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The Gorgeous Stupidity of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian is a plant whose root has for centuries been cultivated for its medicinal properties. It absolutely stinks but is supposed to put you to sleep. That anybody would name a movie after valerian is therefore extremely brave and perhaps a little stupid. But if doing brave and stupid things for the simple joy of it appeals to you, Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets might be just what the homeopath ordered. Valerian, directed by Luc Besson, derives it name and its fantastical world from the French comic book series Valérian and Laureline. Created by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières, the comic was first published in 1967 by the legendary house Dargaud. As a 10-year-old boy in France, Besson would ?go to the kiosk every Wednesday,? as he recalls in the film?s official press package. One day he picked up a particularly engrossing comic. ?That day,? he says, ?I fell in love with Laureline, and I wanted to be Valérian.? Besson grew up to be the filmmaker who gave the world La Femme Nikita, Léon: The Professional, The Fifth Element, and more. He?s a key figure in the so-called Cinéma du look, a term coined by critic Raphaël Bassan in 1989 to describe the spectacular visual stylings of movies like Leos Carax?s Mauvais Sang and Besson?s Subway. In America, The Fifth Element is probably Besson?s most famous work. A bit of a failure upon its opening in 1997, The Fifth Element?in all its bleep-bloop orange-haired space-taxi glory?has since burrowed into our hearts. Courtesy of STX Films. That movie also drew on the works of Christin and Mézières. Valerian is thus something of a spiritual sibling to The Fifth Element, although it contains no material from the same world besides a bunch of blue goo. Besson claims that he had wanted to make Valerian for years, but the FX technology required to realize his vision was simply not available. Once Besson saw James Cameron?s behemoth retelling of Fern Gully, however, things changed. The fingerprints of Avatar are all over the worst parts of Valerian, notably in the people of the planet Mül, who are very tall and very nice. The boring Mül open the first proper section of the movie, but once they?re off-stage the action begins and never stops. Meet Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne), heroic hotties of the 28th century! They spar with one another like James Bond and whatever woman he?s talking to; they fight like Jason Statham in wigs. In the first major adventure of the movie, the pair have to enter an alternate dimension on the planet Kirian, where they are to recover a tiny creature who is inside a box. It is impossible to tell what is going on at this stage but that is not a bad thing. Pow pow pow! Valerian bashes the bad guys. [embedded content] From this point on it is almost futile to describe the plot, nor would it make much sense to hold DeHaan or Delevingne?s performances up to much scrutiny. They do perfectly fine. They look nice. Neither has an ounce of the magnetism, emotional range, or physical charm that Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich held in their little fingers. Yes, Rihanna and Clive Owen are in the movie. But they...

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Gasunie Says EC Clears German LNG Terminal JV

Dutch gas grid operator Gasunie said July 12 it has received European Commission approval for Gasunie, Oiltanking and Vopak to set up joint venture to develop a small-scale LNG terminal in northern Germany, most likely at Brunsbuttel on the Elbe estuary downstream of Hamburg.   The three firms are jointly investigating the possibilities for building and operating a multi-service LNG terminal, including import and small-scale services. Thank you for appreciating great fact based news coverage and analysis on natural gas developments. To continue reading please sign in or subscribe. Natural Gas World welcomes all viewpoints. Should you wish to provide an alternative perspective on the above article, please contact [email protected] Kindly note that for external submissions we only lightly edit content for grammar and do not edit externally contributed content.  See the home page...

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What Would Thoreau Think of Climate Change?

