Carla

No I am not talking about the next hurricane. It really wouldn’t make sense because they go in alphabetical order.  I an talking about the avocado named Carla.  Oh gee, that Carla.  And it hasn’t got a thing to do about the movie, “Fish called Wanda”, starring John Cleese (wrote the screenplay), Jaime Lee Curtis, and Kevin Kline.   I’ll  add, as a completely unnecessary politically charged aside,  Cleese described Donald Trump in 2016 as, “a narcissist, with no attention span, who doesn’t have clear ideas about anything and makes it all up as he goes along” for the sole purpose of gaining some attention to the topic of avocados.  I suspect this sums up just about everything said about Trump in a slew of books including Woodward’s Fear,  Omarosa’s Unhinged, and Johnston’s It’s worse than you think, none of which I’ve read.

Now, after that bizarre tangent,  I return to the topic,  avocado named Carla.  Big,  light green smooth skin avocado are grown in Florida.  They are sold in the US and around the world.   Carla is one variety.   The avocados grown in California, are Hass varieties,  and are smaller, bumpy  dark green skinned ones.   Rudolf Hass patented this variety and the original tree that produced the Hass variety still stands in La Habra Heights, California.

Now, Carla is a patented variety, and the allegation is another grower is illegally making copies of this variety:

Agroindustria Ocoeña, the Dominican company that holds a U.S. patent for the Carla, is suing a Miami produce distributor, Fresh Directions International, claiming that it is illegally selling Carlas in South Florida from another grower. They aren’t knock-off avocados either, the lawsuit argues. DNA tests show they are virtual Carla clones, which the suit suggests can mean only a grifted graft — somebody pruned and pilfered Carla tree branches to recreate their own orchard.

Growers routinely graft. It means growing one variety to provide the roots and initial trunk of the tree (rootstock) and then taking a cutting from another variety (scion wood) and attaching (grafting) it on to create a nearly identical plant.   It is both a science and art, which has been in practice for at least 4,000 years in China.  See last link.    Avocados can be easily grown from seed, but to obtain consistent trees, with high yields, and disease resistance,  only grafted plants are sold from nurseries, at least in Florida.

The single tree that produced the first Carla avocados was discovered by Carlos Antonio Castillo Pimentel in 1994 in his orchard in the Ocoa River Valley. The Miami Herald article then goes on to say that they don’t know why it is called “Carla”  yet I think if it was pure marketing,  as a tasty Carla is better than a tasty Carlos.  Is this sexist?

Now, just looking at a tree, it would be really tough to know what variety was used as the scion wood.   But the crux of the Miami case against Fresh Directions, will be that DNA testing of the fruit can prove that they are growing the Carla variety.    Of course, the lawyers in Miami had to go into the supermarkets and buy a lot of avocados for testing.   And afterwards I guess you don’t have to preserve the evidence except a small sample, as the Miami Herald article quotes one of them as saying, “We ended up eating a lot of guacamole.”

I think the Carla’s will continued to be sold, whether they are legal or illegal from the perspective of the patent owner.  I think it’s all about collecting royalties, which the courts will decide.  It may be tough to collect if the company is headquartered in the Dominican Republic.  The patent was filed in 2006 and is for 15 years.   For everyone’s benefit, an out of court agreement might be best.

Avocados are super foods.   They make terrific smoothies,  particularly with bananas and mango juice.   See recipe at end.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Is your avocado an illegal clone? Grower sues Miami competitor over trendy hot-seller

M&S launches the giant ‘Carla’ avocado that is FIVE times bigger and weighs 1kg

Hass or Haas Avocados 

Grafting and Budding Nursery Crop Plants

https://food52.com/recipes/22704-green-smoothie-with-avocado

 

Secret diplomacy

Donald Trump and Vladmir Putin met in private in Helsinki on Monday for little over two hours.   There are those in the media and in Congress who think they have a right to know what was discussed.   Perhaps the translator took notes?  I find this absurd.   There is an absolute need to keep  sensitive diplomatic discussions private.   Congress leaks information, and they seem immune to prosecution.   Congress wanted all kinds of information after the Iran deal was completed.   I remember one Republican congressman asking John Kerry if he used his cell phone to send text messages.  Republicans  went totally nuts on Benghazi,  and deleted personal emails   They hold closed door sessions to protect confidentiality, then immediately following the interview, publicly  smear the person who testified.   Last victim was Lisa Page.

