Obama Drops Satellite Ban, Gives Aerospace Industry A Lift

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For more than a decade, U.S. laws have grounded satellites that provide commercial telephone service and television broadcasts under the same export restrictions applied to ballistic missiles and anti-tank weapons. But on Thursday President Barack Obama signed legislation that will re-classify communications satellites as civilian technology –and give the American aerospace business a huge boost in the process.

House resolution 4310, the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, moves communications satellites and equipment off a list of restricted munitions managed by the U.S. Department of State and puts the technology under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Commerce Department. As a result, U.S. aerospace businesses like Boeing, Loral Space & Communications, Lockheed Martin, Iridium and Hughes (a subsidiary of EchoStar) are now free to export communications satellites as a civilian technology. The satellite export ban was put into place in 1999, after engineers working for American aerospace companies were accused of leaking sensitive missile technology to the Chinese government. In response, a Republican-controlled Congress pushed to categorize communications satellites as weapons and initiate the export ban in order to keep China from learning more U.S. secrets. But critics of the ban say that it ended up costing the United States far more than it did China. A 2012 report from the Aerospace Industries Associationestimated that U.S. manufacturers lost $21 billion in satellite revenue between 1999-2009, costing the industry approximately 9,000 jobs each year. U.S. companies controlled 73 percent of the worldwide satellite export business in 1995, but by 2005 –just six years after the ban– that share had plummeted to 25 percent.

The new bill does retain some of the protections of the 1999 law; satellite makers are still forbidden from exporting their tech to places like Iran, China and North Korea.

Gangsta’s paradise? U. of Arizona offers minor focusing on hip-hop

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Universities across the nation have offered courses on hip-hop culture for several years, but the University of Arizona has decided to take its program further, adding the subject as as a concentrationin its Africana Studies minor program. The decision, announced in December, is part of a trend to give serious academic study to the subject. And the new curriculum is bound to be a hit with Arizona students, said Alain-Philippe Durand, interim director of the Tucson school’s Africana Studies Program. The university has offered hip-hop courses since 2004. Last spring, a class on hip-hop cinema at the university filled up in a matter of hours with students emailing the teacher in an attempt to add the course. “Rap and hip-hop in general has become super-popular around the world,” Durand said. “The main reason for that is that it affects every single discipline and aspects of society.” News of the minor is exciting news, said Steven Pond, associate professor and chair of the Cornell University’s music department. Cornell is at the forefront of applying serious study to the hip-hop movement, touting the largest hip-hop collection of music recordings, rare fliers, artwork, photography and other memorabilia. “It’s a very good development and an exciting one … the idea of acknowledgment of the deep impact hip-hop has in many areas, across cultures,” Pond said.  “I think it’s a very positive development to see hip-hop enter the  academy, even if it’s a decade or even a generation late.” Arizona students hoping for an easy minor of just sitting back and listening to Jay-Z probably shouldn’t enroll, Durand said.

The curriculum goes beyond the stereotypical gang and drug cultures to examine the movement’s intersection with politics, marketing, fashion and other academic disciplines. Durand, author of “Black, Blanc, Beur: Rap Music and Hip-Hop Culture in the Francophone World,” said the idea to start a minor in the subject came to him after he noticed that he and his colleagues had expertise on hip-hop culture across various disciplines, such as film and music. They had enough courses among them to create a minor. Durand and his colleagues made their best pitch to university decision makers who obliged.

“The university itself is known for taking innovative steps like that,” Durand said, citing the university’s success in interplanetary exploration. “We break borders in astronomy and we break borders in hip-hop now.”

Journalist Samuel L. Jackson Urged to Use N-Word Speaks Out

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The journalist on the other end of a now-famous exchange with Samuel L. Jackson is speaking out about an interview in which the Django Unchained star urged him to use the N-word. Last month when Jake Hamilton, a film journalist with Houston Fox affiliate KRIV-TV, began to ask Jackson a question about the use of the N-word in Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie, the actor cut him off and refused to answer unless Hamilton said the full word.

“Have you ever said it? Try it! We’re not going to have this conversation unless you try it,” Jackson said. Hamilton declined and moved on to another question. The rather awkward-to-watch footage (which begins at the 13:55 mark below) went viral this week.

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In an interview with BuzzFeed, the journalist revealed his thoughts on the exchange, saying he never considered using the full word, but did think about walking out of the room. “He’s an intimidating guy. I’ve talked to him once before for The Avengers and that interview went okay,” Hamilton said of Jackson. “But it’s one of those things where I have my own set of moral values, just like anybody else and I’m not going to compromise them for anyone, much less a celebrity.” He also revealed what his question would have been, had he been allowed to ask it.

“My question was going to be,” Hamilton said, “where is that line between that word being offensive and that word being art? What does it take for an actor to read a word like that on a script page and say ‘ok, I’ll say it.’”

