Sunday, July 23, 2017

Opuscula

Taurus warranty
Not worth paper
Used to print it

Repeated appeals ignored by Customer Support


I OWN A TAURUS M605 5-shot “snubbie.” It’s strictly a self-defense weapon, accurate to about 15 feet.

The 605 fires both .38 and .357 magnum cartridges. (NB). I bought mine second hand — now I know why.

Made in Brasil for Miami FL-based Taurus USA, the M605 has a less than 2-inch barrel and has a five-chamber cylinder. As a self-defense weapon, it should be a good choice, especially when loaded with .357 magnum rounds.

My first born, a police detective, took me to his favorite range when I visited him on Florida’s west coast. I shot about 30 rounds of .38 LRN (range) ammunition. Then, because I wanted him to experience a fast round, I loaded in 5 rounds of Liberty Civil Defense .357 magnum, 50 grain Copper, Monolithic, Hollow-Point. (Liberty’s words.) I fired four shots and he fired the fifth.

When I tried to extract the fired Liberty cartridge cases they wouldn’t budge. We tried to push them out with the snubbie’s extractor rod; no luck.

We waited about 5 minutes. The cases cooled and, apparently, “shrunk” back to their original diameter. We managed to extract the cases.

I complained to Taurus USA in Miami on

    June 17
    June 25
    and July 4.

I tried contacting Taurus USA Customer Support via snail mail (June 17) and via the company web site (June 25 and July 4).

Same result each time: No response. Not by snail mail, not by email.

On July 9th I took my son-in-law to a local range. I fired 20 rounds of .38 LRN and 30 rounds of .357 magnum 158 grain JSP. When I tried to fire the 31st round of .357 magnum the gun’s cylinder locked and the gun would not fire.

A gun that will not fire, or one from which fired cartridge cases cannot be extracted, is useless.

While I never intend to be in a gun fight and need to fire round after round, I would like to be able to shoot as much as I want at the range. (My shooting beyond 15 feet needs much improvement, and the only way to get that improvement is to spend time on the range.)

On July 10th I contacted Taurus USA Customer Support once again via snail mail, with a response deadline of July 21st — plenty of time for my letter to travel the few miles to Miami, be read, an answer composed, and the reply returned via snail mail. (Customer Support also has my email.)

    This is posted at 11 p.m. on July 22; still no ressponse from Taurus.

I discovered that Taurus USA has a bad — and getting worse — reputation when it comes to Customer Support.

The complaints range from no response to customer communications to unconscionably long delays in repairing and returning a Taurus firearm. There are, to be fair, a few people satisfied with Taurus USA’s Customer Support.

There is a lot to be said for Taurus USA products; sadly, there is too much to be said about Taurus USA’s absolute lack of customer support.

Would I buy another Taurus product? Not a chance. The product may be good, but without support, it is not worth my money.

Recapping contact attempts

DateContact MethodResponse
July 17Snail mailNone
June 25Web siteNone
July 4Web siteNone
July 9Snail mailNone



If the links fail to work, see http://tinyurl.com/y82lye4d to learn how to find/access them. It's a Google problem.

NB: “Bullets” are the small bit of material at the end of a cartridge. See the illustration (and article) at http://tinyurl.com/y9svrbyk. I learned this when I ordered bullets on line. I should have known better; I’ve been shooting guns since I was 6 years old. “Pistols” generally are one of the following: revolver, semi-automatic/automatic, and Derringer. Semi-autos and many rifles and some shotguns have magazines which feed cartridges to the weapon’s chamber. Clips feed cartridges to magazines.

LRN=Lead Round Nose bullet type
JSP=Jacketed Soft Point
JHP=Jacketed Hollow Point


 

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

Comments on Taurus warranty

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Opuscula

Simple plan
To replace
“Obamacare”

FIXING “OBAMACARE” (the Affordable Care Act Congress passed without reading) should be bi-partisan and include the people who USE the program, but not insurance companies, medical professionals, hospitals and clinics, and “ethical” pharmaceuticals. (I’ll explain shortly.)

First of all, scrap everything that has transpired since President Trump took office,

While Obamacare was passed for a Democratic president when the Democrats controlled Congress, look at the push back by the people forced to use the program.

ASK THE USERS

It probably seems a novel idea to many in Congress, but ASK THE USERS what they like and what they don’t like about Obamacare. Use the franking privilege, use the internet, and send the office staffs to hold town meetings.

Send out a letter to every adult in the Congressional district with a two-column questionnaire:

What's good about ACAWhat's bad about ACA

Explain that “ACA” is “Obamacare” but do nothing to influence the thinking of the person filling out the questionnaire. “We want your opinion. Please take time to answer the questions and mail the questionnaire back, postage paid, when complete. Thank you.

    Having been in the “quiz” business I know that how a question is worded can pre-determine what the answer almost always will be. Are you still beating your spouse?

Take the same two-column questionnaire to the town hall meetings. Have an amanuensis record what the people at the meeting say, preferably in large letters on a white board or chalk board. (The ideal is to use a “smart” board that can capture the input to a computer or copy machine.)

    Just to give the constituents a “warm and fuzzy” feeling that their voices were heard, ask the local media to disseminate the results of the meeting. A notation that “n” comments were for ABA and “n” comments were against will not suffice; the recorded comments must be listed. Beside the “warm, fuzzy,” it will help keep the congressperson honest when a vote comes to the floor.

State by State

After a reasonable opinion-gathering period — say two months — have each state’s senators and representatives meet to compare notes and create a new, albeit similar table.

What's good about ACA%What's bad about ACA%

Look at the negative comments — for example requiring everyone to pay for pregnancy coverage; is it fair to the add additional cost to an octogenarian man’s coverage? It might be — the octogenarian also pays school taxes and he’s long past his school days.

Now the senators and representatives will know what their constituents consider the good and the bad about the ACA.

How does it compare to the “Romney plan?”

According to Wikipedia: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed a health care reform law in 2006 with the aim of providing health insurance to nearly all of its residents. The law mandated that nearly every resident of Massachusetts obtain a minimum level of insurance coverage, provided free health care insurance for residents earning less than 150% of the federal poverty level (FPL) and mandated employers with more than 10 "full-time" employees to provide healthcare insurance.

The senators and representatives from the other 49 states should send delegates to a meeting of Massachusetts senators and representatives to find out what they discovered from their constituents about the Massachusetts plan — a/k/a the Romneycare Plan — before the Massachusetts’ plan was massaged to conform to Obamacare.

Now, compare notes

Now that the politicians have input from the majority of their constituents, let them put all the acquired comments into a single and simple document — perhaps using a format such as the second table in this effort — so all politicians from all states can review the input. An outsider -- perhaps the Government Printing Office (GPO) could assemble the data since it has no direct interest in the plan's contents.

With the voters’ input in front of them, they should be able to reach an agreement on what the voters want. I suspect it will not be “clear cut,” and compromises will be necessary, but in the end, all parties and independents should be satisfied that they have met most constituent expectations.

This no longer is a “conservative” vs. “liberal” politician combat. It is the result of taking the matter to the citizens.

Disseminate the results of the joint senate and house exercise.

Bring in the lobbyists

Until this point, no one has asked the lobbyists from the healthcare, insurance, and “ethical” pharmaceuticals. (“Ethical” pharmaceuticals are prescription drugs vs. OTC (over-the-counter) medications. The word “ethical” may or may not apply to all such pharmaceutical companies; its use is solely to differentiate one from the other.)

Over the years I have found lobbyists — vendor representatives — to be a wealth of information, especially when they are competitors. That may not be the case with Washington (and state capital) lobbyists, but their insight should be sought. There is no rule that states their advice must be followed.

Build a plan

Even with all the inter-party meeting, disagreement is inevitable, but — hopefully, and assuming all parties are open-minded — compromises in line with constituents’ expectations can be reached. Extremists from all sides need to be banished from these compromise sessions; there is too much far left and far right in Congress now and the pendulum needs to swing in a small arc near the center.

