Hurricanes + Forest Fires + Global Warming

 

 

Global warming does not cause hurricanes and forest fires. Yet, it is a significant contributing factor to the extreme weather events like drought, floods, forest fires and hurricanes.  The photo on the left, is hurricane Laura and the one on the right is a forest fire in Siberia.  I could have made it more local, with a photo of fires in  California.

I have to say, my heart went out to the families having to evacuate from their homes in Louisiana.  Officials were right to require evacuation. I saw some really wonderful police officers and others helping people on buses.  More people die after a hurricane than during this one.

Fires have destroyed 1.4 million acres (2188 square miles)  in Northern California and the fires are still not under control.

 

Republican Convention Day 2

Watched it on several channels.  Liked it best on MSNBC when Raquel Maddow would cut in when she could, to correct blatantly false statements.   So what were the worse moments of Day 2 in the Opinion piece in the New York Times:

Mimi Swartz Tough choice, with the recently subpoenaed Eric Trump’s breathlessly praising his tough, incorruptible dad and the former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s smearing Biden family members. Runner-up: Mike Pompeo plays politics for Trump on a taxpayer-funded trip to Israel.

** Yes, that Pam Bondi who would not prosecute Trump University.

Héctor Tobar Trump’s signing a pardon and staging a naturalization ceremony, with grateful people of color. These prime-time acts of White House theater were a cynical attempt to erase years of race-baiting and anti-immigrant rhetoric. We haven’t forgotten, Mr. President: You’re still the same man who questioned Barack Obama’s citizenship, praised white supremacists and caged thousands of immigrant children.

** Immigrants are not props.

First Lady Melania Trump generally got the highest praise, as she offered her sympathy to the families who lost loved ones in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Stay tuned,

Dave

New York Times

 

Upcoming Election

An incumbent president, usually runs on his achievements during the prior  three plus years.  But, much of what Donald Trump has claimed to have accomplished is not true.  From environmental issues, energy,  the economy and immigration, Trump has claimed credit for accomplishments during the Obama administration.  Trump also falsely portrayed much of his own administration’s efforts as successes, when in fact they were not.

The 20,000 lies that Trump has told over the last 3 1/2 years are quite incredible.  His version of a stupendous economic recovery in 2018-2019 is total nonsense.   The economy was not in collapse at the end of Obama’s term.  It definitely had crashed during George Bush’s last year, losing 800,000 jobs a month and it was President Obama had turned it around, adding about 200,000 jobs a month.  In fact, when Trump cites statistics on how well his administration has done, he typically goes back in time, to the date of his election (November 8, 2016) and not his inauguration date in 2017  just to steal some credit from President Obama.

In the upcoming blogs,  I intend to examine more closely the “three E’s”  – the environment, energy and the economy, plus I intend to  address immigration policy and the “build the wall” craze (it should be called enhance the “see-through fence” initiative).   Trump could brag all he wanted as a real estate developer.  Now he is getting caught every single day, in multiple lies.

Immigration policy is a real pile of crazy sh*t,  Sorry, I just didn’t know how to express this any better.  For months Trump kept bragging how great his policies were,  because apprehensions at the southern border were going down, 40%,  then 61% and finally 78%.   So, immigrants were not trying to sneak into our country, because they were afraid of being caught.  Of course, apprehensions started to rise,  and Trump again bragged that his policies were a tremendous success because they were going up.   Down is great, up is great, who cares, it’s all in the presentation?    In January 2020, the President celebrates great numbers on immigration again, this time apprehensions again were going down.   So, down, up and down again, all with dubious statistics, and all causes to celebrate the tremendous success.

