makers and audiences yearning for simpler times. So were telling stories that make sense of that environment as tumbleweeds of tweets roll past, he adds.

The classic westerns celebrated American exceptionalism, Aquila says.

John Wayne in The Searchers. Photograph: AP

While most were white hats and black hats, good versus evil, Stacy Keach recalls, the best were more nuanced. Sure, the good guys always won but in John Fords The Searchers, Waynes virulent racism makes him more an anti-hero and Jeff Bridges says, there were dilemmas and moral complexities in movies like High Noon, a parable about McCarthyism.

Radical change arrived in the 1960s with a young generation opposing the Vietnam war and supporting the civil rights and womens movements. Old westerns were like a checklist of what their revolution was against, Thompson says macho heroes, might makes right and manifest destiny against savages.

In a nation divided, John Wayne westerns remained popular but anti-heroes such as Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leones legendary spaghetti western trilogy and Paul Newman and Robert Redford as doomed robbers in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid became the cultural touchstones, alongside Sam Peckinpahs bloody The Wild Bunch, which he said was an allegory for Vietnam, Butch Cassidy was the most successful western ever until Blazing Saddles, which completely subverted the entire genre. Revisionist westerns took over, led by movies like McCabe & Mrs Miller and Little Big Man.

The western is flexible, thats why its alive still, says Aquila. Its like an inkblot test and every generation uses it for its own purposes.

Doc, a revisionist retelling of the Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp saga, tried desperately to avoid any parallel to Gunfight at OK Corral, the 1957 western that mythologized those historical events, says Keach.

By the late 1970s, production of any westerns was in steep decline. Thompson and Keach say the dusty towns seemed alien to younger viewers, who preferred space, the final frontier, which allowed for western stories and characters Captain Kirk as the sheriff in a new setting. Star Wars is a western in space, Keach says.

After Heavens Gate misfired badly in 1980, the western seemed doomed. America found its rugged heroes in action-adventure films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Rambo and Die Hard. John McClanes Yippee Ki Yay, motherfucker is that generations most memorable cowboy quote. For two decades, westerns were slick Hollywood confections like Young Guns, Tombstone, Maverick and Wyatt Earp or comedies like Three Amigos and City Slickers that satirized overly familiar tropes. There was one glorious span from 1989 to 1992 with four stirring exceptions: the Lonesome Dove miniseries in 1989, followed by the smash hit Dances With Wolves, Thunderheart and Clint Eastwoods final word on the topic in his classic Unforgiven.

The cast of Deadwood. Photograph: HBO/Everett/Rex Features

Deadwood paved the way for the new westerns, Thompson says. Milch didnt set out to create one. I wanted to tell the story about the moral chaos of a community trying to discover the rules by which to live, he says. Networks viewed it more as a cop show relocated to the west with Bullock as the central character, which is not what it was, he says, in part because of his track record (Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue) and in part because the western was in eclipse as a genre so that was a more comfortable way to think about it.

Aquila says the split in the nations mood then allowed for films that harkened back to the days when justice alongside vengeance was served (Open Range, Appaloosa) but that the tenor during the Bush years was generally darker. The ending of the scintillating remake of 3:10 to Yuma was deadlier than the original, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford was a mournful study of a society obsessed with myth and celebrity, and There Will Be Blood was about greed, oil and violence (or the Republican party under Dick Cheney).

The Coen brothers riveting No Country for Old Men was a morality play with an ending that shows good doesnt necessarily triumph over evil, Aquila says, a good fit for a country frightened of terrorists and bogged down in a misguided war. The Coens returned to the western under a new president three years later with a more hopeful film, their True Grit remake. That shows how we use the western myths, he says, adding that the next great western of the Obama era was Django Unchained, which showed a black man as the gunslinger hero. (This years box office success of The Revenant and The Magnificent Seven reveals a desire for a more traditional American spirit and a tough-guy hero, he says, although our presidential candidates confound every reasonable archetype).