Once a plan has been formulated, make it available to “the world.” Put it online so that the general public can read the entire plan, not just what a biased (liberal or conservative) media wants the public to know. Politicians in Congress should be prepared to send simplified — albeit honest — “Reader’s Digest” versions of the bi-partisan bill to their constituents … with reference to the complete bill’s location and availability.

One of the primary complaints with the Obama bill was the way it was presented to Congress: “Here is a 2,000-plus page bill; read it overnight and vote tomorrow” (or words to that effect). President Trump, to his credit, is demanding transparency. Unfortunately, it is abundantly transparent that there is zero bi-partisan cooperation on developing a replacement program.

If there are parts of the plan constituents might find objectionable — again, let’s use pregnancy coverage for an octogenarian male — the plan should offer a reasonable explanation that the octogenarian can understand, if not appreciate.

    When American was “young,” we used to take care of one another. Communities pulled together to raise barns, to care for the sick, and to provide loans for newcomers to get on their (financial) feet. We seem to have lost the feeling of “community” somewhere along the way that may account for the octogenarian male objecting to paying for pregnancy coverage. Then again, perhaps not.

Bottom line

If the liberal and conservative extremists will honor the will of the majority — once again, the “silent” majority” — rather than encouraging their followers to riot and commit mayhem against their own neighbors, then America can have affordable health care for all individuals.

Even the former president acknowledges that his plan can be improved upon. (Why he failed to improve upon the plan while he was in office is beyond my ken.)

President Trump promised to replace the ACA with a better plan; the ACA cannot be cancelled sans a replacement plan; that was the president’s promise.

Getting a replacement plan is the problem, and the problem is caused by political division and a total disregard of the citizens who will be blessed — or cursed — with the plan.

If Congress — and the president — really want Americans to support the plan, Congress (and its employees) and the president must be insured by the plan. Anything less and Americans will know the new plan is a farce as was the old plan.

Replacing ACA should have been simple

If the GOP had gone about the task differently, and had the Democrats been willing to work with the GOP, and had all Congresspeople had their constituents in mind, a replacement plan could already be on its way to implementation.

Congress must start with their citizen constituents. It failed us by ignoring us.

It’s time to start over.



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PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

 

Comments on Replacing Obamacare

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Opuscula

Inside info:
Ignore it?

OTHER THAN “INSIDER trading” there is nothing illegal about acquiring information about your competitor, be the competitor business or politics.

So what’s the big deal about Trump Junior agreeing to meet with someone who might provide new information about Hillary Clinton?

Certainly there was plenty of anti-Clinton information already out there:

    Her illegal email server on which there were, according to the FBI, many “sensitive” emails

    Her handling of Benghazi where a well-planned “spontaneous” attack on the consulate ended with the death of four Americans — simply because she was too slow to act.


THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE between “Russia” — Putin, his followers, or simply Wiki leaks copycats — offering competitive information about a political candidate and the “Russians” trying to tamper with American voting machines — s situation, according to the FBI, that did NOT happen.

Looking g at Clinton — an Obama follower — and Trump — a known hardnosed negotiator — WHY would the Russians want Trump to be president?

Compared to Trump, Clinton is an indecisive pussy cat just like her former boss. SHE never said she wanted to make America great again. Not on her agenda.

Trump, on the other hand, made it clear that he would not let other nations dictate to America; his promise was to “Make America Great Again.”

Industrial espionage is legal as long as there are no B&Es. Paying an insider for information about a developing product is not nice, but neither is it illegal.

In any event, real spies will admit that most of their intelligence gathering is from the media and public records and, not surprisingly, the internet. Not exciting “007” stuff, but the facts of spy life.

OK. Trump Junior owned up to meeting with Russian agents who claimed to have more “dirt” on Hillary — not that there wasn’t enough already (ibid.). He would be remiss if he rejected the Russian overture. (There apparently is zero evidence any Trump associate initiated a contact.) True, there had been talks with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. — hardly illegal. Perhaps the Trump people were apprising the ambassador of what to expect in the event The Donald won the election. I’m certain his “Make America Great Again” promise was not well received in the Kremlin.

Of course the United States NEVER would interfere in another county’s politics.

If anyone believes that, there is a bridge in New York for sale; give me a call.

The last time America tried — and failed — to influence an election was when Trump’s predecessor sent U.S. taxpayer dollars to Israel in an attempt to defeat the incumbent prime minister with whom he had an obvious dislike. (The prime minister didn’t like the president, either.) It was money ill-spent; the incumbent PM won handily.

Under Trump’s predecessor, the U.S. was caught bugging the phones of leaders of allied nations. Not the phones of suspected Islamic extremists, but heads of state.

President Trump calls the media attacks a “witch hunt,” and indeed they are. Although Salem MA murdered a number of “witches,” there really were no witches then, so “witch hunt” has to be an empty exercise. No witches then and nothing in Trump’s contacts with the Russians that is illegal.

I once had a brief correspondence with an Iranian. Does that make me an “enemy of the state”? The subject was risk management, not then and not now a controlled subject. I also once was invited to speak on risk management in an African nation not an especial friend of the U.S. I did not accept, but even if I had, no violation of any U.S. laws.

It is a pity that today’s “journalists” don’t know history beyond yesterday’s headlines (never mind the copy beneath the heads) and are too lazy to consult — or, hard to believe — look up Constitutional law before attacking the president.

 



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PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

Comments on Inside Info

Friday, July 14, 2017

Opuscula

Why don’t Dems
Attack Trump
For Clinton’s crimes

I HAVE TO WONDER ABOUT Democrat mentality.

When Trump took office he did two things:

    One, he told the fibbies to lay off Hillary and her illegal email servers

    Two, he fired Obama appointee flip-flopping fibbie director James Comey

Actually, there was one other “first days” action that riled the Democrats: Trump fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Bharara, thumbing his nose at long-established protocol, refused to submit his resignation when the new president took office as all presidential appointees who serve at the president’s pleasure are expected to do. (This rolls downhill all the way to the municipal level. Usually the resignations are refused, but the formality remains.)

Now, whatever Trump – or his supporters – do is a grievous sin to be headlined in the media. Good grief, if Ivanka Trump stands in the same way the former first lady stood, that’s worthy of media contempt.

I’m not a “Trump can do no wrong” person; he can, and has, and assuredly will do things to which I take exception.

    His knee-jerk reaction tweets (that seem to be more thoughtful lately)

    His push to replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act without input from (a) Democrats who might have some good ideas – assuming they can actually think without attacking, and (b) the people who use the Affordable Care Act: patients and practitioners. I suppose he also must kowtow to the courts that seem to be making America’s laws.

The PROBLEM with replacing the Affordable Care Act is that Americans quickly became accustomed to the benefits. Once a benefit program is in place, it is very hard to cancel or modify.

Social Security, which the former president raped along with Medicare, was supposed to be “phased out” and replaced with – what?

We did not always have Social Security, the Railroad Retirement, of even the Federal employees’ retirement plan, (FERS) and when it was instituted – when Eleanor Roosevelt was first lady – it was not intended as a retirement fund. It became a retirement fund – for which I am grateful – but that was not its intent. Still, akin to Medicare, every working American paid into Social Security, sometimes willingly, sometimes not. How much depended on how much the covered American made; how much a covered American receives in his or her dotage depends on what they paid in. (There was a period when employers rewarded their loyal employees with pensions, but most pensions are gone now.)

There also was a time when employers funded the majority of the employees’ health and medical insurance – that was a time when insurance was more reasonably priced. Insurance is a business, lest we forget, and the cost of getting sick has risen greatly – faster than inflation.

I am not writing that “all Democrats are dummies and all Republicans are brilliant.” That is absurd. There ARE Democrats who should be tossed out on their ears and there are Republicans who should end up with them.

Trump and the GOP in congress should write off the “media” and focus on the jobs at hand – and that means working with the Democrats who use their brains. A better-than-Obamacare plan is possible, but it must be crafted with input from the Democrats and the end users – both patients and practitioners. A good start would be to force all those in government — elected and appointed — to depend on Obamacare and its replacement; THEN improvements would be made in short order.

While they are at it, those in Congress should vote to convert their Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) to Social Security.