I believe it is necessary to dispel the barrage of  false claims in order to establish the truth.   There is an enormous distribution system of false information.  Energy, environment and the economy issues are all intertwined.    The  “fake news” is often slick presentations, with selected facts helped along by industry lobbyist  groups.  Just one small example –  I saw on a cable news program, a clip showing barges filled with coal going down the Mississippi river,  and the newscaster was talking about how US coal exports had doubled since 2016, which is true.  Yet, in about 2 minutes, I could verify that US coal production had continued it’s steady decline during the Trump administration.  This rise in exports was simply that more coal was being sent overseas,  because the demand was dropping in the US.    Major coal companies filed for bankruptcy in 2019 and 2020, including Cloud Peak Energy and  Murray Coal.

So, I am preparing my first blog on the environment and more will follow.  I am always receptive to comments from my visitors, contrary to my opinions.  As usual, I will support my statements with links from the internet.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Covid-19 infection mechanisms

Scientists are exchanging information around the globe.  I’ve heard anecdotal accounts of how patients  have seemed to be improving, and then suddenly have a turn for the worse.  The link below has a pretty good explanation for this.   The immune  system, according to the article below, designed to defend the body against invaders, can kick into overdrive and act  in a harmful manner (cytokine storm).  Children with a less developed immune system might not have this immune reaction hence they have more mild symptoms.  Thank God!

I think I’ll stop here, as it is better explained in the article below.

Stay tuned and safe,

Dave

Link:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-16/your-risk-of-getting-sick-from-covid-19-may-lie-in-your-genes?sref=MKhnhvyR

The Pullout of the World Health Organization is a Terrible Decision

Covid-19 is frightening and the human toll of Covid-19 already  is staggering: 134,000 people around the world succumb to the disease.  They died alone generally unable to breath. How high the death toll goes is uncertain.   Almost every country in the world lost lives to this virus.

What could be worse?  Every medical professional standing next to Trump knows the answer.  The CDC knows the answer.    Tuberculosis,   AIDS and malaria, really in that order.   Tuberculosis accounts for 1.2 to 1.4 million deaths in 2018.  It is present in urban areas of developing countries.   The 2018 estimate of HIV related deaths is 770,000.  For Malaria, in 2018, it is 405,000 deaths.  Malaria is deadly to children under 5 years old, as 262,000 children died of malaria (67% of the total).  In Africa, they say that average life expectancy is meaningless  as the big trick in life is getting past age 5.  Incredibly sad.

So, infectious diseases are ravaging the lives of the youngest and oldest in our society.  If one survives to age 5, the next challenge will be getting past 60.  Particularly bad in parts of the world where health services are just not available.

The World Health Organization allies with other countries to fight against infectious diseases, and public health issues regardless of politics.  It recognizes that the African countries, like Nigeria, where malaria is rampant, already was in a health crisis before the arrival of Covid-19.      World Health Organization is uniting efforts to find cures and vaccines for these infectious diseases.

And the World Health Organization is making progress, particularly against tuberculosis which is generally curable and preventable.  There are new challenges with drug resistant strains.

The current preventative measures, such as social distancing, closing schools and businesses and blocking international travel are only temporary measures.   And trying to isolate the US from the rest of the world is impossible without extreme economic consequences.

We absolutely need foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organizations working with health organizations in making our planet healthier.  We need cures and vaccines developed  through scientific cooperation.  Trump’s defunding WHO,  I hope, will  last only until November 2020, when we have a new president.   The  WHO isn’t perfect, but he is using it as a  distraction and scapegoat to the US problems with mess created when the CDC test kit debacle.  See NYT article.

We are “stronger together” and we need to restore our real leadership in the world.  It is time to increase global awareness- not isolate ourselves from the rest of the world.

Covid-19 is not a US problem.  It is a global problem.

A healthier planet = a healthier US.

Stay tuned and stay safe,

Dave

Links:

New York Times Opinion

Wikipedia: Tuberculosis 

World Health Organization

WHO:  Malaria

 

 

 

End of Covid-19

The disease won’t be gone until it is eradicated everywhere.  I could say this 100 times, and to some, it really won’t sink in.

