Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hawaii false alarm leads to conversations about missile defense, and not allowing Trump first strike use of nukes


Back to the days of “Duck and Cover” in the movie “The Atomic CafĂ©”? 

By now, everyone has heard about the false missile alarm in Hawaii, as detailed in the CNN story here. It was caused by one employee pressing a wrong button at change of shift, buy it took the state 38 minutes to get the message out.

So the next time there is a missile alert, I’ll assume it’s a false alarm. Seriously, I don’t want to survive a nuclear attack anyway. I would not belong in the world that remains.  So much for my own resilience.


There would logically have been a possibility that the missile was a DPRK test with no warhead.
But wouldn’t such a missile have been shot down?

Nothing less than 100% missile defense will do.  I wrote a missive "manifesto" on this Wednesday.  Three days later, we have an incident.

On CNN this morning, Rep. Tulsi Gappard from Hawaii, on the House Armed Services Committee, said that we have to face why we are under a nuclear threat from an unstable enemy.  In fact, it's conceivable that North Korea could have interpreted this as an impending pre-emptive strike.  It's also possible an early warning system could be hacked. 

This is a good place to mention HR 669, S220  ,  link , “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act”. 

I was most recently in Hawaii in 1980. 
   
Picture: 
By Spc. Jacob Kohrs - https://www.dvidshub.net/image/1072305, Public Domain, Link

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Trump's anit-immigration actions hurt employers; DACA might be saved by courts; Congress has a new bill


Vivian Yee (with Liz Robbins and Caitlin Dickerson) write about how the loss of immigrants, to the to the El Salvador situation and also if DACA is not renewed, will compromise many employers, especially those with construction projects, story, p. A14, New York Times, Wednesday  January 10, 2018, link
    
This could affect affordable housing and real estate sales and new projects.
  
  
However a federal judge in Louisiana stalled Trump’s suspension of DACA, at least for now, and it could wind up in the Supreme Court, taking pressure off Congress, given the complications of the Wall, keeping the government open, and debt ceiling.
  

It’s true that many immigrants take menial or unpleasant jobs Americans don’t want.  Try to imitate Morgan Spurlock picking oranges. 

Monday, January 08, 2018

Chicago area man forced to stop sheltering the homeless in his own basement


A man in Elgin, Ill opened his basement to homeless people, but the city made him stop, according to this New York Times story. Elgin is located 35 miles W of Chicago, near the Wisconsin line.
It wasn’t clear whether he owned the house or rented it.

The city said that this violated fire and safety codes as well as zoning.


A different question arises if he hosts an individual homeless family.  This happens with international asylum seekers but I have not heard about it with domestic homeless.
  
Although I did this once for three months in Dallas in the fall of 1980, after not taking a Cuban refugee from the Mariel boatlift. 



Update: January 12

The New York Times has a detailed story by Sarah Maslin about a businessman in Brooklyn who runs an "illegal" homeless shelter in the basement, here.

Update: January 16

Intellectual Takeout reports on a man being arrested feeding the homeless in El Cajun CA. 

Sunday, January 07, 2018

CDC will hold an event "Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation" on Jan 16 in Atlanta


U.S. News and World Report, and MSN News report that the CDC will hold a public meeting and apparently a webinar on January 16, 2018 from Atlanta on civil defense preparations for a nuclear attack. The long story is here.

The CDC’s event will be called “Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation”, and it is very brief, link here.  But the CDC does say such a detonation is “unlikely”.

The CDC says people should say under cover for at least 24 hours after a detonation.

Nuclear war may be more survivable than a lot of us want to believe, as here bringing up moral thinking like Facebook’s “The Survival Mom”, as well as the prepper community.

  

But if nuclear war broke out in the Korean peninsula, officials would have a quandary on whether to evacuate major cities in the US.  Many people would refuse to go and would not want to survive. 

The presentation announcement recalls the "duck and cover" drills of the 1950s and films like "The Atomic Cafe". 

But concerns about possible nuclear detonations circulated after 9/11, as from the so-called "suitcase nukes".  