Back to Hillary and her illegal server

When, shortly after Mrs. Clinton conceded the election, Trump said he would, as president, order the Justice Department not to pursue allegations that Mrs. Clinton violated a number of Federal laws when, as Secretary of State, she sent and received emails – some at least “sensitive” and bearing on national security – via her personal and private server, and there was no farther discussion of her role in the deaths of four Americans at the Benghazi consulate in Libya during a well-planned “spontaneous” uprising. Nor did Trump ask the fibbies to investigate the defeated candidate over her incendiary post-election comments that urged her followers to hit the streets; some of her fans making their point by destroying their own neighborhoods in Hillary’s name.

Interestingly, no Democrats objected to Trump’s decisions regarding Mrs. Clinton and there were no riots in the streets.

The media made little mention of Mrs. Clinton’s illegal and improper behavior, and quickly moved onto “Dump Trump” news as soon as the pressure on Mrs. Clinton was removed.

Almost everything the president or his associates – or even his family – do is scrutinized by the media in an effort to find fault. When there is no fault to be found, the media invents it – hence “fake news.”

TO BE FAIR, lately some “journalists” have been caught writing news they want to be heard/read, regardless of its veracity. A few have been fired. More interesting, some cartoonists – editorial and otherwise – are, it seems, trying to be more balanced; to admit maybe Trump has his moments. (I have no problems with editorials and cartoons that attack issues regardless of the party behind the issue.)

President Trump and his associates are fair game for criticism, but the media should treat all politicians – regardless of party – equally. So far, the media has been strictly in “Attack the President” mode.

Mrs. Clinton lost the election. Although Obama assured Americans that he could win, like FDR, a third and maybe a fourth term in the White House, the country was spared that threat.

The U.S. suffered through eight years of Obama; it can suffer through 4 to 8 years of Trump. Perhaps by then, the pendulum swinging from far left to far right will have settled someplace near the middle and we can elect people who will listen to the opposition and make – or unmake – laws that benefit all Americans, laws that won’t automatically be struck down by the courts.

Or perhaps that’s just wishful thinking.



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PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

 

Comments: Comments on Attacking Trump.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Opuscula

Time to stop
Being PC
With N. Korea

North Korea — likes its mid-east twin Iran — is testing missiles designed to strike anywhere in the world.

As with Nero and his fiddle, President Trump tweets while North Korea test fires what it claims are ICBMs — missiles capable, in theory at least, of reaching any U.S. city.

‘Course other “world leaders” are doing even less.

The U.S. has a recovering military, including a less than full strength Navy, that could, if it was “politically correct” put an end to North Korea’s missile testing without putting any Americans in harm’s way.

How?

When North Korea test fires a missile, shoot it down.

The U.S. spends “big bucks” firing missiles so that anti-missile defenses can use it to test their accuracy.

If the U.S. wanted to play a diplomatic game with the Supreme Leader, it could fire a target missile paralleling the path of North Korea’s ICBM and, in a test of the U.S.’ anti-missile defense, miss the target missile and accidently down the North Korean ICBM.

Israel might do the same thing as Iran tests its missiles — except it probably already is doing that in Syria.

Who is to say that the U.S. deliberately targeted North Korea’s missile? The UN? Who believes or has any confidence in the UN? The UN is as effective as the League of Nations before it.

Would North Korea risk a real war with the U.S.? Even with China’s support it is doubtful that its apparently crazy Supreme Leader would endanger himself; he might be willing to sacrifice his people, but not himself. Therein lies the problem of war with North Korea and Iran — not all North Koreans and Iranians willingly support their political — and in Iran’s case, religious — masters. Still, “collateral damage” is the price of war. Ask anyone who survived the London blitz or the Dresden fire bombings … or Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

South Korea would have to beef up its defenses against North Korean aggression, but it has enough (U.S. supplied) military power to defend itself, assuming the new South Koreans army will fight. (Its reputation during the UN’s “Korean police action” was less than sterling.)

Meanwhile, Admiral Harry Harris, CO of the U.S. Pacific operations said that “Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday’s launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy THAAD to South Korea,” The system is meant to intercept and destroy short and medium-range ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight which suggests that the THAAD would be useless against a North Korean ICBM test. (Source: http://tinyurl.com/y8nwxvzf)

However, there ARE Navy surface and submarine resources that could bring a North Korean missile test to a quick end.

Assuming, of course, that President Trump can stop tweeting long enough to order the action.



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PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

Comments: Comments on Korean Missiles

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Opuscula

Good for goose
But not gander?

Of power change pots and kettles

Did Russia attempt to sway American voters in the 2016 presidential election?

Very likely.

Why Putin would support Trump — who despite doing business in Russia is an American Firster — rather than Clinton, never known for being tough on anything is beyond my ken.

Trump’s predecessor in the White House claims this is so, and he now admits he and his staff knew about the Russian attempted interference long before the November election … he just didn’t DO anything, or reveal anything, to the American public.

For all that, Americans should not feel used and abused by Putin & Company; the U.S. government is an old hand at manipulating elections in other countries … as well as invading countries and kidnapping leaders it deems unsuitable for the job.


Vocativ.com — http://tinyurl.com/zwyvdsc

The graphic above lists 41 countries — actually 44 if no-longer-extant countries are counted — in which the U.S. government has been caught interfering in foreign elections.

There are many reasons why a foreign government would want to interfere in U.S. elections; there are an equal number of reasons — valid or perceived necessary — why the U.S. government interferes in foreign elections.

While this may shock some “innocent” Americans, they also should know that the U.S. spies on its friends and foes alike; likewise it has plans to invade both friends and foes. It is not only foreign leaders phones that are tapped — legally or otherwise — the government evesdrops on calls made by/to U.S. citizens. — legally or othersies. It’s the way of governments of all types.

A sampling of America’s interference

Beneath the rule are article titles and URLs that describe some of America’s involvement in the affairs of other countries.

Invasions

What defines an “invasion?” Politifact provides a definition of “invasion”:

  • It violated the U.N. Charter, which says in Article 2, Paragraph 4 that member countries shall refrain "from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state."
  • • It didn’t qualify as a permitted exception for the use of force under the U.N. Charter. The charter permits military action in the case of "self-defense if an armed attack occurs" or if the U.N. Security Council authorizes armed force.

  • It involves ground troops entering another country.

A Facebook meme says, "22 Countries Invaded by the U.S. in 20 Years. Russia Does It and Everyone Loses Their Mind." In face, Politifact continues, here were 23 nations invaded over not 20 but 30 years. (The Facebook entry doesn’t go back to the U.S.’ invasion of Mexico in 1846 (Mexican-American War).

After bashing President Trump, Owen Jones, writing for the UK’s Guardian, notes that while Americans feel justifiably angry at alleged interference with their political process, they have also been handed a mirror, and the reflection should disturb them.

For the US is a world leader in the field of intervening in the internal affairs of other countries. The alleged interference is far more extensive than hacking into emails belonging to unfavoured political parties. According to research by political scientist Dov Levin, the US and the USSR/Russia together intervened no less than 117 times in foreign elections between 1946 and 2000, or “one out of every nine competitive, national-level executive elections”.

Noam Chomsky, another Trump basher who, according to Wikipedia is " is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist, " told an interviewer Much of the world must be astonished -- if they are not collapsing in laughter -- while watching the performances in high places and in media concerning Russian efforts to influence an American election, a familiar US government specialty as far back as we choose to trace the practice. There is, however, merit in the claim that this case is different in character: By US standards, the Russian efforts are so meager as to barely elicit notice.

The history of US foreign policy, especially after World War II, is pretty much defined by the subversion and overthrow of foreign regimes, including parliamentary regimes, and the resort to violence to destroy popular organizations that might offer the majority of the population an opportunity to enter the political arena.

Chomsky then goes on to detail some of America's meddling in foreign affairs.

The LA Times headlines "The U.S. is no stranger to interfering in the elections of other countries" and reports that The U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries – it’s done so as many as 81 times between 1946 and 2000, according to a database amassed by political scientist Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University.

