Whoa, Amazon Isn’t Just Making Money. It’s Making More Than Ever

Amazon has long favored growth over profits, dampening Wall Street’s expectations for years. Today was a different story. The post Whoa, Amazon Isn’t Just Making Money. It’s Making More Than Ever appeared first on WIRED.

Whoa, Amazon Isn’t Just Making Money. It’s Making More Than Ever

Amazon has long favored growth over profits, dampening Wall Street’s expectations for years. Today was a different story. The post Whoa, Amazon Isn’t Just Making Money. It’s Making More Than Ever appeared first on WIRED.

Harry Wu, exposed Chinese labor camps, dies at 79

He wrote under the name Peter Hongda Wu about his 19 years of captivity in the laogai prison camps.

Harry Wu, a Chinese dissident who mounted an international campaign to expose the horrors of his country’s laogai labor camps, where he endured 19 years of captivity as an alleged counterrevolutionary, died Tuesday while vacationing in Honduras. He was 79.

Ann Noonan, a board member of the Laogai Research Foundation, founded by Wu in 1992, confirmed his death and said she did not know the cause.

Wu settled in the United States in 1985 after a ghastly odyssey in the Chinese prison system in which he withered to 80 pounds, was worked nearly to death and survived, in part, on food that he foraged in rats’ nests. His offense, as a university student in the years after the Chinese Communist Revolution, had been to criticize the 1956 invasion of Hungary by the Soviet Union, the world’s other major Communist power.

SELF-DESCRIBED ‘TROUBLEMAKER’

Wu was imprisoned in 1960. After his release in 1979, three years after the death of Communist leader Mao Zedong, he built a profile as a human rights activist and self-described “troublemaker” who repeatedly slipped back into China to gather undercover footage of the prison camps.

The footage aired on the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes” and on the BBC in the 1990s. With those reports, Wu helped draw widespread attention to Chinese practices of using forced labor to produce exports – among them wrenches and artificial flowers ultimately banned by the United States – and harvesting organs from executed prisoners. According to his research, more than 50 million prisoners passed through the system over 40 years.

He was at times compared to Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning Russian writer who documented the atrocities of the Soviet gulag. Wu described the loagai prisons, which purported to deliver “reform through labor,” as the Chinese gulag and said he would not rest until the word loagai appeared in “every language dictionary in the world.”

He testified before Congress, lectured on university campuses, wrote books and established the Laogai Research Foundation and Laogai Museum, both based in Washington, to educate the public about the Chinese labor camps.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he described them as “the cornerstone of the Chinese Communist dictatorship and the machinery for crushing human beings physically, psychologically and spiritually.”

By his account, Wu stole from prisoners and collaborated with police to survive in prison.

“I became an animal,” he told The Washington Post. “If you are human, you have feelings and suffer because you are always thinking and wishing about what cannot be. But animals never think, never wish. Unless you are an animal, you cannot survive.”

He endured solitary confinement and suffered a broken back when a runaway cart struck him in a coal mine. When his captors discovered that he had hidden Western books, including Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables,” they broke his arm. He once attempted suicide by refusing to consume the meager provisions the prisoners received.

A turning point came with the death of a fellow inmate and friend. Wu clutched his body as it was carried to a grave, he recounted in a memoir, “Bitter Winds” (1994), coauthored with a journalist, Carolyn Wakeman.

“Human life,” he recalled thinking, “has no more importance than a cigarette ash flicked in the wind. But if a person’s life has no value, then the society that shapes that life has no value either. If the people mean no more than dust, then the society is worthless and does not deserve to continue. If the society should not continue, then I should oppose it.”

UNSTINTING IN HIS ADVOCACY

Unstinting in his advocacy, Wu at times attracted controversy for the stridency of his campaign, which complicated tenuous U.S.-Chinese relations in the years after the Tiananmen Square crackdown. He was arrested after entering China in 1995, a development condemned by both houses of Congress, shortly before first lady Hillary Clinton planned to travel to Beijing for a U.N. conference on women.

