How NOT to promote economic reform in France

In a recent American Spectator article, the magazine’s Paris correspondent, Joseph Harriss, narrates how American businessman Maurice Taylor was asked by the French government to save the ailing Goodyear company and its tyre factory in Amiens. Taylor visited the factory several times and held talks with the French government and labor unions, but their demands in terms of pay, retirement schemes, and working hours were unacceptable to him (because they’d make it impossible to run the factory at a profit) and consequently, Taylor has refused to buy the factory, not wanting to make a loss.

Unfortunately, instead of stopping there, Taylor decided to write an angry letter to the French minister of “productive redressment”, Arnaud Montebourg, where he denounced the rigid French labor code, high taxes, low working hours, and trade union influence in much stronger words than he should have, thus sparking a backlash and a new souring of Franco-American relations. Outrage was sparked across France in the media, the cafes, and the political arena. Reactions were almost universally along the lines of “Who does this arrogant American think he is? How dare he lecture us Frenchmen? How dare he tell us how to run our country?”

Montebourg shot back, and then, Taylor responded in kind in this tit-for-tat cycle. And economic reform remains completely stalled in France.

Why did Taylor fail in sparking any kind of reform? And how can one engineer it in France?

Taylor failed because, while he’s (mostly) correct on the facts – France does have a very rigid labor code, high taxes, and very influential labor unions, and all of this is stalling France’s economic growth – he tried to communicate them the wrong way: in a manner considered arrogant by the vast majority of the French media and political class writ large.

Instead of going gently and saying politely in so many words that he can’t buy the plant because it would bankrupt him – due to a rigid labor code and high taxes – he shot from the hip like a careless cowboy. That might work in the Midwest, but it won’t work in France. It will earn you more enemies than friends in the Hexagon.

To begin with, no nation on Earth, including the French, likes to be lectured on its domestic affairs by foreigners. Just go to any foreign country and try telling the locals how they should govern their own country. They’ll probably refuse to listen, even if you’re right on the facts. One of the reasons the US has utterly failed to democratize the Middle East is because the peoples of the region resent foreign meddling in their affairs. Likewise, the Chinese don’t like being lectured on human rights because foreign meddling in their country’s affairs is a very sensitive topic there.

The French are no different from other nations in this respect. Who says something makes a lot of difference. If a Frenchman or Frenchwoman makes a case for reform, they’ll listen, but if a foreigner starts lecturing them on the same subject, they’ll react very negatively. In fact, in France, foreigners participating in political demonstrations face deportation and a 3-year reentry ban.

So a foreigner should not try to tell the French how to reform their country. They’ll have to figure it out themselves. And if you really have to tell the French what reforms to implement, you must do it as gently as possible – not shoot straight from the hip.

On top of that, the French are a very proud, ancient people who are trying to defend their culture in an increasingly globalized, Americanized world. The French cherish their culture and their ways of doing things so much that they even have a state institution – L’Academie Francaise – to regulate the French language. Taylor’s kind of lecture, but especially coming from an American, was not well received in France partly for that reason. National pride is important for many nations, and again, the French are no exception.

And let’s be blunt – by speaking “bluntly” and from the hip, Taylor was impolite. That was a mistake if his goal was to convert the French to capitalism. France is not Germany or the US; shooting from the hip doesn’t work there and won’t earn you many friends, no matter how right you are.

From my experience of dealing with the French people, I know that you have to be very polite in France no matter whom you’re dealing with (unless you’re talking to street hoodlums). You have to speak and behave politely. That means not only giving people their proper titles like Madame and Monsieur, but also telling them the facts in polite words. By my experience, the more polite you are, the higher your chances of succeeding in dealing with the French.

If you’re polite towards them, they’ll reciprocate in 99% of cases. If you behave like a jerk or a shooting-from-the-hip cowboy, expect to be treated accordingly. (Did Taylor think that if he said “You Frenchmen are lazy! You work only 3 hours a day!”, the French will fawn over him and say “Oh, dear Mr Taylor, thank you for opening our eyes and allowing us to see our errors”?)

