June 14, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 10:32 PM



However the fire spread, it wasn't supposed to. High-rise buildings are built to keep any fires that start in the unit where they begin--with fire-resistant materials from steel and concrete to resistant coatings and insulation. Everything else, the stuff people fill their units with, is a lot more flammable. That's the building's "fuel load;" it's what catches fire. The trick is to keep that fire from spreading. "Then we'll layer in systems," says Robert Solomon, a fire protection engineer with the National Fire Protection Association. "Automated sprinklers, a robust fire alarm system that includes emergency voice evacuation system. You'll get some verbal instructions, and then once the fire department arrives they can use that system to provide real-time information."

In a residential building with all those defenses in place, some fire engineers think defend-in-place is the best strategy. "You should be able to, in many cases, stay in the unit if it's not the one affected by the fire," says Carl Baldassarra, head of the fire protection practice at the engineering firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates. "If you have a building that wasn't built to allow that kind of strategy, then you need to look at other means, like a good egress system."
In other words: evacuate. But exactly the best way to do that in a residential high-rise fire isn't as well-understood as compartmentation and suppression. And as more and more places around the world solve their housing crunches by building up, that's going to become a serious problem.

Don't build up.

Posted by orrinj at 5:15 PM



Carol Moore, the final president at Burlington College,] and others say a land deal Jane Sanders championed in 2010 caused Burlington College's closure last year. The school had purchased a 33-acre waterfront parcel from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington for $10 million with hopes of greatly expanding the small, alternative liberal arts college.

"Enrollment that year was about 195 and the budget just over $4 million, less than half of this ill-advised investment," Moore wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education. "What were they thinking?"

That deal is under scrutiny by federal authorities, who are examining whether Jane Sanders accurately represented donations to the college used as collateral to back the bank loan.

While the land deal has grabbed headlines, a second agreement has also come under fire.

Moore is equally critical of a deal Jane Sanders brokered between the college and Driscoll's Vermont Woodworking School, a facility in Franklin County where Burlington College students took courses.

In interviews with VTDigger, Moore said the college got the short end of the stick.

"This was a sweetheart deal for Carina Driscoll, Jane Sanders' daughter," said Moore. Driscoll is the stepdaughter of Bernie Sanders.

Posted by orrinj at 3:51 PM


Baseball Field Shooting Brings Out Some of Congress's Hidden Badasses (Emily Zanotti, June 14, 2017, Heat Street)

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, a GOP Congressman from Cincinnati, rushed to Scalise's aid. An Iraq war veteran and doctor, Wenstrup sprang into action, enlisting Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks as his battlefield nurse. Brooks held a cloth over Scalise's wound to minimize blood loss while Wenstrup cut Scalise's clothes away and stabilized the injured Congressman.

One member of Scalise's security detail was shot in the leg, but assisted in treating his boss. Although details are unclear, it's believed Scalise's wounded bodyguard was among those who shot back at Hodgkinson, wounding him.

Wenstrup later described the event on Twitter as "like being in Iraq again," though unlike in his previous war zone experience, this time Wenstrup was unarmed.

Rep. Jeff Flake also remained cool, assisting another shooting victim, Congressional staffer Zachary Barth, who dove into a dugout where Flake and some colleagues had taken cover.

After Scalise's security detail and Capitol Police had neutralized the shooter, Flake ran out on to the field where Scalise was being treated, grabbed his phone and called Scalise's wife, so she wouldn't hear about his injuries on the news.

Both Mo Brooks and Sen. Rand Paul, who was also present, extolled the bravery of those same Capitol Police officers who ended up in a firefight with Hodgkinson.

Posted by orrinj at 3:37 PM


Mattis Is Punting the Military Buildup to 2019 (Frederico Bartels, 6/14/17, Heritage)

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has news for Congress and for the nation: The military buildup will have to wait until next year.

Mattis delivered that message in a back-to-back series of appearances before Congress, one of them taking place in a rare primetime hearing on Monday night.

During both testimonies--which were delivered before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, respectively--Mattis told the Congress that the military buildup promised by President Trump will have to wait until next year. 

As when Bill Clinton took office post-Cold War, Donald's post-WoT presidency will see defense spending cut in half as a percentage of GDP.

Posted by orrinj at 3:02 PM


The Conservatism Behind Star Wars (Craig Shirley and Scott Mauer, 6/11/17,  The Washington Post)

By 1977, the Soviet Union was agitated, and it appeared, by most measures, that they were winning the Cold War. Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev took a strong tone against the West and against capitalism, especially in keeping their hold on occupied Eastern Europe. "We will bury you," Khrushchev had proclaimed in 1956. Two decades later, many feared that he was right.

All these issues put a damper on the American spirit, and this could be seen no more clearly than in movies at the time, such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1975, or Taxi Driver in 1976. A sense of doom was always around the corner and always prevalent. Even the fun Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was a celebration of crooks.

