October 1, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 6:47 PM


Catalans Signal They May Declare Independence Within a Week (Esteban Duarte and Maria Tadeo, 10/01/17, bLOOMBERG)

Catalan separatist leaders signaled they may be moving toward a unilateral declaration of independence as early as this week after hundreds of activists were injured on Sunday as they sought to stop Spanish police from shutting down an illegal referendum.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont appealed to the European Union for support as he pledged to inform the regional parliament of the result of the vote in the coming days. The assembly will then act in line with the referendum law, Puigdemont said -- and that could lead to a unilateral declaration of independence within 48 hours of the notification.

"The citizens of Catalonia have won the right to have an independent state," Puigdemont said in a televised statement, flanked by members of his regional administration.

Two million Catalans backed independence out of 2.3 million votes cast in total, government spokesman Jordi Turull said at a press conference in the early hours of Monday. Just over 5 million people were eligible to vote. Before the government crackdown began, separatist leaders said they would be comfortable declaring independence with about 1.8 million votes.

And a regime that sends armed forces to prevent the vote acknowledges it.

Posted by orrinj at 6:18 PM


The Royal Netherlands Navy is 3D scanning all their ships (Dani Deahl, Oct 1, 2017, Verge)

Marinebedrijf Koninklijke Marine, is the organization responsible for maintaining the vessels of the Royal Netherlands Navy, and recently partnered with Artec 3D to 3D scan the country's entire naval fleet, according to Naval Technology.

The project is a massive undertaking, but once complete, it will dramatically speed up ship maintenance and replacement part fabrication. As some parts don't have manufacturing blueprints or 3D CAD files available, these scans will not only serve as a reference library, but will also allow the navy to print components for ships like submarines or minehunters on demand.

Posted by orrinj at 6:02 PM


Trump's Puerto Rico response tests the limits of his fondness for grudges : The president has been criticized for personally attacking the mayor of San Juan amid a growing humanitarian crisis, but it's in line with how he's always responded to critics. (ANNIE KARNI,  10/01/2017, Politico)

The message followed a series of tweets on Saturday lashing out at Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, accusing her of "such poor leadership ability" in not getting people on the ground to help.

It was a direct response to her emotional news conference Friday night, in which she begged the president for more help. "We are dying here," Cruz said, slamming down two thick binders of documentation that San Juan had provided to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to obtain help.

In another world, Cruz's frustration with the layers of bureaucracy standing between her wiped-out city and food and water delivery might have been in line with Trump's own interest in cutting regulations and red tape.

The props she used were similar to charts Trump has wielded at news conferences to demonstrate how obtuse the country's permitting and regulatory process can be. But Cruz's plea was interpreted by Trump as a personal insult.

"I am asking the president of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge, that is up to the task of saving lives," she said. "If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency."

On Twitter, Trump noted that Cruz had been "very complimentary" to him in the past. "They want everything to be done for them," he complained, "when it should be a community effort."

To longtime Trump watchers, Trump's personal reaction to Cruz was par for the course. Last weekend, he revoked an invitation for NBA star Stephen Curry to visit the White House with his team after Curry slighted him by saying he did not want the team to make the trip.

From the perch of the presidency, he has gone after morning show hosts such as Mika Brzezinski; lawmakers from his own party, such as Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain; and members of his own Cabinet -- most notably, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He has even taken on the NFL.

Trump's criticism of Cruz was in line with how he has reacted for years to individuals who have criticized him personally.

Posted by orrinj at 5:51 PM


Why doesn't Donald Trump care about Puerto Ricans? Because they can't vote for him  (Skylar Baker-Jordan, 10/01/17, The Independent)

When Trump did mention Puerto Rico publicly, it was to praise the federal response to the disaster - in direct contradiction to the reports of those on the ground - or to pick a fight with Cruz, who has been extremely critical of the President's response to the hurricane. Trump shot back by claiming Puerto Ricans "want everything done for them" and pointed to the commonwealth's debt crisis as an excuse, without offering any evidence as to why that is a factor - because there is none.

