Saturday, October 21, 2017

Dumb high-speed rail project just got dumber


When the first California bullet train pulls out of San Jose one day, a crucial part of the journey will be a 13.5-mile tunnel beneath the winding peaks and valleys of Pacheco Pass.

Trains will run at top speed along a straight and level route beneath the Diablo Range, shooting through the nation’s longest and most advanced transportation tunnel.

But the massive scope and complexity of the tunnel are at the heart of new concerns about the viability of the state project.

A Times analysis has found that tunnel construction could exhaust the $5.5-billion budget for the entire 54-mile segment from Gilroy to Chowchilla.

Some of the world’s top tunnel experts put the cost of the tunnel at anywhere from $5.6 billion to $14.4 billion, reflecting the high cost of boring through tricky geology and seismically active areas.

The Gilroy-to-Chowchilla route also requires a 1.5-mile tunnel just east of Gilroy, itself a major infrastructure project.

“This is not good news for taxpayers of California,” said William Ibbs, a UC Berkeley civil engineer who has consulted on similar rail projects around the world. “Tunnels are expensive.”

Engineers at the California High-Speed Rail Authority are cautious but not worried. “We don’t see any problem,” said Scott Jarvis, chief engineer...

But if construction costs grow and exhaust the project’s budget, it could jeopardize plans for building the initial operating segment from San Jose to the Central Valley.

State officials acknowledge that unless they demonstrate a financially successful starter system, private investors will not commit money to help build the rest of the line to Los Angeles.

At best, the rail authority’s existing funds are stretched thin. It has $21 billion to build the starter system.

The funds include $6.8 billion from a 2008 bond, $3.2 billion in federal grants, $5.3 billion from California’s greenhouse gas fees through 2024, and $5.2 billion from bonds issued against greenhouse gas fees after 2024.

The plan to issue bonds supported by future greenhouse gas [cap-and-trade]fees is the weak link.

Michael Thom, a public finance expert at USC, said those funds are not “a reliable source of revenue….I can’t imagine a reason why a rational investor would take that risk.”

The rail authority initially planned to start building from Los Angeles but abandoned that plan in 2016 because it was too costly — ironically because of tunnels under the San Gabriel and Tehachapi mountains...

The rail authority’s optimistic timetable estimates that the entire Los Angeles-to-San Francisco system, passing through Palmdale, Bakersfield and Fresno, will start running in 2029, requiring a 1.3-mile tunnel under the heart of San Francisco and potentially 36 miles of tunnels under the Southern California mountains.

The need to build the starter system’s 13.5-mile tunnel was identified earlier this year...

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How Trump won 2

Kevin Drum

...Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin are, of course, the three famous “firewall” states that Hillary Clinton lost by a whisker. In two of them, which lacked new photo ID laws, black turnout was down slightly. Nationally, black turnout was down by seven points, returning to 2004 levels.

But in Wisconsin, black turnout was down a stunning 29 points. This is not only because Wisconsin passed a very strict photo ID law, but because it made sure to go above and beyond in enforcing it illegally...

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Friday, October 20, 2017

The whole Frontline program is worth viewing.

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How Trump won: Voter suppression

Mother Jones

From Mother JonesRigged: How Voter Suppression Threw Wisconsin to Trump

...Three years after Wisconsin passed its voter ID law in 2011, a federal judge blocked it, noting that 9 percent of all registered voters did not have the required forms of ID. Black voters were about 50 percent likelier than whites to lack these IDs because they were less likely to drive or to be able to afford the documents required to get a current ID, and more likely to have moved from out of state. 

There is, of course, no one thing that swung the election. Clinton’s failings, James Comey’s 11th-hour letter, Russian interference, fake news, sexism, racism, and a struggling economy in key swing states all contributed to Trump’s victory. 

We will never be able to assign exact proportions to all the factors at play. But a year later, interviews with voters, organizers, and election officials reveal that, in Wisconsin and beyond, voter suppression played a much larger role than is commonly understood...

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Dan Richard: Selling the high-speed rail project

Dan Richard, Chair of the high-speed rail board, argues on behalf of the project with another interviewer who, like the Rolling Stone interviewer of Governor Brown, evidently knows little about the project.


