New York Times developer Jeff Sisson has put together a mapping application that can remove highways from New York:
Imagine there’s no highway, it’s easy if you try—even easier, since now there’s a map for that. With this latest cartographic venture, you can make the concrete superslabs and soul-sucking underpasses that are the scourge of urbanists everywhere disappear with a mere click.
This is the vision of Jeff Sisson, a developer at The New York Times who dabbles in the kinds of stuff we consider CityLab catnip. You might remember him from such projects as mapping New York’s bodegas. His latest effort is called “NYC (& The World) Without Highways.”
Highway removal in real life is expensive, time consuming, and politically challenging, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will inevitably discover as he plots a pricey demolition of the Bronx’s Sheridan Expressway.
Maybe there's one for Chicago in the works?
Sears Holdings Corp. now admits its totally foreseeable and totally preventable death may happen soon:
Sears Holdings Corp. acknowledged "substantial doubt" about its ability to keep operating, raising fresh concerns about a company that has lost more than $10 billion in recent years.
The retailer added so-called going-concern language to its latest annual report filing, suggesting that weak earnings have cast a pall on its future as a business.
How did this happen? Eddie Lampert killed it, possibly for sport.
Apparently we're now frightened of everything:
Passengers on foreign airlines headed to the United States from 10 airports in eight majority-Muslim countries have been barred from carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone under a new flight restriction enacted on Tuesday by the Trump administration.
Officials called the directive an attempt to address gaps in foreign airport security, and said it was not based on any specific or credible threat of an imminent attack.
The Department of Homeland Security said the restricted items included laptop computers, tablets, cameras, travel printers and games bigger than a phone. The restrictions would not apply to aircraft crews, officials said in a briefing to reporters on Monday night that outlined the terms of the ban.
The new policy took effect at 3 a.m. E.D.T. on Tuesday, and must be followed within 96 hours by airlines flying to the United States from airports in Amman, Jordan; Cairo; Istanbul; Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia; Kuwait City; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Because, hey, if it's illegal for the administration to block people coming from those countries, maybe we can simply make them not want to come here? Oh, right. This is only going to stop people who need to work on those long flights; i.e., people we probably want to come here.
Great work, DHS. Nice.
Amazon is opening an actual brick-and-mortar bookstore right by the Southport Brown Line stop:
On Tuesday, it will open the doors of a brick-and-mortar store in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, giving customers a chance to test the e-commerce giant's take on offline shopping.
It's just one 6,000-square-foot neighborhood bookstore. But it's also one of Amazon's first experiments with live customer service and cash registers, and a sign that one of the retail industry's biggest disrupters may not be content to stick to e-commerce.
Amazon is still in the early days of its bookstore experiment. The first location opened in Seattle in late 2015, and the Chicago store, in the 3400 block of North Southport Avenue, will be Amazon's fifth, and first outside a mall. It opened briefly on Saturday as a test and is expected to start regularly scheduled hours Tuesday.
The question, of course, is "why?" I'm going to watch this space.
The National Climate Prediction Center has released a batch of forecasts. Right now they're predicting increased chances of warm weather for Chicago through November:
The heart of summer shows Illinois with an increased chance of above-normal temperatures. But more interesting is that they have introduced a region of below-normal precipitation in the southern half of Illinois. The combination of warmer and drier than normal conditions during that time of year could lead to drought.
Right now it's a normal March day, and nearly all the snow from Tuesday is gone.
No. Just no.
That's what Irish officials visiting Washington are saying today, after American politicians made a cringe-worthy series of gaffes on St. Patrick's Day:
“Top of the morning,” said Vice President Pence, as he hosted Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at his residence for breakfast Thursday.
Really? The reaction by Irish on social media was palpable.
“Literally just shouted ‘NOBODY SAYS THAT’ at the TV,” a journalist in Ireland tweeted. “I’ve literally only ever heard that said by Americans,” another person said.
At [a] luncheon, Trump shared what he claimed was an “Irish proverb.”
“As we stand together with our Irish friends, I’m reminded of an Irish proverb — and this is a good one, this is one I like, I’ve heard it for many, many years and I love it,” Trump said. “Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue, but never forget to remember those that have stuck by you.”
Irish tweeters immediately displayed skepticism.
These guys have attitudes about fellow Americans that would embarrass Roger Taney, so is anyone really surprised they get it all wrong with everyone else too?
Josh Marshall takes a moment to reflect on the fact that President Trump gets a lot of money from Russia. Even if the explanation is completely innocent, it's still a pretty big deal:
Many people look at this arc of growing dependency on money from the former Soviet Union and look for that moment when Trump becomes so dependent on money from Russia that he's forced to cut a deal with Vladimir Putin; or perhaps his business partners catch him in a compromising situation and then he's owned by nefarious forces in Russia. I do not rule out the possibility that some less lurid version of one of these scenarios did happen. But what many of us see as the smoke, which must somewhere lead to fire, is actually the story itself. The smoke is the story! Or to put it differently, the deep business ties provide a compelling explanation and I think likely sufficient explanation of Trump's persistent coziness and affection with top figures in Russia and Russian geopolitical interests.
