Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Washington Post reports on prostitution and sex trafficking in the core of the city despite FOSTA, which probably makes it worse

The Washington Post, in the Metro Section Wednesday, May 29, 2019, reports, in a story by Peter Hermann and Spencer S. Hsu, that the FBI has targeted a large prostitution ring in Washington spreading from Shaw to Dupont Circle, and that much of it has been conducted on Facebook with the company’s moderation not catching it despite its recent aggressive moderation and removal of “dangerous” accounts.  The story refers to an area as “The Blade” which has nothing to do with the gay newspaper. 

The prostitution appears to be heterosexual, exploit many PoC, and not particularly focused on the trans community.

But Facebook could get in trouble given the new FOSTA law signed in April 2018 and the subject of much controversy and some litigation.

It could be argued that FOSTA, however, has been driving sex workers into much more dangerous underground exploitation by pimps.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

A descendant of slavery says he would not want reparations, it is all about personal responsibility; PBS debate had said otherwise

Burgess Owens has an important op-ed in the weekend Wall Street Journal, “I didn’t earn slavery reparations, and I don’t want them”, link.

His ancestor Silas Burgess (like the name Silas Marner from English literature and in high school classes) came in chains from Africa (like in the movie “Amistad”, 1997). “But even he was able to live the American dream”.

Now, he says, some Democratic presidential hopefuls want to give him money.
I have to admit, with my own life and work experience, where African Americans and other members of minorities individually did well in professional settings, I did not begin to grasp the size of the resentment and despair in lower income communities until perhaps 2014 as with Ferguson and beyond.

Chip Somodrvilla argues in Truthout that reparations can be funded -- by wealth taxes.  This online leftist mag begs for money and threatens to go out of business every week.  Some articles are real good, and others are far-Left redistributionism.  The article refers to a well-known  Atlantic June 2014 piece by Ta-Nahesis Coates. 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Can entrepreneurial approaches work well with climate change? "Economic Invincibility" weighs in

Here is some horrific video footage on Reuters of flooding along the Cimmaron River in Oklahoma   where the flood has swept away land supporting homes, not only condemning the homes but reducing the land area of the property.
I would wonder if the homeowners had flood insurance, but I don’t know what happens with actual loss of land.

Such is the risk of climate change.

Martin Goldberg (“Economic Invincibility”) takes on climate change and suggests some unusual lower cost innovations that really might work, and criticizes the over-politization of the issue. “Everything is intertwined”.  Connect the dots.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Washington Post looks at the way social media spreads the anti-vaccine activism, damaging herd immunity; an example for other areas?


The Washington Post reports in a video on how social media still spreads anti-vaccine information online (especially for measles) and results of some communities having considerable numbers of children unvaccinated, reducing herd immunity and risking those who cannot take vaccines for genuine medical reasons. 

Yet a story by Lena H Sun and Ben Guaring today in the Post reports a few sensational incidents in the past, including a child severely disabled in 1980 (not really from a vaccine) and a Lancet study in 1998, as encouraging doubt in the expertise of public health officials.

The herd immunity issue is a serious one for social media, and Instagram, Facebook and YouTube are “cracking down” and at least demonetizing or shadowbanning posts.

The problem is that we can think of other issues where herd welfare is a potentially legitimate issue, and don’t want to face it.

You can start with climate change but go much further.

I had measles in 1950 just before my seventh birthday.  
I make it a point to remind college students to get both meningitis vaccines, especially B.  I don’t anyone I know to become maimed by this sometimes horrific disease.  Meningitis B can cause a kind of blood poisoning that leads to gangrene and amputations.


What if some day we do find a connection between childhood vaccines and some other autoimmune disease late in life?  At a policy level, what would we do? 

Update: June 9, 2019

Sharyl Atkisson, a "conservative" (somewhat) journalist who reports on Sinclair's "Full Measure", reported this morning on the case of "pro-vaccine" researcher Andrew Zimmerman had once questioned the absolute truth of idea that vaccines could never cause injury and thought he had found rare genetic cases where it could, and that his research was silenced.  There is even a secret "vaccine court".  "The Hill" carries her report here.  The matter was reported on her show on WJLA June 9.  Note that public health departments already do exclude children with a few known rare conditions from vaccinations, where herd immunity still protects them. 