In short, Go Gently on the French. That’s the way business is done – at least in Gaul. The more polite you are, the higher your chances of succeeding. Extra marks for those foreigners who speak French. (If you don’t speak French, hire a tutor or take classes.)

So how to introduce the French to American-style laissez-faire capitalism?

Reform cannot be imposed or coaxed on them from across the Atlantic. It’ll have to be initiated and fully implemented by the French themselves.

The best and brightest among French students should be selected to attend conservative American colleges and to work for some time in conservative American think-tanks such as the Heritage Foundation. Then, they should return to France and pass their knowledge – everything they’ve learned – to their fellow Frenchmen/women. They should try to build majority popular consensus for capitalist reform in France: write articles and books, teach at universities and grandes ecoles, convince right-wing politicians to adopt capitalist policies, participate in debates, and do interviews with France’s toughest journalists. They – like any successful salesmen/women – need to be both knowledgeable and good at salesmanship and public relations. They need to know their product well, but also know how to sell it. And they need to do it in a friendly, polite, optimistic manner to pose a stark contrast to the arrogant Hollande administration and the negativist, warlike, impolite, dour Jean-Luc Melenchon of the far left.

In sum, capitalist reform cannot be imposed or coaxed on France from outside by anyone. The French will have to discover the truth themselves. And if reforming their economy, or giving them advice on how to do it – assuming they want such advice – it must be done very politely, as all business is done in France.

Government Shutdown Won’t Stop NORAD’s Santa Tracker

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will continue its more than 60-year-old tradition of tracking Santa Claus as he leaves the North Pole to deliver presents across the world.

The twitter account for NORAD and the U.S. Northern Command announced Friday that Santa will be tracked on Christmas Eve regardless of whether or not a government shutdown has gone into effect.

“In the event of a government shutdown, NORAD will continue with its 63-year tradition of NORAD Tracks Santa on Dec. 24,” the agency said. “Military personnel who conduct NORAD Tracks Santa are supported by approximately 1,500 volunteers who make the program possible each and every year.”


Accordingly, Congress failed to pass a spending measure before government funding expired Friday at midnight, triggering a government shutdown.

The House passed a stopgap funding bill Thursday that included $5.7 billion for the a wall on the U.S.-Mexico. However, Senate Republicans were not able to get the necessary 60 votes needed to send the bill to the president’s desk. Prior to the vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed that any legislation with additional funding for a border wall would be dead on arrival.

Regardless, NORAD is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, which is not included in the stopgap funding bill and has already been funded for the 2019 calendar year. President Donald Trump signed the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act into law in 2018, which included a budget of $717 billion for the department.

Beto’s Spanish Language Campaign Site Removes ‘America’ From His Slogan

Former Democratic Texas Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke officially launched his presidential campaign website on Thursday and despite touting the slogan “Beto for America” on the English webpage, the Spanish page translates his slogan into “Beto for everyone.”

Following months of speculation, O’Rourke announced that he would be seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2020 and opted for his campaign slogan to be “Beto for America,” which boldly appears on his newly-minted campaign website. However, when a user clicks on the Spanish interface, the website welcomes with the boldface phrase “Beto  para todos,” or “Beto for everyone.” After the welcome text fades, a smaller “Beto para Estados Unidos” or “Beto for the United States” appears in the upper corner.

The website also received criticism for containing a variety of merchandise and options to donate, yet neglects to state any of his policy positions. The three-term El Paso congressman notably received backlash for failing to clarify where he stood on issues during his unsuccessful run to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

O’Rourke constantly avoided answering how he would handle migrant caravans that was heading toward the U.S.-Mexico border, despite immigration and border security overwhelmingly being the top issues for voters in Texas. Cruz called on O’Rourke in November to clarify his stances and urged reporters to do the same; after endorsing O’Rourke, the Dallas Morning News echoed Cruz’s calls for clarification.

After Cruz defeated O’Rourke, the former congressman revealed that he was mulling over running for president in 2020, despite repeatedly claiming that it was a “definitive no” regarding whether he would run or not.

Mirroring his unsuccessful campaign model, O’Rourke embarked on a solo road trip in January to meet voters, where he had been chronicling the trip on social media and raising some eyebrows with bizarre antics such as a Instagram live stream from his dental hygienist’s chair.

