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Thursday, March 29, 2018

World carmakers still are betting the bank on improving mileage of deadly gas engine

TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF: The long-awaited second-generation Nissan Leaf, a stylish all-electric four-door hatchback, was only a sideshow for the press at the New York International Auto Show in the Javits Center. The show opens to the public on Friday.
ZERO EMISSIONS: Hundreds of auto writers, publicists and advertising executives ignored the zero-emissions 2018 Nissan Leaf, which has a range of 151 miles, as they pushed toward a stage to see the unveiling of a new Nissan Altima with a more efficient internal-combustion engine.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Any hope I had that the global auto industry is quickly developing electric vehicles to ease climate change and cut premature deaths from auto emissions was dashed on Wednesday at the New York International Auto Show.

As a Tesla owner and member of the International Motor Press Association, I skipped last year's two-day preview for auto writers and others.

But on Wednesday, I took mass transit to the show and walked through the exhibits at the Javits Center, looking for all-electric production models. 

They were few and far between, as were the cocktail parties and lounges the industry once employed to capture the hearts, minds and stomachs of the auto writers who flock there every year, and write gushing articles about new models with antiquated gas engines.


No free lunch

In fact, manufacturers asked the New York region auto dealers who stage the annual show for more time to hold press conferences, eliminating the wildly popular box lunch that Subaru has provided in recent years.

As the owner of a Tesla Model S, I was disappointed none of the unveilings on Wednesday were specifically for a new all-electric vehicle that you can buy now.

Of course, Tesla doesn't advertise or take part in the New York show.

And Porsche didn't bother showing the Mission E, saying the all-electric performance sedan still is a prototype that won't go on sale until the end of next year.


Media applause

As a retired newspaper reporter who once covered the industry, I was shocked to hear auto writers from around the world cheering and applauding loudly after Nissan unveiled a new Altima sedan with another dirty engine.

Surely, they weren't cheering the millions of premature deaths from air pollution, including the 53,000 attributed to tailpipe emissions in the United States every year.


Pushing fuel economy


Manufacturers are innovating to produce engines with better fuel economy under government pressure, Consumer Reports says in its 2018 Auto Issue.

Yet, car companies also are seeking relief from even stricter standards, and the Trump administration "is openly skeptical of regulation," the magazine reports.

And Charles Morris, who writes for Tesla aftermarket supplier Evannex, argues:

"Big Oil, supported by its allies in the auto industry and numerous national governments, is fighting the nascent electromobility revolution on several fronts."

"...The media churn out 'EVs are a bust' articles on a daily basis, often employing quotes helpfully provided by auto industry trade groups and oil-friendly think tanks."

See:




CHEAP-LOOKING INTERIOR: Chevrolet displayed the homely Bolt EV (and Volt plug-in hybrid, rear), neither of which have been setting sales records. A Chevrolet spokesman wouldn't comment on why the Bolt EV doesn't appear in its own TV commercial.
THIS EV REALLY STINKS: BMW chose to show the i3s, a sportier version of its funky all-electric car, which has a range of 114 miles, but this one was equipped with a "range extender" -- a 2-cylinder gasoline engine.
Jaguar says the all-electric I-Pace, above and below, is expected to go on sale at the end of the year, and compete with Tesla's Model X. The I-Pace will have an MSRP of $69,500 and a range of 240 miles.
A Jaguar spokesman said the "I" in I-Pace stands for "ion" as in the lithium-ion batteries the four-door hatchback uses.
Hyundai showed the all-electric Kona, above and below, a crossover that also is expected to go on sale at the end of this year. 
The Kona EV will have a range of 250 miles, Hyundai said, a bit more than the Chevy Bolt EV. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

If anti-gun teens really turn out and vote, we'll witness a new American Revolution

The size of the March For Our Lives demonstration in Washington, D.C., on Saturday was estimated as high as 800,000, and if crowds in other cities are included, more than 1 million people turned out to demand action on banning assault-style rifles and taking measures to end mass shootings (Associated Press photo).

