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There is a bittersweet longing in Aloha ‘Oe (Farewell to Thee). It was written by Queen Lili'uokalani of Hawaii in 1877, after seeing the farewell embrace between an American colonel and his Hawaiian girlfriend. Sixteen years later, Queen Lili'uokalani was deposed by American pineapple and sugar magnates, with assistance from the U.S. Navy. She was not a bad ruler. She just had the audacity to push back against the increasing power of the U.S. companies and draft a new constitution which would give more rights to Hawaiians who were, well, from Hawaii. This was unacceptable.

Hawaii became a “republic” controlled by the United States, and then they stopped pretending and just made it a territory. Queen Lili'uokalani never abdicated. She was placed under house arrest for five years, during which time she wrote her autobiography and a songbook’s worth of music in Hawaiian.

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Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau, as featured in American Horror Story: Coven 
coming December 2016 From Integrity Toys!

[IT announced these dolls like two years ago–just as AHS: Coven was wrapping up. Retailers are finally taking pre-orders on the 6 dolls in the series. The dolls all have new face sculpts modeled after the actors who played each character, which helps explain the long delay in release! The edition sizes range from 600 to 900, depending on the character. I’m (more than) a little mad that Angela Bassett’s doll is the smallest edition size–even the Evan Peters doll has a bigger edition size than hers!?–but believe this means I’m gonna get my pre-order reserved ASAP-tually! –MOD]

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Byron Lars: The Treasures of Africa collection by FashionDragon

The Last Aztec Emperor

Cuauhtémoc was the son of Emperor Ahuizotl of the Aztec Empire. He was born around 1495. Bad, bad timing. In 1502 his uncle (or possibly cousin) Moctezuma II became ruler of the empire. Cuauhtémoc was busy going to a school for elite boys, then being a warrior. After a period of fighting Aztec enemies and capturing some for sacrificing, he was named ruler of Tlatelolco, with the title cuauhtlatoani (“eagle ruler”) in 1515.

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Happy Independence Day to all of my American friends!

So, this July 4 themed, modern royalty drabble is very loosely based on Prince Harry’s infamous trip to Las Vegas but different because it’s with Klaroline : )

This is dedicated to my favourite angry baker @megansarah11. Happy belated birthday, luv!

Justice and Independence

Lobby - MGM Grand Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada - July 3

“Why did you decide to get married on the Fourth of July weekend in Las Vegas again?” Caroline insisted, pushing her way through the throng gathered outside the MGM Grand, bags in hand.

“Because we met at this hotel three years ago on Independence Day. I thought it was romantic returning here to exchange vows,” Lexi replied. “Don’t tell me you don’t remember, Care? You were there when we met, although the margaritas might have affected your memory.”

“Very funny,” she scowled.

Of course she remembered that weekend. Bonnie had been dumped by her worthless, cheating boyfriend and Katherine had convinced the four girls to take a road trip. One that, unbeknownst to Caroline, would end in Nevada. Las Vegas to be exact. Katherine argued that had she told her their destination Caroline wouldn’t have come and she was right. Vegas just wasn’t her style she’d insisted, to which Katherine replied with an exaggerated eye roll.

Caroline wasn’t boring, well that’s what she told herself anyway. She’d always been too busy during college striving for the best grades for her future career and it had paid off. She was the newly-appointed director of a not-for-profit organisation and couldn’t think of a better or more fulfilling way to spend her time. In fact, she was due in Malawi next month to tour the much needed sanitation infrastructure they’d built in one of the poorest villages.

If she was being honest, the overt opulence of Vegas didn’t quite sit well with Caroline. But Lexi was one of her closest friends, so she’d never begrudge her a dream wedding. She’d always liked Matt and had to admit they made the perfect couple.

He was the star quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and had been on a team trip when they’d met poolside. Their chemistry had been instantaneous and Caroline had never seen Lexi so happy and that look on Matt’s face when they were together was enough to convince Caroline he was equally as besotted.

Feelings aside, Caroline was determined to survive the weekend. She was one of four bridesmaids and knew she had to make this occasion perfect for Lexi.

“Seriously?” Katherine groaned. “What’s with the hold-up? I need to get to the spa pronto and combat this dry skin thanks to this stifling desert air.”

