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BrothersJudd Blog

Blog of the Brothers Judd

Last Build Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2017 14:11:29 -0500

Copyright: Copyright 2017


Thu, 19 Oct 2017 14:11:29 -0500

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped to its lowest level in more than 44-1/2 years last week, pointing to a rebound in job growth after a hurricane-related decline in employment in September.


Thu, 19 Oct 2017 14:08:51 -0500

Solar panels are usually made of thick solar cells, and are positioned at an angle to get the most amount of light from the sun as it moves throughout the day. Thin film solar cells, which can be only nanometers thick, have a lot of potential. These are cheaper and lighter, but because they're less efficient, we usually use them only in watches and calculators, instead of solar panels. Scientists studied the black wings of the rose butterfly, and copied the structure to create thin solar cells that are more efficient. Unlike other types of cells, these can absorb a lot of light regardless of the angle, and are also easy to make. The results were published in the journal Science Advances.


Thu, 19 Oct 2017 14:06:28 -0500

These Giant Printers Are Meant to Make Rockets (Ashlee Vance, 10/18/17, Bloomberg Businessweek

Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone are both in their mid-20s, and it shows. The two aerospace engineers are energetic, optimistic, and so ambitious they can't help sounding a little bonkers.

In a small factory a couple of miles from Los Angeles International Airport, Ellis and Noone have spent the past two years working to build a rocket using only 3D printers. Their startup, Relativity Space Inc., is betting that removing humans from the manufacturing equation will make rockets way cheaper and faster to produce. The going rate for a rocket launch is about $100 million; Relativity says that in four years its price will be $10 million. "This is the right direction," says Ellis, the chief executive officer, during the first-ever press tour of the company's headquarters. "The 3D printing and automation of rockets is inevitable."


Thu, 19 Oct 2017 14:03:47 -0500

Apeel's approach is to essentially use food to protect and preserve other food. Apeel extracts natural oils that are found in the peels and skins of all fruits and vegetables to make Edipeel--a rinse that fresh food shippers and retailers can use to add a little more 'peel' to harvested produce. This layer helps to keep water from leaking out and oxygen from seeping in, two of the biggest factors that lead to spoilage.

The startup has so far developed Edipeel products for three dozen crops, including avocados, asparagus, peaches, lemons, pears, and nectarines. It manages to remain free from contaminants by using a seven-step filtration process to kill off pesticides. The result is produce stays fresh longer, dramatically extending the time and shipping radius for fresh food producers, which reduces food and water waste across the food supply chain. Edipeel is now approved and available for USDA Organic and traditional produce, and the company is gearing up to roll out with partners globally.


Thu, 19 Oct 2017 13:53:04 -0500

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that if President Donald Trump is unpredictable, it is because his domestic opponents are stopping him from delivering on many of his election promises.

Certainly the ones he promised Vlad.


Thu, 19 Oct 2017 08:46:40 -0500

Is Hollywood sitting on a pedophilia scandal? (Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, October 19, 2017, The Week)

The evidence is there, just as it was in the cases of Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein. In 2011, former child star Corey Feldman warned that pedophilia in Hollywood was "the big secret" and "the number one problem." Feldman alleged that he was abused and that his friend was raped on a movie set at the age of 11. But he didn't just talk about instances of abuse. In a later interview, he described a system whereby young children were groomed by powerful older men who formed an organized network, with "publicists" providing cover. He would "love to name names," but feared the legal risks, he said.

Precisely such an organized system for grooming and abusing children is described by a documentary; one molester described in the film pleaded no contest to two counts of child molestation, but the rest of the network has never been named, let alone investigated or charged. The title of the documentary? An Open Secret.

Former child star Elijah Wood made global headlines after saying in an interview last year that there was "something major" in Hollywood. "It was all organized," he said. "There are a lot of vipers in this industry, people who only have their own interests in mind. There is darkness in the underbelly," adding that Hollywood can "squash" the victims so that they "can't speak as loudly as the people in power." (He later issued a carefully worded clarification that he had no "firsthand experience or observation," which still leaves room for being aware of an open secret.)

These stories fit a pattern, and not just the pattern common to all sex crimes allegations -- the shame, the gas-lighting, the fear you won't be believed -- but also the pattern common to testimonies about a systemic problem: the coordination, the law of silence, the coverups.

And just as striking as these allegations is the deafening silence that surrounds them.


Thu, 19 Oct 2017 08:43:40 -0500

European Union leaders will on Thursday reaffirm their full commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, regardless of whether an increasingly critical United States pulls out.

This has to be the least significant presidency since the 19th Century.


Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:15:55 -0500

Two prominent staffers on Arizona Republican Kelli Ward's primary campaign against sitting Sen. Jeff Flake have officially issued an apology to everyone in the state for helping to legitimize Ward as a serious political candidate.

She's flakier.


Wed, 18 Oct 2017 19:23:04 -0500

Russia sandwiched in Syria between Israel, Iran (Maxim A. Suchkov, October 18, 2017, Al Monitor)

Given Israel's role in the region, its military power and its willingness to use it, it's critical for Putin to continue the current level of communication with Netanyahu to ensure Russia's own presence is immune from any Israeli assaults. But it's also clear Israel is determined to stop Iran's growing presence near Israel's borders. At the same time, Tehran is resolved to expand and solidify its presence. Moscow doesn't see that situation as its own fight and is working to dodge potential complications of ending up on either side.

Israel has been rather loyal to Russia's military presence -- and realizes its own gains from it -- and Iran has been crucial to Russia on the ground in Syria. But Russia's goals in Syria aren't ultimately about either Israel or Iran. Moscow is, however, wary of each party trying to work Russia's presence to the detriment of the other. For instance, Russian media outlets have recently raised questions about Iran's intentions when it changed the location of an Iran-to-Hezbollah arms transfer point from the border with Lebanon to central Syria, closer to Palmyra. As a result of that change, Israel will have to fly deep into Syrian territory to make its bombing raids on the transfer point and could at some point clash with Russian air forces or harm Russian advisers thought to be stationed at Palmyra.

Such moves are likely to happen more often and represent a long-term challenge to Moscow. Russia will need to sit down with Israel and seriously talk about whether Israel's interests can be squared with Russia's interests, and whether Moscow really has any leverage over Tehran, whether in Syria or beyond. 

The great tragedy of current day Israel is that it is a natural ally of Russia.


Wed, 18 Oct 2017 12:21:51 -0500

Who, if anyone, is hiding behind Melania Trump's signature sunglasses? Conspiracy theorists are claiming it's not the first lady, but a body double.

Critics have zeroed in on footage from Friday of the first lady standing beside her husband, President Donald Trump, while he was addressing the media about hurricane relief for Puerto Rico and a nuclear deal with Iran. In the video, the president calls out his wife at the press conference, which conspiracy theorists claim is his effort to cover for the fact that his wife is in fact somewhere else. 

"My wife, Melania, who happens to be right here," he says.

If it really were her she'd be blinking like Jeremiah Denton.


Wed, 18 Oct 2017 12:05:21 -0500

The Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson : A new portrait of the founding father challenges the long-held perception of Thomas Jefferson as a benevolent slaveholder (Henry Wiencek, OCTOBER 2012, Smithsonian)The critical turning point in Jefferson's thinking may well have come in 1792. As Jefferson was counting up the agricultural profits and losses of his plantation in a letter to President Washington that year, it occurred to him that there was a phenomenon he had perceived at Monticello but never actually measured. He proceeded to calculate it in a barely legible, scribbled note in the middle of a page, enclosed in brackets. What Jefferson set out clearly for the first time was that he was making a 4 percent profit every year on the birth of black children. The enslaved were yielding him a bonanza, a perpetual human dividend at compound interest. Jefferson wrote, "I allow nothing for losses by death, but, on the contrary, shall presently take credit four per cent. per annum, for their increase over and above keeping up their own numbers." His plantation was producing inexhaustible human assets. The percentage was predictable.In another communication from the early 1790s, Jefferson takes the 4 percent formula further and quite bluntly advances the notion that slavery presented an investment strategy for the future. He writes that an acquaintance who had suffered financial reverses "should have been invested in negroes." He advises that if the friend's family had any cash left, "every farthing of it [should be] laid out in land and negroes, which besides a present support bring a silent profit of from 5. to 10. per cent in this country by the increase in their value."The irony is that Jefferson sent his 4 percent formula to George Washington, who freed his slaves, precisely because slavery had made human beings into money, like "Cattle in the market," and this disgusted him. Yet Jefferson was right, prescient, about the investment value of slaves. A startling statistic emerged in the 1970s, when economists taking a hardheaded look at slavery found that on the eve of the Civil War, enslaved black people, in the aggregate, formed the second most valuable capital asset in the United States. David Brion Davis sums up their findings: "In 1860, the value of Southern slaves was about three times the amount invested in manufacturing or railroads nationwide." The only asset more valuable than the black people was the land itself. The formula Jefferson had stumbled upon became the engine not only of Monticello but of the entire slaveholding South and the Northern industries, shippers, banks, insurers and investors who weighed risk against returns and bet on slavery. The words Jefferson used--"their increase"--became magic words.Jefferson's 4 percent theorem threatens the comforting notion that he had no real awareness of what he was doing, that he was "stuck" with or "trapped" in slavery, an obsolete, unprofitable, burdensome legacy. The date of Jefferson's calculation aligns with the waning of his emancipationist fervor. Jefferson began to back away from antislavery just around the time he computed the silent profit of the "peculiar institution."And this world was crueler than we have been led to believe. A letter has recently come to light describing how Monticello's young black boys, "the small ones," age 10, 11 or 12, were whipped to get them to work in Jefferson's nail factory, whose profits paid the mansion's grocery bills. This passage about children being lashed had been suppressed--deliberately deleted from the published record in the 1953 edition of Jefferson's Farm Book, containing 500 pages of plantation papers. That edition of the Farm Book still serves as a standard reference for research into the way Monticello worked. [...]


Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:08:00 -0500

Twelve days of silence, then a swipe at Obama: How Trump handled four dead soldiers (Philip Rucker and Dan Lamothe October 17, 2017, Washington Post)

[A] president who revels in providing color commentary on the news said nothing about what happened in Niger for 12 straight days -- until Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House, where he was asked by a reporter to explain his uncharacteristic silence.

In his answer, Trump said in his defense that he had written personal letters to the soldiers' family members, and he then tried to use the issue to gain a political advantage. Trump leveled false accusations at his predecessors, including former president Barack Obama, saying they never or rarely called family members of service members who were killed on their watch, when in fact they regularly did. [...]

In his call with Sgt. La David T. Johnson's widow, Myeshia Johnson, Trump told her, "He knew what was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway," according to the account of Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.), who was riding in a limousine with Johnson when the president called and heard the conversation on speakerphone.

Wilson recalled in an interview with The Washington Post that Johnson broke down in tears. "He made her cry," Wilson said. The congresswoman said she wanted to take the phone and "curse him out," but that the Army sergeant holding the phone would not let her speak to the president.

They deserve a fit C-in-C.


Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:05:45 -0500

Trump's alternative reality, part two (Mike Allen, 10/18/17, Axios)

Yesterday, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai subtly shot down Trump's threat to revoke NBC broadcast licenses: "I believe in the First Amendment."

SecState Rex Tillerson says North Korean diplomacy "will continue until the first bomb drops"; Trump tweets that he's "wasting his time."

SecDef Jim Mattis tells Congress that holding onto the Iran nuclear pact is in the interest of the national security of the United States; 10 days later, Trump threatens cancellation.

Trump blames "both sides" for racial violence in Charlottesville; Tillerson says the president "speaks for himself," and economic adviser Gary Cohn says the administration "must do better."

Trump threatens extreme action on immigrants, Muslims, "Dreamers," trade, NATO and more, but aides and advisers wind up softening or delaying most -- with the notable exception of the Paris climate deal.

They serve America, not Donald.


Wed, 18 Oct 2017 07:53:04 -0500

Why Britain needs the immigrants it doesn't want (Ivana Kottasová, October 18, 2017, CNN/Money)

The National Health Service says there are over 11,000 open nursing jobs in England, and another 6,000 vacant positions across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The overburdened system, described by the British Red Cross as facing a "humanitarian crisis," already relies on 33,000 nurses from the EU. [...]

The shortage of workers cuts across sectors -- from agriculture to education -- and across skill levels. There aren't enough fruit pickers and there aren't enough doctors. [...]

"The government is putting politics above economics, which is quite a dangerous game," said Heather Rolfe, a researcher at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

Labor economists say that a radical decline in immigration would hurt the British economy.

The Office for Budget Responsibility, the government's fiscal watchdog, said that 80,000 fewer immigrants a year would reduce annual economic growth by 0.2 percentage points.

"To lose these people would be pretty tough and it would mean that some sectors might find it very difficult to survive," said Christian Dustmann, professor of economics at University College London.

Some EU workers, upset over political rhetoric and a lack of clarity about their legal status, are already leaving Britain. Net migration from the EU fell to 133,000 last year from 184,000 in 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The impact is already being felt: The Nursing and Midwifery Council said that roughly 6,400 EU nurses registered to work in the U.K. in the year ended March, a 32% drop from the previous year. Another 3,000 EU nurses stopped working in the U.K.


Wed, 18 Oct 2017 07:19:34 -0500

Putin Rival Ties Kushner Meeting to Kremlin Bankers (ARI MELBER , MEREDITH MANDELL and MIRJAM LABLANS, 10/17/17, NBC)

A prominent exiled Russian oligarch said in an exclusive interview with NBC News that he is nearly certain Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to collaborate with the Trump campaign, and that he believes a top Russian banker was not "acting on his own behalf" when he held a controversial meeting with Jared Kushner last December.

Of course, the Trumpbots think opposing Vlad is disqualifying.