All [Robot] Hands on Deck!

❝ Autonomous ships will be great. Doing away with sailors will make the high seas safer and cleaner.


No humans neededGlyn Kirk/AFP

❝ It sounds like a ghost story: A huge cargo vessel sails up and down the Norwegian coast, silently going about its business, without a captain or crew in sight. But if all goes as planned, it’s actually the future of shipping.

❝ Last week, Kongsberg Gruppen ASA, a Norwegian maritime-technology firm, and Yara ASA, a fertilizer manufacturer, announced a partnership to build the world’s first fully autonomous cargo containership. Manned voyages will start in 2018, and in 2020 the Yara Birkeland will set sail all on its own. It’s the beginning of a revolution that should transform one of the world’s oldest and most conservative industries — and make global shipping safer, faster and cleaner than it’s ever been…

By one consultant’s estimate, moreover, carrying sailors accounts for 44 percent of a ship’s costs. That’s not just salaries: crew quarters, air-conditioning units, a bridge (which typically requires heavy ballast to ensure a ship’s balance) and other amenities take up valuable weight and space that might otherwise be used for cargo. And that dead weight contributes to a bigger problem: Maritime shipping accounts for about 2.5 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions. Barring a radical change, those emissions are set to surge in the decades ahead.

❝ All this explains why eliminating a crew and its costs has been a long-time goal for companies and governments around the world. The most advanced effort so far has come from Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, which rolled out a virtual-reality prototype of an autonomous ship in 2014. According to the company, the ship will be 5 percent lighter, and burn up to 15 percent less fuel, than a comparable vessel with humans aboard.

All the questions required of industries capable of full automation, essential automation, apply. They must begin with what is to be done to aid the human beings made redundant by the qualitative change which – after all – makes this industry more profitable, less expensive to operate?

The capitalists of Europe will probably follow guidance from enlightened geopolitical segments within their borders. Nations with at least a social-democratic bent. I would expect the same from China and those Asian nations with the courage to follow…perhaps, even lead.

Here in the United States? Silly question, eh? We live in a nation led by a political caste almost completely under the control of the least caring profiteers in the world. Short-sighted and arrogant, they really don’t care a rat’s ass about anyone fitting the broadest definition of proletarian. If you don’t own industry, you shall be politically subservient. From church to Congress, the Free Press to teachers who think they’re a 19th Century guild, obedience is the construct that counts. And Americans are, if anything, obedient cogs in the economy.

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Hackers Came — The French Were Ready For Them

Everyone saw the hackers coming…The National Security Agency in Washington picked up the signs. So did Emmanuel Macron’s bare-bones technology team. And mindful of what happened in the American presidential campaign, the team created dozens of false email accounts, complete with phony documents, to confuse the attackers.

❝ The Russians, for their part, were rushed and a bit sloppy, leaving a trail of evidence that was not enough to prove for certain they were working for the government of President Vladimir V. Putin but which strongly suggested they were part of his broader “information warfare” campaign…

But that outcome was hardly assured on Friday night, when what was described as a “massive” hacking attack suddenly put Mr. Macron’s electoral chances in jeopardy. To French and American officials, however, it was hardly a surprise.

❝ …The staff at Mr. Macron’s makeshift headquarters in the 15th Arrondissement at the edge of Paris didn’t need the N.S.A. to tell them they were being targeted: In December, after the former investment banker and finance minister had emerged as easily the most anti-Russian, pro-NATO and pro-European Union candidate in the presidential race, they began receiving phishing emails.

Even before then, the Macron campaign had begun looking for ways to make life a little harder for the Russians, showing a level of skill and ingenuity that was missing in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and at the Democratic National Committee, which had minimal security protections and for months ignored F.B.I. warnings that its computer system had been penetrated.

❝ “We went on a counteroffensive,” digital director, Mounir Mahjoubi said. “We couldn’t guarantee 100 percent protection” from the attacks, “so we asked: what can we do?” Mr. Mahjoubi opted for a classic “cyber-blurring” strategy, well known to banks and corporations, creating false email accounts and filled them with phony documents the way a bank teller keeps fake bills in the cash drawer in case of a robbery…

Mr. Mahjoubi refused to reveal the nature of the false documents that were created, or to say whether, in the Friday document dump that was the result of the hacking campaign, there were false documents created by the Macron campaign.