Private is private.  Democrats need to act like adults in the room.

I am working on a bit longer piece on the Helsinki disaster.   Just thought I’d get this one out first.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Peter Strzok – You’re it

I notice that when people have some trash to get rid of, they tend to dump it somewhere where there is already a lot of trash.  I think Mr. Jeffries got it right:

“There is a criminal investigation into the Trump campaign and possible crimes related to the 2016 presidential election involving collusion with Russian spies to sell out our democracy and hijack the presidency,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York. “My colleagues in the cover-up caucus don’t like that criminal investigation, and therefore, they need to identify a villain. Mr. Strzok, tag, you’re it.”

There about 1,000 summaries of the hearing on the internet, but I still like Mr. Jeffries the best.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

oops

The prior post wasn’t done – and it went out by mistake.  An updated version of Bluster, Brag and Diplomacy is available on my website.   Thanks and I’ll be more careful in the future.

World Cup Soccer

If you’ve been missing your loved one for the past week or so, because he/she said they were going to a friend’s house to watch the game, I have written this blog for you.

Futbol, football, soccer – it is the world’s sport.   The word goal is pronounced G O O O O O O L. There are millions of fanatic fans of this sport.  They paint their faces, carry all kinds of annoying “musical” instruments, and scream at television sets across the globe.  It’s great.

The World Cup began with teams from 32 countries, at least one representative from each continent (well except Antarctica).   The first series of games (round of 16)  eliminated half the countries using a point system.   Out of the game are a slew of countries which were underdogs:  Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Senegal  and Nigeria. If Nigeria had won, all 51 countries in Africa would celebrate for weeks.  Africa will celebrate anyway.   I thought Mexico would enter the semi-finals.

Now we are in the quarter finals. with games as follows:  July 6,  Uruguay x France  (morning) ,  Brazil x Belgium (afternoon),  July 7: Sweden x England (morning),  Russia v. Croatia (afternoon).   The morning and afternoon stuff is just for those in my time zone (Eastern US).  Others likely will have to tape the first game.

So, after Friday, we will know the 4 teams headed for the semi-finals.  Who does the world want to win?  I think Brazil and Uruguay.   And Croatia, because they seem to be happy and nobody knows where this country is  (except its in Eastern Europe) or their language. And Sweden because nobody expects them to win.  What country does the world not want to win?   I think Russia.  It’s because of mean spirited Putin.  But the Russians definitely know how to  party and they are very friendly.  Just, they aren’t a third world country.  My guess is Belgium v. Brazil for the finals.  Personally, I’m rooting for Brazil.   I can always update this post after the cup is over, to show how brilliant I was at picking the winner.

On July 15, 2018,  the final match takes place starting at 11:00 am.  The FIFA website http://www.fifa.com is excellent on details.

Your loved ones may re-appear sometime after this.  If not, then maybe they left for other reasons or are still hung over.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

The Luna – all’s fair in love and war

And in divorce.   Particularly if your name is Farhad Akhmedov,  a Russian billionaire, who married Tatiana Akmedova in 1993.   The Luna is a yacht, but as today’s New York Times describes it, “With a spa, a swimming pool, two heliports, and room for 18 guests, the Luna is more like a floating villa than a yacht.”  It is worth about 500 million dollars. It has been awarded to Farhad’s ex-wife in 2016, but she’s been unable to gain possession of the yacht.

The divorce war began in 2013, when Tatiana filed for divorce in the UK.  All seemed to be settled in December 2016, when the High Court ordered poor Fakhad to pay his ex-wife, the equivalent of $646 million dollars.   When he refused, and the judge could not force payment,  he ordered him to turn over the yacht to his ex-wife.

It’s not like burying the family jewels in a coffee can somewhere on a farm.  This thing is huge – 380 feet long.    Just in case of any attack, it has an anti-missile detection system, an anti-drone system and bulletproof windows and bombproof doors.    Almost forgot the mini-submarine, and the 8 relatively smaller boats that it carries.

Fakhad’s assets are incredible, with houses in France and England, a private plane and a couple of helicopter.  His net worth is pegged at 1.4 billion dollars.

The Luna went from  Germany, to Norway and finally Dubai.   In Germany, it underwent a 50 million dollar refit.  Once it got to Dubai, it was impounded by authorities.