Meanwhile, television produced Justified, Longmire and Hell on Wheels. But the westerns new life derives not just from quintessential American visionaries like Quentin Tarantino and Tommy Lee Jones (2014s The Homesman) but from foreign-born film-makers from Alejandro Gonzlez Irritu to Kristian Levring (2014s The Salvation), John Maclean (Slow West) and David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water).

We dont get bogged down in what small-town America was like and we can have a slight cynicism and criticism about America and the genre, says Maclean, whose timely tale is about the rude awakening awaiting a naive immigrant on his journey into the new world. Macleans film is lit with a glow, like a fable to comment on storytelling and the myths of the west, which he directly punctures with sly humor.

The freshest takes these days find new ways to subvert, escape or toy with the familiar cliches. Westworld is so aware that it is about an artificial landscape its customers know so well that guests choose between white or black hats before venturing into the playground of the wild west. They are picking up on our traditional notions of the western but then playing with them, Aquila says, while remaining timely by exploring our anxiety about topics like artificial intelligence.

This is still our historical epic, Thompson adds. The western is going to be around for a long time.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Manhunt for suspect accused of posing as police officer, killing Kentucky cop

Police in Kentucky were on the hunt Thursday night for an “armed and dangerous” man accused of posing as a policeman and pulling over an off-duty police officer — before shooting and killing him.

Authorities identified the slain officer as Phillip Meacham, 38, in a news conference Thursday evening. The suspect, James Decoursey, 34, is on the run, “theyre saying”, after stealing a white Chevrolet pickup truck.

Gov. Matt Bevin previously confirmed in a tweet that a Hopkinsville officer had died.

Decoursey is a white man with brown eyes and black hair who weighs 260 lbs and is 6’1″ tall, according to Fox Nashville.

Authorities reported to the scene on Paulette Court after 5 p. m ., WKRN reported. Hopkinsville is about 75 miles north of Nashville.

According to a Hopkinsville Police Department news release, the off-duty officer was pulled over in his own car by someone “pretending to be a police officer.” Not long after, the officer reportedly was shot by the suspect. He was rushed to the hospital where he ultimately died from his injuries, investigators said.

Decoursey “is considered armed and dangerous, ” they said.

Meacham worked for the Hopkinsville Police Department since May 2017 and previously run at the Christian County Sheriff’s Department for about 12 years, officials said at the news conference. The slain policeman reportedly was wedded and had two children.

In a followup tweet, Bevin said “There is no greater sacrifice than that of a person willing to lay down “peoples lives” for annother…Thank God for the #ThinBlueLine. “

Read more: www.foxnews.com

Elon Musk’s next-gen Tesla Roadster is a next-gen dank meme

Geeky godhead Elon Musk unveiled the next generation Tesla Roadster the coming week, to the delight of slobbering fanboys everywhere, but what if I told you there’s a vehicle that beats the Tesla on all sorts of important metrics at a fraction of the price?

This image has been floating around the net the last two days. You actually can’t argue with this logic TBH. This page will have no choice but to rebrand as a Previa worshipping page. #elonmusk #tesla #teslaroadster #toyotaprevia #previa #minivans #cars #fastcars #luxurycars #luxurylifestyle #imrichbitch #sendmoney #dankmemes #dank #ayylmao

A post shared by God-Emperor Musk (@ godemperormusk) on Nov 21, 2017 at 2:52 pm PST

RIP Tesla. Long live the’ 96 Previa. Never mind that the Tesla might literally be able to fly.

This image seems has spawned a meme comparing the Tesla to cheaper cars–and other , non-car products–that seem to offer superior performance if you only look at something as precise as” number of sunroofs .”

Image via _Eisenstein0 07/ Reddit

Image via DutyCorp/ Reddit

MrF1GuyV 12 POWAHHH/ Reddit

Image via ktovson/ Reddit

The Tesla Roadster comparison meme is reminiscent of a recent iPhone X meme, which showed how much weird novelty crap you could buy for the price of one of Apple’s new phones.

