Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Speculation on what disruptions from COVID-19 in the US would really be like, including domestic travel (Trump press conference tonight at 6 PM)

The Trump administration is certainly sending out conflicting tweets and statements, and tonight at 6 OM Trump will have his “press conference”, after the stock markets close.

There is some speculation on CNN this morning that there will soon be “travel restrictions” even within the United States.  Other than the obvious observation that you are grounded if you are quarantined or isolated (or under supervision by a health department) it’s not clear what this would mean.  Would that mean closing off towns or cities?

What about apartment or condo buildings?  I covered some of this on the LGBT blog yesterday (in conjunction with discos or bars).  I don’t think that a quarantine or home isolation of one person affects a whole building, and it really doesn’t sound feasible.

What about “risk” for people who work the elections next week?  I think in practice it is very low, but very little has been said.  What happens in November?
One question also remains, as to the actual danger from infection.  The case fatality ration drops quickly even within China when you get away from Hunei.  However, in Italy and South Korea, the fatalities are higher (in Italy they may still be the elderly with other conditions) and the explosion in Italy seems explained in part by a hospital fumble when one patient showed up (after a contact with someone from China).
It does seem likely that the incidence of serious disease and death will go way down, if the asymptomatic cases or low symptoms are counted.  One hopeful sign, on the LGBT blog entry yesterday, is that a number of well-known medications might mitigate symptoms or disease entirely if given early (the blood pressure medication Losartan is one of them).  That could mean a large number of asymptomatic spread and a “survival of the fittest” pattern and a renewal of ethical problems we have forgotten about.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

NIH has encouraged Congress, and states to protect incomes of workers involuntarily quarantined, especially when without symptoms (could really matter soon for Covid-19)

Here’s a couple of questions about home isolation and quarantine.

HHS says that home isolation applies to someone who is already ill.  Quarantine may be applied to someone who was exposed and has not had enough time for symptoms or develop a positive test (as for Covid-19), or how may never develop symptoms but who is kept in isolation to protect others who are medically more vulnerable.
The CDC has a similar page, here. 
It’s obvious that involuntary confinement, especially for someone without symptoms, can be very costly to the individual.  NIH has a paper, dated 2007, outlining in detail legal inadequacies in the laws to protect workers from job loss or loss of income.  Several countries, such as Singapore, Taiwan, and Canada (since its brush with SARS in 2003) do have some laws.  Several states in the US do have such laws.  However, the United States has not, in recent years, encountered this situation very often, and the current Covid-19 epidemic is likely to cause it.   So far, the quarantines have been applied only to people returning from China or the cruise ship; but in the future we are likely to see that applied for community acquired infection.  Influenza is not usually treated this way because it is well known (although that could change and there was a scare in 2009 with H1N1); Ebola was encountered in 2014 (there was one difficult situation with someone in NYC) but the number or persons was small and with Ebola people are usually very sick. Covid-19 seems to demand this kind of handling because it is novel and unclear;  there is a troubling problem with severe disease to appear after a patient seems to be improving, and there appears indeed to be asymptomatic transmission (JAMA).   

There have been scattered reports of hundreds of people under public health supervision when they had been close contacts of someone infected with Covid-19, especially in Washington state.  I am under the impression that isolation of one individual at home, even in an apartment, is far more common can roping off an entire building (as what happened in Hong Kong), but I have not heard definitely what happens in the US.  
Anecdotally, these persons (under observation at home) do not seem to become ill, but not many have been tested for asymptomatic infection.  From a practical viewpoint, it sounds like (in otherwise healthy people) very small exposures don’t result in illness and might even lead to “vaccination”.  It is not clear if these individuals were allowed to go to work, or whether they could telecommute.
There are other ways people could be affected.  I am retired and run a group of blogs as my tool of political participation, so to speak;  these could be permanently lost if I were involuntarily separated from my electronics (although that sounds a lot more likely with a normal hospitalization with one’s own illness, or even an auto accident).
 Many people will think this is a problem for social capital online:  that people should not feel ashamed to do Gofundme's or that Facebook could prod people to run fundaisers for them.  I don't being forced into involuntary social capital (see main blog, Feb. 22). 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Hospital in Spokane WA takes COVID19 patients because it is specifically equipped; related story about larger than reported numbers of people in US now under health department supervision