That number doesn’t include military coups and regime change efforts following the election of candidates the U.S. didn’t like, notably those in Iran, Guatemala and Chile. Nor does it include general assistance with the electoral process, such as election monitoring.

Levin defines intervention as “a costly act which is designed to determine the election results [in favor of] one of the two sides.” These acts, carried out in secret two-thirds of the time, include funding the election campaigns of specific parties, disseminating misinformation or propaganda, training locals of only one side in various campaigning or get-out-the-vote techniques, helping one side design their campaign materials, making public pronouncements or threats in favor of or against a candidate, and providing or withdrawing foreign aid.

According to the Foreign Policy site, The era of CIA-supported coups dawned in dramatic fashion: An American general flies to Iran and meets with “old friends”; days later, the Shah orders Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh to step down. When the Iranian military hesitates, millions of dollars are funneled into Tehran to buy off Mossadegh’s supporters and finance street protests. The military, recognizing that the balance of power has shifted, seizes the prime minister, who will live the rest of his life under house arrest. It was, as one CIA history puts it, “an American operation from beginning to end,” and one of many U.S.-backed coups to take place around the world during the second half of the 20th century.

Several national leaders, both dictators and democratically elected figures, were caught in the middle of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War — a position that ultimately cost them their office (and, for some, their life) as the CIA tried to install “their man” as head of state. The U.S. government has since publicly acknowledged some of these covert actions; in fact, the CIA’s role in the 1953 coup was just declassified this week. In other cases, the CIA’s involvement is still only suspected.

According to Wikipedia, the U.S.’ first attempt to intervene on foreign shores was to put down pirate attacks eminating from the Barbary coast. There were two “Barbary Wars,” the first from 1801 to 1805,and the second from 1815 to 1817.

The U.S. largely stayed out of European squabbles due to the Monroe Doctrine that said, in general, that the Europeans would leave the Americas alone and the U.S. would keep its troops at home. The Barbary wars were the exception ssince the pirates preyed on U.S. flagged ships, much as the pirates along Africa’s coasts do today.

Foreign Policy’s site includes a headline reading “Mapped: The 7 Governments the U.S. Has Overthrown" In the associated article, Foreign Policy lists

    Iran, 1953 Guatemala, 1954 Congo, 1960 Dominican Republic, 1961 South Vietnam, 1963 Brazil, 1964 Chile, 1973

The article fails to include Granada nor does it include the failed attempt to invade Castro's Cuba (Bay of Pigs).

Dr. Zoltan Grossman lists on a *.edu page U.S. military interventions dating back to 1890 when U.S. troops salaughtered at least 300 Lakota Indians at Wounded Knee. He also lists a number of times U.S. troops have been used to put down strikes (silver mines, rail) and Indian revolts against Washington rule, the Veterans' March on Washington, and more than a few times to put down black rioters.

The bottom line

The brouhaha over Russian meddling in U.S. politics is, for both governments, “busines as usual” and should not be fodder for the liberal media (of the conservative media, either). It harks back to Mad Magazine’s Spy v. Spy cartoons. If anyone thinks only “the other guys” meddle in our business, there is plenty of evidence to prove the U.S. is a big time player.

Trump’s predecessor knew the Russians were meddling in the U.S. elections but was unable to decide what acton, if any, to take. (Imagine a Commander in Chief who can’t make up his — or her — mind how to respond to an attack on Am,erica’s interests.)

The URLs that follow (beneath the rule) all focus on U.S. interference in other nations’ business. The are the result of a “quick and dirty” Internet search. Many are biased; a few are blatantly one sided opinions. Readers may be able to sort the wheat from the chafe.



The following titles and URLs are NOT “all inclusive”

Internet sites about U.S. interference in foreign elections

Election meddling

Americans can spot election meddling because they’ve been doing it for years (UK Guardian) Tiny URL: http://tinyurl.com/hul9ewc

Noam Chomsky on the Long History of US Meddling in Foreign Elections (Truth Out) Tiny URL: http://tinyurl.com/zf5ntbz

The U.S. is no stranger to interfering in the elections of other countries (LA Times) Tiny URL: http://tinyurl.com/gvknssl

Election Interference? The U.S. Has Done It In 45 Countries Worldwide (Vocativ) Tiny URL: http://tinyurl.com/zwyvdsc

Invasions and Dispositions

Overseas interventions of the United States (Wiki) Tiny URL: http://tinyurl.com/lrysehm

Author Kinzer Charts 'Century of Regime Change (NPR) Tiny URL: http://tinyurl.com/m3dpd

Mapped: The 7 Governments the U.S. Has Overthrown (Foreign Policy) Tiny URL: http://tinyurl.com/zodj2hm

From Wounded Knee to Syria: A Century of U.S. Military Interventions (.edu) Tiny URL: http://tinyurl.com/h46zxh9

Viral meme says United States has 'invaded' 22 countries in the past 20 years (Politifact) Tiny URL: http://tinyurl.com/jwmjqzk

 

About Tiny URL (http://tinyurl.com/) – this application “shrinks” long URLs to managable size. It’s free and very handy, especially when blog software works as it should.

If the links in the body fail to work, see http://tinyurl.com/y82lye4d to learn how to find/access them. It's a Google problem.


 

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

Comments: Comments on Goose & Gander

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Opuscula

Half truths about
Mediocare supplements

IT SEEMS EVERYDAY I hear an AARP advertisement for a United Healthcare Medicare Supplement plan.

I’m also told some Humana Medicare Advantage plans have zero monthly costs.

Neither tells the sheep the full story.

AARP, which gets a kick-back on every UHC Medicare Supplement plan bearing the AARP logo, cites the standard Supplement pitch: it’s portable; subscribers can pick their own doctors and hospitals, and no referrals are needed to see a specialist.

What all Medicare Supplement peddlers don’t advertise is that subscribers pay a surcharge, often a hefty one, for the plan.

They also don’t advertise the fact that the “free” (we’ll get to “free” shortly) Medicare Advantage plans cover subscribers even when they are out of their home area, even overseas. Granted, in some cases — mostly when outside the U.S. — the patient may have to pay the local providers and submit the receipts to the insurance company for reimbursement. True, Advantage plans typically limit the providers (hospitals, urgent care, physicians, laboratories) an insured can see.

Referrals There is an advantage to having referrals — the patient’s Primary Care Physician; in my day a GP — knows who the patient is seeing and can expect reports from specialists so the patient’s care can be coordinated. (I have a no referral plan, but I always make certain any specialists I see send their findings to my PCP.)

Nothing is free Medicare is NOT free. The “basic” rate is about $105-a-month. It can be higher; it can be lower. It can be paid as a Social Security deduction or with a check to the government every month. HOW it’s paid does not affect the fee.

It’s higher if the person applying for Medicare lacked pharmaceutical coverage before applying for Medicare. (Fortunately for me, my time in the Flyin’ Corps many, many years ago gave me access to VA pharmacies.) Once a higher rate is set, it’s fixed “forever.”

The monthly rate can be lower if the person has sub-standard income.

Capitation Some Medicare Advantage plans require referrals; some do not. Some Medicare Advantage plans “capitate” their PCPs. That means while the Plan may have hundreds of specialists on its rolls, the particular PCP may be able to refer patients to only a much reduced list.

As with all insurance coverages, I compare my options once a year; for Medicare, in October.

There are a number of things to consider with all Medicare plans, be they Advantage or Supplement. Selecting the right Medicare plan for you walks you through the major considerations.

Before paying a surcharge for a Medicare Supplement plan, compare it to a Medicare Advantage plan. Maybe putting the extra bucks into your pocket might be a good option . . . but then, it might not. Everyone has their own needs.

”Through the gap” The “gap” in Medicare terms refers to the time when you “max out” the pharmacy allowance (usually around $3,500/year) until you go into the reduced fee/no fee stage. It differs greatly from any “gap” that may have been included as “supplemental insurance” to a private (non-Medicare) health care plan.

The bottom line is not to be stampeded into signing up for any plan with any insurer until you have done your homework. If you regret your decision, you have until December 30 to sign up with a different plan.