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Florida high school massacre survivors warned NRA-endorsed politicians to prepare for defeat at the polls in November by a new wave of teenage voters.

In Saturday demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and other cities in America and around the world, protesters called for a ban on assault-style rifles and passage of other gun-control laws in a bid to end mass shootings.

If they register and go to the polls, the anti-gun teens who organized the March For Our Lives could ease one of the most corrosive influences in our democracy:

Voter apathy in national, state and local elections.

Millions of new voters would be nothing less than a new American Revolution -- despite the best efforts of Republicans to suppress the vote, and the news media to divide us by reporting almost exclusively on politics.

Clinton defeat

Registered Democrats who sat out the 2016 presidential election were a major factor in the defeat of Hillary Clinton and the Electoral College victory of serial liar Donald J. Trump.

In 2013, voter indifference to the Democratic candidate in New Jersey led to the reelection of Chris Christie, even though his first term showed him to be the worst governor in state history.

And in Hackensack's April 2017 school election, only 642 out of 21,397 registered voters -- that's 3% -- weighed in on the $109 million budget, and elected three members to the nine-member school board.

Thus, the discredited Zisa family political dynasty retained control of the city's Board of Education after their candidates had been trounced by City Council reformers in 2013.

Trump in Florida

President Trump, who fled the White House and spent the weekend at his Florida golf resort, was silent on the extraordinary turnout to remember the 17 students or staffers killed on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

At The Record of Woodland Park, my local daily newspaper, Columnist Mike Kelly didn't bother working on Saturday to cover similar demonstrations in Montclair, Newark and other New Jersey communities.

His Sunday column demanded an apology -- but not from Trump, who caved into the National Rifle Association after the Parkland shooting, and didn't call for new gun-control measures.

Instead, Kelly had readers eyes rolling with his column on Facebook's vulnerability to a data-mining firm working for Trump -- a story broken last week by The New York Times.

The major piece on The Record's Opinion front today -- pushing Kelly's column below the fold -- is about professional baseball (1O).

Give me a break.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Competing Costco home-delivery services; healthy Mexican + other ethnic food to go

WHITE GLOVE SERVICE: I saw this Cinch van being loaded with water and other items at the Costco Wholesale Business Center in Hackensack. Cinch is competing with Costco's own home-delivery service from the Teterboro warehouse.


-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

I really hope Costco Wholesale's newish home-delivery service succeeds in a big way for purely selfish reasons.

No. I have no interest in same-day delivery of fresh groceries to my home from the Teterboro warehouse.

But I'd love to see a large number of other Costco members signing up for the service, making my shopping experience in Teterboro less of a hassle.

So far, I haven't noticed much of a difference in the crowds or fussy members clawing through Costco's big packages of fruit, looking for what I don't know.

On Friday, my wife went to the Teterboro Costco to fill the tank of her gas-electric hybrid, return a men's dress shirt for a refund, and shop for fresh wild-caught fish, a big wedge of sheep's milk cheese from Italy and lots of other great items.

The store was "packed," and there were long lines at checkout, she said.

She spent more than $150, but got instant savings totaling $19.70 on skinless-and-boneless sardines, mouthwash, organic fruit bars, black-bean veggie burgers and hand soap.

Plus, she racked up a 4% rebate on gasoline and a 2% rebate on her entire purchase in the warehouse by using the Costco Anywhere Visa credit card.


Costco delivery 

Costco members can order same-day delivery of  eggs, meat, produce and other fresh items from Costco.com.

Costco uses a "personal shopper" from Instacart to deliver your groceries. To avoid a delivery fee, the minimum order is $35, and you must be present for delivery.

Two-day delivery of non-perishable food and household supplies requires a $75 order to avoid a delivery fee.

If you live in Bergen County, same-day delivery is from the Teterboro warehouse. Passaic County residents presumably get delivery from the Costco warehouses in Clifton and Wayne.