The federal government, on Trump's orders, went into Texas and Florida following recent hurricanes and devastating flooding, bringing the full force of the US government with them on their rescue and recovery missions. Trump himself visited Texas twice following the storm. And while yes, Puerto Rico is an island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea (as Trump pointed out as though this were brand new information), it's not exactly the South Pole. We know that the federal government can mobilise quickly and efficiently following a disaster, so none of this is an excuse for why they haven't in Puerto Rico.

Texas and Florida are both states Trump won in the election, while Puerto Rico can't vote in presidential elections. If one thing has become painfully clear over the past eight months, from his inaugural speech to his comments following Charlottesville, Trump intends to be President only for those who voted for him.

The vast majority of those people are white. Texas and Florida both have heavy Latino populations; Puerto Rico is predominantly Latino and Black and almost entirely Spanish-speaking. Given Trump's views on race, and Latinos in particular, it's easy to see why the President didn't give a damn a moment before he politically had to: he simply doesn't care.

But he needs to. As of Saturday night, about half the island lacked portable water and experts were warning it could be six months before the electric grid was up and running. The Army Corps of Engineers said Puerto Rico looked a lot like Iraq following America's 2003 invasion.

Watching all of this unfold has been horrifying for the millions of Puerto Ricans on the mainland, many of whom can't contact family back home and have no way of knowing if they are safe. It has been pure hell for the millions of Puerto Ricans on the island who are struggling to survive. And it has been shameful to the rest of us who look at our fellow citizens suffering and a President indifferent, at best, to their plight.

Posted by orrinj at 11:18 AM

Posted by orrinj at 8:46 AM


Posted by orrinj at 8:41 AM


Trump Turns the Presidency Into a Modern Monarchy : The president hogs the headlines, but the real power resides with trusted advisers, congressional leaders, and well-placed bureaucrats (Josh Kraushaar, 10/01/17, National Journal)'

America under President Trump isn't becoming an autocracy, as some recently feared. Our country's democratic institutions have demonstrated their resilience, the media have rediscovered the importance of checking those in power, and the bureaucracy has demonstrated that simple inertia can overwhelm even the most committed demagogues.

I've struggled how to precisely describe this moment in American history, in which the leader of the free world is an erratic, demagogic celebrity who dominates every nook and cranny of public life like no president before him--yet is so weak institutionally that he can't pass any legislation with his party fully in charge. In February, I anticipated that the Trump administration was "more likely to look like a tragi-comedy, not a horror story." Still, that doesn't fully capture the uniqueness of this moment in American politics.

The Trump administration resembles an American version of a monarchy, in which the head of state consumes outsize attention but has ceded significant power to trusted advisers, his party's leadership in Congress, and well-placed bureaucrats across the government. The triumvirate of Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has remarkable autonomy to steer the nation's foreign policy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is shouldering all the blame for the president's inability to rally support for health care reform. Trump may have humiliated Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but the Department of Justice is actively revamping policy on drug sentencing, cracking down on sanctuary cities, and fighting censorious administrators on college campuses.

Clearly, Trump has actual powers--as opposed to the symbolic roles of a Queen Elizabeth--but it's remarkable to see how much the traditional powers of the presidency have been shrunk. Mattis, his Defense secretary, didn't carry out Trump's tweeted order to ban transgender people from the military. Many foreign governments have learned to ignore the presidential tweets and listen to his advisers to get a better sense of administration policy. Even the despotic North Korean government reportedly was reaching out to conservative think tanks to understand whether to believe Trump's threatening bluster.

Posted by orrinj at 8:33 AM


Startup Cities No one says you need to start up in your home town. From coast to coast, here are the 10 U.S. cities nurturing the most fast-growing private companies of 2017. (Kaitlyn Wang, 10/01/17, Inc.com)

6. Los Angeles There's more to L.A. than Hollywood. Seventy of this year's Inc. 5000 companies call California's biggest city home. The front of the pack? Ice cream darling Halo Top Creamery (No. 5).