Farhad had challenged the divorce in a number of ways.  He claimed he was already divorced in Russian court, but the UK court found the documents were forged.  He transferred ownership to a handful of companies controlled by Farhad and his allies, in the Isle of Man, Panama, and Liechtenstein.  Finally the yacht ended up in a family trust with the name Straight.  UK Judge Haddon-Cave stated the trust was “the antithesis   of its name.”  Cute.  On April 19, 2018, he ordered the yacht to be given to Tatiana, so Farhad handed her the keys and wished her well.

Ok, the last bit about handing over the yacht never happened.  Instead, Farhad is going to the Dubai courts, hoping for  a judgment that says the British order to transfer the yacht is unenforceable in Dubai.   His trump card:  he claims to be Muslim.  His wife is Christian.  Yet his wife claims he’s not a practicing Muslim, however he has given generously to restoration of mosques.     Farhad want this to be considered a matrimonial issue to be decided by local Shariah law in Dubai, which could go bad for Tatiana.

All eyes are on the Dubai courts. The Court of Appeal of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) said that the country’s lower court had no power to seize the ship – and agreed with lawyers acting for the family trust which owns the yacht on May 10, 2018.   The yacht isn’t going anywhere right now as a further court hearing will be held in July 2018 in Dubai.   I’m certain what Farhad wants is for the courts to accept his line, that the marriage was dissolved in Russia back in 2000.  It’s pretty crazy as they were together for 13 years following the divorce.

Tatiana is ready  to settle out of court while  Farhad wants to win at all costs.  His lawyer stated, “He (Farhad) would rather see the Luna rot in the Dubai heat than see it handed over to Tatiana.”

Dubai is hot in July – and even hotter inside the courthouse, where the Luna could end up (a) Sold by Tatiana,  (b) Back to Farhad, or (c) A rusted old yacht at the bottom of the sea.

Links:

https://www.superyachtfan.com/superyacht/superyacht_luna.html

Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5713091/Billionaire-oligarch-centre-UKs-costliest-divorce-wins-latest-battle-ex-wife-yacht.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farkhad_Akhmedov

https://www.irishtimes.com/business/financial-services/russian-billionaire-s-400m-superyacht-given-to-former-wife-in-divorce-case-1.3467568

 

Trump’s Approval Rating

The Gallup poll has surveyed the president’s approval rating for 13 presidents from Truman to Trump.   Arbitrarily,  I’ve decided that a 75% approval means that there is strong support for the president’s recent decisions.  Getting above 75% is tough, and it doesn’t last long.      I drew a 25% approval line, which shows only three presidents hit this line or were really close:   Truman, Nixon and George W. Bush.    These were presidents during the Korean, Vietnam and Iraq wars.   But,  Nixon’s sharp drop in popularity was tied to Watergate.

So,  let’s make this real easy.  Over 75%, the country loves their president (more or less) and under 25%, we hate our president.   In between these two extremes,  a well liked president is able to be above the 50% line, and a not so liked president will be under 50% approval.    Many presidents start at high approvals  and go into a slump towards  the end of the term.   This is true for all presidents,  except Clinton, who started low and ended high.

Three presidents (Truman, Nixon, and George W.  Bush) all went above the 75% “we love you” line and managed to end their term very close to the 25% “we hate you” line.   Truman still holds the record of low approval rating, at 22%, with a slight uptick towards the end of his term, which ended in Jan 1953.     Eisenhower ended the Korean conflict, and enjoyed a number of  pops over the “we love you” line.

All this makes sense, as a president has a certain “honeymoon period” where people are cutting him a lot of slack because he’s new on the job.  After some time, and finding out that everything the candidate promised, is not what the president elect can deliver, there should be disappointment in the president.

So, let’s get to Obama’s line,  going into a slump about two years into his first term, crossing below 50%, but crossing back above 50% towards the end.   Of course, Obama got very  high ratings from Democrats and very  low ratings from Republicans.

What really distinguishes Trump’s approval rating, is the lack of variation, as compared to all the other presidents.  He started at 45% approval rating in his first 9 days in office, which dropped to 35% in August 2017, and the most recent surveys show a 42% rating (as of May 6, 2018).

There has certainly been a lot of misinformation out there, coming  particularly from Donald Trump.  His approval ratings do not seem to be impacted at all by the Michael Cohen/ Stormy Daniels scandal.   One reason,  is the Republicans  still love him at an 87% approval rating, and Democrats still hate him, with a 9% approval rating.   These numbers change only a few percent with each new survey.  If the country can be assumed divided 50/50 between Republicans and Democrats, then Trump would have a 48% approval.  Independents drag down his approval,  they have only 33% approval rating of Trump.

