Regulations and Air Craft Safety

In an opinion piece today in the SF Chronicle Robert A Clifford, a Chicago litigator of air crash victims, inveighs against the FAA for not implementing recommendations of the NTSB to require air-speed warning devices on aircraft — the cause of the Asian crash in San Francisco, though the cause of that low speed is still not known.

Such devices would likely be useful.  Let’s get it done. However, what strikes me as odd is that his ire is directed at the federal bureau which, by requiring the devices, would surely raise howled objections from those who don’t like regulation, and invite lobbyists of the powerful airlines industry to descend from their perches and foul the floors of congress.

Why not address this call to the airline manufacturers themselves: the Boeing, Lockeed and Airbus designers?  Surely the installation of such devices, the technology for which exists, can not be a major problem, cannot cost very much money.

As is usual, this is why there is regulation — because those who can and should do the right thing will not and do not do it.

For shame.

 

Malala: “This is what my soul is telling me: Be peaceful and love everyone.”

“We realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns. The extremists are afraid of books and pens.”

Toshi Seeger Gone

What a great woman and companion Toshi Seeger was!  A good life lived.

Toshi Seeger, whose husband the folk singer Pete Seeger has credited for at least half his success — from helping to organize the first Newport Folk Festival to campaigning to clean the Hudson River — died on Tuesday at their home in Beacon, N.Y. She was 91.

…In 1961, he was cited for contempt of Congress and sentenced to a year in jail. “I accepted every booking that came in, figuring that most of them would be canceled,” Mrs. Seeger said, “but the appeals court acquitted him and nothing was canceled. It was a horrendously busy year.”

“Never again,” she said. “Next time let him go to jail.”

Her gentle chiding curbed any chance that Mr. Seeger’s ego would balloon. “I hate it when people romanticize him,” she said. “He’s like anybody good at his craft, like a good bulldozer operator.”

NY Times and Rolling Stone


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Climate Change Will Cause More Energy Breakdowns, U.S. Warns

The na­tion’s en­tire en­ergy sys­tem is vul­ner­a­ble to in­creas­ing­ly se­vere and cost­ly weath­er events driven by cli­mate change, ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the De­part­ment of En­ergy to be pub­lished on Thurs­day.

The black­outs and oth­er en­ergy dis­rup­tions of Hur­ri­cane Sandy were just a fore­taste, the re­port says. Ev­ery cor­ner of the coun­try’s en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture — oil wells, hy­dro­elec­tric dams, nu­clear pow­er plants — will be stressed in com­ing years by more in­tense storms, ris­ing seas, high­er tem­per­a­tures and more fre­quent droughts.

The ef­fects are al­ready be­ing felt…

 

NY Times

Time to Bing Google?

Like many of you I started using the Google search engine way back when.  The clean interface and quick results of a search were much better than the awful AOL and Microsoft searches.  I went on to use Gmail for my corporate and personal accounts.  I enjoy  the cloud accessibility of Google Docs.

Google

However!

Enough may be enough.  Not only is my gmail account regularly unavailable or slow, or the search engine pops up with messages that the security certificate has been compromised, but today I learn that Google is not only in bed with the infamous James Imhofe of Oklahoma but is drawing the bathwater too. For Shame!

 

In a shameful act of corporate hypocrisy, Google on Thursday will host a fundraising lunch for Sen. James Inhofe, the delusional or dishonest Oklahoma Republican who famously declared that global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”

It’d be unconscionable for any organization to lift a finger to help the antiscience lawmaker translate his medieval beliefs into public policy or spread more dangerous misinformation on the gravest challenge of this generation.

 But it’s especially galling and disappointing for a company whose self-proclaimed mission is improving the lot of humankind through the power of accurate information. Never mind a company that has publicly stressed the importance of clean energy and whose own chairman called out climate change deniers as fabulists.
[If the Chron stops you from reading this because you aren't a subscriber, find the discarded business section of today's (July 10, 2013) paper at your coffee shop  and look for the James Temple column. Or, go to the library, or e-mail me and I'll send you the whole article.  It's hot!]
So I am slowly trying Microsoft’s Bing search engine, as well as several others.  Mail may soon follow…perhaps a nice, stable, local provider?

