Flying Cars Face “a Long Road to Regulatory Approval”

(p. B3) Curtiss Autoplane. Fulton Airphibian. Taylor Aerocar.

Businesses and entrepreneurs have been promising a mass-produced flying car for more than a century. None have succeeded, but that hasn’t stopped Hyundai and Uber from wanting in on the action.

. . .

. . . there is a long road to regulatory approval. According to Morgan Stanley, air taxis will probably be used first in package delivery, which has fewer technical and regulatory barriers.

For the full story, see:

Niraj Chokshi. “Hail a Flying Car? Soon, Hyundai and Uber Say.” The New York Times (Wednesday, January 8, 2020): B3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Jan. 7, 2020, and has the title “Where’s Your Flying Car? Hyundai and Uber Say They’re Working on It.”)

French Regulations Require Only Doctors Can Identify the Dead

(p. A4) DOUAI, France — Her mother’s death had been expected. Terminally ill with breast cancer, she lay in a medical bed in her living room, visited daily by a nurse.

But when Sandra Lambryczak’s 80-year-old mother died earlier this year, in the predawn hours of a Saturday morning, the daughter suddenly discovered a growing problem in France’s medical system: By law, the body couldn’t be moved until the death was certified by a medical doctor, but a shortage of personnel can sometimes force families to keep their deceased loved ones at home for hours or even days.

. . .

Doctors have resisted pressure from some politicians to delegate the authority to certify deaths to other health care officials. They argue that it is a serious medical procedure and that a mistake in noting the cause of death could have legal consequences.

“There are doctors, if they don’t know the patient well, say to themselves that they don’t want trouble later on,” said Dr. Olivier Bouchy, the vice president of the French Medical Council in the department of Meuse. “Signing a death certificate is not harmless.”

As with many things in France, tradition is perhaps also an obstacle to changing the doctor’s role in certifying deaths. The death certificate process, Dr. Bouchy said, harked back to an earlier time.

. . .

In France, the state’s role in regulating people’s daily lives — including in matters of health — remains strong. So the lack of a doctor, especially at the emotionally vulnerable moment when a family member dies, can feel like a deep betrayal.

“We felt abandoned by the state,” said Frédéric Deleplanque, who had to wait more than two days for a doctor to certify the death of his father-in-law, Jean-Luc Bajeux, a retired autoworker. “We were nothing.”

For the full story, see:

Norimitsu Onishi. “An Agonizing Delay After a Death at Home.” The New York Times (Tuesday, December 17, 2019): A4.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date December 16, 2019, and has the title “In France, Dying at Home Can Mean a Long Wait for a Doctor.”)

Muyembe Had Knowledge of an Ebola Cure Before Clinical Trial

(p. A1) In a medical breakthrough that compares to the use of penicillin for war wounds, two new drugs are saving lives from the virus and helping uncover tools against other deadly infectious diseases. They were proven effective in a gold-standard clinical trial conducted by an international coalition of doctors and researchers in the middle of armed violence.

. . .

(p. A10) Dr. Muyembe set out on his path to an Ebola treatment during the 1995 outbreak. He transferred blood from five survivors to eight patients, hoping that the antibodies that kept some people alive would keep others from dying. Seven of the patients who received the blood transfusion recovered.

He published the results in a scientific journal in 1999. Other researchers said the study was small and had failed to include a control group, a comparison set of patients who weren’t given the treatment, to fully test its efficacy.

For the full story, see:

Betsy McKay. “From a War Zone Came an Unexpected Cure for Ebola.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, October 31, 2019): A1 & A10.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Oct. 30, 2019, and has the title “‘Ebola Is Now a Disease We Can Treat.’ How a Cure Emerged From a War Zone.”)

E.U. Consumers Benefit from Telecommunications Deregulation

(p. A23) When Thomas Philippon moved to Boston from his native France 20 years ago, he was a graduate student on a budget, and he was happy to discover how cheap American telephone use was. In those days of dial-up internet connections, going online involved long local phone calls that could cost more than $10 apiece in France. In the United States, they were virtually free.

. . .

Today, his parents pay about 90 euros (or $100) a month in the Paris suburbs for a combination of broadband access, cable television and two mobile phones. A similar package in the United States usually costs more than twice as much.

. . .

The irony is that Europe is implementing market-based ideas — like telecommunications deregulation and low-cost airlines — that Americans helped pioneer. “E.U. consumers are better off than American consumers today,” Philippon writes, “because the E.U. has adopted the U.S. playbook, which the U.S. itself has abandoned.”

For the full commentary, see:

Leonhardt, David. “Big Business Is Overcharging You.” The New York Times (Monday, November 11, 2019): A23.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Nov. 10, 2019, and has the title “Big Business Is Overcharging You $5,000 a Year.”)

Philippon’s views on competition are elaborated in his book:

Philippon, Thomas. The Great Reversal: How America Gave up on Free Markets. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2019.

Entrepreneur Hopes to Turn Jellyfish from Turtle Food into Tourist Attraction

(p. A7) In a rare marine lake on a hatchet-shaped atoll in Indonesia, four species of jellyfish have evolved in isolation and lost their ability to sting humans. There are believed to be millions of these benign jellyfish in Kakaban Lake, which has become a popular spot for tourists intrepid enough to reach the remote archipelago known as the Derawan Islands.

. . .

While the jellyfish continue to thrive on Kakaban, the island has just two human inhabitants, . . .

