Daley Claims a Golden Parachute; Teacher Gets Dumped – Ben Joravsky

Daley Claims a Golden Parachute; Teacher Gets Dumped.

Story by Ben Joravsky in The Reader.

Mayor Daley’s had a great run over the last few weeks.

Since leaving office May 16, he has, let’s see, landed a gig at the University of Chicago, where he’ll have to “coordinate” a handful of lectures in exchange for a reported $100,000 a year.

That would be the same University of Chicago that last year was part of a development team receiving the OK for a $20 million handout from the mayor’s good old tax increment financing honeypot to help build a hotel, retail, and office complex in blighted (ha, ha, ha) Hyde Park.

Daley also got a gig as a lawyer for Katten Muchin Rosenman, the firm that employs his best friend, Terry Newman, and racked up more than a million bucks in legal fees from advising the city on such privatization schemes as the parking meter lease deal.

Thanks a lot for that one, fellows.

Then there’s the company the ex-mayor’s reportedly launching with his son, Patrick, which will be seeking overseas investors for deals in Chicago. Not to mention his speaking engagements and prospective book deals.

As my colleague Mick Dumke put it, they’re all steps in Daley’s “ongoing privatization of himself.”

Oh, wait, can’t forget his pension—about $184,000 a year.

To paraphrase the great Johnnie Taylor, it might have been cheaper to keep him around.

In contrast, consider the case of Anthony Skokna, 56, who was unceremoniously dumped from his job as a history teacher at Marshall High School, just about two years shy of claiming any of his pension. He’s been applying for jobs all over town, but no one will hire him, most likely because he’s too old. Click here to read more.

An Independent Labor Movement in the Offing? Rich Trumka Addresses Nurses

[It should be clear, first of all, that organized labor’s official position for decades has been to reward its friends, punish its enemies on a “non-partisan” basis.  Even during the height of the Roosevelt era, the AFL claimed to be non-partisan — meaning it did not endorse presidential candidates, and did not have a labor political action committee.  Nevertheless, from the 1936 election on the AFL nationally pushed the Democratic candidacy, while there were variations on local candidates (when Adlai Stevenson ran for Governor of Illinois, the state AFL endorsed his Republican, incumbent opposition as a demonstrated friend of labor).  The CIO developed a political action committee earlier than the AFL, but the AFL was completely won over to the need for some kind of electoral organization when the Taft-Hartley Act was passed in 1947. In recent years labor leaders have articulated the need for independence from their lesser of two evils strategy.  That led to the formation of the Labor Party, which had some limited success within the trade union movement itself and some limited success with organizations outside the unions.  In  50s there was some justification for the AFL-CIO to call itself “labor” when large numbers of workers were production workers, and a large number of those were organized in unions.  By the 90s one of the things the Labor Party recognized was that most of “labor” was not in the “House of Labor,” and therefore any political formation of labor would have to take that into account.  As the limited success of the Labor Party waned, some of the unions that had given the Labor Party support actually withdrew from the AFL-CIO under the aegis of “Change to Win,”  a new federation of labor.  There is a considerable dissatisfaction among labor — and here I mean among people who need to work for a living, whether or not they are currently employed, independently of whether they have a union affiliation. With this in mind it is important to consider Rich Trumka’s comments in the speech reported for The Nation by John Nichols as follows.]


AFL’s Trumka on Pols Selling Out Workers: ‘I’ve Had a Snootful of This S**t!’

June 8, 2011

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sent his strongest signal yet about the labor movement’s frustration with the dysfunctional politics of the moment—where Republicans go to extremes on behalf of big banks and multinational corporations, Democrats compromise and working families are left out of the equation.

John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated…

Speaking Tuesday to the National Nurses United conference in Washington, where more than one thousand nurses from across the country rallied to begin the push to replace the politics of setting for less with a unapologetic demands for a new economic agenda, Trumka found a plenty of takers for his agressively progressive message.

“We want an independent labor movement strong enough to return balance to our economy, fairness to our tax system, security to our families and moral and economic standing to our nation,” declared Trumka, who in recent months has been repositioning the AFL-CIO as a force that will hold Republicans and Democrats to what he describes as “a simple standard: “Are they helping or hurting working families?”

“We can’t simply build the power of any political party or any candidate. For too long we’ve been left after the election holding a canceled check and asking someone to pay attention to us. No more! No more!” the federation president, a former United Mineworkers union chief, shouted above the cheers of the nurses.

Then he described a scenario all too familiar to union activists: that of trying to get officials who are supposed to be allies of the working Americans to act on their behalf with the same energy that Republicans bring to aiding corporations.

“For too long, we’ve been left after Election Day holding a canceled check, waving it about—‘Remember us? Remember us? Remember us?’—asking someone to pay a little attention to us,” recalled Trumka, who like many union leaders was frustrated with the failure of the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act and other needed labor law reforms. “Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a snootful of that shit!”

There was no way to misread Trumka’s message for Democrats who have strayed on issues ranging from EFCA to trade policy to mounting an absolute defense of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

“When it comes to politics, we’re looking for real champions of working women and men. And I have a message for some of our “friends.” It doesn’t matter if candidates and parties are controlling the wrecking ball or simply standing aside—the outcome is the same either way,” he explained. “If leaders aren’t blocking the wrecking ball and advancing working families’ interests, working people will not support them. This is where our focus will be—now, in 2012 and beyond.”

Trumka chose exactly the right setting in which to deliver that message. The NNU (which also welcomed this writer as a speaker at its gathering) has long advocated for a more miltant stance when it comes to politics, as evidenced this week by the union’s mass protest outside the headquarters of the US Chamber of Commerce. As the nurses blocked traffic, NNU executive director Rose Ann DeMoro led the crowd in chanting “Our street!” and then pointing at the Chamber building and shouting “Wall Street!”

That determination to take the fight to Wall Street is at the heart of the NNU’s new “Main Street Contract for the American People” that, among other things, demands that elected officials take a “Which Side Are You On?” pledge.

