Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
- White Island
- White Island. White Island (aka Whakaari) is a volcanic island some 50 km north of the North Island in New Zealand. It is an active volcano, one of the most active in the country. There is a thriving tourism business to the island, with 10,000 visiting yearly. Problem is when you put that many people on an active volcano, you will eventually time your trip with an eruption. Such happened on Dec 9 when a phreatic eruption killed 18 people on the island, some hiking within the crater itself. There were 47 on the island at the time. Over 20 are still hospitalized with severe burns due to hot steam and ash. The volcano was not in a particularly heightened warning level. And the explosion, a smallish one in the volcano world, was not particularly vigorous. NZ’s Geonet monitors the island and is a great source for current information. ABC News (AU) had a particularly good presentation of the eruption that is worth your while to look at. Humans are risk takers, and visiting active volcanoes means taking a risk. There are types of eruptions typically involving steam, that give little to no warning. While not generally a threat at a distance, they are deadly as anything you can think of when you stand right on top of them, which is what happened at White Island. There is a database of all deaths associated with volcanoes stretching back to 1500. By far, the most fatalities are locals, people who live next or close to the volcanoes. Second most numerous fatalities in that database are tourists, people who enjoy the thrill of climbing active (and not so active) volcanic systems. Sometimes they get unlucky.
- Saudis. A Saudi aviation student shot up the intake building at Naval Air Station Pensacola a week ago, killing three. He was enrolled in English, basic education, and initial naval flight training, scheduled to be in country through graduation sometime in 2020. He has been in country since 2017 and was one of 10 Saudi students in the course. The FIB is investigating the event as terrorism. As of this writing, the FIB has arrested at least 6 of his fellow aviation students (all active duty Saudi military) and are looking for three others. Reaction from President Trump is that the Saudis will make the families of the deceased whole. Rick Moran wrote last week that they are not fully cooperating with the investigation. That is not a surprise. As the week went on, we find that all 10 of them attended a snuff flick session in one of their rooms, where ISIS propaganda was shown. At least three of them videoed the attack while in process, likely to produce other propaganda. We have been educating foreign officers in military schools for the last 40 years that I know of. Usually it works pretty well. Some do better than others. Most are highly professional. The biggest problem has always been with the Islamic students, Iranians during my time and Saudis today. The Wahhabi influence in the Saudi military is going to get them in trouble. The new Saudi Crown Prince has his job cut out for him. After an attack like this, finger pointing takes place early and often, particularly the question of why active duty military members are not carrying loaded firearms on base. The answer comes from the command structure, which today has the right by virtue of Law Enforcement Safety Act of 2004, amended in 2013 to allow military personnel, properly credentialed, to carry weapons while off duty. The problem is that the law is focused entirely on military working in law enforcement. There has also been significant obstruction by installation commanders to allowing their members, family members, former military members, or anyone else to carry weapons on their installations, essentially turning them into gun free zones. Historically, 95% of all mass shootings take place in gun free zones. Who knew?
- Boris. Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson received the largest Conservative victory since Margaret Thatcher last week, wiping out Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-Semitic Labor and the anti-Brexit Remainers in the Conservative Party. While Johnson is the most liberal Conservative elected in years, he will be firmly in charge for a while. This means that Brexit in whatever form will take place by Jan 31. Two former Prime Ministers, Tony Blair and John Major joined forces to oppose Johnson in the latter stages of the race. They both lost. The media did the same routine before the vote that they did in 2016 with Trump, predicting a razor-thin Conservative victory, perhaps even a Labor victory. When the results were finally announced, they were very sad. Labor leader Corbyn stepped down as Labor leader. Soros-funded protesters hit the streets after results were announced with a rousing round of “Not my PM” protests. Indeed, the language and action by Labor supporters echoed that of democrats in 2016, up to and including Christopher Steele claiming the Russians were responsible for the victory. That boy is a one-trick pony. Sadly, that trick continues to pay. What does this victory mean? First and foremost, that union members, working Brits stepped up and may just have saved the nation. Second, at some level, they rejected the rising anti-Semitism of Labor and its elected Members of Parliament. How much of this translates to our 2020 election is entirely in the realm of arm waving and chair throwing. One of the things that presaged Reagan’s 1980 victory was Thatcher’s win in 1979. But we already had out surprising win, Trump’s in 2016. There may very well be multiple echoes going on. One of those echoes is increasing anti-Semitism of democrats and their leadership here in the US as they pander to Muslims imported over the last 20 years. And a lot of writers are mightily trying to make that case. The original, surprising Brexit vote was June 2016. Trump was Nov. Other populists have won in the years since. What does it mean? To me, things are changing. How much and even if they will keep moving in the right direction is anyone’s guess. It is up to us to keep them moving along. Don’t get cocky.