O’Rourke’s campaign did not reply to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Survey: What Pie do Americans want most for Thanksgiving?

When it comes to their Thanksgiving pies, Americans are staunch traditionalists according to an annual survey published Monday.

The Delta Dental  Thanksgiving Pie survey has tracked this key facet of America’s sweet tooth for the last three years and the number one spot should be no surprise. Pumpkin pie reigns supreme with 36 percent of American adults saying it’s their favorite (beating out the next pie in line by more than double). The Thanksgiving go-to pie finds the heaviest favoritism among Baby Boomers (41 percent) and, while it still tops with the group, finds the lowest support among Gen-Xers (28 percent).

Regionally, pumpkin pie sees the most popularity in the West (44 percent) and the least in the South (31 percent). Its preference percentage rating has varied only slightly since Delta Dental began tracking Thanksgiving pie favorability (2016: 36 percent and 2015: 37 percent).  Nonparents (37 percent) report liking the pie a full five percentage points higher than parents (32 percent).

“Whatever favorite pie(s) you indulge in this Thanksgiving, remember to take the time to brush and floss away the sugary remnants. A healthy smile is something to be thankful for too,” said Bill Kohn, DDS, Delta Dental Plans Association’s vice president of dental science and policy.

Other interesting survey findings:

  • Pecan pie (17 percent), which again garnered the number two spot, finds waning support from just one group, Millennials (10 percent).
  • The widest favoritism gap between the sexes belongs to apple pie, which snagged the number three spot, with 17 percent of men saying it’s their top Thanksgiving pie compared to 11 percent of women.
  • Consistently scraping the bottom of the barrel with all age groups, regions and sexes, is strawberry pie.

High College Costs Driven By Deceptive Accounting Practices


by Andrew Kerr

Widespread use of an accounting trick at public universities may be artificially driving up the reported cost of an undergraduate education, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.

Policymakers at the federal and state level rely on financial data collected by the Department of Education from about 7,500 colleges and universities for use in drafting sound policy.

It has become increasingly more expensive for universities to deliver an undergraduate education, according to the data. Reported per-student educational expenditures at public four-year universities rose 16 percent from 2005 to 2015 in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Some experts believe the data reported by universities is a gross overstatement of the true cost of undergraduate education because of an accounting convention that allows universities to “disguise” research expenditures within their reported instructional costs.

Richard Vedder, the director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, told TheDCNF that the financial information reported by universities is a “purposeful misrepresentation” of the true cost of educating students.

“Universities are fundamentally overstating instructional expenditures and fundamentally understating research expenditures,” Vedder told TheDCNF.

“One of the reasons American universities are great is that we do research and instruction,” Vedder said. “But it’s not all positive and we are not being honest about the costs. With rising tuition, students are getting fed up.”

Shifting research expenditures into instruction could have a pronounced effect on tuition rates, especially at research universities where teaching comes secondary to research.

Research is favored over instruction

Teaching loads for full-time faculty at public universities have dropped substantially in recent decades to allow for more time researching.

Only 27.2 percent of full-time faculty at public universities spent nine or more hours a week instructing students in the classroom in the 2014 academic year, down from 39.4 percent in the 1989 academic year, according to a 2014 survey by the Higher Education Research Institute.

“Research is systematically favored over teaching, so it is not surprising that teaching loads have been falling, or that the time freed up is used for research,” the Center for College Affordability and Productivity wrote in a 2010 report.

The systemic shift in focus from instruction to research in higher education isn’t accurately reflected in university ledgers thanks to a very broad definition of instruction provided by the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) survey.

Departmental research

There are two types of university research from an accounting standpoint: organized research and departmental research.

Organized research means any “specifically organized” research activities. This includes any research funded by a federal, state or private grant, and any “separately budgeted” university funded research endeavors. It is this type of research that IPEDS considers research expenditure.

Departmental research is any research activity “not separately budgeted.” Departmental research is an instructional expense, according to IPEDS.

Lloyd Armstrong, a former Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University of Southern California, says most elements of departmental research are the “seed corn” of organized research.