. . .

About 4,000 people, mostly Muslim, live on nearby Maratua, the largest of the Derawan islands.

. . .

Maratua has at least two marine lakes. One, Haji Buang, once had jellyfish to rival Kakaban Lake. But about five years ago, its owner, Hartono, thought he could make some quick cash by raising more than 30 hawksbill sea turtles in the lake.

Only after he put the turtles in the water did he discover that it would be illegal to sell their shells because the species is critically endangered.

The hawksbills, which feed on jellyfish, have nearly exterminated the lake’s population.

“Now I regret it,” said Mr. Hartono, 62. “There used to be more jellyfish than in Kakaban Lake, but we didn’t realize this could be a tourist area.”

Mr. Hartono said he was contemplating how to catch the turtles so he could return them to the sea — with the hope that the jellyfish population would recover.

For the full story, see:

Richard C. Paddock. “INDONESIA DISPATCH; A Harmless Jellyfish Fears Humanity’s Sting.” The New York Times (Monday, November 4, 2019): A7.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the same date as the print version, and has the title “INDONESIA DISPATCH; A Lake With Stingless Jellyfish and Hints of Hotter Seas.”)

Italy Regulates Irregular Pasta

(p. D8) BARI, Italy — The grandmothers set up shop early. Out of ground-floor kitchens that opened directly onto the street, they came out singing old songs, sweeping the stone floor and scattering their homemade orecchiette, the city’s renowned ear-shaped pasta, on the mesh screens of wooden trays

. . .

The scene — the grannies, the handmade pasta, the curved stone street — evoked the southern Italy of popular imagination.

. . .

But local officials suspect that the pasta street, in the historical part of town known as Old Bari, is the scene of a crime that has prompted the orecchiette crackdown scare of 2019.

According to the mayor’s office, in mid-October police inspectors busted a local restaurant for serving untraceable orecchiette, a violation of Italian and European Union regulations that require food in restaurants to be clearly sourced. The police fined the restaurateur and forced him to trash three kilos of pasta, or about seven pounds.

The November news reports (“Strong hand against the handmade orecchiette in Old Bari” wrote La Repubblica) immediately worried the sharp-elbowed women of Bari, who are permitted to sell small plastic baggies of pasta for personal use, but who are not licensed to deliver large, unlabeled shipments to restaurants.

The women don’t earn much to begin with, and fear having to wear hairnets, issue receipts and pay taxes. People here are asking if the Italian zeal for regulations, however often ignored, will end up overpowering the local pride in a custom that has brought Bari — where many families have their go-to pasta lady — tourists and much-needed good press.

. . .

“These women work 10, 15 hours a day, seven days a week to support their unemployed husbands and sons,” said Francesco Amoruso, 76, whose mother, one of the street’s venerable pasta makers, died last year at age 99. “And this is who they come down hard on?”

. . .

In the evening, as the women brought their trays of pasta into kitchens adorned with St. Nicholas shrines, Diego De Meo, 44, the owner of the restaurant Moderat, across from City Hall, waited for the evening rush.

He said he didn’t know which restaurant was caught serving contraband orecchiette but talked about how those little irregular, handmade pasta ears had “a little magic in them.” He suggested that trying to regulate Bari was like trying to straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

“Sometimes the irregular is what makes things beautiful,” Mr. De Meo said.

Pressed further for a hint on the identity of the offending restaurant, he paused awkwardly. “It was me,” he blurted out, adding that he alerted other restaurants, many of which he said bought orecchiette from the women.

“Look, it’s correct, it’s the law,” he acknowledged, referring to the fine. But while his business was unaffected, he felt bad for the women of Bari who he said “are perplexed.”

For the full story, see:

Jason Horowitz. “A Crime of Pasta, but the Suspects’ Lips Are Sealed.” The New York Times, First Section (Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019): 6.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has no date posted, and has the title “Call It a Crime of Pasta.” In the last several sentences, where the versions have slightly different wording, the passages quoted above follow the online version.)

“Misguided Regulations” Kill Ride-Hailing App

(p. B3) New York ride-hailing business Juno USA LP filed for bankruptcy protection, blaming its demise on minimum wage regulations and mounting lawsuits from drivers, riders and competitors.

. . .

Ride-hailing companies are grappling with efforts by several states to extend employment protections to gig workers. In the face of additional regulation, the ride-hailing industry has been consolidating and pushing back against government measures that could upend their business models.

Gett, which bought Juno in a $200 million equity-based deal, said the company’s demise stemmed from “misguided regulations” in New York City.

. . .

Juno generated $269 million of revenue last year, a 23% annual increase, according to court papers. But this year its costs escalated after the city put in place a pay floor for ride-hail drivers.

The wage regulation pushed customer prices up by nearly 20%, bringing Juno’s rides per day down to 25,000 immediately before the chapter 11 petition from 47,000 per day in 2017.

. . .

Juno also said it spent substantial money on legal fees to defend itself against lawsuits from drivers, riders and competitors alike that the company described as “opportunistic.”

Drivers have sued over unemployment insurance, saying they were employees rather than independent contractors, and over stock incentives.

For the full story, see:

Alexander Gladstone. “Ride-Hailing App Enters Bankruptcy, Blaming Wage Law.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019): B3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Nov. 20, 2019, and has the title “Ride-Hailing App Juno Enters Bankruptcy, Blaming Wage Law.”)