Cinch delivery

Cinch, a Costco competitor, offers "free delivery," but adds a fee to the prices of the items you order.

No membership in Costco is required, and there is no minimum order. And "we'll put your order away for you when we arrive."

But only "next day" delivery is available and only from Mondays to Fridays.  

I looked at some of the food items on the Cinch website, and noticed 3 pounds of bananas delivered to my home would cost $2.19 -- 80 cents more than they cost at Costco.

A 3-pound bag of organic bananas, also sold in Teterboro, wasn't available.

An 18-ounce package of blueberries delivered by Cinch would cost $9.99 or double what they cost at the Teterboro warehouse.

Cost of Costco delivery

In November 2017, before Costco launched delivery from the Teterboro warehouse, I reported on the cost: 

About 2,000 Costco products, including fresh food, are eligible for delivery by Instacart, which runs the same-day website and arranges for your order to be brought to your home, the warehouse giant said of the new CostcoGrocery program.

Orders can be delivered in as little as 2 hours, and a signature is required for delivery.

Executive members receive their 2% cash reward on "the warehouse merchandise sell price, but not on the 15% to 17% markup or the 10% service fee," Costco said.

Members also receive their 2% cash reward on the order total charged to the Costco Anywhere Visa Card.

Warehouse still cheapest

Still, items purchased in the warehouse "will provide you with the lowest possible price," Costco said.

"Members will enjoy the same superior quality products found in our warehouse. After we receive your order, items are carefully selected at your local Costco warehouse and delivered by Instacart," the company said.

Costco said non-members may also purchase on Instacart.com "at a higher price than members purchasing on Costco Same-Day." 

Other grocery delivery services are offered by ShopRite supermarkets, Amazon, Whole Foods Markets, Peapod and FreshDirect.

Although Costco is just now joining them, the warehouse giant offers prices on groceries and fresh food that usually undercut competitors.


ETHNIC FOOD TO GO: Korean soba or buckwheat noodles and fish balls from H Mart in Little Ferry, and Organic Korean Seaweed and Organic Chicken Broth from Costco Wholesale in Teterboro came together beautifully in a filling soup I made at home last Sunday night.
HEALTHY MEXICAN FOOD: I heated up a pair of Taqueria Los Compadres' Vegetable Tacos with non-GMO tortillas in the takeout container, adding fresh radish slices and salsa later, below.


Los Compadres

Los Compadres is a popular name for taquerias in the United States, but a new one in Fort Lee stands out by offering "healthy Mexican street food."

"All meats naturally raised, all sauces made in house without junk ... [or] with preservatives," the menu says.

The storefront eatery, which has only four tables, is affiliated with both the nearby Mood Food and Mood' Wiches in another part of Fort Lee.

They serve wild-caught shrimp, free-range eggs, quinoa bowls, salads, smoothies with real fruit, and organic coffee, tea and espresso drinks. 

At Taqueria Los Compadres, you can find tacos ($3 to $5 each); burritos ($9 to $12), tortas or sandwiches ($8 to $10) and bowls ($8 to $11) for pickup, delivery or to eat there.


DETAILS: Taqueria Los Compadres at 1224 Anderson Ave. in Fort Lee is open 7 days from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; 1-201-886-1367. Website: Order Online
MEXICAN SODA: Taqueria Los Compadres sells Jarritos, Mexican sodas made with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Flavors include Tamarind, Pineapple and Mango.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Food matters: A $50 lunch in Hackensack; Syrian food + the Great Falls in Paterson

The Sashimi Tuna Salad dressed in a Cilantro Ginger Vinaigrette ($22) at Houston's in The Shops at Riverside, an upscale mall near Route 4 in Hackensack.
A appetizer special of Char-Grilled Artichokes with a Remoulade Sauce ($15).

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Houston's, a fine-dining restaurant in an upscale mall, is crowded, noisy and expensive.

But my lunch there last week was one of the best I've ever had, even though I over-ordered and my bill topped $50, including tax and a 20% tip.

The three char-grilled artichokes in an appetizer special were enormous, and I took home two of them.

