The Spectacle Blog

The Arctic Still Isn’t ‘Ice Free’ Despite Alarmism

By on 7.8.15 | 5:36PM

It’s been two years since former vice president Al Gore claimed the Arctic would be free of sea ice, and despite fears of a hastening polar “death spiral” earlier this year, the north pole looks like it could have near normal ice coverage this summer.

After experiencing its lowest maximum sea ice extent on record, the Arctic ice coverage has rebounded and is currently within its normal 30-year range. Near the end of May 2015, experts warned the Arctic “ice extent was at daily record low levels” because of early ice melting in the Bering Sea and low ice conditions in the Barents Sea.

Yet, even during the May melt, “ice [was] tracking at near-average levels” in other parts of the Arctic, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The Arctic is nearing the peak melting time for the year and sea ice levels are well above where they were in 2012 — that year saw record low levels in the early summer months.

Move over Barbie! Feminist Coloring Books Available This August!

By on 7.8.15 | 5:16PM

If as a women you have been feeling unempowered and looked down upon because of your anatomy, then today you can finally leave your mark in the world, literally.

Feminist writer and speaker Ijeoma Oluo is creating a “Badass Feminist Coloring Book” to print and be sold in August. Funded on, customers can sign up to fund the production of the book. Donations of $25 dollars receive the coloring book. The book has already raised $15,958, nearly four times its original $4,000 goal.

Oluo said the book will contain at least 20 different feminist and a matching “badass feminist quotes”. Here's one...unconventional...example from their website:


The proceeds will be divided into four categories: 25 percent towards the feminists pictured, 30 percent towards printing and shipping, 30 percent to Oluo, and 15 percent towards unanticipated costs.

State Department Hid Clinton Aide’s Special Job Status, Grassley Charges

By on 7.8.15 | 1:58PM

State Department officials “failed to disclose” a special employment status granted to Cheryl Mills who was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, according to Sen. Charles Grassley.

Mills was designated a “Special Government Employee,” and may have “abused her access” for the benefit of former President Clinton and the Clinton family’s foundation, Grassley, the Iowa Republican, charged Tuesday in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.

Grassley is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Special government employee status allowed Mills to be paid simultaneously for several months in 2009 as Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department and as a member of the board of directors for the Clinton Foundation.

The SGE designation also exempted Mills from certain criminal and civil conflict-of-interest ethics laws that usually cover federal employees, as well as from other regulations governing outside income and affiliations while on the government payroll.

Ariana Grande ‘Hates America,’ Basic Food Service Hygiene

By on 7.8.15 | 1:39PM

Pop star and Disney Channel alumna Ariana Grande, was born in Boca Raton, Florida — not, apparently, a deserted island where she was raised by wolves.

You would, however, not have guessed at her civilized origins (or, I guess, as civilized as Florida gets), based on the video TMZ released this week, showing Ariana Grande wandering around in a donut shop, sucking face with one of her backup dancers, and making off-hand political remarks about the nation that provides her with the kind of wealth she needs to, say, order people to carry her around like a she's a giant, sleepy baby, when she no longer feels she is able to walk. 

BREAKING: NYSE Grinds to a Screeching Halt

By on 7.8.15 | 12:58PM

This morning, all United Airlines flights were grounded thanks to a "degraded router" that gave out just as most of the airline's flights were preparing to take off. And now, faulty technology (apparently) strikes once again as trading has been halted at the NYSE due to a "technical glitch" affecting all symbols. 

The latest from the NYSE is that all symbols are not trading and all open orders are now canceled.

"Additional information will follow as soon as possible," the NYSE's website says.

According to CNBC, the halt started at 11:32 a.m. ET and was triggered by "technical issues."

"The issue we are experiencing is an internal technical issue and is not the result of a cyber breach," NYSE tweeted out about an hour after the halt. "We chose to suspend trading on NYSE to avoid problems arising from our technical issue. NYSE-listed securities continue to trade unaffected on other market centers.

The Security Implications of Grexit

By on 7.7.15 | 6:08PM

This weekend’s news was dominated by the sorry tale of Greece, where a referendum on whether to accept the terms of a new European Union bailout failed by a landslide. Now Greece’s Eurozone creditors face the uneasy choice between offering a more generous bailout plan, or accepting a Greek departure from the Euro.

Sunday’s referendum was just the latest debacle in the five-year tug-of-war between Greece and other Eurozone members. The ruling Syriza party has been openly hostile to the austerity-focused conditions of EU bailout loans — which run counter to their left-leaning economic agenda — as well as to the EU negotiation process itself. The spur-of-the-moment referendum was itself largely a surreal PR stunt: the deal voters were evaluating had in fact been withdrawn by the EU prior to Sunday’s vote.

Chicago to Tax Streaming Services Come September

By on 7.7.15 | 4:35PM

If you live in Chicago, then you better complete all your recent Netflix binges by the end of summer, because starting Sept. 1 Chicago will be applying a new tax to streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify.

The Chicago Tribune reported the tax would include an extra 9 percent tagged onto the monthly fees for both personal users and businesses in the area. The tax is expected to bring in an additional $12 million per year.

The added taxes can be attributed to the recent ruling by the city Finance Department that utilized their previous control of two taxing areas —the city amusement tax and the city personal property lease transaction tax — in order to gain taxing abilities of streamed items.

The city amusement tax formerly applied to tickets to events such as concerts or sporting events, but will be expanded with the new rulings.

Despite these changes, the city claims not to be gaining any more control than was previously held. The Chicago Tribune later noted:

Hillary Clinton Will Finally Sit Down With a Reporter, But a Friendly One

By on 7.7.15 | 3:26PM

She's been avoiding the press for weeks (occasionally, even literally roping them off from her campaign), but finally, Hillary Clinton will sit down - tonight - with a reporter for a "tough interview" where she'll address her progress in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The interview, which will take place in Iowa City, will air tonight at 5pm on CNN's Situation Room. CNN's senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is Hillary's desginated griller.

The Democratic front-runner has largely stayed away from the press, only occasionally taking questions from reporters and granting interviews to local news outlets in early-voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

But she hasn’t granted national outlets interviews since jumping into the 2016 race in April. The first one, with Keilar, will take place in Iowa City, as Clinton campaigns in the first state to vote in the presidential nominating process.

For Obama, Deadlines Are As Meaningless As Red Lines

By on 7.7.15 | 1:09PM

The Obama administration has extended the deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran for a second time. The original deadline was June 30, but was extended to July 7.

Well, July 7 is here and the deadline has been extended another 72 hours.

And unless there is a deal we will have another extension announced on July 10.

Deadlines in Iran are as apparently meaningless to President Obama as red lines in Syria.

Martha’s Vineyard Preps for Obama Family Summer Vacation

By on 7.7.15 | 12:45PM

We're still a month away from the annual Obama Family Summer Vacation on Martha's Vineyard, but preparations are already underway on the tony New England isle so that when the First Family makes their debut, they'll be as comfortable as possible. The Obamas will officially arrive August 8th and stay until August 23rd unless, like last year, the President's golf game is rudely interrupted by tensions in the Middle East.

Last year, the Obamas were forced to make last-minute changes to their plans when their preferred vacation mansion sold to new owners. Their substitute locale must have been surprisingly pleasing, since they will return this year, to the 8,100 square foot, $12 million Chilmark mansion.

August is coming, so you know what that means: President Obama and the fam will be coming, too. Barry, Michelle and the girls, Sasha and Malia, are scheduled to arrive for their annual summer holiday on Martha’s Vineyard on Aug. 8 and will depart Aug. 23, say our island spies.