Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunday Globe Going Under

I've hit a wall.

"Amateur submariner charged with manslaughter in Denmark" by Jan M. Olsen Associated Press  August 12, 2017

COPENHAGEN — A Danish court ordered the owner of an amateur-built submarine Saturday to be held in pretrial detention for 24 days while police investigate the disappearance of a Swedish journalist who had been on the craft before it sank.

Peter Madsen was arrested Friday on preliminary manslaughter charges, hours after his 40-ton, nearly 60-foot-long submarine sank off Denmark’s eastern coast.

He has denied responsibility for the fate of 30-year-old Kim Wall, saying the journalist disembarked before his vessel, named the UC3 Nautilus, went down.

Judge Kari Soerensen announced the ruling after a two-hour custody hearing held behind closed doors.

Madsen’s defense lawyer, Betina Hald Engmark, said her client maintains his innocence. He is ‘‘willing to cooperate’’ and hasn’t decided whether to appeal the detention ruling, Hald Engmark said.

Before the hearing was closed, the courtroom was packed with Danish and Swedish reporters and the 46-year-old Madsen’s relatives. Madsen smiled and chatted with his lawyer.

‘‘I would very much like to express myself,’’ he said after the preliminary charges were read.

Prosecutor Louise Pedersen said Madsen faces the preliminary manslaughter charge ‘‘for having killed in an unknown way and in an unknown place Kim Isabel Fredrika Wall of Sweden sometime after Thursday 5 p.m.’’

Wall’s boyfriend alerted authorities early Friday that the sub had not returned to Copenhagen as expected, prompting a major search involving two helicopters, three ships and several private boats. The Navy said the sub was seen sailing, but then sank shortly afterward.

Kristian Isbak, who had responded to the Navy’s call to help locate the ship on Friday, told the Associated Press he first spotted Madsen standing wearing his trademark military fatigues in the submarine’s tower while it was still afloat.

‘‘He then climbed down inside the submarine and there was then some kind of air flow coming up and the submarine started to sink,’’ Isbak said. ‘‘[He] came up again and stayed in the tower until water came into it’’ before swimming to a nearby boat as the submarine sank, he added.

Madsen told authorities he had dropped Wall off on an island in Copenhagen’s harbor a few hours into their Thursday night trip.

‘‘It is with great dismay that we received the news that Kim went missing,’’ her family said.

The Sweden-born freelance journalist studied at the Sorbonne university in Paris, the London School of Economics and at Columbia University in New York, where she graduated with a master’s degree in journalism in 2013.

She lived in New York and Peking, her family said, and had written for The New York Times, The Guardian, the South China Morning Post, and Vice Magazine, among other publications.

A salvage vessel, the Vina, on Saturday raised the submarine, which was 23 feet under water off Copenhagen’s south island of Dragoer. The submarine was brought up some 4.3 miles off the coast and is expected to be transported to land at some point.


That's an odd story because he was a veteran seaman.

"As Amazon booms, retail jobs shift" by Katie Johnston Globe Staff  August 12, 2017

FALL RIVER — Hundreds of people flocked to the Amazon job fair here early this month: store clerks, security guards, technicians, an EMT, an iPhone repairman, even a manager at a hospital — some unemployed, many not — ranging in age from teens to retirees. They were lured by the prospect of a full-time job with benefits at a company so successful it has obliterated jobs across the retail landscape.

Amazon the job killer is also creating jobs at a staggering pace, mostly in its massive warehouse and delivery operations. But will there be enough for the workers displaced by its vast success? Are people better off packing and shipping boxes than selling suits and skirts?

When will you be replaced by AI?

The Internet has roiled industries throughout the economy, and its impact on traditional retail has been seismic. Brick-and-mortar stores have seen their prospects erode precipitously in the past year. Sears, Macy’s, JCPenney — once mighty chains — are on the ropes.

But this revolution may be less about eliminating jobs than redefining them. Michael Mandel, chief economic strategist at the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., says that e-commerce is creating more jobs than traditional retailers are losing.

When jobs in warehouses, known as fulfillment centers, are counted, e-commerce companies have added more than 400,000 jobs since 2007, while brick-and-mortar retailers lost the equivalent of 140,000 full-time jobs, according to Mandel’s analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. E-commerce warehouse workers also earn 31 percent more on average than their in-store counterparts in the same geographic area, he found. And unlike traditional retail, many of these jobs are full time, with benefits.