Annual review All insurance plans of all types — medical, auto, home owners/renters — need to be reviewed annually to assure that you are getting what you need at a price you are willing to pay.

A note on companies that will research plans for you. Do it yourself. Some plans are not on the searcher’s lists. Start with http://www.medicare.gov . It’s free and includes ALL plans approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a/k/a CMS. (The CMS site is http://www.cms.gov)

One final thought: Beware of “capitated” PCPs. When talking to a plan’s sales people, be certain to ask: “Are your PCP’s capitated? Can they refer to ANY specialist in the Plan?”


Where to start

Medicare supplement plans defined

Medicare Plan Finder

Both Medicare sites above are free and should be the place to start for all things Medicare.


If the links fail to work, see http://tinyurl.com/y82lye4d to learn how to find/access them. It's a Google problem.

 


PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

 

Comments: In my opinion

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Opuscula

Mother’s love:
Teach hate
And murder


Educate to hate and die must end

Terrorist’s mother wished he’d killed 100 Jews

The mother of the terrorist who murdered a young Israeli woman on Friday was also arrested in connection with the attack and regrets that her son didn’t kill 100 more Jews.

Israel Police on Wednesday arrested two people in connection with last Friday’s Palestinian terror attack in which 23-year-old Border Policewoman Staff Sgt. Hadas Malka was murdered at the Damascus Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City.

Police said the woman, a resident of the Palestinian village of Deir Abu Mash’al near Ramallah, where the terror cell was situated, was arrested on suspicion of forging contacts with the intent of committing a crime. She is also suspected of incitement related to recent statements lauding shahids [martyrs] and calling for the harming of Jews.

“We will meet in heaven. I’m proud. I wanted him to kill 20, 50, 100 of them,” the Palestinian mother stated after the attack.

Former Congressman Allen West, commenting on mother’s desire asks Just how are we to achieve peace when the mindset of mothers is that they’re proud of their sons being jihadists. They’re proud and wished they could have killed more. And when we have a Fatah government that pays the families of Islamic jihadists, well, how far can, or will, this endeavor for peace go?

Hate groups abound.

In the United States, the Southern Poverty Law Center maintains a list of what it determines are terror groups.

Hate Groups (alphabetically from Southern Poverty Law Center.org)


Click on image to enlarge or go to the SPLC site above

Anti-Immigration
Anti-LGBT
Anti-Muslim
Black Separatist
Christian Identity
General Hate
Holocaust Denial
KKK
Neo-Confederate
Neo-Nazi
Racist Skinhead
Radical Traditional Catholicism
White Nationalist

The SPLC.org list is trimmed to just 10 on the SPLC's Active Hate Groups page. The ORDER of presentation is by SPLC.

Ku Klux Klan - 130
Neo-Nazi - 99
White Nationalist -100
Racist Skinhead - 78
Christian Identity - 21
Neo-Confederate - 43
Black Separatist - 193
Anti-LGBT - 52
Anti-Muslim - 101
General Hate – 100

Blame it on Trump

CNN reporting on 'A resurgence of white nationalism': Hate groups spiked in 2016 quotes the Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok thus:

The report singled out Donald Trump's pledge to bar Muslims from entering the country*, his harsh language around immigration from Mexico, his appearance on conspiracy-theorist Alex Jones's radio program, and his engagement with white nationalists on Twitter as key moments that encouraged extremist groups during the campaign.

"Trump's run for office electrifed (cq) the radical right, which saw in him a champion of the idea that America is fundamentally a white man's country," wrote Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the SPLC. "Several new and energetic groups appeared last year that were almost entirely focused on Trump and seemed to live off his candidacy."

"The country saw a resurgence of white nationalism that imperils the racial progress we've made, along with the rise of a president whose policies reflect the values of white nationalists," Potok noted.

INTERNATIONAL TERROR



Wikipedia lists 61 Foreign Terror Organizations (FTOs). While non-Islamists are represented on the list, of the 61 FTOs, 49 are Muslim groups. (One Jewish group made the list.) Since the Wikipedia list was for foreign terror organizations, the SPLC-identified organizations were not listed.

 


* CNN, never concerned with truth, once again gets it wrong. Campaigner Trump, and later as President Trump, said he would temporarily ban Muslims from specific countries known to export terrorism — exactly what his predecessor did but for which the media was generally silent. The courts over-ruled POTUS’ plan . . . but were not at all disturbed by the previous president’s executive order banning even more Muslims.

As for Mexicans, Trump repeatedly stressed that the only Mexicans he wished to bar were illegal aliens who also were criminals.
<>/P>

Trump distanced himself from white supremacists and rejected their support.

The “news” at CNN: if it fails to conform to CNN’s view, CNN “modifies” it until it does conform.


 

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

 

Comments: In my opinion

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Opuscula

The two faces
Of Democrats
In the Senate

I SAW ON tv “news” this morning (6/20/17) Sen. Chas. Schumer pressing Sen. Mitch McConnell for more than 10 hours to review the latest GOP health care plan.

McConnell’s only reply was “There will be ample time to review the plan.”

That was NOT the case then President Trump’s predecessor dumped HIS plan on congress, all 2,000-plus pages of it and demanded the Democrat-packed congress pass it “right now.”


Cartoon credit: Caglecartoons.com

I CAN UNDERSTAND WHY Schumer wants ample time to study the GOP plan … past GOP efforts have fallen woefully short. Even many Republicans found fault with the earlier plans, assuring the plans would fail to garner the votes needed to become law (until overturned by the courts).

Trump promised many things for his first days in office. Most have failed to occur, and a cobbled together healthcare plan without being well thought out and lacking Democrat support is one of those things.

But why the rush?

Those covered under the current slight-of-hand health care plan will remain covered until the replacement plan is in place (and allowed by the courts). No one covered today will be left uncovered tomorrow.

This scrivener is of the opinion that the U.S. needs national healthcare of some type. It will not prevent indigents showing up at emergency rooms for treatment of both minor and major issues; it will not prevent the local government from being “stuck” with the bill for indigent care. The in-place plan allegedly penalizes people who lack any type insurance by slapping a surtax on their federal income tax. But indigents, by definition, don’t have incomes to pay taxes, so the threat is empty.

There ARE good things about the current plan, but there also are many things that need to be improved upon. Drug costs, for example. Access to practitioners. While there are many good practitioners who accept the current plan, there are many who refuse to accept patients covered by the plan.

Similar to Medicare, some practitioners fail to see the huge consumer base, preferring to charge more for patients covered by private insurance or who pay from their own pocket.

As I understand it, a national health plan — regardless of who gets credit — or blame — is designed to (a) move non-emergency care out of emergency rooms and into a physician’s office (or urgent care center) and (b) to assure that citizens receive ongoing attention from a medical practitioner, preferably the same practitioner each time they visit. Preventive care is (a) less expensive and (b) offers better results than emergency care, especially by a practitioner who has zero history with the patient and who, in almost all cases, will not see the patient again — at least for the same complaint.

Perhaps, rather than insist all citizens have health insurance it would be acceptable to all political points of view if the government opened clinics in impoverished areas or on BRAC-closed military installations — most of which have at least a Class A infirmary (clinic with a few beds). The clinics could be staffed by newly minted practitioners (nurses, doctors) whose education was partially funded by the government. A similar situation exists that sends doctors to regions otherwise without physicians.

Indigents would need to show photo IDs (provided gratis –reducing the chance of fraud) to receive no charge care, while others (e.g., low income) would pay on a sliding scale. Common medicines would be dispensed at no cost or minimal cost to the patient (as is done in a number of countries).

While I believe everyone should pay something for health care, if a person has nothing, what can they pay? (Perhaps in-kind services to the clinic, assuming the courts would permit that.)

There is no question that emergency rooms should be for emergencies — only.

Likewise there is no question that people should have a long-term relationship with the same practitioner.

Finally, there is no question that indigents can’t pay (the regular rate) for healthcare even if there is a tax penalty.

It might be necessary to pair a clinic with a police sub-station; the clinics would probably NOT be located in the classist sections of town and any drugs on a clinic’s shelves would be tempting to criminals, even non-narcotics.


