Trump’s UK trip includes palace pomp, aims to avoid protests
Friday, July 6
LONDON (AP) — U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Britain will take him to a palace, a country mansion and a castle — and will mostly avoid London, where noisy protests are planned.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said Friday that Trump will arrive July 12 after attending a NATO summit in Brussels. That evening he will attend a black-tie dinner with business leaders at Blenheim Palace, a grand country house near Oxford that was the birthplace of Winston Churchill.
He will be greeted with military pomp, including a welcome by bands of the Irish, Scots and Welsh Guards. The Royal Regiment of Scotland — homeland of the president’s mother — will pipe him out at the end of the dinner.
The next day, Trump and May will visit an unspecified defense site before holding talks at Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat 40 miles (65 kms) from the capital. Later Friday the president will travel to Windsor Castle, west of London, for an audience with Queen Elizabeth II.
The itinerary will keep the president away from London on Friday, where protesters plan to march and to fly a blimp depicting Trump as a screaming orange baby over Parliament.
The president will spend Thursday night at U.S. Ambassador Robert “Woody” Johnson’s London residence but will otherwise steer clear of the city.
Johnson told reporters on a conference call Friday that the president’s itinerary was not designed to keep him away from protesters. He said Trump appreciates free speech, which is seen as one of the shared values that bind Britain and the United States.
“The president is not avoiding anything,” the ambassador said. “The president is merely trying to get as impactful a trip as he can get in a 24-hour period.”
He said the highlight will be the chance for the president and first lady to meet the queen.
Trump and his wife Melania plan to spend the weekend privately in Scotland, where the president owns two golf courses, before traveling to Helsinki, Finland, for a July 16 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump’s trip is classed as an official visit, rather than the full-scale state visit, hosted by the queen, for which May invited Trump soon after his January 2017 inauguration. London and Washington say the state visit is still due to happen at some point.
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In honor of today’s holiday (7/4/2018), I thought I’d point out, it was the liberals of the day who were in favour of declaring our independence from Great Britain while the conservatives wanted to stay with the King. Today, look who is supporting the new “king!”
By the way, it was the conservatives who defended slavery and later, segregation, and now the taking of children away from their parents. Happy Fourth of July? Happy Independence Day? I’m not sure what we’re celebrating today. A group of conservative Senators are in Russia meeting with Russian counterparts expressing their friendship without the watchful eyes of American media.
Conservatives would have been the Tories who fought with the British. For every forward step mankind has taken, Conservatives have fought against it.
“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” ~ John Adams
Russia says none of these Republican congress critters mentioned Syria, Crimea, voting interference [Putin said no Democrat was permitted to attend]. The group said it hoped to meet with Putin. They aren’t. Reluctance of US lawmakers to talk with press in Moscow is bizarre. They practically sprinted out of Federation Council, Russian senators were much chattier.
“Do not correct a fool or he will hate you; correct a wise man, and he will appreciate you.” — Bruce Lee
Trump: We pay 90% of NATO budget. Fact: We pay 22%. MAGAts: It’s gotta be 90%!!
The Trump administration’s proposal to weaken Obama-era fuel economy standards threatens to unravel the remarkable gains that the U.S. auto industry has enjoyed since the height of the financial crisis. — Brookings Institution
Payday loans, guns among stalled issues at Ohio Statehouse
By JULIE CARR SMYTH
AP Statehouse Correspondent
Wednesday, July 4
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s Legislature is on summer break after a flurry of activity that included passage of dozens of bills, many sent to the governor, and a few key proposals left in limbo.
The pace of the action was accelerated because a stalemate over who would succeed Republican Cliff Rosenberger as speaker in the House prevented it from passing any bills for weeks.
Here is a look at where things stand:
FROM A TO V
On their final day, June 27, lawmakers sent 19 bills to Republican Gov. John Kasich addressing topics from algal blooms to voting machines.
A spending measure sent to the governor allots $20 million to the soils and water phosphorus program that helps fight harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. Another $3.5 million was devoted to soil and water conservation districts. Lawmakers also sent $7 million in disaster funding to 18 counties affected by flooding.
Another bill releases the $114.5 million necessary to help county boards of elections buy new voting equipment. The timing was crucial to get the machines in place in time for a test run in 2019 ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted had called on Kasich and state lawmakers in December to provide state financial support to modernize the machines.
Another bill expands the list of offenses that can be expunged from the criminal records of people who also are victims of human trafficking.