Wu was detained for 66 days and convicted of espionage, but he was expelled in time for the first lady’s trip.

Asked why he returned so many times to China, when the danger to him was so great, he replied, “I cannot turn my back to my homeland.”

“My parents’ graveyard, my former inmates’ graveyards are over there,” he said. “That piece of land is full of my blood and tears.”

Wu Hongda, one of eight children, was born in Shanghai on Feb. 8, 1937. His father was a banker, and his mother died when he was young.

Wu attended a Jesuit school, where he received the name Harry, and later pursued university studies in geology. As a student, he took part in the Hundred Flowers campaign in which Mao encouraged citizens to air grievances with the party.

When party leaders received more criticism than they wished to hear, they cracked down on so-called counterrevolutionary rightists. Among them was Wu. His stepmother committed suicide during his captivity.

After his release, Wu worked in China as a geology lecturer. In 1985, he came to San Francisco, where he was homeless for a period before finding work in a doughnut shop. In time, he established himself through scholarly associations with the University of California at Berkeley and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

In 1994, he became a U.S. citizen, taking the name Peter Hongda Wu. His books included “Laogai: The Chinese Gulag” (1992) and “Troublemaker” (1996), coauthored with former New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey.

Wu was married several times, most recently to Ching Lee. Their marriage ended in divorce. Survivors include a son, Harrison Wu of Vienna, Virginia.

“I want to enjoy my life,” Wu told the Los Angeles Times in 1995. “I lost 20 years. But the guilt is always in my heart. I can’t get rid of it. Millions of people in China today are experiencing my experience. If I don’t say something for them, who will?”

Les Waas, Mister Softee jingle writer, dies at 94

The advertising man wrote and produced more than 970 jingles for advertisers, according to the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA — Les Waas, the advertising legend behind the Mister Softee jingle heard in hundreds of ice cream trucks for more than half a century, has died. He was 94.

Waas died April 19 at Abington Hospice in Warminster, according to Goldsteins’ Rosenberg’s Raphael-Sacks funeral home.

The Mister Softee song, originally written in 1960 for the company started in his Philadelphia hometown just a few years earlier, played in the company’s ice cream trucks as a way to signal their approach. Soon, the song became ubiquitous with ice cream, summer and fun as the opening notes became instantly recognizable to anyone within earshot – sparking a craving they didn’t realize existed.

Both loved and loathed, the jingle remains a lasting part of the collective American childhood.

The tune has also been used by competitors to lure children out of their homes and into the streets for frozen treats. During his advertising career, which spanned more than five decades, Waas wrote and produced more than 970 jingles for advertisers, according to the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia – where he served as president and chairman of the board.

The Mister Softee song, officially titled “Jingle and Chimes,” is his greatest legacy. Although most people know the notes of the twinkling, looping cadence, the song also has lyrics, including: “The creamiest dreamiest soft ice cream you get from Mister Softee” and “Listen for my store on wheels ding-a-ling down the street.”

Mister Softee has over 600 trucks and over 350 franchise dealers operating in 15 states plus China.

Waas was also known for his sense of humor. University of Calgary psychology professor Piers Steel wrote in a 2011 “Psychology Today” article that in 1956, Waas and some of his fellow admen posted a sign in a Philadelphia hotel reading, “The procrastination’s club meeting has been postponed.” The sign drew attention from local press, prompting Waas to eventually hold the meeting – the start of a long-running prank. Waas served as president of the Procrastinators Club of America, which even today claims thousands of members.

Waas’ wife, Sylvia, died in 2006. He is survived by his children, Sherri Waas Shunfenthal and Murry Waas.

Manhattan chef Sara Jenkins to open Mediterranean restaurant in Rockport

She’ll take over the space occupied previously by Salt Water Farm Café with plans to open in early June.