A Spokane WA television station reports that Sacred Heart hospital in Spokane (a “Catholic” hospital, and their hospital trade association was at one time a big client at Lewin when I worked for Lewin on simulating hospital Medicare operating margins) will treat five patients infected with COVID19.  
The TV station links to another story that reports on 700+ people are under health department supervision (as people under investigation).  Are these people supposed to self-isolate?  They are not part of the CDC outstanding cases, probably because they won’t be tested unless they have symptoms.  They don’t seem to be reported on CDC of Johns Hopkins yet.

As noted yesterday on the International Issues blog, it’s probably possible to have a close brush with the virus, develop temporary immunity, and then get a worse case months later if having a larger exposure (Antibody Dependent Enhancement, ADE). SARS behaved this way, as does Dengue (which is not a coronavirus).  It’s starting to look like a very large percentage of people who have community micro exposure to the virus will never have symptoms (maybe a cough for one day that goes away) and develop a minimal antibody response which may not persist.  A vaccine would need to keep the response permanent. This idea could relate to the "superspreader" problem, which sounds like science fiction.  
I’ve driven through Spokane once, in 1990.  By the way, if I heard from someone at Lewin who remembers me, that would be great.  It was an interesting job, in retrospect. Odd that their website (at least the home strike page) doesn't have https.  If I worked there now, they would.  
By Jdubman - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

New push to eliminate Selective Service System is forming quickly, could lead to street protests, probably a documentary film soon

I just got a very long email (or press release) from “World Beyond War” maintaining “US Teens will be impacted by change in military draft law”.

The URL for the email is here  The publication is called “Resistance News” and seems to represent a group called “No Draft”. 
I just got this, so I will have to look over the details of HR 5492 which would abolish the Selective System.

This group wants to assist people in not registering for the draft as well as lobbying for repeal. Of course, that implies "resistance" = "breaking the law". CodePink (involved in the Venezuela Embassy protests in 2019 as on News2share) seems heavily involved in the effort. 
My first “Do Ask Do Tell” book talks a lot about the old Vietnam era draft and deferment (later lottery).
Talk about this issue increased after Trump’s nearly triggering a major war with Iran at the start of this year.
A film proposal that I just sent to a film pitchfest talks about the idea of a documentary film on this topic.  It’s odd that I got this email the very next day.  Coincidence?
I think some of the major documentary film companies will want to bite on this. I will start checking quickly.  I would expect to see it on PBS Independent Lens or something like that.
Picture above comes from Dec. 1, 2007, a flag display on the Mall related to repeal of "don't ask don't tell" then.  

Monday, February 17, 2020

Democrats in Virginia Senate help defeat some gun control measures; assault weapons bans are viewed as ill-defined

Democrats in the Virginia Senate helped block Gov. Northam’s legislation today that would have banned sales of certain assault weapons and banned certain silencers. Other bills are still in the Virginia Senate. Brrakkton Booker has a story for NPR.  

A persistent problem with assault weapons bans has been “defining them”.

Ford Fischer (Libertarian Party and News2share) advanced an argument on Facebook this morning that racial profiling in conjunction with stop and frisk could be conceived as a targeted form of gun control, and should be viewed as morally wrong.

Michael Bloomberg has drawn criticism for his statements in the past about helping “black and brown” kids in a way that makes them sound like helpless victims and actually sound racist.