SENATE PASS ON PAYDAY
Perhaps the most significant legislation left unresolved as lawmakers headed off for summer break was a bill reforming Ohio’s payday lending laws. The legislation would cap interest rates on short-term loans and impose other restrictions.
The Ohio House wasted no time passing the measure after the chamber resolved a complicated and protracted impasse over who should succeed the former House speaker, Republican Cliff Rosenberger. The House’s action came after Rosenberger resigned in April amid an FBI investigation that includes international trips the then-speaker took where payday lobbyists also were present.
But the Senate failed to complete its work on the bill before the break. Senate President Larry Obhof said it was significant legislation that needed more time. He has called senators back in September, if not sooner.
HOUSE HOLDS ON GUNS
A “stand your ground” proposal also failed to clear the Legislature. The measure would shift the burden onto prosecutors to prove that shooters claiming self-defense didn’t act to defend themselves.
GOP Gov. John Kasich had said he would veto the bill, which could have looked bad for fellow Republicans as they visited fairs and campaign stops this summer.
Kasich is pushing the opposite direction with gun laws. He’s seeking what he casts as a package of “common sense” changes that emerged from a bipartisan advisory group. They include revisions to Ohio gun and background-check laws, as well as a “red flag” law to allow gun rights to be temporarily stripped from people who show warning signs of violence.
Bills containing those changes also have stalled, despite a recent call for urgency from groups representing students, teachers, school counselors, police chiefs, pediatricians and Catholic clergy.
Also holding in the House are bills that would change Ohio’s unemployment compensation system and bring the state’s education agencies together under one massive agency over K-12 schools, higher education and workforce development.
Technology Makes Our Lives More Interesting, Convenient and Safer
April 30, 2018 by Adam Thierer and Jennifer Skees
Artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced robotics are no longer relegated to the scary technologies seen in old “Terminator” movies. They’re already here, and in the real world we need not be suspicious of them. Contrary to the criticisms and fears of technology skeptics, these technologies aren’t “taking over our lives,” but instead are helping solve real problems and improve our everyday lives.
From traffic apps that tell us the best way to get to work based on current conditions, to fraud alerts from our banks about suspicious activity, to Siri or Alexa answering our questions, most of us already interact with some form of AI on a daily basis. AI is used in predictive technologies by companies like Amazon and Netflix to generate recommendations that help us find new artists or topics that we might not otherwise find, opening new doors to the amazing abundance of options at our disposal.
And AI doesn’t just make things more convenient and enjoyable — it’s also empowering people and even saving lives. Machine learning in autonomous vehicles, for example, has the potential to save thousands of people lost to car accidents each year.
AI is used in medication monitoring, geolocation and mapping services, and personal home digital assistants that help some senior citizens to stay independent longer. Robots and AI help children with autism learn how to communicate and interact in social situations, by providing opportunities with social mediators when therapists and educators aren’t available.
Some critics of artificial intelligence, including Elon Musk and the late Stephen Hawking, argue that if we’re not careful, it will surpass and destroy us. However, as a 2017 Mercatus Center study notes, such concerns are nothing new and have been around for more than 50 years. These are largely based in science fiction and not fact.
This growing AI “technopanic” neglects to consider the ways in which we’ve already seamlessly adjusted to the AI we experience on a daily basis. If we let our fear of the worst-case scenarios dictate our actions and policies, then we never have a chance to create and enjoy the types of best-case scenarios that technology can bring about.
Some AI skeptics have called for a Federal Robotics Commission or new AI laws and regulatory bureaucracies. While these proposals are well-intentioned, we need to be especially careful not to cut ourselves off inadvertently from the future benefits of new technology.
First, as we’ve already seen from the wide variety of its use, it’s hard to clearly define what should be considered AI. As a result, it would be difficult to come up with a specific legal definition of what a new agency, law or regulation would apply to. For example, would both a credit card fraud alert and a security robot be regulated by the same law or agency?
Second, any regulation that is too burdensome will inevitably slow the pace of these life-improving and even life-saving technologies. It takes almost 18 months for new medical devices to get pre-market approval by the FDA. If it took a similar time period for new AI technology to gain approval, then a great deal of our favorite apps and virtual assistants might never be developed in an industry where getting to market quickly can make the difference between success or failure.
America’s current environment of “permissionless innovation” has encouraged rapid prototyping, competition and improvement in the field of AI — allowing innovators to provide solutions for problems we might not have even realized we had. No one requested that navigation apps update their maps to account for traffic, but most people enjoy being able to optimize their commute in real time.