CDC has enjoyed a proxy for a source of "authority" on proper behavior after threats to the public, as in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. 
  
I don't recall any specific training on radiological hazards at Fort Jackson in Army Basic Combat Training in 1968. 

Thursday, January 04, 2018

The calls for impeachment, or use of the 25th Amendment, get more serious; The Goldwater Rule?


Ezra Klein has done a major podcast and long essay on “The Case for Nomalizing Impeachment” and applying this case to Donald Trump. 

And a Yale psychiatrist has briefed members of Congress on Trump’s mental fitness, and shows some concern.

  

The biggest worry is his putting all Americans at unnecessary risk of nuclear attack from a North Korea that may be more capable than we had imagined.  But then again, we really don’t know.  

Foreign Policy (Matthew Kahn) gives a pretty good summary of the 25th Amendment here


On Saturday Ezra Klein wrote on Vox reports that this is an emergency (link). 

Yet Smerconish on 1/6 argued that the best crisis leaders are mentally unstable, and interviewed Dr. Nassir Ghaemi, author of "A First-Rate Madness"?  He also talked about the "Goldwater Rule". 

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Louisiana "Shelter at Home" program doesn't work out too well after floods of 2016, 2017


The Houston Chronicle describes the “Shelter at Home” FEMA assistance program in Louisiana in 2016, as not too effective.  The program makes immediate partial repairs and waits a long time for complete repairs.

One problem is that it won’t work unless enough residents want to stay in place in one neighborhood and make it work.

The program has been tried with some modification in Houston.


But it is becoming increasingly difficult for people in the Gulf region to deal with the frequency and intensity of water damage.

The practical reality is that most homeowners have to be skilled in doing their own work. They were in West Virginia.

I most recently visited Baton Rogue in Feb. 2006. The city has a major film production center. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

CHIP funding decimated for rich real estate investors?; a young cardiologist has a cardiac arrest himself


I’ve tweeted the “Real Donald Trump” a few times on critical science topics (EMP), maybe with effect. Now Stanford student Jack Andraka (known for his science fair win on the pancreatic cancer quick test, still apparently with the FDA) has tweeted Trump on CHIP.  He writes “Children’s health should not be a political bargaining tactic ” (“chip” would be a pun); it’s time to represent the interests of the population real-time. (Senators) found $414 billion  for realDonaldTrump’s real estate windfall but chose not to find $14 billion for children.”

  
Forbes has a story by Bruce Japsen, here

The House did throw in $3 billion for short term funding, CNN story

David Leonhardt of the New York Times weighs in here., “Taking Health Care from Kids”. 
  
  


Here’s another shocker.  A leading cardiologist has a cardiac arrest without warning at age 52 at a conference in Dallas and survives with CPR (like in my own screenplay), and then a stent (controversial).

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Trump's tax plan almost ready to sign: trickle down will indeed trickle; why prepayment of property taxes probably won't work


The “GOP tax scam” passed today, with Trump (his artificial hair obvious) leading his choir singing “President Poopiepants” while Pence watches with glee, hoping to take on power.


Here is the Vox article by Ari Glogower on the ways rich people can game the system to take advantage of the new law.

There was a compromise of sorts to help the people a little in high-tax states, with a crimping limit on deductions they can take, as well as a compromise of sorts on limiting home mortgage interest.  Perhaps the building of luxury homes will slow down in the DC area.

Charities are said to be worried, as people will make their biggest contributions this year and then stop. People may prepay their local taxes early in 2017. 

Susan Collins is trying to get the health care reinsurance fund back in the game, as this would be a critical step in any constructive "Obamacare" replacement. 

Jonathan Coppage writes that with the tax bill, the GOP has destroyed "family-friendly conservatism" and encouraging people to form families and raise kids, link. Didn't Rubio fight for the per-child tax credit? 

Update:  Dec 27




Prepaying your property taxes probably works only if you've already gotten a bill for 2018, according to the IRS today.  Here is a story on WAMU. Here's more details at the Washington Post. 