Stat News also reports a recent study from Denmark (March 2019) confirming the safety of vaccines for practically all children. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Is "adversity score" on the SAT a preview of a future "social credit score"?

Natalie Escobar defends the “disadvantage score” that the SAT people want to implement, in an Atlantic article here

There is the obvious observation that on the surface it is race neutral but will tend to help some PoC more often.

There is a rather obvious concern that giving an “adversity score”, even within a private group like ETS, is a step toward a social credit score like what is going on in China.

Harvard, for example, is admitting students whose community activism and work show street smarts, even if SAT’s are not as impressive (as with David Hogg, who calls himself “good at protesting, bad at spelling” on Twitter). The videos by Canada-born undergraduate John Fish show just how demanding Harvard undergraduate would be. 

Here’s another account on CBS News.
As for the SAT, I actually considered the possibility of a job with the ETS near Princeton when I was laid off by RCA in 1971.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

SCOTUS might remain cool on attempts to overturn Roe v Wade from Georgia, Alabama; radioactive waste contamination in an Ohio school

Nate Chute, of the Montgomery Advisor, offers a comparison between Georgia’s fetal heartbeat abortion law and Alabama’s, just passed by the state Senate, which would ban all abortions after six weeks even after rape or incest. 

CNN says this will certainly make a fast track to the Supreme Court, and many analysts don’t think that the Roberts court, even with Kavanagh and Gorsuch, will be in a hurry to overturn precedence, Roe v Wade, which protects a woman’s autonomy essentially until viability.  Jeffrey Toobin, however, sounds very concerned. 

But the most extreme supporters in Alabama insist that even a minor 12-year-old girl has a moral obligation to deliver a human being if raped.  That is, a man can, with criminal intent, impose that on a minor female.

From a moral perspective, in my own mind, this reminds me of the question of whether military conscription violates right to life (which if it were every resumed would be likely to be changed to include women).  Selective Service Registration for young men (according to birth gender) is still a legal requirement.

Adam Liptak, in the New York Times, suggested that SCOTUS doesn't need a sensational law like Alabama's and might chip away at Roe more gradually. 
Another major story is the discovery of enriched Uranium and even neptunium have been detected inside a middle school building in southern Ohio near Portsmouth, and there are child leukemia cases in the area. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

CNN story connects "Run, Hide, Fight" to expectations of martyrdom; Zakaria calls for national service

Harmeet Kaur has a horrifying article on CNN Sunday morning, “’Run, Hide, Fight’ has become a mantra for how to act during a mass shooting. Here is what it really means”.

Experts disagree even on the what people in the public, most of all students, should do.

One official asked, “are we training our school officials and students to become a generation of martyrs?”  It’s a shocking question.  But many feel that in the most recent two incidents in North Carolina and Colorado, it was self-sacrifice by one person that saved everyone else. The "Fight" directive is the most controversial. 

What if this happens on a subway, or a shopping mall, or any soft target?

There is even the moral claim that someone has an obligation to give up his life to save others.  How does this fit into “right to life” and even anti-abortion arguments?

This brings back the whole issue of the military draft and the student deferment system of the 1960s.
There are speculative stories that one of the shooting suspects is transgender and that the other has ties to the LGBTQ community.  The best details I can find so far are in the Advocate

Sunday morning Fareed Zakaria offered an op-ed “National Service Can Bring Us Together as a Nation”.  His wording of the article even left open the idea that it could be mandatory.  The article shows a picture of Americorps volunteers in uniform shirts. 

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Mother of slain girl in Iowa takes in undocumented teen

Terrence McCoy has a remarkable story in the Washington Post (Dec. 2018) about the mother of Mollie Tibbetts, slain in Iowa last summer, allegedly by an undocumented immigrant.   The story does rehearse both sides of the obvious moral debate in detail.  USA Today and the Des Moines Register have a similar story.  This narrative was also related on ABC Good Morning America today. 
At the request of Mollie’s brother and high school senior, she took in an undocumented teen anyway.
Was mom’s action legal?  The law seems to be changing every week, in the news.  Here is a detailed piece (without a date) on Alllaw.
But Trump signed an executive order in 2017 that might make this illegal, according to other stories.

