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Driverless Cars: California Says It's Time for Full Auto

Once driverless cars really get going, we can all sleep like babies.

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On April 2, just one short month from now, the dreams of Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk, as well as the dreams of the other players in the self-driving car game, will come closer to fruition when the California DMV begins to issue permits for fully autonomous vehicles.

What this means is (1) automakers can soon test their vehicles on public roads remotely, with no driver or passenger in the car at all and (2) can move toward activating full auto mode in cars currently owned and operated by consumers, such as Tesla's Model S, with its Autopilot functionality 100 percent engaged.

Now it's "Look, Ma, no hands!" to get from Point A to Point B.

Sports Violence: Not Just a Philly Thing

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Following Minnesota's drubbing in the NFC Championship (38-7) leading up to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, much was made of Philadelphia's notorious fan base, accused of all manner of naughty behavior, from mild run-of-the-mill taunting to outright threats and physical assault, perpetrated against Vikings fans who attended the game in Philly.

On one hand, if you attend an away game in full hometown regalia, you can't expect to escape some good-natured ribbing, perhaps even some that isn't so good natured. On the other hand, the Big Game and Team Spirit are no excuse for threats and violence, in or out of the stadium. Towel snapping, beer can pelting, bottles of urine, crying kids - these are the anecdotes coming out of Philadelphia.

President Trump's State of the Union Address on Jan. 30

The President "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient [...]"

- U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section III


The State of the Union address is Tuesday, Jan. 30, at 8:00 central time.

When President Trump steps up to the podium in front of federal lawmakers, invited guests, and Supreme Court Justices (as well as millions of citizens watching at home), he will follow in the footsteps of all those who have come before, stretching back to the first "SOTU" in 1790, delivered by George Washington in New York City.

Speeding is No Big Thing, Right? Not So Fast

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Sure, weaving over the centerline into oncoming traffic because you're more than twice the legal limit (and you've got some opioids coursing through your system to boot), is dangerous.

Looking down at that text message on your iPhone and tapping out a quick response with a few emojis - traveling the length of a football field during that time - is also dangerous.

Taking a snooze while your Tesla's Autopilot does the heavy lifting from Point A to Point B is a cutting-edge example of dangerous driving.

Tesla's Autopilot is the New Distracted Driving

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To be fair, Tesla is quite clear about what Autopilot is and what it isn't. Autopilot - Tesla's self-driving or "robot car" mode - most certainly is not sleep-in-the-backseat mode or have-a-few-beers mode (though someday that could be the case). But someday is not today. "Autopilot," Tesla proclaims, "is intended for use only with a fully attentive driver."

In other words, turning on Autopilot and then checking out, in whatever fashion the driver chooses, be it dozing or boozing, is not fully attentive driving but distracted driving.

Some Tesla owners haven't read the memo.

Cigarette Marketing in a Post-Cigarette World

The specific claims a company can make about its products to the public in its marketing and advertising is at the heart of consumer law, which seeks to protect consumers from being misled.


To boil down the history of cigarette marketing in America last century, you could draw a line between the Marlboro Man and the Master Settlement Agreement.

Another Takata Airbag Recall

Consumer Reports writes that Takata's airbag problem makes for the largest recall in U.S. history - and the latest news is another more than three million defective inflators in roughly 40 million cars affecting 2009, 2010, and 2013 models of various brands.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been overseeing the ongoing saga, issuing smaller recalls in stages, based on the perceived risk to drivers and passengers.

It's Not the Substance, It's the Decision

A story in the East Bay Times will have marijuana naysayers crying, "I told you so" about the dangers of legalization. Now there's another way (in addition to alcohol and texting) for people to be impaired or distracted while driving.

On Jan. 6, a woman driving at around 100 mph in her Ford Explorer lost control, rolled her SUV over the median, and collided into oncoming traffic, sending multiple people to the hospital.

Sessions' Reefer Madness: The Irony of His Words on the 'Rule of Law'

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Whether you were for or against legal recreational marijuana doesn't matter at this point. As we all know, it's legal in California as of the New Year. But the stoned and sober alike can see the irony in AG Jeff Sessions' speech on restoring the "rule of law" in his recent rollback of the federal hands-off approach to bud during the Obama years.

2017 a Big Year for DUI Arrests in California on the Holidays

"Any time you see a rise it's concerning, especially when we look at fatalities, because that's somebody's loved one."

- California Highway Patrol

The number of DUI arrests made throughout California in December, starting from the holidays through the New Year, increased by 22 percent in 2017 over 2016, as reported by Sophie Haigney with SFGate. The number of DUI arrests during this time edged toward 1,000 (936, to be precise), whereas in 2016, the number was significantly lower, at 767.

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