The pledge contrasts Wall Street’s push for “tax cuts for the rich and powerful” and “replacing Medicare with vouchers” with a Main Street Contract that seeks:

  • 1. Jobs at living wages to reinvest in America.
  • 2. Equal access to quality, public education.
  • 3. Guaranteed healthcare with a single standard of care.
  • 4. A secure retirement with the ability to retire in dignity.
  • 5. Good housing, and protection from hunger.
  • 6. A safe and healthy environment.
  • 7. The right to collectively organize and bargain.
  • 8. A just taxation system where corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share.
  • 9. Restoring the promise—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

As Trumka speaks about that “simple standard” to demand of elected officials, politicians and their parties, he and the rest of the labor movement could find few better places of beginning than that pledge to support the NNU’s “Main Street Contract for the American People.”

Automation and Robotics News Returns: Tony Zaragoza’s Popular Feature After A 90 Day Hiatus!

Federation News, July 20, 1957, p 4

The debate about the effects of automation and even robotics is not new.  As an example of this, note the article here, reprinted from the Federation News, the newspaper of the Chicago Federation of Labor.  The date is July 20, 1957.

Automation and Robotics News returns!  To read this on the web, please click on one of the links below:

Current issue


<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/military-robots/aeryon-scout-quadrotor-spies-on-bad-guys-from-above>Aeryon Scout Quadrotor Spies On Bad Guys From Above

Erico Guizzo  /  Fri, May 06, 2011

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/tag/quadrotor>Quadrotors are literally taking off. Just this year we’ve seen a <http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/diy/top-10-robotic-kinect-hacks>quadrotor carrying a Kinect sensor, a <http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/diy/cutest-quadcopter-ever-sounds-like-a-swarm-of-angry-bees>mini quadrotor DIY project, and even a <http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-software/quadrotors-demonstrate-mad-cooperative-juggling-skills>quadrotor that juggles. But quadrotors are also flying out of the laboratory and finding “professional” applications — like spying on bad guys from above.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/military-robots/boeing-phantom-ray-ucav-makes-first-flight>Boeing Phantom Ray UCAS Makes First Flight

Evan Ackerman  /  Wed, May 04, 2011

It was barely two months ago that Northrop Grumman’s X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) made <http://www.botjunkie.com/2011/02/07/robot-fighter-jet-makes-first-flight/>its first autonomous flight. On April 27, Boeing’s Phantom Ray followed suit on its first flight, maneuvering at 7,500 feet at speeds of over 175 knots. The test flight, which lasted just under 20 minutes, was followed by a perfect autonomous landing.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/military-robots/new-recon-scout-throwbot-can-climb-ship-hulls-spy-on-pirates>New Recon Scout Throwable Robot Can Climb Ship Hulls, Spy on Pirates

Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, May 03, 2011

We’re already familiar with ReconRobotic’s line of <http://www.botjunkie.com/2008/10/31/recon-scout-surveillance-bot/>throwable surveillance robots, and they’ve just announced a new model, pictured above. Or rather, they’ve announced an entirely new capability for the little robot: it can now drive straight up vertical metal surfaces with the aid of some magical magnetic wheels, check it out.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/military-robots/x47b-will-do-it-all-with-a-mouse-click>X-47B Robot Aircraft Will Do It All With a Mouse Click

Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, April 12, 2011

All those Predators and Reapers flying around in Afghanistan and elsewhere may be called “unmanned drones,” but they’re human-in-the-loop systems, reliant (more or less) on a human pilot in a trailer somewhere. While they often have the capacity to return to a specific point if <http://www.botjunkie.com/2010/08/27/firescout-loses-comm-link-wanders-over-washington-dc/>contact is lost, it <http://www.botjunkie.com/2009/01/16/irish-uav-gets-lost-tries-to-make-it-home-from-africa-fails/>doesn’t always go well, and sometimes it <http://www.botjunkie.com/2009/09/15/air-force-has-no-mercy-on-wayward-drones/>goes very badly.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/festo-launches-incredibly-lifelike-smartbird>Festo Launches SmartBird Robotic Seagull

Evan Ackerman  /  Thu, March 24, 2011

Festo has a fairly fascinating, frankly fantastical, and frequently full-on fabulous history with the robotic systems that they develop in partnership with universities and research groups as part of their Bionic Learning Network. In the past, we’ve seen <http://www.botjunkie.com/2009/04/24/video-friday-festo-bionics/>flying penguins and <http://www.botjunkie.com/2008/05/02/video-friday-festo-airjelly/>jellyfish, as well as bio-inspired manipulators like <http://www.botjunkie.com/2010/04/16/festo-tentacle-arm-actually-elephants-trunk/>this one. Today, Festo has unveiled their 2011 Bionic Learning Network projects, the most awesome of which is definitely SmartBird.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/military-robots/firstlook-irobot-new-throwable-baby-surveillance-bot>FirstLook: iRobot’s New Throwable Baby Surveillance Bot

Evan Ackerman  /  Wed, March 23, 2011

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/tag/irobot>iRobot has just introduced the 110 FirstLook, a very small and lightweight robot designed to be used for scouting and surveillance when you don’t have access to its big brother, the <http://spectrum.ieee.org/tag/packbot>Packbot. FirstLook is 25 centimeters (10 inches) long, 23 cm (9 in) wide, and only 10 cm (4 in) high. It weighs less than 2.3 kilograms (5 pounds). Onboard, it has four separate cameras, one on each side, allowing the operator to see in every direction at once, with IR illuminators for night vision.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/military-robots/lockheed-martins-spybot-knows-how-not-to-be-seen>Lockheed Martin’s Spybot Knows How Not to Be Seen

