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Let no one say the American Dream is dead [photos]

I stumbled on this booth while walking around Coney Island last weekend.

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Booze + Public Consumption + Free Refills = God Bless America!

And you thought it was all your driving that was causing climate change

Turns out, it is Chinese mine fires.

Via Marginal Revolution:

China alone loses between 100 million and 200 million tons of coal each year to mine fires, as much as 20 percent of their annual production, according to the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, based in Enschede, Netherlands. The Institute estimates that carbon dioxide emissions from these fires are as high as 1.1 billion metric tons, more than the total carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles in the United States. Second to China is India, where 10 million tons of coal burns annually in mine fires, contributing a further 51 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

I guess that means we call all feel better about cruising around with the our windows down and the A/C blasting.

The Kremlin runs on Dunkin? [progress]

Grand Opening: Dunkin Donuts on Forbes Ave, Squirrel HillA little more than a decade after it pulled out, Dunkin Donuts is planning a big comeback in Russia. The coffee and donut retailer recons that the introduction of Starbucks to the Russian market and the recent proliferation of domestic coffee shops has softened up the ground enough to make another go at it.

The plan is to open 50 outlets in Russia over the next few years. There are currently 27 Starbucks in the country. We can only hope that the combined Dunkin/Starbucks/McDonalds onslaught will make the Russian coffee market safe for Americans (unlike the horrible coffee situation in France).

The only question I have is will the donuts be 89 cents like they are in America or nearly $2 like they are in Berlin?

MI Governor to sign texting ban on the Oprah Show

As if we needed any more proof that the push for cell phone bans is driven emotion and fear more than rational debate. But I guess since the main effect of this legislation is to appease stay-at-home moms and technophobic seniors, signing the bill on the Oparh show is probably a good stunt.

WNEM has the details:

LANSING, Mich. — A ban on the use of cell phones to send text messages or e-mail while driving in Michigan will be signed into law by Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Friday’s “TheOprah Winfrey Show.”

The Michigan House passed the third and final bill in a texting ban package by an 82-22 vote Wednesday. The Senate already has passed the bill.

The Legislature passed the main bills in the package earlier this month.

The ban is to take effect July 1. It makes texting a primary offense, meaning police could pull over motorists for texting alone.

A first offense would cost $100 and repeat offenses would cost $200.

I’ve said it before, but it is worth repeating. According to a comprehensive study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (who supports such laws), banning cell phones in cars does not save any lives. None.

Cracking eggs, made easy

Just the other day I was thinking that the drudgery of cracking eggs was really cramping my style. Fortunately, after thousands of years of hassle, American innovators have found a way to save us from the minor inconveniences that come from making breakfast.

Introducing: The EZ-Cracker, a tool that helps you crack eggs. It can even do the scrambling for you. If that is not progress, I don’t know what is.

God Bless America!

(Hat tip, Donn)

Victory!

American sodaThe Philadelphia soda tax, which would have slapped a two cent per ounce tax on soda, juice and other sugary drinks, appears to be dead.

Needless to say, this is tremendous news as the soda tax as proposed would have almost certainly ended free refills in the city of brotherly love. It is time to drink a Super Big Gulp in celebration!

DON’T TREAD ON ME!

Signs of progress [photos]

I know a lot of Americans love their dogs, but I am not one of them. They smell bad. They are a lot of work. They are expensive and they tend to bark and bite. Plus, the small ones have always seemed a little Parisian to me. If I could ban all dogs I would do it in a heartbeat. Absent that, I cherish new regulations they keep neighborhoods and public spaces free of the four-legged menace.

Naturally, I was happy to see this sign at New York’s Hudson River Park.

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Signs of demise [photos]

De-industrialization leaves a lot of scars: shuttered factories, broken communities and a general sense of hopelessness. But the one I hadn’t anticipated—and found particularly troubling—is when all-night diners are forced to scale back their hours because the plant closed and the customer based dried up. Apparently the spread of 24-hour technology is not irreversible after all.

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It's not open 24-hours anymore, just blank hours....

Michigan did it [distracted driving]

From Gongwer:

The House has just approved a move to make texting while driving a primary offense.

The Republican-controlled Senate passed the primary offense measure after the House originally had approved making texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning a police officer would have to pull someone over for another traffic violation to cite a person for also texting while driving.

HB 4394, which passed 74-33, is tie-barred to a similar measure comprised in SB 468, which the House has not taken up for a vote yet. The Senate will have to concur in the House changes before all the bills become law (HB 4370).

The ban would take effect July 1.

Per Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates, I predict this will save zero lives.

(Hat tip: John)

Happy Patriots’ Day! [Massachusetts and Maine only]

235 years ago, Massachusetts militia members fired on British troops in the towns of Lexington and Concord setting off the Revolutionary War. Today the start of the American Revolution is only officially celebrated in Maine and Massachusetts, which is ironic because I’m pretty sure Massachusetts is part of the European Union—or at least that is what Fox News led me to believe.

Here is a nice Schoolhouse Rock video in case you need a quick refresher on your American Revolution history.

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