This follows the Jan 20, 2020 rally where many gun rights activists showed up and outside the fence marched peacefully with their weapons, without incident, but gun control activists maintained they felt intimidated.
By the way, “this” (or the “real”) David Hogg, a conservative (North Carolina), concurred with “that’ David Hogg on Twitter and March for our Lives that something needs to be done about this.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Former FDA commissioners expects US COVID-19 cases to soar in 2-4 weeks

The concerns of how the COVID-19 virus may trap people even in the US and other western countries who have not been to China but are secondary or tertiary contacts of someone who was there and returned before the travel shutdowns, may be increasing.
The Wall Street Journal has an op-ed by Scott Gottlieb Feb 4 “Stop a coronavirus outbreak before it starts”. 
The Washington Examiner (a conservative free paper) published an article by Anna Giaritelli Feb. 12 where former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told the Senate that community outbreaks are inevitable in the next two to four weeks, and contact tracing could identity hundreds to thousands more largely mild or asymptomatic cases, posing public health dilemmas.  Testing will become faster, starting first in five cities.  However Gottlieb has also said there would be limits on just who would be tested.
Persons taking domestic flights probably expect to be asked if they have been to China or SE Asia recently or are in contact with someone who was. But’s possible to imagine situations that could lead to unexpected detentions, like temperature testing, oversensitivity to normal coughing or sneezing when confined in a plane.   These could be imagined in other venues too.  This is already being talked about in the UK.
If airlines or other accommodations are required to take on these policies, the public needs to be told immediately.  Some people simply cannot afford to be trapped.
As I’ve noted, this could affect primaries in the election season, and various kinds of congregation for volunteer activity.
What seems missing also is, what percent of the cases really will be mild and not normally lead to medical attention?
There was one incident where a passenger became ill when flying from San Francisco to England (NBCBayarea). 
The other passengers were held for 25 minutes.  Persons seated near the passenger will be notified it the passenger tests positive, but it is not clear if those persons have to be followed.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

COVID19: Washington Post discusses the "most cases are mild" thing. That can cut both ways. What about the primaries and Super Tuesday, if we have mini-clusters later from them?

Lenny Bernstein and Carolyn Y. Johnson have an important Washington Post article this morning on the observation that 80% of the reported coronavirus COVID-19 cases are mild.  
That could mean that 20% are serious enough to develop pneumonia and possibly ventilators, which would quickly overwhelm any advanced health care system.  But let’s continue.
The article maintains that all 14 of the cases (as of the time of writing) are mild.  Actually, the first one in Everett Washington was serious enough to develop pneumonia after about 6 days, although that resolved itself quickly. A couple in San Francisco is reported to have had to be suddenly hospitalized. But another couple in Chicago is reported to have recovered with few real problems.
Cases in England and France related to the superspreader seem to be mild, as was the Superspreader’s himself.  An earlier cluster in Germany (which related to pre-symptom transmission from a woman from China) seems to be mild, as was the woman’s.

Peak Prosperity (Chris Martenson) reports on the severity of some disease in Japan, and about a disturbing situation in Santa Clara County, CA.

It does sound plausible that very small transmissions don’t usually lead to major illness.  This idea needs to be investigated, now.  That appears to be a possible pattern outside of China. 
Most experts feel there will be small clusters in the US within 2-3 weeks.  It could be very damaging to persons who are caught away from home even in the US, as in airline traps. But so far no unusual health screening seems to be happening for people getting on or off domestic flights.
In the worst scenarios, this could disrupt election voting in primaries, where many people and workers are congregated.  Have state election officials thought about this?  Should election officers (who essentially volunteer for slave wages for very long hours to "pay their dues")  be forced to self-isolate later just because one person who came to the polling place turned out to be positive?  This is getting undoable. What really may happen Super Tuesday?

So, indeed, some of the scare talk sounds like horror movie scenarios (which AIDS was, with a virus that was not casually transmissible, back in the 80s, and has settled down today).  Or Ebola (we have a vaccine, but it was a threat in 2014).  Or what SARS or conceivably MERS "might have been". 
Again, if the underlying reality is that almost all cases in practice turn out to be mild, that changes the discussion.  Then it becomes about the (shocking) morality of “survival of the fittest” thinking. I’m 76 so my time could be up from a lot of things.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

China's coronavirus pandemic keeps sending out troubling outlier reports, near a tipping point as to how if can affect ordinary life in the US ("COVID-19")

The Barrett Channel (I think from Australia, some of the staff now camping out in Szenshen) has I think the best video this morning on coronavirus, and some of the recent info in the past 24 hours is even more troubling.