Evan Ackerman  /  Wed, March 23, 2011

There are some basic rules that both humans and robots should be aware of when it comes to not being seen, and <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifmRgQX82O4>Monty Python only <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifmRgQX82O4>scratched blew up the surface. Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Laboratory has been developing a robot designed to operate around humans without being detected, and not just by being small and quiet: it listens for humans, guesses where they might be looking, and then finds itself a nice dark hiding place when it needs to. Lockheed’s robot is equipped with a 3D laser scanner that allows it to build detailed maps of its surroundings. It also has an array of acoustic sensors, which allow it to localize footsteps and voices. It can then combine the locations of humans with its 3D map to guess what areas the humans might be able to see, and then does its best to stay hidden. Keeping to the shadows, the robot always maintains an escape route, and if it senses a human approaching, it will look for the deepest darkest corner it can find and then hold its virtual breath until the danger has passed.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/no-the-navy-is-not-trying-to-start-the-robot-apocalypse>Navy Wants Robot Swarm That Can Autonomously Build Stuff, Apocalypse Unlikely

Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, March 08, 2011

Back in July of 2009, we got our first look at <http://www.botjunkie.com/2009/07/02/aerovironment-nav-flies-like-a-hummingbird-will-look-like-one-too/>AeroVironment’s excessively hummingbirdish nano air vehicle (NAV) as it went through tethered and untethered tests. The more capable Phase II version that DARPA asked for is now complete, and is demonstrating controlled indoor and outdoor flight, endurance flights, and precision hovering.

<http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20022009-1.html>Japan unveils flying surveillance robot

Monday, November 08, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak

Japan’s military is working on a compact spy drone that can fly like a helicopter.

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/05/teeny-tiny-drone-fires-teeny-tiny-missile-gulp/>Teeny-Tiny Drone Fires Teeny-Tiny Missile (Gulp)

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/spencer_ackerman/>Spencer     Ackerman, May 20, 2011

TAMPA, Florida — Never let it be said that small isn’t powerful. A Northern California company has just built commandos perhaps the smallest drone that can kill you. Underscoring the point, it’s even painted camouflage, like Stallone in Rambo.

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/05/handheld-spy-drone/>Handheld Spy Drone Too Wimpy for Iraq’s Marines

By     <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/spencer_ackerman/>Spencer     Ackerman, May 12, 2011

When Marine companies in Iraq first got hold of the tiny spy plane known as the Raven in 2008, it seemed like a perfect fit. Iraq was a decentralized fight — a hundred tiny wars inside a single big one. So it made sense that platoon and company leaders would want an overhead view of their private war zone.

Turns out the tiny spy drone was a little too flimsy and too precious — with too weak a battery –  to get excited about. The Raven was “valuable,” a study later concluded, but it wasn’t a game changer.

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/05/first-drone-strikes-since-bin-laden-raid-hit-pakistan-yemen/>First Drone Strikes Since bin Laden Raid Hit Pakistan, Yemen

By     <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/spencer_ackerman/>Spencer     Ackerman, May 6, 2011

Just four days after the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden — and seized more than 100 discs, drives and computers from the al-Qaida hideout — the U.S. restarted its drone attacks on Pakistan. Then, mere hours earlier, drones hit Yemen for the first time in nearly nine years. Could this be the first result of intel taken from bin Laden’s thumb drives?

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/04/crop-duster-drones/>Drones Spray, Track the Unwilling in Air Force Plan

By     <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/adamrawnsley/>Adam     Rawnsley, April 28, 2011

Here’s how the U.S. Air Force wants to hunt the next generation of its enemies: A tiny drone sneaks up to a suspect, paints him with an unnoticed powder or goo that allows American forces to follow him everywhere he goes — until they train a missile on him.

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/04/the-robot-war-over-libya-has-already-begun/>Pentagon: Robot War Over Libya Begins in 3, 2, 1 …

By     <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/spencer_ackerman/>Spencer     Ackerman, April 21, 2011

Moammar Gadhafi’s forces are killing Libyan civilians and pushing back rebel forces, NATO air strikes be damned. So it’s time to send in the drones.

Thursday marks the end of <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/03/gates-welcome-to-the-end-of-u-s-combat-in-libya/>the end of U.S. strike missions in Libya. In a press conference, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced that armed Predator drones have been approved for use in Libya. They flew for the first time on Thursday, but “the weather wasn’t good enough, so we had to bring them back,” Cartwright said.

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/04/drone-reportedly-kills-two-u-s-troops-in-friendly-fire-incident/>Did a Predator Just Kill Two U.S. Troops?

By     <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/adamrawnsley/>Adam     Rawnsley, April 11, 2011

An American drone apparently killed two U.S. troops in Afghanistan last week in what may be a first-of-its-kind case of friendly fire.

NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski writes that the strike killed a Marine Staff Sergeant and Navy corpsman while they were <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42537620/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/>reinforcing Marines under fire from the Taliban in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The Marines reportedly saw the troops headed towards them through a Predator’s infrared camera, could not distinguish them from attacking Taliban and ordered in the Predator-borne Hellfire missile airstrike that killed the two men.

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/04/navy-wants-doc-bots-robo-ambulances/>Navy Wants Doc-Bots, Robo-Ambulances

By     <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/adamrawnsley/>Adam     Rawnsley, April 6, 2011

Not all of the military’s robot research goes into creating unfeeling killing machines. Some of them are here to heal, like the Navy’s plan to create a medical robot to treat troops carried by drones.

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/03/u-s-drones-are-now-sniffing-mexican-drugs/>U.S. Drones Are Now Sniffing Mexican Drugs

By     <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/spencer_ackerman/>Spencer     Ackerman, March 16, 2011

Next, the <http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/01/pl_narcoscorridos/>narcocorridos will sing about the pilotless planes above the heads of their patrons. It used to be that the Department of Homeland Security flew drones over the U.S.-Mexican border to watch for illegal immigrants. That proliferation of military technology to a civilian mission isn’t without its share of malfunctions: Not only did the <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/06/border-drone-breaks-comms-with-pilot-flights-suspended/>communications systems fritz out occasionally, but on at least one occasion, a small <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/12/invasion-of-the-mexican-drones/>drone owned by the Mexican government crashed into an El Paso backyard.

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/02/drones-set-to-invade-u-s-national-parks/>Drones Set to Invade National, State Parks

By     <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/richardwheeler/>Richard     Wheeler, February 28, 2011

When I was a kid going to summer camp in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, I counted myself lucky if I saw a black bear once or twice in a season. But campers may soon be able to regularly see something bigger and badder when climbing the High Peaks: <http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Big-eye-has-Adirondack-sights-1010129.php>Reaper drones flown by the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Fighter Wing based in Syracuse, New York.