The Voting Rights Act

In case the recent Supreme Court ruling eviscerating Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act left you shrugging your shoulders, it should not have.  Bad, very bad stuff.  For a good summary of the cauldron from which the most important civil rights legislation ever passed came from see Louis Menand’s New Yorker (July 8 & 15) article.

There were, in the end, three marches from Selma. Each was momentous. King was not present at the first, which took place on March 7, 1965—“Bloody Sunday.” Some six hundred marchers, led by John Lewis, of sncc, and Hosea Williams, of the S.C.L.C., set off from Brown Chapel and crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge (Pettus was a Confederate general, later a Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan), over the Alabama River. At the far end, they found arrayed before them more than a hundred and fifty armed men: state troopers, under Lingo’s command, and Sheriff Clark’s posse, some on horseback. Wallace had ordered Lingo to take “whatever steps necessary” to stop the march. The troopers wore gas masks and carried nightsticks; Clark’s men were armed with clubs, whips, and cattle prods. One carried a rubber hose wrapped in barbed wire. A number of white Alabamans had come out to watch the sport.

So had the press. It’s all on film. The marchers halt fifty feet from the line of troopers. They are told that they have two minutes to turn around and go back to their homes and churches, but, well before two minutes have passed, the troopers charge into the line, beating everyone in sight. They are followed by Clark’s men on horseback, then by the tear gas.

Forty tear-gas cannisters were fired that day. The marchers were chased for a mile back to Selma. Troopers fired tear gas into the Carver housing project; posse men rode their horses up the steps of Brown Chapel. That evening, forty-eight million television viewers watching “Judgment at Nuremberg” on ABC had the movie interrupted for a fifteen-minute film of the attack. There was no voice-over. The only sounds were the thuds of clubs, reports of tear-gas cannisters being fired, the rebel yells of Clark’s posse, and the constant, hysterical screams of the victims.

At least ninety marchers were wounded, and Lewis had a fractured skull, but the effect was achieved. The film left no room for hairsplitting about provocation. Unarmed men and women on a highway were set upon by uniformed men wearing gas masks and riding horses. The Pettus Bridge was a turning point in American race relations and American history.

The majority of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Roberts, argued that the times had changed, that the pre-clearance needed to change voting rules or requirements , as spelled out by Section 4, was based on old data, that the South (11 states) was New, and could not be singled out for long-ago perpetrations.

Immediately, Texas announced it would put into place changes in voting requirements which the pre-clearance had not allowed.

 

Rand Paul: Denying While Playing the Racial Supremacy Game

Updates below:

*

Rand Paul, standard bearer for a particular brand of American Libertarianism, either knew about his new media director’s past as the masked Southern Avenger for 13 years and decided it didn’t matter, or he didn’t know and hired a key aide without doing even a pro-forma background check.  I have to think the former since even a bonafide libertarian would care if say, a pedophile, joined his staff, and would therefore, have some sort of background check set up.

Southern Avenger

Perhaps Paul himself doesn’t think having Jack Hunter, a man who celebrates the birthday of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth,  on his staff is a problem — for himself.  Perhaps he sees it as the epitome of libertarian tolerance. But Rand Paul is a p-o-l-i-t-i-c-i-a-n.  His success in his chosen field depends not on his personal feelings alone, but on  thousands of voters.  Did it not occur to him that someone who ‘compared Lincoln to Saddam Hussein and suggested that the 16th president would have had a romantic relationship with Adolf Hitler if the two met,’ would be a force-field pushing not a few voting hands to another lever?

From 1999 to 2012, Hunter was a South Carolina radio shock jock known as the “Southern Avenger.” He has weighed in on issues such as racial pride and Hispanic immigration, and stated his support for the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

During public appearances, Hunter often wore a mask on which was printed a Confederate flag.

Prior to his radio career, while in his 20s, Hunter was a chairman in the League of the South, which “advocates the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States from this forced union and the formation of a Southern republic.”

Rand Paul’s statements against American warmongering are to be applauded, but as in certain Japanese universities we should all rumble the floor with the foot beats of disapproval when he hires a man who has led the way in mainstreaming ugly strains of the country’s racist past.