This is not a liberal versus conservative phenomenon. Our friends down in Texas, trying to build the Texas High Speed-Rail Line there, are finding similar resistance on both sides of the spectrum. There’s a sense that people don’t benefit by investing in something that they’re won’t get to cut the ribbon on for a decade or more.

People in Texas were so worried about a future government bail-out of the Texas project, which is supposed to be privately financed, that the state legislature passed legislation guaranteeing that the project won't get any state money. See also Texans Against High-Speed Rail and this skeptical study.

More Richard:

Americans seem to be losing faith in our ability to do big things. That’s why, when Jerry Brown decided in 2011 that he would embrace the high-speed rail program, his statement was along the lines of: “I want to show that America can do big things again.” We’ve built such tremendous things in this country. The Golden Gate Bridge was controversial; there were 2800 lawsuits against it. But we built it, and we’re proud of it.

Americans have grown more skeptical of doing Big Dumb Things after construction fiascos like the Big Dig in Boston.

And the Golden Gate Bridge was built by selling construction bonds and then servicing those bonds with bridge tolls. The high-speed rail project has no such financing, since Proposition 1A in 2008 only authorized $9.95 billion in bonds for the project. Once sold the interest on just those bonds will be $640 million a year paid for from the state's general fund! The latest official estimate for the whole project is $64 billion, which is surely an under-estimate.

The interviewer finally asks Richard where he's going to get the money:

Currently, it’s mostly California investment. However, it’s critical to point out that we would not have gotten off the ground had it not been for federal support. We ran into legal challenges in California that limited our ability to access state bond money, and only federal money allowed us to get construction underway. We’ve had $2.5 billion in federal stimulus act money, and almost $1 billion in additional federal money...On the other hand, there’s no prospect of additional federal money at this moment. But I expect that to change.

If even the liberal Obama administration could only provide $3.5 billion, where would the rest of the money come from? There can be no realistic expectation that will change, whether Democrats or Republicans are in control in Washington.

To show how financially nutty the project has always been, here's the projected sources of money in the 2009 business plan:

Federal Grants: $17-19 billion
State Grants (actually Prop. 1A bonds): $9.95 billion
Local Grants: $4-5 billion
Private Debt or Equity Funding: $10-12 billion

Very little more can be expected from the federal government, and counties and cities are going to chip in $4-$5 billion? Pure fantasy. And of course there's been no private money invested in the project so far, since investors are fussy about getting a return on their investments, like that $640 million a year they will get if they buy the original $9 billion in bonds authorized by Prop. 1A.

More Richard:

The first leg of high-speed rail will connect Central Valley to the north. I know this was a disappointment to some folks in Southern California, but we think that it will ultimately be to their benefit. Why? I firmly believe that, the minute the first high-speed train starts running in California—no matter where it is—everything is immediately going to change. 

Therefore, our business plan was predicated on the notion that the best thing we could do is to get trains up and running as quickly as possible—and that meant starting in Northern California. I believe that that choice will accelerate the extension of the system to Southern California.

Yes, this is the usual tactic of supporters of Big Dumb projects: get the project started based on lies about the number of future passengers and costs to build and operate the system. Then elected officials have to throw good money after bad to in effect justify the original bad decision.

Why not start in Southern California? Because the route to and from LA requires more than 20 miles of tunnels!

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Danziger: Trump Grieves
Jeff Danziger

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

From the LA Times.

I imagine things are roughly the same in every state capitol and in Washington DC. I hope that the groundswell of disgust about this eventually puts everyone on notice that in the future, names will be named when men engage in behavior like this. That’s quite likely the only way to put a serious dent in it. My guess is that the three biggest cesspools of sexual harassment are entertainment, politics, and finance. So far we’ve heard from the first two. When are we going to hear from Wall Street?

Not to mention that the President of the United States brags about molesting women:

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dense development and wildfires

...As now-retired Forest Service researcher Jack Cohen relates in the above video, one requirement for making your home fire-safe is to have no large flammable structures within 100 feet of the home. That pretty much means people should build on one-acre or larger lots.