The hawk sat on a limb three feet above my head and did not stir as I walked under?that was the first sign. I?d been off hiking for about a week, a long solo backpack through my home mountains, the Adirondacks of upstate New York. The first few days out I might as well have been back in my room?I strode purposefully along the trail, eyes fixed on that focusless middle-distance that you stare at when you drive. My mind chattered happily away?my own little CNN delivering an around-the-clock broadcast of ideas, plans, opinions: What was I going to work on next? Who would win the presidential election? What were some neat things I could buy? My mind was buzzing, following all its usual tracks though I was deep in the woods. The days wore on. The imposed input lessened?no radio, no paper, no conversation. I could feel the chatter in my head begin to subside. Either the peace of the forest was beginning to penetrate, or the stocks of mental junk food were starting to dwindle; whatever the cause, the buzz turned to hum, and once in a while to quiet. And so I was not completely surprised when the hawk kept his perch, or a few minutes later when I passed a pair of grazing deer and they merely looked up a moment, didn?t spook. I was still wearing the rustling fluorescent uniform of the modern hiker, but I?d begun, perhaps, to give off fewer, calmer vibrations. I?d been walking through rain for days; it had long since penetrated my Gore-Tex hide, and so that afternoon when the sun finally came out I made an early camp by the lake. I hung out my clothes in the branches to warm; held my white and wrinkled feet up to the sky to toast; unfolded in the lovely heat like a snake on a stone. Soon a band of merganser chicks, trailing their mother, circled the small cove by which I lay, paying no attention to me. My aura of invisibility lasted all day, soothing one creature after another, until I was feeling part creature myself. Naked, hidden by the fringe of birch leaves, I watched canoeists paddle chattily by, and they seemed nearly to belong to another race. That night I was aware of every second of the endless sunset: the first long rays of the sun as the afternoon turned late, the long twilight, the turn of the sky from blue to blue to blue to?just as it turned black, a heron came stalking through my tiny cove, standing silently and then spearing with a sudden spasm; I couldn?t see her, not really, but I knew where she was. The sky darkened, the stars in this dark place spread across the sky bright and insistent. We were unimaginably small, this heron and I, and extremely right. I tell this memory?one of my happiest?as a way of plunging into that great sea called Walden. Understanding the whole of this book is a hopeless task. Its writing resembles nothing so much as Scripture; ideas are condensed to epigrams, four or five to a paragraph. Its magic density yields dozens of different readings?psychological, spiritual, literary, political, cultural. To my mind, though, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, it is...

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Gate LNG Expands Truck Loading

Gate terminal, the Rotterdam LNG import facility jointly owned by Gasunie and Vopak, said July 12 it started commercial operation of its two new truck-loading bays on July 10.   Gate said it experienced a 50% increase of the truck loadings year-on-year, with 750 trucks loaded in the first six months of 2017. By adding two new bays, it believes it can efficiently cater for future growth in the demand for LNG distribution by road or containers, enabling the Gate terminal to enable customers to deliver LNG to retail stations, industry and ships. The Gate terminal has 12bn m3/yr of import capacity, but throughput has never approached that kind of capacity. But it has been an innovator in investing in infrastructure that allows distributors to load LNG in smaller quantities: trucks have been loaded since 2014 at its first bay; and in September 2016 a third berth was added at the terminal to enable the loading of LNG bunker vessels.  LNG trucks loaded at Gate’s facility have been known to be delivered as far afield as the Baltic Republics and southern Europe. One such Dutch distributor is Rolande, 100%-owned by the Iveco Schouten group. Rolande said July 4 it had acquired ENN Clean Fuels, adding the Dutch Zaandam and Oss LNG truck refuelling stations to its extensive network. Rolande said it now has eight filling stations across the Netherlands making it the largest LNG distributor to the country’s road sector, supporting over 250 LNG-fuelled trucks there. Titan LNG, also owned by Iveco Schouten, supplies the Dutch LNG inland and maritime bunker market.   Mark Smedley     Natural Gas World welcomes all viewpoints. Should you wish to provide an alternative perspective on the above article, please contact [email protected] Kindly note that for external submissions we only lightly edit content for grammar and do not edit externally contributed content.  POLICY ON COPYRIGHT & REPUBLICATION POLICY   Questions and Answers For more information , click here...

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Nazca ?alien mummy? revealed in promotional video featuring serial hoaxer (UPDATE: Experts say ?hoax?)

UPDATE: As I said originally, with a number of very ignorant people insulting me for it, the mummy has been deemed to be a hoax by experts who say that it is clear real mummies are being manipulated to look strange and exotic by adding extra bones. See the addition below the original story.  You know, our catchphrase used to be ?people really believe this stuff? and I?m always amazed at how many times one individual can be caught promoting outrageous hoaxes and still keep on doing it with many falling his absurd claims over and over again. They so wish to believe that there was alien (non-human) influence in Latin American history. It?s just bizarre. The latest is an incredibly fake-looking ?alien mummy? said to have been found in Peru. Screen shot of alien from video. No other documentation is currently available. The find was announced by Gaia.com who promote alternative history and metaphysics who describe themselves as ?a community of seekers, empowering one another on the path to a conscious life. Together, we can awaken the evolution of consciousness.? The ?mummy? has the proportions of a human ? two arms, two legs ? with various strange features including an elongated head with three-fingers on both hands and feet. The body is covered in a white ?dust? that the investigators say dried the body but to the more down-to-earth observers, looks like plaster. Gaia released a video featuring ?scientists? examining the body with a camera crew. This is the only documentation of the body. The crew includes infamous UFO promoter Jaime Maussan who, without confirmation of this being real or not (and, let?s face it, he is SO EASILY duped), called it ?one of the most important discoveries of the 21st century.? Maussan, who is labeled as a ?well-respected? journalist has lost all his credibility over his years of promoting ridiculous hoaxes as genuine. Red flags for this discovery include: Maussan being involved The obvious plaster appearance of the mummy The reveal by Special Report ?Unearthing Nazca? by Gaia with no sign of reputable scientific expertise A closed team of researchers with alternative views that go against the scientific mainstream No scientific results confirmed or retested because it has not been made available to anyone else No documentation of location, context, or discovery Promotion of it being a fantastic discovery that will ?change everything? Not published in a scientific publication The specimen is said to have been tested to reveal an age of 245-410 AD, not an unreasonable age for an actual mummy. The method of testing is not made available. The specimens are not available for examination. There is no expert in preserved Peruvian mummies on the research team. The three-fingered hand configuration is nowhere to be found in nature but we have seen it on another Peruvian hoaxed item that follows the same non-documented path to promotion. Remember the ?alien claw?? It has a similar plaster-like coating. The researchers also link the three fingers to petroglyphs that show three-fingered humanoids. I suspect that this is a stylistic feature and am waiting for actual experts to weigh in (if they even care to comment on such a sloppy, pathetic sensational display). Cat scan of the body. From screen capture. Xray of the skull. From screen capture There have been other hoaxed...