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Django, set in the South before the Civil War, has been criticized by Spike Lee for its use of the N-word, which is used more than 100 times in the film. Django has also had its share of defenders, including Training Day director Antoine Fuqua. The controversy has not diminished the film’s popularity among African American moviegoers, who have significantly contributed to the film’s strong box office performance.

Hamilton said some people have argued he was “empowering” the N-word by refusing to say it. “I get that and I understand what the argument is and a lot of people say that’s the point that Mr. Jackson was trying to prove,” Hamilton said. “But at the end of the day, I just — I don’t say it. You can make the argument that I’m making it worse by not saying it but so be it. I’m just not going to say the word.”

49ers can still utilize tight end Davis

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In recent days, troubling pre-playoff questions have emerged for the 49ers. Will slumping placekicker David Akers remain on the roster? Can defensive tackle Justin Smith approach something approximating his All-Pro level if he plays with a partially torn triceps? Another question isn’t new, but, like the others, it remains unanswered: When will tight end Vernon Davis reappear in the offense? A year after Davis played his best in the season’s biggest games, he appears unlikely to reprise his January heroics. At least, that is, if the past three months are any type of foreshadowing. In his final 11 regular-season games, Davis had 21 receptions and scored as many touchdowns as San Francisco safety Donte Whitner (one). His 245 receiving yards in that span were 47 fewer than he had in two playoff games last year. After torching the Saints and Giants for four touchdowns in the postseason, Davis remained hot to start 2012: After five games, he was on pace for 74 catches, 970 yards and 13 touchdowns. In mid-December, Davis theorized his torrid start inspired teams to adopt you-won’t-beat-us game plans. “The first five games of the season, I was taking off up the sideline,” Davis said. “They probably looked at film of that and said, ‘We’ve got to stop this guy.’ But I didn’t expect them to do it consistently. Normally they’ll do it, and then in a couple weeks I’ll get open. It’s not like the coaches aren’t putting things in for me – they’re putting plays in for me every week. But it just hasn’t worked out. The defenses are taking me away.” As his coaches and teammates have noted, the focus on Davis has opened up opportunities for others. In the final six-regular-season games, tight end Delanie Walker had the most receiving yards (246) in a six-game stretch of his seven-year career. Similarly, wide receiver Michael Crabtree had six-game career highs in receptions (38) and yards (564).

Meanwhile, Davis had six catches – four fewer than fullback Bruce Miller – and 61 yards in the final six-game stretch. Known for his me-first attitude early in his career, Davis, 28, has jokingly expressed frustration about his lack of catches this season. However, he has stuck with a team-oriented script when pressed about his lack of production. “I’ll do whatever it takes to help this team,” Davis said Thursday. “Right now, I just want to make it to where we’re trying to go.” Of course, if the 49ers are to reach the Super Bowl they could use more production from Davis. If he can channel last season’s playoff performance, the 49ers could overcome those other questions surrounding them.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/49ers/article/49ers-can-still-utilize-tight-end-Davis-4170348.php#ixzz2HDrPBxeY

Democrats to Obama: Keep Constitution on the table in debt ceiling fight

largeThe White House insists President Barack Obama can’t — and won’t — use the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling. But a growing number of his congressional allies are urging Obama not to abandon a potentially powerful weapon before negotiations even begin. With Republicans promising another climactic fight over the $16.4 trillion debt limit in two months, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday that if she were president, she would invoke the Constitution to raise the ceiling on her own — with or without permission from the GOP. “I would do it, in a second, but I’m not the president of the United States,” Pelosi said. Like many other Democrats, Pelosi is eyeing the language in the 14th Amendment stating that the validity of U.S. public debts “shall not be questioned.” Prominent Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, have argued that language — added in the aftermath of the Civil War — gives Obama all the authority he needs to break the ceiling.

Realistic or not, the talk underscores growing liberal concern that yet another round of brinksmanship will hobble Washington and the economy — and force Obama into a bad negotiating position — just months after Congress went over the so-called fiscal cliff and then barely averted it with a last-minute tax deal. Whether Obama could invoke the 14th Amendment to raise the debt limit is an open legal question. But that isn’t deterring some Democrats.

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said on Friday the Constitution not only allows Obama to bypass Congress on the debt ceiling — it compels him to. “I think [the Constitution] is pretty clear. He must do something about paying the bills,” Udall said. “If Congress doesn’t give him an avenue to do that, a leader needs to take a course of action if the bills aren’t being paid. That could be devastating to our economy. It could be devastating to our reputation around the world.” The nation reached its $16.4 trillion borrowing limit on Dec. 31, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says his department is currently taking “extraordinary measures” that will only allow the nation to pay its bills for about another two months.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/democrats-keep-constitution-on-the-table-85792.html#ixzz2HDo4KG7f