But in California, the nation’s most fire-prone state, urban planners’ mania for density has led the legislature to effectively outlaw such low-density development. Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood consisted of conventionally sized suburban homes on 50-by-100-foot lots–--small for a modern suburb–--resulting in many houses being only a few feet apart from one another. If one house caught fire during a dry spell, the intense radiant heat would be sure to set off the next home. As a result, the neighborhood is now a smoking ruin.

As the Antiplanner noted a decade ago, California developers have built shelter-in-place neighborhoods that are so fire-resistant that it is safer for residents to stay in their homes than to evacuate. Wildfires have swept by these neighborhoods and not harmed a single home.

Sadly, this technique has been criticized by even the California Department of Forestry, which argues that making homes fire-safe will just encourage people to live in fire-prone areas (meaning almost all of California). They suggested that people build their homes closer together to make them “easier to protect.” That didn’t work very well in Santa Rosa.

If California had allowed urban areas to grow in the modern way, with density at the center and increasingly low densities at the edges, then a ring of low-density, shelter-in-place neighborhoods around Santa Rosa and other cities could have provided a fire break protecting the denser developments. But this is practically forbidden in California. So, we will get more disasters like the one in Santa Rosa and the 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Governor Brown on high-speed rail in Rolling Stone

Steve Breen, San Diego Union Tribune

Governor Brown's interview with Rolling Stone is not impressive to those concerned about what's left of his candle power:

Pushing 80, Brown has a bit more than a year left in a political career that saw him mount three presidential bids---the first in 1976. Across the decades, there are through lines, including an abiding commitment to fiscal discipline, renewable energy and thinking big.

One of Brown's Biggest Thoughts is dumb: the high-speed rail project. The interview is peppered with pseudo-intellectual references that apparently impress semi-literates like his interviewer: Daoism, German Marxists, the Book of Revelation, Gary Snyder---the interviewer never heard of him!---Wittgenstein, Camus, and John Kenneth Galbraith are all cited by Brown.

None of that mitigates Brown's stupidity on high-speed rail, the largest infrastructure project in American history, which the interviewer doesn't get around to asking about until late in the interview:

Shiny objects can be tough too---your high-speed rail.
They [Republicans]don't like that either. Anything big is bad. "The market is good, government is bad. And don't ask me to pay for anything that can't be done in a year. And, by the way, we are going to be the global leader. We're the indispensable nation---and we're going to cut our taxes." Now you tell me how that works? That is a formula for total failure.

High-speed rail is moving forward with a lot of difficulty.
I'm being sued at every step of the way. We're winning all the lawsuits.

Why is that so much harder here than it is in other countries in Europe or Asia that have been doing this for decades?
Because there's no vision. It's kind of a mystery. The Republicans were for it. [House Majority] Leader [Kevin] McCarthy [of Bakersfield] was for it---until Obama gave us money. Then it became bad. As part of the [GOP] belief system: "Democrats bad. Democrats party of government. We're the party of free enterprise, we're the good guys. We believe in God. We believe in the free market. And these other barbarians are going to ruin everything. So: Bad!" We got caught up in that belief system.

I don't get it. The congestion is real. We should be doing far more. I lived in Japan for six months. Take that train from Tokyo to Kamakura, where I was living? One hour exactly. Set your watch. That would be very good to have. Can we do that? It's very challenging.

The interviewer clearly doesn't know anything about this project, and Brown adds his ignorance to the interviewer's. Every high-speed rail project in the world is built with government money and then subsidized by those governments after construction, which has been pointed out by those in a position to know:

“High-speed rail is good for society and it’s good for the environment, but it’s not a profitable business,” said Mr. Barrón of the International Union of Railways. He reckons that only two routes in the world — between Tokyo and Osaka, and between Paris and Lyon, France — have broken even.

In fact the legislation authorizing the project forbids any public subsidy to operate the system if/when it's ever built (see pages 8 and 9 of this document). The project was sold to the state's voters based on the promise that the cost to operate the system would be paid by those using it.

It's also not at all clear that this project is "good for the environment." From the California Policy Center:

With respect to global warming, we have provided evidence that the HSR Authority has overestimated the greenhouse gas emissions savings and underestimated net emission increases associated with construction. So, from an environmentalist standpoint, the project is not a good use of public funds. Other initiatives could produce much greater net greenhouse gas reductions at much lower cost.