This is certainly something an immigration law site should visit again today, as it doesn’t sound like do-it-yourself sttuff.  What happens in a sanctuary city or state?

Recently, there have been cases where non-relatives were allowed to adopt (or at least provide foster care) for children of undocumented parents who themselves were deported. And there have been trips to Texas by non-profits to bring some asylum seekers to funded shelters in major cities.  There may be more capability here that is lawful than we know about.

Monday, May 06, 2019

UN Climate Change report talks about species extinction, renews ethical conflicts

The UN IPBES report (text) , the “Summary for Policymakers on the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services”.

Brad Plummer has a comprehensive summary from the New York Times, where he explains the extinction threats to many species and how that can affect humans. 
Is this the lives of other species over profits?  It is more than that.  It is future generations, who in a philosophical sense for many people don’t exist yet so they don’t have rights.

And the time frames are even more urgent. 
Stephen Leaky gives a detailed account in National Geographic. 

Sunday, May 05, 2019

The issue of arming teachers gets me in trouble on Twitter

Alex Samuels has an article in the Texas Tribune about a school safety marshal program.  Teachers can volunteer to become safety monitors and be trained to carry weapons.

The article takes the position that students of color might be disproportionately at risk from misfires by teacher gun use.

I got involved this morning in a couple of tweet storms over this.
Essentially, I’ve said I would not re-enter teaching (that is, subbing, which I did 2004-2007) because I would feel pressured to prove I could protect students by being armed.  Some of this goes back to my problems with discipline when I worked as a sub.  Then recently consider the student at UNC-Charlotte who gave his life throwing himself on a crazed gunman. There is a presumption that manliness requires that any man be able to step up to do that, or he doesn’t belong in any position where others count on him to protect him.  Then maybe he doesn’t belong at all, he’s a mooch.
(At one sub assignment in the spring of 2005, a teacher was arrested for having a weapon his his car on the school lot.) 
Look at the angry (and then finally a little bit conciliatory) tweet storm that followed.

I then answered a David Hogg tweet by maintaining that the only people who should be armed in a school should be police or properly paid security officers.  I might be OK with armed teachers only if they were ex-police officers (or current) or retired military or in the reserves. But one respondent said that my suggestion would make (unarmed) schools into targets.  Responding to David Hogg's passion, kids are safer, it is said, of some teachers do take the responsibilities of protectors and learn to use firearms. 

Somewhere I've read that Hogg did learn how to use firearms in his family and is competent and doing so.
  Another twitter user on the far right just tweeted "you're dumb" to me and I retweeted. But frankly only very highly trained personnel could safely try to use a firearm in a crowd of students to defend them.  And school security should be much better against lone persons or students -- against a foreign enemy ("Red Dawn" movie scenarios) that's another matter. 
 The latest on the STEM Highlands Ranch, CO is here.  One of the suspects is a juvenile female. 

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Anti-vaxes could cause previously vaccinated or immune people without proof to get quarantined in some situations

If you go on a cruise, you may risk norovirus, and various other problems, but now there is the possibility of being quarantined because of a measles case.

That is the case with a cruise ship in the Caribbean, at St. Lucia, although the entire ship could leave.  (It belonged to Scientology, and is a career-defining cruise, according to a CNN report May 5, where participants learn that they have to start all over!  Being exposed to measles is especially humiliating, given their ideology.) 
There is increasing concern over the possibility of exposure on an airplane, as explained in the New York Times by Karen Schwartz in March 2019.

The possibility of quarantine reminds one of concerns in the fall of 2014 over Ebola.

Again, this is a case of “herd immunity”, and the anti-vax crowd is getting a very bad reputation indeed.

When most people are vaccinated, the relative few who cannot be vaccinated safely are effectively protected.

There could be concerns for people planning international travel. 

Health officials talk about proof of vaccination, which people are not likely to have kept.  Local health departments seem to be where to call.

The possibility exists that someone immune by prior vaccination or even an actual infection in the past cannot prove it and gets quarantined.
The CDC says that birth before 1957 creates presumptive evidence of immunity (as you would have gotten it).  I had it in the summer of 1950 at age 6, coming down with it in Ocean City MD in a family vacation.