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July 27 2015 3:22 PM

Dude, Whoa: Semi-Truck Cab Jumps World-Record 166 Feet in Montana

A semi-truck cab driven by a daredevil named Gregg Godfrey jumped 166 feet at the Evel Knievel Days event in Butte, Monday on Friday, and the footage is C-R-A-Z-Y.

A slower version with good footage of the truck approaching the jump on a regular ol' city street:

Full-speed version of that angle:

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July 27 2015 1:16 PM

Hillary Clinton Just Went Big on Clean Energy. That Was the Easy Part.

At long last, Hillary Clinton has finally given the climate crowd something to get excited about. On Sunday the Democratic hopeful unveiled the first specific plank of what she is promising will be a comprehensive plan to address global warming. Clinton’s bold-faced goals are something to behold: Installing more than half a billion solar panels in the United States by the end of her first term, and generating enough clean energy to power every home in the country within a decade of taking office.

Her energy proposal won’t be enough to completely win over climate hawks, who have been skeptical of her environmental bona fides—but it’s a solid start. Climate activists have long demanded that the next president go further than President Obama, and Clinton’s proposal would do just that. In addition to protecting the historic climate rules being implemented by Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency, Clinton is pledging to boost solar, wind, and other renewables to the point where they provide 33 percent of the country’s electricity by 2027. Obama, meanwhile, has put the country on the path to reach about 25 percent by that same year.

Exactly how Clinton would get us to her goal remains unclear. But the broad brushstrokes suggest she’d rely heavily on tax incentives to spur the growth of renewables—particularly solar, which she says would see a 700 percent increase in U.S. capacity under her plan. At the center of her proposal is what her campaign has dubbed the Clean Energy Challenge, which would include: grants and “other market-based incentives" to encourage states to go above and beyond the actions required by federal law; a boost to federal investment in clean energy R&D; and an expansion of renewable production on public lands. She’s also expected to push to extend current federal tax credits for solar and wind that are set to expire soon. Clinton’s campaign pegs the estimated cost of the entire plan at about $60 billion over 10 years, which would be offset by eliminating tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.

"We need to get the incentives fixed in our tax system, which as you know are too heavily weighted toward fossil fuels," Clinton said Sunday while campaigning in central Iowa ahead of her more formal climate rollout on Monday in Des Moines.

My colleague Eric Holthaus will have much more on the policy specifics and how they stack up against the plans already put forth by Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley in a bit. But on the strictly political side of the equation, it’s clear that Clinton’s proposal is clever. She’s telling Americans what she’ll add—rooftop solar for more than 25 million homes!—without having to address the more politically fraught conversation of what she’s willing to subtract. Notably missing from the policy rollout was any mention of blocking Keystone XL, the controversial pipeline that has become a high-profile litmus test for the climate crowd, or a pledge to curb fossil fuel extraction on public lands.

Clinton’s got a ways to go before fully captivating the climate hawks. The four-page fact sheet released by her campaign offered only vague promises that her climate policy planks will ensure “that fossil fuel production taking place today is safe and responsible, that taxpayers get a fair deal for development on public lands, and that areas that are too sensitive for energy production are taken off the table.” Until Clinton fills in the blanks on just what is “safe and responsible” and what isn’t, the issue will remain a red flag for Team Green, particularly given Clinton’s previous comments suggesting a much more moderate, let’s-not-move-too-fast approach to issues of drilling and mining. "Hillary Clinton is half the way there," climate activist Bill McKibben said in a statement Monday that made it clear he and his allies will be watching for Clinton to weigh in on offshore drilling in the Arctic and coal mining in the Powder River Basin.

For now, though, Clinton has seized some much-needed momentum on an issue she’s had problems with in the past. Not incidentally: Her clean energy proposal appears to pass the clean energy litmus test unveiled late last week by Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmentalist who is expected to spend tens of millions of dollars through his super PAC in the 2016 election.

Elsewhere in Slate:

July 27 2015 12:45 PM

Boston Olympic Bid in Big Trouble as Mayor Says City Won’t Promise to Pay Cost Overruns

Update, 3 p.m.: The AP reports that Boston is dropping out of Olympic bidding. The U.S. Olympic Committee may nominate Los Angeles in Boston's place; official bids are due Sept. 15.

Original post, 12:45 p.m.: Boston has been selected as the United States' nominee in the competition to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, but its bid is nagged by residents' objections that the event would be a huge pain and a waste of money. The latter issue is such a concern that city Mayor Marty Walsh, who has long pushed the bid forward despite broad opposition, said Monday that he will not sign any International Olympic Committee host contract that would require a government promise to cover any cost overruns. From Boston.com:

“I cannot commit to putting the taxpayers at risk,” Walsh said.
Olympic organizing group Boston 2024 has said it would put a multi-faceted insurance policy in place, protecting the city from the threat of cost overruns. The group published some details about the plan last week, but Walsh said Monday the city has been “unable to conclude” its analysis of the bid’s risks.