And the fork-tender seared ahi tuna chunks in the Sashimi Salad, dressed in a delicious Cilantro Ginger Vinaigrette, were all a fish lover could hope for. 

Portions were generous.

I've worked or lived in Hackensack for decades, yet this was my first visit to Houston's, which says it prepares American classics from scratch.

Servers wear white shirts, striped ties and big aprons, and there is a dress code for customers, too, as a card on the table informed me (collared shirts for men, no tank tops or flip-flops for women).

I met a friend there at 1:30 last Thursday afternoon, and we were seated in 5 minutes, but the noise level at the height of the lunch hour was annoying.

My Sashimi Salad would have been perfect with ripe instead of hard pieces of mango and avocado, and I also didn't like Campari tomato halves that were still cold from being refrigerated.

My friend ordered his favorite dish at Houston's, the Grilled Chicken Salad dressed in a Honey Lime Vinaigrette and peanut sauce.



Houston's Grilled Chicken Salad ($18). Burgers and sandwiches are $18 to $22, and House Specialties range from $23 to $47.
The dining room -- all brick, dark-red leather, booths, armchairs and butcher-block tables-- was dimly lit at lunch.
When I stepped inside the dining room from the mall entrance, I snapped a photo of the open kitchen, and an employee barked, "No photos!"
DETAILS: Houston's Bergen County in The Shops at Riverside is open 7 days for lunch, dinner and wine. The Hackensack restaurant is one of 16 Houston's in California, Texas, Louisiana (New Orleans), Georgia and Florida. You can make a reservation using a link on the website: American Classics Made From Scratch



To Silk City for Syrian food

We dashed out on Saturday to pick up a few things at Fattal's in the South Paterson section of Paterson, but stopped first at the roaring Great Falls, said to be second only to Niagara Falls east of the Mississippi River.

The lower viewing area and statue of Alexander Hamilton is closed during construction of an amphitheater.

So, we parked in the small lot outside Mary Ellen Kramer Park overlooking the falls, which is part of a national historical park.

The large number of silk mills powered by the falls transformed Paterson into America's Silk City.

And many Syrian immigrants owned or worked in the city's silk mills in the early 1900s, according to the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Mich.

At Fattal's -- a Syrian baker, butcher and grocer at 975 Main St. -- we bought a dozen made-to-order falafel, $4.99; grape leaves stuffed with rice and vegetables, $7.99 a pound; crushed red Aleppo pepper, $6.99 a pound; and pickled turnip slices, $2.99 a pound.

To see a video of the falls, click on this link: 




On Saturday, Paterson's Great Falls were full of water and literally roaring. A plaque in the park noted that 190 million years ago (Mesozoic Era) molten lava formed the basaltic ridge where the falls are today.
Grape leaves stuffed with rice and vegetables, fried falafel and hummus made from a can, all from Fattal's in Paterson. The Syrian baker, butcher and grocer is open 7 days. Parking is in a lot in front of the store.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Trump's crazy train or daily D.C. shit show has the world mocking the United States

Graffiti on a building in Mary Ellen Kramer Park at the Great Falls in Paterson.

In N.J., The Record reduces
Bergen County news even further

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

Editor's note: The Celebrity Birthdays feature on Page 6BL in today's Better Living section notes "film producer Harvey Weinstein is 66." I guess even sexual predators deserve a listing. See a reader's comment at the end of this post.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

A cornered President Trump is lashing out again on Twitter at Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a fellow Republican.

Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, as well as the finances of the Trump Organization, the 500 real estate and business entities of which the president is the sole or principal owner.

Late Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, less than two days shy of McCabe's retirement.

Like fired FBI Director James Comey, McCabe has handed over to Mueller memos documenting his conversations with the president.

Meanwhile, "60 Minutes" plans to air an interview with adult film star Stormy Daniels next Sunday.

She has offered to return $130,000 in hush money she was paid to keep quiet about her affair with Trump in 2006 after Melania Trump gave birth to their son, Barron.