Sara Jenkins, well known in Manhattan for the sandwich shop Porchetta and the rustic Italian restaurant Porsena, is moving to Rockport to launch a Mediterranean restaurant in the space occupied previously by Salt Water Farm Café. She hopes to open the restaurant, to be named Nina June after a childhood nickname, in early June.

Jenkins has lived and cooked in New York City for 17 years. Her porchetta sandwich caused a sensation when her tiny East Village shop opened in 2008, winning the top spot on that year’s Time Out New York “100 Best Things We Ate” list. Porsena is a New York Times Critics’ Pick.

“Her approach to food is as authentically Italian as anyone’s has ever been,” said Mitchell Davis, vice president of the James Beard Foundation in New York and an occasional resident of Italy. Whatever she cooks “comes out with an Italian sensibility that is pure and simple and in some ways unadulterated but very soulful.”

She came by that approach honestly. Though Jenkins attended Gould Academy in Bethel, she had an international childhood, including many years in Italy. She is the daughter of a foreign correspondent and food writer Nancy Harmon Jenkins, who lives in Camden and is well known for her cookbooks and other writings on Mediterranean food.

In New York, Sara Jenkins has been pegged as a rustic Italian cook. In Maine, she is looking forward to a little more creative freedom in the kitchen, a chance to roam more broadly around the Mediterranean region, Jenkins said in a telephone interview from New York, naming the cuisines of Spain, Turkey and the Middle East as those she’s eager to explore more thoroughly.

“I’m almost scared of using the Mediterranean tag because it’s been so abused, but essentially to me it’s a cuisine of local ingredients, focused on seafood, vegetables, grains and greens, olive oil and a small amount of meat,” Jenkins said. “And that’s really what I like to cook. Kind of clean food that’s well sourced.”

Jenkins, who said she is on the verge of signing the lease, described the former Salt Water space as “turnkey.” It has room for about 50 diners inside and another 20 or so on the deck.

Salt Water Farm Café opened in the spring of 2013 in Rockport’s newly renovated Union Hall. Owned by Annemarie Ahearn, in tandem with her Salt Water Farm Cooking School in Lincolnville, it was a gorgeous rustic-chic spot – the Wall Street Journal described it as “Brooklyn-meets-Mayberry” – with glorious views of the water. After two years, the restaurant closed for the season – and apparently for good – in September.

“The cooking school was growing really quickly, and that’s sort of where my heart lies,” Ahearn said in explaining why she decided to close the restaurant. “I realized if I wanted it to continue to grow, that’s where I had to focus. Sara (Jenkins) has more than 10 years of cooking experience, and she seemed like a really good fit for the space and the town. I’m really excited for her, and I can’t wait to be a customer.”

Jenkins gave two reasons for moving to Maine: “I have a kid (a 9-year-old son), and I’d like to raise him in Maine, and I’ve gotten really excited and jazzed by everything going on in Maine in the food scene in the past 10 years.”

She named Long Grain in Camden, the Palace Diner in Biddeford, the Slipway in Thomaston, Chase’s Daily in Belfast and Suzuki Sushi Bar in Rockland among the restaurants that make her eager to cook in a state once better known for fried clams, clam chowder and lobster rolls than for its varied, farm-to-table cuisine. “I happen to love fried clams, clam chowder and lobster rolls,” she added.

Jenkins is not selling her Manhattan restaurants. She opened Porchetta with her cousin, who still manages it, and she described the Porsena kitchen as very solid. She expects to be traveling back and forth to some extent, but says she is ready to leave the city.

“There is a level of fetishization of food that seems to be going on (in New York), and I’m really over it,” she said. “I want to cook good food for people who appreciate it and not be stressed out about, ‘Did I make it onto this list? Are enough people talking about me?’

“New York is just too difficult to live in at this point in my life,” she continued. “Usually I shuffle between home and work, home and work, home and work. Ten years ago I would go out after work, but I have a kid. Many people ask me, ‘What I am going to do in the winter (in Maine)?’ I am going to read books. I never get to read books.’”