Posted by orrinj at 8:15 AM


Paris experiments with 'car-free day' across city (Marie WOLFROM, October 1, 2017, AFP)

Sunday marks the third time the French capital has experimented with a car ban, but it is by far the most ambitious with the zone set aside for pedestrians or cyclists covering the entire historic heart of the city -- 105 square kilometres (40 square miles).

"This initiative requires an enormous amount of preparation," city mayor Anne Hidalgo told Le Parisien newspaper on Sunday. "Particularly because this year the zone has been enlarged to the whole of Paris."

Hidalgo, a Socialist, was elected in 2014 promising to tackle pollution in the capital and she has focused on building new bus and cycle lanes and reclaiming roads -- leading critics to see her agenda as too radical and anti-car.

Radically pro-tourist.

Posted by orrinj at 8:10 AM


How a heartbroken doomsday prepper who lost everything is now saving hurricane victims (Rebecca Everett, 9/28/17, NJ.com)

MEDFORD TWP. -- You probably wouldn't expect to find a doomsday prepper's compound at the end of a nice cul-de-sac off of Tuckerton Road, otherwise lined with large houses with pools.
But that's where Joseph Badame, 74, has spent most of his life, building and outfitting his home and outbuildings for the day when, he believes, an economic collapse will make it all necessary for survival.

If you're picturing a reclusive wildman wearing camouflage, think again.

Badame is an educated, intelligent, mild-mannered architect who is involved in his church, among other things. Until the death of his beloved wife, Phyliss, in 2013, the passion for prepping was something they shared.

The shelter he built and his accumulation of supplies -- enough so that 100 people could live there -- was Badame's life's work. The couple built the place, with its subterranean living area and lead-lined bomb shelter, along with outbuildings. For forty years, they filled them with everything they'd need, from coal furnaces and kerosene refrigerators to barrels of food and other supplies.

But he's losing it all now, after the bank foreclosed on his property.

"I'm losing this house," he said, looking at the building from his driveway Monday. It's a blow to a man who is still heartbroken from losing his wife. "This will never be a survival dwelling for Phyliss or I."

But, he admits, his passion for creating the perfect shelter has diminished since his wife's death, and there are few family members and friends left to worry about saving.

"I described myself as a spirit in search of a purpose," he said.

Remarkably, he found what he was looking for before the estate sale this past weekend, when he met Victoria Martinez-Barber, 30. She and her husband, Anthony Barber, were hired to provide food at the estate sale through Tony & Tori's Grill, the food truck they run.

Martinez-Barber told Badame that all the money from the food truck was going to help her family in Puerto Rico. They were alive, but homeless and hungry in Arecibo thanks to Hurricane Maria.

He donated $100. Then he showed her his food store room.

Posted by orrinj at 8:03 AM


It's not easy to be the least-informed reality tv star.
Posted by orrinj at 7:53 AM


The Mind of John McPhee (Sam Anderson, Sep. 28th, 2017, NY Times Magazine)

When you call John McPhee on the phone, he is instantly John McPhee. McPhee is now 86 years old, and each of those years seems to be filed away inside of him, loaded with information, ready to access. I was calling to arrange a visit to Princeton, N.J., where McPhee lives and teaches writing. He was going to give me driving directions. He asked where I was coming from. I told him the name of my town, about 100 miles away.

"I've been there," McPhee said, with the mild surprise of someone who has just found a $5 bill in a coat pocket. He proceeded to tell me a story of the time he had a picnic at the top of our local mountain, with a small party that included the wife of Alger Hiss, the former United States official who, at the height of McCarthyism, was disgraced by allegations of spying for the Russians. 

A Miami-based security company co-founded by G. Gordon Liddy, the convicted Watergate burglar who became a television and movie villain, has sought protection from its creditors under the Federal Bankruptcy Code.