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/02/cash-for-drones-levels-off-in-pentagons-new-budget/>Is the Pentagon’s Drone Spending Spree Over?

By     <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/spencer_ackerman/>Spencer     Ackerman, February 14, 2011

If you manufacture unmanned spy planes, you might have expected more money out of the defense budget request unveiled today. The Pentagon is asking for barely more money in fiscal 2012 than Congress is currently providing it: $4.8 billion, despite what comptroller Robert Hale called an “insatiable demand” among the services for spy gear.

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/02/behind-the-drones-lots-of-bureaucracy/>CIA Lawyer: How I Issued Drone ‘Death Warrants’

By     <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/spencer_ackerman/>Spencer     Ackerman, February 14, 2011

You can expect to see at least two people inside the secret bunkers in Virginia where the CIA pilots its lethal drones over Pakistan. One controls the distant drone, his hand on a joystick, ready to fire off a missile at a target below. Another is a CIA lawyer, watching to ensure that the operator is within his rights to attack his target. Call it a “punctilious” method to avoid civilian casualties and legal hot water, as one of those lawyers recently did — or call it the bureaucratization of a shadow war.

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/02/theres-no-hiding-from-new-breath-detecting-robot/>There’s No Hiding from New Breath-Detecting Robot

By     <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/davidaxe/>David     Axe, February 7, 2011

America’s robots make deadly weapons. But there are countermeasures to even the most fearsome bot now in service. To avoid detection by aerial drones, Taliban fighters in Afghanistan have begun <http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=35636&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=412&no_cache=1>traveling in smaller groups. In his <http://www.amazon.com/WAR-Sebastian-Junger/dp/0446556246>excellent book <http://www.amazon.com/WAR-Sebastian-Junger/dp/0446556246>War, Sebastian Junger even describes Afghan fighters covering themselves with blankets on sun-warmed rocks to erase their infrared signatures, confounding the drones’ IR sensors.

<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/02/1-in-50-troops-robots/>One in 50 Troops in Afghanistan Is a Robot

By     <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/davidaxe/>David     Axe, February 7, 2011

There are <http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?List=7c996cd7-cbb4-4018-baf8-8825eada7aa2&ID=300>more than 2,000 ground robots fighting alongside flesh-and-blood forces in Afghanistan, according to Lt. Col. Dave Thompson, the Marine Corps’ top robot-handler. If his figures are right, it means one in 50 U.S. troops in Afghanistan isn’t even a human being. And America’s swelling ranks of groundbot warriors are being used in new, unexpected, life-saving ways.


<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/abb-factory-robot-frida>ABB’s FRIDA Offers Glimpse of Future Factory Robots

Erico Guizzo  /  Tue, April 19, 2011

Its name is FRIDA, and it’s a creation of ABB, the Swiss power and automation giant, which introduced it early this month at the Hannover trade show, Europe’s largest industrial fair. Designed for assembly applications, FRIDA is capable of using its human-like arms to grasp and manipulate electronic components and other small parts. The machine is a <http://www.abb.com/cawp/abbzh254/8657f5e05ede6ac5c1257861002c8ed2.aspx>concept robot that ABB created to show off its vision for a new kind of industrial robot.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/f16-demolition-robot>F16 Demolition Robot Cuts Through Concrete Like Butter

Erico Guizzo  /  Fri, February 25, 2011

Need to destroy something? Get a F16. No, not that <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Dynamics_F-16_Fighting_Falcon>F16. The F16 demolition robot from Stanley Hydraulic Tools. Unveiled this month, this electrically-driven hydraulic monster comes with five different attachments: shear, breaker, grapple, drop hammer, and our favorite, a concrete-cracking claw. Sure, it’s more of a remote-controlled shrunk excavator than a robot. But who cares? It can tear down walls and cut steel like butter. Can we bring this guy to <http://www.robogames.net/>RoboGames?

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/pi4-workerbot-is-one-happy-factory-bot>With Two Arms and a Smile, Pi4 Workerbot Is One Happy Factory Bot

POSTED BY: Samuel Bouchard  /  Thu, February 03, 2011

Is this robot the factory worker of the future?

The pi4 Workerbot is a new industrial robot capable of using its two arms to perform a variety of handling, assembly, and inspection tasks. It’s designed to work alongside human workers —  and the robot’s LCD face even displays a broad smile when things are running smoothly.

<http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20110512-712074.html>ABB Very Optimistic On China In 2011 – CEO
Wall Street Journal – <http://www.google.com/search?start=160&hl=en&sa=N&biw=1174&bih=607&tbm=nws&q=author:%22John+Revill%22&ei=YQDbTYPoHNPPiAKIuoSCCA&ved=0CDEQ1AcoADABOKAB>John Revill – May 12, 2011

“We started very strongly in China in the first quarter, both power businesses and automation were strong last year and that continued,” said Hogan at ABB’s …

<http://www.newswiretoday.com/news/90492/Frost_and_Sullivan_Conceives_the_Future_of_Manufacturing__The_Automation_Way/>Frost & Sullivan Conceives the Future of Manufacturing – The …

Newswire Today (press release) – May 11, 2011

What part will factory automation play in keeping businesses competitive? How can companies leverage such Mega Trends to stay on top of their game? …

<http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/5/prweb8462007.htm>Ford Employs a Robot Named Ruth

PR Web (press release) – 2 days ago

The sales team at Maritime Ford – the premiere Ford dealer in Manitowoc – is excited about the new robots that Ford is using to make better vehicles that …

<http://www.robotics.org/content-detail.cfm/Industrial-Robotics-News/Automated-Assembly-Lines-from-KUKA-Systems-Outfit-Canada%C2%B9s-Largest-Solar-Panel-Plant/content_id/2792>Automated Assembly Lines from KUKA Systems Outfit Canada¹s Largest Solar Panel Plant

05/20/2011 KUKA Systems North America has made a successful entry into the burgeoning Canadian solar panel manufacturing sector, demonstrating in the …

<http://www.robotics.org/content-detail.cfm/Industrial-Robotics-News/Let-The-Sparks-Fly50-Years-of-Robotic-Automation-and-the-Future-of-American-Industry/content_id/2685>Let The Sparks Fly…50 Years of Robotic Automation and the Future of American Industry


AWS National Robotic Welding Conference & Exhibition 2011
Overcoming Obstacles to Automation Through Innovation
Sponsored by the American Welding Society
May 23-25, 2011, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Event is designed to benefit anyone considering the use of robots in arc welding applications, or currently using robots and looking to expand or optimize their use.

