Interesting Items 08/03

Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information.  Enjoy –

In this issue:

1.  Shakedown
2.  Whales
3.  YD
4.  Knopp
5.  Funeral
6.  ANC

1.  Shakedown.  Anyone else remember the O’Bama – Holder (In)Justice Department plea bargain technique of trading leniency in charges, trial and sentencing on donations by the target to left-wing non-profits?   It worked so well that other democrat prosecutors have adopted the technique.  Latest example comes out of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office which has been using “voluntary” donations to a charity managed by the Miami Foundation, a local philanthropic non-profit for over a decade.  One example was a guy who faced up to 15 years in prison for helping a murder suspect (his father) live out of the country, providing financial support.  His bond was set at $2 million.  But there was a plea bargain, where the charges were reduced to a single misdemeanor, no jail time, and a $10,000 donation to the charity.  The prosecutor referred to the donation as a fine, though the court paperwork filed by the prosecutor’s office referred to it as a “charitable contribution.”  The office has operated the Denise Moon Memorial Fund since 2009 and routinely ask for donations / contributions in plea deals in return for leniency.  The Moon Fund provides grants to a variety of leftist funds, foundations and causes in the local area.  Federal Justice Department guidelines (post O’Bama-Holder) do not allow plea, deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements to include terms requiring defendants to pay funds to any organization or individual that is not a victim of the criminal activity or is not providing services to redress the harm caused by the defendant’s criminal conduct.  These guidelines to not exist for the Florida Attorney General’s office.  Perhaps they should. 

2.  Whales.  Former Alaska Governor Wally Hickel defended Alaska’s aggressive predator control program with the observation that “you can’t let nature run wild.”  With this in mind, comes a story out of SE Alaska, where a group of humpback whales have figured out that a local hatchery is a great place for a snack.  The State of Alaska built the Hidden Falls hatchery in 1979 to increase returns of chum salmon for area commercial fishermen.  Over the years, the hatchery worked pretty well and ownership was transferred to a commercial fishermen-run company in 1988.  The technique is to raise hatchery fry and release them into the North Pacific to feed and grow, catching them upon their return in a year or two.  This is called ocean ranching, and is running into a bit of trouble as the number of hatchery pinks released in Prince William Sound and by Russian commercial hatcheries are well on their way to overrunning the ability of the North Pacific to support the numbers of released fry.  Pink fry are voracious and out-compete other less abundant species like red, coho and king for available food.  This is showing up as decreased size and numbers of those species in the summer when they return to the fresh water to spawn.  That discussion has been joined and the fight between commercial fishermen and everyone else who puts a hook in local waters during the summer is well underway.  Craig Medred wrote a piece about humpback whales who figured out the new food source a couple weeks ago.  Humpback whales figured out about a decade ago how to corner young, out-migrating salmon in the bay after the hatchery released them.  Since then, they have learned and become more aggressive, figuring out how to breach the pen where the hatchery fry are raised before release.  They even show up around the same time of year anticipating release of the fry to the wild.  Returns are half a percent of what they were before the whales showed up, leading to a significant loss in commercial fishing and hatchery revenue.  Given that humpbacks are federally protected, going after the whales themselves is not an option.  You can educate most animals over time, and whales are among the smartest ones out there.

3.  YD.  One of my recent science projects has been looking into an event that triggered a global cooldown for 1,000 – 1,500 years just as the earth was coming out of the last ice age.  The cooling period is known as the Younger Dryas (YD) and took place some 12,800 years ago.  The working theory is that the orbit of the earth intersected a debris cloud from a large fragmented comet for an hour or so and was absolutely pounded with thousands of Tunguska-sized (10 – 30 megatons of energy apiece) atmospheric airbursts.  The center of impact was somewhere over Michigan, the receding ice sheet.  The entire event caused what is described as a continental extinction event, wiping out all large mammals in North America.  Earth still intersects debris-rich portions of the multiple streams from time to time (today, the streams are called the Taurids, and we intersect them twice a year) and still gets pounded, which is one of the reasons why the ancients were so freaked out about comets.  That’s the theory and as with every single new theory, has been subject to intense argument in opposition, as it should.  On the pro side, the best resource is the Cosmic Tusk, especially for current information.  The anti side can be found in most mainstream astronomy and geology sites.  Anthony Watts Watts Up With That is generally a skeptic site and has posts on the YD from time.  One writer, David Middleton, an oil geologist has been particularly effective in beating the theory to a pulp over recent years.  He is smart, educated, writes well, and highly effective.  This is not a complaint.  Rather it is a description how science ought to work.  Extraordinary claims generally require extraordinary proof, especially for something like this that is large and took place relatively recently.  So people continue to do science in the theory, as multiple impact events / airbursts ought to leave some sort of fingerprints – impact glass, tektites, a layer of incinerated vegetation, layers of high concentrations of what are normally extraterrestrial metals (this technique was used to determine an impact event took place around the time the dinosaurs died 65 million years ago).  People are out there looking for those sorts of fingerprints.  A couple weeks ago, Christopher Moore, University of South Carolina posted a piece describing results of multiple lake cores taken from White Pond, a shallow muddy lake in South Carolina.  They took a look at a 10 cm thick layer centered around the time of the YD looking for platinum, a rare earth metal that shouldn’t have been there in abundance.  And they found it.  They also found palladium, an increase in soot, and a large decrease in the abundance of fungal spores suggesting a decrease in the population of large herbivores at the time.  Conclusions?  None as yet.  But these results help document something happened at the time, adding yet another brick to the wall, which is a Good Thing.  This is how science should be conducted.  Perhaps it is time the environmentalists adopted the method. 

