Wednesday Reads: Apples, Rands and 3D Printed Food

6791622240_8b616a368d_oGood Morning

Storms are building up right over Banjoville as I type up this post, so I will be very brief with the commentary.

(I am also very sleepy, so yeah…brief it will be.)

The Immigration reform panel was somewhat productive yesterday: Senate panel passes immigration bill; Obama praises move | Reuters

A Senate panel on Tuesday approved legislation to give millions of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, setting up a spirited debate next month in the full Senate over the biggest changes in immigration policy in a generation.

President Barack Obama, who has made enactment of an immigration bill one of his top priorities for this year, praised the Senate Judiciary Committee’s action, saying the bill was consistent with the goals he has expressed.

Hmmm….really?

By a vote of 13-5, the Senate panel approved the bill that would put 11 million illegal residents on a 13-year path to citizenship while further strengthening security along the southwestern border with Mexico, long a sieve for illegal crossings into the United States.

The vote followed the committee’s decision to embrace a Republican move to ease restrictions on high-tech U.S. companies that want to hire more skilled workers from countries like India and China.

In a dramatic move before the vote, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, withdrew an amendment to give people the right to sponsor same-sex partners who are foreigners for permanent legal status.

Leahy’s colleagues on the committee – Republicans and Democrats – warned that the amendment would kill the legislation in Congress. Democrats generally favor providing equal treatment for heterosexual and homosexual couples, while many Republicans oppose doing so.

Well, like I said at the beginning of the post, I wasn’t going to comment much….but yeah, I will say Obama is getting what he wants. Definitely.

Immigration Reform Amendment For Gay Couples Withdrawn

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had to make what the New York senator called an “excruciating” decision on Tuesday to come out against including LGBT couple provisions in their immigration reform bill, citing the need to keep the fragile balance in the “gang of eight.”

Sounding disappointed, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) withdrew the amendment after debate during a markup on the bill.

“I take the Republican sponsors of this important legislation at their word that they will abandon their own efforts if discrimination is removed from our immigration system,” Leahy said. “So, with a heavy heart, and as a result of my conclusion that Republicans will kill this vital legislation if this anti-discrimination amendment is added, I will withhold calling for a vote on it. But I will continue to fight for equality.”

Leahy brought up his amendments on same-sex couples during a markup of the immigration bill after some uncertainty that he would force discussion on it at all. Under current law and the Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex couples cannot petition for legal status for the foreign-born partner, even if they’re legally married in their state. That means that thousands are forced to live separately for months or years, or even leave the United States to be with their partners.

Even with all the steps forward lately, in the form of so many states passing marriage equality laws…this immigration bill puts LGBT rights several steps backwards…again.

Oh, and just note by the way, 2 More Antigay Attacks Are Reported in Manhattan

Just hours after hundreds of people held a rally in Greenwich Village to protest the killing of a gay man last week, two men were violently assaulted in separate attacks in downtown Manhattan because of their sexual orientation, New York City officials said on Tuesday.

The attacks added to a troubling increase in reported antigay crimes in the city.

“It is a shame that we have to get together to talk about some things that should never occur, that we always thought, you know, we’d gotten beyond that,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said.

If you missed news about that hate crime in the Village, read about it here: Killing in Greenwich Village Looks Like Hate Crime, Police Say  and here Charges Filed in Greenwich Village Killing.

In other news from yesterday, Apple was in the Senate’s spotlight, here are a series of links on that story:

In Disarming Testimony, Apple Chief Eases Tax Tensions – NYTimes.com

Senators accuse Apple of ‘highly questionable’ billion-dollar tax avoidance scheme

Reuters TV | Reuters Breakingviews: Apple feels global tax heat

Apple Added More To Its Offshore Holdings Than Any Other U.S. Company Last Year: Study

In 2012, Apple added more to its offshore profit holdings than any other company, according to a March report by Citizens for Tax Justice.

The company’s method of holding profits overseas isn’t new — and it’s not necessarily illegal — but it was the focus of a Senate hearing on Tuesday in which Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the company’s tax strategies, which allowed Apple to pay a 2 percent tax on $74 billion in profits.

Apple of course isn’t the only company doing this. The tech giant, along with some of America’s largest companies, held at least $1.9 trillion in assets abroad, according to Bloomberg. General Electric, which held $108 billion overseas in 2012, topped Bloomberg’s list of U.S. companies with the most cash held offshore.

Apple chief calls on US government to slash US corporate tax

Apple has called for US corporate tax rates to be slashed after it admitted sheltering at least $30bn (£20bn) of international profits in Irish subsidiaries that pay no tax at all.

In a dramatic display of how threats from multinational corporations are driving down taxes across the world, chief executive Tim Cook warned Congress that he would refuse to repatriate a total of $100bn stashed offshore unless it acted to slash the 35% US rate.

Cook said the tax rate for repatriated money should be set “in single digits” to persuade companies to bring it back. Standard tax for US profits should be, he said, in the “mid 20s”.

He also revealed that Apple had struck a secret deal with the Irish government in 1980 to limit its domestic taxes there to 2%.

Three subsidiaries based in Ireland are also used to shelter profits made in the rest of Europe and Asia but are not classed as resident in any country for tax purposes – a tactic dubbed the “iCompany” by critics.

Cook’s testimony to a Senate sub-committee investigating multinational tax practices largely confirmed its findings that Apple had taken tax avoidance to a new extreme by structuring these companies so they did not incur tax liabilities anywhere.

Then you have Rand and his demand for an apology to Apple, Rand Paul: Senate should apologize to Apple for ‘spectacle’ hearing on taxes

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blasted his colleagues on Tuesday for holding a hearing to examine Apple’s methods for avoiding taxes.