Dec. 28

AOL and HR Block name four major deductions that disappear in 2018.  The Obamacare mandate end doesn't happen until 2019 (news story). 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Trump reported to ban seven ideologically leading words from CDC publications



CNN is reporting a memo floating around in the Trump administration claiming that the “seven bad words” or phrases should not be used in official CDC reports.

Theese words are “Vulnerable, entitlement, fetus, diversity, transgender, evidence-based, science-based”.

This development seems ideologically based.  First, Trump himself seems to have an issue with transgenderism and gender fluidity or ambiguity (he doesn’t have a problem with [white] cis male gay men, who have competed on his reality show).


The rest of the list seems ideologically based, as if science were a way for the elites to browbeat his base, or as if people should not be allowed to use intersectionality and identity politics to get concessions in policy or make demands of others.  This story sounds like something that could come from Milo.  It seems to attack what Trump calls “losers”.

Here’s the story by Bruce Lee on Forbes, who says he expects Ashton Kutcher to walk out and say “You’ve been punked”. 

As for science, there is a European story that the Greenland ice cap is actually thickening again, because of snowfall. 
  
By James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - http://www.cdc.gov/media/subtopic/library/building.htm, Public Domain, Link

Friday, December 15, 2017

Can the president be charged criminally with obstruction of justice while in office?


Is it possible for a president to be prosecuted for “obstruction of justice” while in office?


It sounds like a paradox, or an oxymoron like question.  In practice, the president could be impeached.  Remember that Sunday afternoon when President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon in 1974, right after I had moved into Greenwich Village to start my new life.

Joan Buskupic weighs in on this question on CNN with a video here. The constitution is quiet on this issue, and the Supreme Court is likely to have to decide some day.  What would Gorsuch rule? 
  
It would be interesting to hear Jeffrey Toobin comment now.  In July he debated Alan Dershowitz on the matter. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Could mounting sexual harassment claims really lead to Trump's resignation?


CNN aired Congressional inquiries today of Deputy AG Rosenstein, first about profiling of defendants by race, before migrating to inquiries of president Trump’s alleged acts of sexual harassment over the years. 

The tone of the questions was rather startling. 

The New York Times describes how Trump has been drawn into the sexual harassment debate with his “combative denials”. 

The odd thing that I remember from the Billy Bush tape is the president’s pride in his excitability. That’s not a bad thing in itself; it’s the idea that he can then get away with anything because of his position of power.

  
CNN has a list of senators already calling on Trump to resign, leaving us with the Puritanical Pence, who “wants to hang ‘em all”. 

Of course, we can wonder how Bill Clinton survived. 

Friday, December 08, 2017

A note on the Steinle verdict from an alternate juror; the sickening Moore run-off


There’s been some news in the immigration area recently.  Trump’s revised travel bans, by country (including North Korea and Venezuela) went back into effect with Supreme Court approval while the cases are heard by lower courts or appeals.  And there have been some complications in the whole H1 visa area that Cato has been reporting on. I haven’t forgotten about this, after all the attention to asylum seekers a year ago, but other issues have taken up a lot of time.
  
I did want to share an article by an alternate juror in San Francisco in the Kate Steinle case. She explains that acquittals were necessary for not only the murder charge but even manslaughter under California law. A lot of this has to do with the fact that the bullet ricocheted off a wall before it struck Kate, which sounds incredible.

Smerconish on CNN interviewed Phil Van Stockum of Politco on the case, and Phil agreed, mentioning that the California standard for "brandishing a weapon" first to justify a manslaughter conviction was not met. .  But there may be federal charges against the defendant, and it may be easy to deport him once and for all. 



In the meantime, the whole Roy Moore thing is pretty sickening.  We were better under slavery because of  family life?  Huh??  Here’s a Vox story on the alt-right bubble.   Yet I get emails asking me to support him with money, claiming he was framed. And the emails are manipulative and tribal. Maye they’re spam and have malware.  I wonder. 


