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Danziger: Shut Up And Drive

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

#EndorseThis: Elon Musk Smokes Joe Rogan Blunt And Breaks Internet

Pod-caster and conspiracy-junkie Joe Rogan is actually kind of a miracle. Rogan manages to be anti-Republican, anti-Democrat, anti-centrist, anti-religion and anti-atheism all at once. It’s strange to see a comedian attract such a wide audience while espousing views that enrage both sides of the liberal/conservative divide.

Maybe Joe looks sane in contrast to some of his guests on the Joe Rogan Experience, which have included controversial figures like Jimmy Dore, Abby Martin, and Milo Yiannopoulos.

And then there’s this week’s JRE guest Elon Musk, who seems determined to tank his own business. In today’s #EndorseThis clip, the polarizing inventor and part-time GOP donor puffs on a marijuana spliff (mistakenly called a “blunt” by Joe) during a 3-hour discussion of artificial intelligence, fossil fuels, and of course world politics – a staple of Rogan’s stoned ramblings.

Tesla stock has already dropped 9% as the podcast clip goes viral. Click to watch Elon’s reputation go up in smoke.

Tesla Unveils Battery To ‘Transform Energy Infrastructure’

Los Angeles (AFP) – Electric car pioneer Tesla unveiled a “home battery” Thursday which its founder Elon Musk said would help change the “entire energy infrastructure of the world.”

The Tesla Powerwall can store power from solar panels, from the electricity grid at night when it is typically cheaper, and provide a secure backup in the case of a power outage.

In theory the device, which typically would fit on the wall of a garage or inside a house, could make solar-powered homes completely independent of the traditional energy grid.

“The goal is complete transformation of the entire energy infrastructure of the world, to completely sustainable zero carbon,” Musk told reporters shortly before unveiling the Powerwall in a stylish warehouse space outside Los Angeles.

People look at newly-unveiled Tesla Powerwall batteries at the Tesla Design Studio in Hawthorne, California, April 30, 2015

All the power for the evening demonstration, attended by several hundred media as well as tech world participants, came from his new batteries, hooked up to solar panels on the roof, he said.

Initially the device, which will cost $3,500, will go on sale in the United States later this year. But the aim is to roll it out internationally some time next year.

Germany is seen as a key market for the product — which is about 6 inches thick, 4 feet tall and 3 feet across — because it has among the highest take-up of solar energy in the world, Musk said.

But it could also be a huge boon for under-developed regions, where power is often unreliable at best, despite abundant solar energy — and he compared the potential to that of the way cellphone technology has expanded.

“It’s analogous to the way mobile leap-frogged landlines,” Musk said.

“This is going to be really great for the poorest communities in the world,” he said. “This allows you to be completely off grid.”

Musk stressed however that moving advanced economies like America away from unsustainable fossil fuels was a key goal.

“I think we should collectively do something about this .. we have this handy fusion reactor in the sky, called the sun,” he said.

The Powerwall comes in 10 kWh weekly cycle and 7 kWh daily cycle models, both of which are guaranteed for 10 years and are sufficient to power most homes during peak evening hours.

The Tesla chief was coy when asked whether Tesla Energy would be a bigger business than Tesla Motors, for which he is best known. He dodged the question.

Last year Tesla announced the construction of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery plant in Nevada, a five-billion-dollar “Gigafactory” with Japanese electronics giant Panasonic.

Tesla will run operations while its Japanese partner will make battery cells destined for the plant and invest in equipment and machinery, according to a joint statement released at that time.

While Tesla produces relatively few vehicles, it has become a star in the sector due to keen demand and a reputation for high quality.

Photo: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk unveils large utility scale home batteries at the Tesla Design Studio in Hawthorne, California, April 30, 2015 (©afp.com / David McNew)

NASA To Make Announcement On U.S. Human Spaceflights

Washington (AFP) — The company — or companies — that will build America’s next space taxi to carry astronauts to low Earth orbit and back is to be revealed Tuesday.

NASA, which has been unable to send astronauts to space since the retirement of the shuttle in 2011, said the announcement would be made at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center at 4:00 pm (2000 GMT).

“We’re returning human spaceflight launches to America. Learn who will take crews to the ISS (International Space Station),” NASA tweeted.

A spokesman for the U.S. space agency declined to provide further details until the disclosure, which is timed to coincide with the closing of the U.S. markets.

The agency has spent more than $1.4 billion since 2010 to help private companies like SpaceX, Boeing, and Sierra Nevada develop their own crew transport vehicles that could carry astronauts to the ISS by 2017.

In the meantime, the world’s space powers have had to rely on Russia’s Soyuz for transporting rocket scientists to the orbiting outpost, at a cost of $70 million per seat.

The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed industry sources as saying Boeing was considered a favorite in the NASA bids.

Of the three front-runners, Boeing has received the largest amount of NASA funds — $620.8 million to help build its commercial crew vehicle, according to NASA’s website.

Boeing’s acorn-shaped space capsule is called the Crew Space Transportation-100, or CST-100 for short, and is designed to carry up to seven passengers or a mix of crew and cargo to the space station, which circles the planet in low-Earth orbit.

The sleek, metallic capsule is designed without welding creases, may be re-used up to 10 times, and is equipped with wireless Internet access and tablet technology so the crew can interface with mission control.

California-based SpaceX has been awarded $554.5 million to develop its crew vehicle, which it has based on the Dragon cargo carrier it designed and which in 2010 became the first private spaceship to complete resupply missions to the ISS.

SpaceX is headed by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, who made his fortune as co-founder of PayPal and also serves as CEO of Tesla Motors.

Musk unveiled the Dragon Version Two, or V2, at a glitzy nighttime news conference in May.

Shaped like a gum-drop and painted gleaming white with blue accents, the Dragon V2 is designed to be able to “land propulsively almost anywhere on Earth,” and could carry up to seven crew members, SpaceX said on its website.

The third company in the running, Sierra Nevada, received $363.1 million in NASA seed money for its Dream Chaser vehicle, which looks like a miniature space shuttle, with room for up to seven astronauts, and is designed to land on runways much like an airplane.

Industry experts expect NASA may choose more than one company — though the size of the cash awards may differ — so as to encourage competition in the fledgling field of commercial crew space transport.

Photo: Luke Bryant via Flickr

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