“Subject to Change” was an alternative title for this site. It lost out to other considerations but has reemerged atop this column, which attacks the subject of change from another vantage but to the same effect: emphasizing how fast change is overtaking our universe and, hopefully, inspiring an interest if not a determination to assure that its advance is more for us than against us. That’s admittedly an ambitious goal and while we don’t promise to reach it, we will try. If our efforts do not reach to those of a revolution, we do aspire to be revolutionary.
What we didn’t realize was how much we didn’t know ourselves about what’s going on in the world. Apple’s new campus in California had escaped our attention, along with its demonstration that the vision of Steve Jobs would be manifested so magnificently years after his death. We had no idea at all that the women of Delhi in India were taking into their own hands pushing back on their mistreatment. We knew that technology was racing ahead of our ability to keep up but we weren’t aware of the eventual possibility of building factories in space and the present capability of a robot to perform surgery.
Not only do we believe that change is a good thing, and that good change is necessary to confront bad change as well as to correct those errors of history or habit that still possess the nation and the world, but we are ourselves subject to change at every moment. That was demonstrated in the current issue when we “stopped the presses,” as it were, to insert the story about President Trump’s withdrawing from the Paris climate accords. That single presidential action had an impact on change that will reverberate for months if not years to come, and while other of our stories may be more evergreen we couldn’t wait to make this one available to our readership. In the process it demonstrated that we could add daily coverage of breaking news to our abilities.
This column shouldn’t stand in the way of your discovering on your own the accompanying collection of wonders in our world, including the joyful story about Lacey Baker, “the rebel queen of skateboarding,” and the conversation between Nate Silver and Mark Cuban on politics and baseball. But we do call attention to the letter from Jeff Bezos of Amazon that concludes page three. It is included not only for its insight into that organization but for its illustration of what is required to succeed in today’s changing world. On our own Day 1, we vow never to be Day 2.
Don West for New Times Always!
President Trump has managed to turn America First into America Isolated.
In pulling out of the Paris climate accord, Mr. Trump has created a vacuum of global leadership that presents ripe opportunities to allies and adversaries alike to reorder the world’s power structure. His decision is perhaps the greatest strategic gift to the Chinese, who are eager to fill the void that Washington is leaving around the world on everything from setting the rules of trade and environmental standards to financing the infrastructure projects that give Beijing vast influence.
Mr. Trump’s remarks in the Rose Garden on Thursday were also a retreat from leadership on the one issue, climate change, that unified America’s European allies, its rising superpower competitor in the Pacific, and even some of its adversaries, including Iran. He did it over the objections of much of the American business community and his secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, who embraced the Paris accord when he ran Exxon Mobil, less out of a sense of moral responsibility and more as part of the new price of doing business around the world.
Read more at The New York Times.
On June 7, 2011, a local businessman addressed a meeting of the Cupertino City Council. He had not been on the agenda, but his presence wasn’t a total surprise. Earlier in the year the man had expressed his intention to attend a meeting in order to propose a new series of buildings along the city’s northern border, but he hadn’t felt up to it at the time. He was, as all of them knew, in dire health.
Before the start of the meeting, Kris Wang, a Cupertino councilmember, looked out the window at the back of the room and saw him walking toward the building. He moved with obvious difficulty, wearing the same outfit he had been seen in the day before when he’d introduced new products to the world—which is to say, the same outfit that anyone had ever seen him wear. When it was his turn to address the council, he walked to the podium. He began to speak, tentative at first before clicking into the conversational yet hypnotically compelling tone he used in keynotes.
His company, he said, had “grown like a weed.” His workforce had increased significantly over a decade, coming to fill more than 100 buildings as workers created one blockbuster product after another. To consolidate his employees, he wanted to create a new campus, a verdant landscape where the border between nature and building would be blurred. Unlike other corporate campuses, which he found “pretty boring,” this would feature as its centerpiece a master structure, shaped like a circle, that would hold 12,000 employees. “It’s a pretty amazing building,” he told them. “It’s a little like a spaceship landed.”
When Wang asked what benefit would come to Cupertino from this massive enterprise, the speaker had a slight edge to his voice as he explained, as if to a child, that it would enable the company to stay in the California township. Otherwise, it could sell off its current properties and take its people with it, maybe to someplace nearby, like Mountain View. That unpleasantness out of the way, the speaker was able to return to the subject of what he would create.
Read more at Wired.
The bill would likely cause millions to lose health insurance coverage. We don’t know how many because the latest version of the Republican plan has not yet been scored by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to estimate how many people it would cover and how much it would cost. The most recent score for the bill, before new amendments offered in recent weeks, found that 24 million more people would be uninsured by 2026.
Still, even without the CBO score, we have a very good sense of how the bill would work, whom it benefits, and whom it disadvantages:
- Some of Obamacare’s signature features would be gone immediately, such as the tax on people who don’t purchase health care, known as the “individual mandate.” Other protections, including the provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ plan through age 26, would survive.