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SEA/LNG Adds Japanese YKIP as Member

SEA/LNG, an industry coalition aiming to accelerate usage of LNG as a marine fuel, has incorporated Yokohama-Kawasaki International Port Corporation (YKIP) as its latest member, it said July 11. Representing the Japanese ports of Yokohama and Kawasaki, YKIP brings essential knowledge from a port?s perspective to SEA/LNG, which is working collaboratively with key players across the entire LNG value chain. Thank you for appreciating great fact based news coverage and analysis on natural gas developments. To continue reading please sign in or subscribe. Natural Gas World welcomes all viewpoints. Should you wish to provide an alternative perspective on the above article, please contact [email protected] Kindly note that for external submissions we only lightly edit content for grammar and do not edit externally contributed content.  Additional News more breaking...

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How to Sell ?Medicare for All? to All Americans

Early in her campaign last year for the Democratic presidential nomination, where she cast herself as an experienced pragmatist against fanciful socialist Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton dismissed the Vermont senator?s proposal for single-payer health care. ?I want you to understand why I am fighting so hard for the Affordable Care Act,? she told a Des Moines audience just days before the Iowa caucuses. ?I don?t want it repealed. I don?t want us to be thrown back into a terrible, terrible national debate…. People who have health emergencies can?t wait for us to have a theoretical debate about some better idea that will never, ever come to pass.? At the time, Clinton?s comments reflected the consensus of the party establishment: Single-payer was an appealing policy, but a pipe dream politically. After all, President Barack Obama had abandoned his support for the idea when he embarked on health care reform in 2009, knowing that many members of his own party would oppose it. But a lot has changed in the year and a half since Clinton dismissed single-payer?a.k.a. ?Medicare for all,? in which the government would pay for everyone?s health insurance?as pie in the sky. Democrats lost the White House, putting them fully in the minority and rendering all progressive policies as equally pie in the sky, at least for a few years. President Donald Trump, who promised voters he would ?take care of everybody? on health care, is doing no such thing: Republicans are attempting, haltingly, to deliver on their years-long promise to repeal Obamacare, while also sabotaging the law to give truth to their lies that it?s collapsing. ?Democratic politicians I never thought would utter the words have mentioned single-payer to me in a non-joking way of late,? Len Nichols, director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University, recently told Vox. As The New York Times reported last month, Democratic ?leaders say the party has plainly shifted well to the left on the issue.? That?s true not only among the party base, as polling shows growing support for single-payer, but in Congress as well. Michigan Congressman John Conyers?s Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act now has 113 co-sponsors, out of a total 193 Democrats in the House. And Sanders plans to introduce single-payer legislation in the Senate, where it will have the high-profile support of Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, both 2020 presidential prospects who recently have urged the Democratic Party to embrace Medicare for all. It?s an exciting moment for longtime advocates of single-payer, but a perilous one, too. A recent Kaiser Health tracking poll found that ?while there has been a modest increase in the public?s level of support for single-payer in recent years, a substantial share of the public remains opposed to such a plan, and opinions are quite malleable when presented with the types of arguments that would be likely to arise during a national debate.? Recognizing this, Republicans are wasting no time in attacking single-payer. ?Facing a widespread voter backlash over the House and Senate repeal bills,? The Washington Post reported last week, ?they?re trying to make universal coverage a political anchor for Democrats by asking whether they can seriously defend trillions of dollars in new taxes and spending.? Advocates are confident they can seriously defend Medicare...