Friday, December 01, 2017

If Trump pardons Flynn and others, 5th Amendment evasions go away in the future; tax poli


President Donald Trump probably will not be able to get away with pardoning people associated with the Russia investigation, starting with Michael Flynn, who plead guilty Friday morning December 1, 2017, at a federal court in Washington DC., to an “information”, and avoided grand jury indictment.
Flynn’s “cooperation” will probably lead to other prosecutions against former Trump campaign officials.

Once someone is pardoned, he can’t be tried again, so normally he can’t plead the Fifth, as before Congress. Sean Illing on Vox has a discussion with ten law professors on the possible consequences of future pardons, and on the past one of Arpaio.
  
In the mean time the Senate prepares to vote on a tax plan that seems detrimental to seniors on assisted living, families with heavy medical problems (including opioid), and college students.  Much of Trump’s base will not be pleased.  And so much for increases on the debt.  What about the debt ceiling later? 
  
And the Senate needs a systematic daily bipartisan tracking of the situation with North Korea. Trump cannot be allowed to make decisions on pre-emption alone.  Some people fear that Trump wants to tempt to Kim Jong Un to do something rash now rather than later when Un’s forces really can reach the US with nukes and EMP.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Houston residents still in motels, with no end in sight


The Houston Chronicle, in a detailed story by Rebecca Elliot, reports that tens of thousands displaced by Hurricane Harvey still live in motels, far flung from home, link here. About one third of all housing units in Houston were severely damaged. 

Generally, FEMA does not provide trailers to be placed on properties while homes are repaired, and this sounds like a surprise to me.

The debris could have been one reason, but by and large most of the debris from yards and streets has been removed.


Money to pay rent could become a problem for many families by January.
Survival Mom on Facebook has written about local volunteer teams around her neighborhood northeast of Houston pulling drywall for mold cleanup. But there has been a lot of criticism of Red Cross efforts. After Katrina, many volunteer teams were not allowed to work around mold. 
  

Wikipedia attribution link for NOAA rainfall map of Harvey. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

If Hillary runs for the House in 2018, she could wind up as president in 2019


A Republican law professor, Richard W. Painter, at the University of Minnesota is proposing a constitutional and lawful way Hillary Clinton could become president of the United States around Jan. 3, 2019.

Painter suggests that Hillary Clinton run in New York State for the House in 2018 and win a seat. Then if Mueller’s probes prove that Trump and Pence illegally colluded with Putin, they could be impeached and removed from office, and Hillary could be elected Speaker of the House if the Democrats take the House in 2018.

That could be one reason Trump really does want to put “Crooked Hillary” in jail.
  
The Palmer Report story is here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Trump tax plan could hurt reinsurance, which in turn would affect disaster recovery and Obamacare replacement


The Houston Chronicle pointed out today in a detailed article that the Trump tax plan would harm recovery from disasters by penalizing offshore transactions, which are often vital to the reinsurance industry.

Reinsurance is a major party of the strategy for paying for claims from major disasters, especially hurricanes and big wildfires, and probably earthquakes. Some of the risks for these are not insured by normal insurance (for example, special federally subsidized flood insurance is needed for most water damage in most locations, and earthquake insurance follows a similar paradigm. (Sinkholes, especially in Florida, can be interesting;  Florida requires the coverage for them be offered.)

But if reinsurance becomes more expensive, then coverage for floods and earthquakes especially will become more expensive and assistance to affected homeowners less.


Reinsurance can also be a useful tool in health insurance, and could have been set up to make improvements in replacing “Obamacare”, by helping cover claims of less healthy people. But the Trump tax plan could make health care reform more difficult too (even as some versions of the tax plan want to repeal the Obamacare individual mandate).
  
The Houston Chronicle story shows a picture of the flood surrounding a large home in Spring, TX, in northern Harris County. I believe that the Survival Mom on Facebook (Lisa Bedford) said she lives near there,  I recall that she was OK after Harvey, but commented on Facebook that local volunteerism in repairing homes (dealing with mold and drywall ripout) was essential to the recovery in the area.  That’s right, people who don’t have construction experience seem asked to chip in.  I don’t know how well this worked out with Katrina, where many volunteers were not allowed to work around mold. 
  
