Ignorance is bliss

“So long as I know it not, it hurteth mee not.”

I like the original proverb, by G. Pettie in 1576 than today’s  version, “What I don’t know can’t hurt me.”   Unfortunately, what we don’t know, does hurt us.   From our ignorance we just don’t know the best way to respond to problems.

The Environmental Protection Agency cancelled the participation of three of their scientists in the Narragansett  Bay Estuary Program’s workshop.  One scientist was prohibited from giving a keynote address at the workshop.  The other two scientists removed from the program were to speak about “The Present and Future Biological Implications of Climate Change.”

See Links:

The EPA Stopped Three Agency Scientists From Talking About Climate Change at a Conference

Even Fox Business News reported the story:

EPA cancels appearance by scientists at climate change conference

An  estuary is   where fresh outflows come in contact with the salt water from bays or oceans. They are particular sensitive ecosystems.  Fresh water inflows may contain contaminants harmful to the more saline water in the estuary and depend on plants and other material  to act as to keep the ecosystem in balance.   See link:

https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/kits/estuaries/estuaries03_ecosystem.html

EPA Director Scott Pruitt clearly put politics ahead of science.  Climate change is harmful to estuaries.  See link below:

NOAA report highlights climate change threats to nation’s estuaries

Fortunately,  NOAA is under the US Department of Commerce, out of the reach of Pruitt.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

Advertisements

Mon Dieu, ce n’est pas vrai!

Translation, My God, it isn’t true.  How on earth can a Rodin scupture be hiding in plain sight for decades in the corner of a municipal building in NJ?

A Rodin sculpture of Napoleon has been discovered in a Madison, NJ. Auguste Rodin died in 1917 and was in his time, a very controversial artist.

It was reported by the New York Times, in a wonderful story, which has posted it on the internet.

A Rodin Hiding in Plain Sight in a New Jersey Suburb

William Rockerfeller, Jr is mentioned in the article.  He is John D. Rockerfeller’s brother and co-founder of Standard Oil.

Stay tuned,

Dave

He said/she said …

If the real thing don’t do the trick
You better make up something quick
You gonna burn, burn, burn, burn, burn to the wick
Oooo, Barracuda, oh yeah

Lyrics from Barracuda by Heart

He said, she said and then the video said.   And the video showed the truth as plain as day.

I am talking about the recent spat between Representative Frederica Wilson and White House chief of staff,  General John R. Kelly.    The statement by Kelly was that Wilson bragged how she secured $20 million for a South Florida FBI building in 2015 through twisting Obama’s arm.   It would have been another dumb and distracting feud, except the speech had been video taped by the Sentinel Sun.  What Representative Wilson had done was just the opposite – she acknowledged the help of Senator Marco Rubio,  Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo, all Republicans, and she never took credit for the funding of the building. In fact, she wasn’t even elected to Congress when funding for the building occurred.

The building was named after two slain FBI agents. Wilson did take credit for approval of the name of the building just days before the dedication.

Pretty mean spirited stuff from the White House.   Lesson to General Kelly- don’t escalate a feud, if it means crossing over between what is an opinion to what is a lie.  For this one, I don’t need any research, it’s all on the video.  See link:

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fl-reg-wilson-kelly-tape-of-speech-20171020-story.html

It may be pretty small, but it looks like the White House is lining up on the side of the lie instead of the truth.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

Most recent lies and half-truths

Summary of President Trump,  Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Nikki Haley more important  lies and half truths in the past  4 weeks.

Trump mislabels Obamacare subsidy as gift to insurers

 Mostly False by Politifact.com.   

This piece of Obamacare was designed to protect lower-income families from hefty out-of-pocket costs. The policies they bought on the Obamacare exchanges came with deductibles and co-pays, but instead of paying those themselves, the insurance companies do.Who gets the money? The doctors, hospitals and labs that provide the services.  At the end of the day, the federal payment covers the insurer for footing the bill…  Every health care economist we reached said if the companies don’t gain any cash from the transaction, then there is no gift, no bailout or whatever term one might use. The one grain of truth is that anything that makes insurance more affordable increases sales, even if by a small amount.

“We’re the highest developed nation taxed in the world.”  Donald Trump

False by Politifact.com

Looking at tax collections relative to the size of the U.S. economy and the number of people, the numbers tell a different story. The United States ranks 28th in tax revenues as a percentage of GDP and 13th on a per-capita basis. Trump said his view is “exactly correct.” In fact, it is exactly incorrect. We rate this claim False.

“And I think that his [Trump’s]  engagement with Congress is something that never happened under President Obama. They were never allowed to debate it. They were never allowed to discuss it. So, now Congress is going to be fully engaged on the threats of Iran.” Nikki Haley,  US Ambassador to the UN.