“E-commerce is a job creator, not a job destroyer,” said Mandel, who says he’s the first analyst to consider warehouse workers as part of e-commerce. “It’s a win for consumers, who get more convenience. It’s a win for workers with a high school education, who have access to more jobs at higher wages. And it’s a win for retailers that expand into online sales. The only one it’s not a win for is shopping mall owners.

“A retail apocalypse? Nah. It’s an evolution.”

Amazon has more than 382,000 full-time employees in the United States, 125,000 of them at its fulfillment centers, and its nationwide job fair Aug. 2 was intended to bring in 50,000 more, the majority full time. In Massachusetts, where the company has 3,000 employees and is looking to hire 700 more, job seekers at the warehouse in Fall River waited hours for a chance to tour the facility and apply for a job.

Lenny Betances, 32, a CVS manager in Long Island, showed up in a tie, with his resume. The father of three, who did supply chain work in the Marines and previously worked at a Target distribution center, was hoping his logistics experience could help him land an operations manager role. And what better place to do that than at an Amazon warehouse the size of 20 football fields?

“You just have to keep up with the times,” Betances said. “I shop online for everything.”

But how stable these fulfillment center jobs are remains to be seen, as automation threatens to displace even more workers. Some online shopping warehouses rely heavily on seasonal and temporary workers, who don’t have the protections that full-time staffers do.

That's the point.

Also, online retailers are so much more productive than brick-and-mortar stores that they need fewer people to get the job done; one online employee generates more than four times the sales revenue that a traditional retail worker makes, according to J.P. Morgan research. Three-quarters of online sellers have four or fewer employees, according to the US Census.

Another cautionary note: Many workers aren’t able to move seamlessly from traditional retailers to e-commerce. Struggling sectors such as clothing and department stores are dominated by female employees, who may be less likely to go into physically taxing warehouse jobs, noted Anastasia Christman, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project. And people in lower-income, urban communities who once worked at shops in their neighborhood — many of them people of color — may not have a ready way to get to the mammoth e-commerce warehouses located outside city centers, Christman said.

Of the Massachusetts residents who left retail jobs in the first quarter of 2016 and were able to find work, more than a third found another retail job, but the next biggest group — 14 percent — transitioned into lodging and food service, according to census data. “They may be moving into jobs that could potentially have even worse wages and working conditions,” Christman said.

Yeah, but it's all good. Don't ruin the propaganda narrative on a Sunday. That's blasphemous.

Despite the online onslaught, many traditional retail establishments are going strong, and e-commerce may even bolster in-store sales. While online shopping accounts for just 8.4 percent of total retail sales, according to the census, more than half of those who buy something in a store check their options online first, according to Deloitte.

I give up.

Amazon, which began as an online bookseller, and whose swift rise led to the demise of many independent book shops, is now looking to fill the void it created by opening book stores in Dedham and Lynnfield, among eight stores nationally so far, with five more to come.

“It’s another way to reach the customer and test what resonates with them,” Amazon chief financial officer Brian T. Olsavsky told investors earlier this year.

It has also started opening physical locations for college textbook pickups, as well as groceries, and its acquisition of Whole Foods makes its brick-and-mortar footprint bigger.

Increasingly, companies are creating hybrid models, in which customers order online and pick up in a store. Several companies with robust online grocery businesses, such as Walmart and Kroger, use these “click and collect” systems, said Francoise Carre, research director for the Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Workers who remain at stores may get more training to adapt to this new regime, learning, for example, how to help customers order a product online on the spot if the store doesn’t have it.

And some in-store skills can transfer to online roles, said Jeffrey Neville, a vice president at the Boston-based retail consultancy BRP Consulting. A clothing salesman at Nordstrom, for instance, could become a stylist for the online clothing service Stitch Fix, while in-store employees who order products and stock shelves can do the same for online warehouses.

Today’s fulfillment centers are much more automated than warehouses of the past, but they are moving toward the use of “helper robots” that work alongside people, rather than replacing them, Neville said.

Well, they will eventually replace you.

Mandel, the Progressive Policy Institute economist, argues that these jobs are turning “unpaid household labor” — like consumers driving to the mall, picking out a pair of shoes, and waiting in line to buy them — into paying jobs. And as people increasingly expect same-day or next-day delivery, and are willing to pay, more fulfillment centers will open, and more jobs will be created, he said.

“It looks a lot like the industrial expansion of the early 20th century, on the distribution side instead of the production side,” he said.