I recommend you watch Dr. John Campbell (factual evidence-based analysis) and if you want something a little more alarmist (on the crypto-currency right) watch Peak Prosperity (Chris Martenson, who by the way has said his Wikipedia presence was removed).  Tim Pool has been covering some of the more alarming stories every two days.
There are multiple stories that the virus can have as long as a 24-day incubation period.  This is hopefully an outlier and most cases show symptoms in 3-5 days.  

There are also stories (as in a big study) in China that many people have a second wave of pneumonia after first starting to seem better, and relapses after apparent recovery are possible.  I experienced an unusual "flu-corona-like" illness that followed this pattern in California in February 2002, before SARS was known. 
There was a story of a “superspreader” who went to Singapore and then to a French ski resort.  He finally had mild symptoms.  Apparently he is in isolation now in the UK with apparent recovery with minimal symptoms.  The secondary cases appear to have mild symptoms, but it is critical that we find out if secondary cases are milder because viral exposure is less.

There is a particularly disturbing story about the evacuation of an apartment building in Hong Kong because two people on distant floors on the same tier rested positive.  Plumbing issues were suspected.  The people may be allowed to return.  But this story sets up a warning for any apartment or high rise condo building (which I live in) anywhere in the world.  ABC reports in this story a new named for the virus, COVID-19.
It will be very relevant to know how well the people on the cruise ship do, and how people in the military base quarantine centers in the US do clinically.  We don’t have definite information on this. It sounds like their cases are much milder than in mainland China, again a persistent pattern.
Again, it is not practical to quarantine every possible theoretical exposure that you could find by cell phone, facial recognition, airliner seating, credit card use in bars, etc.  At some point this has to stop.  
We need to know where that point would be.  A “voluntary quarantine” in a condo unit is still a legally enforceable quarantine, and a person who lives alone without social capital could be in serious trouble.  This whole problem can disintegrate into “survival of the fittest”.
  Here is the best map (via Johns Hopkins).

Sunday, February 09, 2020

For some ordinary people, even in the US, Communist China has created a Black Swan

CNN has a rather eye-catching story Sunday morning about ordinary Americans caught in extraordinary circumstances imposed on them indirectly because of recklessness in a Communist country, China.

This is a true Black Swan.

The worst situations right now seem to be the people caught on at least two cruise ships.  But it is true that cruise ships are notorious for having outbreaks, mostly or Norwalk virus.

And on a number of military bases, people who have returned are quarantined for 14 days. 
So far the number of cases in the United States seem to be rising only very slowly.  Most of the tests submitted to CDC so far have come back negative.

The danger could explode quickly, however, in a large city, even in an apartment building or condo, like where I live.  Could you ever quarantine all of Manhattan?  Have we had a single case in the US in a large residential building? What happens then?  
We still don’t have a clear idea as to whether in a western country with high living and sanitations standards, people in practice would medically tolerate very small exposures (as would happen in an apartment or office building), simply have very mild symptoms or none at all and make antibodies and become immune.  That is what happens with most viruses.  When they jump from animals, they are more alien and harder to defend against.

Circumstantially, it would seem as though the epidemic is much worse in China because of overcrowding and the very large viral exposures at once.

But we need to get a grip on this quickly.

There is at least a risk of a sudden asset drop in the financial markets that could affect retired people.
And there is a risk of disruption on supply parts to fix all kinds of problems with computers, cars, elevators, escalators, etc.    Could an epidemic threaten the delivery of utilities?  It doesn’t seem to have done that in China, however.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Reparations for slavery and police profiling are already happening

The Washington Post reports that reparations for slavery are already being paid, especially by some educational institutions, municipal governments, and even churches, in a story by Thai Jones   

One examples is payments to African Americans targeted by police in Chicago from the 1970s to 1990s.

