Trendy California Is Not the First to Ban Tiny Hotel Shampoo Bottles

With all the fires and blackouts going on, Californians may have missed a major legislative milestone last month. As NBC News reports, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law “banning hotels from giving guests plastic bottles filled with shampoo, conditioner or soap.” The measure takes effect in 2023 for hotels with more than 50 rooms and 2024 for hotels with less than 50 rooms. Violators could be fined $500 for a first offense and $2,000 for subsequent violations.

Contrary to what backers of the law appear to imagine, California is not the first to impose such a ban.

Runaway Health Insurance Costs Under the Affordable Care Act

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was supposed to make the cost of health insurance more affordable by slowing the rising trend of increases in health insurance costs. The controversial law was passed in 2010 on a strict party line vote, with nearly all Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposed.

Gov. Newsom Appoints “Energy Czar” Ana Matosantos to Completely Transform PG&E

“PG&E as we know it cannot persist and continue,” proclaimed California governor Gavin Newsom last Friday. “It has to be completely transformed, culturally transformed, operationally transformed, with a safety culture first and foremost.”

Embattled and enflamed Californians might wonder how this complete transformation is to be achieved. On Friday, Gov. Newsom provided the answer when he named his cabinet secretary Ana Matosantos the new “Energy Czar.” Gov. Newsom is on record that his cabinet secretary is a “genius” and Capitol Weekly explains that Matosantos “makes the trains run on time.” But can the Energy Czar Ana transform Pacific Gas and Electric, and by implication, the state’s entire energy system?

Telemedicine Continues to Reach New Heights

Imagine you suddenly became injured and needed medical help quickly. How long would it take you to see a physician? For an increasing number of Americans, the answer may be concerning.

According to a recent survey of 15 major metropolitan areas, wait times to see a physician for new patients increased by about 30 percent from 2014 to 2017. Some of the more eye-opening estimates include a two-month wait period to get a physical exam in Boston and a one-month wait for a heart evaluation in Washington state. Wait times in some areas have become so excessive that patients change their physician entirely.

Meet the Federal Agency Propaganda Mascots That Cost Taxpayers a Fortune

Meet Sammy Soil. Sammy is one of the many official mascots of a federal government agency who, along with friends at other government departments like Franklin the Fair Housing Fox, Rex the Ready Kids’ Mountain Lion or Pedro the Penguin, serve as mascots intended to create a favorable public impression of the agencies.

The Current War Highlights Drama Over America’s Electrical Grid

The Current War (Director’s Cut) had a circuitous and uncertain road to American theaters but finally arrived in 2019. The 2017 historical drama depicts the fight to build and control America’s electrical grid in the 1880s, but became ensnared during the Weinstein Company’s implosion following sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein. 

The delay probably saved the film from obscurity thanks to its executive producer Martin Scorsese. A “final cut privilege” allowed the auteur filmmaker to restore some of director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s (The Town and the Dreaded Sundown, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) vision for the movie (hence the reference to “Director’s Cut”). The Current War is likely better than the original cut. Alas, it still falls flat. 

The dull outcome seems odd. Sparks fly, literally and figuratively, when American uber inventor Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch, Dr. Strange, the Hobbit, the Imitation Game) and Pittsburgh-based industrialist George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals, 99 Homes, the Shape of Water) race to bring electricity to every U.S. city, village, and hamlet. The brilliant but mercurial Edison had built the world’s first practical long-lasting light bulb and was all-in using Direct Current (DC). Westinghouse went all in on the more powerful Alternating Current (AC) because its greater reach would lower costs. The movie does a good job showing the competitive drive of each tycoon while also educating the audience on the technology of the time. 

How Costly Are Your State’s Regulations?

Government regulations can be very costly in terms of both time and money. Though we often focus on what means in terms of federal regulations, the U.S. government isn’t the only entity generating rules that can burden individual Americans and businesses without necessarily providing any positive benefit for them. State governments also impose regulations on the residents and firms who do business within their borders, but until this year nobody had attempted to quantify the burden of government regulations at that level.

“First Amendment Is First for a Reason.” The Wisdom of Dave Chappelle

On college campuses, the new film No Safe Spaces explains, the First Amendment, intellectual freedom, and the very idea of free speech are under attack with threats, bans, and even violence. That threat has come to the attention of comedian Dave Chapelle, latest winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Chappelle, 46, has been under fire for defending comedians Louis C.K. and Kevin Hart, and daring to tell jokes about transgender people, the “alphabet people,” as he calls them, a protected class under the political correctness regime.

Blackouts and Monopolies: Public Utilities in California

Power outages have become a way of life for Californians this fire season. Pacific Gas and Electric cut the power to nearly 3 million residents in Northern and Central California in a preemptive attempt to minimize wildfire risk during high winds and dry conditions, and the fires that erupted in Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties this week prompted Southern California Edison to cut the power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses. PG&E CEO Bill Johnson drew the ire of Gov. Gavin Newsom and others when he said during a California Public Utilities Commission hearing last week that mitigation measures would take time to implement, and that we could expect similar blackouts for the next 10 years.

Former California Governor Jerry Brown Stokes His Climate-Change Backfire

Jerry Brown has been on the quiet side since he left office, but raging fires across the state have smoked out the hereditary, recurring governor. As he told Politico, this was “only a taste of the horror and terror that will occur in decades,” in “America, in Africa, in Canada.” For Brown, a three-time presidential loser, it was not a new theme.

“I would point to the fact that it took Roosevelt many, many years to get America willing to go into World War II and fight the Nazis,” Brown said on “Meet the Press” on December 30. “Well, we have an enemy, though different, but perhaps, very much devastating in a similar way. And we’ve got to fight climate change. And the president’s got to lead on that.”

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