(The Boston 2024 group is a private organization that says it can cover the cost of building venues and operating the Games if public money can be used for infrastructure improvements—and if the government gives out some big tax breaks.)

Boston is not actually yet under any pressure to make a formal agreement with the IOC, but if the U.S. Olympic Committee decides that not guaranteeing overruns would ultimately doom the city's bid, it could be replaced as America's nominee by Los Angeles.

July 27 2015 10:28 AM

Hacking Attack Crashes New York Site After Massive Cosby Story Goes Online (Update: It's Back)

Update, 3 p.m.: Nymag.com and its Cosby story are back online.

Original post, 10:28 a.m.: On Sunday night New York magazine posted a massive package about the women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault, 35 of whom spoke to reporter Noreen Malone—many of them in great detail—and posed for portraits that were collected in the striking cover image above. Soon thereafter, though, nymag.com became unavailable, which seemed like it might be a consequence of heavy traffic from readers looking for the Cosby piece. The Daily Dot site, however, reports that New York appears to have actually been taken out by a random hacker with a grudge against New York City itself:

A self-described hacker called ThreatKing, who says he hates New York City, claims he has successfully overwhelmed the site with a distributed denial of service attack, overloading its servers with traffic ... It's not, ThreatKing said, an attempt to silence the 35 women who have come forth to describe their alleged assault, nor the magazine that pieced their story together. Instead, he claimed, this stems entirely from his dislike of New York City, which he extends to magazines that share its name.  
“Many stupid people at [sic] New York,” ThreatKing told The Daily Dot over a Skype chat. “I have not even seen the cover, LOL,” he said.

New York's site seems to have been flooded by a distributed denial-of-service attack sometime around 1 a.m. Monday and as of now is still down.

July 27 2015 9:25 AM

Bobbi Kristina Brown Dies at Age 22

Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown's daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown died on Sunday, her family confirmed in a statement to NBC News. She was 22. Brown had been unresponsive since she was found in a bathtub in suburban Atlanta on Jan. 31, on a date that fell near the third anniversary of Whitney Houston's death, and her family had revealed that she suffered irreversible brain damage. (Houston was found dead in a bathtub in Los Angeles.) Brown was moved to a hospice facility last month.

It's not clear what caused Brown to lose consciousness the day she was found, though reports indicate she had problems with substance abuse. She was discovered in the bathtub by the man she'd referred to as her husband, Nick Gordon, who was raised by Houston after the age of 12. Their relationship had become a source of controversy after Houston's death, but Brown reacted to the criticism with defiance, proclaiming on Facebook that Gordon was not her adopted brother and that Houston would not have disapproved of their involvement. Gordon was never legally married to Brown, according to her father. The conservator of Brown's estate has filed a lawsuit against Gordon alleging that he physically abused Brown and stole from her bank accounts.

Brown's family said in their statement that she was "finally at peace in the arms of God."

July 27 2015 1:14 AM

35 of Bill Cosby’s Alleged Sexual Assault Victims Join Together for Powerful Photo

The headlines have been so frequent that it can be easy to forget a whopping 46 women have come forward publicly to accuse Bill Cosby of sexual assault. New York magazine was able to interview and photograph 35 of the alleged victims to create a powerful magazine cover shot that may end up doing more to destroy the once-beloved comic’s reputation than anything that has been released so far. Beyond the shocking front-page, the magazine publishes interviews, as well as photos and videos, of each of the women, who detail the abuse and how they were treated with suspicion when they came forward.

The women have formed “a sorrowful sisterhood,” as one of the alleged victims describes it. New York’s Noreen Malone explains:

Each story is awful in its own right. But the horror is multiplied by the sheer volume of seeing them together, reading them together, considering their shared experience. The women have found solace in their number — discovering that they hadn’t been alone, that there were others out there who believed them implicitly, with whom they didn’t need to be afraid of sharing the darkest details of their lives.

While it is now clear just how widespread the alleged abuse really was, several of the women describe how difficult it was to come forward. “I felt like a prisoner,” said Barbara Bowman, who wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post about how hard it was to get anyone to believe her story. “I felt I was kidnapped and hiding in plain sight. I could have walked down any street of Manhattan at any time and said, ‘I’m being raped and drugged by Bill Cosby,’ but who the hell would have believed me? Nobody, nobody.”

The magazine cover includes a photograph of an empty chair to symbolize those who have not come forward and are afraid to speak up. Social media users quickly began using #TheEmptyChair hashtag to discuss the issue, tell personal stories, and express support to victims.

The issue comes on the heels of publication of previously sealed court documents that showed how Cosby admitted using drugs to aid his pursuit of young women.