Daily shit show

What a daily shit show Trump is putting on in Washington, D.C., turning our democracy into a laughing stock around the world.

No president has been tarred with so much scandal or has proven to be such a loose cannon -- insulting others and praising himself in an endless stream of lies the news media seem obsessed with spreading around the world.

'A scam ... a fraud'

Also on Friday, The New York Times and The Observer of London reported a voter-profiling company called Cambridge Analytica "harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission...."

"The breach allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump's campaign in 2016."

"This was a scam -- and a fraud," the social network said in a statement.


Editorial cartoonist Kevin Siers of The Charlotte Observer commenting on the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon Mobil.
Rick McKee, editorial cartoonist at The Augusta Chronicle, capturing the chaos of the Trump administration.
Many observers are betting the meeting between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un will never come off or that the two leaders are so illegitimate, nothing will come of the summit, says editorial cartoonist Nate Beeler of The Columbus Dispatch.

Local news?

I could not find a single local-news story from Bergen County in The Record's Local section on Saturday, with the exception of a police brief on a missing Paramus woman.

This from a local daily newspaper that began life as The Bergen Record, and is still called that by many older readers, decades after it became just The Record.

On Sunday, even Mike Kelly's column on the Opinion front (1O) was about Paterson.

The Record's local-news operation was on life support when the Gannett Co. took over from the Borg family in July 2016, and slashed the payroll of North Jersey Media Group, publisher of daily and weekly papers, and (201) magazine.

Now, residents of the 70 Bergen County communities can go days or weeks without seeing any news of their town.

Legal marijuana?

Gannett's reporting is weakest when trying to predict the future, as James Nash did on Sunday's Page 1.

Nash questioned whether the state Legislature will approve a bill to legalize marijuana by the June 30 deadline, and if it does, whether the state can develop rules by July 1, 2019, when weed would be sold to anyone.

Instead of speculating about the future, why doesn't Nash and other reporters write balanced stories seeking opinions on each side of issues such as legal marijuana, taxing millionaires and so forth.

Bylines

In redesigning The Record's print edition, Gannett eliminated the "by" in reporters' bylines.

Now, a reporter's name appears in boldface type and the publication appears next to it.

But "The Record" has been eliminated in favor of a fictitious publication, "North Jersey Record."

So it's no surprise #gannettruinedmypaper is appearing more and more on social media.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

UPDATE: The Record tries to panic us into thinking all of our taxes are going up

Jimmy Margulies, onetime editorial cartoonist at The Record of Woodland Park, has North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un wondering about how much he can get for his nuclear missiles after President Trump's lawyer paid $130,000 to silence adult film star Stormy Daniels.

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

During his successful campaign and in his budget address on Tuesday, Governor Murphy made clear he wants to raise taxes only on New Jersey's millionaires.

But on Tuesday, he also proposed restoring the 7% state sales tax, which former Gov. Chris Christie cut to 6.625% before he signed a 23-cents-a-gallon hike in the gas tax in October 2016.

That was the first and last tax hike the GOP bully signed during his eight years in office -- starving New Jersey of revenue and prompting him to grab money from mass transit, the environment, women's health and other programs to balance his budgets.

Still, The Record of Woodland Park wasted no time trying to panic non-millionaires into thinking their taxes are going up, too.

"Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled ... $1.6 billion in new taxes that will hit the paychecks of the wealthy and retail purchases of everyone in the state," the lead paragraph of a Page 1 story declared on Wednesday.

Of course, that was a reference to the miniscule hike to restore the state sales tax to 7%, but The Record's reporters made sure to bury that on the continuation page.

Does anyone care? If you can't afford a hike of a few cents in the sales tax, then your personal finances are a disaster.

'Ambitious' agenda

The story, written by James Nash and Dustin Racioppi, called Murphy's first-year agenda "ambitious."

A preview on Tuesday's front page asked, "How is he [Murphy] going to pay for his progressive promises?"

