Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
- Riots. What looks to be orchestrated nationwide riots broke out mostly in blue cities following the death of a former bouncer at the hands of Minneapolis cops. There are at least two videos of the beginning of the interaction when he was cuffed and the end with a cop kneeling on his neck for 8 solid minutes at the end. There are at least 3 minutes in the middle that are rather conveniently missing. Happily, there are apparently a large number of surveillance cameras in the area, so video likely exists. Sadly, MN Attorney General Keith Ellison over the weekend took over the case. Given his past actions, expect a Red Queen sort of trial – sentence first, trial after, which will be a slam-dunk vehicle for the defense to get any conviction tossed. MN has been a blue city for decades, and with all blue cities, public employees tend toward incompetent to corrupt. And the Minneapolis Police Department has a well-deserved reputation for at least the first of these, perhaps the second. A Somali officer named Noor shot and killed a white woman who called 911 and approached his car to report a rape in 2017. It took county prosecutors two years to convict him of third-degree murder and manslaughter. The family filed a civil suit against the city which is now paying them a $20 million judgment. There were no riots associated with this case. Not so, this time around, as Black Lives Matter (BLM) took to the streets in protest. Initial response had everyone on the same side, that this was an awful event and that the cops looked very bad in it – Trump, Barr, BLM, Fox, CNN, blacks and whites. Indeed, the initial crowds were mixed race. Trump almost instantly sent in DoJ and FIB to investigate. The problem is that so did Antifa and its fellow travelers, as the festivities quickly ramped up into beatings, burnings, lootings, and other forms of mayhem, almost all of them in blue cities. Someone started prepositioning pallets of bricks in NYC and Dallas over the weekend. Stolen vehicles had their plates removed and were filled with arson supplies of flammable liquids and ignition sources included. Violence expanded over the course of the weekend. President Trump finally had enough, announcing he was going to be designate Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization. Response from the left was the functional equivalent of Animal House 40 years ago: “You can’t do that our pledges. Only we can do that to our pledges.” We will see if the FIB and intel community can take a little time from their attempt to remove him from office to roll up the leadership and funding for these clowns. There are agents provocateur operating in the festivities. These appear to be well trained individuals. Scott Adams pointed out the umbrella man, a guy in a long coat, with full facemask, a hat and an umbrella who broke a window in a store. He asks the question: Why the umbrella, especially when it wasn’t raining? Answer: to shield against drones. Two interesting observations from this. By week’s end, BLM announced it was now a free agent, tired of being taken for granted. By Monday morning, they had squandered that entirely, joining with Antifa in embracing violence. The other thing is that the media for the most part wavered between worthless to incendiary, pouring gasoline on a race fire where there was no racial disagreement. Final observation, and this one is not going to go well, is that MN Attorney General Keith Ellison will botch prosecution of this case, likely to the point of letting the police officers involved completely off, with incompetence and prosecutorial malfeasance not seen since the OJ trial. Ellison will be more interested in making a political point against whitey that he will be in finding the truth of what happened.
- SpaceX. American astronauts returned to orbit Saturday in the first manned flight of a commercial manned space capsule. Their Dragon 2 was launched on the business end of a Falcon 9 around 1130 L ADT. The first stage successfully landed on their drone ship, ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ a little more than nine minutes after the launch. The manned Dragon 2 is built to carry up to 4 people riding in racing car seats. Contrast between the SpaceX launch control (folding tables with keyboards and triple monitors), and NASA’s mission control in Houston (mahogany laminated pressed wood with monitors and keyboards) was instructive. The astronauts, both who had previously flown on shuttle were driven out to the launch pad in a pair of Teslas. Dragon 2 successfully docked with ISS about 18 hours later for a still to be determined stay. President Trump, VP Pence and Pence’s wife were all on hand both for the mission scrub on Wednesday (weather) and the actual launch on Saturday. Trump is the first sitting US President who has ever attended the first manned launch of a new spacecraft. And as such, the NASA guys love him. Two videos follow. First is the launch through recovery. Actual launch is around 2+40+00 into the video. Second is the actual docking. Pay particular attention to the layout of the new capsule, as everything is now touch screen. There is not even a control stick that I was able to see in the coverage. Dragon 2 is going to make SpaceX a lot of money.