Zero new cases in New York, Madrid, Moscow, New Delhi and Baghdad. It means the day the persons with symptoms are immediately tested, and isolated. If a vaccine is developed, it has to be applied globally.    That’s why we have the World Health Organization,  Doctors without Borders and many more international organizations.   The IMF, G-7 or G-20 will also be critical on how to transition from lockdown to more relaxed rules.

I’m so tired of hearing that it is the fault of China and/or the WHO, that we have it here.   After flights from China were canceled, flights were continuing from the real hot spots, namely Italy and Spain.  US travelers in Europe and China were, whenever possible, cutting short their trips to get away from the virus hotspots and were obvious disease vectors.   There will be plenty of time later for everyone to determine what we could or should have done to prevent the spread of Covid-19.  But it’s in 151 countries now, and it is a worldwide crisis.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Covid-19 Drive Thru testing in South Florida

The link below provides basic information on drive through testing in Miami, Broward and the Keys.

Drive Thru Testing in Miami

C.B. Smith Park site was closed after enormous lines.  A hotline for scheduling appointments has been activated.

CB Smith Park testing site closed for the day after long lines

It is  truly heart wrenching to know so many are in need of tests, and the delays in getting results can be a week or more.   There are faster ways to process the swabs,  but it takes time to get the equipment.

Start up home swabbing companies have stopped sending kits.   There are concerns of false negatives from home swabbing.

Things look bad.

Dave

Who are Schumer’s four witnesses?

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has referred to the Senate hearings as a sham trial, as McConnell in the initial rules, rejected calling witnesses or issuing subpoenas for documents.  Yet, after the Bolton’s unpublished manuscript was leaked to the New York Times, the pressure to call him was definitely on.

There are two names I think everyone recognizes:  Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the White House’s Chief of Staff and John Bolton, former National Security Adviser.  Then there are two lesser known officials :  Robert Blair and Michael Duffey, both working for Mulvaney in different capacities.     I think if Schumer has his way, he would start with Blair and Duffey.  It would put pressure on Mick Mulvaney to tell the truth.   Just working up the food chain, of course.

Robert Blair: An assistant to the President, appointed by Mick Mulvaney as Trump’s Chief of Staff 

Blair, who was associate director for national security programs in the Office of Management and Budget, followed Mulvaney in January to the White House when Mulvaney became acting chief of staff. Mulvaney made Blair an assistant to the President. Blair serves as Mulvaney’s senior adviser for national security issues.  Blair’s hiring allowed Mulvaney to have a hand in national security issues without having to go through former White House national security adviser John Bolton. After Bolton was fired, one administration official said that Blair could be a favorite to replace Bolton because of his support from Mulvaney.

Blair was one of just a small group of officials on the line during Trump’s controversial phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Mulvaney was not.  During the July 25 call, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden — despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe Biden or his son, Hunter, in Ukraine. The phone call was part of a whistleblower’s complaint that alleged Trump sought “to solicit interference” from Ukraine in the upcoming 2020 election, and that the White House took steps to cover it up. Trump has denied doing anything improper.

Before joining the Trump administration, Blair worked for the past 14 years as a staffer for several committees in the House of Representatives. His last position was staff director on the House Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations. He previously worked as a regional adviser for Africa at the US State Department of State from 2001-2003.  According to his LinkedIn profile, he received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and two master’s degrees from Tufts University. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa during the mid-1990s.

Michael Duffey, OMB, associated director of national security programs  

Michael Duffey, a politically appointed Office of Management and Budget official, was given authority by the White House to keep aid to Ukraine on hold after career budget staff members questioned the legality of delaying the funds.  Duffey previously served as executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin.  “While career civil servants put an initial hold on the aid, Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs in OMB, was given the authority for continuing to keep the aid on hold after the career staff began raising their concerns to political officials at OMB, according to people familiar with the matter,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Duffey also began overseeing the process for approving and releasing funds for other foreign aid and defense accounts, according to the report.  Trump’s order to withhold nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine in July is at the heart of House Democrats’ move to launch an impeachment inquiry into allegations that Trump used U.S. foreign policy powers to benefit himself politically.  Duffey, 41, left Wisconsin’s Republican Party in December 2016 when he was named to then-President-elect Donald Trump’s national security team at the Pentagon. He joined the administration when another prominent Wisconsin politician, Reince Priebus, was Trump’s chief of staff. Priebus held that post until July 2017.