It's not good for any government to undertake large projects it can't pay for. The folks at the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail warned against what is now happening with this project---that it would be a crippling long-term financial drain on the State of California, since the cost of the project keeps going up, as the LA Times recently reported.

Wonder why the High-Speed Rail Authority changed the planned route from Southern California to Northern California? Because the Southern route to Los Angeles involves digging more than 20 miles of tunnels, which would be "the most ambitious tunneling project in the nation's history"!

And Brown is not "winning all the lawsuits" against the project, since the California State Supreme Court recently ruled that, yes, the high-speed rail project is subject to CEQA's environmental process that the project tried to avoid. Later: That decision has been appealed to the US Supreme Court.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Later: The SNL actress looks remarkably like Conway herself.

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Harvey Weinstein is not alone

Good casting: He even looks like a monster

Letter to the editor in today's New York Times:

Harvey Weinstein’s public apology was both condescending and tiresomely clichéd. Mr. Weinstein has undoubtedly downplayed the sexual harassment of countless women in Hollywood over dozens of years. Unfortunately, he is not alone.

I spent nine years in Hollywood as an actress. With my freckles and my “girl next door” visage, I was always cast as the little sister or the brainy girlfriend. I naïvely believed that this would safeguard me from the proverbial “casting couch” I had heard so much about. It did not. Over those nine years, I had multiple interactions with well-known directors and producers that were thoroughly offensive, demeaning and inappropriate.

I was fortunate enough to extricate myself from these interactions. However, I never felt as if I could “blow the whistle” on these men. They were well respected, powerful and influential. I simply walked away, without giving them what they wanted and without the part.

It is disheartening to see that some 20 years later this behavior is just starting to come to light. We have investigated churches and boardrooms for this kind of behavior, and yet we are just barely starting to pull back the curtain of sexual harassment and coercion in Hollywood. It is time. It is beyond time.

Susan Mohun
San Francisco

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Is football safe for children...or adults?

by Ben Nuckols
Posted: Oct. 13, 2017

Parents should be informed before they sign up their kids to play football that the sport can cause long-term neurological damage, even to players who don't have obvious concussion symptoms, NFL Hall of Famer Harry Carson told a congressional panel on Friday...

The former linebacker, who made nine Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl in his 13-year career with the New York Giants, now devotes much of his time to raising awareness of head trauma and said he will not allow his 8-year-old grandson to play football.

"Every parent should be informed. They should be informed as to what risks they are subjecting their kids to," said Carson, who was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome in 1990. "Understand that your child could be subject to a neurological injury that could affect them for the rest of their lives."

After the forum, Carson acknowledged his disappointment that head trauma in football, like so much in Washington these days, has become a partisan issue. Rep. Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat who organized the forum along with Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, said Republicans had no interest in convening a formal hearing on the subject. And several members denounced President Donald Trump for his recent suggestion that the NFL is less enjoyable since the league began taking steps to address player safety.

"It won't be a partisan issue if it affects some of their children," Carson said of Republicans.

The NFL declined to send a representative to the forum, Pallone said. The league acknowledged a link between head blows and brain disease after years of denials and agreed in 2015 to a $1 billion settlement with former players...

Rob's comment:
Football is fun to watch, if you can keep from thinking about this.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Atlanta: "Becoming a San Francisco, city for the wealthy"

san francisco
Reuters/Noah Berger
If you need numbers to prove affordable housing is an issue for Atlanta, you’ll get them from Georgia State professor Dan Immergluck.

He’s analyzed rents.“Over the last three years, we’ve seen rents in many neighborhoods go up 15 percent, 20 percent,” Immergluck said. “Some neighborhoods 40, 45 percent.” 

He’s followed the cost of homes: “Housing prices in the city, not near the Atlanta BeltLine, have gone up 30 percent,” from 2011-2015, he said. “Near the BeltLine, 50-55 percent.”

And he’s reviewed census data, showing over a four-year period, “the city lost over 5,000 rental units that rent for less than $750 a month.”

Immergluck can also tell you what makes these numbers pressing. 