As a long-ago Air Force medic, I have some experience with clinics and hospitals emergency rooms. I later briefly worked at a civilian hospital.


 

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

 

Comments: In my opinion

Friday, June 16, 2017

Fake News

Clintons, Obama
Condemn attack
At Nationals Park

DID ANYONE READ THAT ANY Clintons or Obamas, or even ex-DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz condemned the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise at Nationals Park on June 14 (Flag Day, as it happens).

Did they say anything about the Capitol cops — Crystal Griner, who was wounded, and David Bailey — injured doing their jobs protecting the congressmen? How about lobbyist Matt Mika or congressional aide Zach Barth, both wounded by James T. Hodgkinson.

Socialist Bernie Sanders, for whom Hodgkinson once worked, condemned the shooting, saying ”Violence of any kind is unacceptable.”

Search the internet — use any search engine you fancy — and as of 11 .m. Friday, June 16, there are zero —- no — links to any remarks from

    the Clintons
    the Obamas
    Wasserman-Schultz
No condemnation of the act. No commendation for the Capitol Police. No sympathy for the wounded.

Not a tweet. Not a sound bite. Nothing.

Sen. Claire McCaskill D-MO commented on Twitter: “No partisan politics over this. Let’s come together against evil. United by our common decency.”

To her credit, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA tweeted "This morning, the U.S. Congress suffered a despicable and cowardly attack. My thoughts and prayers are with Whip Steve Scalise and the others wounded, Capitol Police and staff, and their families. We are profoundly grateful for the heroism of the Capitol Police, whose bravery under fire undoubtedly saved countless lives. On days like today, there are no Democrats or Republicans, only Americans united in our hopes and prayers for the wounded."

Former VP Joe Biden sent a "Get well soon" tweet to the injured, but no condemnation of the crime.

Rather than try to bring the country together, the Clintons and Obamas have encouraged action against “anything Republican.” Hillary actually encouraged illegal civil disorder following the election.

By their silence, the Clintons, Obamas, and Wasserman-Schultz seem to be applauding Hodgkinson’s action. Certainly they are doing nothing to bring the political pendulum back to center or even to reduce its swing from extreme to extreme.

Compare that to the wounding of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). "Gabby Giffords was a friend of mine," President Obama said Saturday afternoon in a nationally televised statement from the White House. "It’s not surprising that today Gabby was doing what she always does: listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors."

"This is more than a tragedy for those involved," he said. "It is a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country."

At a news conference following the shooting, a clearly emotional Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik repeatedly cited what he characterized as the "vitriol" that has infected political discourse. He said that his own state has become "the mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

The dead included John Roll, chief judge of the U.S. District Court of Arizona. Also killed was Gabe Zimmerman, 30, the congresswoman's director of community outreach, and a 9-year-old girl. Two other Giffords staffers were injured.

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is a Democrat.

Source: NPR

It may be crass, but perhaps there should be “Republican lives matter” organization.

By the way, the Democrats won the annual charity game.


WORTH READING: The LA Times analyzed the shooting. The results are given in an article titled Reaction to shooting at congressional baseball practice reveals a nation that doesn't just disagree. It hates


 

 

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

Comments: In my opinion

ERM-BC-COOP

Eyes that do not see
Ears that do not hear*

ACCORDING TO NUMEROUS news reports emanating from the UK, the Grenfell Tower was known for some time to be a death trap.

Residents complained.

An “action group” complained.

Apparently a government minister heard of the complaints, but allowed the structure’s managers to push back a request to discuss the concerns.

All the above is pretty much the experience of risk managers worldwide.

ENTERPRISE RISK MANAGEMENT practitioners can tell a client there are problems and how to avoid or mitigate the problems.

But unless the client is willing to accept, and act on, the practitioner’s recommendations, nothing gets done . . . until a disaster such as the Grenfell Tower fire occurs. (In the U.S., it took the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire on March 25, 1911 to bring about changes to building safety. It cost 145 workers their lives.)

In England, who knew there was a problem?

Residents of Grenfell Tower have said they raised multiple concerns about the risk of fire in the months before the fatal blaze at the building, but were “brushed away” by the council’s tenant management organization.

Survivors of the disaster said on Wednesday they had raised fears about the fact that there was only one escape route. They also told the Kensington and Chelsea tenant management organization (KCTMO) of their concerns over the placement of boilers and gas pipes, the absence of a building-wide fire alarm or sprinkler system, and piles of rubbish being dumped and causing a fire risk.
Source: Grenfell Tower residents say managers 'brushed away' fire safety concerns

An action group predicted the Grenfell Tower fire was an accident waiting to happen four years ago but claim their warnings fell on deaf ears.

The fire service confirmed this morning there had been a number of fatalities in the horrific blaze which was reported just after 1 am today thought to have been caused by an exploding fridge.

It engulfed the 27-storey building where 600 people were said to be living in 120 flats and twelve people have so far been confirmed dead.

Grenfell Action Group said: 'Watching breaking news about the Grenfell Tower fire catastrophe. Too soon to even guess at numbers of casualties and fatalities.

'We have posted numerous warnings in recent years about the very poor fire safety standards at Grenfell Tower and elsewhere in Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC).

'All our warnings fell on deaf ears. This was inevitable and just a matter of time.'
Source: 'Only a catastrophic event will expose the neglect': Action group called for Grenfell Tower to be pulled down FOUR YEARS ago but say their warnings about appalling safety 'fell on deaf ears'

Experts said in March that after a review into building regulations, parliament should ask "really serious questions" about the safety of tower blocks and the danger posed by fire. The warnings have been restated after multiple people died in a fire in West London.

Housing minister Gavin Barwell had committed last year to review the specific part of building regulations that relate to fire safety. But that report was delayed earlier this year, Fire Risk Management reported in March, with a spokesperson then refusing to give a date for the launch of the review.

There are still 4,000 tower blocks that are under the same old building regulations as those in Lakanal House. It's not clear whether Grenfell Tower, where the horrific blaze broke out, was built according to those regulations.

Fire safety expert Sam Webb told Fire Risk Management that "really serious questions" needed to be asked in parliament about fire safety. He pointed specifically to the kind of materials used in buildings, saying that they are "not fire-resistant and in some cases they're flammable.
Source: London fire: Government delayed review of tower block fire safety regulations after deadly blaze

Again and again, if the English papers can be believed, the safety of the building — and by extension, others like it — has been a topic of discussion for some time, yet nothing was done to eliminate or at least mitigate the problem.

Now, after a number of residents lie in a morgue has the building’s hazards come to the attention of the British prime minister who ordered a “public inquiry” into the fire.

The question remains: Even after all the “public inquiry” will anything be done to protect other people in similar towers?

‘Course the cause of the fire still must be determined.

Accident or arson, according to the reports in the English press, the building’s design and materials turned a small fire into a building-wide disaster.

A building-wide disaster that could have been mitigated, if not prevented.



* From Psalm 135: They have mouths, but cannot speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear — referring to idols made of silver and gold by the hands of man.

 

 

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

Comments: In my opinion

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Opuscula

If Trump “rolls back"
Relations with Cuba,

Why not China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt ...

PRESIDENT TRUMP is considering rolling back his predecessor’s orders on Cuba.

No one denies the Cuban government is a dictatorship – despite twice-a-decade elections; elections that some contend are rigged..

No one will dispute that freedoms are limited on the island and that there is a high price to be paid for dissent.

But consider...

China is a much more totalitarian government than Cuba. Remember the Tiananmen Square Massacre? According to one estimate, “the number of civilian deaths has been estimated at anywhere from hundreds to thousands.”

Then there is America’s good friend Saudi Arabia. Oppressive Yes. Misogynistic? Most assuredly.

How about Egypt, another “good friend” of America. When the Islamic Brotherhood won the elections and Hosni Mubarak was installed as president, the military booted him out and Mohamed Morsi was named president. A similar situation happened in Algeria.

Russia, with which we have diplomatic and commercial relations, has Putin, the man who ordered the invasion and theft of the Ukrainian Crimea.