What makes Michael Duffey’s testimony so important, is an email he wrote about 90 minutes  following   Trump’s  phone  call  to  Zelensky,   notifying  the  Department of  Defense,  that  a hold had  been  put  on  the  Ukraine military  aid,  and  given  the  sensitive  nature  of  this  hold,  this  information  limited to those with a need to know.  It further confirms the testimony of Sondland and others,  that it was a “dollars for dirt” deal.

This memo was released in December 2010 as part of a FIOA requestl

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

What Trump wanted

Sondland testified:

“He [Zelenskiy]  had to announce the investigations. He didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it.”

That’s really huge admission.

Dr. Pamela Karlan, the Stanford law professor testifying today, got it so perfectly right, what Sondland’s statement implied.  It was a smear campaign, not for the FBI or the Department of Justice, but for commentators on Fox news and Trump campaign rallies.   Those dealing in alt-right sleaze conspiracies were all primed and ready to go.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

CNN (Nov 21, 2019) The huge Gordon Sondland revelation almost everyone missed

Kudos to Chris Cillizza of CNN.

 

Trump-Ukraine Scandal: Public Opinion

C-Span has a program called Washington Journal, which allows callers to give their opinions.  They must identify themselves as being either Democrats,  Republicans or Independents and it seems they try to get a good blend of callers from these three groups.   In this case, the moderator was completely neutral.

On the issue of the impeachment inquiry, a caller described it as a totally “made up” story.  And she had her facts.  Adam Schiff had talked to the whistle blower before the whistle blower had submitted a complaint.  Also,  Schiff denied he or anyone on his staff had contact with the whistle blower.  So, this proved to the caller that everyone was lying and what was going on was just a lot of dishonest people out to get the President.   The conspiracy idea was that Adam Schiff told the whistle blower what to report, so he could get the president impeached.   He then rounded up a few dozen traitors in the State Department and told them what to say.   He must have manufactured other evidence like text messages and emails.   The news media was either complicit or just went along with this giant  hoax.

One piece of this conspiracy  immediately begins to fall apart.  Adam Schiff did not have any contact with the whistle blower – but apparently someone on his staff did, but not at a detailed level of the issues.  The whistle blower was asking what the proper way to file a complaint under the whistle blower protection laws.   What this staff person told the whistle blower is you need to get an attorney and go through proper channels.  No short cuts permitted to the House Intelligence Committee.

The evidence is really mounting against President Trump of trying to get dirt on Biden in exchange for approved military aid.   I  think this is a crime of  extortion and an abuse of presidential power.   The first day of public hearings will be on Wednesday, November 13.   The current chargée d’affaires,  to Ukraine, Bill Taylor and the Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of State, George Kent, will testify.  I believe Counsel for the Democrats and Republicans  will do the questioning for 45 minutes each.   There won’t be any surprises.   I can say this because both individuals have testified extensively in closed sessions and the transcripts have been released on the House Intelligence Committee website.   So this hearing is not likely to add to the House inquiry.   It is more to legitimize the inquiry to the public.

Trump said today (Nov 8)  that there should be no open impeachment inquiry.  Pretty amazing as  Trump and other Republicans were highly critical of the closed sessions.

I hope the C-Span caller will tune in along with many Americans who have doubted the process.  This is not a witch hunt, hoax or fake news.  It is real and extremely serious.    I have included the biographies of both Bill Taylor and George Kent below.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Wikipedia:  William Taylor

Wikipedia:  George Kent

 

 

 

Ukraine and Trump

When corrupt officials are praised as good,  then those just doing their jobs are bad because they see what is happening.  They know too much.    So bad becomes good, and good becomes bad.   Trump lauds praise on Ukraine’s former chief prosecutor as follows:

     TRUMP: “Good [responding to Zelenskiy’s comment that investigations will be done openly], because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair.  A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved.”