Atlanta, he said, doesn’t have the policies to address them, like requirements for developers to build affordable units. 

“If we don’t develop those affordable housing strategies, eventually we run the risk of becoming a San Francisco,” he said. In other words, a city for the wealthy. 

Chuck Young, a developer with Prestwick Companies, doesn’t disagree. He’s seen the demand to get into one of his affordable housing developments: “For our three-bedroom units, we have a 400-family waiting list. And if I had anywhere else to send them, I would. It just doesn’t exist,” Young said.

His company can build low-cost units by using state tax credits. But he said those programs are few.

Meanwhile, construction costs have soared. “Right now, if I just went and bought a piece of property, to develop that property, you’re looking at $1,300 a month,” Young said. “And that’s as cheap as you can deliver right now.” 

To lower the rent, he said, developers will need help from the city in the form of subsidies or property tax breaks.

That is going to take money and — both Immergluck and Young acknowledge — some political will (emphasis added).

Thanks to Planetizen.


It's official: Hijacking MH370 is a success

The Plane That Wasn't There: Why We Haven't Found Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (Kindle Single) by [Wise, Jeff]

Jeff Wise on the failure to find MH370:

Three years, six months, and 26 days ago, a sophisticated hijacker (or hijackers) made of with a Malaysia Airlines 777 with 239 people aboard. In the course of doing so, he, she, or they expended considerable effort to befuddle pursuers. 

Today, that effort has officially been crowned with success. The Australian agency charged with the conducting the pursuit, the Australian Transport Safety Board, has thrown in the towel. In a final report issued today[October 3], The Operational Search for MH370, it stated that “we share your profound and prolonged grief, and deeply regret that we have not been able to locate the aircraft.”

There’s a good deal of material here–--the whole report is 440 pages long–--and I’d like to boil down the key takeaways.

As I’ve said many times before, the key clue in the disappearance of MH370 is the fact that the Satellite Data Unit–the piece of equipment which generated the all-important Inmarsat data was turned off and then back on again at 18:25. This process cannot happen accidentally, and is beyond the ken even of most experienced airline captains, and thus provides powerful evidence that the disappearance was the work of sophisticated operators. 

This document does not even mention the SDU reboot. Only by ignoring it can the ATSB maintain a state of indeterminacy as to “whether or not the loss of MH370 was the result of deliberate action by one or more individuals, or the result of a series of unforeseen events or technical failures”...

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Monday, October 09, 2017

The shameful Mirkarimi case

Photo: Leah Mills, SF Chronicle

Heather Knight revisits the Mirkarimi fiasco in yesterday's Chronicle (Former SF Sheriff Mirkarimi, wife recall the bad old days):

After all, The Chronicle documented the saga’s many twists and turns in a way Mirkarimi made clear he found unfair. Mirkarimi, always a loner at City Hall, alienated much of the city, particularly women, by initially dismissing the domestic violence incident as “a private matter, a family matter.” After that, he never found his footing and seemed to blame everybody else for his troubles.

This is untrue, though Mirkarimi may have been a "loner" in City Hall, which is irrelevant to this incident. I wrote here about the domestic abuse charges issue against him more than 20 times, as the whole bogus case against Mirkarimi unfolded. That fight with his wife should have been treated as "a private matter." Instead, City Hall and the media hounded Mirkarimi for months and nearly destroyed his young family.

Nor do I recall Mirkarimi blaming "everybody else"---or anybody else, for that matter, though he rightly deplored the extraordinary campaign against him and, in effect, his family. 

The Chronicle was leading the media mob against Mirkarimi from the beginning, especially Knight's colleague C.W. Nevius, who wrote a bunch of anti-Mirkarimi columns. Only the conservative Debra Saunders was consistently on task (here, here, and here), though Knight herself wrote a good column on the issue early on.

More from Knight:

Surprisingly, Lopez and Mirkarimi are friendly with District Attorney George Gascón and his wife, Fabiola Kramsky. The district attorney charged Mirkarimi with the crime, but the men made amends after their wives starred in “The Vagina Monologues” together. Gascón and Kramsky attended a baby shower for Lopez and Mirkarimi a few months ago.