The list goes on and on and on.

Yet the U.S. allows Americans to travel to these countries – albeit often with a State Department “travel advisory” that visiting is not encouraged – more or less freely.

Granted, Russia and China are not a mere 90 miles off the U.S. coast, but both Russia and China have nuclear missiles than can strike U.S. cities. Cuba has no missiles that threaten the U.S. (Why bother? Cuba's dissidents invaded south Florida and took over the place.).

It seems to me that, with so many Cuban ex-pats who claim they want to return to the island, that President Trump should expand his predecessor’s effort and make travel and commercial activities easy for all Americans, especially Cubans who want to go back.

Let Americans invest in Cuban enterprise; give the ex-pats a reason to go “home.”

The Cuban government is LESS dangerous to the U.S. than Russia or China; it will cost the U.S. LESS to prop up Cuban economy than it costs in foreign aid to Egypt and a host of other countries, friendly and not so friendly. (Saudi Arabia received a paltry US$237,832 in 2016, a drastic drop from previous years of the previous administration.)

On top of China’s ability to militarily damage the U.S., it’s proxy, North Korea, is building weapons that can do the same … in cooperation with Iran (no surprise). China also ships unsafe products to the U.S. and manages the rate of exchange to put the U.S. deeply into China’s debt.

Admittedly, Cuban cigars could be dangerous to Americans’ health, but the U.S. has no fear of Cuban missiles or a rigged import/export trade balance.

The Cubans arrived to American hand outs; escapees from the (former) Soviet Union only got hand outs from private individuals and organizations. The latter integrated into U.S. society, learned English, and strived to become red, white, and blue citizens. Not so the Cubans.

To be fair, I grew up in south Florida and went to school with Cuban-Americans whose English communication skills were as good as mine. But, also to be fair, if someone wants to work in south Florida, especially in retail, the person must speak Cuban Spanish, albeit not necessarily English.

Opening the door to Cuba may be the single good thing Trump’s predecessor did in his eight long years in the White House.

I hope Trump has the wisdom to fully normalize American-Cuban relations, to put it on a par with – at worst, Mexico, at best, Canada – countries around the world that (so far) do not export terrorists to our shores.

To me, it’s a no brainer that can be put into a 140-character tweet.


 

 

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

 

 

Comments: BCPlanner@gmail.com

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Muslims must prove themselves

* Terrorists
* Extremists

THE LONDON ATTACK was by terrorists; likewise the Manchester attack; the Paris attacks -– plural — were by extremists. Ditto Spain and Germany.

But tv talking heads, being “Politically Correct” — or simply following ex.-president Obama’s lead — won’t pronounce “Islamist” (or “Muslim” terrorist or extremist in the same breath.

That’s as stupid as giving a description of a person wanted for murder as “n” feet tall and weighing so many pounds but omitting the suspect’s skin color.

BUT, we must be politically correct.

TO BE FAIR, in some cases the authorities had been alerted by Muslims about other Muslims who seemed extreme.

    As an example, Anti-extremism organization the Quilliam Foundation have said they reported London Bridge attacker Khuram Butt to counter-terrorism authorities almost a year before the deadly attack.

    Quilliam chief executive Haras Rafiq said its report should have been taken more seriously as it came from a counter-terrorism group rather than a member of the public.

    The Muslim community in Barking had highlighted concerns about London Bridge attacker Khuram Shazad Butt, who is thought to have once attended the Jabir Bin Zayd Islamic Centre in Barking, according to a community leader.

    Ash Siddique, the secretary of the Al-Madina Mosque in Barking which is close to centre, said concerns were raised about Butt on three occasions, the Press Association reported. (Source: The Guardian)

Unfortunately, the Quilliam report is the exception to the rule.

Most of the terrorists/extremists are known to their fellows for what they are. They might not wear shirts proclaiming “I Am A Terrorist,” but their behavior and choice of associates HAS to offer a clue to their intent.

The problem is, in most cases, the people who may suspect someone refuse — for a multitude of reasons — to come forward. Even when they are better off in all respects than they were in the lands from which they emigrated, they still are suspicious of, and uncomfortable with, the more or less democratic governments of the countries that gave them sanctuary. There is a similar problem with blacks in America; many don’t trust “The Man.” At other times, the fear for their own safety in their community is sufficient to silence people.

    In the U.S. — tragically proven by 9-11 (2001) — the so-called federal cops (FBI, CIA, NSA, etc. and et al) refuse to cooperate among themselves; turf wars are as much responsible for the deaths on 9-11 as the Muslim terrorists who high jacked the four planes. Despite presidential proclamations that the organizations are now cooperating, in real life, the turf battles continue.

The UK, France, and Germany have taken in tens of thousands of Muslims who, for one reason or another, left their homelands. Some fled from civil wars; some fled from Obama’s Arab Spring. As with most immigrants, the newcomers tend to congregate in neighborhoods where the language and customs are similar to the once they left behind. Unlike earlier immigrants, they are loath to integrate into the nation’s society, setting up their own (Sharia) laws and demanding anyone entering their domain adhere to their laws. (Rather like going to Mea Sharim in Israel where attacks on outsiders can range from words to rocks.)


Terror resume’

Of the 11 terrorist attacks in the UK since 2005, eight were at the hands of Muslim extremists/terrorists. The following from Wikipedia except as otherwise indicated. Prior to 2005, most terrorist attacks were carried out by the IRA.

  • 2005, 7 July: 7/7 central London bombings conducted by four separate Islamist extremist suicide bombers, which targeted civilians using the public transport system during the morning rush hour. Three bombs were detonated on three separate trains on the London Underground and one on a double-decker bus. 56 people were killed and 700 were injured. It was the UK's worst terrorist incident since the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and the first Islamist suicide attack in the country.
  • 2007, 30 June: Glasgow International Airport attack perpetrated by Islamist extremists. Five people were injured and the only death was of one of the perpetrators.
  • 2008, 22 May: Exeter attempted bombing in a café toilet by an Islamist extremist, injuring only the perpetrator.
  • 2013, 22 May: A British soldier, Lee Rigby, was murdered and decapitated in an attack in Woolwich by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, two Islamist extremists armed with a handgun and a number of bladed implements including a cleaver. Both men were sentenced to life imprisonment, with Adebolajo given a whole life order and Adebowale ordered to serve at least 45 years.
  • 2015, 5 December: A man with a knife attacked three people at Leytonstone Tube Station in East London. The attacker was 29-year old Muslim Muhaydin Mire who was shouting "this is for Syria". The attacker was found guilty of attempted murder in June 2016. Three people were injured in the attack and one was seriously injured.
  • 2017, 22 March: 2017 Westminster attack - Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old British man, born in Kent as Adrian Elms, drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, before crashing the vehicle into the Palace of Westminster's perimeter. He then entered the grounds of the Palace of Westminster, the meeting place of the Houses of Parliament, before being confronted by a police officer, whom he fatally stabbed before being shot himself. Six, including the perpetrator and the officer, were killed in the incident, and 49 people were injured. The attack is being treated as an act of terrorism motivated by Islamic extremism.
  • 2017, 22 May: 2017 Manchester Arena bombing – Suicide bomber Salman Abedi is believed to have travelled to Syria and become radicalised before returning to the UK to cause carnage at a gig in the city where he was born. The son of Libyan parents, who reportedly fled their native country and sought refuge in the UK, he is thought to have come back to Britain from Libya just days before the massacre. It was the most deadly terror related incident in the United Kingdom since the 7/7 London bombings in 2005.
  • 2017, 3 June: June 2017 London attack, still developing. 7 people were confirmed dead and at least 48 injured, some of whom are still in a critical state in hospitals across London. A white van drove at high speed across London Bridge, running into groups of people, then crashed. The occupants then ran to close by Borough Market where they stabbed many people. All three of the terrorists involved were shot dead by police just 8 minutes after the incident was reported. All three were wearing what appeared to be suicide bomb vests, which turned out to be fake.
Muslims were targeted on 2013, 29 April to 12 July by Pavlo Lapshyn attacks. Lapshyn, a Ukrainian student and right-wing extremist, stabbed Mohammed Saleem, a Birmingham resident to death on 29 April. He later admitted to police that he wished to start a "race war". Lapshyn later detonated a home-made bomb outside a mosque in Walsall on 21 June. 150 homes were evacuated but no person was injured. On 28 June Lapshyn detonated a second home-made bomb near a mosque in Wolverhampton, and attacked a mosque in Tipton with an improvised explosive device containing nails on 12 July. Friday prayers were delayed that day, and so his intended victims were still inside. Laphsyn was later sentenced to serve a minimum of 40 years.

