Robert Vinet

Curious.

Author: Robert (page 2 of 138)

Increasing number of American citizens are barred from leaving China

“They are trapped. They are alone. They are desperate to come home,” David Pressman, the siblings’ New York-based attorney, told USA TODAY. “They are literally breaking down.”

The Lius are subject to a so-called “exit ban,” and they’re not they only ones.

Another American citizen, Huang Wan, says Chinese officials are using a “fake” legal case to prevent her from returning to the United States. An Australian resident, Yuan Xiaoliang, has been barred from leaving China for more than eight months, and her husband, an Australian citizen, has been arrested on suspicion of spying, according to Australia’s foreign minister.

The State Department has warned Americans about China’s growing use of exit bans – stating in a Jan. 3 travel advisory that Chinese authorities have sometimes used exit bans to keep Americans in China for years.

“China uses exit bans coercively,” the State Department cautioned, “to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations, to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.”

» Read more about China’s ban in an article by Deirdre Shesgreen on USA TODAY… 

Tributes to Robert Frank (1924 – 2019)

‘A wart-covered picture of America by a joyless man,” wrote the photographer and critic Minor White. “A sad poem by a very sick person,” snorted Popular Photography.

The object of their scorn was The Americans, a collection of images of American life by the photographer Robert Frank, who died last week, aged 94.

It is difficult today to recognise how revolutionary was Frank’s work when it was first published 60 years ago. His style, his mode of observation, his subject matter have all become so ingrained in contemporary photography that one can gauge their impact only by the derision that rained down upon him from mainstream critics.

» Robert Frank, a true American revolutionary » Kenan Malik, The Guardian

If Robert Frank’s legacy rests mainly on The Americans, it is worth remembering how restless his creative imagination was, from the freeform anarchy of films like Pull My Daisy, an unruly evocation of the Beat aesthetic featuring Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, to the infamous Cocksucker Blues, his verite and decidedly downbeat take on life on the road with the Rolling Stones at their most glamorously debauched.

Frank’s singular vision did not sit well with Mick Jagger, who set out to suppress the film. “They sent lawyers, they sent planes, they sent the sheriff,” he told me, laughing, “It was out of proportion, like everything they did. It was comical really. I fled to Nova Scotia. I just wanted to be left alone.” In his absence, the Stones won a prohibitive court order that banned its screening unless Frank himself was present. Its infamy grew accordingly.

» Robert Frank: the outsider genius whose photographs laid bare America’s soul » Sean O’Hagan, The Guardian

» Remembering Robert Frank, 1924-2019 » Jim Goldberg, Martin Parr, Thomas Hoepker, Matt Stuart » Hannah Abel-Hirsch and Marigold Warner, British Journal of Photography

» Robert Frank’s Legacy: Nine Photographers Reflect » Eli Reed, Justine Kurland, Alec Soth, Eugene Richards, Ruddy Roye, Nina Berman, Joseph Rodriguez, Elinor Carucci, Jim Goldberg » NY Times

» Robert Frank’s groundbreaking works » Deutsche Welle

» Robert Frank, 1924-2019: He Saw America Without Illusions » Mary Panzer, Wall Street Journal

Robert Frank, 1954.

Robert Frank was 94.

Blinded by the light » Using a camera flash as a weapon of self defence

It was the perfect practical weapon, I could easily feel the surface of the unit to orient the flash forward in my hand, and there was a manual trigger button that my index finger naturally lined up with.

I would explain in advance to my date that if I squeezed her arm really hard, she should close her eyes until she saw the flash. (You could see the flash through closed eyelids.) But I also realized that she might not get the message in time, so I planned to immediately pull her to safety.

The idea was to incapacitate any aggressor(s) without physically harming them and, at the same time, not allowing them to get close enough to be a real threat. All I had to do was manually point my hand in the general direction of the (maybe) bad guy(s) and squeeze the button while remembering to close my eyes for half a second. No one being hit with an unexpected flash of this magnitude and having night adjusted vision was going to be able to see anything for at least thirty seconds. By then we were back in the bar or in the car and gone.

I only used it once on two guys that were approaching from near my car and calling out, “Hey dude, got a light?”

» Read more of this article by James Speed Hensinger at PetaPixel…

The first rule of self defence is to avoid the confrontation.

But if you must, if you have no other choice, this would be better and safer, in most circumstance. Plus it’s less lethal than firearm. The object should be to stop an attack. Not to kill anyone. It would be legal too, in most, if not every country in the world.

As of September 13 celebrity chef José Andrés and the World Central Kitchen have served more than 200,000 free meals to people in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian

World Central Kitchen, which provides meals in areas hit by natural disasters, has been distributing food in the Carolinas, Florida and the Bahamas since Hurricane Dorian hit early last week. It announced its 100,000-meal landmark in a tweet on Monday evening with a photo of Andrés, who founded the organization in response to the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti.

The organization’s relief efforts are currently focused on the Bahamas, where the death toll from the hurricane currently stands at 50 and continues to rise. Dorian is the most powerful hurricane on record to hit that country.

“We are cooking for the people, and plan on ramping that up even more and more,” said Zomi Frankcom, the nonprofit’s relief administration manager, in a video she posted from the Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport on Tuesday. Behind her, the airport appeared in bad shape — hangars were “ripped open like sardine cans,” as she put it. There were no other people in sight.

» Read more at WAMU…

Considering the Google Pixel 4

I’m in the market for a new smartphone. My iPhone SE is fading quickly. Some pixels are dead and the screen has blotches across it. It’s also feeling a bit dated, but I don’t mind the dated look. I don’t have it to impress others. I love it mainly for it’s size. It fits nicely in my front pocket. It fits nicely in my hand.