“I frankly think the committee should apologize to Apple,” Paul said during a hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Paul said he was offended by the “tone and tenor of the hearing.”

“I’m offended by the spectacle of dragging in executives from an American company that is not doing anything illegal,” Paul said.

The subcommittee released a report on Monday that found that Apple has avoided billions of dollars in taxes in recent years through a network of offshore shell companies.

What a Randian asshole that Rand Paul is…And, I still don’t get all this 3-D printer stuff…but here is another new way to use one of those special printers.

NASA asks: Could 3-D-printed food fuel a mission to Mars? – The Washington Post

NASA can send robots to Mars, no problem. But if it’s ever going to put humans on the red planet it has to figure out how to feed them over the course of a years-long mission.So the space agency has funded research for what could be the ultimate nerd solution: a 3-D printer that creates entrees or desserts at the touch of a button.

The audacious plan to end hunger with 3-D printed food – Quartz

Anjan Contractor’s 3D food printer might evoke visions of the “replicator” popularized in Star Trek, from which Captain Picard was constantly interrupting himself to order tea. And indeed Contractor’s company, Systems & Materials Research Corporation, just got a six month, $125,000 grant from NASA to create a prototype of his universal food synthesizer.

But Contractor, a mechanical engineer with a background in 3D printing, envisions a much more mundane—and ultimately more important—use for the technology. He sees a day when every kitchen has a 3D printer, and the earth’s 12 billion people feed themselves customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store. Contractor’s vision would mean the end of food waste, because the powder his system will use is shelf-stable for up to 30 years, so that each cartridge, whether it contains sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein or some other basic building block, would be fully exhausted before being returned to the store.

Ubiquitous food synthesizers would also create new ways of producing the basic calories on which we all rely. Since a powder is a powder, the inputs could be anything that contain the right organic molecules. We already know that eating meat is environmentally unsustainable, so why not get all our protein from insects?

If eating something spat out by the same kind of 3D printers that are currently being used to make everything from jet engine parts to fine art doesn’t sound too appetizing, that’s only because you can currently afford the good stuff, says Contractor. That might not be the case once the world’s population reaches its peak size, probably sometime near the end of this century.

“I think, and many economists think, that current food systems can’t supply 12 billion people sufficiently,” says Contractor. “So we eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food.”

Okay, is this like a step towards Solent Green?

I guess my mind, a comical combination of medicine induced haze, epilepsy impaired brain cells, crazy depressed emotional waves, medievalist mind at heart, twisted dark thought-provoking, sleepy, overweight, short, forty-plus woman can’t seem to grasp the concept behind these printers. Can someone explain to me, in the simplest of terms…what exactly are 3-D printers and how the fuck do these 3-D printer things work?

That is my question to you this morning. Y’all have a good day…hopefully things will be quiet and peaceful.


61 Comments on “Wednesday Reads: Apples, Rands and 3D Printed Food”

  1. RalphB says:

    NYT: Why No Safe Room to Run To? Cost and Plains Culture

    Curtis McCarty, a member of the Oklahoma Uniform Building Code Commission and a builder himself, said the twister on Monday would have defeated attempts to resist it above ground. “You cannot build a structure that’s going to take a direct hit from a tornado like that that’s going to stand,” he said.

    Mike Gilles, a former president of the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association, said that he built safe rooms in all his custom homes, and that even many builders who build speculatively now make them standard.

    But asked whether the government should require safe rooms in homes, he said, “Most homebuilders would be against that because we think the market ought to drive what people are putting in the houses, not the government.”

    BB, you were right yesterday about the no regulation culture. If building codes don’t come from “the government”, do they fall from the sky on marble tablets? Dumbasses!

    • roofingbird says:

      Yep, I don’t know why they just don’t build the entire school underground. Sure, it would cost more up front, and they would have to drill through hardpan. They would save quickly though, on reduced heating and cooling. No rebuilding either.

  2. RalphB says:

    Balloon-Juice: I’m tired, but we are all OK.

    Soonergrunt’s post on his experiences in the Oklahoma tornado.

  3. dakinikat says:

    It is such a shame republicans can’t drop their freaking invented religious beliefs long enough to do the right thing on civil rights .

  4. God, have you seen this

  5. RalphB says:

    Charles Pierce: Some Popcorn Would Be Nice with butter please, yumm.

    While they’re off making hay on the “scandal-plagued” White House, the congressional Republicans are wrongfooting themselves on the economy, and things are getting just a trifle ugly. Undaunted by the wrath of the King Of All Green Rooms, Tailgunner Ted Cruz of Texas has replied by making things quite plain.

  6. RalphB says:

    TPM: Report: Fla. Man Linked To Tsarnaev Confessed To 2011 Triple Murder

    The Florida man questioned by authorities for his connection to suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev allegedly confessed to being involved with a 2011 triple murder before being fatally shot Tuesday by an FBI agent, NBC News reported.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Except there aren’t any tapes to prove he actually “confessed,” and now it turns out he didn’t even have a knife when he lunged at agent. There were at least four LE officers in the room–probably more and they couldn’t subdue him? Now they’re saying he was holding something in his hand but it wasn’t a knife.

  7. So much for a quiet and peaceful Wednesday :/

    Fantastic roundup though, JJ..

    Re: the 3D printing thing. I think i read something about printing graphene the other day? But printing food? Say what? Now I know I was correct when i ignored my high school teacher who told me I should major in physics.. I could only do the problems on paper, not envision this stuff. Crazy new frontier we’re ending. i’d love an explanation too. Gonna read more or skim through more comments here to find out what this is all about. Utopia? Dystopia? Soylent WTF?