She also hopes to have more time for writing. Jenkins has co-written two cookbooks (one, “The Four Seasons of Pasta,” with her mother) and wrote a series of columns for The Atlantic website.

Jenkins, who will commute to Maine in May and move here in June, said she is “plugging away” at hiring, local sourcing, developing the menu and figuring out prices for Nina June; she expects the most expensive entree to be $35.

The name Nina (pronounced NINE-a) June comes from a nickname her grandfather gave her as a baby. Jenkins was born on June 9, and he suggested she be named Nina June so she’d never forget her birthday. She was named Sara, but the nickname stuck. Ideally, she’d open Nina June, at least for breakfast, on her 51st birthday – a former Porsena sous chef will help with the launch – and be serving three meals a day through the summer by July 4.

 

Top Security Experts Say Anti-Encryption Bill Authors Are ‘Woefully Ignorant’

blottsie writes from a report on the Daily Dot: In a Wall Street Journal editorial titled “Encryption Without Tears,” Sens. Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein pushed back on widespread condemnation of their Compliance with Court Orders Act, which would …

blottsie writes from a report on the Daily Dot: In a Wall Street Journal editorial titled “Encryption Without Tears,” Sens. Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein pushed back on widespread condemnation of their Compliance with Court Orders Act, which would require tech companies to provide authorities with user data in an “intelligible” format if served with a warrant. But security experts Bruce Schneir, Matthew Green, and others say the lawmakers entirely misunderstand the issue. “On a weekly basis we see gigabytes of that information dumped to the Internet,” Green told the Daily Dot. “This is the whole problem that encryption is intended to solve.” He added: “You can’t hold out the current flaws in the Internet as a justification for why the Internet shouldn’t be made secure.” “These criticisms of Burr and Feinstein’s analogy emphasize an important point about digital security: The differences between the levels of encryption protecting certain types of data — purchase records on Amazon’s servers versus photos on an iPhone, for example — lead to different levels of risk,” writes Eric Geller of the Daily Dot.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Tracing firearms used in crimes is inexact science

Most guns used in crimes are initially sold legally, but what happens after that is hard to track, and often involves more than one state.

SMYRNA, Ga. — Adventure Outdoors is an 80,000-square-foot store with walls lined with long guns, cases packed with handguns and aisles jammed with all the accessories an avid outdoorsman would need: coolers, clothing, ammo. At the customer service counter is a government-issued poster that warns: “Don’t lie for the other guy.”

Store founder Jay Wallace said his staff is diligent about making sure buyers are legitimate and not fronting for someone who is legally prohibited from buying a gun. But once a sale goes through, he said, it’s out of his hands.

“A firearm takes on a life of its own after it leaves. It can be bought and sold many times over,” Wallace said.

The flow of guns from one person to another, and from states with loose gun laws to those with strict ones, has long flummoxed law enforcement and gun-control advocates and is emerging again as a hot topic.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton singled out rival Bernie Sanders’ home state of Vermont, which has few gun restrictions, for supplying a disproportionate share of firearms used in crimes in New York. (She exaggerated: in reality, many more guns flow in from states to the south.) California Gov. Jerry Brown, after the San Bernardino attack, charged that lax gun laws in Arizona and Nevada have created a weapons pipeline into California. And Chicago has long been plagued by guns traced to points as far away as Mississippi.

THEY ARE DIFFICULT TO TRACK

While the vast majority of guns used in crimes were originally sold legally, what happens to such weapons after their initial sale is difficult to track and even harder to prevent, because most criminals get their guns from friends, family or on the street.

“We have very little information about the precise course that all the guns take that are used by criminals,” said Daniel W. Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.

The government has essentially two snapshots of a gun: where it was purchased and where it was recovered, an incomplete picture because not every gun recovered by police is traced.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives show that guns used in crimes usually are bought in the state where the offense is committed.