“It shouldn’t be a moment Miss,” the receptionist assured. “We just had an unexpected VIP guest check-in.”

“What are we, chopped liver?” She muttered under her breath.

“Who are you exactly?” Caroline teased, knowing the celebrity was Matt and his teammates, not them. He had a last minute practice session and so was arriving later that day.

“Well, that would explain the traffic madness outside,” Bonnie huffed, placing her bags on the ground with a bang. “Last time I checked I wasn’t your personal porter, Katherine. We’re only here for the weekend, what the hell do you have in here?”

“I need to be prepared for any occasion, Bon. So anyway, who’s this mystery VIP?” Katherine purred, leaning across the desk and exposing some extra cleavage on purpose. “Anyone we’d know?”

“My lips are sealed,” he uttered, his eyes reluctantly diverting from her cleavage. “Looks like your rooms are ready and our wedding planner has said she’ll come up shortly to finalise the details for tomorrow.”

“Hallelujah,” Anna sighed, joining them at the front desk. “I hope there’s going to be a nice goodies basket included too?”

“You practically ate like a three course meal on the drive over, Anna. Do you ever think about anything else?”

“Ah, no,” she grinned. “Come on ladies, let’s get this party started.”

Skyloft Suite - Two hours later

“These lights are bloody impressive,” Enzo whistled, taking in the view of the famous Las Vegas strip from the suite window as the sun slipped lazily over the horizon in streaks of bright oranges and pinks.

“Says the Vegas virgin,” Klaus smirked from his place in the hotel spa.

“We can’t all be Princes and travel the world,” he scoffed. “I’m just a lowly protective services agent who’s lucky to even get a vacation given your gruelling schedule of social events Romeo.”

“You’re welcome to take my place, Enzo.”

Although people liked to think he had the perfect life, Klaus hated all of the unwanted scrutiny and attention his position attracted. His siblings seemed to accept the responsibility far better than he ever had and Klaus was more than happy to let them do that while he enjoyed himself to the fullest, starting with July Fourth weekend in Vegas.

“I’m not sure you mind too much when it comes to protecting Rebekah,” Klaus responded, sending his body guard a knowing smile. Although not public knowledge, the attraction between Enzo and his younger sister and princess was well known amongst their entourage. It had been simmering for some time but the Queen didn’t look too kindly upon such an uneven match for obvious reasons.

“You know more than anyone else about my professionalism,” he responded tartly. It was true and Klaus wished his grandmother could see just what an honourable match he would be for the Princess, if she bothered to get to know him. “Which is why I’m going to tell you…”

“Please, enough with the lectures,” Klaus groaned.

“Well, I wouldn’t be doing my job if…”

“Last time I checked you’re my bodyguard, not my mother, mate.”

“Well, someone has to be, Klaus.”

“You’ve been around Rebekah too long,” Klaus shot back, sending his brother a dirty look. “Now, how about a whiskey? I’m absolutely parched.”

Morimoto Restaurant - Four hours later

“To the Bride and Groom,” Anna toasted, raising her champagne flute in the air.

Matt, Katherine’s brother and Anna’s boyfriend Jeremy and his NFL teammates Jesse and Tyler had arrived a few hours earlier and the bridal party was enjoying the rehearsal dinner at the famed Japanese restaurant at the MGM Grand.

The rest of the table repeated her sentiments, clinking their glasses together in celebration. Caroline felt the tension in her body slowing start to ebb away, finally beginning to relax. That massage at the spa earlier was just what she needed. Maybe a wedding in Vegas wasn’t going to be so bad.

It certainly wasn’t going to be your typical wedding, with only the bridal party attending and the small reception taking place at one of the private cabanas with July 4 themed fare. They wanted their wedding to resemble how they met after all.

“Does anyone know who this mysterious VIP is staying at the hotel?” Katherine asked the table, looking specifically in Matt’s direction. She’d been stalking the hallways hoping to find out who was staying at the MGM Grand but no luck so far. Caroline had to give her friend points for dogged determination and persistence.

“Why are you looking at me?” He baulked. “You know just because I’m a football player doesn’t mean I know every celebrity out there, Katherine.”