{ic above: By United States Geological Survey - Houston, Texas at the Wayback Machine (archived on 10 February 2005), Public Domain, Link

I did see a lot of the hurricane damage in the Florida Keys Sunday, link.




Friday, November 17, 2017

Anti-Trump protest and resistance dragnet from inauguration day seems to ensnare some journalists


This story by Chris Steele in Truthout does need careful attention. It claims that many people who were present at the violent anti-Trump demonstrations on Inauguration Day 2017 could face up to 60 years in prison.  The charges seem to be incitement to riot.  

The article claims that bloggers or journalists making video were viewed as complicit and arrested.


It also claims that resistance protestors in Charlottesville were charge much more severely that the original white supremacist groups.

Of course, this article would need a lot of fact-checking, but if true (given the name of the website) it is certainly disturbing.

I for one is not one who sees the world in terms of tribal enemies. And I don't contribute to sites to become my "voice" of oppression. 

But, there are very disturbing stories that Trump's people might prosecute Trump's "losing" political adversary, banana republic style, as here



Update: Nov. 26

Keith L. Alexander and Paul Duggan reported on Nov. 21, that the protesters' trial being.  Defense lawyers say that their six clients did not take part in the violence and were simply there to report.

Friday, November 10, 2017

TSA failures of undercover tests raise further indirect questions about traveling with electronics


According to ABC News, story by David Kerley and Jeffrey Cook, the TSA failed most undercover test results of TSA screening.

The failure rate seemed to be about 80%, which was a small improvement from two years ago.


The report very casually mentions the concern about laptop bombs (which had resulted in in-cabin electronics buns from some Mideast airports last March), which has been offset by other recent findings about the safety hazards of placing electronics with lithium ion batteries in checked luggage – so right now there is no perfect solution.  The ABC video on this story automatically then plays an older video reporting that TSA was requiring some laptops to be placed in bins. It’s not clear if preferred travelers would be exempt.

Again, most of us need to take our electronics on the road and be productive when we get there, at least in the hotel rooms.  I like to have inflight Internet (even if paid for) if the flight is longer than 4 hours. 
  
I actually went to a job fair for screeners in St. Paul MN in August 2002, and I hardly believe I could have adjusted to this kind of regimentation at work. I met a couple young screeners personally waiting for a connection in Detroit that year. 
  
Wired has a good story from June 2017 on the laptop issue here



Update: Nov. 13

There are further stories about TSA concerns over the possibility of drones attacking planes.  

And there was a lithium battery explosion in a camera in Orlando on Friday Nov. 11, local TV story. .  This is still a big problem to be solved. 

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Federal judge in Brooklyn allows suit's against Trump's temporizing policy on DACA to go forward


On a day of multiple demonstrations in support of DACA, a federal judge has ruled that lawsuits stopping President Trump from halting DACA by fifteen states and the District of Columbia, can go forward. The ruling came from U.S. District Judge Nicholas Gurufus.
  
The Wall Street Journal story by Joe Palazollo is here.

The reasoning behind the ruling seems pretty simple – discrimination.  There’s some procedural stuff but not a lot this time.

  

States have argued that interfering with DACA even conditionally upon Congress interferes with filling positions particularly at universities. 

Sunday, November 05, 2017

FBI had fired an agent over taking fertility medication


Taking lawfully prescribed drugs can get you in trouble if you have some kinds of jobs, even something to address sterility so that one can have a child within a traditional marriage.

That’s the history of hostage rescue agent Matthew Litton, according to a story Oct. 28 by Adam Goldman in the New York Times.

An administrative law judge ruled that Litton had been wrongfully discharged when he didn’t disclose the medication. The judge ruled that the government was effectively discriminating because of a disability not related to work.

  

But the details of the story of Litton’s career in the story are quite remarkable.