Saturday, September 30, 2017

House introduces electric grid security bill

The House of Representatives is considering a bill H,R. 3855 “Securing the Electric Grid to Protect Military Readiness Act of 2017”, Thomas link here introduced by Jacky Rosen, D-NV.

The bill seems to place more emphasis on cybersecurity than on the possibility of enemy (like North Korea) EMP threats (which pose separate perils to electronic equipment (E1) and to the grid transformers themselves (E3), or to extreme solar storms.

The electric grid in Puerto Rico is slow to recover because of the extreme destruction from Hurriance Maria, but also because of the utility’s financial problems and substandard maintenance before the storm. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Protests become melodramatic at Capitol over Graham-Cassidy, which does not have the votes to pass

The protests got pretty desperate over Graham-Cassidy this morning at the Capitol. .

Susan Collins still insists on voting no, even as the GOP tried to sweeten the grants for her state.

But Republicans say they will “move on”.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Good Samaritan faces lawsuit from the criminal he stopped with force

A good Samaritan who fought off a robber at a Starbucks in Fresno and stabbed the robber to subdue him now faces a lawsuit from the robber. Here is the abc7 story.  The mother claims excessive force and vigilantism. 
This all sounds perverse.  Although I would not be able to intervene myself (other than call 911). 

This makes you wonder about the law surrounding a “citizen’s arrest”.

This litigation will go nowhere. Law, and order. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

GOP's latest Obamacare "repeal" throws it all back to the states

“Those Republicans” are about to try to repeal Obamacare again, and maybe replace it with almost nothing  Just proportional block grants to the states.

Think Progress is often a little too pushy and Leftist for me, but this article seems like a fair assessment of Lindsey Graham’s strategy. Judd Legum writes that be bill pits Americans against one another.  No, it begs for more GoFundMe campaigns?  
Matthew Yglesias weighs in on the more moderate Vox site and mentions that previous the GOP would have let states keep Obamacare if they wanted.  Apparently no longer. 

Update: Sept. 20

Dylan Matthews compares to to welfare reform, which he says failed miserably. Bill Clinton did that. Insurance companies will have to cover pre-existing conditions, but can charge a lot more.  

But the subsidies, Medicaid expansion, and individual mandates are gone.  Why not some sort of reinsurance system? 

Update: Sept 22

Here is an analysis of Graham-Cassidy and the Jimmy Kimmel test, by MJ Lee et all on CNN, here. States have to use their grants to cover pre-existing conditions (maybe with reinsurance) but have a lot of leeway on what is "affordable".  

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hurricane Maria suddenly menaces much of Caribbean, maybe some of Eastern US

Again, another hurricane, this one Maria (like in West Side Story) has exploded.  This one started farther south than Irma but will cross further north, but may very well make a direct hit on Puerto Rico, especially east of San Juan.

The European Model so far keeps the hurricane off the east coast of the US, but some American model runs allow a dangerous landfall, probably in the Carolinas.  One run actually runs up much of the Chesapeake Bay.

This storm is supposed to weaken to a Cat 3 by the time it reaches Florida’s latitude.
A critical issue is whether High Pressure in the north Atlantic might drift back westward and force the hurricane onshore.

Here’s a story from Fortune. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Will many displaced Houstonians not return and have to resetlte elsewhere?

Peter Whoriskey and Patricia Sullivan discuss the possibility of not rebuilding in some of the most flood-prone neighborboods of Houston in a Washington Post article, “In flood-weary Houston, a call to retreat”, link here  
These areas would presumably include some areas deliberately flooded by reservoir releases during the recent massive rain event in late August.

However, buyouts of people and relocating them brings up many questions.  As with New Orleans, there would be questions, would they stay and work in Houston?  Would others in distant cities be asked to consider taking them in?

Maybe higher density housing, including high-rises, could be created in slightly higher areas of the City.  Texas generally doesn’t nurture high-rise living the way coastal cities do.

Even other cities, like Austin and San Antonio, around the Hill Country, have to be very careful about river flooding given the propensity for large rainfall events, especially from tropical moisture.  Ranch roads around Texas are filled with stream crossings and warning rulers. 

It would be important to know if Houston problems are affecting housing prices in other Texas cities.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

"BernieCare": Sanders is serious about Medicare for All

On Vox, Jeff Stein interviews Bernie Sanders on his single-payer “Medicare for all” health care plan, link here.  The biggest problem could be the waiting lists, which would lead to partial re-privatization so that people could get surgery sooner for problems that keep them from working.  People from Canada do come to the US for surgery (Calgary Herald ).

Paul Waldman of the Washington Post explains the plan (“BernieCare”) in detail, and its implementation is gradual in the ability to cover all adults.  It doesn’t cover everything (like some nursing homes).    So how about a comparison to some quasi-privatized but efficient systems like Switzerland’s?  

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Hurricanes accelerated debt ceiling crisis, forcing Trump to deal with Democrats

Trump’s debt ceiling deal, for three months, ruffled some sails, as Trump worked with Democrats, in the face of two hurricanes, and seems to be turning his image around.