“Let The Sparks Fly…50 Years of Robotic Automation and the Future of American Industry”
May 24, 2011, 7:00 – 9:30 Dinner and Keynote Presentation
By: Dean Elkins – Senior General Manager
Motoman Robotics, Chairman RIA
As a special feature the keynote speaker will be Dean Elkins, the Chairman of the Robotic Industries Association, and Senior General Manager at Motoman Robotics who will give a presentation about the way in which robots have been assimilated into the American manufacturing market space, making American companies more productive while lower costs, increasing flexibility, and improving a company’s chances of competing in the global market place. Scholarships will be awarded to students during the keynote dinner.


<http://robots.net/article/3115.html>Prospero, an Autonomous Micro Planter

28 Feb 2011 at 20:33 UTC by <http://robots.net/person/John_RobotsPodcast/>John_RobotsPodcast

<http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/showthread.php?t=4669>A forum post on TrossenRobotics.com shows what’s called a an Autonomous Micro Planter (AMP), a small, six-legged robot named Prospero, that’s capable of drilling seed holes and depositing seeds in them. The forum post includes two YouTube videos and several photos. <http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/member.php?u=5016>The author of the post, David Dorhout, describes this category of machine as the first of four steps, saying The other three steps involve autonomous robots that tend the crops, harvest them, and finally one robot that can plant, tend, and harvest–autonomously transitioning from one phase to another. Prospero was designed for a contest sponsored by <http://www.schmartboard.com/>SchmartBoard and <http://blog.schmartboard.com/>placed first in the Parallax MCU segment (there were also TI and MicroChip MCU segments). The forum post links to <http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=2458&d=1297742204>a PDF which explains the project in detail, including source code.

<http://robots.net/article/3097.html>Robotic farms – Hortiplan mobile gully system

Posted 1 Feb 2011 at 13:44 UTC by <http://robots.net/person/mwaibel/>mwaibel

<http://robotpig.net/>I.K.Erripis from the <http://www.robotspodcast.com/>Robots Podcast has sent some pointers on how robotics in agriculture is revolutionizing the way our food is produced. Greenhouses are transformed by robot applications and many companies apply advanced technology in order to improve production and the product. One of them is shown in a video recently posted by our friends over at the <http://singularityhub.com/2011/01/31/automation-domination-robotic-farm-for-hydroponic-lettuce-in-belgium-video/>Singularity Hub and reposted above. It shows that Belgian company <http://www.hortiplan.com/>Hortiplan won’t just sell you one or several robots to operate your greenhouse. Instead, Hortiplan will convert it into one huge robot. Their <http://www.hortiplan.com/site/index.php?menu=3>mobile gully system (MGS) is an integrated installation that automatically moves the plants through four stages, a nursery, a centralized planting area, an automated growing field and finally to the centralized harvest area. The plants are handled in and out of gullies and they grow through a <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nutrient_film_technique>”Nutrient Film Technique” (NFT) recirculating water system, where water with nutrients flows continuously through the plants. There are multiple benefits of this system: Production is increased, the requirements for human labor are reduced and the installation saves time and space for a given yield. The plants, (e.g., lettuce) are also picked up with their roots attached and by being alive they remain fresh for a longer time.

<http://www.packagingdigest.com/article/518043-Nestle_identifies_its_future_automation_strategies.php>Nestlé identifies its future automation strategies

Packaging Digest – <http://www.google.com/search?start=190&hl=en&sa=N&biw=1174&bih=607&tbm=nws&q=author:%22Lisa+McTigue+Pierce%22&ei=wADbTaTGOdPViAKj5PWBCA&ved=0CFgQ1AcoADAHOL4B>Lisa McTigue Pierce – May 4, 2011

Nestlé’s automation strategy historically was based on process control. This is where Nestlé and other companies in the CPG segment own the technology and …

<http://www.robotics.org/content-detail.cfm/Industrial-Robotics-News/Robots-for-Food-and-Drink/content_id/2736>Robots for Food and Drink


In the food and beverage industry, those who most efficiently pack and ship specialty orders win. In this blog about robots for food and beverage applications, RIA examines some of the drivers and considerations for choosing robots for food and beverage applications. Click here for the blog: <http://roboticsonline.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/robots-for-food-and-drink/>Robots for Food and Drink


<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/home-robots/robodynamics-luna-fully-programmable-adult-size-personal-robot>Mystery Robot Revealed: RoboDynamics Luna Is Fully Programmable Adult-Size Personal Robot

Evan Ackerman & Erico Guizzo  /  Wed, May 11, 2011

That <http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/home-robots/mystery-robot-to-be-unveiled-may-11>mystery robot that we’ve been teased about for months now, originally rumored to be something developed by either Apple or Google, is in fact a project by a company called RoboDynamics. It’s called Luna, it’s a personal robot designed for people to use at home, it’s fully programmable, and will start shipping later this year.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/home-robots/review-irobot-scooba-230>Review: iRobot Scooba 230

Evan Ackerman  /  Thu, March 24, 2011

We’re totally stoked about iRobot’s new <http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/home-robots/irobot-scooba-230-how-it-works>Scooba 230 floor cleaning robot, largely because it’s something entirely new from <http://spectrum.ieee.org/tag/irobot>iRobot, a company that we’ve <http://www.botjunkie.com/2010/10/13/new-roomba-572-pet-series-is-nothing-new/>gently chided in the past for making only incremental and cosmetic improvements to their consumer products over the last few years.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/expliner-robot-inspects-high-voltage-lines>Watch This Robot Crawl on a High-Voltage Power Line

POSTED BY: Erico Guizzo  /  Fri, February 04, 2011

Inspection of high-voltage power lines is costly, difficult, and a dangerous job even for skilled workers. Which means it’s the <http://spectrum.ieee.org/robotics/industrial-robots/robotic-tightrope-walkers-for-highvoltage-lines/0>perfect job for a robot.