And some well known people are making something of benefits owed to people based on group membership rather than their own individual histories, such as for Native Americans.   David Hogg recently wrote such a tweet.  And the “Covington Kids” scandal in Jan. 2019 would not have happened had mainstream media and many other peoples not felt a bias toward this kind of thinking, to the point that they overlooked the actual circumstances of the event.
I think you could try to target inheritances in some cases. 

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Mitt Romney's explanation of his vote for conviction

Mitt Romney explains fully his vote to convict Trump, for sacrificing national security to promote his own political interests.

He also said that his faith was part of his decision.  Here he explains on Fox News.

Pelosi’s tearing up of Trump’s Manifesto and her outburst this morning were pretty sickening, but then so was Trump’s attack on his enemies as he celebrates his acquittal today.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Coronavirus and "social distancing" in the US; the reports of transmission without symptoms may be overblown

CNBC has a story today predicting that there will be a pandemic in the United States but that it will be mostly mild disease.  This creates a community moral problem with a highly contagious disease that still most people survive easily but which has a much higher fatality rate among the vulnerable than usual. 

One question was whether “social distancing” should be enforced, especially with closing of schools and other public gatherings.  I have some earlier posts on this topic here, going back to 2014 with Ebola cases in the US, and earlier with H1N1.  The video below says that decisions like this are usually politically rather than scientifically based.

But Science News (Kai Kupferschmidt) reports that review of the case cluster in Germany does not support the idea that the virus was spread before symptoms;  the woman from China, on closer questioning, admitted she had felt some symptoms earlier when she met the businessman.

Update:  Feb. 4

JAMA has been saying that transmission is most likely just before and just after showing symptoms, so some asymptomatic transmission is still regarded as possible. Dr. John Campbell in the UK explains today. 

Sunday, February 02, 2020

How domestic air travel even for ordinary Americans now could be disrupted by novelcoronavirus:

The Associated Press and AOL report that any flight in which it is discovered in flight that someone on the plane had been in China in the past fourteen days, will be diverted to one of a list of larger airports where the person can be detained and screened, and held in isolation for fourteen days.

This could disrupt the travel of any persons domestically in the until Feb. 16, when presumably there should be no such persons on a plane.  However, TSA agents could ask all people when they go through security the question.  Do ask, do tell”, go ahead an use my wordmark.
I would hate to see the DHS think it has to hold people unlucky enough to sit next to them.  
We’re still trying to get better information on just how serious such an infection is, given the odds. 
 Donald J. McNeil discusses the growing pandemic with some candor in the New York Times today,. 

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Physician explains the complicated cycle of symptoms and infectivity of Novel-Coronavirus (from the UK)

I’ll start the month of February with a video from a doctor in the UK, Dr. John Campbell, about new data regarding contagion of the NovelCoronavirus, formerly the Wuhan coronavirus..

The doctor examines a chain letter in Germany, where a woman from Wuhan met with a businessman casually.  The woman had no symptoms.  The man had a brief acute illness and seemed recovered after 3 days.  The man still continues to shed virus that could affect others however. 

The woman developed symptoms when returning to China.  Two or three other business contacts of the man have tested positive and apparently as of now none have symptoms. 
This has serious implications to the extent that our moral sense requires healthy people not to infect others.  (That makes sense with sexually transmitted diseases like HIV but not normally with ordinary respiratory infections, which people are supposed to get vaccinated for or be able to get over on their own  -- presenteeism, which was how it was when I was working.)

This sort of thing sounds impossible to control.

Will most people have mild symptoms? 