Even though the US economy is considered close to full employment, the 30,000-plus workers who lined up at Amazon’s job fairs were a clear sign that there is great demand for full-time jobs with health insurance, retirement plans, tuition reimbursement, and wages that the company says are nearly a third higher than in-store jobs. At its warehouses, nearly 15 percent of Amazon’s entry-level managers started in hourly jobs, according to the company.

Since when is an underestimated 4% and the lowest labor participation rate in generations considered full employment? 

Only in the Bo$ton Globe, I gue$$.

Amazon would not disclose how many job-fair hires have been made.

Tony Phillips, a 45-year-old Warwick, R.I., resident, spent 25 years in the hospitality industry before going to school for facilities management and was recently laid off from a plumbing apprentice job. A regular retail job wouldn’t cut it, he said. He came to the job fair in Fall River because he wanted a job — any job, and the possibility to move up — at the thriving online company.

“If they had a stripper pole, I’d do it,” he said. “Just get me in the door.”

Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!


They are hitting new benchmarks every day.

Ground floor:

"Lessons not learned: Massachusetts belatedly confronts construction fire dangers" by Kay Lazar and Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff August 12, 2017

The massive blaze in 2007 was a wake-up call for fire departments and state officials to the serious potential hazards of these increasingly common engineered wood products, especially during construction, before sheetrock, sprinklers, and fire alarms are installed and operating. East Longmeadow immediately stepped up efforts to reduce the risk of fires at all construction sites, said Paul Morrissette, now the town’s fire chief, who was a captain on the first truck to arrive at the scene in 2007.

Now, 10 years later, it’s clear that much of Massachusetts didn’t get the message.

They never do.

Recent spectacular fires at wood-framed apartment complexes under construction in Waltham and Dorchester have revealed big gaps in the state’s approach to fire prevention at these kinds of projects, especially at a time when local building and fire inspectors say they feel overwhelmed just keeping up with the pace of development in this boom economy, and it’s unclear if any developers have pushed to implement potentially costly recommendations in the state fire code such as requiring round-the-clock security, which might have prevented or at least mitigated the nighttime conflagration that consumed the Waltham project last month.

Construction workers, too, may need added training in the risks that engineered wood can pose. Workers at the Treadmark construction project in Dorchester smelled smoke, but didn’t call 911 for 90 minutes. The nearly completed apartment complex was destroyed.

Adding to the confusion, the state building and fire codes invite widely different interpretations about what developers must do to prevent construction sites from going up in flames. Last week, after weeks of questions from the Globe, top building and fire safety officials announced they would form a working group to clarify basic issues surrounding interpretation and enforcement of the codes.

Unfortunately, fire officials say the fire risk has only grown as the state now allows contractors to use wood-frame construction in buildings up to six stories tall. Such taller wood-framed buildings are often shoehorned into densely populated areas, putting entire neighborhoods at risk during construction fires. The Waltham and Dorchester fires forced evacuations and road closings that went on for days.

Many on the front lines battling these blazes have been sounding an alarm about lightweight wood-frame buildings at least since 2010 when the state building code was amended to raise the height limit from five to six stories. The following year, firefighters began urging Massachusetts lawmakers to create a commission to investigate the impact of the possible role of manufactured wood construction in firefighter deaths and injuries.

At least three US firefighters were killed fighting construction fires in wood-framed buildings in the mid-2000s, including a Wisconsin firefighter who fell through a floor being supported by joists made with composite wood. Firefighters say these tragedies have changed the way they fight fires in modern wood-frame buildings, reducing the amount of time they can fight the blaze from inside the structure before it collapses, but proposals to create a commission to study the issue have languished for years in the Massachusetts Legislature, in part because the lead sponsor, Senator Thomas P. Kennedy of Brockton, died in 2015.

No one picked up the torch?

“It seems to me there’s been a rush to get these innovative building techniques on the market,” said Acushnet Fire Chief Kevin A. Gallagher, a member of the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards, which establishes building codes. “It may be time for a timeout to make sure we are not going down a road that will come back and bite us later.”

Today, thousands of units using engineered wood framing are going up all over Greater Boston. According to Frederick Kramer, a regional vice president at Stantec, a Canadian architectural and engineering design firm that designs projects in the United States, demand for affordable and luxury apartment complexes is so intense, and building costs so steep, that wood-framed projects have become the only viable option.

“Those projects don’t work in anything other than wood construction,” Kramer said. “They don’t work in steel, or steel and concrete. Wood is the only answer, or the project does not get built.”

Home, Crap Home.

The downside of engineered wood, according to fire safety experts, is that it burns faster than traditional wood, and once those lightweight supporting materials fail, roofs and floors collapse quickly.

