Saturday, February 11, 2017

'I thought I was smarter than almost everybody': my double life as a KGB agent By Shaun Walker

Raised in East Germany, Jack Barsky abandoned his mother, brother, wife and son to spy for the KGB. In America, he started a second family. And then it all came crashing down...
Jack Barsky in Atlanta. Photograph: Johnathon Kelso for the Guardian
On a chilly morning in December 1988, computer analyst Jack Barsky embarked on his usual morning commute to his office on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, leaving his wife and baby daughter at home in Queens. As he entered the subway, he caught sight of something startling: a daub of red paint on a metal beam. Barsky had looked for it every morning for years; it meant he had a life-changing decision to make, and fast.

How New York City Gets Its Electricity By EMILY S. RUEB; Illustrations by Thoka Maer

When you turn on a light or charge your phone, the electricity coming from the outlet may well have traveled hundreds of miles across the power grid that blankets most of North America — the world’s largest machine, and one of its most eccentric.
Your household power may have been generated by Niagara Falls, or by a natural-gas-fired plant on a barge floating off the Brooklyn shore. But the kilowatt-hour produced down the block probably costs more than the one produced at the Canadian border.
Moreover, a surprising portion of the system is idle except for the hottest days of the year, when already bottlenecked transmission lines into the New York City area reach their physical limit.
“We have a system which is energy-inefficient because it was never designed to be efficient,” said Richard L. Kauffman, the state’s so-called energy czar, who is leading its plans to reimagine the power grid.
It’s like a mainframe computer in the age of cloud computing, Mr. Kauffman added, and with climate change, the state has to “rethink that basic architecture.”
But how does it work now?

Foreign workers: Should they stay or should they go? By Philip Brasor

As the rest of the world debated the ramifications of U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban on persons from seven Muslim-majority countries last week, Japan was notably silent.

Economic advantage: Former Ambassador to Switzerland Takaji Kunimatsu is impressed by the European nation's approach to immigration. The Swiss government spends money on language lessons and vocational training in fields that benefit the country. When immigrants break the law, they are subject to deportation. | KYODO

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is currently going out of his way to placate the new American leader for the sake of national interests, but in any case there was little he could add to the discussion. Japan has never universally welcomed immigrants, especially refugees. The local media, which covered the travel ban with detachment, didn’t bother to make any relevant connections to Japan’s situation, but that didn’t mean there weren’t any.
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