FAA Requires Drones to Carry Onboard Manuals

(p. B1) BERLIN–In four years, Service-drone.de GmbH has emerged as a promising player here in the rapidly expanding commercial-drone industry. The 20-employee startup has sold more than 400 unmanned aircraft to private-sector companies and now is pitching its fourth-generation device.
Over the same period, Seattle-based Applewhite Aero has struggled to get permission from the Federal Aviation Administration just to fly its drones, which are designed for crop monitoring. The company, founded the same year as Service-drone, has test-flown only one of its four aircraft, and is now moving some operations to Canada, where getting flight clearance is easier.
“We had to petition the FAA to not carry the aircraft manual onboard,” said Applewhite founder Paul Applewhite. “I mean, who’s supposed to read it?” Mr. Applewhite, like many of his U.S. peers, fears the drone industry “is moving past the U.S., and we’re just getting left behind.”

For the full story, see:
JACK NICAS. “U.S. Rules Clips Drone Makers’ Wings.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., Oct. 6, 2014): B1 & B4.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Oct. 5, 2014, and has the title “Regulation Clips Wings of U.S. Drone Makers.”)

Simplot’s Company Keeps Innovating with Potatoes

(p. B1) A potato genetically engineered to reduce the amounts of a potentially harmful ingredient in French fries and potato chips has been approved for commercial planting, the Department of Agriculture announced on Friday [November 7, 2014].
The potato’s DNA has been altered so that less of a chemical called acrylamide, which is suspected of causing cancer in people, is produced when the potato is fried.
The new potato also resists bruising, a characteristic long sought by potato growers and processors for financial reasons. Potatoes bruised during harvesting, shipping or storage can lose value or become unusable.
The biotech tubers were developed by the J. R. Simplot Company, a privately held company based in Boise, Idaho, which was the initial supplier of frozen French fries to McDonald’s in the 1960s and is still a major supplier. The company’s founder, Mr. Simplot, who died in 2008, became a billionaire.
The potato is one of a new wave of genetically modified crops that aim to provide benefits to consumers, not just to farmers as the widely grown biotech crops like herbicide-tolerant soybeans and corn do. The nonbruising aspect of the potato is similar to that of genetically engineered nonbrowning apples, developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, which are awaiting regulatory approval.
. . .
The question now is whether the potatoes — which come in the Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic varieties — will be adopted by food companies and restaurant chains. At least one group opposed to such crops has already pressed McDonald’s to reject them.

For the full story, see:
ANDREW POLLACK. “New Potato, Hot Potato: U.S. Approves Modified Crop. Next Up: French-Fry Fans.” The New York Times (Sat., NOV. 8, 2014): B1-B2.
(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date NOV. 7, 2014, and has the title “U.S.D.A. Approves Modified Potato. Next Up: French Fry Fans.”)

Consumers Cannot Count on Regulators for Safety

(p. A1) WASHINGTON — The nation’s top auto regulator faced withering criticism across Capitol Hill on Tuesday over its failure to identify a deadly defect in General Motors cars — even as its top official tried again and again to shift the blame back to the automaker.
Hours after a House committee released a scathing report about the agency’s yearslong failure to spot the ignition-stalling defect that has now been linked to 19 deaths, a Senate subcommittee hearing turned angry and tense. Lawmakers from both parties accused the agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of overlooking evidence that could have saved lives and of deferring to the auto industry rather than standing up to it.
The agency was “more interested in singing ‘Kumbaya’ with the manufacturers than being a cop on the beat,” said Senator Claire McCaskill, the subcommittee’s chairwoman, in sharp questioning reminiscent of her interrogation of G.M.’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, in a hearing before the same panel in the spring.
. . .
(p. B2) “You want to obfuscate responsibility, rather than take responsibility,” Ms. McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, said, her voice rising. “We’ve all said shame on G.M.” She added, “You’ve got to take some responsibility that this isn’t being handled correctly.”
. . .
Watching from a seat just behind Mr. Friedman [deputy administrator of the N.H.T.S.A.] was Laura Christian, the birth mother of Amber Rose, a teenager who was killed in 2005 when her Cobalt ran off the road, into a tree, and the air bags did not deploy.
As Mr. Friedman continued to speak, Ms. Christian said she could feel herself getting flushed and increasingly upset over the agency’s lack of remorse.
“It was extremely frustrating to hear David Friedman go on about how his agency was this wonderful thing,” she said. “All along they missed the glaringly obviously defects.”

For the full story, see:
HILARY STOUT and AARON M. KESSLER. “Congress Castigates Auto Regulator Over a Deadly G.M. Defect.” The New York Times (Weds., SEPT. 17, 2014): A1 & B2.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed words, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 16, 2014, and has the title “Senators Take Auto Agency to Task Over G.M. Recall.” In the Midwest edition that I receive, this article started on p. A1; according to the indexes, and the online edition, in the New York edition, the article started on p. B1.)