July 26 2015 7:39 PM

Huckabee: Obama Is Marching Israelis “to the Door of the Oven” With Iran Deal

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee did not mince words when talking about the Iran deal in an interview with Breitbart News, calling it “idiotic” and using a Holocaust reference to describe the agreement. In an escalation of the anti-deal rhetoric to unprecedented levels, Huckabee said the agreement “will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

Surely it was taken out of context, right? A presidential candidate wouldn’t actually compare a nuclear agreement with the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis, who cremated bodies in ovens, right? Here’s Huckabee, from Breitbart:

This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven. This is the most idiotic thing, this Iran deal. It should be rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and by the American people. I read the whole deal. We gave away the whole store. It’s got to be stopped.

CNN asked Huckabee’s campaign spokeswoman to elaborate on the remark, but she refused. “The comment speaks for itself,” she said.

Outrage came quickly, and Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz called on Huckabee to “apologize to the Jewish community and to the American people for this grossly irresponsible statement.” The National Jewish Democratic Council, meanwhile, called on other Republican presidential candidates to denounce Huckabee’s remarks. “Far, far too often, this organization has found itself forced to denounce politicians for invoking the Holocaust in inappropriate and offensive ways,” the NJDC said in a statement. “These comments by Gov. Mike Huckabee, however, may be the most inexcusable we've encountered in recent memory.”

July 26 2015 6:27 PM

Several Babies Born in Kenya Named After Obama Visit—Including One AirForceOne  

It’s an Obama baby boom. President Obama departed Kenya on Sunday and left quite a legacy behind, as more than a couple of babies were named in his honor. Although the name Obama is already relatively common in Kenya, two women decided to name their babies after the president’s jet over the weekend. “I have decided to call my baby AirForceOne Barack Obama so that we can all remember Obama’s visit to Kenya because it is a huge blessing,” one of the mothers tells AFP. Another one decided to simply call her baby “AirForce One.” They were two babies out of eight born on Friday night at one hospital named in honor of Obama. And it wasn’t just boys. One girl was named Michelle, while another was called Malia, and a third Malia Sasha.

In one of the biggest hospitals in Nairobi, at least 10 babies born over the weekend were named after the U.S. president, reports USA Today. “I expect my baby Obama to become a great leader like the U.S. president,” Jael Achieng, who gave birth to her third child on Sunday, said. “I named him after the president because when his plane landed at the airport I found myself in labor and I was rushed to the hospital.”

July 26 2015 6:03 PM

Obama Cracks Birther Joke in Kenya

Of course he did. President Obama apparently couldn’t waste what was a golden opportunity to make a birth certificate joke during his first trip to Kenya as commander-in-chief. During a toast at a state dinner in Nairobi on Saturday night, Obama made it clear once again that he’s eager to laugh off the whole birth certificate conspiracy theory. “I suspect that some of my critics back home are suspecting that I’m back here to look for my birth certificate,” the president laughed while delivering a toast at a state dinner hosted by his Kenyan counterpart, President Uhuru Kenyatta. “That is not the case.”

Lame jokes aside, it was Obama’s speech Sunday that will likely be the most remembered by everyday Kenyans. Although the president had already chided African leaders to treat gay people equally under the law the previous day, it was Sunday that he ended up electrifying a crowd of young men and women at a stadium in Nairobi, where he “spoke from the heart,” notes Time. “As his convoy turned into Nairobi’s SafariCom Arena, he finally received the exuberant welcome that security precautions had all but denied him since his arrival two nights prior.”

Describing himself as the first Kenyan American president, Obama “spoke frankly to Kenyans as only a member of the family can,” notes the Los Angeles Times. In a speech that included lots of details about his personal history, Obama described Kenya as a country “at a crossroads” that must do more to ensure it moves forward by rooting out corruption, expanding human rights and making sure women are given opportunities to succeed. “Every country has traditions that are unique,” he said. “Just because something is a part of your past doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t mean that it defines your future.”

July 26 2015 3:42 PM

Lindsey Graham Dumps his Flip Phone for an iPhone

It seems Slate’s Justin Peters has lost an ally in the flip-phone camp. Lindsey Graham has modernized and bought an iPhone after Donald Trump revealed the senator’s phone number during a rally in South Carolina. "I'm sure Apple stock will soar," Graham said on ABC's This Week. “Donald Trump's done something my staff could never get me to do, and that's get a new phone—so thanks, Donald,” the senator joked.

Just because he has a new smartphone though doesn’t mean Graham is quite ready to fully join the 21st Century quite yet. "I don’t know if I'm going to email, but I do have an iPhone," the Republican presidential contender said.

The whole spat began when Graham called Trump a jackass for questioning Sen. John McCain’s status as a war hero. Then Trump gave out Graham’s phone number for some reason and Graham made a video with the Independent Journal Review showing all the ways he could destroy his trusty flip phone.

As could be expected there was also lots of talk about Trump on Sunday, with Graham telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that the real estate mogul is “appealing to the dark side of American politics” and the Republican Party should be concerned. "He is not offering solutions to hard, complicated problems,” Graham said. “He is basically selling fear and prejudice.”

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