It’s ridiculous that most smartphones last an average of 2 years or less. Isn’t it? That’s the industry average, and it’s mirrors my experience. I’m sure I’m not the only one to think that’s an absurdly short amount of time for the kind of money they are asking.

So I was looking forward to this week’s Apple event where they were expected to announce the new iPhone 11. But meh – I had a similar reaction last year. The 11 is not much more than an incremental freshened up XR. And most of the honest reviewers seem to agree. Forget the fan boys that love anything with an Apple logo stuck to it. Even with it’s $50 cheaper price tag over last year than last year’s entry model (iPhone sales numbers are dropping and Apple is shifting focus more towards services), it’s still outside the limits of what I think we should be paying for a phone. Those with short memories will have forgotten that last year Apple increased the base price of the base model iPhone by $150.

So I’ve started considering Android again. And I’ve reluctantly started looking at the Google Pixel phones again.

I’m reluctant to go with a another Google product. My previous phone was a Android One Motorola X4. It just stopped working one night, while I was asleep. I wasn’t plugged in. It was sitting on my nightstand. I had used it before going to sleep. It died a couple weeks after the warranted period ended. Before that I owned a couple of Nexus phones. They were all middle of the road phones. So I’m reluctant to buy another Google product.

But the Google Pixel 4 official “leaks” are looking interesting and come hot on the heals of the iPhone 11 announcement. There are a lot of photos and specs of the Google Pixel 4 available over at GenK. (You my need to decipher the Vietnamese with the help of Google Translate, as I did.) Most prior leaks of the Pixel 4 had blurry photos. These are nice shots that show a very interesting phone with very interesting features.

Way back in June, Google themselves tweeted out a photo of the Pixel 4 when the leaks started spilling out.

The leaks have only accelerated, seemingly never ending, and creating a lot of buzz, which is probably what Google was hoping for.

For me, it will come down to price. Right now, through Sept 28, the Pixel 3 is discounted by a whopping $400 in Canada, $300 in the US. That’s nothing to sneeze at, particularly if you are serious about your mobile phone photography and you want the pure Android experience. The Pixel 3 is still one of the best, and at the current discount, it has to be near the top of anyone looking for a mid-range priced phone. This was Google’s flagship smartphone less than a year ago.

But then there’s the Teracube to consider.

Brexit is a mess » Yellowhammer shows what could be coming in only a couple of months

Shortage of medical supplies, food, riots in the streets…

Ministers have published details of their Yellowhammer contingency plan, after MPs voted to force its release.

It outlines a series of “reasonable worst case assumptions” for the impact of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the paper confirmed the PM “is prepared to punish those who can least afford it”.

» Read more at the BBC…

The scale of the devastation in the storm-ravaged Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian is simply massive » 76,000 people in need of immediate life-saving assistance » Updated Sept 12

Sept 12

» Officially 50 people are dead.

» 2,500 are listed as missing, and presumed to be dead.

» Some 76,000 people have lost almost everything.

» Damage estimated at US$7 Billion.

» US gov’t denies temporary protected status to Bahamian victims of Hurricane Dorian

 

Sept 9

» At least 45 people are dead » Hundreds more are missing » Some 70,000 are homeless.

» There is no power or running water.

» Aid is arriving slowly.

» Damage one usually witnesses in a war zone.

» More at CNN…

 

Sept 7

NBC reports »

» 43 people confirmed dead in Bahamas as Hurricane Dorian toll expected to rise ‘significantly’

»

CBC reports »

» “Charities, government agencies and even cruise ships loaded with supplies and volunteers rushed emergency aid …”

» …hundreds and perhaps thousands remained missing in the archipelago nation of about 400,000 people”

» “The United Nations estimated 70,000 people were in “immediate need of life-saving assistance” such as food, water and shelter.”

More at The Guardian,


Sept 5

» Accessing damage in the Bahamas » Photos » NY Mag

» At least 20 30 lives have been lost » Some estimates are in the thousands of lives lost.

» The Red Cross is reporting that as many as 13,000 homes have been severely damaged or destroyed across the Bahamas » BBC…

Chaos is being normalised by Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin. And it’s all part of a larger destructive plan.

An atmosphere of weariness is descending on the mass of people. They were already weary of Brexit and are now getting weary of endless headlines about a constitutional crisis that never seems to end.

In the 1930s, the psychologist Erich Fromm noted that the ideal conditions for the rise of dictators and autocrats was a “state of inner tiredness and resignation”, which he attributed to the pace of life in stressed, industrialised societies.

Among the German working class, Fromm observed “a deep feeling of resignation, of disbelief in their leaders, of doubt about the value of any kind of political organization and political activity … deep within themselves many had given up any hope in the effectiveness of political action”.

» Read more of Paul Mason’s opinion in The Guardian…

John Bolton was either ousted or quit as the US National Security Adviser. Like the White House, he leaves behind a legacy of chaos, dysfunction, and no meaningful accomplishments

The turnover at the White House continues. It’s chaos over there. Who’s left? How many vacancies are there?

Washington Post / WaPo / WaPo / WaPo / WaPo / WaPo (Paywall)

NY Times / NYT / NYT / NYT / NYT

The Daily Beast / TDB

Politico / Politico

Axios / Axios

ABC News / ABC

NBC

Mother Jones

Slate

CNBC

VOX

Los Angeles Times

The Hill

Time

Vanity Fair

Miami Herald

Chicago Sun-Times

Bloomberg

Sweden’s highest peak is no longer it’s highest due to climate change

The glacier-covered southern peak of Kebnekaise mountain, located in the far north of the country, now stands at 2,095.6 meters, which is the lowest height ever measured and 1.2 meters below the mountain’s ice-free, rocky northern peak at 2096.8 meters.

» More about this climate change story by Gianluca Mezzofiore at CNN…

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