<http://news.cnet.com/8301-19882_3-20031853-250.html>For better service, automate the waiters

Monday, February 14, 2011 Posted by Rafe Needleman

Storific lets you order food from your table, but the Paris-based start-up needs a more coherent sales strategy.

<http://www.npr.org/2011/05/13/136282554/the-rise-of-the-robo-waiter>The Rise Of The Robo-Waiter

NPR – <http://www.google.com/search?start=20&hl=en&sa=N&biw=1174&bih=607&tbm=nws&q=author:%22Patrick+Winn%22&ei=GQHbTdCuJIj4rQflqdTrDg&ved=0CCcQ1AcoADAAOBQ>Patrick Winn – May 13, 2011

Are robot waiters in our future in the US? Here, a robot holds a tray of food at a restaurant in Bangkok. Are robot waiters in our future in …

<http://robotics.tmcnet.com/topics/robotics/articles/178115-robot-move-luggage-guests-new-times-square-hotel.htm>Robot to Move Luggage for Guests in New Times Square Hotel

When the “Yotel” opens up in Times Square in New York City it will offer its guests automated robots to handle their luggage.

<http://www.robotics.org/content-detail.cfm/Industrial-Robotics-Feature-Article/Service-Robots-and-their-Rapid-Rise-in-Multiple-Markets/content_id/2608>Service Robots and their Rapid Rise in Multiple Markets

by Adil Shafi, President

Posted: 02/28/2011 Industrial robots are characterized by their use in factories. Almost always they work in a fixed area or move …


<http://www.robots.com/blog.php?tag=520>Industrial Robots Evolve to Meet Warehouse Challenges

April 25, 2011

Until recently, industrial robots have been relative strangers to the warehouse distribution industry. But <http://www.robots.com/arrivals.php>new developments in robot technology, specifically robotic software, vision systems, sensors, and <http://www.robots.com/faq.php?question=end+of+arm+tooling>EOAT, have brought about a new era.
Thanks to these advancements, robots are now capable of offering distribution companies much more intelligent and flexible solutions. The warehousing industry has been quick to embrace the new and improved <http://www.robots.com/robot-education.php>robotic <http://www.robots.com/robot-education.php>technology. According to a <http://www.robotics.org/content-detail.cfm/Industrial-Robotics-News/Robotic-Warehousing:-A-New-Market-Opportunity-for-Robot-Manufacturers-and-Integrators/content_id/2574>study by Paul Kellet, RIA Market Analysis Director, warehouse distribution is one of the most promising emerging markets for industrial robots.

<http://www.sbwire.com/press-releases/sbwire-90867.htm>Manufacturing Journalist TR Cutler Looks at How Hybrid Forklifts …
SBWire (press release) – May 3, 2011

In the current issue of Automation.com, manufacturing journalist TR Cutler noted, “Discrete manufacturers face increased global competition, …

<http://www.packagingeurope.com/Packaging-Europe-News/41052/ITW-Warehouse-Automation-Launched-at-Interpack-in-Dusseldorf.html>ITW Warehouse Automation Launched at Interpack in Dusseldorf
Packaging Europe – May 18, 2011

ITW Warehouse Automation will supply fully- integrated warehouse automation solutions across the Globe. The rising costs of labor and fuel, …


<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/earth-day-5-robots-that-can-help-make-the-planet-greener>Earth Day: 5 Robots That Can Help Make the Planet Greener

Erico Guizzo  /  Fri, April 22, 2011

Today is <http://www.google.com/search?q=Earth+Day&ct=earthday11_hp&oi=ddle>Earth Day, and one of my coworkers was telling me about all the little things we can do to help preserve the <http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/storm-takes-aim.html>beautiful place we all live in. That got me thinking, naturally, on things that robots could do to help preserve the planet. Let’s not be disingenuous: robots, like all technologies, are not a panacea. More automation could mean less carbon emissions and less waste, but it could also mean the opposite — it all depends on how we use it. Below I’m listing five robotic technologies that could potentially help to make the planet greener. If you have more robots to add to the list, or if you disagree that robots are Earth-friendly creations, leave a comment below.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/robots-enter-fukushima-reactors-detect-high-radiation>Robots Enter Fukushima Reactors, Detect High Radiation

Erico Guizzo  /  Mon, April 18, 2011

The Associated Press is <http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ig4Uyj36-7ftfYkiaqUlVNN_CrtQ?docId=dc4ef5ca5b404767bc97ab669500b8bd>reporting that two PackBot ground robots from iRobot have entered Unit 1 and Unit 3 of the crippled <http://spectrum.ieee.org/static/japans-earthquake-and-nuclear-emergency>Fukushima nuclear power plant and performed readings of temperature, oxygen levels, and radioactivity.

<http://www.robots.com/blog.php?tag=517>Robots Critical to Survival of Alternative Energy Industry

April 18, 2011

As alternative methods of producing energy become increasingly sought-after, production must keep pace. For alternative energy industries to survive and thrive, they must increase their reliance on the <http://www.robots.com/robots.php>industrial robot.

<http://news.cnet.com/2300-11128_3-10006590.html>E-waste outfit automates to ramp up (photos) Slideshow

Thursday, February 10, 2011 Posted by Martin LaMonica

An electronics waste center in Ontario, Canada, uses a high level of automation to handle an expected higher rate of volume.

<http://news.cnet.com/one-day-a-robot-may-ask-paper-or-plastic/8301-17938_105-20062461-1.html>One day a robot may ask, ‘Paper or plastic?’