In fact, person even made a Tesla/ iPhone mashup meme 😛 TAGEND

Image via gietki7 00/ Reddit

Meanwhile, an Instagram and Reddit poster who goes by” godemperormusk” has been single-handedly pushing Elon Musk memes for months, and it seems they’re starting to gain a little traction now that the Tesla Roadster is a big thing. This Musk post was a big hit on Reddit’s r/ dankmemes forum on a day when Net Neutrality and the Federal Communications Commission predominated about 90 percentage of the conversation 😛 TAGEND

Image via godemperormusk/ Reddit

At this point, all signs point to a bright future for Musk memes. They’re going to the moon, if not to Mars.

Read more:

TVR Griffith sports car returns with Ford Mustang power

If you ever wanted a Ford-powered answer to the Dodge Viper or Chevy Corvette, TVR may have the car for you.

The British brand is being rebooted after a decade-long hiatus, and its latest model is a high tech two-seat coupe powered by the 5.0-liter Coyote V8 from a Ford Mustang.

The Griffith sports a classic long hood, short deck fastback style that wouldn’t look too out of place at a classic Ferrari dealership, but it’s lightweight carbon-fiber, aluminum and steel chassis a modern masterwork designed by Gordon Murray, the brains behind the legendary 241 mph McLaren F1. TVR says the car weighs under 2,700 pounds, which is about 500 pounds less than a Corvette Stingray and 200 pounds lighter even than a Porsche Cayman.

TVR didn’t just do an engine swap with a salvaged ‘Stang. It had the folks at Cosworth give it an overhaul that makes it good for 509 hp. The Griffith is offered only with a six-speed manual transmission and rear wheel drive, but has traction control and anti-lock brakes, features previous TVRs did without.

Along with the street car, TVR plans a racing version that will compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

TVR plans to kick off production at a facility located next to the Circuit of Wales race track as early as late next year, and is currently taking 5,000 pound refundable deposits for the Griffith, which lists for 90,000 pounds.

Unfortunately, there’s no dollar amount yet, because U.S. sales haven’t been confirmed. However, the company says it’s been engineered to pass U.S. crash tests, and could be on sale here in the coming years.


Read more: www.foxnews.com

Tesla Expects to Construct Some Money Off Elon Musk’s Tunnel Company

Tesla Inc . added an intriguing customer last year: Elon Musk‘s Boring Co.

The electric-car maker reached an agreement to sell vehicle motor and battery pack components to the tunnel-digging startup, according to a proxy statement. Tesla said it expects to send Boring Co . an invoice totaling about $400,000 for this year and 2017.

It’s not the only suit in which money is changing hands between Tesla and other companies led by its chief executive officer. Musk’s Space Exploration Technology Corp . reached an agreement in June to pay Tesla $ 1.9 million for a microgrid energy system and installing services. In March, the rocket company bought another $150,000 in additional equipment, and the related work will be completed in the second one-quarter, according to Tesla.

Read more: Tesla and SpaceX share more than simply Musk

SpaceX also has charged Tesla for employ of the aircraft that the rocket company and Musk own and operate. Last year, Tesla racked up a bill of almost $750,000 under these arrangements.

Read more: www.bloomberg.com

No bond for the bishop; Lyle Jeffs of FLDS stays behind bars

(CNN)Lyle Jeffs, the bishop of a polygamous enclave known as Short Creek, will remain behind bars until he is tried on charges he conspired to fleece the federal government — and his own followers — of millions of dollars in food stamp money.

Jeffs, 56, is the younger brother of Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned leader and prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
It is considered unusual for a judge to order pretrial detention for a first-time offender in a white collar case. Ten other FLDS members charged in the alleged scheme have been allowed to post bond and leave federal detention.
Jeffs’ lawyers had asked to outfit him with an ankle bracelet with a GPS monitor and confine him to house arrest in Provo, about 275 miles from Short Creek.
But U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart cited Jeffs’ high rank in the FLDS, his continued contact with the church’s imprisoned prophet, and his history of dodging subpoenas and hiding from the law. The judge labeled Lyle Jeffs a flight risk.
“The FLDS church has used an elaborate system to conceal its members from law enforcement,” Stewart wrote in an opinion supporting his ruling, issued Thursday. “While it would be improper to order detention simply because of defendant’s religious beliefs or his association with other members of the FLDS church, the court simply cannot ignore this evidence.”
The judge also pointed out that Lyle Jeffs “oversees many of the daily affairs” of the FLDS. Failure to follow his orders can cause followers to lose their businesses, homes, status in the church, and even their wives and children.
“Several witnesses have stated that defendant exercises considerable control over the people and businesses in Short Creek and that there are serious consequences for those that disobey him,” Stewart wrote. “The court is gravely concerned that defendant would use this influence to intimidate witnesses and obstruct justice.”
The judge also expressed concern that Lyle Jeffs would follow his brother’s instructions to impede law enforcement and tamper with witnesses.