Mostly False by Politifact.com

Haley wrongly says Congress had no input on Iran nuclear deal… Senators considered a separate, and ultimately unsuccessful, measure that would have given them the the power to block the agreement through a resolution of disapproval. A procedural vote on the resolution fell short of the 60 votes needed to override a Democratic filibuster. Despite the resolution’s failure, by passing the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, Congress was able to have some authority and say in the final agreement. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who spearheaded the bill, has touted the legislation for taking “power back from the president” and forcing the executive office to be transparent.

“I think if you look to Chicago, where you had over 4,000 victims of gun-related crimes last year, they have the strictest gun laws in the country. That certainly hasn’t helped there.” White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Pants on Fire by Politifact.com. There was a brief time between 2008 and 2010 — the window during which Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban had been invalidated but Chicago’s still stood — where that might have been true. But federal court rulings effectively undid city and state laws severely restricting gun use and ownership in the Chicago. When it comes to the concealed carry of weapons, Chicago has less authority to impose limitations than do many other large U.S. cities.

(Personal note-  this is recycled  Trump BS used in the 2016 election.  It was untrue then, as it is now.)

  “Ending the estate tax would “protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer.” Donald Trump

Pants on Fire by Politifact.com.  For 2017, the Tax Policy Center estimated, based on past tax data and modeling, that 11,310 individuals will have estates big enough to file an estate tax return. “After allowing for deductions and credits, 5,460 estates will owe tax,” the center concluded. “Over two-thirds of these taxable estates will come from the top 10 percent of income earners and close to one-fourth will come from the top 1 percent alone.”

Trump Misleads on High U.S. Drug Costs,  Factcheck.org

Prescription drug experts say it is broadly accurate that branded prescription drug prices are higher in the U.S. than other countries, though they say Trump is stretching, or cherry-picking, when he says prices are “double, triple, quadruple” what people pay in other countries.

Trump says this means, “as usual, the world is taking advantage of the United States.” But experts say the U.S. is responsible for the high cost of drug prices, not other countries.
“It is more the drug companies that are taking advantage of the U.S.” Glen T. Schumock, director of the Center for Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomic Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told us via email. “We allow the drug companies to do this by not regulating drug prices. Other counties are just doing what makes sense, and what we should do.

Fact-checking President Trump’s speech on the Iran deal,  Washington Post Fact Checker, October 14, 2017

The outright lies and half truths are pretty astonishing.  See link:

Fact-checking President Trump’s speech on the Iran deal

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Coal Industry

Regulations are killing the coal industry.  They are destroying jobs.  They destroy who communities and a way of life.  Obama declared war on the coal industry. I dig coal.

This is of course not my opinion.  It’s the opinion of  Trump and EPA director, Scott Pruitt.   I think the recent Frontline show, War on EPA, provides the viewpoints of both Trump supporters and opponents.  You can see the entire program online:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/war-on-the-epa/

About 50 minutes into the program, there is this wonderful quote from Betsy Sutherland, who  was the Director of the Office of Science and Technology until Sept 2017,  about working with Scott Pruitt, “He just doesn’t ask any questions.”  Bob Murray, COE of Murray Coal was quite candid about his influence on the Trump administration: “I gave Mr. Trump what I call an action plan very early on.  It’s about 3 1/2 pages long.  He’s wiped out [completed] page one.

As very briefly mentioned in the program, it is not just about carbon emission, but a long range of regulations on harmful pollutants that Scott Pruitt is rolling back.  These regulation range from the reporting of methane emissions from the natural gas industry to the banning of harmful pesticides.  Another words, what industry wants is exactly what industry gets.  You can’t be sued for methane emissions if nobody knows how much was released.

And one would think that the fossil fuel industry would be soaring on the news that the Clean Power Act is about to be repealed by the EPA.  This is hardly the case.  I can’t say how Murray Coal is reacting to Trump’s agenda because it is a private company.  However, the stock price of the  world’s largest coal company with a market cap of around 3 billion dollars, Peabody Energy (BTU), continued it’s downward decline, with a stock price of around $28/shr, far below its Nov 2012 price of $377/shr.The coal industry has been in a long term decline.  What is killing the coal industry is automation in the mines, and low cost natural gas, not regulation.  The lack of enthusiasm from the stock market on coal stocks pretty well proves this point.

The benefits of the Clean Power Plan Act were far reaching, and included economic, climate and health benefits.  When Scott Pruitt was asked about the relationship between the recent series of hurricane and warming waters due to climate change, he said this was not the appropriate time to consider this subject.  I consider it highly appropriate time to recognize climate change is a factor in the intensity of hurricanes.

Related Links:

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

Fareed Zakarian, columnist for the Washington Post, really got it right!