“Ninety percent of these buildings go up every day and nothing happens,”said Easthampton Fire Chief David Mottor, president of the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts. Mottor said that engineered wood is “relatively safe” once a building is occupied.

Your new apartment is ready!

“It’s during construction, before the sprinkler system is activated, when they are most dangerous,” said Mottor, calling the recent Massachusetts fires “an eye opener,” demonstrating their potential risk to firefighters and neighboring residents.

Massachusetts regulators recognized both the promise and the peril of engineered wood in 2010 when they updated the state building code to match international regulations that allow taller lightweight wood-framed buildings.....

But, but, however, however, and they minimized the arson involved in Waltham. Why?



"A wildfire has cut off the return route for dozens of people staying in a Glacier National Park chalet, leaving them the choice of remaining until rangers tell them it is safe or hiking out along a longer and more difficult trail. Park rangers also planned to lead out 39 other hikers who were staying in backcountry campsites near fires that broke out after Thursday (AP)."

"Fugitive from Watertown arrested in Puerto Rico" by John Hilliard Globe Correspondent  August 12, 2017

A Watertown developer who skipped town after his securities-fraud conviction traded time behind bars for life in Puerto Rico, where he was arrested Friday night, according to officials.

The arrest by US marshals ended a months-long flight for Robert H. Bray, 79, whose 2016 conviction for insider trading came after decades of working in local real estate development, including renovations of labs and other buildings at Harvard University.

“I felt very bad about the whole thing, about him. It’s a very bad situation. He’s a very nice guy,” said Vincent Luca, who has known Bray for about 40 years, in a brief phone interview Saturday.

Bray was arrested in Añasco, Puerto Rico, a community of about 27,500 people along Puerto Rico’s western shoreline.

Bray was convicted in January 2016 of insider trading in federal court in Boston, and sentenced to pay a $1 million fine and serve a two-year prison term. He was ordered to report to the federal prison in Devens to start his prison term May 19, but disappeared. Authorities then launched a nationwide manhunt to track him down.

Bray is expected to appear in federal court in San Juan Monday or Tuesday to answer a federal arrest warrant, which was issued in Massachusetts, said Neil Sullivan, a deputy US marshal, in a phone interview Saturday.

On Saturday, Sullivan declined to say how authorities finally located Bray, but they believed he headed directly for Puerto Rico after leaving Massachusetts.....


I'm done braying about it.

Also see:

"The ‘‘Son of Sam’’ killer who terrorized New York 40 years ago said he thought he was doing something ‘‘to appease the devil.’’ David Berkowitz told CBS News in an interview broadcast Friday that he ‘‘surrendered to those very dark forces’’ when he killed six people and wounded seven. Thursday was the 40th anniversary of Berkowitz’s Aug. 10, 1977 arrest (AP)." 

I used to dismiss the thought of Satanic sacrifices and the like, but it has now become one of those handful of issues that the ma$$ media will not touch (along with organ harvesting, elite pedophilia, radiation poisoning), and it doesn't matter if you or I believe in such things, what matters is whether the people in power believe in such things to the point of ritual. More than Heaven and Earth in the world.


"Dozens of fires are burning across the West, and federal and state fire managers raised the National Fire Preparedness Level to Level 5, its highest point, on Friday. Level 5 signals most firefighting resources are being used and that aid may be needed from the military. The level was last raised to 5 in 2015....."

They are in rural Washington, Montana (a lightning strike started it), and Oregon.

"Wind-fanned wildfires rage on in Portugal, Corsica" Associated Press  August 13, 2017

LISBON — Hot and dry weather stoked the wildfires burning across southern Europe on Sunday, as firefighters in Portugal and the French island of Corsica struggled to corral the flames.

Over 4,000 firefighters were battling more than 250 wildfires in Portugal, which requested assistance from other European Union nations.

On Corsica, fires that have raged since Thursday forced the evacuation of 1,000 people, authorities said.

Patricia Gaspar, a Portugal Civil Protection Agency spokeswoman, said the country set an annual single-day record for new fires on Saturday, when 268 separate fires started.

Although the weather isn’t helping, nature was responsible for igniting a minority of the blazes, Gaspar said.

‘‘We know that more than 90 percent of the fires have a human cause, whether intentional of from negligence. Both are crimes,’’ she said.

Portugal’s government asked Europe for help, said Constanca Urbano de Sousa, Minister of Internal Administration, on Saturday.


There was a story in the foreign press that firefighters were turning to arson for job security purposes.

I'm sure it is all Trump's fault anyway.