Posted by orrinj at 7:49 AM


Mayo Clinic Offers First-Aid Advice via Amazon's Alexa (Joe Carlson, 10/01/17, Star Tribune)

Alexa, forget my grocery list and morning traffic reports. Tell me about CPR.

Alexa, Amazon's voice-activated digital assistant for the home, has learned a new skill -- dispensing medical information about first aid from one of the best-known names in medicine, Minnesota's Mayo Clinic.

The information is accessible by speaking to the Amazon device, which users might appreciate if they're busy doing something with their hands, like putting aloe on a burn or examining someone who has stopped breathing.

Posted by orrinj at 7:48 AM


Robotic Hamburger Flipper Lands First Job (Gene Marks, 10/01/17, The Washington Post)

According to a report recently in TechCrunch, a fast-casual restaurant chain headquartered in Southern California called Caliburger is installing robotic hamburger-flipping chefs in its Pasadena location and then plans to roll them out to its other 49 outlets around the world over the next few years. Caliburger's Pasadena location is conveniently located in the same town as Miso Robotics, a start-up that's developed its hamburger flipping, "robotic kitchen assistant" called -- not unsurprisingly -- Flippy.

Flippy is a robot, or more specifically a very specialized industrial six-axis robotic arm that is bolted to the kitchen floor in front of a grill or fryer and has a "spinning spatula" that cooks the food.

The unit receives data from thermal and 3D sensors as well as cameras and takes its orders through a digital ticketing system.

It is capable of grabbing and unwrapping food, keeping track of cooking time and temperature and then plating the food so that a human chef can add garnishes.

Posted by orrinj at 7:21 AM

CITIES WERE A MISTAKE (self-reference alert):

Jared Kushner's Entitlement Is New Jersey Born and Bred (LUCINDA ROSENFELD, SEPT. 29, 2017, NY Times)

Anyone who has ever driven on the New Jersey Turnpike knows that, at a certain point in the road, the entire Manhattan skyline appears to rise from the surrounding marshland like a close-yet-so-far Land of Oz, both tempting and terrorizing with its mysterious jutting cutouts. To traverse this roadway, as Mr. Kushner surely did as a young man, was undoubtedly to exist in a constant state of aspiration and alienation. No matter one's personal glories, for those who call New Jersey home, and especially those who reside in Northern New Jersey, it's difficult to forget that one is still not from "the city," as the landmass across the river is known. Overcompensation tends to follow. Blind arrogance is an occasional byproduct.

Eagle Rock park affords an especially good view of the NYC skyline and I spent the same years thinking how ugly it was, especially the heinous Twin Towers.  The problem with Mr. Kushner's upbringing was not location but parenting.

Posted by orrinj at 7:15 AM


Speaking Ill of Hugh Hefner (Ross Douthat SEPT. 30, 2017, NY Times)

Hugh Hefner, gone to his reward at the age of 91, was a pornographer and chauvinist who got rich on masturbation, consumerism and the exploitation of women, aged into a leering grotesque in a captain's hat, and died a pack rat in a decaying manse where porn blared during his pathetic orgies.

Hef was the grinning pimp of the sexual revolution, with quaaludes for the ladies and Viagra for himself -- a father of smut addictions and eating disorders, abortions and divorce and syphilis, a pretentious huckster who published Updike stories no one read while doing flesh procurement for celebrities, a revolutionary whose revolution chiefly benefited men much like himself.

The arc of his life vindicated his moral critics, conservative and feminist: What began with talk of jazz and Picasso and other signifiers of good taste ended in a sleazy decrepitude that would have been pitiable if it wasn't still so exploitative.

Early Hef had a pipe and suit and a highbrow reference for every occasion; he even claimed to have a philosophy, that final refuge of the scoundrel. But late Hef was a lecherous, low-brow Peter Pan, playing at perpetual boyhood -- ice cream for breakfast, pajamas all day -- while bodyguards shooed male celebrities away from his paid harem and the skull grinned beneath his papery skin.