    Life after Warren Jeffs: FLDS town divided


Warren Jeffs, prophet of the FLDS since his father’s death in 2002, is serving a life sentence at a prison in Palestine, Texas. He was convicted of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15, whom he considered “spiritual wives.”
Lyle Jeffs and 10 other church members, including another Jeffs brother, Seth, were accused in a federal grand jury indictment of conspiring to cheat the federal government — and qualified recipients — of millions in food stamp benefits. Families who qualified for federal assistance were told to turn over their food stamp debit cards and take what they needed from a warehouse of pooled resources called “the bishop’s storehouse.”
Scallops for the bishop, beans for the flock
As a result, the federal government alleges, some families subsisted on beans, rice and toast, while high-ranking church members were able to serve more expensive meat, turkey and seafood. The government also alleges that the Jeffs brothers and others laundered money by swiping food stamp debit cards and ringing up “ghost” purchases at church-friendly businesses. The laundered cash allegedly was used on big-ticket items such as a Ford F-350 pickup truck ($30,236), a John Deere tractor ($13,561) and $16,978 in paper products.
In addition, another $250,000 allegedly was spent on printing costs for Warren Jeffs’ self published, 854-page book of jailhouse revelations, “Jesus Christ, Message to All Nations.”
The trial is set to begin at the end of May, but is likely to be postponed so attorneys for the 11 defendants have time to digest the voluminous investigative documents generated by the case.

Read more: www.cnn.com

Automakers Got Precisely What They Wanted From Scott Pruitt’s EPA

Automakers scrambled to distance themselves from a White House that, in rolling back the only federal regulation curtailing planet-warming emissions from vehicles this week, gave the companies exactly what they wanted.

Last week, Ford Motor Company’s top executives called for “increasing clean auto standards” in a blog post titled, “A Measure of Progress.” An assistant vice president at American Honda Motor told The New York Times: “We didn’t ask for that. The position we outlined was sensible.” Chevrolet traders nixxed a Virginia dealership owner’s plan to host Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s press conference announcing the rollback, wary that hosting the event would associate the General Motors brand with an unpopular policy decision.

Yet automakers still tied their reputations to the Trump administration on Tuesday when Pruitt declared the Obama-era fuel efficiency criteria too strict and began the process of rewriting the landmark clean air regulation. Executives from three of the top auto industry trade groups flanked the embattled EPA administrator — who is facing loudening calls to resign amid a rapidly cascading series of ethical disputes — at a press conference.

“What an exciting day, ” Pruitt said in the EPA’s historic Rachel Carson Green Room. “We always like to have guests here at the EPA.”

The rule, which the Obama administration implemented in 2012 with automakers’ overwhelming support, required vehicles to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The regulation would have cut petroleum intake by 12 billion barrels and tailpipe emissions in half. Fuel efficiency would have doubled, saving drivers $3,200 to $5,700 in gasoline costs over a vehicle’s lifetime. The regulation would also have prevented the release 6 billion metric tons of heat-trapping emissions — equivalent to what 150 power plants create in a year.

The Obama administration expedited a review of the rule, deciding in January 2017 that the new standards were fair and feasible. But the same automakers now trying to distance themselves from the Trump EPA appealed immediately to the incoming administration. On Monday, Pruitt issued his own finding — that the “determination was wrong, ” and the standards were “too high.”

Joe Raedle via Getty Images Exhaust flows out of the tailpipe of a vehicle in Florida in 2007.