In other words, departmental research is effectively a fundraising mechanism for universities to obtain external research grants. Considering that universities spent roughly $54 billion on externally funded research in 2016 alone, the “hidden cost” of obtaining a piece of that pie could be significant.

“In general, a reasonable estimate is that tenure-line faculty at research universities are expected to spend during the academic year roughly 50 percent time for teaching, 50 percent time for research. Thus roughly one-half of the tenure-line faculty salary costs actually are attributable to research,” Armstrong wrote in 2016.

These hidden research costs are “well-known, but seldom openly discussed,” among university administrators, according to Armstrong.

The financial impact

Oklahoma State University professor Vance Fried believes up to 40 percent of reported instructional costs at research-intensive universities may be hidden research expenditures because such institutions use the broad definition of departmental research to allocate “most faculty salaries to instruction, even though faculty may spend a great deal of time doing research, not teaching.”

“The accounting convention of classifying departmental research as instruction is wrong. It misleads people as to what the true cost of instruction is. It’s not giving us an accurate picture of what the cost of instruction is and what we are spending on research,” Fried told TheDCNF.

Fried detailed in a 2011 Cato Institute study that honest cost accounting at public universities would reveal the true cost of education is between $5,000 to $9,000 a year per undergraduate student, far less than reported per-student cost of $16,520 in 2010.

“Today, tuition not only covers the full cost of providing an undergraduate education, it generates profits,” Fried wrote. “Even at state-subsidized colleges, most undergraduate students now pay the full cost of their education.”

The “profits” generated by undergraduate tuition and state subsidies are diverted to graduate education and research, Fried claims.

Charles Schwartz, a professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, also believes departmental research has a significant impact on the cost of undergraduate education.

His calculations indicate that the actual cost to educate an undergraduate student in the University of California system is $7,500 per year, far less than the $13,222 in tuition and fees charged to in-state students in 2013-14.

“What we face here is not just a (University of California) habit of bad accounting but a longstanding disease infecting all of the nation’s great research universities,” Schwartz told the Budget Committee of the California State Assembly in 2015. “This greatly distorts any rational discussion about undergraduate tuition.”

A 2012 study on the expenditures of research-intensive universities concluded the current IPEDS definition of instruction did not accurately reflect the true cost of research at such institutions.

“Perhaps the time has come to reformulate IPEDS categories for research extensive universities in ways that reflect a multi-product system where faculty are heavily involved in both research and teaching,” the study concluded.

The National Research Council (NRC) also recommended changes in a 2012 report.

“Arguing on principle for inclusion of research costs in instructional cost is tantamount to arguing that the sponsored research itself be included—which, in addition to being intrinsically illogical, would hugely distort the productivity measures,” the NRC wrote.

As alarming as the calculations are by the academic community of the hidden costs of research in higher education, it’s unclear what the true financial impact departmental research has on undergraduate tuition due to its unbudgeted nature.

“Unfortunately, IPEDS does not collect the portion of instructional expenses that are departmental non-budgeted research. I can’t cite any sources that would contain this data,” Bao Le, an associate education research scientist at the Department of Education, told TheDCNF.

Nor has any consideration been made on the potential impact departmental research may have on undergraduate tuition rates, that continue to rise fasterthan the rate of inflation, Le added.

Changes can be made to the IPEDS survey, but any changes would need to be approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

OMB Circular A-21, originally issued in 1958 under former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, also considers departmental research as a part of the instruction function of a university.

OMB did not respond to TheDCNF when asked about its stance that departmental research should be considered an instructional cost.

H.A.M.A.S. (Hides Amongst Mosques And Schools), Self-Loathing Jews, And The Only Hope For Peace

In 2005 Gaza was unconditionally given to the Palestinians. They quickly handed it over to Hamas, made it a terror fortress, and smuggled in all the weapons of war that they could (which brought about a blockade). All efforts of peace since then have been met with “Massacre all the Jews!”