“You really need to get over this weird scavenger hunt, Kat,” Caroline implored. “I mean who really cares about celebrities; you know present company excluded and all that.”

“I care,” she pouted. “What if it’s Chris Hemsworth or Brad Pitt?”

“Well, last time I checked Kitty Kat, Chris Hemsworth is happily married,” Bonnie observed. “And Brad Pitt is just all sorts of complicated right now and I never took you for the child friendly type and he’s got like a lot.”

“Plus, aren’t we good enough company for you?” Lexi asked, feigning annoyance.

They’d all laughed off her curiosity as dinner arrived. The girls were staying together overnight even though they had their own rooms. So, Caroline had ventured back to her suite to grab her pyjamas and some overnight supplies.

Given their room was only directly down the hall, Caroline decided to change there, putting on her pyjamas which consisted of a blue, fitted singlet and tiny, white shorts and tying back her blonde waves into a high ponytail. Grabbing her toiletries bag, she opened her room door not expecting the sight that met her in the corridor.

He was stark naked, well except for a cowboy hat placed strategically over his nether regions. Caroline wasn’t sure where to look. His toned physique was nothing short of impressive and those dark, blonde curls, crimson lips and stubble weren’t so bad either.

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nytimes.com
Opinion | Is It Time to Break Up Google?
Let’s face it: The biggest tech companies are monopolies.
By Jonathan Taplin

In just 10 years, the world’s five largest companies by market capitalization have all changed, save for one: Microsoft. Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Citigroup and Shell Oil are out and Apple, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Amazon and Facebook have taken their place. 

They’re all tech companies, and each dominates its corner of the industry: Google has an 88 percent market share in search advertising, Facebook (and its subsidiaries Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger) owns 77 percent of mobile social traffic and Amazon has a 74 percent share in the e-book market. in classic economic terms, all three are monopolies.

We have been transported back to the early 20th century, when arguments about the “curse of bigness” were advanced by President Woodrow Wilson’s counselor, Louis Brandeis, before Wilson appointed him to the Supreme Court. Brandeis wanted to eliminate monopolies, because (in the words of his biographer Melvin Urofsky) “in a democratic society the existence of large centers of private power is dangerous to the continuing vitality of a free people.” We need to look no further than the conduct of the largest banks in the 2008 financial crisis or the role Facebook and Google play in the “fake news” business to know that Brandeis was right.

While Brandeis generally opposed regulation - which he worried inevitably led to the corruption of the regulator - and instead advocated breaking up “bigness,” he made an exception for “natural” monopolies, like telephone water, and power companies and railroads, where it made sense to have one or a few companies in control of an industry.

Could it be that these companies - and Google in particular - have become natural monopolies by supplying an entire market’s demand for a service, at a price lower than that what would be offered by two competing firms? And if so, is it time to regulate them like public utilities?

Consider a historical analogy: the early days of telecommunications.

In 1895 a photograph of the business district of a large city might have shown 20 phone wires attached to most buildings. Each wire was owned by a different company, and none of them worked with the others. Without network effects, the networks themselves were almost useless.

The solution was for a single company American Telephone and Telegraph, to consolidate the industry by buying up all the small operators and creating a single network - a natural monopoly. the government permitted it, but then regulated this monopoly through the Federal Communications Commission.

AT&T (also known as the bell System) had its rates regulated and was required to spend a fixed percentage of its profits on research and development. In 1925 AT&T set up Bell Labs as a separate subsidiary with the mandate to develop the next generation of communications technology, but also to do basic research in physics and other sciences. Over the next 50 years, the basics of the digital age - the transistor, the microchip, the solar cell, the microwave, the laser, cellular telephony - al came out of Bell Labs along with eight Nobel Prizes.

In a 1956 consent degree in which the Justice Department allowed AT&T to maintain its phone monopoly, the government extracted a huge concession: all future patents were licensed (to any American company) royalty-free, and all future patents were to be licensed for a small fee. These licenses led to the creation of Texas Instruments, Motorola, Fairchild Semiconductor and many other start-ups.

True, the internet never had the same problems of interoperability. And Google’s route to dominance is different from the Bell System’s. Nevertheless, it still has all of the characteristics of a public utility.

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