[And yes, people do change, as Hunter has claimed he has. If so how about some public self analysis?  How about a real look at what he did as the Southern Avenger and some conversation about what led him to change from those ideas?  How about letting himself be grilled, as other public penitents have done?  How many hours did he hold forth on the idea that 'A non-white majority America would simply cease to be America for reasons that are as numerous as they are obvious – whether we are supposed to mention them or not.”?  Can we have one-tenth of the time to decide if he has really changed?  ]

The Free Beacon, a conservative on-line source, broke the story about Hunter.   The Daily Caller, for which Hunter has written recently, with a muted pen, headlines that his old ideas are no longer with him.  Chris Hayes, of MSNBC, who featured the Paul-Hunter relationship on Tuesday‘s show, said that Paul himself, had three racist strikes against him and should be known as holding such views.

*

Updates:

Keeping It Real on ‘neo-Confederate Libertarians’

…the neo-Confederates, the Lew Rockwells and that whole crew are fundamentally about white supremacy and nativism. And the Paul clan has been thick as thieves with those folks forever.

Who knows what’s in their hearts and frankly who cares? But none of this latest stuff should surprise us. And I don’t know why real libertarians waste any time making any sort of common cause with these folks.

The Libertarian War over the Civil War

[The Libertarian magazine] Reason is firmly in the anti-neo-Confederate camp. In 2008 they reported on the racist newsletters put out under Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s name and criticized the presidential candidate for allying himself with that strain in libertarianism. In response, they received scores of angry letters accusing them of selling out the movement. The neo-Confederates are largely centered around libertarian author Lew Rockwell (who worked with Paul and is widely suspected to have written the offensive newsletters), his website LewRockwell.com and his think-tank the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Koch-ing the Climate

“…  a new report by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University reveals even more about how the Koch brothers have undermined climate action.

Since 2008, the Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity has been urging candidates and politicians to sign its “No Climate Tax Pledge.” In 2010, we noted that many Republican House and Senate candidates had signed it, and in 2011, that at least one GOP presidential candidate had.

But it turns out the pledge has been far more widespread and influential than most people realized…

 

Read all at GRIST and more at the The New Yorker, Jane Mayer….

FISA Enlarges, in Secret, the Range of NSA Secrets

Among the many troubling things about who is spying on whom, for what reasons, for how long, the most troubling of all is the clever structure of law and regulation that makes talking about it a secret.  It is turning out that the meta-data collection of US phone calls was not the operation of a rogue President or a basement ad-hoc group in the CIA or FBI but has been approved by all sorts of elected representatives.  Judicial over-sight has been built in — just what a democracy should expect.  The problem is, as the latest Eric Lichtblau piece reveals, that the FISA court,  [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] has operated under such layers of secrecy that no one has tracked what new terrain it is plowing, deciding on the basis of a secret line of  rulings to allow NSA spying  not just to skim off terrorism leads but in multiple other areas.

— In more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving theNational Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans while pursuing not only terrorism suspects, but also people possibly involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage and cyberattacks, officials say.

The rulings, some nearly 100 pages long, reveal that the court has taken on a much more expansive role by regularly assessing broad constitutional questions and establishing important judicial precedents, with almost no public scrutiny, according to current and former officials familiar with the court’s classified decisions.

The 11-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, was once mostly focused on approving case-by-case wiretapping orders. But since major changes in legislation and greater judicial oversight of intelligence operations were instituted six years ago, it has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court, serving as the ultimate arbiter on surveillance issues and delivering opinions that will most likely shape intelligence practices for years to come, the officials said.

NY Times: Lichtblau

Let the conversation begin.  It may well be that nuclear proliferation should be watched for, or the potential for cyberattacks, but allowing 11 persons, even respected judges with long records of impeccable judgement, to make such decisions and then to hide that such decisions are being made, make it impossible for Senators to talk about it,  is a recipe for unintended catastrophe.

As far as I’ve read no one has been dragneted into a police holding cell because meta-data collection shows conversations with prostitutes, gun dealers, cigarette smugglers, or anything at all.  The concern is not that some individuals have been illegally fished, but that the water is rising and, inevitably, once it IS possible to fish in such pools of data, someone WILL.

And another article, complementing Lichtblau’s at the Wall Street Journal. 

Police Need Warrant in Montana to Track Your Cell Phone Location

From several sources, including www.allgov.com

California had its chance, but now Montana has become the first state in the U.S. to require that police obtain a search warrant before using a person’s cellphone records to track their whereabouts.

 The new law mandates that law enforcement have probable cause before asking a judge for a warrant that permits the examination of metadata collected by telecommunications companies.