There is one very vital thing that must be said to all the Arabs of Palestine, as well as their supporters and defenders around the world. If you want to have peace and co-exist with Israel without war, violence, and death then stop voting in and supporting fundamentalists and extremists who’s pastime is strapping bombs onto  innocent women and children and launching rockets at Israel. And stop excusing such bloody actions when they occur.  Leave Israel alone and you will soon have both peace and harmony with the Jew. If you are a peaceful Muslim then you must reject murder and terrorism in the name of Allah. If you are rational Westerner, you must do the same. It’s that simple.

One must wonder why such focused and massive worldwide attention is spotlighted on this decades long conflict every time Israel finally decides to stand up for itself against those seeking its national destruction and the extermination of its people. Far worse death and destruction is being perpetrated nearly daily in both Syria and in ISIS controlled Iraq. Do you have any idea of the number of horrendous honor killings perpetrated every single year throughout the Muslim world? Yet I hear only selective complaining from Progressives, the Left, and a few shrill voices of the conspiracist, racist Right when it comes to the Gaza conflict.

Often the very people suddenly all concerned about the plight of the poor Palestinian Arabs are the exact same people the inhabitants of Gaza would eliminate from the face of the earth under Sharia law if given the chance. As a Westerner, if you find that your chosen ideology ends up leading you to align yourself with Islamists and terror groups against a Westernized, civilized, and modern democratic nation-state then perhaps it is time to seriously reexamine your current belief system. Making common cause with militant Muslims rarely turns out well.

Even more disturbing is that there are so many progressive Jews who appear to be so self-loathing as to support and defend the very people who seek the extermination of their own people and race. It is almost beyond comprehension that those who advocate a second holocaust are extended such sympathy by the people they seek to eliminate.  I, for example, would not shed a tear for those who would seek the extermination of my race while waving blood-stained hands in the air. That just wouldn’t happen. I would instead be proud to defend my people from such as those. In Islam, the infidel is offered three choices; death, conversion, or subjugation. In modern times the Jew is offered only death. If there is one thing Israel is very good at, it is protecting it’s own. Those hostile to the existence of  the state of Israel continue to learn that lesson the hard way.

The ultimate irony is that most Westerners who defend Hamas and attack the right of Israel to exist or defend itself would be persecuted and even executed under Sharia law because of their life choices, racial heritage, and beliefs. How they cannot see that is impossible to understand or fathom. For otherwise supposedly intelligent members of Western Civilization to stand up and defend Muslim fanatics and terror groups just because they oppose Israel is a sad and pathetic thing so see. It should be disturbing to all those who value the concept and values of civilized man and the West over the barbarian peddling only death and destruction.

Here is some footage of Hamas shooting rockets next to crowded hotels, apartment complexes, and even right next to a UN flagged building.

From NDTV’s accompanying article: 

Israel has argued that that [Hamas’] rockets are fired from civilian areas, and this is why its retaliatory strikes can result in civilian casualties…this morning, NDTV witnessed one such rocket silo being created under a tent right next to the hotel where our team was staying. Minutes later, we saw the rocket being fired, just before the 72-hour ceasefire came into effect. It began with a mysterious tent with a blue canopy that bobbed up yesterday (August 4) at 6:30 am in an open patch of land next to our window. We saw three men making a multitude of journeys in and out of the tent, sometimes with wires. An hour later, they emerged, dismantled the tent, changed their clothes and walked away. The next morning – today – we woke to news of the 72-hour ceasefire but just before it was to take effect, the rocket next to our hotel was fired. There was a loud explosion and a whooshing sound. The cloud of smoke that rose was captured by our cameraperson. This report is being aired on NDTV and published on after our team left the Gaza strip – Hamas has not taken very kindly to any reporting of its rockets being fired. But just as we reported the devastating consequences of Israel’s offensive on Gaza’s civilians, it is equally important to report on how Hamas places those very civilians at risk by firing rockets deep from the heart of civilian zones.


Hamas and similar groups need to be hunted down and destroyed. War is never pretty and the collateral damage is always very regrettable, but sometimes wars need to be fought. And one should always use overwhelming force if possible to make sure you win. That’s how it’s done. It’s how one assures themselves of victory. One never heard the rhetoric of proportional response when it came to Pearl Harbor and defeating Imperial Japan in WWII, and such bizarre arguments are only trotted out like a one trick pony when it comes to Israel fighting its enemies. Muslim terrorists of all stripes deserve no mercy as they will never compromise or change and show no mercy themselves. They seek only to kill and destroy and we see that all across the Middle East right now. The evidence is the news and headlines we see every single day.

