Saturday, November 30, 2019

Some towns in California want to inter homeless people and take conservatorship of them

When I visited San Francisco in Sept. 2018 and walked to a free speech meeting through the Tenderloin, I noted the difference between the rich and the poor in every block like no where else.
A couple of towns in California (like Redding) officials want to intern homeless people, take their assets, and take over their lives with conservatorship.

Tim Pool calls these proposals “fascistic”.  Vice news, where Pool once worked and which Pool criticizes now normally, reported on this in detail.

Some conservatives have blamed the California fires on identity politics, and say that fires are natural and that land needs to be kept cleared and that occasional controlled burns, following the normal pace of renewal in nature, would help prevent big fires in the long run.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

US life-expectancy in middle age is declining, with opioids, low wages, diet all contributing

The USA Today Gannett papers Wednesday had a story by Jorge L. Ortiz noting that US workers 25-64 are dying more often have reduced national life expectancy falling behind other advanced nations. 

Poorer worker conditions, contingent gig work, and a lack of paid leave are cited as reasons.  Paid family leave is a standard in most advanced nations but is perceived as disadvantageous for single people or the childless here.  (Eldercare is changing that.)

But alcohol, drugs, and opioid overdose (which can be triggered by work problems) are a big factor. A love for fast or prepared foods is a problem.
Yet at the same time, some people are living a long time in extreme disability because technology can keep some people alive longer.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Trump is not a king (and is not the "Duke of Burgundy"): what if Bolton testifies?

US District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson ruled that Don McGahn, former White House Counsel, must testify, overruling Trump’s order that sounds like a “non-compete clause” in the workplace. NPR has a typical story here.  The judge issued a 118 page ruling and said no president is above the law, and presidents are not kings or nobility. (I seem to remember this coming up in ninth grade when I wrote some kind of play about the Duke of Burgundy, the details which I don’t recall very well now, it was a 2-part work like Op. 111.)

The New York Times has the text of the opinion. 

If this gets challenged and goes up the chain thru the federal circuit to SCOTUS, Judge Roberts will become a politician and likely decide the fate of Trump.

If John Bolton testifies, yes, it could be game over.

Jeffrey Toobin of CNN discusses the idea of executive privilege and claims of absolute immunity. 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Is Minnesota education going off the rails by enforcing "racial equity"?

I lived in Minneapolis 1997-2003 and today I got an email and press release from the CPL (Child Protection League) about mandatory “race equity training”.
I went to the state education department and found their policy, and I wonder if the site was hacked.  Are they serious? 
You don’t need “race equity adovcates” and “ed camps”.  

There are reports also of penalizing schools that don’t have equal discipline rates by race. 
Here is a typical CPL report
Some teachers report that they are told that “white privilege” is keeping black students from learning.
I worked as a substitute teacher 2004-2007 in Northern Virginia, and I did have some discipline issues in my own performance (usually middle school).  But race really wasn’t a reason for it.  It may have been coincidental sometimes. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Is Trump on the ropes? Some people say he's in the bottom of the ninth now.

There is a lot of talk now that Trump is facing game over.

CNN has an article by attorney Elie Honig at 4:44 PM EDT, based on the testimony of EU Ambassador Gordon Sonadland, that almost all of Trump’s defenses are gone.  
Still, GOP congresspersons later this afternoon quibbled, apparently with statements some time later, where Trump said “I said I want no quid pro quo”, as if to move to an alternative universe?
The Washington Post had an article earlier this afternoon by Aaron C. Davis and Rachel Bade 

Fox News today reminds us that Sondland’s parents were Holocaust survivors and that Sondland is an advocate of Ayn Rand.  (You can’t link to Fox News from Blogger, you get a 403.  Its seems self-defeating on the part of Fox.)

No one mentioned the name of the “whistleblower” (although they seem to be numerous now), but the mainstream media seems to be trying to defuse the leak last week from Donald Trump Jr. and a few conservative websites.
There is a lot attention in the media to Sean Maloney’s questioning of Sondland. The Business Insider article here links to another one claiming that Trump could be impeached (that the vote happens is favored by Las Vegas now) and then removed from office, but run and win in 2020.  Maybe he would have to be an independent? 
Tim Pool today tweeted that Trump was facing “game over” yet considered Sondland a poor witness.

Zach Beauchamp of Vox says that Trump is down to his last strike in the bottom of the ninth, down a run. (The strikeout that ended the World Series and gave the Nats the title was on a pitch in the dirt.) 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Utah teachers take tactical training with weapons

Amid considerable controversy, some teachers are armed in Utah schools, some teachers, having volunteered, take combat weapons training.  Gadi Schwartz and Farah Otero-Amad.
Some teachers feel it is their job to keep the kids safe.