I’m getting pretty tired of hearing about how Trump’s approval ratings have soared with minorities, particularly blacks.   There was a 15% approval rating when he was elected president, and it’s 13% now.   Basically, since election day,  they have hated him.   Obama had a 91% approval rating and it stayed pretty much that way throughout his term.   Hispanics also hate Trump with a 22% approval rating, that is basically a flat line, never once crossing above 25% line.   Obama’s approval rating with Hispanics varied,  from 85% to 44%,  so he wasn’t consistently above the “we love you” line.

So, all this stuff about Trump being more popular with blacks or Hispanics  is nonsense.   When approval ratings are very low, there is more statistical variation of the results, particularly when only one small subset is examined.   Also, some polls use only people who were registered to vote in the last election.    Or they survey people who say they intend to vote in the next election.   These factors can make a difference.

Obama never got a “we love you” or “we hate you”  approval rating, and I suspect this will never happen with Trump.   Obama followed a Democratic agenda, had extremely strong support from Democrats,  and very little support from Republicans.  Vice versa with Trump, but the outcome is similar, a lack of variation in poll numbers, as compared to prior presidents.    Perhaps in the past, we focused more on the president himself and now it is more the party’s policy he represents.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Politifact.com: Trump’s False claim that his presidential approval rating is ‘not bad’

Politifact.com:  Donald Trump’s misleading claim that Kanye West’s praise doubled his African-American support

Gallup Poll on Presidential Approval Ratings

The 538 website compares Trump’s popularity (green line) with the 12 prior presidents.

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/

NYT: Trump Falsely Claims His Approval Among Black Americans Has Doubled

Is Donald Trump’s Approval Rating the Lowest in Recent History Before an Inauguration?

Comey’ Book: A Higher Loyalty

It is number 1 on Amazon’s best seller list.  Amazon was accepting pre-orders, and my copy arrived yesterday as promised.   The White House has made James Comey out to be public enemy #1, but he was well liked under both Republican and Democrats alike.   He was confirmed as FBI Director by the Senate 93 to 1.  I’m not bothering listening to Comey’s interviews, nor the White House or Fox’s  hourly attacks on Comey.  I’m too busy reading his book.   I used to subscribe to a stock advisory newsletter, whose motto was jokingly, “Frequently wrong but never in doubt.”  I think this applies to Trump.    Comey was the exception,  “Frequently right, but usually in doubt.”

The strongest asset of a democracy is an informed public. This is Comey’s memoir from the vantage point of  the highest level of  law investigation and enforcement.  It should be read from cover to cover, ignoring  the noise coming from Washington and the media.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

Search warrant for Michael Cohen, Trump’s Personal Lawyer

It appears to me nothing illegal or unethical or disgraceful has occurred. Prosecutors know about white collar crime, and they are just following the money. Attorney-client privileges are not absolute, meaning what is a lawyer’s computer or cellphone can never be seen by law enforcement officers. But it has to be done through the courts based on probable cause. Court decisions acknowledge the need for confidentiality in the defense of clients and this has resulted in more rules in law office searches, designed to protect privileged information.  There are exceptions.   President Trump has stated repeatedly he had no knowledge of hush money being paid to Stormy Daniels or the contract, so the client-attorney privilege is gone in this particular matter.

The potential criminal charges against Trump’s personal lawyer are bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations. This is serious stuff. The search warrant was executed on part by a referral from Robert Mueller’s office. The decision to seek a warrant was in the office of the Southern District of New York. The lead US Attorney for the Southern District is Geoffrey Berman, who is a recent Trump appointee. Only the courts can approve a warrant based on probable cause. All the specifics on the rationale for the search warrant are confidential by law. The American people do not have the right to know everything – and that’s how our justice system has always operated for the good.

Before anything is given to prosecutors, there must be an initial neutral examination of the seized material as explained below, and more completely in the second link:

The critically important interests protected by the attorney-client and work product privileges can be preserved only if the seized materials are examined by a neutral judicial officer, or by a Special Master appointed for this purpose, to determine which materials are or are not encompassed within the privileges. Such a safeguard is essential, as a number of courts have recognized.