Of 30 terrorists attacks in France since 2003, 19 have been directly attributed to Islamist extremists. The list is from Wikipedia.

  • 8 October 2004: Bomb attack against the Indonesian Embassy in Paris, claimed by the Front islamique français armé.
  • 11-22 March 2012: Toulouse and Montauban shootings, murders of three French paratroopers, and a French Rabbi and three French schoolchildren (aged eight, six and three), carried out over a period of 11 days by Mohammed Merah.
  • 23 May 2013: 2013 La Défense attack by an Islamist knifeman against a French soldier in the Paris suburb of La Défense.
  • 20 December 2014: 2014 Tours police station stabbing. A man yelling "Allahu Akbar” attacked a police officer in Joué-lès-Tours with a knife. He was killed and 3 police officers were injured.
  • 7-9 January 2015: January 2015 Île-de-France attacks, a mass shooting at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, carried out by Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, two Islamist gunmen who identified themselves as belonging to Al-Qaeda in Yemen. During this period, a third Islamist gunman and close friend of the Kouachi brothers, Amedy Coulibaly was responsible for two shootings and an hostage taking at a Hypercacher kosher market. He said he synchronized his attacks with the Kouachi brothers. Coulibaly had pledged allegiance to theIslamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
  • 3 February 2015: 3 military men, guarding a Jewish community center in Nice, are attacked by Moussa Coulibaly (not related to the January Coulibaly attacks).
  • 19 April 2015: Unsuccessful attack against 2 churches in Villejuif by an Algerian jihadist. He killed a woman probably when trying to steal her car but accidentally shot himself in the leg, putting an end to his plans.
  • 26 June 2015: Saint-Quentin-Fallavier attack. An Islamist delivery driver probably linked to ISIS decapitated a man and rammed a company van into gas cylinders at the Air Products gas factory in an attempt to blow up the building.
  • 13-14 November 2015: November 2015 Paris attacks. The single deadliest terrorist attack in French history. Multiple shooting and grenade attacks occurred on a Friday night; among the locations targeted were a music venue, sports stadium and several bar and restaurant terraces. 90 persons were killed during a siege at an Eagles of Death Metal concert inside the Bataclan. French president François Hollande evacuated from a football match between France and Germany at the Stade de France, venue for the UEFA Euro 2016 Final, after three separate suicide bombings over the course of about 40 minutes. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks and President Hollande named the Paris attacks an "'act of war'"
  • 1 January 2016: A man rammed his car twice into 4 soldiers protecting a mosque in Valence. He said he wanted to kill troops and jihadi propaganda images were found on his computer.
  • 7 January 2016: January 2016 Paris police station attack, a jihadist wearing a fake explosive belt attacked police officers in the Goutte d'Or district in Paris with a meat cleaver, while shouting "Allahu Akbar". He was shot dead and one policeman receiving injuries. The ISIS flag and a clearly written claim in Arabic, were found on the attacker.
  • 13 June 2016: 2016 Magnanville stabbing, a police officer and his wife, a police secretary, were stabbed to death in their home in Magnanville by a jihadist. ISIS claimed responsibility.
  • 14 July 2016: A 19 ton cargo truck was deliberately driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The driver was Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a Tunisian resident of France. The attack ended following an exchange of gunfire, during which Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was shot and killed by police.
  • 19 July 2016: An Islamist staying in a holiday resort, in Garda-Colombe, attacked a family of four with a kitchen knife. He told prosecutors he was offended by their lack of suitable clothing.
  • 26 July 2016: 2016 Normandy church attack, two terrorists attacked a church during a mass, killing an 86-year-old priest. ISIS claimed responsibility.
  • 19 August 2016: A rabbi was stabbed in Strasbourg by a man reportedly shouting Allahu Akbar.
  • 4 September 2016: Two Islamists attacked an author and his son, with blows to the head and stomach. The author, who wrote a book on 'Jihad', lost consciousness, and has now requested full police protection on his premises. Both victims were called 'filthy whites' and the author's daughter was also verbally abused.
  • 3 February 2017: 2017 Paris machete attack. A soldier near the Louvre museum opened fire on a man who attempted to enter the museum with a machete. The man was shouting "Allahu akbar" and injured the soldier's scalp.
  • 20 April 2017: 2017 shooting of Paris police officers. An Islamist opened fire on police officers on the Champs-Elysees. ISIS claimed responsibility.

Until 2000, most of Germany’s terror attacks came from the Red Army or other non-Muslim groups. However, the Islamists made themselves known twice in Munich (1970, 1972); in Berlin (1982, 1986). Muslim terrorist activity picked up starting from September 2015. (Source: Wikipedia)

  • 10 February 1970: Munich - Three terrorists attack El Al passengers in a bus at the Airport with guns and grenades; one passenger is killed and 11 injured. All three terrorists were captured by airport police. The Action Organization for the Liberation of Palestine and the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claim responsibility for the attack
  • 5 September 1972: Munich (Munich Massacre) - Eight armed terrorists stage an attack during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany on 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team, who were taken hostage and eventually killed, along with a German police officer. Five of the attackers also died in the raid to free the hostages.
  • 15 January 1982: Berlin - An explosion at the Mifgash-Israel, a Jewish owned restaurant in West, injures 25 people. An infant girl, who was in critical condition after the blast, later dies of her injuries.
  • 4 April 1986: Berlin - A bomb placed on the dance-floor of the La Belle Discotheque, popular with United States military personnel, explodes, killing 3 and injuring hundreds more. Two of the dead were members of the United
  • 17 September 2015: Berlin - A 41-year-old self-proclaimed Islamist was shot dead in Berlin after he severely stabbed and injured a policewoman in an incident on a public street in Berlin
  • 19 July 2016: Wurzburg - On 18 July 2016, a 17-year-old asylum seeker injured four people, two critically, with a knife and hatchet on a train near Würzburg in Germany. A fifth person was injured outside. The state office of criminal investigations called it a terrorist attack with an Islamist religious motive. The attacker's Islamic State instructor "ordered" him "to use an axe rather than a knife in his attack. In a martyrdom video, the attacker blamed unspecified infidels trespassing against and murdering men, women and children, as well as leaders and Muslim citizens who did not object to this..
  • 24 July 2016 Multiple locations - Fifteen people were injured, four seriously, in a suicide bombing outside a wine bar in Ansbach, Germany.[3] The bomber, identified as Mohammad Daleel, was a 27-year-old Syrian refugee who had pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State. He was the only fatality in the incident. According to German authorities, Daleel was in contact with the Islamic State and had been planning more attacks before his backpack bomb exploded accidentally. The incident followed three other attacks in Germany within a week, including a knife attack that killed a pregnant woman in Reutlingen earlier in the day, a mass shooting that killed nine people in Munich several days earlier, and a train attack in Würzburg. All of these were committed by people of Middle Eastern or Pashtun background, all of whom, save for the Munich shooter, were refugees or asylum seekers that recently came to Germany
  • 19 December 2016: Berlin - On 19 December 2016, a truck was deliberately driven into the Christmas market next to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at Breitscheidplatz in Berlin, leaving 12 people dead and 56 others injured. One of the victims was the truck's original driver, Łukasz Urban, who was found shot dead in the passenger seat. The perpetrator was Anis Amri, a Tunisian failed asylum seeker, urged by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Four days after the attack, he was killed in a shootout with police near Milan in Italy. An initial suspect was arrested and later released due to lack of evidence. The event was designated as a terrorist attack./LI>

 

 

 

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.