- States would have the option to get waivers from two of Obamacare’s requirements: that insurers cover “essential health benefits,” and that they charge the same price to everyone regardless of their health history. That would get rid of a key protection for people with preexisting conditions. An amendment added to the AHCA in late April allows states to opt out of Obamacare’s “community rating” requirement — which says that all people, healthy and sick, should be charged the same prices — for people who do not maintain continuous health insurance coverage.
Read more at Vox.
Stalled in a snarl of Delhi traffic, an auto-rickshaw driver cranes his neck to gawp. Clad in tie-dye leggings, pot leaf earrings and a cherry-red motorcycle helmet, Leena Biswas zips her Avenger 220cc two-wheeler between two lines of drivers. At a red light, a car full of guys pulls up honking, their faces bunched into incredulous sneers.
Biswas shrugs. “I’m a rebel,” she says.
A rash of attacks in Indian cities on New Years’s Eve has reignited debates about women and public safety across the country. The targets were women out on the town – notably in Bangalore, where female revellers, massively outnumbered and some wielding stilettos in self-defence, were chased and groped by mobs of men. Many of the attackers were on motorbikes.
Within Delhi’s macho motorcycle culture, bubbly, stylish Biswas may make for an unlikely biker. But the 30-year-old doctor (who now owns three motorcycles) had an early start. At 15, she asked one of her cousins how to work the gears of his Yamaha. “He said, ‘First is down, rest is up.’ I said, ‘Dude, that’s so easy. Why don’t I give it a try?’”
What began as a hobby has now become part of a growing activist movement, built on rethinking the way women’s public safety concerns are addressed. In late November 2016, Biswas participated in a women’s motorbike ride through Delhi, organised by the human rights NGO Breakthrough India, to reclaim women’s rights on the streets.
Read more at The Guardian.
This past summer, a plane went into a stomach-churning ascent and plunge 30,000 feet over the Gulf of Mexico. The goal was not thrill-seeking, but something more genuinely daring: for about 25 seconds at a time, the parabolic flight lifted the occupants into a state of simulated weightlessness, allowing a high-tech printer to spit out cardiac stem cells into a two-chambered, simplified structure of an infant’s heart.
Impressive though this may be, it’s just a brick in the road toward an even bolder goal. Executives at nScrypt (the makers of the stem cell printer), Bioficial Organs (the ink provider), and Techshot (who thought up the heart experiment) are planning to print beating heart patches aboard the International Space Station by 2019. The printer will fly up on a commercial rocket.
Private spaceflight companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX have been criticized as vanity projects for plutocrats surfing on taxpayer investments. But the emergence of these companies has led to nose-diving prices for sending goods and equipment into space. Today it costs roughly $5,000 to launch one kilogram of stuff, compared to $30,000 during the space shuttle era. So a growing number of entrepreneurs and researchers are looking to use this relatively cheap access to harness the unique qualities of low Earth orbit—including its vacuum, microgravity, unlimited solar power, and extreme temperatures—for manufacturing. Their experiments are already spurring innovations in medicine, technology, and materials science. Eventually, if it takes off, orbital fabrication could revolutionize the way we make things.
Read more at Popular Science.
PARIS — Emmanuel Macron, the not-yet-40 former economy minister and banker, carried the French presidential election on Sunday, beating Marine Le Pen by a wider-than-expected margin of 66 to 34.
Macron struck a solemn tone, saying he wouldn’t ignore the mixed message from Sunday. Turnout was the lowest for a presidential vote since the 1969 election. Millions spoiled their ballots, unable to support either candidate. Yet Macron was also resolute, reiterating his commitment to “defending Europe” and saying he “wouldn’t be stopped by any obstacle” to his plan to reform France.
This French election, more than any in recent memory, resonated throughout Europe and across the Atlantic. In the wake of Brexit and Donald Trump’s unexpected victory last year, it offered a stark choice between a liberal, establishment vision for France and Europe personified by Macron and a nationalist, protectionist one offered by Le Pen.
Read more at Politico.
Soon after former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III was named special counsel to oversee the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion by associates of Donald Trump, the president put out a statement saying he looked forward to the inquiry’s speedy resolution.
Trump clearly isn’t familiar with the management style of Mueller, the famously by-the-book former Marine, homicide squad supervisor and long-serving head of the nation’s premiere law enforcement agency. Mueller, 72, will oversee a sprawling and potentially explosive investigation that, his fans and critics alike said Wednesday night, will be finished when he says it’s finished, no matter the pushback from the White House or Trump’s political appointee running the Justice Department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Mueller’s appointment comes a week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been leading the investigation, just as it was heating up, with subpoenas being issued and Comey himself asking for more prosecutorial resources. Based on past history, the investigation could stretch over a period of several years, as Mueller encourages FBI agents and prosecutors to pursue every lead, interview every witness – numerous times if needed – and consider any possible permutation of criminal violations, current and former colleagues said.
Read more at Politico.