Friday, May 13, 2011 Posted by Christopher MacManus

Researchers from Stanford University create an autonomous checkout clerk capable of scanning and bagging your items in real time.


<http://news.cnet.com/mcdonalds-hires-7000-touch-screen-cashiers/8301-17938_105-20063732-1.html>McDonald’s hires 7,000 touch-screen cashiers

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 Posted by Amanda Kooser

Would you like some microchips with that burger? McDonald’s Europe strikes another blow against human interaction by installing 7,000 touch-screen computers to take your order and money.


<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/aerospace/robotic-exploration/how-china-plans-to-send-robots-to-the-moon>How China Plans To Send Robots To the Moon

Evan Ackerman  /  Mon, May 09, 2011

Despite the fact that the moon is so close (cosmically speaking), we haven’t really interacted much with the lunar surface since the late ’70s. We’ve taken pictures of it and crashed the occasional spacecraft into it, but in general the moon has been bypassed for sexier planets like <http://spectrum.ieee.org/tag/Mars>Mars.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-intelligence/nevada-bill-would-provide-tentative-roadmap-for-autonomous-vehicles>Nevada Bill Would Provide Tentative Roadmap for Autonomous Vehicles

Evan Ackerman  /  Fri, April 29, 2011

Right now, we have cars that that will automatically keep you in your lane while adjusting your speed so that you don’t run into anyone in front of you. You can go out and buy one. It’s not just that the technology exists to allow our cars to do our driving for us, at least on highways… The technology is in some consumer cars already. So why aren’t cars driving us around yet? A big (possibly the biggest) issue is legal: there’s simply no precedent that’s been established for, and let’s be blunt, who gets to sue who when something goes wrong. And something will, at some point, inevitably go wrong, and when it does, what happens next could decide the how the next decade of autonomous vehicles plays out.


<http://www.robots.com/blog.php?tag=508>2010 a Record Year for North American Robot Industry

February 10, 2011

2010 statistics released by the <http://www.robots.com/robots.php>Robotics Industries Association (RIA) underscore the reality that more and more companies both in North America and abroad are realizing their need for <http://www.robots.com/robotics.php?page=industrial+automation>industrial automation. Last year alone, combined robot orders totaled 29,034. Their total value is $1.839 billion. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/the-global-robotics-brain-project>The Global Robotics Brain Project

Samuel Bouchard  /  Tue, March 29, 2011

Because in his brain resides a database with more than 36,000 robotics companies, robotics labs, robotics projects, robotics researchers, and robotics publications, all categorized, tagged, and linked. No, not in the brain inside his head. We’re talking about the Global Robotics Brain, a project that the man, Wolfgang Heller, started to keep track of the robotsphere. Inspired by Google’s <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank>PageRank, Heller, a business intelligence consultant from Sweden, asked himself: Could he use a similar approach to draw a map of interactions between the different robotics players and identify who is doing the most relevant work? What trends are emerging?

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-software/robots-are-the-next-revolution-so-why-isnt-anyone-acting-like-it>Robots Are the Next Revolution, So Why Isn’t Anyone Acting Like It?

Paul Miller  /  Mon, March 28, 2011

Back in 2006, when Bill Gates was making his tear-filled transition from the PC industry into a tear-filled career as a philanthropist, he penned an editorial on robotics that became a rallying cry for… no one. Titled “<http://www.cs.virginia.edu/%7Erobins/A_Robot_in_Every_Home.pdf>A Robot in Every Home,” Bill Gates highlighted the obvious parallels between the pre-Microsoft PC industry and the pre-anybody personal robotics industry. Industrial use, research work, and a fringe garage hobby. That was the state of the computer industry before Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, and that’s more or less the state of the robotics industry now, five years after Bill’s editorial.

<http://www.robotics.org/content-detail.cfm/Industrial-Robotics-News/Robot-Orders-Surge-31-in-First-Quarter-of-2011/content_id/2750>Robot Orders Surge 31% in First Quarter of 2011


North American robotics companies enjoyed their best opening quarter since 2007, according to new statistics released by Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group. A total of 4,021 robots valued at $263.5 million were ordered by North American manufacturing companies through March, an increase of 31% in units and 27% in dollars.


ICRA 2011 Expo Gallery

Evan Ackerman  /  Mon, May 23, 2011

While most of <http://spectrum.ieee.org/tag/icra>ICRA was devoted to research presentations, there was a lively expo floor stuffed with robots that would be from all corners of the globe, if a globe had any corners. We’re nowhere near finished with our coverage of the research, but for today, enjoy this gallery of pics from the expo.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-intelligence/highspeed-robot-hands-fold-a-towel-in-04-second>High-Speed Robot Hands Fold a Towel in 0.4 Second

Evan Ackerman  /  Thu, May 19, 2011

Remember those <http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/high-speed-robot-hands-easily-outpace-humans>crazy fast robotic hands that can dribble a ball in the blink of an eye? A research group from the University of Tokyo has been teaching them to fold towels (very small towels) at blistering speed, poking some fun at Berkeley’s PR2 and its rather more, um, <http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/home-robots/pr2-does-the-impossible-folds-towels>sedate pace.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-intelligence/treebot-learns-to-autonomously-climb-trees>Treebot Learns to Autonomously Climb Trees

Evan Ackerman  /  Wed, May 18, 2011

This is Treebot. As you might expect, Treebot was designed to do one thing: climb trees. It is by no means the first robot able to do this, but its arboreal predecessors (<http://www.botjunkie.com/2009/05/13/rise-v3-scrambles-up-telephone-poles-faster-than-ever/>RiSE and <http://www.botjunkie.com/2010/08/30/trees-are-no-protection-from-snakebots/>Modsnake and <http://www.botjunkie.com/2007/08/12/packbot-griffon-takes-to-air-lands-in-tree/>accidentally PackBot are just a few) weren’t autonomous and didn’t have the skills necessary to negotiate the complex network of branches that you tend to find on trees worth climbing.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/diy/this-begging-robot-can-have-all-my-money>This Begging Robot Can Have All My Money