It sounds like some people have mild symptoms at first, start to recover, and then have a second wave when their body tries to get rid of virus-infected cells in the lungs.
It’s pretty obvious that HIV-infected people could be at more risk, and the virus has been reported as more likely to infect men, which could become problematic later for the CIS male gay community.
Here is a perspective on Jan. 24 in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Doctors explain the low practical risk in the US, and how you treat ARDS (severe complications), for Wuhan coronavirus

Most Wuhan coronavirus patients will recover without incident, New Straits Times reports. (The paper seems to come from Malaysia or Singapore.)
Doctor Mike sorts things out.
It is likely to have come from a bat or a snake.  Bats (because of their unusual metabolisms to support flying)  have unusual immune systems which allow them to carry viruses without being harmed.
Mike says “alert, not anxious”.
Here is a clinical discussion of ARDS, Acute Respiratory Address Syndrome. 

There is a good chance that people who had SARS or MERS, or even other novel unidentified corona viruses and recovered uneventfully, are very likely nearly immune to this new virus. 

Monday, January 27, 2020

Dershowitz's constitutional argument is challenged, as is Bolton's book manuscript

Nikolas Bowie covers Alan Dershowitz’s argument that Trump hasn’t committed any major crimes, like he could return from a gap year to Harvard.

Bowie does say that Trump’s actions (essentially quid pro quo) are crimes under “common law”, an argument I haven’t heard before.

Earlier today, there were “bombshells” about Bolton’s book manuscript, which Ted Cruz defused with accusations particularly about Biden’s son.
Dershowitz has practically been accepting the idea that a president can use deception or coercion as part of foreign policy (well, for example, what if your opponent is North Korea, so maybe that makes sense). 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Mixed information on new coronavirus, but some trends seem alarming; did I have SARS in 2002 when traveling in California?

There is a lot of speculation Sunday night about the coronavirus outbreak, and chasing different sites it is very difficult to determine how credible some of the scare talk is.

The Los Angeles Times has an op-ed showing how agricultural practices and food harvesting in China and southeast Asia is particularly dangerous in encouraging certain families of viruses from jumping species and then to man.  

As of this writing, there appear to be five confirmed cases in the United States.  A critical piece of information missing from mainstream media is the conditions of the patients.  The man in Everett Washington has been in isolation and has been rumored to be in good condition but still treated by robots.  But we don’t have definitive information.  After a week, one would think someone could go home if in good condition.  It would be surprising if it takes so long to repeat blood tests.

If we have a number of patients with no fatalities and no serious illnesses, that would mean that in the US, at least, this would behave like most common respiratory illnesses that are self-limiting.

But we don’t seem to have that information from the CDC yet. 
It’s critical that we have information on the clinical course for these patients quickly because that could predict what to expect in the US.  Could you really quarantine Manhattan?  A whole apartment or condo building like what I live in”?  That would not be appropriate if most people have mild disease that is self-limiting.
Chinese authorities claim that asymptomatic persons can infect others.  If this is true, this is rather unusual with most respiratory diseases (measles may be a main exception).  This really was not the case with SARS and MERS.   According to the NewYork Times (Chris Buckley et al, 9 PM Sunday night) the CDC still finds these claims questionable as of today.
There are some alarming videos on YouTube.  For example you can watch this one: Peak Prosperity, with Chris Martenson, has some videos and one just an hour ago is a bit alarming if you follow his logic.
Tim Pool has a video at mid day that collates reports from the Daily Mail and NY Post of possibly 90,000 cases in China with many people collapsing and dying even unintended.  However I can’t find those stories there now.  I won’t link to those two publications until their stories become more stable. Pool feels that information from Communist China is not to be trusted. 
When I was traveling in California in February 2002 (I lived in Minneapolis then) I had an illness that sounds like SARS.  On a Friday morning, after breakfast, I quickly became aware of an annoying dry sore throat just below the adam’s apple.  The cough became pronounced.  It really was unusually dry and intracrable as I drove down toward Yucca Valley.  That night I had a fight fever in the motel, which I sweated off.  Then Saturday through Tuesday I was better.  I took Mucinex from a pharmacy and aspirin.  Tuesday afternoon the fever came back and would respond to aspirin.  I stayed in bed in the motel when I got there, but Thursday morning, when it was time to fly home, I was much better.  The cough became productive, but full strength came back.  The productive cough lasted unusually long, about a month, with no other symptoms.  I did have inluenza shots that year.  This sounds more like what is being reported from coronavirus and SARS-like illnesses.  I recovered OK with no formal medical treatment (age 59 then). Is this a test of survival of the fittest?