- Asteroids. One would think that few things are as predictable and boring as chunks of ancient rock in the solar system called asteroids. After all, they are so small there is no active geology, they are ancient, cold, dark, and static. As usual, one would be wrong. There are two probes currently in the vicinity of asteroids. The Japanese Hayabusa 2 is orbiting Ryugu. The NASA OSIRIS-Rex is orbiting Bennu. Both have found some surprising things. 162173 Ryugu is a near-Earth object, whose orbit crosses that of Earth, making it potentially a hazardous object. It is about a kilometer in diameter, carbonaceous. The Hayabusa 2 has been at the asteroid since June 2018 gathering samples and observing it. One of the strange things found at Ryugu has been an odd distribution of craters on its surface, something that does not appear to be random. Larger craters are clustered at the equator rather than at the poles and smaller craters are not present in expected numbers. Hayabusa 2 is expected to return its samples in late 2020. The OSIRIS-Rex probe has been at 101955 Bennu since Dec 2018, collecting data and samples. A sample return is scheduled for 2023. Like Ryugu, Bennu is another earth-crossing asteroid, this one about half a kilometer in diameter. It is also a carbonaceous asteroid. This one is physically active, flinging particles from its surface. Nobody has seen an active asteroid up close like this and nobody has any idea why it is ejecting rocks from its surface. This is why we continue to explore, as the solar system is never short of surprises.
- Gift. A military couple in Florida purchased a Baby Einstein bouncer from a local Goodwill for their youngster. Boy did they get a surprise. When they opened it, they scored a loaded Mossberg 715T. The box was opened at a baby shower. The Dad loved it and said, “You guys got me a gun!” How come I never get surprises like this? The couple surrendered the gun to police for investigation. The firearm was not stolen, and the cops are checking their BATFE database for its purchase history. They get it back. They may not. Either way, what a great way to start the Christmas season.
- Horowitz. On the other hand, we finally did get DoJ Inspector General Horowitz report on the FISA applications and the FIB Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Horowitz spent a day in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week answering questions about the report. House Judiciary was too busy impeaching Trump to talk with him. The initial statement about the IG investigation was that he found no evidence of political bias by the FIB or any DoJ members. This was all the media needed, which took that statement, trumpeted it to the world, and promptly dropped all reporting of the story. That statement means that nobody the Horowitz interviewed said there was political bias. He did not put together what they said and what they did and write conclusions. Attorney General Barr and his prosecutor Durham immediately released statements saying that was not their conclusions, and that they were proceeding on the assumption that there was real, intentional wrongdoing by the FIB and DoJ, an immediate and strong rebuke. It looks like Durham has the goods on someone. Political attacks on Barr resumed almost immediately. All you have to look at in the Horowitz report linked earlier in this section is Appendix 1, pp 461-466 of the pdf. This appendix is a list of Factual Assertions in the FISA Application. The charts list page number of the application, No supporting documentation, Supporting documentation does not state this fact, and Supporting documentation shows that factual assertion is inaccurate. The first FISA application had 19 assertions. None of them were real. The second FISA had 16. None of those were supportable either. Third FISA had 16. None of those supportable either. The FIB lied, withheld exculpatory evidence from the FISA Court, and relied entirely on the Steele dossier, a document that everyone involved knew was bogus. This is one of the biggest scandals in recent history. And there had better be a LOT of people visiting in Club Fed after everything is over.
- Impeachment. I am sick to the teeth about the impeachment festivities, which is why this comes last in this week’s issue. On one hand, it is all based on a fraud. On the other, it is deadly serious stuff, as should this get to the Senate, there is an unknown number of Republican Senators who have been badmouthing Trump in private for years who are looking for any excuse to convict and remove him from office. I think we have one of them here in Alaska. Utah has one. How many more are there? We are about to find out.
- This entire thing is an abuse of power by democrats in congress, abusing their ability to mount an impeachment investigation, this time around, for no crime, high or otherwise.
- It did show us what sort of crazies populate the intelligentsia on the left, particularly in the law schools. Professor Pamela Karlan outdid herself in testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee, coming across as hectoring, lecturing, nasty, intolerant, and ready willing and able to make jokes at the expense of a 13-year old (Barron Trump). This woman was too whacked out to be considered as a SCOTUS nominee by O’Bama (but reported on Hilly’s short list), so we ended up with the Wise Latina, Sotomayor.
- We have Adam Schiff’s use and abuse of the House Intel Committee subpoena power, demanding phone records from AT&T and Verizon. He wanted Rudy Giuliani’s phone records and ended up with phone records from Minority Member Devin Nunes and reporter John Solomon, both of whom he released to the public as part of his impeachment report. In doing this, democrats have embraced the very thing they have railed against since Watergate. Apparently using government power to surveil and attack your political opponents is once again a Good Thing. Who knew?
More later –