The chief prosecutor Trump is referring to, is likely Yuriy Lutsenko, who did not leave office until August 2019.  He was clearly not a “very good man” and is very likely the unnamed co-conspirator in the federal indictment against recently arrested Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.   He has been charged with embezzlement and abuse of office.  Incredibly he did not have a law degree.  The Chief Prosecutor position  in Ukraine is a very powerful position, as the conviction rate is approximately 99%.

The former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, as shown on the left, has 33 years of experience and served under six presidents.  Her qualifications for Ambassador are excellent.  See the Wikipedia summary of her experience.

In March 2019, she was asked to extend her term through 2020.  But then in May, she was ousted.  She was called “bad news” by Trump  and the newly elected President, Zelenskiy surprisingly agreed with him, stating on the July 25, 2019 phone call, “she admired the previous President and she was on his side.”   I found Zelenskiy’s comments incredible, but I have a feeling that Giuliani and friends had told him what would please Trump.

It’s also possible that this rough transcript left out a lot, because she was gone before he became president.   From her testimony, she seemed very positive about the new president.   I have included her opening remarks to the House Intelligence Committee, currently conducting an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump.   She was asked by the State Department to refuse to testify.  Marie Yovanovitch was ousted because of unfounded accusations  from Rudy Giuliani and others, that she was disloyal.    Please read her opening remarks.

The current impeachment inquiry will go deeper on Giuliani’s partners who had put making profits far ahead of political gains.   When you are working with corrupt officials,  what they will say or agree to, is just a matter of price.  See “Trump allies pressed Ukraine over gas firm in links.”

We are at the tip of the iceberg, as far as I can tell.   The Global Energy Partners (GEP)  with Lev Parnas,  Igor Fruman and Harry Sargeant III  as partners sought lucrative LNG export contracts from Ukraine, but met opposition from CEO  of Naftogaz,  Andriy Kobolyev.  So, through pressure from the US, they wanted to oust Kobolyev,  and replace him with a friend of Giuliani’s  Andrew Favorov.  Now there is nothing wrong with trying to increase US LNG exports. but definitely wrong when you meddle in the internal affairs of Ukraine, just to get better contract terms.  So,  for a country trying to reduce corruption, the Trump administration was going the opposite direction.

There is a whole lot more to come out.   For those who really want to get the full story – it’s all out there, from Poroshenko, Viktor Shokin (prior corrupt chief prosecutor),  and Representative Pete Cotton (Republican from Texas, who wanted Yovanovitch gone in a hurry).   Certainly,  there are some big GOP donors out there, who did not want an honest and very intelligent ambassador in their way.  From the AP news story:

“As Rudy Giuliani was pushing Ukrainian officials last spring to investigate one of Donald Trump’s main political rivals, a group of individuals with ties to the president and his personal lawyer were also active in the former Soviet republic.

Their aims were profit, not politics. This circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted connections to Giuliani and Trump while trying to install new management at the top of Ukraine’s massive state gas company. Their plan was to then steer lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies, according to two people with knowledge of their plans.

Their plan hit a snag after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko lost his reelection bid to Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whose conversation with Trump about former Vice President Joe Biden is now at the center of the House impeachment inquiry of Trump.

But the effort to install a friendlier management team at the helm of the gas company, Naftogaz, would soon be taken up with Ukraine’s new president by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose slate of candidates included a fellow Texan who is one of Perry’s past political donors.”

It really sounds like something a hostile country might do – not one with principles and values.   I believe Mike Pompeo and Rick Perry are doing Trump;s dirty work, or at least turning a blind eye.    This is really an evolving story.

it is important to remember that Trump repeatedly praised Manafort as a “good man”  whose dealing in Ukraine made him rich.  Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort and  National Defense Advisor,  Michael Flynn both ended in prison.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

The President of Ukraine has been referred to as Zelenskyy and Zelensky, however I found recent articles prefer Zelenskiy.    Also Ukraine is often refer to as “the Ukraine.”