Analysts suggest the industry wanted tweaks under the regulations, such as increased credits for constructing more electric vehicles or reducing emissions in the production process. The companies may not have foreseen the EPA’s eagerness to scorch existing rules, and get more than they bargained for. Bloomberg wrote that the “carmakers may regret what they wished for.” As one former Obama administration official put it: “It might be like the dog that caught the car.”

That may be the result of wandering with the incorrect pack. The three groups whose leaders spoke at Pruitt’s press conference ramped up lobbying attempts last year. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers spent $81 million on total lobbying last year, a virtually 9 percent increase from the previous year, according to data collated by the Center for Responsive Politics. The National Automobile Merchant Association spent a record $4.8 million on lobbying last year, and the Association of Global Automakers increased its lobbying expenditures by nearly 50 percentage, to $3.5 million.

The Auto Alliance sent Trump a letter days after the November 2016 election and another one to Pruitt after the Senate corroborated him as the 14 th EPA administrator in February 2017. As DeSmog reported, the Auto Alliance ramped up pressure over the past year, submitting a report co-authored by Joseph D’Aleo, a policy consultant from right-wing climate change denial group Heartland Institute, calling the accuracy of climate science into question.

That report appears to have made an impact. In its 38 -page finding released Monday afternoon, the EPA said it planned to reverse the Obama-era determination on the rules in part because “the social cost of carbon” and “energy security valuation … should also be updated to be consistent with the literature and empirical evidence.” The memo made no mention of climate change.

The rule also set a single national criterion, creating a compromise with California’s congressionally awarded right under the Clean Air Act to decide its own, stricter emissions targets, and allowing carmakers to make vehicles to one specification for the entire country. The EPA is now quietly enter into negotiations with California regulators to come up with a new agreement, though Golden State officials say they are ready to go to tribunal to defend the standards already in place.

The trio at Tuesday’s press conference sparred with California as far back as 2002, when the California Senate passed the first bill in the country to limit carbon dioxide emissions emissions from vehicle deplete. At the time, Peter Welch — the National Automobile Dealer Association president who kicked off Tuesday’s EPA announcement — worked for the California New Car Dealer Association, and called the legislation “a dumb idea.” In 2007, the Auto Alliance went head-to-head with then California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, exhorting federal lawmakers to intervene on behalf of automakers.

John W. Adkisson via Getty Images President Barack Obama delivers statements on the economy at the Daimler Trucks North America Mt. Holly Truck Manufacturing Plant on March 7, 2011 in Mt. Holly, North Carolina. President Obama outlined incentives to promote development of more fuel-efficient autoes and to make it easier for people to buy and operate next-generation vehicles.

Trade associations historically push for rules that appease their most regulation-averse members. In reply, big companies have quitted trade groups in recent years in protest of their opposition to climate science and environmental regulations. The most notable examples are when Apple and Nike withdrew from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2009.

It may be time for automakers to do the same, told Roland Hwang, a managing director at the Natural Resource Defense Council.

“Any auto company that truly wants to distinguish itself should divide itself from the least common denominators as represented by their associations, ” he told HuffPost. “To the extent that they are still in, we have to assume that they are being hypocritical in terms of their stance.”

Toyota did not respond to questions about whether it would consider leaving trade groups that oppose emission rules. In a statement to HuffPost, the Japanese auto giant said it “supports the goal of progressively stronger fuel economy standards” and that it’s “working together with other manufacturers and regulators to review a framework” for vehicle emissions standards that “consider marketplace trends and conditions” and “what technology can realistically deliver.”

General Motors directed the issue of the Auto Alliance to the trade group, but said it remains “committed to improving fuel economy, reducing emissions and an all-electric future.” Fiat Chrysler Automobiles referred all questions about the EPA decision to the Auto Alliance, but forwarded links to its 2016 sustainability reports.

Ford, Honda and Volkswagen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Car advertising began talking up the eco-friendliness of their vehicles approximately a decade ago, leading to accusations of greenwashing. But automakers started aggressively burnishing their environmental reputations three years ago. On one aim of the industry, Volkswagen, the largest global automaker by marketings, took a beating after the EPA uncovered its scheme to retrofit diesel autoes with software to defraud emissions tests. The Department of Justice charged the company with felony counts of conspiracy and scam, its stock price tanked and its top executives resigned in disgrace. At the other end of the industry, electric carmaker Tesla’s stock was soaring, propelling its billionaire CEO, Elon Musk, to near-Hollywood stardom. The United States helped broker the Paris climate agreement with support from automakers.