Of the 7,686 firearms recovered in New York that were traced by the ATF in 2014, 1,397 were originally sold in New York. The top out-of-state source of firearms was Virginia, where 395 firearms originated, followed closely by Georgia and Pennsylvania.

After the attacks in San Bernardino, California’s governor noted that his state has some of the country’s toughest gun laws and complained that neighboring Arizona and Nevada are “a gigantic back door through which any terrorist can walk.” The governors of Nevada and Arizona rebuked Brown and, in any event, the guns used in the attacks were bought legally in California.

Around the U.S., the data suggest three significant routes for out-of-state guns: the “iron pipeline” that runs along Interstate 95 from the South to the Northeast; a path from Mississippi and Indiana into Chicago, which has some of the toughest run restrictions in the nation and does not have a single gun shop within the city limits; and a channel that runs from Arizona and Nevada into California.

I-95’s accessibility – it connects more than a dozen major cities – makes it nearly impossible for law enforcement to prevent firearms from making their way northward, said John DeCarlo, a former police chief in Branford, Connecticut, who is now a professor at the University of New Haven.

“It’s the equivalent of the Old Silk Road,” he said.

SOUTH EXPORTS TO THE NORTHEAST

Johns Hopkins’ Webster said I-95’s accessibility coupled with less strict laws in the South are the reasons the South is a key exporter of guns to the Northeast.

The gun lobby and firearms dealers say the tracing data are misleading. They say the problem is not law-abiding gun dealers or a particular state’s laws.

“The bottom-line answer is passing a law doesn’t stop bad guys from breaking the law,” said Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America. “Bad guys are still going to get the guns – and what happens is it prevents good people from getting guns.”

A decade ago, Wallace’s store was among about two dozen that found themselves in the crosshairs of a sting operation when then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York sought gun dealers he accused of turning a blind eye to “straw purchases” that allow weapons to fall into the hands of criminals in the big city. A straw buyer is someone who poses as a customer but is actually purchasing the weapon for a person who is ineligible because of a criminal conviction, mental illness or some other reason.

About a dozen guns recovered from crimes in New York over a six-year period were originally purchased at Wallace’s store in metro Atlanta. Not one, he said, was ever fired during a crime, and only one was actually employed as a weapon, when it was used to hit somebody.

During that six-year period, his store sold 60,000 firearms, said Wallace, a member of the board of directors of the American Firearms Retailers Association. A court-ordered special master later monitored sales at Wallace’s store for several years and issued recommendations. But no fines were ever levied or further action taken.

Wallace said customers encounter at least four employees during the purchase, each of whom asks a series of questions meant to pinpoint potential red flags while also helping customers pick out the best weapon for their needs.

“We’re at the front lines,” he said. “You never read about it when we turn down a transaction.”

Amazon’s strategy built on Prime fees

The company has convinced millions of people in the United States to pay annual fees for shopping.

NEW YORK — Amazon is clearly entering its Prime. Meaning, of course, its $100 annual membership program, now a decade old, which has accomplished the remarkable feat of convincing millions of people to pay an annual fee for the privilege of, well, shopping.

Prime is now central to Amazon’s strategy of dominating the world of commerce. What started as a yearly fee for free two-day shipping now offers a sometimes bewildering array of perks, including household product subscriptions, one- and two-hour Prime Now delivery, streaming music and video, e-books, groceries (for an additional $200 a year), photo storage and more.

“Prime has become an all-you-can-eat, physical-digital hybrid,” Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos wrote in his annual shareholder letter this month. He wants the service to be such a good deal that you’d be “irresponsible” not to sign up, he wrote.

Why the emphasis on Prime? Simply put, members of the loyalty program shop more frequently and spend more money, analysts say.