We’ve only recently begun to tap the true potential of AI. It can adapt to new challenges rapidly, but can only be made transformative and safe through ongoing real-world experimentation. It may not be without risks, but neither are technologies operated through human intelligence, like our vehicles. Rather than taking over our lives, AI is slowly being integrating into our lives to make them better.
About the Author
Adam Theirer is a senior research fellow and Jennifer Skees is a legal research associate with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University’s Technology Policy Program.
Fear Not The ‘Intelligent’ Machine
April 30, 2018 by Mark P. Mills
Polls reveal most Americans fear artificial intelligence. Blame the culture, not the machines.
Start with Hollywood’s long love affair with robots running amok. Two iconic examples: the “thinking machine” HAL in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 movie “2001,” and the rogue “Terminator” robots in a movie series that began in 1984.
Combine such dystopian images with ubiquitous forecasts claiming such “thinking machines” will eliminate work. True, computers outperform people in many tasks. Cars also outperform people walking or riding horses. Labor-saving is why humanity keeps inventing such machines. Word processors replaced typists and, before that, replaced accounts doing “ciphering.” But overall employment — and the economy — kept growing.
Computers began replacing “knowledge workers” 75 years ago. And thank goodness. British mathematician Alan Turing said that without the computer he’d built during World War II, it would have taken “100 Britons working eight hours a day on desk calculators 100 years” to crack the German code.
But it wasn’t until 1997 that a computer, IBM’s Deep Blue, could trump a chess grandmaster (Garry Kasparov). That event sparked a spate of apocalyptic visions of the imminent dominance of artificial intelligence (AI).
Today algorithms continue to amaze: they recognize pictures of cats, or your face, they drive cars (truthfully, only for short distances), and answer simple questions like “Siri, when was Paris Hilton born?” So of course pundits are at it again, honing the old theme that AI will soon take over everything.
When confronted with past failed predictions, forecasters insist this time it’s different. Actually, this time they have a point. Technology has finally become good enough to launch a new era of computing that promises to be truly useful. The first two eras were annoying and limited
In the first era, costly mainframes were cloistered in rooms overseen by a priesthood of operators. The second era was better; machines became cheaper and hand-size. But smartphones are still distracting and require humans to adapt to them, rather than vice versa. Computing is still too much in the foreground, requiring special attention and unnatural behaviors.
The ideal computer should operate intuitively and disappear into the background. Useful “thinking” machines adapt to how humans behave, communicate and operate. That’s how cars are designed. That’s what AI finally offers.
A lot of people already, unknowingly, embrace AI. AI enables such things as smartphone maps, streaming video and audio apps, and underlies ride-sharing and social media. And AI powers the Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA), a new product class typified by Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s HomePod Voice or Google’s Home.
As AI gets more adept, it can, for example, recognize your specific voice or face. That’s not only the fastest path to better cybersecurity, but enables things like starting a car by just asking. If an AI could yell at you if it notices you’re about to fall asleep while driving, would that be so bad? AI as co-pilot will improve driving safety sooner and cheaper than robo-cars.
AI will improve safety, accuracy and efficacy for doctors and nurses, factory workers and retail sales people, too. On average, it won’t replace, rather it will facilitate tasks with interaction both audio and visual, including where useful, projecting “augmented-reality” around a task. AI will be especially useful for enhanced learning and skills training.
All of this, in economists’ terms, improves labor-productivity, which over all history has driven growth and created more overall work. But could thinking machines soon outstrip human intelligence?
Since we don’t know what intelligence actually is, or fundamentally how human brains operate, that’s a Hollywood trope rather than a real worry. Cars are not artificial horses anymore than jets are artificial birds, or hammers are artificial hands. The invisibility and complexity of algorithms seems different to us. But people in every earlier era reacted similarly to the “magic” of new technology.
A more apt label for AI might be “savant computing” taken from the (unfortunately named) class of mental disorder called “idiot savant.” Rare individuals are born with a mental disability associated with a superhuman skill in just one narrow area, say calculating or painting, but puzzlingly deeply dysfunctional in all else.
As AI gets better and cheaper — the hallmarks of computing — it will democratize supercomputing and raise everyone’s competence, in truly revolutionary ways. Of course AI will, as have all machines over history, change the nature of work.
Training and retraining will be needed. This time the very machines that make that necessary will make that task easier.