 

This means what was seized by the FBI, is in the control of a court appointed neutral judicial officer. The person would have no connection to Michael Cohen, the Justice Department or the Southern District of NY.
Will Michael Cohen sue for irreparable harm to his practice? Absolutely. Will he get the blessings from the legal establishment to push back? Maybe. Will he be indicted? I haven’t a clue. Will this help Mueller’s investigation? Ditto.

There’s a whole pile of other questions, which no one on the outside can answer. For the time being, it appears to me nothing illegal or unethical or disgraceful has occurred.

Stay tuned,
Dave

Links:

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers,  Challenging the Law Office Search,  Weinberg and Homan, 1996.

The above link in from 1996.   The Fourth Amendment provides all Americans the right against unreasonable searches.  The sixth amendment provides the right to legal counsel.   Many of the rules governing legal search warrants have been the result of various court cases.   The protections available through the Fourth Amendment were strengthened by the Mapp v. Ohio court decision, which made excluded all evidence obtained illegally to be used in any court proceeding  in the US (exclusionary rule).  If the FBI breaks into an office, without first obtaining a legal search warrant, then none of the information from the search is admissible.

Privilege (evidence)

Privilege belongs to the client.  If Trump had stated that Cohen acted on his behalf, then he could use attorney-client privilege to shield Cohen.  Instead, he denied knowing anything about the payoff, so the claim of privilege evidence is gone.  It also appears that more liberal judges, tend to be give more weight to client’s rights in attorney-client privileges, than to the law enforcement’s needs.  The Andresen v. Maryland case upheld the legitimacy of the search warrant over the dissent of Brennan and Marshall.

Trump lashes out as Cohen raid fuses Russia probe and Stormy case

I’m really don’t think “fuses” is the right word.   Robert Mueller really separated his probe from Michael Cohen case, when he handed it off the the Southern District office.  It seems Trump wants to lump them together as one grand conspiracy.

Trump’s economic advisors

“It is a horrible deal, really horrible, but we’re going to fix that”

This is any particular quote from Trump but applicable to many accords – from NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to many bilateral accords, most recently his attack on he  South Korean Trade Agreement.   The same quote can be said of the Iran Nuclear deal and the Paris Accords on Climate Change Mitigation.   Everything is blamed on prior administrations, but most of the blame still goes to President Obama.

A minor case in point –  on January 12, 2018,  Trump cancelled a trip to the US embassy in London, citing Obama poor decision in moving the Embassy at a cost of 1.2 billion dollars.   It was decided upon by President Bush and not Obama.   Trump rarely lets facts get in his way.

Gary Cohen,  was the head of the National Economic Council,  and chief economic advisor to Trump.   He is generally accredited for Trump’s tax cut and jobs program, signed into law on December 22, 2017.   On March 6, 2018,  Gary Cohen resigned in March, just before the imposition of tariffs on aluminum and steel.  It was widely reported that he was against the tariffs.  Larry Kudlow has been appointed to this position.   Kudlow is a strong believer in  supply-side economics, which means that a cut in federal taxes, will stimulate the economy sufficiently to make up for the loss in tax revenue.  He been dead wrong a number of times, beginning with the opinion that tax increases would dampen the economy during the Clinton administration.  Just the reverse happened, and the economy boomed after this.

Kudlow was a strong advocate of George W. Bush’s substantial tax cuts, and argued that the tax cuts would lead to an economic boom of equal magnitude. After the implementation of the Bush tax cuts, Kudlow insisted year after year that the economy was in the middle of a “Bush boom”, and chastised other commentators for failing to realize it. Kudlow firmly denied that the United States would enter a recession in 2007, or that it was in the midst of a recession in early to mid-2008. In December 2007, he wrote: “The recession debate is over. It’s not gonna happen. Time to move on. At a bare minimum, we are looking at Goldilocks 2.0. (And that’s a minimum). The Bush boom is alive and well. It’s finishing up its sixth splendid year with many more years to come”. In a May 2008 column entitled “‘R’ is for ‘Right,'” Kudlow wrote: “President George W. Bush may turn out to be the top economic forecaster in the country”. By July 2008, Kudlow continued to deny that the economy was looking poor, insisting that “We are in a mental recession, not an actual recession.” Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, creating a full-blown international banking crisis.

Larry Kudlow is well educated, articulate and  very straight forward.  He has been a regular commentator on MSNBC.  His comments is generally appreciated, as he is well informed.  However,  he has been frequently wrong on the basic moves of the economy, I believe because of his philosophical perspective of less government intervention.   This has been chronicled in a book entitled Superforecasting (2015).   The book explains how experts in various fields, do no better than amateurs.