Yes, that is surprising, since Gascon was particularly obnoxious leading the "progressive" City Hall mob against Mirkarimi. It's a tribute to Mirkarimi and his wife's generosity of spirit to be willing to overlook how Gascon mishandled the case.

To put the Mirkarimi fiasco in political perspective, see Sore losers and dumb winners.

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This is who we are

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Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Blue Angels and public safety

Commander of Naval Air Forces Pacific Vice Adm. Michael Shoemaker is calling for several changes to take place for the Blue Angels after Kuss's death (file above)
I'm not a pacifist and appreciate the skill of the Blue Angel pilots and their readiness to show the public that skill. 

But why do it over a city, where a pilot error or equipment failure would mean a crash in a densely populated area?

Last year there was a Blue Angel accident that killed a pilot. Fortunately, it happened during a show in a rural area.


Up in the Valley

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Trump is a moron and a homophobe

October 7, 2017

Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a 25-page memo guiding federal agencies on religious liberty issues. It was an early Christmas present to the Religious Right, since Sessions basically put Christian bigotry over LGBTQ rights and highlighted religious exemptions for all sorts of events.

It’s a memo written on the assumption that Christians are the most persecuted group in America.

“This guidance is designed to do one thing — create a license to discriminate against the LGBTQ community and others, sanctioned by the federal government and paid for by taxpayers,” Vanita Gupta, who led the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration, said in a statement. Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, accused Trump of furthering a “cynical and hateful agenda” and said the memo “will enable systematic, government-wide discrimination that will have a devastating impact on LGBTQ people and their families.”

This memo came the same day that the Department of Health and Human Services allowed corporate executives to deny birth control and other forms of health care to employees.

It’s not surprising that Sessions would issue anti-LGBTQ directives. Just about any Republican administration, given today’s GOP, would have done the same thing. What’s especially disturbing about this situation, though, is who Sessions spoke with before releasing the memo:

In a call with reporters, [Alliance Defending Freedom] CEO Michael Farris confirmed to ABC News that Sessions met with the group during a series of so-called “listening sessions” convened by the Attorney General, who says he was “seeking suggestions regarding the areas of federal protection for religious liberty most in need of clarification or guidance.”

Sessions met with a Religious Right group — designated as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which means less than it used to, but shouldn’t be discounted — to get advice on how Christians are threatened. And then he took it. He didn’t ask different groups for advice. He certainly didn’t ask liberal-leaning groups for how they’re being oppressed. He didn’t go to experts. He just signed off on whatever the ADF wanted...

See also The Religious Right’s Suicidal Gay Obsession

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Saturday, October 07, 2017

Guns for women

Trump and gun control

A letter to the editor in yesterday's SF Chronicle:

I have an idea for easing the tension between the need to maintain Second Amendment rights and the even stronger need for gun control. Under my plan, guns would remain freely available, but only women could have them. No other regulation would be necessary — no fussing about bump stocks or anything else, really.

Women, of course, could use their guns for self-defense, and would also be available to form militias if, in fact, the government becomes tyrannical. But after a possibly difficult transition period, the number of mass shootings would plunge, probably to zero.

Elizabeth Morrison
San Bruno

Rob's comment:
The conservative interpretation of the Second Amendment is a lie: "A well regulated militia" defined.

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Watergate mythology

From Mick LaSalle's review of the Mark Felt movie (‘Mark Felt’ a timely look at Watergate whistle-blower):

In the end, “Mark Felt” is reassuring, because it suggests that the American system is so brilliantly constructed that, no matter how strenuous and persuasive is the lying, and how powerful the liars, one person in possession of the truth can bring down a corrupt administration.

A system that relies on someone in the FBI leaking to reporters to "bring down a corrupt administration" is "brilliantly constructed"? Wrong!

For a more objective account of the role of Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat, in the Watergate fiasco, see The Myth of Deep Throat by Max Holland.


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Thursday, October 05, 2017

Image result for magic bullet theory jfk
Warren Commission's magic bullet theory

By Jefferson Morley 
October 4, 2017

A bipartisan group of congressmen are urging President Trump to insist on “full public release” of the government’s JFK assassination records by October 26 and to “reject any claims for the continued postponement" of the records.