Home Value Appreciation Slowed in Most Major Markets

Seattle and San Jose saw the biggest declines in appreciation over the year, but Indianapolis and Atlanta accelerated.

  • Home value appreciation was slower this December than it was a year ago in 19 of the 35 largest housing markets
  • The typical U.S. home is worth $223,900, 7.6 percent more than it was a year ago
  • The median rent increased 1.4 percent over the past year, the biggest annual increase since June 2018
  • Inventory declined 0.4 percent after three straight months of annual increases

Annual home value growth slowed in more than half of the nation’s largest housing markets since this time last year, according to the December Zillow® Real Estate Market ReportiSeattle and San Jose, Calif., saw the biggest declines in appreciation over the past year.

In December 2017, home values in Seattle were growing at a 12.4 percent annual pace. They continued to appreciate at a double-digit pace through early 2018, but slowed to 5.0 percent in the seven months leading into December. San Josesaw a similarly steep drop in appreciation – from 16.8 percent in December 2017 to 9.9 percent in December 2018.

The median U.S. home value is $223,900, up 7.6 percent from December 2017, when national home value appreciation was 7.4 percent. Home value appreciation across much of the country has been fairly steady over the past year.

In several more affordable Southern markets, home value appreciation accelerated over the past year. In Atlanta, for example, appreciation increased from 8.1 percent at the end of 2017 to 13.2 percent in December 2018.

Even as appreciation slowed in 19 of the nation’s 35 largest housing markets, national home value growth is faster than it was when the market was coming out of the Great Recession. The fastest home values grew in the earliest years of the recovery was 7 percent in early 2014.

“Looking at the nation as a whole, housing appreciation seems stabilized at an arguably aggressive pace,” said Skylar Olsen, Zillow Director of Economic Research and Outreach. “The exceptions to the rule are the metros that saw the fastest appreciation over the past few years, where home values far outpaced incomes. Employment growth continues, but that kind of extreme home value growth isn’t sustainable, and home buyers’ willingness and ability to outbid each other is falling back fast. We expect continued slowdowns in those expensive coastal markets. A three-month trend in increasing inventory ended, telling buyers that the pendulum hasn’t fully swung in their favor for this year’s home shopping season.”

The median rent increased 1.4 percent from the previous December to a Zillow Rent Index of $1,460. This was the biggest annual increase in rents since June 2018Orlando rents saw the biggest jump, up 6.4 percent over the past year to $1,496. Rents fell 1.3 percent in Portland, Oregon.

Inventory fell slightly over the past year, down 0.4 percent since December 2017. This came after three consecutive months of gains in the number of homes for sale, suggesting that national sustained inventory growth is not here yet. Still, several major markets that were starved for homes for sale are seeing big gains, led by San Jose (up 47.6 percent), Seattle (up 32.9 percent) and San Diego (up 32.2 percent).

Mortgage rates on Zillow ended December at 4.30 percent, which was also the lowest rate of the monthii. Rates were highest at the beginning of the monthiii, at 4.56 percent. Zillow’s real-time mortgage rates are based on thousands of custom mortgage quotes submitted daily to anonymous borrowers on the Zillow Mortgages site and reflect the most recent changes in the market.

Metropolitan Area

 Zillow Home Value Index, December 2018

ZHVI Year-over-Year Change

 Zillow Rent Index, December 2018

ZRI Year-over-Year Change

Inventory Year-over-Year Change

United States






New York, NY






Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA






Chicago, IL






Dallas-Fort Worth, TX






Philadelphia, PA






Houston, TX






Washington, DC






Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL






Atlanta, GA






Boston, MA






San Francisco, CA






Detroit, MI






Riverside, CA






Phoenix, AZ






Seattle, WA






Minneapolis-St Paul, MN






San Diego, CA






St. Louis, MO






Tampa, FL






Baltimore, MD






Denver, CO






Pittsburgh, PA






Portland, OR






Charlotte, NC






Sacramento, CA






San Antonio, TX






Orlando, FL






Cincinnati, OH






Cleveland, OH






Kansas City, MO






Las Vegas, NV






Columbus, OH






Indianapolis, IN






San Jose, CA






Austin, TX






Watch: Ready Player One [trailer]

From filmmaker Steven Spielberg comes the science fiction action adventure “Ready Player One,” based on Ernest Cline’s bestseller of the same name, which has become a worldwide phenomenon.