Two key advisers right now, are Peter Navarro, Director of the National Trade Council  and Wilbur Ross,  Secretary of the Commerce Department.   In many administrations, these organizations and individuals might not receive much attention, as they engage in behind the scenes negotiations on trade and commerce.   However,  as fears of a trade war with China,  intensify and concerns of the impact on our economy is debated,  these two individuals are increasingly in the media, particularly in the business news reporting.

Peter Navarro is a very controversial figure at present.  Wikipedia labels him as a heterodox economist, with opinions  outside of the mainstream economistss.   He is also considered a protectionist and isolationist by Wikipedia.   According to the Guardian:

Navarro was a key architect of Trump’s “America First” policy of economic nationalism and a tireless critic of China’s economic policies – one of his books is decorated with a map of America being stabbed in the heart with a knife marked Made in China. Although he has agitated for aggressively protectionist trade policy since joining the Trump campaign in 2016, the tariffs are his first key victory. During the campaign, Navarro, the only economics PhD in the Trump team, described his role as merely a facilitator. “The president – he’s the man who leads,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “He says, ‘I want to do this. How do we do it?’ The way I help is figuring out how you might do it.”

Protectionism, or economic nationalism?  Perhaps the choice of words doesn’t matter; it is the outcomes in the long run that are important.   I’ve included links on Peter Navarro at the end of this blog.

Finally,  a key adviser to Donald Trump is  Wilbur Ross.   His view on trade, as per Wikipedia:

On the subject of foreign trade, Ross has said: “I am not anti-trade. I am pro-trade, but I’m pro-sensible trade. [Being anti-trade] is a disadvantage of the American worker and the American manufacturing community.” Ross has also said that the government “should provide access to our markets to those countries who play fair, play by the rules and give everybody a fair chance to compete. Those who do not should not get away with it – they should be punished.” Initially in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Ross has said that after examining the agreement, he found it was “not consistent with what was advertised.”[34]

In 2004, The Economist described Ross’s views as protectionist. Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel has also voiced concerns during 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos over Ross and the Trump administration views as “not the proper answer”.  Ross, at the 2018 World Economic Forum, responded to concerns by noting that “There have always been trade wars. The difference now is U.S. troops are now coming to the ramparts.”

Wilbur Ross has appeared on a number of business news stations, including MSNBC, and I happen to like his straight forward answers to questions.  He always seems to be well prepared, informed and polite.   He chooses his words well.    However, he seems to underplay the affect of the proposed tariffs  might have on the stock market.

How the Trump trade wars will finally be resolved, is difficult to say.   Republican biased news stations say that in the end,   the hard position taken  by Trump will result in China yielding, particularly on intellectual property rights.  Other commentators see only an escalation of tariffs, as China would rather fight than be seen as having given in to the US.   Economic nationalism works on both continents, sometimes escalation is easier than compromise.  Certainly, the sell off in the stock market is based on the potential for a protracted battle.

As I publish this blog, the Dow is poised to drop around 500 points.

I have included a number of links on Cohen, Kudlow, Navarro and Ross.   All individuals  have extensive biographies available on the Internet.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Wikipedia:Wilbur Ross

Wikipedia:  Peter Navarro 

Peter Navarro, the economist shaping Trump’s economic thinking

Wikipedia:  Larry Kudlow

New York Times:  Larry Kudlow is the new favorite to replace Gary Cohen

Wikipedia:  Gary Cohen 

 

 

 

FIU Bridge Collapse – Additional Thoughts

I’ve gone through just about all the information on the bridge.   Construction began with a metal framework incorporating the span and canopy.   Then cement was poured first into the span and then the canopy.  The movement of the structure was done very carefully and it sure looks like everything was executed according to plan.   Once the structure was landed on the two supports (South support and Tower landing) and any temporary supports removed,  the full weight of the structure (950 tons)  would be evenly divided between these two posts.   It would be evenly divided if both posts were at the exact same elevation and vertical.   Now, let us suppose that the tower post  (the smaller of the two supports) moved ever so slightly either down or away from the bridge.  In either case, the forces on the tower post increases, and pushes away from the structure.    Under this scenario, the accident begins with the tower post moving slightly down or off vertical and then  is unable to support the north end of the bridge.  In rapid succession, the north end becomes disconnected from the tower and drops to the roadway, and the rest of the bridge is pulled down as a result.

