*GOING ROGUE – Lonely Parrot Goes Shopping Online With Alexa While Owners Out:
Talk about a captive audience. Rocco, an apparently lonely and, uh, peckish African Grey parrot in Berkshire UK, has become so used to hearing his owners talk to Amazon’s Alexa, he started doing it himself when they were out of the house. So far, the feathered fowl has ordered watermelon, strawberries, raisins, ice cream and even broccoli. The bird has also commanded the home robot to tell him jokes and play love songs. Rocco’s owner Marion Wischnewski toldThe Times of London that she often comes home to Rocco dancing to romantic music, which she says is indicative of his “sweet personality.”
Because of a parental lock feature, none of the orders for food have so far gone through, but his owner always has to check that he hasn’t scheduled events or added to her online grocery lists. “Rocco and Alexa chat away to each other all day,” she said. “Then I have to check the shopping list and cancel all the items he’s ordered.”
*Iranian Officials Called ‘Hypocrites’
for Sending Their Families to Study and Work in ‘Great Satan’:
Denouncing the “hypocrisy of the regime” in Tehran, the State Department’s special representative for Iran says it is “working on” the issue of relatives of senior regime officials living and studying in the country which the mullahs deride as the “great Satan.”
In a video posted on the department’s Persian-language Twitter feed this week, Brian Hook read out one of more than 5,000 questions which he said had been submitted by Iranians.
“Why doesn’t the United States revoke the visas or deport the relatives of the regime officials who live in the United States?” a questioner asked.
“I have to admit, this is another example of the hypocrisy of the regime,” Hook replied. “While regime officials chant, ‘Death toAmerica,’ they send their families to the so-called ‘great Satan’ to live and study here – using the resources of the Iranian people.”
*Asbestos Opens New Legal Front in Battle Over Johnson’s Baby Powder:
Two years later, another executive raised a red flag, saying the company should no longer assume that its talc mines were asbestos-free. The powder, he said, sometimes contained materials that “might be classified as asbestos fiber.”
The carcinogen, which often appears underground near talc, has been a concern inside the company for decades. In hundreds of pages of memos, executives worried about a potential government ban of talc, the safety of the product and a public backlash over Johnson’s Baby Powder, a brand built on a reputation for trustworthiness and health.
Executives proposed new testing procedures or replacing talc outright, while trying to discredit research suggesting that the powder could be contaminated with asbestos, according to corporate documents unearthed by litigation, government records obtained by The New York Times through theFreedom of Information Act, and interviews with scientists and lawyers.
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Both of these centers of free markets, free people and free ideas are being shaken today by rural and beyond-the-suburbs insurgencies of largely white working-poor and anxious middle classes, which have not generally benefited from the surges in globalization, immigration and technology that have lifted superstar cities like London, Paris and San Francisco and their multicultural populations.
Having just seen the shocking sight of Parisian stores boarded up right before Christmas to protect against rioting along theChamps-Élysées by some of France’s yellow-vested protesters; after being told in Rome a few days earlier that Italy, a founding member of the E.U., could conceivably shuck off both the E.U. and the euro one day under its new bizarre far-left/far-right governing coalition; after watching Britain become paralyzed over how to commit economic suicide by leaving the E.U.; and after watching President Trump actually cheer for the breakup of the E.U. rather than for its good health, it is obvious to me that we’re at a critical hinge of history.
The same process is happening today. Americans have lost faith in the big institutions of society. Many fly off to extremes, to the Donald Trump right or the Bernie Sanders left. Most of the rest of us feel adrift, gloomy and politically homeless.
But people figure it out. New ideas emerge. Old ideas are put together in new ways. Today, I offer you just one example — theNiskanen Center, which has become one of the most creative think tanks in America today.