We can also see the impact of the Crimea crisis of 2014 - which is the fulcrum of so much of the Trump/Russia story. If Trump had been getting a substantial amount of his buyers and investors from Russia, the imposition of sanctions in 2014 created a major obstacle to his way of doing business. (The big dip in the global oil market likely had a similar impact.) Remember, what's bad for Trump is wrong. That's the rule of thumb. Not just bad for Trump but wrong, stupid, terrible. And it wasn't just bad for Trump, it was clearly a very bad development for many people in his business orbit. Bad for Trump, Bad! Bad for Trump's friends, Bad! Bad for Trump's friends who keep the money flowing, Especially Bad!
I don't deny that we may eventually find a needle in this haystack. There are parts of the story which remain difficult to piece together based on what I've called this "innocent explanation." There are so many sleazy characters, so many connections to figures in the Russian criminal underworld that I'm sure there are at least a few sub-needles there. But haystack itself is a very, very big story.
He's seriously the most corrupt person ever elected to that office, and I'm including the guys from the 1880s and Warren Harding.
Because that's really the only way we can fix the budget impasse caused by the Governor—and he knows it:
As you probably know, the state hasn't had a “real” budget in a couple of years. A budget is basically just a collection of appropriations. The last legal appropriation for state employee payroll expired on June 30, 2015. Negotiations between the governor and legislative leaders stalled and shortly thereafter a judge in St. Clair County ordered the state to pay its workers anyway. Everybody back then figured this would probably be a temporary situation, so nobody squawked too much. It's been done before for a few weeks. No big deal.
Except, as we are all painfully aware, the governmental stalemate has continued for over 20 months. In January, Attorney General Madigan got tired of waiting for the governor and the General Assembly to cut a deal and filed a legal motion in St. Clair County to vacate that 2015 order. She lost. We're not sure exactly why because the judge didn't issue a formal opinion, but the governor's office was at that hearing and filed a brief opposing AG Madigan's motion.
The governor doesn't want AG Madigan to win because his bargaining position will be greatly weakened if the courts effectively shut down the state by ruling that money can't be spent without appropriations. Rauner is demanding some business-related reforms, a property tax freeze and a few other things before he'll agree to a tax hike to balance the state's infamously out of whack budget. So, the man who once bragged that he would use the crisis of the state not having a budget to force through his preferred legislative changes now wants to avoid a much worse crisis that would compel him to abandon his demands in order to prevent the catastrophe of an actual government shutdown.
Got all that?
Meanwhile, Governor Rauner's approval ratings have hit historical lows. Go figure.
The snow continues to fall:
The Chicago area remained under a lake-effect snow warning as the Tuesday morning rush slowed to an icy crawl on expressways and some Metra train lines.
The warning covers Cook, Lake and DuPage counties until 4 p.m. In Lake County, Ind., the warning has been extended to 1 a.m. Wednesday.
The dense snow was being carried by winds from the north to northeast over Lake Michigan. The snow bands were expected to slowly shift into northwest Indiana later in the morning and continue overnight into Wednesday.
I'm in my home office today watching alternating whiteout and sunny conditions as bands of lake-effect snow wash over the area. Later, I have to dig my car out to take Parker for a routine vet visit.
But, of course, it's March. The forecast calls for temperatures to warm up above freezing around noon Thursday and stay there until Saturday night, when they'll dip only briefly before spring begins in earnest.
Chicago's weather is weird.
First, two unidentified have discovered malware on 38 Android devices that could only have been installed after manufacture but before distribution to retailers:
An assortment of malware was found on 38 Android devices belonging to two unidentified companies. This is according to a blog post published Friday by Check Point Software Technologies, maker of a mobile threat prevention app. The malicious apps weren't part of the official ROM firmware supplied by the phone manufacturers but were added later somewhere along the supply chain. In six of the cases, the malware was installed to the ROM using system privileges, a technique that requires the firmware to be completely reinstalled for the phone to be disinfected.
"This finding proves that, even if a user is extremely careful, never clicks a malicious link, or downloads a fishy app, he can still be infected by malware without even knowing it," Check Point Mobile Threat Researcher Daniel Padon told Ars. "This should be a concern for all mobile users."
Padon said it's not clear if the two companies were specifically targeted or if the infections were part of a broader, more opportunistic campaign. The presence of ransomware and other easy-to-detect malware seems to suggest the latter. Check Point also doesn't know where the infected phones were obtained. One of the affected parties was a "large telecommunications company" and the other was a "multinational technology company."
But malware and password stealing doesn't always need software. Sometimes it just needs a suspicious border guard:
Data provided by the Department of Homeland Security shows that searches of cellphones by border agents has exploded, growing fivefold in just one year, from fewer than 5,000 in 2015 to nearly 25,000 in 2016.
According to DHS officials, 2017 will be a blockbuster year. Five-thousand devices were searched in February alone, more than in all of 2015.
The more aggressive tactics of the past two years, two senior intelligence officials told NBC News, were sparked by a string of domestic incidents in 2015 and 2016 in which the watch list system and the FBI failed to stop American citizens from conducting attacks. The searches also reflect new abilities to extract contact lists, travel patterns and other data from phones very quickly.
But the officials caution that rhetoric about a Muslim registry and ban during the presidential campaign also seems to have emboldened federal agents to act more forcefully.
"The shackles are off," said Hugh Handeyside, a staff attorney with the ACLU's National Security Project. "We see individual officers and perhaps supervisors as well pushing those limits, exceeding their authority and violating people's rights."
Expect a lot of litigation and very unhappy travelers. Plus some other Fourth Amendment issues that go unreported.
Happy cell phoning!