The tower post seems to be located in a canal which runs along 8th Street.   The base of the tower, could be the weakest point in the design during this initial installation.   The rebar framework  within the post, really provides the strength and resilience of the post and it could have been  deformed  during the loading of the span.    There is no easy way to know if the tower post  could support 475 tons of weight (or more if it had moved), until it was in position.

The alternative scenario is that the bridge buckled in the middle, because the structure wasn’t built strong enough. As the center of the bridge came crashing down, it pulled free of the north tower  and then this section crashed to the roadway.  So, it is a question of which crashed first, the center or the north side.

Certainly, a lot of investigation will be on the stress testing, to be conducted on the day of the accident and if temporary supports were removed prematurely.   Also, the decision not to block off traffic during testing will be part of the investigation.

Please note, that I am not a bridge engineer,  nor have any training or education in this area.   So all of the above is pure speculation.   I do not plan to post  anything further until a final report is published.    The real bridge  experts are on the scene with full access to all the necessary information.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

FIU Bridge Disaster

It is a terrible tragedy.  It is very premature to know the reasons for the collapse.   The experts will be examining all the information and this will take time.  Let’s be patient.

The bridge sits in front of the FIU university, which prides itself of its Civil Engineering Department.  Had the bridge been successful, it would have been used to promote the school and the Department.

The bridge traverses 8th Avenue.  I’ve been to FIU numerous times, and considered enrolling there.  There is a light at 107 Ave and 8th St, but it is still hazardous to cross, due to the many lanes of traffic.  The pedestrian bridge was considered after an accident where a pedestrian was killed.

Discussions  from outsiders as to the cause, are pure speculation. Still, questions are appropriate at this point.  Cracks were observed at the north end of the span, where the span attaches to the tower.  From photos of the accident,  it appears  the span completely separated from the tower at this juncture.

The span that collapsed was 174 ft long and weighed 940 tons.  This is 10,000 pounds per foot.   This would be the same as 135 bags of concrete each weighing 80 lbs per ft.  It just seems incredibly heavy.

The span was installed with the canopy.  I am interested to know why as it would add weight to the span and could have been added later.  The tower was a critical element in the structure, as the cable stays would support the bridge in tension.

The bridge might have been designed properly but the sequence of installation made it unsafe.  This is likely to be examined closely. It would seem that the northern span could have been installed first, as this simply would traverse a small lake.

A meeting was held with FDOT officials and the construction firm, on the morning of the disaster.  I am certain this will be part of the review and little is gain from trying to piece together what was discussed.    To avoid the disaster,  8th Avenue would have had to be blocked from traffic, causing an incredible traffic jam.

In the time between now and the review by FDOT, there will be a lot of comparisons to other bridge disasters.   How much of this is really relevant, I can’t say.    This bridge had a number of unique features, including the Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) methods, which may make comparisons to more conventional designs difficult.

I won’t go into the legal consequences.  There are hundreds of news stories out there, with excellent information.  Avoiding Monday morning quarter-backing is hard.  I will be patient.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

FIU Bridge Disaster in Miami

It was an enormous tragedy.  My heart goes out to the victims.   The pedestrian bridge as designed had a tower in the center, and supports at either end.  I call the support to the left, the South support, and to the right the North support.  The span that collapsed was the long span, from the South  support to the tower.  The tower had only been completed to the level of the walkway.

I can only go by the pictures as to what has happened.  The picture is taken from a different perspective so north and south are reverse.  The span  appears to have come loose of the tower post.  Video seems to show this part of the span crashing to the ground.   The piece on top of the tower post is a supporting member for the canopy.  The bridge collapsed on nearly every lane of the eight lane highway.

 

I’ve made a little sketch of the accident without the canopy as follows:

bridge 2

The bridge could have begun to sag in the middle, where the stress would be the greatest, and then the span connected to the tower pulled loose.  Something had to give between the two posts as the bridge began to sag in the middle.  All this happened extremely fast as motorists had no time to get out of the way.

The investigation has not yet begun, and will undoubtedly involve the design, the planned installation and actual installation.  Certainly, the weight of the structure and the installation of the long span without a tower and stays, will be an issue.

I am certain there will be an investigation by bridge engineers, and they will provide a competent analysis of the disaster.  I can only go by what is in the pictures.

Stay tuned,

Dave