Car companies began rolling out hybrid and battery-powered vehicles to rival Tesla. Ford vowed to expend $4.5 billion on electric vehicles by 2020. General Motor assigned half its designers to alternative vehicles. The International Energy Agency declared 2015 “the year electric vehicles ran mainstream.”

But it was business as usual at the industry’s trade associations.

They look at it like a deli looks at liverwurst. They don’t wishes to make it, but if you ask for it, they’ll make it for you. Dan Becker, Safe Climate Campaign

By mid-2 016, when Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton still seemed likely to win the presidency, groups like the Auto Alliance began preparing to demand a breach on ga efficiency standards. By that time, fuel prices had fallen from a record national median of $3.60 per gallon in 2012. As the costs of driving a gas guzzler decreased, Americans began buying more trucks and SUVs, according to Rebecca Lindland, an executive analyst at the auto data firm Kelley Blue Book.

“When the original arrangement went into place and ga economy criteria started to change, we were at, like, 50 -5 0 truck-car, ” she told HuffPost. “Now we’re at like 65, sometimes 70, truck-car. We have to understand what the consumer is buying and how we do induce the most fuel-efficient version of that vehicle.”

The problem, according to Daniel Becker, the director of the D.C.-based Safe Climate Campaign’s Center for Auto Safety, is that trucks reap large profits for automakers. A $73,000 Cadillac Escalade, for example, earns $35,000 profit for each one sold, The Detroit News reported. By contrast, electric vehicles are considered half as profitable as cars with combustion engines, a Daimler executive admitted last year.

“They look at it like a deli looks at liverwurst, ” Becker said of how automobile producers view their electric vehicle offerings. “They don’t wishes to make it, but if you ask for it, they’ll make it for you.”

U.S. emission standards are already behind Japan, the European union and China, the world’s largest automobile market. To compete in those marketplaces, U.S. automakers will be forced to fabricate the standards they say are unattainable domestically. But the Trump administration was endeavouring to induce fuel-efficient foreign-made vehicles more expensive, protecting the U.S. market for domestic producers. The White House asked the EPA, and the Commerce and Transportation departments to draft plans to put stiffer environmental standards on imported vehicles, driving up the cost in what’s called a “nontariff barrier, ” according to The Wall street Journal.

Becker said it’s no mistake that an industry that spends approximately $15 billion a year on marketing continues to promote pickup trucks and SUVs during coveted and costly Super Bowl time slots.

“They create demand, ” said Becker. “They know how to market vehicles — that’s what they do for their existence. They want to build the vehicles that they induce the biggest earning on.”

What product development teaches us about self-improvement

LGBTQ Groups Blast Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Neil Gorsuch

Twelve days into his unquestionably chaotic tenure,President Donald Trump sparked the ire of liberal voters once again by nominatingNeil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Though Trump touted Gorsuch for having earned bipartisan support, much of the Democratic pushback so far has stemmed from the fact that Republicans refused to consider Merrick Garland, who was former President Barack Obamas pick for the seat of the late Antonin Scalia, for nearly a year.

Trumps choice of Gorsuch,a conservative federal appeals judge in Colorado, received a chilly response from LGBTQ groups in particular. Though his background on queer issues is limited,Gorsuch famously sided with the conservative Christian owners of Hobby Lobby, who sued the federal government in 2013 after seeking an exemption from the Affordable Care Acts contraception mandate, citing their religious faith. Hes also been an outspoken admirer of Scalia, who was staunchly opposedto same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ rights.

A number of advocacy groups,including GLAAD andPFLAG,decried the judges nomination almost immediately. The presidents choice of Gorsuch, officials wrote,re-affirmed their doubts regarding his views on the LGBTQ community as a whole.