Prime shoppers helped drive Amazon’s surprise profit surge in the first quarter. Shares of the e-commerce giant jumped in after-hours trading Thursday after it reported a 28 percent jump in revenue, to $29.13 billion. Net income was $513 million, compared to a loss in the year-earlier quarter.

Amazon doesn’t release detailed numbers on Prime, although Bezos wrote that Prime has “tens of millions” of subscribers. Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter estimates there are about 50 million Prime members.

Even a 25 percent price increase in 2014, the only one for Prime in 10 years, hasn’t appreciably dampened enthusiasm for the program. Membership grew 51 percent last year, including 47 percent growth in the U.S., according to Bezos.

Pachter estimates that Prime members spend about four times what others do, and account for about a third of all Amazon purchases. “That’s why Prime matters,” he said.

Tawnie Knight in Tucson, Arizona, joined Prime about two years ago for the convenience of free shipping. Since then, Amazon has become her default shopping site.

“I call it the $100 cart, because every time I go on there I spend about $100,” she said. “Before Prime I probably spent around the same amount, just with other retailers like Wal-Mart.”

Brandon Kraft joined Prime when it began 10 years ago to get cheap textbooks while in school. Now he finds it essential – with five kids ranging from 17 months to 6 years at home – for ordering diapers and wipes and other household goods.

“I think it’s fair to say we spend $125 or $150 a month at Amazon that we wouldn’t have been spending if we didn’t have Prime,” Kraft said. “We go to the Amazon site first when we need something, and if they don’t carry it we start the actual shopping process of looking elsewhere.”

Of course, Amazon Prime isn’t for everyone. Those that shop infrequently online won’t find the $100-a-year fee worth it. With an estimated 244 million registered Amazon accounts, a large majority of Amazon shoppers – roughly 80 percent, in fact – haven’t signed up yet.

Amazon continues to add Prime offerings to entice more users. Last week, Amazon started offering a monthly Prime subscription for $11 a month, aimed at hooking shoppers during the holidays when the majority of Prime members sign up. In 2015, 3 million shoppers joined Prime in the third week of December alone.

Amazon also introduced a standalone video service for $9 a month, setting itself up to directly compete with other streaming services such as Netflix.

Investors have long griped about Amazon’s strategy of investing the revenue it makes into new offerings, leading to little or no earnings growth. But the first quarter results were the fourth in a row in which Amazon reported a profit, which some analysts interpret as a willingness to rein in costs when needed.

Chief financial officer Brian Olavsky, however, told reporters on a conference call that the company’s profits stem mostly from strong growth in sales. The company isn’t slowing its investments, he said, citing recent spending on logistics and original programming for its streaming video service.

Survivors of heart disease, stroke gather to share stories

Imagine: here in this room full of survivors, all of us have tell-tale hearts. We long and love to share our stories. All you have to do is listen.

Imagine: here in this room full of survivors, all of us have tell-tale hearts. We long and love to share our stories. All you have to do is listen.

North Korea Launches Two Midrange Missiles, Both Tests Fail

An anonymous reader writes: According to South Korean Defense Ministry officials, North Korea fired two midrange Musudan missiles Thursday, and both missiles appear to have failed. The military cannot confirm exactly when the missile exploded but said …

An anonymous reader writes: According to South Korean Defense Ministry officials, North Korea fired two midrange Musudan missiles Thursday, and both missiles appear to have failed. The military cannot confirm exactly when the missile exploded but said it “crashed shortly after it was launched,” a Defense Ministry official said. U.S. military officials said the missiles traveled an estimated 200 meters from the launchpad. This past weekend, North Korea launched a ballistic missile from a submarine off the east cost of the Korean peninsula. It only traveled about 30 km, well short of the 300 km range that would be considered a successful test. A little more than a week prior to that launch, North Korea failed to launch an intermediate-range missile on the 104th anniversary of the birthday of the country’s ‘eternal president,’ Kim II Sung.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Emissions from Westbrook power plant coat 300 cars at Idexx parking lot

Calpine, the power company, will pay more than $300,000 to have the cars detailed.