Update: Jan. 27

Note: Chris Martenson maintains his video series here and his mathematical analysis is disturbing. He also criticizes mainstream media for "negligence". 

Here is a Lancet article discussing clinical course of a few patients in China. 

Wikipedia attribution: 

By China News Service/中国新闻网, CC BY 3.0, Link

Friday, January 24, 2020

Will new carbon capture technology help with a catch-up on climate change?

Bill Gates is behind a company in Squamish, British Columbia, called Carbon Engineering, that will suck carbon out of thin air, doing the work of planting 40 million trees.  CNBC reports.

It will use the captured carbon to make synthetic fuels, making the country less dependent on oil and coal. 

The major oil companies are behind it.

Will this satisfy Greta Thunberg?
Will Harry and Megyn get interested in this when they live in British Columbia?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

More material suggests Democrats have been "fishing" for impeachment bait, perhaps illegally, since 2017; Facebook and YouTube want to suppress it

Tim Pool (Timcast) has a video today discussing a "RealClearInvestigations" (not the same site as "RealClearPolitics") article by Paul Steel which traces what appear to be systematic attempts by some within the Democratic Party to have Donald Trump removed from office from early in the days of his presidency, even before “Ukraine-gate” or “Bidgen-gate” started.  The RCI material gets covered starting at about three minutes into the video. 

The visitor is invited to go to the site.  I would run a site safety scan before doing so with your own anti-virus as it could be an obvious target of (foreign) hacking.

I would add that personally I believe it is possible that I have met the “whistleblower” as named socially, more than once.  I know multiple persons with access to deeply classified information and none of them have ever disclosed anything classified to me or behaved illegally in communicating with me.
But there is a serious problem with the policies of both Facebook and YouTube in allowing disclosure of a name that was published in other reputable (if conservative) websites.  They say it has to do with policies against “coordinate harm” which have to be applied to all countries, not just the US, so the policy is narrower than what the First Amendment might protect. Craig Timber et al discusses this in the Washington Post Nov. 8.    Paul Waldman has written in the Post that the Whistleblower’s identity “no longer matters”.  CNBC had a story later about Trump’s retweeting a supporter’s post that included his name.
Facebook and YouTube may feel that they bear a legal risk if they allow republication of the name, as advised by their own attorneys.
Pool’s video (as have some other accounts) leave me with the impression that there may be more than one such whistleblower, even though only one has been named in some media.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Toobin v. Dershowitz (and Leader McConnell): Whose side are you on?

Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s primary legal analyst, asked Alan Dershowitz, who will defend Donald Trump in the impeachment trial, “whose side are you on?”, RealClear Politics story here
Dershowitz, who insists he is a “liberal” (like Sargon of Akkad, perhaps) says that the Constitution does not define anything Trump did as actually a “high crime or misdemeanor”.  It was not akin to “bribery or treason” (although a quid pro quo sounds like bribery to me).
The Wall Street Journal (Michael C. Bender and Natalie Amdrews) reports that a White House makes the same argument as Dershowitz.  “Obstruction of Justice” or “Abuse of Power” are not grounds for removal from office?

Toobin argues that Trump’s acts may not have been impeachable just considered by themselves, but that the purpose of his conduct is relevant.  It’s sort of like the “implicit content” problem in Internet law.
The AP (Zeke Miller, Eric Tucker, Lisa Mascaro in the Chicago Sun Times) explain how McConnell wants to railroad the Senate trial through “several very long days” with no new evidence coming up (like Bolton), in time for the State of the Union.