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Maduro revels in support from Zimbabwe, Iran as critics decry failed summit

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro reveled in support from leftist allies during a summit of a Cold War-era bloc that wrapped up on Sunday, but critics pilloried him for hosting unpopular leaders such as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and for failing to draw many world leaders.

It appears only around a dozen heads of state from the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement made it to the meeting held on the Caribbean island of Margarita, just off Venezuela's coast, in a blow for a government keen to bolster its international legitimacy.

Authorities did not supply a list of attendees. Maduro, hit by low popularity amid a deep economic crisis, hailed the meeting as a triumph.

"This summit, we can say, has been a total success, a victory of Bolivarian diplomacy," Maduro told a news conference minutes after closing the six-day event, referring to Simon Bolivar, Latin American independence hero and idol of the socialist revolution in Venezuela.


Mugabe's got Maduro's back! Yippee!!!!

Why The Tesla/Mobileye Fight Defines An Industry-Wide Schism

Mobileye and Tesla have begun trading barbs illuminating the real reason behind their split. These attacks mask an as-yet undiscussed schism in the sector that transcends their public statements.

“(Tesla’s Autopilot) is not designed to cover all possible crash situations in a safe manner,” said Amnon Shashua, Chairman and CTO of Mobileye, the Israel-based maker of collision detection and driver assistance systems. “(Telsa) was pushing the envelope in terms of safety.”

Tesla’s response? “When Tesla refused to cancel its own vision development activities and plans for deployment, Mobileye discontinued hardware support for future platforms and released public statements implying that this discontinuance was motivated by safety concerns.”

These statements highlight a distinct but unspoken truth in the burgeoning self-driving car sector. Mobileye—the company whose technology underlies the majority of ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) and semi-autonomous driving suites on the market, may not be at the cutting edge of the technology on which they’ve built their reputation.


Mercosur may suspend Venezuela in sign of ideological split

The founding members of Mercosur will give Venezuela until Dec. 1 to meet its membership requirements or be suspended, Brazil's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, in the latest twist of a row that has exposed the region's ideological divisions.

The ultimatum will further isolate the socialist-led nation, which has been at the center of a fight over the rotating presidency of Mercosur, which has turned to the right after years dominated by leftist governments.

Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay also decided in a deal first reported by Reuters to share the presidency of the group in a temporary solution to the group's currently being without a head.

All Mercosur members but Uruguay blocked Venezuela from assuming the rotating presidency in June, accusing the OPEC nation of failing to incorporate a joint economic accord and a commitment to protect human rights.


Chile Demands Information on Detained Journalist Who Embarrassed Venezuela’s President

Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro paid a visit this month to Villa Rosa, a pro-government neighborhood on Margarita Island, expecting to be greeted with cheers. Instead, he was chased through the streets by protesters calling for his ouster, beating pots and pans and shouting, “we are hungry!”

A prominent opposition journalist, Braulio Jatar, caught the confrontation on his cellphone camera and quickly posted it online. International news outlets picked up the story and soon Venezuelans, suffering from extreme shortages of food, basic supplies and life-saving medicine, were reveling in the sight of their apparently humiliated president. Twitter users shared cartoonish memes of the president under the hashtag #VillaRosa.

But the very next morning Jatar, who holds both Chilean and Venezuelan citizenship, was detained on his way to host a radio show. He was charged with money laundering and trying to fund a terror attack. Meanwhile, the government, trying to downplay the grainy video, said it was manipulated and released footage of their own showing Maduro cheered by supporters during his visit.

Now the Chilean government is demanding to know the reporter’s whereabouts and to allow visits from his family, his lawyers, and Chilean representatives. Initially Jatar was held in a detention center on Margarita Island, but he was recently moved to an unknown location and hasn’t seen his lawyers for a week.


Chevy Bolt EV range is 238 miles: Prime time for the electric car?

Crowds formed and money seemed to rain from the sky when Tesla began taking deposits for its 200-mile, $35,000 Model 3 electric sedan in the spring.

It will be more than a year before the Model 3 hits the road — and that’s if Elon Musk makes good on his promise to deliver the car by late 2017. But now, Chevrolet has created a Tesla fighter that's similarly priced, with even longer range -- and it'll be available by the end of year.

The General Motors subsidiary announced Tuesday that its 2017 Bolt EV has achieved a federally tested range of 238 miles per charge. That impressive number -- enough to travel from Los Angeles to Las Vegas without stopping to recharge -- is the best of available battery-powered cars in that price range.

As the first mid-priced, long-range electric vehicle to hit the market, the Bolt could be the most convincing argument yet for mainstream acceptance of an electric vehicle.


Elon Musk Says Pending Tesla Updates Could Have Prevented Fatal Crash

Tesla Motors is readying improvements to its Autopilot technology that might have prevented an accident in May that took the life of an Ohio man, Tesla’s chief executive said on Sunday. The man was killed when his Model S car driving in Autopilot crashed into a tractor-trailer.

The improvements, to be released in the next week or two, include changes that require drivers to refrain from taking their hands off the steering wheel for long periods and more precise use of radar to recognize potential obstacles in the road.

In a conference call with reporters, the head of Tesla, Elon Musk, said he believed the upgrades would have prevented the accident on May 7.

“These things cannot be said with absolute certainty, but we believe it is very likely that, yes, it would have,” he said. The new version of Autopilot, with its improved radar, “would see a large metal object across the road” and be able to determine that the object is not an overpass or overhead road sign that poses no threat, he said. “Impact probability would be assessed as high and it would probably brake.”


The shift to emphasizing radar processing vs. visual image processing may really improve autonomous driving capabilities in lousy weather conditions.