In two “sense of Congress” resolutions introduced Wednesday on Capitol Hill, the legislators call for the CIA, FBI and other federal agencies to release all of their records related to the November 1963 murder of President John F. Kennedy.

JFK’s assassination generated six official investigations and widespread belief that the liberal president was the victim of a conspiracy and not of a lone gunman.

After the box-office success of Oliver Stone's conspiratorial epic "JFK," Congress unanimously approved the JFK Records Act on Oct. 26, 1992, mandating release of all government records related to JFK’s death within 25 years. Most of the files have been made public, but some 35,000 documents remained fully or partially redacted and have never been seen by the public, researchers or the media. By law, federal agencies must obtain the written permission of the president to keep these documents secret after this month.

“The president can be a real hero to the American people if he says the truth does matter,” Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), leader of the effort, told AlterNet in a phone interview.

“Transparency in government is critical not only to ensuring accountability; it’s also essential to understanding our nation’s history,” said Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) in a written statement. “Americans deserve a full picture of what happened that fateful day in November 1963. Shining a light on never-before-seen government records is essential to filling in these blank spaces in our history."

The CIA and FBI have not yet revealed whether they will appeal to Trump for continuing secrecy.

“CIA continues to engage in the process to determine the appropriate next steps with respect to any previously unreleased CIA information,” spokesperson Nicole de Haay told AlterNet last month.

In a statement to AlterNet, the FBI press office said, "We do not have a comment to provide and suggest you reach out to the White House."

The White House did not respond to request for comment.

According to the National Archives online database, the unreleased records include CIA files on two senior officers involved in assassinations and four Watergate burglars, as well as the closed-door testimony of numerous JFK witnesses, such CIA spymaster James Angleton.

Diverse Supporters

The resolutions have attracted diverse support. The House measure, introduced by Jones, is co-sponsored by several members who served in Congress in 1992 and voted for the original JFK Records Act. They include liberal representatives John Conyers (D-Mich.), currently the longest serving member of Congress; Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), the longest serving woman in the House; Louise Slaughter (D-NY); and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.).

The House Republican co-sponsors include conservative Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and first-termer Matt Gaetz (R-Florida).

The Senate resolution (S. Res. 281) was introduced by Grassley, the conservative chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and co-sponsored by liberal Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the ranking member of the committee.

“Chairman Grassley and I both believe that a government of, by, and for the people simply cannot be one that needlessly hides information from them,” Leahy said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing our efforts to make our democracy ever more transparent to the American people."

Jones said he will send a letter to all members of Congress seeking their support for the non-binding resolutions.

Jones also said he plans to contact Roger Stone, a confidante of Trump and a JFK conspiracy theorist. On Wednesday, Stone joined anti-conspiracist author Gerald Posner in a public statement calling for release of the JFK files.

“I will ask Mr. Stone to please use his influence with Donald Trump to encourage the president to join in this effort,” Jones added.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump floated a bogus JFK conspiracy theory to smear Republican rival Ted Cruz.

Four Revelations

The first batch of the last JFK records, released by the National Archives in July, generated several revelations that shed new light on the JFK story.

One top CIA counterintelligence official came to doubt the lone gunman theory in the mid-1970s and suspected Cuba might have been involved, according to Politico.

WhoWhatWhy reported on records showing that Earle Cabell, the mayor of Dallas at the time of JFK’s murder, was a CIA asset.

For AlterNet, I wrote about how CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton repeatedly deceived Warren Commission investigators about the agency’s knowledge of Oswald’s pre-assassination activities.

Collectively, the latest revelations pour cold water on the theory that the Soviet intelligence service, the KGB, was involved in JFK’s murder, while raising questions about the “Castro did it” theory and the role of the CIA in the events leading up to Nov. 22, 1963.

Whether any JFK records will remain secret after this month is up to President Trump. The conspiracy-theorist-in chief has three weeks to decide.

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet's Washington correspondent and author of the forthcoming biography The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin's Press, October 2017).

See also The assassination of JFK: Case not closed and PBS Vietnam Series: Glossing over JFK’s Exit Strategy.

Thanks to Alternet.

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