Numerous times in the last 11 days we have shared our concern that civil rightsfor the LGBTQ community, for women, for immigrants, for people of color, for all marginalized communitieswould erode under this administration, Interim Executive Director Elizabeth Kohm wrote in a statement on PFLAGs website. Now, with his nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for a lifetime appointment to the United States Supreme Court, it is clear our concerns were more than justified. AddedAmerican Civil Liberties Unions Executive Director Anthony D. Romero,Gorsuchs record, including his decision in the Hobby Lobby case, raises questions about whether he would allow businesses and individuals to opt out of nondiscrimination laws based on religious objections.

Think Progresss LGBT Editor Zack Ford felt similarly, tweeting:

See how other LGBTQ advocacy groups responded to Gorsuchs nomination below.

Read more: www.huffingtonpost.com

Ruling clears route for death, trauma lawsuits against General Motors | Fox News

Jan. 10, 2013: The logo for General Motors decorates the entrance at the site of a GM information technology center in Roswell, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

A federal appeals court ruling that General Motors can’t use its 2009 bankruptcy to fend off lawsuits over faulty and dangerous ignition switches exposes the automaker to billions in additional liabilities, according to legal experts.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on Wednesday ruled that GM knew about the defective switches when it entered bankruptcy seven years ago but kept them secret from the bankruptcy court. By failing to disclose the problems, GM prevented crash victims from making claims or contesting the bankruptcy provisions, robbing them of due process, the court ruled.

In a 74-page opinion, a three-judge panel said that GM essentially asked the court to reward it for concealing claims. “We decline to do so,” the court said.

Under terms of the government-funded bankruptcy, the company that emerged, referred to as New GM, was indemnified against most claims against the pre-bankruptcy company, or Old GM. Retired U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber ruled in April 2015 that most ignition-switch claimants could not sue New GM for damages because the company should emerge from bankruptcy free of claims against Old GM.

But the appeals court overturned most of that decision and allowed hundreds of pre-bankruptcy claims to proceed, including some lawsuits alleging that GM’s actions caused the value of its cars to drop.

“I think GM now has to think about its potential exposure as being in the billions,” said Erik Gordon, a lawyer and professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

Steve Berman, a lead attorney in the loss-of-value cases, said the appeals court ruled the bankruptcy order doesn’t protect New GM from claims that it misrepresented the safety of cars made by pre-bankruptcy GM. The appeals judges, he said, determined that Old GM knew that the cars could stall and air bags wouldn’t work but didn’t reveal those facts during the bankruptcy.

Gerber’s ruling took away legal rights of crash victims because they never got a chance to contest the bankruptcy seven years ago, yet they were barred from suing New GM after the defective switches were disclosed, said William Weintraub, an attorney representing ignition switch accident plaintiffs. “The only person who could effectively make an argument in 2009 is somebody who bought a time machine,” Weintraub said.

About 1,000 death and injury lawsuits were put on hold waiting for the appeals court to rule, said Robert Hilliard, another attorney in the case. General Motors’ filings with securities regulators say there are another 101 U.S. lawsuits pending that allege that GM’s actions caused vehicle values to decline.

Gordon said the loss-of-value cases will be difficult to prove, but the death and injury cases are problematic for GM.

General Motors Co. said Wednesday it is weighing options, including an appeal. The company said the appeals court did not decide whether claims against GM are valid. “Many of the claims we face have been brought on behalf of car owners who want to be compensated even though they have not suffered any loss,” a company statement said.

The ignition switches, which were put in small cars like the Chevrolet Cobalt, can slip out of the run position and cause cars to stall unexpectedly. They are linked to at least 124 deaths and 275 injuries.

In its ruling, the appeals court said that the desire to move GM through bankruptcy quickly to avoid its collapse was “laudable,” but it doesn’t do away with basic constitutional principles. It took only 40 days for the bankruptcy to end, an unprecedented period at the time.

“Due process applies even in a company’s moment of crisis,” the court wrote.

The ruling also could affect 399 injury and death cases settled for GM by compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg for a total of $594.5 million. GM says those who settled gave up their legal rights to sue the company, but Hilliard said he will look into whether some of those claims could be reopened in light of the court’s ruling.

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