The film is set in 2045, with the world on the brink of chaos and collapse. But the people have found salvation in the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance). When Halliday dies, he leaves his immense fortune to the first person to find a digital Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the OASIS, sparking a contest that grips the entire world. When an unlikely young hero named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) decides to join the contest, he is hurled into a breakneck, reality-bending treasure hunt through a fantastical universe of mystery, discovery and danger.

Spielberg directed the film from a screenplay by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline. The film was produced by Donald De Line, Spielberg, Kristie Macosko Krieger and Dan Farah; with Adam Somner, Daniel Lupi, Chris DeFaria and Bruce Berman serving as executive producers.

“Ready Player One” stars Tye Sheridan (“X-Men: Apocalypse,” “Mud”), Olivia Cooke (“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” “Bates Motel”), Ben Mendelsohn (“Rogue One – A Star Wars Story,” “Bloodline”) and T.J. Miller (“Deadpool,” “Silicon Valley”), with Simon Pegg (the “Star Trek” movies, the “Mission: Impossible” movies) and Oscar winner Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies,” upcoming “Dunkirk”).

Behind the scenes, three-time Oscar winner Spielberg (“Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan”) reunited his creative team from “Bridge of Spies,” including Oscar-winning director of photography Janusz Kaminski (“Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan”), Oscar-winning production designer Adam Stockhausen (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”), Oscar-winning editor Michael Kahn (“Saving Private Ryan,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark”) and Sarah Broshar (“The Post”), and costume designer Kasia Walicka-Maimone (“Moonrise Kingdom”). The music is by Oscar-nominated composer Alan Silvestri (the “Back to the Future” films, “Forrest Gump”).

Warner Bros. Pictures and Amblin Entertainment present, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, an Amblin Production, a De Line Pictures Production, a Steven Spielberg Film, “Ready Player One.”

Slated for release on March 30, 2018, the film will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.

Navy to Commission Littoral Combat Ship Wichita

The Navy will commission its newest Freedom-variant littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Wichita (LCS 13), during a 10 a.m. ceremony Saturday, Jan. 12, at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., near Jacksonville, where the ship will be homeported.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas will deliver the commissioning ceremony’s principal address. Kate Lehrer, author and wife of Wichita native Jim Lehrer, the former anchor of “The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour” on PBS, is the ship’s sponsor. The ceremony will be highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when Mrs. Lehrer gives the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”

“This commissioning represents USS Wichita’s entry into the active fleet and is a testament to the increased capabilities made possible by a true partnership between the Department of the Navy and our industrial base,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “This ship honors the citizens of Wichita, Kansas for their longstanding support of the Navy and Marine Corps team and I am confident USS Wichita and crew will make our Navy and nation stronger.”

The future USS Wichita is the third naval vessel to honor Kansas’s largest city. The first was a heavy cruiser in service from 1939 to 1947. Active during World War II, Wichita supported amphibious landings during Operation Torch in November 1942 in the European Theater. She later participated in the Battles of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf and the invasion of Okinawa in 1944 in the Pacific Theater. Wichita earned 13 battle stars for wartime service. The second USS Wichita (AOR 1) was a first-in-class replenishment oiler in service from 1969 to 1993. During her first three deployments, the ship made numerous trips to replenish ships on “Yankee Station,” earning four battle stars for service during the Vietnam War.

The future USS Wichita is a fast, agile, focused-mission platform designed for operation in near-shore environments as well as the open ocean. It is designed to defeat asymmetric “anti-access” threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft.

The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom variant and the Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin, Marinette, Wis., (for the odd-numbered hulls). The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA, Mobile, Ala., (for LCS 6 and the subsequent even-numbered hulls).

The ceremony can be viewed on the Navy Live blog at