- Twitter. Looks like President Trump baited Twitter into giving him an excuse to start regulating them. Trump has been poking at them for some time, and finally managed to get them to bite. Last week, they fact-checked a Trump tweet tying mail-in ballots to voting fraud. As usual, Trump was correct. The fact checker is a committed lefty named Yoel Roth, Head of Site Security, who has tweeted in the past that Trump administration members are Nazis, cited CNN and the Washington Post as his factual resources. First fail. Final straw came Thurs and Fri when Trump sent out a pair of tweets going after the rioters. The second tweet ended with “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” This was too much for Twitter, who pulled the tweet with a rule-violating notice. Now, this sort of thing has long happened to conservatives, banned, censored, and shadow-banned while similar content from the political left was allowed to run wild. In response, Trump issued an Executive Order intended to prevent online censorship. The speed this was released tells me it was written some time ago, waiting on the right time for release. At issue is the little game the social media companies have been playing with the magic words platform and publisher. When you are a platform (as they claim to be), you are not responsible for what your users post. Essentially you are a bulletin board, a public square, with no role in controlling what is posted. Once you get into the control / censorship business, you then become a publisher, and are governed by entirely different rules. Examples would be newspapers, magazines, books. This is covered by Section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act. Essentially, Twitter’s choice to start censoring their most famous user, President Trump, gives him the ability to start regulating them. The political left was in no small part aghast at this, as they and Big Tech plan on using their control of the online world as a vehicle to shift tens of millions of votes and turn the 2020 election. Senator Josh Hawley (R, MO) does not believe that Trump needs any permission or new legislation to do this, as it is written into federal law already. In either case, expect it to be fought out in the federal courts, which have been populated by so many Trump judicial appointees there are no new vacancies left to fill.
- Wuhan. As the political left turns to riots, mayhem, looting and burning in blue cities, the Wuhan Flu festivities fade into the background. Doesn’t mean it won’t be dusted off once again when the time is right, but there are bigger and better things afoot for the media to play with these days.
- One of the claims by Governor Andrew Cuomo (D, NY) was that CDC guidance required him to put Wuhan-positive patients into rest homes, long term care and nursing facilities. CDC came back last week with a strong denial of the claim, meaning that Cuomo was simply covering his backside.
- Turns out that Cuomo and nursing homes in NY have a long and very cozy political relationship. The Greater New York Hospital Association, which includes nursing homes, donated $1.15 million to his 2018 reelection. Over his 3 gubernatorial campaigns, Cuomo has raked in dozens of 5-figure donations from nursing home execs and their lobbyists. Cuomo issued his order on March 23. His austerity budget passed in late April has a provision that gives liability protection to both hospitals and nursing homes during the pandemic. One can understand it for hospitals, not so much for nursing homes. Why did he write the order? Because he could. Same for the 3 other blue state governors who did the same thing.
- President Trump designated churches as essential entities a week ago. At the same time, a 5-4 SCOTUS opinion let stand a California restriction on church openings. This one had John Roberts siding with the liberals in a really convoluted opinion.
- Masking has become the new left-right line of division, as the political left is demanding everyone mask up everywhere, while the political right is telling them what they can do with themselves and the horse they rode in on. Masking today is not about stopping or abating the spread of the disease. Rather, it is all about compliance, which the political left is demanding. Here in Anchorage, a democrat house member is demanding the state issue a blanket mask order for everyone, everywhere, all the time. Good luck enforcing that. I do note he does not seem to be taking his own medicine. Typical lefty.
- Final fun story comes out of Michigan on Memorial Day weekend. Gretchen Whitmer, the governor who put limits on the ability of Michigan residents to get out on their lakes in a powered boat, has a husband. He was trying to get his boat out on the lake early and was not real happy about waiting in line, so he played the “Do you know who I am? card. Whitmer claimed it was a failed attempt at humor, a claim that was roundly hooted.
- Michigan. The last story is a couple weeks old and comes from Michigan, where a couple dams failed in late May leading to the predictable claims of climate change. An analysis in WUWT by Kip Hansen paints a much more interesting and predictable story of human finger pointing. So, what really happened? The upstream dam, about 30 mi upstream had severe design problems. It had been cited for having inadequate spillways, not unlike the Oroville Dam in Cali. The most recent report card on the dame by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave it a ‘D’ grade. There was a flood event on the river running into the lake above the dam, with about 5” of rain via a series of storms. Flood crest was a good foot above the historic record in 1986, so they clearly got a LOT of water. The problem is that the dam had physical problems that nobody wanted to pay money to address. The mud wrestling match between local communities, state, federal, and the hydropower company goes back for nearly a decade, with every single player trying to get the other to pay for needed repairs. Worse, the local community got itself involved. In order to decrease the possibility of failure, the hydro company tried to minimize the amount of water behind the dam. Local residents looked poorly at their water recreation opportunities going away and went to court. Eventually, the finger pointing came nose to nose with a flood and the dam failed. And it took the downstream dam with it. One thing about infrastructure is that if you build it, you really need to maintain it.
More later –