One of the biggest mistakes Gannett editors made was assigning Racioppi to cover Murphy.

The Trenton reporter's coverage of Christie largely ignored the nearly 600 vetoes the GOP thug executed to kill bills passed by the Democratic majority in the State Legislature.

Among many other measures, they included raising the minimum wage, taxing millionaires, hiking the gas tax to fund transportation improvements, and restricting the sale of assault-style rifles.

Affects who?

Inside Wednesday's paper, a graphic showed "how Murphy's $37.4B budget could affect you."

Turns out Uber and Airbnb services would be taxed for the first time in 2019. 

Big deal. Shouldn't they pay taxes, too?

Millionaires would pay a 10.75% tax on every dollar of income over $1 million, compared to an 8.97% tax on income over $500,000 now. 

Long overdue, and the 1% will hardly notice it.

Murphy said NJ Transit fares won't be going up in 2019.

Three cheers.

The state's earned income tax credit program would get an additional $27 million, giving more tax relief to low- and moderate-income earners.

And the state's minimum wage would be raised to $15, starting with a jump to $11 in 2019.

Sounds like a win-win for the vast majority of New Jersey's 9 million residents.

So, why is The Record's coverage of Murphy and his proposals so negative?

Correction

A rare correction on Wednesday's 2A noted a headline on Page 1L on Tuesday was "incorrect."

"A former Hackensack police officer will receive $105,416 for unused sick pay and vacation days."

The sub-headline on Tuesday said the payout will be "105,00."

There was no correction of Tuesday's incomprehensible Page 1 headline over the fatal crash of a helicopter into the Hudson River:


"BAG BEHIND CRASH?"


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

When winter weather is really miserable, shopping is a pleasure at Costco Wholesale

The Costco Wholesale warehouse in Teterboro was a pleasure to shop in before noon today, above and below.
When it was time for me to check out, there was only one other Costco member ahead of me, and he had purchased only three or four items.


--TETERBORO, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

A third snowy nor'easter in less than three weeks was predicted, but the storm fizzled this morning.

Still, wind and rain lashed my face as I bent forward to walk across the parking lot to the entrance of Costco Wholesale.

Inside, I found a far calmer shopping experience than usual: Uncrowded aisles and only one other Costco member in front of me at checkout.

I went for a couple of pounds of fresh, wild Cod from Iceland, but was surprised to find skinless-and-boneless fillets of wild-caught Silver Corvina from Suriname, a country in South America, for $8.99 a pound.

This is the first time I've seen that fish at Costco, and I'm looking forward to preparing a Fish & Vegetable Medley with the reddish fillets, fresh organic spinach, grape tomatoes and other ingredients.

Another standout was a 40-ounce bag of Organic Dried Smyrna Figs ($10.49), which are tender and juicy, and the closest you can get to the fresh fruit.

A few of them will be great with Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese and roasted almonds dusted with cinnamon after our fish dinner tonight.

And I also brought home a 5-pound bag labeled "Sweetie," containing small pomelos from Israel ($6.99).


Fresh wild Silver Corvina fillet from Suriname at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro. Below, a 40-ounce bag of Organic Dried Smyrna Figs was $10.49.


A 5-pound bag of pomelos from Israel are labeled "Sweetie."
Kirkland Signature Almonds are now steam pasteurized (3 pounds for $12.49). I roast the sodium-free, raw almonds in the oven for 1 hour and 25 minutes at 275 degrees, then dust them with cinnamon.
I usually grab two 40-ounce jars of Victoria White Linen Marinara when they are on sale at Costco, as they were today, but the high sodium content of this pasta sauce and others has prompted me to make a low-sodium alternative from cans of crushed tomatoes.  A half-cup of the Victoria sauce contains 18% of the recommended maximum sodium in one day.
A Kirkland Signature spread-collar dress shirt ($17.99), and a belt made from Italian leather (also $17.99) in my basket at checkout. A pack of five Kirkland Signature Dress Socks were only $7.99 after instant savings of $2.