But he did note that in the mishmash that constituted the Friday dump, there were some authentic documents, some phony documents of the hackers’ own manufacture, some stolen documents from various companies, and some false emails created by the campaign.

❝ “It’s clear they were rushed,” Mr. Hultquist said. “If this was APT28,” he said, using the name for a Russian group believed to be linked to the GRU, a military intelligence agency, “they have been caught in the act, and it has backfired for them.”

Russian hackers were dealing with not only a better educated populace; but, a more sophisticated audience than American voters. LePen and her populist campaign had to walk away from the most backwards aspects of campaigns her father would have run twenty or thirty years ago. She could not substitute anti-Semitism for Trump’s anti-Mexican slurs – as her father would have.

Trump’s dalliance in misogynist assaults might have cynical appeal to fools in France – as they do in the United States. But, Trump’s contempt for physically-handicapped wouldn’t play – for example – in a nation where until recently public transport still reserved front seats for victims of war.

The French shrugged off Big Lies because they knew from experience what the population in general was gifted by populist liars – and their supporters, domestic or foreign.

Trump brings us Echoes of Watergate


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❝ In dramatically casting aside James B. Comey, President Trump fired the man who may have helped make him president — and the man who potentially most threatened the future of his presidency.

Not since Watergate has a president dismissed the person leading an investigation bearing on him, and Mr. Trump’s decision late Tuesday afternoon drew instant comparisons to the Saturday Night Massacre when President Richard M. Nixon ordered the firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor looking into the so-called third-rate burglary that would eventually bring Nixon down.

❝ “With or without Mr. Comey, the F.B.I. will continue to investigate the 2016 campaign as it relates to Russian intervention,” said Timothy Naftali, a former director of the Richard M. Nixon presidential library. “This is another kind of mistake. Unless Attorney General Sessions can prove malfeasance or gross negligence by Comey, the timing of this action further deepens suspicions that President Trump is covering up something.”

RTFA for short, broad coverage of today’s events. The criminal continues to try to paper over the investigation into his own syndicate.

Banksy Brexit mural appears in Dover

❝ A Brexit-inspired mural by Banksy showing a metalworker chipping away at a star on the EU flag has appeared in Dover.

The artwork emerged overnight on the Castle Amusements building near the ferry terminal, which connects the UK with mainland Europe.

❝ The mural, which was confirmed by Banksy’s representatives to be a genuine work by the elusive artist, is his first comment on the Brexit vote last year.

Thanks, Honeyman

Czech Girl Scout stands up to skinhead at Nazi rally

❝ A 16-year-old girl Scout pictured standing up to a far-right skinhead has told the BBC she was not afraid of neo-Nazis and wanted more young people to stand up to fascism.

Lucie Myslikova, a film and animation student from the Czech city of Brno, was captured in her uniform confronting a shaven-headed demonstrator.

The rally was held on May Day by the neo-Nazi Workers Party of Social Justice…

❝ “I wasn’t afraid,” Lucie told the BBC by telephone from her school…”I went to the counter-demonstration as someone who was determined to change things. To me it makes sense to try and change the world around me,” she went on.

“I think young people should get involved in such things. They should be aware of what’s going on.

“You ask me if standing up to skinheads should be left to older people – well us, younger people, are going to be living here a lot longer than the older generation.”

❝ Lucie explained the argument with the unnamed man had been over refugees and migrants. She said she had told him that countries had a duty to help those fleeing war and conflict, and that in such cases borders did not exist…

“The main thing that’s struck me is that some people are now calling me an ‘extremist’, that being anti-fascist is somehow ‘extremist’,” she told the BBC.

“That seems to me to be the height of absurdity.”

Not anymore absurd than the fake news and alternative facts from Trump and his trained chumps. They think that Americans who demonstrate for democracy and transparency must be paid to do so. They have no comprehension of people, young or old, who believe in science and progress over fear and superstition.

For the small-minded that may be true.