Maintenance done at the Calpine power plant in Westbrook this month resulted in rust spewing from its exhaust stacks and mixing with rain, creating a residue that coated about 300 cars parked at nearby Idexx Laboratories — and will cost the power company more than $300,000 to remove.

Calpine is paying to have the cars detailed for between $1,000 and $1,500 each, said John Flumerfelt, a spokesman for the company.

“We feel really, really bad that this happened,” he said Thursday, but assured that the substance posed no environmental or health risks.

He said the company reported the incident to the state Department of Environment Protection, which did not have concerns.

“Based on the information we have received this was an isolated event and not ongoing or systemic and would not have lasting impacts on the environment or human health,” DEP spokesman David Madore said in an email Thursday.

Westbrook City Administrator Jerre Bryant said city staff also reviewed the situation and is confident the substance was not hazardous.

Flumerfelt said the maintenance that was performed is done every five to eight years when an outside contractor, Wisconsin-based Precision Iceblast Corp., sprays dry ice onto metal boiler tubes to remove any rust. Usually, the residual rust falls to the bottom of the boiler and gets swept away, but for some reason, not all of it fell.

When Calpine restarted its plant on April 12 after the maintenance was complete, the residue spewed out of the stacks. The rain turned it into a film and the wind blew it a couple hundred yards away to part of the employee parking lot at Idexx. A handful of cars parked at Calpine were also affected, Flumerfelt said.

Both companies are in the Five Star Industrial Park on Eisenhower Drive.

Precision Iceblast warned Calpine employees not to park their cars too close to the exhaust stacks, but having so much residue affect cars so far away is not something either company has seen before.

“We clean hundreds of power plants all over the world and this is the first I’ve heard of it,” said Keith Boye, vice president of sales for Precision Iceblast.

He said he has been in touch with Calpine, a Texas-based corporation and regular customer of the company.

Boye said he doesn’t know why the incident happened and, as far as preventing it from happening again, he said, “I don’t know what you could do.”

Pete Dewitt, a spokesman for Idexx, said the veterinary products manufacturer is working with Calpine to clean up the cars of the “substantial number of employees” who were affected.

“The solution is more than a simple car wash,” he said.

Cory Nickerson, owner of Detail Maine in Windham, has completed the work on four cars from the lot and has 20 more booked.

“That number just grows by the hour,” he said, noting it’s already a busy time of year with people getting out boats and cars for the summer.

Removing the residue, which contains iron deposits and possibly some acid, starts with using a chemical cleaner, followed by a clay bar that can pick up what’s left, he said.

Nickerson then neutralizes the acid in the paint with another cleaner, polishes the paint and waxes it.

The process takes a full work day for each car.

He said in hotter weather there’s a greater chance of the iron starting to creep into the paint, causing it to rust. Acid can pit the paint coat and the glass on the car.

Nickerson said, if nothing was done, the residue could cause permanent damage over time.

“As long as it’s taken off and taken off properly and protected after, it’s just an inconvenience,” he said.

Nickerson believes that if it hadn’t rained, no one would have noticed and some still might not have, if Calpine didn’t respond to the situation.

It took a few days for Ryan Dumond, who works in information technology at Idexx, to realize there was something that didn’t belong on the brand new Volkswagen Tiguan he bought four months earlier.

He had taken note of something coming out of the smokestacks at Calpine and quickly connected the two. He contacted security at Idexx, which was already aware of the situation but still trying to figure out what had happened.

“It was a little frustrating, but these things take time,” Dumond said.

When his company told people that they could wash their cars if they felt so compelled and to keep a record of the work done, he contacted Nickerson, a friend who he’s gone to for car work before.

He was relieved to learn the residue could be removed and, now, is glad to have his car looking shinier than the day he bought it.

“All in all, Calpine has handled this situation, I think, to the best of its ability,” he said.