China is winning the Future

Stay tuned,

Dave

Hurricanes and Global Warming

I try to avoid certain topics which the media has covered in excruciating detail such as the current series of  hurricanes.   The Russian probe and chaos in the White House would also be included in this group.

However,  I wanted to add a bit more on the topic of  the recent series of hurricanes and global warming which deserves repeating.  There is a connection as there is ocean warming as well as average air temperature warming.   It was an early conclusion of scientists that global warming would result in more extreme weather events.   Certainly, the images of the immense hurricane Irma followed by Jose in the Atlantic ocean and Katia in the Gulf of Mexico would suggest that something way out of the ordinary is going on.

Saying that global warming caused Hurricane Harvey or Irma is way too simplistic.  The severity of a hurricane depends on where it lands.   If Harvey had dumped tons of water in the Gulf of Mexico instead of Houston or Irma had taken just a slightly less turn to the north and missed Florida,  nobody would have cared.  Warm Caribbean waters are an essential element for the formation of catastrophic hurricanes, and is a trend associated with global warming.  Perhaps scientists are a bit reluctant to make  more definitive statements on this relationship because there are so many other impacts of global warming such as increasing sea levels which are directly linked to global warming.

See link:

Hurricanes and Global Warming

The denial of global warming by the White House is truly a sad situation.  My heart goes out for the residents in the Caribbean islands.   I suggest everyone consider making a donation to charity organizations helping them to rebuild.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Immigration Removals

I know this is a hot issue.  This blog is narrowly focused on historical and recent removal statistics.  Here’s my conclusion – Trump in 2017 will likely deport the same or slightly fewer immigrants than Obama did in his last year.   I know this seems contrary to the general impression that Trump is far more aggressive against illegal immigrants  than Obama.  I will explain why.

President Obama record of deportations is shown below based on the ICE website.  There is an upward trend in deportations, peaking at 409,000 in 2012, then declining to 235,000 by 2015.  I’ve rounded the numbers for convenience.    The deportations in fiscal year (FY) 2016 are basically the same as 2015, at 240,000 removals,  or an average  20,000 deportations per month.

immigration trends

The blue bars are the non-criminal removals.   The priority shifted during Obama’s administration to target removals of illegal immigrants with a criminal convictions, as the blue bars become smaller percentages of the entire bar over time.

The decline in removals from 2012 to 2016 is likely attributable to a reduction of immigrants coming through from Mexico.   Security barriers including extension of the security fence and electronic surveillance likely discouraged immigrants or at least made the crossings much more expensive.   There is a network of “coyotes” operating in many countries, such as Brazil, Guatemala and Nicaragua which organize illegal entries into the US, and my extremely limited polling indicates the cost is rising, costing as much as $10,000.   News of increased border enforcement  can  discourage illegal entry.    Therefore, it should  not be interpreted that a decline in removals means that enforcement is lacking.

The Obama administration, through Executive Orders,  aggressively targeted illegal immigrants with criminal records, as shown by the graph below:

ice removals

 

The blue line is for “interior removals” (away from the border or near border towns) and is represents the Obama’s efforts to target immigrants with criminal conviction records.   I don’t have a breakdown of these offenses,  but they likely include fairly minor offenses.

ICE attributes the increase in removals in 2016 due to: (1) increase state and local cooperation through the priority enforcement program (PEP) and (2) increased border security.    They state that 99.3% of the illegal aliens by ICE in 2016 met the enforcement priorities.     The statistics for 2016 are provided below:

2016 Statistics
Number %
At border removals 174923 72.8
Interior removals 65332 27.2
Total 240255
At border convicted of a crime 78351 44.8
At border, not convicted of a crime 96572 55.2
total 174923
Int. removals convicted of crime 60318 92.3
Int. removals not convicted of a crime 5014 7.7
Total 65332
All removals convicted of crime 138669 57.7
All removals not convisted of crime 101586 42.3
Total 240255
At border, non-criminals 96572 95.1
Int. removals, non-criminals 5014 4.9
Total 101586
Suspect of confirmed gang members 2057 0.9
Not suspected or confirmed gang members 238198 99.1
Total 240255

Probably, if Trump’s policies are working as he claims,  the interior removals of immigrants convicted of crimes would rise above 60,318 in 2017.    The best estimate I have at present is 202,000 removals for 2017, which will be about 14% below 2016.   This would not be any fault of enforcement, but rather a decline in border crossings.  Separating fact from fiction will be challenging.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Qatar’s Cows

cows.pngI swear I’m not making this up!  The idea of cows in Qatar would normally be preposterous given Qatar’s six months of brutally hot and dry summer.  Camels and sheep, ok, but cows- that’s impossible!