And then along came Star Wars. It was a story of a young group of independent rebels fighting against an oppressive, collectivist empire for the freedom of the galaxy. The former government was even known as "the Old Republic." The Force is a hint of Judeo-Christianity as a unifying agent for goodness, and A New Hope screams conservative optimism. The militarized Galactic Empire was ruled with an iron fist by a Politburo and an emperor. Its main tactics for unity and stability were enslavement, fear, death and destruction, especially with its new planet-killing weapon. Its uniforms of masked, bright-white armor destroyed any sense of identity; a soldier was simply a number. On the other hand, the Rebels, a loose collection of ragtag freedom fighters, staged an all-out attack on the Empire to erase it from the galaxy. They were a small, motivated force who learned they could defeat a large, unmotivated force. It was George Washington against the British Empire.

..just more coherent and Christian.


Posted by orrinj at 10:33 AM


Tillerson signals trouble for Senate's bipartisan Russia sanctions deal (ELANA SCHOR 06/13/2017, Politico)

As the Senate gears up to pass a bipartisan deal to punish Russia and restrict President Donald Trump from any attempt to ease sanctions, his administration and House Republicans are signaling that the agreement has a shaky future.

Senators in both parties have urged Trump to avoid leveling any veto threat on the Russia sanctions deal that's on track for passage Wednesday, which sets up a congressional review process if the president decides to ease or remove penalties against Moscow.

But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that the agreement to get tough on Russia would shut off communications with Moscow that he'd like to keep open for now.

Posted by orrinj at 9:53 AM


Tales of the Midnight Sun - on the night train from Kiruna to Stockholm : Travel writer Rossella Tatti on multicultural meetings on board the Arctic Polar Circle train to Swedish Lapland. (Rossella Tatti, 14 June 2017, The Local)

A trip to Swedish Lapland will not only bring you memories of endless days and midnight sun, but also an insight into the richness one can find when travelling - I suggest alone - on a night train passing through the Swedish forests.

Travelling by train more than 20 hours to reach the city of Kiruna located in Swedish Lapland, 67°51'20N, and then go back to the south of Sweden, is an experience which I would advise everyone to do. The view from the train is simple and random, yet it will not have you bored for the entire journey, as eventually you will meet people with sleeping issues just as you, other solo travellers, or people just commuting between cities. If not, the landscape will leave you speechless and you may like to start a competition with yourself on how many reindeers or moose you spot while the train eats kilometres in the Lapland jungle.

Posted by orrinj at 8:45 AM


Three key questions Sessions didn't answer (Peter Grier, JUNE 14, 2017, CS Monitor)

Attorney General Sessions appeared to have a two-pronged strategy for his appearance, which came in the wake of fired FBI Director James Comey's dramatic testimony last week.

The first prong was to defend his own integrity in regards to dealings with Russians. He did this forcefully, right from the start: Any insinuation that he had colluded with Russian agents in the dissemination of leaked Democratic emails prior to the 2016 election is an "appalling and detestable lie," Sessions said in the hearing's opening moments.

The second prong was to avoid saying anything about his dealings with President Trump. This was difficult due to the fact that the president has not invoked executive privilege to prevent his communications with Sessions from becoming public.

Instead, Sessions declined to answer specific questions due to Justice Department policy, and on the grounds that he was preserving for Trump the ability to raise the executive privilege shield in this matter if he so desires.

Sessions can't invoke executive privilege, but he's using it a lot (Noah Bierman, 6/14/17, LA Times)

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions is having a hard time shaking questions about his refusal to testify about his conversations with President Trump, which has forced him to invoke a circuitous interpretation of the president's right to executive privilege. 

Not long after Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) grilled him about "impeding this investigation" by declining to answer questions, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) took a shot.

It's not up to Sessions to invoke executive privilege. It's up to the president, making it tricky for Sessions to use that right to avoid answering questions.

"I understand" the right to executive privilege, King said. "But the president hasn't asserted it," King told Sessions after he refused to discuss his conversations with Trump about the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey.

"I am protecting the right of the president to exert it if he chooses," Sessions replied.

That struck King as confusing. How could Sessions use an executive privilege that has not been invoked? "I don't understand how you could have it both ways," he said.

Even if there were some imaginary way the AG could do this; Donald's offer to testify himself would seem to have waived any potential claim on behalf of staff.

Posted by orrinj at 5:21 AM


Oil From OPEC's Rivals to Exceed Demand Growth in 2018, IEA Says (Grant Smith, 6/14/17, Bloomberg)

The U.S., Brazil, Canada and other producers outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will increase output next year by the most in four years, the IEA said. So while the cutbacks should reduce the world's bloated oil inventories to average levels by the time they're scheduled to end next spring, demand for OPEC crude won't be high enough for the group to reverse the curbs without seeing stockpiles rise again.

"Our first outlook for 2018 makes sobering reading for those producers looking to restrain supply," said the Paris-based IEA, which advises most of the world's major economies on energy policy.

OPEC's simple problem. Despite Saudi cuts, it's shipping more oil (Clyde Russell, 6/14/17, Reuters)

While output is no doubt important, for the immediate market impact it's probably better to focus on what the group is actually exporting.

Vessel-tracking and port data in Thomson Reuters Eikon shows that for the first five months of 2017, OPEC exported 25.6 million bpd.

This figure is only shipments by tanker and is filtered to show vessels that have already discharged, are discharging or are en route to their destination.

The shipments for the first five months of this year are slightly higher than the 25.4 million bpd the producer group exported via tankers in the same period in 2016.