4.  Knopp.  Incumbent Republican legislator from District 30 in Kenai died last Tuesday in a plane crash over Soldotna.  He was the single occupant in his aircraft and did a midair with a Beaver taking both aircraft down.  A total of seven souls were lost.  Midairs are not all that uncommon in the summer up here.  The passengers in the Beaver included a family group from South Carolina.  There is a significant political angle to this accident, as Knopp was one of eight Republicans who organized a governing majority with democrats in the legislature Dec 2018.  He helped convert a 23-17 Republican majority into a 25-15 democrat-led one.  He comes from a nearly bulletproof Republican legislative district, one whomever wins the primary on Aug 18 will be in the legislature.  He was close personal friends with Louise Stutes from Kodiak, another Republican who has organized with democrats on at least three occasions in the past.  Knopp wanted to be the Rules Chairman but could not get support to appoint him from either caucus.  District Republicans targeted him for defeat in a couple weeks, with at least two challengers running, which was expected to split the vote and reelect Knopp.  That is no longer possible.  Prayers for all who lost their lives in this event, and for their families and survivors.

5.  Funeral.  Democrats held the funeral for deceased Georgia congressman John Lewis last Thursday.  It was well attended including at least three presidents, Bush 43, Clinton and O’Bama.  The Bush and Clinton eulogies were respectful.  Sadly, O’Bama’s reminded everyone of his personal ugliness, as it turned into a Trump and Republican bashing free for all.  It also reminded everyone why we do not miss O’Bama as president.  He did this all the time.  Lewis and Trump did not get along, trading pot shots over the entirety of the last four years.  Lewis refused to attend Trump’s inauguration and in return, Trump refused to attend Lewis’ funeral.  The funeral also highlighted the unequal treatment under the law for democrat luminaries and those of us who aren’t.  At a time when blue state mayors and governors have limited attendance at private funerals to a few handfuls of people, the Lewis funeral had hundreds in attendance, all sitting elbow to elbow in an Atlanta church.  Both Atlanta and Washington DC have black, democrat women as mayors.  Both women imposed 14-day quarantine requirements on people from out of town.  Both women waived those requirements for funeral attendees.  So much for equal treatment under the law.  To be fair, the quarantine requirements are not laws, as they were not passed by any legislature or city council.  There were dozens of members of congress in attendance.  The DC mayor requires any individual traveling to a “high-risk area” for what she defines as “non-essential” reasons must self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning to DC.  And Atlanta is defined as a high-risk area.  This is not the DC mayor’s only trip down this path, as she exempts member of the judiciary, the legislative branches of the DC government and any employees of the federal government from wearing masks while on duty.  Rules, regulations and public health are not supposed to be arbitrary and capricious, applying to some but not others at the whim of some wannabee martinet.  But these days, that appears to be a requirement. 

6.  ANC.  Looks like we here in Anchorage sufficiently got the attention of the Assembly that they put off indefinitely the theft of CARES Act money to purchase properties for housing and treatment of our homeless population.  The five days of blistering testimony mostly in opposition to the proposal convinced the Mayor’s 9-2 majority to table the proposal for at least a little while.  Before the last meeting, the Assembly Chair agreed with the Mayor’s suggestion to shut down live, in-person testimony on Wuhan Flu concerns.  Protesters showed up before the meeting anyway outside the Assembly Chambers.  The Mayor ignored them upon arrival for the meeting.  The other thing that was supposed to happen at the meeting was an ordinance that made conversion therapy illegal here in Anchorage.  It was proposed by 3 of our 4 gay Assembly members, confirming every single anti-gay stereotype out there.  As written, the ordinance tried to set up a one-way ratchet, where Anchorage School District teachers, staff, counselors, and predatory medical could play on sexual confusion of kids and completely prohibit any information opposing that, all without either notification or participation of parents.  And they tried to sneak it thru at a meeting without live public testimony.  For some reason, they tabled this ordinance for at least a little while.  Being gay is not supposed to matter, which is why there are several on the Assembly.  The instant they by their actions tell us it matters, it will matter.  In response to all this, Mayor Berkowitz, infuriated mostly with holding the bag on the properties he wanted to purchase with CARES money, issued a second hunker down order, punishing local businesses here in Anchorage who opposed him.  The order is already being ignored and is supposed to be in effect through the end of August, just long enough to completely kill off bars and restaurants that survived the order issued in March.  Should be a fun month. 

More later –

– AG

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