Evan Ackerman  /  Fri, April 22, 2011

Seriously, how could you walk past this adorable little robot and not give it everything you have in your pockets? This is DONA, an “Urban Donation Motivating Robot,” which wanders around public spaces and proceeds to look cute until people <http://www.botjunkie.com/2009/04/27/short-on-change-build-a-beggarbot/>give it money. ‘Cause, you know, robots have to make ends meet too. And from the looks of it, it totally works.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/geminoid-robots-and-human-originals-get-together>Geminoid Robots and Human Originals Get Together

Erico Guizzo  /  Mon, April 04, 2011

The ultrarealistic androids, each a copy of a real person, met on March 30 at Japan’s <http://spectrum.ieee.org/tag/atr>ATR laboratory, near Kyoto. Attending were <http://spectrum.ieee.org/tag/geminoid+f>Geminoid F, <http://spectrum.ieee.org/robotics/humanoids/hiroshi-ishiguro-the-man-who-made-a-copy-of-himself>Geminoid HI-1, and <http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/latest-geminoid-is-disturbingly-realistic>Geminoid DK, as well as their respective originals: a twentysomething woman (<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/040310-geminoid-f-hiroshi-ishiguro-unveils-new-smiling-female-android>whose identity remains a secret), Prof. Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University, and Prof. Henrik Scharfe of Aalborg University, in Denmark [photo above].

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/0211-top-10-robot-videos>Top 10 Robot Videos of the Month

Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, March 15, 2011

February was a big month for robots, but then, from our perspective, every month is a big month for robots. Robonaut finally made it to the ISS, and Watson proved that humans are doomed at Jeopardy, more or less. And did we mention a bomb-disposal bot dropped a real grenade on live TV [image above]? Oops.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/medical-robots/stochastic-robots-assemble-and-disassemble-themselves>Stochastic Robots Assemble and Disassemble Themselves

Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, February 22, 2011

“Stochastic” is another way of saying random, and stochastic robots are robots that harness the powers of randomness <http://www.botjunkie.com/2007/11/15/stochastic-self-reconfigurable-modular-robots-build-themselves-at-random/>to construct themselves. It’s a fairly simple idea that can result in fairly complex objects: you’ve got some number of different modules, which can come together to form a robot. Instead of putting the modules together and building the robot directly, you instead just toss all of the modules and shake it really really hard. As the modules randomly run into each other, each is programed to latch on if it happens to bump into a module that it’s supposed to be next to in the final design. And if you do this for long enough, eventually you’ll end up with a fully assembled robot. Or that’s the basic idea, anyway.

<http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/home-robots/0111-top-10-robot-videos>Top 10 Robot Videos of the Month

Erico Guizzo  /  Tue, February 08, 2011

Robotics is off to a good start this year. In January, there was <http://spectrum.ieee.org/tag/ces>CES, with lots of <http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/home-robots/best-robots-of-ces>cool new robot products and demos, and we’ve also seen plenty of robot hacks using Microsoft’s <http://spectrum.ieee.org/tag/Kinect>Kinect 3D sensor, which is creating quite a stir. But there was much more, of course, so it’s time to review the most striking, stunning, and strange robot videos of January.

<http://news.cnet.com/pr2-robot-learns-to-read-follows-words-anywhere/8301-17938_105-20065448-1.html>PR2 robot learns to read, follows words anywhere

Monday, May 23, 2011 by Tim Hornyak

At the University of Pennsylvania, Willow Garage’s polymath PR2 robot is reading everything in sight, including T-shirts and coffee labels.

<http://www.roboticstrends.com/security_defense_robotics/article/autonomous_robots_explore_and_map_buildings>Autonomous Robots Explore and Map Buildings

There isn’t a radio-control handset in sight as several small robots roll briskly up the hallways of an office building. Working by themselves and communicating only with one another, the vehicles divide up a variety of exploration tasks – and within minutes have transmitted a detailed floor map to humans stationed nearby.



June People’s Tribune Features Education on Trial

The June People’s Tribune will soon be on line, with a special on education in crisis.  Here is link to a pdf for the June issue:

JUNE_PT_small3 1


Woody Guthrie: Redder Than Remembered

Woody Guthrie: Redder than Remembered

Scott Borchert

in the May Monthly Review

Woody Guthrie: Redder than Remembered

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Will Kaufman, Woody Guthrie, American Radical (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2011) 264 pages, $29.95, hardcover.

On January 18, 2009, two days before Barack Obama’s inauguration, close to half a million people gathered for a free concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. They were sung to and spoken at by a handful of musical artists, actors, politicians, and other prominent figures, including the President Elect and the illustrious Bono. Near the end of the concert, Pete Seeger, his grandson Tao Rodríguez-Seeger, and Bruce Springsteen led the crowd in a rendition of that old patriotic chestnut “This Land Is Your Land.” Naturally, everyone sang along, just as people have in countless classrooms, school pageants, political conventions, and rallies since Woody Guthrie’s most famous song entered the national consciousness in the 1960s.

Who knows what was going through Pete Seeger’s mind at that moment? There he was: the musical highlight of this state-sponsored spectacle, framed by the stars and stripes, and singing what might as well be the unofficial national anthem of the United States. A surprising image, considering that the United States once declared Seeger a dangerous subversive, hauled him in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, and sentenced him to ten years in prison for courageously sticking to his First Amendment guns. The sentence was overturned in 1962 but Seeger was blacklisted from major media outlets, and it took years for the stigma to fade—to the extent that it ever did.

And yet, by 2009, Seeger was apparently considered normalized (or perhaps domesticated) enough by elite opinion to be featured at the official inauguration concert. But Seeger had a trick up his sleeve that day. After singing their familiar way from “the ribbon of highway” to “the Gulf Stream waters,” the trio launched into three relatively unknown (and often censored) verses, with Seeger reciting each line loud and clear, just before the others chimed in. They sang about hungry people huddled outside the relief office; they attacked the very concept of private property; they set out on the “freedom highway,” and defied anyone to stop them. In other words, they seized upon the radical message of “This Land Is Your Land” and rehabilitated it in front of what was probably the largest single audience the song has ever had.  [To read more please click here.]