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Bulgarian exports in January ? May 2017 were 15.7% higher than in January ? May 2016 ? statistics institute

Share this: In January to May 2017, the value of all goods exported from Bulgaria added up to 20.5 billion leva, about 15.7 per cent higher than in January to May 2016, the National Statistical Institute (NSI) said on July 10. In May 2017, Bulgaria?s total exports grew by 26.5 per cent compared to May 2016, the NSI said. The total value of all the goods imported into Bulgaria in the period January ? May 2017 amounted to 23 558.2 million leva (at CIF prices), or 20.1 per cent more than January ? May 2016. In May 2017, the total imports into Bulgaria increased by 20.7 per cent compared to May 2016 and added up to 4 929.2 billion leva, the NSI said. The total foreign trade balance (exports FOB ? import CIF) was negative in the period January ? May 2017 and amounted to 3 035.7 million leva. At FOB/FOB prices (after elimination of transport and insurance costs on imports) in the period January ? May 2017 the total foreign trade balance was also negative and added up to 1 882.5 million leva. To continue reading, please click here. Comments comments Computer News Instructions Part...

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Caught at airport: German tourist brings home Hitler mug from Bulgaria

Share this: A German citizen, who spent his vacation at the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, flew back to Germany with 13 mugs, which showed Adolf Hitler?s likeness. The tourist had bought the mugs in Bulgaria. The German customs started penal proceedings against him. In Germany, the use of anti-constitutional symbols, such as Hitler?s face or swastikas, is forbidden by law. Offenders face high fines or prison sentences of up to three years. According to the customs at Düsseldorf Airport, the 39-year-old man from the city of Essen did not seem to be a neo-Nazi. When he learned about his possible penalty, he seemed to be shocked. It is not the first time a German tourist, who spent time in Bulgaria, returned with forbidden items. In the past, legal proceedings were initiated against tourists who attempted to import other Nazi symbols to Germany, or dangerous weapons such as certain kinds of knives. In Bulgaria, inflammatory Nazi pamphlets, Nazi t-shirts and other Nazi items are being sold at stores in Sofia, but also at antique markets and sales stands at Black Sea resorts. In Germany, it would take minutes until the police would show up and seize the items. Comments comments more...

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Kris Kobach Is Preparing to Be the Next Trump

Drew Angerer/Getty The Kansas gubernatorial candidate is a pure creature of the Trump era?and an indication of where the GOP is heading. July 7, 2017 In June of 2013, more than 100 immigration reform advocates staged a protest on the front lawn of a large home in a Kansas City suburb. As a megaphoned voice rallied the crowd, protesters filed neatly up the porch steps and, one by one, placed shoes just outside the front door. Each pair, they said, represented a fatherless family, shattered by deportation. The protest was organized by Sunflower Community Action, a local non-profit focused on social justice. The home belonged to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the nation?s most indefatigable voter fraud conspiracy theorist and the natural heir to Donald Trump?s throne. Kobach?s response was a perfect encapsulation of the far right?s?and hence the modern Republican Party?s?twisted views on immigration. ?I thank God I wasn?t there with my kids,? he told a local TV affiliate, ?because my children would have been terrified to see all these people, this mob, swarming up to our house and shouting things through the megaphones about their daddy that they would have perceived as a threat, and it would have scarred them.? In Kobach?s world, white, God-fearing Americans are under assault from the brown, unhinged rabble. The deep scars left on children whose parents had been deported did not get a mention. Kobach then took to Fox News for some brand-building and red meat throwing. ?If we had been in the home and not been armed, I would have felt very afraid because it took the police 15 minutes to show up,? said Kobach. ?It?s important we recognize there?s a reason we have the Second Amendment. There are situations like this where you have a mob and you do need to be able to protect yourself.? Kobach?s rise is indicative of what Trumpism may look like long after Trump himself has left the scene. This is the man Trump tapped in May to lead his voter fraud commission, which last week sent out a letter to all 50 states requesting the personal information of registered voters, causing even the governors of red states to bristle. Trump had announced the formation of the commission after blaming his popular vote loss in the 2016 presidential election on illegal votes cast by millions of undocumented immigrants. There is no evidence for any of this, of course, but Trump?s mind is the place where evidence goes to die. Kobach?s mind, in contrast, is a place far more sinister. It is the place where evidence goes to be tortured and mutilated, then locked away in a dark room forever. The truly scary part, however, is that Kobach is far more polished and experienced than his mentor. His voter fraud commission seems extreme now, but being at the cutting edge of right-wing politics has only helped ambitious Republicans over the past ten years. Kobach has already announced his plans to run for governor of Kansas, and his continued rise is indicative of what Trumpism may look like long after Trump himself has left the scene. Kobach?s first claim to notoriety came in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. In 2002, the George W. Bush administration hired him to head the National...

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