Others fear there will be inevitable accidents and mistakes with teachers who are not trained as law enforcement (military excepted).
I would not go into teaching now.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Washington Post has a "definitive summary" of how the impeachment hearings got jump-started

Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Paul Sonne have a booklet-length account in the Washington Post of how the “CIA analyst” jump-started the impeachment inquiry that now is going on in hearings. 

It goes on and on.  I was reading it on my phone last night at the Kennedy Center before “Otello” started, an opera which seems politically relevant now.

As far as the “whistleblower” – there seems to be a second one on the first one, and a couple of followup overheard phone calls.

OK, the president is willing to put his own interests ahead of the country. What seems a little unclear is how significant Biden’s activities previously were.  

I have to add that there is a real problem, if major social media platforms want to prevent “independent” content creators from repeating what has been public information (ever since Donald Jr.’s tweet) for several days.  Does the “amplification” by “gratuitous content” actually lead to a threat to life, and who is morally responsible if so?   The dilemma could threaten all “citizen journalism” as jeopardizing somebody.  
Is it illegal to rereport what has already been disclosed as public information, and which seems credible according to the circumstances? Is it wrong?  (Is it the old “middle school kids” problem of “spreading rumors”?)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

UK article warns that "insect apocalypse" could wipe out all life on Earth

The Guardian is reporting that “Insect apocalypse” could threaten all life on Earth, as more species disappear.

This would seem to be related to climate change, and it reminds one of colony collapse disorder.

But it also has a lot to do with overuse of pesticides, and would seem to require farmers to aggressively do remedial pollination.

When I had my (inherited) house, I allowed wild grape to grow in the garden, and did nothing to change the fauna that grew naturally.  There were plenty of bees and even ground bees.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Superbug infections and death can follow antibiotics for dental infections; Mayo Clinic talks about gut bacteria transplants

Elizabeth Cohen and Nadia Kounang report on the rapid increase of danger to older people prescribed antibiotics, which wipe out good bacteria in the gut as competion, to pave the way for superbugs.

There’s a story of kindergarten teacher in Brooklyn who died of Clostridiodies difficile in the intestines, after becoming ill two days after being prescribed clindamycin for a root canal.

Dentists are right that dental and periodontal problems can open the way to situations where someone gets a superbug. In late 2004, I had a sudden infection in the lower jaw, which caused a swelling on the end of the jawbone.  It went away with clindamycin. But if led to the need for implants, and a granuloma was discovered in the area. Back in the early 1980s I had severe strep throat twice, and the second one was harder to knock out (erythromycin worked). None of these infections recurred later, probably because of my immunity once exposed and cured. But they could come back if I were to ever need chemotherapy for a future cancer.
Mayo Clinic talks about microbial transplants.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

SCOTUS hears DACA case, but the legal options are very narrow

Vox has a good explanation by Ian Millhiser of the oral arguments today before the Supreme Court concerning DACA, here

The legal question is very narrow, whether the Trump administration gave an adequate explanation of the action it was taking, reversing Obama’s policy.

The practical question is why Congress has been unable to put a reasonable policy solution into law.
Activists (especially Dreamers themselves) were sitting outside the Supreme Court this morning in the cold front.  The human cost sounds unthinkable, as young adults and teens who were raised here and have no knowledge of their home country culture and language are forced to return.

It is rather shocking that Congress (at least in the Senate) can’t address this, without tying it to other things (but Trump was tying it to the Wall last winter, as I remember).
You can imagine a push for citizen intervention, a sort of supportive sponsorship, comparable to what could be proposed for refugees and asylum seekers, but that would also require Congress.
Some observers take a more activist interpretation than Vox and call this a test for Judge Roberts (NY Times).  

There is outdoor video for reporters from C-Span

Transcript of oral arguments is here.

First Baptist Church picture at demonstration. 


The Supreme Court has allowed a lawsuit against Remington to proceed (in Connecticut state court) by Sandy Hook families, where the manufacturer is accused of marketing a military style weapon to civilians, not necessarily included in a federal downstream liability law.  This sets a precedent for speech cases (CDA230) maybe. (story on NPR by Bill Chappell). 

Saturday, November 09, 2019

PGE bankruptcy and power blackouts will stir up activists

The Wall Street Journal has a major story this weekend by Peg Brickley and Gretchen Morgenson, “Fire victims confront PG&E Bankruptcy”

The subtitle is “Chapter 11 rules essentially put a lid on compensation to California wildfire payouts.”

The story is disturbing.  My parents had heavy investment in utility stocks, especially a few decades ago, as they were very stable and wound up being a major reason that the family was prepared, for example, for mother’s long decline.