But the cows are coming to Qatar, so the  Qataris can drink really fresh milk. Baladna Farms in Qatar has built special cow sheds with temperature control.

baladna farm

In June 2017, an economic blockade of  Qatar was initiated by  Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and UAE)  and agricultural products.   I have discussed this in prior blogs. Qatar really has only a small agricultural industry, well until recently!

In many ways, Qatar is pushing back, with increased trade with other countries including Iran, Turkey and Morocco. Plus,  they are now in the dairy industry, as shown in the video below.

It has to cost a lot to  maintain air conditioned structures in the middle of the desert with the summer day time temperature well over 100 degrees.  Airlifting cows has got to cost a fortune.  The news media stated the first two deliveries were 230 cows using Boeing 777 Cargo planes.   The goal in to have 4,000 cows in Qatar by mid-September.

It is certain that Qatar has turned this economic blockage into an economic windfall for Qatar’s company, Power International Holdings.  Having enormous gas resources to generate cheap electricity for the air conditioned sheds really helps.

Saudi Arabia new Crown Prince thought he could push around Qatar through economic measures.   Qatar is not only rejecting the 13 demands of Saudi Arabia, but pushing back big time, by restoring full diplomatic relations with Iran.

Links:

https://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/07/08/2017/Baladna-Farm-plans-to-meet-Qatar-s-dairy-needs-by-April-2018

There’s many other news stories found by searching Google for “Qatar Cows”

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Sheriff Joe and the violation of constitutional rights of Hispanic residents

Sheriff  Joe Arpiao put himself above the law once too many times.    The liberties secured by “We, the People” do not exclude the Hispanic community of Maricopa County.   The courts concluded racial profiling was a violation of the Constitution and ordered Sheriff Joe to stop.  He refused  and was found in criminal contempt of the court orders.    The court based its decision of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution which reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Today, Presidential Trump pardoned Sheriff Arpaio.   I would like to say more, but the New York Times in today’s opinion section got it so right in the link below.

New York Times Opinion

Or you can do a Google search on “Just say no to Sheriff Joe, Mr. Trump”  NYT

Also see, The rap sheet against Sheriff Arpiao

He treated Hispanics terribly  and it was good he lost re-election.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Debt Ceiling Approval Issue: Unbelievable

I wrote on August 9, 2017 that the debt ceiling approval was not headline news, but in two weeks it would be.  Boy did I nail it!

Congress must act fast to increase the debt ceiling limit.   After September 29, 2017, the US will start to default on its debt obligations if they fail to act.  Congress goes back in session on September 5, 2017  after Labor Day.   Secretary Treasurer Mnuchin  has call the debt ceiling limit “ridiculous”  and I agree with him 100%.

Unfortunately,  commentators in the media constantly confuse the issues of budget approval (non-approval results in a shutdown of non-essential gov’t services)  and debt ceiling approval (non-approval lowers credit rating of the US with long term harm to our economy).  They fail to mention that the ceiling does not restrict spending, only the government’s authority to pay its bills for approved expenditures.  Perhaps it should be called,  “Pay your bills on time approval” to get popular support.

Trump’s recent tweets were down right scary,  chastising McConnell for not slipping into the recently passed Veteran Affairs budget  bill, the debt ceiling approval.   The VA bill was controversial because it allowed veterans to seek medical care outside of the VA hospitals (Choice Program).  The problem with any free health system is it gets abused.  It has been documented that non-veterans were also getting free medical care.    But, the Choice options to the VA medical system were put in the budget bill, so it would get approval.   So, the VA bill was already dirty in a way and it was the reason why the bill didn’t pass until VA funds were nearly gone.

Adding to this bill an approval for the debt ceiling was a horrible precedent, as it says either you approve the VA Choice program or the country will be in sovereign default.  I call that super ridiculous-  but it is exactly what Trump tweeted.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin calls for a clean debt ceiling increase,  just as the former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew did before him.    Clean means clean.  It means that Trump’s administration request  for increased funding for the border wall, or anything else, including infrastructure spending must be passed on the merits of requests, and not a political deal.

There are just 12 working days between Sep 5 and 29, 2017.   The exact same arguments used by President Obama, in pleading with Republicans in Congress to pass a clean approval,  are being made by the Secretary of the Treasury.   But this time,  he is pleading with his own party and most likely will need the Democrats to get the job done.

There are Republican groups pushing for a dirty bill and to tie the ceiling approval to spending cuts or other things on the Trump neoconservative  agenda.   This is the same horrible idea that Obama had to deal with.   I particularly like the idea analogy of a President Trump putting a gun to his head, and declaring “You pass this bill with border security and debt ceiling in it, or I’ll pull the trigger.”

If President Trump really wants to go on the attack,  he can propose elimination of the debt ceiling altogether.    I certainly would support this.

Stay tuned,.

Dave