Paul Ryan, in a turnabout, explained that people in Texas had been getting FEMA grants by their smartphones, in record speed compared to Katrina 12 years ago.  FEMA was about to run out of money by no later than Tuesday, after which Florida and the southeast will have to deal with Irma.  Ryan talked about "two horrible hurricanes", as Irma is called a "nuclear hurricane".  
 So the debt ceiling wall could come up much sooner than Sept. 29, and a political standoff could have meant cutting off FEMA aid to hurricane victims.

Matthew Yglesias explains Trump’s negotiations on Vox here   Is this “negotiation” from “The Apprentice” where Troy McClain let his legs get waxes on camera in order to “take one for the team”?  

Update: The bill passed and was signed.  The debt ceiling will come back as a Christmas present. 

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Protest march from Charlottesville to Washington specifically addresses white supremacists as a terror enemy group

ABC7 Washington (WJLA, Sinclair) reporter Jeff Goldberg reports on the arrival of a small protest march from Charlottesville VA at the Martin Luther King Memorial near the Tidal Basin and Lincoln Memorial, having crossed from Gateway Park near Rosslyn in Arlington.

The march specifically protests the threat of “systematic oppression” by white supremacists, itself as a group.

There will be several rival groups demonstrating in Washington DC Saturday September 16.  14411
I’ve gotten so busy I didn’t have time to go out and film this one.  No spectators?  

Monday, September 04, 2017

Trump will end DACA with a six-month grace period, pass the football to Congress

President Trump is expected to announce the end of DACA after a six-month delay Tuesday.  Trump wants Congress to own responsibility for the controversy.  The CNN story is here
Trump faces a threat of lawsuit by nine red states, claiming the president does not have legal authority to end-round immigration statutes, even for popular or humanitarian reasons.

Mainstream opinions (and most employers) feel that adult children should not be held responsible for their parents’ illegal actions.  And employers find DACA recipients good employees.

But Trump’s base argues that this is unfair to immigrants whose parents came here legally, and feel that college slots and jobs are lost to those whose presence would otherwise be illegal.

One result could be that DACA recipients would lose the ability to have green cards and work legally. Social pressure could be set up for others to support them as family members, as in the LGBT community, to prevent them from having to return to countries with violent environments.  Some DACA adult children speak English well but not their original languages.
Trump used to say on “The Apprentice”, “Life isn’t fair.” 

Update: Sept 5:

Some lawyers say Trump needs to allow a comment period, story. It looks like Houston really needs all the labor pool it can get right now.  Don't do the deportations. 

The dreamers had given the government their PII and biographical data in good faith. 

Here is Sessions's statement this morning. 

No new applications are accepted even those in the system have six months.  And the White House has supposedly said they should prepare to leave if necessary. 

NBC News posted Trump's statement

Update: Sept. 6

Some blue states are suing over the DACA rescinding, CNN story. Trump says he would reconsider if Congress can't pass a reconstruction in six months. 

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Hurricane Irma: European and American models switch, but a swipe of the mid-Atlantic Coast starts to look more likely

Greg Porter, of the Washington Post Weather Gang, reports evolving concern that Hurricane Irma could hit the US East Coast possibly at Category 4 winds around the eye.  The main link is here

The European and American models seem to have traded places.  American model spaghetti plots tend to suggest likely landfalls along the SE coast, but many European plots turn it out to sea.  High Pressure over the North Atlantic could favor a SE coast landfall.  One model has the storm going up the Chesapeake Bay, which could maintain eyewall windspeeds toward the Beltway.  The most likely day for a landfall looks like around Sept. 12.

But in the pasty European models have been more predictive (as with Sandy).

It is looking less likely that it could go into the Gulf and threaten Louisiana and Texas again. 

A few websites (like Economic Collapse Blog) have claimed that Irma could grow into a record Category 6 as it nears the West Indies.   It would probably lose some strength as it moves north. 

Weatherboy notes the trend of model runs in recent hours. 

The Washington DC area (and perhaps Philadelphia) feel somewhat sheltered by being farther inland/  But, as noted before, a fast moving hurricane could maintain windspeeds as it moved up the Chesapeake Bay, which is 30 miles wide at one point but narrows as it goes north, but mostly very shallow. An eyewall could fit inside the Bay.  Hurricane Hazel in 1954 passed to the west of DC but generated a 98 mph gust at Reagan (then National) airport, although winds off the Potomac may be exaggerated compared to other areas.  I was 11 years old then and remember the event, but I don't remember that there was much destruction or power outages  

People who live about the Fall Line are pretty safe from flooding (unless along Piedmont or mountain streams).  It's desirable to be at least 200 feet above sea level. 
By Image courtesy of Mike Trenchard, Earth Sciences & Image Analysis Laboratory , Johnson Space Center. -, Public Domain, Link

Update: Sept. 6

The latest plots suggest a slightly more Eastern track (Post).  Irma is likely to be slightly off shore for a time until it reaches maybe the Carolinas, which could mean it remains a higher category than it would.  But it may spare FL the worst, as did Matthew.  It is likely to tend to turn farther east as soon as it is farther north at the latitude of the Carolinas.  A hurricane up the west coast of FL could flood Tampa-St. Pete badly because of the construction practices in the past.

Friends in FL (Facebook, etc)  tell me newer high rise condos are built to withstand Cat 4's