CNN: Giuliani’s case rests on two Ukrainians with checkered pasts and suspect motives

Wikipedia:  Yuriy Lutsenko

AP: Trump allies pressed Ukraine over gas firm

Wikipedia: Marie Yovanovitch 

Trump-Ukraine-transcript

Yovanovitch Opening Remarks at House Intelligence Committee (closed door hearing)

Ukraine Envoy Says She Was Told Trump Wanted Her Out Over Lack of Trust

Lutsenko is unnamed Ukrainian who led plot to oust Yovanovitch, says official

Donald Trump ad misleads about Joe Biden, Ukraine and the prosecutor

Two business associates of Trump’s personal attorney Giuliani have been arrested on campaign finance charges

Impeachment inquiry

Just want to make a few points.  First, the impeachment inquiry is valid.  Trump’s actions really put it over the top.   Legal experts  agree that Congress does not have to pass a resolution in front of the full house, before proceeding with an inquiry.

The inquiry will examine the evidence of wrong doing by Trump.  It will be highly contentious.  No way to get around that.

Finally, I like Representative Adam Schiff.  He’s the right man to lead the inquiry.   He is intelligent, patient and does not engage in name calling like some people we know.

I suggested previously that this will end in the Senate with a vote of not guilty on all articles, with the voting split along party line.  For this reason, I wish the whole impeachment process can be concluded rapidly  and we can resume looking at who would be the best next president.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

 

 

 

 

 

Libya, and the Trump Administration

It is now called the “Western Offensive (2019) or “Flood of Dignity Operation”  by General Haftar.  The UN reports states:

Libya: Heavy shelling and civilian deaths ‘blatant violation’ of international law – UN envoy

I know this is not headline news.  I could be commenting on the Mueller report or the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire.

The target is the Mitiga airport, in Tripoli, Libya, which is the only functioning international airport in Libya.  Haftar doesn’t care about the UN resolution with an arms embargo to Libya.  From the UN report:

The use of indiscriminate, explosive weapons in civilian areas constitutes a war crime,” Mr. Salame, who also heads the UN Support Mission (UNSMIL), said in a statement. He extended “with great sadness”, his “deepest condolences” to the victim’s families and wished the injured a speedy recovery. His statement pointed out that as of yesterday, there have been 54 confirmed civilian casualties, including 14 dead and 40 wounded, four of whom were health workers.“Liability for such actions lies not only with the individuals who committed the indiscriminate attacks, but also potentially with those who ordered them”, stressed the Special Representative.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Russia are backing General Haftar.  There is no question these are authoritarian regimes.   Haftar buys the support of local militias with money from the UAE and Saudi’s.  There will be continual civil war, if he comes to power.

France is a bit more complicated.  See Politico link:

France ostensibly supports the U.N.-mediated peace process, led by former Lebanese Culture Minister Ghassan Salamé, a veteran Paris-based political scientist. It has never officially acknowledged providing weaponry, training, intelligence and special forces assistance to Haftar. The death of three undercover French soldiers in a helicopter accident in Libya in 2016 provided a rare recognition of its secret presence in operations against Islamist fighters at the time.

Since the fall of Gaddafi,  the US has strongly supported efforts by the UN to bring together all sides in an unified government. By all accounts, the US is now, more than ever, is backing autocratic government.  It is an enormous step backwards.  Trump embraces autocrats much more than democratically elected leaders.   Haftar promises stability in Libya and control of radical Islamists.  This is the same thing as  Qaddafi.  Only problem is most the stability comes by suppressing their own people.

I think the Financial Times really got it right (see link below).

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Politico, France’s double game in Libya

Trump finds a new strongman in Libya

https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/12/1029031