I haven’t noticed any overall portfolio fund damage from this, but some mutual funds might be affected.  I do have some Dominion Power.

Shareholders as individuals are not responsible for this (other than through the loss of value of their holdings).  I wonder if activists will try to change all this. You could see much more social pressure in social media with campaigns to support the victims.  
You might see push for state takeover of this and some other utilities. 
There is a good question to ask, whether PS&G should have anticipated the growth of this fire risk due to climate change over the years.  I can recall a big LA fire in, as I recall, 1978.

By the late 1980s, the media was first starting to pay more attention to western wildfires. 
This article in Forbes explains, by the way, why global warming, by warming the arctic, forces cold snaps south and generates the wind events like those in California. The average temperature difference between different latitudes shrinks.

Friday, November 08, 2019

State of Texas seems intransigent on Rodney Reed innocence project case

The Innocence Project has an alarming report of the probable innocence (especially considering the circumstances of the DNA tests) of Rodney Reed, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection in Texas late this month. 

Reason has a detailed article by Billy Binion, here

Several facts stand out.  One is that the sexual encounter seems to have been consensual. Another was that a black man was convicted of the crime against a white woman by an all-white jury. Another is that the Supreme Court has ruled that there is no constitutional right to DNA evidence.
Andrew Jenks has made films about innocence projects, documented earlier on these blogs.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Making gasoline from carbon dioxide in the air; no more need for fossil fuels???

“TheWeek” reports that technology exists to make gasoline from “thin air”.  Lana Bandoim has the detailed story.

The idea is to extract carbon dioxide from the air with solar power, do electrolysis of water to free hydrogen atoms, and use patented chemical processes to make a synthetic hydrocarbon fuel. Then cost right now is too expensive ($9 a gallon) but engineering and widespread use could bring the cost down to under $4 a gallon.  You would do some carbon capture (although returning it to air when driving) and not need to mine fossil fuels. I can imagine where the politics for this could go. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Milo is "back" and seems interested now in exposing and leaking the hidden extremes from the alt-right

Milo Yiannopoulos seems to be recovering himself with a slightly gentler YouTube channel and has leaked some file-tongued video of Richard Spencer from 2017 after Heather Heyer died. 
Apparently some people really believe they have a right to dominion over others by racial or ethnic birthright. They think it’s in the Bible. They thought that in Germany around 1933. 

Milo’s tempered article on a free speech blog seems surprising so shortly after he lost his own “dangerous” Internet domain (LGBT blog, Oct. 15, 2019). 
Milo’s video refutes the idea that Spencer can make his ideas sound “respectable” by toning things down.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Major home invasion incident in Florida does seem to provide an example of the NRA's position on possessing military-grade weapons

NBC has published a major story of a pregnant woman’s (8 months) shooting an armed intruder with an AR-15 to save her family from a home invasion, somewhere in the Tampa area, FL.

The intruders were armed with pistols and beating her husband, and other children were present.
Both got away but one was found deceased.

The major question would be, would a non-military-style smaller weapon have been sufficient for her to defend her family?

NBC, normally viewed as one of the most left-leaning networks, seems willing to present a story that would buttress the arguments of those who want to protect the Second Amendment and even allow larger weapons as a “fundamental right” in some circumstances because some people (as in more rural areas) may actually need them to protect themselves.

The story seems to remind us that any gun control policy will have to weigh who we ask to take more personal risks, for the good of others.  Of course, this presumes that it is nearly impossible to keep guns away from true criminals or terrorists.

This seems like a variation of Nicholas Taleb’s “skin in the game” argument.
So this time I embedded a video with the NRA’s view of this;  not necessarily mine at all.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Anti-science and feelings culture started with the sociopathic baby boomers: Vox interviews author Gibbey

I guess this could have been a book preview, because it doesn’t look like I’ve discussed it.
On Vox, Sean Illing interviews Bruce Gibney, author of the 2017 book “A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America” (Hachette, 2017, 460 pages).

One of the most startling comments occurs toward the end, where Gibney dings the new cult of individualism, and solidarity with other citizens.  But the bookers, starting with births in 1946 (age 73 now) inherited a rich country they did not create.

I was born in July 1943, but I certainly shared pretty much the same experience.

Gibney senses it started going wrong with Reagan, with baby boomers not willing to tax themselves to keep deficits within reason.

Now, he says, the fix climate change and deal with accumulated debt, people will be sacrificed and die.

He also maintains that the baby boomers ignore science and are wrapped up in their own feelings, something they accuse millennial “snowflakes” of. 

The obligation to future generations on climate change is an abstraction many people will not process.  It’s often a religious idea which can be radicalized.
 David Hogg made one of his bluntest tweets about the burden the young people face today on Oct 31, link