Esther Dyson Sees a Lot of Silicon Valley as Just Motivated to Make Money

(p. C11) The U.S. Commerce Department recently said that it plans to relinquish its oversight of Icann, handing that task to an international body of some kind. The details are still being worked out, but Ms. Dyson hopes that governments won’t be the new regulators. . . .
For now, she thinks there are many Silicon Valley Internet companies with inflated market values. “There is the desire to make money that motivates a lot of that in Silicon Valley, and yes, I think it’s totally a bubble,” she says. “It’s not like the last bubble in that there are a lot of real companies there [now], but there are a lot of unreal companies and…many of them will disappear.” She thinks too many people are starting similar companies. “You have people being CEOs of teeny little things who would be much better as marketing managers of someone else’s company,” she says.
And though her work often takes her to California, she’s happy to stay in New York. These days, she finds Silicon Valley “very fashionable,” she says, “and I don’t really like fashion.”

For the full interview, see:
ALEXANDRA WOLFE, interviewer. “WEEKEND CONFIDENTIAL; Esther Dyson’s Healthy Investments; The investor is hoping to produce better health through technology with a new nonprofit.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., May 3, 2014): C11.
(Note: first ellipsis added; second ellipsis in original.)
(Note: the online version of the interview has the date May 2, 2014, and has the title “WEEKEND CONFIDENTIAL; Esther Dyson’s Healthy Investments; The investor is hoping to produce better health through technology with a new nonprofit.”)

Catering to Auto Dealers, State Governments Restrict Consumers Right to Buy Direct from Tesla

(p. 7B) Backed by dealership trade groups, several states, including Arizona, New Jersey, Maryland, Texas and Virginia, have banned or restricted Tesla from selling to the public.
The Iowa Department of Transportation asked Tesla to stop its West Des Moines test drives after being alerted to the event by the Iowa Automobile Dealers Association, said Paul Steier, director of the DOT’s Bureau of Investigation and Identity Protection.
. . .
State law requires auto dealers to be licensed, and by offering test drives, Tesla was acting as a dealer, Steier said. “You can’t just set up in a hotel parking lot and sell cars,” said Bruce Anderson, president of the Iowa Automobile Dealers Association. “This is a regulated industry.”

For the full story, see:
Joel Aschbrenner, The Des Moines Register. “With Farm Robotics, the Cows Decide When It’s Milking Time.” USA Today (Weds., September 26, 2014): 7B.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date September 25, 2014, and differs in some respects from the print version. In the quotes above, I have followed the print version.)

Cat Stevens Protests New York Government Ban on Paperless Tickets

(p. C3) Yusuf, the singer until recently called Yusuf Islam, but better known as Cat Stevens for his 1970s hits like “Peace Train,” has canceled a concert at the Beacon Theater in frustration over New York state laws on ticket scalping.
. . .
“I have been a longtime supporter of paperless tickets to my shows worldwide and avoiding scalpers,” Yusuf wrote. “Unfortunately NY has a state law that requires all tickets sold for shows in NYC to be paper, enabling them to be bought and sold at inflated prices.”
After heavy lobbying by the ticketing industry, New York passed a law in 2010, which has since been renewed, requiring promoters to offer customers the option of transferrable tickets.

For the full story, see:
BEN SISARIO. “Cat Stevens Cancels Show and Cites Ticket Law.” The New York Times (Thurs., SEPTEMBER 25, 2014): C3.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPTEMBER 24, 2014, and has the title “Yusuf, the Former Cat Stevens, Cancels New York Concert.”)

FDR Ruthlessly Manipulated Political Process

(p. D8) Michael C. Janeway, a former editor of The Boston Globe and executive editor of The Atlantic Monthly who wrote two books chronicling what he saw as the intertwined decline of democracy and journalism in the United States, died on Thursday [April 17, 2014] at his home in Lakeville, Conn.
. . .
The second book, “The Fall of the House of Roosevelt: Brokers of Ideas and Power From FDR to LBJ,” published in 2004, measured some of the ideas in his first book against the history of the New Deal. It focused on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inner circle of advisers, a group of political operatives and thinkers often called Roosevelt’s “brain trust,” who helped conceive ideas like the minimum wage, Social Security and federal bank deposit insurance.
Mr. Janeway’s father, Eliot Janeway, an economist, Democratic hand and columnist for Time magazine (a portfolio not unheard-of in those days), was a prominent member of that group.
Michael Janeway suggested that in undertaking the radical changes necessary to yank the “shattered American capitalist system into regulation and reform,” Roosevelt and his team manipulated the political process with a level of ruthlessness that may have been justified by the perils of the times. But in the years that followed, he wrote, the habit of guile and highhandedness devolved into the kind of arrogance that defined — and doomed — the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, Roosevelt’s last political heir.

For the full obituary, see:
PAUL VITELLO. “Michael Janeway, 73, Former Editor of The Boston Globe.” The New York Times (Sat., APRIL 19, 2014): D8.
(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has title “Michael Janeway, Former Editor of The Boston Globe, Dies at 73.”)

The book mentioned in the passage quoted above is:
Janeway, Michael. The Fall of the House of Roosevelt: Brokers of Ideas and Power from FDR to LBJ, Columbia Studies in Contemporary American History. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.