We Need ‘Somebody Spectacular’: Views From Trump Country

After Bill Bissett, the president of the Kentucky Coal Association, told me that “President Obama cares more about Paris, France, than he does about Paris, Kentucky” — a sentiment that seems broadly shared around here — I decided to check out this little town with a big name set amid the verdant undulations of picket-fenced Kentucky horse country. Soon enough I ran into Cindy Hedges, whose boot store stands on Main Street and whose hours, as described by a sign on the door, are: “If I’m here, I’m here. If I ain’t, I ain’t.”

Straight talk, the way the people of this particular Paris like it, is the kind of talk they recognize in Donald J. Trump. Hedges is a garrulous woman who says she’s “never met a stranger.” But recent times have tried her affability. Her business has been slow. Her husband, Mitch, lost his job as the coal business collapsed, she has been withdrawing money from savings, and the couple are struggling to afford health insurance. All of which has led her to the conviction that the country is off track and needs “somebody spectacular to get us halfway straight.”

For her, that somebody is Trump. She voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and says her political choices are gut-driven rather than party-driven. “I have never been this political,” she tells me. “This is the most fired-up I’ve ever been for a candidate.” She believes Trump will get business going, revoke trade deals she sees as draining domestic jobs, and “clean up the mess Obama has left us.” But what, I ask, of Trump’s evident character flaws? “Sure, he’s kind of a loose cannon, but he tells it the way it is and, if elected, people will be there to calm him down a bit, tweak a word or two in his speeches. And I just don’t trust Hillary Clinton.”

Kentucky voted twice for Bill Clinton before going solidly Republican in presidential elections. Now Kentuckians are clambering aboard the Trump train — and to heck with its destination. Obama is blamed for the collapse of coal, particularly in eastern Kentucky, and the ever more stringent standards of the Environmental Protection Agency. Beyond that, the blame is aimed at airy-fairy liberals more concerned about climate change — often contested or derided — than about Americans trying to make their house payments.


The Bitch America Needs

There are so many ways to be a bitch when you’re Hillary Clinton. You can refuse to give up a thriving law career when your husband is elected governor of Arkansas. Later, when he becomes president of the United States, you can infuriate housewives across the nation with a dismissive reference to baking cookies.

You can be too loud, too ambitious, too emotional, not emotional enough. You can say things and do things that are still considered the exclusive realm of white men. You can rally millions of people to vote for you. You can do anything and everything, and it doesn’t matter: The word “bitch,” more than almost any other, will cling to the back of your smart pantsuits forever.

But what if that’s not a bad thing?

The fact that “bitch” has become both an epithet and an honorific for Mrs. Clinton has turned out to be one of the least weird things about this election year. In a race that is indelibly colored by gender and sexism, it’s also potentially transformative. Few of the women who choose to venture into the male-dominated sphere of American politics are hothouse flowers, of course, but Mrs. Clinton’s long journey to the center of presidential contention mirrors a larger impatience with a time-honored tradition of going along to get along. This is not just in politics either: From film stars to athletes to teenage activists, outspoken women from all arenas are increasingly visible, much to the concern of sexists everywhere.


Samsung warns customers to stop using Galaxy Note 7 immediately; more fires reported

Source: LA Times

Samsung Electronics on Saturday urged consumers to stop using Galaxy Note 7 smartphones immediately and exchange them as soon as possible as more reports of the phones catching fire emerged even after the company's global recall.

The call from the South Korean company, the world's largest smartphone maker, comes after U.S. authorities urged consumers to switch their Galaxy Note 7 phones off and not to use or charge them during a flight. Several airlines around the world asked travelers not switch on the jumbo smartphone or put it in checked baggage, with some carriers banning the phone on flights.

In a statement posted on its website, Samsung asked users around the world to “immediately” return their existing Galaxy Note 7s and get a replacement.

“We are asking users to power down their Galaxy Note 7s and exchange them as soon as possible,” Koh Dong-jin, Samsung's mobile president, said in the statement. “We are expediting replacement devices so that they can be provided through the exchange program as conveniently as possible.”

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-samsung-galaxy-fires-20160910-snap-story.html

Sounds like a pretty hot item.

Take Back the House, Democrats. Please.

RECENT polls put Hillary Clinton slightly ahead of Donald Trump in traditionally Republican states like Georgia and close even in South Carolina. Should she make the serious investment necessary to put those states in play for real? Or should she ignore them and invest the same money in traditional battleground states? If the only concern were to minimize Mr. Trump’s chances of winning, it would be an easy call: Caution would dictate focusing exclusively on swing states.

Yet as basic economic principles make clear, caution dictates no such thing. Most people prefer not to take risks, yes, but reducing one risk sometimes creates greater exposure to another. For example, Republican congressional majorities have repeatedly blocked our rapidly dwindling opportunity to mitigate climate change, which is one of several crucial areas where they have failed us. Immigration reform, income inequality and civil rights also come to mind. The point is that expenditures on the presidential campaign must be weighed against those for congressional races. To get what they want, Democrats must go all in.

The Democratic Party comp seems poised to recapture its Senate majority this year, but the House is a different matter. Many warn that the current 61-seat Republican majority, much of it achieved by post-2010 gerrymandering, has made flipping the lower chamber an unrealistic goal.

But that view betrays a misunderstanding of how partisan gerrymandering actually works. One aim of the practice has been to reconfigure electoral boundaries to transfer redundant votes from safe districts into swing districts. If one district usually votes 60 percent Republican and an adjacent one votes 48 percent Republican, for example, boundaries might be redrawn so that each would vote 54 percent Republican. In a typical election year, the formerly Democratic district would flip Republican. But since each new district would have only a 4 percentage point cushion, both seats would turn blue in a Democratic wave election.

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